Friday, 28 November 2008

Sigh-Way Code


wa biang... i read the advanced driving theory book read 30 pages zonked off TWICE -.- it's like reading fund supermart or smart investor (chris' fav mags which i read if i have insomnia)

super boring la...

i can watch korean drama for 6 hours, read one whole cookbook at one sitting or read a girlie novel continuously for 3 days and never fall asleep...

this one... read few pages only i zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

what 1st gear 2nd gear 3rd gear la

ah yo, i'm taking auto why must i still learn the this gear that gear la... and clutch this clutch that... engage clutch disengage clutch -.- super buay tahan-ly boring

turn left got step abcde la -.-

turn right also got step abcde

and now they give all sorts of help:

ten years' series la
e-learning la
tutorial la
mock exam la


pattern more than badminton.

i really feel v sian... since i took the auto scholarship, there is no chanel bag so the motivation is v v low. the only impetus are:

1) when chris is overseas, i won't gong gong-ly take taxi while the car is parked in the car park
2) when my nieces grow up, i can bring them out
3) can visit my mum n grandma more
4) can bring my mum n mum-in-law out (not together)

if got the following, i'd be more interested/motivated:
1) they do a DVD and get a handsome korean or jap actor such as Takeshi Kaneshiro to teach. i confirm will watch it more than once
2) offer takashimaya vouchers for passing (1st time: $100, 2nd time: $80, 3rd time: $50)

last time chris wanted to make me swim length (i always only swim breadth cos i'm scared) he enticed me w Fendi bag. he said swim 4 laps got fendi bag. i CHEONG AH!!!!!!!! then yay! won my first fendi bag LOL

now no chanel bag leh... where got motivation? ... hi dear ^^ her... her... her... =D ^^ =)

zzz... i go do laundry first.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Japan Hotels Review

Hotel Review: Osaka Granvia 5*

I strongly recommend Granvia hotels in Japan as they’re always v conveniently located near the stations (Osaka and Kyoto Granvia are connected to the stations) and they have a comprehensive range of amenities. Besides the usual, Granvia Osaka also had cotton pad, cotton bud cum ear picker, body wash cloth and facial cleanser. What really impressed me was the face steamer in the room!! Ya, no kidding, they really had a face steamer for ladies… cool ^^

Breakfast was a choice of buffet at the café or Japanese at the Japanese restaurant. Usually the buffet will also have a section of Japanese food like porridge, miso soup and condiments which I like but Chris prefers the ang mo stuff like bread and cereal so we’ll normally go for buffet.

Free internet, cable TV and pay TV available. Got heated toilet seat ^^ chris thinks I expect too much but but but heated toilet seat is v important during autumn and summer neh!!! He pees standing up and shits after me so of cos it doesn’t matter to him la! Imagine waking up in the middle of the night or early morning to pee then you sit on the icy cold seat!!! GAH!!!!! But if it’s warm, you’d go AAaaaahhhhhh…. ^^

oh but some hotels are v giam siap they never switch on one neh. you've gotta switch it on yourself. if you can read chinese, you can agar agar figure out la.

Ryokan Review: Iwaso Miyajima 4*

Location-wise in Autumn, this ryokan beats the rest FLAT! But I felt the dinner and breakfast were not spectacular and the hotspring was quite normal too =P

Internet… what internet??? TV??? Don’t lah! Go cheong the onsen and admire momijidani la. You paid so much for the location you want to lock yourself in the room meh???!!!

Got heated toilet seat ^^

Hotel Review: Miyako Hakata 4.5*

If you can’t get the Granvia hotels, Miyako is what u can consider. Miyako hotels are also always situated near the major stations. Miyako Hakata, 2 mins walk from Hakata station, had a good range of amenites too like facial cleanser, cotton pad, cotton buds and bubble bath satchets in addition to the usual.

Breakfast is a choice of 3 restaurants. We tried the one at level 12 because the view is nicer but the buffet is very no frills, simple ordinary stuff. But they had one saving grace… they served Earl Grey tea with lemon in Noritake fine bone china teacups ^^ ok, add 0.5 star.

Free internet, cable TV and pay TV available. Got heated toilet seat ^^ but the thing about Kyushu hotels is that they dub all the TV programmes into Jap. I saw BBC channel on the TV menu and exclaimed, “Haha! At least something we can watch!!!” then when I switched to the channel -.- they dubbed it into jap… BBC… they also dub… bu hui ba! *slap forehead* in Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, there were at least English programmes neh…

Hotel Review: Kagoshima Taisei Annex 3*

This hotel is about 5 mins walk from Kagoshima-Chuo Shinkansen station which makes it very convenient but don’t expect too much in terms of amenities. Just the usual. However, there is a public hotspring bath for males. The staff totally don’t speak English.

Hotel Review: Hakata Centraza Hotel 4*
We were hoping to stay all three nights in Hakata in Miyako but dang! The second night Miyako was full so JTB put us in this hotel, which they CLAIMED is in the same category. It’s obviously a notch below lor. Firstly, no internet in the room so fail liao -.- then the amenities also suck la. Only one packet of two pieces of cotton pad -.- I need FOUR. Two for eye make-up remover, one for toner, and one for toner the next morning. At least Miyako gives 4. Then got no facial cleanser.
But the upside is it’s CONNECTED to the station via underpass (exit 14) whereas for Miyako, you have to cross the road after getting out of Exit 15. We’d gladly cross the road for internet and better amenities man.

Hotel Review: Hotel Nikko Huis Ten Bosch 4*
This is about the same category as Centraza. At $300+ a night, I’d say it’s v expensive given it’s LACK of amenities. No cotton pad, no facial cleanser, make us face car park. I don’t mind paying if they give me a room with a nice view lor. Then the stupid breakfast buffet Q is super long… think their restaurant is too small for the number of guests. So we ended up eating Japo breakfast which is fine by me cos I love japo giam chai. They served rice with 10 different kinds of giam chai and fish, soup and toasted seaweed, and green tea. I ate almost everything… ^^ so nice la. Especially the Japanese plum ume, wa, my favourite er. But poor chris only ate rice and fish and looked suspiciously at all the condiments without really touching them LOL

So our verdict? Go for Granvia. It will always be our first choice. If Granvia is not available, then Miyako is fine. The rest, Chris says no internet = fail LOL

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Japan Nov 2008 Day 7: Sasebo (Nagasaki)

20 mins from Huis Ten Bosch on the Nagasaki Sealiner train is Sasebo where you can get on the Pearl Queen Cruise around Kujukushima. Ku in Japanese means 9, ju means 10, shima means island so kujukushima means 99 islands. Actually there are 208 islands but last time they lost count of the number of islands in that region and hence used 99 to represent the uncountability. Then a system was deviced to “classify” a piece of mass/rock as an island. Firstly, it has to be visible during high tide, secondly, there must be vegetation.

The landscape is quite awesome and since the weather was great and not misty, we could see every island clearly. I didn’t upload many pics cos I think my pics don’t really do justice to the beauty of this place… I need a 10-22 or 14mm -.- Wait for Chris to upload the video k?

Tonight is our last night in Japan =( and so it’s back to Hakata for some dinner and shopping at Daimaru =(

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Japan Nov 2008 Day 6: Huis Ten Bosch (Nagasaki)

An hour and a half from Hakata is Huis Ten Bosch, a Holland-styled resort which looks fabulous at night in Nov and Dec (because of Christmas ma). They all Japanese like ang mo things one... LOL

The station reminds me of Malacca… I donno why LOL

The top picture is ANA JR Huis Ten Bosch Hotel which we WISHED we stayed at -.- if you get the rooms facing the right direction, you’ll have wonderful view of the village and the sea ^^

The whole place is a complete replica of Holland (i assume... i have never been to Europe) with Dutch street names, canals, ferries, windmills all that... we felt like we were in Europe except we were in Japan LOL not bad leh... no need to travel so far can feel like in Europe.

The staff at Huis Ten Bosch speak some English... er... but not very well k... the baggage girl (in Japan, there are "bellgirls") wrote my name as "Dear Ann" cos on the email print-out it was written as "Dear Ann" LOLLLLLLLLLLLLL

and hor, you better pee properly hor! wait police catch you er!

Although the shows are mainly for kids, we found some of them rather enjoyable, especially the House of M.C. Escher, which features the works of the genius Escher using 3-D computer graphics... As a Math student, I find it very cool... We also learnt from our visit to the Teddy Bear Museum that the name “Teddy” is to commemorate Theodore Roosevelt (whose nickname was Teddy)… cool. Since it was a weekend, the entire Nagasaki came here, young and old, families and all.

Family bicycles are available for rent… (papa, mama and two kids, usually one boy one girl... both super cute... standard Jap family)

people come here to get married… this couple is pushing their page boy and flower girl... totemo kawaii desu

te blah te blah la…

We strongly suggest making a seat reservation on the train way in advance (like a few days) cos we didn’t and had to stand for a while til the masses alighted at Saga, another touristy spot. We also recommend staying at ANA hotel, Hotel Amsterdam or Hotel Europe. ANA hotel is outside the resort while the latter two are inside. One-day passports to enter the resort (incl. of entry to main facilities) cost JPY5000+ and if you stay at one of the Huis Ten Bosch hotels, you’re allowed to extend the pass for another day. Just ask the hotel for a re-entry pass when you check-out. We stayed at Hotel Nikko Huis Ten Bosch. It’s a bit CMI… no internet =P and they put us in a room facing the carpark... -.- basket

In the months of Nov 2008 – Feb 2009, the entire resort is bathed in magnificent illumination and there’s a 5-min fireworks display every night at 8:45pm but GAH, the location of the bursts is so unpredictable so I did not get a single decent shot of the fireworks -.-

The light-up at 5:50pm in front of the Glass Museum

Hotel Europe

Route to Palace Huis Ten Bosch (modelled after the palace of the Queen of Holland)

Starlight walk at Palace Huis Ten Bosch

Palace Huis Ten Bosch

Oh oh oh… we had lunch at Chocolate House in Huis Ten Bosch and the Curry rice is v good ^^ the hot chocolate…WAAAA!!!!! Is REALLY chocolatey ^^ every mouthful I sipped made me think of my cute colleague CC and how she’ll love it too so I bought her a box of sweet chocolate, hope she likes it ^^

Friday, 21 November 2008

Japan Nov 2008 Day 5: Ibusuki Sunamushi Onsen (Kagoshima), Yatai (Tenjin, Hakata)

If you come to Kagoshima, you MUST go for hot sand bath!!! Cos it’s the only place in Japan with hot sand bath (we tried one in Beppu but it was a v small establishment). One hour away from Kagoshima-Chuo is Ibusuki. Take a 5 min taxi (about JPY700) or bus from Ibusuki station to Sunamushi Onsen. This establishment is v organized with a stretch of the beach used for hot sand bath.

The correct procedure for hot sand-bathing is:
1. Take off ALL your clothes (yes, underwear also). There are free lockers available.
2. Put on the rental yukata (kimono-like robe), bring along your rented towel.
3. Go to the hot sand bath area and lie down when they tell you to. It’s ok to bring your own camera, they’ll give you a plastic bag for it when u r being steamed.
4. Try not to exceed 10mins
5. Go to the de-robing area in the toilet (follow directions… DO NOT go back to the changing area or enter the bathing and hot spring area in your dirty yukata). Remove your yukata, rinse off any sand thoroughly. Ah ah ah... read instructions hor

6. Shower and soak in hot spring
7. Wear back your clothes

WAA!!! V shiok. The hot bath is supposed to detox your blood. Once you’re covered in sand, you’ll feel v v hot all over and can feel your heart rate increase… then after 10 mins, you’ll perspire a bit. Your skin will be a little pinkish after sand-bathing because of the improved blood circulation… cool. Those with high blood pressure be careful hor.

Had lunch at a cosy little café called Angel café right opposite Sunamushi Onsen run by a husband and wife team. I was very fascinated with the beautiful cups, some of which I recognize to be from Narumi, a Japanese fine bone china brand… WAAA!!! So pretty. And they had a v comprehensive range of coffees. I don’t normally drink coffee (I’m a tea person) unless it’s v good coffee. The ebi fry and hamburger were v good ^^

Back at Hakata, we visited the Yatai in Tenjin. Tenjin (3 stops from Hakata on subway, 5 mins) to Hakata is like Ginza to Tokyo where the Tenjin Chikagai (Tien1 Shen2 Di4 Xia4 Jie1) stretches donno how many km. It’s impossible to finish going through all the shops underground and everything looks so super nice but we were mindful of the strong JPY -.- so didn’t really buy anything.

The Yatai (Da4 Pai2 Dang4) is a special feature of Hakata and is worth a visit. We went to the one between Daimura and Mitsukoshi departmental stores and for JPY1500 (approx. SGD25), we had two bowls of ramen, pork yaki, fried chicken wing and daikon oden (radish boiled in some soup). Chatted with two friendly Kyushu-ites with our broken Japanese. They thought we were Korean LOL.

O ya, Hakata is famous for Mentaiko (spicy cod roe), a delicacy among the Japanese but I ain’t too crazy about it. I know YD LOVES it though. They sell them in boxes containing sacs, each sac with thousands of tiny bright red roe =P yuck… I think it’s an acquired taste… maybe one day I will like it too.

This Kyushu Shinkansen has v big nostrils hor?? LOL like kurobuta (Black Pig) hahahaha

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Japan Nov 2008 Day 4: Kagoshima

If you do not have much time in Kagoshima, there are 3 things you MUST do in Kagoshima: See Sakurajima, eat kurobuta and go for hot sand bath.

We took the Tsubame train from Hakata to Shin-Yatsushiro and transferred to the Relay-Tsubame to Kagoshima-Chuo. The total trip was about 2.5 hrs. The people in Kagoshima don’t speak English so it’s not easy to find your way around if you totally can’t speak Japanese. We saw ZERO wandering ang mo tourists =P but somehow, once I got off Kagoshima-Chuo station, I knew exactly which building to go for kurobata (Berkshire pork) shabu shabu lunch (^^)V LOL… chris was amazed how my sense of navigation suddenly improve when I’m in Japan hahaha… Kagoshima is famous for kurobuta. It’s premium pork and for shabu shabu, it’s sliced really thin so you can just dip it in the soup and it cooks instantly. At this particular shop called Ichi, Ni, San (we only eat kurobuta here cos it’s THE BEST) on Level 5 of AMU plaza, they give this really tasty soba dipping sauce, which compliments the pork perfectly ^^ make sure you add a pinch of yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) paste for a tinge of tanginess =P freshly made soba noodles are served too. For JPY 2100 (less than SGD40), you get a hotpot, a plate of kurobuta, assorted veggies, soba dipping sauce and soba noodles.

Then we took the cityview bus (JPY600 for one day, unlimited) to Shiroyama Observatory for a magnificent view of Sakurajima (see top picture). The weather was good, the sky was blue and the mountain was quite clear ^^ there is a nice hotel Castle Park Hotel with an impressive view of Sakurajima from the hot spring (we saw it in a poster). Maybe next time we can stay there…

We also visited the Kagoshima Aquarium which houses a whale shark. However, there were many people crowded around the tank and it was way too dark so I could not get a decent shot of the shark =(

I did manage to get a shot of the jellyfish though… get stung by one of these and you’ll be in excruciating pain…

LOL... try and make sense of what they're saying... this is at the ironing board loan station

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Japan Nov 2008 Day 3: Kyoto

Hm… how can I not come to Kyoto, my favourite city in Japan?? I have been here 4 times and the more I come, the more I’m in love with it LOL visited Kodaiji and Kiyomizudera which are the nicest in autumn and spring… of cos the whole world also knew that so it was even more crowded then Miyajima -.-

Above: Kyoto's most famous temple, Kiyomizudera
Below: Kodaiji

had matcha and sweet at Kodaiji… made my annual pilgrimage to my two favourite Kiyomizu pottery shops Asahido and Tohgoro hee =D but didn’t see anything I fancied… wait no, didn’t see anything I could afford LOL the pottery is soooooooooooo beautiful la… but some of the bowls… if I buy one set of 5, I can buy the 17-40 f/4L liaoz LOL

Geiko at Kiyomizudera

Lunch… wanna guess?? Sapporo Kani-ya (Sapporo Crab House) is just TWO bus stops away from Kiyomizudera ma… so fang bian ^^

oh oh... having the 18-200mm is v fang bian for paparazi-ing people WITHOUT them knowing ^^ hehehe

Some geiko/maiko going to temple

This is some Tibetan thing which people like to turn, apparently for good luck

A Japanese monk

We spent too much time in Kyoto so by the time we reached Hakata (2.5 hours from Shin-Osaka), we only had energy left to shower, watch Desperate Housewives on the Mac and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz……… oh, i stayed up to edit the pics and update my blog for you ^^ gan dong hor? =P

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Japan Nov 2008 Day 2: Iwakuni

The next morning, I woke up at 6am (Singapore time 5am) so I could go to cheong hotspring again and hopefully no weirdo goes to hotspring at 6am in the morning so I can snap a few shots to show you guys afterwhich I can get some decent shots of Momijidani WITHOUT tourists but @#%$ there are actually other weirdos who have the same great idea *grumble grumble* There were already people strolling in Momijidani -.- and when I entered the public bath… -.- diao… there were like 5 pairs of slippers -.- lock my camera in locker le la -.-

But I still managed to catch some decent shots of Momijidani here ^^

This is the JR Ferry to Miyajima

Kaki (oyster) farms

Before you leave Miyajima, make sure you eat some anago (seawater eel… it’s different from unagi which is freshwater eel) at this restaurant. it's between Miyajimaguchi station and the ferry terminal, near the entrance of the underpass.

and buy some Mimoji Manyu (it’s Momiji-shaped Kueh Boloh with filling… we like the red-bean ones) make sure you get them vacuum-packed cos the cakes only last 3 days with normal packaging but 10 with vacuum packaging.

We took a local train (less than alf an hour) to Iwakuni before heading back to Osaka… WA! Kintai-kyo… one of the top three bridges in Japan is indeed a manificent structure… I have a thing for bridges =D It was built such that the more weight was on it, the more sturdy it became… cool hor?? I think ancient people are so smart… i was furiously snapping away until chris said the bridge is tired… LOL

Caught a couple taking wedding photos ^^

Here’s kintai-kyo from Iwakuni Castle

The typical "We were there!" shot

We had lunch at this restaurant with a window view of Kintai-kyo ^^ try Iwakuni sushi, a special sushi unique to Iwakuni in which the chef makes a HUGE block of layered rice, egg, lotus root, prawns etc… then cuts them into small serving portions

Dinner was HAHAHA!!! Puffer fish hotpot at Umeda Osaka ^^ the same outlet as the one in Tokyo… I am a happy girl ^^