Sunday, November 26, 2017

C3 AFA Singapore 2017

Anime Festival Asia (AFA) is now called C3 AFA due to some changes in the organisers. Other than that, it is essentially the same anime event like the previous years. A few weeks ago I was tempted to watch the Anisong concert on Friday because there are several familiar names such as FLOW and Tomohisa Sako. I tried to listen to other songs (other than the few I know) and I decided perhaps I don't like enough songs from them to make me want to watch the Anisong concert. Lol. After the somewhat disappointing AFA 2016, I was lazy to go this year. However, after the emo-ness since Wednesday, I decided to go in the hope that things can't be worse than the previous week.

I queued for 20 minutes last year just for the ticket and this morning I reached later at 12+. I was pleasantly surprised that there was no queue!! Wow.. The wristband was back to the old stick on type unlike the cooler one for last year.

I find that this AFA is the most enjoyable one so far: more experience zones, more displays, less shops and shopping, and most importantly less crowd. A huge Gundam Exia awaits at the entrance. It is quite a sight as it is about 2x the size of the Gundam Unicorn in previous AFA. It is quite unfortunate that the lighting around the area is pretty dim.. and my phone camera sucks.
Gunpla models and Star Wars models are displayed in open without case so it is easier to take photos. The Tamashi Nation side is still displaying with cases and the glass is so reflective! In the photos, the reflection on the glass is even more visible than the things that I want to take photos. Similar to last year, there is no Saint Seiya or Sailor Moon items. One Piece is still dominating and Dragon Ball seems to be back into limelight.
I am too lazy to take photos of non-Gundam Wing series so I just took one photo.
More hangars will be good for display cabinets
This is quite an interesting new line. Waiting for Gundam Wing of course
Last year this was inside a display case. This year it shines more gloriously.
Green Banshee is a nice contrast next to the gold Phenex
New line for Digimon: cool concept but not Agumon and Wargreymon are not proportionate in size
Next to Bandai is a booth specially for Black Butler. I was tempted to get the $10 soft serve but since the cup was plastic (not glass), I decided not to give into temptation. Most of the booth area is for displays instead of selling items which is again a good thing.
 Standees this year are from Black Butler.
Thematic display from Black Butler booth
Last year the crowd prohibited me from even passing through the Creators Hub but it was a breeze this year. I noticed that there are fewer shops and each shop is also bringing lesser items. I usually skip the shops selling random merchandises (e.g folders, towels, cups, etc) but the queues for these shops were noticeably missing this year. I entered 1 shop because somehow Ryu Studio has a display. It is really a huge regret that I missed the Naruto preorder this year and it is sold out now. Sigh.. The statue really looks gorgeous and the details were amazing. My photos do not do them justice and I took the photos simply to make my blog less boring. I don't know why Ryu Studio display is smacked in a hidden corner of a shop. These statues really deserve better exposure.
3 Narutos in a statue. How cool that is.
Only 10 for pre-order for this AFA? What a joke! Well Gaara is sold out too actually.
I was lucky to pass Canon area when Pikachu made an appearance so I took a free photo. Canon is amazing with a few photo areas, free photos and free prints. I only took another photo at the Mario World set. I don't know how much Canon is forking out money but they should invest in better photographer. My Pikachu photo is off center and my Mario photo is a close up that people will not be able to tell I am taking it for a Mario theme. The quality of the photo print is mediocre too so I don't know how it will make people want to buy their photo printer. But hey cannot complain for free stuff.

NHK has a photo booth with Domo but I did not get a chance as Domo appeared for a short time. It is not a normal photo booth as well since people are supposed to move/shake on the camera and the end product will a gif or a video? I don't know.. but it is another unique experience zone. There is also Namco booth is for free gaming which obviously cannot be enjoyed by a loner like me. Sigh..

The other booth worth mentioning is Manga de Japan which have several activities. My luck is pathetic and I did not get the correct balls to be drawn into a manga character :( I was roped in to join one of the mangaka's session to draw and the mangaka would choose 1 winner. This was quite poorly organised as the orientation of what the mangaka's drawing was a mirror image from what shown in the camera. My drawing was not that bad actually lol. Can't believe that the winner is a girl who drew a girl on top of the aeroplane. The sketch of the girl was nice but the plane was bad. I thought this was to partner ANA and the plane should be the focus and another guy (not me) drew a much better plane. Well whatever..

Behind it is the area to promote a manga called Karin's Mound. I was approached if I wanted to try VR game to bat for a baseball game. There were 2 people queueing so initially I was lazy to queue and I decided to go to the front where I was roped in to do the manga drawing. By the time I was back, the queue was already long. Haiz.. wasted :( It would be a good experience to play with virtual reality stuff.

It should be a fun day but for a negative person like myself, I left feeling more emo. Sigh.. Imagine that I came with 0 level of happiness. I was actually quite happy to take photos with Pikachu and at the Mario set so these should be +2. However the failure to play the VR game, to be drawn in a manga style, and to play PS4 Gundam game at Namco booth made me miserable as I could only achieve 2 instead of 5 things to make me happy.

From the less crowd, I thought AFA started to lose popularity this year. That was not the case apparently as when I left, the queue for the entrance ticket purchase was crazy. Lol.. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that it was not like that when I came.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Epic fail

The final review for my project was completed on Wednesday and it ended with an epic fail. It certainly helped to be prepared to fail in the first place but I am not going to lie that I feel sad, angry, and disappointed. It is a shame to be a failure and thinking how much time and effort I spent in the past 6 months of this programme to just end with an epic fail, it hurts. I could have done something more fruitful.

What is worse than the failure itself is the fact that I sort of rocked the boat too much. I don't know if it is my (bad) luck to have the group quality chief as one of the assessors and the problem I want to address is deemed too serious and what I have done is simply not enough. Getting more support/help from relevant parties means causing other people now to take up this problem as theirs too. You can imagine how scare or serious things are if the quality director had to call me at the end of the day as there was a meeting on the following day to discuss about this bla bla bla.

I should be banned from leading a project as every time I lead, I always do something that upsets a lot of people. A few years ago I started a project about checking against hospital records and then another project to drive near misses reporting. After a few years, everyone had to follow suit and in that sense I was not wrong and I am doing the right thing. But it is always hard at the initial stage to fight bombs from all sides: "Why do you need to do this?", "Why do you need to make life difficult for everyone?", etc. Now that it is recurring again and it affects a bigger stakeholder, it is very scary.

Things got a bit emotional during Q & A because Q & A session is always like an attack and a defense. But after the Q & A, I actually spoke to all the assessors. After all, passing or failing this programme has no importance since it is not for masters or PhD. Lol. At the end of the day, I realise that I enjoy the ground problem solving and improvement work. I just hate the paper work part to meet certain criteria or methodology bla bla bla.

I presented the same sets of data during the mid-point review 3 months ago and there was no hoohah. I am more upset with the fact that only now suddenly there was a big hoohah that I needed more help from correct people bla bla bla. Why was this not done since 3 months ago?

I don't know how things will turn out next but at least for now I feel liberated. I have completed the promised 6 months commitment and I can't be bothered about what's next.

While I am not traumatised, I am upset enough and only today I feel that I have calmed down somewhat to write this blog. And it impacts me bad enough to make me considering changing job again. I may have an offer waiting and if really there will be an opening for that job, I will seriously considering. It is not easy to find another job at different field but without pay cut. The idealistic me prefers to change job with pay increase but with current happenings at work, even same pay is good enough to make me quit.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Justice League

DC Comics movies suck until Wonder Woman which is the first DC movie that I watched. I am usually more hyped to watch a group of superheroes and I am pretty excited about Justice League. I hate the Aquaman design and the missing Superman from the promo posters but I got pretty hyped up again to see the designs of the promo posters. I think it is genius to incorporate the heroes' logos to the movie's tagline. 1 day after its release, I was shocked to see the pathetic reviews dominated by 1 and 2 stars but in the end I decided to still watch it or else my free movie ticket would be wasted.

I don't know if it is intended but the approach is quite similar to the Avengers with the heroes facing a threat to the world and the enemies they have to fight are just CGI monsters. I think that is very lazy. They should from X-men movies with conflicts between a team of superheroes vs a team of super villains. That kind of fight is more interesting to watch. The action scenes are lacklustre and they just waste the various super powers that these superheroes have. Most of the fights end up being physical slugfest without the uniqueness of each superhero.

The conflict is a repeat of a similar one that happened ages ago. The flashback shows how great the conflict was that it took the human race, the Olympians, the Amazons, the Atlanteans, and the Green Lantern corps to beat Steppenwolf. Fast forward now and the conflict is only about Steppenwolf vs 6 superheroes. How unexciting that is in comparison? -_- Thor: Ragnarok that I watched 2 weeks ago also has something similar so I don't know why suddenly movies like to use this kind of disappointing approach.

I know a lot of people do not like the Flash here but I think he plays his role well as a good comic relief. I hate his suit though (they should have stuck with leather suit). Unfortunately, Flash often becomes corny because the rest of the characters are the boring types. It is clear that the movie directors are confused whether to make the tone of the movie serious or lighter. My apology but I cannot avoid comparison with Marvel movies which generally has a lighter tone and hence the interactions among the characters can be funny but still natural and believable. In Justice League, it is quite obvious that the Flash is put there to make people laugh.
Oh yeah.. that's the superpower we all want, don't we?

Justice League is supposed to be a team of superheroes but this movie does not convey that message. After resurrecting Superman, Superman beats down the rest. In the final battle, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg (yes 5 of them) cannot beat the villain but once Superman appears, everything is settled. So what's the point of having a Justice League when Superman alone can actually do all the job?

It seems that this movie fails to be a beacon of hope for DC Comics movies. I am not biased but I am glad I enjoy Marvel movies more. Call me kiddy or what but they are more enjoyable and entertaining after all: whether the interactions between the characters or the action scenes.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fucked up Dell

My last week had been a nightmare because of my laptop which was officially dead. I could not focus at work and I had trouble sleeping. It is sad and pathetic but I suppose that is a proof of how dependent I am to my laptop.

My laptop had been laggy for the past few days so last last Friday I decided to check task manager. Despite nothing running, it showed CPU 100% usage and after googling, one of the possible reasons might be problems with windows update. Yep, there was a windows update that had been failed installation for the past 1+ week. I switched off the laptop find on Friday and on Saturday morning, it was dead! I could not boot into windows after failed windows repair and clean up. I even waited for almost 24 hours for the "repairing disk..." but dead meant dead.

On Sunday I started emailing shops to find out what possibly could be the problem and how much it would cost to fix. It seemed that the hard disk was the problem and had to be replaced. That made me even more emo as everything in this laptop had not been backed up yet. Fuck :( I even tried to find technician at Carousell for alternatives. The one I found told me the same and he could fix it but I had to leave my laptop with him. Of course I had my reservations leaving my laptop to a stranger.

On Monday I asked my office IT technician but he was useless. He offered to take a look so I brought my laptop on Tuesday but he was seriously useless. He could not even give any information or possibility of the issue. In the evening, I went to one of the shops that I contacted and I was informed that it might take 3-7 days to get my laptop diagnosed and fixed. I could not afford to wait that long with my CPIP coming :(

I decided to search Carousell and I found another IT guy who was willing to come to my place to fix. He sounded very sure that he could fix my laptop and saved my data in 2 hours. We made appointment for Wednesday at 630pm but I was very restless and I decided to leave work at 3pm to take a nap.

He came late at 730pm and until 10pm, he could not get my computer revived. Sigh... 2 bad news: my hard disk seemed wiped out (sayonara my data...) and hard disk might not be the problem as he tried changing with another 2 hard disks that he brought but windows still could not be installed. Haiz.. However, I was very lucky because he refused to take any payment because "he did not manage to do anything". He even refused me paying for his taxi fare. What a sincere and pleasant guy. He advised me to go to Dell to get it fixed and then to update him as he was interested to know the problem and why he could not fix.

I could not find any Dell service center address or phone number in Singapore. Haiz. I grew even more desperate and my Thursday was spent on finding data recovery options and shops who might be willing to buy parts of my laptop. Data recovery is out since it would cost me $500++ I only found 1 shop who is doing buy back and I could possibly get $250-300 for this laptop. I bought this laptop in June 2016 for $850 and that means it cost me $600 for using this for 16 months. Haiz.. After work I went to Dell shop at Plaza Singapura and I was told that Dell has no service center in Singapore. They only have phone support. What.. the.. fuck..

I informed the guy from Wednesday about it and he offered to let him try again to revive my laptop as he did further research. However, this time I had to leave my laptop with him so that he could do it in his office. I was running out of option and as I had met this guy, I decided that I could trust him. I told him I would call Dell service center first and then update him.

I wasted my time off to take a day off on Friday. I decided that I did not want to prolong this agony much longer. If Dell was unable to help me, then I would just sell the laptop and bought a new one. Honestly, Dell technical help through the phone was quite helpful although it did not help any much more than the information that I had from the technician that came on Wednesday. So I contacted him again and he promised that he could fix and return to me by Saturday. I decided to take the chance as if it was still okay, I still could sell it and get a new laptop by weekend.

The guy was a saviour! He really managed to revive my laptop. Apparently the hard disk is really dead. So I spent another $200 to get a new hard disk and to pay for his service. It is a market rate and I am happy that he even included Microsoft Office. So after downloading Avast last night, my nightmare happened again as Microsoft triggered another update. It started at 10pm and even until 3am it was still updating. Thankfully in the morning when I woke up everything was back to normal. Fiuh..

From this experience, I swear that never I will ever buy Dell anymore. A hard disk breaks just after 1 6 months? What the shit seriously. My Acer survived for 10 years and I used it for longer period of time including many nights of songs. While this Dell laptop usage is much much more minimal. Not to mention that Dell has not physical service center. Jeez..

I learnt from the technician that usually home use laptop, or those cost $1000-ish with 1 year warranty, usually will not last long. Those almost hitting $2000 are the ones for office use are usually more durable and that's why the warranty is also 3 years. No wonder my Acer is quite durable.

With that, this Dell laptop basically cost me $1050 in total. If it cannot last beyond 5 years, it is basically worse than the $2000 Acer which lasted about 9 years (it is still alive in its 10th year now but its wifi is dead lol). I don't know if I should go to Apple or I should give Windows a chance. One thing for sure: the next brand I will buy will be Lenovo. Many offices and companies use Lenovo laptop so I suppose it should not be so shitty as this Dell.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Winter shopping

Uniqlo is having sale for normal Heat Tech articles this weekend and they are selling for $14.90 each. It will be my first time spending winter in Japan this coming December and I really have no idea what to expect. I think as I am getting older and 'more informed', I am getting more easily stressed for not so important things. When I went to Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008, it was also during winter yet I did not remember I was being as worried as now. I just borrowed clothes from my godma, I survived with whatever I had, and I still had an enjoyable time.

Now with Heat Tech, there is normal, extra warm, and ultra warm. Bleah.. even after googling for information, it really does not help to make up my mind. I decided to just buy at least 1 each and then see which one is the 'best' and to buy more in Japan when needed.

I bought 2 long sleeve shirts (black and grey) and 2 leggings. As a guy, I never imagine myself ever have to wear leggings. Haha.. One thing for sure, I will not be able to pee at the urinal because the legging has no 'hole' to slip out dick.

Kando pants is also on sale this week :( So yah, just 1 week difference and I already lose $20 for the 2 pants. Haiz.. Seriously for Uniqlo, just wait for the item you want to be on sale before you buy it. Because of this, I am going to wait because it is just a matter of time before Heat Tech extra warm and ultra warm will be on sale too.

I am feeling very fucked up now. My sister just flew to Germany for work and she was so lucky to be upgraded by Emirates to Business Class! I am so jealous as I have never been to one. Haiz.. I am also jealous that she goes annually overseas fully paid for work. Meanwhile what do I get for my work here? FML.

To make things worse, my new laptop is dead. I don't know if it can be revived so I shall save the post about this when things are back to normal.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

If it is not because of the movie voucher that I pre-paid for, I will not watch this movie, just like how I did not watch the first 2 Thor movies in the cinema. The addition of Hulk makes this a semi-Avenger movie which increases the pull factor. However ultimately the strongest pull factor for me is Hela.

Let's not talk much about the plot as honestly how interesting can superhero movie's plot be? Lol. This is another formulaic the hero gets banished from his native birthland because it has been overtaken by the villain. The hero ends up in another place and gathers a team to fight the villain back.

It is refreshing to see Thor with short hair and without his helmet. It is like a girl with long hair who cuts her hair after a break up, Thor short hair also brings about the level of comedy in the movie to a higher level and that is a good thing. The banter and comedy feels natural and does not feel forced even when they are delivered in straight face to increase the realism.

It is always amazing to see an actress doing physical fights and Hela embodies that. As Goddess of Death, I was expecting her to just raise an army of CGI zombies to do the fighting while she sits at her throne. Yes she raises an army of CGI zombies but she also does not hesitate to get her hands dirty in the fights which fits her backstory before she was banished by Odin. It is also refreshing to see her undefeated by the heroes until the end. Again that fits into her background story as a powerful Goddess. She is dead eventually and that is because of the Ragnarok that burns and destroys the whole Asgard.

The fights that don't involve Hela are boring obviously as who cares about those CGI zombies. There is a flash back of the previous war in which all, except one, valkyries were defeated by Hela and that is awesome. Sadly the repeat fight now is so boring. Hulk vs Fenrir happens mostly off screen and underwater and that should be a better fight to be featured instead of the CGI zombies fight.

The movie ending brings us closer to the Avengers: Infinity War and even Doctor Strange has an unexpected appearance in this movie. I really can't wait for the Infinity War and it is better be good.
I promise not to collect movie collectibles from cinemas as usually they are just a waste of money making use of customers' hype to buy a low quality merchandise. But the cup in the shape of a hammer is just too interesting to resist :p

Friday, October 27, 2017

First test of leadership

After thinking about the matter over last weekend, I finally decided to open my mouth and break my silence to my team members. I worried that I would end up scolding them but I think I did pretty well to remain calm despite my strongly worded speech and threats.

I do not want to micromanage and I give everyone flexibility, autonomy, and authority in hope that everyone will take their own initiative to help to manage branch operations and staff. Sadly the reality is just like the famous internet story:
"This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have."

So I gave everyone 1 last month of chance. If everyone remains bo chup, clearly the current method does not work. I will have to be more dictatorial and start rostering, putting everyone as the responsible person for certain things, demand updates, and make own decisions. It sounds more work to be wanting to be in control of all aspects but it is better to take control to prevent things from getting haywire instead of current state that eventually I need to take control but usually after things are haywire because the people who are supposed to be responsible are just bo chup.

Not an easy thing to have this kind of difficult talk but I am glad that I did it. I remain truthful to my principle to be open about things instead of hiding them and then only air all the dirty laundry during appraisal.

I am so tired with work and life in general. With limited time, there is just so much that I can do and certain things have to give away. Gym definitely affects the time and activity that I am left with after work. But I guess gym is a good activity, better than gaming, and better than to continue working at home. My CPIP final presentation is in exactly 4 weeks time and I am so screwed. I don't even have time to analyse the data so far. Don't even talk about slides, results, costings, etc. Die liao la.

Things are a bit slack in the past 2 days as I am away for course at Jurong. I made use of the lunch time to walk around Westgate and JEM and I finally decided to buy new working pants. I bought Kando Pants from Uniqlo at $59.90. It is expensive but I am desperate as one my newer pants were 'burnt' by the lady who ironed my clothes and already has a hole. I made special effort to get it at Plaza Singapura so that I can get capita star points. All the time and special effort made were wasted as in the end I forgot to scan the receipt. Stupid me :(

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Still no progress

Another quarter has passed and this is my result. As seen from the photo that I took after the test, I am getting lousier that I only took the picture halfway and did not realise about it. Haiz.. Anyway before I forget:
~Pull up hold: 38 sec
~Push up: 23
~Squat: 56
~Burpee: 23
~Tabata protocol: all the missing boxes should be 8

Ok la, actually I did show some improvement from the previous quarter. I actually wanted to slack a bit by choosing goblet squat and tabata with dumbbell initially. I did not think I could go any faster for my normal squat (my thighs were giving away and I nearly fell down after the test in July) and I always dropped the ball halfway for tabata and hence I wanted to just do a 5kg dumbbell.

The coach knew my intention and did not let me. So it was quite a surprise that I still could go even faster for my squat and I managed to not drop the ball for tabata. The coach asked me not to do so fast for the tabata as the aim would be to make sure that I had the ball all the way.

So the plan for me next would be to do jump pull up all the way (instead of slacking to squat pull again when I am lazy or tired) and I have to work on my stamina. I was told that I could go faster if I did not 'control' the movement so much. Usually I am concerned about the form and I do not want to be breathless so I will control my movement.

Previously I needed 3 days rest after a quarterly test before I could go for normal session. This time I went only after 2 days. I survived although I regretted that I did not wait another day. Hahaha.. but the fact that I survived means that this is another improvement to recover faster. But ultimately, the actual goal that I want is still not achieved: weight loss :(

Sunday, October 22, 2017

International selling

When I started selling my old and unwanted toys, I never imagined I would ever sell to overseas buyers. It is even more surprising that the channel that got me overseas buyer is Carousell which is based in Singapore. I decided to give it a try after eBay and forum hardwarezone did not seem to work for me anymore.

The first one I sold was Final Fantasy VIII Transcendent's Artist Collection: Rinoa & Siren. This was sold in mid-2016 and I forgot to write about it. After getting an undamaged one in Jakarta, I have been putting the damaged one on sale. This figure gave me a lot of headache a few years ago because of a stupid proxy Shopping Mall Japan (the posts are here and here) and I better not keep anything that reminds me of that bad experience. The buyer was from Spain. I felt so bad for him because the statue was damaged and EMS from Singapore was about $200. In total it was a crazy amount for a damaged figure. Well since he was very sure on getting this, I was also more than happy to sell. As a collector myself, I can understand the occasional irrational behaviour when it comes to buying collectibles.
Spent about USD 900 with the damaged Squall & Bahamut. Sold this for USD 600.
I do not post much about Final Fantasy Chrome as it took me a few years to complete it and then got lazy to take photos and post about it. Some were bought as bundles and I end up with few duplicates. Thus I am in the midst of selling the duplicates. I managed to sell one yesterday to a buyer in Japan. I just find it amusing that I bought this from a seller in Japan and now I am selling it to another person in Japan.
Sold for $200 so that is quite a nice $50 profit
The thing about selling internationally is Paypal is usually the go to method for safe transaction. Unfortunately, paypal fee is about 5% of the transaction value. I personally hate it when seller passes on the fee to the buyer and therefore I myself am not doing that. So usually I will just suck it up but of course in the future if there are more foreign buyers, I guess I have start splitting half-half.

Lastly, I managed to sell the Dream Kingdom book that I just bought at Kyoto during last month's trip for $20 and it still did not help to cure my heartache for spending $45 for importing one before the trip. The buyer happened to be attending FF concert too so at least that I did not have to make special arrangement for it.

Thank God for the 2 items sold yesterday and I pray for more things to find buyers soon.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Final Fantasy Distant Worlds ~ Jiritsu

Jiritsu means 30 years old and that is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy series. This year also marks the 10th year anniversary of Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concerts which started during the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy series. To mark the special occasion, Nobuo Uematsu himself was present to attend the concert.

I was expecting something special to mark the special occasion but it turned out to be disappointing. I went for the concert last year (read the post here) and almost everything that I wrote is still relevant for this year's concert since the concert venue, the orchestra, and the conductor are all still the same.

The repertoire is seriously worse this year. It may be the first time some songs are played for Distant Worlds but choosing the less popular tunes and the mellow ones as the first few songs really bring the mood down. Even the more upbeat songs end with an anti-climatic tune instead of a loud orchestra kind of bang. This year's concert definitely did not sell out as on my level, the right wing was only 30-40% filled. My row and the row behind me were half empty after the first half. Arnie did not engage the audience as much as last year and I believe the audience were also less crazy than last year. Overall, the energy level was poor and disappointing even for the 'Sephiroth' chants during One Winged Angel.

Nobuo Uematsu was there in the audience and I was surprised that Arnie did not have more interactions with him. I thought it would be nice if Uematsu-san were to conduct 1 song as an encore but that did not happen. He ran to join the choir instead for One Winged Angel. But hey he seems to be a very nice and easy-going man and he clearly enjoyed and had fun.

One song that really blew my mind is FF 6 Opera song. It features several styles of music (from opera, waltz, game kind of music) and it also features soloists. With a grand ending, this is the kind of fantastic song for a live orchestra.

Medley is missing and I am still hoping for Dissidia ending theme song that features a glimpse of soundtrack from each series.

I missed the merchandise last year so I arrived earlier at about 630pm and I queued for merchandise for about 40 minutes. I only bought the concert booklet which is very expensive at $35 and they did not even have a carrier bag! Seriously.. There were Chocobo and Mog's plushie for 30th anniversary for $60 each. Only 100 pcs for each and it was sold out by the time I was there. Crazy.. Lucky I already bought them when I was in Japan. The shirt was reasonably priced for concert merchandise at $25 but the design is too plain to get me interested.

I bought the cheapest ticket this year for $72.50 with restricted view. Never ever I will do this again as I wanted to watch a live concert/orchestra, not watching a live screening through a monitor. After 2 years of disappointment, I am not sure if my fanboy energy is enough to convince me to again if there is another one next year -which I doubt since this year's was not sold out and the audience was rather emo too.
The small monitor should just show the VIDEO on screen. Clearly the person who makes this never sit here. The orchestra is visible and there is no need to show them again from the monitor. What we cannot see is the screen and showing the whole stage on the monitor makes the screen too small and we still cannot see anything

Sunday, October 15, 2017

USS Halloween Horror Nights 2017

I don't like USS and I swear I will never go in to pay. In fact the only 2 times I went to USS were because I had free tickets. I broke my promise as I paid about $50 for USS Halloween Horror Nights yesterday. A colleague recommended it as part of a team bonding so I said okay. Few weeks later she was transferred to another branch and I felt really really sian to go. Haiz..

The entry time began at 730pm. Since I worked and I had volunteering, I was deliberately late. Haha.. I only reached home at 7pm, had a quick snack for dinner since I doubted I would eat at USS, washed my face, and then left home at 730pm. Glad I was not kiasu since my friends queued for almost 1.5 hours just to enter the USS. Wew..

I wanted to go Sentosa through the board walk but my friend recommended to take 188R or 963R. It was a new information that there are public buses to Sentosa now. The bus frequency is once every 30 minutes so I should go via the board walk also. Not to mention that the timing for both buses were not searchable via sgbuses app.

I did not have to queue to enter (yay!) but right from the start I already felt kinda meh. I know it is for halloween but it was just freaking dark. It was so painful for the eyes and the brain to try to look for ways and avoid bumping to others/things in such low lighting and at the same time people were wearing devil horns with blinking lights.

Since I experienced the Halloween event in USJ a few weeks ago, I can't avoid making comparisons. USS scare zone is definitely done more elaborately but I find that it covers too small of the area. It is quite unfortunate that the lighting was too dark that all the hard work to make all the props and make-ups cannot really be appreciated by the visitors. Nah.. don't even consider think of photos unless you have a very atas camera.

My friends were still queue-ing for their first attraction when I arrived so I decided to just walk around. As previously, in just less than an hour, I completed 1 round already. Surprisingly, the eateries were not crowded at all. I guess everyone was so excited to go for the ride instead of eating.

In total I experienced 3 haunted houses: the shaman one, the shopping mall one, and the mind of the psycho killer one. The estimated time were 160 mins for the first one although the actual time was about half an hour less. As it was getting less, the waiting time for the later ones were shorter but still in between 1-2 hours. We left close to 130am (the official closing time mentioned is 130am anyway) because someone was driving. Otherwise I would leave at 1030pm. Haha.. I reached home at 2am and I am still feeling tired today. Age is catching up real quick.

It may not be fair to compare as I only went for 1 halloween attraction in USJ but I am quite disappointed with USS one. There were too many people and we were just walking continuously and swiftly as a group through the haunted houses. I did not find it scary or exciting as you could see what would happen or who would jump out just by seeing the people in front of you. The zombie forest I tried in USJ was more exciting because entry was for small groups and subsequently the path diverged and the group became even smaller at certain sections. That would be more exciting. Nonetheless, thumbs up for the props and decoration in the haunted houses.

I can't understand how people would pay for this kind of thing, queue for hours (and having black faces and complaining while doing so), and scream like mad with the attractions. They all should know what they are signing up for.

I guess I am too mature for halloween stuff as it is quite easy to predict what will happen. When there is a curtain or a door, there is a high chance someone will jump. When there are mannequins, there will be a few which are humans, and so on. Having said that, I am still childish enough to enjoy Disneyland :p

After last night, my impression remains: I don't like USS and I swear I will never go in to pay again.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Wayang king

It has been a long time that I do not rant about work and I think it is time for one. 2 months ago I asked my boss to transfer someone with more experience to my branch. Wish was not granted. I was given someone relatively new with the reason that it would be easier for me to manage a new staff. Furthermore she is someone cheerful and sunny which will inject some positivity to negate my negativity.

Last week I was informed that this person would be transferred again. Sigh.. all my hard work to train her and to gel her with the team just went to the drain. This time I would get someone with more experience as she has been working for >1 year. Did not I ask for someone with this kind of traits just 2 months ago?

Lucky I was informed through phone as if it were done face to face, I don't think I can hide my displeasure. When asked if I had any concerns, I actually sarcastically asked "Do I have a choice?". My boss laughed and said "No actually you don't". So what is the point of all the pleasantries? A few weeks later she mentioned that she forgot that another girl from my branch lives in the west or otherwise she would transfer her. Err.. as if it matters to me WHO get transferred. What matters to me is as long the transfer affects my branch, I will have to do the extra work to get the team together again and to train the new person again.

The change will only be effective this coming Monday and yesterday I received another phone call that this new person may not be permanent at my branch. Seriously.. what the hell.. Nah this time I did not even bother to say or ask anything. What's the point? Haiz..

I did not have time to do my own work for the past week as I am busy with clearing people's shit all the time. Currently I have 2 new staff who are giving me headache. My colleagues are in charge of their training but now that it is reaching a crunch time, I have to do something while my own pre-reg is doing his external rotation. 1 is to be confirmed in 1 month time and I had to do the dirty work to inform her the expectations or else she will not be confirmed as a staff. Imagine.. just after 3 months in this new role and I have gain karma by sacking people already. The other person is worse as she was confirmed by another branch and then transferred to me. Seriously if the other branch was just confirming her so that she could be thrown to me, it was a dick move. I already informed my boss that if within 1 week this person could not be independent, I want her to be transferred back to the branch that confirmed her. Eat your own shit, man!

I am also quite pissed with my colleagues who are in charge of their training but they are not doing anything extra to solve the problem. But I just heard one is planning to leave so whatever la.

The past 2 days are also a reminder how unfit I am to be in a leadership position. I still find it difficult to control my emotion. Deep in my heart, I want to be someone understanding that people will make mistakes and so on. But when their mistakes become problems for me to solve, I just lose my cool as it will just eat my own time for my own work.

I finally saw the end product of the video that was filmed few months ago. The voiceless acting part exceeded my expectations. In fact, I could not believe the faces that I made in the video. No way my face was like that in real life. Haha.. it was fully fake and called acting after all. The interview part was really embarrassing. I did not really pay attention to the words that I said as I was already so ashamed with my voice and my accent. Anyway I know my voice is so 'unique' that it always sounds very weird when it goes to any electronic device whether it is phone, microphone, PA system etc. I think I sounded like a small kid :( The accent was completely unexpected as people keep telling me that my Singlish is very good so it was really surprising that in the video it was damn obvious from my accent that I am a foreigner. As much as I am curious to listen to my words in the video, I think it was a blessing in disguise that I was too distracted to listen. Otherwise I would be very critical of myself with my choice of words or the unintentional grammar mistakes if there was any. I am so jealous of the other people in the video: how good and natural they are in the interview part. Obviously a career change is not an option for me anymore.

On a happier note, my photo has appeared in the corporate website and I am very happy that the quote picked for the caption the one more professional sounding. Lol. I think I look too giggly in the photo that it is obvious that I am wayang-ing again. Haha..

There are few people who asked me why I remove my specs for the photo or video. Obviously it is so that people cannot recognise me in real life. Haha.. another reason is because I think I look better without specs. So now it is left with the fall prevention video that I have not seen. I think this would be the most embarrassing one as I am acting with talking in this one T_T

Sunday, October 1, 2017

First race/run

I just completed CSC Run 2017 today. Few months ago, my colleagues and I were so excited about this as none of us had ever joined this kind of run. We joined out of curiosity and just to experience it. As the day came closer, we were feeling more and more dreadful. Last night I was regretting why I even thought of joining. I was so self conscious about what to wear for the race as I find the race singlet to be revealing. In the end I decided to just heck and still wear it as it is. Fat then fat lo. I think I can see a bit of improvement from the gym. At least now my arms show some definition of the biceps compared to the last time I took a photo with a singlet in Bintan 3 years ago.

I only trained once a few weeks ago before my Japan trip and my body was sore for the next 2-3 days. I did note even complete 5km lol. From that experience, I chose not to train again this week and just whack during the race. Thank goodness that I was able to complete the 5km. Running around the track and running around the city is a huge difference. The flag off time was 745am and I was done by 825am. That was much faster than my initial expectation of 1 hour. Not to mention that I only started jogging after the 1km mark. There was only 1 water point near the u-turn and as always, once I stopped, it was difficult to restart again. Subsequently it was an alternate jogging and walking.

The race starting and ending point was at Marina Barrage and the nearest MRT is at Bayfront. I think we spent more time on the way to MRT to take photos with our medals than the actual time spent for the race itself. Haha.. Not expected from a bunch of first time runners. I am pretty happy that I did not feel as tired or sore as the one and only training few weeks ago. Right now I am feeling more tired from the lack of sleep last night rather than from the race.

Finally I have met my target to experience this kind race/run and I don't think I will do this again in the future. I am not a fan of running/jogging after all.

It has only been 1 week since my holiday but my energy level is back to what it was before the holiday. Work really sucks. Not to mention that next week is already October and I just have to start throwing some interventions for my project.

I should have suspended my gym membership another week and to restart in October. It was kinda wasted since I only went for 2 times this week. I am still very lazy and tired. I have not even got the time to look and organise the photos taken in Japan.

I gained a few kgs when I went to Japan in 2015 and I am really scared to weigh myself. After a week, I decided to accept reality and I am very pleased that I actually lose weight! Omg omg I am back to 64kg. It has been a long time since I could get back to less than 65kg. I better not waste this opportunity to return to my cereal dinner everyday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Owari da

Last meal in Japan
Japan holiday is over and I am just done unpacking. Lucky I am taking leave tomorrow as I don't think I can tahan. Haha.. Despite reaching early, the time at airport was quite tight. I was surprised that we are expected to remove our own tax free receipts stuck to our passports. Jeez.. If I knew that, I would have removed it earlier to save time. I cannot anyhow remove it so as not to damage the passport. I went to have tendon for breakfast. I was craving for tendon in the past 2 days but did not have the chance to eat one so at the airport was the last chance. By the time I reached the waiting gate, it was time to enter the plane so time well spent in the airport.

I was lucky that I had an empty chair next to me in the plane so I had a bit more space. I did not really sleep and spent most of the time watching movies: Sagrada Reset part 1 and part 2, Kiseki: Sobito of that Day and Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High. I was quite lost with the Sagrada Reset and I sort of fall asleep halfway during part 2. Because of that I rewound a bit and I did not manage to complete Teiichi. I should have watched Teiichi first because it is much more enjoyable. Kiseki: Sobito of that Day is a movie about the band GReeeeN and I am very glad that I watch it.

With the holiday over, it is time for some reflection. Firstly I have completed my calculations and this 1 week in Japan cost me about $4000. I did not feel that I spent so much because I came back still with so much cash. Lol.. This is the danger of credit card use overseas. Actually it is quite unexpected also as 2 years ago when I was in Tokyo, not many shops accepted credit card yet.

When travelling with others, it is always best to have an agreed itinerary. Otherwise, it is better not to travel together as it will create a lot of irritation. Or perhaps if just want to save on the accomodation, we can always have an agreement that we will split to pursue our own interests.

I did more shopping than taking photos at this trip and I realised that I enjoy taking photos and experienced new things (like the photo studios and onsen) more than shopping. Okay perhaps I should change that to I enjoy having my photos being taken. Lol. I also like to enjoy the places like the locals and to travel in a more relaxed pace instead of racing against time to cover as many places as possible.

Before I left, I felt anxious about the first day alone. But after the experience, I am quite confident to be travelling solo now :) At least to Japan. With internet connection, google map is always at the fingertips and there is little worry about getting lost. I have to admit that as much as I still prefer a hardcopy map, there will be times that google map will come to rescue me.

I have definitely developed a thicker skin to ask strangers to help me to take pictures. It is sad but majority cannot take photos to achieve my level of expectations and satisfaction. Perhaps I should reduce my own expectations of not having my legs cut, buildings cut, slanted pictures, disproportionate human and background, etc and just enjoy the moment. Sadly selfies are not an option for me since I don't like my ugliness to be accentuated.

This trip also served as a test if my attempt to learn Japanese for the past 2 years bears any fruit. Sadly I still have a loooooong way to go :( I really like and want to learn and revise again but I just don't have the time with my priority is for gaming and sleeping.

Okay time to tidy up my photos and get back to work again. Sian..

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Japan Trip Day 8: Osaka

All good things must come to an end and this is the last day of my holiday. Last day is always reserved for food and last minute shopping so I woke up later than usual this morning (still earlier than my friends). I went back to Don Quijote at Dotonbori to get 2 sets of jinbei, wasabi kit kat, and a Japan sling bag. It was a dilemma about the sling bag as I was torn between its utility and my needs. I like the design and all that but usually I carry so many barang-barang that surely this sling bag cannot fit. In the end I decided to get a discounted one (1900 yen from the original price 2900 yen) so that I could get the tax free. Alamak stupid me for not reading properly. The thing about tax free in Japan is that different shops have different requirements. I thought 5400 yen purchase in Don Quijote was the requirement but actually it was 5400 yen for consumables and 5400 yen for non-consumables. The tax free was not applicable to me as I bought a mixture of consumables (kit kat) and non-consumables (bag and jinbei).

Next destination was Kuromon Market which was bloody crowded as compared to the weekday when I went there with my friends earlier this week. It was crazy but I spent almost 10000 yen just for food and in a market. I don't want to think too much about it but they were good and they are in my stomach already. I tried not to overkill my stomach and my wallet so I decided not to get the kushiyaki, the fried stuff, and the croquettes. On the way there I passed by a vending machine that had the banana milk that I saw in Kyoto so I had a very happy brunch.
Grilled squid for 580 yen, Matsuzaka beef for 2500 yen, Wagyu sushi for 1500 yen, and Ootoro sushi for 2800 yen
I returned back to Yodobashi as there was a new section to celebrate Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary.  I bought the postcard set as well as the plushes that I missed the preorders. I also bought Chocobo card game hoping to sell them :(
With that, I declared that my holiday is over and I would only spend the rest of the day somewhere near airbnb. I kaypoh to check Mandarake Grandchaos again and as what I expected, the spot where Heero and Relena that I bought previously was taken by the matching SDX Divine Knight Wing. Ouch!! After googling, I discovered that this was actually offered by Premium Bandai Singapore earlier this year for $160 and Mandarake price was only 12000 yen. I went back to repack my items and then I decided to just buy it!! On the way to the cashier, I saw Aladdin & Jasmine figures from Tomy Disney Magical Collection for 1000 yen and 1200 yen respectively. These are figures from ages ago as I remembered the last time I saw them was in my early years in Singapore. They are so old that I cannot even find a decent google images of them.
SDX Divine Knight Wing
Can replace the head with Heero's head
It was not 6pm yet and after walking passed the photo studio where I made photos on the first day, I finally decided to be thick skin and do another session. This time I picked a darker and boring colour kimono. It was the same lady as last week and she still remembered me. I told her that I wanted more half body shots and if possible I wanted different poses. She was very nice to help to create more poses and gave suggestions when I wanted a lying down pose. Lol. The shop actually had a quiver property leh! Arrgh.. should have worn that too last week when doing the bow and arrow poses.

While waiting for the photos to be printed, I went back to Dotonbori to try gyoza from a shop that I passed by this morning. The gyoza was quite disappointing though.. Although I wanted to take away, the gyoza was not packed in a closed container so I ate it in front of a shop that played AAA Niji video on loop. Lol. This is one of the videos that usually I watch/listen on repeat at home too leh. Really a sign to go home soon. Starbucks was still crowded with the queue snaking outside the shop and it looks like I do not get to try any Starbucks in Japan.

After collecting the latest photos, I bought a wagyu burger from Amerikamura area just a few steps further from Mandarake as well as takoyaki from another store near our airbnb. From the 3 shops around, I think this is by far the best.

And that's all :( Sayonara T_T huhuhu

Friday, September 22, 2017

Japan Day Trip 7: Kobe, Arima Onsen

As expected yesterday about the split, I split with my friends right from the morning. Upon arriving in Kobe, a friend wanted to eat breakfast while I always wake up early to grab something from nearby Family Mart for breakfast so that I can have more regular meals. Thus I told them that I would make my wait to Nunobiki-no-taki or Nunobiki Falls first.

I am usually proud of my sense of direction with traditional map but today was not the day. The waterfall is of walking distance from the back of Shin-Kobe station but I went to the opposite direction. In the end I had to rely on google map and GPS. Along the way, I met my friends who were there earlier although they only made their way after their breakfast.

I was quite excited about the hike because I was expecting something like Fushimi Inari. Well I was very wrong because this was a real hike with steep angle and kinda rough rocky pathway. Along the way I was panting and had to take a break for photos. Lol. We reached the waterfall on top and it started to drizzle so we made our way back. The journey back down was equally difficult as the hike up. It was not as breathless but I had to be careful not to slip.
I did not there were a few waterfalls but I just took the stairs because on the map, the waterfall seems to be quite high in the mountain lol
Nunobiki-no-taki
My friends decided to explore the city while I decided to hike up another route which I believed would lead me to the herb garden. Again I was wrong as this route basically brought me back to the waterfall but from a higher view. The hike was equally tiring but felt a bit easier because each step was slightly bigger than the previous route. Usually I enjoy such scenic nature walk but with the slight drizzle and there was no other people along the way, I felt a bit worried too. Every rustle could be wild animals ready to pounce on me. Haha.. I took a break somewhere along the way where I met another 2 tourists and we struck a little conversation. At the top, I met another 2 tourists and I should have asked them to take a photo of me with the waterfall :( I was expecting that I would meet more tourists but because of the drizzle there was nobody else. So in the end I did not have any photo from the other side of the waterfall.
The other side and higher side to view the water fall
It was totally not planned but I decided to go to Arima Onsen instead of exploring Kobe. This was because I saw some signage about Arima Onsen at Shin-Kobe station and it is not that far to go there. I wanted to have lunch first but most eateries at Shin-Kobe were full and I should just go find lunch at Arima. Onsen is a Japanese culture that is very unique. It is natural human feeling to not want to get naked in front of other people and despite my adventurousness, I still had reservations. I decided to just YOLO. Anyway I was alone and with noone I knew, I don't care if strangers see me naked. 

There are several onsens but after quickly googling, my choice is only Taiko no Yu as it is the only one providing towels and reviews mention to be quite English-friendly. It was drizzling (heavier than at Kobe) and again I lost my way before deciding the use google map and GPS. It required a bit of hiking so it was my third time hiking today. With all the sweat and discomfort, I really needed a good bath.

Let me describe the onsen experience. Upon entering the building, I was supposed to remove my shoes and put them in the locker in front. During check in (the 2400 yen was paid up front), the reception kept the locker key and I got another key for the locker inside the onsen facility. A bathing towel, a face towel, and the kimono to be worn in the facility were provided. I was quite happy with rabbit pictures and I got to choose green kimono colour as well. Haha.. There was this barcoded bracelet thing to be used inside for the food and omiyage so there was no need to carry wallet. Upon check out, the barcode was scanned again and anything additional was paid then.

The changing area was quite big and I was quite lost. There was no others and I was not sure what I was supposed to do. I knew I was supposed to change to the kimono here but I was not sure if I was suppose to keep my underwear or not. I went to the toilet to change to my bottom as I did not want anyone to see me naked in the locker room lol. I decided to just not wear my underwear.

Taiko no Yu is actually part of Arima View hotel and the entrance for non-hotel stayers is on the 3rd floor. The onsen facilities are in the 2nd floor. Before entering the onsen proper, there is another locker room to put the kimono as now really have be naked already. Tada...

For someone wearing specs, the different temperature caused foggy lens. It was not as if I wanted to see other people naked clearly but I had to have clear vision to not lose my footing. I have done proper research of onsen etiquettes and watched Japanese shows or anime with onsen scenes so I knew I had to shower first before going into the onsen.

The change in temperature with the onsen water was not too bad but I nearly slipped as the onsen water was quite streamy. It was not easy to manouver to ensure that the towel did not touch the water, hair did not touch the water, my specs, and I did not know if the barcode bracelet thingy could be immersed in water or not (after seeing others, it was actually fine).

The good thing about Taiko no Yu is that there are 2 types of water: the brown and the clear one. The brown one is suitable for the shy one as anything under the water is not visible. Haha.. So yah no need to expose myself and no need to see others' dicks as well. Taiko no Yu also has an outdoor area. The outdoor area is not completely open with roofs made of planks of wood with gaps between the planks. As it was raining, those woods were helpful so that we could still soak and not drenched. Just before returning to the locker, there was another onsen with cold water. I am not sure what the purpose is but it was refreshing to dip there for awhile before going back to the locker.

After experiencing both, I decided to have my lunch. It was still around 2pm and since I only used 1 towel, I decided to go the onsen again after lunch to repeat the experience another time. I really had to take some pictures as proof that I had been here. There was a purikura machine so this was where my 100 yen coins were finally useful lol. Still not enough and I asked other visitors to take a picture of me near the wall with the Taiko no Yu signage.

Yay! Finally I get to strike another thing from my bucket list. Haha.. Today is a Friday so luckily it is not so crowded. It will be quite uncomfortable to dip if there are too many people. The crowd was also mostly old people and I only saw a handful of young people. It is really interesting and I cannot understand how some people are perfectly comfortable naked with their friends. Some were not even trying to cover their modesty. Lol.

I left about 3pm and there was a free bus to the station running every half an hour. I should have waited for this bus earlier instead of being impatient and tried to find my own way which in the end took longer because I lost my way also.

On the way back to Osaka, I thought I lost my way as the station names were different from those in the morning. I got Hankyu and Hanshin confused and I was actually going back to Umeda instead of Namba. No wonder all the station names were different. It was raining at Osaka so I went back to airbnb first to get my umbrella and I decided to try the takoyaki from a stall near there. As always with my luck, when I went out again with the umbrella, the rain already stopped and there was no need of the umbrella at all -_-

It was ironic that I stayed a stone throw away but only now on the 2nd last day of the trip that I went to explore Dotonbori area. There was nothing to buy at Bookoff, the Starbucks queue was crazy, and I just had dinner at one of the cafes at the subway as I was too tired to walk to Takashimaya again. I went to Don Quijote at Dotonbori and yay, there is jinbei here. I don't need to go back to Kyoto tomorrow just to get jinbei lol. Although I am also tempted to go see the anime shops at Avanti malls la.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Japan Trip Day 6: Osaka

My legs gave up and after much deliberation I really had to give Kiyomizudera and Fushimi Inari a miss. I only went to the flea market at Toji Temple that my friend had been very excited since it only takes place on the 21st of the month. I did not buy anything but I ate takoyaki there. On the way back, I went to Bookoff near the station. Wow it seemed that my effort to learn Japanese is not completely useless. I am able to navigate better although the downside is I am spending more time there. I could not find any book that I aimed to find but my heart pained when I saw Dream Kingdom. I just bought it through proxy about 2 months ago and in total it cost me $45 and here I found it only for 360 yen!!
I saw a banana milk drink from a vending machine and that was nice. Hmm.. I never saw this in Osaka. I went to Kyoto station to visit Aventi mall. This is the mall where I bought a lot of second hand anime books 2 years ago. Sadly the whole floor of anime shops was closed as they were preparing for moving up to level 6 for this Saturday. WTH!!! Wasted trip sia... I went to Don Quijote for the first time and I was amazed with their stuff. I saw some boots only for 1200 yen. Wow.. that would be nice for winter. There were a lot of cheap shoes, bags, and t-shirts too. The one caught my interest the most was jinbei and I decided to definitely buy this when I am back in Osaka.

I took train back to Osaka and it was a sad realisation that today is already Thursday :( Holiday is ending and it is time to start buying things to pack home T_T There was a post office somewhere near Namba Nankai station but I went round and round just to locate it. I bought 2 large boxes (210 yen each) to pack my things. I planned to get mochi etc that comes in nice packaging boxes for souvenirs and hence I needed boxes to ensure they were not crushed in the luggage. I overestimated my own luggage and I could only put 1 box. The other one was wasted.

I went to get souvenirs from Big Camera again and the cashier queue was crazy. I thought the queue was crazy the other day because it was almost closing time. I was quite pissed with the PRC tourists as they were bloody noisy. One wanted to cut queue and I gave a death glare. I don't care if you only had 1 item but the queue was long, everyone was queueing, and you bloody hell gotta queue. For the first time, I also scolded the cashier. I am pretty sure she is also a PRC and not a Japanese from her lousy attitude: chit chatting with her neighbour and withou the usual Japanese polite mannerism and hospitality. No matter where, I find it irritating and rude when people assume that I am from China and I speak Mandarin. Apparently in Japan I only experience this when the shop is filled with PRCs. Again another death glare for me as I told her to speak to me in English and not assume that I am from China just because of my face. All the time wasted to look for the box from the post office earlier was really wasted as Big Camera also sells similar boxes T_T Plus the price is cheaper too (160 yen). Something to remember the next time I go Japan.

I went back to our airbnb again to start packing so that I got a rough gauge how much more things I could buy. Haha.. After this I went to Denden Town and I decided to explore the area by walking to Denden on the ground, rather than underground. It was a good decision as I realised that from our airbnb, we literally just walk straight to Nankai Namba station. That means on the last day when we are leaving, we can just walk on the ground and avoid having to carry the luggage up and down the staircases if we are going from the underground route that I am more familiar with.

I reached Denden Town when the sun was down and honestly I felt quite uncomfortable as it became rather deserted and quiet. It is nothing like Akihabara which remains buzzing with lives even after the sun is down. There was no new items to buy so it was quite a quick shopping.

For dinner, I finally got to buy stuff from Takashimaya food area. I was still eyeing for the gyoza but I was really not sure if the plastic packaging would be fit for microwaving. It was still about 7pm+ but all the food stalls were already discounting their items. Hmm hmm :D To avoid overeating and because my hands were full, I decided to buy things in moderation. I bought fried squid and kakiage with sakura shrimps topping from a stall for 510 yen which was a good bargain considering the regular price to be about 400 yen each. Sadly the kakiage was bad and I could not finish it. I nearly vomitted as I really could not stand the texture of the sakura shrimps.

After dinner, I went out to Don Quijote near the airbnb and siao liao they don't have the jinbei that I saw in Kyoto. That means I need to find other Don Quijote in Osaka and in the worst scenario, I will go back to Kyoto on Saturday.

Tomorrow is officially the last day of travelling. We will go to Kobe but we have no idea what to see or what to do there. There is a high chance that I will separate myself as my friends are more interested in shopping and man-made attractions while I am more inclined with the nature.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Japan Trip Day 5: USJ

Last night I checked the opening hours and the website stated 9am. We reached about 830am and they already allowed people to enter. Hurray!! I wanted to take a photo with the Universal rotating globe just before the entrance but my friends wanted to go inside quickly. Sian... One friend kept mentioning about timed ticket to Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I was super pissed. I told him that only when park is crowded then there would be a timed ticket. Otherwise it would be free to enter and exit the Wizarding World anytime.

There were not so many people yet and we could even take picture with the Weasley's Ford Anglia without a queue. Taking a picture without other tourists at Hogsmeade entrance was impossible though. My photo was not centered and when I asked my friend to retake, he refused. That was it! I decided that I would just split today and had fun on my own. No point going with friends with different interest. Fuck.

Although my mood was gloomy, there was no chance to waste to take pictures with the Hogwarts Express, Three Broomsticks (not open yet), and the Owlery. Again the fucking friend did not want to help to take a photo outside Ollivanders. For the photo with Hogwarts in the background was taken by the USJ staff. That was the beginning of my thick skin journey to just ask staff and strangers to take photos. The photo taken was not too good (my legs and the towers were cut) but I was too shy to ask her to repeat, even when she asked. Haiz.. Regret.. My first time ma.. I thought she would be stationed there throughout the day but that was not the case.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was our first ride of the day. It was not bad to just queue for about half an hour for that. Before entering the castle, we had to store our belongings at the designated lockers. After which there is a small walk through the castle which I think is disappointing as a Hogwarts Castle Walk attraction. Despite all the rave reviews, I think the ride itself is too kiddy and is not as magical or exciting as the description. Perhaps after the experience of Battlestar Galactica, everything else feels like chicken feet. Lol.

After this, my friend wanted to do the Dragon Ball attraction. Again I was pissed again. Theme park is usually designed with one main pathway around the whole park. It does not matter to walk which way since eventually we will be able to reach. Bleah.. Dragon Ball attraction sucks because it is like a theatre show. The movement of the seats is not dramatic or exciting, the animation of the fights are nothing special too, so the whole experience is just like watching cinema. My friend wanted to watch Jojo which would be in the afternoon but I would give it a miss since it would be this kind of cinematic experience.

I split myself from them as I wanted to freely explore the park. The next ride I went was Spiderman which is another one that has great reviews for USJ. Thank God for the single rider as I only needed to queue for about 15 minutes. There is no need to deposit the bag and the seat is only secured with a bar across the thigh. It looks like not a very exciting ride but oh boy I had a better time than at Harry Potter ride: it was more bumpy and exciting and there were more heat and water effects. At the end, Spidey took a photo and I was planning to re-do this ride another time later and I would remove the 3D glasses to take a good photo. Lol.

I returned to Wizarding World of Harry Potter and whee there was still no timed entry. It was still about 11am but I decided to have lunch at the Three Broomsticks before the lunch crowd came. I chose roast beef (the most expensive in the menu) and cold butterbeer. Yeah!! Finally I get to taste butterbeer although actually there was nothing fantastic about it. Haha.. I still could get an outdoor seat although it was still under a canopy. I asked the staff to take a photo of me and because of my seat under a canopy, I could not get a nice picture with Hogwarts at the background. My face appeared black under the shade.
The butterbeer glass is a souvenir to bring home
With full tummy it was time to explore the various Harry Potter shops to decide on what to buy. I made up my mind not to get the jackets because they are quite pricey and I don't think I would have the opportunity to wear them in Singapore's weather. Hedwig dolls looked horrible so it was an easy decision not to get. I was still undecided if I would get some wands.

USJ is already celebrating Halloween event and when I walked from Spiderman back to Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I passed by a photo shop which would also do a halloween make up. I spent quite a long time to decide if I should enter to ask for more details but in the end I decided to just have a thick skin and enter. It was quite expensive as it cost 5000 JPY just for a halloween scar. For the photoshoot, it would cost near 10000 JPY and I did not even bother to ask how much.

Minion park was super duper crowded. I think this is the most popular area, even more than Harry Potter, which is a good thing as I am not a fan of Minion. Haha.. It was still early so I decided to be more adventurous to try other attraction. I tried one of  the Halloween's attraction called Deadmen's Forest which had no queue. Forest theme also did not sound as scary as those haunted house kind. Before entering I asked if this only involved walking or there would be puzzle. I would not enter if there is puzzle since I will not understand.

This Deadmen's Forest is not scary at all. Perhaps because I was doing it in the middle of the day and the forest is an outdoor area. With the sun up high on the sky, it was not scary at all. Haha.. I would have to say that other people were really scaredy cats and I ended up in the front of my group. I did not find it scary because the Japanese were polite. Although they were dressed as zombie etc, their body language was not threatening and was not attempting to even come closer to scare us. Yet the other people were screaming like what.. Come on.. Well doing this at night may be more challenging. The memorable thing about this was there was a guy in full Spiderman body suit (minus the mask) behind me. Spiderman running from zombies is quite an interesting scene. Haha..

The next two rides that I was interested were the Flying Dinosaur and the Jurassic Park. I read the Jurassic Park can be quite wet and I confirmed with the staff there. No shop was selling poncho and I saw people drenched so I decided to give a miss. The Flying Dinosaur is a monstrosity. After Battlestar Galactica experience, I swear that I would never ever torture myself to this kind of thing. Not to mention that the single rider waiting time was also 120 minutes. In the end, since I had so much free time, I decided to YOLO. The time was overestimation as I actually only queued for about 1 hour.

The set-up is already scarier than Battlestar Galactica because after sitting, the seat is rotated 90 degrees upwards and the humans are facing downwards. It is already super crazy as there is no sense of security with the feeling of being hung and hoisted on our backs. I tried not scream but apparently screaming is the most effective way to survive this. Even closing eyes alone did not help haha.. At the end of the ride, I looked at my watch and the ride itself was actually only for less than 2 minutes but it felt like forever. Haha.. As a memory of my craziness, I decided to buy the photo on the ride. For 2800 yen, the photo was actually not nice la. Really I just got it as a proof that I survived lol.

I almost went to the WaterWorld but after reading that it was more like a show than a ride, I decided to just return to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter again. Again there was still no timed ticket hehe.. I tried the Ollivander's wand show (which I think is quite lame..), Flight of the Hippogriff (despite the review that this was more for kids and yes it is actually quite tame as compared to the other rides), and repeated the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey again. Both did not have single rider queues. I waited for about 45 minutes for Flight of the Hippogriff which was accurate to the estimation. While for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the estimated waiting time was 90 minutes but I only waited for about 1 hour. It was still freaking 5pm!! Lol. Time for some skin thickness again as I asked the staff to take photos of me with Hogwarts at the background haha..

I decided to eat dinner again at the Three Broomsticks as I wanted to watch the Dementor light show from there. Unfortunately I saw a wrong timing T_T The light show started at 630pm and not at 6pm.  Really sad because this time I could get a seat really in the open area. There was no way I could sit down quietly for 1.5 hours. Even after finishing my dinner and asked the staff for more photos, it was still 6pm.
The fish and chips was not even good (but nothing else boneless in the menu). Tried frozen butterbeer and the ice cream version
After that I waited at the designated areas to watch the light show which I have to say is disappointing. At this time, the crowd seemed to be focused at the Wizarding World for this show and after this, I lost my mood to revisit Spiderman. I decided to just do my shopping. So as not to go home empty handed, I decided to just buy 1 Harry Potter quidditch t-shirt. It is expensive (4800 yen) for a t-shirt but that is the most wear-able one.

Despite having the fake China-made Harry Potter wands, I know I always to get at least 1 original wand to compare the quality. I know I will get Sirius' as it has the most elaborate and beautiful design but I was decided between a normal wand (4500 yen) or a magical wand (4900 yen). The magical wand is the one that I can play at designated as if I am doing magic. It comes with a rather nice map of Hogsmade to find the areas and the spells (and wand movements) to do. The magical wand is bulkier and feels more like a toy so in the end I bought a normal one for Sirius' and for the magical wand, I decided to buy an original wand of Holly. I chose Holly based on the elaborate design of the wand rather than the description. I also bought a Sneakoscope (1600 yen) and unfortunately Remembrall was just for display but not for sale.

It was time to say goodbye to Harry and the timed entry for Wizarding World had begun. Lucky I already saw the dementor light show. I went to buy the One Piece premier show book (2500 yen) with the intention of selling it and Spiderman mask. The mask is made of cloth so it really feels authentic and it is reversible as Venom's mask. It feels like a 2-in-1 thing and not bad for 3900 yen. I bought a few more Spiderman paraphernalia hoping to sell them and get some money back. Haha.. I was tempted to get Dragon Ball's balls but decided not to since I am not a fan.

The halloween event had begun and the ghosts/zombies were roaming on the street but they were not scary at all. The only one I found scary was the one holding real chainsaw. Lol.. I was scared of the chainsaw. The actors were too polite and did not even try to come closer to scare the people at all.

We left USJ at about 8pm and I dropped by to JUMP shop near the station. The shop is bigger than the one at Osaka station but equally have nothing interesting to buy. My legs really could not make it anymore and I decided to go home earlier.

Overall I think USJ is not as exciting as Disneyland although it is also not as stressful as Disneyland. I say Disneyland is stressful because there are too many things to see and I really have to keep a watch on the schedule of the parades and special events. In USJ, I cannot be bothered with the parades and events lol. The only stressful thing about USJ is the fear of timed entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Having said that, I am still satisfied with the Harry Potter experience. The area is not as big as my expectations but the experience is still as magical as my expectations though butterbeer is just over-hyped.
Hogwarts at night.. Time to say sayonara
I am pretty proud of myself today as I think I have increased my skin thickness to ask for strangers to help me to take pictures. Haha.. even to repeat some of them. Well the strangers today were still USJ staff and the next level is fellow tourists. Lol.
Time for SERIOUS reflection after spending about 30k yen in a day (inclusive of food)