Sunday, December 31, 2017


It is the last day of 2017, it is the end of my holiday, and I am finally home. We had so much fun on our own in Tokyo that we literally did not buy anything to give to our parents at home or our colleagues at work. Lol. So no choice but to do last minute shopping at the airport. It is quite ironic that after spending a week in Tokyo, the best meal that I had was the meal in the airport. That is Japanese standard that even their meal at the airport is fantastic. I had okonomiyaki and kushiyaki (beef skewers). I had been craving for okonomiyaki after seeing it at one of the kombinis when we explored Shinagawa in the first night. Unfortunately the 7-11 nearest to the hotel never carried okonomiyaki. The kushiyaki was fantastic. I almost wanted to get 1 more stick and I was glad that I did not. I went to the waiting area during "final call" so if I had another stick, I would be late.

The flight back was less enjoyable than the flight to Japan. I decided to try sake during flight and that knocked me out. I knew I could not drink but I just quickly wanted to finish the cup so that I could sleep. So I was flushed, woke up a few times to go toilet, and then finally woke up for real because a stupid kid was screaming. I can understand if it was an infant or a baby but this was just a bratty toddler. Jeez..

Before reaching home, I asked my dad to drop by at Multi Toys first. Finally my toys are ready for collection. Fiuh.. After this I swear that I will never ever pre-order from here anymore.

After dinner at home, I went to Mal Kelapa Gading with my sisters and my dad. My dad wanted to get screen protectors and changed his sim card for his iPhone 8+ while I wanted to buy tidbits to bring back to Singapore since I am lazy to go out tomorrow. The current food fad in Jakarta is this mango juice that has mango pieces, mango juice, and mango smoothies in a cup on top of each other. I felt so full after 1 big cup. It is actually quite nice but I still prefer bubble tea.

Back at home now, all I have on my mind is about doing laundry. My winter clothes can wait but my jeans and shirts must be settled by tomorrow or I have nothing to wear to go back to Singapore. My luggage cannot be properly packed yet since all the clothes are not ready yet. Tomorrow will be a tiring day.

So that marks the end of 2017. Usually my last post of the year is my reflection of the year but I think I am too tired for that now. For now, wishing everyone a happy 2018 :)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Japan Trip Day 8: Disneysea and Disneyland

So this was our last day at Tokyo Disney Resort and we had not used any of our Fast Passes from the Vacation Package yet. I made up my mind that I would use it for Tower of Terror but still not sure what to do with the other one. What bugged me more was planning check out time and the plan for the rest of the day.

The day started with breakfast at Chef Mickey. Since it is Saturday, it was busier than yesterday and Mickey and friends were obviously in a rush. After 8am, it was not so crowded anymore and they were not so much in a rush. This morning we were given in a seat at the center of the restaurant which was bad: every angle would have random strangers at the background of the photos. Sigh.. Yesterday I was wondering why we got a secluded corner just next to the cleaning station. Yet that was a better spot as we could take photos with the wall as the background.

We maxed out our 90 minutes stay and to complement yesterday's session, we were lucky to get 2 rounds with Mickey and Donald today. I wore the newly bought Aladdin t-shirt yesterday yet I still looked fat. Sigh.. sometimes I don't know if I am being too critical of myself because I think my chest and arm look so big/fat now. By right they should be more muscular after gym but I can't help to think that big = fat.

After breakfast, I decided to be thick-skin and asked if we could still leave our luggage at the hotel after we checked out. That was allowed so less headache for the planning. Initially I thought we would have to go to Disneysea, play 1 attraction, then come back to the hotel to check out. Unfortunately the hotel will only deliver luggages to the Welcome Center for a cost. That is a bummer.  Everything was so nice during check-in but now after everything is over, all the fantastic service also disappear.

We went to Disneysea first and surprisingly the Aquasphere was not too crowded and we could take some photos there. We used our Fast Pass for Tower of Terror and it really felt good to move in so quickly while the standby queue was for hours. I don't know if it was luck or bad luck but we got the first row at the carriage which I supposed was the most exciting and scary. Tower of Terror was nowhere as scary as Battlestar Galactica (USS) or Flying Dinosaur (USJ) but it was thrilling enough to make scream lol. The movement up and down were alright but the free fall was definitely impossible to survive without screaming.

As we continued our journey, we saw Cruella de Vil but unfortunately she had to leave so we could not take photo. It was nice that as she was leaving she was still interacting with the people around. She offered her hand to shake and I jokingly wanted to kiss it. Lol. She pulled away because of course could not allow the gloves to be dirty. Still it was nice to interact with a human and in English after the past few days using only body language with Mickey and friends.

We proceeded to the Mysterious Island as I made up my mind to use the second Fast Pass for Journey to the Center of the Earth. We were stuck for photo taking sessions at the fort of the Mediterranian Harbour. As we came closer to Mount Prometheus, I was actually getting a bit scared about the ride. From far it looks really cool to think about the ride at the top of a mountain but from near it looks quite daunting. Again Fast Pass made me feel like a VIP. The ride was actually quite boring. I was about to tell my sister that we could ask our parents next time before it came the mountain plunge. Lol. The acceleration was quite thrilling the plunging down was actually scarier in imagination than in reality. The distance was actually quite short and not from the top of the mountain all the way down.

Since it was still quite early, I suggested that we might as well check out Ariel's Grotto. With waiting time of only 35 minutes, I might as well go. This was my first Princess greeting session hahaha..I am not a fan of Ariel or Little Mermaid but I was happy to interact with a human and in English. Lol. It was nice that she initiated conversation like asking where I was from etc. While waiting for the photo to be ready in 15 minutes, we just walked a little bit further until back to Arabian Coast. After collecting the photo, I decided that it was time for lunch.

We went back to Ikspiari but the restaurants all had long queue. I was not going to waste half to an hour just to queue for food so we collected our luggage from the hotel and traveled back to Tokyo. Just nice we reached Shinagawa Prince Hotel around check-in time but that also meant everyone was queueing for check-in. Gosh.. it was like queueing for another ride at Disneyland.

After staying at Disney Ambassador Hotel, we found that Shinagawa Price Hotel room was small. So ironic as the first day when we arrived, we thought the room was wow. Lol. I quickly bought lunch from 7-11 and started packing my luggage. I was so emo that the packing box that I bought at Disney Ambassador Hotel was too big!! 400 yen wasted T_T I was so happy when I bought that box because I thought the box would nicely fit into my luggage. Oh well :( The main reason why I did my packing was to see if I would still have space for more shopping tonight. Hahaha...

We went back to Disneyland for the Electrical Parade and it was just nice that we reached at about 630pm so we could start choping space for the parade. We decided to just sit down and wait for an hour. After 15 minutes, I could not take it anymore. I told my sister that I would go to toilet but I ended up going shopping. I wanted to buy Peter Pan figurine by Arribas (12960 yen) so I might as well buy it now than waiting for later. I am amazed that my sister could sit down there in the cold for so long. I only returned at about 10 minutes before the parade began.

After the parade, my sister still wanted to go shopping as she had not visited the shop nearest to Winnie the Pooh attraction. In one of the shops, I was contemplating whether to get Peter Pan plushie key chain (similar to Aladdin and Jasmine that I bought yesterday). I decided not to and then my sister pointed to me a 2000 yen medium-size Peter Pan plushie! Haiz haiz haiz.. It was a no brainer to get that plushie instead of the plushie key chain.

We quickly went to Disneysea and sadly Toy Story was too crowded that they did not allow people to join the queue anymore T_T There went my dream to try this attraction with minimum wait. After that basically I had no other plan so we just spent the rest our time finding attraction that did not require queuing so much.

We tried the Electric Railway and after alighting, we continued on foot to Arabian Coast. We tried Jasmine's Flying Carpet which according to reviews is not so bad in the evening to see the evening lights of the surrounding area. Sadly we were on carpet number 8 which did not seem to be moving up and down like the other carpets. Bleah.. It was really a waste of time. I wanted to take picture with Rajah statue while standing next to it. I did not manage to do it yesterday because it was already so difficult for me just to get on in a sitting position on the pedestal. My jeans was also not convenient for me to stand up and I did not want to risk myself falling in daylight in public. Since this was evening and there were no other people, I dared myself. Sadly the cast member of that attraction told me that I should not be standing because it was dangerous T_T Why liddat...

Sinbad's attraction seems to be getting the worst review online. Since time was running up and that was the nearest to Jasmine's Flying Carpet, I decided to just try it out for the sake of trying out. I am very glad that I did because seriously it was NOT BAD. This was the longest attraction (10+ minutes) and although it was just like a doll house, the song was amazing. Chandu was also very cute and this attraction made me want to get his plushie. Haha.. Seriously I do not mind repeating this attraction the next time I visit Disneysea because it is relaxing and enjoyable. And that marks the end of the last 3 magical days that I had.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Japan Trip Day 7: Disneysea

I slept at about 2am last night and this morning I had to wake up very early to get properly dressed up for breakfast at Chef Mickey at 710am. There was a long queue although we went on time but the queue moved pretty quickly. Anyway eventually we were given 90 minutes after we entered. I don't have much comment about the food since I paid for the breakfast here not for the food but for taking pictures with Disney characters. It was nice that the characters were simply going around the restaurant and did not care if they already came to our table earlier. So within that 90 minutes, we got Daisy, Minnie, Donald, Mickey, and then Daisy and Minnie again. With this breakfast basically our Happy 15 Entry was just wasted. Instead of taking the train, we took the shuttle bus from the hotel to Disneysea.

Disneysea really feels entirely different from Disneyland. I prefer the more magical Disneyland though. The Aquasphere which is supposed to be an icon of Disneysea is not iconic at all. It looks like a copy of Universal Studios' globe. Anyway as we entered there was already a long queue for photo taking with Minnie in Disneysea costume. Unfortunately Minnie and Mickey were taking turns so by the time my turn came, it was with Mickey. Mickey was also in Disneysea costume so at least I don't have the photo yet.

The layout for Disneysea is very similar to Disneyland. Mount Prometheus is the center of the Disneysea, similar to how Cinderella's Castle is the center of Disneyland. Surrounding this center are the various regions. Although I felt a bit underwhelmed by the Aquasphere, I changed my mind after seeing the Mount Prometheus lol. The whole Disneysea also has some magic as if bringing me to another part of of the world like Venice, Atlantis, Agrabah, America, and so on.

Similar to yesterday, taking photos with Disney characters was my main priority and my sister pissed me off again by wanting to take photos with those loitering around. We went for Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey first at the Lost River Delta. The queue for each was about 45-60 mins so in total we spent almost 2.5 hours waiting in open winter air. I had fun with Goofy the most as he suggested really crazy poses. Sadly the end result was not good because instead of raising my arm UP, I raised it backwards so it looked as if I only had 1 arm. Bleah.. In addition to that, when I was checking the photo in my camera, Goofy was playing to tickle my tummy.

We were cold and just went to the nearest eatery we found. I don't think under normal circumstances I would eat Mexican rice and pork chop but at the brink of getting cold like yesterday, survival came first. Those kairo/heat pads bought yesterday were not strong enough to fight the cold. Brrr... We continued to Arabian Coasts to see which character would be present for character greetings as it would be random. Sadly it was Stitch so we gave that a miss. Surprisingly this region was really the most crowded. I think partly because the Arabian atmosphere was done really well and people would just take photos with seemingly ordinary items which became unique when they were done in Arabian style.

Since we skipped Stitch, we went to Donald. We had about 1 hour before our reserved Big Band Beat show and the queue for Donald was about 45 minutes. It was a gamble that I decided to take lol. I did not look straight at the camera and I was allowed to repeat another photo. With this, we completed all the characters for today. I am not a fan of Duffy and I was not planning to get photo with Duffy. From there, we had rush for the Big Band Beat. It was quite a distant walk and I wanted to pee. Luckily in the end we were not late.

Yesterday my sister complaining that I did not reserve ticket for Minnie Oh! Minnie and today I could tell her that I made the correct decision. Big Band Beat is definitely a much better production. It is really like watching a Broadway production and the performers on the stage were performing live (unlike Minnie Oh! Minnie which was obvious that the instrument players were not playing live). The arena is also like a Broadway concert hall. I am not a fan of jazz so while I enjoyed the glam and glitz, I would enjoy it more if they were performing something more Disney-ish. Anyway my sister fell asleep in that comfy concert hall chair. Lol. Anyway it was a great half an hour break from the cold winter air outside.

It seemed that I was the greedy one as I was the one constantly initiating meal time. Haha.. So same thing as dinner. This time it was before our body ran out of natural heat. After dinner, we still had plenty of time before Fantasmic! at 8pm. As mentioned above, I am not a fan of Duffy but my sister mentioned Duffy previously. So I asked her again if she still wanted Duffy since we had time to kill. No answer -_-" In the end I was the one who "forced" her with the reason might as well we do it now so that next time there is no need to mention about Duffy anymore. The wait time was 80 minutes and I was okay with that since it would still be too early for Fantasmic!. Anyway they only allowed people to start chope-ing spots only 1 hour before the show. When asking the cast member, we were told that Duffy might be taking a 20 minutes break. Oh my god, we were so lucky because after done taking photo with me, Duffy was taking that break. Heng sia! Duffy looks expressionless in the photo so I do not regret that I am not a fan. I am just taking the photo as a proof that I have been here and done that.

After done, we quickly put on layers ready to combat the evening winter cold again for Fantasmic!. We managed to get a prime position too: a corner just behind the string demarcating the reserved area. In front of that corner was plants so essentially there was no human heads covering.

Fastasmic! was great but and quite genius to have the show on the water. Unfortunately the distance is too far and everything looks too small from where the people are watching. Because of that, I still enjoy Disneyland parades more although this Fantasmic! actually has better effects. Genie is another show stealer here but the most awesome scene was Mickey vs Maleficent Dragon fight.
The dragon creates sea of fire
Sorcerer Mickey vs Maleficent Dragon
The scheduled fireworks show after Fantasmic! was unfortunately cancelled. We spent the rest of the time exploring the regions we did not manage to visit during the day: Mysterious Island and Mermaid Lagoon. Triton's Castle looks amazing from a far and I was very curious to see it from closer. It looks even more amazing in the evening and the whole Mermaid Lagoon has great decoration to convey the atmosphere. I find it weird that Ariel's Grotto is located outside the Lagoon though. Unexpectedly I bought Rabbit and Owl's plushies from Winnie the Pooh. I am not a fan of Winnie the Pooh but plushies of these 2 characters are rare and hence the decision to buy.

We also went back to Arabian Coast as I wanted to buy Aladdin t-shirts. I looked damn fat in this morning photos at Chef Mickey so I wanted to look better for tomorrow. Haha.. I wanted to wear something Disney and unexpectedly there are Aladdin t-shirts. I hesitated to get the black one that was so expensive (4900 yen) but in the end I decided to just YOLO. Of course I bought the small Aladdin and Jasmine plushie keychains that I had been eyeing since the visit to Bon Voyage.

After done with shopping, we went to the Magic Lamp Theatre expecting it to be a Aladdin and Genie show. The Genie is right but there is no Aladdin. It is not really a full 3D show as there are a lot of interactions in Japanese that I hardly understand so it was not really enjoyable. In fact, I found it to be a waste of time and the show was not short either :( After that it was already very late and we decided to go back. It was interesting as people were running around to maximise the remaining time for one last attraction. They inspired me to suggest that we chionged to the Nemo & Friends SeaRider which is considered one of the more popular attractions at Disneysea. We reached there almost 950pm and they still allowed people to go in. Great! Honestly I still find this quite kiddy and I wonder what the hype is.

I took a lot of photos along the way back as it felt like spending an evening in Europe and that marked the end of the day. It is a sad realisation that not only tomorrow is the last day at Disney Resort, it is also the last day of this holiday.
Evening scenery. Beautiful isn't it?
I want to stay here forever

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Japan Trip Day 6: Disneyland

Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center opens at 730am and our initial plan was to reach there at that time so that we could quickly enjoy Disneyland once it opens. I was quite irritated with how slow my sister was in the morning. I knew it was winter and we might not be so early but to be 2 hours behind plan was just too much. Luckily we could leave our luggage at the hotel for the next few days.

At the Welcome Center, we dropped by our luggage that we will use for our stay at Disneyland and then collected our Vacation Package: maps and guides, multi-day pass, Disney Resort Line pass, the fast passes, ticket for Chef Mickey breakfast, ticket for Big Band Beat, ticket for free drinks, ticket for exclusive items, and ticket holder with lanyard. The way they handled and showed the Vacation Package really made me feel like this was a VIP stuff. Lol.

Since we have the Resort Line pass for unlimited train ride, it was a no-brainer to take the train to the Disneyland. There were some decorations at the stations that I wanted to take photos with but I skipped them first as I was more excited to go to Disneyland as soon as possible.

When we entered Disneyland, there was already a queue for photo shoot with Minnie at the front garden. Unfortunately the queue was stopped for this session and we were told that the next session would be at 1130. I was pissed with my sister who wanted to take photos with those loitering characters. I am not a fan of taking photos with many photobombers behind and I really wanted to take photos with Mickey, Donald, and Daisy who have their own character greeting house or room. The queues for them could be many hours and that was why I felt so rushed. Donald and Daisy are especially important since I have never have photos with them whether from Disneyland Paris or Disneyland Tokyo.

As usual my sister did not eat breakfast so I suggested that we ate early lunch before the crowd at the eateries became crazy. After lunch, it was past 11am so I told my sister we should go back to queue for Minnie. Although I hate taking photos outside, I also have no photo with Minnie so we shall do it. I honestly am very impressed with whoever inside the costume as s/he really plays the character very well and genuinely. Tokyo Disneyland is still very stingy with the photos: only 1 from official photographer and 1 from own camera. Thankfully the character will always think different poses for the 2 shots.

From there, we went to Westernland to look for Donald and Daisy. Of course we got distracted for photos along the way with Cinderella's Castle, Snow White's well, etc. I still could not get a photo with Cinderella's Castle background devoid of people but the crowd was definitely much less than when I came here 2 years ago. We also passed by the stage for the show Minnie Oh! Minnie which will be discontinued permanently from March next year. It was almost show time and there were still seats so my sister went in. I chose to watch from outside because I wanted the sunlight to warm me up. I find the show quite great since the singers were singing live. Sadly the audience gave a rather muted applause for them. I also think that I made the correct choice not to have our free show ticket from the Vacation Package for this show since we managed to watch it anyway.

The queue for photo taking with Donald and Daisy was about 40-45 minutes each and I really enjoyed taking photos in this setting: without people photobombing. I enjoyed the interaction with them as they were really trying to personalise the pose and would think of various poses. I was very conscious with my attire and I was deciding between zipping up my jacket fully which would make me look plain vs unzipping the jacket so that my white inner heat tech would be visible for more colors. I went with the later and sadly my tummy showed :( I am damn fat can T_T

After photo with Donald and Daisy, it was time for the parade. It is winter and I felt relieved when I saw the crowd waiting for the parade was not as mad as 2 years ago when I went in summer. We started waiting quite late but we could still get a nice spot and generally the seated people were only 3 layers. I remembered 2 years ago, it was full of people all the way until people could be standing on the bench and on the hedge. I suppose these people are still sane after all. The parade is still the same as 2 years ago although I am not sure if there are changes here and there. Nonetheless I still took photos of the parade.

I was freezing by the time the parade was over but I wanted to get it over and done with taking photos with Mickey. Waiting time was 80 minutes which was definitely better than 2-3 hours that I expected. I felt quite disappointed as Mickey was wearing the conductor's attire and I already had a photo with that attire. However, Mickey was very friendly and was stroking my shoulder where he put his hand during the photo taking. Kawaiii!!! Hahaha.. When I was checking the photo taken with my camera, he also pretended to want to take a look.

By this, I really thought I would already die because of the cold. I put on an extra layer with my ultra down jacket and put on my gloves yet I still could not get myself warm. It was still 5pm+ so I wanted an early dinner to avoid the crowd but it seemed that everyone was also getting cold and the food court was full! Thank goodness we were lucky to get an empty tablet. After the meal, I still could not get warm. I told my sister that I really wanted to check in to the hotel first to get myself warm. I was not going to wait for the Electrical Parade now and I did not mind missing it since I already watched it previously. She was also freezing and hence she agreed. We collected the exclusive gift for Vacation Package (I chose the picture frame) and the photo prints with Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Mickey today before going to the hotel. I also bought heat pads or kairo for standby.

Disney Resort Line operates in only 1 direction: from Welcome Center to Disneyland to Bayside Station to Disneysea and then back to Welcome Center. It might be quicker to just walk back to the Welcome Center and to the Disney Hotel Ambassador than taking the train trip for 1 round but with this freezing situation, survival came first. Lol.

The check in process at the hotel was pleasant and efficient. I was pleasantly surprised that a bellboy escorted us all the way to hotel room and with the luggage. When showing us the room, he tried to be friendly by striking conversation that he noticed that I like Mickey while he likes Donald. I felt bad for trying to end the conversation quickly but we were really in a hurry to go back to Disneyland so that we did not miss the Electrical Parade.

We reached Disneyland back at about 740pm and the Parade already started. It had not passed the central area yet so we still could watch it. With warmth (and life) back to our bodies, this was the first time we utilised our free drinks! With all that, we just found the most convenient open space that we could find. However there were already so many people and I could not take any photos from that spot. There are some differences with the Electrical Parade that I watched 2 years ago as now there are Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. Because of this, I decided that on the last night in Tokyo (aka 2 days later), I will be back for this parade to take photos. Lol. I made the right call to get the Kit Kat Tokyo Banana yesterday or otherwise I would have no time to buy it.

The firework show was more amazing that I remembered. It was unimaginable that there would be firework which appeared like flower or Mickey's head. Really amazing.

The crowd seemed to thin down from here on. Thus there were a bit more space to take pictures with Cinderella's Castle at night. Still it could not be totally empty and I was absolutely angry at my sister. I had no problem taking her photos but when her turn to help me take, it was always dark :( Seriously fuck it sia.. We were using exactly the same camera, standing at the same spot, and the only difference would be the photographer's skill.

The full benefit of staying at the hotel at Disneyland finally showed. As we did not have to quickly go home, we had the time to explore now that there were less people. We managed to play several attractions: Cinderella's Castle Tour, Mickey's Philharmagic, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, and Pooh's Hunny Hunt. Usually I will not spend time to queue for the rides but for each of them it was about 5-10 minutes wait only so I might as well make use the time to the maximum until the closing time.

I enjoyed Mickey's Philharmagic the most although it was actually just a sitting down and enjoy a 3D clips of various Disney movies and songs. Cinderella's Castle Tour is not as wow as I thought. It did not feel like a walkthough in castle and decorations are quite random. Well partly because I am not a fan of Cinderella. The main attractions here perhaps are to take photo pretending trying to fit into the glass shoes (which as a guy I did not try) and to take photo at the king's throne. Pinocchio's ride is just normal and I don't expect much since Disneyland is said to have kiddy rides as opposed to Disneysea which is targeted more for adults. Pooh's Hunny Hunt is one of the more popular rides in Tokyo Disneyland so it was good that we experienced that with minimum queueing time and without using our fast pass from the vacation package. It is still kiddy but I can understand the hype because the ride is trackless so in some of the rooms it feels like we are spinning randomly.

The closing time is 10pm but they do not chase out people. They still admit people into attractions even at 959pm which I think is really fair for the park attendees. As we were going out, we got another free cocoa drink and that marks the end of the first day at Disneyland. 

We reach the hotel back at almost 1130pm and although we were very tired physically, we were very excited with the hotel room. Before we messed up the room, I wanted to take some shameless "commemorative" photos first for this 200000+ yen. Lol.

This hotel room is even bigger than Shinagawa Prince Hotel room as it can accommodate up to 4 people. Thus the toilet, bathroom, and sink are separated. The toilet is quite small but the bathroom is amazing: there is bathtub, there is shower, there is stool for Japanese-style bathing too. The room also has a balcony although I don't think we will enjoy that in this winter cold. Each day 3 bottles of Evian drinking water is also free. Sweet.

We felt really blown away and this 200000+ yen is really well spent for a YOLO experience haha.. We were so tired but when we played with the TV, we were glued like little kids watching what Tokyo Disney Resort has to offer to squeeze more money from us. Haha.. This is going to be a long night and tomorrow we have to wake up early for Chef Mickey breakfast but who cares about sleep when happiness is here :D
Just the sleeping area is already this huuuuuge
The design of the thing that covers the bedsheet (I don't know what this is called)
Some decoration
Another picture to decorate the room
Mickey pattern on the wallpaper
Mickey pattern on the lamp
Mickey at the mirror

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Japan Trip Day 5: Tsukiji, Akihabara, Nakano

I wanted to just do shopping at Akihabara today and because the shops would only be open near noon, I wanted to sleep in. Of course the idea of going to the Imperial Palace in the morning crossed my mind too. I guess my engine was already geared towards shopping for the rest of this holiday that never mind about the sightseeing anymore.

I am not interested in Tsukiji Market and my sister was the eager one. I told her that I did not search on the way to go there so if she wanted, she should find herself. So on the train we just sat all the way until Akihabara and I was like "what??" I thought she wanted to go to Tsukiji? If we just went to Akihabara, I would not leave so early as the shops were not open yet. So we back-tracked to Tsukiji. Well my sister was the one more disappointed than me. I told her already that there was nothing much to see. It was human packed and the sushi places that we passed by were so expensive. 3000 yen for 1 bowl of whatever don?? The both of us spent less than 3000 yen in total when we ate the don at Asakusa.

I lost a bit at Akihabara as I mixed up between Central Gate and Electric Town Gate. Not to mention that there are Atre1 and Atre2 which makes me even more confused as I remembered there was only one Atre. Lol.. Anyway the mix up brought me to Square Enix Cafe. I did not eat there although there were still tickets for the next hour because there was nothing exciting shown in the advertisement outside the cafe or with the internal cafe decoration. I entered the shop and the decoration was mostly Play Arts figurines and the only thing I was tempted to buy is the Dissidia acrylic stands. I like character designs in Dissidia but 1440 yen for each of this is still quite a price that I need to think many times.

I feel bad for saying this but I was really wishing that my sister would go somewhere and did not follow me in Akihabara. It is not that I do not want her to see what I am going to buy but I know the sucky feeling of following someone shopping when yourself has zero interest in it. It is just a waste of time and I can imagine she is feeling that way. I also could not concentrate when I went to Book Off. I could not even find the section on anime books because I worried that my sister would be left behind and then I would waste more time trying to find her. Or perhaps my Japanese ability is slowly getting rusty as well.

After going round and round, I finally relied on google map to lead me to the correct side of Akihabara that I was looking for. After going to several shops at the side of Animate, I suggested to have lunch first before I crossed the road to continue shopping. We ate at Tendon restaurant and after that I suggested that my sister just went to Donquijote while I went around and split our way for the rest of the day.

I wanted to go to Nakano Broadway and hence I tried to be quick with Akihabara. Obviously that did not happen lol. I was aiming to leave at 2pm but in the end I only left Akihabara at 4pm. I actually did not go to a lot of shops: Mandarake, Kotobukiya, Lashinbang, and Mulan. Of course it was not a one-way trip because I had to see what things I could buy and what I eventually would buy.

I am very happy that I bought Final Fantasy Chrome figures to complete my collection 2 years ago because there was really very few Final Fantasy stuff at Mandarake this time :( I thought I could get the display box haiz. I was deliberating to get the newly released Fullmetal Alchemist Illustration book but I made up my mind when I passed by the glass cabinet with the special edition version. I also bought Fullmetal Alchemist Book in Figure ~Red~ for 600 yen. The ~Blue~ version was 2500 yen so I gave it a pass. I am also happy that now Mandarake allows purchases from different levels to be combined for tax free.

At Lashinbang, I bought a few Free! books and I realised that I might be purchasing without thinking much since I did not even have the time to look at the books I bought in Osaka few months ago. Surprisingly Kotobukiya shop did not have anything to buy and even the Final Fantasy merchandises were not as complete as in Animate or Square Enix Cafe. What a disappointment.

I went back to Animate and I was seriously considering to get all the FF Dissidia acrylic stands and 1 Kaito Kid acrylic stand. I already queued for the cashier (which was long) before I remembered that when I was in Osaka, there was Square Enix shop at Yodobashi and the purchases made there would be eligible for additional 5% for visa payment. In the end I went to Sofmap that initially I did not plan to visit but nope I found nothing. As it was already 4pm, I did not even have the time to see Yodobashi or visit Donquijote as I already decided that no matter what I would go to Nakano today.

Nakano Broadway is where Mandarake main store is located. Nakano Broadway has 4 levels and there are so many Mandarake stores scattered everywhere as each store is specialised e.g store A only sells anime books, store B sells figures, store C sells tokusatsu stuff, store D sells fujoshi stuff, and so on. There is Lashinbang too and many other anime shops. It is really amazing experience lol. Again I did not find any FF stuff and I found 1 Free! book that I bought earlier at Akihabara much cheaper here. Haiz!! It was not a wasted trip as I managed to get the only Free! Mook that I was missing out. There was a complete set of Sailor Moon artbooks including the elusive Volume Infinity and Materials collection. I braved myself to ask the price and unfortunately there were not for sale yet. They would be put for auction from 1 Jan :( I also bought Squall Theatherhytm plushie here since I did not manage to get the Dissidia version at Akihabara earlier.

The journey from Akihabara to Nakano took me about 40 minutes but thank God for express Chuo line (rapid) and I was back to Tokyo Station in just 20 minutes. I already felt tired with the heavy loot from today but since I was already at Tokyo Station, I decided I should just get the Kit Kat Tokyo Banana instead of waiting to buy it on the last day. The plan was just go get the Kit Kat and that was it. Things did not turn out that simple as I forgot where the heck the shop was! Bleah!

The shop was located outside the gate and I had to tap out. Since I already tapped out, I might as well go back to the Character Street to get Conan karuta cards. I passed by JUMP shop again and saw only 2 Saint Seiya otedama was left on the shelf. That means there are people buying and I decided to just buy it before regretting if it is sold out by the time I come back here on the last day. 4630 yen for 5 pieces of tsum tsum-like plushie is pricey since tsum tsum is only about 600 yen each. But oh well..

Unexpectedly there was 1 box of Prince of Tennis kutsurogi complete set (7000 yen) which was a no-brainer for me to buy. Because of these unexpected purchases, the tax-free amount would be quite significant and I decided to try my luck at the tax-free counter. "Try my luck" is because the instruction pasted at the shop is to go to tax-free counter first before shopping but I tried to do the reverse. Good news was I could still get tax-free but the bad news was I had to back to those shops to get my barcodes scan. Oh my God T_T The back of my knees were dying and I swore I almost fell down a few times. The Kit Kat was from a non-tax free shop so all the pain and hard work was just for about 800 yen tax return. Thus still in the spirit of free and easy trip, what was planned to be a quick visit to get Kit Kat Tokyo Banana became another 1.5 hours torture shopping trip.

I returned to hotel almost 9pm and I had not eaten anything since lunch. Now I can understand how ladies can get special energy and endurance when they are shopping. Well no complaints since I don't mind getting 7-11 food as meal. I decided to buy the Ippudo ramen cup for breakfast tomorrow although I am worried since it is spicy flavour.

I just finished packing my luggage to prepare for the next 2 nights at Disneyland. I am so tired but I am pretty sure the excitement for Disneyland tomorrow will sustain me through :p

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Japan Trip Day 4: Odaiba

Finally it is my turn to enjoy this trip. The previous two days were more for me to accompany my sister but today and tomorrow will be my turn to determine the itinerary. Today was reserved for Odaiba as I wanted to see the new Unicorn Gundam that was just erected in September 2017. There is "Gundam Docks at Tokyo Japan" event ongoing at Diver City too. Then I wanted to spend the noon at Oedo Onsen Monogatari until the evening to see the Unicorn Gundam lighted up at night. To continue the trend from previous days, this free and easy trip is really free and easy. We decided that we had no time to go to Oedo Onsen Monogatari. Lol.

The weather and my sickness are still more powerful than the Gundam because I still could not wake up early and reached Diver City at 10am already. It was still early for taking pictures with the various Gundam decorations in Diver City (because of the Gundam docks event) but it was considered late for taking pictures with the Unicorn Gundam. Early means no other tourists at the background at of the photos. Lol.

Life-size Unicorn Gundam
I honestly prefer RX-78 which is more colourful than the all white Unicorn Gundam. Sigh.. I have to be grateful that at least I had visited and had pictures from 2 years ago when the life-size Gundam was still RX-78.
So difficult to take a full picture (because of the horn) because of the sun glare
There was a short show which was basically the transformation to Destroy Mode before reverting back to Unicorn Mode. The show lasted for only about 30s which was kinda meh. So we went to explore the Gundam docks stuff and Gundam Base in Diver City as well as lunch first. I will write about these later on.

When we went out again, the Gundam had become the Destroy Mode so it was another photo time.
Slightly better looking with more colours showing.. still not as nice as RX-78 though
We stayed until the evening as I wanted to see the light shows. There were a few shows at different timing but because of the cold, I just watched for the first one. I had high expectations (moving parts, smoke effects, lighting effects etc) and I was disappointed as the show that I happened to watch was only playing the first Gundam OST and changing lights from Unicorn Gundam. Where is the smoke??
The white colour and red light do not contrast as nicely as the 2D images. I could not take a full picture because there were too many people at the foot.
Since this Unicorn Gundam was newly unleashed, there was an official photo taking opportunity from an elevated makeshift structure so that the Unicorn Gundam looks a bit nicer in the picture. The booth opened after the first show in the morning and noone dared to try. So I just thick skinned to join the non-existent queue first. Lol. Since I was the first in line, I could take picture alone, with my sister, and then my sister alone. We are entitled to 1 shoot with official camera and 1 shoot with own camera. Although in reality the staff were nice and took 2 photos with our own camera: 1 full and 1 zoom-in version.

The official photo costs 1500 yen each and we can download the digital version while in Japan. Since this photo taking opportunity may not be permanent, I decided to just YOLO and take pictures with Unicorn Mode, Destroy Mode, and one more time in the evening. I think by the evening, the guys at the photo printing booth already remembered me. So embarrassing but never mind they don't know me haha.. Sadly the digital photo is a mis-advertisement. What digital copy when the file size is not even 200kb sia.

Gundam docks at Tokyo Japan
This event basically gives Diver City a Gundam make over. There are various 1/10 Gundam models in the shopping mall. Each level is dressed according to a different gundam series: from the lift door, the glass railings, and the pillars. There are giant Haros from the ceiling. And most importantly, there is an exhibition area on various merchandises that Gundam franchise can suck my money.
One of the 1/10 Gundams with Haros hanging from the ceiling
One of the lift doors
Various images from Gundam anime. According to my sister, Iori Sei's expression when holding Wing Gundam model kit reminded her of me.
There is also an activity to collect 5 stamps which are located at each of the 1/10 Gundam Models. I should have done it right from the morning instead of deciding to only do it in the evening as it made running all over the mall and the floors again. After collecting the stamps, I redeemed a mobile cleaner which turned to be about 3cm x 3cm thingy. I was expecting a cloth like to wipe my spectacles or something. Lol. So much for the leg exercises.

While waiting for the evening light show, I googled to see if I missed anything from this Gundam docks event. Apparently there is still a 3D photo booth or at least that was what I thought to be. It was located at level 4 but I did not see it despite going around the mall several times in the morning. After knowing this, I explored level 4 thoroughly and the photo area was located in an area that I just passed by in the morning thinking there were only department store there.

I was actually quite disappointed because I thought it would be a photo booth which would digitally make me as if I am standing on Gundam's hand which is what being shown at the website. It is actually just a giant boards to give 3D effects. Well since I was already there then just made the best of it. There are 3 other boards with effects such as surfing on a bullet which is fired by a Gundam, getting ass kicked by a Gundam, and a Gundam fighting among city buildings. Despite the initial disappointment, at the end I actually was having fun being stupid for photos in a foreign land. The interesting thing was that when I reached there, noone else was actually in the area to take photos. Once I started making a fool of myself, others started to join lol. When I was done and I took the escalator up, there were already queues at each board.

The Gundam Base Tokyo
The Gundam Base Tokyo is located at the top floor of Diver City, replacing Gundam Front Tokyo previously. While Gundam Front Tokyo was previously designed as an experience zone, Gundam Base Tokyo is more like a shop selling every Gunpla models ever made including those from donkey years ago. I was really happy to see so many Gundam Wing stuff although I actually already have some of them haha..

Thinking about luggage space and possibility of more shopping at Disneyland and Akiba, I decided to only buy the limited Gundam Wing Gundam Base version. I only bought 1 although I wanted 2. Haiz.. I also wanted to buy HG 1/144 Vayeate and Mercurius again as my current Vayeate's horn is broken and I assembled Mercurius' planet defensor wrongly. I was also tempted to get HG 1/144 Epyon (which I don't have yet) just so that I can get the mini Zechs figure. I really wanted the HG 1/100 Gundam Wing Custom special edition which I had never ever seen before in my life. The special edition has chrome colour replacing all the white parts in the regular edition. The most tempting one, however, is the HG 1/60 Wing Zero. I don't really like Wing or Wing Zero without the angel wings but it is always a dream to have a big Gundam and this is the only 1/60 from Gundam Wing series. Since I am going back to Japan in May, I tell myself that I still can get these non-limited things subsequently. For now just get the limited edition first as it may be sold out.
I already have the normal version why must they have a clear version T_T 
The Gunpla factory section gets expanded as compared to the previous Gundam Front. Overall, I prefer Gundam Front as there are a things to take photos. No regret that last time I really thick skinned and took photos at the Character Photo Spot with all the Gundam Wing characters. Haha.. Oh almost forget to mention that there are big statues of Iori Sei, Reiji, and Mao which are the only things I took photo with at the Gundam Base.
 After lunch we went to Aqua City as there was Disney Store there. Rainbow Bridge and the replica of Statue of Liberty are just next to it. The post-lunch sugar spike really made me sleepy but the Starbucks were fully occupied. Sigh.. From there, we walked to the opposite direction for Venus Fort. I was still hoping to get a nice cashmere coat from the outlets there but nope. In the end it was my sister who bought a heavily discounted Kipling bag.

In the evening before going back, we went back to take pictures with the Rainbow Bridge again. Fuji Terebi building looks like any other building at day time but turns gorgeous in the evening with changing lights from the windows and music playing. I am surprised that this is seldom being mentioned as something to see at Odaiba.
Fuji TV building in the evenng
By today my whole body is really tired but I am very happy with today especially for the photo taking opportunities. That trumps the little disappointment from not visiting Oedo Onsen Monogatari as I researched and was quite looking forward to it.

For comparison, this is my trip to Odaiba for 2015 :)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Japan Trip Day 3: Asakusa, Omotesando, Harajuku, Meiji Jingu, Shinjuku

It is Christmas!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Lol but it does not feel like Christmas at all here in Tokyo.

This morning I managed to wake up half an hour earlier than yesterday and hence left hotel half an hour earlier than yesterday. Actually it is still considered late to leave at 930am lah haha.. The first destination today was Asakusa that I did not manage to visit during my trip to Tokyo 2 years ago. I find it disappointing as the atmosphere and the reality are not as pretty as google pictures. Even the sakura-like decoration at the street leading to Sensoji Temple is not real sakura. I felt cheated! Well at least now one of my curiosities are answered.
Sensoji Temple
Kaminarimon (from inside)
I suggested to eat at one of the sashimi-don store that we passed by on our way back since there was English menu and the prices were reasonable too. I did not enjoy it because the rice was rather warm. It was not my first time eating natto but it was my first time eating natto in Japan and gosh.. it was much stinkier than that natto I tried in few restaurant in Singapore.

The next plan for the rest of today was Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku but we side-tracked. I was curious about Omotesando which kept appearing at my facebook news feed and since it is just next to Harajuku, we went there. The trees lining the street were decorated with lights. It was just like that yet this was the best winter decoration that I had seen so far in Tokyo. Lol. Omotesando is unique as it makes me feel like I am in Europe. As we walked towards Harajuku side, the crowd grew and it started to feel more and more like Japan. Lol. My sister wanted to cross the road to visit Kiddy Land but I reminded her that we still had a long list for today. Thus we just walked on and she dropped by at LINE store. I find LINE characters cute but not cute enough for me to like but I still enjoyed the store as there is Brown photo room. Lol. We continued to Takeshita Dori which was a sea of human. We went to the Disney Store and I was tempted to get Peter Pan tsum tsum land version. Its price is comparable to tsum tsum but the size is much bigger. Again it is in my KIV list lol. I am still a bigger fan of anime/manga and I shall not buy anything until after I visit my otaku havens.

After reaching the Harajuku Station, my sister suggested to side track to Meiji Jingu instead. We actually did not know where it was but we thought it should be nearby since we kept seeing the signage along the road. With a reason that this might be a place that my dad would like to see for our May trip, we decided to explore. It was not a short walk from the entrance to the main temple but when I saw the timing of our photos, we only spent about an hour there. I suppose the cold made the walk felt further and more unbearable. The inu shiba figurine at the souvenir shop caught my attention but again I told myself to tahan.
Sake barrels along the way to Meiji Jingu
We went to Shinjuku specially to find Yodobashi because at this point of time, my sister had decided to get Apple Watch and my dad had decided to get iPhone. Yodobashi and Bic Camera has additiona 5% for payment by credit card. Since we knew that Bic Camera does not sell iPhone without contract, we decided to try Yodobashi. The unreliability of my sister and her internet map+GPS was proven again as we exited at the wrong side and had to make a big round. My Japanese language was useful finally to help to locate the Yodobashi building in the midst of buildings there.

Unfortunately Yodobashi also did not sell iPhone without contract so we only bought Apple Watch for my sister. She did not want to speak and I refused to speak to the shop assistants as well. I cannot speak Japanese after all. She wanted to buy she better open her mouth. The assistants could actually speak English pretty well.

Detouring to Omotesando earlier was a blessing as we passed by an Apple Shop there. Initially we thought we had to return to Ginza to buy iPhone for my dad. Omotesando is much nearer so we went back. There was no stock for iPhone X (I wonder if it is really that popular or Apple is just producing limited quantity to create the illusion that it is a much sought after item) so we bought iPhone 8+ in the end. Since I wanted to get the credit card points, I had to be the one to open my mouth lo.

This experience at Apple Store made my impression toward Apple even more negative. The shop was full of people but they were all just windows shopping. The people who wanted to buy was asked to line up at the sides of the store. The problem was there were more staff attending to the window shoppers than to the ones who wanted to buy. Yucks!! It was really just a strategy to make the shop look busy from outside.

At this point of time we had to bid goodbye to Shibuya and Hachiko as we were already tired. Haha.. We still had to walk all the way to Harajuku again leh. This time we visited the Kiddy Land and aih I saw Harry Potter plushie sia.. Lucky it was only Harry because if the others were available, I would not be able to resist. I saw Squall mini plush which I did not buy because I should be able to find it in Akihabara. After the sun was down, Takeshita Dori was empty. I was joking that perhaps the students had to go home already. Lol. That was a good thing because at least our journey to the JR station was much quicker.

The weather was really taking its toll on us. We left half an hour earlier this morning but we returned to hotel one hour earlier. Since it was Christmas, I was thinking of getting a cake or something. It is interesting that Japanese do not really celebrate Christmas as they are not Christians but they really buy the cakes etc to celebrate this occasion. A lot of cakes were sold out at the shops that we passed by at Shinagawa. In the end I only bought 1 banana mochi and 1 peach mochi. Well good enough as they were good enough and definitely I would buy again before this holiday ends.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Japan Trip Day 2: Maihama, Tokyo, Ginza, Shiodome

Since I am still unwell and have not been having good rest for the past few days, I did not set up alarm this morning. Another reason is that I am just going to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in Tokyo and usually shops are not open that early. Usually the only motivation for me to be up early is to go to touristy places so that I can take pictures without other tourists at the background.

I woke up almost 830 and by the time everything was ready, we only left the hotel at about 10am. Lol. We went to Disneyland first as Tokyo Disneyland will be taking down all Christmas stuff after the 25th which means by the time I go there, there is nothing Christmassy at all.

Since my sister has an irritating habit of not eating breakfast, I suggested to eat something first at Tokyo station before we changed train to Maihama. She agreed and while waiting, I decided to get some dumplings and gyozas. I have been drooling over them since my Osaka trip last September when I did not have the chance to try.

At Maihama, we only visited Bon Voyage which is the shop outside the Disneyland and omg there are already so many cute things that I am interested in. The shop decoration is still Christmas theme but the merchandises are mixture of Christmas and the upcoming Dog Year. I did not buy anything yet since I need to to plan what I will buy due to limited luggage space but I am already eyeing the new year Mickey and Minnie plushies (they are unique as they are holding umbrella). The new year and spring merchandises are already a lot although there are still some Christmas stuff. I will also get Aladdin and Jasmine key chains which look like small plushies.
Chip and Dale
Although it was only 1 shop, we still spent more than an hour there. Lol. After that we decided to explore the area to find where the visitor center is located and the Disney Hotel Ambassador in preparation for our Disneyland stay from the 28th-30th hehe.. We passed through the Ikspiari which is a shopping mall and there is a Disney Store there as well. Only now that I learn that Disney Store items are different from Disneyland items which means wallet and credit cards have to be ready. I was eyeing for Aladdin tsum tsum set (there are 8 tsum tsums) which was put in Genie's magical lamp. It was a battle between reason "tsum tsums are not that cute and small and expensive" vs desire "aiya just buy la since Aladdin stuff are not common". I decided to KIV it because of luggage space. Lol. Another thought was to buy and ship it home when we stay at Disneyland later on.

We went back to Tokyo to have lunch and my sister suggested Ramen Street. My sister relied on whatever online map which clearly did not help at all. In the end I got the useful information from random website but we still lost our way because the address was "Yaesu South" which made me think that it should be at Yaesu South exit. I was so hungry and that impatience cost us time and even more walk. If only I scrolled down a few lines further, I would find that the exit is from "Yaesu Central". Gosh..

All the shops had long queue and I was more interested to go to other restaurants without queue. Haiz but I gave in to my sister who wanted ramen so I chose the one with somewhat a short queue and English writing in the menu. I don't have a golden tongue to appreciate good vs not-so good food so I don't know if the ramen I ate was good or just normal. Lol.

After lunch we went to Character Street and again this was a street of temptations. There is JUMP shop and I was so tempted to get Saint Seiya otedama (which is basically like Tsum Tsum) but I refrained myself because it was not no as cheap as Tsum Tsum. Then there is also Conan karuta card set at Nippon TV shop. Again I tried to tahan myself not to buy anything yet since eventually I will return here to buy Kit Kat Tokyo Banana.

From here, we went to Yurakucho since on the train we saw Bic Camera there. My sister wanted to get Apple Watch and my dad was tempted to get iPhone since the prices in Japan are much cheaper. After going through all levels, there was nothing I wanted to buy at the toys floor. My sister still wanted to shop but I was so tired. I took a rest near the vending machine where I saw some people were also taking nap. Lol. She took almost an hour that I got a bit warm and I went outside to get some cold air. After walking a bit, she texted me that she was done so I went back in. She actually spent so long just to queue at the cashier. Sigh.. ladies and their shopping.

It was only about 5pm but we were already hungry again. So we had dinner at the station before going to Ginza. Both of us had never been there so we were quite curious. It is really a street full of high-end brands so it is not really our cup of tea. The decoration for Christmas (or perhaps I should say for winter since Japan does not celebrate Christmas) is also disappointing. Now I understand why people are crazy about Christmas decoration at Orchard Road.

The only shop we entered was Uniqlo flagship store lol. I was so tempted to get cashmere coat but since it was not discounted I guess I should wait. I am still trial-and-error for my winter clothes combination and I am quite pissed with my sister. She just had a work trip at Europe (which is colder than Japan) but she could not offer any useful tips for winter wear. I only prepared 1 heat tech fleece jacket and 1 ultra light down as the outer most layer and they don't look stylish at all. I see most people are wearing long coat here which looks neater, more stylish, and better in photos.

Caretta Shiodome was our last stop for this Christmas eve. We were already feeling cold but according to website, this is supposed to be the best winter illumination in Tokyo so we had to see it. Sadly reality was not as good as the pictures in internet T_T The area was very dark except for the illumination area so it was not very pleasant for the eyes. There were shows which curiously used Beauty and the Beast songs. I think I would enjoy it even less if they don't use those songs that I am familiar with. There is a theatre here where Aladdin Broadway's musical is showing.

And that's all for today. We reached the hotel back at about 9+ feeling cold and disappointed with the Christmas decorations but still happy and excited for the next few days that we have. I wanted to take a picture with Zidane poster at Shinagawa but I think I would look awful at the end of the day. I should do it in the morning. Curiously I did not see the FF poster at Yurakucho or Tokyo today. I guess the 'game' is not that easy to play i.e the posters are not that easy to find especially at a station as big as Tokyo. Perhaps I am just lucky that the exit that I take to my hotel at Shinagawa happens to be the place where they put the poster here.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Japan Trip Day 1: Tokyo

I flew to Tokyo by ANA and it was my first time flying ANA. I remembered booking 2 aisle seats for my sister and myself so I did not know how I ended up getting a window seat. I will not want a window seat anymore as I hate holding my bladder. I could not go to toilet as frequent as I liked as I did not want to disturb the person next to me. However due to the plane configuration, my window seat the back of the airplane was not too bad. I should not be complaining as I had an empty space next to me about half seat width. It was my first time flying with Boeing Dreamliner so I am quite impressed that it does not have the traditional window cover that we lift up or down. The window control is electric and it makes the windows shade darker or lighter to block the light. Cool!!

Service was great as expected from Japanese hospitality. With a flight from 630am until 4pm, I was expecting a breakfast and lunch. It was disappointing that meal was served about 1 hour of flight and then only a snack before landing. Bleah.. The Japanese side dishes for the meal was nice but the serving for the main dish was too little. In flight entertainment was very limited and underwhelming. I ended up watching Tangled (not complaining since it is one of Disney's princesses movies that I have not watched) and Big Bang Theory. I could not really sleep because I kept thinking of holding my bladder.

Upon arrival, we had to take bus from the plane to airport terminal. The winter breeze was like standing at the frozen section in a supermarket. It was for a shortwhile so I still could tahan with what I wore (normal heat tech + normal shirt). The immigration queue was so long and my portable wifi was not working. Apparently there were many Singaporeans at the airport as the wifi list showed so many portable wifi networks except for mine. Thankfully the help line was responsive and I managed to get the wifi to work prior to getting a bus ticket to go to hotel.

The bus departed at 510pm and the sky was already dark. While waiting for the bus, I could not tahan and added another layer of clothing which was heat tech fleece jacket. The journey from Narita to Shinagawa was about 100 minutes and I was very impressed with my choice of hotel this time: Shinagawa Prince Hotel. It looks fantastic and the room (including the toilet) is huge!! The view is also amazing with Tokyo Tower visible from the window. Can see the outdoor swimming pool also but obviously noone is swimming at this temperature haha..

We quickly had dinner at hotel food court (since the food at the plane was too little) before exploring the area. Shinagawa JR station is just across the hotel and we went to top up Suica cards first. We explored the area at the other side of the station and I find the area is rather dead. Not sure if it is due to 23rd Dec being a national holiday.

There was a 7-11 with black logo at the hotel so we were not sure if it was the more expensive version of 7-11. Hence we bought water at other combini when we did the exploration. After that we went back to check and realise that the 7-11 at the hotel never jacked up the price. Good news!

On the way back to the hotel, I saw Zidane's poster at Shinagawa Station. Apparently there is Final Fantasy Yamanote Line (FFYL) event going on until 27 Dec. There is a poster featuring 1 FF character at each station in the Yamanote Line. Since the game is in Japanese, I am not too interested. I am more interested in the posters of the characters lol. Sadly Squall is at Osaki and I don't have any plan to go there.

That's all for the first day of this trip. I am still sick and I decided to start the Augmentin. I also took Tolak Angin -something I never tried before. Lol.. And oh gosh even though this hotel is damn good, the internet is damn slow sia!!!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Sick before trip

Thanks to the 2 packets of potato chips that I could not resist and I finished eating in one sitting, I have been sick for the past 1 week. I still have not recovered despite seeing doctor and having 1 day rest. It certainly is not helping that yesterday I flew home and tomorrow morning I have a 6am flight for my first winter holiday. That means tonight I will not have proper rest.

I did not even have the chance to rest today as I had to buy new supplies of medicines as I am still not getting better. I bought lip balm yesterday but I could not find it. I must have left it behind in the rush of last minute packing so I need to buy that one also. I also went to Multi Toys expecting that my items had been delivered and yet they were not ready yet. I shall leave my rant about Multi Toys for next time after eventually I get the items.

I just returned from Mal Kelapa Gading. My mum brought me to Polo because she saw a jacket that was heavily discounted. The whole shop is not joking when it says it is having up to 80% sale. It really makes me wonder if the original prices are not marked up terribly and borderline scam. Lol. Honestly I am not to keen to get the jacket as I still have 2 Uniqlo jackets that I bought because of sale but I had not worn even once. I simply agreed to buy 1 so as not to disappoint my mum. Oh well.

As I held my mum's hand, she said that I was very warm. So it is not only my feeling but I am really feverish. No choice but to return to MKG again to get ibuprofen for standby. In the end, I agreed to get antibiotic for standby also. Instead of amoxicillin, I requested for augmentin.

Although I am not fit, the excitement of going holiday to Japan again overcomes the physical condition lol. Plus it is winter and I can't wait to experience the notorious cold winter in Japan lol. If things go south when I am there, at least I have travel insurance. Hahaha..

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ace of Diamond

Ace of Diamond is not a new series whether for the manga or the anime and I know that the manga runs for quite a lot of volumes. I only started to pay attention to this seriously after Elex Media Komputindo released the manga in Indonesia sometime last year. Honestly the first few volumes did not really hype me up as the characters were somewhat lacklustre. I only picked up the anime after I felt so down after my project epic failed and I just wanted to find something to kill my time and to distract me.

Surprisingly the anime gave me a completely different experience from the manga. Within the first 2 episodes, I already cried seeing Eijun have to leave his friends to join Seidou T_T How the characters behave and interact in the anime is also more relatable and likeable than their manga counterparts.

Sports titles usually follow the tropes of a weak main character who suddenly becomes very good in a sport in a weak school and then magically transform the team into a strong one. Ace of Diamond is refreshing as it does not go this way. The characters are very humane: no matter how good or strong they are, they have their weaknesses. The main character, Eijun Sawamura, has a unique pitching form but is lacking the control or knowledge in other aspects of baseball. His rival, Satoru Furuya, can throw great fast balls but lacks the stamina. Other geniuses whether from Seidou or from other schools also do not always succeed in critical moments. All these make the matches more exciting as all the characters seem to be equal and both teams have chance to win. The characters' personalities are as imperfect as real humans can be that I find it difficult to like anybody.

With 75 episodes, I had my reservations that this would be quite a draggy show. There are episodes which I find draggy but overall, I feel that the matches are exciting enough even if 1 match can run for few episodes. For an impatient person like me, I always read spoilers first and I already know that Seidou will fail to qualify for Koushien. Yet I was still very excited to watch the match despite knowing the outcome. That shows how well written the matches are.

Usually a sports anime will end after 1 tournament and after the third years member retire. Ace of Diamond is the first anime that continues on and that is refreshing.

With so many characters and limited screen time, one main weakness of the anime is the character and team development. I cannot get invested in the characters or the team to like or root for them. The bonding and camaraderie are also not really there. When the seniors retire, suddenly we see so many unknown faces from the second-string team to be featured more although previously we don't know how good or bad they are.

Although Eijun is supposedly the main character, I do not feel that it is the case during the tournament. He can strike out or not giving any runs as any other pitchers but he is often underrated because his success is depicted simply because of his pitching form (batter is unable to see his throwing arm) rather than his skills. And when he is in a slump, the attention shifts to the rest of the team that it gets confusing if he is really the main character.

There are plenty of emotional moments at the beginning which is sadly missing towards the later episodes. I find that there are a lot of anticlimatic moments such as the ending of the final match and the farewell match of Seidou team. I was expecting touching moments to make me cry but none of that sort.

The OP and ED songs are worth mentioning too. They are pretty catchy and capture the atmosphere of the anime well. It is quite a feat not to skip the OP and ED songs for a series that runs for 75 episodes. In addition, at the end of each episode, there is always an illustration drawn by other mangakas so it is always exciting to see.

I have also watched the 3 OVA which are the back stories for Miyuki, Kominato brothers, and Kuramochi. I shall watch the season 2 after my new year holidays. It is quite funny that I am actually quite excited to watch the next season although I am not really invested in any of the characters and usually what makes very excited for a series is having characters that I like.