Thursday, May 31, 2018

Japan Trip Day 6: Disneyland

After a disastrous wet day yesterday, I managed to wake up earlier today but decided to sleep another 30 minutes because I was too tired. Guess what: my shoes were dry and I found my missing socks. Basically the shoes and the socks that I bought yesterday were unnessary. Jeez.. Since I already bought them, I decided to wear them for Disneyland today. I decided to bring umbrella but not coat after the rain yesterday since today's weather forecast was also similar.

While Disneysea felt emptier than usual yesterday, Disneyland was as crowded as ever. To celebrate Tokyo Disney Resort 35th anniversary, there is a huge 35th anniversary decoration at the garden at the entrance and it is a photo taking opportunity not to be missed. At the middle of the World Bazaar, there is a huge 35th Anniversary structure with statues of Mickey in various outfits from previous Tokyo Disney Resort's anniversary. I did not take photo with the thingy as the whole area was so congested and I dislike taking photos with strangers in them.
35th Anniversary Structure (I don't know what this is called :p)
It looks even more amazing in the evening
We went to get fast pass for Monster Inc -supposedly the most popular Disneyland's attraction and we did not try this in December. We were so tired and we decided to just explore the shops in World Bazaar first to look for things and plan for our shopping at the end of the day. After that, we just sat down to wait for the parade even though it was still another hour. The good thing was that we got the front row.

I watched the new parade, Dreaming Up!, from Youtube and I thought it was not as nice as Happiness is Here parade. I was wrong: Disneyland's parade will never disappoint. Lol. Although the floats are smaller than Happiness is Here parade, it is amazing to see Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and Wendy flying mechanism. I am also sad that Aladdin and Jasmine are "relegated" to walking characters instead of getting their float but it turns out to be a good thing. Aladdin noticed that I was wearing an Aladdin t-shirt and he pointed at my shirt. This shirt is really a good investment lol.
The unflattering expression because Aladdin is not so popular and perhaps he does not expect there is a fan
After sitting down for almost 1.5 hours, we decided that our legs were prepared for some queueing lol. Surprisingly, the queue for Mickey's house was only 35 minutes. Even better, finally we got Fantasia Mickey!! I would be so irrirated if I got the Band Conductor Mickey again for the 3rd time. Sadly I looked damn sai in the photo T_T

It started to drizzle although it was not as bad as yesterday. Since I already carried the umbrella, I opened it for the sake of using it. Lol. We went to the newly renovated It's a Small World which turned out to be quite crappy. Instead of dolls, a lot of the characters are using boards. So unimpressive. The music between the areas was also not gelled together. Although the queue looked intimidating, it moved quite quickly and we spent only about 25 minutes waiting.

We had lunch at Queen of Hearts and lucky there was no queue. Earlier when we were walking towards Toon Town, the queue was crazy. I had hamburg beef patty and rice so I would not be hungry (and angry) today lol.

With full stomach, it was time for the rides now starting with Monster Inc. Similar to Toy Story, this is super popular because it is an interactive ride. We have a torch light and we shine it at the "M" logo, monsters will pop out and stuff. Unlike Toy Story, there are no points whatsoever here so it is all in the name of fun. I don't follow Monster Inc so I did not really have fun. Lol.

We went for Star Tour next which only had 5 minutes waiting time. Lol. This is actually the same concept as Nemo SeaRider at Disneysea. I find it ironic that Nemo is super popular at Disneysea while noone seems to care about Star Tour at Disneyland. Star Tour is based on Star Wars and I think the animation and adventure are more exciting than Nemo.

The queue for Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters looked damn long so I took fast pass for that since Singapore teaches me that long queue means good stuff. Lol. By then it was only about half an hour until the next parade and surprisingly we still could get front row. Perhaps the park was really not as busy as December. Haha.. This time I decided to change side to the left side of the parade direction (in the morning, we sat at the right side of the parade direction). It was a terrible decision because staff members were walking on the left side with the parade so they were blocking the views when I wanted to take photos. Zzz... I think the Aladdin was still the same as the morning so he noticed my shirt again and this time he walked over to high 5 me! Wahahaha.. Yes that high 5 cost me his photo from nearby but it is okay. Again, I think this Aladdin t-shirt is really a good investment. Haha.. Maybe next time I will wear this and loiter around at Arabian Coast at Disneysea to wait for Aladdin and Jasmine to take photos with them if they are loitering.

The rides in Disneyland are quite kiddy so it was quite an easy decision to spend the rest of the time queueing for photos with Donald and Daisy. Lol. I was not hungry yet but I wanted to avoid waiting until hungry and jostled with dinner crowd so I decided to have early dinner at Camp Woodchuck Kitchen. Anyway the waffle sandwich looks interesting also lah.

I went to try the Westernland Shooting Gallery. It looks interesting since it uses real rifle (sadly not real bullet). Lol.. 200 yen for 10 shots and obviously I sucked and got 0. I honestly did not know how to use the rifle like look through where for the aiming part etc.

It is time for our Astro Blasters fast pass next. I am surprised that Monsters Inc is more popular than this as I find Astro Blasters more similar to Toy Story Mania and hence more fun. We even have the control over the direction of our seats for Astro Blasters so that is even more interactive than Toy Story Mania. Unfortunately, the light from the blaster is too faint and most of the time, I could not see which my laser was. That took away some of the fun factor so yeah Toy Story Mania at Disneysea is still undoubtedly the best ride.

After that it was close to time for the Electrical Parade. I have watched this 4x so I am okay to miss it. Lol. Hence when we walked pass the One Man's Dream II show and it still allowed admission, we went in. My sister wanted to sit and we were left with bad locations. We sat at the first row on the left side and perhaps half of the show was blocked. Haiz.. Should have just stood at the back at the standing area.

When the show ended, it was just nice the time for Electrical Parade which surprise surprise was cancelled! Yesterday Fantasmic was still playing although it was raining. Now it was only light drizzle, so light that it was okay not to open umbrella, yet Electrical Parade was cancelled. Hmm.. Anyway it was actually a blessing in disguise since we got to see Nightglow Parade. That is the parade reserved for rainy days so it is a rare opportunity.

For Nightglow Parade, there are only 3 floats lol. Sad. The direction is also reversed to start from Toon Town. We did not get nice photos so we ran over to wait near Dumbo ride which is near the end of the parade route for more photos.

We decided that we were to tired to play so we decided to spend the rest of the day at the shops at World Bazaar. Honestly I am quite sad because there is really nothing that I want to buy. I tried to force myself to like some of the Arribas figurines but nothing caught my liking. I actually hope to get the medium size Cinderella Castle there only the small one was available and the small one was not really impressive. So much for my business class luggage allowance T_T

At the end of the day, the weather made a fool of myself again today. I brought umbrella and left my coat and today was not really raining until umbrella was needed but it was windy and cold. Great -_-" Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself better than yesterday as I got Fantasia Mickey, tried the new It's a Small World, played a few rides, watched parades in front rows, and most importantly I got high 5 from Aladdin. Lol.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Japan Trip Day 5: Tokyo Disneysea

I did not set any alarm because I was expecting that natural morning sunlight would wake me up and usually my sister would set up alarm. Unfortunately for this day, the alarm did not ring and the morning sunlight did not wake me up despite I already opened the curtain. We woke up at 730am and we were like "Oh shit!". Luckily today Disneysea opened at 9am and we reached at about 930am for the 35th Anniversary show. Somehow we still could get a space near the railing so the view was not obstructed. Sadly the show was short and not that nice.

After the show, we went to get fast pass for Toy Story Mania and the timing for the fast pass was already for 1935-2035. It would be quite tight for Fantasmic! show in the evening. I had breakfast to kill time while waiting for the Easter show. The crowd was crazy and we could not get a nice spot anymore. There is 1 "main stage" at the center and 1 "side stage" at each side of the Disneysea lake. I thought the show would rotate among the stages so I chose one of the "side stage" since we could stand at a kerb. Sadly my expectation was wrong: there was no rotation so basically what we watched at the side stage was not really the main thing. One interesting thing was that some characters were running from the side stage to the main stage and vice versa on the ground area so it was not a completely show on the water.

My greatest fear for the day seemed to be a reality. With 60% chance of precipitation, it started to drizzle at the end of the Easter show. Sianz.. There are not many Easter decorations in the park but there are some 35th Anniversary Mickey's statues. I was so pissed with my sister. It was so difficult to get a photo opportunity, she always ruined the end products. Sigh.. I decided to stop taking pictures altogether as it made angry instead of than happy.
One of the 35th Anniversary Mickey's statues. Apparently the statues can interact with the 35th Anniversary Memory Maker but I am not interested in accessories ba..
In order to avoid the drizzle for awhile, we went to try the 20000 Leagues Under the Sea since the wait time was only 5 minutes. We had not tried this before. Lucky we decided to try this quickly because after us, a lot of people had the same thought to go here to avoid the drizzle. Lol. The attraction is super dark. Yes it suits the theme but as far as an attraction goes, it is too dark to be enjoyable. The journey under the sea is not bumpy or exciting and the things to see outside our submarine are also not exciting. I think it is an attraction worth skipping next time. Lol.

We then took a fast pass for Indiana Jones and went to try Aquatopia. Aquatopia looks nice and has caught my interest since December. Perhaps because of the weather forecast, today was not a busy day and the wait for this was very short (about 10 minutes) compared to what I saw in December. The ride itself was not as exciting and as nice as what I imagined when looking from afar. Well I can't complain since the queue was short anyway.

I decided to split up because I wanted to take character photos while my sister wanted to play the mini game at Abu's bazaar. My main target is Minnie at the Disneysea's entrance since I don't have the photo with her Disneysea outfit. Honestly my legs were so tired and I decided to take the boat (Transit Steamer Line). I did not have to queue as when I reached there, the whole line was enough to get on to the next boat. It was an enjoyable and relaxing ride. I think it is better than the Electric Railway too. Hehe but if there is a long queue for it, I will still choose to walk.

When I reached the entrance, the character greeting was with Mickey again. Aaah :( Since it was drizzling, the photo location was moved to the covered area outside the shop. So I did not mind to queue again to get a photo with Mickey with a different background. There was a shift change at 130pm and Minnie was out. Sadly she took a break at 155pm T_T When the session resumed at 215pm, it was Mickey again. Damn it.. if only I was 5-6 earlier in the line T_T I also asked 3 different staff about Photokey card but it seemed that it is only for Japanese :( At least my thick skin to ask got me an answer to my curiosity.

Although my legs were still so tired, I had to chiong back to Indiana Jones. I passed by the photo place at Arabian Coast and it was Stitch and Angel together. I would not be interested if it was either or. But to have both, I would not mind to queue here later. Indiana Jones is actually quite a fun ride. I got the first row again so during the photo, I could see my face quite obviously. I do not really collect photos during ride but I must say that so far my luck at Disneysea has been pretty good. In December, I also got the first row at Tower of Terror.

After that, I queued for 35 minutes for the photo with Stitch and Angel. Because of the drizzle, there was no official photographer leh :( Stitch took notice of Genie in my Aladdin t-shirt and was playing with it. Lol so embarrassing because I am so fat leh.

We took fast pass for Raging Spirits before walking over to the front again for the Easter show at 430pm. We found a spot to watch the main stage but the weather was getting worse and the show had to be cancelled halfway due to rain T_T It was a good call from Disneysea as the rain was so heavy that I decided to eat dinner first while hoping the rain would stop. The rain did not stop and I had no choice but to buy an umbrella. It was a difficult decision between a 1000 yen big umbrella which likely I had to throw away because it will not fit into my luggage vs a more expensive folded umbrella which I can bring home but likely will not protect me from the rain just now. I am glad that I chose the big umbrella because even with it, I was still drenched. Haiz..

With that, I had to say goodbye to Raging Spirits. Raging Spirits is an outdoor roller coaster so it would definitely be wet in this weather. With nothing to do, I decided to take photo with Donald. With drenched shoes and socks, I decided to buy socks since I lost my spare socks after doing laundry yesterday. I bought a set of 3 pairs for 1900 yen. I waited for about 30 minutes for photo with Donald.  I asked about the Photokey card again but I got the same answer. If only I can understand Japanese.

After that, I took photo with Goofy since the wait was only 15 minutes. By this time, the rain lightened a little bit. My sister wanted to try Abu's Bazaar again and because the rain, there was no queue, I did not mind to try. Well I obviously suck in this kind of game. However I am not surprised that a lot of people are winning. If they never change the game, once someone gets the hang of it, he can keep trying and keep winning subsequently. Anyway each person is only allowed to purchase 1 game per queue so it is quite difficult to keep trying until I can get the hang of it in just 1 visit. The consolation prize is a pin which is quite big and quite nice in quality so it is not too bad.

The rain seemed to lighten even more and I was hoping that it would stop. My feet were disgustingly wet at this time so I wanted to rest at Sinbad's Voyage. Seriously this is the most underrated attraction at Disneysea but I don't mind since it means there is always not queue. Hehe.. Unfortunately by the time it was over, the rain got heavy again and I was quite sure Fantasmic! would be cancelled just like the Easter show earlier. We had time just for 1 more attraction before our fast pass for Toy Story. I took photo with Minnie while my sister chose Mickey. Surprisingly despite the heavy rain and the queueing area at the Greeting Trails is not covered, there were still a lot of people who wanted to take photos here leh :( I queued 35 minutes for Minnie and no more chance to take photo with Mickey. At least I got Mickey with the Disneysea attire outside earlier.

While walking towards Toy Story, I realised that Fantasmic was still performing despite the rain. Why liddat T_T If I knew, I would rather watch that than taking the last photo with Minnie. Sigh.. Anyway Toy Story Mania is really fun and I can understand why this is the most popular ride. It is not only a ride but also an interactive shooting mini game. I had fun with this. There are score and accuracy and I did not care about the accuracy. I was simply spamming my shoots. Lol.

At the end of Toy Story, the fireworks were up so we missed again. Bleah.. At the start of the day, I wanted to be in the park until the closing and the rain ruined everything. Although it was only 9pm, we decided to call it the day. My feet were painful because of the tiredness as well as the wetness. I decided to buy a 3900 yen shoes because tomorrow is Disneyland and there is no way I will survive with wet shoes if they don't dry overnight.

Although I had fun experiencing the rides and getting a photo with Stitch and Angel, it is a disappointing Disneysea day today: I did not get to take photo with Minnie in Disneysea outfit, the Easter show was cancelled in the afternoon, and I missed the evening shows. I suppose the lesson from today is to also take note of weather forecast when choosing a day to visit.
Can't believe I spent >5000 yen for these out of necessity T_T

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Japan Trip Day 4: Yokohama, Odaiba

Yokohama is less than 30 minutes away from Shinagawa by train. I was quite surprised that everything seemed quite modern and new: the train stations, the buildings, and the city environment in general. It feels like a newly developed city while my expectation was something similar to Tokyo or Osaka.

Honestly I was not too eager to visit Yokohama because initially this was in the itinerary to bring my dad to see the Chinatown. Even though my dad is not coming, I decided to still go since I already spent effort researching what to see and how to go. I was also very distracted about finding Daiso to buy laundry bags since I wanted to wash my clothes at the hotel.

We alighted at Minato Mirai and had difficulty in our way finding initially. As expected the area is full of shopping malls and again the malls are more modern: the floor area is huge and the ceiling is huge to give a spacious feel. Cosmo World is quite interesting: the attractions do not look that scary and are disproportionate to the amount of screaming from the riders.

We entered a toy claw machine shop. My sister was interested in Doraemon plush while I decided my luck to get Aladdin Q Posket. I just did it for fun and stopped after 500 yen. Ok now I cannot complain anymore if people are selling each of this claw machine toys at 1000 yen. I feel quite cheated and I think this 500 yen is tuition fee for the future. Lesson #1: I can only press each button once i.e I cannot press a bit a bit to aim to the position I want. No wonder for my first try, the thingy did not move at all. Lesson #2: These machines may be rigged. Just at that "sweet spot", the machine may just go over slightly.

We continued to walk until the Red Brick Warehouse and that was when I decided that enough for Yokohama today. The park that we passed by looked very newly cultivated and there was no further interest to see other parks. The sea front also looks uninspiring. Perhaps what gets my interest the most in Yokohama is the Cup Noodle Museum and what a luck that it is closed on Tuesdays. Sianz.

My sister asked if we were going to see the Chinatown and this made me angry. I asked 2 days ago and she said she did not want. Thus my plan for today was based on that consideration and I was not going to change my plan. We went to find Daiso and managed to get laundry bags. I was thirsty so I checked out Gong Cha and I was shocked that the price was ridiculous in Japan. Lol.. how can Gong Cha be even more expensive than Starbucks.

I did not take any photos with the Gundam in Odaiba this time because I did not want to take photos with other tourists behind. I was not too disappointed since I had enough photos during December trip. Near the Gundam, there was a K-pop group mini concert called Snuper. Seeing how Japanese fans and public behave is amazing. The fans were not as crazy and the public was not as kaypoh compared to at where I come from. Even the 'security' around the stage was also not over-the-top.
I decided to buy a 3-way-bag from Uniqlo since my current travelling bag is already quite chui, I bought 1 Mickey sky blue t-shirt just to match with a light blue shorts that I have. Lol. To make everything exceed 5000 yen to be eligible for the tax free, I got an orange Saint Seiya t-shirt. I actually prefer to get a Prince of Tennis t-shirt but there was no M size here. These anime t-shirts are collaboration with Shonen Jump 50th anniversary. There is Kuroko no Basket as well but the design is too obiang with big Kuroko in front and big Akashi at the back. I am too old to wear such obiang t-shirts :(

At Gundam Base, I decided to get the 1/60 Gundam Wing to make use of my Business Class luggage allowance. If I am flying economy, there is no way I will buy something this big. I also bought HG 1/100 Wing Gundam 0 Custom "Special Operation Type". I even did something unthinkable by offering my friend to get 1 Gundam of his choice. But just ONE. Lol.
Still just these 3 decorating Gundam Base
I was looking forward to dinner here because I wanted the Takoyaki. Sadly, I chose yuzu sauce and it sucked. Lol. So basically I had a disappointing dinner. I started some souvenir shopping already since there was a souvenir shop here selling Kit Kat with Tokyo Banana flavour. Thank goodness I thought I could only get this at Tokyo station.

I thought I could have an early night today to prepare for Disneysea tomorrow. Unexpectedly, the laundry dryer was not working up to my expectations. I thought the dryer would be as good as what I had in PGP. Haiz.. It took me 80 minutes (4 cycles) to dry everything up and that was after I decided to separate the jeans from the t-shirts. My fault for not paying attention to the estimation pasted on the machines.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Japan Trip Day 3: Gotemba, Hakone

My sister wanted to see the sunrise so we left the curtain open. I woke up at 430am and the sun was already up and the sky was already bright. Lol. Forget about sunset. This is not a full summer yet but the amount of daylight is already so long. Sadly it was a cloudy day and Mt Fuji was totally covered so I decided to sleep again.
The clouds...
The cloud went away a bit after I woke up. I went to take a bath at the onsen again and I was lucky to have it empty again hehehe.. I enjoyed the outdoor onsen again to hope for the cloud to disappear further before returning to the room, take some pictures, and have breakfast.
The best view I could have today
Pretty looking Japanese breakfast. It was filling despite looking small in portion.
We checked out from the hotel at 10am and took the half hourly shuttle from the hotel to Kawaguchiko station. We took a bus to Gotemba and the journey was 1 hour 40 minutes. I was not too interested with Gotemba as I had been there before and looking at the clouds today, there was no hope that Mt Fuji would be visible.

My sister had a great time shopping and I had a great time earning credit card points lol. She bought a bag after 70% discount but with original price of 80k+ yen, it was still quite a crazy price. Hehe.. There is actually a food court at Gotemba with pretty good choices of meals. I supposed when I went there with my friend in 2015, we were too hungry and ate at the first cafe we saw. I wanted to get takoyaki but just when my turn came, I had to wait while they cooked the new batch. I decided to get something else.

Mt Fuji appeared but it was something that could only be seen with naked eyes. The sky was still very cloudy and it was difficult to make out the snow cap tip against the cloud. Everything just appeared white in camera.

At the Disney Store here, I finally found the Peter Pan Tsum Tsum Land plushie that I wanted to buy in December 2017 but could not find it at the Disney Stores in Tokyo on Saturday. Yay!! In addition, it was put on sale so I paid 540 yen only. There were only 2 plushies there and when I was queueing for the cashier, the little boy behind me bought the other one. So if I was late a little bit, I would have missed it as well. I also saw 75% sale for small figurine set similar to Aladdin set that I wanted to get in Tokyo but for Mickey and friends. This gave me the hope that perhaps in the future the Aladdin set would be put on sale first. Currently close to 4000 yen per set still seems quite pricey and I decide to put the purchase on hold.

At the Nike shop, I was interested in one of an interesting piece of cloth that I never own before: it is a hoodie with sleeves a bit longer from the shoulder. So it is not exactly sleeveless but also not exactly sleeves. Too bad it was in the leftover size section and there was no size for me.

Similar to at Kawaguchiko, the buses at Gotemba is also not that frequent. By now I am quite used to it as the distance among the places are actually quite far even when on the bus stops list is only a few stops away. We decided to take a 3pm bus to Sengoku before changing to another bus to Togendai at Lake Ashi. Surprise surprise.. Sengoku turns out not to be a station but just a place. Luckily somehow I managed to navigate to find the bus stop to find the bus to Togendai.

At Togendai, we had 2 choices since eventually we needed to return to Tokyo. One was by taking the ropeway to Gora and the take train to Odawara. The other was to take the cruise to Moto-Hakone or Hakone-machi and then to take either bus or train to Odawara. I experienced the cruise before so I ws more interested with the ropeway. My sister preferred the cruise so I followed since this itinerary was hers after all.

We took the cruise at 420pm. There were a lot of dark cloud and the wind was powerful. Great! I wore jeans yesterday and it was too hot so today I wore shorts. The weather throughout the day had been fine but it was too cold at the cruise. Lol. By the way I actually wore the same outfit as 2 years ago here. Haha..

The last bus from Moto-Hakone to Odawara leaves at 515pm according to the time table so I had to say goodbye to visiting the Hakone shrine again. There was no other choice but to continue to Hakone-machi. I came here in 2015 at day time and the atmosphere was different now visiting in the late afternoon. We were on the last cruise already so the area was already quiet. A good thing about it is I could take pictures with the cruise without a bunch of tourists in the background. If the weather was clear, it would even be much better.

We took at 70 minutes bus ride to Odawara since our Fuji Hakone pass included a Odakyu Railway ticket to Shinjuku. The train ride is about 70+ mins to Shinjuku. There is Tokaido line from Odawara which connect directly to Shinagawa in about 70+ mins also. I decided that time was more precious than money so I forgo the Odakyu Railway ticket and paid for another ticket to take the Tokaido line.

After this trip, I have enough of Mt Fuji. It is best to be enjoyed from the photos in the internet. Going there directly is always a gamble because Mt Fuji will only appear very beautifully when when sky is clear blue with no single cloud around it. I have visited twice and 0 times seeing what I am expecting so I am very disappointed.

A bit more about Fuji Hakone Pass, it is actually quite worth it. It is actually a 3-day pass and it covers both way transport via Shinjuku. The return transport must be done by bus for one of the trip and by the Odakyu railway for the other but we have the option to choose which one for which trip. These 2 trips would already cost somewhere near 4000 yen alone. The Pass also covers Hakone ropeway and sightseeing cruise. If you have the time to enjoy both, I think both should be about to 3000-4000 yen also. Add all the trips via buses or train around the Hakone and Kawaguchiko area and everything will already exceed the price of the Pass.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Japan Trip Day 2: Kawaguchiko

I was surprised that the sun already rose and the sky was already bright when I woke up at 5am. We left the hotel room at 6am and reached Shinjuku Bus Terminal at 705am. A mere 10 minutes away from departure. Gosh.. and initially we were planning to leave hotel at 630am lol. While queueing for the bus, a Japanese boy asked me in Japanese if it was the queue. Woah.. I can understand leh lol.. So happy although the only part that I understood from him was the number of the bus. Hahaha..

The bus journey to Kawaguchiko station was about 2 hours. One of the stopping points was Fuji-Q Highland. Reading and watching the roller coasters here are not as scary as seeing them in person. The loops and upside-down sections may not be as crazy as Battlestar Galactica or Flying Dinosaur but the height.. I can't imagine. Mount Fuji looked pretty on a clear sky and I was happy to be able to see that.

Kawaguchiko is like an "interchange" of the various buses, hotel pick-ups, train, etc. We put our bags in coin locker and went over to see the visitor center to contact our hotel later on. The information center has staff with good English so communication is not a problem here.

There are red, blue, and green lines of Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Buses which will stop at various places of interest and the area to be covered is huge. As I did not research anything, I followed my sister to go to Chureito Pagoda. We were lucky that the bus was leaving soon after we left the information center.

The first destination already left me quite emo. It was quite a climb to reach the pagoda. There is a normal winding way and there is "shortcut" of taking the stairs all the way. To save time so that we can visit more places, I chose the stairs T_T I do not mind climbing if the place is nice and cooling like Fushimi Inari but the stairs are completely open here and it was hot. After all the hardwork, the view up there was disappointing. Sigh.. Despite the heat, it had gotten cloudy and Mount Fuji was already covered. Haiz..
The actual pagoda. Nothing impressive :(
The view that I got
I am disappointed that I cannot get nice background like those in the internet at the viewing point. The viewing point is quite "low" so if I want my face to be in, the background of the mountain and the pagoda will be cut here and there. The viewing point is quite small and with all the tourists there is definitely not a nice place to be. Oh and there is an automatic camera there and that is the secret of the beautiful internet pictures as the automatic camera can take 24/7 to wait for the clear sky for visible Mt Fuji. I definitely feel cheated.
According to the map, there are still more things further up and they look quite interesting from the photos. In the end I decided not to proceed further up because: the walking path is getting wilder further up, I do not see anybody going further, and there are warnings of wild boars and bears.

Surprisingly we spent about 1.5hours and it was just nice for the next bus arrival. No wonder the bus schedule is only once every 1.5 hours. Our next stop was Oshino Hakkai. We got a bit lost as we misunderstood about the whole place. It is not a place of interest with an entrance. It is actually a small village with various springs/ponds around it. This place is an even bigger disappointment as compared to Chureito Pagoda as it is completely different from the pictures. The springs/ponds are actually small and look more like longkang to me with murky waters. Seriously those pictures in the internet are simply taken by photography aficionado with good angles to make uninteresting objects even look amazing. I did not even bother to take pictures to show how disappointing the ponds are.

With the double disappointment so far, we decided to just skip Ninja Village and return back to Kawaguchiko station. With the consideration that it was cloudy, we decided not to visit any other Mt Fuji viewing points from the other lakes because we would end up disappointed again. We managed to find a small eatery around Kawaguchiko station to have beef bowl for lunch. Then we walked to Lake Kawaguchi as I saw a directional sign showing that the lake is only about 800m away. The surrounding area is quite dead too although I sort of enjoy walking aimlessly to chill for awhile.
The view is not as exciting as Lake Ashi at Hakone.
We walked back to Kawaguchiko station and it was just nice 3pm and we could call the hotel to pick us up. We are staying at Mizuno Hotel and it is actually one of the hotels at the clusters of hotel across Lake Kawaguchi that we saw earlier. To our horror, the user review in Expedia is correct: the nearest konbini is Lawson across the lake (from the hotel) so we have no food whatsoever. No choice to get the Kaiseki dinner for 6480 yen per person. Well I have to be grateful that at least we still can get dinner. Yes thanks to my parents who suggested no dinner and eventually did not even come to this visit.

The lake and mountain view from balcony was amazing and was not a lie. Sadly Mt Fuji was covered in cloud. After exploring the hotel room for awhile, the cloud was coming down and Mt Fuji was slowly getting visible. After taking a few pictures, I decided to check out the onsen. As the check in time began in 3pm, there might not be a lot of guests checking in yet, it was a good time to use the onsen without having other people. The onsen was still dry and clean so it was nice having all the onsen by myself.

I was not too happy because the indoor onsen was dirty. I could see pubic hair (not mine!) floating and yellow-brown dirt at the bottom of the onsen. Yucks... I prefer the murky water type of onsen la. The glass at indoor onsen is frosted so there is no such thing as enjoying the lake and mountain view while sitting at the onsen. I checked out the sauna and from just opening the door I already felt that I was sweating. Hii.. Cannot understand how people enjoy sauna. There is another door (which I realised later on) which is actually the outdoor onsen.

Thank goodness when returning to the room, Mt Fuji got even clearer with the snow cap visible. It was still not as fantastic as those internet pictures or as the view I had when the bus was stopping by at Fuji-Q this morning but still this was the best view I experienced so far. I wore the hotel yukata to take pictures of course. That was the whole purpose of staying overnight here after all.
View from the hotel room balcony
After that it was time for dinner and I wanted to go down with the hotel yukata. My sister was paiseh but decided to go along. Then as we walked, we passed another guests and my sister said they were laughing at us. Sigh.. okay we went back to our room. I asked my sister (since she was so shy) to go down and take a peek at the restaurant to see if people were wearing normal clothes or the yukata. She said 50/50 so okay lets wear the yukata. Usually this is what I see in the movies or anime when they go to ryokan ma. Lol.

We spent about 2 hours for the kaiseki dinner. It was my first time and it was quite an experience. I like the concept of kaiseki a lot. During each course of meal, it felt that all the portion was quite small. However at the end of everything, I felt full. The whole meal felt quite relaxing too though it took 2 hours. Rice/carbo was served near the end so overall it felt quite healthy. It is definitely better and healthier experience than going for a buffet with the same end effect: get to try a little bit of everything and feel full in the end without getting sick.

Pardon my skills because usually I do not take photos of food. But since this kaiseki cost so much, let's take photos for memory sake. I skipped the Simmered and Seasoned Dish because the food would not be visible when I took the photo of the pot.
Aperitif (just looks big because of the photo)
Assorted Sashimi Plate
Steamed Earthenware Pot
Assorted Grilled Plate

Vinegared Dish
Hotplate & Salad
Hotplate & Salad, Meal
It was close to 9pm when we were back to the room. I wanted to brush my teeth and sleep but I decided that my tummy was too full. So I told my sister I wanted to take a nap first (lol.. ya what's the difference between nap and sleep). She woke me up near to 11pm. I wanted to shower again but when I realised there was only 1 small bath gel to last until tomorrow morning, I decided to shower in the onsen again. 11pm now and it should be empty. I was right.. Hahaha.. This time I went to the outdoor onsen also. It was quite cooling and a nice experience although because of the dark there was no view to enjoy. But still I enjoyed sitting down there enjoying the night breeze. Honestly I always felt uncomfortable that someone from a distant would see me naked with a telescope or something but I decided to heck care lah.

So that is for the second day. The sightseeing was disappointing and I got a sunburn around the neck. Thank goodness all the relaxing at the hotel since 3pm made me a bit happier at the end of the day. I would feel more emo if we could not see Mt Fuji at all from the hotel as it would make the whole staying overnight here a waste.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Japan Trip Day 1: Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ikspiari

This holiday has been a mess. My grandma is not in a good shape and for the past few days, decisions constantly changed: from cancelling the trip altogether, going without my father, going just with my sister etc. Thank goodness Expedia allows quite last minute cancellations. I am actually quite angry because since last year, I already said I did not want to go in May because of the weather. The rest made decision hastily and I sucked it up because essentially the purpose of the trip is to accompany my parents and unlikely they will like winter. If the purpose is just to go with my sister, I will choose cooler months and I am not going to just repeat Tokyo. So at the end I just went with my sister because if I would lose some miles to expiry if I cancelled this. Another reason is because my sister kept nagging want to go and her being my dad's favourite child, I went to make her shut up and not giving my dad a headache while taking care of my grandma.

Preparation and packing were done haphazardly and until the last minute. Only on the travelator towards the boarding gate that I realised that I forgot to take the mobile wifi rental. Sigh.. what to do. This is my first time flying business class but that will be a separate story. Although I did not sleep well, I managed to get perhaps 1.5-2 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a flat bed. It made a huge difference as I did not feel so tired and grumpy as usually when sleeping in economy chair.

After arrival, we tried to find mobile wifi rental at Narita and decided that they were too expensive. We decided to just use our own phone mobile data roaming. Yep.. lesson learnts: better remember that mobile wifi rental at Changi because $5 a day is a steal.

We took the Airport Limousine to Shinagawa Prince Hotel to drop our luggage first and then we went to Shinjuku to find way to Hakone. This was another thing that made me so angry at my sister. I was settling Yokohama and Kamakura itineraries and just asked her to settle the Hakone part. Not to mention that I prefer to go Hakone immediately instead of spending 1 night in Tokyo before going to Hakone.  Since she did not do her part, I let her be responsible and do the asking and talking.

1.5 hours were wasted for something that could be done pre-trip and in the end we settled for Fuji Hakone Pass for 8000 JPY. Thank goodness the staff was a Malaysian guy so communicating in English was a breeze. With everything done so last minute, we had to be glad that there was still a bus at 800am to Hakone which meant we have to wake up very early. The next available bus is in the late afternoon and that would mean wasted 1 day.

We spent the rest of the day around Shinjuku to find various Uniqlo stores in the area to find the elusive Doraemon x Uniqlo plushies. It was only released yesterday and it seems that all the plushies were sold out just like in Singapore?? It did not bother me as I am not a Doraemon fan but I do not mind getting the plushies to sell it later on. Lol. My sister was checking instagram and apparently there is 1 store with Doraemon decoration but without the address and there are few Uniqlo stores in Shinjuku, we did not manage to find.

We went to Harajuku nearby to check out Kiddyland and Disney Store. Peter Pan Tsum Tsum Land plushie that I did not buy in December was no longer available :( Sianz..  I also KIV Christopher Robin plushie. I am not a fan of Winnie the Pooh but sometimes I am tempted with characters which are seldomly made into plushies. That was the reason why I bought Rabbit and Owl in December as well. We also checked out the newly renovated LINE store which is disappointing now. Although it becomes bigger, the Brown's room to take photos is gone now. Anyway I am not a LINE person.

I wanted to go to Ikspiari for Disney Store and Bon Voyage store outside Disneyland so we went there in the afternoon. Peter Pan Tsum Tsum Land plushie was also no more :( At Disney store, I saw small figurine sets with Aladdin and friends but they are expensive: 3900 JPY for 4 figurines and there are 2 sets so I KIV first.

At Bon Voyage, I only bought Tomica cars for the 35th Tokyo Disney Resort series, again for the purpose of selling it. I also decided to try some of the food items. The display looks attractive and usually I do not buy because of the price and I do not want to carry bulky food back. Luggage space is more precious for toys. Lol. Since this time I still have 1 more week in Tokyo, I decided to try some of the food items: Mini Ramen and Mr Potato Head's potato snack.

Aahh.. this corner room at the hotel is amazing. Too bad it will only be 1 night here. Only now I realise that the hotel actually has coin laundry service as well. I am going to ask them to put me at level 9 subsequently so that it will be easy to do laundry. It will be even more difficult to find another hotel in Tokyo now hehe..

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Love, Simon

I knew about this movie since March from Youtube React channel. The movie is only released in Singapore in May so in the 2 months, there are a lot of good reviews. I do not think the trailer is that interesting (despite a few funny scenes) but I am quite surprised that the rating at GV website is also very good which is what makes me decide to watch. I am usually not a fan of rom-com but I don't mind watching those that people say touching and will make you cry. I suppose it is quite similar to The Fault in Our Stars that I eventually watched because of the audience reviews although I was not really interested with the synopsis or the trailer.

I did not really get emotional after watching Love, Simon. I still had a good time watching though. The depiction of high school life, the friendships, and the conflicts among friends are depicted are quite realistic and believable. The conflicts are not dramatised too badly as ultimately how bad can high school friends towards one another be.

There are plenty of things that drive the plot which do not make sense in real life. Who on earth will use public computer in school library for personal email when we have our phones 24/7? Who will fall in love with a stranger just from email conversation without even knowing who the actual person is? The fight and the reconciliation between Simon and friends are also a bit too 'forced' and hasty. One scene they just fight and they are back as friends again at the other scene without even any words of apologies. Jeez.

This is one movie that I regret knowing the spoilers first. Ooops.. There is a mystery of finding out Blue's identity and it is quite funny to see Simon imagining different friends as Blue throughout the movie. But because I already know who Blue is, those scenes and this mystery part do not really grab my attention.

One thing that strikes me the most is the words from Simon's mother. Keeping something secret is indeed like holding own breath. It sucks to live this way. I am experiencing something similar at work. A leader is expected to be strong, to be role model, and so on and so forth. I am so tired of acting and pretending to be all that just to meet these external expectations. I end up bottling things inside and implode instead of just explode and express my unhappiness. After telling my colleagues that I wanted to speak to my boss that I do not want to be a manager anymore, I feel much more relieved. I get to share what is burdening me and I get to be myself again. The only thing left now is for an opportunity of face-to-face meet up with my boss to really say this. At this point of time, I have decided to say it. I do not care the impact on future career bla bla bla because ultimately I have decided that the most important thing to me is personal happiness and personal health.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Busy Saturday

My carousell listing for FF6 Opera House was sold! Yay! It is bought by the same person who bought FF Chrome Locke figurine from me last year. This is my third international selling and I think I should put a disclaimer of the 5% paypal fee or I will keep losing a bit of money. With the demise of my laptop last year which wiped out my financial notes, I had no idea how much I earned or lost from selling this item.
Sold it for $200
Today is the first Saturday in May which means it is the Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). Deadpool made a surprise visit at Kinokuniya and oh boy he was not that popular. I still had regret that I did not take photo with him though :( I was quite paiseh because only few little kids approached him also. Haiz.. Oh well I am not a fan of him anyways. It was a good cosplay though as the guy inside was really tall. Maybe an angmoh?

I cannot feel the wonder and excitement of FCBD anymore maybe because the past few years I always missed it due to work. This year Kinokuniya is nice that members could "reserve" for $10 in January. I did not have to queue today as I already reserved and I got a $10 voucher in exchange of the $10 paid. So the comics are still free anyway. There was nothing that I wanted to buy so that made it even less exciting. There was lucky dip for a minimum spending of $150 wow.. Even if I had something to buy, I would not spend that much. I suppose the most fun FCBD I had was when they invited one of the comic artists to come and I hope they will repeat such events.

I decided to give up on my first class waiting list for my trip to Japan at the end of this month. I checked the hotel rate and I decided not to spend an additional $250 assuming the wait list went through. While I can understand that aircraft change is something that will happen at times, I am extremely disappointed and disgusted with the way SQ handles this. Not only they bumped me down from first class to business, there is no compensation at all. Even the expiry of the 'refunded' miles is based on the original date instead of from today. The new flight is quite full and I cannot change to a better seat. I suppose I have to be happy that at least I get the window seats although I am 1 row behind the bassinet. Sigh. I just hope the person in front of me will not have kids. Haiya sibei sian liao la spoil my mood.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mid-career crisis

I reached my breaking point and finally snapped. I am so sick of wasting my time and energy at work everyday for meaningless things: things which do not provide personal satisfaction or pride, things which do not give personal growth, and things which eventually do not matter in the grand scale of things. It is so sickening to deal with staff issues and getting blamed for things which are not even within my control. And that is at the expense of the things that I like to do or I need to do for my own personal portfolio.

With all the negative energy for the past many days, I finally made up my mind to speak to my bosses that I give up and I do not want to revert back to be normal worker. I do not have the skills to deal with daily shit nor I have the patience and willingness to sacrifice my own personal health and well being for all these insignificant things. I am so tired of pretending to be someone which is not myself with all the needs to set a good example and role model crap. I planned everything nicely on my head to have this conversation this evening during pledge ceremony but everything just did not go according to my plan. What is the point of registering when in the end my name was not even in the list and there were no seats assigned. The auditorium was so warm and I know I should not complain so much because at least I still managed to get a seat. Some people had to stand or even sit at the walkways. I recalled things were much better during my time. Since basically it was a mess, I decided to not even bother looking for my boss. Looks like I have to tahan another month plus until appraisal time comes.

Honestly I also did not feel like wasting my time for this pledge ceremony. This is another example of me wasting my personal time for the sake of showing face. Although at the end I tried to make it a bit more palatable to myself by saying that I should support my pre-reg who had done well bla bla bla. Well at least he was appreciative that I came and asked me to take a photo together. Sadly I looked damn chui and shit reflective of the current shit mental state I am in.

Even this coming weekend must be sacrificed to write some nomination for a colleague. It is not that I do not want to write but I am pissed because I asked for this to be passed to me last week so that I could do it over the Labour Day and then at work before the deadline. Now the 'soft' deadline is over and I have no choice but to catch up on this. Seriously give me back my old life! I do not give a fucking shit about career future and career progression.