Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hataraku Saibou

Hataraku Saibou (or Cells at Work) perhaps is the most unique anime this summer that transcends the interest of normal anime fans as my friends at work were the ones who introduced to me. As people working in healthcare, we all studied biology before and Hataraku Saibou is basically biology as an anime.

I cannot remember much beyond the basic functions of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets so I cannot really comment on the accuracy of the biology presented here. That is actually a good thing because it allows me to simply enjoy the anime as an anime, instead of looking out for factual accuracy.

Hataraku Saibou tells a story of anthropomorphised blood cells in a human body fighting various diseases in typical over-the-top anime ways. I enjoy the anime and find it hilarious as I view it as a fun 'biology in animation'. However, there are still serious moments when the narrator introduced new characters and their physiological functions or the disease conditions. This keeps the biology portion somewhat grounded.

Putting biology knowledge aside and watching this just as an anime, the series gets repetitive with each episode following the same formula albeit with new or different characters involvement depending on the featured diseases. There are attempts to break away from this formula with few episodes on the characters' past when they are younger and in training. These are done pretty well with reference to the actual physiological process of blood cells differentiation.

The characters tend to be one dimensional as like the actual cells, each cell is highly specialised with own functions and fits into a particular mold (no pun intended so I am not referring to fungi here lol). This is a double edged sword as it works well for the comedy through over-dramatisation of their characteristics but it makes little possibility of character development through the episodes.

I hardly follow in-season anime as I hate to wait a week for the next episode. Hataraku Saibou is interesting and special enough to make me following it weekly. I also think it is worth repeated watching for the biology part. I learnt and got reminded of few things here and there while watching this. It is unfortunate that the final episode does not leave a nice wrap up and feels anticlimactic. The penultimate episode sets up the severity of hemorrhagic shock really well as a possible doomsday scenario but the resolution with the blood transfusion is just eww... They do it so much better with the IV fluid during the heat stroke episode.

Thumbs up to the creators of the series as it takes great creativity to make boring topic of blood cells into a fun anime. Leave it to the Japanese and they can even add in touching moments. The episode on cancer cells is really mind-blowing. We associate cancer as a bad disease although in reality there are always cancer cells in the body. Watching these mutated cells have to be killed in an anime creates such a furore while in reality we all want that to happen with our bodies.

There is a spin-off manga called Hataraku Saibou Black which takes place in an unhealthy body. Hmm the word unhealthy is controversial here because even in the original one, the body keeps falling sick. Lol. A body in poor health (imagine chronic diseases) is more appropriate to describe the Black. I read the English translation and wow.. it really gives a completely different vibe.

After watching Hataraku Saibou and reading Hataraku Saibou Black, I feel more conscious about my health as it is quite poor thing for the cells inside me if I don't take a good care of my health. I am also pretty sure this series will inspire some kids who watch this to become medical professionals in the future. Who says anime cannot be a positive influence?

Anyway with the knowledge of the blood cells in reality, there are 2 things that bother me. First is how these blood cells and bacteria are depicted to bleed. Second but the most important is about the physiological age of these blood cells in the body, how will the mangaka approach this? Lol.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Socially drained

I am naturally an introvert and a shy person so I feel extremely drained with all the mingling with strangers this week. It takes a mental work to think of conversation topics with strangers. Firstly there is the new work environment. Then on Thursday, I went to PSS Industry Chapter social night. I will normally avoid this kind of thing but I promised my friend to support the event. I decided to give him face since he helped to introduce me to my new job. Wew.. I think I will not make it big in the corporate world since I really do not like approaching strangers and start conversations. Plus I don't drink alcohols although suprisingly some people think I was already drunk because I kept laughing. 

The third one was yesterday when my ex-colleagues invited me to their church event. I usually will avoid attending Protestant Church since I already go to Catholic Church but since one colleague offered to pick me up, it was hard to refuse. While I knew my colleagues, there was dinner after the event and when my colleagues spoke to their church friends, I was being introduced and I had to make friends also. I have to applaud the community spirit in a Protestant Church and it is no surprise that people are more close knitted. It is something that Catholics should learn from although ultimately for me, it is not something to tempt me to change church. After all relationship with God comes first and I believe that is the reason why I am "called" to Catholic Church in the first place.

It has been a tiring week and I did not even have the time to play game after work this week. With the unfamiliarity of new work, I have to be attentive and cautious with everything I do and this is really working my brain. I suppose it is true that when you are familiar with something, you just go auto-pilot without much thinking and that is perhaps why I was not as tired in my previous job. Another good reason will be managing red numbers and settling childish workers clearly do not require that much brain power. It is all about black face and creating scary atmosphere back then. Lol.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New job

I am a loyal person and it has never been my aim to job hop. It is sad that things come to how they are right now and finally I am moving on to my next job. I concussed after the first day yesterday so I only managed to blog today.

I felt a mix of excitement and worry but overall I was looking forward to the job. The worrying bit is because I have to start and learn from scratch all over again. I did not really have experience with that since for my first job, I had my training when I was still undergoing pre-reg training so it was really under a learning/training environment.

So yesterday my friend offered to meet me at Labrador Park MRT to walk to office. There was a last minute change so he ended up driving. He picked me up and sent me home so I only managed to explore the area today. From Labrador Park MRT, it is about 15 minutes walk to Alexandra Technopark. It is not bad but when it is sunny, it is quite jialat. Alternatively there are 2 buses (93 or 155) that I can take if I do not want to take MRT but I think I have to spare 1.5-2 hours for that so perhaps I shall explore some other days.

So after all orientation, there was a welcome lunch for me. Whee... 2 hours lunch and paid by the company. Something that never and will never happen in the previous company. During the interview, I came to know that my team would consist of about 16 people but it turned out that only 4 are based in Singapore and the rest is in the Phillipines. So essentially I am working in quite a small team here and my dream of making Japanese friends for travel advice will just be a dream.

I feel like now I am back in my pharmacy year 2 times busy mugging biostatistics. What I could not understand and remember back then, I still cannot understand now. Haha.. Oh well. Clearly the B+ means no shit.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Japan Trip Day 7: Last day

Previously my habit is to pick morning/afternoon flight back so there is nothing to be done on the last day except for going to the airport. This time in order to maximise the trip, I chose a 5pm flight. Things did not work out as expected as the Airport Limousine bus from the hotel to the airport was not as frequent as expected. Yup, that is what happens when pre-trip research was not done properly in a correct sequence. I chose the 1210pm bus since the bus journey might take 2 hours+ if there was traffic jam.

My plan for the day was to quickly to go to Diver City to take a picture with Gundam. The photo deck opens at 11am so after taking the photo, I need to quickly go back to hotel. With the shops open from 10am, I get to walk around for an hour. I went for breakfast at 830am and hence I still managed to try the tuna/spicy tuna don that I did not get yesterday. Otherwise the food was the same as yesterday although sadly the takuan (yellow raddish) was absent and they switched the potato tater tots with wedges. I would like to take a second serving of the tuna don but because of the rice (and the other things that I ate), my stomach did not have more space.

After that I checked out, put the luggage at the lobby, and went to Diver City. I bought the Gundam TWC international version and while waiting for 11am, I decided to get the hojicha ice cream from Nana’s Green Tea although I was still full. I have been craving for it since the first day arriving here. Hehe.. I passed by the souvenir shop and saw Tokyo Banana Kit Kat. How could I forget about that!! My luggage was already quite full but I was sure I still could squeeze another 5 boxes of the Kit Kat. After I made payment, I saw the Conan acrylic stands in the same shop. No discount here but at least I could get the Sera that I missed out yesterday as well as Ran. To make up for 5400 JPY to get the tax-free, I also bought Heiji and Akai although they are not from the beach series.

I waited until 1110am and sadly the photo deck was still not open T_T Looks like I had no luck and I could not wait any longer. I had to make my way back to the hotel already. I planned to take a purikura at hotel lobby since it has Disney theme and I already had 500 yen coins prepared. Urrgh.. There was this lady hogging the machine and after that there were people near the machine so I got a bit self-conscious to enter the purikura machine by myself.

The Japanese is known for the timeliness so it was another surprise when the Airport Limousine bus came 20 minutes late. I had plenty of buffer time so I was not worried. The journey to Narita was smooth without traffic jam so I reached just before 2pm and I had time to explore the shopping mall at the airport. Since I did not get the purikura at the hotel, I used my coins for a Narita Airport souvenir medallion and 2 tries of Conan pouch gashapons. I got Conan and Heiji’s design. Thank goodness no duplicate and I did not get the criminal’s design. I felt like a pig during lunch with my ebi furai, vegetable kakiage, and pumpkin tempura to accompany my beef udon while the locals who were eating there did not have so many side dishes to go along.

It was a miracle that I did not buy any more tidbits from the duty shops inside the terminal. I was so tempted with the Potato Farm and despite going in and out so many shops, in the end I convinced myself that I should avoid more tidbits, especially the potato chips kind, if I really want to have my diet start again after this trip.

Good luck did not repeat itself so the flight back was not using Star Wars plane. The journey back was not comfortable as the cabin temperature was warm. It was not only me as other people were also fanning themselves. The snack was quite bad (a dry and hard to swallow bread) although the dinner was quite filling for an airplane meal.

I also chose wrong in-flight entertainment with a My friend “A” which is quite heavy and dark. The next movie My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) was better as it fits the high school comedy genre that I like. With those I had no more time for Avengers: Infinity War.

And basically that wraps up my solo trip. I am honestly very proud of myself and very amazed with my achievement. Last year I was damn scared having to spend the first day alone at Osaka and one year later I survived 1 whole week alone at Japan. It feels so refreshing to go on a holiday with nothing to worry about work issues and piling backlogs. Usually I dread the end of holiday as it means returning to the shit hole. I do not feel as dreadful this time as I feel quite excited to experience a new job this Monday.

I am really thankful to God for all the blessings for this holiday. I 'anyhow' chose my hotels simply based on the prices and both hotels turned out to be very accessible and I would say the best options in terms of location among the Disney Partner and Good Neighbor hotels. I had fun during Samurai photo shooting experience (although I can't help my ugly and fat face in the end products) and I am really happy with the good luck at Disneysea and with the Star Wars flight. Looking back, it was quite crazy to take 1 week overseas holiday literally for Disney as I spent the first 2 days going around Disney Stores and then the next 3 days at Tokyo Disney Resort out of a total of 6 days. Haha.. It may not be a perfect holiday but it is a holiday I will not forget. YOLO and I survived a SOLO trip yo ^o^

Time to settle my laundry and sleep soon. Past 3am liao..

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Japan Trip Day 6: Shinjuku, Nakano, Akibahabara

I only had about 4 hours of sleep last night since I slept at 3am yesterday. Although the shops usually open at 10-11am, I woke up earlier because for the last 2 days, I decided to give a try having breakfast at the hotel. I came down at 9am and there was a long queue for the breakfast. The breakfast had pretty good spread with mixtures of western, Japanese, and Korean food. Though the breakfast time ends at 10am, it was considered late when I came down as some food already ran out. The one to be missed was the DIY donburi with spicy tuna and spicy salmon. I still had a hearty breakfast with my favorites being the totter tots and bacons.

It took me about 1 hour to be satisfied with breakfast and timing was just nice when I reached Shinjuku to get my iPad. The shop was still quite empty but unfortunately the staff really could not speak English. My Japanese was quite rusty and I read the katakana for “gold” as “black” instead so I was asking if there was a black iPad. There is no black iPad haha. That is what happens when non-fanboy tries to buy. I gave the AppleCare a pass since I could not communicate with the staff.

Since it was early, I also explored to find Don Quijote at Shinjuku and that brought me to see the Godzilla at Shinjuku for the first time. It looked quite amazing but was dwarved by the surrounding high-rise buildings. The Don Quijote here was so small and the alleys in between the shelves were so narrow for 2 people to walk pass each other. I can’t understand why people love coming to here so much. I bought some Kit Kat and mochis and I made the best decision of the day: to return to the hotel to drop off them and iPad first before continuing with the shopping for the rest of the day.

Next destination was Nakano Broadway and I was surprised that I competed the place in 2 hours. I guessed I came too often that there were not that many new things to see. I bought nothing from Mandarake and honestly I sort of rushed through the artbook sections because I don’t think I have enough luggage space and I still have yet to see if I will get any figurines at Akihabara. Unfortunately, the Pocahontas porcelain figure that I saw in June was already sold. Bleah.. should have just bought it then.

The loots from Nakano Broadway today were Aladdin figurines. There was one Aladdin figurine from Tokyo Disneysea 15th Anniversary which still came in box. The original price tag is still at the box (4800JPY) but I only paid 3000JPY for this. Hehe. I think it is quite sad that nowadays they seldom have Aladdin merchandises.
The best picture of the figure that I can find online
I decided to get a set of Aladdin-Jasmine-Genie porcelain figurines for 5800JPY. They were without boxes and there were some chips here and there. I was not even sure where they originated but I think at the bottom of one of them there was still a Tokyo Disneyland (or sea) label so they might be official items from the past. I was pretty undecided and after going one round, I made up my mind to buy them rather than regretting not buying like the Pocahontas figurine.
Wow surprisingly I can find an image of the set online
Once done, it was time for lunch but the tendon restaurant that I was eyeing earlier was closed after 2pm T_T I was hungry so I could not wait and decided to eat at a café at level 1. My Japanese really cannot make it. I could answer the first question (that I was eating alone) but I did not get the second question if I would like a smoking or non-smoking area.

With that, it was finally the last destination for this holiday: Akihabara. I only discovered now that there is a direct station gantry to Atre1 so that is kinda cool. I went to Radio Kaikan first before checking out Animate, Surugaya (the one near Animate), Mandarake, and Akiba Culture Zones (where Lashinbang is). I somehow could not locate Kotobukiya store and I forwent about it since I was running out of time.

I actually did not find things that I really wanted to buy. Yet I did not want to waste my luggage space by returning back empty. So it was a bit of impulse shopping to buy whatever decent looking enough and I like. I was even thinking of getting Heiji nesoberi but decided that ultimately I prefer figurines to plushies.

I returned to Surugaya and ended up buying I never planned to get. Well some of the things I actually never saw or knew their existence before. Lol. I found this cute Gundam SEED Picture Studio series that I never saw before. I suppose it should be a series of figurines but there were only Kira as 3 Little Pigs (2400JPY) and Yzak as Emperor New Clothes (1700JPY). I think they are not cheap but oh wells. I also bought Prince of Tennis One Coin Grande set for 2800JPY. It is much cheaper than the original price but I would not even think of buying it under normal circumstances since I don't really like this kind of chibi style figurines.
Gundam SEED Picture Studio series that I bought
Prince of Tennis One Coin Grande
The one that made me happy is Haruichi Kominato Palmate figurine for 926JPY. After all I already own Eijun and Ryosuke. His price is weird because he was considered "junk" lol and hence the price was already without tax. Something new learnt today: those yellow tags in Surugaya are those considered "junk" items. I also bought Mikoshiba figurine for 1000JPY although I already owned this figure. He is actually the prize figurine when ordering the Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun volume 6 and I actually already bought the manga when it was released. Told ya that I was just chionging to race against time.

I was glad that I already went to Don Quijote this morning and did not go to the one at Akihabara or else I would already miss returning to Radio Kaikan because unexpectedly the whole mall closed at 8pm. Wew.. The drizzle sort of helped as it made me decided to quickly call it a day and I returned to Radio Kaikan. Lucky they still allowed me to enter at 755pm and quickly chionged at Amiami. I was really kancheong as I forgot where Pupu plushie (2288 JPY) was placed so lucky I managed to find it. I don't like to collect acrylic stands but in order to hit the 5000 JPY for tax-free purchase, I just quickly grabbed the acrylic stands of Amuro and Sera (1528 JPY). Basically the main characters were already sold out and only Amuro, Sera, and Sonoko were left. To my horror, I actually grabbed Sonoko instead of Sera -_-" That was what happened when shopping in a hurry with a tired body and a tired mind.

I was so emo that I did not manage to visit another store to get Shuichi Akai figurine since after checking various shops, the cheapest was in one of the stores here. Cannot be I have to rush tomorrow morning to Akihabara just to get this and forgo my photo with Gundam. Before going home, I decided to just check out the Surugaya store near this Radio Kaikan blog and thank God, I saw the Shuichi Akai figurine here for 1500 JPY. That is about 300 JPY cheaper than what I thought was the cheapest. If only this was available at the other Surugaya store earlier, I would avoid all the emotional roller coaster and I would avoid the tax as well.

The drizzle was getting heavier and it was really time to say goodbye. Sigh.. sad.. that really marks the end of my solo trip. I bought oden again for dinner and as previously, I always end up overeating for the last evening of the holiday. Other than the oden, I also bought chicken cutlet (the snack kind), chicken karaage, and my diet tea.

Time to do packing now and from now on, I think I will always choose ANA over SQ. The allowance to have 2 pieces of check-in luggage (ANA) is so much better than 1 piece of 35kg (SQ). Usually I am quite particular about the boxes of my figurines but for now my hand carry is already full with iPad and the fragile figurines. So hopefully those I put in the check-in luggage will not be crushed too badly. And surprise surprise.. I do not buy any anime book this time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Japan Trip Day 5: Disneysea and Disneyland

The last day at Tokyo Disney Resort is always the day of decision making. Which park should I visit first? Should I drag along my luggage or should I put it at the hotel and collect later? Should I travel to check in to Tokyo hotel first in the middle of the day or wait until the end of the day? What should I do to maximise the last day? And so on..

I decided to drag my luggage and put it in the locker at the station first. I made sure I came just before the park opened and it was already like the Amazing Race to find empty lockers. Lol. Actually there were plenty still but I suppose everyone was kancheong. The entrance queue was crazy even for people who already had the tickets. Oh well..

I went to Disneysea first because I still wanted to try my luck to find Aladdin. I started with Abu's Bazaar again as I decided to complete my loser's pin collection. Haha.. I was expecting that I could not clear and I was right.
The loser's pin collection
I knew that the crowd would be even crazier today as there was already a queue for Abu's Bazaar. I did not have to queue 2 days ago when I went in the morning. The character photo spot at the Arabian Coast was Stitch again and the queue was longer than 2 days ago. Characters started to come out at 9am and changed every half an hour so I suppose this trend is correct. The characters today were Abu, Genie, and Daisy. Sigh.. I repeated what I did 2 days ago while waiting with vanilla smoothie and coffee jelly at the Sultan's Oasis and early lunch at Casbah Food Court again. After that I still did not see Aladdin or Jasmine and I gave up. I decided to take photo with Ariel instead. I was not going to waste another day without photo like yesterday. I took photo with Ariel in December and she was in her winter clothing so I do not have her in the original seashell bra yet.

I could not be bothered with the parade anymore so I chionged to queue for photo in front before the session began. I decided to try my luck to see if it would be Minnie at the start of the second session. I thought I was 20 minutes early so it was not too bad to wait (I was like 7th in the queue) but I made a big mistake. 2 days ago was before Halloween season officially began while today was already during Halloween season so the timings for the photo changed!! I ended up baking myself for more than an hour T_T It was Mickey again and I decided to get the photo.

I decided to check in to hotel first and I went back to Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel. I reached at about 145pm and I was not allowed to check in yet. Sigh.. I know their official check in time is 2pm but there was nobody else in the lobby waiting to check in so why they could not be a bit more flexible. I was offered if I wanted to switch to Japanese style room. Since there is no extra charge and the receptionist told me that the room is slightly bigger than the western style, why not?
For myself and my 3 imaginary friends. Lol.
After a quick shower, I went back to Disneysea to try my final luck to find Minnie at the front. I was really hoping I could get the last batch of the day and it would be Minnie. It was Mickey and then there was a swap over right before my turn and I was praying hard it would be Minnie. Damn it! It was Mickey again T_T The 2 ladies behind me were also equally irritated. Both of them were also hoping for a changeover and to get Minnie so they were also disappointed that it was Mickey again. Of course I did not buy the photo again and I decided to put on my Mickey ears hat. Aiyo the photographer never told me that the hat was senget sia. Grr...

I exited and went to Disneyland hoping for a better day but the crowd was just as bad as yesterday. The queue for photo with Mickey was still over an hour. I watched Spooky Boo parade again for awhile before getting an Arribas figurine of Sorcerer Mickey (32500 JPY). I wanted the small version of Cinderella castle but I never see it again since 2015 leh. Sad. No way I am going home empty handed so I just had to buy something. Lol. At around 530pm I thought it was a good time for early dinner but wew.. the queue at the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall was already crazy. Lucky I still could get a seat.

That was all for Disneyland and I returned to Disneysea for Fantasmic! and thank goodness it was not cancelled. I checked out the Greeting Trails hoping for a quick photo before queueing for Fantasmic! and the wait time was even worse than 2 days ago. I was so happy when there was no queue for King Triton's concert and then there was technical problems and the performance was cancelled. WTF sia T_T
The compensation for the cancelled show
The number of people waiting for Fantasmic! was already crazy. I was in the second row of the standing and it was too far to take photos with my camera so I just enjoyed the show with my naked eyes. Fantasmic! is still the best show from both parks. Unfortunately it started to drizzle at the end and I decide not to stay until the park closing time. I do not want to have another wet shoes and socks to dry and especially tonight I had the Arribas figurine.

To compensate my emo-ness, I chiong-ed for souvenir food. Haha..Usually I cannot be bothered about the souvenir food because I think they are overpriced. This holiday is fully for my "me time" so I decided to just buy some food to try. I said "chiong" because I was worried if the rain would get heavier. Haha.. If not because of the rain, I would not be in a hurry. I bought a box of senbei, Halloween chocolate pack (just because it comes with a small carrier bag with Tokyo Disney design although I doubt I have anything that small for future use lol), and chocolate crunch (supposedly one of the hyped food stuff here). Hmm that reminds me that I never took photos of their packaging. Well we shall see if they taste good or they are just tourists cash grab.

With all the disappointment today and the realisation that tomorrow is my last day, I feel super emo now. Sigh.. I went to get my supper from Daily Yamazaki and there was oden. I have always been curious about oden and I have to say that I like it. Hehe.. I just soaked in the bath tub to relax my feet and now I know why my sister always soaks while bathing in the evening. Haha.. I never use any bath salt though. I started packing and in order to keep myself awake, I decided to get the hotel's pay TV as the room was too quiet. I tried to entertain myself with the local TV show but they were just boring. So yeah basically I paid 1000 JPY just to re-watch Spiderman: Homecoming as it was the only thing I managed to watch before deciding the supper already went down far enough for me to sleep comfortably. Haha..

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Japan Trip Day 4: Disneyland

Today is the first day of Halloween season so I am bracing myself for the worst of the worst crowd. The crowd was definitely worse than when I came in June. Thank goodness I already took a picture with the 35th Anniversary decoration near the entrance as the whole entrance area was already crazy right from the start.

With it being Halloween season, my first destination was the Haunted Mansion. Honestly I am not a fan of rides but this is one that I have not experienced so I just wanted to try for the sake of trying. I don't think it is good or bad because how good or bad can a dark ride in an amusement park can be. Lol. To me they are exactly the same things with different decorations.

Along the way I took quick snaps of Halloween decoration before it was getting more crowded. I was right because after the Haunted Mansion, I could say goodbye to take pictures of the decorations without photobombers. Lol.
This is behind the Cinderella's castle. I did not have the chance to take picture from the side with Mickey and Minnie because right from the start of the day, people were already queueing to take photos here!
After Haunted Mansion, I decided to quickly find a seat for the Spooky Boo! parade. I was still tired from yesterday and would like to slow down today. I did not mind skipping photos with Donald and Daisy. I only want Mickey which is a bit of luck-based too. I want his Steamboat Willie (never have one with this version yet) or Fantasia (because I think I looked ugly in June).

With the knowledge learn from June trip to sit on the left side of the parade (since staff are walking on the right side of the parade), I secured myself somewhere near the Westernland. Guess what: Spooky Boo parade starts at Toon Town and ends at Fantasyland. It is actually the reverse of the usual parade route. Unlike the usual parade in which the performers just move along, Spooky Boo parade has 2 stops and for the performers to perform. I was in a really bad place because not only I was on the right side of the parade, when the parade stopped for the performance, in front of me was in-between the parade. Bleah... If only I sat where the float with the characters it would be much cuter.

After the parade, I went for lunch at Hungry Bear restaurant and had curry rice. I made it a point to find the game shop (similar to the Abu's Bazaar at Disneysea) at Disneyland and I realised one area in the Disneyland that I had never explored before: the Adventureland and this is where the game shop located. There is another store selling crystal and glasses figurines similar to the one at Cinderella's castle too.

Though I said I did not mind skipping photos with character, I still could not help to check them out as this was the most interesting for me in Disneyland. The waiting time for Donald and Daisy was about 1 hour while for Mickey was close to 1.5 hours. Since I already made my way to Mickey's house, I might as well check Minnie's house which I had not visited before and I was out within 2 minutes. Lol. It was just a simple walkthrough and not interesting la.

I decided to just sit again to wait for the Dreaming Up parade. Haha.. This time I managed to secure a bench near Snow White's wishing well. I always thought viewing parade from the bench would be nice. That was not the case. Haha.. Nothing beats watching at the first row whether for photos or for hopes that the characters would wave at you.

It is always a mystery to me how those vlogs in youtube always show the face characters at Disneyland while I never saw one in all my previous trips. Looks like today I learnt a bit about it. Around 4-415pm, I saw quite a lot of characters coming out of the Cinderella castle and basically they were stationed around the castle. Rapunzel, Snow White & Prince, and Cinderella & Prince Charming were at the plaza in front of the castle. Peter Pan & Wendy, Aurora & Prince Philips, and Evil Queen from Snow White were behind the castle.

Sadly I got no photos from them because there were so many people plus with it being Halloween season and people were allowed to dress up, those people cosplaying attracted attention more than me. So I did not bother to try my luck with my English which according to some tips visitors can have higher chance getting the face characters by shouting in English as the characters will be able to interact with us better. I like Peter Pan simply because he wears green top and bottom but as a character, I think he is annoying. Lol. He is like too hyper but oh well I still want to have a photo with him if possible.

These characters are hugely popular. I saw the coming out and returning back and as they did so, a huge throng of people were actually following them. It was really like a horde of fans chasing their celebrities. And guess who was the most popular character? It was Cinderella & Prince Charming. I am not surprised because Cinderella is really the most beautiful princess with her hair and dress while Prince Charming is really charming and handsome. Sorry to sleeping beauty but Aurora & Prince Philip do not look like princess and prince compared to Cinderella & Prince Charming. The royal clothing really makes a huge difference.

From this morning experience, I went to catch Spooky Boo parade at Toon Town this time. Unfortunately it was a bad decision again T_T Seriously this is the first time I experienced this kind of parade. Apparently at the start of the parade, there are only the floats. Only after reaching the Main Plaza that the road performers join. That is when the parade makes the first stop for the performance. It then moves again before making the second stop for the performance which is what I experienced in the morning. Sian liao lo. This parade reminds me of the performances at Disneysea as there is no way I can experience the whole parade. You will see different characters depending on the seating location. I can understand when this is done at Disneysea because of the water/lake thingy but to do something similar at Disneyland is meh.

Even with the parade, the queue for photo with Mickey was still 1 hour. Sianz. I decided to return to hotel for dinner, shopping at the Disney shop at the hotel, and a quick shower. I previously said that I would not mind skipping Electrical Parade since I already watched that a few times since the first time in 2015. Sadly the queue for Mickey was still long in the evening. The park was really crowded today because even the sad Minnie's house even had 15 minutes queue. Crazy.

For Electrical Parade, I positioned myself near Toon Town. Previously I always want to be in the vicinity of the castle. Now I have learnt that near Toon Town is a perfect spot to take photos because we can only see from one side of the parade route (the other side is all the trees). This means that when the parade passes through this area, all the characters will definitely wave at the people since there is only one side. I did not want to sit and I wanted to be the first one at the standing audience so that I could take photos. I took a lot of pictures and I need new camera T_T The area is not as brightly lit and my camera performance was not up to my desire.

While I have been having fun in the past 2 days exploring alone, I had a reminder that travelling with fun friends would be great too. During the Electrical Parade, the group of students behind me was so high. They were not interested in taking photos and their goal was to shout the characters' names as loud as possible so that the characters waved at them. Aah if only I could enjoy Disneyland with a fun bunch of people like them.

Thank God for the pleasant weather and the fireworks were not cancelled. After the Electrical Parade, everyone was chiong-ing for the fireworks and the main plaza in front of Cinderella's castle was jam packed. I can only say that this is something worth squeezing for. Haha.. I really enjoyed the fire and the water elements. I was quite far behind but I still could feel the heat blast during the fire.

It is not winter yet but after the fireworks, I bought the hotdog and cocoa from the restaurant where I had the free flow cocoa with the vacation package in December and I watched the second fireworks show from there. After that I managed to squeeze in for Peter Pan's flight which is a bit more unique for a dark ride because instead of riding on the rail, the boats for Peter Pan's flight are suspended from the rail so it really feels like visiting Peter Pan's journey by flying. Having said that, it is not something that I will spend time queueing for hahaha...

It was 958pm by the time I finished that and I regretted not asking the staff if I still could squeeze in for Snow White's Adventure. Apparently the staff were still inviting the people behind me to come in so actually I still could go T_T. It was only at 1000pm on the dot when there was announcement of the park closure. Oh well.. As mentioned, I am not a fan of the rides and I am only curious to explore the ones I have not tried before.

So that is basically my worst experience at Disneyland so far. I positioned myself badly for the parade and I did not take photos with any characters T_T That is a first. Thank goodness that I feel better towards at the end of the day with the parade and fireworks and at the very least I got to experience the rides and explore the areas I did not have the chance to previously. The weather was great too. Most importantly, I shall remember that the Toon Town area will be a good place the next time I want to watch the parade and to standby around 4pm near the castle to hopefully catch some characters. Hehe.. However, the most important learning point today is DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE CROWD. It seriously can make or break the trip although with Disney Magic, you won't feel 100% shitty at the end of the a Disneyland trip. Haha..

Monday, September 10, 2018

Japan Trip Day 3: Disneysea

This is my third time visiting Tokyo Disney Resort (TDR) in less than a year but the excitement never wanes. Everything was great today except for the weather. To be honest, I was a bit self-conscious at the hotel lobby: a single guy in the 30s going ga ga over Disneyland but once I got on to the bus, all the inhibitions disappeared. Lol.

It already started drizzling by the time I reached. I am staying at Hilton Tokyo Bay. Although it is a partner TDR hotel, there are still differences in service compared to the official TDR hotels. For example, the service counter at the Welcome Center opens half an hour later than the service counter for the official TDR hotels. I did not want to waste time waiting so I decided to get a 3 day Disney Rail Pass and then go to the hotel directly to drop my luggage since Disneysea is 1 stop after the hotel after all. I am very thankful again for my luck. I did not check the positions of the hotel and I bought whichever was the cheapest. Hilton Tokyo Bay turns out to be the closest to Bayside station. It is just opposite the station but it still takes about 10 minutes to walk. It is good enough as I do not need to wait for the hotel shuttle bus. Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay and Sheraton are also about the same walking distance but the other 3 partner hotels are bit too far to walk.

Disneysea opened at 800 today and I entered at about 815am. Halloween decoration is already up although officially the Halloween season begins tomorrow. I thought people were crazy to already start reserving seats for the show although the Halloween performance is scheduled to begin tomorrow. Waiting for 5 hours until the Happiest Celebration on the Sea under the heat is really crazy.

My main aim for today is to find out what time characters started to come out as I want to find Aladdin and Jasmine. I immediately went to Arabian Coast and simply waited there. It is amazing to reach early as there is nobody else and I could have taken photos without photobombers. Too bad I am alone.
Literally empty
There was no queue for the Abu Bazaar so I went to play once for each game and failed. I think the Cobra game is easier so I will only try for this subsequently. So it seems that characters start to come out at 9am for about 15-20 minutes and then they change every half an hour. Abu came out at 9am and bleah I really dislike fur characters. It is so difficult to get their attention and they are more interested in kids. Nevermind..Abu is quite ugly anyway.

Because of the summer heat, the photo timing with Stitch is 9am-12pm (previously in June it was 12-3pm). There is 35th Anniversary statue at the spot where I took photos with Stitch and Angel previously for today Stitch was at a door. Since I still had to wait until the next characters and there was an official photographer, I queued to take photo with Stitch.

Daisy appeared at 930am and I decided to cool down at Sultan's Oasis with the vanilla smoothie and coffee jelly. I started to get bored walking around in hope of getting finding characters so at 10am when Casbah Food Court opened, I decided to eat first. I have never tried eating here before but since I am not feeling well and they have rice menu, I am cool to try.

There is a huge Jafar statue at the middle of the seating area and I took picture of it. This was when I got lucky. 2 cast members saw I was so poor thing alone and they came to me to give a free game at Abu's Bazaar and a 35th Anniversary landyard. I was clueless and not sure what it was all about. I felt awkward when the staff asked me to wear the landyard and take a photo with it. They were nice enough to ask if I wanted to take photo with the Jafar statue since earlier they saw me taking photo of only the statue. Of course I agreed. Only now I knew that to celebrate the 35th Anniversary, cast members will randomly give surprises to lucky guests. I suppose I am really lucky ^o^ and no wonder random cast members on the street were hi-ing and congratulating me with the landyard. Lol.

I had carbo overload with rice and naan bread with curry. I did not really enjoy it as partly I was not feeling well so any food was difficult to go down. I tried to rush my lunch since I was expecting another character to be out between 1000-1020 and I did not want to miss. I was lucky that I saw Aladdin!!! He happened to be at the square outside the food court and he was running around. Although too bad there was no Jasmine, at least I got a photo with him. Hehe.. I think I was quite lucky that other than me, the people chasing him was a big group so after he was done with that group, there was not many people. He saw my Aladdin t-shirt and summoned me. Though I am happy, I was not too happy with the photos. We took photo in front of the carousel and when we took photo, the carousel rider photobombed sia (damn you!). The Aladdin also looks a bit old sia -_-" Not as good looking as the Aladdin who high-5-ed me in June.

With 1 mission accomplished, I decided to leave Arabian Coast to get fast pass for Toy Story which already ran out although it was only 11am. I went to queue to take photo with Shellie May since I never took photo with her before.  With the crazy heat, the prospect of queueing while sitting down under shades was just too good to miss.

To my surprise, they already had the Halloween Show at 1130am! What!!! The today's programme clearly did not mention that leh! Dang! I only managed to catch the back view and the tail end of the show from under the mountain. I don't find the songs and villains enjoyable but one special thing about the performance was flyboards. These people initially swam in the water and then rose with the flyboards as if Ursula was showing her power and tentacles.

I still have not taken photos with Disneysea's Minnie at front so I tried my luck again. I literally had palpitations hoping that during the character swap, I would somehow end up with Minnie. When I started queueing, it was Minnie and then it swapped to Mickey. I was praying so hard for another swap and literally had palpitations but it was Mickey again. What the mouse!!! It was drizzling so the photo spot was at the shelter outside the shop. I did not buy the photo print since I already had a photo with Mickey there previously.

After that I made the most stupid decision of the day: I waited for the next parade. I sat under the sun for 1 hour plus just for the 5 minutes show. Dang!! At the start of the day, I already told myself I was not going to watch the 5 minutes show that I had during the June trip and that is the same show that I stupidly waited for. Sigh.. the heat, the occasional drizzle, and missing Minnie again just messed up my mind.

I went to check-in to hotel and I could not stop laughing to myself: a king bed all to myself. I was surprised when the receptionist asked if I was a Hilton Honors member. I told her I am but I forgot my number because I did not use it for 2 years plus already. Nonetheless she still gave me the free wifi. Wow! Last time in Darwin, they did not even want to give free wifi because I booked from Expedia and not from Hilton directly. Whee.. I love Japan. Anyway the room is spacious and can easily fit in 3-4 people and the toilet has an option of green light as the room is sea-themed.
The huge grill-less window
2 sliding covers for the window: this one that still allows some light and the fully opaque one
Quite amazing but boring view from the window
I took a shower, visited the Disney Resort store downstairs, and bought food from konbini as dinner. No matter how nice a food is, it always sucks when you are sick. I was so excited with the 3-in-1 meal of okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and yakisoba but I had difficulty swallowing them.

The weather forecast was accurate: 60% chance of rain and it had been drizzling on and off throughout the day. It started to rain quite heavily in the evening. Haiz. I am prepared with umbrella and extra pair of shoes so I still went back to Disneysea in the evening. Sadly Fantasmic was cancelled. Haiz.. The rain was not as heavy as when I went in June and Fantasmic was still showing then. It is a mystery how they decide.

The rain did not deter people and they still did not want to go home. It was a mistake "keeping" the free Abu Bazaar game until late evening as the crowd was even more. I queued 25 minutes just to use that 500yen worth of free game. I lost but at least I got an improvement as my last ball managed to land on 1 plate short of the target. All the other balls simply went to the gutter.

The queues for the Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at the Greeting Trails were also still crazy. I went for Minnie and I did not buy the photo. Instead of taking a normal one, I decided to wear my Mickey's ears cap and Minnie was so happy playing with Mickey's hands from the cap. Hehe... After that, the queues for Mickey and Goofy grew even longer. I decided to call it a day since my feet were already soaked. I could not enjoy anymore with the rain and I should just save my energy for tomorrow.

I never really enjoyed Halloween but I think the villain themed decoration is quite cool although the decoration is not really throughout the park. I think the Halloween decoration is only at the covered area at the main entrance and the waterfront park. The decoration at the waterfront is a photo location with official photographer. It is like a 4-sided thrones featuring Maleficent, Snow White's Evil Queen, Ursula (sadly I did not take any photo because there were too many other tourists and the hot weather when I was there).
Does not really look amazing in the picture but it gives a spooky entrance kind of feeling when I am there
Looks much more Halloween in the evening (please don't mind the angle as it was raining and I was also holding an umbrella while taking this)
There are 6 banners: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Clarice. From a different angle, each banner will turn into a villain e.g. Mickey turns to Captain Hook, Minnie turns to Evil Queen etc. I did not really manage to take all because it was quite difficult to position myself for the correct angle and lighting to have clear images.

To sum it up: the weather sucked, I wasted 1 hour plus waiting for the 5 minute show, the crowd was horrible, and I did not get Minnie with Disneysea blue dress. Yet at the end of the day, I still feel very happy and blessed with today: I got to take a photo with Aladdin (like finally!), Shellie May, and Stitch -all that I do not have yet- and I got the anniversary surprise thingy. I was grumbling about the rain that forced me to buy shoes and socks in June but in the end they are useful again for this trip. I am not so pissed about the rain just now because I have a back up shoes and socks for tomorrow. Haha.. I am hoping for a better time at Disneyland tomorrow. One thing for sure: who says you cannot enjoy going to Disney alone?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Japan Trip Day 2: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Solamachi

Morning view from hotel window
I did not expect that the sun is already up by 530am and I opened the curtain too wide. Of course I continued my sleep and with such an amazing morning view, it would be an amazing day ahead.

I left hotel at about 9am as my first plan of the day was Samurai Armor Photo Studio and it only opened at 10am. The place is not really easy to find especially when I tried to gungho without a map. Well in the end somehow I managed to find it and I enjoyed walking through the alleys.

Last year I experienced cosplay photo studio and kimono photo studio but not samurai armor. After googling for possible photo studios, I decided on Samurai Armor Photo Studio (here is the link in case someone is interested). I had my initial reservations about the price (13000 JPY) as it is more than double of the previous cosplay and kimono photos. In the end I told myself to YOLO since I would not be able to do this if I am not travelling alone.

Price aside, overall I think it was money well spent. The dressing up experience is awesome. I was daunted when hearing that the armor is about 15-20kg. I remembered when I only tried the samurai helmet at Osaka Castle previously and it was pretty heavy. Can't imagine the full set now. At the same time, I convince myself that now I can do 20kg deadlift or 15kg overhead press so the weight should not be so bad. Haha..

After brief introduction of all the samurai armors, I chose Toyotomi Hideyoshi's armor because of its golden colour (compared to other armors with more subdued colours) which I thought would stand out better against the dark background. It happens to be heaviest armor. Lol.

The whole experience was nice, relaxing, and as advertised. I feel that the photo studio is not just selling the photos but is selling the whole experience as a package. Firstly I was introduced to the samurais whom armors are available at the shop. I was allowed to touch the armors as well. After choosing, I was asked to change before the dressing of the armor by the professional dresser. The process was also not just about dressing. He shared history that the samurais had someone trusted to help them dressed as no way they were able to put on these things by themselves and they could get killed during dressing. He also shared the parts of the garments which obviously I cannot recall by now.

The inner garments were pretty tight. I think it is for spine stabilising support so that the 15-20kg armor does not feel too heavy on the body. After the inner garments were done, I was asked to pose next to my chosen armor. Lol. The armor does not feel that heavy and I was surprised I could still move around quite easily.

The photographer was ready with the poses, down to the angles, etc. I found this very helpful because it was not easy to pose while wearing 20kg armor as far as safety is concerned. With the suggested poses, the photographer knew exactly how I should position my body parts to prevent me from falling down. Things were fine until the squatting pose because after that my thighs started to feel the burn. Haha..

In total there were about 15 poses and 150+ photos. There were several takes for the same pose so I could change my expressions between smiling, being serious, or simply NG. I am quite happy with the end results although some of the lighting could be improved. Another nice thing about this studio is that they allowed me to take photos with my own camera if I wished. Since I am travelling alone, I find it stupid to ask for help to take photos with my own camera when the studio's camera is much better. Lol. Anyway my thighs were so tired and I could wait to take off the armors already so I declined.
Can't see face so can post :p
On the way back to the station, I stopped by MOS burger to have early lunch first. That was a right decision as my memory failed me and I sort of getting lost trying to find the station. I went around and around for half an hour this time (even longer than earlier when I was trying to find the photo studio from the station). As I mentioned, I did not mind exploring the alleys but the heat was killing me.

I went to Shibuya and right from the train station, there were already LED panels advertising Halloween at Disneyland. Tell me how can I resist the temptation... Lol. I went to Disney Store which to my surprise was actually just opposite of Loft that I visited twice in June. The shop front is actually very eye catching with decoration ala Disney Castle. The shop is quite small but it has 3 levels. The queue for Disneyland ticket was crazy. There was no queue at all at Aqua City yesterday so next time I know which Disney store to find. Again Magic Carpet, Abu, and Rajah were not available. I decided to buy all the Alladin stuff I wanted because I saw last 2 Jasmine that I did not see at Aqua City yesterday. For no reason, I even bought 2 of Price Ali. Well with that basically I bought all the hanging plushies (seriously I don't know what this thing is called) and laughing figurines for 50% off and tax free.

I decided not to kill myself to check out Nakano Broadway and Akihabara today so I explored Shibuya a bit longer. Apple Store here was still under renovation, I checked out Tower Records, as well as Yodobashi and Bic Camera as my landlord asked me to see if still can find rechargeable battery for his karaoke mike. I dropped off at Book Off and I found Aladdin and Peter Pan Qposket for 350 JPY each nia. In June I was spending days trying to find them as cheap as possible and the cheapest I got was for about 800 JPY each. I already have them but since this price is like damn cheap, I don't care and buy another one.

I was still not going to give up on finding Abu, Rajah, and Magic Carpet so from there I went to Shinjuku Disney Store. I still could not get used to Shinjuku East and West and it took me quite sometime to find back the Takashimaya. It was worth it because it was the first time I saw Abu plushie. Only left last 3 on the shelves so I decided to buy.

After this I was running out of water and I could not find any vending machines!! I went to Takashimaya basement but there was no supermarket. Arrgh.. I almost felt like fainting but no choice I still had to walk to Shinjuku station for higher chance of finding vending machine. I saw Family Mart and from this episode of thirst, I learnt to buy the 1L water instead of the 500ml one hahaha.. I checked out Bic Camera and Yodobashi and texted my landlord to give up on his battery liao.

I only had time for 1 more Disney Store so it was a choice between Harajuku and Solamachi. I decided to go Solamachi as it was more difficult to access. I was a bit lazy to squeeze into Takeshita-dori and Harajuku is more convenient to visit while on the way to Nakano on my last day if I still want to go.

Haiz.. next time there is something nice at Disney Store, I should just buy them. After Solamachi, I gave up on Rajah and Magic Carpet T_T So sad.. I could have gotten them if I just bought online. I already went as far as asking my proxy if they could help with Disney Store purchases and it would be free domestic shipping but yet I wanted to wait until I already saw the item since I did not think Aladdin merchandises would be so popular.

As it was still late afternoon, this time I managed to see how Tokyo Skytree looks like when I checked out the bus stops to explore the possibility of going back to Odaiba by bus. Sigh.. seriously this Solamachi is really not accessible lah. I had dinner at Solamachi before calling it an early day again to pack and prepare myself for the next 3 days in Disneyland. By the way when I say early, it is still about 6pm so it is like 1 working day lah. Hehe..
Loot of the day
After seeing the samurai photos, waaa, I have to make some comments sia. Not only the lighting that needs improvement, I think some of the background looks awful and cheap from some certain angles. A lot are also not symmetrical. They only have 2 backgrounds and same poses for everyone so this kind of things should be avoidable nia. Or perhaps the photographer should slow down while taking the pictures to ensure quality over quality because there is no point having 150+ shots when many are not perfect.

When I google Toyotomi Hideyoshi, I cannot find the same armor that I had this morning leh. His armor should be the one with super huge spiky helmets. Apparently that was the one I chose at Osaka Castle 3 years ago. So what is the thing I wore sia? T_T I am not too familiar with this Japanese samurai stuff.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Japan Trip Day 1: Odaiba, Ikspiari

Surprise feels nicer when it comes unexpected. I have a great start of holiday as my NH804 flight was on ANA Star Wars plane! So much for the initial worry when booking the ticket as it mentioned that the flight would be by Air Japan which is a subsidiary of ANA or something. I was so tired from insufficient rest and did not find anything peculiar even though the Star Wars theme was played during boarding. I only realised it when I overheard other passengers saying that this was Star Wars plane.

I flew ANA before and the differences of the Star Wars and the normal plane are minor: there are some C3PO an R2D2 audio announcements, Star Wars cabin light show prior to the runway acceleration, R2D2 paper cups for hot drinks, Star Wars themed apron when the stewardesses serving meal, and Star Wars paper on the head rest. It was unfortunate that I did not really get to enjoy the Star Wars stuff as I was so tired. Thus prior to departure, I thought all the audio announcements and the cabin light show were irritating and disrupting my attempt to sleep. The cabin light show was actually very cool particularly towards the end as the lights and the audio were nicely synced as the plane accelerated and then took off to the skies

The seat next to me was empty which was good. I quickly invaded the leg space for my legs while the other passenger quickly invaded the seat space for her to lean in our sleep.  Fair enough. Haha.. As it was a midnight flight, only snack was given at the start. ANA was thoughtful that since there would be people sleeping, the snack was already nicely packed into plastic bag and they just handed out those plastic bags. I don't mind getting Lays potato chips although I found it quite weird to be a snack choice as it would make people thirsty. My only complaint about the whole flight was the absence of amenity kit in the lavatory. It seems that I would not be able to brush my teeth in the morning. It is just a minor thing but I suppose it is an example of how SQ is better than others.

I only appreciate the Star Wars staff at the end of the flight. Before alighting, I took a quick snap of the headrest cover. They also gave out Star Wars souvenirs upon exiting the plane. There were cards, postcards, etc and it was self-service. Aaargh I should have taken more cards and take the postcard as well. A stewardess carried Yoda plushie to wave goodbye. At the terminal, people also started to appreciate the Star Wars plane and started taking photos.
The headrest cover
The plane viewed from the terminal building
Taken from further inside the terminal building where there was fewer people taking photos
The souvenir card that I chose
The card is supposed to be a boarding pass. It would be much nicer if the date and destination are printed or written
The immigration and customs queues were not as bad as my previous trips. I hope this means it is not a really busy tourist season here. With that I had about 2 hours to spend waiting at the airport  because the airport limousine bus timing to Odaiba area is not as frequent as expected. The wait was not too long because I had difficulty finding the shower room and I even explored both wings of the terminal before finding it.

It was 1030 JPY for 30 minutes. It was purely a shower room and at least they also gave a water bottle. The shower room in KIX was definitely better as it was for lounge and shower room and there were more drinks. However by the end of the day, I think it was money well spent. Being able to shower after an overnight flight is really refreshing to start the day.

I am staying at Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel. I did not do a lot of research and my reason of choosing this hotel (other than to try something new) was because it is one of the Tokyo Disney Resort Good Neighbor Hotels. Ironically there is nothing Disney in the hotel except for a purikura machine with Disney theme at the lobby.

I am very lucky because the hotel location is very good. It is in between of 2 train stations: Ariake station (Yurikamome Line which I need to go to Diver City) and Kokusai-tenjijo (Rinkai Line which I need to go to Disneyland without changing at Tokyo Station as well as to link to JR Yamanote Line). Initially I got a bit confused as there is another station named Kokusai-tenjijo seimon and this belongs to the Yurikamome line. There are Lawsons, 7-11, and Daily Yamazaki konbinis near to the hotel too so all the basic necessities are covered.

After dropping my luggage, I was quite worried if the typhoon was still around as it was so windy. Again I was lucky because even though I was not oriented to the area yet, I ended up at Ariake station which is the correct station for me to get to Aqua City as I had not purchased tickets to Disneyland. It was hassle-free process so next time no worry if I still cannot buy it online using my credit card. Unfortunately my nightmare becomes reality as there is hardly anymore Aladdin stuff T_T It looks like those things no longer listed in the Disney store website are really sold out. Goodbye Rajah, Abu, and Magic Carpet T_T I am happy that the laughing figurines sets are on 50% sale. Hehe lucky I did not buy them in May/June previously.

Previously I never really explored Aqua City but I am free this time. I found a bookstore where there are samples of the magazines to flip. There are some magazines featuring AAA and lucky I never buy because there are only few pages of AAA. I also had lunch and it was a dilemma. I don't know why I always fall sick when I go to Japan :( I want to have rice but I worry about my sore throat. In the end rice won so I chose chicken karaage set. Sore throat and cough are less bothersome than gastric.

Next I went to Diver City and there is the photo stand again. The only difference from the one I had last December was that the photo booklet design is green now. Haha. So lucky I showered this morning so at least I did not look so chui in the photos. The photos taken with my own camera cannot make it because of the shadows while I look fat in the 1500JPY official photo. Bleah... I will definitely have to come back here to repeat.

From there I went to Tokyo Teleport Station to go to Disneyland. Yay!! Again there is hardly Aladdin stuff at Ikspiari Disney Store. Huhuhu T_T Surprisingly nothing caught my interest as Bon Voyage. I think I come here too often and the excitement goes down a little bit as there are not many new things. The journey from Maihama to hotel is only about 30 minutes and there is less walking as compared to transferring at Tokyo station so this hotel will definitely be my first choice if I just come to Tokyo to enjoy Disneyland.

It was still very early but I decided to end the day to get my beauty sleep in preparation for my photos tomorrow. Haha.. During check-in, I also booked the bus to Disneyland since the bus trip is about half an hour and the first bus is at 730am. It is comparable to taking the train and I get to save money.

The single room in the hotel is amazing: it is quite spacious for 1 person and a queen bed all to myself is fantastic. Instead of kimono to sleep, this hotel provides pajamas which means I get to 'save' my sleeping attire. Yay. I showered and took a nap first before having dinner and to take photo of this amazing view outside the window:
The train station seen here is Kokusai-tenjijo
Slightly angled view to see the both Kokusak-tenjijo and Ariake stations. There is a hotel in between the 2 stations and that would be an amazing hotel to consider in the future.
So far everything is great today and thank God for that. I am amazed that I was so worried to spend half a day alone at Osaka last year but now I feel so relaxed and am enjoying a solo trip here. Hehe :)

Friday, September 7, 2018

Real farewell

Finally the day I have been waiting for is over. I officially can say goodbye to this shit place. This final week has been light and relaxing with no responsibility and I could slack around to handover things. Hehe if only things were like this all these time.

I don't know if I should be happy but on Wednesday, my boss made time to have a farewell lunch with me. That is my last farewell meal. There were 2 colleagues from HQ that came along as well. Initially even without the lunch plan from boss, we were already joking that both of them would some day come down to shake hands and bid me farewell. Lol.

Anyway it does not change my mind or my feelings of leaving. Even when I felt like crying when we exchanged handshake and hug at the end of the meal, I still feel very bitter with all the un-appreciation for the work done in the past year. I value action more than words so there is no point saying good things like why I am leaving etc when I have been given shit throughout. Of course I did not want to burn bridges so I was joking that since I am only on 1 year contract for now at the new job, maybe I would come back. Haha.. just to keep my options open although I do not foresee myself coming back to this shit hole. Nope, not when these biased bosses are still around.

That is also the same with my colleagues at work. I told them already that I do not want any farewell gifts. They still gave me a farewell card. It is not going to change my feelings because after all what is the use of all the "niceties" just before I go when previously many of them have been giving me shit anyway. Honestly I am only sad and going to miss the people who have been with me since I came here in 2011, who have helped me survive my pre-reg training, who have helped me at work before the shit people subsequently came.

I will miss some of the doctors too. Thank you for debunking the myth that doctors are nasty stuck up people. I really enjoy working together in a spirit of camaraderie with many of them. On Thursday, I looked for the most senior doctor to say my goodbye. I was so touched when she said "No you don't come up to me. I will come down later to look for you". She came down to look for me and gave me a hug. I was so touched and almost cried leh.

I was surprised that I was not overcome with emotion today. Haha.. I thought I would feel more sad or something but perhaps today I was just counting down until 12pm to finally leave. I was contemplating if I should take photos with everyone but in the end I decided that I won't give a damn and I just took photos with the people I actually cared.

I have not really done packing and I would like to take a nap before my flight tonight but in the end I decided that I should just complete writing about this and uploading the farewell pictures on facebook rather than leaving it until after my trip. I shall not hold any more memories here longer. Lol.

Just to keep tab of the farewell gifts I got:
-Earphone holder from one of the sisters
-Towel set from the sisters and APN
-Snoopy stationery holder and OSIM uMask from the head doctor and deputies
-Sheaffer pen from my preceptor
-Bagel cushion and small Stitch plushie from my neighbouring colleague
-$80 Takashimaya voucher from the pharmacists and executive
-$60 angpau from one of the retail aunties

Some people give farewell gifts only out of necessity or to follow the crowd while some people are genuine. I am not saying that others are not genuine but I have to say that I am extremely touched with the retail auntie. $60 is a huge amount and on top of that a personal message on the angpau: that is truly genuine. I will not be able to return your kindness so I can only pray that God will return your kindness in multitudes.

I have been complaining that I regret extending my work by a week. Ironically it is actually a blessing in disguise. Otherwise I could possibly be in Japan during typhoon Jebi. I suppose that is another example to just trust in God's plan.

Finally it is time to leave the past 7 years behind, to enjoy the coming holiday and short freedom, and to look forward to the new job.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians has generated a lot of hype so the chance of not meeting the high expectations is high lol. A lot of criticisms come from people who treat this as a documentary of life in Singapore. For goodness sake, people should separate fiction from non-fiction. I am not bothered about the factual accuracy as this is a work of fiction. I am more bothered with some scenes which feel like advertisement by Singapore Tourism Board (STB). I do not normally watch rom-coms but as the first Hollywood movie which features a lot of Singapore, it will be interesting to see how Hollywood depicts the place I live in. In addition, I would like to step out of reality for a while to see what my life could have been if I were a crazy rich Asian.

I actually enjoy the movie more than I expected. Despite the over-the-top displays of wealth, they are still not unimaginable. The characters and the conflicts/issues/problems faced by them are truly Asian. I am not crazy rich (I am not even a rich) but as a Chinese, I can vouch for the accuracy of the Asian values depicted in the movie. Filial piety, family traditions, and upholding to family expectations/standards are real life matters that we have to deal with, no matter how rich, how 'westernised', or how modern the young generations will be.

There so many things that happen in the movie that I am also facing. I have been living away from my parents for years and growing up in Singapore exposes me to more westernised or modern way of thinking. With me hitting the marriage-able age, I can relate to what Nick and Rachel are experiencing. No matter how 'banana' we are, as Asians, we still uphold family values as something important in our life. My mum and even my aunts share the same sentiment as Eleanor: when a girl gets married, the girl is expected to be part of the guy's family and putting love aside, it is all about 'sacrificing' for the guy for the marriage.

The 'competition' over who is richer etc may seem crazy but unfortunately for Asians, comparing status/wealth is a reality of life. I am personally not finding a girlfriend because I am overly conscious with my homeless status here. Where will I stay after wedding? Or even before wedding, which parents will allow their daughter to get married to a homeless guy? Sigh..

As a rom com, I think the romantic part may be lacking a little bit although the comedy part is quite well executed. Not that I mind about it since I enjoy laughing more than seeing people make love. Haha..

I am glad that Crazy Rich Asians does not disappoint and stands up to the hype. Although it is a fiction, both the 'crazy' and the 'rich' aspects are still realistic and relate-able. Some parts of the acting feel a bit raw and awkward but overall I still think the acting is alright. No doubt the star here is Michelle Yeoh who plays Nick's mom. I don't know how she does it but somehow she is able to behave similarly cold throughout the movie yet I can feel the mother's affection to Nick vs her dislike to Rachel. I hope the movie does well because there are rumours that a sequel maybe planned. If there is a sequel, I will definitely look forward to it. Until then, let's see if I am curious enough to read the book.