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Illustration : Minako Aino


Remember that I illustrated Hotaru Tomoe several months back? Being back in Japan gave me such an exciting rush to do more fan-arts. I never thought that the Sailormoon fever is still there after all these years! Should consider Cardcaptor Sakura and Oh! My Goddess for Wacom-tablet drawing practice as well.

In the process of illustrating the whole team member, here is Minako Aino or Sailor Venus illustration I made 2 nights ago. I also made Artemis next to her :


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I also found a nice paragraphs about fictional Venus in Wind, 1969 by Haruki Murakami while having nescafe kurang manis for breakfast in the mamak. It's a conversation between a man and a young Venusian *he claimed that he came from Venus :

The clouds that cover Venus turn its surface into a furnace. That and the humidity mean that most Venusians die young - reaching thirty brings one almost legendary status. It also means that everyone's heart is overflowing with love. Venusians all love each other; there are no exceptions. Nor is there any hatred, envy, or contempt. No one badmouths anyone else. There are no murders or fights. Love and caring reign.  
"Suppose someone were to die today - we wouldn't feel sad", the quiet young Venusian said. "We loved them with all our hearts while they are alive, so there's no need for regrets.
"So you love in anticipation of death?". 
"Earthling words like that escape me," he said shaking his head. 
"Do things really worked out that way?", I asked.
"If they didn't", he replied, "Venus would be buried in sadness".
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Little Things 208 : New Pair of Glasses


I've been using a dark thick-rim glasses since I was in Uniten, back 5-6 years ago. I remember taking complains from my classmates and family about how the glasses make me look like those people in the 60s. And because I always believe that I was born old, I didn't really mind. Ha!

I've been searching for a new glasses for months. The one I was wearing almost reached 3 years old since I bought it. Ideally for me, glasses should be used for 3-4 years with minimal scratches. Extra note : I started wearing one when I was 8, so I've tried thin silver-rimmed one, the dark blue one, the rim-less one, the half-rimmed one, the silver-rimmed again, thick dark blue with orange-rim and the latest one was brown horn-rimmed glasses :D I always play around with my choice of glasses just to see how my face evolves around it.

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So the quest to find a new one started for the past several months.

My original idea is to find a thick clear-rimmed glasses. I've visited a lot of local shops but I couldn't find any. I tried searching for it online, but with the over-price tag and cost for postage fees, I think it's just waste of money. I usually invest around RM 150 - RM 200 for a glasses. I don't really need an over-rated brand to see the world clearer so the search went on :p

Something like this, but less rounded :

Image from Pinterest

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Back in the Tokiyo Trip, we went to Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku and saw a nice shop that sells modern glasses. Like always, we stopped by just to see whether they have what I was searching for. I saw a nice clear-matte thick rimmed glasses on the shelves with a discount tag and tried it on. It was be-oh-ti-ful ! But when we checked the price tag, even with a discount, it was stated : 13,000 yen *around RM450. Definitely over our budget T^T

So I had to forget it and left the place. 
Af said that we can always come back later if I changed my mind T^T *no-oh.

Later after several days of exploring Tokyo, we decided to take a day off and went for a window shopping at the Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. Again, we saw a glasses shop and decided to check it out. Owndays. I saw a clear-rimmed glasses again, this time, it is a clear-rimmed glasses like I originally planned and not the matte one like we found in Shinjuku. I showed it to Af and he approved it :D The price was 5,162 yen including tax *around RM 180. Way cheaper than the previous one.
Here it is ! :


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After asking the helper on how long will it take to add the glass *only 1/2 hour, Af paid and got the receipt *it was a nicest present, wee-hoo! We went back after 40 minutes and took the glasses, and since then, I've been wearing the new clear-rimmed glasses. I definitely look a bit different than wearing a dark thick-rimmed glasses, but I'm still in the process of accepting my new look and I can't wait for it to evolves around me in the future :D

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The quest ended with a million thank yous to Owndays and Af !

PS : I'm still wondering, 
how on earth will I draw my face with a clear-rimmed glasses later?
Hmmmm.

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If you are wearing glasses, don't be afraid to try some colours to play around with your look! Especially if you don't believe in make-ups and go for nude natural look :p Here are some inspiration :


Tokiyo Trip 9 : Shinjuku


Day 3 : Shinjuku

It was our first exploration day and we didn't know what to expect. We had a lot to learn in such a short time like how the train lines work, how to read their map and how to find places. So we started with Shinjuku.

We used the Tokyo Handy Guide to navigate. Our main destination was Daiso that we Googled the night before - to buy some things that we needed like : rain poncho, pouch and tote bag. *note : This was my first mistake - pointing out that the place was nearby because we thought that it would be easy to use the map. 

I was wrong because :
1. The road was confusing, the place was huge and we were lost. We couldn't find the buildings we were searching for and we kept on going and circling the place. Imagine being lost in a city =.=
2. It's not nearby anymore when you are lost. 

We finally found the Daiso after awhile and bought those things. 
It was already reaching afternoon, so we needed to eat our lunch because we were getting tired and hungry *we already bought several onigiris in the morning. We checked the map along the road and saw that the Shinjuku Central Park was 300 meters from where we were. 


It was our first park :D
I was excited to finally find one. There were birds and the sound of insects, creating a loud symphony of nature. It was beautiful. We found chairs and table to put out our onigiris. There was a girl, eating her lunch while studying. There was an office boy with 2 packs of bento. There were 2 men chatting while resting right behind us.

As we walked to explore the place after we had lunch, we found a nice shrine in a secluded area surrounded by trees :D It was our first shrine. The place was peaceful and silent. I saw several foreigners like us taking pictures, small family taking a formal family portraits in suits and kimono, people came and washed their hand, ring the big bell and clapped their hands twice to pray.
Later I researched and found out that it was the Kumano Shrine :





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After that we planned our next stop. I wanted to go to the 5-floors Kinokuniya and Shinjuku Gyoen. Surprise, surprise, we were lost again. We started at the Shinjuku Station again, but we failed to figure out where we were heading because there were many buildings with same name like Lumine 1 and Lumine 2 across the road, Shinjuku Station for this and that side of the road - like whaaat. =.= We keep on going in a circle.

We finally found Tokyu Hands & Kinokuniya, but we didn't buy anything. It was getting late. We headed to Shinjuku Gyoen Central Park afterwards and got trapped in the maze again =.= Finally when we arrived at the park, it was already closing. Can you imagine my frustration during that time?  We got lost so many times and we didn't really reach our goals. T^T

Shinjuku Gyoen Park is located near the Shinjuku Station, but you need to walk for 10-15 minutes if you know where you are heading. You need to pay 200yen to enter and it only opens from 9.00am - 4.00pm. There are French style garden, British and Japanese landscape garden as well. Too bad we missed that :(

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Note : Later we found out that we missed the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building as well while we were exactly there to go to Daiso. The building got a free-to-go observation deck on the 45th floor :( How can we missed that!

Public transport spent : 648 yen

Tokiyo Trip 8 : The Food


Did we mentioned the groceries we bought before going ? We bought along :
  • 3-in-1 Milo packets
  • Ready-made fried rice's packets
  • Tinned tuna
  • Chocolate bar
  • Cikedis
  • Sambal ikan bilis
  • Maggi
The apartment we rented was ready with a small kitchen and a place to cook so my early plan was to do simple cooking for some nights and breakfast. Most morning started with a glass of hot Milo and bread slices with sambal ikan bilis or tuna. We ate out during lunch time because we were never home.

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Daily lunch, tea-time & dinner :

We both understand that we were on a budget travel so we weren't that fussy on the minimal food intakes. Most lunch time were spent on 2-3 onigiri for each person (110 yen+) and a box of drink of choice (120 yen+).  So we spent around 100-300 yen for each person during lunch. The great thing is the places that we chose to have our lunch. Every morning we will head to the nearest park in the place that we will explore on that day, when we arrive the destination then we will find the nicest place we could find and eat our lunch. Tokyo got a long list of beautiful parks and gardens that worth a visit. And I love parks, so that was how we spent our lunch. With the sound of birds and cicadas *this, I'm not lying. I'm even convinced that they put a record player inside trees and bushes to make the garden sounds so nice.

We will also have a short tea-break, usually consisted with 1-2 onigiri and 1 choice of drink like juices and caffe latte. We both fell in love with their caffe latte (138 yen) since the first day. We decided to drink it every single day throughout our trip. One thing I noticed, there were A LOT of Starbucks around in Tokyo - I guess people in Tokyo would rather drink overpriced coffee as well :)

For dinner, we tried buying some ready-made cooked rice at Lawson and the mini market in packets. I cooked it with the ready-made perencah I brought along from home and added with a fried egg. We also found a joy in eating fish tempura (130 yen) from the market. It was decent and enough for the night.

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Unplanned big meals :

There were 4 unplanned big meals that we had. 

The first one was paid by Ishijima san on our first day when we met her in Marunouchi - we ate at an Indian Restaurant. Their specialty was naan. Each set of naan and the additional 'soups' as they call it was around 950 - 1050 yen. It was super huge for me, I can hardly finish it =.= *free meals*


The second one was in a Nepalese Restaurant in Kichijyoji. I was hungry without no reason and we accidentally walked by a huge signage that sold naan *again . We shared a meal set of naan cheese and mango lassi. The price was 1040 yen.

The third one was in Ueno. We spent our morning in the zoo and were super hungry by 3pm. We couldn't find any mini market or 7/11 to buy our onigiri. When we did, we can't find anywhere to sit and eat our late-lunch peacefully. So we walked toward the Ameyoko Street because we were near the place and then we saw a Kebab shop. *with halal signage!* Yes, yes, yes ! By that time, we haven't eat meat for a week. We both ordered a nice spicy chicken kebab and enjoyed it on the chair they put in front of the shop. They even put a box of tissue on each chair because no one managed to eat the kebab without getting all oily and greasy. The kebab was really-really great. Chicken kebab for 500 yen each, so the total was 1000 yen for both our meals :


The fourth one in Akihabara. We weren't that all excited in the electric town because we both weren't into toys and miniatures and expensive devices. I was having a back-pain and I can't walk much so we decided to find a halal restaurant to relax. After asking an Indonesian receptionist, we walked 5-mins to Siddique. I had a thick cheese naan while Af ordered chicken briyani. Both meals totaled 2040 yen.

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I did a calculation *because I took note on every-single-thing we spent on. 
We spent around 12,500 yen for food in 8 days, that's roughly around RM 440, 
and around RM 220 for each person. Not bad, kan? :D

Book : The Writer who Died


We went to the Nu Sentral's MPH while waiting for our movie to start. We were early, just finished work. Like always, we were walking by all the book section when I saw The Girl in the Spider's Web hard copy lined up in a special section. It is a continuation from the Stieg Larsson's famous trilogy; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! :


If you read his books and already made a research about the man who wrote it, you should know about him : that he died in 2004 of a sudden heart attack. He was 50 and after his death, the books became famously famous and sold more than 80 million copies and were translated into more than 50 languages. o_o I don't think he expected such success from his stories.

Anyhow, I bought his first book years ago. The story was really heavy but surprising I became really attached to the complicated words and storyline - never did I expect such heavy entertainment. Later I bought and read all 3 of his trilogy. It was sad that the author died before finishing his 4th book, but oh-well, 3 books would do.

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So I didn't know about this. This David Lagercrantz, a Swedish writer was hired by Stieg Larsson's father and brother to finish the fourth book. There were some complication about continuing the book - because as any avid reader would know, stories shouldn't be rewritten by other storyteller. It won't be the same. It is like forcing a writer to be someone else to write just exactly like the original writer. =.=

BUT, I won't judge before I read the book. I will read David Lagercrantz version of the 4th The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when it comes in paperback and I will decide whether I like it or not.  

But if you can't wait, you can buy it for RM 69.90 for the hard cover version at MPH :D

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While in Japan, I didn't bring Hermann Hesse book : Narcissus & Goldmund. I brought along Delivering Happines : A path to profits, passion and purpose by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.  I found the book in the KL Sentral's level-2 book shop, for RM 20. I hardly buy non-fiction but I've been reading about Zappos's famous working style and even followed them in LinkedIn, so I knew about their different methods in working environment. I was curious about Tony Hsieh in person and I thought reading it will answer some of my questions. 

It was a good read. I knew successful people usually have some 'it' attitudes and different way of thinking to make them be successful in life. Tony wrote it using his words, his style, so you can expect to hearing him talking while reading it. Definitely a good read.

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Other than that, I'm finishing up Wind by Haruki Murakami.
And because it's the first novella written by him, it's official, 
I'm rereading all his books again in order this time :D 

Work Related : Hello Kitty Cafe 3


The soft launching for the cafe is this Saturday!
It's in Sunway Pyramid :D 

Finally, after 10 months work it is ready to be opened and see the world. T^T
I was in Japan during its trial openings, so I'm not quite sure what to expect from the restaurant yet.
My colleague shared some behind-the scene images :



Credit : HK Design Team

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Us in the design team (around 4 designers) were in charge of making moodboards and researches, designing all the advertisements, posters, menu, wall decals and any printed items in the cafe. We were not in charge of the interior designing because that was from the other design group *so everything about the interior like chairs, wall, lamps and such weren't exactly ours. Food designing is also made by the chef and our art director.

We are all proud parents.
And we will keep on improving, as it is still a newborn please give us some time to improve.  
Do come to the cafe to take a look, the grand opening will be due in October.

:)

Tokiyo Trip 7 : Itinerary + Places


We didn't visit Tokyo by any help from travel agency, we simply book our flight tickets and accommodation, and followed the plan that we created every night before our day. Various maps were taken from the stations and booth for our guidance, but my favorites were :

Tokyo Handy Map & Tokyo Handy Guide by Yes! Tokyo
Tokyo Guide by Hello Sandwich


You can definitely use mobile apps, but it won't be the same as using map and instinct as a guide to find places and roads. We didn't really use the internet during our exploration, all searches were done by using these maps and asking around and try & error :D We might spent a lot more money and time by doing that, but for me, that's the whole point of going to a new places, so we can explore!

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Everyday we went to a different smaller city. There weren't much time as we would want to, we just had to use the time we have and use it wisely. We will be super exhausted beyond words by 6pm so we headed back during that time and rested through the night. Not really onto the night lives when we spent more than 8 hours walking outside everyday, ey? Maybe next time :)

Itinerary :
1st day - Arrival at Haneda Airport, Tokyo
2nd day - Marunouchi (Tokyo Station, Imperial Palace) & Asaka *our home
3rd day - Shinjuku (Shinjuku Central Park, Shinjuku Times Square, 5-story Kinokuniya)
4th day - Shibuya & Harajuku (Meiji-Jingu, Yoyogi Park, Takeshita Street, Hikarie Building, Shibuya Crossing, Hachiko Statue, Craft shops) 
5th day - Ikebukuro (Resting day : Sunshine City, Ghibli Shop, Higashi-Ikebukuro Park)  
6th day - Mitaka & Kichijoji (Walked to Ghibli Museum, Inokashira Koen, Kichijoji Dori )
7th day : Ueno & Sumida ( Ueno Zoo, Ueno Onshi Park, Ameyoko, Yanesen & Yanaka Ginza, Tokyo Skytree ) 
8th day : Akihabara ( Electric Town, Siddique ) & departure at Haneda Airport

Using Hello Sandwich's booklet, we found : 
Shibuya (Hikarie, Tsumumu Factory, Loft, Parco, Wrapple )
Harajuku ( Takeshita Street, 5 floor Daiso )
Kichijoji ( Inokashira Koen, Sublo36, Pack Mart )
Shinjuku (Kinokuniya Books, Tokyu Hands

*If you are planning to visit Tokyo and want to borrow my copy of Tokyo Guide, please email me! It is quite useful to find those little cafes, art & crafts shops on random streets :)

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Tokyo Guide Borrowers :
April, May 2016- Fatin N M

Tokiyo Trip 6 : Bicycle


Other than the whole apartment for both of us, I was excited over the bicycle rides!


The last time I rode a bicycle was when I was 17, I got the bicycle for my straight-As result in UPSR. I remember riding it to school and on weekends to meet up with my friends. Even though far after my friends started to use motorbike to go to places, I was still sticking proudly to my bike. I left the bicycle later after we went out from my dad's house. That was the old days.

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Japan is a country famous for its use of bicycle *other than number 1 : train. I wanted to know how it feels like to use it in their city as well. We used those free bicycles every single day to go to the train station and mini-market to buy some stuffs. Asaka was a bit cold during our stay so there wasn't any problem with being tiny-bit sweaty as we pushed it at some hilly spots. 

Cars and vans gave us the priority to cross roads first, and they will slow down for us. We used the bicycle parking area near the train stations for 100 yen per 8 hours, and it will be 200 yen if more than 8 hours. The machine is a bit fancy with all the Japanese wordings, but we managed to understand the step-by-step images on how to use it :


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It is rather interesting to see all the malls with bicycle parking sign at random places rather than cars. 
It's like everyone is using it to reach places; the office boys, the pregnant mumsies, the grandmas, the random people, small family of husband and wife each with little child on their own bicycle. The view is very refreshing!

The bicycle's parking were available all around the train station area. We just put the bicycle on the deck, entered the number in the machine and the deck will be automatically locked until we came back again and entered the number to pay for the fees according to the time :


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Money spent :
We spent around 1700 yen for the 2 bicycles parking in a week. 
That's like RM 30 for each bicycle.

Here's a video AF compiled for this post :D

Tokiyo Trip 5 : Airbnb Studio Apartment in Asaka

This was our first Airbnb experience.

We started searching for a place to stay in Tokyo since 7 months ago after I bought the tickets. I created a Tokiyo Wish List through Airbnb; where I saved all the places that I would like to stay or enjoy looking at *because their houses are all so small, clean and minimal! 

About 2 months before going to Tokyo, we booked our place. By that time, most of the places in the main cities were fully booked leaving all the super-expensive ones. So we decided to find a place outside of the city but still reachable. We found this small studio apartment in Asaka, Saitama by Mr. Yuki. We paid RM 883 for 7 days 6 nights for the whole apartment.

After we had our lunch with Ishijima san at an Indian Restaurant in Marunouchi, we headed to Ikebukuro to change our train lines to Tobu-Toju Line *a private line to much smaller cities. It was around 15 minutes semi-express train rides without too many stops in each station. Mr. Yuki provided a detailed map to our house.


The bag was super heavy for me *around 7kg for the backpack and 4kg for the sling bag. Walking for another 1/2 hour with the bag was exhausting. We missed a pathway and got lost in the maze of the small city =.= We were both getting grumpier so I just asked a pregnant lady on how to go to the park *because the house is located near the park. She happily chose to show us the way and walked until right in front of the park. Thank you, thank you !

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When we first arrived, we failed to use the e-lock to unlock the door. The e-lock wasn't all that advance but we still can't get through it. We tried soooo many times, I almost felt like crying - because we didn't know how to contact Mr. Yuki and I was tired with the heavy backpack and it was getting darker :( I don't know what happened after like the 30th try, it opened and we didn't even know how that happened. Later we check the video link to see the "How-to open the e-lock" that Mr. Yuki provided 2 months back =.=

This was how the place look like :


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Other than unlimited internet access, basic needs like kitchenwares and shower needs, aircond/fan and nice thick futon, he also provided 2 bicycles for our use. Those bicycles were located right next to the sliding door towards our small shared backyard. Washer and dryer were also provided at the next house near our place. It was such a cosy little place. There weren't even television or other distraction.

The toilet and tiny bathtub were located right next to the small kitchen. So everyone can listen to your orchestra in making =,= It was a bit cramped especially in the front door, kitchen and toilet area. But elsewhere was just nice.

That's the kitchen and cooking space, the door is the toilet and the photographer was standing right in front of the main door :

All images taken from their Airbnb

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My dream is to create a small living space just enough for both of us and maybe a really small family :) Tokyo kind-of gave me a lot of inspiration to utilize all the space given to them, one day ! >.<

Tokiyo Trip 4 : Trains & Subway


We didn't know which one to choose, if you did some research on the public transportation in Japan before you would understand why. They are just too many choices for me to choose from ! Although I studied free maps from what we got from Matta Fair, it was still quite hard to decide.


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1) Tokyo Metro - Unlimited
So right after we arrived at Haneda Airport, there was a counter for foreigner where you can take as much maps and travel guides all around Japan. There were also helpers to help you with your planning. We went to the next booth that sells Subway tickets (Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway lines) for an unlimited 1-day (800 yen), 2-days (1200 yen), or 3-days (1500 yen) use. We weren't quite sure about how we were going to use the trains, we bought the 3-days version for 1,500 yen ( RM 53 ).

This ticket can be purchased at Narita & Haneda airport and several Big Camera outlets. So it is a bit hard to find if you decided to buy it afterwards. Don't forget to take the guide map!

It covers all the main cities in Tokyo : 
Ikebukuro, Asakusa, Ueno, Ginza, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara and Roppongi. 

PS : You need to show your passport, as it is only available for foreigners.

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2) IC Card ( Pasmo or Suica )
It is exactly like our Touch & Go card and it can be used in almost all train/bus lines and certain shopping eg : vending machine *just check out for their logo on places. You can buy it at the machine in front of the train station at the airport. It took 500 yen for the deposit and we added 4,500 yen more to be used for other trips that can't be used by Tokyo Metro card.

I highly recommend the use of their IC card, so it's easy for you to go to places without needing to buy tickets each time. 

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Note :
There are 2 things you need to consider when you are deciding on which card to buy :
1. Your location - If you are staying in the city itself and you know you want to travel around the city area listed in Tokyo Metro list, I recommend buying the unlimited 3 days card. It is much cheaper this way.
2. If you are living in other places outside the city area : In this case, like me, I'm staying in Asaka and going to the city daily and outside of the main city several times, I think it's safe to have only the Pasmo card. It is undeniably much expensive this way, but I was living outside of the city anyway. Other than transportation in the main city, we went back from Tokyo to Asaka every day, spent a day in Mitaka as well, visited the Tokyo SkyTree tower and the transportation to and fro from Haneda Airport *we spent quite a lot on those farther journeys.

By the end of our escapism, we understand the train & subway. It's undeniably huge and very structured. No wonder people said it's one of the most structured train lines in the world.

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Cost :
For all of this, we actually spent 6,000 yen (RM 210) for Pasmo *twice topup and 1,500 yen (RM 53) for Tokyo, Metro. Plus minus, we spent around RM 260 for public transportation in 8 days.

Tokiyo Trip 3 : Sleeping at the Airport


Sleeping at Haneda Airport :

We reached Haneda Airport right before midnight. I forgot why I originally chose to pick the afternoon boarding time, but having the thought of sleeping at the airport excites me. AF agreed on that so by the time we arrived, we were ready.


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We explored all the floors at Haneda Airport, there were many dim-lit places with chairs and benches for people to sleep on. We didn't pick up a place right away, we went to explore all the places first, bought cold lemon tea from the vending machine, enjoyed the airport's view from the huge observation deck, checked the train ticket availability, and by the time we really wanted to pick a place, all the nice benches were all fully occupied =.='

So we chose a long benches in a well-lit main pathway near the escalator that kept on repeating the same message over and over again. While AF took care of our bag, I went to charge my iPhone at the charging deck *there were many spots available, just bring your wires and adaptor and got online to update Ma. 

I went to the toilet to brush my teeth, refilled free water from the cooler and came back to the bench. I brought along my mini blanket and neck pillow, so I hid beneath my mini blanket and tried to sleep. It was uncomfortable and the repeating message from the escalator was a bit annoying, but I had some deep sleep enough for the next day.

The next early morning, we had a nice cold caffe latte from the vending machine at the observation deck. It was such a nice cold morning, a serene and beautiful one. I'm thanking God for those silent moment of the starting of our nice escapism.

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Haneda Airport, Tokyo :

Multipurpose Toilet : Ready to be used for your number 1 & 2, brush your teeth, wash your face & freshen up.
Shower Room : You can pay 1,000 yen to take a shower and relax a bit for 1/2 hour. *But we didn't really want to spend 1,000 yen for that :p
Prayer Room : There are rooms that can be used for Muslims for prayer, near booth K check-ins - Departure level (international).
Water Cooler : You can refill your water from the cooler near the Arrival gate's toilet.
Charging Deck : There are many charging decks table ready to be used in Departure & Arrival floor.

Note : 
Must check-out their observation deck, drink cafe latte and spend some time there to enjoy the nice cold breeze.
Also, if you want something to eat, go to their 7/11 to buy some onigiris :)
You can take a train ride to the city by using Keikyu Line or Tokyo Metro subway to Shinagawa. 

Tokiyo Trip 2 : Natural Disaster


I'm still processing all the things that happened for the last 8 days while we were in Tokyo & Saitama. We just got back early this morning and after cleaning up our backpacks, I'm sitting at my table trying to write some drafts of those little experiences while they are still fresh in mind :D

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Love-hate relationship with mother-nature :

Japan is in a transition from summer to autumn, so it's a bit rainy and breezy cold. While I was planning on the preparation there, I checked on the weather forecast for the whole week. It was supposed to be clear week and slight rain on random day. I hate winter and not looking forward for summer so I decided to pick this particular date of in-between. So we just bought foldable umbrella from back home as a preparation. On the first night we arrived at the Haneda Airport, it rained unexpectedly. Ditto the whole day after when we were supposed to meet Ma's old sensei, Ishijima san and before our check-in time in the late afternoon. 

We were drenched wet with our heavy backpacks because we decided to walk from the Tokyo Station to the Imperial Palace after she suggested for all of us to visit right that time after we had some matcha dessert. It rained and rained and rained. We were exhausted beyond word and grumpy.

Little did we know, that during the raining time there was a really bad flood & landslides going on in Ibaraki, Fukushima, Miyagi and Tochigi, all prefectures located right next to Saitama where we were staying :F From the latest news; over 2.8 million people were advised to evacuated, 7 died and many peoples were still missing. We didn't even know until we arrived at the apartment and I read Ma's messages asking about the flood :

Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, Japan. (Jiji Press/Kohei Chibahara) 

Joso, Ibaraki prefecture (Kyodo News via AP)

I was worried sick. I asked the apartment's owner on the risk of it happening to where we were staying and he said that we were all safe 'for now' and I should not worry much. Well being me, I kept on constantly checking the weather forecast for the next 7 days. True, there were no rain in Saitama or Tokyo while we were there except for the last night before we boarded back home.

For all the death and destruction, I'm really sorry :(
But I'm glad we were both okay.

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On the second morning while we were sleeping in cozy comforter, I was awaken by a slow shacking. The earth was slowly shaking! O-O Earthquake! Again, being me with my automatic response to my survival instinct, I was down on the floor beneath our sleeping bunk in 2 minutes. =.= False alarm, it was just a mini earthquake. Later that day, several train lines were closed for safety checking. So I wasn't dreaming, it really did happened.

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Another incident happened during our stay in Saitama was the Mount Aso's eruption several days ago. Mount Aso is located in Kyushu, near Fukuoka - the place I stayed for my exchange student program. It is really far from Tokyo, but I'm not fond of nuclear plants all around Japan. There were no death in report, but still considered as one of worrying thing that happened during our stay :(

Reuters/Japan Meteorological Agency

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All in all beneath all the happy merry 8 days as in in my Instagram, I was constantly worried for things that might happen. Even though Japan is considered as a really safe and clean and friendly country to lived in, there are big uncontrollable things like natural disasters : typhoon, tsunami, earthquake and volcano eruption.

For this, I learned that no place in earth is perfect.

Escapism : Tokiyo Trip


7 months of waiting, Airbnb far outside of the city, confusing train lines and hunting for Mr. Murakami. 
 If there are still stories for me to tell, I'll be back to write some more. 

 Behave, readers. We are off to Japan.



Travel Tips : Backpack + What I Bring to Japan for 7 days Trip



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The best birthday present I received from my brother was a proper backpack and 40 Euro *for a cancelled Euro Trip. Before the backpack, I used to use a typical formal school bag and totebags for my  little travel for years before really use a proper backpack for travel. For that, I am still very-very-very thankful for the gift. 

There are many types of bag that you can use, all depends on your taste and usability.

Some people like a small-simple one, some people can go with large and bulky one. Mine is just nice, fitted in a regular size Asian's body. It can be a bit heavy at times, especially during several hours walk. There are some tips and tricks to buy a good backpack that you can check on websites/travel blogs and even infographics in Pinterest. I'm not really good in this matter, so I pass it on to those professional backpackers of the world.

For me, a medium size travel backpack, with a lot of compartment should be enough. As a cheapskate escapist I never really go to new places to buy things *Ma couldn't agree on this. So I don't really need more spaces for things that I will buy. It all depends on each person. Before the travel backpack, I went to Bandung, Singapore, and Pangkor using those normal school bag, so it is actually possible to use any kind of bag. No worries about that :)  

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Things I put in the backpack for 7 days trip :
  • 3 blouses + 1 tshirt + 1 singlet
  • 1 multi-use black pants
  • Inner wears + 2 socks
  • Toiletries
  • 1 Converse
  • Telekung
  • Foods ( Milo + Maggi + Tuna )
  • Adaptor, chargers, wires
Not including the things I wear a blouse, a jeans, a cardigan over the top and a sandal on the flight. Also things in my hand carry bag

Travel Tips : Long Flights


I hate long flights. 
It took around 10 hours flights to take me from Malaysia to Istanbul, or Fukuoka, or Jeddah. Sometimes it went well, sometimes it didn't. There were many bad experiences than a good one. Sleepless travel, annoying neighbour, sudden anxiety attack, or uncomfortable small seats. Although I'm hardly cranky, long flights always-always-always make me uncomfortable and annoyed.

I rather sleep the whole time, but I'm not really a day-sleeper. So it's easy to sleep the rest of the flight during night, but it's quite hard to sleep during daylight.

Here are things that you should bring during a long flight *especially if you bought tickets from Airasia and they make you pay for anything extra - even if you just want a blanket, it's not complimentary guys, you need to add RM 31 to borrow one from them =.=


  • Neck pillow - to avoid neck cramps, you can buy affordable neck pillow. It is still a bit weird to sleep in a semi-sitting position, but hey, you get what you pay for. 
  • Mini blanket - a must! It can get cold sometimes, and for some people like me, I don't really enjoy being too cold. I'll bring my mini blanket to places, even to watch a movie sometimes. That one time I took a flight from Bandung, I caught fever on the way back home and that several hours in the plane was the worst coldness I've ever encountered in a plane.
  • Socks - Ditto this. Just wear a sandal during a long flight journey, so it's easy to sleep in fetal position if you are small enough, and wear a sock if it gets too cold. 
  • Book - If you have a e-book device, bring one. If you don't, bring one book that you will definitely read. 
  • Snacks - Small biscuits, mint fresh or chocolates might help.  
  • Toiletries - You will find this useful when you want to freshen-up after the long flight. But remember that you can't bring any liquid stuffs in bottles. There is a size limit for that, Asia : 100ml *and must keep in zip seal bag. You can try mini-paste like container to keep one-time facial wash. Also don't forget to bring oil blotter, hand wipes, tissues, tooth brush and lip balm.
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Have a safe journey!

Travel Tips : Ziploc Bag

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One of the most useful thing you should bring during your travel is a zip-seal bag, or famously known as Ziploc *it's a brand, but I got used to calling it as "ziploc bag". It is a plastic bag with a zipper like entry that is used for storing things or foods.

I usually hate bulky packaging because it will take too much space in the bag-pack. So what I do is take out everything from its original packaging *especially if you buy things in those promotional package, put it in the ziploc bag, and compress it by letting the air out. It saves a lot of space !

Why I like it so much ? :
  • It can be used for anything
  • It saves space in the bag
  • It is wrapped in plastic, so my bag-pack is save from any toiletries' spills
  • It can be used to keep documents & passport from getting wet
  • It can be used to keep sandwiches/fruits when we don't have any proper food container
  • It can be used to keep dirty slipper/clothes

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So if you are planning on short escapism to places, you should buy a zip-seal bag beforehand. It might be handy. You can buy a cheap box of 50 bags at Mr. DIY for less than RM 5, or find it in Tesco.

You can keep toiletries in one bag, Milo packs in one bag, food packs like useful instant nasi goreng's perencah in one bag, little towels, slippers, extra backup documents and such. Be a bit organized, it can give you a lot of extra space in your bagpack.

:)

Little Things 207 : A Run + Another Headache


After several months of resting from constant running, I registered for another running event - my fifth 10km run. Little did I know, any activity with improper training may lead to several bad effects. As I ran and jog and ran and walked until the finished line, I saw AF ran slightly farther than me in the front. I knew my stamina was at the lowest state, because I used to ran more or less better than him. I finished after 1 : 32 : 00.

My ankle, my leg, my thigh, all felt uncomfortable after we stopped running. We took our gifts packs and medal, sat below the tree farther than the crowds and ate our breakfast. It was getting hotter, so we decided to leave Putrajaya and stopped by at Giant to buy some groceries for our Tokiyo trip. I can feel the pressure in my head and I knew my next headache wave will come soon. 

By the time I was at home, my head was in pain. There was a rhythmic strong pounding like the one I used to have every time I was too tired or exposed in hot sunlight. It's nothing new, so I knew I need to rest to let the headache subdued. 4 hours later I woke up with another strong headache =.=' 

It was 5pm and I needed to get ready for a tahlil in Damansara so I had no other way but to take Panadol actifast. I hate medicine and I hate the idea of having to let it in my body but I had no other choice. In 15 minutes, I didn't feel the pain anymore. =.= There is something wrong with the whole "pain gone in several minutes" and I don't know whether it's because of the ingredients or I was just in the state of 'in-pain-but-my-head-is-telling-me-otherwise', and that should be worst. 

I have no natural ways to fight my constant headache yet other than a long sleep and avoid strong heat/extreme activities. At this moment, my natural way to reduce it is by stirring up sliced ginger in hot water and drink it. But I need something fast and will work right-away so I can continue my day, but I haven't find any solution yet :( 

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My brother just did his first half-marathon in PJ today,
so I've decided to make Post-Run smoothies for all of us :D

  • 5 x frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup of fresh milk
  • 1/2 cup of ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt 
  • 1 spoon of honey


Little Things 206 : Random Thought on Education

As I was sitting at KL Sentral's chair waiting for my client to arrive, a young girl approached me after I mistakenly made an eye-contact with her. I was finishing my draft and just taking several seconds rest from all the typing. I didn't feel like having to answer to any survey or apply any loans or insurance - it was my silent alone time, so I was a bit annoyed. Slowly I showed her a sign of rejection when she was handing out a leaflet, without even reading it. She said; "Don't worry, just read, no need to respond", and so I took it.

It was from UPM, a study while work program from FBMK. Call it a coincidence, it goes back to 3 years ago when I was still fumed with strong energy to learn from traditional education methods with all the lectures and reading textbooks and writing thesis. I went to UPM and searched for this exact same course of part-time master degree in Language and Communication from UPM. I think through all the syllabus, the education fees, the time that will be spent for another scroll. Just because the idea to learn things excites me. I remember meeting Zm's dad - Arwah Prof. Musa, asking for his advice because coincidently he was one of the professor in that faculty. He said there are 2 strong reasons why anyone should consider to continue their study : 
1. If you want to be an educator 
2. If you want to be a researcher 

If you are considering to work in the academic field you should consider to continue your studies to the highest level you can achieve. That's what Arwah Prof. Musa and my dad used to say; *my dad was a biotech researcher and finished his PHD as well. 

So after some thoughts, I decided to forget the plan. Although I am very much interested in being a researcher, I am more prone to achieving something using different flexible methods rather than dull standard education. So schools were always too boring for me and the only reason I excelled was because I am a nerd. In these 2 years, the internet bloomed to the extend of reaching everywhere, anywhere. I was introduced to TEDx; the space where people share all their passion in life in the most simplest 15 minutes story-telling and also various online learning platform like Coursera. I began to forget the standard traditional learning method. Plus, I don't really need another Master for my future career development if I'm really serious in creative & IT field, certified certification would do. Right?

Who should I thank for this unlimited amount of free education? 

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If the girl didn't pass me this leaflet, I wouldn't randomly go back to 3 years ago when I was considering to apply for the course itself. Thank you for the random morning thoughts. 

Doodle : Bookaholic 2


This is the continuation from this illustration on a girl reading a book, not quite sure how to avoid auto-compression on the downloaded image but these are what I manage to upload here :

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I just finished reading Steppenwolf the day before yesterday while waiting for AF to get his passport ready. It wasn't as great as Siddartha, a bit confusing at times due to the classic writings. 

This is another one excerpt I found that I personally like :
“Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, it beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap... Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence. Naturally, every one does not feel this equally strongly.”
This was written in 1927, you can't help to agree to this excerpt, right?


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Another great inspiration I got while watching one of a TedTalk last week :
Reading and writing are the 2 sides of a coin.
If you don't read, you can't really write.
- David Ray
Most of the great writers I adore and look up to read voraciously. 
So if you love the art of writing and want to improve your skill, please try to read books as much as you can. 
It is the best advice anyone can give other than "you need to start writing".