Image Slider

Work Related : Send an Eid e-card


Heyy guys, it's been awhile !
There are 2 things that took a huge chunk of my life in these past 2 months since I resigned from Fin. The first project was : Uber #ridetoreconnect campaign and the second one is : Travelogue Melaka with Lejen Komik (still got 20/100 pages to go). 

#ridetoreconnect campaign has just been launched 2 days ago on this website :


I was at Mines with my family when I got an email from the client telling me that they launched the campaign and I was so excited ! I've been keeping this as a secret for almost 2 months because I can't tell anyone before the launching. This is my second project with international client and heyy, for a small self-learned noob illustrator - I am still finding this very hard to accept. 

*

R/GA Singapore contacted me 2 months ago when I was still working - right after I sent the resignation letter. So I felt like it was a great sign that I was doing the right thing, because to start on becoming a freelance illustrator again is still scary (especially without any backup plan). That's how I started my first 3 weeks of the journey : by working on 4 illustration relentlessly, discussing with the Art Director, coming up with the sketches, and finally working on the illustration. I had to update every 2-3 days for the 3 weeks project, so there was no rest, no weekend kind-of-thing. I hired Af to do the animation using After Effect because I wanted to focus on the illustration alone. 

Sure, it is not my best work. After all, I am still a noob in this area. I didn't quite like the vector work, and I felt like I wish I had more time to play around with the idea. But I was supposed to work on the project fast (1 week ideation) and I had to accept my flaws (2 weeks digitizing and amendments). Af had only 2 days to work on the animation because I took my time (big kudos to him). 

*

How to use ?
  1. Click on this link : #RidetoReconnect
  2. Pick your greeting card 
  3. Write in the name (to send the card to) and the Eid greeting
  4. Click "Preview Card"
  5. Share to Facebook




*


Inferiority issue :
I looked at all the other works from Yellowmushmellow (Singapore) and Putri Febriana (Indonesia), and I felt so bad ! I felt like somehow Uber picked me by mistake and I was the most noob one among all :F I have a huge online crush on Yellowmushmellow for years (I finally met her at Public Garden booth in Singapore last year and I was sweating all over + I was super awkward), and she was so nice T^T When I got the call from the client, I asked them who was the representative from Singapore and heck, they mentioned her name. I took that chance to text her to discuss about the project *smooth, right? :D Anyhow, I'm learning to avoid feeling less appreciative towards my own work and promise that someday, I'll be better. 

*

So, yes, don't miss this chance to send these awesome animated Eid ecards to your friends. These campaign will only last for a month, so you can play around with it. And please tag my facebook : @doodles.by.azreenchan and #ridetoreconnect , I want to stalk your post *just to feel happy and appreciated over the crazy 3 weeks of May - haha :F

and, Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir & Batin guys  



Little Things 226 : Wandering Soul & Past Life


This is my carefully curated playlist since 2014 on Spotify : Wandering Soul.
I posted this before in this blog before: the playlist is packed with mellow and relaxing songs that gives a serene solitary feeling *at least to me la. I've been adding songs that I found over these 3 years, so I'm bored of most of the top songs in the lists because I've listened to it repeatedly. 

You can listen to the playlist during your travels, or 'alone time', because I specifically set the mood to that while listening to this playlist. Thus the name 'wandering soul' - the ones that feel like they've been wandering on this earth, not knowing what home is. 



*

Here is my favorite cover song last week :



Note : That's Kina Grannis' husband.

Old Songs :

I started to develop a personal likings to old songs since I was 14. Before that, I mostly listened to what my older sister had in her collection. Like the boy bands : BSB, N'Sync, 911, Westlife, etc.

I secretly listened to all my mom's & dad's collection and started to scan through what I thought I would like to hear again. 'Secretly' because I was a teenager, and being a teenager - we automatically want to blend in and be accepted, it wasn't normal for a young teenager to like old granny songs during that time. So I had 2 lives - the normal teenager and the old granny. My siblings used to call 'Lagu2 Reen' or 'Lagu pagi Ahad' because I usually put it on speaker on Sunday morning.

I have no idea how these songs feel more connected to me than current hype songs of my days : my hypothesis is that I did live in those years before this, they were the songs of my previous live ! :D Or else, I'm not sure how to explain the emotional feelings triggered every time I listened to those songs :F

Here is my 'Past Life' playlist on Spotify :




Little Thing 225 : Patreon & Latest Video



I am super occupied with my travelogue project until Raya, so I can't update my blog/IG as much as I want to (and without morning caffeine, everything is twice harder). But, if you want more updates on my works and projects, you can pledge at my Patreon here, as low as $1 and you will have access to all the latest and super-secret projects that I'm working/planning on, work process & technical stuffs (if you like those), random blabber when I'm stressed out and random free gift-aways.

I'm trying to balance up my life, but it is hard when I have too much going on with my life, so I just update things fast & short in my Patreon for now.

Patreon is a place for people to support other people to create/make stuffs for a living. 

Here's a video compilation of week 3 & 4 as a full-time freelancer :
(of course, I don't really record myself working because that's like a whole daily boring repetition - so I just took snippets outside of my working routine) :


*

Little Thing 224 : 2nd Anniversary & Video


Can't believe it's already been 2 years !

To the love of my life, Af.
I LOOOOVE chu, 
and Happy anniversary.

❤ ❤ 

***

If you want to see the process video :



This is my first attempt in screen-recording while digitizing my random doodle. My MBP lagged a bit while drawing, but it is still a decent-kind-of-slowness. This process took around 30 minutes, which for me was a bit too rushed ( but I was trying to set the timing here so I had to close my eyes and ignore the flaws ). I'll try to post the fast-drawing session in my Youtube every month ( my fellow Patreon will get the the latest updates and even request a video tutorials ).

Software : Adobe Photoshop CC 
Device : Wacom Tablet - Intuos
Video : Adobe Premier CC & Photoshop CC
Song : Free-licensed song - Good for You by THBD


Osaka - Kyoto 9 : The Videos



Can't believe it's already 2 months since we went to Japan. I think I already wrote almost 10 posts on the last trip, I'm not sure whether I want to elaborate more detail on that escapism (because I'm already planning on a new escapism project for the end of this yeaaar) :D

Af compiled the part 2 for our Osaka - Kyoto - Nara trip last weekend. The video started with some shots in Nara, Expo 70 (Bampaku-kinen Koen) and Kyoto (on our final day), all taken after my family went back home and we got extra days to explore together. A lot of green and nature walk than usual walks with my family. Here is the video :



Note : 
  • I noticed the doves in Japan were almost twice bigger than those in Malaysia (not sure whether if it is because of the cold whether), but they were all huge, chubby and adorable.
  • Garden, parks, and forest are accessible everywhere. I think the Japanese tries to utilize the nature as much as they can. So people can get their dose of nature all the time. It's therapeutic. These places are soothing, calm and very clean T^T I was so happy I could cry T^T

And here's for the part 1 :



*

Event : Urbanscape x NicheMarket + Week 2 Video


Urbanscape x Bookit's Niche Market :

Last minute event ! The organizer contacted me and asked whether I wanted to open a booth for that Sunday. It was a last-minute fill up so I wasn't sure, but they gave me a discounted booth fees because it was last minute and I told her I can't afford pricy booths for now. So I just joined the event :F

Preparation :
I was busy because of the client-based project I'm currently working on, but I had to steal some time here and there. I managed to finish up the version 3 of Japanese foods and snacks ( I think that's it for now, we'll move on to different stuffs after this ). We went to print out the new and old stickers, and also did the cutting and packaging in short amount of time (+ a lot of Pretty Little Liars series).


Most of my postcards and greeting cards were destroyed so I don't have those to sell anymore T^T I sold mostly sticker packs and the latest Eid money packs. Pheww.

Event day :
The event was held for 12 hours (one of my longest event), it was mostly slow paced (because of the crowd - there wasn't enough people for such a big event), so basically, it was a boring one. Af was sleepy throughout the whole day, and I managed to cut all my Japanese stickers (there are more than 40 new packs - so can you imagine the time I was having).

Also in the building : 
Photography exhibition and arts classes on the third floor, and exhibition on the second floor, music and lights exhibition on the first floor. We were on the ground floor : Niche Market and open mic sessions.



Their branding illustrations are the best : you can see event's posters, signage, labels all around the place, and they are definitely inspiring !


After-thought :
Even though the event was super slow and long, I think it was a success because any booths with sales over RM 500 is a big success to me. Imagine I just sell mostly sticker packs guyyyyys.
Sales : Rm 526
- Booth (last minute discount) : - RM 100
- Parking (Central Market) : - RM 26
- Foods : +- RM 50
*

Here is a video compiled for this week's activities : 

Mini Escapism : Sungai Kanching + FRIM


This week's outing + picnic session : Sungai Kanching, Rawang and FRIM, Kepong.

We were excited about the picnic that we planned since our last outing to Bagan Lalang. I told Af that I wanted to go to any rivers in the area and after some research, these 2 places came into our attention. 

So we bought some foods and snacks to our mini picnic the night before. I cooked Japanese rice that night because I wanted to make some onigiris in the morning (but failed because they just won't stick together - I guess I can't leave it cool down the whole night, I should have done it right-away) :F So it turned into fried rice instead.

Sungai Kanching :
We took off in the afternoon, after I posted my parcels at the post office. We took around 45 minutes to reach Sungai Kanching. I was so excited ! It was a work-day so the place was quite peaceful, only families of foreigners were there and surprisingly hundreds of monkey!


Monkey Stories :
We hiked at least 2 levels up and sat right in front of a small waterfall where no one was around. We even bought a bamboo mat and the picnic location was perfect :D Af was taking pictures after pictures and I was settling our bags when one big monkey came. It followed us when we were hiking up the stairs, and slowly it came closer and closer to us. From 50 meter to 20 meter on the bridge behind us, and slowly it walked to the big stone right in front of me, and just when I looked over suddenly it was sitting right next to my slippers. I was shocked and terrified :F It peeked to our bags and I started to collect all our stuffs. Af said we should go down where there are more people. Slowly I stood up and took all our stuffs, the monkey showed its teeth alarmingly when Af tried to take my slippers. The other monkey on the bridge even tried to snatch one of my bag when we passed through >.<

So we went down and then we settled to one of the public gazebo where there were more people. 
Again, slowly one by one monkeys came around the gazebo =.= I was annoyed and still terrified because there were a group of monkeys trying to snatch our bags plus foods and we haven't even had our lunch. Af said maybe we should just eat in our car instead, so we finally did. 

Note : These monkeys are dangerous, they walk in a big group of 20-40 monkeys around the area and they do snatch things from people. There are big groups of monkeys everywhere :F Some people bring huge stones and tree branches to shoo them away. Don't bring bags or foods, if you want to go for a swim. I think just bring towels with you. These monkeys aren't kidding guys, they are quite aggressive. 

Next stop : FRIM
The incident in Sungai Kanching annoyed us, so we decided to go to FRIM instead because it is located not so far from our location (around 20 mins).


We went to the picnic area in FRIM. 
Note : There are no bicycle renting during weekdays, the skywalk is closed (and soon forever closed), the river is gloomy compared to Sungai Kanching, most of the forest pathways were almost destroyed and closed.

Let's conclude our outing for this week : it felt almost like a failure. 
The beaches were dirty and contaminated with rubbishes from God knows where.
The rivers were depressingly gloomy or terrorized by a community of monkeys.

I'm not quite sure where to explore in the area - we already did KL city and Melaka. We explored to places a bit farther as well, but nothing seemed good enough to be plastered in my mind and be a place where I want to go over and over again :(

We should definitely plan on our next long big escapism (already have one big international event coming up! )

*

Work Related : Skillshare Scholarship 2017



Oh, oh, oh!
Last week I received an email from Skillshare stating that I won their Skillshare Scholarship by Mailchimp! So I received a one-year premium subscription :D

How did I win this scholarship ?
  1. I've been using Skillshare Premium on and off, every time I received a promo or referral.
  2. I wanted to use Skillshare more so I tried to search for an alternative. 
  3. That's how I found Skillshare Scholarship list
  4. I applied for Mailchip Scholarship for Small Business (explaining and answering their question about how I started my business and how I've been using Skillshare to help me improve my skills)
  5. And after a few months, I received an email saying that I won the scholarship !
I was so happy that morning when I read the email !
I've been taking a lot of awesome classes by remarkable artists, designers and illustrators. Some of the classes are very fun and useful. 

Try for one-month FREE :


Classes that you can try in that one-month :
Note : I'll update the whole list by time, because I'm still taking classes during my work-time. 

Reckless Life 8 : End of First Week


Well I've always been wanting to become a fulltime-freelancer so I can't get over this excitement. I'm planning on sharing more to a freelancer and illustrator life online (Patreon, blog & Youtube), so here's my outtake on compiling a video + simple animation for my weekly activity. Thanks my Patrons, you'll be getting the latest news every-time, don't you worry !


On video compilation :
I'm usually very-very-very lazty to learn another new software because I want to focus on illustration alone, but Af said it is better if I can explore another skill along the way. So he taught me the basic on Adobe Premier (at first the UI seemed a bit hectic compared to Ai + Psd) but he makes it look less scary - that's why people take classes guys :F Plus I'm also very impatient because I rather do illustrations than spending hours on video editing, so this only took 3 hours of basic learning from him and the simple animation (I figured this out!) were done using Psd. Now I can compile my own video without disturbing him :D - and I bet you did not noticed the "azreechan" by the end of the video? Well, that's a typo I'll change in the future videos guys, I noticed I spelled my own name wrong. Hah.



*

Other than that, this week :
  • Other than my freelance works,
  • I posted all parcels,
  • had a nice ice-cream day,
  • I went to Bagan Lalang for a sunset hunting with Af,
  • we went to Tasy's engagement partayay,
  • celebrated Mom's day with both Af's and my family
Hope you guys had a great week.

Note : I hope I'll make more video compilation and tutorials soon. 
I'll try to be super productive and share inspiring things that help me get on with my never-ending mini projects. 

Plus, congratulation to Tasy + Ashraf for their engagement ! 

Mini Escapism : Bagan Lalang, Selangor


Another mini escapism with Af.
He wasn't happy about not getting any good shots when we travelled to Kedah 2 weeks ago. So on Fridayay,  he told me that he wanted to go to Bagan Lalang - he's nature-sick :F He needs his dose of nature every once in awhile. Plus he is more to ocean/beaches guy and I'm more to greenery (and I don't fancy water) so, I wasn't full-heartedly excited as he was. 

But being there wasn't all that bad, yes, the beach is still dirty and I always feel saddened by it. Next time I come to these places, I'll bring big plastic bag and a picker to pick up all the rubbish in the area la. So depressing thinking about how human can make such a irresponsible thing. 

Note : It took almost 1 hour 1/2 to drive from my house to this location. 
Next week we'll hunt for different spot :


I sat at the marble bench, waiting for Af to take his video shots. I think he was super excited, because that night he edited the video right-away. He didn't even sleep the whole night. Usually it takes him several weeks/months to finish a video editing (when he isn't inspired) :p 


*

Now, you can enjoy his video :


*

Anyway, after that we went to HM Bagan Lalang for a seafood dinner : we ordered 2 ekor sotong celop tepung - ( RM 19.90 ), expensive weyy! and  200 gram of lala masak sambal (RM 7), mixed veggie (RM 4), mushroom fried rice for Af and half plate rice for me. Super full. After this we should consider to reduce the food ordering, we've been trying several time and still not quite sure how to order 'just enough' for both of us yet. 

Osaka - Kyoto 8 : Our Album


We did different thing for our trip this time. 
  1. Flikr album
  2. Our own printed album book
Why ? If you read my posts religiously, you must have known about the story where I lost almost all of my digital pictures since 2009 - 2016 because of my corrupted external hard disk. Never again, will I rely solely on digital keeping. 

So 2 weeks after our trip, we bought some coupons to print out album in a book form. For RM 29.90 each (8x11 inch - portrait with soft cover) , we got ourselves a mini project - to compile all our photos from the trip and turn it into a book. Of course we kept the coupon and did a last minutes job :D Af and I did separate books because we have different styles and likings (and I don't want to argue with this - being both designers are not always easy, guys). My pictures were all taken using iPhone SE, and I was too lazy to make any colour/light correction, so I let all pictures as original as the day they were taken. Note : Pictures taken on this phone are almost perfect ! 


3 more weeks later, we finally managed to compile it and sent it to print. In almost 5 days, the book arrived at the office. Super excited because the images are nice, didn't like the super soft cover (but we chose for the cheaper version, can't complain about this) but the main thing about it all was the book's spine : it wasn't glued properly, so the first few pages were almost teared from the book. Ditto Af's album.

So I reported a complain regarding the issue, saying that it is not our fault and all. The customer service was so nice, guiding me through the process and we finally got a new version. Now we both have extra albums.



Ohh, and if you have noticed, no, I don't have pictures of my family or selfies. As introverted as I am, I noticed that even my pictures tell a story about things, buildings and foods only - there hardly even people in any of my images :F Lonely pictures ! I don't know what's my issue with the human :F

But anyway, I love my album.

*

Reckless Life 7 : Week 1 All over Again


On being a full-time freelancer :
I've finally decided to become a full-time freelancer again !
This is actually my third time of becoming one (You can read about my previous stories here). After 9 months of working with a start-ups in Cyberjaya, creating and making things - I've decided that being in a boring-comfort-zone-life (even with high salary - normal day job) is no longer suitable for me. I've tried! I just can't work with corporates and day-to-day repetitive life anymore. Free spirits need to be free.

I kept on asking myself almost every day, and I've been asking Af so many time : "why I'm helping people reaching their dreams if I know I can work on reaching my own dreams?". So I've finally decided, this time even without the backup plan : THAT I SHOULD MAKE THIS WORK. I know the struggle, I know the tough decisions and the frugal life that I'll be having, but I was born to make and create things that I want to make and draw every day. I'm super excited with my little plans and I want to make every single day memorable for me. Ma isn't excited with my decision (of course), but I like told her : I'll never know if I really can make it work or not IF I don't try - again).

So I sent my resignation letter from the company's directorship chief designer. 
2-weeks notice, flat, decided and sticked with the plan. 

On working studio :
We already have our own studio office now, we took the master bedroom and turned it into one. I don't want to use the big space only to sleep, so I suggested to Af, that we should really make use of the large master bedroom and turn it into our office instead. Our office needs new paint, and a lot of recovery but we'll manage by time :)  

On clients :
And thankfully, right after I sent the resignation letter - I received a freelance project for this month (will due by the end of this month). It's a very tight schedule, but quite a big exposure and nice pay-check for the upcoming Eid season. So I'm super thankful because I got to live for another 3-4 months after this and will be focusing on the book project that I've been delaying. This is a sign telling me that maybe I made the right choice on becoming a full-time freelancer again.

*

On the 9-months startups projects (Aug 2016 - May 2017) : 
Check out 3 of my latest projects, those are some of my works for that duration of time.

On my online shops for local :
All packs bought from the shop will receive several postcards for free - from my wrinkled artprints and postcards mini flood incident.


On Patreon :
And yesss, Patreon! If you want to help/support me in my freelance journey and also get snippets, knowledge sharings, personal updates, random free gifts, you can pledge as low as 1$ on my Patreon :
*

Osaka - Kyoto 7 : Halal Restaurants in Osaka, Kyoto & Nara


Compared with my previous Japan trip, this time we tried so many halal Japanese foods. We clearly spent below budget after the first week stay, so in the second week after my family went back, we hunted for as many halal restaurants we could cover. I wanted to taste the original Japanese ramen, sukiyaki, udon, soba, syabu-syabu, mochi, and takoyaki. So we did! 

I dreaded to write this post, because I had to do my research on the location & find images from my phone =.= I am so lazy...

*

Places we ate in Osaka :

1. Bulls - Sukiyaki & Syabu-syabu
  • Type of foods : Sukiyaki, syabu-syabu & steak 
  • Rating : 4/5
  • Location : OCAT building, Naniwa-ku, Osaka
We went here with Ishijima Sensei, so she ordered all the foods, several sets of syabu-syabu and sukiyaki (it was my first sukiyaki). I've never tasted meat so nice, all cut in really thin slices, put inside the syabu-syabu for several minutes and dipped in raw egg before eating. It was the best syabu-syabu experience - we've done so many syabu-syabu at home, but it never tasted this nice. It was a different kind of taste. Note : It's near the JR Namba Station


*

2. Halal Ramen Osaka Honolu
  • Type of foods : Ramen 
  • Rating : 5/5
  • Location : Motomachi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka
This is a 'must-go' place for a ramen lover. All the energy spent on walking so far away from Namba City in windy coldness was worth it. I ordered spicy ramen from the machine, waited at the ramen bar (there's only around 8 seats so first come first serve) and got the best halal spicy ramen Osaka had to offer to me T^T I felt like crying, because it was so spicy like how the Malaysian likes it and it was so delicious! I don't mind coming here again for a hot spicy ramen during winter.


*

3. Cafe Bintang
  • Type of foods : Indonesian Food 
  • Rating : 1/5
  • Location : Chuo-ku, Osaka
Oh my god, it was such a waste of money. 
Af spent around 1,000 yen for Ayam Penyet set that didn't taste anything like what we have here or the one I eat in Indonesia. The set was just white rice, small skinny fried chicken, salad and tasteless spicy sambal (?) - it was expensive even if I compare to all the other Japanese food restaurants we tried there. While I ordered a tasteless Bakso for 850 yen - there was 4 beef balls, glass noodle and plain soup (I think he forgot salt?). Isk isk isk. I hope the owner will improve their foods, or lower down the price for food sets. It doesn't resemble Indonesian food at all. 

*

4. Mithilia 
  • Type of foods : Indian Food 
  • Rating : 3/5
  • Location : Chuo-ku, Osaka
Oh, we went here secretly without Ma & Aja, the night we went to Dotonbori for a nightwalk with my little sister. We tried to find halal takoyaki in the area, but I couldn't speak that much Japanese to converse in a food stall. So we just tried to find any halal restaurants near us using Google and we found Mithilia. After some consideration and discussion, we finally settled in a cozy packed Indian restaurant. We ordered some rice set, cheese naan and matcha lassi. The food was nice, sure it wasn't Japanese food, but it was still nice :) I loved the environment and the matcha lassi !


*

5. The Soba Dining
  • Type of foods : Udon, soba, Japanese food
  • Rating : 4/5
  • Location : Expo City, Bampaku-kinen Park
Oh, we found the place by accident ! We were at a shopping mall called Expo City after spending one whole day in Expo 70' Park, didn't even thought we would find any halal restaurant because it was quite far from the main city. But there it was, right next to the escalator, the 'halal' sign on the glass door. I was so excited. I ordered a Clam soba set, and it was so good T^T I shall remember each moment I found a great Japanese restaurant. 

Halal Soba in Expo City

*

6. The U-don
  • Type of foods : Udon, soba, Japanese food
  • Rating : 4/5
  • Location : KIX Airport
On our final day we slept over at the airport for the second time. 
There were several restaurants in KIX that offer halal foods, and after several discussion on which one to choose, we decided to go to The U-don. For 920 yen, I ordered Niku Soba (beef) at the counter, waited for my order and tasted another nice Japanese food T^T Well, I love anything with good soup so the Niku Soba was really good (for me) ; just a simple hot soup, udon, slices of beef and leek.



*

Places we ate in Kyoto :


7. Naritaya Ramen
  • Type of foods : Ramen Japanese food
  • Rating : 3/5
  • Location : Gion, Kyoto
  • Facebook
It was one of our first meal in Japan and we didn't quite like it. We tried different meals so that we could exchange and taste everything. Unfortunately we didn't like any of it. For me, the miso ramen was too salty - too salty, and I just can't. I personally think because of our bad first experience, we spent our lunch money on onigiris everyday afterwards. None of my family suggested dining out after this restaurant :F Note : The friend chicken was nice though.

In Gion, Kyoto

*

Places we ate in Nara :


8. Jinnayyah Ramen
  • Type of foods : Ramen, Japanese food
  • Rating : 3/5
  • Location : Nara
  • Facebook
We found the place after we got lost in the maze of buildings. It was so cold and we were so hungry. We walked several km before finding it T^T We were the only customer during that time, maybe because it was one hour before their closing time. I asked whether the ramen would be spicy - 'spicy' and he nodded yes, passing me an Indonesian chilies powder for extra spiciness. 


Unfortunately I didn't like the taste. It was between curry and spicy soup, not sure how to write this down, but I just didn't quite like the taste :(

Halal Ramen in Nara

Pictures of us :D



*

Ways you do to find halal foods in Japan :
  • You can refer to Halal Japan
  • You can download and use app : Okashi Checker for a list of halal foods that you can buy in kombini. They will probably update the list from time to time.
  • Or try Kansai Muslim Friendly guide app on Android or iOS
  • Ask people to read the ingredients (preferably vegan/all plant based to be safe) - if you can speak Japanese, or simple English + visual from smartphones (be creative, they are very helpful, don't worry)
  • Note : Even some drinks like instant coffee got non-halal animal fats/emulsifiers so it isn't that hard to check before you buy. There was this one coffee we really liked when we went to Tokyo, and after consuming almost daily, we found out that it got pig-based emulsifier. That was after we got back from the trip (because I did random checking). I didn't feel good about it later, so I learned from my mistake. 


*

Yeay for writing these post!
Hopefully it will help you find great halal authentic Japanese foods in Japan 

Note : 
We usually cook our breakfast and dinner at home.
You can find affordable raw foods in market (like eggs, tofu, veggies, fruits, rice, mushroom) and do bring instant cooking ingredient from home.




Mini Escapism : SK - Alor Setar - Sg Petani - SK


Short weekend !

We've been waiting for our short weekend escapism since I received the invite to my former best friend in school 2 months ago. It was supposed to be a group trip with my sisters and Tasy (and her partner) but they had other plans that weekend - so Af and I continued with our original plan. 

We booked the hotel in Alor Setar a week before the weekend using Agoda, paying extra to collect AirAsia points :D We opted for a hotel instead of Airbnb because I really wanted a special treat this time. I wanted the fancy bathroom and clean towel and comfy pillows and breakfast buffet and all those in package. I couldn't find decent Airbnb in Kedah so I didn't mind paying extra for a hotel instead of budget motel (it is not even that much of a difference in term of the price). 

We woke up quite early that Saturday morning, by 630 am we were already in the car. Af drove the whole way, while I slept on and off (because I'm a terrible partner and the worst morning person if I didn't get enough sleep). We arrived at Alor Setar around 1230 pm, a bit too early for the wedding. I changed to my red kurung at the public toilet near Alor Setar toll station and because I was famished, we headed straight to the wedding :D

I greeted her parents and her brother as awkward as I can. 
I asked Af why I was there (because she came to my wedding and she used to be my best friend and we wanted a reason for an escapism) - I agreed. 

The wedding was nice, I didn't see any familiar faces at all (none of friends from school). After one whole hour, I reached out to the newlyweds, wished her congratulation and she was a bit busy, so I bid her goodbye. That was it :F 

Come to think of it. 
We were really-really-really close for 5 years in school and now we are hardly friends. I wish I can explain to her about my introversion and my lack of connection was due to me trying to find myself in those silence that I needed so much. But not many of my friends understand, and I didn't understand it as well during those time, so I lost almost all of my friends in the process. But hey, the one who stayed matters.

*


Restoran Ikan Bakar Anjung :

Anyway, after we checked in and rested for a few hours, we headed to the nearest beach spot in Alor Setar. We used random Google Map search because there was no nice beach spot recommended by anyone. There's hardly any beautiful beaches in North region - we explored so many, most beaches were very-very depressingly dirty. Remember : Lumut - Tanjung Sepat - Pantai Morib ? These places were very dirty, the pollution is bad, guys.

We headed to a restaurant near the beach hoping for a nice sunset view, but we only found a dirty beach, again T^T I was a bit disappointed, so I only took several pictures and went straight to order foods. Bonus point : The food was nice, we ordered several seafood dishes that costed RM 40 (nasi putih, tomyam campur, sotong goreng tepung, lala masak lemak).



The map :


The storm came soon after so we headed back. We didn't go anywhere at night because I like to stay indoor when the night comes (I have no idea why). It is one of my paranoia I guess.

*

Menara Alor Setar :

Day 2 - For RM 9, you can reach the observation deck at Menara Alor Setar (88m) and get the 360 view of the city. You can see Gunung Keriang from afar as well, awkwardly separated from other mountains like a sore thumb. It reminds me of me when I stand among others in events.

There's nothing else you can do on the deck other than take photos, maybe you can eat ice cream, because they do sell ice cream and random snacks. That's about all :F There isn't many things to do on the deck, they should have done some interesting stuffs (like what they have in Japanese tower buildings).


Google Map :


*


Restoran Ikan Bawal, Sungai Petani :

For lunch, we headed to a random restaurant in Sungai Petani. This is a restaurant specialized in Kari Ikan Bawal sets. We wanted to make random stops along the way when we headed back home, so we found the place via Google. The food was decent, for RM 8.50, I got a plate of ulam and sambal, ikan bawal, nasi putih and a small bowl of curry. 

It was a really sunny afternoon, very hot and uncomfortable, I got my usual headache soon after. 



*

We headed to Pantai Redang Sekinchan after our lunch, we were so far from everything (4 hours+ from Sungai Petani) after almost 2 hours drive from Alor Setar. It was so weird, everything was extra farther that our previous trips. Not sure whether because we used alternative roads or because we just picked the wrong way to get there. Halfway through, we were in the palm plantation area and the rain started to fall heavily. The super bad one, almost no cars around us and it was hard to even see the road. I suggested that we head home instead of going to Pantai Redang (I don't feel good about the trip), so Af agreed. That itself took around 3 hours more to reach home ! It was just a bad trip + bad weather =.=

When we got home, surprise, surprise, our room and kitchen were flooded by the rain + wind from the previous thunderstorm that afternoon. The wind was so strong, it opened all of our windows and rain fell inside. I was so frustrated and demotivated, seeing most of my postcards and cards were destroyed, the bed was 1/3 wet, the floor was wet T^T and I was super exhausted from the long travel. But Af was there, things wan't so bad if he's there with me. 

He said that maybe it's time for me to make new postcards, more artworks to sell, now my local e-shop is available and it's okay if things like this happen from time to time. It is just a reminder :F


*

That's the end of our short escapism to Kedah :F

Osaka - Kyoto 6 : Nara & Places You Should Go :D

We only visited Nara once, bought the train tickets from Osaka straight to Nara because we didn't know better. The train ticket without any travel passes is twice more expensive. This was the day we learned to buy all passes for the whole week after my family went back home. Tourist passes can be bought in Tourist Infomation Center in the city center or the airport, so yes, please buy passes if you want to travel smart :F

True, the city didn't leave a big impact on me - probably that is why we only went there once (while we visited Kyoto 3 times). But looking back in my album, I noticed that I have as much beautiful photos in Nara as Kyoto and Osaka.

Af said that on the day we visited Nara, it was a cold and very windy day (and I probably complained a lot about that because I can't really tolerate winter) - plus we couldn't find kombini so we were starving and when we were heading to the Halal ramen shop in Nara, we got lost in the empty maze-like roads and it was sooooo far, plus the train tickets were so expensive. Maybe these excuses are the reasons why I didn't quite like the experience in Nara?

Manhole in Nara


Anyway, places you should go in Nara :
Note: We didn't really explored Nara as much as we hoped, so there's not so many things to cram into a one-day visit. So there are more to this place than my short review.
  • Deer Park - the famous deer park where lingering deers ask for deer crackers openly without shame, they will probably nudge you, follow you, and smell you. They are harmless, but they are still wild creatures so you shouldn't try to hold or ride them. The deers were all around the main city, around temples and museums, and there are so many old people (cleaners) sweeping off their wastes on the road all the time. So you can expect a very clean road even though it is full of wild animals walking freely. Deer is considered a sacred animal in the city, so they roam freely.
Deer Park in Nara

  • Yoshikien Garden - we found the garden by accident when we were lost in the area. It is a private garden, free entrance for foreigners :D The area is divided into Japanese Pond Garden, Moss garden, Tea Ceremony & Flower Garden. I love the little moss garden and the ancient Japanese old house in the garden. We were the only two visitors when we went inside, so we had the big private garden to ourselves. Lucky we got lost, or wouldn't have found the garden.
Yoshikien Garden in Nara

  • Todaiji Temple - Where you can see the largest bronze statue of Buddha, and the great south gate (in the picture), as you can see, I can't even take the whole picture of the gate because it was so big. During our visit, there were a lot of renovations so some of the places were closed for public. Honestly, we didn't visit the huge Buddha statue - I didn't know ! We were so hungry, cold and walked for hours since the morning so we just decided to find the nearest halal restaurant in the area. After we took the photo of this huge gate, we headed to the restaurant =.= If I had known better, I would have walked inside !
In Nara

Halal Ramen in Nara

*

There are so many temples, icy ponds, beautiful rows of houses and zakka shops in Nara that I didn't mention but worth the visit.  Plus the maze-like roads was definitely something, but I was a bit too grumpy, too tired, too cold during this time =.=

So check out my Flikr album for the full photos ya!
(I just uploaded more phootos inside the album)

Streets in Nara

Osaka - Kyoto 5 : Kyoto & Places You Should Go :D

I looooooove Kyoto. 
So much more than Osaka or Nara. We went to Kyoto 3 times during our 2-weeks stay. That means we specifically bought extra passes just so that we can spend more time in that beautiful old city.

Places we went to in Kyoto :
  • Gion 
  • Yasaka Shrine
  • Maruyama Park
  • Hokanji
  • Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest)
  • Nishiki Market
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Inari Mountain Top
  • Shimogamo Shrine 
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kyoto Manga Museum
I'm sure Kyoto will be much nicer in spring and autumn, because the changes of colours. But we went during the transition from winter to spring so there's not as much colours. The moods were mostly grey and blue. Our third trip to Kyoto when we planned to walk as much as we want, it rained almost the whole day =.= We spent time in kombini for random lunch because we were stranded. 

Places you definitely should visit in Kyoto :
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine & Inari Mountain : There are so many shrines and temples in Kyoto so we can't compare - but Fushimi Inari is one of the famous one in Kyoto, the one with red tower-like gate (torii) as long as it can reach the mountain top. We did hiked until the top of the mountain and got back down before the storm. We took around 3 hours, Ma and Aja waited in the main shrine at the waiting house because I didn't want her to walk so far up. There are a lot of sleek looking kitsune statues as well. Not many people hike up until the top of the mountain on that day, so it was easy for us to take the empty path photos :
in Fushimi Inari

  • Nishiki Market : Of course, the old market in downtown of Kyoto. Where pasar can be seen as clean as market in the mall. The market is beautiful, all in colours, varieties of fresh seafoods, and things we didn't even recognize. You can even eat some fresh food right-away, like the small octopus' leg for 200 yen on stick (see this image below). I think my little sister and brother went on buying weird stuffs on the market just to try it out, they are a bit daring =.= The octopus smelt like blergh, and even the after-smell is eurgh. But hey, that's how the Japanese eat it :F Other than fresh tuna and some other raw fishes, I don't really eat stuffs like octopus or squid, tried several times, didn't like it. 
Tsukiji Market in Kyoto

  • Gion : One of the oldest district in Japan where you can see old buildings turned into nice artisan shops and rent kimono (if you like those stuffs). There are a lot of teahouses and cafes, mini and huge temples, private garden and all those beautiful camera-worthy place T^T It was extraordinary. We had our lunch at Maruyama Park, supposedly famous for cherry trees and sakura but during our visit it was nothing but branches of hibernated trees. We also saw the 5-storey pagoda on Higashiyama Hills, huge and magnificent! No real maiko was seen on that day. 
In Gion, Kyoto

  • Arashiyama Town : Should spend half of a day in this small town to visit all the places they can offer. You need to do a lot of walking, from the train station towards the Bamboo Forest, walk through the famous main bridge called Togetsu-Kyo (fullmoon bridge) passes the Katsuragawa River. If you are with an elderly or your parents, I think you should take the bus - because ma had a hard time walking too much on that day. Oh, there are 2 train stations in Arashiyama, you can see a kimono forest with 600 poles of colourful yuzen in Randen Arashiyama and even try out their 200 yen foot spa or the classic Sagano Romantic Train Ride. There's also Iwatayama monkey park in the area (it was closed when we arrived). We only spent around 3 hours before night fall, so most of the places were almost close - and we were dead tired for walking the whole day (it was our 2nd day in Japan). So I personally feel like we should have spend more time in the area.
In Arashiyama, Kyoto

*

Kyoto is a nice city, I wish to spend more time here - seeing we already spent a lot of times in Osaka and tried almost everything they can offer from the travel passes tour :D Maybe we will be back in different season in the future ! 

Work Related : Japanese Foods & Drinks Sticker Packs Version 2

Read previous post here.

I'm glad I managed to finish up the second version of the Japanese food series last week, I sent out to print and spent the weekend cutting 20 packs of this sticker series (to send the stock to Salt x Paper, KK and put it up in my Etsy shop). We watched a lot of The Office series on iFlix (our current obsession) over the weekend. It's like the first proper weekend rest since almost 2 months ago T^T

I am so happy I made this. These foods and drinks are mostly things that I consumed on my Japan trip or just foods in kombinis that I really like (because their packaging are all cute and colourful). Illustrating them makes me happy, even cutting all these stickers are now a therapy (when I don't want to illustrate things but I still want to work) :F My next illustrations will mainly be the halal foods I ate in this Osaka trip (because this time, we spent a lot on proper Japanese foods as well - compared to the Tokiyo trip). So I have a bunch of things to illustrate 



*

The sticker packs in group :



*

Note : Oh, and on the Melaka travelogue, it is already reaching the 70/100 draft phase T^T
I am really considering going full-time freelancing again.

Osaka - Kyoto 4 : Osaka & Places You Should Go :D


I've been wondering on how to write in detail about things that happened in my latest Japan trips, the places I went to, and the foods we ate. Compared to all my previous travel posts, this trip was the longest - so I wouldn't want to write day-per-day stories (14 posts only for the days, not including all other extra posts around it are a bit too much). I decided to write it by places : Osaka - Kyoto and Nara. This way I can focus on the stuffs that worth mention on each places. So people who are planning on their own trip can use these posts as reference as well :D

Images are usually auto-compressed in blogger, so I don't quite like it. You can check out my Japan photos from my Ig or Flickr album here.  I'm not much of a person who keeps my own portraits these days so I hardly have pictures of myself anywhere lah :p Who wants to see my faces in all my travel pictures (like what's the point?) So this is an album of my Japan trip, the things that I found interesting and were nice to my eyes.

Osaka + Kyoto, Japan

*

On Osaka & its places, using the Osaka Amazing Pass (3,000 yen). All ticket passes accumulated were supposed to be around 4,200 yen and the train rides for those 2-days supposed to be several thousand yen more. But we used the Osaka Amazing Pass, so we only spent 3,000 yen for those 2 days full of activities, places and train rides !

There are a lot more places listed that we can go for free, but there wasn't much time to cover all.
  • Osaka Castle (600 yen)
  • Museum of History (600 yen)
  • Museum of Housing & Living (600 yen)
  • Ferris wheel ride at HEP5 (500 yen)
  • Osaka Science Museum (400 yen)
  • Tempozan Pier and Marketplace (free)
  • Tempozan Ferris Wheel ride (800 yen)
  • Tsutenkaku Tower (700 yen
Not using Osaka Amazing Pass :
  • Kaiyukan Aquarium (2,200 yen) - (discounted : 2,100 yen)
  • Tennoji Zoo (500 yen)
  • Shiseiki Alley (free)
  • Dotonbori Street (free)
  • Joypolice ride at Hep5 (800 yen) - (discounted : 600 yen)
  • Namba City (free)
  • Expo' 70 (250 yen)
  • Expo City (free)
*

If you buy the pass, make sure you use it fully in those 2 straight days. 

Among all the places I went my favorites were :
  • Kaiyukan Aquarium
  • Tennoji Zoo
  • Expo' 70
  • Tsutenkaku Tower
  • Museum of Housing & Living
I didn't like most of the ferris wheel rides because it was a bit too scary - too high and it moved when people in the cart stood up or changed sits :F All the museums are nice as well, it's more interactive and we can do a lot of things as well : especially Museum of Housing and Living where you can experience the real-size old Japanese town and 4-level Osaka Science Museum where you can play around like kids :D

*

Extra note :

Kaiyukan Aquarium
 and Tennoji Zoo were my idea - because I really wanted to see their zoo and aquariums, the last time I went in Tokyo, it was super fun! Although the aquarium ticket was a bit expensive, it was worth all the money spent. I saw a lot of new sea animals that I could never think of, and most of the animals were just a glass away. Kaiyukan Aquarium was so big, we spent almost half of the day inside. It was nothing like all the aquariums that I went to before. You'll be walking around the biggest tank with so many sea creatures swimming inside. It is one of the biggest public aquarium in the world - so it is a must go spot. I collected almost all the stamps here - they have stamp stations at so many corners with different animal design.

Tennoji Zoo - even thinking about it makes me smile. Maybe some people are against the idea of locking animals in the cage when they are supposed to be wild and free. But without zoo, I can't imagine seeing wild animals in real life and without actually seeing things in front of my eyes, it's hard for me to feel connected. I'm the kind of person who needs to experience and see things in front of my eyes to 'feel'. So zoo and aquarium are my happy places, I love animals, I love looking at them. The difference between these zoos and the local ones we have here is how they made the barrier between human and those animal as small as possible. We were only separated by thick glass so you can look the animals as near as you want. One of my favorite was floating hippopotamus' butt - we went down to the tank separator down to the fake pond that you can also see from above, and the hippo was showing its huge butt to us. But even how hugeee and heavy it is, the hippo's body keep on floating in the water not reaching the floor. Those big feet with tiny high-heel like feet were hopping and I felt so happy.

Expo' 70 - I don't think people travel to Osaka and have extra time to visit this place. It is located at the Bampaku-Kinen Koen station, you have to take the monorail to reach here. It was quite far from the city. The reason we visited the place was because Af wanted to see the Tower of the Sun. For me, the statue looked a bit odd. The statue is located inside the Expo '70 Park so you can buy an entrance ticket before heading inside. We were of course greeted by the huge statue, it was around 70m high so you can see it lurking from all over the park. We walked all over the park - to the blooming plum garden (I thought it was sakura) so we finally experience the blooming season before we went back home, to the Camelia garden, looked over the budding tiny tulips on the ground and some bamboo tree mini forest. There are many garden without green leaves and flowers as well - because it is still considered cold and too early for spring.

So that's what I felt about Osaka.
Sure, Osaka is a busy city, with buildings and huge crowd of people compared to Kyoto & Nara. But Osaka got a lot of commercialized attraction spots worth visit.

Anyway, Af compiled his take on the Osaka x Kyoto part 1 video :D