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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

Run : 50km Rimba Alam Relay Run (not)

In February I registered for a 52.5km relay run in Putrajaya (with Af). 

The main reason I felt like 52.5km relay run is possible : we had to take turn to run in the laps, passing baton, every lap is 3.75km run mainly flats unused roads in Taman Rimba Alam and 2 up-hills (one long uphill run when we just started and one climbing path before we ended each lap). That looked reasonable kan? 

But it wasn't - if you didn't train for the running and climbing :F

The whole 4 laps over 7 laps that I did was simply awful - for the first time in my running experience, everything felt wrong. Each of us ran :
  • 4/7 laps
  • 15/25 km 
  • in 5 hours 
  • Total : 30/52.5 km per team  

Here's my excuses :

  1. Since we moved back to my old apartment and started living with my family - we hardly have time to work-out. I think I stopped in January (it started well, I was running every week - and then we just stopped for 3 months).
  2. February was fast and March was even faster. The Japan trip, the booths, the restocking items at Salt x Paper, the freelance works, everything was too fast to catchup. So I didn't run.
  3. We didn't trained for it, let just say that for the past 3 months, I've been slacking off. No training at all even though I registered for the 50km relay run.
  4. On the running day, I wasn't feeling well. Even after the first laps - I already knew that the run felt different. My stomach was aching, I felt nauseous throughout the whole run (which was an insane feeling - I assure you). I never felt like this ever before in any of my runs. 
  5. So because I wasn't feeling good inside. I didn't eat - I just drank (water+Revive). No breakfast, no short snacks. Just empty stomach for 16 hours, since we had dinner the night before.
  6. It was really hot day (before the heavy rain) - my eyes aren't so good with the sun's glare (it gives me a really bad headache like a strong pounding in the back of my eyes). If you been following my blog for years, you must have noticed this constant sun's headache of mine. THIS will take over my whole day, so I've decided that from now on I will only enter night run.
  7. I can't, I just can't.
So, after the 4th laps - I decided to quit. It was already 5 hours and Af was continuing his 4th laps, so I texted him and said that I can't continue. I felt awful, nauseous and my body wasn't cooperating. I was having shivers because of my stomach ache and imagining I had to run another 3 more laps.. O.O Af said okay, I searched for the organizer and told him about my condition, and we quit the run.

We returned the baton and ankle bib, drank a gallon, and went back home. 
After a big lunch, we slept for the whole afternoon. When I woke us just before 7pm, my head was pounding so loud I couldn't stand. I felt like throwing up because everything turned around crazily in my head, but we had to go out for Af's birthday dinner with the family. I didn't even ordered any foods because I didn't feel well - just ate bits of everyone's food :D

Aftermath :
The next day, on Sunday was still awful. It was the aftermath of a trail run, so our body ached. But, my family was moving out and the lorry came - it was the day to help them move out! :F We had to help, nothing felt good. All the muscles in the body sores - sneezing was awful (because of the muscle along my stomach sore), bending down (my back), moving items (my shoulder & hands), walking up & down the stairs (my thigh, knee, ankles). That took the whole Sunday off, and by night I had to clean the apartment a bit (just the hall and the kitchen). We arrived home back after sending my little sister, at 11pm. Our weekend ended with exhaustion and muscle sores all over.

Monday - We both took a day off from work =.=


Extra :
I never quit a run, so this felt like a little failure. But having to push myself to run for 4 laps, in heat and unwell body as much as I could - did feel like a little achievement. It wasn't a great running experience for me, but at least I tried. There are around 10 teams that didn't finished the 50km run including us, while all 100km Ultra runners finished their course :F  

Anyway, I already registered for a half marathon night marathon in Cyberjaya (next 5 months) and still waiting for another night marathon in Putrajaya (maybe in the next 7 months). So I need to start my training when I recover from this run :F

Things I learned from this event :

  • Go training every single week
  • Train for uphill run (please)
  • Don't do endurance run without any food intake
  • No more long run under sun

Event : AfG - 50 Shades of Green

Event :
Art for Grabs - The School Jaya One - 25 & 26 Mar 2017 (weekend)
Fifty Shades of Green.

Event application :
I forgot when did I applied for the event, I think it was several weeks before our Japan trip. I saw the vendor application on Facebook and sent my details like always. I even got nothing related to the theme : 50 Shades of Green, I was just trying my luck. The reason I wanted to join them this time is because I think it's already the time for me to open a booth ! I feel very motivated this year.

Result :
During our second week in Japan, I received an email from the organizer saying that I was chosen ! - I've been rejected 2-3 times by event organizers so I know the feeling of wanting to join but not chosen, you see. I can't make the payment to book for the booth so I replied to the organizer rightaway to inform him about having to pay for the booth a bit late. I'm glad he said 'okay-'. 

Preparation :
The time wasn't right. I was trying to catch up with things at the office after the 2 weeks of long holiday - our company received complains and fitna, so the banks called us and tried to shut us down. The whole 2 weeks drama ended with us giving up to the 'powerful' people's decision. 
I also opened my Etsy shop right-away, soon after I received orders and had to prepare for the packages and stuffs. Also to update the Melaka travelogue draft that I promised to the publisher. Plus the blog, and the Patreon page. It was hectic.

So I did just little preparation this time : repacking stickers, cutting more sticker packs and finishing off old stocks. I managed to do it just 2 days before the event date.

Event day :

Like all the events I've been to, I started off the event by being super awkward in front of my booth and had sweaty armpits whenever I see familiar faces. Even when I met an old colleague of mine from Damansara Heights - I asked her to stop by and she did. She is one of my favorite people when I worked at Legion so meeting her back gave me so many awkward nudges (I miscalculated the price of her stuffs and I talked in gibberish mumbles). I also met one of my Patron, also my online friend - that I come to like, because she reminds me so much of me (without the two kids of course). Plus one of the boy from the previous event - he told me about being introvert but wanting to share more to the community, so he asked the organizer if he could read one of his poem on the stage for the open mic session - and he did ! (I'm so proud of him, so inspiring). I met an old senior of mine from school, Af's friend whom just came back from Osaka too (so we exchanged stories) and also saw my ex and exchange awkward smiles (cringe - sweaty armpits all over). 

After-thought :
The event was a success - any events with sales over RM 500 in 2 days are a success to me.
I'm definitely going to apply for their future events (now I know the crowd) :
Sales : RM 540
- Booth Rent : RM 200 (strictly no sharing)
- Lunches & Dinners : +- RM50