It is Japan, but something could still happen

O-hisashiburi! It’s been a long time!

So yes, I went to Japan last week for a short trip (I will write more about this trip in the next few days, keeping my fingers crossed). And mind you, it was a very eventful trip!

My flight back to Singapore was at 6:10PM. The Narita airport is almost an hour from Tokyo, so I decided to take the 2:33PM Narita Express train from the Tokyo Station. I thought I would arrive at the airport at 3:30PM. The trains never get delayed, unless of course something happens and that is very rare! It is Japan, after all!

A few minutes from the Tokyo station, the train stopped at a station called “Tsuga”. I was busy uploading some photos so I didn’t pay attention to the announcements. Then more than 10 minutes had passed, the train was still stationary and people started to get off the train, mostly Japanese. Obviously, the announcements were in Japanese. Then they tried to do it in English but it was more confusing. So, I asked some Japanese who were still on the train.

Apparently, the train couldn’t pass because there was a wayside fire. They had no idea when the train could run again and they advised us to take another train line. When I checked the schedule, the route would take more than an hour! A cab would be the fastest and easiest choice, but it would cost me about 13,000 yen! Yes, very expensive.

So I joined the crowd and they gave us two of these white ticket for the train transfers:

There were many passengers and I couldn’t waste more time to queue for the elevator or escalator so I had to carry my 18kgs luggage up and down the stairs to the train platform!

With the new route, I could reach the airport less than an hour before my flight! Thankfully, web check-in is available in Japan Airlines so I did it while I was on the train. To cut the story a bit short, I arrived at the airport at 17:10, dropped my luggage at the counter, dropped and paid for the pocket WIFI, sprinted to the immigration counter, and ran to the boarding gate!

Yes, I made it with a few extra minutes to change my sweat-drenched shirt and to buy some boxes of Tokyo Banana.

Lesson learnt: Still take extra precaution even if it is in Japan. But it was fun! :)

Five years and grateful!

It’s been five years since I left Japan. It’s my fifth year here in Singapore and my fifth year in the current company! There are some things that I think need to be improved. But then, no work environment is perfect. I don’t want to make this post a complaint post (and I don’t intend to post one!). I’d rather focus on the things that I’m grateful for:

Meeting a lot of great people, creating lasting friendships:

Having the chances to visit the west!

My adventures in these links: Mexico, Lisbon, and Paris

Knowing a bit about maps and about GIS!
This is work-related, so I cannot add more details here.
But, I did meet Dr. Robinson and Dr. Bacastow of Pennsylvania State University. And I was starstruck!

Flying in business class
I don’t think I could ever afford paying for business class tickets going to Europe and Mexico! So yeah, I don’t need to say more – I’m just so thankful to my generous employer. I do want to post photos but I’m too sleepy now and I don’t know where I’ve put my photos. :(

I was sad when I left Japan five years ago. So many things happened – good, bad, and some are very bad.
Yet there are more things that I am grateful for, so yeah, I am blessed. :)

I’m 34!

I like Christmas and New Year holidays. But since I’ve reached 30, I’ve started to dread it. New Year means that a few days later, I’ll be a year older! And, thanks to my support group (a.k.a. family and friends), I think I’ve finally made peace with my age. Yes, I’m now 34 and I’m no longer bothered by it. :D

I don’t want to be the center of attention so I tend to hide on my birthday. For this year’s birthday celebration, I went to a spa in Nirwana Gardens in Bintan, Indonesia with a friend. We stayed there for a day, went swimming, had body massage and body scrub, ate a lot, and did some crazy stuffs.

Yes, I’m the one wearing the Cancun shirt ;)

We got this deal that included the return ferry tickets, free transport from/to the Bintan Resorts Ferry Terminal, and some pampering in the spa. However, I was so surprised that pool and towels usage were not included. So we had to pay 12SGD each! Lunch wasn’t included also but at 26SGD++, we had our fill in the buffet in one of the resort’s restaurants.

The body scrub and the massage were great! But I spent 5 minutes laughing when I had the foot spa. It tickled (a lot!) And I’ve always loved the ginger tea that they serve after the massage. Of course, my trip to Bintan wouldn’t be complete without my jumpshots:

I was so lucky that my friend is good at taking photos! I, on the other hand, always flopped when taking jump shots for her. But yes, I had a blast. :)

I take this opportunity to thank God, my family, my friends and everyone who became part of my life. I am so blessed!

Tulum, a site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city

Yes, it was exciting to go to places alone but it was a bit difficult, especially when it comes to transportation. So I decided to take a guided tour to Tulúm and Xel-ha.

Tulum is an archaeological site of a pre-columbian Maya city along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Together with other tourists, the tour bus picked me up from the hotel in the Las Plazas Americas. I thought that I would spend my time on the bus being quiet and bored, but thankfully, a very nice and English-speaking Mexican lady happened to sit beside me! Her name was Rocio and she was on vacation with her family.

When we arrived in Tulúm, I was separated from my bus-mates and was asked to join another group of English-speaking tourists. Tulúm means “wall” or “fence”, so I guess that’s why it was hard for me to find the “gate”.

Here’s our very friendly guide (sorry I couldn’t recall his name):

I couldn’t point out from which parts of the site I took my photos, but I’ll do my best based on the site map from Wikipedia.

The Caribbean Sea, viewed from Structure 45 (I think!). Very beautiful, isn’t it?

It was “the spring break” so the archaeological site was so crowded.

Yours truly, with the Templo Dios del Viento (God of Winds Temple) in the background:

At that time, there was a helicopter hovering very close to the temple as if it was searching for something. The tour guide expressed his concern that it was so close to the site that it might inflict damages to it.

A closer look at the temple and the palace:

Look how hard it was to get a solo picture because of the crowd >_<. I was glad to have bumped into my bus mates later on. So I had a photo taken with my friend Rocio:

When I went there, I left everything on the bus except my camera, my phone, and my sunglasses. It’s too late when I realized that it would have been better if I took my water bottle and my baseball cap with me! Too much exposure from the sun made me dehydrated.

Still, I was very happy that I got to visit Tulum. The archaeological sites are one of the main reasons why I love to visit Mexico again!

In my next post: Xel-ha and the death of my Sony TX-5 :(

Cancun trip, March 26 – 30, 2013

What’s in your bag?

Finding online tips on what to bring when travelling has helped me a lot. So I just would like to share what’s usually in my hand-carried luggage when travelling.

The list is in no particular order because I always carry them all the time when I travel!

  1. Medicines
  2. My stomach is very sensitive so I need to always bring medicines for diarrhea and hyperacidity. I’m allergic to some food so I also always carry with me some Claritin tablets. I grew up carrying a tiny bottle of essential oil and I still do! Essential oil is considered as medicine, right?

  3. Contact lenses and contact lense solution
  4. I don’t wear contact lenses when travelling but I don’t have a spare pair of eyeglasses. What if I break my eyeglasses? I wouldn’t want to go around not being able to see clearly everything that’s 2 meters away from me. So yes, I consider my contact lenses as my spare ‘eyeglasses’. :P

  5. Sunglasses
  6. If I want to take take a nap while waiting for my flight, I don’t want people to know that I have my eyes closed. So I wear them even if it’s weird wearing sunglasses while my eyeglasses is stuck on my shirt. Or is it only me overthinking?

  7. Chargers
  8. I may check-in my work laptop’s charger, but my personal laptop’s charger is always in my ‘chargers pouch’. Yes, I have a small pouch that contains the rest also: mobile phone charger, mp3 charger, not to mention my universal adaptor and an extra set of earphones. :P

  9. And yes, work laptop and/or personal laptop
  10. I only carry these two when I go on business trip or longer vacation. To be honest, I cannot be at peace if I couldn’t check my work email for more than a week! I don’t have a tablet so I use my personal laptop for entertainment (yes, I do have copies of my favorite animes).

  11. A set of clean clothes
  12. By set, yes, I mean everything, of course including a pair of clean undies and socks. Although I just stuff in a pair of shorts instead of pants. If I travel for more than 12 hours, I take 2-3 t-shirts with me. :)

  13. A book or two
  14. Since I don’t have an e-book reader, I still carry a good book or two. Even if I do have an e-book reader, I might still bring a ‘real’ book.

  15. 2-3 packs of pocket tissue and wet tissue
  16. I don’t think I need to explain. :P

  17. Basic toiletries
  18. Of course, toothbrush, toothpaste, and facial wash. If I have a tiny bottle of facial moisturizer, then great!

  19. A big scarf
  20. Sometimes, airports and even buses are just too cold, and a sweater is just not enough.

  21. A small pack of chocolate or biscuit
  22. This is just me being a paranoid. But what if the plane crashes (knock on wood 3 times), and I’ll be in a situation like in the movie “Alive”. The food that kept them alive for a few days were from the overhead compartments! Nah, I just get hungry too often. :P

I might have missed a thing or two but this is pretty much it. So what’s in your bag when you travel?

The photo below might have nothing much to do with this post, but it’s a preview to the article that I need to write!

Up next: Tulum in Mexico!

I’m in Sound Cloud!

I’ve never posted anything for the past weeks so I guess it is just right to share a secret or two with you!

When I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to join a singing contest but I was so out of tune that my father discouraged me to do so. From then on, I only sang only when I’m in my bedroom where no one else could hear. When I joined a youth group, I started to come out of my shell and dared to sing in public. When I left that group, the only time I sing is when I go back home and do karaoke with my little girl. So yeah, sometimes, I do dream of becoming a singer. But it’s too late for that now, and nope, my voice is not even close to Sarah Geronimo’s. :P

Aside from singing, I actually wanted to become a DJ. Two of my highschool classmates inspired me to improve my English. I admired them especially when they led The Angelus at school. I told myself that I want to sound good, too when speaking English, in loudspeakers!

Because of these two dreams, I have decided to create an account in Sound Cloud. I have uploaded 3 already but this one is the first one where I played the guitar.

Thanks a lot for listening and for bearing with me! <3

Yes, I still do feel very uncomfortable when I recorded these. Hopefully, with more practice, I’ll get used to it. >_<

My golf cart tour in Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres, which means “Island of Women”, is in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. I have to admit, I expected to find more women than men in the island but, no :P . Instead, I saw very happy and laid-back people. I was captivated by the island’s serenity and beauty.

El Centro (The Town Center)
The golf cart tour meeting place is supposed to be very close to the port but I’m still very bad at directions so it took me a while to find it. There were many nice-looking restaurants in the area but I didn’t have time to try one of them because my time was limited.

A very nice Mexican couple and their cute grandson joined me in the golf-cart tour.

Punta Sur
The view in this area? Simply breathtaking!

This is the statue of the Maya Goddess, Ixchel. She is the Goddess of the moon, also known as the wife of the sun, with fertility and healing powers. You may click on this link to read more about Punta Sur and the goddess Ixchel.

Garrafon Natural Reef Park
The fee was expensive for me and I didn’t have enough time to go inside the park. But I couldn’t resist to have a photo taken of this another yet astonishingly beautiful place.

Tortugranja (Turtle Farm)
For just 30MXN, we got to see the turtles and sharks!

Just around the island…
The golf cart driver told me that they can still leave their doors unlocked overnight! During my two-hour golf cart, and even up to now, I still wish to have a rest house in Isla Mujeres…

I wanted to visit the Playa del Norte but I needed to catch the last boat going back to the El Embarcadero. How I wish I get another chance to go back to Mexico. I’ll definitely spend a night or two in this beautiful island!

Cancun trip, March 26 – 30, 2013

Planning a getaway

How do you plan your getaway?
Do you just do things randomly or do you prepare a detailed itinerary?

For me, I do it half-half (is there a better word to describe it?). I do some kind of preparation, and once I’m travelling, I do some things randomly. As long as I have my accommodation settled and my return air tickets, bus tickets or ferry tickets, I’m good to go. With the help of Trip Advisor, I list down the attractions of the place that I am visiting. I set “target attractions” for each day, but I visit them in no particular time nor order. It also depends on how early I get up. I think student travels are even more organized than mine! In most cases, I couldn’t visit one or two on my list. And I get lost many times! It’s part of the fun, even if I’m alone.

For my trips outside Singapore, I usually go to, and for accommodation. They still offer lower rates than going directly to the hotels.

For trips from Singapore, I usually check first Groupon and I make sure to get deals with the accommodation and transportation. If it has the city tour, then good.

Do you enjoy travelling alone?
Sometimes, it is nice to travel alone but it would be a lot nicer to travel with someone special and with family. ;)