Bisdak Babbles

Hanabi (Fireworks) Photos : Fail

I have bought a good camera a few months ago. It is a Samsung NX2000 and it is the most complicated camera that I’ve ever owned. I am satisfied with it but I have had many failures and I am still discovering how to use its features. I am too lazy to read the User’s Guide. :P

When I went to Japan last month, I was really ecstatic to try the “Fireworks mode”. By the way, if you go to Japan in August, you’ll definitely catch one of the fireworks shows all over the country. So, yes, I went with a friend and his friends to a fireworks show in Niigata. Unfortunately, it was raining! Using an umbrella was a big NO and I didn’t bring my tripod. My hands were shaky and I had to take the photos fast otherwise my camera would be soaked! OK… I couldn’t come up with more excuses. :P

The result: really bad fireworks photos. :( Nonetheless, I’m sharing them below.

The Tokyo Skytree

During one of my stays in Tokyo, I grabbed the chance to visit the tallest building in Japan, the Tokyo SkyTree.

I didn’t set the time of my visit so I just went there and was surprised by the long queue that I had to go through. But then I couldn’t purchase the ticket online because they only accept cards that were issued in Japan. I was alone but I was so glad of the pocket wifi that I rented. It kept me company for 40 minutes. Plus, the things they show on these screens are really interesting:

There are two observation decks (350 meters and 450 meters high) and I went to both. However, you can only buy tickets to the first observation deck at the Skytree entrance. You have to go to the first deck to buy tickets to the second observation deck.

So, how was the view? For me it was amazing to see Tokyo as huge urban jungle. It seems that the array of concrete structures doesn’t end!

I should never forget to mention that taking the elevators was awesome. I failed to take a video. I wanted to show how fast it was.

When I went to second observatory, I didn’t really like it because of how it is designed. It was so hard taking a good photo. Nonetheless, it felt great.

And… don’t forget to step on the transparent floor. It was cool but I was so scared I only stayed just to take these photos. Believe me, I was shaking and I couldn’t go to the center. I had to stay on the edge just in case the glass breaks. :P Yes, I’m not proud of it but I’m scared of heights. >_<

Another late post, about my trip to Japan on August 5-11, 2014

Japanese pancake, okonomiyaki

My favorite Japanese food is not sushi nor sashimi. Rather, it is a dish called “okonomiyaki“.

Description from Wikipedia:
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked” (cf. yakitori and yakisoba). Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with the Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region.

I visited many Japanese restaurants here in Singapore but I haven’t encountered one that serves okonomiyaki. So, when I went to Japan a few weeks ago, I made sure that I eat this. I wanted the okonomiyaki in Kansai, but I was in Tokyo. Thankfully, you could easily find it. Where else, but in Akihabara‘s Yodobashi Camera:

I ordered the seafood okonomiyaki, so shrimp and octopus were mixed with the veggies. Here’s how it looked like – (1)just prepared, (2)turned over, (3)ready to eat!

For me, mixing the ingredients and turning it over is a bit complex. I guess I need more practice. So here’s how it is prepared:

How was it? Of course it was delicious! After all, it is my favorite Japanese dish. :)

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!

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