1-Altitude Gallery and Bar

1-Altitude, the world’s highest al fresco bar.
I have always wanted to go there and I thank my friends for going there with me last Friday (special thanks to Benny for organizing)! At first, we planned to have a table reserved but it’s just too expensive. We “only” need to spend 100++SGD each! Instead, we opted to pay for the cover charge of $30 for 1 standard drink.

The Viewing Gallery and Bar is on level 63 so you can definitely see all of Singapore. Yes, the view is amazing, as you can see on the photos below:

And this one is my favorite photo of The Marina Bay Sands. I love the green and red lights!

We danced a bit but we spent most of the 2.5 hours stay there chatting. Actually, we shouted at each other as the music was loud.

Some of you might wonder how were the drinks? Well, there’s nothing to expect from the free “standard drink”. I chose vodka with ginger ale and just like all other house-pours, it tasted like they only mixed a few drops of vodka on it. We ordered additional drinks and I opted for my favorite cocktail – a martini, white chocolate martini with almond. It did make me feel tipsy but it was delicious. :)

I still don’t know the best settings for my camera so my photos are still quite poor. So, I just used Fotor to tweak them a bit. ;)

An afternoon in Sendai

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

As I have mentioned in my entry in Japan Joshi-Tabi, I finally did something that I have always wanted to do: visit Tohoku, the eastern region of Japan! I bought the JR East pass so that gave me unlimited JR train rides, including the bullet trains. Even when I got on the wrong shinkansen, it was OK. :P

I stayed for a night in Yamagata City and my friend drove me to Sendai the following day. We were supposed to go to the Yamadera Temple or Matsushima but there was a typhoon at that time, evident in the photos below:

The photos above were taken close to the Sendai Station

So, we decided to just walk around Sendai City. I bought myself really cute silver accessories somewhere in the shotengai. And, when you spend your time in the shotengai, be prepared to see something interesting. It is Japan, after all. Guess what I found? “Fatbikes” and they really call them as such. I guess the photos below say it all.

When visiting Sendai, one has to try the gyutan, or the beef tongue. I was hesitant at first, but I am really glad I tried it. We had the gyutan at the Date no Gyutan at the Sendai Station and it was really good! Both the miso-flavored and the salt-and-pepper-flavored gyutan tasted good! Oishikatta!

After my fill of the gyutan, I took the shinkansen going back to Tokyo , hoping to visit Tohoku again in the future!

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All the photos in this post were taken using the Asus Zenfone 5

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!