It’s the final countdown

Saying bye to Mon and Den from across the platform....

Leaving for Japan in 9 hours… and darn it, I can’t sleep.

All the excitements I’ve had for the past few months have turned into anxiety… It’s almost like the climax of a story ending with a twist, the sense of uncertainty is just too overwhelming.

Well, people say it’s normal and I DO go through this every time before each coop begins- but what are my fears?

Living Alone?

No, in fact I quite enjoy the freedom. It’s true I have to take care and clean up after myself, but trust me, I can deal with this (despite my laziness)!

Radiation? Earthquake?

These two are the top 2 items on my mom’s list of concerns (out of 981237849 things)… But really, all I need is to be alert and have some common sense.

Language barrier?

My jap is at still newbie level. But people at work speak fluent eng… my least worry! Plus there’s always body language…

Work performance?

Gee, I haven’t even started and I am already feeling kinda intimidated. I usually get over this pretty soon though, after ramping up at work. I do hope I can contribute a great deal to the team though, given all the efforts they put into getting me there (paperworks/accommodation..)


The above just concludes that I’m worrying about NOTHING, really! I should force shut my eyes now and try to dream about onigiri, okonomiyaki and other yummy jap food…


What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Several weeks ago, I went to Las Vegas for a 5 days New Year trip with my mom, a friend and her mom. An all ladies trip that consisted of walking, shopping, eating and more shopping- fun!

Going through the photos yesterday (after 3 weeks), I finally decided to blog about it. Prior to the trip, I had a few sleepless nights to plan our itinerary, print out coupons and download maps. Turned out we followed the planned route like 1/3 of the time… and none of the coupons were used. We were too busy shopping did not even have time to watch those free admission shows.

Day 1 – I couldn’t feel my feet…

View from our hotel room...

Getting off the plane, we rushed to our first hotel (Bally’s) to check in. The check in area was right next to the casino, which filled with smoke and unpleasant odor. Lucky it didn’t take long, we unloaded our baggages and began our sightseeing along the Strip. It was New Year day- the street was packed, traffic super congested. And we strayed off our original itinerary right from the start .. =P

To summarize, we navigated the southern part of the strip in the first day and our feet were sore. No joke, it was insane how much we walked, the aftereffect bothered me for the rest of the trip. We stopped at M&M store -> MGM hotel -> City Centre area (Aria, Cosmopolitan, etc) -> Caesars Palace -> Dinner at Cheesecake Factory.

M&M Store

White Lion at MGM (Do white lions turn brown when they grow old? XD)

Outside Aria Hotel, its mall had many high end fashion retails that I felt ashamed of walking in lol

These are not dummies, but REAL hot gurls @ a lingerie store in Cosmopolitan hotel

The Forums shop at Caesars Palace, it has the largest H&M store in the world- not that I had the mood to buy anything.... at the time I just wished I was on a wheelchair

Our first dinner at Cheesecake Factory, a busy place... waited for 2 hours. Very poor service.

 Day 2- Yummy food, no chance to flex our feet

Second day began with a late brunch at the restaurant Serendipity3, famous for its forzen hot chocolate. It was a neat place, I love how the natural light brightened up the place.

The decor gives a lazy and chill atmosphere...

Lovely frozen hot chocolate... it's really rich and creamy, similar but different from choco smoothie. I even dreamt about it before the trip!

Cute plating of the omelette... I ordered steak frites, it tasted alright.

After stuffing our stomachs, we went to our ONLY stop of the day- the North Premium Outlet Mall. Okay, that wasn’t the plan.. but we ended up staying there pretty much the entire day. Bought quite alot of things, and *gasp* we somehow wandered into a Michael Kors store before we left… you can guess how the story ended.

On our way back to Bally’s, we watched the famous Bellagio fountain show –

We stood there for like 10 minutes... it was just water shooting up the sky, nothing impressive IMO.

Before we headed to Bally’s to end our exhausting day, we went to Pink’s! outside Planet Hollywood to try their famous chilli dogs. To me, it was just any other dog with chilli that tastes like Tim Horton’s. But of course, I’m not that into hot dogs anyway.

Cityscape of the Strip- would love to try the Manhattan Express next time- but I heard it's "neckwrecking" haha

Day 3- Exploring Northern Strip, disappointing buffet at Rio

Third day started with an amazing breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi of Paris hotel. It’s an outdoor cafe, with a clear street view and facing Bellagio- great for people watching. We had to carry our luggages into the restaurant though, due to hotel switch (Bally’s sucked) to Planet Hollywood.

Food wasn't spectecular. Loved the view however.

Soon, we took the Deuce (bus on the Strip) to visit hotels on the northern part of the Strip, such as TI, Wynn, Venetian…

Bus stop outside of Paris

Wynn has a really grand interior, esp. their bathrooms =P

Taken at Fashion Show Mall, where I bought a pair of lovely oxfords.

Xmas tree display outside Venetian, overseeing the Mirage

As night fell, we walked back to Bally’s to catch a shuttle bus to Rio for it’s seafood buffet. VERY DISAPPOINTED, DO NOT RECOMMEND!

Street performers. I saw a Woody later on, with his cowboy hat off, showing his "bald spot" - a cooling fan lol

What a slack job. I wanna be one of those street performers.

Anyway, back to ranting about the worst buffet I’ve eaten in my life. It was just horrible. We got the 24 hour unlimited buffet pass… There were two buffets at Rio: the Carnival and the Seafood. When we arrived, the Carnival was packed with hundreds of people… no kidding! So we went for the Seafood (which charged us $15 extra) buffet, where we thought would have more variety of edible seafood. We lined up for 10 minutes and waited for another 10 minutes to get our table. Man, the experience was just indescribable. The only seafood that we ate was crab legs (which btw were available at any dinner buffets in Vegas), the others (small mussels, teeny tiny crayfish, and what looked like overnight lobsters) were just disgusting. Don’t even mention Oysters! The ones that I tasted were spoiled, I was afraid I would get diarrhea. Overall, it was simply shitty and a total rip off. We later checked out the Carnival buffet and my god, there were so many food choices, seeing the crab legs there was like a stab to the heart… I used the “free” plays at the casino’s slot machine, hoping to reimburse those 15 bucks- I won about 11 bucks at the end.

A night shot of our hotel, Planet Hollywood. The room was smaller but much neater!

Day 4- More buffets, and the O show

Day 4 seemed like the highlight of the entire trip. Shopping addicts like us of course couldn’t miss to opportunity to visit the outlet store at the south end of the Strip- it was an indoor mall… I didn’t buy anything because I had already bought too much previously.

Saw this cute doggie on our way... the sign read "Photo for $1". Too bad I had no changes on me, I just sneaked a shot XD

Before shopping, we had to soothe our hunger- so we went to the Village buffet at Paris hotel.

Long lineup, so I was randomly taking shots....

What a great contrast comparing to dinner the day before…. it’s literally heaven and hell. There were chefs to make crepes and the cheese/parma ham there was awesome too… Skipping the shopping part that came thereafter, since it’s just a lot of walking, and walking. Las Vegas really is a shopping paradise (prices aren’t low, but there are many malls+high end stores)… Any shopaholics can stay there for days just to shop(though I got sick of it pretty soon)! For dinner we went to Planet Hollywood’s buffet, the most memorable part was that they had cotton candy! My friend ate like 6, and I was close too.

Outside the O theatre at Bellagio hotel

We watched the 10pm show of “O” at Bellagio. I’ve seen one or two Cirque du Solei productions before… and this one, I would say, didn’t wow me as much as the others. The staging was amazing though, with the pool forming at one instant and disappearing at the next. The biggest issue was the plot… was there a story line at all? The entire show was about this freak like creature chasing/dancing with a pretty *young looking* lady… with 2 silly clowns joking here and there. Maybe I got it wrong, but this sorta reminded me of pedophiles.. Anyhow, it was worth the money and I mean, what’s the point of going to Vegas without watching any shows? Next time, I will try the Beatles Love show, which apparently has really good ratings and touching plots.

Day 5- Bye bye Vegas!

At the airport....

It shouldn’t even count as a day, since we checked out early morning and took the cab to the airport.. after I saw this friendly reminder, I had a sudden urge to play a couple rounds of slot machines while waiting for the flight =)

This photo reminded me that I didn't even get to see the desert or the Grand Canyon!!!

I’ll definitely visit Las Vegas again.. there is so much left to see! I didn’t even experience the nightlife to its fullest! And shows….my top show wish list now is: Phantom of the Opera and Beatles Love.

Side story…

After the flight back to Bellingham, we went straight to MacDonald’s for their 20pcs mcNuggets… since we saw their promotions about buy 40pcs get 10 pcs free. Obviously, we bought 2 orders, but turned out the promotion applied on Sundays only. So we just stuck with the 40pcs- THANK GOD WE DID! OMG, I had almost 20 pcs of those nuggets and the very same night… I got sick and barely slept! I vomited twice and my friend 8 times!!! She lost 2 pounds while I didn’t shed a bit… but I guess that’s fair haha

Days Till Japan: 2 Days!!

Fail attempt to paint with light

It’s not the first time we do it, here we fail again – another attempt at amateur light painting. We were at a family friend’s house for another round of CNY party. We were playing with my bro’s camera and suddenly decided to play with light (wanted to do levitation first, but it’s not really a good idea to jump at other’s house XD).

We were not a creative bunch, so we just randomly drew lines and shapes.

After a few rounds of practices and epic failures, we got our first satisfactory result- it’s the chinese character meaning “Dragon”, to represent the year of Dragon duh! We got bored of outlining pretty soon, so before the battery died, we took a couple of these—-

which, IMHO looks pretty darn good. Just wish we had more time (battery dying… annoying) and the camera didn’t shake (no tripod).

I definitely would find some other time to light paint again- it’s fun, creative and I really wanna become those pro light painters you see on YouTube =)

Funny (not) side story

Caption: Bro’s Adidas sneakers were stolen.

Yup, we all just left our shoes at the doorsteps. And when we left, he couldn’t find his shoes anywhere!! So he just “borrowed” slippers from the host. We suspect that the thief is male (who else would steal men shoes? wait, maybe a poor mother for her teenage son), with shoe size 9. I just laughed and took photos as he was going frantic looking for his shoes… man, I’m such a caring sister.

Lucky him, time to buy new shoes now.

Thanks to Joanne, now I really want to buy Jake Shimabukuro’s Peace Love Ukulele ( I actually want his tablature book more).

He’s half of the reason why I wanted to buy a uke in the first place (besides it being cute+portable). After getting my Mahalo, I haven’t gotten to play it much. I will though, I swear. Still battling whether I should bring my Uke over to Japan. I really wanna play it during those silent nights to soothe my lonely soul lol

Reasons to bring:

  1. It’s light and portable
  2. I want to playyyyyyy
  3. I need to practice to be good like Jake someday
  4. I can’t bring my guitars over
  5. I can join a class in Japan

Reasons NOT to bring:

  1. No space in baggages (at least not with the water boiler, hair dryer… etc)
  2. I may not have time to playyyyy
  3. I will never be good like Jake, not in this life
  4. Dude, you don’t even play your guitars much
  5. Can you even understand japanese???
Verdict– We’ll see how it goes… Maybe I can pick one up in Japan ? ;-P

Anyway, was searching some Ukulele classes /shops around Yokosuka, and came across this page:

I will definitely check it out when I get there!

Finally, my dear Uke… just in case I won’t bring you over, this will be our farewell… I hope I’d have time to stroke strum you in the next few days.


Count down to Japan: 4!!!!

New Year’s Feast

It’s Chinese New Year again!

I am so glad that I can celebrate this with my family before I depart for Japan. We already  had a dinner gathering with family friends the day before, so yesterday was just a family dinner amongst the four of us. Mom pretty much stayed in the kitchen the entire day, making carrot cakes for friends and preparing dinner afterwards. Lucky her, it’s only once a year =)

Man, I’ve been stuffing my self lately. Eating out far too frequently quickly added 2 pounds to my weight in just this month!

The dishes were yummy, though I’m not a big fan of abalone… it’s alright, only once a year XD

Of course, New Year’s dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert – sesame riceballs with rice wine sweet soup, with an egg that’s got an huge yolk (what’s up with eggs lately? I keep getting double yolks. eeek). Loveee it!

And I woke up this morning late afternoon finding a gift pack prepared by mom on my desk… consisted of red pockets (duh), apple (? it has a meaning…), canned fish ( fish in chinese sounds the same as “surplus”), a bunch of snacks that either I finish by end of this week or pack it to Japan!

Anyhow, I hope the year of Dragon will be a blast for everyone. Good health and fortune to all my family and friends!

Count down to Japan: 6 days!