Finals are over, so are my gloomy days! Christmas is really my favourite time of a year- no school, no work, no stress. Instead, there’re good food, good deals, and good mood everywhere. Went to Stanley Park’s Bright Nights for the first time ever on the rainy Saturday night to brighten up our night. It was really a spur of the moment thing… We were gonna go shopping in downtown, and we thought it wouldn’t be raining (weather forecast let us down once again).
Drinking Party & Kyoto weekend trip itinerary
Our team had another Friday drinking party last night. The occasion was two members will be “retiring” from the company end of the month to become professors in universities, as well as to celebrate Coke-san’s recent marriage to his girlfriend (dating since junior high, way more than 10 years haha)! The party was attended by most of our members (around 20 people), my supervisor didn’t show up because he had to hurry home and take care of his pregnant wife (expected date in a few weeks!) 😀
The more drinking parties that I go to, I find that there are usually 6-7 dishes shared amongst each table. The dishes are all small portioned… perhaps people need to save space for alcohol? I didn’t take picture of our food, but we had: Shabu Shabu, Plain tofu (yes, plain with a pinch of salt, but it was really good… As someone commented, “Oiishi, it got such a rich taste of… tofu” lol), Sashimi (I don’t think I’d ever know what fishes I’m eating) , salmon salad, ramen, and chicken karaage. Obviously, for a person who needs to consume 14 plates of Kaiten sushi…. It was not at all for me. So after I went home, I wiped out all Natto in the fridge 🙂 .
Actually, I prefer all you can eat over all you can drink…
During dinner, Mayor-san talked about his 3-day trip to Hong Kong… I asked him if he went to DisneyLand or the Peak… He said no. Then I asked him where he went. He said “I went to buy iPhone, iPad. And I also went to see Jackie Chan’s house (outside, of course)!” *drop dead*
After dinner, of course there’s a second round as usual. Being a good (and poor) kid, I went home to sleep.
For my weekend Kyoto Hanami trip on April 7-8th… I have planned to visit the following places… will put more details once I have checked out maps and finalize the route.
Red= Must see
* = top 100 Hanami sites
# = World Heritage Site
清水寺 Kiyomizu Dera ( #)
高台寺 Kodaiji ()
浄土宗 総本山 知恩院 Chion ()
平安神宮 神苑 Heian Shrine ()- features colorful pink blossoms
哲学の道 / Ginkaku ji (#)
二条城 夜桜 (#) : Need to enter during daytime
醍醐寺 Daigo Ji(* #) Southern Kyoto
The famous cherry tree in Maruyama Park is often the center of attention in the evenings when it is lit up. Vendors line the pathway leading up to it, creating a festive atmosphere. Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji have extended hours during the first few days of this season offering visitors the opportunity to view them at night, lit up against the blossoms. Blossoms can also be seen along the Kamogawa River. The entire area literally blossoms in the spring!
Arashiyama(*)- Light up and food stalls at night
御室@仁和寺 Ninnaji（* #）
Kinkaku ji (#)
“The Kyoto Sightseeing Card can be purchased as a one-day (¥ 1200/Children:¥ 600) or two-day pass (¥ 2000/¥ 1000). It can be used for unlimited travel on the subway and city buses as well as a part of the Kyoto bus route. The two-day pass has to be used on two consecutive days.”
Matcha… tofu, Fugu sashimi, etc.
This year’s winter has lasted longer than usual… so I’m praying the cherry blossoms would bloom in time of my visit. Because normally early April is the prime time for viewing Sakura…
The purpose of the trip is to enjoy cherry blossoms in the historical Kyoto, so I want to spend quality time at each site, rather than taking a photograph and leave. Looking at the jam packed wishlist, I’m sure I won’t be able to cover all the places listed above, but it’s alright… I plan to visit again soon in a longer holiday (hopefully I’ll get to visit nearby cities such as Nara, Osaka…)
Feb 4/5th : Weekend in Yokohama
A late post about my first weekend in Japan (Feb 4th and 5th), and I went to Yokohama (横浜), the “second largest city in Japan by population” according to Wikipedia. It’s the only city I frequently go to now since it’s close to Yokosuka (40mins) and I have my Jap lessons there.
On the Saturday, it was just me exploring the city. I mostly just hanged around the station area, which had enough shops and restaurants to keep me busy.
The area really has nothing to sightsee, but is ideal for shopping! There’s a huge department store (Takashimaya 高島屋) and several shopping malls right next to the station. My favorites are Lumine and Vivre, I bought quite a bit of stuff from those malls. There’s also a SOGO outside the West exit, but I was too exhausted to walk there after buying so many things.
Then the following day, I went to Yokohama again… this time with M-san, my colleague. She and her husband showed me around Yokohama. Since they drove, I could see much more other than shopping malls!! We first had lunch at a Jap restaurant in Queen’s Centre of Minato Mirai (港区未来)- the area in Yokohama where most landmarks are located.
There are still many places I haven’t been to in Yokohama, such as the largest China Town in Japan… as well as Manyou Spa with many artificial hot springs (has a very nice night view).
Hmmm… where should I visit tmr?
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…
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
Soon, we took the Deuce (bus on the Strip) to visit hotels on the northern part of the Strip, such as TI, Wynn, Venetian…
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!
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.
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.
Before shopping, we had to soothe our hunger- so we went to the Village buffet at Paris hotel.
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.
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!
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 =)
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.
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:
- It’s light and portable
- I want to playyyyyyy
- I need to practice to be good like Jake someday
- I can’t bring my guitars over
- I can join a class in Japan
Reasons NOT to bring:
- No space in baggages (at least not with the water boiler, hair dryer… etc)
- I may not have time to playyyyy
- I will never be good like Jake, not in this life
- Dude, you don’t even play your guitars much
- Can you even understand japanese???
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!!!!