Stanley Park Bright Nights

Bright Lights @ Stanley Park

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).

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Drinking Party & Kyoto weekend trip itinerary

Coke-san making his "speech". His gift from us was Sakura tea with a pair of cups. He can't drink alcohol (a rare case), so tea it is!

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 Sake at the top was sooo good, the aroma was almost fruity. At the bottom was the small bowl of ramen...

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…

Besides the small amt of beer and sake I had in the beginning... The rest of the night, I sampled all Plum/fruit wine on the drinking menu! This is the grapefruit wine... Yike!

This is not tea.... but Sake with a piece of Fugu fish in it. The taste was fishy... and it costs 600Yen!! I'd be more interesting in having Fugu fish sashimi than to drink this.

AB-san received a gift (digital photo frame) from us after his speech. He sits right behind me, can't believe he'd be gone after next week. He'll be teaching in Hiroshima... a beautiful city.

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

Day 1: 

Eastern Kyoto-

Toji (#)

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 (#)

Central Kyoto:

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!

Day 2:

Western Kyoto-


Arashiyama(*)- Light up and food stalls at night

Arashiyama Info

Unagi Don@ ArashiYama

Train to ArashiYama

Northern Kyoto-

龍安寺Ryoanji (#)

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.

Yummy Food



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

Outside Yokohama Station

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.

I love diagonal crosswalks...

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.

Not too crowded... a nice thing compared to Tokyo

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.

I had Takoyaki for lunch (600yen /8pcs)...

Had to stand beside the store to eat... since it's not polite to eat when walking on the street.

First went to BICS Camera to buy earphones... and saw the Fujifilm X100 on display (finally)! There was no stock in Vancouver, unless putting an order. I played around with it a bit... I still like my Nex more, the controls are less complicated. What the X100 appeals to me is its cool factor anyway.

Next up- Tokyu Hands... This store has EVERYTHING a person needs. It's sort of a department store (8 floors) but sells anything from weird toys, food to appliances.

Climbing up the staircases was torturing.

I wanted to buy the bacon wallet, but I already have a watermelon coin pouch and a cheeseburger wallet.... and I gave up the thought.

Some Takoyaki golf balls, which my dad would love.

Taiyaki !!! It'd be so cute on little kids.

Yen origami paper, napkin... I realize only things related to food and money can capture my interests

A Ramen place on the travel guide book... and I had dinner there.

This is what I ate... Dip the noodles into the soup- but, the soup was barely hot and it was tooooooo salty. A bit disappointed.

Before heading home, I walked into More's Mall, next to the station...

And went inside this place for dessert...

This is what I had.... Green tea with mochi and red bean. OMG, the green tea was SO GOOD. The flavor was so rich. Cost 600 yen, well worth it.

What I bought... May not seem heavy, but carrying those bags almost killed me.

Unwrapping... most were bought from Vivire Mall... most stores were 70% off!!


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.

View of Mirato Mirai... Must be soooo beautiful at night.

An amusement park, kinda small though

A building with somewhat futuristic look

Cupnoodle Museum... people can custom make their own cup noodle... but I didn't have a chance to see the exhibitions. I went into the gift shop though.

Red Brick Warehouse 横浜赤レンガ倉庫. I LOVE THIS PLACE!!! Inside was flea market styled, with a modern look. I heard there were some very nice restaurants too!

Was a cloudy day...

People crowding to watch a street performance

Had a whip cream mochi crepe. Why do I always eat mochi-related food? no idea.

Cute Crocs display... why advertise tea in a shoe store though?

A store that sells weird things.


I see these everywhere.... seem to be very popular here

Back to the station… an underground mall with shops and restaurants, where I usually eat after Jap lessons.

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…

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!!!!