Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spring in Tokyo (2013) - Day 2




On the second day of the trip, we checked out of the Fuji-View hotel and headed out to Tokyo Disneyland YAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY! Did I say how much I love being in Disneyland?? I went to Disneyland on 3 consecutive years, twice in Paris and once in Tokyo on this trip which was last year. I didn't get to visit Disneyland this year, and I'm already getting withdrawals!! The closest thing I got to visiting Disneyland was when I was in the entrance area of Universal Studios Japan during my recent Japan trip in April. The music blaring out of the sound system was enough to send me into a stupor. I had to resort to listening to Tchakovsky's Nutcracker in the office, with tears streaming down my face, clutching a Mickey Mouse Pillow (ok the last bit was an exaggeration)

So anywaysies, before checking out, we wandered about around our hotel area, I'm betting it's gorgeous when the sakura trees planted around the hotel finally blooms. 






We also found, right before we check out of our hotel, beautiful yukata-like garments folded neatly in our rooms. The reason that I'm not sure whether it's a yukata or not (I bet it is, but I just can't be sure) is because I've never seen anything like it. Usually, the yukatas provided by hotels are for the purpose of going to onsens, and is usually made out of cotton. But the yukatas in our hotel were made of this really thick and shiny material, which I have never seen before. Plus, the yukatas came with a set of chancanko (that green vest you can see worn over our yukatas). 

So, the rule of thumb of us Cik Kams were, if you find something unusual, especially those we can wear, wear it, and take a group picture with it, like the picture below.


Once we were done fooling around with our yukatas (oh, best believe we spent an hour taking pictures of ourselves in this yukata), we checked out, and made our way to Disneyland. (again, YAAAAAAYYYY).

The driver from the other day picked us up, and sent us to Disney Ambassador hotel in Tokyo!! Unfortunately, I don't have the picture of the hotel we stayed in, on hand. It's probably in my mom's memory card (the pictures I put on this blog are all from my Facebook album), but she's in Setiawangsa (well, in Paris as I'm writing this). and I'm in Damansara, and it's just soooo hard to dig up! So here, a picture I got off of the Internet. It looks so retro and cute doesn't it?


image source: minkara.carview.co.jp

The hotel is adjacent to this shopping complex called "Ikspiari", and it was really convenient for us to get food! (and for the parentals to shop. leuls)

The hotel is connected to the shopping mall by a courtyard, like below (again, picture courtesy of the internet)

image source: tripadvisor.com
Tickets to Disneyland can also be bought at the ticket center which was located at the Ikspiari Shopping Centre (for those who does not want the hassle of lining up at Disneyland to get their tickets). A thing to be noted though, since it IS a HUUUGE shopping center, it will help to get a map of the place at the entrance. They have the maps in several languages available.

So since the mommer bought our ticket online, we just showed them our reservation sheet, and picked our tickets here! Again, I do not have the picture of us holding our tickets, it must be in my mom's memory card. Ugh this entry sucks ballz. But I have the picture of the ticket center, so here.



We bought the three days pass ticket (first day at Disney Park, second day at Disney sea, and the third day at either Disney Sea or Disney Park), and we can only get to the park the following day, had lunch and just spent our time wandering about the shopping centre.






Now as we all know, Japan is a very efficient country. So, their efficiency is spread throughout the lifestyle. I don't even know what I'm writing.

Ok. For example, their food court. Well, in Malaysia at least, you order a food in the food court, and you either wait there until your food is done cooking, or go sit somewhere, and keep on checking at the counter you ordered your food at, whether your food is done. "But you can sit somewhere near the counter right?", sure, sure, but if you came with your friends, y'all are gonna have to eat from the same stall, otherwise, the problem still remains.

But of course it's different in Japan. 

Once you've order your food,  they'll give you this device (as pictured below), and once your food is done, it lights up and beeps!! So, it really does not matter where you sit. Can we please implement it here please??

Oh written in the receipt is basically our food for the duration that we are in this resort;

Ebi Fry set
Omelet Rice

They were so good though!





After we were done exploring the shopping complex, we just relaxed in our room.

I went for a leisurely soak in the tub, because it was freezing, and my legs are sore from all that walking! 

The room in the hotel looks something like the below. But I might be confusing it with the one we stayed in in Disney resort Paris. (did I say this entry sucks major ballz?)



My mom, being an immaculate planner (a trait which she passed down to me - I made a PowerPoint slide, and numerous excell sheets for my Osaka trip, and I practiced walking on google street for our 2015 trip) , came into our rooms with the Disney park maps as usual, and asked us to plan our route for tomorrow. So we did, and just sleep with a warm anticipation (warmth is caused by fever in Alya's case) for the following day.

Till the next post!

Much Love,
Xs and Os

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

1 More Travel?


picture source: mint.com


When it comes to owning property, our conversation usually goes like this:



Ska: We should probably buy a house..

Adam: Yeah, we probably should..

Ska: Ok, so after this (insert country name) trip, let's start saving, and get that down payment done.

Adam: Deal!

-------------------After Travel-------------------

Ska: Soooo... one more travel?

Adam: One more travel.




We're both very irresponsible adults.




p.s: When is the property bubble gonna burstttt?? Because I like nice houses but I don't have money!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Spring in Tokyo (2013) - Day 1

Clock wise from bottom left - grilled salmon, sweet omelette, ume boshi (pickled ume), hijiki, scrambled egg, pickled radish, corn salad, accompanied by the fluffiest rice and miso shiru.

So, I had a delicious start of Day 1, with the amazing breakfast offered by Fuji-view hotel. Hotels in Japan often offer 2 types of breakfast - Wafuu (Japanese style), and Youfuu (Western). The Japanese style breakfast usually offer a lot of tsukemono - pickled stuff, and niimono - food slow cooked in broth to enhance its flavoring. So, of course like any sane people would, I opted for the Wafuu breakfast. The taste of each dish had so much depth and strength to it. Like the even scrambled egg was probably seasoned with more than just salt and pepper. I don't even know. Everything just tasted 'deeper'. I don't even know how to explain it. 
I sure was so glad I did not have to opt for the usual travel breakfast food, potatoes and egg. heheheh.


check out the view from our room!

The sakura manjuu they provide daily.
I've only just remembered what we've been having for dinner while we were staying in Fuji View!

Since our hotel was located in a rather remote area (thus the AMAAAAAZING view), it was so far from everything, and it was a bit tricky to get food. So, we stocked up on onigiris and mom's favorite apple pies, and had that for dinner for two nights. They also had a convenient store at the lobby area, so I stocked up on potato chips too!

Onigiri and apple pie!
The red labels were mentaiko (spiced fish roe), orange ones were red salmon. and the pink ones were salmon mayo. They were all soooo yummy! and convenient!

So then, after breakfast, we went straight to Fuji san. and took some panoramic picture along the way.
the driver from yesterday was the one who drove us to Fuji-san.


The magnificent Fuji-san
Unfortunately though, although it was already spring, it was still snowy on the mountain top, the car road was closed, and we could only go up until the third level (三合目). 

we could only go up to the third level (4th white dot from bottom)

But we (me and sufyan - Alya was down with fever, and the parentals were too cold) still had a lot of fun nevertheless.

selfie!

Look at this pile of dirty snow!

Me and my brother played around in the snow for a little bit while the parentals were getting some cocoa to warm themselves up. The snow was a bit soft for our weight, and we had a little bit trouble walking though.. we kept sinking into the snow, and we couldn't stop laughing every time it happens. Because when you sink into the snow, the harder you try to pull your self up, the further you will sink. It was hilarious! I had an amazing time here!


"Take a picture of me looking up konon unaware of the camera"

"Now take a picture of m..whooops!"

"No wait don't take my picture yett! Help Me! My leg is stuck!"

"Oh screw it! Take my picture like this, just dont get a shot of my leg stuck in the snow"

So pants wet, and shoes full of snow, we headed back to the coffee shop where the parentals were enjoying the scenery while happily sipping on a cup of hot cocoa. 

After enjoying the scenery, the parentals decided that they wanted to go shop for some souvenirs, and we told the driver to just drop us off to the nearest town and we'd just a cab back to the hotel. I can't for the life of me recall the name of this tiny town, but it was sooo charming! I bet if you visit Fuji-san, and wanted to shop for souvenirs, this town is where you're going to end-up in.

While the driver was driving us away from Fuji-san, he explained that the road we'll be passing is called the Melody Road. It's where the road engineers do this clever trick on the road like creating a groove line and whenever a car passes by, and the tyres of the car create a friction with the grooved road, it will flood the car with a beautiful melody. It was amazing! I managed to get a video of it, and uploaded it to keek.




Arriving at the souvenir district, we decided to have lunch first (because Alya was kind of under the weather). We had the usual tempura accompanied by either hot udon on fluffy rice. After lunch the parents did some shopping, and since Alya was not well, we stayed in the restaurant in solidarity (cewah. padahal mak suruh). No complaints there! The view was beautiful, and I was tired anyway, so we just longued around.







When the parentals were done with shopping, I called for cabs to take us home.

As usual, there was a little incident back at the hotel. My mom just realized that she left the cover of her camera in the cab we took home. And for some reason, it was a big deal. So she made me go to reception (I had to do all the talking in this trip btw) and ask the receptionist to call the cab company (luckily one of us took the Taxi's number), and ask them whether they have a camera cover in the backseat of their car.

And luckily, they found it, and sooo kindly sent it back to the hotel.

In the evening, we settled in after our hot bath,  ate our dinner of onigiris and apple pies we bought in 7-11, and had some rest.

That brought day 1 of our trip to an end.

See you in "Day 2"!

Much Love!
XOs

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spring in Tokyo (2013) - Departure

OOTD

The trip, as usual started with us kelam kabut trying to shove our faces with free food in the golden lounge because we didn't have enough time to eat at home, and our flights to Tokyo were midnight flight, and dinner will not be served. (well, supper was served, to be fair, but heck! we were hungry!)

Btw, this post also serves as a tribute to the fancy super comfortable Marc and Spencer's pants I wore, that got ripped when I fell flat on my face on my second interview of my current job (humiliating accounts on what happened will be for another post).



Although I shoved food in my face, in the golden lounge, I still did not say no when supper was offered. Because hey food! (which results in me having to survive on cabbage soup dinners now to lose whatever I gained in the past 2 years). So Hello Satay and fresh fruits!!


Stomach full of food, and happily warm and cosy under the blanket, I drifted to sleep, and was waken up 6 or so hours later by the smell of food. Now you see why I'm the shape that I am now. I had supper, so I was not supposed to be hungry right? The picture below was just an appetizer for the breakfast. The breakfast I had was so good, I forgot to take pictures of it! MAS really knows how to spoil their customers fat!


We landed in Narita around 8 a.m Japan time, and since this was my first trip back to Japan since I left it in 1999, I F.R.E.A.K.E.D out. Just right out freaked out. The smell of the air was familiar, there were people speaking Japanese everywhere, which I definitely have missed sorely (I had no one to converse in Japanese with back in Malaysia, and had to resort to ear drop on Japanese tourists in LRT train trying to summon the nerve to talk to them but always failed), there were Japanese writings everywhere, the ambiance of the place was familiar, everything was as I have remembered it and more. It was just heaven for me back then.

Mom had ordered a vehicle (complete with a driver ) to pick us up from the airport and send us to our hotel. And that person, spoke a little English. Just what I was waiting for!!! I watched Jdrama like everyday, 2 months prior to the trip just to refresh my memory and prepare myself for times like these!! 

I was so excited when I said something in Japanese, and he replies in Japanese. Excited and frankly, relieved that I have not completely forgotten the Japanese I learned when I was living there back in 1996.

So we chatted merrily for a while, while me taking in the scenery of the highway leading away from the airport. This was spring, and sakura was supposed to be blooming, but on the road, there were only few ume trees shyly peeking out of the bud. But I enjoyed the scenery of my beloved Japan all the same. 

I only knew roughly of the itinerary my mom made (excel file and all), but I got a gist that she will be putting a lot of shopping in it. And lo and behold! the first stop from the airport was at a factory outlet place. I think it was called Gotenba Premium Outlet.


This place was HUUUUGE! But I have little to no interest in shopping, well, actually from the picture below, you can tell that none of us kids (this was pre-marriage, so I will still refer to myself as "one of the kids" :p) are interested in shopping. So we just let the parentals do their thing, and waited for lunch. (makan lagii).


bored kids

Lunch was of course great! Because unlike the trip to European countries where we survived on mostly cold sandwiches, most of Japanese food consisted of seafood, so that's a big yay for us. And we can actually read Japanese so that was really convenient.

Onigiris, korokkes, and udon!

The all-time favorite ebi tempura!

Crepes!

I had no interest in shopping, but since this was my first day back in Japanese turf, I was still beside myself with excitement! 

Right after the parentals were done with shopping, we headed straight to our hotel. The first few days were dedicated for Fuji-San, so instead of booking a hotel in the middle of Tokyo, mom booked a hotel about 20 minutes away from Fuji-san and it had the most magnificent view!

The Fuji-View Hotel (the nice staffs spoke very little English so my family was luck to have me to translate for them :p)
So, as we were exhausted we just checked in, and spent the rest of the evening soaking leisurely in the onsen, and called it a night (I can't remember what we had for dinner! あー、悔しいっ!)

Stay tuned for more travelogue to come!

Much Love,
XOs


Monday, December 8, 2014

Japan 2013 Travellogue - スタート!

The breath-takingly magnificent view of Fuji-san


Yes, that picture was from my Tokyo trip I went with my family spring last year. How magnificent and grand it looks just evokes soo much emotion within me. Makes me want to cry.

So I was just re-reading my blog posts, and I was so grateful that I decided to carry on with my europe travellogue.

Re-reading them was such a pleasure and it transported me instantly to that exact moment, and I'm so grateful at how detailed I was about it, writing down emotions, and even what we had for breakfast, because, it was almost as though I was there again.

So I decide to strain my memory yet again, to write about the trip we went to almost 2 years ago. And also about the trip I went with my friends last Spring.

Because reliving moments just makes me sooo happy, and I never want to forget about it.

See you soon in another travellogue series.

Much love!
XOs

Friday, December 5, 2014

Everybody is Fighting Different Battles



You know, waaaaaayy before I decided to cover up, I used to think

"why do these people in hijjab, gossip?"

"why do they smoke?"

"why do they go all PG13 PDA in public?"

"why don't they give up their seats for the elderly?"

"I thought those hijjabs meant that they fear god more, and that meant they were more pious than us"

And so many other judgy judgy thoughts.

But then, driving to work this morning, I (somehow) was reflecting on my wrong doings, because when I drive to work my my driving goes into auto-pilot, and my mind is is free to roam, and I thought "why is it so hard to be a good person" then I had an epiphany that everyone of us is tried in such way that if you improve in one segment, then some other segments will need more improvement. Because that's how humans work. We are never perfect. We are constantly flawed.

For example, let's use the 7 deadly sin as an example.

Lust
Gluttony 
Greed
Sloth
Wrath
Envy
Pride


Ok, So for example, sin-o-meter of someone who is gossipy might look something like this:

That person may not be self-righteous, or consumed by lust or laziness, but she often feels angry and envious of others; and thus the gossiping. (it's more complex than 7 deadly sins, I know, but it's just an example)

Someone who is money oriented may look like this.


They are not vain, or proud of themselves, not envious of others, not lazy. Just very greedy and consumed with lust.


Someone who is vain, may have a sin-o-meter that looks a bit like this:
A very good person, just very self-centered.

So, that led me into thinking that we ALL are constantly fighting a different battle. And it's more than those 7 things I plotted on the radar chart. Are you kidding me? Human beings are so complex even I sometimes don't understand why I do the things I do. Our radar chart would probably resemble a 3-D cobweb!

Everybody really is fighting different battles. Those that are completely unique to them, custom-made for them. Some battles are won, some battles are still ongoing, some battles are lost. But everybody is constantly fighting a haaaaaaaaard battle whether they realize it or not.

So, I really should get off this judgmental train. Gotta admit though, it's rather hard since it is moving at a full speed.

Much Love,
XOs

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Winner Winner Oven Dinner - Yummy Quick Oven Meals You Can Make With Minimum Effort

picture source: tumblr.com


I love cooking, and I used to cook a lot at home, but now that I've started working again (I've had 8 months of being a complete slob, before finally being bored out of my head, I started looking for jobs again), I couldn't go on cooking everyday. All I want to do once I get home these days, is eat, cuddle and sleep (cut me some slack. I was a total slob for 8 months. Even the slightest movements tire me)

But then the Mister started complaining that he'd rather eat my cooking than eat out everyday, so I've tried this routine (which I have abandoned by the time I'm writing this because I'm on a diet and am surviving on cabbage soup), where I do the prep for all my cooking in one evening, so that I can just stick whatever ingredient in the oven when I get home, and watch TV or whatever, and dinner will be ready.

So here are some really easy oven recipe just in case you're as lazy as me, and don't mind not eating lauk kampung (omg, I'm so craving for rebung masak lemak and bergedil right now) for a week out of said laziness.

-------------------------------------------------------- * * * * * * -----------------------------------------------------------

1. Cheese Baked Rice

picture source: my own! ha!

Ingredient:
1. Shiitake Mushroom (or any veggie you like, but shiitake gives this dish an extra umph)
2. Rice
3. Canned mushroom soup
4. Cheese
5. Bacon/any protein you like
6. Parsley

Prep:
1. Pre cut mushrooms and bacon
2. Buy grated cheese.

Cooking method:
1. Wash rice.
2. Butter caserrole dish
3. Mix canned mushroom soup with water (1:2 ratio with rice, 1 cup rice, 2 cups liquid)
4. Mix rice, mushroom, and diluted mushroom soup in buttered caserole dish
5. season with salt and pepper
6. Cover with aluminium foil, bake at 250 for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. When almost done baking, put cheese and parsley on top of the rice, and continue baking until all the gooey goodness has melted.
8. Eat

-------------------------------------------------------- * * * * * * -----------------------------------------------------------

2. Garlic, Brown Sugar Chicken

picture source: ska


Ingredient:
1. Chicken leg (or breast of healthier option)
2. Brown sugar
3. Garlic powder
4. Shoyu
5. Sesame seed oil
6. Olive oil
7. Thyme (or whatever herb you prefer)
8. Salt to taste

Prep:
1. Marinate chicken in ingredient 1-7, cover with cling wrap, and put in fridge.

Cooking Method:
1. Wrap chicken in aluminium foil
2. Bake at 250 for 20 minutes
3. Open aluminium foil wrap (but dont throw it away! all the yummy juices are in there) and continue baking to brown chicken for another 10 minutes.
4. Eat

-------------------------------------------------------- * * * * * * -----------------------------------------------------------

3. Hamburger Steak (Or as the Japanese say: Hambaaaagu)

picture source: ska

Ingredient:
1. Minced beef
2. Shiitake mushroom (I bought a pack, so why not use it here right?)
3. Garlic powder
4. Panko
5. Egg
6. onion

Teriyaki Sauce:
1. shoyu
2. brown sugar
3. water
4. white rice vinegar
5. Corn starch

Prep:
1. Dice mushroom, onion.
2. Combine beef, egg, mushroom, garlic powder, onion, and panko, fold it in and make beef patty. Wrap patties in cling wrap, and put in fridge.

Cooking Method:
1. Take out patties, cook in oven at 250 for 30 minutes (I also popped in some left over mushroom)
2. Make teriyaki sauce, stir sauce ingredient 1-4 in a sauce pan, and leave it to simmer. add diluted corn starch.
3. When the patty is done, put a slice of cheese on top of it, and leave it to melt in the oven.
4. Plate, and drizzle generous amount of teriayki sauce on it.
5. Enjoy with rice.

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4. Teriyaki Chicken with Onsen Tamago (soft boiled egg)

picture source: ska


Ingredient:
1. Chicken leg (or breast for healthier option)
2. Egg
3. Kewpie Mayonaise
4. Thyme
5. Teriyaki sauce you made yesterday

Prep:
1. Debone Chicken (or just buy chicken chop or chicken strips)
2. Marinate chicken in teriyaki sauce (without the starch), leave at least over night

Cooking Method:
1. Cover marinated chicken in foil, and bake at 250 for 35 minutes.
2. Make soft boiled egg (bring water to boil, turn off the heat, put egg in, cover, leave for 12 minutes)
3. Make teriyaki sauce in a sauce pan, put chicken in teriyaki sauce, and make sure they're well covered.
4. When chicken is done, put it on top of rice on a bowl (like a donburi)
5. Cover with home made teriyaki sauce.
6. Put some kewpie mayo on top, crack your soft boiled egg.
Done!

Yum!
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Hope you can try them all, and find them as convenient as I did!

Tell me how it went.

Much Love,
Xs and Os

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