Thursday, October 25, 2018

Growing up son

It was almost 2 weeks ago since I attended dear Baobei graduation. The O-level exams were still going on after that, but they held the ceremony earlier. And the best thing was, everyone graduated no matter how good or bad their results would be.

Graduation message year 2018

I came with my mother-in-law since hubby could not make it due to work. We sat near where my dear boy was going to sit. There were many classes for the Sec 4 level and only 1 class for the Sec 5, but apparently not many parents attended the graduation ceremony. Perhaps the timing was not fitting their busy schedule as it was held at 2.30pm.

So then it started with the speech by the school principal, then continued with video clip presentations made by fellow teachers and students of each class. After each class video presentation, the student was going up the stage one by one and given their certificate and congratulations wishes from their form teachers.

Beginning of his Secondary school life

All through the event, I felt very emotional. Being seated in that hall, reminded me of the day the parents meeting being held when my son started his first secondary year in his school. At that time, he was still short, cute, and chubby! ^_^ And now, he had grown taller than me, growing moustache, hairy legs, and still a bit chubby, although lesser chubby than last time, perhaps I would call it handsome :D

I felt I cried few times during the event hahaha... secretly of course, just felt grateful of how he became now. He's much quieter person now, maybe cool was the better description, more mature (he could think of how to earn money by buying and selling things online, and soon would do part time job during holiday time), good at managing his money (knew what to and what not to spend, how to get better deal for the same stuff, etc.), not invest in relationship early (well, I might be wrong on this but I asked him many times if he had any girl friend but he never confessed haha...), and once he liked doing something, he would put his heart and mind into it.

My growing up son :)

I never expected him to be wonderfully perform academically as I knew how stressful educational system in Singapore and I didn't want to give him too much pressure on it. I think he knew what he could perform and what he could not and I respected his choice. Most important he knew all his strengths and weaknesses. Although he tended to give up on what he disliked, he could put so much efforts on what he liked. So that also one of his good characters. With that, I believed he could still survive in this realistic and materialistic world.

And it's good that he had kind personalities (not once I heard him fighting with others, jealous or harm other people). He too could help up with housework, e.g. if I cooked, after having it he would wash the dish; hung clothes when I was not around at home, etc. He also could help me doing some other things that I could not because I was not around. He was someone I could rely on. Oh btw, he was having good interest in cooking too although I seldom had chance tasting his cooked food :P

My cool son ;)

So dear Baobei, thank you for being such a great son for us. We never expected you to be perfect. We just wanted you to learn and live your life happily and independently. We might not be able to walk through this life journey together for a long time, but since we were still having it, let's live our lives happily and full of love. I wish you all the best for your next education level and live well.

Your loving mom,
Love you always XOXO

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Day 7 - Last sightseeing day in Osaka, Japan :)

D7 - 25 September 2018

Third visit to Osaka Castle - Japan

It was our last sightseeing day in Japan and the place to visit today was Osaka!!! It was convenient to travel there from Kyoto. There were few types of train you could take. One was by Shinkansen (bullet train). You could reach there in 15 minutes time but it cost 1,420 yen (almost S$18) for single trip fare, that also for unreserved seat (reserved seat cost double). Second, by Special Rapid Train. It took 29 mins to reach and the ticket cost 560 yen (S$7) per trip (3 stops away). And the slower ones would take from 40 mins and more as it stopped in more places and cost less - 410 yen (S$5). I found that the Special Rapid Train was the best choice to take.

Huge stones made to build the surrounding gates that protected the Osaka Castle - Japan

Once reached the Osaka station, we took cab directly to reach the famous landmark of Japan and historical building - the Osaka Castle. It was my third time visiting it. It was still looking the same :) Find out their history here and visitor information in this link.

View of Osaka-Jo Hall (multi purpose arena) in Osaka from Osaka Castle observation deck, Japan

Visitor could go up to the Observation Deck where they could see a panoramic view of Osaka from the above. Lift was available up to level 5 then continued with staircases to 8th floor. Once done, they could go down slowly by staircase and see the various exhibitions related to the buildings in each floor.

My dream Cafe - Cafe Lau Lau - Osaka, Japan

We had lunch at one local cafe - Cafe Lau Lau - not too far from Osaka Castle. The place was small consisting of one counter table that could fit 5 guests plus 2 tables for 4 pax and 1 table for 2 pax in another side. The menu was fixed daily. Like for lunch, there were only 2 set lunch menu offered. Set A - Chicken katsu with rice, salad, seaweed pickles and miso soup and Set B - Spaghetti Bolognaise (beef) with toast bread and salad. Both set cost 900 yen (S$11.50) and included coffee/tea or orange juice.

The opening time was from 7 to 9 am, then 11 to 6 pm. Therefore they did not cater for dinner, only breakfast and lunch set. It was kind of my dream cafe. Small place that offered simple menu (daily menu based on the owner's choice), reasonable price with delicious food and decent portion. Although the location was a little bit inside, many guests came and went while I was there. Only 2 staffs were there preparing and doing everything. Hmm... nice na??? :)

The famous landmark of Osaka's Minami area - Glico running man near Ebisu bridge - Finally I saw it!!! :)

We visited supermarket nearby before taking cab and heading to the other main tourist place in Osaka - Dotonbori canal and street :) Although I went to Osaka three times, this was my first time visiting the Dotonbori street. I was very happy when finally could see the above landmark - Glico running man signage near the Ebisu bridge (been looking at it  at other people's photo, but could not see it myself from previous visits).

Dotonbori canal and street - Osaka, Japan

There were various shops and restaurants along the Dotonbori canal, including the huge Don Quijute shop with a rotating ferris wheel overseeing the nearby area . There was tourist boat as well. And if you still not having enough Ichiran Ramen, they had a joint over there :)

Japanese snacks - Takoyaki balls, Okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza), Yakisoba (fried noddles), etc. - Osaka, Japan

If you were hungry, you could buy the takoyaki balls (Japanese wheat-flour based balls filled with octopus and topped with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and dried bonito). It was very famous in Osaka. There were Okonomiyaki (savory pancake or also called Japanese style pizza) and Yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodles) too. I did not try it all though as I was saving my stomach for the dinner feast :D

One of shopping heaven area - Shinsaibashi Osaka, Japan

We had free time there until dinner time and just spent it walking around the area from the Ebisu bridge all the way to Shinsaibashi shopping arcade and return. The place was full of people but still manageable. And finally, the most awaiting time - dinner time!!! :D

We wanted to have the Kobe beef at Steak House Juju at the first place, but it was closed for private guest. Therefore, we went to other alternative place and headed to Steakhouse Gekkokamen. The place requested each of us to order beverage to accompany our meal. I had local beer - Coedo Ruri Pils followed by Asahi dry beer, while some tried the warm and cold sake (Japanese liquor).

Japanese Kobe beef, other origin sirloin, and scallop dinner from Steakhouse Gekkokamen - Osaka, Japan

It was my first proper teppanyaki dinner in Japan tasting the delicious sirloin steak from other area in Japan complete with the other side dishes. Some ordered the scallops, abalone, tenderloin and sirloin Kobe beef, which I could have tasted as well. Wow!!! The Kobe beef was tasting differently!!! It really melted in the mouth!!! Yummy!!!! I was very fortunate being able to experience such expensive meal and thank you to you know who you were for the treat!!!

Fyi, the 120g tenderloin Kobe beef cost 16,800 yen (S$210), and 160g sirloin Kobe beef cost 14,600 yen (S$182), while my sirloin beef portion from other area cost 9,900 yen (S$124), and all course set need to add 2,500 yen (S$32) per pax. Now you understand why I felt very fortunate for the meal hehehehe........ :D

The round and bright full moon above the hotel where we stayed - Kyoto, Japan

After dinner we went back to Kyoto by train. That was our last dinner there. Time to pack our luggage as we went back the next day.

Arigato gozaimasu - Thank you very much!!! Feeling grateful for everything!!! :) (Pic source:

It was such a wonderful journey and thanks to someone who had planned and arranged it all. I had such a wonderful time with everyone and felt very grateful for everything, and to everyone. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!! With this, I end my post on Japan trip and let's see what comes next!! ;) Wish you all enjoyed reading it!! Have a good time wherever you are!!! Cya!!! :)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Day 6 - Beauty of Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Tenryu-ji Zen Temple in Kyoto, Japan

D6 - 24 September 2018

Map of Arashiyama - Japan

This morning I took a train ride from the Kyoto main train station to Saga Arashiyama (purple line) - the nearest station to reach the famous tourist place - Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The one-way ticket cost 240 yen (S$3). It was only 6 stops and took about 15 minutes to reach.

Rent bicycle information in Arashimaya - Japan

To reach the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove from the train station, you could just walk down the path or rent the bicycle. The bike rental was located not far from the train station and the information as per the above signage. I had a walk there though :)

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove - Japan

Many fallen bamboo trees scene were seen due to the Typhoon Jebi (Japan strongest' storm in 25 years) that happened back in September 6, 2018 (see the background my the above photo), but it did not deter tourists from visiting the place. You could also choose to take the rickshaw wearing the kimono to experience the ambiance fully at your own additional cost, which did not come cheap.

Nonomiya-jinja Shrine - Arashiyama, Japan

In a while you would pass by the Nonomiya-jinja Shrine (a shrine of marriage). Many women visited this shrine to get the marriage blessing.

Nonomiya-jinja Shrine - Arashiyama, Japan

Marriage talisman was sold in the shrine office. The place was small but worth visiting.

Shops and restaurants full of tourist - Arashiyama, Japan

I walked through the main road where many shops and restaurants were there on the both sides. Just walked all the way straight until I saw the Arashiyama most iconic landmark - Togetsukyo Bridge or the Moon Crossing Bridge.

Togetsukyo Bridge or Moon Crossing Bridge - Arashiyama most iconic landmark - Japan

It was originally built during Heian period (794-1185) and most recently reconstructed in 1930s. In late autumn the view here would be super fantastic!! The greenness that you saw on the above photo would changed into colorful autumn leaves.

% Arabica coffee - Arashiyama, Japan

Not far from there, you could find % Arabica, the artisanal Arabica chain selling some of the best coffee in the city. It was a long queue but I guessed it was worth waiting :D

Display of Yudofu set lunch - Yudofu Sagano - Arashiyama, Japan

We continued walking towards the Japanese yudofu (beancurd) specialty restaurant called Yudofu Sagano in less than 10 minutes walking distance. We came earlier so we waited there until the restaurant opened at 11 am. While waiting we could see the set lunch menu displayed outside the main entrance.

Actual lunch dining set - Yudofu Sagano - Arashiyama, Japan

There were 3 types of main course available for guest to choose for each set lunch: cold tofu, boiled tofu, and cold noodle, while the other side dishes were served equally in each set. Lunch set cost 3,800 yen (S$47.50). The above was what it looked like in actual :)

Yudofu Sagano - Japanese Dofu specialty restaurant - Arashiyama, Japan

We were seated in tatami style with glass window overseeing the beautiful Japanese garden. It was said that the view would be even better during spring time, as there would be cherry blossom trees. The tofu portion was quite a lot. I was very full with all the dishes served, feeling blessed lah!!! :D

Beautiful garden view at Yudofu Sagano - Arashiyama, Japan

The above was the garden view seen from the other angle. Felt so serene and peaceful :)

Tenryu-ji Zen Temple - A United Nations World Heritage Site - Arashiyama, Japan 

After lunch, it was time to do some exercise. Tenryu-ji Zen Temple was the next destination. The temple had some scenic area for people to appreciate and it was one of the United Nations world heritage sites. If you would like to know more about its history, click here.

Tenryu-ji's Kuri (temple's kitchen and administrative office) - Arashiyama, Japan

Ticket and other visiting information could be found here. Too bad the main Hatto or Dharma hall was closed by the time I reached as there was event going on inside. Therefore, we were only left with a choice of visiting its beautiful Sogenchi Teien or Sogen pond garden located right next to it.

Beautiful Sogenchi Teien (Sogen Pond Garden) view next to the Tenryu-ji Temple - Arashiyama, Japan

The garden was really beautiful offering a picturesque autumn leaves reflection by the pond. What a lovely view!!! :)

Quote inspiration from the Sogenchi Teien - Arashiyama, Japan

It inspired me to write the above quote :)

Beautiful nature inside the Tenryu-ji Temple - Arashiyama, Japan

People could walk in and around the area. Various mushrooms could be spotted on the wooden steps as well and the bamboo grove was somehow connected to this temple offering a serene ambiance. Overall, I had a very enjoyable time there despite no chance to visit the main temple area.

Mid-Autumn Festival dinner celebration inside our hotel room :)

We went back to Kyoto by train and it was free time afterwards. I spent it walking around the Kyoto train station. We had dinner gathering inside the hotel room, celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival eating the moon cakes that I brought all the way from Singapore. We had some other food and/ or snacks, fruits, accompanied with Kyo-Baishinan Umeshu (sweet Japanese plum wine) and Chinese tea.

Late night supper :P

And late night when I felt hungry, someone helped me buying the Japanese dry instant noodle and my favorite orange jelly from 7-eleven. Thank you to you know who you were!!! Without it, I would not be able to sleep peacefully that night... Hahahahahaha..... :P

So, another day passed by and one more day, one more post. Hope you do not get bored reading all these posts :) Let me call it a day for now and see you again!!! :)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Day 5 - Journey of special day from Isawa Onsen through Tokyo to Kyoto

D5 - 23 September 2018

Last delicious Japanese breakfast set from Ryukan Kikori - Fuefuki-shi, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

Two days were spent beautifully at Fuefuki-shi - Yamanashi Prefecture area, a small town full of grapes. It was time to move back to city area. The breakfast was beautiful and delicious as usual, one of my favorite things from Ryokan Kikori. Thank you for your wonderful services that had been rendered during our stay.

Bye bye Isawa-Onsen. Hope to see you again one day... :D

There was a shuttle bus provided by the hotel to send the guest to the Isawa-Onsen train station free of charge. We took it there and waited for our train - first to Tokyo station, then to Kyoto (there was no direct train from Isawa-Onsen to Kyoto, that was why we had to go back to Tokyo first).

Assorted character bento at Tokyo main station, Japan

In Tokyo, we waited for about an hour before continuing the next train journey to Kyoto and while waiting, we purchased our lunch bento box and other snacks. There were so many varieties available. However, I preferred to go to the Character Ekiben corner and chose the special bento box. I was hesitating to choose the Shinkansen box or cartoon character box. Too bad there was no Doraemon, my favorite cartoon. Therefore, I chose something else :D

Celebrated my special day on Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto :)

Dadadada.... hehehehehe... :D At the end I chose Hello Kitty bento box instead of Shinkansen one simply because of the shape. It was more practical to re-use the Hello Kitty bento box for the future packed lunch rather than the long shape Shinkansen, and also it was rather cuter :D Kawaiii!!!! ;)

Anpanman - Another Japanese cute cartoon character bento box purchased by my travel mate :)

I had it with a Daiwa can (world's first premium wines in new bottle can technology launched in Japan back in year 2008). The company - Monde Distilleries, Ltd., at Yamanashi Prefecture - also developed a matching drinking cup, which attached to the canned wine. I saw it first from inside the JR-East (East Japan Railway Company) catalog. And when it was also available at the shop where I bought the bento, I thought of trying it out :) I chose the white wine and it tasted good, was very happy with it. Both the bento and the wine really made my day!!! Thank you SB! :)

Shinkansen N700 from Tokyo to Kyoto - Japan

It took 2 hours and 17 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto by the Shinkansen Nozomi N700 (the fastest train service running on Shinkansen lines in Japan with a speed of 300 km/hour). It cost 10,480 yen (S$130) per single trip.

Beautiful scenery along the Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Kyoto - Japan

It was supposed to be autumn, but the weather was still quite hot and sometimes it rained. The fields were yellowish from afar while trees were still in green. Once reached Kyoto, we walked to our hotel (located within walking distance from the Kyoto train station), checked in, put our luggage in, and we went out again (as not to waste our precious time) to our next destination - Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Kiyomizu-dera - Kyoto, Japan 

Kiyomizu-dera was one of the must visit places in Kyoto. It was very crowded, but the day we went was even more crowded as the day after was coincidentally Tsukimi or Otsukimi (moon-viewing day as it would be a bright full-moon day) or also called a Mid-Autumn Festival.

Nio-mon (main gate), Zuigu-do Hall, and Sai-mon (west gate) of Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan

The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site. It was founded in year 778 but the present building was constructed back in 1633. Many tourists wearing kimono visited this place. Too bad we came too early. If we came a month later, the leaves surrounding the temple would have changed color beautifully (autumn red-yellow leaves). You had to purchase ticket to enter. Each ticket cost 400 yen (S$5) for adult and 200 yen (S$2.50) for child.

The deity Kannon-san - Goddess of Mercy/Compassion - Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Pic source: Kiyomizu-dera website)

The temple where Kannon (Kwan Im) - the Goddess of Compassion or Mercy with eleven faces and forty-two arms - located was still under renovation, but devotees were still allowed to enter, to convey their wishes and prayers. She was worshiped by pious people who wished for worldly benefits, such as: good health, success, and romantic relationship.

Inside the Hondo (main hall) of Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Devotees queued in a line passing by the altar praying for deities, then sitting towards deity Kannon-san, conveying prayer in kneel-down position, and hitting the open metal container that produced bell-sound like. After that moving to the next place, continued with prayer and you could drop a coin as offering to the deities.

Otowa no taki (Otowa Waterfall) at Kiyomizu-dera Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Beneath the main hall there was the Otowa no taki or Otowa Waterfall, where the three streams of water fall into a pond, where you could catch with ladle, drink the water, pray for purification of your six senses, and make your wishes come true. The clear gushing waters "Konjiki-sui” (golden water) or “Enmei-sui” (life-prolonging water) was deemed suitable to use in purification.

If you want to find out more about the origin of this sacred temple, click here.

Snack and shops at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, Japan

Once done, we walked back towards the main road. We passed through many shops selling local snacks (mochi or Japanese rice cake, green tea/black sesame ice cream -  a must try!!!, pickles, sesame/ chili powder, Japanese whiskey, etc.) and souvenirs. The famous world's first tatami style Starbucks Cafe was also located in the area (Nineizaka street). It was closed by the time I reached there, too bad!

Ramen Iroha for dinner - Kyoto, Japan

We went back to Kyoto main station and had our dinner there. We went upstairs all the way to level 10 to have our Japanese ramen. There were so many ramen shops, also other cafe and restaurant available. Some had a very long queue. We chose to eat at Menya Iroha. They used to win at the Tokyo Ramen Show back in year 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014. We had the spicy ramen this time, but after having it, I preferred having non-spicy with more cashew (sliced pork meat) on it. The noodle was chewy and springy though, to my liking. Next time maybe ;)

My Birthday cake this year - a very delicious chocolate Nutella (hazelnut) cake!!! Yayy!!! :)

After dinner, I went back to hotel. I was given a surprised Birthday cake by my travel companions. Thank you very much for the celebration!!! I was very grateful for your effort and time given to make my day memorable, and the cake was really delicious!!!

With my loved ones - the reason why I joined the trip :)

Yeah, let me reveal some of my travel companions for this trip!!! :) Both of them were the reason why I joined this trip. Actually all of them had planned it in advance and I was the last minute participant who joined the group. When I knew that the travel period and my Birthday would fall concurrently, I thought it was a great opportunity to spend my special day with my both dear parents. As a youngest in the family, I felt proud and happy to be able to spend the day together with them, also with the rest of the people whom I knew very well throughout my life.

The fact that I supposed no longer young would not change who I am. I think, I am still the same silly childish woman as I was many years ago, except that I have gone through more things in life, experienced various life events, which forced me to learn to be better and wiser (hopefully so).

My heartfelt gratitude to my both parents. Thank you Pa and Ma!!! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!! :)
(Pic source:

Well, thank you once again Pa, Ma, for asking me along to this trip, and for raising me up since I was still inside Mom's stomach. I would never be able to pay back what you both had done for me in this lifetime. I still often made you both angry or unhappy, but I would do my best to give back what I could with my time and effort. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!! :)

So, this was not the end of our journey yet, I would come out with few more posts. Stay tune lah!!! :)
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