Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Travelogue : Neon Goes Japan (Hokkaido Day 6)

Didn't blog for a bit! Guess the stress from submissions totally killed my writing vibes. But anyway, enjoy!

We woke up to yet another beautiful in the land of the rising sun, and it was the day we leave our host family's house. Boo Hoo! But we woke up at around, 9+, but this time, we woke up at that time cause THEY SAID WE CAN WAKE UP ANYTIME WE WANT OK. Kinda Super fucking bummed that it's the last day with our host families, cause they were so hospitable and nice to us, taking us to different places and show us the how amazing Bifuka is, and most importantly how tolerable they were towards us despite all the bullshit and nonsense we did. AND ABOVE ALL, the food they served and cooked for us were bomb as fuck. Like GURRRL, BOMB.

Despite it being the last day staying with them, breakfast was nothing short of lustre.

 Rice with soup, and a seaweed and that thing I don't know what it is. I think it's like dried tofu skin? Tau Pok you know? And the soup base tastes like miso soup(?), but I don't remember miso soup being so clear in colour. But miso would be the closest and easiest reference when it comes to taste. Like how it's salty, but comes with that tang? Who cares, but it just tastes really good. It isn't heavy on flavour and the tang helps open up your appetite, PERFECT for breakfast. I don't know about you but whenever I have to eat immediately after waking up, my appetite just isn't there, it's as if my body hasn't stared to function yet.

The second dish, THIS IS SO AMAZING AND NICE, LIKE I GOT A SHOCK. Ok, like so this is basically fried noodles, I'm sure you've tasted it if you live in Singapore, but this dish like like noodles but with rice. BUT THE TASTE, ughh it's just damn nice. I dk if it's suppose to be cold or it got cold because we woke up late, but the fact that it was sort off cold actually in some ironic sense, made it better!

Alongside with these 2 dishes, we had Japanese curry instant noodles. And the great thing is, Japanses curry's not spicy at all! It's just the curry fragrance, but so smooth and nutty, which is great cause I can't take spicy food at all. But furreal gurl, it was really good. UGHHHH so hungreh now.

After the glorious breakfast, upon waking up late, we had to hussle up and get ready to leave ):. So I quickly got changed out of my retchetness, and looking fabulous and fine as hell. Acutally no, just changed into think clothes that's all. It was super sad to leave, especially the part when we had to just take our bags out of the room, cause this is THE LAST TIME in my entire life that I'm going to be there. So surreal that I had this experience, but so awed at how fast time, how quickly 2 days went by. If you gave me a choice, I could stay here forever. Hahah!

Before we left, we gave them our gifts, and the letter that I painstakingly wrote in Japanese. I think they were sort of shocked but happy at the same time, so that's good! At least now we felt less guilty about all the bullshit and nonsense we did over the 2 days! And of course, before we drive off back to the centre, we had to take photos!

The drive to the centre wasn't long at all, about 15 minutes maximum, and when we got there, the first thing we were told is to enter this room, and put our bags down. And the room was divided into male and females. Initially I was like, I thought we were here to eat more food? But turns out, we had to change into the traditional Japanese costumes.

 If I'm not wrong these outfits are called Yukatas. The difference between this and the kimono is that you wear the yukata during summer and the kimono during winter. Don't know all the specifics but, I think I look quite cute in the yukata right?! But one thing though, see the waistband? I almost choked and died, cause they pulled it so tight! But fault's on me too, who stupidly too a deep breath, sucking my fats together while they're tying it. But let's be honest, I've got waist that basic bitches would be jealous of.

So we're finally done getting tucked into our Yukatas, and when we stepped out we all saw each other, and we all were like 'OMG GURRRRRL HOW ARE YOU, I MISSED YOU', and we all were like so happy to finally each other, but actually it was just 2 days apart. AHAHAHAH. But anyway, we settle in to our respective seats with our host families. And then they gave us a gift we never expected. THEY PRINTED OUT ALL THE PHOTOS that they took over the 2 days. OMG I was so touched by the effort, that they made. Initially I thought they were taking it for their own collection, but they actually printed it out! And it wasn't like a few photos, it was VERY SINGLE PHOTO, and the best part? I LOOKED BOMB AS FUCK IN ALL THE PHOTOS. YAAAAAAAS.

The first thing we did when we settled down? A toast to the improving relationship between Singapore and Japan! Haha!

And I really like their Japanese green teas. The best thing is that they come in like 2 litre bottles, and it tastes really good! The tea taste is really strong, not the fake pokka green tea that is full of sugar, it's like ummm Ayataka, but not so bitter and like purer I guess? I dk if it's the placebo effect or what. But yeah.

After that the mayor of Bifuka gave us a little speech, which I sadly didn't understand at all, and all I did was look at him and smile, nodding AS IF I UNDERSTAND AHAHHA FUCK. 

After the speeches, it was time for food! Didn't eat a lot at all cause I wasn't hungry since breakfast was few hours ago, and we didn't even do much prior to the lunch. And I guess some of us came late and the Yukata wearing took quite long, so the food got pretty cold. 

And in the meanwhile, we had a drum performance, and it's super cool cause you can feel the ground like vibrating hahah!

And finally our time to work out muscles! Basically we suppose to pound the rice until it becomes a riceball. Seemingly impossible, but so much fun! 

Hahaha, see how the auntie is like fearing for her life, and everytime the rice is pounded, she has to use her hands to scrape the sides down, and I think she herself is scared that we might accidentally hammer her hand off! And the hammer is really heavy ok! Look who's on the photo? Ambrella! And what's even better?

WE MADE IT, WE'RE NOW INTERNATIONAL. We actually appeared on Japanese newspaper wtf. Technically, Ambrella did, but if you look closely enough, you can spot my face. AHAHAH

THE END PRODUCT. Initially I was like mmmmm, muah chee, finally a taste of home! And I like boldly took 2 big pieces. But I guess it's different there. Cause in Singapore, it's basically the rice cake, mixed with peanut and sugar, but in Japan it's mixed with peanut, sugar and light soy sauce. Sooooo, I mean it's a great experience, but it's not my cup of tea I guess. I think if you like salted caramel you'll like this cause it's both sweet and savoury! Hahah!

And before we knew it, the official Bifuka mascot came in! Super cute right! There was suppose to be 2, but for some reason the other one left so much earlier, super lucky that I managed to grab a shot with it before it went off!

And after all that, it was super abrupt because they just told us thank you for coming, the host families will now leave. We were like is this fucking for real, we haven't even took photos. So we hustled up and ran up taking as many photos as I can.

And before we knew it, we had to part with our host families. And it was kind of sad waving bye to them as they walk away and out of the building. I mean it's probably the last time we'll ever see them. I don't know if anyone cried? But being a strong ass bitch, I didn't. Hahahha, actually just heartless. 

Time to change out of our robes, and into the meeting room, and for the next few hours, we just basically split into teams and did a 'reflection', like what we liked about the trip so far, and what ways we can execute to promote Bifuka more, blah blah. To be honest, I was like half-assed the entire time because I think this kind of activities is really quite pointless. 

 And here we have Yamunah, her face was basically my view point of the activity.

After the long hour, we finally are off, well technically we're going back to the cozy cottage. But before that, a stop at a mart to pick up whatever that we want to pick up. Didn't buy much though, got the famous 'Hokkaido Soft Cream', which a lot of people rave about when coming to Hokkaido. Tried it, honestly don't get the whole craze. Either that or this isn't even the famous Hokkaido Ice Cream. LOL, I think this isn't it though. 


By the time we reached the cottage, I was so so so exhausted, I didn't even bother with taking much photos, cause I was like ughhh fuck this. I just need sleep. Had dinner, and dragged my luggage and ass back into the cottage, and for some reason I took the longest time to pack and get ready, cause we're flying back to Tokyo the next day. And the worst thing, I didn't even any sleep, which made me so cranky the next day. EEERRRMAGAWD. So note to self and everyone else when travelling. SLEEP WHENEVER YOU CAN, cause you never know what adventures you'll be winding up the next day!

 The cottage one last time, we have our own kitchen. AHAHAHA

Anyway, gonna end this post with a selfie. This post is so badly done I dk why, and the photos taken are so not nice, sigh, what is happening to me? But anyway, holidays are finally fucking coming! Cant wait to catch up on life and sleep. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Travelogue : Neon Goes Japan (Hokkaido Day 5)


Risssse and shine and Day 5's adventure begins! Ok, well, honestly, we started off the day with a really bad footing. So if yo've read the previous post, and if you haven't here it is. And the night before we told our Japan parents we will wake up at 7:30 tomorrow so we can have enough time to do whatever we are going to do that day. 

So I was in my beautiful NATURAL cold Hokkaido snooze, and I heard the alarm from my iPad go off, and it was 7. So I turned over to see Vishnu happily snoring away, so I reckoned, 'aiya, you know what, 15 minutes more of sleep wouldn't kill'. Right? WRONG! Cause the next time I woke up, 


In my defense, I wasn't the only one ok, Vishnu woke up at that time too! And both of us looked at each other like 'FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK, are we going to die?! Do they hate us already?! Fuck, ok we'll release their parakeet.'. HAHA! Cause back in Singapore and even in Japan the lecturers was like punctuality is a BIG THING THERE, everyone usually is not just on time, but like 15 minutes earlier. I should've known, but I've never been on time ever! Not even for classes, so let's be honest, if I ain't on time in Singapore, there's no way I can be on time here. 

So we heard them say 'Good Morning', in their cute Japanese English, and our plan was to apologise PROFUSELY and don't even attempt to look them in the eye. The moment we opened the door. Our guilt rose up to like MAXIMUM, cause THEY ALREADY PREPARED BREAKFAST, and they were waiting for us LIKE WTF. Gone already, their good impressions for us is gone with the wind. 

The worst thing was, they were still so nice to us wtf, they were like 'Good Morning, how was your sleep?', and they were smiling at us, telling us to eat breakfast. OMG brb going to cry. And for the whole time we were google translating how apologetic we are and how bad we felt. And they were like it's ok, it's fine, let's eat. 

Now that the guilt is over. 


My editing skills are on point ok! Anyway, breakfast that day was mackerel, rice, miso soup with tofu, and veggies. 

Ever since coming back from Japan, I AM IN LOVE WITH JAPANESE RICE. IN L-O-V-E. I are head over heels on the sticky Japanese rice, it's not like undercooked sticky, but mmmm moist sticky. Aiya, can't put it into words, but just go to any Japanese restaurant and you will understand. The mackerel was amazing ok, like it was nicely seasoned, and little bit salty, and they were nice enough tot de-bone the fish for us! WTF, they are so nice! As for the veggies, if you read day 1's post, you will understand how I need meat to survive. And veggies were never my thing, and I don't want to be rude leaving a plate untouched, so I literally DROWNED the veggies in mayo and downed it almost without chewing. That's just shows my resentment towards veggies, unlike Ambrella, she can down it like it's goddamn chocolate milk, like *slurpslurpslurp*, can I have another 25?! HAHHAAH.

I don't know if this is a placebo effect, but I feel like Japan makes you naturally better looking, HAHA, but I just randomly took a photo with my real glasses, which I usually look ratchet as fuck, but I look cute in it ok. 



I know I look like crap ok, but for lucky reasons, Japan made me look nicer. Ahhh, god bless Japan. ANd those glasses aare RayBans, so don't be talking smack.

 OMG, they have a giant hamster, and it is super fierce, I tried to touch it and it shouted and trie do to bite me. And if you think a hamster's bite is very inoffensive, think again. I had hamsters before, their bite may be small, but it hurts like a bitch. It's a small but sharp pain.

AND VISHNU LET THE PARAKEET OUT WTF. AHAHAHA, no I'm just kidding, they let it out. And once we're done, we quickly packed whatever we needed and headed out. And the weather, must I repeat again, was amazing. It was so cold!

Destination 1 : Family Farm!

So apparently, the family I was staying with I think are super rich! They have their own house, their parent's have a house and they have 2 farms and another farmhouse to store all the barang barangs! A 10 minute drive and we've arrived!

 They own a melon farm! And on the picture at the beginning, you saw how many farm 'shelters' they have right?! And according to my mum, Japanese melons are super expensive! But it's so cool to see melons growing for the first time, cause I don't think melons can grow in Singapore right? Baiscally it was a cool experience, and it's even more amazing because the whole farm was managed by their parents! And despite being old, they are still really active!


It was a short visit, cause that was really it, like nothing much there to see anyway.

 Their farm house! And after this, we took yet another quick drive to their actual house, but we didn't manage to go, in, cause our Japanese dad, just went in to take some stuff. 

 ^ And this above, is their second farm! I was told this is a pumpkin farm, but for some reason, there was no pumpkin. And since there was not pumpkin, PHOTOSHOOT.

Loved all the jumpshots, they're were taken so timely, and ALL THE PHOTO CREDIT goes to Vishnu, a.k.a celebrity photographer. 

Once that was done, we quickly headed back into the car, and we were told the trip was going to be a 2 hour drive! OMG right? That's how big Bifuka is, and that's how far we were away from civilisation, I mean in Singapore you want to drive one round, also around 2 hours you know! But anyway, the ride was just basically me and Vishnu talking among ourselves, since there's no internet on the road and it was hard to communicate. 

But the drive towards there was really calming and in a way sort of therapeutic, cause it was so peaceful looking out the car, and the contrast of how life in Singapore in just made me want to just move here. The traffic there was literally nothing, with a few cars passing, there was no noise pollution, all that I heard was the car and wind, and the tranquility of the scenery was just like walking through a long painting, where everything was still, and at ease. 

I think Singapore has made us such work-driven monsters, to the point we stress about it even when we're resting and doing nothing. 

And soon before we knew it, the modern world was once again, upon us. As much as I love the peacefulness, I think I've been conditioned to the point where I feel a little bit more at home when we finally saw a mall. Well, you can take Neon out of a mall, but you can't take a mall of Neon. #bloop

When we reached the AEON mall, I thought we were going to like do whatever activities that we're gonna do that day, but instead, we went for lunch first. 

LOOK! How cool, in Singapore or most countries, a waitress basically asks you how many people blah blah, and then bring you to your seat or make you wait. But IN JAPAN, gurrrl, nah-uh, you get machines to do that shit. So you press how many people you have with you, and if it's a full house, they'll direct you to this sitting area, and you ermmmm, wait. BEING THE IDIOT THAT I AM, I didn't take any photos. STUPID. 

But in my defence, there were quite a number of patrons as well, and they were super quiet, and it's a culture there, to basically conduct yourself properly in public, so I didn't want to be rude. AND ALSO, they were all looking at us, like who the fuck are there 2 people, one still can consider Japanese, the other one, don't know what. THEY WERE STARING AT VISHNU THE WHOLE TIME. LIKE AHAHAHA. Cause he's indian and having dark skin in a country where Indians/African-Americans are almost scarce, they were looking at him as if a black unicorn just arrived. #justsaying

The lunch that day was a little bit hitting closer to home, because it was SUSHI, Tried some interesting ones, but I reckon what is the point of taking sushi when you guys know how it looks like. EXCEPT, there was this one sushi, where the topping was NATTO. Basically it is fermented soy beans, and their nutritional value is LIKE GOLD, it has numerous health benefits, except, the taste, hmmmmm varied. AND IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW IT LOOKS LIKE, I've got you covered. 

 NATTO part starts at 0:39, but watch the whole video anyway, super interesting!

And after lunch, guess where we went?! EVERY TYPICAL WHITE GIRL'S SECOND HOME.

 STARBUCKSSSS. OMG gurrrl, how exotic huh? It's all in Japanese. But there is SUCH A BIG DIFFERENCE between the Starbucks in Singapore and in Japan. Firstly, the baristas there are SUPER POLITE and good looking wtf. It's like those TV series where the customers falls in love with the baristas, I thought it only happened in dramas, turns out it just doesn't happen in SG. AHAH, wait, why am I laughing, fuckmylife.

And also, in Singapore you only have a few baristas in the counter, but on that day, I dk if it was special or what lah, but there were like 5 - 6! And they were super nice and smiley, ughhh thumbs up. Also, they have the elusive drink that Singapore NEVER had, the base for the 'Cotton Candy Frappe', the ELUSIVE VANILLA BEAN FRAPPE. You know, the one that MacBarbie made trendy. Still don't understand the craze, but thank goodnesss that was over.

Ordered some cinnamon cookie crumble thingy, something that Singapore doesn't have. And no, I'm not talking about the stupid mocha crumble thing with the chocolate whipped cream, and they cheated by just sprinkle the cookie on the whipped cream. I'm talking about luscious, sweet, creamy, 'you-can-actually-taste-the-cookie' drink. Ughhhh, I'll just let the pictures talk ok.

And the colours are so pretty, I dk but it has this summer/autumn feel to it. And I think they did actually crush a piece of cinnamon cookie inside, cause every sip is filled with crumbly cookie and the texture is just mmmm, WHY DON'T THEY HAVE IT IN SINGAPORE. T______T

And for some reason, I think it was the awkwardness, our Jap parents were so focused on drinking theirs, they emptied the drink in 10 minutes! And it's a frappe, ICE BLENDED. And for some reason Vishnu felt bad and finished it on the spot too, and as a result? He froze his jaw. Hahahah! 

The next destination? The snow museum a.k.a Elsa's home! Ok, I'll be frank, I was quite unimpressed about this place, I mean there really wasn't much inside, except for a few video booths on the formation of snow, WHICH I COULDN'T UNDERSTAND cause it was in Japanese, so there goes that. Besides that, the only main thing was a block of ice? Like I dk what's the significance to be honest, but I just assumed it was the ice that sank titanic. 

The wind and weather that day though, was so nice! Like it was quite strong, and in case you don't know, the weather was 14 degrees or less, so like cool lah, the scarf flying all. We then went to 2 other museums, textiles and fabrics, but it was pretty much like a exhibition, and photo-taking weren't allowed inside, nothing much to say there. (On a sidenote, I was super jealous to find out Ambrella's family brought them to the zoo!)

After the visit in the museum, we went for a little bit of shopping. Initially I was thinking of like, 'YAY, clothes shopping, time to update my wardrobe, WHOOP WHOOP'. But then instead, we went to the Japanese Daiso, called the 100yen shop! Not gonna put photos because firstly, the place is exactly how a Daiso in Singapore would look like, so if you want, direct yourself to Orchard/Dhoby/Sembawang/VariousDaisosinSG. Didn't buy much though, only got some gifts and snacks so I can munch on while we have yet another 2 hour drive. 

The thing about Bifuka is that, since it is mostly nature, to get from each place is like a landmark, like you made to get from station to station almost, and in between is just a long stretch of road to connect you from point A to B. It was quite early for dinner we thought, except the 2 hour drive meant that that we were BANG on schedule when dinner came along!

I think they restaurant we went was a international restaurant, cause they sell all sorts of foods, western and eastern. Cause they things we ordered weren't Japanese food, but like different stuff! But I love the concept of this restaurant, I don't know if this is the design generally or just specifically this restaurant only, but basically, you are given a 'room' and a TV too, and partitioned away from the other patrons, which I think really gives a sense of privacy, but you still can hear the general noise which adds to the atmosphere I think!

And if you're gonna be in a private room, how are you gonna get the waitress if you have additional orders? The button! it's pretty cool! Not gonna say much, so here's the galore of what we ate. 

 THE POTATO WEDGES WERE THE SHIT. It's like normal wedges, but the pat of butter that later melted on to the wedges gave it this buttery nuttiness and a smoothness that you can only experience if you try it. Mmmmm, the crispy crunch on the outside, the soft potato inside, and the melty butter that makes all the dieting beforehand so worth it. But I guess it's good also be because potato is like their speciality over at Hokkaido. Definitely a tip, if you are ever frying wedges, put butter afterwards, cause it'll be so delectably guilty, but so incredibly decadent.

Before we left, well, what should one do? Photoshoot.

 The coolness of the night Japanese breeze is just everything. And it was a much shorter ride home. And the roads at night in Bifuka is CRAZY CREEPY. In Singapore it's fine cause the street lights are overhead and they are very regular like every few metres there's one. And there is constantly traffic. But over there, the lights are super far away and it is SUPER DIM, which means that you can only see what's in front of you where the headlights shine. And if you forgot, THE ROADS IN JAPAN ARE ALWAYS EMPTY. Like imagine if your car breaks down in the middle of the night, cold and helpless. Being surrounded by nothing by nature, god knows what kind of night terrors you may face.

But thankfully that didn't happen. Haha! Back home and we were in our room doing our own stuff until we were asked to come outside for a while. And our Jap mum played a few songs on this traditional Japanese guitar, forgot the actual name of it, but yeah.

 Pretty bummed that it was the last night here, because it was so much fun with them and they were so nice and hospitable to us wtf. Basically after that, we took a shower and slacked in our rooms. And oh yeah, THE FUNNIEST THING IS, I think they gave up on us on waking up early so they were telling us

'You can wake up anytime you want.'

AHAHAHAH! But it's probably for the better. But I slept late though, cause I was panicking cause we're suppose to write a farewell letter but I conveniently left my writing cards in the luggage. Vishnu THANKFULLY brought extra, but in the end I used like lined paper, cause his cards were glossy and being a left-hander, it smudged EVERYWHERE. Took me so long cause I wanted to be nice and write a english and Japanese version, and it took me so long to translate, and even longer to write it, cause it's like drawing rather than writing, I had no idea how. Like I don't know know if it was written correctly. Cause it looked like art to me, hopefully it'll look like words to them. If it looks like art to them also, then gone.

Wonder what took me so fucking long to finish this post, seriously. It's a long post I know, but you better read it ok, cause it was really fun. Or at east look through the photos lah ok. Ending off with the photo of our cozy room, messy as hell cause I was too assed to even bother tidying up for a photo. The bed/mattress was super comfy!