Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Travelogue : Neon Goes Japan (Hokkaido/Tokyo Day 7)

It's another glorious day in the ever so cold yet amazing Hokkaido, and it is sadly the last day we'll be there. :( Just writing this statement brings me back the emotions. My heart drops. WHYYYY, WHYYY MUST WE LEAVE, everything there was amazing, the people, the WEATHER.

So if you've read the previous post right here, you would've known I spent a good 2 hours packing, cause I'm slow af. And we only got back to our cottages super late because before flying back to Tokyo, we had to prepare a presentation, and slides that we are going to present to all the people who were on the JENESYS trip, the things we've seen and learnt and also the ways we can promote the states we went to. So in the name of team spirit and taking one for the team, all of us stayed in the dining hall. And the people over at Bifuka-Onsen were super nice, because the office area closes by 10, but they extended it so we can get the project done! You see, the thing is only the office area has Wi-Fi, and the individual cottages doesn't have Wi-Fi.

But honestly, I think the only people that were taking it seriously were Ker Xi, Mr Wong and a few more people from SIT. Angela was super tired so she was basically napping on the table, Yamunah was skyping with her family, Ambrella was doing her FYP, the rest slacked and were talking among themselves. And me? Yeah basically talking too. I mean we're here to have fun right, what is work even?

Anyway, we went back pretty late, and packing took forever, and it was 5+ when I was officially, and I was wavering in the pendulum of staying awake and falling into the deep slumber that no one can awake me from. Learning the lesson the hard way, (waking up last, rushing, almost losing my phone, read more here) I reckon to not sleep and watched Sex & The City to keep me awake. And it sort of did, so prepped myself the earliest and ready to go.

One last look at Bifuka! It was raining that day, which made it even cooler. 

Hmmm, sounds like Day 6's stuff instead of 7. So once we all got our luggages up, we went for breakfast and this time you best believe I brought my phone out. Forgot what we ate though, and at that point my sleepiness started to kick in, so that was pretty sad and wasted. But good thing was it took a while before we got to the airport, so I basically slapped on my shades and slept.

It felt like a blink of an eye albeit the long bus ride, and there we were again, Hokkaido domestic airport. A bitter sweet feeling definitely, but it's really interesting, the difference between a international and domestic airport. A domestic airport always seem to be more calmer and less rushed, if you get what I mean. It's just really peaceful, the traffic there is definitely much much less denser. And the beautiful Hokkaido sun has a lot to do with it I think!

At the domestic airport, and I remember there was this giant weighing scale for passengers to weigh their luggages, and when I weighed it was over 22kg! I was like 'Ughhh fuck', and so I had to painstakingly open up my nicely packed luggage, and take out my dress shoes and repack it into my carry on bag. On a sidenote, it was my own fault, since I wanted to look fabulous everyday, I brought with me to Japan 3 pairs of shoes, of which I really just needed one. SO STUPID RIGHT. Lesson learnt there.

 While waiting to check in our luggage, one of our very nice and super friendly tour guide Kaori told us that she will not be going back to Tokyo with us, and we were all shocked, cause she had a luggage too, so we thought she'll be with us all the way! And of course I had to snap a pic before anything. And she's super smart! She's actually studying for Masters in Social Sciences in US now! Really thankful to have her with us during our time in Tokyo, she's incredibly patient and took the time and effort to explain to us everything we don't understand.

And on board the plane for the next hour and a half, and we basically just slept through the plane. I don't know how I even mustered up to energy to snap a photo before dozing back. Guess who's that damsel in distress al covered in hair next to me? HAHA, Ambrella! But that was basically how I was inside at that point, so tired and lethargic, I mean not sleeping enough does that to you! 

And when we touched down in Tokyo, SUMMER HIT US LIKE A BITCH, it was HOOOOT. I was wearing double layers and prepped a scarf because I thought it was going to be nice and relatively cool, like when we were in Tokyo in the first few days. But guess not! I was like OMG NOOOOO, what happened?! It's like we're in Singapore again! But nonetheless it was much less humid! First thing's first we went checking in our hotel and placed our luggages before going off for lunch. And the first thing everyone did was check for Wi-Fi. For some reason, one side of the hotel has internet connection and the other didn't! And luckily for me, I was in room 1, a.k.a the strongest connection. So when I came out, all the girls were around the lift area using the Wi-Fi.

But anyway, after all that, we set out for lunch!

While waiting, took some we-fies with the coolest Indian Yamunah! And if you're reading this, sorry for posting the unglam photos!

Lunch that day was grilled mackerel I think? The same as the breakfast we had during our homestay. Only that our host family cooked it better! But I mean, the fish is really good, so no complaints there.

After lunch, with the combination of digestion and lack of sleep, I'm sure you can imagine how tired and sleepy I was. And the fact that the next activity that we're doing is the sharing session where the different groups who went to the different states talk about their experience. And oh my god, there was this other group from TP, and they looked so fucking arrogant I could spit. Their lecturer or facilitator was even fucking worst. But for the most parts, I was just dozing off, BUT I did try to stay awake. 

At one point I just went to the toilet and sat down on the toilet bowl and slept for 20 minutes. Even though it might sound very disgusting, but it was a hotel toilet ok! And the air-con in the toilet was much colder, and they had nice peaceful music, not microphone and people speaking. But I'm not the only one that is tired ok! I was looking around and quite a handful of people were sleeping too! Well, can't help it when the presentation is boring. But in our defense, the hall was super long, and we were sitting at the back row, we can barely see the screen. And for those sitting at the sides, don't even bother. 

When I came back to sit, I was like 'aiya, fuck, should't have came back, staying in the toilet was much better'. And at that stage I was too tired to give a fuck about how people saw me, so I just dipped my head and slept. LOL.

Because I was sleeping, the time passed super fast, and BOOM, it was over and out of my life. Thank god. But really sadly, yet another tour guide of ours is leaving! OMG, what is with them, leaving in one by one. But it was super unexpected, because we weren't told of this at all prior, and she was with us from day 1! So everyone was like shocked and were busy giving her hugs. AND SIDE NOTE, SHE REQUESTED TO TAKE A PHOTO WITH ME AND NOT OTHER PEOPLE. AHAHAHHA but honestly, I think the only reason why she wanted to take a photo with me was cause I was super fair-skinned and Japanese dig that a lot. Even when I was in Hokkaido people were like saying my skin tone was nice and stuff. NOT SELF-PRAISING, it's called fact reporting.

After the sharing session, we were given 45 minutes of break/rest time before dinner, so everyone went back to their own rooms, I however, was basically flying around other people's room chatting, cause being CHEAP, I didn't take out my dailies, probably should have.

And before soon, we were set to meet for dinner! And initially I looked at the time and it was really early, like 6+, so I thought we'll be going back to the hotel to settle down before going out shopping and touring. But instead by the time I reached the lobby, I was then told we were going off right after dinner. So stupid me had to run back up to get my valuables, and the most stupid thing happened! My hotel door refused to close! Luckily Vishnu had to take something as well, and the both of us were like panicking cause the whole group was waiting on us.  But with the graces of god, it managed to close. PHEW.

OFF WE GO. And from the picture you can tell it's still not that late out yet since it's still so bright! But then again, in the land of the rising sun, by 3 am, the sun rises.

Basically the walk to the restaurant was quite long, but it was really enjoyable, cause it was nice and windy, and the weather really cooled down a lot from how it was in the afternoon, and basically it was all laughs and smiles and just a whole lot of happiness!


EPPPPP. #AuNaturale

This is like a giant arcade!^

Just love how peaceful and calm even the streets look. I think the occasion of it contributed a lot. And I can remember while strolling the streets, I was literally in my head thanking god that I decided to come for this trip, cause initially I didn't want to go and decided to cook up some excuse, more of which can be read in day 1's trip. But at that point I was like, Oh My God, if I hadn't have came, I wouldn't have met so many amazing people, seen so many things, experienced so many things and learnt so many invaluable lessons. Yes I know, here we go again, this isn't the oscar's. But Imma just sayin'.

After the long walk, we finally got to the restaurant. And it was pretty packed! For some reason, we always reach the last, and we'll take really long to settle down, and the food took even longer to arrive. Which meant that the food was already quite cold when it got to us. But I mean it made sense, cause they were preparing the same dishes for everyone, and we can't expect it to be piping hot when it was cooked and plated in bulk.

After the hearty dinner, which was just chicken and soup, which wasn't bad at all. But I felt bad for Amirah, cause the food there wasn't Halal, so she only ate the plain rice. And she didn't manage to finish it! But after dinner, we were asking around who wanted to go explore Tokyo, since this was the LAST NIGHT we'll be there.

Basically everyone in the group opted to go except for Brennan and one other person I can't remember. So they went back to the hotel I guess, that or they went off by themselves. But I think they didn't want to come with us because we weren't really close to them. Well, at least I wasn't. So, off we go! But before that, everyone went off to toilet breaks before we embark on our Tokyo drift. And since we didn't want to, it's a golden opportunity to snap a few selfies!

By the time we were all set and ready to go, it was 7+ going to 8 already. And in case you don't know, shops in Japan for some reason closes super early, by 8:30, shops in malls will be closed. I still can remember taking the escalator down and seeing Uniqlo closing its shutters. For some reason, we were all walking super fast. And we came across a 7-11, so me, Ambrella, Amirah quickly ran in to get this amazing yoghurt drink, that is only pity that we don't have it in Singapore. AIYA SHIT, SHOULD'VE TAKEN PHOTOS OF THE 7-11 there. It's so coolio.

But anyway, it's this yoghurt drink that comes in a cup form, that you have to insert a straw to drink it instead of spooning it out. So it's like a bit less thick, and the closest thing I can compare it to is buttermilk, if you know buttermilk's consistency that is. But it's super nice, it's like has a nice tartness to it, but also not too sour. And it is like a product special to 7-11 Japan. So I guess you can only get it there.

And it's quite a big cup too!

And for the next few minutes, I was just blindly following the people in the front not knowing where we're going really. Cause I was too busy slurping my yoghurt. On hindsight, shouldn't have drank so quickly cause I felt nauseous after that. 

 Turned out we're going on a train ride! And no, in case you were wondering, we weren't taking the bullet train, just the normal tram. Just like Singapore, the subway here is very fast paced and filled with people, if not more! It seems like it is always a rush hour over here at the train stations in Japan. But I ain't complaining. Soooo. We quickly got our tickets, and it comes in super cute mini paper cards.

When it comes to how the purchasing process works, I guess if you're a local, you can buy like the EZ-link equivalent, but as for tourists or single use people like us, the paper card will suffice. So it is all digital and automated, you just click away the station you want to go, and the screen will show you how much you have to pay, you pay it and the ticket comes out and you're done!

 The train station reminds me of the Singapore's MRT stations before they installed the electronic barriers. If you're Singaporean, you would probably remember MRT stations in the past being bare and dangerous, and the train announcer will always announce, telling passengers to stand behind the yellow line. When I was there, to be frank, I was a little bit scurrrrd. I mean after being used to having safety barriers, when it gets taken away, I just keep thinking people would accidentally walk and fall into the tracks, which has happened before. The worst thing is one of us get pushed and drop onto the tracks. Just the through of it.

You see, I tend to think very far fetched, and get carried away in my own thoughts, as if I have a live production movie set in my head. But ONE DAY MY IDEAS MAY LEAD ME TO BECOME THE NEXT STVEN SPIELBERG OK. Did I even spell that right? Hahaha, who am I kidding, can't even get the spelling checked and I have to face to say I'm going to take over him, But I digress.

Prior to entering the train, I was told to stay quiet in the train cause the Japanese culture is to refrain from talking when in the train, or even if they want to, keep it soft. I guess being told that beforehand made me more aware(?), like in my head, it was a lot quieter than it actually was.  But I mean at that point, I was starting to get worn out and sleepy, so it's not like I had it in me to start talking to people anyway. I was basically sleeping while standing during our time in the train. Looking back now, I really can't believe I still powered through the entire day.

But anyway, the train ride was just interesting, cause it was really quiet. I think also, the train tracks weren't making a lot of sounds, so that made the silence even more apparent.

I forgot which station we got off, but basically we went to the more happening part of Tokyo, where shops aren't closed by 8pm. And basically, we were both touring the city and also to take a look at the Tokyo tower! The walk was pretty long, and I was super sleepy, and light-headed, which happens if you don't sleep. And sweating like no one's business cause I was wearing 2 layers. But I didn't know Tokyo was gonna be so hot ok! It was cool before we left for Hokkaido. But I guess that's the official call for Summer. I still remember at that point I was like let us just get to the god damn tower, take a photo, and go. But eventually, we did manage to get there, what seemed to be eternity.

I'm sorry, the tower so sooooo tall, I didn't manage to get like a proper shot of it, I tried bending down and all sorts of angle, but still, I failed. I'm sorry. But it's super majestic isn't it? You just have to be there to feel it. Especially since it was at night, the streets around looks really dark, but the Tokyo tower illuminates with brilliance, really landmarking the entire Tokyo. At that point,standing in front of the tower, you can't help but to just look at it and feel so small, taking you out of perspective and just reflect on yourself. Or at least, that's what happened to me. 

After a session of admiring, we decided it was time to continue walking and see what Tokyo has to offer before it ends. We didn't manage to shop at all, because all the places that are opened are like food places where people go have a good time, get drunk, and what not. Pretty sure some of the places we walk past are soliciting prostitutes, cause there were like watchmen outside the shop, with SHADES AT NIGHT, and approaching men only. 

But I mean, if that works for them. 

Oh yeah, we were in this 7-11 store, and it was so interesting, when it comes to buying cigarettes. So in Singapore, when you want to buy ciggs, you need to show them your ID right? But in Japan, laws are not strict at all. Basically, when you want buy a pack, they'll ask you to tap on a screen 'certifying' that you are over the legal age, and then that's it. And they even have cigarettes speciality stores, with luxurious rooms for you to smoke. It's like a Prada shop, except they sell luxury 'designer' ciggs. HOW ODD yet interesting. 

Anyway, after a night of hustle and bustle, we winded ourselves back to the hotel, and took a liberating shower which I NEEDED, and instead of sleeping, in the middle of the night, we decided to gather in one room, making milo, and going out to the convenience store to buy ramen. But I have to say, a marvellous way to end the night. A pity though, I didn't manage to snap a whole lot of photos. But I still remember a good 6 - 8 of us in a room just eating and writing some thank you cards. 

We all went back to our rooms at like 2+, and slept on life, and poor Zhi Xiang had to crash in our room and slept on the floor cause Naomi and Mike were, ummmmmm having their couple couple time in the other room. I reckon sex happened, but I mean, I'm just telling you what happened. Anyway, that's it for day 7, I know, the posts get increasingly boring. I'm sorry, this is what the lack of sleep does! 

Ending the post off with a group-ie! 

Pardon the ratchet-ness. We were all tired, and Ambrella was slightly drunk. 

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