Wednesday, June 12, 2013

one week of danger

Was lying on my bed, towel draped on one arm while the other repeatedly scrolling up and down on all my social media pages, when I realized that I wasn’t really looking at my phone at all. My eyes are set on my phone but my mind, thousands of miles away in a blurry fog. Subconsciously I was actually thinking about what's going on tomorrow, mentally checking my to-do list, wondering what to wear tomorrow and most importantly, what am I looking forward to tomorrow. 

Then I realized again that I've been doing that everyday, lying on my bed at the end of everyday wondering what to look forward to the next day. Be it a good breakfast (Honey Stars - now with moon too! - is my current favourite), or a nice meal out with good company, or a visit to my favourite store at the mall, or even an interesting event where I get to meet some familiar faces. I guess these are the kind of short-term daily things that I look forward to these days. Long-term wise, I don't really have much going for me lol ok I'm actually thinking for a trip to Osaka + Kyoto in Autumn 2014 but tickets are not booked yet so I'm not taking my chances in looking forward to something that's not set in stone. Disappointment sucks, but add Japan in the equation and any disappointment will double up if not triple. 

Shit man I have so much on my to-do list but here I am. Well, kind of drafted this all in my head when I was in the showers so I guess execution won't take as much time as usual. That's pretty much describes how I am these days, doing one thing but my head's in another. Driving to work, but checking all my social media activities. Having lunch, but wondering what's pending after lunch. Attending an event, but asking myself what's going on in the office. Leaving event, checking emails on the way back. Clocking out from office, but going through everything in my head to see if I missed out on any work matters. Reach home and have dinner in front of the tele, the mind keeps quiet for a while. Wash the dishes and clean up ('cause I'm always the last to have dinner), thinking what time will I be going to bed that night. Got into bed, going through social media one last round, double checking my two alarms and calculating how many hours of sleep do I get to have that night. Ain't this life exciting. The only time when I'm really in the moment is when I'm at work, because one can't afford to have one's mind drifting off and well, things actually get quite exciting at work especially when there's deadlines to rush or exciting events coming up and all that jazz. 

Honestly I don't really know what I'm trying to say either, except that I feel really tired. I just want to shut off my brain and be like a jellyfish. Don't know why jellyfish, the image just popped in my mind. Funny how all these kind of feelings solidifies into actual solid thoughts and words at times like this, probably because positivity takes effort and I don't have much left. Am pessimistic by default kan. When I was younger, I didn't really have much aim nor ambition in life wtf I was all for having the time of my life but as time passes, I realized that the one thing I really wanted was to live my life the way I want. Whether it is to buy something I like, or to do something I like, or go wherever I wanted, or to look the way I wanted, or please the people I care about, I can't do much with what I have right now. 

Screw all that money can't buy happiness shit, because money certainly can make life so fucking comfortable it can equal to happiness. That's what I'm doing now, working my way to the kind of life I want where I can buy an unnecessary item like a proper camera, or spent a whole month sitting by the beach reading all my favourite books, or live in the countryside (ideally in Japan wtf) for a bit, or buy that kickass high end skincare that'll get rid of my developing wrinkles, or have enough to support my family so my dad doesn't have to work anymore his age, or take my mom on a holiday where she can walk freely and see the world, or plan a fabulous getaway with my friends who desperately need one right now. These are the kind of things I want to do and I need to reach a point in life where I can actually accomplish that and just do the hell I want. Fuck man it's so frustrating sometimes. 

But hey, let's get realistic, I want a plump little figure in my bank account but sure as hell I want to enjoy life a little too so I'm definitely not skipping out on life's little indulgences like my fortnightly Japanese food cravings, the occasional weekend brunch, the cup of Starbucks latte or two, the comfy coloured pants on sale, the rare daytrip getaway and such!  Makeup and skincare is a dilemma though, I don't know if these are considered necessities or indulgences. Because I'm vain like that I think I need to look decent enough to see people hahaha but these kind of things costs. Lately though, on a whim, I've decided to challenge myself by putting on less makeup and skipping my number one essential, the BB cream! What I do now is mix a little concealer with my trusted sunblock for a super sheer coverage, and after that another light dabbing of concealer on the problematic areas like my dark circles (thank God for makeup seriously) and my acne scars to even out the skintone. A final dusting of loose powder, touch up eyebrows, a dash of mascara, lipbalm and that's it! No negative (nor positive wtf) comments so far so I'm guessing it didn't backfire hahaha so I get to save a little on BB cream and a whole lot of time. Here's today's BB-less eyeliner-less lipstick-less blusher-less look at the end of the day. Both photograph may seem similar, but certainly not the same, only a girl can tell the difference haha! 

Speaking of being female, I don't know if it's a sign of aging or whatnot, but I've started having cramps since a couple of months ago. Everything used to be fine and dandy but now it's like crampin' so hard it crampin' my mood which makes me real tired and mangzhang. Like just this Monday, wah dugaan hidup maximum with the service (or lack thereof) at certain supermarkets that I just couldn't bother to give face wah total bitch mode on. Spent more than half a working day running around and dealing with difficult people, hey that's life right but doesn't mean I can't complain wtf. Especially when I'm actually still in mangzhang mode which explains this long-ass rambling which I'm pretty sure I'll regret posting in a couple of days. So please do not use anything against me because I might not feel that same way in a couple of days. Disclaimer itu penting ye. But hey, YOLO. I blame it all on aging and friggin' PMS. Fuck this shit. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kamakura Part Two : Visiting the Great Buddha at Kotokuin Temple

I am no Buddhist, let me first clarify. My intentions to visit the Great Buddha of Kamakura, also known as Kamakura Daibutsu (大仏), had no religious significance hahaha but I just had to go. You certainly cannot miss this if you're within the Kamakura vicinity okay! It's is a long distance from Engakuji Temple so we walked aimlessly for quite a bit before asking for help and taking a bus over to the Kamakura Station (quite a bustling place, compared to Kita-Kamakura Station), where we hitched another bus ride to Kotokuin Temple (高徳院) where Kamakura Daibutsu is chilling out. Damn I keep typing Kawamura or Kawakura instead of Kamakura. Confusing eh! Anyway, no trip to Kamakura is complete without trying out it's local specialty, the murasaki imo sofuto! (✿◠‿◠) Haha in English, purple sweet potato soft-serve ice cream. Panjang gila nama bila cakap omputih. Ambik kau tetiba kuar Melayu pulak dah. The streets are literally littered with stores selling purple sweet potato snacks, I'd say one in every 300 metres or so I don't know how they compete hahaha good thing is you don't have to know how to read anything, just spot the ice cream cones with lilac top on display in front of the stores can already! 

We simply picked one small store near Kotokuin Temple!

Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats ice cream on a hot sunny day.
The flavour was quite subtle, I'd give it a thumbs up just for being cold and sweet!

They sell purple sweet potato croquette too you know! We tried that too but it was just normal, nothing to call home about. Purple sweet potato croquette tasted exactly like how you'd imagine purple sweet potato croquette to taste like hahahah but go for it if you're there, just to say that you've tried it. Now that we're all powered up with ice cold ice cream, time to get back on track for the next adventure - the Kotokuin Temple which holds the second tallest Bronze Buddha statue in Japan. Entrance fee was ¥200, about RM8 at that time. There's a small fee if you'd like to enter the Buddha though, the statue's hollow you see. 

Another 'free' souvenir hehe can use as bookmark too!

Quite a number of local tourists so clear pictures were quite difficult. So thankful that Kotokuin Temple is much smaller compared for the Engakuji Village earlier hahaha I went in the vicinity, took these pictures below, bought some souvenir postcards in less than five minutes and just sat at the stairs watching people until YK was done taking her own set of photographs. Guess that's a good thing about having an independant travel partner, you can always do your own thing hahaha the weather seriously brought me down man. It was a pretty awesome feeling overall though, looking with my own eyes the Great Buddha that I've heard of so much. It's like another life to-do that got checked out of the list. Fantastic feeling!

Rare picture of me and my bright bright hair haha!
I was so sweaty and grumpy most of the time so I hardly took pictures of myself!

Tadaa the souvenir postcards I bought!

Since it was mid summer aka nothing spectacular in terms of views, I bought two postcards depicting the very scene in front of me during the cherry blossom season as well as mid spring season. I love this picture so much I don't know why. Maybe it's the expectations x reality aspect hahahaha but reality was not disappointing in any way. Maybe I'd learn to love the Great Buddha of Kamakura more if the weather wasn't getting in my way. I'd love to return here again in another season, ideally a much cooler season haha sorry I just can't stop talking about the weather I think some believe that summer in Japan isn't that hot because apparently summer in Korea can get pretty cool, but that's not true because summer in Japan is both hot and humid on an equal, if not higher level than Malaysia! Plus it's so hot too right now as I'm typing this! (。_。) 

Kamakura Part One : Engakuji Temple Wherefore Art Thou?

Visiting Kamakura was one of the highlights on my one-week Tokyo holiday, undeniably one of the best decisions I've ever made! A word of caution though, summer in Kamakura might sound delightful but if you're anything like me, your spirit and enthusiasm for exploring might just drop as the temperature rises. Or as the Japanese say it, "テンションが下がりました!". Tension down lol but still, no regrets! Started off early in the morning to a quiet train platform and I think we got sort of confused with the many different train lines. Generally I was pretty darn prepared for this entire trip, with pages of handwritten notes on the different places of interest, how to get there, localized specialities to try out as well as what to eat but I must have forgotten to bring them along on this day trip to Kamakura fml.

So we took a train, and I was staring at the map/guide half fearing that we took the wrong line when a Japanese girl sitting next to me spoke up to ask (in English) if I was lost and needed help. Thank goodness for her because as it turns out, it was really the wrong line and she offered to take us down the next station and lead us towards the correct platform. So grateful for kind people like her who go out of their way to help strangers! Apparently this is a common occurance when the Japanese notice tourists who look lost, they'll approach them to offer advise and assistance even if their English's not all that great. And you wonder why I rave so much about this incredible country hahaha ʘ‿ʘ

Guess who I spotted at the platform!

Sakurai Sho on the vending machine, endorsing the Oronamin C drink! (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)  

No, I didn't buy it after much contemplation. At that time it'll cost me about RM4.50 which I decided was not worth the money spend. Budget trip okay cannot simply free for all indulge in every single want! *determind but that said, I did spend quite some amount money this entire trip feeding vending machines for my spur-of-the-moment-lets-try-out-that-random-weird drink (AND ICE CREAM)  moments. Trip from Shinagawa Station to Kita-Kamakura (north Kamakura) took a little less than one hour. I must have fallen asleep because next thing I know we were already close to our destination haha I knew we were close because of the significant difference from the usual bustling train stations in Tokyo city. I think train stations in Tokyo city could even serve as malls sometimes what with the number of shops in them ranging from restaurants of various cuisines, souvenir shops, multiple convenience stores, independant boutiques, to generic big names like Uniqlo. Train station with Uniqlo. Can you even?

Now compare that thought to this little station. So quiet and quaint I was starting to like Kamakura already ♥


Train station staff apparently didn't know if there were any good places to eat nearby 
( I suspect they bring their own bento lunches made by their skillfull housewives)
so we decided to have brunch at this soba store just outside the station. 
Don't ask me what is it called 'cause all I can read is the first character "ki" hahahah

Hot weather calls for ice cold soba. Wasn't fantastic though and ain't cheap either. 

After brunch it was time for some temple run exploration! *puts on sunblock

Okay next thing I know we were, again, lost. I remember a wooden sign pointing to some temples/shrines on the right so we headed right and walked and walked and walked but still couldn't find anything and there wasn't many people around. Even stopped by a coffee shop to grab some coffee while taking a breather in the air con (people here are so cheerful and friendly) before we found out that the temples/shrines are all on the OTHER side. Had to make a little detour and walk back to the station, to find the temple/shrine located just five minutes from there on. Sigh, see what happens when you're not prepared. Here are some of the shops we pass by so when you come visit Kamakura and you see these shops/landmarks, TURN BACK TURN BACK NOW. 


More train tracks because (if you can't already tell) I really like them.

Finally, we found somewhere worth stopping by and going in!

This is the Engakuji Temple (円覚寺), founded in 1282 and ranked number two of Kamakura's Five Mountains of Great Zen Temples. Yes mountain, yes there'll be climbing. I must confess though, I'm a little confused now because the kanji characters at the entrance pictured above obviously differs from the Engakuji Temple's kanji character (円覚寺) and I've cross checked, none of the temples/shrines in Kamakura has yama or san as the first few syllables in its name, which is symbolized by the 山 kanji character. I have no idea how the other two kanji characters is read nor what they mean so...yeah. Based on the photo sequence, let's just assume this is the correct entrance towards Engakuji Temple okay! Plus the inside area looks similar to the next photo below so it must be correct. Entrance fee costs ¥300, which is approximately RM12 at that time. As you enter there'll be certain buildings/areas where you'd need to pay a similar fee to enter as well but take note that we didn't go for it haha kiamsiap

Ticket counters and little stalls selling souvenirs. Spot the Coke truck!

Love the lush greens here, shade from blinding hot sun!

Entrance ticket, which in itself is already a souvenir. Budget trip budget trip!

Stairs leading up to the first main building...

 The huuuuuuge two-storied Sanmon (山門) gate which dates back to 1783.
Note the papan   hanging at the top, with faded red writings on it.
The caligraphy was done about 800 years ago by the Emporer at that time.

So majestically built with solid wood carved with beautiful designs, without the use of a single nail. Can't help but to touch and trace the wood lines, feeling all the years at the tip of my finger.

Apparently Engakuji Temple also serves as a training monastery. Honestly though after going further up from Sanmon Gate, it feels like I'm entering a village because of the wide spaces and many buildings. It is said that there are 18 buldings/monuments within this area and one of them, called the Shariden was designated as Japan's National Treasure because it holds one of Buddha's tooth. Too bad it wasn't accessible, but even if it was I wouldn't know where to start looking for it because like I said, this place is huge! So huge I'm not even going to attempt at captioning the following pictures taken at multiple parts of the temple. So much walking!

Poor little tree forgot it's no longer autumn.
Or a little too prepared for autumn?

Myokochi Pond. Wouldn've been more beautiful is the water was clearer though haha! 

My favourite flower - hydrangeas ♥ More reasons to love Kamakura!

I love how the shades are always so different ♥ 
As it rains more often, the colours get deeper.

Embracing the sunlight (unlike me teehee)

MY FAVOURITE SIGN EVER °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖° Give me my flavoured shaved ice!

Besides the Buddha's tooth, there's this Ogane Bell standing at 2.5 metres tall that was also designated as Japan's National Treasure. Not sure if the above picture is the correct one, but it's the only one I saw at the top of the Engakuji Temple hill. Must be correct right right right hahahaha wish I could read kanji and life (in Japan) would be so much easier! But yes we've reached the top of the hill finally I could barely stand the weather anymore. Make me feel like I don't want to do anything besides lounge under the shade slurping flavoured shaved ice while enjoying any hilltop breeze I can get. There's a little teahouse here too but it's pretty expensive for me so I skipped the sweets and tea. Let's enjoy the free view instead hahahaha!

Don't know what this signifies, but seem pretty important lol *ignorant tourist

That's about it for this first part of the Kamakura trilogy haha all in all a visit to Engakuji Temple took about an hour or so. I've heard that the view throughout is incredible in the autumn though but hey, no hydrangeas in the autumn! Anyways, more quaint temples to come!