Thursday, January 22, 2015

Flash with Alcatel Onetouch

Did you know that Alcatel Onetouch is an European brand? French, to be exact. 

With reasonably-priced phones alongside strong features, can’t say I’m surprised that Alcatel Onetouch has highly penetrated the Europe and American market, which seals its brand as one of the top ten best-selling smartphones in 2013! Hurrah!


I bet you’ve seen this around your social media bubble lately right! Here’s the big reveal – it’s a campaign from the great minds of Alcatel Onetouch, launched to embrace the culture of expressing individuality – THROUGH SELFIES! SAY WHAT! Alcatel Onetouch knows me better than I do!

 My #BeaFlasher post on Instagram just the other day. 

You all know me to be that idiot who stumbles into the wrong condo block, who gets lost in mall basement parkings, who takes the wrong turn on the way home, who needs Waze to survive a normal routine day, who arrives late for gathering because I got lost and all that jazz. Well, you haven’t seen me in Japan.

Anne and Colleen has, but nope, not you. 

Because in Japan, I am your most street-smart road-savvy tour guide that you’ll ever know!! 

Bet you didn’t see that coming huh huh  huh.

Alcatel OneTouch Flash

First, that’s a really cool name for a smartphone.

Secondly, it’s a smartphone designed, created, built, launched for all you selfie-addicts.

5MP HD Front Camera, 13MP Full HD Back Camera.

Good quality camera that can produce great photographs even with a noob owner like me hahaha! This phone actually has built-in beauty enchancer in its front camera so you don’t have to waste space for any lousy third-party apps, pfft. 5.5 inches HD screen for a better view for selfies, anyone?

May my individuality shine in every high-quality selfie taken with roadside shrubs! Thirdly, it’s already available in the market since early December 2014! I can’t tell you how much I cannot stand waiting, waiting, and waiting. THANK YOU, Alcatel Onetouch. Fourthly, HYDRASKINS collaboration. 

 Alcatel Onetouch Flash as the new fashion must-have, YES YES YES.

Watch this video that explains it all, the animated characters are so cute!


Or head straight here to get all the juicy deets – CLICK ME

Now excuse me while get my best face on to go selfie-crazy.

 Join me with YOUR Alcatel OneTouch Flash? Hehe

Monday, January 19, 2015

GakuPuro 9 : Wrap-Up Discussion and Happy Hour

Sudah hampir sampai penamatnya! after that visit, we went back to a youth association hostel place (clearly I've no idea) in fukushima city to check-in and relax a little before a long, hard night of brain-juice extraction. you know, calm before the storm and all.

 teen-drama tv shoot lol

international student reps - taiwan, malaysia and indonesia y'all. 
they speak flawless japanese you know, fml

the weather got sunny and the temperature was just nice.

and then we entered the warzone. a long night of discussions on what we have seen and learned and discovered and felt throughout the journey. without the interpreter fml. cannot thank hama-chan enough for doing his best to translate the core points to me and i did my best to understand. it was chaotic and super messy, in our own groups we talked and talked long into the night and prepared the presentation. it was particularly stressful because there are so many in a group and everyone has their own opinions on the complicated topic, but we had to present ourselves as a group and find a middle ground on most matters. in other groups, i heard some were even brought to tears, overwhelmed by the tension in the air. 

don't know if it's the japanese style of discussions or what, but a lot of post-its were sacrificed at the war. everyone wrote their own thoughts and opinions on each post-it and later shared with each other to sort all the notes into groups like "first impressions" "positive" "negative" "things we learned" etc.

after a few hours we managed to sort it all out into a few categories

divided presentation roles then go kepoh other groups lol

after all that work we went back to respective rooms for a shower to refresh 

and get ready for happy hour hehe some of the guys went out to get drinks and we met at midnight in the common room for some relaxation and snacks. just random chitchat, talk nonsense and take silly photos, as more left for bed the conversations got a little more serious and i felt so grateful to have been a part of it all. everyone was so considerate, accomodating and accepting despite my language limitations to the point that it doesn't matter anymore. fun times are fun times regardless of nationality and culture! 

ahh youth 

ending with a blurry group photo, such good times!

final post coming up next FINALLY. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Omotenashi Nippon


I love it, I love it so much. Never thought I'd get so much feels from a tourism ad campaign but damn, they did it right. This is the country that I love lol it's about thinking about others, considering the feelings of others, anticipating the needs of others, putting yourself in others' position. It sounds so simple but that's a lot of work and effort that goes into it, the thoughts that go into every details in serving others make Japan such an amazing country. We have a lot to learn from their service industry.

There was once, upon arrival in Malaysia, it was nightime and as we walked towards to immigration / baggage claim, those with heavy hand-carry baggages made use of trolleys provided to ease the long walk in KLIA2. When we were almost reaching that area, trolleys were not allowed in and at the border there were staff members dressed in  shabby t-shirt and jeans, in a sleepy unconcerned manner just pointed lazily to the side and said "trolley" to ask people to leave their trolleys there. Like wtf does that even mean? Are they even working there for real? I don't want to compare but you can't help it when you've seen better services.

Now how many times have you seen luggages who seem to be jutting out awkwardly, on the brink of falling off the baggage claim revolving belts? Do you know that in Japan, there are officers in proper uniform whose job is to arrange your luggage properly on the belt when it comes out? Even their drug-sniffing dogs are cute wtf but I don't know about other countries lah, I haven't been to enough places to make a list of top service in the world so I'm just speaking from my personal experiences. 

Credits to Japan National Tourism Organization for this great campaign that highlights the vital roles of those working behind-the-scenes to make sure each guest, visitor or customer enjoys a wonderful experience. Bacially the backbone of the entire tourism industry. I love how they put so much spirit and thought into their jobs. That's omotenashi, y'all. Hospitality in a whole other league.

Please watch this and get them feels and buy some air tickets.

I know I will. Soooooooon. 

Back to December

I couldn't shake off that strange feeling every since new year's eve. Like a cloud that lingers at the back of my mind, it seemed like a burden that I blindly carry along with no purpose. Even as new year's day approaches, time seemed to have stopped. Or rather, time have glided smoothly forward and left me behind. I'm just sitting there, watching it all happen and pass. 

It wasn't until few days later that I finally realized what's wrong.

December. December didn't happen.

Not the month itself, duh, but like, as part of the process, the cycle. Every year, I would start to feel it creep inch by inch into my bones as that month approaches. The gray skies, the chill of the air, the damp ground, the hibernating sun, the dreadful silence. I guess I was so caught up with work this time that I had not noticed those little pieces. Next thing I know I've gotten pass the whole lot without an acknowledgement. The fireworks lightened up the sky before I had time to stop and look around. That felt strange.

Now that a week or so have gone by, and the cycle lingers a little longer than usual, and I've stopped to look and feel and acknowledge, I'm catching up again with time. Just a few days more, and we'll be side by side. It almost feels normal again. To be honest I don't know if it's a good sign or not, to have skipped the process. No complains though. Just sorting it all out.

I have to say it though, just in case this marks a beginning.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

GakuPuro 8 : Glimpses Into Lives A Year After Fukushima Nuclear Plant Meltdown

#YeahStillContinue #ForeverThrowback

I hesitated a little when it was about time to talk about this day, but decided to proceed in the end because this is my space, my words, my experiences, there's no other purpose for which this post will be written so yeah. It was a beautiful day, sunny and relatively warmer. This was back in June 2012 by the way, supposedly early summer but throughout this trip, the weather was generally cool with strong chilly winds. 

Anyway, we met up with the other participants in the morning and took a bus area in Fukushima that I seem to have forgotten. It wasn't a town or city nearby, it was a shelter built for evacuees of the Great East Japan Earthquake / Nuclear Plant Meltdown in Fukushima. It was a little more than a year after disaster struck and the evacuees are still living their daily life away from their true home. That's heartbreaking. 

To be honest I didn't know what to expect prior to arrival - worn-out shelters? downcast atmosphere? lacklustre spirits? cold welcome? I had no idea. The group was separated into two busses which will be heading to different shelters. My group stumbled upon these vibrant colors upon arrival, I absolutely adore the colors and the delicate blooms in this shot. Seemingly thriving, the petals look almost fragile kan.

A quick look around revealed hints of a fairly-organized shelter system.

Before we had time to take look deeper, the team leader briefed the team on details of the day's objective. We were to provide a cheery company alongside a mini foot and hand spa in the common room, as well as to enjoy a meal together and learn on our own the stories of those living here. After a quick demonstration on the simple foot and hand spa techniques, we proceeded to the common room.

A wall decked with miscellaneous traditional items greeted us.

Vibrant color pops.

We introduced ourselves (or rather, the team leader did) to a small group of elderly ladies lounging at the common room. It was a warm and cozy atmosphere, and the ladies got friendly in no time as the others prepared the area for the mini foot and hand spa session. We prepared three seats, with a warm bucket of water sprinkled with bath salts (I think?) for each. All the residents were welcome to take turns in enjoying the warm soak as the participants (us) gave them a little hand massage and chitchat a little. As it was a work day after all, most of those who came by for this session were the elderly. 

To be honest, that was an aspect in the Japanese culture that I was ignorant to until this experience. The foot bath and hand massage, I mean. Apparently during the cold seasons, a warm foot bath can elevate body temperature and the hand massage increases blood circulation which will result in an overall comfortable warm sensation. Across the country, there are tons of public foot bath facilities (called ashiyu) that actually welcome visitors to have a quick soak to keep warm in the cold weather. These are more often found around areas that boasts natural hot springs. 

A little back-to-the-future mention here but last Autumn, we stumbled upon one smack in the middle of Arashiyama Station (Hankyu Line), Kyoto. It was such a cold night and we considered going for it because everyone looks so warmed up, but there was no person-in-duty (usually there's a small fee) and it was rather full and so close to closing time, so we gave up that idea and took the train back instead haha ok back to the original throwback now.

After the brief massage, we rubbed their feet with the towel to dry off and sanitized our hands to welcome the next resident. There was quite a few participants taking turns to service the residents so in total I had only two sessions. I don't recall exactly what we talked about (with the translator's assistance) but I do remember how warm their hands were, as well as the really appreciative thanks after the session  (。≍ฺ‿ฺ≍ฺ)

These ladies here also enjoy little activities to keep their mind and bodies active, and to while away time. Most of the residents came from a farming background. Having lost their lush farms, spacious homes, and wide lands to radiation exposure since the disaster, confined now in a small shelter space with barely an acre to call their own, time is of abundance. Who knew a simple little balloon toss-around could bring so much laughter though? The participants and residents had such fun together. 

Lunch time came soon after. We brought bentos to share!

Did you notice the brown circles of decorations at the back? We asked them about it. Those decorations were weaved, decorated, and lacquered, all by hand, by residents of this shelter. Mostly by the elderly ladies though. They have contributed and kept a few pieces of of expensive, traditional fabrics that will be cut and used to decorate in patterns as they wish. I can't read it but I'm pretty sure those are poems written in the midst of the colorful motifs. These won't be sold off, just for keeps, I suppose to give a sense of purpose and achivevement as they keep their hands and minds busy. They're certainly beautiful to look at. 

With prior approval of all the other ladies, a kind resident gave me (and few others) a decorative basket to express their gratitude to keeping them company today omg (´◕ ◡ ◕`)

Hand-folded paper cranes, which are said to bring good luck and peace. The legend goes that if you manage to fold a thousand cranes, you'll have a wish come true. 

After lunch, Ribon and I decided to go for a little walk around the shelter area and the translator joined us. We marvelled at the cleanliness and organized manner in which all residents managed their belongings. The shelters provided by the government are basic and uniform, but it's clear that the residents did their best to make it feel a little more like home. 

Bright, beautiful flowers were grown in pots of various shapes. 

As we walked around and greeted people, a friendly lady struck a conversation with the translator and next thing I know, we were invited into her home. It was a small space, incredibly compact yet warm, clean and cozy. I cannot imagine how the farmer residents who once lived in huge houses with multiple wide, spacious rooms get used to these narrow spaces. I've briefly lived in a house by a farm - though not at that time, that experience happened way after this trip but now that I've had that so talking about this now the contrast seem so much more distinctive does this makes sense - so I know how roomy that can be. But then again, perhaps they didn't really got used to it, after all it's not a choice to make anyway, right? That is heartbreaking. 

The lady introduced us to her husband who was watching the tv. As we sipped on hot tea and chatted (or rather, the translator did) the old couple took out some woodcrafts to show us. According to her, there are more than enough spare time now so with what little materials in hand, they keep their hands busy.

From old clothes fabrics, she also turns it into tissue packet covers. As she shared the simple accomplishments in a variety of patterns and designs, she saw how much we liked it and just as we were about to leave, she generously gifted each of us some souvenirs. I got the wooden owl, acorn tortoise and fabric tissue cover. Isn't it madly incredible that those who seem to have so little, have the biggest kindest heart to give the most? 

We said goodbye and joined the others at the common area to say goodbye to the residents.

All in all, we didn't spend as much time as we'd like to truly get to know the residents' situation and concerns, but it did provide glimpses into their lives that not many has seen. These kind souls have strong hearts, and an optimistic spirit to move forward to the uncertain future. Perhaps not all, but many, perhaps just enough to push the society to find their place in reality again. I don't know what the current situation is right now, that visit was two and half years ago, but I hope their courage still remains strong. Despite the unease many seem to show when I mention that I've visited Fukushima a little more than a year after the nuclear plant meltdown, I am truly grateful for the experience. Not matter what comes in the future, I will have absolutely no regrets.