Japan Pt7 – Tokyo day 3: Tokyo West!

Part 1    |    Part 2    |    Part 3    |    Part 4    |    Part 5    |    Part 6

Many of the major must see places according to various sites and travel guides were clustered around the west side of Tokyo. For this leg of the journey a lot of the places were on the JR Yamanote line, so we had to purchase additional tickets.

Akihabara & Shinjuku

We decided to keep the main players of Tokyo for the full day with the boys, so after grabbing some breakfast and lunch at the supermarket near the hostel we headed off to Akihabara, the electronics and otaku centre of Tokyo. It was another scorching hot day but we braved the sun and headed over to Yodobashi camera, the huge electronics megastore because Munira wanted to get some instax film. We spent quite a while there, mostly on the toys floor trying out different games and toys that were sold. After that we walked over to the Tokyo Anime Centre, which was quite disappointing I think. It was just a small gallery in a big building. Maybe it was also because I’m not really into anime kot.

super huge (and this one was considered small) momo! it was sooo juicy and delicious and refreshing

out of place

no idea what most of the stuff here was. rasa mcm such a wasted opportunity. 

cute pirate ship thingies


finally someone I know!

trying out Mario kart at the Nintendo stations

I wasn’t very good at it but it was fun!

we all scream for toy ice cream

this one’s for my mom (no we didnt buy it)

my new friend

the quite disappointing anime centre

no idea who these are

the fan that saved the day

Afterwards we just wandered around the colorful streets looking for maid and cat cafes for the fun of it. I don’t know why, maybe it was store policy or you have to be a paid customer, but whenever we tried taking pictures of maid café promoters they’d always hide. Strange.

so bright! so colorful!

the only maid cafe maid we managed to sneak a picture of

We headed over to the Shinjuku area afterwards to go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tocho) for a free 360° view of the Tokyo metropolis. There are two towers, and from my research it was said that the South tower had slightly more interesting views, so we lined up to take the express elevator all the way up to the 45th floor. Tokyo seemed to go on forever and ever! It wasn’t a perfectly clear day though, so we couldn’t really see Mount Fuji unfortunately. Still, I’d highly recommend going up to the observatory. It definitely helped me get my bearings and gave me a better perspective on how sprawling Tokyo really is. Me and Munira ate our onigiri lunches up in the tower and after refilling our water bottles at the water fountain we headed back down and took the train over to Harajuku.

cute car ^__^


traditional japanese armour shop

the cocoon

Tokyo Metropolitan Government 

huge central plaza

shinjuku skyscrapers

That patch of green is Yoyogi Park, next to which is one of the Olympic sites for Tokyo 2020


I think the altitude got to us coz we were so giddy and excited when we saw this mascot

Harajuku & Omotesando

Harajuku station on the Yamanote line was surprisingly very small, I had expected it to be bigger, being a major attraction and all. The station is right across from the entrance to Yamshita-Dori, the main street to visit. It was crowded with people, with a very high percentage of them being teenage girls. Well the travel guide did say that Harajuku was the go to place for young adult girls to see, be seen, and shop. Most of the shops there were bright pink, though scattered in between them were drastically different goth/punk shops too. We stopped by a Daiso to shop for some souvenirs and then headed on down the road.

don’t be fooled, this was a guy

takeshita dori

overwhelming pinkiness

any trip to Japan is incomplete without a visit to daiso imho

the only fully outfitted lolita girl we saw..and only from the back too

taking it all in

we didn’t go up

stopped by a very pink cafeteria and posed like japanese girls. we were trying to fit in :p


showing us how its done

much needed relief from the heat

the boys surely felt very out of place. everything was pink and 99% of the patrons were girls hahaha. tula nak sangat makan kebab

At the end of the road the small shops opened up into a wide promenade of multistory mega stores. Inexplicably, the streets were lined with people just sitting around doing nothing in particular. They didn’t even look like they were waiting for anything/anyone. Just…sitting. On the sidewalks. Like it was perfectly normal. Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting on the sidewalk too sometimes, but this was like, a whole other level. So many people were doing the same kind of nothing. Haha.

monster of an H&M store. didnt enter either

inexplicable loitering

spot munira!

We turned down a corner onto Omotesando street, where more supposedly a different kind of crowd would flock to, being lined with upscale brands much like Ginza. Obviously we didnt enter any of them. Instead we went to the Oriental Bazaar, which is kind of a deceiving name because its not so much a bazaar as it is an air-conditioned shop selling all manner of Japanese souvenirs, for the tourists who didnt feel like trawling through the narrow streets of Asakusa and bargain hunting. But being Japanese, (I recall something I read/heard about the Japanese etiquette of not undercutting)  the prices here didnt differ so much compared to stalls elsewhere, so we decided to finish off our souvenir shopping once and for all. We got t-shirts for the boys in my family and an antique silk embroidered obi for my mom. the obi was so beautiful and was quite cheap, only Y900, whereas new ones cost upwards of Y20,000 or more.

Shaded Omotesando

Pretty prints that were surprisingly not so expensive

Munira’s project

Tokyo Camii

Shopping done, we walked over to the metro station and hopped on a train to Yoyogi-Uehara, only a few stops away, to visit the Tokyo Camii. It was really nice to have a proper place to pray and relax for a bit, Alhamdulillah. The masjid itself was small (by Malaysian standards of course) but very beautiful. The masjid was built by the Turkish, and the lower floors of the masjid housed the Turkish embassy and gallery/shop. Inside the main prayer hall was the most beautiful masjid chandelier I had ever seen. It was quite simple, composed of arabic letters, but that’s what made it even more elegant. We spent quite a while at the masjid just resting and taking pictures and chatting with the Muslims who were there to pray. 

compact and wonderful

entrance to the gallery

you have to go up the stairs to get to the prayer halls


i absolutely loooved the chandelier

tgh jakun

beautiful Masha’Allah

door details

at the entrance to the main prayer hall

that wooden structure on the right is the stairway to the lower levels, where you can find the wudhu areas, toilets, and access to the gallery

taking a breather


After leaving we made our way to Shibuya, and by this time it was already dark. The first time we were in Shibuya we just lingered around the station and swarm crossing, but this time we actually crossed the street and explored the surroundings. It was Sunday night so it wasn’t super packed as I imagine Saturday or Friday night to be, but there were still so many people walking around. We were getting quite hungry so we stopped by a restaurant that Sue recommended back in Sapporo (Hanamaru) and sat down to steaming hot bowls of scrumptious Udon. We walked some more but ended up getting lost trying to find the train station so we backtracked to the Shibuya crossing and headed home after a long day out.

she needed to get 10000! i think we were number 2000something

cutie patootie

outside the shibuya station they were having a TPPA protest. This picture has nothing to do with that but i forgot to take a picture of the guy on the crate so yeah

dem bois

muka penat tapi happyyy

stopped by hard rock cafe sbb ade orang kirim tshirt


Part 1    |    Part 2    |    Part 3    |    Part 4    |    Part 5    |    Part 6

Japan Pt6 – Tokyo Day 2: Food, Fashion, and Festivals

Japan Part 1   |   Japan Part 2   |   Japan Part 3   |   Japan Part 4   |   Japan Part 5

Tsukiji Fish Market

A lot of people suggested that we go to the Tsukiji Fish Market, which I wasn’t too sure about because let’s face it: it’s a fish market and I hardly ever go to fish markets in Malaysia anyway. But since it opened early and so many people recommended it, and we wanted to get some food, we went there the next morning, but not super early to catch the auction because that would require us to be there at 3am O.o We went around 10 am, and it was definitely more interesting than i thought it would be. Most of the time there we spent in the outdoor market, where vendors were selling all sorts of weird looking creatures/plants/things. Everything was super fresh, and surprisingly didn’t smell of fish so much. I think the seafood section in Giant smells more.

We decided to have brunch at the market, and popped into a sushi bar to have fresh sushi, and boyyy was it good! The fish was so fresh and delicious ahhhh! Energised and with happy tummies we continued walking through the market, which was full of people, both buying things, and tourists. A lot of the stalls had samples out and the vendors eagerly invited people to try their food. We tried some teriyaki scallops, which were of course delicious. Then we walked over to the wholesale market where the real pasar basah is, but since it was already late morning, most of the activity had died down and people were cleaning up after the morning’s activities.

so fresh and so clean

all manner of pickles

look at that delicious slab of fish! i think its tuna

make your own matcha

our deeeelicious brunch

the far left was lightly broiled tuna, sangat sedap!!

made on the spot just for you

the shop was called sushi zanmai, i don’t know if its the same one as the branches in malaysia. 

happy sushi eater

souvenir shopping

HUGE crabs

huge fresh oysters

teriyaki scallops testers so sedapppp

such a beautiful shoplady. Macam dalam anime

traditional pottery

cute chopstick holders

colors and patterns

the wholesale market


clams and such

huge squid

aftermath. le decapitated tuna heads

Ginza, Marunouchi, and The Imperial Palace East Gardens

We decided to take the train to Ginza just to see the glitzy side of Tokyo (yes, right after mingling with seafood :p ) Glamorous coats, dresses, and bags filled tall, shiny shop-windows. Fall fashion was starting to come in, my favourite fashion season. Of course we didn’t enter any of the shops because they were the likes of Gucci, Pucci, Chanel, Dior, LV etc. We went to the Tokyo International Forum afterwards, but not before getting a bit lost trying to find it.

felt a little bit like New York, or at least what I imagine New York to be like

ooh la la

fossil shop

cute boots

i think this was Diane von Fürstenberg. i liked the quotes

japanese, fashionable everywhere

we saw this building from afar and came closer to see what it was. it was a kindergarten. a freakin kindergarten. oh ginza you fancy fancy neighborhood

kereta kecil warna merah


another outlet of sushi zanmai 😀

tokyo international forum. like being inside a whale, or underneath a viking ship. me like!

none indeed. at the forum shop

It was noon and we needed to find a place to pray, so we decided to get on the free shuttle buses that looped around the Marunouchi area and get off at the Imperial Palace East Gardens. There are two gardens that are open to the public here, the larger Honmaru Gardens and the smaller Ninomaru Gardens. Munira really wanted to see a proper Japanese garden (one we could enter, because the imperial gardens in Kyoto we could only see from a distance) so we went to Ninomaru first. It was a bit hard finding a corner to pray though, since most of the garden is quite manicured. But we found some wooded area and took turns praying there.

Compared to the Imperial Palace gardens in Kyoto, the ninomaru gardens seemed a little sparse, but it was still very beautiful. After wandering around for about an hour we headed over to the Honmaru Gardens, which was quite empty. It looked more like an activity park because of the wide, open grass spaces. One thing that was really nice was throughout the gardens they have rest houses, which at first I thought were bathrooms, but actually they are proper rest houses. Little air-conditioned huts that sell drinks and ice cream and a small selection of souvenirs. Great for cooling down and resting after a hot sweaty walk through the gardens.

At the exit of the gardens there was a small museum, and because it was free and air-conditioned we went in. The exhibit that was currently being held was a collection of clothes worn by the imperial prince when he was a little boy. The furisode (long sleeved kimono) were so beautiful, and cute since they were tiny :3 too bad we couldn’t take any pictures there though.

Tokyo station

approach to the imperial palace east gardens

roofs 🙂


ninomaru japanese garden

2 old men had huge cameras with huger lenses and were stalking these butterflies at length


spot the tourist

photo by munira

one of the many photographers that spent so long patiently photographing everything


marunouchi business skyscrapers in the background, imperial gardens in the foreground


my sistah



free but ticketed entry

fashionable japanese ladies are fashionable

trains, ever punctual, ever reliable

super long paper mural on display in one of the train stations

Asakusa surprise

Muhsin and his friend were arriving in Tokyo that afternoon and we had arranged to meet at Sensoji temple, Asakusa, at 6pm. Asakusa is a district which is a part of old Tokyo, hence its known as the historic touristy part. We’d seen a lot of history-related things in Kyoto, so the real main reason for going to Asakusa was to check out Nakamise, the souvenir shopping street.

We got to Asakusa station around 5pm, and the station was crowded with people. We didn’t think much of it, being a weekend and all, but once we got to the ground level there were even more people! So many people lining the streets and music playing and noise and people and more people. It was very confusing. As it turns out, we had stepped right into the annual Samba Parade Festival. Haha! Totally unexpected being in the historic part of Tokyo.

i have noooo idea

tourist information centre that we didnt go to


We had an hour til we were due to meet up so we made our way to Nakamise. There were so many interesting shops selling souvenirs and delicacies but we didn’t really buy anything since we already got most of our souvenirs from Kyoto. I did cave in and get a small handkerchief for myself since I really loved the traditional Japanese printed fabrics.

Nakamise stretches for about 250m, and ends at the gate to Sensoji temple. So we walked around looking for Muhsin but we couldn’t find him. None of us had internet or phone lines so we couldn’t contact Muhsin, so we decided to sit down and wait. An hour later he still hadn’t shown up and we were getting worried, so we backtracked twice along Nakamise but we still couldn’t find him. Then I remembered the metro station had limited free wifi, so we went there and quickly asked Mushin where he was. As it turns out he just got to the hostel, since moving with super huge and very heavy baggage made their journey to the hostel much more difficult and time-consuming than we expected. But it was good to know he was safe.

About half an hour later they arrived and we showed them around the area while looking for a place for them to eat since they hadn’t eaten anything the whole day. Unfortunately it was already 8ish so most shops were closed. We did manage to find one, even though it looked like a bar, but it was the only one that had fish and plain rice, whereas other places had questionable looking meat.


window shopping commence!

pretty pretty fabrics

selipar jepun

hard at work making snacks

prints and postcards

non-foldable fans

paper lanterns


not so kawaii

i loooved the fans but sooo mahal

traditional fabric shop

umbrelly brollies

cute neko

more umbrellas


beautiful folding fans

making red bean paste filled kuih thingies called ningyoyaki

i was trying to look like him

at which point these groovy dudes were surrounded by cooing and kawaiiiiii
the cat looked like it was high
at the second gate, Hozomon gate
people lining up to…pray i think?

dusk falls, my favorite time to photograph the sky

love the colors

Sensoji Temple’s Hanzomon gate from Nakamise-dori

yay jumpa! yay makan! yay orang ambikkan gambar!

 We were thinking of going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Office observation deck since it closed late, but everyone was quite tired and we didn’t know if we’d make it there in time, so we ended the day just taking a relaxing stroll along the Sumida river park before heading back to our hostel.

Tokyo Skytree, the tallest broadcasting tower in the world i think


Total expenses:¥1430
Brunch: ¥730
Souvenirs: ¥200
Ice cream:¥100

Japan Part 1      

Japan Part 2 

Japan Part 3

Japan Part 4

Japan Part 5

Japan Pt5 – Tokyo day 1!!! Heat and Heaven

Japan Part 1   |   Japan Part 2   |   Japan Part 3   |   Japan Part 4

We landed in Narita Airport and my first stop was the tourist information centre where we picked up train maps, a tourist map, and a tourist guide book. The night before I researched the available day passes for Tokyo railways, and decided to get the Tokyo Metro Open ticket, since our hostel was on one of the lines and the Tokyo metro also operated most of the lines to the places we wanted to go to, and they had more lines than the Toei and JR lines. I was unsure which pass to buy at first, but in the end we bought the 2 day pass for ¥980, and it turned out to be an excellent choice, since we traveled a lot more than tickets worth.

as advertised

O.O thank goodness we went to Kyoto and Sapporo first. Rail-wrangling training wheels compared to this monster
very handy and very worn by the end our the trip. literally falling apart and only held together by some washi tape i bought

Feeling the heat

We didn’t expect this, but Tokyo was EXTREMELY hot. And this coming from someone who lives in hot, humid Malaysia. Tokyo was wayyy hotter. The first day we were there temperatures in the late afternoon was 37 degrees, and when we arrived at around noon it was so much worse. I have never in my life sweated so much just standing still, under the shade. Found out when we came back to Malaysia that apparently there were several cases of people passing out because of the heat in Tokyo that weekend. O.o

The hostel we had booked for our stay in Tokyo was Tokyo Backpackers, which had a lock out policy between 11am-4pm, around the time that we arrived. Thankfully we were able to drop off our bags and get on with the day. If you’re going to Tokyo, I highly recommend this hostel. It’s clean, has great facilities, convenient location, and is very spacious, almost unheard of in hostels and in Japan especially. the only thing missing was a water cooler for refilling our water bottles.

really spacious dorm room
Common area downstairs

We bought lunch from the 7-11 near the hostel, and since we were extremely hungry, stopped by Ueno Park just to have lunch. After wolfing down our onigiris we walked around the park, which was quite full of people. we headed to the International Library of Childrens Literature, mostly because it was air-conditioned, and because Munira works for Ana Muslim so I thought it’d be good to check out.

What we noticed immediately about Tokyo as compared to Kyoto and Sapporo was it was a lot bigger, and a lot grittier. the park had a lot of homeless people lazing around, whereas in Kyoto and Sapporo we never saw any. It was still clean, being in Japan and all, but more worn and grimy than the other places.

didnt get to go to Fushimi Inari in Kyoto, so made do with these torii gates

Sakura promenade. imagine this in sakura season *o*

International Museum of Children’s Literature renovated by Tadao Ando
traditional against modern. Museum designed by Le Corbusier

baru tengok sesak sikit dah jakun….


After Ueno we headed to Jimbocho, which was one of the places we would have missed if it wasn’t for the guide book we got from the airport. And thank goodness we didn’t give it a pass because it was HEAVEN! Jimbocho is kind of like the book district in Tokyo, there are over 160 bookshops selling over 10 million second hand and new books, all within walking distance. Most of the books are Japanese but there are some shops that sell English books as well. You can get books about anything here. the first shop we entered was filled with hentai, which we didn’t realize at first, but we quickly stepped out and went to see other shops.

Munira was looking for children’s books for her boss, and I was just browsing. One of the shops was a 4 story book shop with a cafe on the ground floor and reading balconies on each floor, so quaint! another shop, called The Bohemian’s Guild, was packed with arts and graphics and design books, and its upper floor had artwork for sale. There was a bookshop that at first we didn’t enter because it looked like a supermarket, which was true, but it turns out it was a supermarket for books. 6 huge floors full of books. I think we went a bit crazy there haha. Good thing too that we decided to go on the day that my brother wasn’t with us because I’m sure he would have been bored.

the calligraphy books were really interesting, they opened out into one long, folded sheet.

some shops had traditional art prints for sale

loveeed this place

bookshop + cafe

pop-up books

haven for design books

some of their art books

all along the staircase

the design books shop 

street called heaven

saw this place but didnt go in. i think it was part of a karaoke bar

Jimbocho Theater building

Awesome book showing Miyazaki’s original storyboards

cute 🙂

no i didn’t buy that bag…saje pose sbb mun suruh. this was inside the book supermarket (Sanseido)

Happy shopper – also, check out the Metro station art in the background. Books 🙂

We decided to pop over to Shibuya just for the heck of it (actually, to get our days worth of train rides as Munira put it, even though we probably already had) to see the famous scramble crossing. Friday night and it was definitely crowded. So many people eveywhere! So many bright (but surprisingly not blinding and quite pleasant) lights! So much going on! we just had to stand still and take it all in with huge grins on our faces heehee. Definitely an experience, being in the middle of so many people who, at the flick of a light, just mobilize and turn into a scrambling swarm. Incroyable. Night was falling so we headed back to our hostel to check in and have dinner (maggi) before passing out.


😀 yes I realize I still have sunglasses on my head despite it being night time already. haha


Total expenses for the day: ¥8780
Metro Open ticket (2 days) :¥980
Airport transfer ticket: ¥1200 (Keisei Main Line Rapid)
Hostel: ¥2100/night for 3 nights = ¥6300
Lunch: ¥300

Japan Part 1

Japan Part 2

Japan Part 3

Japan Part 4

Japan Pt 4 – Sapporo with Muhsin :D

Japan Part 1
Japan Part 2
Japan Part 3

After arriving at Sapporo New Chitose Airport we took the train out to Sapporo where we planned to meet Muhsin. The station was huge but thankfully Muhsin was there at the gates to meet us. It’s been three months almost, since we last saw him! Peluk tanak lepas >.< We dropped off our bags at Muhsin’s hostel, a 10 minute walk away, and after a quick onigiri lunch, we headed back to Sapporo station to go to Otaru. We bought the Sapporo-Otaru welcome pass, which was Y1500 and came with a one day subway pass and return tickets to Otaru, which is quite a deal.

traditional way of showing train destinations in Sapporo station, by hanging plates on wires along the platforms.

Otaru and Odori Park

Otaru is a seaside port town half an hour outside of Sapporo. It was the site of the first laid railway tracks to connect the canning and fishing town to Sapporo. The old canal and buildings around the town are quite different, we kind of felt like we were in Europe. It was actually quite interesting to see how a functioning industrial are/port could still be a tourist attraction. Spent the afternoon strolling along the canal, eating ice-cream, and catching up. I really missed Muhsin!

lompat separa-jadi

tour bus that we didn’t get on. Walking is the way to go for us

Yayyyy again 😀

one of the entrances to the canal

old cannery along the canal

students on a school trip. they were all drawing

trying to recreate the statue back there

yuppies off to board their yacht la konon

Otaru masjid

Someone’ magical backyard. Thats the old railway track, the first in Hokkaido


one of the port tycoon’s manors

manor and canal park

squished on to a swing 😀

Girl with the red shoes and her parents. literally thats the title of the statue

swimming in the canal

Muhsin belanja softu cream
walking through a dog park
pose and jump!
love otaru

by the docks
sights and activity around the docks

old architecture
some of the preserved buildings which were mostly canning warehouses, and the main crossing in Otaru, Victoria crossing

felt like europe

strolling along the preserved district

these cost a million yen, not kidding 😐
Some shop details around Otaru. Gigantic Takoyaki but we didnt buy it because we didnt know if it was halal or not, probably not. Recycled metal sculptures, Random cat statues, and beautiful stained glass.

resting our feet outside the stained glass shop.

Beautiful sunset scenery on the train back

We considered going to Sapporo Dome to indulge in Japan’s favorite sport, baseball, afterwards, but it was a bit late to get tickets so we decided to just go and have dinner and walk around Sapporo city’s Odori Park instead.

Muhsin brought us to a japanese place where we ate unadon and forgot to take pics beforehand because we were so hungry and it was mm mm goooooodd. Also managed to watch some of the baseball game we didn’t get to go to.
best unagi sushi I’ve had ever ever.
odori park and street performers. that ball of light is a fire dancer

light painting in odori park

In Sapporo we stayed at Muhsin’s friend’s apartment, the lovely Sue Yee. Such a lifesaver for graciously hosting both me and my sister The next day we didn’t really have anything planned. Actually for this whole leg of the trip I planned on taking it easy and going with the flow. So we followed Sue to the Hokkaido University that morning to meet up with Muhsin, who had some stuff to take care of. in the meantime, we walked around the beautiful campus.

Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University started out as an agricultural college before growing into what it is today, so they have large expanses of farming land for research, and even preserved a portion of the university’s original buildings into an outdoor museum which we checked out in the morning.

Some of the old barns and original buildings in Hokkaido University

There was a University Museum which was free so we checked that out. It was really quite interesting. there was a special exhibition going on, Giant Crocodiles vs Dinosaurs. Very cool. The museum building itself was really nice too, kinda felt like we were in Hogwarts.

The gorgeous University Museum building. We arrived the same time as a group of deaf Japanese schoolchildren coming on a school trip.
‘Boys, be Ambitious’ is the University’s motto.  Some of the exhibits: Sustainable models, The university’s nobel prize in chemistry, and some bugs.

Some awesome skeletons

More chemistry stuff. People used to have such nice penmanship!

Kuma, giant croc, more bugs, and a sweet deer

origami dinosaurs, looking at geology through a micriscope, and a cool exhibition about compressing numbers
University blueprints. All hand drawn and so precise and detailed hamek kau sectional detail

hogwarts hogwarts hoggy warty hogwarts (with dinosaurs)

Muhsin had shown us pictures of a sunflower field in the university so we set off looking for it, passing through a beautiful garden and into the Poplar avenue, but we couldn’t find it anywhere so we headed back to Mushin’s faculty for lunch and prayers at the International Students office, where we met some of Mushin’s friends who decided to show us where the field was. As it turns out though, they had uprooted the entire field just a few days before. :/ but looking at the cows was fun too 🙂

flowering shrubs garden

beautiful polar avenue

me and mun shared a bowl of yummy soba

didnt find the sunflowers but i got excited about the cows in the background

Shiroi Koibito and goodbyes

We decided to go to Shiroi Koibito Park outside the chocolate factory afterwards, and even though it wasn’t in peak bloom, it was still really beautiful and fun. And the chocolates we bought were deeeelicious! There was a free old toy museum so we checked that out too.

short side trip to ‘ol blighty

quaint english rose garden

the roses smelt wonderful, and thats a real apple!
come in, come in!
lotsa cute little playhouses around the park
hope dysentery keeps away

flowerbed, literally kinda


bubbles! bubbles! bubbles!



making candy

apparently every tourist place in japan has these commemorative stamp thingies. baru tauuu

yummylicious chocolate drink. so smoooth
hangin out with Mozart, Mona Lisa, and ‘ol Pinocchio himself

astro boy blueprints
astro boys
cool old toys

Stopped by a second hand bookshop on the way back from Shiroi Koibito, they have tons of them everywhere in Japan. Munira got a few books for her boss, and we went on our way to Maruyama Park (the Sapporo version, they re-use names a lot here) Our plan was to catch the sunset from the top of the hill, but it was raining, and by the time we got to the park it was already past dusk, so we just walked around. Went to the Sapporo Masjid for prayers afterwards, and then we joined some of the Malaysian International Students Association for a farewell dinner for the interns, including my brother. Dinner was delicious (the cheese naan was to dieeee for!!! the cheese was soooooo gooooood!!) but the company was just as enjoyable 🙂

Some members of MISA. Arigatou Gozaimashita guys for taking good care of my little brother 🙂 pic from Alfarina

Spent our last night in Sapporo at Sue’s place and got up super early to catch the bus to the airport for our flight to Tokyo. There was a bit of a panic phase where we woke up late and had to really rush for the bus, and then reaching the airport and forgetting one of my bags on the bus after it had left the airport, but it was all good, Alhamdulillah 🙂

Goodbye Sapporo, Tokyo, here we come!

Expenses in Sapporo: ~¥6000
CTS to Sapporo:¥1040
Lunch day 1:¥250
Sapporo-Otaru Welcome Pass:¥1500
Dinner day 1:¥700
Lunch Day 2:¥300
Dinner day 2:¥500
Chocolate stuff at Shiroi Koibito:¥650
Bus to CTS: ¥1000

Japan Part 1

Japan Part 2

Japan Part 3


Japan Pt3 – Kyoto Day 3: Arashiyama, friends, and stranded

Japan Part 1
Japan Part 2

For day 3 we were undecided whether to leave Kyoto for Osaka earlier or just have the whole day in Kyoto. We had to go to Osaka to get to the airport for our early flight the next morning, but we didn’t really know what to do in Osaka besides the aquarium and Universal studios, both of which were expensive, so we decided to just take it easy and spend the day in Kyoto.


Our bus route headed towards Arashiyama was apparently an old folks route, since our bus was full of cute old grannies and grandpas getting out and about with their daily business. Arashiyama is a district to the west of Kyoto, quite outside the main city area, but well worth the visit. Our bus passes didn’t cover the Arashiyama area but we could still use them, just needed to pay a bit extra for the journey out of the city. Once there, me and Munira rented bikes for ¥800 each for the whole day, and it was really nice and relaxing to cycle everywhere as the Japanese do. Bike rentals are easily available around Arashiyama, and we took the cheapest most convenient place we could find. Some places charged ¥1000 per day. It took a while to get confident enough to cycle on the roads, but after some practice runs in the park we headed to the beautiful bamboo groves.

cute teacher and schoolkids out for a morning excursion

me a lot of the time. logistics wrangling

obligatory daily selfie

cute old people :3

The bamboo groves are one of the main attractions in Arashiyama, and there is no admission fee. (¥A¥) Walking through the narrow pathways surrounded by the tall, swaying bamboo is an experience like no other. When the wind blows through the forest and the bamboo rustle against each other, it’s just like aaahhhhhhh~ The bamboo forest is actually a plantation, with bamboo there harvested and used for everything from building structures to souvenirs. We spent a few hours just walking slowly up and down the hills before stopping for some matcha “softu cream” at the Torokko Arashiyama Station, which was the next thing on our list.

Togetsukyo Bridge

Practice run around the islet park

Bamboo forest  


cute bamboo goods shop along the way


mystical swaying rustling bamboo

scale and proportion

waited to get a pic in this spot only for it to turn out with harsh shadows. oh wells

matcha softu cream with crunchy cinnamon biscuit. Yummmm

Another attraction in Arashiyama is the Sagano Scenic Railway, also known as Romantic train or Torokko line. It runs on an old portion of mountainous track to and from Kameoka and Saga-Arashiyama. We decided to take the return trip on the scenic railway so we rode our bikes to the Saga-Arashiyama station and parked them there, then boarded he JR line to the last Torokko station, near JR Umahori. along the way on the JR train we’d see glimpses of breathtaking scenery, deep ravines with swift blue rivers flowing through them. So exciting! From the Umahori station we walked past expanses of paddy fields (I admit, this was the closest I’ve ever gotten to a sawah padi >.< )

actually i was the jakun one…

chocolate mochi

lets go!

Romantic train has arrived


IRL it was 10x more breathtaking

traditional boat tour down the river, which we didnt take because of yens.

rafting down, also no because of yens. would’ve been awesommmeeee though.

one of several JR railway bridges

merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

life is but a dream



through the forest

river/mountainside ochaya

train lady

 The scenic railway ride itself took 25 minutes, and that was way too short to fully take in the gorgeous mountain and river scenery. Definitely a must go if you find yourselves in Kyoto. The whole Arashiyama region actually, is highly highly recommended. Towards the end of the train ride one of the train conductors went through all the carriages slowly, singing a low, melodic folk song. I didn’t know what it meant but it definitely suited the whole atmosphere.

model town at the station

shinkansen tumpang lalu temple

After the train ride we decided to just cycle around Arashiyama, stopping at cute second hand book shops and pretty train stations, along the river watching people canoe around, to the Tenryu-ji temple and some interesting statues before returning the bikes and walking across the bridge again to the park to people watch, pray, and soak in the relaxing atmosphere.

our first second hand bookshop. instant love

how awesome is that breakfast at tiffany’s book?

the shop and our 2 red bikes



Arashiyama is apparently a popular break-up spot. i can’t imagine why..its so beautiful here

the bridge at late afternoon

pretty train station


pretty ladies

kawaiii again

skodeng dari jauh, and then

asked for a pic up close 🙂 we felt so selekeh next to them


air, water, earth

quaint (expensive) restaurant

Music Box Museum *saaakuraaaa*

done ferrying for the day


last ride
pretty train station again at dusk

Dinner with friends, Catalonia, and surprises

By this time it was nearing dusk so we got back on the bus to get our bags at the hostel and head to the airport. when we got back to the hostel though, we decided to have dinner first (maggi) since it would not only lighten our load, but also we didn’t want to have to look for food along the way. As it turns out, our hostel mates were planning on having a big dinner altogether, and asked us to join them, so we did. A Spanish/Catalan couple, Albert and Nuria, made a delicious potato onion omelets and tomato-olive oil toast. so simple but so tasty! our Japanese hostel caretakers made teriyaki chicken with eggplant, radish and other veg, but we only at the vegetables, which were also soooo delicious. Dinner conversations firstly revolved around food, and later I asked Nuria what the deal was with Catalans, what the difference was between a Catalan and a Spaniard, so we got into a serious and eye-opening discussion about the Catalan situation. Really interesting and learnt so many new things 😀 If we ever find ourselves in Barcelona, we have a home ready to receive us, and vice versa yayyyy!

our hostel mates 😀

maggi dinner hewhew

yuko, the main hostel caretaker 😀

In the middle of our discussion, I noticed the hostel caretaker was switching off lights, which was odd because we were all still in the living room. Suddenly it was pitch black, and out of the staff room, another caretaker emerged bringing 2 cakes! as it turned out, they planned a mini-belated-surprise birthday party for 2 of the guests, Albert and this other Japanese guy. we were all so surprised! so sweet of them ^___^ so we all had a bit of cake, but it was getting late and we had to get to the airport. so after saying our goodbyes to everyone and thanking everyone for their hospitality, we rushed off to the bus stop and literally had to run across the road with all our luggage to catch the bus. Barely made it!

Railway Rush

Got to the train station and bought express train tickets to Kansai but we were told the express train service was finished for the day, so we had to take the regular train and switch to another train in Osaka. After a whole debacle with the ticketing machine (you’d be surprised to know there are people, yes, people, behind those machines. I swear) we ran for the train (up and down stairs I might add) and just managed to make it through the doors before they shut. We were running really tight with the train switch, and there was a high chance we wouldn’t make the transfer, which ended up being the case. So we found ourselves stranded in Osaka, at Tennoji station. the last train to the airport had gone and the station would close in a few hours, opening again only in the morning.


At first we were kind of lost, wandering around the station thinking of options. we considered just waiting outside the station, but we didn’t know how safe that would be especially being so tired. my sister suggested finding a 7-11 and camping out in front of one since it was open 24/7. We asked taxis how much it would cost to get to the airport, and had a good laugh over the ¥10000 fare (after discount). then I remembered something I read about while researching cheap accommodation: manga/internet cafes or manga kissaten. It’s basically an internet cafe which is open 24hrs and you can stay there and surf the net/sleep/read manga for a relatively cheap hourly/packaged rate.

We asked the train ticket counter where the nearest one was and it wasn’t so far, so we walked over to see and decide our next move. after a loooong stare at the price menu, we decided to get the 5 hour night package for ¥980 per pax, which was the cheapest they offered. basically a desk cubicle with internet, and ours included free drinks, access to bathrooms and a free shower. It was actually not bad at all, if a little uncomfortable to sleep in a moving chair and at a desk, but if you wanted to pay extra, you could get a much more comfortable sleeping cubicle, which had more privacy and a reclining massage chair. not for us though.

The bathrooms were very clean, well stocked with soap and tissues, plenty of drinks from free vending machines (which I didn’t know how to use so I just drank warm water), for showering they give you a towel and a hairdryer and the shower has shampoo and soap ready for you, and the place was totally non-dodgy. Rows and rows of manga available to read if you like, fast internet, relatively quiet, felt very safe and even managed to sleep for an hour or two. definitely an experience, that.

our place kinda looked like this, but a bit brighter.

rows and rows of manga

The next morning we got up super early and rushed to the train station for the first train out (5am). there was no way we were missing another train, and we really needed to be at the airport asap to drop off our luggage and board the plane. Alhamdulillah we made it in time, and before we knew it, we were on board the cutest flight we ever flew, straight on to Sapporo.

Day 3 expenses: ¥6660
Bus Pass:¥500
Additional fare:¥400
Bike rental:¥800
Matcha Ice cream:¥150
Sagano Scenic railway:¥600
JR Tickets to Umahori:¥190
Books: ¥200
Train ticket to Osaka: ¥1830
Internet Cafe: ¥980
Train ticket to Kansai: ¥1010

Japan Part 1

Japan Part 2


Japan Pt2 – Kyoto day 2: Palaces, Castles, and Geishas

*warning – this is gonna be quite a looong post with lots of pics. You can read Part 1 here*

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Day two started off with a guided walking tour of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which was free but needed advanced reservations and approval from the Kyoto Imperial Household Agency. Our tour started at 10am, so we decided to head out a bit earlier and have breakfast at the Imperial Palace Gardens. The outer compound was huge, and it took us quite a while to walk up to the entrance gates. The tour was conducted in English, and it brought us around the Imperial Palace grounds. Kyoto had been the capital of Japan for over 1000 years, before moving to Tokyo in 1869. The palace was actually destroyed by fire several times but always rebuilt in the same traditional manner and in the same location. Nowadays the palace is uninhabited and serves as a museum.
Morning happy faces


wide gravel promenades..You can just imagine imperial processions strolling through the park

gurgling stream in the peach grove

strolling through the Imperial Palace grounds

The Imperial Palace Inner Wall

Seishomon Gate, the entrance for visitors

The tiger room in the Shodaibunoma, the waiting area for courtiers on official visits to the palace

The Shishinden, the most important building in the palace complex. Used for enthronement ceremonies and other state ceremonies

Jomeimon Gate heading to the Shishinden. The vermillion colour is believed to ward off evil 

incredible detailing on the roof structure

I looove the roofs…

Shishinden and a glimpse of the base of the throne inside


more roof ogling

Kenshunmon Gate, the entrance for the empress, princes and princesses

Roof construction details. The entire roof is made out of cypress bark, hand laid in several layers. each piece of bark is pinned into place with a bamboo pick. 

The cypress bark is used because it has natural water resistance, flexibility to form shapes, and insect repellent properties. The thickened part of the roof near the front is just for aesthetics and is also made of cypress bark. 

Shunkoden, one of the most recently built buildings in the complex

more roof love

The Seiryoden, used as the emperors residence

Seiryoden, that white tent is where the emperor would rest

Keiyakibashi bridge at the Oikeniwa gardens

traditional Japanese garden, the idealized landscape

strolling garden for the royalty

Oikeniwa Gardens



Gonaitei gardens

path towards the empress and childrens quarters

our tour guide

Gonaitei gardens <3
During the tour, the tour guide explained that there was a period during which Kyoto was not ruled by the emperor, but rather by the shogun, leader of the samurai. The shogun did not reside in the imperial palace, but in Nijo Castle (Nijo-jo) instead. After some time, the 15th shogun Yoshinobu publicly and peacefully restored the sovereignty to the emperor. We thought it would be interesting to see the difference between an imperial palace and a samurai castle so we headed there afterwards.

Nijo Castle

Nijo-jo was in fact incredibly different than the imperial palace. It seemed to have a darker, more heavy air. While the imperial palace only had thick outer walls, Nijo-jo had a succession of moats and high, thick walls. The gardens were not as dense and manicured, but the buildings were far more decorated. What was great was that unlike the imperial palace, we could actually enter into the castle and walk through it, though photography was not allowed. Inside the Nijo-jo compound there were actually 2 main buildings, the Ninomaru palace and the Honmaru Palace. 
details on the Kara-mon gate

Ninomaru Palace

i be flyyin like the birds

Across the outer moat

TIL: the roof ends are actually crests indicating the family/affiliation of the inhabitants. for the Imperial Palace its a 16 petaled chrysanthemum.

walking through Honmaru Gardens

Honmaru Gardens

Honmaru gardens and palace

Inside the Ninomaru palace the ceiling and walls were painted with vivid imagery, finished off with gold paint and filled with incredible detailing. One of my favorite parts about the building was the floors. The nightingale floors as they were called were specifically designed in such a way that when stepped on, would produce a small high pitched chirping sound, which alerted the inhabitants of movement and prevented any sneak attacks in case of infiltration.
interior painted screens. pic from http://maryamhmz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/DSC00717.jpg
interior detailing. pic from http://maryamhmz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2906565737_6f8fb91989.jpg
Pine tree motif screen painting. pic from http://alvinjani.mylovepress.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/dsc_0107.jpg
pic from http://alvinjani.mylovepress.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/dsc_0107.jpg
pic from http://maryamhmz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/DSC00713.jpg
one of the ceremonial rooms. pic from http://maryamhmz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/grand-audience-hall.jpg
Ceiling detail. pic from http://maryamhmz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/1875786-Detali_of_the_ceiling_of_Ninomaru_Palace..jpg


After walking around the compound and gardens we decided to then go to the famed Kiyomuzudera Buddhist temple. Getting there was certainly not the easiest thing as you have to climb uphill for quite a while before reaching the temple gates. But the many shops selling souvenirs, delicacies and oddities certainly make the climb less painful. We kept on stopping every few metres to oooh and aaahhh at elegant fans, pretty purses, intricate kimonos etc. :p Once at the gate, you have to do a little bit more climbing up a few flights of stairs to get the actual temple.


more climbing to the gate

the gate! finally!

not sure if this was a beggar or what.

approach and climb

kimono yukata clad tourists

Kyoto~ 🙂

more stairs to the temple

Main approach to the temple grounds

we’re here!

sisters and partners in crime

prayer plaques maybe?

the magnificent view from up here

i wuz ‘ere

so was she

pavilion in the forest~

The place was crowded with tourists even though we went during non-peak season. Can’t imagine how thronged it would be during spring and autumn when the trees are all blossoming and full of color. from the temple we had a great view out to the entire Kyoto city and to the lush forested area where the temple was nestled. Stepping out onto the wooden stage is quite scary if you’re afraid of heights, because not only is it very high up with a straight drop, but the stage also looks like it’s going to fall off because its slanted slightly downwards. The entire temple was built without a single nail, and the columns system supporting the temple high off the hills was quite incredible.

tinkling bells welcomed us into the temple

more plaques

inside the temple


that’s the wooden stage out there

nampak je orang pakai kimono terus snap3..kimonos are so niiiice


At the foot of the temple there were these water fountains, from which the temple derived its name. (Kiyomizudera means Temple of Pure Water) People formed a long line to get a chance to drink from one of the three fountains, each with its own supposed benefit, such as long life, success, and a fortunate love life.
the three fountains down there
knick knacks otw down from the temple, along the main access road lined with so many tempting shops

attempt at kawaii-ness. fail

attempt at kawaii japanese pose. fail

scrum-dilly-dumptious matcha parfait with plenty of surprises under the cream and matcha

we didnt get to go to the Ghibli museum because the tix sold out…so we had to make do with the souvenir shops we found je

magical nook in a nondescript alley



ok la kawaii jadi sikit 🙂
Walking downhill from Kiyomuzudera we tried to find our way to the preserved streets of the Higashiyama district. We got lost after missing a turn but backtracked and it was definitely worth it. The streets were so quaint! we felt like we were walking through a movie set or theme park because it seemed so pristine and so cute!
Yasaka Pagoda i think…


such a charming place!

Beautiful street ^___^

doesn’t it feel like a movie set/theme park?


Japanese people are very into umbrellas. sold everywhere, and they’re so pretty too!

more ghibli goods

most delicious rice cracker i have ever ever eaten

happy shop keeper

wasabi rice cracker


cute purses made of traditional fabric with traditional print. 


neko art

ancient pathway

arrived at maruyama park and finding my way to Gion


At the end of the preserved streets we found ourselves at Maruyama Park, and passed through it to get to Gion, the Geisha district. 
Maruyama Park

worshippers at Yasaka shrine

i think these were like fortune papers

exiting Yasaka Shrine towards Gion

The main street in Gion is Hanami-koji, another preserved street just off the Shijo-dori shopping street, and we walked along slowly, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) or maiko (Geiko apprentice) we walked alllll the way to the end of the road with no luck, and by this time our feet were screaming, so we decided to just sit down by the side of the road next to Gion corner (a sort of performance house for all the traditional Japanese performing arts including geiko dancing) and people watch, which was definitely interesting.

Entering Hanami-koji

traditional machiya house converted into a restaurant/ochaya (teahouse)

most of the restaurants here are very expensive, thus the doorman. A lot of the restaurants/ochaya have geiko/maiko performances, but they’d all be indoors

kawaii fail..

dusk falling
After a while we decided to get moving because it was starting to get dark. We were walking back up Hanami-koji towards Shijo-dori, busy fumbling with the camera, when suddenly a maiko appeared! She was walking out of the Gon corner and into the street. We were so excited and tried to get a picture of her but she walked so fast! I don’t know how they manage to walk in full costume and wearing wooden clogs and walking daintily but incredibly fast at the same time. Most of our pics of her ended up being blurry, but we were thrilled nonetheless 😀
at which point i squealed to munira “Maiko Mun! Maiko!”

we were trying to keep up but gosh darnit she can walk so fast!
noticed this funnily dressed man earlier, and turns out he’s like, a geisha stalker. once the maiko emerged he ran after her and pulled out his big camera and snapped away like a paparazzi hehe :p
We ended the day walking along Shijo-dori again, just window shopping and taking in the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of downtown Kyoto. We decided to have maggi for dinner at our hostel, to save on money, but since we didnt have lunch, we shared some takoyaki. (tip: ask for no soy sauce, as we were told later the soy sauce might not be halal)
Shijo-dori at dusk


fascinating machine making little idk whats. looked like some kind of dorayaki

party scooter
expenses for day 2: ~¥3600
bus pass: ¥500
Nijo-jo: ¥600
Kyomizudera: ¥300
Rice Cracker: ¥150
Lunch (Onigiri 2 each): ¥250
Parfait: ¥650
Souvenirs: ¥650


Japan Pt1 – Travel and Kyoto Day 1

After a whole lot of planning (which I still felt was not enough, but I didn’t have time or much help) the day finally arrived: Osaka-Kyoto-Sapporo-Tokyo roadtrip commence! 😀 Our flight to Kansai International Airport, Osaka, was at 3 pm so we decided to leave the house at around 11.45. I thought that was ample time buuuuut we must’ve missed a turn somewhere and I had never taken the NKVE to LCCT before. In the end we arrived just in time to drop off our baggage and clear the security check. Thank God we checked in online earlier hehe.

Kansai International Airport (KIX) 

Our flight arrived at around 10.30pm local time, which was a bit late to catch the last trains into the city. Also, being the cheapskates that we are, we didn’t feel like paying for a bed just for one night, so we decided to sleep in the airport and get the earliest trains to Kyoto the next morning. Our flight landed in terminal 1 of KIX, which is the main terminal. It seemed pretty small but functional, which I suppose, is what Japan is all about. After reading up about sleeping in KIX from this website (backpackers best friend, this) I followed the reviews advice lead my sister to the 2nd floor next to Lawson. It was a pretty quiet and secluded area but completely safe and well lit, but not as bright as the rest of the airport, which was great. The airport has free wifi (another backpackers best friend) so I checked foursquare for any tips and found out you can borrow blankets from the airport information centre which was right next to where we were going to sleep. Perfect! the blankets were nice and thick, and blocked out light excellently. We slept like babies.

sleeping in the airport with yummy blankets

The next morning we woke up and headed for the coin operated showers in the airport lounge nearby. A shower was ¥500 per person (approx. RM15) and you get a changing room, shower cubicle, hairdryer and small basket to yourself. Soap and shampoo are provided as well. Once you start showering you are given 15 minutes of running water. Plenty of time for the most expensive shower I’ve ever taken.

the KIX lounge shower facilities. Jakun ok!

All Aboard! 

All freshened up we headed to the Kansai airport train station to get our tickets to Kyoto. While planning for the trip, Hyperdia came in extremely handy in working out which trains I could take and how much/how long it would take. Printed out the relevant results and lugged them everywhere hehe. But as useful as it was to know which train to take and how much it would cost, we were still stumped when faced with the ticketing machine. Spent quite a few minutes prodding the screen trying to pick our destination before asking someone for help. As it turns out, you don’t choose your destination on the screen, but rather, on the huge board showing destinations and how much they would cost. then at the machine you insert that amount of money, and a ticket will be issued. Quite confusing at first but towards the end of the trip we got the hang of it, kinda. The printed out sheets also helped a LOT.
1.check fares to destination on that big map. 2. purchase tix

me and my trusty file o’stuff. 

success! sorta kinda
The view along the way. paddy fields interspersed between urban development. Interesting juxtaposition

Kyoto Day 1 – Temples, Shrines, and Philosophy 

The train to Kyoto took about 1.5 hours on the direct express train. Once in Kyoto, we got ourselves the day passes for the local bus (¥500) and headed to our hostel. We stayed at Hostel Mundo, as suggested by Afi, since it was the cheapest we could find, and as an added bonus, it was in a traditional house:D The tatami room was taken though, so we had to settle for the double bed room, which was very comfortable if a little tight.

Huge Kyoto Station

Home for 2 nights 🙂
The room we stayed in. Cosy!

After dropping off our bags there we started our sightseeing. First stop was Kitano Tenmangu, which hosted a flea market every 25th of the month, so we couldn’t miss that. There were so many interesting things on sale, pottery-ware, food, knick-knacks, and second hand kimonos, which were quite cheap! Munira bought a silk autumn kimono and obi for ¥2000 (~RM65) which was a steal.

flea market goodies. The lady trying the yukata on was so prettyyy..as were most people in Japan

Around the temple

bertambah jepun 

Next we walked towards Ryoan-ji, the Zen temple, and on the way stopped by the Kyoto Prefectural Insho-Domoto Museum of Fine Arts because it was free and air conditioned :p Ryoan-ji was surrounded by beautiful greenery, very peaceful. The Rock garden itself was a bit small and I was more interested in the building and surroundings honestly. At the entrance we were given some seaweed tea, which I thought would be like green tea but oh boy was I wrong! it was extremely hot and salty, kind of like drinking boiled seawater. but the after-taste was quite good, and you definitely feel refreshed after a few sips. Just not my cuppa tea though, literally.

Onigiri – a staple for us in Japan. Cheap and filling 🙂

Beautiful approach to the temple

Green green moss – felt like lying down and falling asleep here but this place couldn’t be entered. they protect their grass and moss here 

our first torii

calligraphers booth

part of the small zen rock garden

sumi ink painted screen doors

amazing detailing and workmanship

cypress, my new favourite tree. the temple was made primarily using this wood, as were most temples and palaces in Japan. Its such a wonderful wood, ages beautifully and has highly visible grain~

across the pond
The next place we visited was Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion. It was much smaller than Ryoan-ji, in terms of surroundings as well as the building. But visiting it in the afternoon was great because the sunlight glinted off the golden walls and made everything seem shiny~



we thought it was a statue because it stood so still for so long…

Japanese forests are scary, dark places. beautiful, but so so dark, even right at the edge like here.

matcha shaved ice to cool off 🙂
The sun was setting but we had some time so we decided to go to the Philosophers Path on the other side of the city. Had we made it there earlier, we could’ve visited Kinkakuji’s sibling, the Silver Pavilion Ginkakuji. But as it was we reached there around 6, which is when it closed for admission. So we strolled down the Philosophers Path instead, which is a 2km long path along the old Kyoto canal. In the spring the cherry blossoms lining the path make it a very popular cherry blossom watching spot. Me and Munira tried to be all philosophical…but most of our made up sayings (which honestly consisted mostly of streams, fish, paths, lights, and life) were either funny or didn’t make sense haha!

plenty of these around tourist areas, but we didnt get on one sebab kesian and cheapskate

warm afternoon sun

“in life, it is not the path you choose, but the direction you take that matters”

principal philosopher

“in life, you will meet some big fish, and you will meet some small fish. do not be afraid of the big fish, and do not disregard the small fish..All fishes have a part to play” huge carp. about 1 meter long

a very graves-esque house

more traditional homes

“stream over a stream, is like a dream, over a dream”

made it!
At the end of the path we found ourselves slightly lost, but managed to find a bus stop and hopped on to get to Nishiki Market, Kyoto’s Kitchen, for some dinner. We got there, but it was quite late and most shops in that street had closed. we ended up walking through the arcades along Shijo-dori instead, gawking and ogling all the interesting shops. At the end of the arcade, still hungry, we came across a shop selling udon for quite a reasonable price, so we popped in not expecting much. But it turned out to be suuuper delicious! A small bowl of udon, which was topped with chopped spring onion, salmon roe, half boiled egg, seaweed, and prawn tempura cost ¥500, which is about as cheap as meals in touristy areas get. A loooooong walk and short bus ride later, we got back to our hostel for some much needed rest and planning for the next day.

Shijo dori *o*

Teramachi arcade *o*


we ate here. Can’t read the name of the shop though :p

total expenditure per pax for the day: approx ¥10,520 
Shower: ¥500 
KIX to Kyoto train: ¥2770 (can get for ¥1830, but we took the express train) 
bus pass: ¥500 
Hostel full payment(2nights): ¥4500 
breakfast and lunch (bread and onigiri): ¥400 
Ryoan-Ji: ¥500 
Kinkakuji: ¥400 
Shaved Ice snack (shared): ¥250 
Dinner: ¥500 
Drinks: ¥200

See Japan Part 2 here

Butterfly week

The Holidays have started and I intend to make the most of them. This week has been filled with activities, going out and socializing and meeting people and going places and doing things. not my average week, but definitely enjoyable 😀

4-7 June – Pulau Perhentian Kecil

more pics below 🙂 most perhentian pics from rahsia studio and phy

A lot of uncertainty building up to the trip but boy was everything worth it. From ramai jadi sikit until I was the only girl then nego2 til there were 5 girls on board. I didn’t know what to expect from Perhentian, of course there are those glossy tourism pictures but I’ve been let down by advertorial images too many times to believe what I saw on the internet.

But Perhentian was really really breathtakingly beautiful Masha’Allah. Air macam lumion. And it was nice to not have to be the one organizing things, as I’m very prone to doing. can’t really help it…I just like making the most out of my travels. like when we went to Hong Kong and Melbourne, no one else seemed to know where they wanted to go but I researched the hell out of everything, and Alhamdulillah, both trips were quite enjoyable. But I digress.

Perhentian was delayed a few times, because the days leading up to it were jam-packed full of finishing up thesis reports and external portfolios and whatnot. Once we got going at 3am though, minus a small but scary hiccup early in the journey, we got there safe and sound. We stayed at Maya Chalet, and for our 3day 2 night package which included island transfers, snorkeling trip (equipment and boat) and accommodation, we only paid rm140, which was a total bargain.

Our chalet was on coral bay, the chill, quiet side of the island, good for food and chilling out, but for swimming and playing on the beach, a short trek across the island to Long Beach is recommended. Long Beach is kind of the party beach though, so by dusk it was starting to get rowdy with bars and loud music and dancing, so we made our way back to our little haven where it was jack Johnson and calm waves all night long. Mafia wars that night after dinner and for the first round I was the mafia, and in the second round I was the angel. Fun times.

The next day after a morning stroll on the beach with Puteri and breakfast of twiggies and roti potato on an upside-down kayak, we hung out on Mye’s balcony and had second breakfast, before getting our flippers on and heading out for our snorkeling trip. This was by far the best snorkeling trip I’ve ever ever been on. Felt like I was swimming in an aquarium, so so many different types of colorful fishes, coral, and even sea turtles! we went to the shark point but unfortunately I didn’t see any sharks since I was too scared of swimming near the rocks (takut terhempas dgn ombak). swimming was so tiring but so completely absorbing once you got into the rhythm of breathing and paddling and following fishes around.

After snorkeling for a few hours we headed back to our island and had lunch, and then had some rest before hanging out on the balcony again. towards the late afternoon we all decided to go explore one of the other beaches, a more remote one called Romantic Beach lol. It wasn’t that good for swimming since there were lots of sea cucumbers which kind of grossed me out. Didn’t want to step on those slimy things. so I just sat on the beach, borak2, chilllllllll~

That night we had a bbq dinner, and it was deeeeelicious! I had shark (of the non-endangered boleh jumpa kt giant variety) which was soft and succulent. Cheap too! RM15 for the bbq set which included a meat of your choice (barracuda, barramundi, squid, blue marlin, stingray, prawn, lobster, chicken, etc2), choice of dipping sauce, rice, big slice of juicy watermelon and pineapple, a slice of banana cake, and drinks. Nyummmms :-9

That night we played ‘kotak beracun’ which is kind of like a pre-prepared truth or dare + hot potato. It was hilarious and I definitely learned a lot heheh. The next day we packed up and after a last bit of pictures-taking, headed back to the mainland.

We stopped by Kuala Terengganu to buy keropok lekor at Kg. Losong and then Pasar Payang for a bit, then started on our journey back to KL, which turned out to be quite the adventure. Kak. Fiza’s car started acting up, or rather, wouldn’t start, so we jump started it but it kept on dying, even after driving. That happened a lot of times and nighttime was closing in, and they couldn’t turn on the headlights because the car would die and we took the kampung road so there weren’t any rest stops along the way. Managed to slowly drive in convoy to meet up with An’s uncle who bought a replacement battery in Kuantan, and after that the car was ok, Alhamdulillah. Eventually reached KL at 3am, just around the time we left 🙂

8 June – textbook meeting which I came late to because I was so tired. eh wait. that’s true but also because I had to go meet our course coordinator and receive the bad news (will talk about this later)

9 June – Helped Salmoon clean up their new house. Tiring. Then Haneef has been wanting to get his glasses made, and for some reason insisted on waiting until I was available to go with him, so we went. That night we went to Mariam Sano’s Henna party. Dance dance. Well not so much. haha

bebola ikan said salman…

 10 June – Went to clean up the studio while waiting for the studio mates yg nak pergi visit Jannah and her baby in Shah Alam. Convoy around 7 cars because everyone was going home straight afterwards. Stopped by Faiz/Yeop/Paih/Boss’s house first where it was like raya, makanan penuh satu meja, kuih raya bagai. Nyums. Ate til our stomachs were bursting then headed over to Jannah’s to coo and gush over baby Qurratul Hayah.

kuih raya~
posing with the sleeping baby shhhhhh
little angel~

11 June – Finished cleaning up my stuff at the studio and loaded them up into the old Volvo, then makan2 and jalan2 at Wangsa Maju with the baby brother, then visited Yang at her house, chatted for quite a while, then drove brother home, then headed over to Ayesha’s for a surprise bday party bbq sleepover. Successfully manned the BBQ and it was the best bbq chicken I’ve ever had, hehehehe. Potato salad was scrumptious, and lots of laughs all around. Singing and eating and laughing, Good times.

muka selekeh semua orang yg baru habis berbbq

12 June – Went to UIA to settle some more stuff (more on that debacle later) then went back to Ayesha’s and just hung out. went to Dr. Cafe in the afternoon, then back to Ayesha’s for dinner (we call her house our holiday retreat. bliss!) then picked up my mom from work, and finally headed home where I finally got to talk to Muhsin who’s in Japan for three months, yay!

my girl, talkin bout myy girllll

13 June – ran around doing errands and driving people around and then finally got to the initial plan of the day which was the long awaited DOCTOR WHO MARATHON finallyyy!!! Picked up some (fake) jammy dodgers, lychee soda, and fish fingers, drove over to Aziza’s and made custard and fried the fish fingers, and made the TARDIS blue drink. Fish fingers and custard was actually not that bad. an acquired taste perhaps. then it was time to catch up on the last 4 episodes of the season. OMG.

jammy dodgers, homemade bounty bars, fish fingers and custard, tardis lychee drink, and episodes 😀

14 June – More driving people around and errands, had to save my mum from ISTAC because her car battery konked out. Felt extra manly this week because of the barbecues and driving and battery changing. Went to watch Man of Steel afterwards with Ilham, Nadiah and the Khatibs, can’t say I enjoyed the movie really. Actually felt quite bored.

15 June – Don’t know what got into me but I found myself in SS2 Mall early in the morning to attend an Improv Workshop held by AI:IA. Maybe because someone said it probably wasn’t my kind of thing I felt challenged:p maybe because I really was in the mood to try new things, maybe because the place was near food foundry and I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some mille crepe. I didn’t know what to expect at all, and came in to find people stretching like they were going to go for a run. erk. Turns out the stretching was a good idea because it turned out to be very..physical? I’m really glad I went though, it turned out to be really really fun and it was nice to meet new people and just be crazy with random strangers for a bit 😀 I enjoyed the last exercise the most, and apparently I was quite funny heehee ^_____^ Food Foundry afterwards where we split a smoked salmon sandwich and a pulled beef sandwich and ALMOND SALTED CARAMEL MILLE CREPE :9

pic from @iedilputra http://instagram.com/p/akQLS7xNXH/
heavenlyyyyyy..pic from http://lwinlee.blogspot.com/2013/01/mille-crepe-indulgence-food-foundry.html

16 June – lazy dayyyy~ Spent most of it either online, asleep, eating, or reading. Picked up ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’ around 2.30 and finished it (including an hour long nap in between) at 6.30. Good books really are too short oftentimes. played the flash version of portal after maghrib but got stuck on level 14. researched Japan and got :/ over how expensive it is, then chatted, then played Zelda: A Link to the Past but kept dying although I did make progress and got to fight the boss before dying again, battery of the gameboy micro was dying and it was late but I felt like writing, and here we are.

Ethan keeps on dyinggggg

A fun, fulfilling, but very tiring week. it was awesome 🙂

Beginning of the end

*brushes aside cobwebs and dust*

I suddenly feel like blogging again. I probably won’t but it’s just a feeling. It’s the final stretch of my Final Semester of my Final year in B. Arch, 3 more weeks till I have to submit my design thesis. I’m nowhere near done and I don’t know if I will be come the 16th of May. In all honesty I should be working on it now but today has not been a good day.

I woke up late because last night I was up till quite late, trying to get a chapter written, and then my friend pinged me on gtalk and we talked about River and the Ponds and how complicated river’s timeline is.

River Song and the Doctor’s Timeline
L=R: Rory, Amy, Doctor, River

Didn’t really help that I was woken up in the middle of the night by my mom asking me where my brother’s overalls were. (?)

Woke up proper and found out our last kitten got hit by a car and had died.


That’s probably why I don’t feel like doing any work. My thesis is about animal welfare, but all our cats keep dying. Makes me feel like a phony.

In an attempt to make my life more interesting and to take my mind of Things, my weekends have been pretty packed as of late. Hanging out with friends, playing games, cooking, climbing up Tabur, white-water rafting, karaoke, concert-going and movie watching. It’s been fun, but at the same time, once the weekends are over, I sink back into stress and depression. it’s been getting slightly better but things happen and it triggers all the emo switches.

Beach and ikan bakar outing with the girls at bagan lalang

kfc and egg sandwich picnic. L-R: Nadiah, Ilham, Aziza, Hannat

watching the sunset then praying on the beach 🙂

Pies are quite leceh to make but very delicious. In conjunction with Pi-day (March 14th) Kd, Muz, Nirman and I baked some pies. the Tomyam chicken pot pie was especially tasty. we also made banana-mango pie and lemon cheese pie. recipes were taken from various online sources and tweaked.

If you’ve never played rockband, I think you definitely should. it’s a lot of fun and good for stamina and dexterity lol. I was terrible at drums but I think I did ok for a beginner on the bass..

Subuh on one weekend a bunch of friends and myself made our way up Bukit Tabur a.k.a the dinosaur in my backyard. this was my second time up and it was a lot of fun. It was great to be able to organize it and ajak my friends along too. Will definitely go again.

ulu kelang dam from one of the peaks
Me and Yang the trooper 🙂

I dont have a fear of heights but i admit, gayat sikit duduk sini

Photo by Umar Mita

After the descent from Tabur, went for some eats then got home and popped right back out again to make my way to KL Central where me, Ilham, Aziza and Hannat drank obscenely priced coffee at the Hilton cafe and Ilham casually asked Nick Carter for a quick photo like he was our friend or something. Then we dashed off to KLCC for the Twin Towers Alive 2013 concert and to fulfill our adolescent dreams. BSB were A M A Z I N G obviously, but what really surprised me was the number of males in the audience. I’d have thought it would be full of screaming fangirls, but about half the crowd were guys.


shockresistant7's BSBTTLive2013 album on Photobucket

Went white water rafting with Ilham and Nadiah in Slim River, Perak. It wasn’t as challenging as I thought it’d be, and I came out of the 3 hour session not really tired. It was a whole bunch of fun though, would definitely recommend it although it’s a bit pricey at rm180 per person..

one of the stops along the way
Nadiah and I

At a hot spring we stopped by otw back. L-R: Sian Tze, Ilham, Me, K.Nini, Nadiah

after the last crit session Mye, Jedot, Mimi and myself drove off to Danau for some stress relief in karaoke. the place was super cheap but it was still ok. I didn’t sing too much firstly because I needed to save my voice for Sunday and secondly because I didn’t know half the songs they picked. aheh. the next Sunday I went for karaoke again, this time with ilham, hannat, aziza and nadiah at redbox in pavilion. a lot nicer and fancier but also much more expensive. they had a buffet which was good, and we were there for 4 hours singing our hearts out. It was actually a surprise birthday party for aziza, which I forgot about and was taken by surprise when a birthday song started playing all of a sudden and some guy brought in a cake. Loads of fun.

Its election season now

Finding Peace

I was listening to the radio one day during a rather funny incident (a story for another time) and they were interviewing Nora. She was talking about her…transformation? and journey to becoming a better Muslim. And something she said struck me. It was something like,

“Orang selalu fikir, kalau ber-hijab susah nak cari makan sebagai artis etc2, tapi kita kena ingat, rezeki tu bukan datang dari manusia. Rezeki tu dari Allah. Dan kalau rezeki tu Allah dah tentukan kita yang punya, tak kisah lah jauh mana pun rezeki tu, akan sampai jugak kat kita. Dan kalau rezeki tu Allah tak maksudkan untuk kita, walau depan mata pun, kita takkan dapat rezeki tu.” 

A rough translation is,

People always think that it would be hard to make a living as an artist (singer/actor etc) if you wear the hijab. But you have to remember that rizq doesn’t come from people, it comes from Allah. And if Allah has determined that the rizq is meant for you, then no matter how far away it is, you will get it. And if Allah deems that the rizq is not meant for you, then even if it’s right in front of your eyes, you won’t get it.

It struck me because I’d been thinking about all my offers to study overseas. The ones I applied for while clinging to hopes that maybe a miracle would happen and I’d land a scholarship that would let me go and further my studies overseas. And as the university offers rolled in, I’d get excited, and then disappointed because I couldn’t go. As time went by, I didn’t let myself get excited as much. but the disappointment still came. I tried to be all blasé about it, and I thought I’d accepted all of that. But every time I’d hear about people flying off to continue their studies I’d get a sharp jab of emotion and a spell of sadness. Maybe it was jealousy, although I’ve been told that not the right word. It’s not that I hated those who could go or that I wish they didn’t get to, not at all. I just really really wished I could go as well.

But listening to the radio interview made me realise that if I’m here, that means here is where I’m meant to be. And There is not my rezeki. And when I realised that, a sort of peace planted itself in me. I think I might definitely still feel those pangs of emotion whenever I hear of people flying off, or hear about their stories, or see their pictures, but I know that that is their rizq, and this is mine. And I’ll grow to accept that, Insha’Allah. After all, God knows what’s best for me.


Got a message this morning from Lily who I met in 2010 while she was on holiday in Malaysia. She is a lively Parisian who has been travelling all around the world on her own, making friends along the way. We don’t talk often at all, but every so often she would drop me messages and they are really the sweetest things. She sent me a postcard once, out of the blue, from when she was in Bali. and every ‘Eid, new year (Islamic and Gregorian) she would email me wishing me and my family all the best and hoping that our paths will cross again.. For someone I only met for a couple of weeks, its really nice of her to still remember me and take time and effort to write me emails and send me Parisian bisous <3

Hani, Lily, Lina, and Maryam, Summer 2010

Holiday to do list

Ok I’m procrastinating again. My exams are not over yet but I already have a list of thing I want to/have to do this holiday 😀 I have a month. I’m sure i’m being over ambitious, but here it is, in no particular order:

  1. Sew something! because i’m a total absolute noob, probably something simple. like a handkerchief. haha. ok maybe a pouch/purse thing.
  2. Continue to work on my knitting/crocheting – even out the stitches, edges, and make something instead of just incomplete pocket squares which turn out looking like triangles.
  3. Write more – here, there, everywhere. to myself, to friends. on this blog.
  4. Sketch things – whatever ideas i have basically. could be about the above mentioned projects, architecture, crafts or anything else. 
  5. Papercrafts – make cards and other fun things
  6. Clean my room – ohoho yes
  7. Fix my clock face – its broken so i want to make a pretty new one
  8. Organise my year by putting things into a calender
  9. Maybe tinker with this blog design
  10. Research on highrise – services, structures, examples, green tech applicable, materials, case studies
  11. Do the assignment madam told us to do – what setbacks i experienced this year, how i plan to improve upon them, and what my expectations are for B.Arch
  12. I also want to travel
  13. Hang out with friends. this can be done together with item no.12
  14. Bake. or make bagels.
  15. Finish my Zelda game. By finish I mean win, of course. Come on Ethan you can do it!!
  16. Continue those french lessons I long abandoned.
  17. read more Qur’an and its translations – review those surahs that are fading /have faded from memory 

Kuala Kangsar, Bandar di-Raja

After 12 days, we are finally back from our Kuala Kangsar Heritage Studies trip. The first week or so we were all counting down the days to go home, but when the time came, it was bittersweet. The people we met and interacted with treated us with such kindness and generosity, friendly and helpful in more ways than one. I will definitely miss this small town.
Alhamdulillah, everything went smoothly and many of our tasks dipermudahkan…Perhaps it was by stroke of luck that our heritage trip coincided with the birthday of the Sultan of Perak. It was really an incredible spectacle, full of festive atmosphere. If before, Kuala Kangsar seemed like a quiet, sparsely populated town, then the eve of the sultan’s birthday definitely proved me wrong. The whole riverside was thronged with people, young and old and of all walks of life, all different races. There was a pesta panjut, pertandingan perahu berhias (the train got the most cheers) and fireworks. The next day the whole baitul rahmah group decided to take the day off and see the famous landmarks of Kuala Kangsar. Labu sayong diborong habis. The entrance fee to the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery was waived since it was his birthday ^^ makan2 at Ku Sayang’s house and playing with her incredibly cute and exotic looking grandson Irfan.sitting by the riverside at the resort at night, looking out at the Sultan Abdul Jalil Bridge, chatting. Walking from Baitul Rahmah to Masjid Ubudiah in the cool afternoon, alone, taking in the scenery at my own pace. Meeting such wonderfully cute pakcik’s, makciks, pak engku’s and mak engku’s..just to name a few Engku Wan Rashidah, Engku Sayang, Ku Jid, Ku Izah, Ku Diah, Pak Meor, Ku Sophia, Pn Zalzilah, Wan Ainen, Hj Umar…and not forgetting the younger generation who also helped us a lot, Raja Suhaila, En Rashid and En Amin from MPKK, CC Kamarul from Pejabat Tanah, Raja Nor Izaliah, Raja Royani…

Still have a lot more to say…but I don’t know how..

To all my groupmates – Congratulations, Thank you, and apologies for any shortcomings…we’ve still got 2 months to go!!

Will these memories fade when I leave this town?

Road Trip – Perak

pictures will be added later. stay tuned

The early bird gets the worm…

…or, the wait. On the tentative schedule we were supposed to meet up at 4.am so that we could depart at 4.30. but the night before was our registration, so I had to go home to register (as luck would have it, my internet conked out at exactly 11.50 p.m., after I forced myself to stay awake the whole night waiting for the midnight stroke. hmm) well since I was at home, the only way I could get to UIA at such a ridiculous hour was if someone drove me there, and that someone was my dad. (Thanks Abah!) And after sending me he didn’t go back home (waste of gas) instead, he went straight to his office. When I got to the studio I think there were less than a handful of people there, no girls. So I went and hung out at the surau. In the end we left around 5 a.m. the weather was perfect….for sleeping. Raining and slightly chilly, perfect conditions for sleeping. Subuh and a very early breakfast at one of the rest stops.

I love Google
Everything Google. In this case, Google maps. Our car (half of the research team) decided beforehand that we needed to go to the Perak archives, so it was Google to the rescue. Got the address off the net and then went to Google maps and found the quickest and easiest route. Wrote it all down but I forgot the paper at home! Haha no worries though. I think I remembered the map pretty well. We got there in the end, that’s what matters :p

Branching out and getting lost – it’s fun and it pays off
The archives opened at 10, but we were already in Perak pretty early. So we decided to detour to Batu Gajah in search of Istana Raja Bilah or Istana Papan. Took the exit and had a fun time looking for Papan. Drove by several familiar sights, including a green church and Kellie’s castle, but we still couldn’t find Papan. So we had to stop and ask some friendly locals, one of which said pergi pusing, pastu belok kiri. Being from out of town, we had no idea pusing was a place and not an instruction :p but in the end we managed to find Papan, and it turned out to be a charming albeit dilapidated little town. Apparently, there was a movie shoot going on there as well. maybe it was this one?
From Papan we made our way to Ipoh, taking the old road instead of the highway. Much more fun and interesting, but that meant we’d be approaching from a different angle than if we were to take the highway and go according to the Google map directions I remembered. But we found the building after making several turns and went up to the archives. I think the people there were extra excited that they had customers, they were very friendly and helpful. We got some info from there, much more hands on; we scoured their resource room and everything. It was fun, in a way. But after a while I got sleepy, while waiting for our material to be photocopied. Good thing we arrived at the archives pretty early since we totally forgot it was Fridays and they had to go for Friday prayers and close up early. So we left and they locked up.
Time for lunch. Hmm. Where to eat? We drove around and ended up in front of Ipoh parade. Safe bet I suppose, so we ended up eating at marrybrown, sitting on swings^^
We then departed to Kuala Kangsar, again taking the old road and not the highway. It took longer I suppose but we saw some very interesting sights, like a beautiful Lafarge plant and an oddly conical hill. The Lafarge plant was just awesome, less like a building and more like an intricate and enormous machine. Later on our way to Taiping we passed a YTL plant but it paled in comparison.
When we finally got to KK the other groups were already heading out in search of alternate buildings to, measure so we decided to just drive around looking as well instead of checking into our lodging. As it turns out we found ourselves in Kota Lama Kiri, where we found several houses although the nicest one seemed to be already measured. I think we must’ve driven up and down the same road 20 times. After that we wanted to look for this mosque, Masjid Kg. Kuala Dal but no one knew where it was, even the locals that we asked. So then we crossed the river into Kota Lama Kanan but the houses there were sparser and less elaborate, nothing really worth measuring.
Drove back into town and drove around getting only slightly lost but that was a stroke of good fortune because we stumbled on this old mansion with a sprawling lawn (by Malaysian standards) but there was no one around to ask for any information about the house. There was a sign staying villa Gahara but we weren’t sure if that was the name of the house or the name of the housing area. The mansion was near a Christian kindergarten and Lutheran church and near to MCKK. We also passed Masjid Ridzwaniyah, which, by our own hypothesis, used to look like this but doesn’t anymore, which is a shame because it would’ve been nice to measure and document.

People. Trust your instinct?
After all that driving around (which is not as bad as walking around hehe) we finally went to our lodging to freshen up before dinner and group binding activities. Dinner was a very delicious barbecued chicken and sardine sandwiches. After dinner the group binding started, with a game called mafia wars (not the fb app) but not before a birthday surprise for Jah =P. So mafia wars. It’s a bit lengthy to explain I guess. It’s a game about trust and instinct and to a lesser extent, teamwork. Click the link for an explanation on how the game works.
In the first game I had a very strong suspicion on who the mafia was, but I didn’t listen to my instinct, for several reasons. Only just when I decided to do something, I was killed off. Nyeh. The next game I kept on nominating and voting for the same people who I seriously suspected, but few others backed me up. As it turned out though, the two people I did keep voting for were really the mafia. Heh!

Need for speeeeeed
the next day we went to the zoo ^^ I love the zoo…after a bit of a wait we hopped onto the tram and went around the zoo looking at amazing creatures Masha’Allah…then we got off the tram and did our own bit of exploring. Me and Madihah wanted to take pictures with the albino python, but our enthusiasm was certainly not shared by everyone else. In the end we managed to convince yam Mahmud and aqilah to join us. It was fun! Then we were walking around again, not really knowing where to go when suddenly a group of zoo staff walked up the hill and with them awas a cute baby orangutan! Heehee it was very curious and friendly =D.
After the zoo we went to Maxwell hill. I didn’t know what to expect, but that was fortunate because it was amazing! The ride up was like a very twisty roller coaster ride, 93 turns in all, winding steeply uphill with a sheer drop beside the road. Thank god the driver was experienced. He was driving with just one hand..! When we reached the top some of us got a bit sick so we sat around while waiting for the other jeep to arrive. Maxwell hill is very greeeeeeen and damp. Moss everywhere, lichen on trees and vegetation galore. It’s also very foggy because of the humidity. Very surreal to be standing in a cloud. After a tiring hike uphill it was very nice to just sit on top of the hill and chill for about an hour, just enjoying the different weather and environment, and the quiet nature. The ride down was less scary than I thought it would be, even though rain was coming in. it was quite comfortable. I even fell asleep haha!
After a quick meal of mihun sup we departed back to KL. At first I was so tired, so sleepy. But after the first stop we made at sungai Perak my sleepiness evaporated. After sungai Perak we decided that since we all knew where we were going there was no need to remain in strict convoy mode so we broke out and drove at a more comfortable speed. Even though it was much faster than when we were in convoy it also felt much safer. And without realizing it we overtook the cars, one by one. I guess the others felt challenged or something. But even when they overtook us again we managed to cut them again, without that much of an effort. Except ajim. 180km/h is just a bit too fast for comfort :p. It was fun anyway, and thankfully no one was extremely bullish to be careless and extra aggressive on the road. Everyone made it back safely after an exhilarating and very short ride home 🙂

Sit. Write. Run

Taking a short break from my working drawing assignment – don’t even know how to proceed with that.

Finally saw the deans list pinned up behind the lift, and most of the 2nd year architecture students who were on it were in my section. Cool. This semester all those who were on it are in our section too, I think. Also cool.

Had a daytrip to Ulu Yam yesterday – very fun. Went hiking up some mountain/really tall hill there and there were about 100+ of us and the peak of the mountain was about the size of a hostel room, with steep drops all the way down. Views of the dam from up there, pictures later.

Going for a 4 day trip to Cameron Highlands/Kelantan on Thursday – no rest for the super weary! Wish I had more music to accompany me – I’ve only packed 1GB. Not enough for the looooong journey. Note to self – pack earplugs also. And chocolate, but that goes without saying.

Collected dontions from 2 blocks yesterday night even though I was sooo tired from the hike. Didn’t even bother sitting down when I got back because I knew I’d just fall asleep. Decent collection, and interesting people. Thanks you to residents of Block E and F for your generosity!! Anyone interested in donating some money, clothes, books etc for Yayasan Kemiskinan Kelantan please contact me before Thursday morning. Ask around for my number – I’m sure its floating around somewhere.

Now back to work. Ugh.

KL, raining

Went to the orchid garden as planned today, on the way there also stopped by the hibiscus garden. Place was nice, though not all the flowers were in bloom. Even though we were right in the middle of KL it felt like we were far, far away. After that we had a spontaneous moment and decided to go to the planetarium, so walked all the way there, but on the way it started to rain buckets. Fortunately, my raggedy minuscule umbrella kept us from being totally drenched. We arrived at the planetarium only wet. It was a lot less than I imagined it to be. Kind of let down, after all these years wanting to go there, it didn’t really offer much. Lots of screaming school kids too. Observation deck was empty so that was nice. We retreated back downstairs when the children discovered it. Then went to Masjid Negara for prayer. All in all, great day. We were thinking about going to the bird park as well, but didn’t fancy being pooped on :/ Tomorrow doesn’t look so promising. Have to submit my (scrappily done) CAD assignment and then off to driving class number 2 a.k.a engine class. Won’t make me a world class mechanic but at least I won’t be hoodwinked by the grease monkeys.

By the way, I don’t know why but I write in fragments a lot of the time. Bits and shards of thought, as long as the main idea is out then i’m good. My sentences are usually abrupt, truncated in the beginning and end. Is it annoying? Word economy I tell you…

Here are most of the pictures from my camera, please ignore the craptastic photography. I am but a point-and-shooter…


I have been told time and time again that I can be very unfriendly when I feel like it. I know this to be true, but only on rare occasions. The truth is, I’m just embarrassingly shy and self deprecating. If I don’t say hi to you when I see you around campus, its not because I’m stuck up and snobby. Its usually because of one of these reasons:

1.I don’t want to disturb you when you are with your friends
2.I don’t want to disturb you when you are enjoying your solitude
3.I don’t know if you remember or recognise me since we met randomly through friends of friends and only ever said hello once, in passing.
4.I don’t know if you even want to see me around, let alone start some small talk with you
5.I’m not sure if you’re the person I think you are. Some people look so alike.
6.I don’t remember your name (sorry!) or I don’t remember how we met, or if we ever even met at all, or if you are just one of those faces I see every day.
7.I’m terrible at small talk and socially awkward. And shy, like I said.
9.okay sometimes i just can’t be bothered or am too lazy or i’m in a hurry.

Another thing – if I say hi to you once, does that mean I have to say hi to you always and forever? Even if we just saw each other a while ago and will probably see each other around again soon?

So if i don’t tegur you please don’t take it personally…

(I blame constantly moving around the world for this)

The Homecoming

Firstly, I’m sorry the pictures aren’t up yet – Facebook refuses to upload my pictures for some odd reason.

Many of my classmates are back from their overseas studying, so today we had a mini-reunion in the middle of the hustle and bustle that was Mamma Mia. For the uninitiated, Mamma Mia is an eatery in IIUM where many students choose to hang out for lunch in. This is because not only is it air-conditioned (not that you can feel it when its packed) it also caters to international tastes, i.e. people who can’t eat spicy food. Prices are on the steep side for students, but most are willing to pay albeit grumbling a bit. The lady at the cashier always seems apologetic when quoting prices, but oh well. Bagging a table is a matter of great importance if you plan on eating in the air-conditioning as by 12.30 it starts to fill up extremely fast, and by 2 it empties out. You can usually see the same faces there every day but once in a while you get fresh blood, always recognizable by their raised eyebrows, widened eyes and generally incredulous looks when reaching the cashier.

Anyways, I arrived at our mini reunion quite late since I had no idea it was going on. So in the end I only spent 15 minutes with my friends before huffing off to studio, but not before indulging in an Oreo J.Co. These things are dangerous. Before, if you wanted J.Co donuts, you’d have to drag yourself all the way to Pavillion to satisfy your cravings. Now, every time there is any sort of fest/carnival/stall setup in IIUM, a J.Co stall sprouts up. This time its even worse, because there are two. One in my Kulliyyah, KAED, and one in the Center near the bridge. Also there is a Big Apple stall. All these factors do not positively contribute to any weight loss diet anyone might have, but as for myself, yes, I might gain weight, but at what artery clogging cost? Today I was guilty of binging on two donuts, Oreo and banana-choc. Yesterday I had Tiramisu, as I did the day before. Come to think of it, my sugar intake has been abnormally high this week. I’ve had chocolate for breakfast on three straight days, plus a handful of sour nerds every time I get back to my room. then of course the donuts. and the other day I bought mango juice which was half sugar water. Oh and in my desperate attempt to stay awake in class, I finished 3/4 of a sour mentos tube.

Falling asleep in class. I seem to be doing that regularly these days, and I don’t know why. Its extremely annoying because the moment the lecturer opens his/her mouth, I get drowsy, and the moment class is over I’m fresh as a daisy. Add to this the fact that I always sit in front (supposedly so I can pay attention) which means any nodding of the head or drooping of the eyelids is blatantly obvious to the lecturers if they cared to look up. I have tried almost everything – eating candy in class, texting. doodling. writing, squirming in my seat, even trying to strike up a sleepy conversation with my neighbor. None of them work more than a few seconds. I’d like to blame on my lack of sleep last week due to so many assignments but I have to see if next week is any different to make any conclusion.

This post was supposed to be about my classmates returning. But I haven’t really talked to them yet. Oh but I did go out to the airport to fetch Nadiah, along with Ilham and Ayesha. I love going to the airport., but thats another topic altogether. Anyways Nadiah told us her adventure with MAS which left us feeling “how in the world did that happen!?”

Finding a lunch buddy is getting harder as the semester progresses. Not everyone has time or wants to have lunch anymore, but I need to have lunch or else I’ll starve. And I hate eating alone. Especially in UIA.

I looked up ‘drowsiness’ and being a hypochondriac, I believe I’m suffering from Narcolepsy

Fun, and then craziness

I have a cold, resulting from either eating rambutans or from the rain and a/c combo. Or both.

On Friday I woke up at 3.45a.m. To get ready for our site analysis trip to Lumut. We were supposed to be in front of KAED at 4.45 a.m. got there just in time, groggy and freezing, and boarded the bus, which was like a freezer! Drove for about an hour and then stopped in Rawang for Subuh prayers. Drove some more and stopped somewhere for breakfast. Then we drove some more till we got to Kellie’s Castle. My mom was telling me about it when we went to Sentul, how the old abandoned house there reminded her of the Castle. But that place was gorgeous! So out of the blue. In front of it was a river flowing calm and steady, and then the castle itself. You can read the full sad story behind it here, although the version that is posted up in the castle is slightly different.

I never knew I was afraid of heights until I went there. Usually I just feel like jumping, be it my hostel or the KLCC sky bridge. But here there were no rails to prevent you from tumbling over. But it was an awesome experience all the same. Oh, Perak is lovely by the way; I just love the calm feeling of the place, so contrasting from the madness of the Klang Valley. The mountain/hills, caves, and especially the vast expanses of land.

After Kellie’s Castle we headed to UTP, and this is another awesomely gorgeous place but in a totally different way. Just as a measure of comparison, their Chancellery building won the Aga Khan Award! What I loved most was their library, mind boggling when you first set eyes on it but ingeniously simple when you see how it’s done. I was going to meet up with some friends there but didn’t get the chance to. Oh well, next time. We prayed at the UTP mosque (the one I had to draw for my Graphics assignment) and then finally made our way to Teluk Batik where our chalets awaited.

Chalets. Don’t they sound charming? Believe me they were not. Livable, but only just. The toilet was a mess and that night we didn’t have any water supply, so we had to trek out to the public loo some ways away. Awkward coz the boys used the public toilet right next to it. One evening I was going to the washroom by myself, and like always I looked around at stuff, but when I looked ahead, these two boys had just emerged from the showers. They were only in their towels, poor things. Must’ve been embarrassing. So I turned around and let them have their peace/space.

Oh right behind our chalet there were two horses. All they did was eat, so we mustered up some courage to go and pet them the darker one, Along, was sweet and came to us to be petted. The chestnut one, Angah, was a sour old Meanie that snapped his teeth when we tried to give him a loving pet. Sheesh.

The chalets were quite near the beach, so that was good. Being all enthusiastic, my housemates and I went straight out to the beach after we dumped our things in the room. The wind was so strong and refreshing! Kicked off our shoes and waded across a small stream to the other side of the shore. Big mistake. The wind blew my shoes and my friends slippers and wallet into the murky stagnant stream =0 so began our adventure of trying to retrieve our belongings and in the end Missy was our hero of the day after recovering all the flotsam and jetsam. One of my shoes was quite dry since they floated, but one bobbed upside down so was wet. Thus I went around the whole of Lumut (and Pangkor and Pasir Salakand back to KL) in my bathroom slippers.

Our site was a park by the waterfront at Lumut jetty. Nothing much to say about it except it has some potential but is poorly maintained. The second day we spent the whole morning analyzing it. In the afternoon we went to the mangrove park and were hounded by monkeys. At night we ate out at some unreasonably priced place across from the naval place.

Third day we had to check out by 8.30, so we did and then went to Pangkor. Not for long though, just a short tour round the island, which I would recommend only because of the amazing rollercoaster-like roads there. And the beaches of course.

Then went to Pasir Salak to the museum of history of Perak (or something – we were rushing since it was actually already closed so didn’t get a name or any pics) lovely place and awesome dioramas which make you feel like you’re there if you stare long enough. Outside the museum they decided to have a durian party, I personally did not join in but instead feasted on goreng pisang courtesy of Ilda and rambutans courtesy of Mdm. Zaiton. Got on the bus (which now was like a freezer filled with durian ice cream) and went to Tapah rest stop for maghrib. We went to Tapah mainly to look at the bathrooms and surau actually. It was raining so hard there and we got soaked. Had maggi for dinner, got on the bus and tried to sleep but the smell and the cold were too much. Soaked + freezing bus +durian smells + unwashed rambutan = sickly feeling and a cold. Got back to my hostel at 11, immediately did my laundry and died on my bed at around 12.45

Next day I had to submit 15 sketches of the trip. Thank God Madam said we only needed to come to studio in the afternoon session and not at 9.

Tuesday had to submit a Building construction & Materials report as well as present it (group work)

Wednesday had to submit an environmental services assignment as well as an intro to landscape architecture report

Friday was the presentation of the site analysis and also submission of our project A, a 24” x 24” painting. On Thursday I managed to stumble back to my far-away hostel room at around 5.30 a.m. even though my work was done by 3 a.m., i had to wait for the others to finish up so I could read their parts. spent that time cleaning the studio with Ilda and harassing the first years. btw, its amazing, KAED, at 5 am every floor is still full of people. Funny looking at their haggard faces. especially the first years. Lol.

Crazy! After Friday I thought I’d be able to relax a little bit, but no.

Monday have to submit another 5 nice sketches of the trip, A3 size. Also have to have gone and studied at least 2 art galleries complete with reports. Also have to re-do site analysis for our own personal use. Also must have a preliminary design idea or bubble diagram.

Tuesday I have anther BCM report/presentation due

Wednesday must submit our CAD 3S assignment. I don’t know how I’m going to do that since I don’t have the software on my computer. Need to then print it, bind it (hardcover!) and make sure it looks professional.

Pictures of the trip to follow soon so check back in a while…