Looking out into Another World

If I were to design a character building programme, it would involve solo hikes starting with a wild abandonment ... leaving the unsuspecting participant at a foggy trailhead with the company of a huge sign that warns of bear sightings. I would also intentionally forget to provide a bear bell.

Some film captures from my solo travels in Japan last October. I am not one to shoot film, but I picked a disposable cam up anyway just so that if I were to get lost in the forest or fall off a mountain there might be some form of documentation of my folly.

Looking through these photos brought me right back to the moments when I faced an adventure far bigger than myself. 

Traveling solo is not a new thing to me. I embrace the idea and I do oddly, crave for it. This short trip to the countryside in Japan redefined what it really means to be alone. From boarding an hour-long bus ride where I was the only passenger, to alighting the bus in total darkness. I found myself in a remote part of the countryside where roads were not exactly pedestrian-friendly. With one hand dragging my bag, and the other frantically waving my phone (which doubled as a safety light) at passing cars, I made my way to the hostel in hopes that Google maps would not fail me. Arriving at the hostel was another story, where I was put through a crash course on Entomology. I spent the next few days negotiating my comfort zone with these winged and multi-legged life forms.

I'm still waiting for my certificate till this day.

Koya Backpackers

2147-500 Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun 389-0111, Nagano Prefecture
 

0001_25A.jpg

The day starts early at 6 a.m. at the hostel. This is my favourite view that refreshes me as I brush my teeth

  Saying goodbye to the hostel while it closes for Autumn break, and the owner goes on a 3-day hike in the mountains

Saying goodbye to the hostel while it closes for Autumn break, and the owner goes on a 3-day hike in the mountains

  Yusuke-san, owner of Koya Backpackers, striking a pose for my camera before he packed me off and sent me on my way to the train station   It made me laugh when I saw this photo, partly because I forgot that I took it. Also because I could almost hear Yusuke-san's jugdmental remarks about my huge four wheeled luggage bag.

Yusuke-san, owner of Koya Backpackers, striking a pose for my camera before he packed me off and sent me on my way to the train station

It made me laugh when I saw this photo, partly because I forgot that I took it. Also because I could almost hear Yusuke-san's jugdmental remarks about my huge four wheeled luggage bag.

  Taking a local train to Matsumoto, embarking on another part of my adventure to the Japanese Alps

Taking a local train to Matsumoto, embarking on another part of my adventure to the Japanese Alps

kamikochi

  I found a make-shift studio near the entrance of the camp sites.

I found a make-shift studio near the entrance of the camp sites.

  At Kappa Bridge with the magnificent Japanese alps towering over me

At Kappa Bridge with the magnificent Japanese alps towering over me

  Taisho Pond

Taisho Pond

0013_13A.jpg

These amazing colours captured on film

norikura kogen

 

  I discovered that acrophobia and strong winds don't quite go together

I discovered that acrophobia and strong winds don't quite go together

  Scaling Mt Fujimidake

Scaling Mt Fujimidake

  Atop Mount Fujimidake, I walked on clouds

Atop Mount Fujimidake, I walked on clouds

It would be exaggerating to say that I have been completely transformed due to a single experience. But I definitely departed a braver soul than when I first embarked on the trip. Perhaps one day, I will be able to put this into a good use to pack three sets of clothes for a month-long travel.

(vignettes of my adventure on Instagram  one, two, three, four, five)

Blush

  Kanazawa, Ishikawa 2017

Kanazawa, Ishikawa 2017

Glad to have made the acquaintance of Kanazawaさん this trip. First impression didn't fare too well with his unusually early bed time of 8 p.m. and a lack of night life. He may be slightly old fashioned, but in his quiet and unassuming ways, he wins you over like a charm.

His unhurried demeanor tended to me like a fallen petal, even when the warm rain threatened to wash away the blush. I know I'm safe here, in this new season we call Spring. 🌸

CLOUD FOREST

IMG_Heh.jpg

"The Earth laughs in flowers." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hold that lovely thought and cover your ears while I rap an entire slew of bad puns in order to tickle Mother Nature pink with how hard I'm trying. My long overdue trip to Gardens by the Bay had me overwhelmed by how well-designed the Cloud Forest is, and had me swelling with pride as a Singaporean. Never mind that I had to race against the dimming evening light or having to jostle past hoards of tourists to get a good photo, the entire sensory experience was impressive by and large. Evidently playing the tourist card right in this get up with my Luna Half-Moon sling bag.  Also wearing the same wide grin whenever I'm surrounded by Nature. ☺︎

Oneday WallFlowerS

I have nothing but fond memories of this place where I spent the majority of my time when I was in Bangkok last year.

One Day Bkk consists of a cool cafe, florist, hostel and chic co-working space all packed into one. Which conveniently gave me the perfect excuse to sleep at work.

"Flowers can't solve all problems, but they are a great start."

I love love love flowers. We were greeted by a cocktail of fragrances the moment we stepped into OneDay Wallflowers. The delightful sight of foliage occupying every inch of the space got me really excited as my eyes glazed over flowers that I can barely name. You can imagine the kind of dilemma I faced when my bestfriend told me to go wild and choose my birthday bouquet! Thankfully, their skilled florist came to my rescue and got my tiny bouquet dressed up in a cute vintage wrapping paper.

The magic immediately evaporated and condensed into pools of perspiration gathered under our pits when we stepped back out into a weather fit for spontaneous hot yoga. 

I am sure the plants on the wall fixture shared my sentiments. Poor thing.

My favourite part of the day is taking time for coffee breaks where all I have to do is a five minute waltz from the co-working space to the cafe where I'd shoot up some caffeine. 

At Casa Lapin x26 you can get great coffee, a decent selection of pastries, and an extra serving of eye-candies! Va-va-vrooom. 

Never mind that the menu could do with some improvement, the nicely done up interior and meticulous plating attracts a stylish crowd and Insta-celebrities who visit this place for their photoshoots. It can be a problem if you are like me, I try very hard not to be caught like a deer in headlights while stuffing an entire scone into my mouth with pastry crumbles skipping down the front of my top in someone else's selfie.

Tucked in a cosy alley leading off Sukhumvit 26, you are a mere 15 minutes away from the swanky Em-district (BTS Phrom Phong station).  Not sure if it means anything to you but I'm telling ye, these croissant taiyakis are the best invention after cronuts... with shoe umbrellas following closely behind and... ok you get the drift.

Won't you just loooooook at that!

Time to start planning for your next Bangkok trip. ☺︎ 

Siam

There are some parts of Bangkok that make me forget about the pesky heat that is constantly breathing down my neck, and that grey cloud of smog that threatens to suffocate. This green sanctuary does it for me, you could imagine my delight to have found this place!

It was a beautiful day for afternoon tea and mindless chit chat on the rustic veranda, shaded by a curtain of cascading foliage. This has got to be one of my favourite places in Bangkok to visit. Thank you my lovely M for bringing me around!! ☺︎

Pancake Pilgrimage

As I lept through the gates of Vanilla Garden, I could hear a faint angelic chorus coming from a distance. Am I in heaven? 

Hang on , the last thing that happened was the obnoxious taxi driver helping himself to a big chunk of my change. I paused gliding mid-air and walked calmly towards the door which the Bake Shop staff has graciously held open for me.

This place checked everything on the list that make a great space (in my books) – a bookshop, cafes shrouded by greenery, ample sunlight, coffee and PANCAKES. Of course, they offer an extensive menu which I have yet to try because all I want to do is talk about this piece of art right here –

Puff Pancake Banana Butter Rum

It's soooo decadently good. Especially love the generous sprinkle of honeyed cornflake bunch and how the butter rum sauce gives it a caramelly texture which complements the scoop of vanilla ice cream that is served with the pancake.

This is second on the list of must-haves whenever I visit Bangkok. Spicy Wingbean salad (Yum Tua Phood) from my favourite restaurant Neverending Summer still tops the list! ☺︎☺︎☺︎

Vanilla Bakeshop 

Soi Ekamai Soi 12, Sukhumvit Soi 63 Rd.,

Phra Khanong Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110 Thailand

 

Penang: Georgetown (III)

date: july 2014 
destination: malaysia, penang

[part 3: food]
 

With an ethnic composition similar to our little red dot, it is no surprise that Penang cuisine is equally diverse. Over the few days in Penang, we had our fill of Char Kway Teow and Penang Laksa, Rojak, Prawn Mee, Lor Mee but it was never enough! I had to hold back my tears on the way to the airport just thinking about all the food we didn't get to eat.

•  •  •

 

[Above] 

This bowl of Penang Prawn Noodles  (Hokkien Mee) is set to tantalise the taste buds. The noodles come with a hard-boiled egg and prawns, and the option to add on other ingredients such as pork ribs, roast pork, meat balls.. etc. Of course, we had to have the best and we added everything. The Penang prawn noodles (Hokkien Mee) is prepared in a very different style from the ones in Singapore. It is sweet and tangy at the same time, but nowhere as sour as Penang Laksa. The roast pork was impossibly crispy despite being served in the soup, and the flavours burst with every crunch.

Old Green House Restaurant
223, Jalan Burma , Penang 10300

[Below]

The best thing to have in 100 degree celcius Penang weather would be this bowl of simple, no-frills Chendol. It was hard to hunt down the best Chendol as there were many similar stalls citing themselves as the most popular. We found the stall in a crowded alley where people nestled at the sides of the road, careful not to spill any bit of this heavenly dessert while avoiding vehicles passing through. Each bowl is packed with pandan-flavored palm floor noodles (green worms thingy), coconut milk, gula melaka and kidney beans. The coconut milk is so refreshing and light – practically a life-saver in the intense heat, and it leaves you lapping up every drop for more.

Penang Road Teochew Chendul
27 & 29, Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10100

Cozy in the Rocket

• • • 

With a thriving cafe scene in Penang, we were spoilt rotten for choice when it comes to choosing where to go! I love Cozy in the Rocket for it's eccentric name, and the alluring artsy vibe. I would say that it is my favourite out of the many cafes we have visited. The vintage style cafe is completed with a touch of green, and wide windows that lets the sunlight in. The cafe extends into a beautiful courtyard where visitors can sit and enjoy the buzz from the busy street while enjoying the comfort the earthy ambience provides. Food and coffee was great, and I love the random artworks in this cafe which gave a touch of personality. 

262 & 264, Lebuh Pantai 
Penang 10300 

China House

• • • 

We followed a trail of cake crumbs and it led us to China House where platters of cakes were laid out before us. Like in the classic fable of Hansel and Gratel, it was practically a fat kid's dream come true.

After a very hearty brunch, we settled for a slice of lemon poppyseed cake  and a slice of buttermilk chocolate earl grey cake which were both moist and delicious. The facade of China House is both traditional and contemporary at the same time, it felt like we were transported back into the glitzy era of colonial times. Definitely worth visiting. :-)

153, Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown,
Penang 10300

 joyeaux cafe

• • • 

Less is More.

The concept worked wonderfully for this minimal and simple cafe. It was almost like stepping into a Japanese-French styled boulangerie. The soft hues and wooden furnishing of this place provided a homely feel. We opted for level 2 seating and were in awe of a ceiling filled with patio lights. Every part of the design of the cafe was well-considered – from the use of light and space, to the canvas material the menu has been printed on. I particularly enjoy the photos on their facebook page as well.

79 Jalan Nagore
Penang, Malaysia

Pit Stop Cafe

•  •  •

There were a couple more cafes that we actually covered but here are the most memorable ones! Pit Stop was the cafe we actually literally staggered into, barely escaping the ruthless heat.

12, Lebuh Chulia, Georgetown, Penang 10200

So we have come to the end of Georgetown Trilogy, thanks for sticking around! By the end of this post, we are actually contemplating on attempting a #sweatdripsdownour___ II Penang food trip! Till then, I will be dreaming about the tasty Hokkien Mee, Assam Laksa, and Chendol ..... (breaks out in cold sweat). Have a lovely week ahead. 

Georgetown Trilogy : Part I [sights], Part II [art], Part III [food]

Penang : Georgetown (II)

date: July 2014
Destination: Malaysia, Penang

[Part 2: art]
 

It isn't hard at all to imagine Georgetown to be a home for the arts – characterised by years of history and its rich heritage, the rustic appeal of the place adds extra charm and character.

In the recent years, Penang has become a popular tourist spot among the youngsters. With Ernest Zacharevic doing his  art residency in Penang, people from all over the word adjourn to join in the hunt for murals by Zacharevic scattered across the island. These murals are whimsical, and heartwarming  – it is admirable how a Lithuania-born artist is able to succinctly capture the spirit of an islander's way of life.

It is obvious that tourism has become very much integrated into the locals' lives and street art tours are very popular among the tourists, ourselves included. Everywhere we went, shops are selling souvenirs, street art guides were given out, and all you have to do to track down that particular mural was to ask a local and they would tell you exactly where it is.

However it was no joke exploring in this intense heat, I have never perspired so much since my visit to Cambodia. I am so glad to have gone on this trip with my two friends, Lynette and Yahui, who willingly accommodate to my pleas to seek refuge while I was at the brink of self-incinerating. The hashtag for our trip on Instagram is also pretty much self-explanatory.  #sweatdripsdownmy_____.

While  we are not trying to cool ourselves down from the sweltering heat in air-conditioned cafes, we are out mural/street food hunting. We have had a lot of fun fooling around, taking pictures with the street art and trying to create our own stories in the depicted scenes. Here are some pictures from our mural hunting excursions  –

Hin Bus Company
65, 52, Jalan Gurdwara, Georgetown, 10300 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

I always had a penchant for old spaces that are given a new lease of life. This converted art space was formerly a bus deport, and this was where Ernest Zacharevic held his first solo exhibition. When we got there, most of the art pieces were sold and no longer on display but the large scale drawings that Zacharevic left in that space were equally impressive.

For the fact that we were mainly in Georgetown the entire trip, you can tell that there were a plenty of hidden alleys for us to explore, and more than enough cafes to visit to keep us cool and entertained.

In the final part of this Georgetown Trilogy (name coined by Yahui), I'll be sharing a list of cafes and food that we have conquered over the past few days. So, stay tuned. :-)

Georgetown Trilogy : Part I [sight], Part II [art], Part III [food]

Penang: Georgetown (I)

date: july 2014 
destination: malaysia, penang

[part 1: sight]
 

Penang may be a mere 2hrs flight away from Singapore, but it was traveling back to a time reminiscent for my parents and grandparents.

Georgetown, has been listed as one of the UNESCO conserved site in the world. In recent years, the island has drawn crowds from all over the world with a reputation of its thriving art scene. Its rustic, untouched beauty reserved a part of history for all to explore. As the lustre of the town slowly faded with time, certain parts of the town is so dilapidated and left abandoned. However, it is not uncommon to see the poor making a home out of the rubble. Everywhere we went, we see old folks peering inquisitively out of their gate, a little shy and perhaps precarious about the fast changing world outside of the place they have called home for so many years. This might be a very naive thought, but I'm really hoping that tourism would help improve the lives of the islanders as Penang is largely made up of an ageing population where the old people get very little government support. :-( 

The picturesque appeal of the town was undeniable. Time has evidently left its mark on the town, with its washed-out concrete exteriors and the muted pastel palette painted across the town. We found ourselves surrounded by the beautiful typography embellished in old signages, layers of textures and patterns at every corner. It was simply impossible to put the camera away. As a result, I have like a million pictures from the 4-day trip which is actually the reason why I found it so hard to blog about it. I can only resort to splitting the trip into 3 different posts to cater to the various categories of interest, so here's the first one introducing the colours and texture of the little island. Enjoy :-)

Georgetown Trilogy : Part I [sight], Part II [art], Part III [food]

Wild&Wood

While you never run out of options when it comes to finding a cafe to have a good cup of coffee, there are only a few places in London where you can get a decent cronut. This piece of exciting news was what originally brought me to visit this little coffee joint in the heart of Holborn.

Stepping into Wild&Wood was like entering someone's kitchen, you might also do a double take to check if you have wandered into the Shire. It gets even more confusing when you go up to the counter to see a pixie-sized lady waiting to take your order. (I hid all my rings just in case.) This cosy nook, furnished entirely with antique church furniture, reminds one of sun-drenched days while you laze on the couch after school while your grandma prepares your favorite tea-time snack.

The cafe draws a mixed crowd. Everyone is here with a single agenda, gathered on church pews, confessing their addiction for caffeine. While table sharing is non-obligatory, it is very much encouraged due to limited seating in the small cafe. With flat whites and lattes placed side by side on a narrow table, coffee drinking becomes an intimate experience where you'd find yourself having a conversation with the stranger next to you after you have gotten over how good the coffee is on the second sip (they only serve Monmouth coffee). 

P1011310-72.jpg

On my first visit they ran out of cronuts at 4 p.m. so we ordered the amarrrrrretto cheesecake which had me enamorrrrrred at my first bite. The layer of crusty brown sugar packs a crunch and complements the velvety cheese perfectly while the mellow hint of almond stubbornly lingers in your mouth until you wash it down with coffee. Sooo good.

The cafe was also packed at that time we visited, so we had to opt for the street-facing seats. Honestly, there isn't much of a view except for sweaty construction workers (if you're into that sort of thing winks) and office executives rushing home/to the gym after work. Ironically though, it gave us the sense that we had all the time in the world to savour our coffee and cake. As the sun quietly sets, we scampered to find meaning in our lives, and ended up sitting on the pews for two hours as we devised our game plan to conquer London Design Week. Instant caffeine fueled efficiency. ☺

This is definitely the place to visit if you're looking for a simple, no-frills coffee joint in London.

Wild & Wood Coffee

Unit 19, 1 New Oxford St,

London WC1A 1BA, United Kingdom ‎

Tokyo : Kichijoji

Because it is only right to finish what you have started (not to mention it is bad enough that I am only posting these pictures one year after my trip). So this is Kichijoji.

Unlike Nakameguro (as featured in my previous post), Kichijoji is huge. It is approximately an hour away from Harajuku/Shibuya area. Most people would end up in that area on their pilgrimage to Ghibli studio. On one side of Kichijoji you would find huge malls and department stores, cross over from the train station to the police station and walk right into the small streets to find small quaint stores selling stuff ranging from home wares, fashion to paper goods. 

I do not have many pictures of this place as I was just walking around and taking in chill-out atmosphere of Kichijoji most of the time while I explored a new part of Kichijoji I've never been. When I first visited three years ago my only aim was to visit the super cute Hara Donuts shop (which you might want to check out), at the other end of Kichijoji. 

A couple of nice shop fronts....

I love this picture of schoolgirls huddling together and walking in a group, it reminded me of convent school days when the only world that existed was the one under our little umbrellas.

Inokashira Park

It started drizzling again the moment I reached Inokashira Park which (uhm) dampened the mood just slightly. I mean, I was looking forward to rolling in the grass and flattening all the flowers in the same patch while at it. After about a minute, I decided that I didn't mind the rain. I love how the tiny rain droplets felt when they landed on my skin. They reminded me that I was present at that very moment, as I shared the joy of three friends struggling with the oars of their little boat and the faint scent of fresh greenery that filled the park. It didn't matter anymore.

At this point, you might be wondering if I am making up most of what I have written, especially what I have felt/ thought. Well I might have, or might have not but I am definitely writing from memory. Looking back at these pictures allows me to experience all the feelings and associations captured at that moment all over again.

Mahika Mano

The true agenda in visiting Kichijoji this round was to visit Mahika Mano Hammock Cafe and Gallery. It was pretty hard to get to this cafe as it was hidden in one of the really small streets, a short walk away from the park. So glad I made it eventually and I didn't even have to queue to get in. 

The hammock cafe actually doubles as a showroom for Hammock 2000. This means that you could actually purchase the hammock that you're sitting on while having your tea if you really like it!  For that reason, however, no photography in the cafe is allowed.

The food was not exceptionally fantastic but that's okay because you'd be too comfortable to even get up and ask them to change it. The cake and drinks were served on a low coffee table in front of your allocated hammock. Which also means you shouldn't get too carried away with swinging from the hammock unless you want your tea cups and plates to be sent to the other tables. What I really liked about the cafe aside from their comfortable swinging seats are the tiny windows that they have. The little boxes that look out across the street made me feel like I was in a different world – one where chairs are no longer relevant and getting out of hammock is out of the question. At that instance, all was right with the world. 

And it always is when you are on vacation in Tokyo. ☺

 

Tokyo : Nakameguro

I'm here to pay tribute to nostalgia, with a list of places in Tokyo which I have visited last April and really liked. I'm also doing this up for my close friends who are heading over to Tokyo really really soon. ☺ So let's start with one of my favorite areas in Tokyo – Nakameguro

Upon arriving at Nakameguro station, you will be stepping foot into one of the quaintest areas of Tokyo where time slows down to the steady flow of the Meguro river. Walk along the river and you'll find yourself on a narrow street lined with niche shops, restaurants and cafes. On each side of the river bank, neat rows of trees bendover to reach one another, while the playful breeze skip from branch to branch, sending secrets rippling across the river with every fallen leaf.

I make it a point to come back to this place whenever I am in Tokyo. This place is a favourite because it holds a lot of special memories for me – the only 21 deg celsius day I experienced two Summers ago (a huge dip from the usual 30ish), my first sakura viewing, first craft workshop which I have attended in Tokyo (with Mogu Takahashi) and my first outing with my brilliantly amazing friend Saki. It is interesting how I find myself back in same place but it feels so different every time.

Cafe Drole

One of my favorite places to drop in for a cup of coffee, some cookies and a slice of cake. Their friendly staff will also inform you if they have any seasonal specials – sakura cake was pretty special and refreshing.

I had to skip the cafe this time because I had a more important task at hand – which was to hunt for the next place in this list.

Chano-Ma Cafe

I was specially instructed to look for Chano-Ma and have lunch here on the behalf of Y who couldn't come along with me on the trip. The eggplant omelette sidedish was a symphony of flavors in my mouth, everything was really healthy and tasty. The atmosphere was splendid as well, huge windows which let the afternoon rays in and daybeds that stretched lazily by the side of the cafe. I found out that the cafe is made to be child-friendly for cool mommies to hang out and have lunch with their little kids. What a thoughtful concept!

I felt really pampered when I was there, even though it was slightly awkward to have someone remove your shoes for you. The caramel parfait was divine as well, I almost didn't want to leave but I had a date by the river.  ☺

P1010527.JPG

You could just sit here and stare out of the windows for hours, watch the shadows shift around the room, people watch or hangout with a book. And soon... it was time for me to meet my dear friend, Stacy (you will see her in one of the pictures below)!

Nill Style Cafe

I remember walking past Nill Style Cafe thinking that it was somebody's house. Unfortunately the cafe is now closed but still a good spot for photo taking – Stacy and I attempted with self-timer camera on our phones and it was hilarious.

We decided to wander around the area to see if we can find interesting shops/cafe that we have not been to as it was not our first time here. We did find some really interesting shops which I honestly can't remember without photographic evidence. But here are some that I do - 

Malmo Art Bird Books 

 My きれい~ friend in her luminous fringe phase. 

My きれい~ friend in her luminous fringe phase. 

Possibly the most laid back cafe in Japan, and extra extra points on the cool vibes. The owner basically just left us alone in the cafe the entire time. It was nice to just chill out to the great music, and to be surrounded by shelves of design books that we can help ourselves to. We suspect that this place transforms into a really cool spot in the night. 

Ok Donut/ Soaks

Wherever we go, we are always on the lookout for places to have nice desserts and good coffee. We ended up at Soaks which shares the space with Ok Donuts. We said Ok to both chiffon cakes and "japanese-style" donuts for dinner because who can really say no to them. They have really interesting flavors for the donuts - ginger, tomato, gobo, lotus roots, ashitaba ... just to name a few. These donuts are made of whole wheat grains and they do not contain trans-fat (yipee). The texture is unlike the typical krispy kreme donuts, if you have tried Hara Donuts you'd know what I mean. 

The chiffon cake was soft and moist. According to my dear friend the Chiffon ケ−キ Expert, listen for the 'tssshhhh' sound when you cut through the cake with your fork. If you hear it, it's a MATCH! The evening ended with us in a pile of mush as we cooed over the playful puppy who was playing peekaboo from the sofa behind us, on top of good conversations and dancing taste buds. I'm just really glad to have Stacy's company (miss you!!), it was so much fun to be here with her this time. ♡♡♡

As always, it was pretty tough to say goodbye to this lovely neighborhood but I am looking forward to revisit, to be charmed by the place all over again. 

Where two oceans meet

Australia was never in the list of places that I'd like to travel to. Somehow, the beauty of its nature left me bewildered and charmed. I was so exhilarated when we reached the top of Leeuwin Lighthouse, after 300 steps that I completely forgot about my fear of heights. With acres and acres of green rolled out before me, there was just so much to take in. 

P1011553_72.jpg
 happy survivors of my 110km/h driving

happy survivors of my 110km/h driving

P1011543_72.jpg
P1011509_72.jpg
P1011503_72.jpg
P1011508_72.jpg
P1011500_72.jpg
P1011507_72.jpg

Cape Leeuwin is the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, and the only place where you can see the Indian Ocean to your right and the Southern Ocean to your left. If you think about the distances these great oceans have covered and the stories they have carried from all over, it makes it pretty special to see how they collide to make magnificent waves.

Tokyo In A Flash

Some pictures captured on camera. As the trip was pretty hectic, there was rarely time for strolling and taking pictures. I got to explore a lot more of Shinjuku and Shibuya this time around but I wouldn't say that I really enjoy it. I should really get down to uploading my pictures taken in April as there is so much more to see. On an irrelephant note, I learnt how to ride a scooter yesterday and it was pretty fun. Happy Saturday everyone. ☺

P1010668.JPG
P1011207.JPG
P1011210_72.jpg
P1011206_72.jpg
P1011209_72.jpg
starbucks.JPG
P1011198_72.jpg
P1011202_72.jpg
photo 1_3.jpg

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2013

This blog has gathered  just enough cobwebs for Halloween! Yipee.

So the waves have finally brought me back to my sunny shores. Actually, since a week ago. My mysterious disappearance to Australia was the result of being sucked into a relentless temptation offered by a budget airline and a need for some quiet time.  I will be posting my photos from my trips bit by bit so there would be something to look at for the next few days.. weeks... months? 

 It is hard to believe that September came and gone just like that. 21st September was a day that I was counting down to since the 1st of July. When the day finally came, I did not know what to expect and almost relieved at the fact that I am present in Tokyo, at Tokyo Art Book Fair as an exhibitor.  By Grace I made it there, and I am sure glad I did. ☺

This year's fair was a massive one, we were one of the 300 over booths at Tokyo Art Book Fair held at a university with the most confusing name at Shinanomachi, Tokyo this year. The event was a huge eye-opener, it was really great meeting independent publishers from all over the world. However, there were a few challenges in being part of such a huge exhibition as well – in trying to stand out and having to set prices at a competitive rate. When I took a break from manning the booth and walked around, it was only then I realized how huge the compound was. I ended up only purchasing two zines on the first day myself. Both were by Taiwanese designers and extremely lovely. ☺

Seated at my tiny corner at the booth, it was interesting to observe the way people interacted with my designs and the display space. It was an incredible experience to see how your design extends beyond the physical material (in this case, the book) and to the environment in which is sitting in and vice versa. It gave me a lot of ideas on how my works can be improved to provide a more wholesome experience. I also thoroughly enjoyed talking to people who took interest in my works, to explain about the concept of my writings and designs even though not everyone who came by left with something in the end. It was a truly humbling experience to meet people who tell you that they appreciate what you do, and my heart stifles a chuckle whenever I see people smiling while flipping through my books. 

 

 

Over the 3 days, we had our fair share of surprises – friends (Saki, Silas, John & Lp) who showed up to give their support, as well as acquaintances who came by with coffee and chocolates, including the man from an antique shop in Shimo who loaned us display items for free. There was also a sweet Singaporean lady who dropped by our booth with her son to show her support when she realized that we are also Singaporeans. Not forgetting Bernice, Stacy and Josiah who helped us packed at the end of the fair and Josiah who carried my stuff up 5 levels to our apartment with his super strength after he learnt that our apartment elevator was not working. So thankful for these people. ☺

This trip was unlike any other trips to Tokyo, mainly because the intention was not for vacation. It is definitely a great experience and something I wouldn't mind doing again. As there is always a first for everything, I am beyond blessed to have this experience to call my own.

Here are some pictures that I have managed to capture amidst the crowd! Hope you guys will enjoy the post, it was not easy typing with both hands covering my ears to protect them from the boisterous roar of the thunderstorm. ☺ 

 

 Entrance to Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design GAIEN CAMPUS   

Entrance to Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design GAIEN CAMPUS

 

 Stamping workshop at one of the tents on lvl 1

Stamping workshop at one of the tents on lvl 1

 Cute booth designed like a birdhouse

Cute booth designed like a birdhouse

 Random by PY Leong X Wood&Lead

Random by PY Leong X Wood&Lead

 Our tiny booth – I had to balance a merchandises on my head and it helped to draw some crowd.

Our tiny booth – I had to balance a merchandises on my head and it helped to draw some crowd.

 Customers browsing through  Of Clouds & Parenthesis , a travelogue.

Customers browsing through Of Clouds & Parenthesis, a travelogue.

P1011259_2.jpg
_2.jpg
 LP who gave us a HUGE surprise by turning up with John without notice 

LP who gave us a HUGE surprise by turning up with John without notice 

 Michelle, Wood&Lead customer who bought and modeled the tote *___*

Michelle, Wood&Lead customer who bought and modeled the tote *___*

P1011268.JPG

Click on the image above to watch the video which accurately captured the mood of the book fair. This video was taken and originally uploaded by my friend Stacy who runs a cool site with updates of her life in Tokyo. 

 

Also, Wood&Lead items sold at Tokyo Art Book Fair are now available for purchase, visit Wood&Lead Etsy store now ! ☺ 
  

 

Waiting

"There are two types of waiting. There’s the the waiting you do for something you know is coming, sooner or later—like waiting for the 6:28 train, or the school bus, or a party where a certain handsome boy might be. And then there’s the waiting for something you don’t know is coming. You don’t even know what it is exactly, but you’re hoping for it. You’re imagining it and living your life for it. That’s the kind of waiting that makes a fist in your heart." – Unknown

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. We are always waiting for the next big move, preparing to take our widest leap and very much often we end up being disappointed when life doesn't present us with what we are waiting for. It becomes frustrating when life is all about trying. We always forget that great moments are packaged in the small ones that are often cast in an oversight. Some people wait their entire lives in pursuit of huge milestones that they think would change their lives without knowing that it is in overcoming small everyday battles that deserves to be celebrated. 

Ambitions and goals are great things, but they can also be the very barriers to achieving  greater things that are beyond what you can ever dream of. We are often blindsided by our ideal future that we miss seeing the opportunities nested in the present and making them work for our future. We also miss the shot at happiness. The freedom to dream is an entitlement,  and only with an extra sprinkle of imagination we can build a life that is worth waking up for everyday where we are living and not just waiting.

 

 

P1010499.JPG

I love this picture taken at Takamatsu port while I was waiting for my ferry to Megijima Island (which I didn't have a slightest idea about). I love the crisp air, the light breeze that accompanies the symphony of waves that welcomed arriving passengers. Waiting can be beautiful if you let it be.

Moon Crossing

Kyoto holds a special place in my heart on my second visit earlier this April. When I took a day trip out of Tokyo I only had a place in mind to visit - the Sagano Bamboo forest, which was a little bit of a disappointment as it was filled with tourists. As time didn't allow me to explore other parts of Kyoto, I stayed put in Arashiyama. I took my time wandering about the sleepy town, wrote postcards while having coffee in a retro cafe and followed narrow foot paths that brought me to the front of people's homes.

P1010322.JPG
P1010324.JPG
P1010351.JPG
P1010368.JPG
P1010376.JPG

I do believe that someone up there has added a sprinkle of something to make my trip extra special, it is hard not to feel that way when you get autumn leaves and cherry blossoms sightings in late April. While capturing this shot, a cute 伯母さん (old lady) stopped alongside to admire the flowers and exclaimed "きれいね。" (saying that the flowers are beautiful) 

I had her company during my short walk out to the main road while we conversed in my horrible japanese. "あなたはひとりでか?" (Are you alone?) I got that a lot in the past week of solo traveling, to which she responded with an  "いいね" (expression for good/amazing) at my reply. We then spoke about the merlion when I told her where I am from and she told me that she would love to visit Singapore. Being able to connect with strangers in a foreign land is one of the most precious experiences one can have, especially when the stranger is a bubbly old lady. ☺

 •••

I also met a really sweet lady in Kyoto whom made my experience unforgettable.  At 6 pm, I wandered into one of the shops thinking it was an information center while trying to find my way to Togetsukyō without realizing they were closed. In there, I spotted a precious ceramic mug (which is now my favourite) and the lady at the shop was so sweet to allow me to make my purchase even though the cashier was closed. I asked for the directions to the bridge and if it would be worth making the trip there. Again, when she realized that I was traveling alone, she made sure I knew my way and assured me that it is absolutely beautiful. And it was.

 

P1010415_2.jpg

I lingered on the bridge for the longest time with the moon hanging in the skies of pastel swirls. This, to me, is Kyoto in all of its splendor. I have never been so captivated by a sight and somehow this just felt really special to me. As I sat by the river watching the moon, I looked back on the days that have past and how it has brought me to become who I was at that moment, I felt really happy.

I couldn't bear to leave but I know that I would definitely be back again. Perhaps then, I would be a different me but it is a feeling that I never would want to forget. As I was savoring the remaining bits of Arashiyama, I saw a familiar face. Seeing the lady from the shop lifted my spirits and it so happened that she was on her way home. We had a short chat and she made sure that I have gotten my picture taken before advising me to head to the train station in case I miss my train back to Tokyo. I really do kind of miss her, the kindness of a stranger is one that touches the heart. ☺

Togetsukyō 渡月橋, also known as Moon Crossing bridge, the area is wide enough for you to watch the moon sail slowly from one end of the sky to another. With every time the moon crosses the bridge, the sun would follow, which brings us a brand new day. The next time the moon crosses this bridge, it would mean that we are into the first day of July. I just received a small piece of exciting news, but it is too early to share. For now, the second half of the year is set out to be looking amazing. ☺