New Blog!

Hey there! I've decided to continue blogging at a different blog. The MEXT archives and some of my travel posts will remain here, but I'll be moving some stuff over. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

How was your Christmas? I've had a really quiet day at home. But then again, I received three books I ordered from Amazon Japan (Some girls shop for clothes when they're sad, I shop for books) and I got a free copy of APE by Guy Kawasaki!

Well, I still wish I was in Singapore but still....

Last night, I played the piano (first time in public for a long long time) for my Church's candlelight service. I made a few small mistakes, but I'm just thankful I didn't freeze up and pause halfway.

It was kind of dark too. 
And to end of, here's my cover of Silent Night and The First Noel in Japanese. The piano you hear softly in the background would be the piano cover I did for Church.

And to end off, here's a Christmas Card I made. Unfortunately, the html code isn't Blogger compatible, but please take a look at this link!

Monday, 16 December 2013

My Little Brother Got Hurt!

Remember how I talked about doing my best to post more often? Well, that just hit a setback. I went to Nokonoshima with my mom and little brother today, and while my little brother was playing, he fell and tore his ligament. We had to find a way to get back, go to the hospital and all that.

Thankfully, there were so many helpful people along the way! There were the staff, which carried him from the jungle-gym like place (which is on a fairly steep slope), administered first aid and drove us to the ferry; a really kind stranger who helped push his wheelchair off the boat and carried him into the taxi; the taxi driver, who helped me find the hospital; and of course, the nurse and doctors, who patched him up and lent him crutches. There's really a lot to be thankful for. ^_^

My poor brother. Although he is enjoying having
a cast for people to sign. 
He'll be in crutches for the next three weeks (and he's going back in a week D:), so I'll have to help out more than usual. I'll be busy just making sure my book blog is on schedule (and I may have to miss posts there), so I suppose things like my BAT post at my personal blog and stuff will have to wait. ><

I'll still be around on Google+ though! It takes much less time for me to share a post.

Sorry and see you!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Huis Ten Bosch (2013 Illuminations)

Sorry for the total lack of updates this week. I had three exams in this week alone (I'm not sure how they all crept up on me!), so I really had no time to blog at all. I'll try to make a better effort next week(:

But on Sunday, I went to Huis Ten Bosch with my mom and my little bro. My mom's seen my photos of Huis Ten Bosch on Facebook, and this was the one place she wanted to travel to. My brother just wanted to have fun. 

Thankfully, Huis Ten Bosch had more to offer than I realised. With my mom and brother, I went to a few attractions that I haven't been to previously, and it was actually really fun. 

Wait, no one wants to hear a description. And I can't tell a story without involving my family (and for that, I'd need my mom and bro's permission so..... well, I won't compromise my family's privacy - my life, on the other hand, is an open blog). So that leaves photos. 

I haven't edited many of the photos, but no worry, I have other photos of Huis Ten Bosch that I took before and haven't shared yet:

A rainy day can make for an awesome photo

This is basically full of haunted houses, but it sure is pretty at night!

There is an awesome illumination show here! It costs money to get
in, but it's totally worth it!
And of course, thanks to the awesome Google+, I've got a few special photos for you:


The GIF! Finally, a night GIF worked! I never knew that I loved
GIFS so much!
Now, I'm off to fulfill other blogging obligations. And to write a few emails for robotics.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Mostly about Space World

Last Wednesday, my mom and my little brother came to stay with me for a month. While I wanted to bring them here and there, I (unfortunately) have school, and my dad doesn't want us to spend too much money anyway. But so far, I've brought them around my home, to IKEA and to Space World.

So let's talk about Space World. We went in the off-peak season, and it was much more fun than I expected! One good thing about a nearly-empty park is that you can go on rides without waiting, and go on them again and again. I'm still processing the photos, but here are three photos of Space World for you to enjoy:

Go around sunset. That's my recommendation. Although the rides close
around 5pm, and some of them are pretty fun. So uh, ok, maybe you should go
for the whole day. 

I actually advocate going when it's off-peak,
at the end of the year, for the Christmas illuminations. 

Although according to my friend, who's from Kitakyushu
(where Space World is located), the illuminations only became really cool
about last year or so. 
And here, is a Google+ GIF of Spaceworld that I made:

Somehow, my photos only get made into GIFS if they're taken in broad daylight :/

I'll be doing a more detailed review soon (and then I'll post a link to it here), so wait for my news!

One interesting (although not very fun) thing that happened was that I almost got into a confrontation at Space World. There was a group of students (I think they're Vietnamese, although I can't really distinguish it by sound - My mom and I are pretty sure it's somewhere in South East Asia, and not Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines or Indonesia though). We were at a huge bouncy egg (It's literally called "fuwa fuwa egg", which is for kids ages 3-12 (I think. It might have been cut off at age 10).

Suddenly, the students came in and started bouncing around. There were only two kids on the egg (my brother and another girl), but I really didn't think they should have been doing that. So I went up to them and told them in Japanese that they weren't allowed to play here. I was kinda nervous and mispronounced a word, but they got the message and left. Also, the park attendant came so they ran off apologising. I'm kind of glad I did that, because the play area is basically like a big bouncy balloon and I was scared that they would puncture it if they kept jumping up and down.

And in other, non-Space World related news. my favourite Winter/Spring ice-cream is back!

You. Must. Try. This. (Is my mind control working?)
I like the cookies, but I love this ice-cream! I ate it everyday while I was in Gaidai (and when I first moved here). It's a good thing my metabolism is still really fast :p
If you love cookie ice cream (Think of Baskin Robin's Cookie Dough ice-cream, but cheaper), you have to get this!

And once again, we experienced really good Japanese service:

Don't these cakes look good? There's a story behind them!
 On Sunday, my family and I wanted to eat out. But, we couldn't find a suitable restaurant, so I suggested the coffee shop opposite my place, since it has fries that my brother will eat. But when we got there and set down, we discovered that they stopped serving food already!

I was kind of embarrassed and kept apologising as we left. But, I met my match in the owner of the shop, who probably apologised more. She even gave us those three yummy pieces of cake as an apology. The cakes, by the way, were awesome, and that made me decide to eat there more often. At least for tea, if not for a proper meal.

I guess I could have broken up this post into three separate posts. But I really wanted to share this with you guys. So now you have a sense of what it's like to talk to me when I'm excited(;

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Very Quick Blog Update

If you've visited this blog lately, you might have seen this poll: 

I'd really like to thank the people that made up the 21 votes. I'm not sure how many people actually voted since I allowed multiple votes.  Now this would be the full options (some words have been cut off) and the breakdown of votes: 

More about your life!
  12 (57%)
Introduce some classes at Kyushu University!
  9 (42%)
An FAQ about living in Japan
  10 (47%)
An FAQ about the MEXT scholarship (be warned, for this I will organise I Google+ Hangout to get questions)
  12 (57%)
Go travel!/Travel Recommendations!
  5 (23%)
Go look for a job!
  7 (33%)
Give us advice about learning Japanese!
  4 (19%)

In first place:

"More about your life": THANK YOU YOU TEN VOTERS :D I'm happy to see that you enjoy reading about what I'm doing. Since my mom and bro have come, I'm sure that I'll have more things to share about (and I do, I really do. I just have to find time to blog)

And (it's a tie)

"FAQ about MEXT Scholarship": I kind of expected this to win, so here's the deal. If you want to take part in the Google+ hangout, which will be sometime in January next year, add me on Google+ and drop me a private post (you can make a post and share it only to me). If I get five people, I'll hunt down a few other MEXT scholars and get them to come hangout as well. 

Second Place:

"FAQ about living in Japan": I did get a really interesting email from Clement (Hi Clement!) about studying in Japan, and once I get that written into a nice post, I'll share it with everyone. In the meantime, feel free to use the comments below to ask me anything you want about life in Japan. 

Third Place: 

"Introduce some classes at Kyushu University": I plan to do that(: I um, I just have to write it. Wow, I have a lot of stuff to write about now. 

The Rest: 

Are stuff that I was planning to write. In fact, I was planning to write about all these options, except the teach Japanese one (because I've stopped Japanese classes a long time ago - when I get better at Hakata-ben, perhaps then I'll do a post. So wait for another year or two(; ), which is why I'm so glad that it got the least number of votes. 

Heh. This was a boring post. But anyway, you now know what to look forward too, and if some of the posts don't appear, feel free to comment/email me and bug me for them. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Wrap-Up: I am a Winner!

The web badge is not lying, I am a NaNoWriMo 2013 winner! That makes it the second win in a row which is something I'm really delighted about! Especially since I started the week doubting whether I could make it to the 50k that all participants dream about.

My trip to Tokyo let me with a four day word-deficit (I don't even want to calculate how many words that is). But reading through Google+, and seeing people who managed to write many many words in a short span of time ( +Dennis Jernberg calls it 'Panic Time' and that's true!) gave me the encouragement to try again. So even though my mom and bro arrived on Wednesday, I managed to write 3000-4000 words a day, and more or less caught up.

Until Friday that is.

Da da dum.

On Friday, I went to meet my Aunt, Uncle and cousin (they were on a trip to Kyushu and that was their last day). We only met around 8 plus, and they came to my house as well. So by the time they left and I took a shower it was past midnight and I decided to sleep (I caved, I know). And on Saturday, I had to go out with my family to get a mattress and go to Kendo practice (More on all these stuff later).

That means I was left with one-and-a-half hours (I started around 10.30pm to write about 3400 words. I'm not sure what happened, but around 11.50pm, I managed to validate my manuscript and win NaNoWriMo!

Even though I won last year as well, I really do want to compare the two years (I changed the software I used, and there was a slight change in my writing methods), so there will probably be another post in a week or two, after I have had time to calm down and probably analyze what I did. But for now:


And this is my ending, written during Panic Time, in Panic Mode:

“So, I figured that the best thing would be to get you two together. Even if it makes the ending really cliched. But hey, a cliched happy ending is still a happy ending, and it’s cool that the Princess gets together with the Prince. Or at least, a member of nobility, seeing that Yuu is the younger son of nobility and I’m the Prince.”  

 “Are you ever going to forget the quest?” I think he’s more vested in this quest that I was.  
 “Nope. It was a good experience, although I still don’t fully get the point. But you look happier and that’s the important part. And now that you know how Yuu feels, you look even happier, just like Angela predicted.”  
 “Where is that girl anyway?” “She couldn’t get out of going to her family’s Church today. She’ll be coming over later today, latest tomorrow to congratulate the two of you anyway.” 
 “You two, I can’t believe it! I don’t know if I should be mad or grateful.”  
 “Be grateful” Yuu suggests and he pulls me closer.  
 So, even though it’s really cliched and corny and whatnot, this is where I’m going to end my story. Because like Ray says, happy endings are happy endings, even if they’re so cliched they can practically become a template for future stories and so sweet that they make your teeth fall out. That’s why we say “and they lived happily ever after.”

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

東京へ行ってきた! (To Tokyo and Back!): Another Pictorial Post

You may or may not have heard that I went to Tokyo during Kyudaisai. And yes, I skipped my own school festival to attend Gaigosai (TUFS's school festival) and Komabasai (one of Today's school festivals).

Kyudaisai sounded fun, but I really really wanted to meet my friends. And with a four day weekend, this was way too good a chance to pass up. So, off to Tokyo I flew.

And when I got to Tokyo, I was reminded of how inconvenient Narita is. It takes me less than half an hour to get to Fukuoka airport from my home, but about two hours and 3000 yen to get to Kichijyouji. I arrived there about midnight and with barely any power in my handphone (I had this fear that the phone would die on me and I'd become uncontactable).

But, it was all worth it. I got to (activities not listed in chronological order) see my Kendo club:

Meet my cousin and have lunch with her:


According to Nic, these pictures made her hungry. Even though
she had her dinner just before looking at them.

So gaze upon the deliciousness that is Cheese Nan!
Meet my friends from Church:

The kids are adorable!
Go for dinner and book-shopping with Simone:

What an interesting book you have there Simone(;
And of course, go to Gaigosai:

And even Komabasai:

So. Many. People. 
And since I was being exceptionally efficient, I've actually processed two of the photos I took and uploaded them to 500px. So the links lead back there (if you're wondering):

Road to Tobitakyu. Also found here

Mitaka Dorm. I quite like how this photo has
warm and cool colours. You can also see it here

And a bonus photo! Here's one that I took with my iPad when I came back to Muromi:

It was actually even cooler in person. And yes, you can
also find it here

My mom and my little brother are also in arriving in Fukuoka for one month, so let's see how I'll juggle schoolwork and more travelling for the month!

EDIT: When I was in Gaidai, Tani-sensei asked me to make a video introducing Kyudai. So here it is! (Video is in Japanese)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

NaNoWriMo Week 2.5

I'm halfway through Week 3 and I officially have 33,458 words, which means that I have a very tiny buffer of about 100 words. To be honest, I'm just grateful that I caught up, because I've been behind since Week 1 ended.

The only reason why I've managed to catch up is because I've been writing at least 2000 words a day this week. I do this by writing one chapter (my chapters are a little on the short side), and by elaborating on past chapters that I've written. Even if I think it's rambling, if I feel the urge to write it down, I'll write it down. Like everyone says, editing and such is for after November. It means I get a little less sleep, but I think not being able to wear contacts is worth it (it sounds strange, but when I don't get enough sleep, I can't open my eyes wide enough to insert my contacts).

But, I'll be leaving on a trip to Tokyo tomorrow, so that means that I'll be away from my computers (and the internet) for about four days. I'm really hoping that I can write on my evernote even without the Internet, so that I don't fall behind too much. On the bright side, my novel includes a trip to Tokyo, so I suppose I couldn't count this break as an inspiration break (;

So, here's an excerpt from these three days:

“Alright. See you around Yuu” They wink at him and walk on, giggling among themselves as they walk away.  
 As soon as they leave, Yuu turns to me and says “Try not to pick a fight. It’ll waste time we don’t have, and energy on those that can’t afford it.” It’s the same speech he gives me every time Ray or I get into a fight.

“Yeah. Although you did put them in their place” Ray tries to free himself from the bush. Yuu and I rush forward to help pull him out as well. “Anyway”, he continues nolchantly as Ray and I try to pull him out, “You know when you said that we need to go to my ‘home country’? Why don’t you just write us there? That way, I won’t have to pretend to be in love with the Princess.” 

“Nice try Ray. But I can’t just change the story so abruptly. It won’t make sense. It’ll take me a few chapters to introduce a reason for travelling and the reactions to it and stuff. And who knows how many times we’ll be pulled into this world while I’m writing it?” 

“It’s a good idea though”, Yuu says thoughtfully. “Although instead of us going there, you could have an envoy or a historian or something come here. Would that be easier to write?”

How's your NaNoWriMo going so far this week?

Monday, 18 November 2013

My New Yonanas Maker!

Even though it's been getting colder and colder, a few weeks back, I bought a Yonanas maker. Basically, it turns frozen fruits into ice-cream. This is how it works.

First, you buy your Yonanas Maker (I hear 'Duh's', but I had a picture I wanted to use):
Freeze your fruits:

Feed it into the Yonanas machine, and out comes ice-creamy goodness:

My friends were way excited, because they've always wanted to try it. Some of my friends hadn't heard of it, but after I explained it to them, they also wanted to try it!

And because my friends and I all think alike, last Saturday, we held a Yonanas party!

Everything is ready! 
 Of course, we had hot tea, to make sure we didn't get too cold!
This is the mixed-berry flavour, it's awesome! 
 And we managed to experiment with a lot of flavours:

This is pure mango goodness. 
As my friends said, "You can always eat ice-cream. If it's cold, turn on the heater." (yeah, we really really like snacks). So far, my little brother loves it too, even though it involves ice-cream. Although to be honest, he's only seen it work through skype. But I've already made a lot of cool things like:

This breakfast parfait:

I love my Disneyland Cup. Do you know you can play the Cup
Song with this? 
A Banana Ice cream Pie:

The crust was made with this awesome biscuit! 
And a Ice-cream cake:

Top layer is Persimmon (awesome), Middle-layer is
sweet potato (also awesome),  Bottom is pumpkin (very awesome)
I'm still thinking of what else I can make. If you have suggestions, tell me! I'll try them out and let you know if it works!

And if this sounds like an advertisement, don't worry, I paid for the machine (I wish I got it for free though). But I really do like it and wanted to share it with you. And also because I really, really wanted to share pictures of the desserts I made. If, however, you want to buy it online (and you're considering Amazon), I'd be super happy if you use the affiliate link at the bottom).

You can get your Yonanas Maker here!  (Note: This is an affiliate link. If you buy through here, Amazon gives me a very tiny amount of money. You don't have to pay extra, and Amazon now ships to Singapore free [if you're not in Singapore, please check about your country], so it's win-win)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Week 2

Well, we're slightly more than halfway through and I'm really, really behind on NaNoWriMo. I was actually more or less on schedule until this Thursday. I've realised that Thursday is not a very good day for me to write (too many classes, too little time). Normally, I can write a bit more on Friday, but yesterday, my teacher told us that today's supplementary lesson would be a mid-term test. In the form of a speech.

You would think that having gone to ACS(I), I'd have learnt the art of bullshitting and didn't need to worry. But unfortunately, I needed to simplify my English (which means actually thinking of what words to use), and my teacher asked me to do a powerpoint presentation. Only I was asked.

So I skipped golf, rushed home and spent about three hours sourcing for photos and putting together this really nice keynote presentation. And after that, I had an online meeting (Google Hangouts!) until midnight, which is when I went to sleep because I had a test today.

And in proof that I do unecessary things sometimes, the projector refused to work, so I had to present without my slides. But, after all the hardwork I did, I'm determined that someone should see it, so here you go: (yes, I did narrate, but if my squeaky voice annoys you, you can totally turn it off)

So that long-winded story is the explanation for why I'm behind on the word count. But, at least I haven't gotten writer's block yet! The story is progressing pretty well, although I suspect I have too much filler. But that's for me to worry when I'm editing (if I decide I want to edit this) after NaNoWriMo.

This week's excerpt:

Yuu frowns. “Your highness, it is improper to talk so familiarly with the servants, especially one from this village. And you, I don’t know how you manage to get the Prince alone, but you will behave with decorem and respect towards him. 
Ray and I both stare at Yuu. “Geez Yuu”, I say at least, “There’s no one around. Why are you being so mean?” 
“Why are you being so familiar?” 
“Dude, why are you being rude to Mi? She’s like, your best friend. I mean, the three of us are like the three musketeers!” 
“Your highness, while I have been trained from boyhood to serve you, I haven’t met the girl before.” Yuu looks genuinely puzzled. Suddenly, it dawns on me. 
“Ray, this is either Yuu with his memories replaced or a Yuu like character that I don’t remember creating.” 
Ray just groans. “What other characters did you create?”

How are your NaNoWriMo's going on?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Church Autumn Bazaar (Photos)

I don't know what the weather is like where you are (I hear Singapore was having a cold spell, but I always assume it's warm), but right now, it's beginning to get really cold! Which marks the Autumn and so, my Church's Autumn bazaar :D

Now, I was simply the waitress in this, but it was really fun. Plus, we had curry rice and 豚汁 (butajiru - pork soup) and it was delicious!) If you're ever in Fukuoka the next time there's a bazaar, be sure to come down!

And while this I'll be sharing my experience with photos, I won't be showing photos with faces in them out of privacy to my Church members.

All ready! 

One part of the old clothes section. There are actually some
pretty nice stuff. 

Main dining hall, where I was the waitress

A sample of the hand-made items. And only 50yen!

Preparing the goods. They're delicious and
you but them as you walk past the window. Somehow,
that really appeals to me. 

The 'goods in question'. All sorts of delicious food, ready for you to buy
and consume (or buy, bring home and consume, you pick)
I didn't actually get to browse through here.
But then again, I don't need so many bags :p
I believe this section also sold things like photo frames, dishes,
teapots, etc. 

And of course, knicknacks like this musical sheperdess

Persimons! Good for you and delicious!

Books for sale!

Food coupons that I received from a church member. 

Coffee and cookies corner. 

So cute :D 

More cuteness. This I bought XD

My lunch! Homemade curry rice!

And a huge bowl of butajiru! 
I hope to see some of you at the next bazaar if possible!