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!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Tokyo Girl?

I'm writing this post on my last night in Japan. Well, I'm not going back for good, but I am finally going back to Singapore for a holiday. But before I go back, I spent this week in Tokyo.

And woah, I didn't know I missed Tokyo this much? I did quite a lot of stuff - tea with Rachana, Disneyland (hey, it's the happiness year, I have to go at least once), visiting the kendo team, visiting the kyudo team (I'm not sure why, since I never joined :p), and of course, youth camp (which was the main reason I went back). There's a lot to tell, and I will tell it slowly in blog posts, but for now, I just want to think about this trip.

When I came to Fukuoka, I was so certain that this was the right choice. And it is the right choice for me - I love this city, and I love my school and friends. But now that I've actually been back, I realise that I do miss my Tokyo. Not the Shinjuku/Shibuya/Akihabara stuff (I got lost at Shinjuku after just four/five months of being away -.-), my little patch of Tokyo.

I miss living at TUFS
I miss eating Sankichi and Parivaar
I miss Calvary Chapel Fuchu
I miss all my friends in Tokyo

But when I touched down in Fukuoka today, I also had an "I'm coming home" sense of happiness. It looks like I've got two homes now. And I wonder what it'll be like when I get back to Singapore. Of course, I'm soooo excited to go and meet my family, but what will it be like after a year of not being back? Singapore changes so fast that I wonder if it'll still feel like home. So many of my friends are in US/UK studying and well, that alone is a big change.

I guess I'll see what happens when I fly tomorrow.

This would be me, the frequent flyer (I took this at the airport :p)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Chocolate Tart Recipe

I know I'm supposed to have done the Cream Puff and Eclair recipe first, but this was already partially written in English, so it was much easier to translate. And for some reason, it took me some time to recall the term whisk (in Japanese, it's called a whipper).

The tart :D (The chocolate filling tastes like nama-choco)

Chocolate Tart Base
chilled butter (unsalted) - 50g
powdered sugar - 15g
a pinch of salt
half an egg yolk (10g)
half a tablespoon of milk (7g)
cake flour - 80g
Cocoa powder - 8g

Chocolate Cream/Filling
1 egg yolk
Raw Cream - 90g
Chocolate (cooking 60g and milk 30g - or any combination)
butter - 18g

1. Mix dry ingredients
2. Mix in food processor with butter
3. Add egg yolk and milk
4. Mix
5. Knead to get rid of air
6. Form into a ball and place between two pieces of cling wrap
7. Roll out into a circle - if soft, but in fridge to chill
8. Butter the tart and place the dough in the tin (if it's still soft, put it back in the fridge)
9. Prick with a fort and weight down with baking stones.
10. Bake for 13 minutes at 180 degrees, remove stones and bake for another 8 minutes.

The baked shell, before the filling was added

Chocolate filling
1. Heat the cream till there are bubbles at the side
2. Add half of the cream to the egg and mix
3. Return the cream and egg mixture to the pot and mix with a spatula.  Heat using a weak flame until smoke comes out.
4. Add the chopped chocolate in and use the whisk to mix till it's creamy. Add butter.
5. Pour into tart and bake for 5-7 min at 160 degrees Celsius

Sunday, 18 August 2013

It's (perhaps not) a good idea to live near an outlet mall

If you remember my post on Friday, then you'll have heard that I've been on a shopping spree lately. Sadly for my poor poor wallet. But anyway, if you were wondering what Friday's receipt looked like (the clothes I mean), well, I took a picture! I don't actually have a full length mirror, so the only way I could show you all how it looked like would be to use a clothes hanger:

Trust me, it's cute
 And the reason for all this shopping would be that Marinoa City was having this outlet mall sale. Quite a few shops were closing too, so the discounts were huge. Really really huge. For example, whoever that can guess the original price and the sale price of the following outfit gets an imaginary gold star:

Plus, I had to buy golf stuff (shoes and a skirt) so it was all good :D I think. I don't dare to see what my bank account thinks. I actually bought my mom a Coach bag and my dad golf shoes as well, so my account took quite a hit.

So apart from going to Marinoa three times in a week (including today), I also went to Canal City! After 5 years, I was back! With a camera (of course)

So so pretty <3
It really is a pretty place, and well, it has the same point card as Marinoa. Which makes this two shopping centres my two favourites! For some reason, I never liked Tenjin as much. I took lots of photos and I will definitely be sharing them to Google+ (or to 500px then linking to Google+, so it's all good).

They had this water show which looked like fireworks. But with water. 
And on two random notes:

One, please watch 謎解きはディナーのあとで (nazotoki wa dinner no ato de). I watched the movie at Canal City (incidentally, having the movie ticket gives you perks like free ajidama at the ramen shop, 10% off Cold Stone Creamery, etc) and it was awesome! It was funny and well, Singapore was in it! And the cruise ship they were on? I took that same cruise ship! (different route though)

Two, what was two again? Oh yeah, I just wanted to share this experience I had yesterday. I had to go to Hakata for some reason, and at the train station, I saw a group of people who looked lost. So I went up and asked if they needed help. Turns out they were in Fukuoka for one day and wanted to shop - so I directed them to Tenjin. And while I was leading the way to the subway, I heard something like "it's a good thing she speaks English" and "And her English is really good too" (something like that). I was kind of amused, but I didn't know how to tell them that I wasn't Japanese. So I just kept quiet.

Tomorrow, I go back to the waterfall (to eat kakikoori and go fishing!),

Friday, 16 August 2013

Happiness is ... (#4)

Getting a huge huge discount on your clothes.

I'm in the middle of a shopping spree that should be done by Sunday (I can hear my wallet crying) and I'll report all my finds soon(;

Happiness is..... is a mini-series I do on this blog to document the smalls things in life that I'm thankful for. There are probably a lot that I missed, but these are the ones that caught my attention. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Les Miserables at Hakataza!

Yesterday, I went to watch Les Miserables at 博多座 (hakataza - Hakata Theatre). It was by a Japanese cast, so yup, the entire thing was in Japanese!

The steps to Hakataza
I've been to watch musicals in Singapore (I love Wicked), so I imagined that going to a musical in Japan would be the same - just in Japanese. But I was so wrong. After you hand over your ticket (but before you enter the theatre and take your seats), you'll take the escalator and enter...

A market. Seriously. It's not one or two stall selling snacks. There were many stalls selling snacks, omiyage, jewelry, programs (ok, the program is a given), DVDS, even kiwis! I don't know if this is normal, but I was quite shocked. And because of that, snacked so much.

The musical itself was awesome! I realised it was a little harder to catch the words in Japanese (plus, I'd already memorised most of the songs in English, so my brain was trying to translate, which weirdly made me understand less), but seeing the play and watching the movie are so different. The movie can zoom out and let you see the big picture, but the play is so much more intimate. The voices of the actors and actresses hit me with so much more force. And because of the stage (which means that we can only see one side), the way each scene was acted out was different.

Actually, I think the movie interpreted the play differently. At least, some scenes in the musical were in a different order from the play. It was interesting hearing Do You Hear The People Sing straight after ABC Cafe, but I'm not sure if it's that powerful.

Still... all the little kids were way too adorable!

When the musical ended, I think I clapped for about five minutes. Then waved. The cast was waving to the audience and the audience waved back (and yes, there was a standing ovation - it was done pretty late though).

I'd buy the soundtrack in Japanese, but it costs as much as my ticket. Which means I can't bring myself to pay that much money. Still, I'm looking forward to the next musical!

Monday, 12 August 2013

NaNoWriMo Prep: Writing From Within by Bernard Selling

Writing from Within is supposed to teach you how to write your lifestory, and from there, how to write creative fiction (at the very last section). To be honest, I'm way more interested in the creative fiction part.

But, while I was reading the book, something occurred in my life, and I had to write. It's a reaction of mine. So I actually got to implement some of the tools of the book immediately. You can read the results here and decide whether you think it helped me.

To sum up the book, it's a detailed guide that teaches you how to write down your story through the use of present tense and simple sentences. The style reminds me of Hemingway (ok, it reminds me of how people describe Hemingway). There are tips on how to write, how to re-write and even how to put in dialogue (which I found useful - but I haven't used it yet).

What I didn't really like, well, it's not really a complaint, but the book really emphasizes the simple style. I dislike purple prose as much as the next person, but I do appreciate a pretty turn of phrase. If all books read the same way, it would take out some of the sparkle of reading.

Did this book help me in my NaNoWriMo prep? The answer is, probably. What I'm thinking of writing this year is triggered by my experiences in Japan (ok, to be honest, most of what I write is triggered by some experience or the other), and this book could really help when I get stuck. I do like the idea of using writing to remember more.

Disclaimer: I got a free galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

National Day Celebration 2013

Yesterday was Singapore's 48th birthday! Happy Birthday (again)! So to celebrate, I invited five of my friends over to watch the National Day Parade (I love the National Day Parade. LOVE IT).

And well, I decided to prepare the food. I thought I prepared enough, but now I know, to feed six, I need a lot more than this:

Not shown: Meatballs and noodles.
Also, I tried to get the tarts to say "NDP (:" and " I <3 SG"
The show was actually really fun! We didn't get to see the Red Lions jump (bad weather), but my friends were really impressed with the show in general. Especially the talking Merlion :D (The Merlion is really famous in Japan)

Oh, and I was really touched when two of my friends dressed in Red (top) and White (pants). I did make a general request for everyone to wear red and/or white if possible, but I didn't expect them to look like Singaporeans at NDP!

Singaporean and Singaporeans for a night!

We did get distracted part-way (they were exploring my house and playing the piano), but I was doing the "LOOK NOW" thing, so I guess we caught everything. And after the whole parade we just sat around and talked. And well, commented on the facebook album (everyone used English too, and really, it's all these small gestures that touch me hugely)

You know, I never thought my loft would be so popular. At the end, there were four of us (one friend was staying over and another two were waiting for their parents). So two of them fell asleep in the loft and I was introducing my other friend to the game Where's Swampy. Also in the loft. Which I suppose is good, because all the food migrated to the floor (it was too troublesome to keep going to the table) by the end of the party.

It was actually really different from last year's celebration. But in a way, I'm glad that it turned out like this. I'd like this to become a tradition, if possible.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Summer Break Starts Now!

Today officially marks the start of natsuyasumi because I finish all my reports today! (Exams finished like, two days ago). And tomorrow is National Day, so I'm having some friends over to come and watch the National Day Parade with me (and if they actually do come in red and/or white, I'm taking photos!

Yesterday was actually quite fun. I worked on my reports in the morning (that was not the fun part), and in the afternoon, I went out! First I went to get a part-time job permit, you know, just in case. Although my mom says that I shouldn't be working if I can't even get good grades, which is a very valid point.

Next was my favourite part of the day - I WENT TO IKEA. I'm not sure why, but I love Ikea! I wanted to buy a mattress and a table and yeah, I bought both! I really think I get stuff done only when there are impending deadlines. For example, I needed a table for ages, but I only got one yesterday and assembled it today because tomorrow, my friends are coming over and I need a place to put the food down.

And apart from Yiyin, who came with me, two more of my friends came over! We actually planning to go to Ikea and watch Monster's University today, but well, plans change. We ended up going to watch Monster's University (which ended at about 1135pm. Last trains FTW hahahahaha). It was my first time watching an entire movie in Japanese without subtitles, and I actually understood the whole thing (my friends were telling me that movie Japanese is hard).

My ID. Unfortunately, I have a feeling my friends won't
want their photo shared on the net (it's not even on Facebook!)

I can't wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow is NDP

Sunday, 4 August 2013

白糸の滝 (Shiroito no Taki)

Despite the fact that I'm still in the middle of final exams (and about to scream from the sheer fustration of it all), I went to a waterfall yesterday! And before you scream "slacker", well, I went there because it was part of my final assignment! Yes, my extremely cool Japanese Affairs class has no exams, but the final assignment is to go somewhere with your group and write a report about it.


It's not a joke. Such classes do exist!

So my group decided to go to Shiroito no Taki (white string waterfall, if you want the literal translation). We went there by bus, and well, we realised why the bus was empty when we got there - there's at least a 30 minute uphill climb from the bus stop.

As we were making our way up, an ojiisan gave us a "shortcut". Well, it was a shortcut, but it was also a mountain route.

This is when we started out, full of energy.
I didn't take many photos (although I should have, the views were gorgeous!) because the path was too steep! My head was doing this up-left-right-down motion as I tried to take in the views and make sure I didn't fall. And those steps in the picture? They disappeared for quite a while, and it was just sand and rocks.

And me in sandals.

Trying not to fall.

But at least we all made it there without any injuries! And the waterfall was so lovely and cool that it felt as though it was air-conditioned:

We actually went there to eat nagashi soumen ( 流しそうめん - flowing noodles), which is a type of noodle dish where you pick the noodles out as it flows on by. It was so fun! Who says you can't play with your food?

You need ninja skills with your chopsticks for this!
I've realised that Japanese food is either really pretty, really fun or both. And always delicious. And fairly healthy most of the time.

After lunch, it was time to play! So really, we just messed around in the water:

With yours truly taking a bunch of random photos. And justifying
it with the report ;D
The water was nice and cold and even though we didn't swim, we all felt suprisingly sleepy after that.

But being a good girl, I studied Latin when I went home.