Monday, 31 August 2015

Calvary Chapel Youth Camp 2015

Since I went home almost as soon as the holidays started last year, I missed out on youth camp. But this year, I managed to go! It was inconvenient and expensive, but hey, I got to eat sweets with Simone before that, then meet some old friends and make new ones.

This year's camp was in some rural party of Tokyo (strange as that may sounds) that isn't Tama. Or at least, isn't near Tama station. I'm not actually sure where it is, but it was near a really famous hot spring, and had a pretty cool view. Take a look at the picture I took from my room:

And unlike the camp two years ago, I actually timed my flight so that I could attend all three days of camp. And it was so worth it! Apart from the daily onsens, which were so good, it was just awesome to be able to worship together with fellow Christians. I know, I do that every week, but these are people my age! 

Oh, but one weird thing that happened was that I continually mixed up the ages of my acquaintances. Since these are people I only meet at camp, I didn't actually add the 2 years needed to their age. So this happened a lot. 

"_____, how's highschool?"

"Eustacia, I'm in university." 

*Cue shocked face*

I think I only got a few people's ages right, and that's because they were from Calvary Chapel Fuchu. And not all of them, I mistook all the secondary school girls as primary school girls. Yikes.

Our camp shirt!

Of course, we also went to the river this year. It was actually pretty easy to make our way there, although I didn't go in. I did get wet though, because someone poured water on me. (At least my camera wasn't hurt)

Chilling the watermelon for suikawari later. 

Oh, and by the way, there was this really weird thing on a rock by the river. It's definitely not a worm, but no one could figure out what it is. Does anyone know? It's the red thing in the photo below:

And of course, we had a BBQ! Grilled hotdogs and chips for everyone!

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And although I didn't post any pictures showing it, there were a lot of people at the river. Lots of families doing their own BBQs and having fun. I was quite surprised, since well, it's not something people in Singapore do. We got to restaurants by the Singapore river to eat, but you don't see people making a day of it. But I totally understand why, chilling by the river is awesome, and I didn't even miss my phone (ok, I missed it a little, but only because I wanted to take photos)

And now, I have a sort of one week "break" before my school camp starts. Sadly, it's election in Singapore, so I'll be worrying about that from all the way here.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Eustacia & Simone Go Around Tokyo (Eating) Part 2

Read Part 1 here

Ok, so I've finished a trip to the Toyota factory today, and will have a relatively slow week next week. Well, I still have to prepare for the zemi gasshuku that's coming up, and the Singapore General Elections are here, so I have to figure out voting, and oh wait, I might not be that free. At least I'll get to sleep in for roughly a week (also, I want to see the summer Huis Ten Bosch! I have to go look and see if I have enough money :3)

So, going back to the topic of the blog post, as written in the title, I'll be talking about/sharing many many photos of the second part of Simone's and my trip around Tokyo, to eat at the shops I saw in that guide book I was translating.

For some reason, our Domique Ansel breakfast really, really stayed with us. After we bought our croissants, we just sat in Brick Square for a while, enjoying the scenery. This summer hasn't been that hot, which is strange, but good I guess. Assuming winter doesn't become super cold.

We also spent quite some time trying to get a picture of this bird. 

When we drank in enough of the view, we got up and started walking around Tokyo. There are tons of interesting buildings around Tokyo Station, including Tokyo Station:

Since my cousin asked me to keep an eye out for buildings (Hi YAKK!), I actually opened my eyes to the design. Ok, he asked me for Shibuya, but I wasn't there, and what better place than the one you're in? Simone and I both found this really cool one, although we're not quite sure what building this is.

The glass caught our attention. 

Since we still weren't hungry, we decided to check out the KITTE building, full of expensive goods we can't afford. But when we went there, we found out they were having a sumo exhibition!!

The inside, I love the ceiling! 
It's really weird, at first, I only saw the flags, and was wondering what it was about. It was only when we were part way through looking at the various sumo-stuff that I realised that below the flags was the ring. Ooops. So much for opening my eyes :p

What we took away from the exhibit is that sumos consume a lot more than us. For example, this is the amount of salt they use in the match (I can't remember if it's one day or one match, but since salt is used as a purifying method, I suppose it could be for a match?)

And then, we looked at how much they ate. The bowl of rice on the left is how much the sumo wrestlers eat, and the bowl on the right is how much a normal person eats. And if you can see the pieces of papers on the right, the long, long one is about how much 4 sumo wrestlers eat at a yakiniku restaurant, while the right (shorter) one is for four normal guys. Basically, the cost was about 4 times more.

They even had a bean-bag like thing that was 207kg, the weight of a particular wrestler. It was impossible to move. Simone tried to do this running start-method, but it didn't work.

Kyaaaaa - oof. 
Now sufficiently hungry, we headed over to Tokyo station's Ramen street for Ramen! According to Google, the ramen street was on the other side of the station from the KITTE building, and after about 20 minutes of walking about, we finally found it. And boy, were the queues long. I think the guide book was actually accurate about this one.

We got the Tokyo Station-edition Ramen. The stock (which I think is the speciality of the store), was made from a combination of animal stock and seafood. IT IS AMAZING.

The taste is totally different from normal ramen, even my tonkotsu, and it's surprisingly light. I actually wanted to finish the soup, which is different from the usual "the soup tastes good but if I drink the whole thing I might go into a food coma"

After we went ate, we went back to Harajuku. But first, a stop for purikura! Simone told me about Takeshita street, which was cool, but really, really crowded.

But you know, we finally managed to take purikura! You might have seen the ones on Google+, but then, I managed to get one more! So here it is (hopefully I don't end up posting the same picture twice)

I'm terrible at purikura. I didn't even know that you had to edit all the photos, not just the one that popped up on the screen. Oops. Good thing Simone was there.

Our next, and last stop, was Magnolia bakery, which is another really famous bakery from America. It's famous for its cupcakes, but that wasn't what I was after. No, Wenxi told me that the banana pudding here (mentioned briefly in the article), was awesome, and I had to try it. But I also saw some summer-limited edition red velvet ice-cream whoopie and had to get it too.

The Whoopie was really good, but the banana pudding is AMAZING! I want them to open a banana pudding store in Fukuoka, so I can have it whenever I want. I really, really love the banana pudding there. It's amazing.

The shop itself is really welcoming too. I'd have liked to stay there longer, but we finished the food, and we had some other stuff going on.

And that is the end of how Simone and I decided to stuff ourselves with sweets (and ramen). There are actually a few other stores I wish I could visit, but if I ever go back to Tokyo, I'm going back for more banana pudding. And the cookie shot, if it's possible.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Eustacia & Simone Go Around Tokyo (Eating) Part 1

So, I've had two interesting days of internship, well one and a half if you include the fact that half of yesterday's internship got cancelled on account of typhoon. Tomorrow will be my last day. And just before that, I was in Tokyo, getting fat. And Church camp.

Today, I'm going to be talking about getting fat in Tokyo. Or, to put it nicely: the sweets shops that Simone and I visited while I was in Tokyo.

Why did I come up with such a scheme? Well, I was doing a translation baito (which has a long story of its own), and it was all about Tokyo. Tokyo and Disneyland and the sweets and other delicious food it has. Since I didn't have the time or money to go to Disneyland, I decided to choose the four shops I wanted to go the most, and head there with Simone.

Our first shop was Dominique Ansel Bakery, home of the cronut. I've always wanted to try the authentic thing, and since going to New York would be too expensive, I settled for waking up at 6am in order to reach the bakery at 8am. The bakery's in Harajuku, and in the morning, it is deserted. And contrary to what the internet was saying, there weren't any queues either.

Absolutely no queues whatsoever. And we arrived maybe a few minutes after the shop opened?  

The shop itself is very white and feels really modern. My eyes, however, were drawn to the sweets. 

I wanted to get all of them! I actually convinced myself that maybe I could, maybe, but then I remembered what happens when I get too much sugar.

So I only got the cronut and the frozen smore. I would have gotten the cookie shot too (a cookie glass filled with milk), but they only sell that after 3 pm. So I filed it away as "come back later if I can still eat, or on my next trip)

My frozen smore being prepared. 

Simone and I are ready to start eating~
 The frozen smore is basically a roasted marshmallow which contains ice-cream which is covered in chocolate biscuit crumbs. Really good, although more of a dessert than a breakfast. And it was surprisingly big. When I finished it, I was so full I couldn't touch the cronut. Thankfully, the cronuts came in boxes, so we just took that to go.

When I finally ate the cronut though... it was so good. Sugary, but good. I probably enjoyed the pastry more than the filling, since shiso doesn't really seem like a dessert flavour. But it did make it less rich so....
I believe this is a berry and shiso flvaour. 
Next up was some fancy Echire Butter shop. I had to read up on this: Echire butter is butter from a very specific region in France, and apparently, the taste is really unique and even changes according to the seasons. All I know is that it's supposed to be good, and the building it's in pretty, so off we went.

This place actually had a queue. But, it isn't as bad as what the magazine made out. I was told thirty minutes to an hour, but it only too us less than ten minutes. Although getting there from Tokyo station proved to be a pain.

Inside the shop
 Ok, I was way surprised at the prices. The croissants are roughly 400 yen each. But then again, a normal stick of butter was over 2000 yen! I think it was 2400 yen-ish? Not too sure, my mind kinda went into shop. But the shop smelled so good, so I ended up buying two croissants: the traditional one, and a salted butter one.

Oh, and an interesting observation. For Dominque Ansel Bakery and Magnolia Bakery (coming out in post 2, because I already have too many images), the customers were predominantly girls. Here, there was an even mix. I wonder why...

The croissants were good, but my tastebuds were probably still under the influence of sugar, (even though I ended up eating them for breakfast the next morning), because they just seemed a bit more buttery than normal. At least, the traditional one did. The salted butter one? That one was awesome. If you go, get the salted butter one, it's more worth it.

So anyway, the place the shop was in is called Brick Square. It's got a really lovely garden, where we basically rested for a while.

There's also an art museum, but we didn't go in.

Ok, next up, random walking around, lunch, and the last bakery of the day before we give up. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

This is for the people in Fukuoka・福岡にある方へのお願い

Hey everyone! So, I came back from Tokyo on Sunday (it was an awesome Church camp and mini-food tour), and I started my 3 day internship today. So, while I really, really want to talk about the stuff I went around eating, I'm gonna wait till Wednesday to do that, because right now, there's something more important I want to ask all of you in Fukuoka, and those of you who know someone living in Fukuoka.

Basically, about two weeks ago, I found this kitten on the way back from Church.

I first stopped because she was tiny and adorable, but upon closer inspection, there was something very wrong. S/he didn't seem to be able to move her hind legs, and there was pus filling both her eyes. S/he didn't seem to be able to see. And unfortunately, the nearby vet clinic was closed. So in the end, we (there was another member who stopped as well) brought her to the Church, where another member who keeps 3 cats offered to bring her to a vet.

Tonight, I got a call from that Church member. The cat is as healthy as it's gonna get, which is to say, it can see now, but can't move its hind legs at all. But, the Church lady can't keep anymore cats, and I'm pretty sure my apartment won't let me keep a cat either (plus, I'm not in the house the whole day, which would be awful for any animal).

So, if you're in Fukuoka and in a place that lets you keep cats (and you happen to like them), can you consider adopting this little kitty? It's only 3 or 4 weeks old, according to the Vet, and needs a lot of TLC. Or, if you know someone that wants a cat, please let me know.

Thank you.





Monday, 17 August 2015

Kagoshima Trip Part 3: Sakurajima

Alright, now we're at part 3 of the Kagoshima trip recap. It's also the last part, because it was a really short trip (I had to go back for a zemi dinner). Speaking of trips, I'll be heading to Tokyo tomorrow for a Church Youth Camp! YAY. I didn't get to go last year, so I'm really excited to be going this year. Plus, I'm going a day early, so I can meet Simone (after so long) and go around Tokyo hunting for delicious food. <- This is what happens when you do a part-time job translating a guidebook. You end up making a list of places you want to eat at even before you get paid.

Back to Kagoshima. On the day that we were meant to go back, we decided to fit in a quick trip to Sakurajima, which is this active volcano near Kagoshima. You have to take a ferry there, but in my opinion, the trip lasts as long as the ferry to Nokohoshima, but in a nicer boat and the trips take place much more frequently.

We arrived at the terminal less than 5 minutes before the ferry left, but that's ok, because you pay your fare at Sakurajima. So we just went right in and boarded the boat.

Bye mainland Kagoshima!
Because we needed to catch a 1pm bus, we didn't have much time. We wanted to ride some bus that tours the scenic spots, but we were way too early. So, we decided to go see the lava trail and the footbaths.

I'm don't think this is the right entrance, but we got to where we wanted to go. 
 Turns out the footpath is about a 10 minute walk away? And unlike Nokonoshima, Sakurajima seems to have a much bigger population. At least near the terminal, we could see a taxi place, and there were a few schools. There were a lot more houses too, things didn't get rustic until the lava trail.

View after walking through that vine-infested boardwalk. 
I must say, the views of everything on Sakurajima is gorgeous.

The free public footbaths. They actually continue down along a road. 
So we decided to walk from the start of the lava trail to one of the observation routes. The entire trail is about 3km, so you can guess what we spent most of our time on Sakurajima doing.

Start of the trail. The black thing is volcano ash, 
 But it was so pretty! If it wasn't so hot, I'd be happy just walking along the trail. But it was hot, so while I appreciate the beauty, I was also wishing for lower temperatures.

And because we spent two nights in a manga cafe, my walking speed was really slow. You can see how far behind the other two I was (they had to stop and wait quite a few times)

But, I'm happily taking photos. Oh, here's another edited photo (I haven't edited that many)

Most of the trail was hardened lava. I really wish we had more time, because I heard that on the other parts of the island, they have a torii that is buried almost to the top when the volcano last errupted. And a dinosaur park. But you know, tons of other volcano-related stuff. I heard if you're here at night, you can watch it errupt or something. But when I was there, I didn't really see any volcano ash falling on me. 

Am I the only one who sees the face here? None of the other two did. 
Oh, and another thing I heard you can do is to dig your own hotspring footbath on the beach. Another thing to do when I come back (I will come back. One day)

Although I don't think it's this beach.
 When we got to the end of the trail though, the views got really breathtaking.

So when we got to the top, the first bus of the day pulled up. But this bus is really cool, because it actually waits for people to climb up, take a look (and plenty of photos) then come back down. I guess because it's an hourly bus, they developed this system. So, we had time to climb up, grab some photos, and come down.

From there, we took the bus to various places, like this strange statue:

But the best spot was the highest observatory! 

But perhaps it was because we were slightly closer, but all my pictures turned out to be basically pictures of volcano ash. I had to edit them pretty heavily just to see the volcano. Take a look:


Anyway, for the rest of the trip, we just took a quick bus tour of the island, and then we had to rush back to the mainland to take the bus back to Fukuoka. This was an incredibly short Kagoshima trip, and I'm hoping that I have the chance to go back again, and very slowly explore the place.