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!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

What I've Been Up To

Hey everyone! August is almost here and my holiday is half over. NOOOOOOO

I haven't been posting much because nothing much has happened. I've been eating, meeting friends and sleeping a lot (I seem to have come down with a cold, so being able to sleep in has been fantastic). I am going to the Hello Kitty Cafe soon though, so I might post about that when it's over. Oh, and I managed to visit both my alma maters, which was a fun experience (although I feel really old because I graduated so many years ago!)

In the meantime, I've gotten my hands on a lot more books! Harris has a sale, and there were a few tables of RM 5 books, which was awesome!

I managed to get 5, and I've read 2 so far. I've got some library books though, so those definitely take priority over these (since I can bring these home if I want to)

As for the school stuff, all my results save one have been given, and I haven't failed anything so far. Then again, the subject I worry about the most is the one that hasn't been graded yet so...

Anyway, I wanted to ask: does anyone have any topic that they'd like me to blog about? The holidays do last for another month, so I'm always open to suggestions.

Monday, 22 August 2016

NLB Exhibition: From the Stacks

I've been wanting to go to the From the Stacks exhibition, and I finally managed to make it! At first, I was quite scared that it would be like the Shakespeare one (small and not very good), but it was FANTASTIC. I really do love it.

From the Stacks has (according to the NLB description):

"Documents, publications and photographs from Singapore’s early days reveal fascinating insights into our history and culture. For instance, an 1819 document on the establishment of Malay College reveals how Raffles envisioned Singapore not just as a commercial hub but also as a centre for learning, culture and the arts.

Early literary works, religious tracts and dictionaries point to a thriving publishing industry in Singapore with printing presses run by English missionaries, Chinese literati and Muslim publishers. Cross-cultural exchanges, which have always been an element of Singapore society, gave rise to the first ‘fusion’ recipes in early cookbooks such as The Mem’s Own Cookery Book, published in 1929. As Singapore came into its own, discussions and debates about the Singapore identity are reflected in early 20th century magazines and 1950s poetry.

Discover early Singapore from a fresh perspective through over 100 highlights from the National Library’s collection of rare publications, manuscripts, documents, maps, photographs and more."
The exhibition has quite a few topics, like natural history, World War II, first publications in Singapore, etc. It's actually quite a big exhibition, my cousin and I spent about 2 hours there.

So without further ado, snippets of the exhibition:

This is a picture of one of the first few publications in Singapore - The Sermon on the Mount in three languages (if I remember correctly). Mission work led to the first few publications ever, though it was not always judiciously given out - one exhibit talks about how someone wrote in to complain that the missionaries were giving out tracts to illiterate coolies, who in turn used the pages to wrap fruits!

Quite interactive too - the following photo was a flipcard that contained excerpts from some sort of dictionary/guide thing.

And the sign pointed out that the entry on opium made it sound harmless, basically to justify the British opium trade. It's a good reminder that what makes it in (or out) a textbook can show a certain worldview.

There were quite a few multi-media exhibits too!! You could 'like' the pictures in this one:

I really liked the exhibition of learning Malay, which was quite heavily featured in the advertisements:

The picture shows examples from old Malay dictionaries, with the pronunciation written in Chinese dialect! I thought it was fascinating, as was the interactive exhibit (well, move the panels about) that show how the meaning of certain Malay words have changed over time. Like how Peranakan used to just mean 'womb', but now also includes Peranakan people.

Found this too! The whole thing was written in three languages! It looks like I can borrow it too, but I suppose they're using it for the exhibition, so it's not a good idea to take it out :p

There had some lovely take-home stuff too. Apart from these pictures (which I didn't take cause they were too big), there was also a decent guide of the exhibition, recipe books, and an area where you could try library stamps on 'library cards'!

And these are the things that I brought back:

This is the war section. Fascinating, though we could hear the audio from the nursery rhymes section so that was a bit weird.

This is apparently gold ink on silk, written for the prince (I think Prince Albert?) in both Chinese and English.

And the nursery rhyme sections! They had these giant 'books' (way taller than me), and you could 'flip' the pages. My cousin and I just stood there and listened to all three rhymes in English and Malay. The rhymes are Baa Baa Black Sheep, Jack and Jill and Sing a Song of Sixpence

Like I said at the start, this exhibition is really fantastic! If you have the time, you should definitely go. Plus it's free, so even if it turns out that I talked it up a bit too much (but I don't think I did), you won't have lost anything but some time.

So yeah, definitely go see this if you can. Central Library, Level 10. The exhibition will run until 25 September, 2016.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

My First Visit to USS!

Yesterday, I was asked to "babysit" my little brother and his friend on their trip to USS (Universal Studio Singapore). Since this opened shortly after I left for Japan, I haven't had the chance to go there yet. So yay! My first trip to USS!

obligatory photo
 I have to admit, "Hollywood" really reminds me of Disney's main street. I wonder if all theme parts work this way? I mean, Huis ten Bosch and Space World don't, but they aren't mega-movie studios so...

There were quite a few characters around! I saw Elmo, Marilyn, the Madagascar staff, a dinosaur, etc. But I didn't bother taking any photos with them. The only photo I took was this one:

Unfortunately, I can't really report on the rides because I didn't really get to go on the two that I wanted :p But I am basically the babysitter today, so I decided to just insist on "one ride per area" (because the bro basically came here for ONE ride). The rides were pretty fun, though. I mean, I've seen most of the concepts before, in Huis ten Bosch, Spaceworld and the like, but I like how they integrated the movie themes into it.

The park was beautiful too:

And I thought the mini ferris wheel in the Far Far Away store (I'm not too sure if I got the name correct) was cute:

And since I'm adding random facts, I might as well add that: if you've got a little sibling/kid who has the IA annual pass, they get a free ice-cream from the Gloria stand at Madagascar! So make sure to redeem it(:

The last thing that I want to say (because this isn't a comprehensive review) is that the park is surprisingly good for playing Pokemon Go! They have free wifi (which is a lifesaver for me) and tons of pokemon. I think I caught 5 new species that day, including everyone's favourite:

There are quite a lot of Pokestops too, though I ended with a net loss of pokeballs because I used all of them to unsuccessfully try and catch a Blastoise (I think that's the name? I haven't seen it in gyms much so...)

Oh, and I topped up my ticket, so now I have a six-month pass! I'll probably make one more trip before I go back to Japan, in order to ride The Mummy ride and the other roller coaster :D

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sakura Cheesecake

Guess what I did yesterday? I made Sakura Cheesecake!!

I actually took lots of photos with my DSLR, but I forgot to bring it home twice in a row, so I shall just post the photos that I took from my phone (which makes me wonder why I took the photos on my DSLR if I'm not going to use it).

Anyway, the only progress picture I took:

The recipe is pretty easy: the cheese cake is the regular no-bake kind, and I mixed in sakura petals into gelatine before pouring it onto the cake. The sakura petals were pickled in salt (just ask for "sakura tea"), so I had to soak them in water for 30 min before using them, but it was a cinch other than that. Keep some pretty ones for decoration, and tear the petals out for the rest.

And the rest of the photos!

This ended up being the instagram picture(:

This is probably one of the more productive things that I did since I came home. Besides visit all my alma mater, because I am way too attached to them :p

Monday, 15 August 2016

Ace Attorney Escape Game

The day before I went back to Singapore, I got to go to an Ace Attorney Escape Game (link to the Japanese page)! That day was the start of the Fukuoka game (it's held nation-wide), so I felt really lucky that I managed to get tickets - I literally can't make it for any other day.

My tickets, which were pre-bought the ticket online (and paid at Lawson). Pre-buying and using the student price was the cheapest way to get these. While there are same-day tickets, they are significantly more expensive.

Oh, and while I was allowed to bring in my camera, I felt quite awkward taking photos with it (especially since I didn't know anyone else in my team), so I ended up taking all my photos with my phone :p

Anyway, this is what I received when I entered the hall!

And my team number:

We were grouped into groups of 6, and I was the only one who was:

1. Alone
2. A first timer

But everyone was really nice! They were like 緊張しますね (it's quite nerve-wracking - sorry bad translation) and generally being encouraging and stuff.

This is the back of the flyer I received. It's two 'news articles' and provides information on the case. Basically, a medium was killed and this guy (the defendant) was accused of murder. The defendant was working in the temple, so he had the most opportunity, or at least that's how the prosecution was framing it. It's kinda easy to figure out who the real murderer is, since there are only three characters, but proving it was hard!

The table (before we took out everything):

And this is how the room looks like:

The first part was a short intro, which explained the case in greater detail. The third wall was broken, because we were introduced as trial assistants (and wannabe defence lawyers). The funny part was when Phoenix tried to 'sweeten the deal' by promising to defend us for free if/when we were charged with murder.

After that, the game was introduced. And I realised that this wasn't an escape game. IT'S A REAL LIFE ACE ATTORNEY GAME!!

Basically, we're given witness testimony and evidence, and we have to find the contradiction and present evidence to the judge to get new testimony and evidence and continue with the story.

The time limit is 1 hour, and everything is held in Japanese. I thought it was manageable though - there were a few words I didn't know, but I managed to guess the meaning from the kanji, and from the way they were used.

And when you present evidence, you have to yell Phoenix's catchphrase: 異議あり (igi ari). I think the English version is "Objection!"

Here's a video of us practicing. The guy was saying that "it's an actual rule"

And the judge will make you shout it again if you aren't loud enough. I was made to shout it twice when I went to the judge.

And the game starts!! I didn't take too many photos after this because it would be rude, and the game is too fun. No time to take photos and videos at all. I didn't even think about it till we reached a particularly tricky stage and couldn't progress.

Two teammates presenting evidence to the judge. There are 28 teams, so we have to present to a specific judge because if not, our story may stop.

My teammates were nice and let me go present the first piece of evidence! After that, though, the people closest to the judge just did it.

We actually finished the first half pretty quickly (within 30 minutes) and left the table for a short while to 'talk' to Maya via manga pannels. After that, we got a lot more new testimoney, starting the second half.

The second half was soooo difficult. We couldn't figure it out at all! I was actually scared that I wouldn't find out how the criminal did it, and I'm the kind that really needs to know. Luckily, though, they went through the answers with us after the game ended. At the second half, everyone was like OHHHHH, so I guess everyone was stuck at the same point. It's like, so obvious once you hear it!

Only two teams succeeded, which apparently is normal cause they have a 5-10% success rate.

The last, last part was another video segment, so that we can watch Phoenix present the final evidence and get the Not Guilty verdict. By the way, I found it funny that at the last part, our not-guilty defendant expressed his thanks by offering to contact Phoenix when he got murdered to uncover the truth!

After that were the ads for the other games coming up (they have an Attack on Titan one apparently) and then we could go. They were selling merchandise, so I got some stuff for my bro (he loves Ace Attorney too) and two friends. It's a bit expensive, but what do you know. I just wish that they would sell the 'casebook' for this (especially since I saw a book that contained the questions of past games), but I guess it would be impossible since this is on-going! I would love to own a copy of the book version of this one day though, it would be fun to go through the puzzles again!

I'm so glad that I managed to make it to the game! It was way better than what I expected, and I had pretty high expectations to begin with.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Huis ten Bosch Summer Edition (Part 2): Robot Kingdom

Time for part 2 of my Huis ten Bosch visit! I'm writing this from Singapore because I'M BACK :D YAYYYY. Ok, so on to the next part.

Another reason why I wanted to visit Huis ten Bosch was the Robot Buffet Restaurant! It just opened, so it's a bit cheaper than 'normal'. I decided to visit during dinner time, which cost me 2990 yen (payment made upfront)

This was the entrance:

On the right is a robot that I guess serves as a distraction. You can talk to it, though it's pretty obvious that it can't really understand my Japanese. At least I succeeded on the second try though!

And this is the restaurant:

And a few close ups:

This robot is to entertain the people who are waiting for a table
 Not included in the menu are alcoholic drinks prepared by the robot bartender and the ice-cream prepared by the robot ice-cream man - er - robot.

the bartender of the future
 And these are the receptionists. Basically, they let you know when it's your turn.

And this is Kevin, the 'security guard':

At the table is a little talking robot. The robot also keeps track of how long you've been there, because you have to tap it when you arrive and when you leave. I guess this is how they know you don't overstay your time (you get one hour).

 If you can see these white lines, they are for guiding the robot cart. But, a human still has to follow them, which kind of defeats the purpose, in my opinion.

Most of the food didn't come from a robot, but surprisingly, I liked the robot-cooked food the best. For example, this fried rice:

Perhaps I haven't had decent fried rice in a while, but I thought this tasted great. At the very least, it's better than the fried rice at the Chinese restaurant near school that is actually staffed by people from China.

And this is Okonomiyaki cooked by the head chef robot:

The okonomiyaki isn't as good as a professional shop (like the one near my school), but it's pretty tasty.

We got to see a demonstration of the robot chef cooking the okonomiyaki, and he failed at flipping one of them. The kids there were like "he failed! he failed!" and I liked their mom's reply. She said:

"Everyone fails. You've failed before too, right?"

The last robot food I liked was a human-robot doughnut team. The robot makes the doughnuts and drops them into the fryer, and the human fishes them out (and then the human customer adds toppings)

I really liked the doughnuts with kuromitsu and kinako! It's a really good combination, and I went back for seconds!

Final verdict: This restaurant is not ultra-robotic. In fact, there are quite a few human staff around, making sure things go well. The quality of the (non-robot) food is only average too - in fact, I prefer the other buffet's selection. It's also a little expensive, so I wouldn't recommend it for dinner, unless that's the only time when you can eat a buffet. I think coming here for lunch would probably the most value-for-money option.