Sunday, 30 April 2017

Huis ten Bosch Updates: Miffy Cafe, Amazing Cheese Fondue and More!

Since I've started working at Huis ten Bosch, I've gotten a lot of chances (well, it's less of a chance and more of a requirement) to learn about the latest things related to it. I've also had the immense luck of having two groups of friends visit, so I've been exploring the park quite a bit. This means that I've got A LOT to share which means... UPDATE TIME!

(I think I'm going to sound like some kind of mouthpiece, but I promise that I'm only sharing things that I really enjoyed and I do not in any way earn money by writing this. Well, if you decide to come you will be contributing to my salary and I'm deeply grateful for that, but nope, no direct benefit from this)

Palace Huis ten Bosch: Flower Cup Japan 

The tulip season is over, but Palace Huis ten Bosch is having the Flower Japan Cup and some kind of magic painting thing. Both are absolutely beautiful and I would totally recommend everyone to go.

First, the painting thing. Basically, they have paintings that change colour depending on the type of light that is shone on it.



I really liked this painting of the word love (in kanji), written with the hiragana for "thank you". It's a really beautiful sentiment:



Last photo, which reminded me of a Japanese fairy tale for some reason:



All the paintings are for sale but it's not something that I can afford :p

The flower thing is another exhibition filled with pieces of art! Whatever I say won't do it justice so here are some pictures of it:

Ok this isn't an entry but it's sooooo pretty! 



Photo by the lovely Bekah. Thank you Nic and Bekah for coming to play!

Also not an entry but it's so pretty! I would love to have something like this in my house!
And because the palace is all about flowers, they even give you a chance to eat some! All the tulips are grown by us and they contain absolutely no pesticides and are safe to eat. They come with sauce - Bekah chose honey and they gave some salt as well.


According to Bekah, the petals taste like lettuce while the stem is a bit more juicy. I guess it's good for those who like vegetables?


VR Rides

This isn't a new thing, since it started in March, but I finally went on some of the VR rides (can it be counted as a ride?). The first attraction is this VR carousel:


Basically, you have the VR headset on while you're on the carousel and it makes you feel like you're going around the world with a dragon for a companion. The ride is free for those with the one day passports/yearly passports but you will have to buy a mask:


The mask is 50 yen but you can use it for all VR stuff. It is a bit spooky to see everyone with the headsets on, but it was SO FUN. Too bad I can't take photos :p


AMAZING CHEESE FONDUE

I've been wanting to try this since I saw it and Bekah and Nic were very accomadating and agreed to eat it with me. The Cheesewaag does have fondue on a regular basis, but this one is for the 25th anniversary of Huis ten Bosch and has a lot of ingredients:


We ordered two portions and it was enough for the three of us. Then again, we basically ate through the day because Huis ten Bosch is giving away free cups of Ben and Jerry's right now. The cheese was amazing though (although I couldn't finish...)


Loved all this! Especially the cheese with salmon (I think?) and basil! That was really good!


Miffy (Nijntje) Cafe

Ok, this is the last thing on the list (I think? I will update again if I missed anything!) is also the newest thing. Huis ten Bosched opened a Miffy cafe on the 28th, which is only 2 days ago!!!! I got to go for the dry run woohoo!

This could probably be a post in and of itself, but I have no idea when I will be blogging again (I'm trying to be more consistent but work is tiring) so here you go:

 

It's located on the second floor of Passage if you're interested! The interior is really adorable but not overly so. I think both adults and kids will like it. 



First thing we did was to order. The menu doesn't use wheat, eggs or dairy products, if I remember correctly, so even those with allergies can enjoy the food here(:



More photos of the interior:



This is so Huis ten Bosch!
 And of course there are things for kids(:



This is a drink that comes with the curry set! It comes with a little Miffy toy!


And this is how Miffy originally appeared.


The curry set. It's not spicy at all, which is good for me(:


And this was our table companion - kinda like Moomin!


And this was what I ordered (I didn't get the curry). I got pancakes with soy milk ice-cream, which was actually really good.

 And this is the drink that my set had:


Taste-wise, the food is decent but not exceptional. Then again, the Moomin cafe at Canal City is the gold standard for me and it's hard to beat that. If you like Miffy, I think you will be happy with the food and the decoration, and the price is pretty reasonable considering that it's a character cafe.

And this is all that's happening with Huis ten Bosch. Do feel free to ask me questions if you have any(:

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Kyushu in a Week? (The Plan)

Alright, time to get started on my graduation trip with my family, or I'll never get started (I probably won't be posting consecutively, because I've got some other stuff too(: ). Last March, my family came for my graduation, and since they were here, decided to tour Kyushu. And guess who was their guide? (no prizes for the correct answer).

It was a pretty packed trip, so I thought I'd break it into several posts. But if you're looking to travel to Kyushu without using a travel agent, here's my schedule for you to use as a reference (I'll add links as I post):

Day 1:

The flight to Fukuoka from Singapore is an overnight flight, so I didn't plan much. Just exploring the city - Canal City, Tenjin underground shopping arcade, etc. We also went to the Fukuoka castle ruins, but we were too early for the sakura.

Day 2:

We rented a car and drove to Dazaifu and Yanagawa. And in the evening, we managed to go to Fukuoka Tower as well. You don't really need a car (Nishitetsu does sell packages for these and the train is pretty adorable too) but it does help if you're planning to buy a lot of things or don't want to be at the mercy of the train schedule.

Post for Day 1 and 2, focusing on whether you should rent a car

Day 3:

My graduation and hence absolutely no touristy things were done. You could probably substitute this with a day trip to Itoshima or any other of the places I listed in this post,  or you could head to Sasebo early and go to Kujukushima islands, giving you one full day at Huis ten Bosch.

We arrived in Sasebo at night.

Day 4:

We went to Kujukushima (for the cruise) in the morning and spent the afternoon and evening at Huis ten Bosch! It's workable if you're not planning to play much at Huis ten Bosch, but just to admire the view. If you want to enjoy everything that Huis ten Bosch has to offer, including its new virtual reality rides (post here), then you might want to budget one or two days.

Day 5:

From Sasebo, we took the train to Nagasaki. We went to the Atomic Bomb Museum and the Museum for the Christian Martyrs before heading to Kumamoto. You have to change trains here, so do allocate more time. We did plan to go to Kumamoto castle in the evening, but the trains turned out to be a bit too tiring for my grandparents so we just had an early night.

Day 6:

We went to Kumamoto castle and realised that a large portion of it is still closed off! But there is still stuff to see from the outside. After the castle, we headed to Aso farmland and I found out that the train doesn't go to Akamizu station anymore! It is rather inconvenient and I kinda wished that we still had the rental car.

Kumamoto castle post (also, Freshness Burger is in Kumamoto and that's a good burger choice if you happen to crave it. Even my grandparents enjoyed it)

Day 7:

We went from Aso Farmland to Kagoshima and had enough time to take one loop around the city tour bus and go to the Shiroyama viewpoint and admire the city. If you have more energy than us, you can head to Tenmonkan at night too.

Day 8:

We went to Senganen in the morning and went on a lunchtime cruise around noon. After the cruise, we managed to go to Sakurajima and take the island view bus, which let us take a very quick tour of the place. And in the evening, we took the shinkansen back to Hakata.

Day 9:

My family left for Singapore.

As you can see, we had over a week and we still had a very packed schedule! If you're young and have tons of energy, you can probably fit in more things like Minamata bay (if you're into history and the environment) and a more comprehensive tour of Nagasaki and Kumamoto city. If you have a few more days, you can probably go to Mount Aso as well, or perhaps to Beppu, Mojiko, or even to Miyazaki prefecture.

I will be posting about the trip in-between updates on what's going on right now(:

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sakura 2017: Here and There in Sasebo

Sakura season is long over and it turns out that I didn't manage to make it to any spots apart from Mifuneyama rakuen. But, I did manage to take a few photos here and there and thought I'd just share them with you. 

First, from near my place:


The second is from Sasebo city. I'm not sure if you remember this place from when I explored the city with my sister:

It turns out that this photo was the only one I saved...
Well, here's how it looks with real sakura.


It is definitely prettier in person because the camera can't capture everything. And here is what the path looks from a distance:


The last place would be the parking lot of the driving range that I go to.


I thought that it would be cool to park under the sakura trees, but then I realised there was a huge problem - the fallen petals make it hard to see where the lots are.


This is all I have for this year, but hopefully I'll have enough time to go to different places next sakura season! 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

New Vlogger for MEXT (Osaka)

Hey everyone!! It feels like forever since I've posted about MEXT. Today, you have Mona to thank, because she's started a new vlog channel about her MEXT experience (and she's studying in Osaka University for her language year) and I just had to tell you guys about it. After all, the more information, the better, right?

Here's her first episode:


And here's her self-introduction:



Hey guys! I'm making a vlog about living and studying in the osaka campus through the mext scholarship :) I realised there wasn't much information and/or photos, so I hope my vlog could help! I'll try to update weekly and it's my first time vlogging so I hope that you would support me :) Would really appreciate it if you could subscribe and like my channel, thank you!
Definitely go watch her videos!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Sakura 2017: Mifuneyama Rakuen

Sakura season was a little late this year, but it's finally here (and by the time I'm writing this, almost over). Luckily for me, I had friends visiting so on my off day, I was out bringing them around instead of staying in my apartment and trying to become comatose. We ended up visiting Mifuneyama Rakuen and I managed to get quite a lot of sakura pictures!

If you remember, I visited the place last year and missed the peak season (it was still really pretty though). This time, I was too early for those colourful bushes, but just in time for sakura which made me really happy. In other words, be prepared to be spammed with photos!

Obligatory entrance shop

By the way, I drove here this time and it's definitely a lot more convenient than taking the train + bus. Parking was no problem, although I'm guessing that it's because this wasn't peak season?

And I remembered to bring my camera so I managed to get some close up shots of the flowers!





It wasn't exactly full bloom, as you can see from these photos, but there were enough to make us happy.




By the way, I totally succumbed to this blueberry black sugar thing and bought a box. I was told that I could just eat this like a sweet, but I was wondering if there are any recipes out there? Does anyone know anything? Please point me in the right direction!


If only sakura season and the flowers were at the same time. But I guess this means that the park gets a steady stream of visitors instead of everyone thronging one place.


I realise these shots are the same but with a different orientation but I couldn't choose which to use.


I also really like seeing the sakura flowers in the different stages of bloom!



When I see a pretty path of flowers, I have to take a picture. And since I was with friends, I decided to try and take their pictures! (Don't worry, I got permission to post this - thanks so much for visiting, Van!!)

We also found this little shrine, which gave me Ghibli vibes for some reason. It was quite different from the cheery sakura but also beautiful.


Photos from the viewing point, high above the sakura trees.



This photo is why you have to be there in person. I tried to take a panorama but obviously did not succeed.


We ended our visit with a cup of green tea and some dango! They had mitarashi dango and kinako dango and both were really delicious! This and all the snacks around meant that we were basically eating for the whole trip :p