Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Goals

- Keep fit. I want a body like Gal Gadot's.

- Paint. I finally bought a 40x50 canvas hoping to begin the so-called 'masterpiece'.  Subject in mind is a lion or a female's face.

- Rewatch the whole Star Wars starting from the originals. I was lucky enough to catch Rogue One in the cinema last weekend and it was wayyyy better than the Star Wars' prequels starred by Hayden and Natalie. The Force Awakens is also something I need to check.

- Read more biographies for inspiration. I used to get easily bored with biographies. The first time I read a biography was in high school, about Princess Diana. This was before her death, just right at the time when her divorce with Prince Charles was all over the news. It was forgettable. The second and last time, happened eight years ago, was Barack Obama's semi-autobiography: The Audacity of Hope. The book was a gift and more like, I was forced to read it. I did try and barely made it to the first quarter of its pages. Currently, I am reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. So far, I enjoyed every page.

- Something big should happen. I feel that I want some change. Be it job or place to live in. I feel that it's about time since I am not getting any younger.

Friday, January 06, 2017

2016

Apparently, I forgot to blog about the highlights of year 2016. As most people do in social media, the need to recall the major events or happenings of a year has become mandatory.

Well, better late than never. Here it goes..in no particular order.

- Amber turned 4 and after a year of living in Cebu, she set foot again in Japan twice this year (in April, just in time for Spring and in late October, before Autumn officially began). At her age, she understood the concept of me away for work but if she were to choose, she wanted me to stay with her. Of course, it breaks my heart every time she randomly says that because I knew she meant it and I knew it was possible. But here I am, 3,220km away from her and an hour ahead of Cebu.

Just a few of Amber's favorites: Shinkansen toy, a Frozen wallet and her handmade necklace.

- Getting older and wiser. Let me be clear that wisdom-comes-with-age does not apply to all people but little did I know that the ability to give a sound advice and opine with conviction are something I thought I would never be able to do. Well, I guess, being a mother and having enough work experience do pay off.

- Less busy with work allowed me to reenter the world of arts for the nth time. I have an on/off relationship with my art but hopefully this year, I will be able to come up with a masterpiece.

- Being alone is not for the faint-hearted. I do admit to have bouts of depression especially right after coming back from Cebu for a short vacation. Twice this year, it lasted for at least two weeks. I was hoping for homesickness to leave after a couple of days but it did stay longer. It was a difficult time for me because it affected my appetite and that no means of entertainment could ever lift my spirit. Surprisingly, it did not affect my work. I was like a robot and hated it. Good thing now I'm feeling well even if I just came back from Cebu three days ago.  Here's hoping I will be stable for the rest of winter knowing that being surrounded with grey and cold are depressing enough.

- Osaka was unforgettable. It was our first trip as a trio to the western part of Japan, and also our first time to stay at an accommodation booked via Airbnb in Japan. The latter proved to be a good experience leading us to use Airbnb in our future travels.

- Back with Nihonggo class since September 2016. Our classes are held twice a month. Not enough but it will serve as good practice for me. I knew a little Nihonggo but with my lack of usage, it is still poor. So, I decided to sign up because it was free and I was bored.

- The house in Mactan has become our official residence for a year now. It was expected that we will accumulate a lot of things, nonsense and toys in a year. While spending my holidays in Cebu, I made sure to wake up early (while Amber and T were still asleep) so that I could just have the whole small area by myself with a cup of milk tea and thoughts on interior design. I know, I'm getting older that my interests parallels to that of my parents when they were at my present age.

Next post will be my 2017 goals. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Osaka

T and Amber were here in Japan for two weeks just in time for the semestral break. We took that short time as an opportunity to travel. Initially, I had proposed Hiroshima as our destination but due to the distance - it will take 5 hrs by shinkansen - we changed it to Osaka. Though Hiroshima is still possible by traveling via air, it just had to be postponed at some later unknown date in the future.

Shinkansen is the ideal mode of transport compared to airplane. For the sole reason that it takes you right in the city while the plane takes you to the airport, and from the airport, you have to ride a bus or express train to the city. Besides, the experience itself is amazing. 

We started the journey at Tokyo station. From there via Nozumi shinkansen which stops only at Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto and finally Shin-Osaka.

From there we walked our way around less than 10 minutes to reach at our humble accommodation which we booked via Airbnb. I swear, I will use Airbnb in future travels for the sole reason of affordability. Our host greeted us at our arrival in the accommodation. It was the usual Japanese apartment but the good thing, it was spotless and clean. I kept looking for some fault but failed. 


Osaka manhole. It is very common around Japan to design their manholes in representation of their town or city. This, of course, is an art based on the Osaka Castle.

My interest in signages and shoes (yes, it's NB and I have no plans of burning them because they are comfortable - main reason why I chose to wear them on the trip). 

The gang.

Me doing typical tourist obligations. As a tourist, one should not miss a photo with the famous Glico man at Namba.
Namba is reminiscent of Shinjuku or Myeongdong. It is the center of night entertainment in Osaka.  Considering it was  a Friday, the crowd at the background was expected. Most are tourists based on their actions. 

Osaka is slightly different from Tokyo as I have read and observed based on fashion and manners. People tend to be laidback, more colorful and yes, tacky billboards in this area are overloading, hehe. Some would say the people from Kansai are not cold compared to Kanto people but I will leave this judgment to those who have actually lived long on both regions. My insights are very touristy and limited to 3 days. 

Dotonbori canal. It's Amsterdam of the east. When we arrived, the place was just filled with noise and fun. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if there was a special occasion if an ordinary Friday was that lively.

The night is always this colorful. I think that billboard of a Glico man has become an icon and automatically identified with Osaka. The design itself looks dated but instantly recognizable.

Day 2 was spent roaming around Osaka Castle. When I prepared the itinerary, I tried to limit the places on the important landmarks as 3 days can only cover a few, and keeping in mind that we have a 4 year old kid in tow. Amber was very cooperative during the entire trip. Probably due to her age, she easily understands if explained well to her level, of course.

My little one liked everything strawberry and Elsa. It was expected she would choose strawberry-flavored soft cream while Mama had green-tea flavored. 

Osaka castle is one the few remaining original castles in existence, and played a major role in the unification of Japan. I have read somewhere that Osaka once became the commercial capital, Tokyo the government seat and Kyoto, the imperial capital. It seems that all are now present in Tokyo, while the other two major cities carved its own identity still consistent with the nation.


One of my travel buddies got up close with birds at Nishinomaru garden. I wish to see more places with her.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

In the afternoon of Day 2, we headed to Osaka Aquarium. The entrance fee is a little steep compared to other aquariums we have been to but this aquarium is the largest and holds the most number of variety of seawater creatures. They take pride of their whale shark.


..and this colorful school of fish. They even have a space dedicate to Finding Nemo creatures

Amber in her usual curious self. She enjoyed the trip and even wanted to become a walrus or sea lion just because on how awesomely they swam.

Me contemplating on marine life. 

Osaka overall looks a little dated but that is its charm. If you go to JR Osaka station, one would be amazed of its design and surrounding skyscrapers and landscapes. At some point, T was curious and interested to visit Shinsekai. There, you'll find Japan stuck in the 80s. It has been considered a dangerous town but knowing Japan's idea of danger is an over exaggeration compared to other places in the world. I have read blogs of foreigners who were brave enough to wander the place that it is indeed stuck in the past, messy and structures dilapidated - somewhat abandoned. Its history is something I would like to read in detail.

Airbnb and Japan-guide.com proved useful in our trip itinerary and plan. Shinkansen was, of course, hands down efficient and comfortable. Better than planes.