Dec 30, 2014

Hirano Shrine, Kyoto

I meant to save the best for the last  write this long time ago and guess what, it's already 8 months since the date I was in Japan for sakura. Very outdated, yes and considered the fact that I went to Japan the second time in October, this seemed very irrelevant anymore. But I wanted to share the photos, more importantly those sakura flakes photos, as well as, the Oukasai Cherry Blossom festival that we coincidentally went to in April.

Oukasai festival is held on April 10th every year (at least it was on the 10th when we were there), is a festival where you can see many Japanese dressing up as Samurai, geisha and many other more parading along the shrine into the roads. And like many other sakura viewing parks and gardens, there are plenty of foodstalls cater for those who had hanami here. We opted to have our lunch at one of the stalls under the pinkish sakura 'snow'.

And of course, not forgetting to snap some photos under the romantic sakura trees. Seriously, my words can't even describe the feeling and the atmosphere there. You just have to be there to experience it yourself. Pink sakura petals falling off the tree and forming a pink blanket below. Surreal! The sound of camera clicking non stop whenever the wind blows (I contribute to some of the clicking, haha), ok that was not so romantic. But you get the picture la.

To make my statement, here's some of the clicking done.


the crowd waiting for the parade to start

I quite like this picture as it feels like Inception;
 I am taking photo of a man taking photo of a lady taking photo of the parade
some of the 'geisha'

with the two samurais, the main character for the festival

my favourite photo 

Dec 26, 2014

Prambanan Temple @ Yogyakarta

So, I did mentioned in my previous post that the combination ticket for Borobudur and Prambanan temple is USD30. Smart of them to peg the ticket price to USD and charge that to foreign tourist who had no choice but to get it. If buy separately will cost about USD 48 for both temples. Yup, very expensive.

After we spent 2 hours at Borobudur, it's another hour journey to Prambanan temple which is a Hindu temple and Borobudur is Buddhist influenced. Personally, I preferred Prambanan than Borobudur, probably because of less people photobombing my photos as it looks good in photo.

In the end we also spent 2 hours here before leaving to Ratu Boko, a decision I regretted soon after I bought the tickets. That will be another story for another day.

Basically, the temple is dedicated to the God Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Gosh, now I recalled those history and religion that I learned while in university. And from what I can recalled, the temple was badly affected during the earthquake while Borobudur temple was badly affected by the eruption of Mt. Merapi and covered by ashes.

Dec 21, 2014

Oh Mamma Mia!

So, this was the second time I watched the famous musical based on the songs by ABBA. The first time I watched in New York, I enjoyed it very much and it's my hubby (then bf) and my first official date together. This time around, I brought my parents to their first ever musical in KL.

Expensive tickets, even after 30% discount
I managed to get some pretty cheap tickets, 30% off using the Maybank card and I initially thought that the seats that I bought were great (from the floor plan la), but the actual one was quite far from the stage but still manage to see the singers dancing and walking around.

At one point, my mum asked me whether the songs are pre-recorded. Of course not! I would not pay so much to watch some pre-recorded show man! And I keep reminding my dad not to fall asleep and waste my money, lol. Of course, they are not as they were fully entertained by the songs and the singing and they can't stop singing even after the show end. So I guess it's money well spent. Oh, btw my mum told me that one of the three dads is actually the real life husband to Donna. If not mistaken the guy acting as Sam. Wow, no wonder one the songs that they sang together was so nice.

As for my review on the show in KL, I enjoyed it as well, but I find the atmosphere in New York is nicer as the audience actually get up and sing and dance along during the last 3 songs. But nevertheless, the show is great and excuse me now, I need to go and get these ABBA songs out of my head.

The stage, smaller than the one in New York

Dec 20, 2014

Time for Some Year End Ramblings

Trips Roundup
So, I have not been writing crappy stuff about my life or things I currently enjoyed doing at the moment. Things had been quite good in terms of travelling this year with the highlight of the country being Japan. Went once in April for the sakura and another time for the koyo in October. Sakura in Kyoto and koyo in Tokyo, what a mouthful, haha. Fact is I never get tired looking at all the sakura photos while sadly my camera was temporary spoiled after immersed in water, the second day in Tokyo. Hence the lack of photos and updates on that trip. Perhaps one day I will blog a bit about the Tokyo trip. Went to Singapore for the Sound of Musical, which I quite enjoyed and some shopping and catching up with my brother. Then it's to Krabi for the hubby's birthday retreat in August and Yogyarkarta in November.

Next year's plan include Korea in April for the sakura and Boracay in May. After that, no more plans. A friend asked me whether wanna join her for Croatia trip but it's a bit expensive for me and I still harbour the thoughts of visiting Norway and my epic Trans Siberia one day, one fine day!

Dramas roundup
I have been watching most of the TVB dramas in Astro on Demand and I enjoyed most of them especially those aired during the first half of the year. My favourite is still Storm in the Cocoon, mainly because I love the main actor and the scenery in the drama. Others such as M club (for the song), Swipe Tap Love (for the 009 dog) and Black Heart White Soul (simply because of the outstanding performance of Roger Kwok). The rest, ok ok only, haha.

Photography roundup
Not much on photography trip this year. Mainly concentrate on doing my photobook and canvas print. I think I lost some of my magic touch after marriage. Maybe it's due to stress or maybe not much great trips for the past 1 year. Sigh.. need to arrange for more photography trip next year.

So that sums up pretty much the happenings in 2014. Personal wise, had some major breakdown back early of the year. Don't want to talk about that much here but that incident cut my heart very deeply and once a while I found myself unable to control my emotions and cried many times, multiple times. Career wise, still stuck at the same position. Same old thing.

What install for 2015? I dare not think about that much as I can foresee a very stressful and depressing year ahead with all the treatments and what not. Not having much hope for the future, sadly.

Dec 14, 2014

Borobudur temple, Yogyakarta

This must be one of the most expensive temple I ever visited which cost USD 30 for the combination ticket to Prambanan temple as well.

And it's tad a bit disappointing as I would expect something like Angkor Wat. The trip to Borobudur temple from Jogja was an hour journey. Initially,  I wanted to catch the sunrise at the temple and suppose to leave around 3.30am but after seeing the rain non stop for the last few days in Jogja, I decided to change to 7am instead. We woke up around 6am for breakfast before leaving to Borobudur. We hired a car with driver for 10 hours and he fetched us from one place to another.

When we reached the temple, we were swarmed by a group of local students who wanted to practice English with us and asked us to give them grades based on their conversation with us. In the end after I gave the only one who practiced with me an A, the rest just came and asked me to sign their card. And they never practiced with me. But as I wanted to go off, I just signed and gave them an A as well. Cheating but I was too lazy to answer their repeated questions. One funny thing I find about here was that, the locals love to practice English with us eventhough we can speak some Bahasa Indonesia.

So in the end we spent around 2 hours at the temple, trying to maximise the money that we paid to get in.

the local students who practiced English with me

The carvings

View from the top

View from bottom

View from far

Dec 13, 2014

Ramayana Ballet @ Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta

Yup, I am finally back from my week long trip to Yogyarkarta spending most of my time in the hotel and doing nothing but sleep and overdose of HBOs and Fox Movies. Followed hubs to Jogja as the capital is fondly called for his conference and hence spending a week there where else the sightseeing can be done in 2 days. One day for the Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko temple and the night for the famous Ramayana ballet. Another day was for shopping in Malioboro where I got myself batik cloth while exclaiming "so cheap, so cheap" all the time.

It was also supposed to be my birthday trip but I think my plan birthday trip for hubs was much better. At least food wise. Not much of a fan of Indonesian food though there was some decent foodstalls along the roadside near to where we stayed for the week. I think even the hotel staff were surprised to see that we stayed that long in Jogja.

Enough of rambling, back to the main reason for the need of sharing this out.

RAMAYANA Ballet which is the famous dance performed in Jogja and can be seen from many places in Jogja but after hearing my friend who went there before, I chose to watch it at Prambanan temple. I was actually hoping for dance at the open theater but when I saw the pamphlet, it's only up to Oct and from November onwards, during the rainy season, the dance will be held indoor.

We chartered a car with driver to the temple which was around 20 minutes from our hotel, Jogja Plaza. We prebooked the tickets with one of the tour agent stationed at our hotel and we opted for first class which cost us IR 175,000. There are a total of three classes and first being the middle one. Luckily we arrived early and managed to take photos with Rama and Hanuman before the plan started.

I was really happy when I found out that they were going to performed at the out door theater but sadly it only lasted for a mere 5 minutes before the rain start pouring down. Hence, the play had to be moved to indoors and I would say they oversold the tickets as the indoor theater is much smaller than the outdoor one. We cheated and went to sit at the VIP seats instead although we pay for the cheaper seats, haha. I was surprised that my hubby who always follow rules actually took my cheating suggestion and moved to the more expensive seat. That's the best decision ever as we managed to get a good glimpse of the dance. One note though, there are no speech during the whole 2 hours of the play but the story was conveyed using dance and singing from the Gamelan troupe.

Basically, for those who had watched the Kecak dance in Uluwatu in Bali will be familiar with the story and it's a story of how Rama saved his wife, Sita from the villain who captured his wife while he was out hunting for the golden deer for her. Oh, another advantage of watching indoor was that the story was told via projector screen while there is none for the open theater.

Overall, I would highly recommend the play. It's something that you have to watch in Jogja, the same like when you are in London or New York, musical broadway is a must.