Apr 27, 2014

Kiyomizudera Temple 清水寺, Kyoto

Kiyomizudera temple against the backdrop of sakura flowers
Kiyomizudera temple is one of my favourite temples, from all the temples I have visited while in Kyoto. Although there are some slight construction going on, the view from the top is stunning. And not forgetting seeing my husband had to drag his feet up the multiple stairs after being tortured by me from walking too much on the first day in Kyoto.

My original plan is actually to walk from Heian shrine to Yasaka shrine and Maruyama Park and then along the streets of Higashiyama before reaching Kiyomizudera temple. However, as I took pity on my husband who can't seemed to walk anymore from carrying my big ass camera and tripod, we decided to take a bus from Heian shrine to the temple and then walk to Yasaka Shrine from the temple.

Entrance to the temple

 It is in this temple, the famous love stones are located. I read about the love stones on internet before coming here but forgot to take note on which temple that the stones are located. The stones are placed 6 meters apart and according to legend, if you able to walk from one stone to another with your eyes closed, you will meet your other half. Since I already found mine, I decided not to try, hah. There was no one trying to do that while I was there but there was a big crowd at the shrine.

That's where the love stone is located 

The temple is famous for the wooden stage that juts out from the main hall

Beneath the temple, there is this place Otowa waterfall where three channel of waters falling from the top and I saw people queing up for a drink and wishing. Being a kiasu Malaysia, we took turn to line up and I went first while my hubby had to take photos of me drinking and washing my hand with the water. Frankly speaking, I have no idea what to do, but just watch and see what the others did before following them. Apparently, the water can grant wishes. Hmm.. now I have to recall what I had wished at that moment.....

View of Higashiyama street from the temple

To get to Kiyomizudera temple, we took the bus no. 100 from one of the stops in front of Heian shrine. If you are coming from Kyoto station, it's the same bus as well. There are 2 stops for the temple, Kiyomizu-michi or Gojozaka. Besides bus no. 100, you can take bus no. 206 to get here from Kyoto station. 

Entrance fee is 300 yen per person and opening time from 6am to 6pm.

Apr 25, 2014

Totally something Random out of TVB Swipe Tap Love 愛我請留言- 009

Ok. This is totally random. Totally totally random.....

I realised I haven't been blogging much on TVB stuff, as though I blog much la on TVB. But this recent show on TVB, Swipe Tap Love really caught me by surprise especially the cute kid and the star of the show, a dog named 009. How cute is the dog and the kid? Check these out.

The drama gonna end tonight :(

I gonna miss 009.

I wouldn't say the drama is the best out of TVB so far. But definately worth watching as I like how the current smartphone technology is weaved into the storyline with whatsapp as one of the main communication tool used between the characters in the drama.I would not dwell much on the story and the actors and actresses but I love the interaction between the dog 009 and Yau Yau. And how smart TVB to name the dog 009 which literally translate into dog in Cantonese.

The following photos are grab from 009 Dior's facebook. Not to my credit.

Yau Yau and 009

Aiyo..009 so cute la, easily the cutest dog in TVB

sigh..cuteness overload

ok.. I wanna have a dog like right now! and named it 009.

Just found out the real name of 009 is Dior. If you ask me, 009 sounds cooler.

Apr 24, 2014

Philosopher's Path 哲学の道, Kyoto

When I was googling for the best spot to see the sakura or cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Philosopher's Path comes up the top.  A quick look at the google image during the sakura season totally blew me away. The whole pathway is lined with sakura trees on both side of the river and it goes all the way for almost 2-3 kilometres. And when we were there, the sakura flowers were beginning to drop and the whole river was covered in pink petals floating along. I can't stop taking photos every few seconds and it was indeed very romantic to walk under the sakura tress with your loved one. Almost every 5 minutes we walked, we stopped for photos. For a path that only takes about half an hour to finish walking, we took more than an hour!

The pathway is named after a university professor, Nishida Kitaro who used it for daily meditation and hence the name philosopher comes up.

Love the reflection of the sakura flowers

Syok sendiri, haha

I love it when the petals are floating in the river

Notice the bear family?

Can't stop looking at all the pretty flowers

Every corner we go, there is sakura 

To get to the path, take the bus no.100 from the bus stop D-1, bus no. 5 (bus stop A-1) or bus no. 17 (bus stop A-2) from the bus terminal in front of Kyoto station. Make sure the direction of the bus is heading towards Ginkakuji temple and stop at Ginkakuji michi 銀閣寺前. You can actually see the pathway lined with sakura trees from afar. 

There are also many sakura flavoured ice cream sellers along the road and temples along the path. 

Apr 21, 2014

Japan Itinerary: Kyoto, Osaka and Nara in 7 days

As promised, here's the itinerary of the trip I went recently from 6-12 April 2014.

Day 1 Flying to Osaka
KL - Kansai airport - Kyoto station
We flew in from KL to Kansai airport (KIX) on the 6th morning and reached Kansai airport around 3pm. As we were making Kyoto as our base for the next few days, and there is no airport in Kyoto, flying in to Osaka is the best choice. Before this trip, I have actually googled whether to go to Tokyo or Kyoto for the cherry blossom viewing and after seeing the photos in Kyoto, I decided to go Kyoto instead haha. As simple as that!

The quickest way to get to Kyoto from Kansai airport is by using the Haruka Limited express train which takes us about 75 minutes to reach Kyoto with limited stops. We purchased a Haruka & ICOCA package return trip worth 4060 yen per person (it's 3030 yen for one way) and we save about 2000 yen on train tickets. The ICOCA card is worth 2000yen with preloaded 1500 yen and 500 yen deposit and can be used for train, bus and subway in the Kansai region. We basically used the ICOCA card for train between Kyoto and Arashiyama and Nara. The rest of the time in Kyoto, we used the day city bus pass worth 500 yen which is more convinient and cheaper than subway travel in Kyoto (unlimited subway ride is 600 yen per day)

We stayed in Piece Hostel in Kyoto which is very near to the Kyoto station, about 10 minutes walk (walk towards Avanti & Hachijo street) and paid 37,000 yen for 5 nights.
Sakura at Philosopher's Path

Day 2 Northern and Eastern Kyoto
Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) - Philosopher's path - Heian shrine - Kiyomizudera temple - Higashiyama - Kodaiji temple- Yasaka Shrine - Maruyama Park
As it was a full day in Kyoto, we decided to buy a city bus pass for 500 yen and take the bus no. 100 from bus stop D-1 from the bus station in front of Kyoto station (the bus terminal is facing Kyoto tower) and stopped at Ginkakuji-michi. Bus no. 100 is the 'tourist' bus for Kyoto which also goes to Kiyomizudera temple, Gion etc. After we done with Ginkakuji temple, we walked along Philosoher's path, one of the best place to view sakura. And from there lead us to Heian shrine. From Heian shrine, we took the bus no.100 and went to Kiyomizudera temple stopping at Gojozaka stop.  From Kiyomizudera temple, we walked along the Higashiyama old street which lead us to Kodaiji temple for night viewing of the temple and after that walked to Maruyama Park and Yasaka shrine for dinner and night viewing of sakura (yozakura). After that we took the bus back to Kyoto station (bus no.100 stopped service after 9pm, so we just took any bus that shows Kyoto St.) from Gion stop.

View of Higashiyama from Kiyomizudera temple

Day 3 Arashiyama 嵐山
Tenryuji temple - Bamboo groves - Nison-in temple - Togetsukyo bridge
We spent a full day in Arashiyama, taking the JR Sagano line (JR Sanin line) to Saga Arashiyama station which cost us around 240 yen. This time, we used the ICOCA prepaid card. From here, we walked towards the bamboo groves following the signboard and went into Tenryuji temple. After the bamboo groves, we were deciding on which temple to go and decided on Nison-in temple before leaving to the Togetsukyo bridge for the sunset. There are plenty of sakura here along the bridge.

Day 4 Nara
Fushimi Inari shrine - Todaiji temple, Nara - Nara Deer Park
It's a day trip to Nara which is around 75 minutes from Kyoto. As we planned to take the JR Nara line which also passes through Fushimi Inari, we decided to first see the shrine and continued to Nara. As the JR Nara station is about 45 minutes walk to the Todaiji temple, we took the city loop bus (in yellow colour) which cost us 220 yen per person from the station to the temple. After the temple, we spend some time at the deer park gazing at sakura flowers and chased by deers. Then, it's the city loop bus again back to JR Nara station. This time we used our ICOCA card.

Hanami at Hirano shrine
Day 5 Central Kyoto
Kinkakuji temple - Hirano shrine - Nijo Castle 
As it's our last full day in Kyoto, we went to see the Golden Pavillion or Kinkakuji temple. We buy another city day pass cost 500 yen and took the bus no.101 from bus stop B-2 stopping at Kinkakuji-michi. From there we walked to Hirano shrine for the Ousakai cherry blosson festival whereby hundreds of Japanese dressed in costume and parade them. From the shrine we took the same bus no. 101 to Nijo castle. Bus no. 101 is also a 'tourist' bus.

Day 6 Travelling to Osaka
Kyoto Imperial Palace - Nishiki market - Osaka
Before we travelled to Osaka later in the evening, we decided to take the opportunity of the opening of the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the public and went and see the palace. As there is no direct bus from Kyoto station, we had to walk a bit. We also bought the 500 yen bus pass and took the bus no.205 and stopped at Karasuma-imadegawa and walked for 15 minutes to reach the palace. From the same place where we stopped, we took the same bus and stopped at Shijo Kawaramachi for the shopping district in Kyoto and also visit the famous Nishiki market. After that, we went back to our hostel and off we go to Osaka using the JR Kyoto line stopping at Osaka station. This time we took the JR Special Rapid service and took us only 35 minutes to reach Osaka.  Our hotel is Ark hotel located at Nagahoribashi, the green line subway. At night we walked to Dotonbori street for the famous glico man.

Day 7 Osaka - Kansai airport
Osaka Castle - Namba station - Kansai airport- KL
Since our flight is at night, we went to the Osaka castle using the subway day pass which cost 600yen as our ICOCA credit has run out. As we are using the day pass, we also got a discount ticket of the Osaka castle and instead of 600 yen, we paid 500 yen for the entrance to the tower. We take the subway and stopped at Tanimachi 4- chrome station and walked towards the castle. After the castle visit, we took the subway and stopped at Namba station for last minute shopping. To get to Kansai airport, we took the subway and stopped at Shin Osaka station along the red line as the Haruka limited express train only stops here.

Total expenses used (2 person)
Airfare - Airasia(for 2 person)                                          RM 2,648
Hostel in Kyoto                         37,000 yen                     RM 1,215
Hotel in Osaka                            6,000 yen                     RM    196
Food and souvenirs  
(5000 yen per day x 6 days x 2) 60,000 yen            RM 1,920
Haruka & ICOCA card (for 2)     8,120 yen                 RM    260
Total                                                                                      RM 6239

The 60,000 yen spending money we brought is enough to cover the food, transportation and entrance fee to the temple and some of the souvenirs that we bought. I didn't have much left over money at the end of the trip. 

For reference, the entrance fees for the temples in Kyoto, Osaka and Nara are as follows (per person):
Ginkakuji temple                    500 yen
Kiyomizudera temple             300 yen
Kodaiji temple                         600 yen
Tenryuji temple                      600 yen
Nison-in temple                     500 yen
Todaiji temple                        500 yen
Kinkakuji temple                   400 yen
Nijo Castle                             600 yen
Osaka Castle                        500 yen (original 600 yen)

Apr 20, 2014

Romancing in Japan, the Sakura Season

Philosopher's Path
Finally I am done with my Japan photobook and have some time to properly sit down and blogged about my Japan trip recently during the Sakura season. After seeing so many Sakura trees and flowers for the past whole week, I realised that life is short and we should appreciate all things around us. Sakura flowers typically bloom in late March to mid April (this only applies to Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, as there were the only places I went for the sakura viewing). I missed the full bloom by a few days but when we were there, there are still aplenty of sakura flowers around. In fact, I think it was prettier after the full bloom when the petals start falling and it felt like snowing but with sakura petals. Indeed it is a beautiful sight and fulfilling my long time wish to see the sakura in Japan.

I will be sharing the itinerary soon with budget and hostels/hotels that we stayed in another post. For those who thinks that it is difficult to get around in Japan without knowing Japanese, they are definately wrong. In fact, I think it was easier to get around in Japan than in some of the eastern Europe countries that I have been to. The Japanese is so polite, honest and I don't have to worry about leaving my belongings unattended for a few minutes (like I can just throw my bag on the floor and start snapping photos using my tripod). And not forgetting the high tech toilet with warm toilet seat!!

Apr 12, 2014


No. I didn't dare to perform such stunt while in New Zealand. Just that we went and watched our tour mates skydive in Lake Tekapo and it was fun to watch the video together and laughed at the silly faces and expressions while falling from the sky.

The photos I managed to capture here are those when the parachute was opened and they were gliding down to the landing spot. I love how the parachutes contrast nicely against the clear blue sky. If you asked me whether I regret not doing the skydiving while there, I had a bit of tiny regrets though. Should have spend that money while I am still brave enough to do such extreme activities. Oh..it's not the money, it's the age factor, haha.

Apr 5, 2014

Jumping Jumping

I was looking through my New Zealand photos for the photobook and can't help but noticed that during the whole trip, we took a lot of jumping photos. As most of the time, I was behind the camera, the models are usually my two friends. Most of the jumping photos shown in my Facebook are the good takes while in actual fact we had to take numerous shots to perfect the best jump.

So here are some of the NGs of the jumping shots. Beware, many of these are really bad but they bring back good memories and the fun we had while executing and mastering the art of jumping. Haha.



On the way to South Bay

Pacific Ocean

Apr 1, 2014

Braving the Hailstorm at Franz Josef

It was raining non stop from the time we reached Franz Josef for dinner. We stayed in a quiet town with only 2 streets and the weather wasn't looking good for our hike to the glacier tomorrow. In fact, we had been told by our guide that most likely we will not get to hike the glacier. I was really dissapointed to hear that as this was one of the things in my bucket list that I am dying to do.

Hygi suggested for us to go for quad biking but being the super kiam Asians, we decided not to go ahead. We manage to see the glacier from a distance in the early morning before the hailstorm struck. It was also the first time I was stuck in the middle of the storm with no way to hide but to keep walking in the open area towards the parking. And the three of us were drenched from head to toe as I was too busy protecting my camera and not my pants. Lesson learnt, next time must wear water proof pants and not jeans if a storm is approching.

As we didn't sign up for the quad biking, we decided to do our laundry and we spent the entire evening trying to dry our clothes. This remained the funniest experience ever as the three of us were running around changing coins and 'chupping' the washing machine and dryer to dry our clothes. It took us 6 times to dry our clothes using the dryer as we made a mistake of loading too much at once, again blame on the kiam attitude of three accountants/auditors.

Even that, our clothes were not fully dried and we resort to let it air dry or rather heater dry in our room while we went out for dinner at one of the pub for the cheap food, again due to our kiamness. We tried to run away when we saw our tourmates coming as we didn't want to play the snooker but it was too late. We had to finish or at least try to make one ball fall into the hole. I totally sucks at snooker or any other games that required eye, hand and feet coordination!