Friday, November 27, 2015

Daily Thought: Petition against Adam Lambert is just lazy and weak

DANGEROUS: According to some Singaporeans, he is.

People are weird. When faced with things that we don't agree with, we would rather have them out of our sight and mind rather than confront it head on. We are so unconfortable with facing something or someone who may be different than us — on the assumption that this person can corrupt us — that we're willing to silence this person, to dismiss their worth and value.

Such is the case with Adam Lambert, who at the time of writing, has received almost 14,000 signatures against his performance in Singapore.

I don't understand all these signatures behind Adam Lambert. These people think that by barring Adam Lambert from performing, society will suddenly be more righteous and morally upright. That by allowing him to perform, somehow children will suddenly be corrupted by him, maybe turn gay and start applying mascara or eyeshadow.

These people all caution against the "danger" of the performance to children, when in fact these may be just parents who are too afraid to handle conversations like "Dad, why is he doing thing?", thinking that if they can escape this encounter, their children will never again touch this topic. They seemed to have conveniently forgotten about the internet. Why not petition to shut that down as well?

We protest that the government is clamping down on us, that we're not allowed freedom of speech. But when we ourselves can handle a differing view, how do we expect the government to trust us to voice what we want?

We claim to be inclusive, to accept diversity, but only allowing diversity for some factors (such as religion and race) while disallowing others (such as sexual orientation).Wouldn't that make us all a bunch of hyprocrites? People who are incapable of accepting others who are different.

I don't know who these 14,000 people who sign the petition against Adam Lambert are, but I think you're just lazy and weak to handle someone who is different from you. And this is a slippery slope to go down, banning people who may not share the same beliefs or value as us. What's to stop us from engaging in something more extreme in the future, ie barring someone because of their beliefs, colour etc (and thus catapulting us back into the past)?

Don't let bigotry rule. You can sign the counter petition instead.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Daily Thought: Getting One Punched

THE NON-HERO: How can a hero that looks like this be that popular?

"How can a bald hero with a ridiculous looking costume be this popular?" was my thought when memes of Saitama aka One Punch Man aka Caped Baldy began appearing almost everywhere on my newsfeed, 9GAG and Youtube.

I resisted the urge to watch the anime and read the manga initially. I thought that it could nowhere be good. After all, how can fights that end in one punch be any fun to watch/read? Where is the captivating story about the struggle to become stronger and protecting those you love? How can the story progress if you're starting with someone who is already the strongest?

Oh, how wrong I was.

Out of curiousity, I downloaded the first episode of the anime just to see whether it was any good. At that time, only six episodes released. On the second day, I was already asking when the 7th episode will be released.

It's precisely how the series challenges established conventions in action/adventure animes that makes it so enjoyable to watch. Rather than letting the characters ramble about their motives and techniques (which can get long winded and boring sometimes), fights are usually ended in one punch (duh). There is no tense build up to a fight or confrontation, they're just resolved as quickly as they come.

DON'T GIVE A DAMN: Just look at his face

I love the sense of sarcasm in the show and how it subtlely pokes fun at other established animes through the characters and dialogues, which make the whole story simple and sweet to watch. Rather than relying on overused cliches (like a love story, a good looking hero etc), One Punch Man offers a very fresh perspective of story and often leaves me guessing on what will happen next. It's amazing how the creator manages to pull this off with such a premise.

The reason why One Punch Man is so amazing is because how different it is from other animes, making it seem almost like a parody itself.

The anime is still early in its story, so there's still the question of whether it can sustain its charm in the long run, and I am still terribly curious at how Saitama got his powers (like Genos, I don't buy his 100 workout story). I'm also curious at how given the number of disasters constantly happening, there are still sufficient humans in the show.

Oh well, you cannot expect an anime to be 100% perfect anyway. I just hope it'll continue to impress. If there's one anime that you want to pick up before 2016, One Punch Man should definitely be one of your top choices.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


"Why are dandelions called dandelions anyway?"

Her hand held a single dandelion, its white florets swaying briefly in the wind. Her round black eyes prodded him for an answer.

He answered nonchalantly, as though he knew the answer all along.

"Oh, it's because the white part is shaped like a lion's mane!" He made that up on the spot, in an attempt to impress her, like how guys who are in a crush usually do. She nodded and smiled, seemingly satisfied with his answer, and turned her attention back to the dandelion.

Her lips gently blew on the flower.

One by one the white florets took off, carried off by the wind, in a journey that only they will know the ending. He smiled too looking at her. How much he wished he could freeze the time and spend the rest of eternity with her, on this field.

For that brief moment, it felt as if this was the only place where he want to be. He felt happy. Blissful. He wondered if she felt the same way.

Strange how this took place more than 15 years ago.


"Hey, dude, why are you staring at the picture for so long?" A familiar voice snapped him back to reality. A painting of a girl blowing a dandelion hung in front of him, with the artist's name signed off at the bottom. Bryony. He wondered what the name meant.

"Yeah, I'm coming," he shouted back, as he took one last glance at the painting. It's weird how a single painting pulled him back to a memory so many years ago. One that has been largely forgotten, replaced by the harsh demands and realities of adulthood. He missed the innocence of a time when two students could just walk in the field and let nature surround them. A time without any worries.

On his way out, he asked the receptionist how long the paintings will be up for exhibit. His friend asked him if he was planning to buy the painting. "Maybe," he answered. There was a certain longing in his heart that the painting triggered. It felt something like sadness, mixed a little with regret. It reminded him of a piece of himself, lost amongst the tides of time.

"I will come back for the painting," he thought. After work.



In was the middle of a hot afternoon after exams. Both of them sat at the edge of the school field, under the shade of an Angsana tree. It was their favourite hangout place, aside from the field. The tree's yellow flowers were blooming in full, giving the tree a bright yellow-green mix. But he was in no mood to admire the sight.

"It's the only place where they offer the course I want," came her reply. Her voice was soft, sad even. She stared at her notes. Her fingers mindlessly twitched her pen.

Deep inside, he knew that she was right. What she wanted to study, the ambition that she wanted to pursue were not viable in a place like theirs, where there were only a few paths to succeed. But his logic couldn't win his heart over, which was aching terribly. He wanted to scream, punch or just explode. He wanted to ask her to stay. Wanted to follow wherever she was going.

In the end, all he could muster was a weak, "Will we be keeping in touch?"

Her hand reached out for his and gave it a comforting press. "We will."

"You say one ah," he said, turning his head towards the group of students leaving the school. He blinked furiously, afraid that she would see the tears forming in his eyes. He thought about the future, of what lies beyond this school, beyond this town, for him. His heart ached.

"Look, a dandelion!" His thoughts were broken by her sudden exclamation. He turned around to face her, and just like that day so many years ago, she was holding a white dandelion.

"What are the odds?" she mused loudly, spinning the stem between her fingers. Her eyes caught his. Even now, they still gave him butterflies. "Do you think that this means good luck for us?"

He snatched the stem from her. "Yep. I sure hope it is." He stretched the dandelion towards her and winked. She smiled back, taking the hint. Together, they blew at the florets and watched the wind carry the white seeds away.

He sure hoped that they will keep in touch. He knew he would try his best to. He told himself that where there was a will, there will be a way.  Such was the optimism of youth.


"Someone bought it?!" He was back in the white halls of the gallery. He could not believe it. In the short span of a few hours, the painting that he wanted was gone.

The receptionist eyed him sympathetically. "Yes, I'm afraid. But if you like, we have a lot of other artworks by other artists that may interest you..."

He was out of the door before she could finish. If he had known the painting will be gone so fast, he would have bought it straight away. But then again, if he would have known how things would turn out eventually, he would have done a lot of things differently too.


For the first few months, things were fine. They were constantly chatting with each other over email, sometimes MSN, if they were lucky. They would try to Skype call each other of possible, to keep each other relevant in their lives.

Though they were continents apart. it felt no different. They shared and talked about their lives, their favourite animes, like they have always used to. They confided in each other, discussed the experience of being in a completely new place. Like her, he eventually moved out of their hometown, to pursue a better education elsewhere.

But as time passed, despite his best efforts to stay in touch, their distance gradually grew. They took longer to reply each other emails, the exchanges shorter. She grew busier with her school work and her co-curricular activities. He was no different. They had new friends, new lives. Initially, he still knew of her new friends' names. She took the time to tell him. But after a while, she no longer bothered.

Keeping in touch became more of a chore, a bother. Their contact grew lesser, infrequent.

Months became years. Eventually, they remained only as each other's Facebook friend, who only see each other's updates indirectly on the "walls" of the social network. She was just another friend on his newsfeed. It was through there where he found out that she had now a boyfriend.

It was painful when the photo first popped up in his newsfeed. But then again, it only seemed natural that life took such a turn. One can't live in the past forever, after all. He unfollowed her the very next day. She reminded him too much of an unfulfilled past.

A few months later, he got together with another girl too from his school.


"Hi sir, just wanted to let you know that if you're interested, Bryony will be holding an exhibit tomorrow at the city expo. Would you like to attend the event?"

The call took him by surprise. He wondered why the gallery receptionist bothered to call him about the event. Maybe she thought he was a fan of the artist. He flipped through the calendar on his table, to see if he was free on that day. There was more than a month empty.

"Yeah, sure. Put my name down." He must be really bored to go to random art events, he thought to himself. Still, it was still better than being cooped up alone at home. Breaking up always had this effect on your social life. You tend to lose a sense of what to do in your free time because your life has always been so pre-occupied with each other.

He figured it's time to move on. He needed a distraction. He needed an excuse to go out.


He was looking at the artist's various work when she was ushered onto the stage. Strangely, she seemed to like his hometown a lot. A lot of her drawings featured landmarks that were familiar to him. The old post office building, the iconic coffee shop and the town hall that defined the place that he grew up in. They were popular tourists spots, after all.

It was not until the emcee began to introduce her did he suspect that she may be more than just liking his town.

"Why did you choose the name Bryony as your artist's pseudonym, anyway?" was one of the questions.

The artist, dressed in yellow and white stripes, smiled shyly. "Well, it's because of an old friend, whom I used to know very, very long ago. We had this promise, you see, that should we lose contact with each other, we would give ourselves a not-so-popular flower based name to help identify each other, should we cross path with each other in the future."

"Wow, that's a really strange promise, isn't it?" The emcee continued. But by now his heart was thumping fast. It was a promise all too familiar to him. Images of an Angsana tree and a field covered in white came flooding back to him.


"You know, lets make a promise, in addition to keeping in touch." He studied the dandelion in his hands, now just a tiny little bud. "Let us have a name to identify each other, should we ever cross paths again."

She laughed to his idea. "And what would you suggest?"

"How about flower names? Since we love flowers so much. And I bet it's an easy way to identify each other. And I am going to pick the most ridiculous sounding name, ever." He suggested confidently.

"So what will you call yourself?"


"Oh, it looks like an audience member has a question for you, Miss Bryony," the emcee announced, pointing to the guy who raised his hand. A crew member hastily passed a handheld mic to him. "Would you like to introduce yourself first, sir?"

He took a deep breath in, and exhaled. His eyes met the artist's and gave a knowing smile. "Hi everyone, my name is Dandelion."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Twenty Random Thoughts #221115: How much for the dolphins?

1. 92 dollars to be exact, in addition to the 36 you have to pay to enter Adventure Cove.

2. If you're not a fan of dolphins but stingrays, they're slightly cheaper at 20SGD per pax. No catching them for sambal stingray, though.

3. Where can you find all these? Well, Adventure Cove at Sentosa. (They also have sharks, but I didn't manage to ask for their price, though.)

IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY: You'll be able to see people playing with dolphins, which cost 92 SGD

4. The park itself is fun, though I felt that a significant amount of space was devoted to the premium attractions, ie the Dolphin Island, Shark Encounter and Ray Bay. In addition to that, the lazy river also takes up a significant portion of space, with only like 25% of the area allocated for other attractions, ie slides, restaurants etc.

5. There were six slides in total, four of each are next to each other in pairs. My personal favourite is the Riptide Rocket, where they made slides resembling a roller coaster. It's also the longest ride in the park and also the most popular.

6. My second favourite was the Rainbow Reef, where they build a small pond to resemble a reef, so you can go snorkelling without going to the sea. You need to be a confident swimmer, though, for the exact reason, because the water is 3 metres deep. You'll get a life jacket, but it can get intimidating if you've never snorkelled before.

SALTWATER: For those who want to snorkel without going into the open sea.

7. I think for the park, they intended for the Adventure River (or lazy river) to be their main attraction, though. The river is quite long, I think it takes about 30 minutes to complete the entire river on foot, and it showcases the different sides of the park, including a preview of the premium attractions.

8. Adventure Cove is enjoyable in general, but it feels like a badly done EA game. You pay for the base game which is the park, but you have to pay more to unlock the DLCs: dolphins, sharks and stingrays. But still if you've never been there before it's an interesting place to visit.

9. One thing that I find amazing about the park is the number of lifeguards they have stationed around. Even at the lazy river there are like one guard every 10+ metres. Dawn and I joked that it's almost impossible to drown in the place with so many eyes watching you. But it's a good thing.

WATCHFUL EYE: There are a lot of lifeguards around Adventure Cove

10. Not sure why they would name it Adventure Cove, though. I kept mistaking the place for Sentosa Cove. Just missing a yatch here and there.

11. In other news, Dawn and I will be starting a Youtube travel channel! Hoping that it will turn out well, though. And hoping that we have the discipline to continue it. The pilot episode will be on Adventure Cove!

12. Speaking of that, we will also be travelling to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in two weeks time! My next Southeast Asia country after Myanmar. Hope it'll be exciting!

13. Travelling to a new place is always intimidating, which is why you need to be as prepared as possible before making the trip. One such headache is accommodation. One site that we looked to help us decide better on accommodation is HotelsCombined.

14. Already on our list is a day tour to the tunnels used during the war and a journey to the Mekong Delta. Heard that it could get pretty unsafe there but I suppose that's part of the fun. And we'll be doing our travel videos there too! :p

15. I wonder how dangerous it is to ride a motorcycle there?

16. Adele is already hugely popular. And she's 25. I'm also 25. But when I sing hello all I'm getting back is silence.

17. I recently learned to bake a cake. And surprisingly it turned out way better than I hoped. Delicious too! Guess I can finally tick that off the bucket list :p

18. People have already forgotten about Paris, Syria and moved on with their lives.

19. People didn't care about Mali attack, but I supposed it's because we tend to view cities like Mali differently than cities like Paries.

20. Some lives do matter more than others, at least in our eyes.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Daily thought: Catherine Tan, probably delusional

She goes by the name Catherine Tan, and her name and Facebook profile have gotten quite infamous recently, mostly because she seems like she's on a crusade against the Malays. Her story? A Malay family allegedly try to force her to marry their IMH-diagnosed son. She claims that she has since suffered unjust treatment and harassment from members of the community because of this incident, which prompted her to go public with these "harassment" stories.

Her posts have gotten Singapore so riled up that even SMRT Ltd Feedback aka The Vigilanteh posted about her. Here's her first post on April 28th this year:

EVERYONE OUT TO GET HER? At least that's what she claims. (Source)

Confused? Here's a little backstory for you, posted as a comment on The Middle Ground, after the recent Paris attack, where a Muslim woman claimed she was harassed in Singapore:

PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED BUT STILL KIND: At least according to her. (Source)

Since the fateful hand in marriage IMH incident, she claims that Malays have been constantly bullying her. From NTUC to Raffles to Taka, it seems that these "Malays" have tracked her with brutal efficiency to make her life harder, as her other Facebook posts show. Armed constantly with a handphone in hand, she has been filming all these incidents down to "prove" that the "Malays" have an agenda against her.

LADY, YOU NUTS? The cleaner must probably be thinking (Source)

MY HAND NEVER LEAVES MY PHONE: Is she constantly recording or is she just plain lucky? (Source)

ALL OUT TO GET HER: It's amazing how she always lands herself in a "harassment" situation (Source)

HOW LAH SIA: Even families are against her (Source)

MOST RECENT: Even the Malays in SBS have not spared her (Source)


While most netizens haven't been too kind to her (ever since her name blown up, people have been flocking to her page like how Singaporeans usually do), an interesting question to ask would be what's her motivation? Does she really believe that the Malay community is out to get her since the incident four years ago? Or does she has a personal agenda against the Malays, cooking up scenarios in an attempt to stir hatred? Or is she merely trolling the internet to provoke a response, and laugh behind the screen looking at the people getting riled up over her?

Looking at her posts, I think she's not that different from the IMH guy that she hates so much. Just look at this police report letter, where she claims that a Malay man attempted to hit her. If you read the report closely, you would notice that the Malay man only attempted to hit her AFTER she kicked him twice. Meaning that it was not an unprovoked incident:

NOT MY FAULT: She just kicked him twice (Source)

She clearly has an axe to grind with the Malays, looking at how she constantly searches for incidents to confirm her belief (confirmation bias, anyone?). Also, she's probably enjoying all the attention that she's getting now, hence the reason why she's constantly posting. Probably to provoke a response to confirm her beliefs.

The best way to deal with her? Definitely not through her Facebook profile. Pick up your phone and call IMH if you must (since randomly kicking people isn't a very sane thing to do), but ignoring her is also highly recommended. Press the X when you see her profile and refrain from commenting/sharing. It's only adding fuel to the fire. Because arguing with people like her is like shouting at a wall to move.

P/s: I was told she has since privatised her Facebook account and page amidst the online backlash. I supposed it's because she has been... officially harassed. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Taking a photo with this guy can get you six months worth of contact lens, FREE!

Fancy getting six months worth of daily contact lens free? All you have to do is to take a picture and you might just get it!

A PICTURE IS WORTH 6 MONTHS OF CONTACT LENS: A family trying the Miru challenge at Jurong East MRT

This November 2015, Miru Singapore, the people behind the world's thinnest daily contact lens, will be running a contest where three winners will stand a chance to walk away with a six-month supply of contacts lens. All you need to do is to take a photo with Mr Miru, like the family in the picture above, like their Facebook page, submit your photo and stand a chance to win!

In addition to getting six months worth of contact lens free, you'll also be walking away with the world's thinnest contact lens package, no thicker than a strip of chewing gum. They're easy to carry around, easy to store and the packaging reduces the risk of contamination. To see how thin Miru is, you can visit my earlier blog post on the product.

THINNER THAN A STRIP OF CHEWING GUM: Mr Miru holding examples of the Miru lens

Finding Mr Miru still has two days of competition left, next Friday (27 Nov) 12 - 2pm at Orchard MRT station and the following Saturday (28 Nov) at Toa Payoh MRT station. More information can be found at their official Facebook page.

If you're a big contact lens user who wishes to have a thinner packaging of daily lenses (seriously you can store like dozens of them in your wallet/purse), be sure to catch to Miru at these two locations next week!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Daily thought: After #CHCtrial, predicting what the die-hard supporters are most likely to say

CELL GROUP: The faces of the six CHC leaders who were sentenced. Photo: Business Times

Eight years, six years, three years and 21 months. These are among some of the sentences meted out to the six CHC leaders who were charged for criminal breach of trust. After much fanfare and drama surrounding the case over the past few years, the case has finally come to a close.

It will be a sad day for many ardent CHC supporters, after numerous sermons and statements from the leaders saying how this is all a test, but knowing the church and some of the supporters, some of them may continue the narrative that the six are still innocent. How I would imagine the response:

1. This is a modern day trial from God. The church leaders are no different from Apostle Paul, who has been thrown into prison a lot of times before. They are martyrs for their faith, which is why we should donate more to support him in this time of need.

2. The six of them didn't know that what they were doing is wrong! The judge has already said that he agreed that they were not cheating for personal gain! That they were doing it for the love of the church! This is the work of Satan who clearly used the system to persecute the church leaders. This is why we should donate more to support the church!

3. God has bigger plans for the six of them. This is only but a step where at the end of it, Pastor Kong Hee will be a bigger shepherd than we will ever be. This is his ascension and we should donate to preserve his legacy when he comes out.

4. God is evidently preparing for the next phase of the leader's ministry where they are needed most: the prison ministry. Let us donate to support the next phase of his ministry.

5. This is an obvious attack against our faith. This is the sign of end times. We need to stand stronger than ever as brothers and sisters of Christ. Let us donate to keep our faith strong.

6. The rain during the sentencing is a sign that God is weeping for his beloved children. His heart aches for them. Please donate for more umbrellas to shelter the needy.

7. It's okay, at least they have formed a new cell group together. And Jesus will be with them, because as Jesus said, when there are more than two gathered in his name, the spirit will be there. Let us donate for the planting of this new cell group.

8. We want to thank each and every one of you, our church members, for demonstrating such strength and unity throughout all these years, and particularly in these last few extremely difficult months. We ask you to remember and hold close to your heart the call of God upon City Harvest Church. We have learned lately what it means to have faith, trust and rest in God—let us put what we have learned to practice. Let’s band together to fulfill the heavenly calling for us through CHC 2.0. (This is official, from CHC Facebook)

Okay-lah, I know I'm very bad in writing this. But when I just want to highlight that when you're stuck in a cognitive dissonance loop, not allowed to question or not willing to admit your mistake, it can get a little bit dangerous and detrimental.

On the bright side, we still have Sun Ho as the pastor of City Harvest church, so I guess not all hope is lost? Because with Sun as the new pastor, it will be a new dawn for the church.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kyoto: Know where to go

WHITE CHICKS: Kyoto is renowned for their geishas too

I don't remember much about my initial feelings towards Kyoto. I knew it was a historical city, from my days of watching Digimon (the episode where Qinglongmon appeared) and from friends visiting the city, but other than that Kyoto was not much of a familiar name.

I do remember, however, that the decision to visit Kyoto came from a website when we're planning our itinerary, where we saw that Kyoto was incredibly near to Osaka and hence it was included in the itinerary list. Out of the eight days we were at Japan, two were spent in Kyoto. Like the rest of our trip, we planned our itinerary according to what online guides and Trip Advisor recommended. Some were hits, other misses. Here's our experience:

1. Okay-ish hit: Nijo Castle

SHOGUN's PLACE: Outside view of the castle

Nijo castle is a palace that was built by a shogun, if my memory serves me correctly. While I enjoyed the historial and architectural value of the place, I don't remember being particularly amazed by it (maybe it's a comparison effect with my subsequent visit or the ongoing construction). We were allowed to enter parts of the castle, shoes off, and observe what's inside (do you know the floors are made to creak to prevent intruders), but most parts of the castle were closed off to the public. Which means that most of the time we were outside of the castle.

Not that I'm complaining, I enjoyed the gardens outside of the castle and the place in general but there was nothing much to marvel about, maybe except during the cherry blossom season. The walking on gravel path was an entirely new experience, though :p

2. Definite Hit: Kyoto Imperial Palace

BACK TO THE PAST: The coronation venue, if I am not mistaken. The trees and the white pebbles bear an important symbolism which I forgot

When we reached the gates of the palace, both Dawn and I instinctively knew that the tour is going to be amazing. There were security personnel guarding the entrance and we were required to bring a printed copy of our signup form to be allowed to enter. Yes, we were required to sign-up to be allowed to visit the Imperial Palace (we signed up six months earlier) and slots are limited. There's a much bigger park surrounding the main compound outside, but the real deal is at the centre.

We signed up for the English tour together with 20+ people and while we were in the main compound, we were not allowed to wander off. We had to follow an arranged route with security keeping an eye on us, but the opportunity to step into history? Worth it.

We walked past halls that Japanese emperors from a few hundred years ago once walked on, buildings where emperors were coronated. It was a humbling experience and looking at how the place is still revered until today, a privilege as well. Our tour guide also did a great job of walking us through the place, letting us know what are the different functions of the buildings and gates, most of it which are older than me at least by a few hundred years.

For a history fan like me, this place was awe inspiring.

3. Miss: The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)

NOT AS GOOD AS IT SOUNDS: The famous Golden Pavilion

Almost everywhere that we go, Kinkaku-ji came off as a highly rated and most recommended tourist attraction in Kyoto. I suppose it sort of built up an expectation in me that when I visited, the place was not as awesome as I expected it to be. Vastly overhyped, I would say.

Other than the Golden Pavilion next to the lake and the garden surrounding it, there was not much else to see around the area. The garden and pavilion is pretty, but they were in no way representative of what the ratings had given them. Compared to other attractions in Kyoto, I wouldn't put this place too high on your list, unless you're a huge fan of greenery and lake. In the same vein, I suppose its cousin the Silver Pavilion would be similar too.

4. Confirmed Hit: Fushimi Inari-taisha

FOS ARCHWAYS: Welcome to the archways

If there is a poster attraction for Japan, Fushimi Inari-taisha can easily be it. Japan is famous for its brightly coloured orange shrine archways and at Fushimi Inari, you can find an entire mountain almost covered with these archways. Like literally, the path up to the mountain's summit is lined up with the archways.

The feeling of being here is quite surreal and out of the many attractions in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is one of my favourites. The shrine is supposedly built to honour the fox spirit and because it covers an entire mountain, the place is huge. You can easily spend one day here if you want to and if you're feeling adventurous, you can try hiking all the way up to the summit too (who said you can't exercie while on a holiday).

Aside from the shrine complex, there are also a lot of amazing street food around Fushimi Inari and the atmosphere is festive. Best of all, the whole place is free.

5. Hit: Kiyomizu-dera

ABOVE THE GREEN: View from Kiyomizu-dera

Located at the side of another mountain any many staircases above, lies another temple that I think is worth visiting, mainly because of its view, Kiyomizu-dera. It's one of the few places where you can have a good look of Kyoto from above, just that you must be prepared to climb a lot of steps.

Like Fushimi Inari, the whole temple complex is big, but the main highlight is of course, the central temple structure. The view is breathtaking, thought by this time Dawn and I were tired from all the walking already. Luckily they had a cute coffee shop that sits right off the edge of a cliff for us to rest. The architecture of the temple is also worth admiring too.

6. Okay-ish Hit: Sannenzaka

OUR TIMES: Looks like a place from a Taiwanese drama, eh?

Sannenzaka looks like a place straight out of an anime or a Taiwanese drama. Walking amongst the narrow streets and two-storey shophouses selling a variety of Japanese souvenir and products is an experience that one should have when visiting Japan. There's only one problem: The HUGE crowd. Depending on the time you're there, walking can be quite a challenge. Still, it's a place worth going for the atmosphere. There are also few shrines/temples nearby for you to visit too.

6. Okay-ish Hit: Sanjūsangen-dō Hall

1001: they didn't allow us to take pictures inside so I kope this from somewhere

I didn't know why we decided to visit this place, but I guess it's because they have 1001 statues of Buddha in this long hall. Other than that there's nothing much, but staring into 1001 statues of Buddha can be quite an experience. I felt awed at the sheer number of the statues but if you're not someone who can appreciate works of art and labour then you might want to skip this place. It's not that easy to reach and there's are not many other attractions around this place.

7. Hit: Kōdai-ji Zen Temple

WELCOME: A snapshot of Kodaiji Temple

I suppose after a while temples and gardens become a little bit similar to each other. The backstory and the architecture may differ a bit but essentially they don't differ very much. Kodaiji stands out somewhat because they have a lot of wooden bridges and the sights along the route is varied, where you get to see wooden houses, bridges and a lot of bamboo. They say they have great autumn lighting at night but sadly our time of visiting has been slightly different.

8. Hit: Kennin-ji Temple

HAVE A SEAT: Tourists resting at Kenninji

One of the reasons why I liked Kenninji was because of its historical value. One of the oldest temples in Kyoto, the place manages to successfully blend garden and building together, where you get to roam the wooden halls of the place while admiring the garden outside. There is also a giant painting of a tiger on the roof of one of the temples.

9. Miss: Gion Corner

HOLD IT B****HES: The geisha got this

We wanted to go to Gion Corner specifically to catch their geisha shows. While we did spot a few geisha on the streets, the performance was not what we had in mind. Cultural, yes, but value wise, not really. The tickets cost around 30 SGD and featured different performances that is supposed to capture the Japanese culture. It's informative and eye-opening, but it was something that I cannot appreciate, sadly. There was one segment where the people were purposely singing off tune and because the show is in Japanese, we didn't understand the dialogue either. But if you want to see how Japanese traditional performances are like, you should check this out.

10. Hit: Gion

It's supposed to be a nightlife district of Kyoto but other than souvenir shops and eating places there nothing much else to do. Still they have killer matcha desserts, so I guess that counts as something. Just make sure you go the correct one. The one we went to had a matcha shop downstairs and a little more pricey but the range of matcha products they have some of the best that I've ever tasted. My favourite: Matcha soda. And the parfait.

In conclusion, Kyoto is an amazing place to visit if you know where to go. Some places are overhyped that others, so be sure to check how big is the place and what they place is famous for before going. Kyoto is famous for the numerous temples and shrines, which was why it can get quite confusing if you're not prepared. If you're really confused, just follow well-established guides.

Still, it's an awesome place to visit. I enjoyed being able to experience a piece of history, through the different sites. It feels like you're part of something bigger and for that brief moment you're at that place, it's like you're able to glimpse at the memories, events and people that came before you. For places like the Imperial Castle, Kenninji, Fushimi Inari and etc, it's a humbling experience.

It's just a shame I was only able to visit a fraction of the place. If life permits, I would definitely come back here again :)

Up next, the even more historical city of Nara! (I kid you not, the city is older than Kyoto).


Other articles:
My general experience in Japan
Osaka, letdowns and surprises
NARA: Coming soon

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Daily Thought: Our Times (我的少女时代) is freshly entertaining but not really that relatable as claimed

MIDDLE PARTING: Say hello to the cast of Our Times

Warning: Potential spoilers

A lot of my friends have been talking about the movie. Sharing quotes and Hebe's theme song for the movie, for example, and likening it to You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年,我們一起追的女孩), which has like one of the longest movie titles ever.

Being an Apple fan (using that as short term because no way I am gonna use the full title every time I mention the movie), I was intrigued by the movie. Thanks to GV who gave me a pair of tickets to catch the movie as part of their Just Bin It campaign, I finally had the chance to see if the movie actually lives up to its hype.

BAD BOY: Because all teenage love stories have them

The movie is entertaining, no doubt about that. The way it crafts and tells the story is fresh and keeps you guessing right until the end. I liked how the important details of the story are omitted early on in the story, only to be revealed in the end to sort of punch you in the guts and make you go, "So that's what happened all along!" The flashbacks are woven seamlessly together and I liked how they fit into the larger narrative of the story.

But I think the biggest selling point of the movie is how it captured and elicited the different emotions throughout the movie. The personalities of the characters, their mishaps and the whole dramatisation of their lives made us all laughed while we wanted to cry along the heartbreaks and missed opportunities. All the characters, especially the stumbling main actress, really carried the story.

 Entertainment value wise, I think Our Times is top notch. The comedy doesn't fall flat, the story was strong and the acting top-notch. I really enjoyed watching the chemistry between Truly Lin (Vivian Sung) and TaiYu (Darren Wang) and by the end of the movie, I had developed a little crush for the both of them (turning bi, I think).

COMPLETE MEAL: Our times have all the ingredients that makes a movie shine

However, on the talks that the movie was something everyone can relate to, I find it to be a little lacking compared to Apple. Mainly because there was too much dramatisation of the story. My high school story was nowhere as exciting as what was portrayed in the movie, while Apple was a lot more relatable (maybe because it was based on a true story).

Another complaint that I have is why must the main male character of a Taiwanese high school love story always be a bad boy? Can't a socially awkward nerd boy find love too? I would definitely pay to watch a movie like that (it would be similar to my experience, sort of, except that I didn't get a gf).

Also, where got real life so coincidental one? From meeting Andy Lau to your long lost love who also knows him, while breaking up on the same day?

BLUFF: I call bluff on this

Still the movie is definitely worth watching. Story wise it's better than Apple and unlike Apple, the ending is slightly better. I would prefer Apple for its realism but Our Times for the entertainment value. Funny, exciting and provoking.

Please bin it!

We all love to watch movies. I for one love the cinema experience. Sitting in a fully darkened room on a comfortable cushioned seat with a huge screen and surround sound, it really brings out the essence of each movie. And what better way to complete the experience than to have food like popcorn, hotdog, nachos and good ol' coke?

Besides, after the movie, you can just leave your trash behind and the cleaners will take care of it. Real convenient, right? But did you know that this usually results in a very dirty cinema at the end of every movie? GV invited me to stay back after a movie to have a look at this. The sight? Not pleasant at all.

WHERE's THE COURTESY: This was left behind by people next to my seat and no, I didn't set this up

Every year, 11,830 manhours are spent cleaning up 109,500 kg of trash, just from one cinema. With 40+ cinemas around Singapore, that's 1,314 hours wasted every day just to collect the trash left behind in the cinema.

In the effort to address this, GV is running the "Just Bin It" campaign for the whole of November to encourage cinemagoers to throw their rubbish at bins near the entrance of the cinema. You can watch their campaign video below:

As you can see, while our Singapore streets may be touted as one of the world's cleanest, our cinemas may not be so. So the next time you feel like leaving your box of finished popcorn behind, don't. Help to keep our cinemas clean :)

P/s: Thanks GV for the free movie tickets! 


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