December 25, 2017

Kawaguchiko, Japan – Itinerary and planning (2 days) – part 2 of 3

This is part 2 of my Japan trip (which I am breaking up into 3 parts, like below)
– 3 days itinerary for Kyoto (link)
– 2 days (0.5 + 1 + 0.5) itinerary for Kawaguchiko (one of the Fuji Five lakes, for Mt. Fuji appreciation)
– 3.5 days itinerary for Tokyo (sans Disney Resort), 2 days itinerary for Disney Resort (Disneyland and DisneySea) (link)

Initially, I wanted to do a longer Kawaguchiko excursion – like maybe, a 4-day visit instead of just 2. I felt that there’s so much to explore in the area (and also to partly increase the odds of seeing Mt Fuji. The elusive view of Mt Fuji is infamous for getting obscured by clouds/fogs or inclement weather). But because my daughter and wife wanted to do Disney at Tokyo, I had to plan for a 2-day excursion instead. The actual plan was a bit different for us, instead of a clean 2 days, it’s more like 0.5 day, followed by a full day, and then the final day another 0.5. That’s because on Day 4, I had to take the bullet train (Tokaido Shinkansen) from Kyoto to Mishima, and then a bus to Kawaguchiko area. That takes up the whole morning and left me the 0.5 day. The final 0.5 day was for the afternoon travel to Tokyo by bus. So, you see, that made it hard for me to use the 2 day unlimited bus pass for Kawaguchiko lake area. That was why I planned for a location that’s out of the unlimited pass coverage area to myself feel better about not losing out too much (psychological).

To make things easier, I’m going to simplify the itinerary into flat 2 days instead.

Anyway, here’s a disclaimer (copy/pasted from the Part 1):

– Since I’d traveled all the locations above in the same trip, my actual itinerary took longer than just 10 days. It was close to like, 13 days (1 day for Bangkok, 1 day for traveling between areas in Japan, 1 day for inbound/outbound flight and misc time loss). If you’d like to follow the exact itinerary listed above for all the areas, you might want to account an extra 2 – 3 days to the 10 days.
– In December, Japan has a relatively short daylight (like Taiwan). It starts to get dark at about 4pm, so naturally, I shifted the daylight loss by starting earlier in the morning.
– It’s also getting very cold in December (although not the coldest yet). If you have a fear of cold, you might want to just go to somewhere hotter instead.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 11-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit > 95% of what I’ve planned, with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience Japan (with the final 2 days in Disney Resort). The itineraries involve a lot of walking, averaging about 20,000 steps each day. That’s roughly about 16km of walking per day. If you’re not into walking or has a fat ass, this is probably not your kind of shit. (Go find one of those gay tours)
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on the public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go smart by subway/bus. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info.
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (Japan has a lot of temples, shrines and pig related obsession from its culture to food).
– The day to day planning can be shuffled around, depending on your dates of travel, as some of the places might be closed on certain day of the week. So, check your schedule vs the places of interests during your planning.
– This is just my own planning. It may not be as good as others’. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because I’m an amateur.

Read the rest of this entry »

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
December 24, 2017

Kyoto, Japan – Itinerary and planning (3 days) – part 1 of 3

Just came back from a ~2 weeks Japan travel covering Kyoto, Kawaguchiko and Tokyo, thought of sharing my super awesome itinerary in this blog. The actual plan was an elaborate one, including an arrangement for a 24 hour stopover at Bangkok prior flying into Japan via KIX (and exit via NRT) and up to which day to do laundry. But for the sake of convenience, I’m going to write this in simplified form, and span it with days instead of the actual one whole itinerary. So, shit is going to get break up into the following:
– 3 days itinerary for Kyoto
– 2 days (0.5 + 1 + 0.5) itinerary for Kawaguchiko (one of the Fuji Five lakes, for Mt. Fuji appreciation) (link)
– 3.5 days itinerary for Tokyo (sans Disney Resort), 2 days itinerary for Disney Resort (Disneyland and DisneySea) (link)

That way, you can just use whatever that suits your travel needs, like, you can do Tokyo first, then the lake or even, use one of the itineraries as an excursion for your existing boring itinerary. You get the idea. This post features the itinerary for Kyoto. I’ll do separate posts for Kawaguchiko and Tokyo as part 2 and 3 respectively. But before I begin the Kyoto itinerary, please read through the disclaimer:

– Since I’d traveled all the locations above in the same trip, my actual itinerary took longer than just 10 days. It was close to like, 13 days (1 day for Bangkok, 1 day for traveling between areas in Japan, 1 day for inbound/outbound flight and misc time loss). If you’d like to follow the exact itinerary listed above for all the areas, you might want to account an extra 2 – 3 days to the 10 days.
– In December, Japan has a relatively short daylight (like Taiwan). It starts to get dark at about 4pm, so naturally, I shifted the daylight loss by starting earlier in the morning.
– It’s also getting very cold in December (although not the coldest yet). If you have a fear of cold, you might want to just go to somewhere hotter instead.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 11-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit > 95% of what I’ve planned, with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience Japan (with the final 2 days in Disney Resort). The itineraries involve a lot of walking, averaging about 20,000 steps each day. That’s roughly about 16km of walking per day. If you’re not into walking or has a fat ass, this is probably not your kind of shit. (Go find one of those gay tours)
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on the public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go smart by subway/bus. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info.
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (Japan has a lot of temples, shrines and pig related obsession from its culture to food).
– The day to day planning can be shuffled around, depending on your dates of travel, as some of the places might be closed on certain day of the week. So, check your schedule vs the places of interests during your planning.
– This is just my own planning. It may not be as good as others’. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because I’m an amateur.

Read the rest of this entry »

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
December 6, 2017

BackAlley ChickenShack restaurant

So, Bill the restaurant owner of BackAlley ChickenShack hired someone from the corporate – a middle aged lady named CrookedNippleRing – to take over managing the day to day activities of his busy restaurant. One of the very first change that CrookedNippleRing introduced, was the kitchen helper’s duties.

You see, the job of a kitchen helper in BackAlley ChickenShack is not an easy one, being understaffed and all that. He had to support the chef and prepare the ingredients, procure the raw materials for planned menus and even to take out the trash (now that Arun the janitor had been fired). So CrookedNippleRing went to the chef, and the following ‘discussion’ took place:

CrookedNippleRing: “Chef, from now on, all assignments that you have for your kitchen helper, is going through me. If you need assign some chores for your helper, you’ve got to fill up this form and drop it into that box right there.”

Chef: “So what do I do with my helper then??”

CrookedNippleRing: “You no longer need the service of a helper. I’ve got a big team of people handling all your stuff from now on. *smiles* Bill will give those helpers a handsome severance package”

Chef: “WHat the fuck!? So if I want a chicken de-boned and have some carrots julienned, I gotta submit a fucking form to you now?? How’s this going to work out well for all of us??”

CrookedNippleRing: “My team will go full time processing job requests from that box. It will be a first in first out basis. The key idea is ‘streamlining’, chef. When things get streamlined, we’ll be able to quantify how much job are we wasting our resources on, and identify the critical path of the process. From there, we can drive for process improvements to increase our workplace efficiency and reduce idling.”

Chef: “Answer me bitch, if I need someone to take out the goddamn trash, I gotta fill in a form and drop it into the fucking box as well??”

CrookedNippleRing: “Yes you fill it up and drop into the box. My guys will take care of it.”

Chef: “So, how long do you reckon any shit’s going to get done around here??”

CrookedNippleRing: “Like I said, it’ll be first in first out basis. There’ll be a queue and data entry involved, but the guarantee is, every job request is going to get done within 2 days”

Chef: “2 days!! The trash is going to stink up the whole kitchen!”

CrookedNippleRing: “Well, get busy filling forms then, my dear friend.”

As a result of the ‘efficiency drive’ initiative, BackAlley ChickenShack’s staff then swelled up to 3 times the size (none of them consist of a kitchen helper), and also registered a sharp increase in office supplies expenditure. The kitchen became a big mess and there were even injuries recorded due to unregulated foot traffic around the kitchen area (revolving the form box). Frustrated with their work, all the chefs then conspired to rage-quit the restaurant, and until now, CrookedNippleRing is still setting up a task force to look into what went wrong, while the restaurant takes an indefinite hiatus from operation.

michaelooi  | imaginations  | Comments Off
December 3, 2017

life changing defining moment

I caught someone asking a question the other day – “Have you ever experienced a life changing defining moment before?”

It got me thinking… hard, as I’ve experienced a lot of life changing defining moments before in my life. But if I were to cite none but one, it has to be that morning in July 2011 when I first saw my mom’s face when we found her in her car, after searching all morning for her. A couple of medics were onsite, there were measuring devices around her, and I could see that they were doing some assessments of sorts. But that didn’t matter. I knew my mom was gone. Dead. I knew a face of death when I see one, and that was when it hit me hard – that my life will be different from then on. Everything was changed, just like that, and it felt surreal. I was sad but, I could not eke any emotion out of myself. I think I was in shock, and it was so intense that, I felt dizzy.

I locked gaze at my mom’s face through the windscreen of her car, and walked towards the medics. One of the medics, then turned to me and said – “I’m sorry, your mom’s not with us anymore. There’s no pulse in her, and we reckon that she’s been like this for some time”. I, of course, already knew, and that confirmation sent my wife and sister crying. But I just walked away and sat at a nearby ledge, random thoughts started to flood my mind – what am I going to tell my daughter? why did my mom kill herself? what the fuck just happened? Is this real? Who the fuck are these people? What the hell am I suppose to do now?

It went on like that through the day, while I managed to keep my shit together to deal with my mom’s body and subsequently, her funeral arrangements. I was on autopilot mode. I did things physically, but my mind was not in it. I couldn’t remember most of the day, but kept thinking of how she looked when I saw her that morning. I went through the day by dealing with the police, claiming her body from the morgue (there was an autopsy involved), getting the paperwork done, talking to the undertaker, and ended up sleeping on the stone bench outside the funeral parlor that night, after the guests were gone from the first night of wake. And I had a dream that everything that happened that day, was a nightmare. It was such a relief that I told myself in the dream – “I KNEW IT! IT HAD TO BE A NIGHTMARE! I WONDERED LONG ENOUGH WHEN AM I GOING TO WAKE THE FUCK UP!”

And I woke up to find myself lying on the bench back in reality, looking at the edge of the roof of the dilapidated funeral parlor, sat up to see my mom’s portrait in front of her casket at the funeral parlor, and then the life changing defining moment hit me the second time, this time, permanently burnt into my consciousness.

michaelooi  | personal  | Comments Off
November 19, 2017

“Annabelle: Creation” (2017)

People have been talking about Annabelle for some time, like it’s the dopiest horror movie ever created (the demon doll only made a brief appearance in The Conjuring, and people have been hoping for a spin-off since then). So it finally came out in 2014, The Conjuring spin-off called “Annabelle”. I watched it with high expectations, but came out disappointed. It was boring and not scary at all. And perhaps that lowered my expectations a little when I laid my hands on the prequel to the 2014 Annabelle – named “Annabelle: Creation”. So this was supposed to tell how Annabelle originated and came to be such a defective product.

The plot was alright, wasn’t very creative, but fared fine to my lowered expectations. It all started with a couple who lost their daughter in a freak accident, and when they prayed for a chance to see their daughter again, they got more than what they asked for. Their weak in faith, paved way for a devil to manipulate their belief, and manifested itself as their daughter and asked for a permanent residence in Annabelle the doll (why would the devil need to ask? I wonder…) whom they welcomed in their everyday life like she was with them. Then one day, the mom accidentally saw the ‘daughter’s’ actual self through the reflection of the mirror, that it was actually the fucking devil itself! Freaked out, she tried to banish the devil with a lame ass wooden cross (bad idea), the devil clawed the shit out of the mom’s face and she became like Harvey-Norman-2-face-Batman-villain-lookalike. Shocked at how shit escalated so goddamn quick, the husband got some priests over, and contained the demon doll in a closet with some holy water and printouts of the Holy Bible (instead of say, burning the doll into obvlivion).

Things got a lot more calmer after that, and the couple soon came to terms with their daughter’s death. Then many years later, the couple offered shelter to a bunch of orphans, and that was when Annabelle got up to no good. It was like watching a high budgeted hide and seek game. Scary for the children, entertaining for the adults. (Oh, that Marilyn Manson lookalike Nun made an appearance in this movie too. I like that guy but, I don’t know how the hell he fitted in the story, it just didn’t make a lot of sense. It’s like you’re watching a family movie then suddenly BAM! Dick scene).

For some weak hearted people, this might be the ‘scariest movie they’ve ever watched’, but for me, I’d say it was below average as a horror movie. It was pretty lame for a devil’s standard to be able to just kill only a couple of people throughout the entire movie. There were a lot of senseless scaring, and very little violence. Some of the acts were non-value added and could’ve been done without. Had the devil used a wee bit of common sense, he’d have killed more children with less effort. In my book of evilness, the devil failed in his job (read more about my opinion about haunting here) and fared even lower than the humans. We need something stronger guys! This is lame!

4 out of 10 (ok plot, poor haunting, felt like a PG13 instead of R rated)

michaelooi  | movie reviews  | Comments Off