Discovering Doutonbori

Dancing crab. Glico Man. Takoyaki.

These popular symbols of Osaka can be found in one place–Doutonbori!  Of course, this lively section of Namba has so much more to offer.  When dropping by Osaka, Doutonbori is definitely a stop you need to take.

I would like to say that it’s very easy to find–it’s just a short walk from Midosuji Line’s exit 14 in Namba–but Namba Station is HUGE.  And take a wrong turn, and you’ll end up in another part of the district.  There’s that, and from what I remember, there are no signs pointing to Doutonbori after you’ve gone out of the exit.

My plan for strolling around Doutonbori kept getting put off in my first few nights in Japan (because see above), but I made sure that I find it in my last night.  I kept going around in circles again, turned at some streets until I finally came across Glico Man.  GOAL!!!

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“achievement unlocked!”

Now that I’m finally in the right place.  there are two more things to do: eat and shop.  Was I able to do both?  Unfortunately not because of Mosburger.  I’ll talk about it more in another entry because my trip to Doutonbori is the cap to a very long day (Arashiyama-Bamboo Forest-Kinkakuji-Doutonbori).

Going back, well Doutonbori food is not a totally lost cause because I had a cup of coffee in one of the cafes there.  After getting my caffeine fix, I started walking around to take in the lively night life:

If there’s a word of wisdom I can cap my Doutonbori experience with, it would be this: friend, COME HUNGRY.

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A Symphony of Lights

Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor has probably one of the most iconic skylines in the world.  It becomes even more vibrant come 8 pm every night, as buildings light up for A Symphony of Lights.  Launched in 2004, the light and sound show is named the “World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The show lasts for over 10 minutes and according to the Hong Kong Tourism board site, it can be seen from three vantage points:

  • Tsim Sha Tsui promenade outside Hong Kong cultural center (MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui Station, Exit L6)
  • Golden Bauhinia Square (MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A5); and
  • from the Harbor cruise

There’s music and live narration accompanying the light show.  The narration part is alternately done in English (MWF) Mandarin (TThSa) and Cantonese (Sun).

I caught the show from Tsim Sha Tsui promenade during my 2014 trip, and here are some choice shots:

The Temples of Angkor

Rewatching the Indiana Jones movies with my boyfriend made me miss Angkor, so I thought of digging up some pics and here’s another blog entry.

The weather at Angkor was cool and dry on the day of temple-hopping.  Our first stop was Angkor Wat, the most famous temple complex in the area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  One unique feature about it is it started out as a Hindu temple in the 1300s and Buddhist influence crept in centuries later.  A symbol of Cambodia, Angkor Wat is absolutely breathtaking!

We went to Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple next.

These temples have been subject to harsh weather, wars and at times unruly tourists (we saw at least three going beyond the set barriers just to take pictures…), but through conservation efforts, we can see these temples a little longer to remind us of the rich culture and history of this part of Asia.

A Glimpse of Phnom Penh

Part of my Vietnam-Cambodia adventure with friends in 2014 was an overnight stay at Phnom Penh. We came via bus from Ho Chi Minh city, and the trip took about 9 hours.  We got to Phnom Penh mid-afternoon and almost didn’t make it to the Royal Palace.  Thankfully though, we did!

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The Royal Palace served as the king of Cambodia’s residence since 1860.   While only half of the compound is open to the public, the accessible attractions are still a sight to behold.

Mochicream Cafe, a Review

All it took was a glance, and then it hit me that it’s been a while since I had mochi.  So that’s how I ended up at Mochicream cafe.  For those who frequent SM North EDSA, it’s just along the cinemas at The Block.

There were just less than ten tables with two seats each, and a pair of comfy chairs.  Their menu consists of.. wait for it… mochi! of different flavors, some cakes and pastries, hot or cold drinks and parfait.  They have a hotdog sandwich too.

Since I was in the mood for mochi though, I settled with a piece of caramel macchiato-flavored mochi and matcha mocha.  Now, say “mochi matcha mocha” ten times real fast! Hahaha!

First up is the mochi.  The mochi layer itself is chewy and it’s filled with ice cream.  It cost me PhP 90, or just under USD 2.  I often want big portions especially for desserts but I’d say this is filling enough for me.  It’s not sweet at all.  Did I like it?  Not that bad, but I really wanted my mochi softer!

And now for my drink, Matcha Mocha.  It cost me PhP 160, just about the same price as a tall Starbucks blended drink.  My only issue with the drink is it’s not too hot, but other than that, the taste wins.

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Service is fast and the crew were friendly.  Definitely worth coming back to again.  And next time, I’ll check out the parfait~

A Look Back: L’Arc-en-Ciel Tour 2008 L7 Trans Asia via Paris

Exactly eight years ago today, I was at Hong Kong Asia World Expo pumped up and awed at seeing L’Arc~en~Ciel perform.  It was a first time for many things for me–first J Rock concert I saw, first time I ever rode a plane, first time I went out of the country.

This is a blog entry I wrote in my now-defunct Multiply account.  Reading this still makes me smile every time 🙂

L’7 TRANS ASIA VIA PARIS – HONG KONG

May 27, ’08 2:36 PM for everyone

 Can I just rave away already about how awesome laruku is and has actually always been? Oh yeah, this is why I made this post in the first place… sort of…

 I feel kinda stupid for attempting to write without properly remembering their repertoire in the proper order; I’m still freaking incoherent that I still can’t write in proper English…

 Lame excuses of disclaimers aside, seeing them on stage was just surreal. The show lasted for a little over two hours, no front act, and their little breaks just took a few short minutes. The only glitch was the feedback on Hyde’s mic once; but the rest was just perfect.

 The garb:  Hyde was just facial hair, turban and dreadlocks short of being jack sparrow.  Tetsu wore hotpink leggings, black frilly skirt and white long-sleeved top with a black vest. Yukki wore gray tracksuit. Ken wore white pants and suit and a printed button down shirt.

The songs: I was happy over-all with the list, but I wish they included songs from older albums [Dune – Heavenly]. They opened up with “Get out from the Shell” followed by “Driver’s High.” A surprise was Eien. Don’t like Revelation that much either, but thankfully they skipped Finale and didn’t pull a Sadako like they did in the 2006 l’anniversary :O

 The goods: fell in love with what the tour shirt, and regretted not having enough money to buy the whole set of stuff, but fought it off anyway to have a shirt.  I hate myself for not bringing enough money. And I’m very sorry for those I promised I’d buy stuff for T_T My heart sank upon learning that the line of fans buying stuff was cut off hours before the opening.  Thankfully, we were given another shot after the show.  I’m glad and quite proud to have heeded the signal of Anata being their signature finale, and hurriedly ran down the stairs to take my place on the queue. 

The fans: I’m very happy for the Chinese-speaking crowd because the band had practically spoken in Chinese throughout the show. The only Japanese words Hyde uttered were “doumo arigatou” and that’s at the end of the show. That said, I’m now part of the Filipino fandom who truly and terribly wishes for them to do a show here in the Philippines *_*

 Here’s the set list:

  1. Get Out from the Shell
  2. Driver’s High
  3. Killing Me
  4. DRINK IT DOWN
  5. Daybreak’s Bell
  6. winter fall
  7. 永遠
  8. forbidden lover
  9. MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM
  10. Caress of Venus
  11. REVELATION
  12. SEVENTH HEAVEN
  13. pretty girl
  14. STAY AWAY
  15. READY STEADY GO
  16. 叙情詩
  17. HONEY
  18. Link
  19. あなた

This gig also happened to be laruku’s first in Hong Kong.  They had spiels in between songs and if I remember correctly, they showed a pic of one of their meals where one of the dishes is a large fish head.

I still wish for them to include the Philippines to their next world tour.  (25th L’Anniversary, please!) ONE OK ROCK already came here; it should be Laruku’s turn next!!!

The Two SMs

Here’s SM North EDSA.  A mall of the masses, one of the biggest in Asia, a link in the most pervasive mall chain in the Philippines. A nightmare to tread during payday weekends; perfect to stroll in just short of midnight during the Christmas holidays.  Quite distinctive on the outside, but the inside is pretty much similar to the rest of the malls of its stature.  A transport hub for commuters to the north and to different parts of Metro Manila; a slow killer of small-scale, homegrown stores.

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Then there’s Sierra Madre mountain range, or at least a portion of it.  Traversing throughout mainland Luzon, a shield that staves off typhoons and holds off floods; home of water basins and beautiful landscapes; a looming testament of the Philippines’ active fault lines.  This portion of the range is mystical on cool and clear mornings, and on a cloudless day, the shades of brown and blue provide relief from the stresses of technology.

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Here’s the vantage point where you can see both, and so much more…. traffic jam.  And that eyesore of a billboard. But hey, I like kopiko!

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A Look Back: HP Music Matters 2013 – J Rock Night

I can’t believe it’s been three years!

Yes, on May 23, 2013, flumpool and SID played on Clarke Quay’s Fountain Stage for HP Music Matters’ J Rock Night.  These gigs (actually, more of SID) were my main reason for flying to Singapore on a budget that year.  The little sightseeing I got to do back then was in Chinatown.

I had a full day then because I met with a high school classmate.  After a few hours’ chat,  I rushed to Clarke Quay.  It was pretty cool too how I got to walk with what turned out to be one of the performers that night, a Malaysian band called An Honest Mistake. They were going to the venue too so at least I had company along the way.  Too bad I wasn’t able to see them play though because they were slated to go onstage at around 1 am or so.

Clarke Quay gave me the Eastwood Libis vibe and it would have been nice to go around.  (Barhopping isn’t my thing so I’ll just be content taking pictures though.) But I didn’t have time to explore because SID was just a few minutes away from playing!

When I reached the Fountain Stage area, the place was already almost filled up and the fans were fully geared with their signs and glow sticks.  I was lucky to get a spot on the left side near the stage–at my distance from the stage, I’d still be able to take decent enough pics with my phone, and it’s the side I very much prefer! Haha 😛

So here are some pics of flumpool.  Wasn’t really a fan but I loved their energy on stage!

Flumpool played five songs, and after a few minutes came SID’s turn to rock the stage^^

It was my first time to see them perform live and I couldn’t be more excited to catch them up close.  Mao addressing the crowd in English was pretty endearing, too.  The first three songs they played are their popular anime themes–モノクロのキス、嘘 and VIP–and then they played One Way, with夏恋 as their finale.  Mao asked a fan to sing part of VIP.

These gigs were streamed online for free but I’d never trade the experience of actually being there~

A Look Back: LUNA SEA 20th Anniversary

Luna Sea is the first J-Rock band I liked that I didn’t know through anime.  I discovered them in 2000, months before they disbanded, so I was really happy when they got back together for a world tour to celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2010.

So how happy was I?  I flew to Hong Kong on the day of the concert to see them and then went back home right after!

They played 16 songs, 2 intermissions and 3 more songs during the encore.  No new material then but a lot of my favorite songs made it to their list, so I was one giddy fangirl!

Now, the set list:

  1. Loveless
  2. Déjàvu
  3. G
  4. End of Sorrow
  5. True Blue
  6. Face to Face
  7. Gravity
  8. RA-SE-N
  9. Providence
  10. Genesis of Mind
  11. -drum solo-
  12. -rhythm session-
  13. Fate
  14. Storm
  15. Desire
  16. Time is Dead
  17. Rosier
  18. Tonight

ENCORE

  1. I for You
  2. Believe
  3. Wish

 

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Check any travel guide about Singapore, and the Botanic Gardens would certainly be among the top recommended attractions–and rightly so.  It’s pretty much free to go around (except for the minimal fee to get to the National Orchid Garden), and yet it’s very rich in nature and history.

The gardens are a vast sanctuary in the heart of the city.  There’s so much to explore, it’ll take literally a whole day or maybe even two to fully experience what the gardens have to offer.

My plan was to get there early, but being the nocturnal creature that I am, I woke up pretty late and got to the gardens at around 11 am.  I started my looooong stroll from Bukit Timah Gate, where I took some shots of the Eco Lake:

After a brief stop and looking at the map several times, I decided to make National Orchid Garden my priority, then the small tropical rainforest.  I’d then check out the other gardens if I still had the energy to do so.

And stuck to the plan I did. Here’s a mini-gallery of the different sections of the National Orchid Garden:

And choice shots from the rainforest:

A must when going to the Botanic Gardens is plenty of time, fully charged camera battery and enough space in your SD card, comfortable shoes, and a bottle of water.  (There are drinking fountains throughout the garden where you can refill the bottle, too.)

When I do go back to Singapore, I’ll definitely check out the Botanic Gardens again and visit the rest of the sections I wasn’t able to explore as much as I wanted to. Besides, there are upcoming attractions to this newly inaugurated World Heritage Site 🙂

Singapore Botanic Gardens is open every day of the year from 5 am – 12 mn, although certain sections have their own schedules.  It is also very accessible via bus or train, and tourist shuttle services are available as well.

‘Til next time!