Sunday, 29 September 2013

Officially An Adult (In Japan)

Yesterday was September 28, which means I officially become an adult in Japan! (In Singapore, it's 21, although we can start drinking from 18). I really wanted to spend it in Singapore, but I had stuff to do at school on the 27th, so I had to come back. Instead, I went to Huis Ten Bosch (yes, again), with my classmates (this part's new) for a one night stay (that's new too)!

We were on the Ladies Plan, which was actually very worth it. For 21000 yen, we had a one night stay, free gifts (three actually), dinner (Cheese fondue - that was soo soo good) and breakfast and two-day passports to Huis Ten Bosch. I think we really saved a lot, considering that a two-day passport 11000 yen.

We had a pretty good stay, although I didn't imagine that we would rush around so much! There was a bunch of really pretty illuminations, and hopefully, I can make at least one Google+ Gif from it. But for now, enjoy the photos (one from each illumination)

At the Thriller Fantasy Museum

Art Garden

Palace Huis Ten Bosch 
 There were also 3D pop-out illumination (wait, I forgot the exact name), which they featured on buildings and were remarkably 3D. I really thing Huis Ten Bosch has got this 3D thing down. Enjoy more photos!

I don't know why, but I like the zip :D 

The robot posed for photos! 

Somehow, the huge clock makes it look like
this Barbie (I think it was barbie) castle I once had.

Ok fine, it's not a party for me, but I can
pretend. 
And since we were staying over, we even got invited to a masquerade party, which was just dancing (we followed the dancers on stage). It was actually really fun, considering that I'm the type of person that's really self-conscious about dancing.

The cape they lent, the mask, I kept
(obviously everything is a form of pink)
I actually have loads of night photos, which is basically the same buildings in different colours. So if you do want to see those (and you're on Google+), drop me a comment and let me know!

The really fun part of going with friends was doing stuff together. I like going alone to take photos, but for things like Haunted Houses, Adventure Park, it is way more fun to have people do them with you. And it was a good opportunity to talk more with my classmates (plus, I didn't use Japanese for 25 days, I needed the practice).

Today, we (me and one other friend who's also 20) decided to go for the Wine and Cheese Festival, which is misnamed and should just be called the "Wine Festival". For 2000yen (1800yen for yearly passport holders like me(; ), we got to try as much wine as we wanted to.

There are two other tables besides this.
Now, I'm not much of a drinker, so after about two hours of wine tasting, I think I got a little drunk. At least now I know, when (slightly) drunk, I just get really really unsteady. The weirdest thing I did was to drop half a cup of dippydots icecream and say "oh yeah, I can use this as an excuse to do weird things". And I did buy a bottle of wine too (I had a 500yen coupon, it made sense to buy it at this time):

Dinh! This photo is for you!
Now, what did I learn from this? Well, I learnt that:

a. I like White Wine better than Red Wine
b. 13% alcohol content and above is way too much for me. Even if they say it's 'sweet', it still has a bitter aftertaste.
c. 6-7% is much better. It tastes good, and goes down well.
d. 2-3% doesn't taste like alcohol, which may be dangerous because I'll probably end up drinking more.
e. I go red really easily, but if you give me about three hours and books to read, I'll be fine (seriously, after three hours, I finished two books and was perfectly fine - one hour of walking and two hours of reading).
f. Apple pie cheese does taste like apple pie, and smoked cheese tastes like sausages (I caved and bought cheese too)

Hi Dinh! This is me when drunk. 

And this is the wine I was drinking then. 
And now for what may be the most important part.

You may have figured out that I don't use the internet much on trips. So last night, when I decided to check Google+, I was way surprised and way touched to see that people actually wrote me messages (I got back and counted 19 messages). Some even attached really beautiful photos, and I even got a birthday message in German! (And Chinese, and Japanese and of course English). To those 19 awesome Google+ users, you know who you are and I'm so so touched that you wrote the message. I know Google sends notifications and stuff, but you could have ignored that. You didn't, and you really made my day yesterday.

Here's a gif I made of the light show(:

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Over 30 Hours Without Sleep (I'm back in Japan)

As I'm writing this blog post, at about 7:13pm, I've not slept for the past 34 hours (I think. I lost the ability to do simple math too). Anyway, I woke up at about 9:30 am yesterday and I haven't slept since then.

But, I have a perfectly valid excuse. I had a red-eye flight to Fukuoka! And for some reason (ok, perhaps it's because SIA has the best in-flight entertainment system), I didn't sleep on the plane. At least that meant that I got to watch the sunrise from a plane (which is an experience that I wouldn't have wanted to miss), and got to take a few shots really pretty shots.

Taken with my iPad
My luggage was actually way overweight (I think by about 20 kg?), which meant that I had to lug a 6kg 'handcarry' on plus remove 7kg of items from my other luggage in order to check it in. Thankfully, Yiyin came all the way from the airport to help me bring my stuff back.

And by that time (late morning), I was already feeling the effects of sleep deprivation. I was even more volatile/emotional that usual, and according to Yiyin, I acted like I was going to breakdown from the tiredness. Plus, I was hungry no matter how much I ate. I was full, but my stomach was growling.

But I had school. (Well, I had to go to school to buy ONE textbook) And more importantly, I needed to sign for my scholarship money. So off I went to school, and sat through an extremely long process in order to get one book. But at least after that, I managed to sign for the MEXT scholarship.

Unfortunately, by this time (on my way home), I was feeling rather odd. I wasn't hungry, and I almost tripped over my own feet. But thankfully, I made it home safely.

I suppose one factor that kept me going for so long was that the weather was perfect today! I left a Fukuoka that was way too hot, and today, it's 22 degrees Celcius! It's totally my temperature!

So all in all, I had an interesting first day back. I got to see all my friends even though I was extremely tired. Actually, that probably means that they'll be all "she's weirder than I remembered". But I did explain, so hopefully anything strange I did will be chalked up to the lack of sleep.

And if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bed now. I don't think I can stay up any longer :p

Friday, 20 September 2013

Mini-Review: MacDonald's Green Tea McFlurry

Before I forget, thanks +Nathan Weaver for sharing this tip with me.

This is a little test to see how embedding Google+ posts go! If it works well, I may use it so I can share more stuff with everyone - especially if some of you don't have me on Google+!

Enjoy the mini-review!



Friday, 13 September 2013

Car-Snatch-Thief Got Us!

If you have me on Google+, then you'll know that yesterday, my family was attacked by snatch thieves while we were in our car. And while I liked to think that I'll handle such situations in a cooler manner, the truth is that I almost had a nervous breakdown (or at least, I was crying and had no appetite and wanted to vomit. And the real victim was my mom). I think I was the most emotional one in my whole family - the rest of them seemed to get over it fairly quickly and even forgave them.

-Slight Digression-

I'm not sure why, but this incident taught me (apart from the need to obsessively check my surroundings) of the inadequacy of most insults. Those thieves are despicable and cowards, but that doesn't feel insult-ing enough. And no matter what else I call them, it just ends up feeling like I'm insulting the object that I compare them to. For example, if I call them a pile of shit, I'm insulting manure and all those useful composting items. I suppose that means that insults are not that useful after all.

Plus, I should be working on forgiving them. It's terrible to be a Christian and yet act so un-Christian-like and have so much anger towards someone. I'm trying to focus my thoughts to how their situation must have been very desperate to make them rob and wish that they stop their crimes before it's too late.

-Digression Ends-

There are so many sad things about this incident. For one thing, while there was a CCTV at the junction, the police officer said it may be 'inactive'. For another, my mom's still in shock. I mean, having someone come into your car and grab your bag from your legs - my mom couldn't do anything. Well, even my dad couldn't do anything. My siblings and I were just screaming.

AND WE WERE THE LUCKY ONES.

I heard/was told that if they found your car door locked, they would just smash your window instead. And when commiserating with me, I found that that quite a few of my relatives and some friends have been targeted before. In fact, quite a few Malaysian women don't carry handbags anymore because it's too dangerous. The fact that none of us were injured is a great blessing.

Of course, there were helpful people. A stranger saw us at the side and pulled up to see if he could help (and he told us that this was the second incident at that junction today). The police officer listened to my mom's fear of the snatch-thieves coming to our house and gave us his personal number just in case. The POSB customer service people went above their call of duty to help us.

Maybe the reason the crime rate is so high is because quite a few gangsters were recently released. That particular area is said to have a high crime rate, and according to one of my dad's friends, that's because there are a lot of squatters there, and because the Malaysian government is cracking down on illegal employment, they can't get jobs and resort to crime.

But whatever the reason is, if you're heading to Malaysia, please take care of yourself. Well, I suppose there's nothing you can do against determined snatch-thieves but hope you're not targeted, but in the meantime, you can reduce your desirability as a victim by not flaunting cash, not carrying a handbag, keeping your car doors locked at all times, etc.

And if anyone living in Johor reads this, please keep an eye our for a black Agnes B. Bag with a pink lining that has four passports inside. We're making new ones, but my mom would really like her NRIC card back (she says that her photo is the prettiest there), and I would like to have the passport back to remember the different places that I've been to.

Stay safe everyone.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Please Do NOT Ask Me These Questions

I'm sure you recognise the Ace Attorney
'Objection'
Hey all you future scholars! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. And taking the time to read the comments before asking questions (do you? haha). Anyway, recently I realised there are questions that appear quite often which I am unable to answer, so please be nice and refrain from asking my the following questions (the list will be updated as time goes by).

ETA: I'm sorry if the tone of this piece comes off like I'm annoyed and bothered. I really do love answering and getting emails, but these questions... these questions make me want to take down the "email me" widget. 

1. Can I get in with ______ marks? 
Which means: please do not ask me any questions about whether you can get in with ______ (your current program, your fears about your Japanese, etc). I'm but a poor MEXT scholar who's not sure how she got in. I can't represent the voice of MEXT and give you assurances (or crush your fears).

My advice: Just give it a shot and apply! 

2. Can I apply even if_______?
Which means: please do not ask me about eligibility (or dates). While I'm don't think MEXT changed the terms of the scholarship, it's still best to check the application form, which has all the terms and conditions. I'm really scared that I give you the wrong advice, especially if you're not from Singapore (I have no idea if it varies from countries). Incidentally, I think the application period varies slightly from country to country. So to be on the safe side, you should be checking with the Embassy of Japan in your country.

My advice: Check the application form.

Bonus: (Summary of question 1 and 2) What should I do about (specific application problem)
I just realised that question one and two were too specific, since I was asked questions about what to do about filling in the form. Please realise that I applied in 2011, in Singapore. I'm not even sure if the application process is the same for all countries, since you have to pass the embassy selection before the MEXT selection. If you're not from Singapore, then I really don't dare to give you any advice, since it may not apply. If you're from Singapore, I can always share what I did, but please remember, it may not apply.

My advice: Ask the Embassy. They know best. 

3. Do you have past years papers?
The answer is no. I printed them out from the JASSO website, and then I think I threw them away after the tests. I'm pretty sure that if you click around the JASSO website, the papers are up there somewhere. And when you're practicing, remember, the Maths papers differ for the sciences and the humanities. For anything else about the exam (or preparation): I've already written all that I remember in my first blog post.

ETA: Rodolfo from Mexico has kindly provided me with the link (thanks!) so here it is.

(Edited To Add)
4. Are the test questions repeated/What do they test for maths/Anything related to the content of the tests. 
I didn't add this in the first time round because I thought it was lumped in with the past year papers, so here it is: please don't ask me about what kind of questions come out, or if the questions will be repeated. And I have no idea what went on for the science stream, so I can't even tell you what kind of exams you have to take. These are stuff you should ask the embassy.

5. Anything related to the post-graduate scholarship.
I'm in the undergraduate scholarship. One day, I got a message asking me for information "more information MEXT postgraduate scholarships" and "the names of names of universities in Japan that have participated in the program and which these universities have automotive engineering at masters level". I understand if you didn't read my blog properly and had the wrong impression, but the list thing... it's... it's impossible. Ask the embassy please. Pro tip: Writing your email entirely in caps make it seem like you're yelling (and hence demanding) something and it makes me seriously annoyed.

6. Do I need to know Japanese to get the scholarship?
Or "I don't know much Japanese, can I get in?"
I'm not MEXT so I have no idea. What I do know is that when you look at the people who were chosen, there were people who were fluent in the language, and there were people who didn't even know how to read hiragana or katakana. Thus, even if you email me with your JLPT score, I can't tell you if it'll help you get the scholarship. I do hope this non-answer gives you hope though(:

On the other hand, please do:
a. Tell me if you passed a stage/got in: I'd love to celebrate with you! I get more juniors!
b. Email me if you have questions that aren't covered and you need answered
c. Ask about a certain aspect of life in Japan (especially if you're worried)
d. Ask me if you have seniors from your country (if you want to contact them but don't know how, I can try being the middleman)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Tokyo Trip Part 1

I'm finally finally back in Singapore! It's been an eventful week filled with eating (hey, I'm Singaporean!), meeting some friends, starting golf lessons, etc. There's been lots of good stuff, and one worrying event (where my grandma got admitted to the hospital). However, I'm also reminded that I haven't talked about my Tokyo trip either, so please enjoy the lag as I slowly blog.

The first part of my Tokyo Trip would be when I landed and Disneyland. DISNEYLAND. It's Tokyo Disneyland's 30th year anniversary, which makes this the 'Happiness Year'. So obviously, I had to go at least once (I may go again if possible).

So I arranged my trip to Tokyo such that I had one spare day. When I first landed, I went to meet my good friend Rachana, and after lunch, we went to Kunitachi Tea House for tea (and I really needed to buy their tea).

Tea Soda and tea time treat! 


I love love love Kunitachi Tea House! And the lady there remembered me, which was quite touching. We missed the lunch offer, but we did have the tea set, which was cookies and two types of tea. I totally recommend the Milk Tea and their Tea Soda - it's delicious!

The next day, I woke up bright and early to go to Disneyland with Rachana! It's the first time that I went with her, and I had so much fun! We got to catch up on what's been going on with each other.

This is some happiness year thing.
And when we went there, Disneyland was also nearing the end of it's summer festival!


That meant that they had some sort of water show called the embu. You actually have to try your luck with the tickets, and sadly, we lucked out. We did, on the other hand, get to see the show from afar, and it was awesome! I love that they made a rainbow!

RAINBOW~
Apart from that, we actually went on a few rides that I haven't gone on before (wait, does Huck Finn's Island count as a 'ride'?) and of course STAR TOURS (newest ride)

Fastpass FTW!
It's actually a pretty good ride! It's not scary, but it's so interesting. I like how they pay attention to so much of the detail - from the waiting area (once you enter the building) to the safety video, it's full of lots of things that made us smile. It's probably going to be a huge hit with the family.

After I came back from Disneyland, Yoojin came over and we had a nice chat till the wee hours of the morning, when I realised that I needed to wake up early for Church Camp. So stay tuned for Part 2!