Japan Day 7 : Stopover at Busan, Korea

I’m well aware that Busan is not part of Japan, but our 9-day Japanese cruise included a one-day stop in Korea so I’m including this entry in my Japan blog series. I was hoping we could visit Seoul but of course we could only dock at port cities. Still, I was pretty excited because I’ve heard many good things about Busan.

IMG_4940

It was nice and sunny that day, which was a pleasant change. It rained during all our previous tours so we were happy to see the sun again.

IMG_4943a

Ezra and I had a hard time with this shot because the heads were placed extremely high up. I guess we’re much shorter than the average Korean. (Hmm … I suppose we’re much shorter than the average Filipino as well…)

IMG_4945

We decided to not sign up for a group tour because we wanted time to explore by ourselves. The information counter gave us this map so we wouldn’t get lost.

To get to the city you had to take a free shuttle from the pier:

IMG_4945a (2)

When we got to the parking lot the previous bus had just filled up so we had to grab the next one. We had to wait for other passengers to arrive before leaving but at least we got front row seats.

As soon as we reached the city, Ezra found her Korean hubby:

IMG_4945a (3)

Lee Jong Suk <3

IMG_4981

My mom really wanted to see Jagalchi Market so we went there first.  We saw lots of interesting things being sold:

IMG_4970

We weren’t sure what this was but we guessed that it was a sea squirt (we were right).

IMG_4972

We saw lots of shellfish

IMG_4978

And a few octopus

IMG_4970a (1)

Of course my mom took lots of pictures

Continue reading

Japan Day 6 : Nagasaki and balloons!

On our 6th day in Japan, our ship docked in Nagasaki. There were plenty of places to visit but we decided not to book a tour because we wanted to explore the city ourselves.

IMG_4670

We woke up with a birthday treat for Ezra at our door that morning because when we booked our cruise we indicated that this was part of Ezra’s birthday celebration as well. Our parents’ anniversary balloons were still hanging outside their room so our doors looked like mirror images of each other. (Yes, Ezra and I decided to wear the same dress that day).

IMG_4653

The crew also gave Ezra a birthday card

IMG_4654

Birthday girl. (Her birthday was actually a month earlier so this was a late celebration)

IMG_4682

Since we didn’t book a tour, we got a map from the information center and asked for advice on which sites we should visit.

One of the main forms of transportation around Nagasaki are the trams. We took a couple of them that day to get to the places we wanted to see.

IMG_4673

Initially we couldn’t find the tram station since I was expecting something like the train stations in Tokyo, but they turned out to be these small platforms in the middle of the road.

IMG_4683a (2)

IMG_4683a (1)

I thought it was cool that they had change machines inside the trams, in case you didn’t have any coins with you for the fare.

IMG_4688

The map we got was pretty helpful and gave good directions to the popular tourist destinations…

IMG_4688a

… but that didn’t stop us from getting lost. Thankfully a kind old man helped us find our way. Japanese people are so helpful! We only asked for directions but he personally took us to the place we wanted to go.

It was raining pretty hard that morning and most of the places we wanted to see were outdoors. We decided to stop by the bomb museum first since it was indoors and hoped that the rain would stop soon.

IMG_4699a (4)

We saw lots of colorful origami there

IMG_4710

We also found this long string of origami cranes that wrapped around the spiral pathway down to the museum

IMG_4711

IMG_4713

They called the exhibit “A String of A Thousand Cranes”

Continue reading

Christmas 2015

December 24 was extremely busy for me because I had two Christmas parties to attend that day. My friends and I decided to have a breakfast party this year rather than our usual dinner (mostly because this was the only time all of us were available), and of course my family had our annual lunch party with relatives from my mother’s side.

For the second year in a row, we decided to have 0ur barkada Christmas party at Brinky’s house.

IMG_9843

IMG_9845

IMG_9848

The colors we’re wearing make up the Philippine flag (with Aprille as the flag pole XD). This was not intentional.

As soon as my barkada party ended, I rushed home so I could make it in time for my family’s lunch party:

IMG_9853

Surprisingly this was the only group shot taken that day. Normally we spend a lot of time taking group photos, but I guess everyone was too hungry to pose that day

IMG_9858

The boys

IMG_9860

IMG_9860a

I recently bought a new vlogging camera – the Canon Vixia Mini X. I used it to take this group photo of the cousins. It has a wide angle lens so we ended up looking pretty distorted.

Here’s us looking a little less misshapen:

IMG_9863

IMG_9864

Since Ezra wasn’t there, Gilbert found another person to bully during picture time XD

IMG_9867

IMG_9868

Our relatives left in the afternoon. That evening my parents and I attended mass and had a quick Noche Buena dinner before packing for our trip to Thailand the next day.

IMG_9869 (1)

IMG_9869 (2)

I took some footage using my new vlogging camera and you can watch my Christmas vlog below:

Week 45/52 : Mochi

Ever since my sister got married, I’ve been feeling a bit lonely at home. I’m used to having someone to talk to and goof around with after work, and now that’s gone. I decided that the best way to resolve this was to get a pet. Initally I wanted a puppy, but my dad would never agree to let me keep a dog inside my room (we keep our dogs outside) so I figured the next best thing would be a rabbit. I mentioned it to Amie one day, and it so happened that her mom’s pet rabbit just gave birth! I didn’t even know her mom had a rabbit, so that was a pleasant surprise. We waited until the babies were old enough to be separated from their mother, and Amie gave me this little furball a few weeks later.

I had a hard time deciding on a name at first, but in the end I went with Mochi. Most of the time I just call her “Chi”. Ocassionally I call her Mochichi when she’s being extra adorable. When I first got her I didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl (apparently it’s really hard to determine the sex of young rabbits), but upon my last inspection, I’m 90% sure she’s a girl. I love spending time with her. Most people think that rabbits make boring pets, but I have a lot of fun just watching her run around my room. She’s also very sweet, she loves being stroked and she’s always begging for attention (and treats). But she hates being picked up, which is why she wasn’t too happy about this shoot. I tried my best to be quick about it and gave her lots of treats afterwards. Besides, look how adorable she is :D

Thanks to Chops for the Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials which encouraged me to shoot again just so I would have something to edit. And thanks for putting up with my questions about how to edit this shot!

Japan Day 5 : Treasure hunts, kimonos and a champagne waterfall

Our third day on the Diamond Princess was spent at sea. The staff prepared lots of on-board activities to keep the passengers entertained.

IMG_4398a (1)

My parents woke up to an anniversary greeting from the Diamond Princess staff at their door

That morning we decided to have breakfast at the International Dining Room. We usually have breakfast at the buffet since it’s faster and more accessible, but since we were going to spend the whole day at sea we figured we can take the time to have a proper sit-down breakfast.

IMG_4398a (5)

Nathan (Sta Fe’s head waiter) was there that morning and he saved us a table next to the window. We ordered a traditional Japanese breakfast which consisted of grilled fish, umeboshi, tofu, miso soup, fruits and rice/congee. Guests may also ask for pastries, yogurt, cereal and other typical Western breakfast food.

After consuming our food we participated in a treasure hunt around the ship using stamp cards  we found at our doors that morning. We had a chance to win $1000 worth of prizes if we complete them.

IMG_4431

IMG_4433

IMG_4398a (7)

Ezra didn’t want to join the hunt (she’d rather nap in our room) so it was just my parents and me

I had fun during the treasure hunt because we got to explore parts of the ship that we wouldn’t normally visit. Like the Izumi bath house:

IMG_4428

One side for men and the other for women

IMG_4428a (1)

And the back of the ship:

IMG_4406a

IMG_4400a (1)

IMG_4406aa

 IMG_4428a (2)

We also checked out the nightclub, but it was closed of course

That afternoon the ship hosted a kimono session where guests could try on traditional Japanese outfits. We went really early because there were lots of interested guests, and only 13 available kimonos.

 IMG_4464

Ezra moved very quickly and managed to snag one of the 13. My mom and I were still standing around wondering if we would be able to grab one when we spotted Ezra walking out from the crowd carrying this.

IMG_4469

Instead of trying to get another kimono, we decided to just take turns wearing the one that Ezra got. She went first of course.

IMG_4475

Putting the kimono/yukata on was a little tricky at first, but thankfully there were lots of Japanese passengers willing to lend a hand. (We have our own at home, but they’re cheat yukatas. They’re a lot easier to put on than the real thing.)

Continue reading

Japan Day 4 : Shimizu (tea ceremony and furry dogs)

Our first (and only) tour during our Diamond Princess Cruise last May took place in Shimizu. We didn’t sign up for any of the other tours because we wanted to explore the places ourselves. But we did join a tour in Kobe after we got off the ship because we had some time before our flight back to the Philippines.

Our Shimizu tour started really early that morning. We had a quick breakfast at the Horizon Court before heading off to the Princess Theater to wait for our briefing. We were placed in the Yellow group:

IMG_3916

There was a little bit of light rain that day

Our first stop was the Miho Shrine. On the way there we spotted this Kanjani8 ad. Hello Ryo-chan!

IMG_3922

At the shrine, our guide taught us the proper steps to pray and make offerings

IMG_3932a (1)

IMG_3932a (2)

IMG_3926

One reason why we don’t like joining tours is because we like taking pictures of everything, and there’s usually not enough time to do that when you’re with a group. In fact, since we hung around to take pictures at the temple here, we got left behind. But our guide told us to just follow the boardwalk if we get separated

IMG_3946a

Ezra hates boardwalks because she fell off of one in Alaska. Not that it was the boardwalk’s fault – she’s just really clumsy.

The path lead us to Miho no Matsubara (Miho Pine Grove)

IMG_3924

IMG_3950a

We saw this huge pine tree while walking

IMG_4005

IMG_3974a

Behind us is the legendary tree where the angel hung her feather robe while she took a bath in the sea

IMG_3961a

Supposedly this is one of the places in Japan which offers a clear and unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately it was raining that day so the clouds blocked our view.

IMG_3977

Where are you Mt. Fuji? :(

This was our guide’s solution:

IMG_3971

Ta-dah! Pretty clever! I have to give her props for being prepared XD

We made the most of the situation. Here’s our obligatory family portrait with “Mt. Fuji”:

IMG_3977a (2)

We tried XD

Continue reading