Wednesday, December 31

where are you now?

Despite my oft-mentioned super hero ability of sleeping on airplanes, I didn't catch many winks during the red-eye flight to Osaka. I blearily tried to get my bearings at Shitennoji Temple, the first stop on our mega-packed itinerary and the oldest temple in Japan, and attempted a few weak photos. This was the only half decent one.

My travel companion and friend, photographer R, had tagged along not for the meagre per photo pay but because he had never been to Japan before.

I struggled out of my sneakers to change into slippers to climb up the pagoda. I struggled up what felt like 200 flights of steps. I struggled not to trip and fall on my way down.

As we wandered listlessly around the temple grounds, deserted except for a gaggle of Korean high schoolers, R turned to me and asked: "Where are you now?"

Bewildered and not a little sleep-deprived, I stared blankly at him while trying to come up with some deep philosophical answer, preferably with some Zen element to suit the raked sands we were contemplating.

"Ohhh-saaaa-kah!" he said with wide-eyed wonder.

Exhausted from greedily sucking in all the unfamiliar sights and sounds, R fell asleep on the subway. I followed suit not long after. (You can't see his palm, on which he had written "arigato" to remind himself not to thank people with "okinawa". Which he did at least once, to be met with very polite Japanese giggles.)

We were there to do a (near impossible) story about the Top 10 shopping spots with only two full days to cover all the places. In addition, we were to do "woman in the street" fashion shoots. We also had to grapple with inflexible stores which, strangely enough, did not want to be featured or told us we needed to apply for permission and come back never. No wonder I fell asleep on my feet.

Genpachi Mittera-ten, a hole-in-the-wall yakitori joint which only sits 12. Possibly the best food experience I've ever had in Japan, easily beating the exorbitant kaiseiki meal with interminable number of courses I once was subjected to.

Sizzling yakitori on a smokey charcoal grill, chilled plum sake, chain-smoking owner behind the bar, tipsy old men, elbow to elbow, great company. In between filling our stomachs with assorted chicken parts and squid, we asked each other, giddily: "Where are you now?" "Osaka!"

The outfit of Glico man cracks me up. The champion pose too. Where are you right now? (Yes, it never gets old, does it?)

Day Two of the whirlwind trip, in which we spent eight hours underground and didn't see sunlight or breathe fresh air. After getting thoroughly lost in four inter-connected labyrinth-like underground malls, we emerged like moles after hibernation (do they hibernate?) to find that it was already dark at 5pm.

I've always been fascinated by these standing bars full of baggy-suited salarymen slurping noodles or guzzling a mid-day beer, but felt that I would draw too much attention if I tried to go into one of these boys' clubs.

All too soon, we were at the end of the second and last night. A tree-lined avenue next to a small stream, in spring it is covered with cherry blossoms, in winter with fairy lights that cycle the spectrum of the rainbow in time to music. Much more magical than I can capture with my lousy night photography skills. You really have to be there. (Orchard Road with its silly candy hanging from trees looks like a garish teenager in a cheap dress in comparison.)

The next morning, as we stood in line at the airport to check in for our flight home, as sleep deprived as when we arrived, R asked: "Where are you now?" "Osaka!"

"Bye, Osaka!"

Sunday, December 28

wish list, revisited

Possibly the first Polaroid ever taken of me, circa 1979. Note the thumb in the bottom right corner which means it is 100% authentic.

First instant photo I shot with my new camera (see wish list).

One of my faves -- ferris wheel on my last day in Osaka.

The colours are a bit washed out, the success rate is at best 50% (I couldn't be bothered to scan in the duds) and, at about $1 a pop, not exactly cheap, but I heart my shiny new camera, even though I had to buy it off the wish list myself.

(But hint hint: My birthday is dangerously close, so that wish list may just come in useful after all!)

Tuesday, December 23

work in progress

Sorry, my dear loyal readers (yes, all three of you). I simply cannot stand my blog template any longer. I'm still tweaking though, so here's the bare bones version for now.

I detest the current header banner, but that will have to wait until I shoot a better photo that can be cropped into a skinny horizontal image.

Tuesday, December 16

the story of the jumper

Last Friday, Mousey, Mel and I went to the spa, followed by indulgent lunch at Sun With Moon, followed by obligatory shopping at Wheelock Place.

Mousey and I tried on a jumper at Bysi, which was priced at $99. We both loved it and, what was more, there was a 20% discount if we spent over $100 using a credit card from a certain bank.

However, we had gotten wind of a top secret sale at the studio of one of our favourite local designers, whose prices were usually prohibitive, but now supposedly as low as $10 (bluff one, we later realised).

Rationalising that we were going to splurge at the studio sale, Mousey convinced me to not buy the jumpers and to head to the sale at ulu Geylang instead.

A $11 cab ride later, we were in a grey flatted factory, flipping through four pathetic racks of clothes. Despite our best efforts, we could not find anything to buy. And believe me, we really tried.

"I think we have to go back to Bysi," Mousey whispered.

We figured the nearest one would be at Bugis -- thank god for its proliferation all over the island -- and headed there by train.

When we got there, we found that there were only three pieces left, and two were badly damaged, with snags and holes. It was a no go. We couldn't even buy just the good piece, as it was $1 below the required $100.

Dispirited, we trudged over to MOF -- Ministry of Food: kok name, extensive Japanese menu, not bad food -- for green tea and dessert.

After refueling, we decided to give those darn jumpers one last shot. (See, we really liked them and they were very extremely flattering and comfortable.) According to the Ah Lian at Bysi, there were two last pieces at Citylink Mall, and they would pass Mousey's eagle-eye test. (Me, I have sparrow eyes and can only spot glaring defects.)

Finally -- stay with me, there is a good ending to this long tale, I believe the cheem word to use is denouement -- at the last shop of the day, we found two not-that-badly-damaged jumpers. And they were at 40% off, just for that outlet and that day only. Clearly, those jumpers were meant to be.

(There is a moral to this story, but I'm not quite sure what it is.)

Wednesday, December 10

all i want for christmas

Brown boots, because I hate cold feet. They don't even need to be exactly this pair, Santa, because I know these aren't cheap and the economy is going down the toilet, even at the North Pole.

Pink Converse, because my white ones aren't girly enough.

ABC3D pop-up book, because the video completely charmed me.

Camera strap, from etsy, because the one which says "Minolta" just ain't cool.

A Year Of Mornings, because it is a beautiful book of photos I wish I had taken for a project I wished I had been a part of.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S, because I've always wanted an instant camera. Preferably with a year's supply of film, too.

iPhone, because, well, need I say more?

Origins Ginger Up Aromatic Shampoo and Conditioner, because I'm too cheap to buy my own shampoo.

Wednesday, December 3

not my cake, in case you were wondering

Ms Tay sent me the above photo, which coincidentally is from my current fave blog, Cake Wrecks.