Spending Autumn in Japan – Ginza (Part 5)

We made a short stop in Ginza about 8:00 pm, just to get a feel of how it was. Apparently Ginza was one of the more expensive townships to live in compared to the others. The streets in Ginza were very much similar to the ones in Oxford Street, London. You can find most of the expensive brands of clothing and  jewelries here. Even the pastries sold here were so pricey. They looked so tempting but the price tags on them made our hearts sank.

The crowd here was generally much smaller as compared to Shibuya. Maybe only the ones who were rich and famous walk here? I don’t know. Here in Ginza, you’re allowed to walk in the middle of the streets. The roads were closed to vehicles at a certain hours so people were allowed to roam freely on them.

Took the picture standing right in the middle of the road. A good view of how a concrete jungle looked like. Do wear thicker clothes if you do plan to walk here in the evening. It was quite chilly at night and anyone with a sane mind would not be wearing a tee-shirt at this time, unlike me. From where I come from, there’s only one season. That’s scorching heat 24 hours a day! Any cold winds or cool temperatures are very much welcomed.

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Malaysian Satay

If someone ask, “What’s one thing that distinguishes your country from others?”, the only thing I can think of is food. Personally, I don’t really eat that much but trust me, there are a lot of Malaysians out there with fatty livers. Malaysians love to eat. Eat and eat and eat. The crispier and oilier the better. Some would travel as far as 200-300 kilometers away from home, crossing different states just to eat a particular dish, and to return on the same day itself. Below is a picture a plate of satay (pronounced as sate), which originated from Indonesia, I believe. It is considered as one of the famous food among Malaysians.

There’s all sorts of satay out there ranging from beef, chicken, rabbit, pork etc. Well, the yummier ones aren’t exactly the ones that are beautifully plated (you can usually find them by a road stall). The only reason why I took this picture was because of the content of this satay. Pork satay is a relatively hard find in Malaysia because my country is of many different religions and pork is not exactly what my Muslims friends would eat. Anyway, meat is wrapped around sticks and then barbecued to golden brown. Surprisingly, burnt ones taste good too. Most satay is accompanied by the famous peanut sauce, which is very flavorful. The main hero of the plate, if you ask me. A good satay always comes with a good sauce, together with slices of pungent onions, cool cucumbers and some densely packed rice.

If you’re coming over to Malaysia, or even the neighboring countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. Do look out for it. You won’t regret it, unlike durians.

Sunset in Port Dickson, Malaysia.

As I was rummaging through the photos inside my phone that I’ve taken for the past 2 years, I realized I’ve got quite a collection of random shots. This shot was taken using a Galaxy SII with its default settings.

Took this shot at about 6 plus in the evening, where few others were busy snapping photos right next to me too. Not much of a photographer but seeing  myself standing where they were, I guess I was in the right spot. It’s somewhat special, knowing that you won’t get to see this much in your every-day KL life. Port Dickson is a popular beach destination for both the locals and tourists alike. The town has grown tremendously over the past few years and it’s still growing. The thing is, knowing how I dislike getting myself wet and sands in my slippers, I prefer to enjoy the scenes from a distance. Sad, I know but that’s how it is.

 

Spending Autumn in Japan – Ameya Street (Part 4)

We made a stop at the Ueno station (using the Yamanote Line) after we read that there were a few interesting places to see here, especially the Ameyoko (a short form of Ameya-yokocho). It’s also known as the candy street or the American street because it was famous for selling candies and American goodies back in the old days. It’s somewhat similar to the Pasar Malam concept back home. However, just like what I said in my previous post, no haggling of prices were allowed.

It looked like a back alley in a glance. It’s situated right next to the railway tracks as you can see it here from the picture.

Similar to the street back in Asakusa, most of the stuff there could be found here too but at a relatively cheaper price. There is a wet market located underground, but you do have to look for the entrance. Funny thing was, we didn’t even know a wet market existed. We saw people walking through a dark alley and down a flight of stairs. Out of curiosity, we went ahead and followed them and we were quite surprised to see a wet market beneath the streets. We spent about 2 hours here just going through the shops to get all those weird but tasty Japanese crackers. If you’re a fan of Japanese tea, here’s a good place for you to scout for some good but cheap teas too.

Most Japanese drop by this street to get their daily necessities after work. So the crowd gets larger by the evening. Unless you wish to be part of the crowd, try to be there earlier so you have some room to breathe.

I find Japanese shops so cute! Okay, fine. That doesn’t sound too manly. I’m just trying to point out that the shops were so neat, tidy and graphically enhanced. However, most shops were not very big in the inside. I’ve seen Caucasians having a hard time maneuvering into them since they generally have bigger frames. Some even had to duck too just to get pass the door.

We had a great time here, especially when we’re busy hunting for goodies. If you’re planning to get some souvenirs home, Ameyoko street is definitely a good place to be.

Spending Autumn in Japan – Asakusa Temple (Part 3)

Located north-east of central Tokyo, Asakusa is famous for one of the many Buddhist temples that are found in Japan. The place was really lively, filled with tourists.  On the way to the temple, the paths were lined up with shops, where souvenirs could be bought ranging from Japanese fans, key chains, stuffed toys to sweets of different assortments.

We managed to get a couple of things but the stuff that was sold here were slightly more expensive. In general, you’re not allowed to bargain in Japan. So the prices are fixed. If you’re not happy with the price tag,  you have no choice but to look elsewhere. I guess the amount of tourists here were most likely the cause for the hike in price.

Doesn’t it look more like a bazaar to you? It didn’t feel temple-ish at all to me. I guess it’s the same all year round.

Another thing about Japan that never cease to amaze me was how civilized the citizens were. If you look closely, there’s no litter lying on the ground. And there’s no rubbish bins too! We tried searching for one high and low, and we gave up. We had no choice but to keep the food wrappers in our pockets until we’re back at the hotel to dispose of them. I’ve asked my cousin-in-law (who’s a Japanese) once, of why it would be so difficult to locate a bin. He replied, “To avoid bomb threats”. O… kay. How often do you hear a bomb threat in Japan? As compared to the other countries?

Here we were, right in front entrance to the temple that everyone had been flocking to, including school children. Beyond the gate lies the main temple grounds.

And behold, the ever famous Kannon Temple. We did not go any further than that because it was really crowded inside. And besides, it was smoky too. Once we’ve finished up the little red-bean stuffed pastry we bought along the way, we made our way back. I would recommend this place for first timers if you’ve not seen it in real life, but other than that, this place had nothing much else to offer.

Good Doctors – Dr. Chuah Bee Poh (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)

It’s been a while since I last spoke to Dr. Chuah, but I still remember him as a very caring and passionate doctor. Dubbed as the Clinic King (by me), since he was always consulting patients in the O&G clinic of Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (GHKL) most of the time. A very approachable and intellectual person too. I used to sit in the same clinic room as him when I was doing my intern-ship. We (interns) were given a choice to pick a room as long as we were attached to a senior person, and I would always choose the room he sits in for my clinic attachments.

I did ask him once, of why did he choose O&G for his specialization. The answer he gave me was, “I took my time and went through the other postings, and I didn’t like it.”. Based  on that, we know that he’s an all-rounder. And when it comes to advice, I’m sure that he would be able to give you a proper and clean explanation in view of his past experiences. Therefore, if you’re planning to have a child, or you’re pregnant, you may want to seek him out. He’s very good in doing ultrasound scans, be it baby scans or gynaecological scans.

He speaks English, Cantonese, Mandarin and a few other dialects. If you want to know more about him, you can head on HERE for more information.

The list of other good doctors HERE.

Spending Autumn in Japan – Meiji Shrine (Part 2)

Have you ever wonder how Japanese families spend their weekends? Visiting a shrine.  It’s more of a “walk in the park” feeling rather than being in a building.

If you do notice, it’s a big area. A VERY BIG area. Also known as Meiji Jingu, which stands for shrine in English, it’s located right next to Harujuku station. Just take a right turn at the main station’s exit and you’ll see it.

From young to old, everyone gets together for an outing. The thing that intrigues me was they’re all properly dressed. Men would wear suits, ladies in office attires and children in kimonos. And it’s a Sunday! We felt under-dressed for the occasion, as if we were wearing pyjamas for a wedding ceremony.

We’re wearing jeans and as you can see…people in suits everywhere! To be honest, the path towards the shrine is not entirely high heels-friendly. I’m not entirely sure how they do it, but Japanese ladies are able to sprint on heels or ride bicycles with them.

We caught up with someone wearing the same attire as us so we felt better, in a way. Peace and tranquility surrounded us as we head towards the shrine. The path was shaded with trees. A gentle breeze touching lightly on the surface of our face.  Adequate sunlight, just enough not to burn my skin. I’m pretty sure I’ll be screaming in agony if I’m walking this long path back home.

As we’re walking towards it, we came across big pillars as such. And yes, there’s still a long walk ahead.

Getting there! If you refer back to the first picture at the top, you’ll notice that the shrine is located right in the center of a forest reserve.

Finally, we’re here! It was a magnificent sight. A closer look reveals how solid and beautifully crafted these architectures were. Although I’ve read that Japanese houses aren’t the best out there. It crumbles too easily but I’m not sure how true that was.

And yes, the Japanese conducts wedding ceremony here too. The bridegroom and bride will parade, along with their family members behind them, around the open area right in front of the shrine before they proceed into it for prayers and blessings. It was a whole new experience for us since we’ve never seen a Japanese type of wedding.

And lastly, just before leave, you may want to make a little wish here. No. It’s not a well where you throw coins into but you’re allowed to hang cards with your personal prayers on them.