Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More of Kyoto

View of Kyoto from the Silver Pavilion - Ginkakuji.
Such beautiful meticulous grounds and a nice walk to get to.

A school group we met at Kinkakuji
- they had to interview English speaking tourists as part of their school excursion.

Kinkakuji - the Golden Pavilion.
Beautiful to look at and tranquil grounds but very busy with tourists and school groups.

A chapel located INSIDE our hotel in a function room - only in Japan

Gion Shrine (Yasaka Jinga) - we wandered around here after a Korean BBQ dinner nearby and the husband told me not to ring the bell as the shrine was pretty much deserted and very quiet.
Then some Japanese nationals arrived and started bell ringing so I took no notice of S and rang too.

Lanterns at the Gion Shrine

This is Kyoto JR station - S was so impressed with the engineering and architecture of this building. He couldn't believe the effort for a train station.

Rope from the ??? century on display at a temple made from actual human hair!
Totally gross I know but apparently very strong.

The ridiculously enormous Higashi Honganji Temple - the grounds stretch forever.
This building is the biggest wooden structure in the World I think.
The white building next door you can see is actually a warehouse covering the Amida Hall while it is being restored - we noticed this alot in Japan where they build a warehouse over the ancient building to protect while being restored.
The ridiculously enormous Higashi Honganji Temple and the husband


We were lucky enough to gain entry to a tour at the Imperial Palace - the Great Hall.
To gain entry just go to the office and show your passport & they will register you for a tour if they have one that day. Limited though so go early.
Imperial Palace - the Chrysanthemum seal

The Crane reception room for visiting commoners in old times

View of the Shogun's residence in old times - Nijo Castle
Gardens in the Shogun's grounds - Nijo Castle
Nijo Castle grounds.
The residence had traditional Nightingale floors where they creak a high pitched noise when you walk on them so that no one could ever sneak up in attack on the residence - very cool security.

I think this one of the entrances to Nijo Castle

The husband was fascinated by Japanese marketing 'powerful energy'

All around the town: Osaka & Kobe

Kobe herb gardens:
I am freaking out here and refused to turn around the whole way up the mountain!
I was barely speaking to S by the time we got to the top!
Well worth the torture up though as it was a magnificent view over the city.

The view from our gondola in Kobe up the mountain to the herb gardens

Damage from the Kobe earthquake in the 90's

Kobe ferris wheel - the Japanese love their ferris wheels

The Port of Kobe - beautiful

more shopping

A shopping mall somewhere in the young district of Osaka - maybe Dotonbori

The daytime view from Shinsaibashi bridge

'To infinity and beyond' Buzz Lightyear at Osaka Station on Halloween

The husband being a Karaoke superstar with Victor (too much sake makes you do crazy things)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fun times in Osaka

The Skygarden is the centre part between the 2 towers that the husband made me visit our first time - its still gives me the shakes
SpaWorld floors - one of my most confronting and liberating experiences

Entry restrictions to SpaWorld - I couldn't stop laughing at the phrasing and made the husband take a pic... 'person who has gotten dead drunk' ha ha ha

Downtown Osaka

Downtown in Osaka - Tsutenkaku Tower
Traditional lunch

Our friend and guide Victor Yokonov of Osaka - we met him in Tokyo on the night of the earthquake in March

Our friends' restaurant - 'Mama' San and her daughter Aiko
Puffer fish displayed at restaurant entrance
Explanation on how to order at the bar we were drinking at


So the husband has finally found a way to include me in on his 'leisure/sports' shoe addiction - probably just to get me off his back with the nagging as to whether he really needs another pair of basketball shoes.

He found these on line...

They are all Kobe Bryant signature 'Think Pink' shoes that support breast cancer.

S' favourite of all Bball shoes are the Kobes (I should know, I have to buy him the latest pair every Christmas) so he sees this shoe as a way to have me understand and enjoy his appreciation for them.

Funny thing is, I might actually wear these as they are kind of cute (unlike the white Chuck Taylors languishing somewhere in my wardrobe in their box since they arrived some two+ years ago).

A confession...

I fully expect judgement for the confession I am about to make so don't hold back, feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and personal feelings as the subject matter is as polarising as subject matters go.

One of my all time favourite movies is da da da dum (drum roll) ... XANADU.

Yep, that did it, I can here the mouse click as you all unsubscribe from following my blog but hey, that's okay, I'm not ashamed.

M, if you are reading this, you don't get to judge so wipe the smirk off your face unless you want me to share how you got the nickname Disney (ps. luv u).

Why the burning desire to share this love? Well, last night I got a text from my dad around 10:21pm...a little scary to be honest as my dad is the guy who goes to bed at 9pm every night no matter how good the show/movie he is watching is plus my mum was away. I myself was in bed and intrigued, opened his message.

'Should have messaged you earlier have been watching Xanadu' was the text I received.

We then shared a series of text about our mutual love for the movie which then had me youtubing my favourite songs/scenes from the movie:

Cliff Richards & Olivia Newton-John - Suddenly - which I can't find a clip for; and

Electric light Orchestra - Don't Walk Away

While I have heard it described as the worst movie of all time (have you seen anything by Paris Hilton I ask?), my siblings and I grew up watching the movie on VCR at every chance and I still love the music and costumes as much now as I did then. ONJ will always hold a very special place for me as Keira.

I am now on the hunt for the actual soundtrack (not the dodgy Broadway soundtrack that is ok but no ONJ and ELO).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Sad to say, its nothing juicy like my usual Jackie Collins and Mary Higgins Clark still doesn't have anything new out so ... drumroll please... mostly parenting and pregnancy related literature.

Up the Duff

A 'must read' for all pregnant women or so I'm told. A gift from a girlfriend for Christmas, I'm reading it week by week at each milestone eg. I'm 17 weeks and reading week 17 now. Its entertaining and mildly informative but I am a Type A personality (apparently) that needs to know the ins and outs of everything and this book is just not cutting it with information overload I require. I know some people don't want to know every detail or possibility of pregnancy for their own sanity but I'm just not one of them.


A book my mother read when pregnant with me or my siblings or all of us, this author is famous for Toddler Taming (and introducing the fashion of controlled crying) my mother tells me. It is definitely old so I'm keeping that in mind but I'm quite enjoying his writing style, honesty and the additional information he provides over Up the Duff. Mind you, I'm only through the first 5 chapters.

The New Dad's Survival Guide

A Christmas present from my mum for S, I read this book last night...in one sitting. Short and to the point, its entertaining and had me laughing out lout often. Perfect for new dads, its a good read for new mums too as it gave me a bit of guy perspective on my pregnancy and a few good reminders on considering S' feelings in all of this.

What to expect when you're expecting
Just about to get started on this one. I am approaching this book with some trepidation as upon meeting the midwife who works in-rooms with my obstetrician, she asked how many pregnancy related books I had bought/was reading. I hadn't bought or read any at that point as I was only around 9 weeks. She warned me against this book but after complaining to another girlfriend and mother of two about the lack of information in Up the Duff, she bought this for me. I am pre-warned not to take everything in this book seriously and on a lighter note, I'm excited to see the movie in May.

I need to find some non baby related material but nothing is grabbing me lately. Any recommendations?

My weekend in a nutshell

Wow, what I weekend I had! As usual, I have no pics to back it up with - I'm sorry, I know I have no excuse between owning a camera and an iphone, I just forget... actually, I do have an excuse... BABY BRAIN. Ha ha... I'm laughing but I shouldn't be as according to research (and the opinion of everyone I know), this is a perfectly legitimate excuse that allows all kinds of leeway with indulgent smiles rather scolding for mistakes.

Right, moving forward. It was my littlest brother J's birthday on Saturday so the husband and I had him and his girlfriend R for a birthday dinner Friday night as we were supposed to be otherwise occupied on Saturday evening (those plans got cancelled in the end anyway). C, baby S and C's little sis also joined us for dinner which was a slap-up of ingredients I picked up on the way home from work. I at least remembered to buy an ice cream cake and it turns out J and the husband were thrilled with my last minute menu anyway - creamy sundried tomato & chicken served on parpadelle with garlic bread if you were wondering. We ended the night watching Xmen First Class as J and I both love the Xmen movie series (along with a whole host of other movies I can't get S to watch - Clash of the Titans, Immortals... anything mythology based it seems).

Saturday was a so so day weatherwise which didn't concern me as I was working in the morning. Feeling generous (and in need of plans as S was working all day), I had J and R meet me after work at lunchtime and took them out for J and my favourite mexican in celebration of his actual birthday - J and I are a lot alike if you're following still. The afternoon was spent on the couch chatting to M till the husband got home and we headed to my parents for J's actual birthday dinner. I know, the kid is totally spoilt with 2 dinners and a lunch so far but I guess that's what happens when you're the baby.

Dinner was a typically rowdy and raucous affair - the standard adjectives to describe my family en masse. We were joined by R's mother and sisters who were delightful in a word. R's mother is a child psychologist and an all-round entertainer so she had some hilarious insights into my siblings and I over dinner.

Sunday was as miserable as they come for weather and I started the day with a doctors appointment. Yep, my doc has Sunday hours ... very convenient - especially when trying to schedule the multitude of specialist, GP, scan etc appointments required when pregnant while minimising the impact on my work hours. The husband took me to Alto for brunch afterwards and it wasn't bad. I had the B.E.A.T which is bacon, egg, avpo and tomato on turkish with tomato relish and melted cheese. I had to chase up the harrassed waiter for my relish - which ended up being far too sweet anyway.

Over brunch we received a text from some good friends who recently had a baby we were yet to meet inviting us to come over that afternoon. I won't lie, I was excited ... with the offer of meeting a new baby, who wouldn't be. We offered to bring afternoon tea and after brunch I hustled S to Pacific Fair to buy a present for the new princess. We picked up the cutest little outfit from Pumpkin Patch selected by S:

and I can't lie, I was seduced by a sale on Seafolly children's togs. They were $60 reduced to $29 in a size 0 ... I bet you would have bought them too. Of course as S pointed out, there is a 50/50 chance we will have a boy (which delights me as much as the 50/50 for a girl), so what was my point in buying girl's clothes. As I told S, my brother N and sis in law are having a girl so I can always gift to my niece. S used this opportunity to point out how much easier it would be to find out the sex but I'm sticking to my guns (for now anyway) and having a surprise.

Intending not to overstay our welcome, we ended up spending over 4 hours with our friends J & J and their baby girl, catching up in between cuddles, feedings, catnaps and the birthing story. Their baby girl is just an absolute angel and they have slipped into the role of parents so easily. It was great especially for the husband to see them in action, particularly as male J and S have been friends since primary school and are both just now entering the realms of fatherhood. It was nice for both of us to see new parents in action.

We already had pre-planned dinner plans with other friends so had to race from our baby visit to their place where we walked into bath and dinner time for their 10 month old and 3 year old. S joined the dad in entertaining Mr 3 while I happily took over feeding the adorable Miss 10 m.o. Takeaway chinese was decided as our easiest dinner option and I spent some very entertaining time cuddling and playing with the children. Time slips by so quickly with good friends and with these ones in particular, time literally flies. There is never a gap in conversation and their children are amongst the best behaved and most fun I have ever met. I fell in to bed on Sunday night literally exhausted.

All in all, I think its pretty obvious I had a fabulous weekend and writing about it here has reminded me of my blessings. Without getting all sappy on you, I have so many beautiful people in my life, both friends and family to give thanks for and I am truly grateful for that.