Sunday, January 12, 2014

2013 and 2014: The Reminiscence

"Oh, how about a round of applause, 
yeah a standing ovation..."

This year marks the end of my undergraduate university life. I began my education in a Chinese kindergarten (near my home), which was surprisingly interesting because I don't speak Chinese at home and how I did manage to graduate from this Chinese-speaking kindergarten still remains a mystery... The only collection of memories I had were being punished to stand on a chair with hands up (for doing something I can't remember clearly) and giving welcoming speech in English during my kindergarten's "graduation". 

Will you... will you be my queen? my one and only soul mate?
After that, I went to a good primary school where I remembered the first question asked by my classroom teacher was "What do you want to be when you grow up?". Trying to come out with a sophisticated English word or two to describe my dream job or career, I said "An encyclopedia! Teacher!" (I meant "cardiologist" la but I could not think of that word and accidentally spurted out my silly ambition to be a "book"). Luckily, with the exception of my teacher, I guessed no one my age understood what I had just said.

I also remember that I once sold paper cuttings of Power Rangers characters from old newspapers and flyers for 10 sen each. At the end of the day, my pocket jingled with shillings. Those days, we can buy a small bowl of noodle at the school canteen for only 30 sen. Business was very good... Hehe...

I did quite well academically while at primary school and passed the "express" promotion examination during my standard three (I was allowed to skip a year of education, standard four and go straight to standard five). However, I did not take the offer and continue my primary education like the majority does. My secondary education was at Penang Free School, which was my dad's school and one of the oldest English school in Southeast Asia so naturally, I was very happy. 

I only wanted to become a doctor when I grow up during my primary school. In secondary school, I began to participate actively in school's societies and clubs. One of the clubs that left me with many good memories was a club related to buying, making and selling things - Young Enterprise, as the club was called then. I was the youngest member and I happened to be among the members who sold most of our "company"'s products.  

The careers I was interested in during my secondary school years were doctor, entrepreneur and scientist, in that order. After graduated from form five, I applied for the government's scholarship to study medicine abroad. However, since there were other better candidates than me, I was not chosen and so I went to a private college to study accountancy under another full scholarship. I felt the first few weeks there were quite a waste of my time because instead of learning something new, I learned things I felt to be too basic (maybe I was wrong because it was still the start of the semester and I already expected much).

The Movie: Ninja (and) Turtle: Me and Hugo
Undergraduate Korean Government Scholars at KNU - thanks for the memories... 
Some students there were very clueless of what they wanted to become in future - no dreams, no ambitions. Just like mosquito, aimlessly sucking their parents' hard-earned money dry. Nevertheless, I met quite a number of brilliant people over there. The most interesting thing here was that the male to female ratio was skewed towards the female. Hoho! One guy to five, seven girls... No competition among the guys at all! :) Sometimes, I consider myself an alumni of that college - TAR college, even though I was there for only a month. It was a fun experience studying at this college. 

Fast forward, I went back to form six to try my luck to enter a local medical school or at least some biology-related courses. Unfortunately, I failed to enter to any local university for any of the courses I wanted. Neither medical school nor any biology-related course in any university in Malaysia. The irony was that I was already awarded with a full scholarship by the Korean government. Almost five years had since passed since I thought of that again... 

DEC 2013: Daegu
"When one door closes, another opens but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us..." by Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.   


My year 2013 was a very fulfilling one. I traveled to Shanghai (and Taiwan) solo and therefore, achieving one of my bucket list. Yippee!!! Shanghai is a beautiful city, a collection of splendid Western architectures intertwined with Eastern influence. A city where money can almost get you everything - fake friends, fame, cravings and sometimes even love. The memories travelling alone and making friends with complete strangers while living in a cramped dormitory to cut cost magnified the benefits of seeing the (some of the) world when we were young. 

JULY 2013 (Shanghai Solo): The downside - Not being able to take nice pic of yourself...
DEC 2013: Super delicious Him Heang Tambun biscuit from Penang!
I will definitely allow any of my children (if I have one!!!) to travel and see the world under a strict student budget. Without the comfort of living in hotel or anywhere overly comfortable, we learn to adapt by eating what the locals eat, experiencing local hospitality, making silly mistakes but learning from them, staying safe and experiencing life. This is what I call a true "adventure".

2013 was also the year I received my first job (bucket list no. 3) offers before graduation. One is from Samsung in Malaysia and another from Donghwa in Korea. I have to admit that I am not looking forward to work but to continue my studies. I enjoy my student life (who doesn't?) - problems can mostly be solved by reading books and once the problems were solved, we can pretty much do anything we like. Working is another story. Maybe... I will continue my studies again after working for a couple of years. 


One of the things I noticed about the job prospect in Malaysia for students majoring in Biotechnology or any Bio-related fields was that they have very limited choices of finding employment if they want to continue doing things related to their major. Such Bio student can either continue their education, maybe up to post-doctorate or if not, directly becoming a research assistant. Some might even work as lab technicians, drawing blood and analyzing the blood sample everyday. Boring right? 

Malaysians in Seoul and the Lost Boy (guy) from Daegu
Sadly, there were Malaysian-government sponsored students (who majored in Biotechnology at Ivy League Universities) only received employment offer to be a lab technician at a small health clinic. A complete waste of talent. Malaysia wants to attract and retain talented individuals but nothing have been done to expand employment opportunities to such qualified people. "Malaysia Boleh (can)"! (sarcasm)

There is no BioValley - a so-called cluster of biotech industries congregating in the same location proposed by the government many years ago but nobody knows about the operation status now. No new research institutes. Not many good or renowned bio companies operating in Malaysia. More importantly, nothing had being done to educate the students about pros and cons of majoring in science especially related to biology if you do not have any interest at all. I believe student who chooses this field of study needs to be passionate, be flexible and truly know what they want to become in the future, rather than choosing it because this course has becoming more popular among students these days. Choose your career wisely!

Beautiful temple in Daegu...
One the other hand... I am currently doing a meaningless unpaid internship (I kinda regretted taking this offer but even though I can quit it anytime, I wanna try it out first...) at a Korean fashion start-up company to spend my holidays doing something interesting or to learn something new about business. What's my job scope? I am designing accessories like rings and bracelets. I was a science and business student... Now, I am a fashion designer... Versatile huh? ;)

What pissed me off then? Well, I felt I learn nothing much here, unpaid (but helping others to earn money), waste of my time, having colleagues who only complain but cannot come out with ideas or solutions (I hate it very much), a colleague who always whine about the cold weather (I even gave her my 100 bucks winter jacket and yet she still complained... hmmn... come on, it's winter!) or that she is hungry all the time, etc etc. Sigh... I hope I will never experience such things when I work in a real company...


My goals this year are 1. Sleep early (sleeping 2 am and waking at before 8 am everyday is not good). 2. Cook more delicious food (eg. steak, cheese spaghetti, Hainanese chicken rice, etc). 3. Buy a car with my own money (in Malaysia). 4. Learn how to ride a motorbike during free time in Malaysia. 5. Help people especially children in need. 6. Bungee jumping (in my bucket list). 7. Try to sell off some of my text books, golf glove, tennis racket and hopefully, my old yet playable guitar (to save space and get back some money...) 8. Use my Polaroid camera more (film is expensive but the after-effect is much more memorable than using a DSLR)

It's over. finally...
Even though I will no longer continue with my old routine at my university, and living in the same room of over five years (Whoa! Haha), I am looking forward for the endless possibilities awaiting me at the end of road. Choosing to spend my five years studying at Kyungpook National University was and still is one of the best decisions I ever made. The last sentence from the final Harry Potter novel series (out of seven) was "All is well". Yes, "all is well" for me too. THE END.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Meet me in KL! Falcon Education Fair 2013

I will be at PWTC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 14 to 15 December 2013 as my university's representative during the Falcon Education Fair. If you are planning to continue your studies in Korea (or get my autograph. hehe...) and need more information about it, do visit this education fair. See you then.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Music of the week: Hate you (Cover) by G.NA

G.NA during Asia Music Festival in Daegu.
The male version is surprisingly better than the one sung by G.NA (지나)! Happy weekends! :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My 2013: Once upon a time in Korea...

It has been almost 5 years since I first set my foot on the "Land of the Morning Calm" - Korea. Come to think of it, I will miss Korea very much even after I have graduated and returned to Malaysia for good. I will miss waking up early under the nice cool weather of spring, experiencing the scorching summer heat wave in Daegu, listening to the sound of rustling leaves in the autumn, and trying to catch the first snowflakes of the winter. I will greatly miss my friends too.

My autumn 2013.
It was sad knowing I will leave the land I now consider my second home. I have so many good memories and I am sure I will never experience some of them if I am to continue my studies here in Malaysia. 


Few months ago, I backpacked to China and Taiwan alone. It was really an awesome experience and if I have the chance to do this again, I would. Travelling alone (especially when I was in Taiwan) taught me a lot about life. I learned that not every things in life goes the way we want them to be - I was in Taipei when typhoon struck so I had to change some part of my trip itinerary and skipped some places. I will write about my trip one day.

The Bund, Shanghai 2013
The Bund at night 2013
Stone carving at the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou
Outside Suzhou station

National Palace Museum in Taipei- the best museum in Asia!
Hi Taipei!!!
Life must go on...
Jeremy Lin who?
While I was in Shanghai, I made friend with a lone Dutch backpacker and we traveled around Hangzhou together even though neither of us can speak in Chinese. Over there too, I met a friend who I had known for over 6 years when we were in Singapore for the first time in person, therefore fulfilling one of my bucket list - travel to Shanghai

We visited Suzhou together and it was quite interesting to know that in Suzhou, the residents speak in their own distinct dialect like my friend with her distinct Shanghainese dialect when she spoke to her mum. And I was invited to her home for real Shanghai food. Cool huh? :)


Of late, I am extremely busy and sometimes, I felt very exhausted. Tired of finding job, stressed from juggling my time between attending classes, gym and other priorities, and worrying much about my future. Unlike my peers who already knew what they want to be in the future, in my case, I still do not know what I am suppose to do with my life. If I already knew what I wanted to do in my life, my life would be very easy.

KNU Graduation Album Photo shoot
I would just work hard to achieve that primary goal and everything else will fall in place. Sadly, it doesn't seems to be like that for me. I always want to find a career that I can dedicate my whole life on because I will love doing it. I have yet to find it. On the other hand, just in case you didn't know, I already got a job offer from Samsung in Malaysia before I have even graduated but I am still considering whether to accept it or not. 

Finally, after 5 long years... almost done...
The main reasons are that I enjoy studying more than working and I would like to work elsewhere first before coming back home for good. In my case, entering a foreign university to continue my studies requires lots of money and I vow to myself not to depend on my parents after graduating. I want to stand on my own two feet this time. I am fortunate though that my parents are still working and not dependent on me.

In Korea, unless you are an engineering student (to a smaller extent, business school student) or a graduate student, the possibility of you getting a decent job in Korea is quite low for foreigners. I am a science major with a minor in business administration, applying for job here is horrifying difficult because they seemed to reject applicants majoring in science. Or maybe I am not good enough... :(     

Busan Firework Festival 2013
To see as much as I can before I leave Korea for good...
Nevertheless, I am not a person who gives up quickly and moreover, going back home for good doesn't sounds so bad at all. It is just that I am quite nervous of whether I will get used to living in Malaysia and starting all over from the beginning again here. One more month before the end of my university life and may it be a memorable one.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Japan 2013: Oh Tokushima.

Day 4:

Welcome to Tokushima city
I cannot remember how long it took from Kyoto to Tokushima by bus, maybe three hours? By the time we reached Tokushima, it was already late at night. Then, our Japanese friend fetched us from the station to her home. Tokushima is a quiet city, and one can experience authentic Japanese life here. I think there are not many foreigners living here and during my two days in Tokushima, I saw only two foreigners. This was even at the Tokushima University and no foreigners were seen outside the campus. 

Nice Japanese-style room
In comparison to my hometown in Penang Malaysia, Tokushima issmall city - not crowded and very agriculturally-oriented. Any spare lands available here are turned into paddy fields and just outside my friend's house is a paddy field. After arriving at my friend's home around 10 pm, we went to her neighbor's house to greet them.   

Day 3 in Kyoto snack
Even though we cannot speak in Japanese, we were able to communicate with them in English/Korean (through our Japanese friend cum translator). It was fun talking to them. Most of them already knew about Malaysia through the "Malaysia, truly Asia" advertisement. Awesome! Our Malaysian tourism campaign does really works.

Day 5:

Welcome to Bizan Ropeway...
Next day, we went to the Tokushima Station (we took a train from Bunkanomori) again to meet our other Japanese friend, Hitomi. She told us that she knew a Malaysian studying at her university and I asked her to plan for a meet-up. I am always happy to meet any Malaysians studying abroad because we generally share similar predicaments while living abroad.

(Note: There were a number of Malaysian students sponsored by the Malaysian government at Tokushima university but I couldn't meet them because I was told they rarely mingle with outsiders... Sigh... Wouldn't it be nice if the Malaysian students living abroad mix around more often with other foreigners and Japanese... 우물 안에 개구리로 살지 마세요~!) 

Bizan Ropeway cable car - 1,000 Yen

Beautiful Tokushima
The first place we went in the morning was called Bizan Ropeway. This is a place where one can take a cable car (1000 Yen for a round-trip ticket) up the hill and see Tokushima city from the top. Experience there was so-so as the weather there was rather hot and humid. After that, we went to our friends' university - Tokushima University (moreover, Hitomi had a class) for lunch. We walked all the way there.

Our lunch at Tokushima university
Mmmmm.... (PS. the professor was extremely nice)
Fast forward, we were allowed to take a class with Hitomi. I cannot remember what we really learned but he touched on Business Law and we discussed Abenomics. The reason of Abenomics according to him is to restructure Japanese companies so they are able to be competitive again. I think Abenomics is like a two-edged sword, a populist move to increase export through currency devaluation but not to arrest the advancing debt problem in the country. After the class, the professor who was extremely kind, asked us to have dinner with him at night. Okay, we agreed

Pic taken at Ikuta Shrine (Day 2)
Together with the Malaysian student I just met, we went for dinner with the professor and his students. We wanted to eat Japanese food but we couldn't find a place big enough to accommodate all of us. Thus, we had to settle in a western food family restaurant. Another memorable occasion was when one of his students ordered two large dishes for himself. I guessed he was filling his tummy for tomorrow's breakfast too

I had great experiences in Japan and today was another unforgettable one. Our Japanese professor accompanied us more than an hour even after we had all eaten, until our Japanese friend had arrived back from her part-time job to fetch us. The conversation while waiting at the restaurant was crazily dull. "How to get a girlfriend?" and "What qualities do girls like in a man?". This were among the questions asked by our "interesting" Japanese professor.

Kaori, the musician
Uhmmn... so I said "Sense of Humor?". And the professor came asking, "How to be humorous?". Haha. WTF. I smiled though. Our table was colorful, in the way we spoke in many different languages - Japanese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Korean and English. What connected us were our similar goals in life - mainly to live a good and happy life

Melody by Kaori

"Try" of Asher Book (cover)

When our Japanese friend arrived, we went to a pub to see a live musical performance (see the video on top) performed by her. She was amazing. And after that, we went home and packed our bags for our departure back to Korea tomorrow.

Day 6:

The dyeing process...
On our last day in Japan, the first place we visited was the Dye museum to make our own souvenirs (1000 Yen for a face towel to be dyed later by us) to bring back to Korea. The dyeing processes were simple. First choose the pattern, tie the towel around the sticks with rubber bands for the patterns to appear, dip in the dyeing container, repeat the steps, wash the towel clean to remove the leftover dye and voila, done. 

We were encouraged to dry our towels under the hot sun instead of using hair dryer. After that, we met Hitomi again for a sushi lunch together. I tasted the most interesting Japanese food, the Natto (the taste of fermented beans lingered in my mouth even after countless gulps of green tea) and Uni sushi (made from expensive sea urchin roe but tasted like...). I will never try them again...

Unagi (eel) sushi
I love the unagi sushi (prepared from eel) though. Overall, an authentic Japanese meal. As my friend will be leaving for the airport by bus an hour earlier than me, we went back to the Tokushima station. In my case, with around an hour left to spare in Tokushima, we went to the Japanese Karaoke room.

Big karaoke room...
Karaoke in Japan was another whole new experience for me. It was so difficult to search for songs as all new songs had to be keyed in Japanese. It's better to have a Japanese friend accompanying you in the Karaoke room when you are in Japan and can't speak Japanese.

Many English oldies can be searched very easily but not the latest ones... 
I cannot be Elvis Presley. It will be " a little less conversation".

Journey back Korea...
Karaoke was fun and after an hour or less, it was time to go. The bus journey from Tokushima to Kansai airport was frustratingly slow due heavy rains and traffic jams. Luckily, I reached the airport on time and met my friend with more than enough time to explore the airport. It was indeed a memorable trip to Japan. Sayorana Japan...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Discovering Shanghai and Taipei (soon)

The reason for my updates on Japan lately (the last one will be posted before my departure) was because I wish to get on with my next trip to China (Shanghai, Hangzhou and maybe Suzhou) and Taipei. 

Finish writing about my trip to Japan last June has been one of my main plans to do this weekend. These days, I was quite busy finalizing up my trip itinerary and too many meet-ups to attend. 

Woohoo! Very soon!

Hot hot hot... :(
Effects of global warming, China why you burn so much fossil fuels! ㅋㅋ  
Nice weather, hmmn...
My hometown...

Now, I am free as a bird!!! I will be leaving for Shanghai this coming Tuesday. 3 more days... Yippie! Whenever I think of Taipei, I always look forward to feasting delicious Taiwanese street food at the numerous night markets there that is quite similar to Penang food than Korean food. Happy weekends!

Kobe, Kyoto and Tokushima: Where East meets West

Day 2:

Entrance to Ikuta Shrine
Not feeling refreshed from my late sleep, tea provided by the inn provided enough caffeine to wake me up. Another day, another place to go. Our next destination is Kobe. We took a train from Osaka to Sannomiya Station (This is where the famous Ikuta Shrine is located). Then, after a short walk along Ikuta road, we reached the Ikuta Shrine.

Ikuta Road
Ikuta shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrine in Japan. According to Wikipedia, it was used as a base for a festival welcoming back warriors from the latest attempt to invade Korea. The shrine is quite small and I don't think it can even accommodate more than a hundred warriors comfortably. Unless they squeezed like a sardin can, it is plausible... 

The lady in red...
By the time we reached Kobe, it was already raining heavily. I love rain. Rain reminds me of my hometown. The smell of freshly mown grass after drizzle is my favorite smell. I always hope one day, when I am successful, I can afford to have a big garden beside my house. Every time when it drizzles, I would be sitting on the bench, looking outwards while drinking hot cocoa. Peaceful and relaxing.   

Shinto wedding ceremony
At the Ikuta Shrine, we were lucky to witness a wedding ceremony. Shinto is one of the very beautiful beliefs still practiced by Japanese. During the wedding ceremony, we saw dances performed by two young performers. The were graceful. After Ikuta Shrine, we visited the Kobe mosque. My friend performed his Friday prayer while I waited for him. Kobe mosque is one of the very few Islamic buildings in Japan that survived the World War II allied bombing in June 1945. Somehow, the mosque was eerily quiet and nobody was around after my friend finished his prayer.      

At the Kobe Mosque
Kobe is not really an ideal destination for people looking to save money. It resembles more like the affluent Gangnam minus the hostess bar than anything. This is a place where expensive Kobe beef restaurants and high fashion boutiques located side by side. Louis Vuitton retail shop in Kobe was fantastic even from the outside. The interior resembled a glittering palace with lots of helpers serving the customer. Anyway, I am a practical guy and I don't like spending thousands of dollars for an identical bag. 

Our Day 2, Kobe City Route
Getting to Kobe Tower...
Here we are... Kobe Tower!
Our next destination was the Kobe Tower. To recap, we walked from Ikuta Shrine to Kobe mosque to Kyu-kyoryuchi (the up-class fashion district) to Kobe Tower. Taking taxi in Japan was a big no-no for us. We preferred spending money on good food than on transportation. Transportation expenses in Japan can be exorbitantly high if compared to Korea.

The admission fee at Kobe Tower

Kobe Tower is one of the must-visit spots in Kobe. The entrance fee is either 600 Yen or 800 Yen that also includes an entrance to the Maritime Museum. We chose the 800 Yen ticket. However, I do not recommend the Maritime Museum! It was really boring! Better save your 200 Yen and buy me a drink. After around an hour indoor in both the tower and museum to avoid the rain, we went on with our main plan of the day - meeting our Japanese friend and her friend from Kuwait.

At the Kobe Tower

We were to overnight at his house today. Our host was kind and extremely friendly, we had a small party at his house (he cooked some nice looking Kuwaiti food for all of us) that night! I even learned from him an interesting Japanese phrase sure to make heads turn. "Hitome boresteh shi mai masta". It means "I fell for you on my first sight".

Yesterday by Kaori

Before we slept, we went to Sento /Onsen (a public bathhouse). I was very reluctant to go there but left without any choices, I merely obliged them. It was my first and will probably be my last in Japan. The water was either burning hot or freezing cold. Not good... not good...

Small gathering
Day 3:

Hi Kyoto!
One of Kyoto's landmark
Kyoto. From Kobe, we took a train to Kyoto. Kyoto is the eighth largest city in Japan. Kyoto is a very traditional city due to its influence as the Japanese capital for almost a thousand years. Spared from heavy bombings by the Allied forces during World War II, Kyoto continues to be main city in Japan to experience Japanese culture.

Kyoto is highly recommended and I love how the city balances modernity while at the same time preserving its heritage. A convenient way of getting around Kyoto? Use the city buses. A one-day pass costs 500 Yen which is cheap considering the bus route covers most places here and a one-way journey by bus is already 220 Yen.

Day Pass - 500 Yen
Hmmn.... what to eat for lunch..
Tempura (1,050 Yen)...
Toei Kyoto Studio Park or Toei Uzumasa Eigamura (entrance fee is rather steep: 2,200 Yen) was the first place we visited in the morning. It is a theme park catering for tourist interested in traditional Japanese streets and buildings. The main highlights of our trip there were the ninja performance (all in Japanese, Damn... cannot understand a thing!) and the ninja maze (It was really fun but sadly, the time needed to complete the maze was too short).

Toei Kyoto Studio Park!
Sayoranna... yawn...

We spent some time over there. Then in the evening, our friend (the Kuwaiti and my Japanese friend) went back to Kobe and Tokushima respectively. Our next destinations are the Shinkyogoku (a good place to buy Japanese souvenirs) and the Kamo river (to see the crowds lazing around at night). At Shinkyogoku, there is a long stretch of street catering for tourists buying Japanese souvenirs. My observation: shops located at the middle of the street somehow sold similar souvenirs cheaper than the rest. Hmmn...

Shinkyogoku - for Japanese souvenirs!

Kamo River

With the Pachinko shops still buzzing with people, we strolled along the Kamo river. Kamo river at night was literally occupied by young couples looking to escape the city heat or hide from their parents' prying eyes. Along the river, there were many high-end restaurants serving foreign cuisines. Our accommodation for the night was at Khaosan Kyoto - the best dormitory I've ever been! Clean, comfortable and the bed even comes with a curtain to block the lights.

Highly recommended dorm in Kyoto!
As my dorm was located on the fifth floor, unfortunately, it has only a shower place and a toilet. Imagine sharing the same shower place and toilet with all the residents of fifth floor. Luckily no two people had diarrhea at the same time... The dorm located on the second floor is much better. It has more toilets and shower places.

Day 4:

Kinkaku-ji - Temple of Golden Pavilion
The first destination of the day was the Kyoto station. As I was carrying a large backpack, and my friend had a hand luggage filled with souvenirs. We had to find some place to store our bags and Kyoto station was also a good place to start our journey. After storing our belongings, we purchased the one-day bus pass again.

First tourist attraction we visited? It was none other than the famous Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of Golden Pavilion (Entrance fee: 400 Yen), an UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can read all the history here. What I like about this place was the beauty of the garden. It was so picture perfect. After Kinkaku-ji, we went to Kiyomizu-dera (300 Yen), a very famous Buddhist temple in Kyoto. This is my favorite and most memorable place in Kyoto.

Japanese students at Kiyomizu-dera


There's also an interesting story to be told. Hehe... While we were going up the steep road to reach the entrance of the temple, I saw some girls wearing Yukata (another type of Japanese traditional attire). Thinking it was another great opportunity to get my first photograph with Yukata ladies. I politely asked them for permission to take a picture of them and us with them. They happily obliged. I think, to them, we were irresistibly good looking.

Japanese in Yukatas
One of my favorite question to ask any locals and foreigners is "Can you guess which country you think I come from?". They answered....... "China"..... I was like "What? Chinese?". Ah never mind... Nevertheless, I spoke a little basic Japanese and this was how our friendships with Japanese strangers began. We accompanied them to take photos (they helped to take our pics while we reciprocated by becoming their part-time photographers).

Oh really, drinking from all three streams no good?
After sometime with them, we hurried off to the Otowa waterfall. "...The Otowa Waterfall is located at the base of Kiyomizudera's main hall. Its waters are divided into three separate streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. Each stream's water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. However, drinking from all three streams is considered greedy..." I never knew drinking from all three streams were considered greedy.

As there was nothing much to do further up the temple, we returned to the main temple and we met the Yukata ladies again. We exchanged our greetings and I (and my friend) took a Polaroid picture with them. While walking downhill, we went around the traditional streets and we even saw ladies wearing Kimono. Awesome! I bought several packets of Yatsuhashi, a traditional Japanese snack (250 Yen each), for my department staffs and Professors. The taste was so-so but I regretted not buying one for myself.

Ladies in Kimono
At the bus stop after the end of our trip to the temple, we saw the Yukata ladies (at the opposite direction) again. They waved at us and instinctively, we waved at them back. Meeting them was one of my most unforgettable moments in Japan. Sadly, our bus came too soon after and we did not manage to get their phone number or Facebook. Inside the bus, I saw them trying to look for us at their bus stand. It was nice knowing them though we don't even know their names. Very interesting huh?

Ladies in Yukata
Thanks for the memories... ladies in Yukata...

Fushimi Inari

Our final destination in Kyoto was the Fushimi Inari-taisha (entrance is free). A shrine famous for the wooden blocks along the gates. Since we did not have enough time to hike all the way up, we spent our time taking pictures along the gates. This shrine like the many shrines and temples we visited, it was equally beautiful. Statues of foxes were found in many places in the shrine. I was curious but so little time to know and see more. From Fushimi Inari Shrine, we took a bus back to Kyoto station. We were to take an express bus to Tokushima, a small city to meet our Japanese friends. Another city to cover... another adventure...

To be continued....

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"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning" ~Winston Churchill~