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My 10 First Experiences In Japan

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My first trip to Japan was in 2012 with Mr Mode to Okinawa, which is actually quite different from the rest of Japan. In terms of culture, Taiwan, China and other East Asian cultures close to Okinawa had a much bigger influence on Okinawa than the rest of Japan did. Even the local Okinawan food and music are clearly different from traditional Japanese food and music. Here’s more from our 2012 Okinawa trip!

So I’ve been to Japan, but not the mainstream part of Japan, you know what I mean? Someone once told me it’s like how Americans think of Hawaii, it’s part of America, but more exotic. Anyway, I’m glad to have been to Okinawa and finally to Yokohama and Tokyo! Experienced so many first-times during this trip and I wanted to share them with you so you might have ideas for your next trip to Japan. 😀

Watermelon That Doesn’t Drip

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One of my favorite fruits is watermelon, and what a memorable way to start the trip with the best watermelon I’ve ever had! It was crunchy, very sweet and juicy, and yet the juice did not get all over my hands and mouth as normal watermelons do. How intriguing! I love the garden behind Mr Watermelon and me, it’s a shared space for people in the neighborhood who do not have their own gardens but wish to grow their own plants and vegetables.

Making My First Futomaki Sushi

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Most people start by making simple sushi, but we jumped ranked and went straight into making Futomaki sushi rolls which required a lot more ingredients, steps, and skill. Luckily we had the friendly obasans to help us at every step of the way. Futomaski sushi rolls are thick Japanese sushi rolls primarily filled with vegetables and sometimes seafood. They’re known for their beautiful presentation and well-balanced flavors. The designs implementable are limited only by one’s imagination and we saw a variety of designs presented to us like flowers, panda, crab, and cherry blossoms! The outer tamago layer was my favorite, it was thick and perfectly sweet and salty. 😀

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First Naked Onsen Experience At Ryuguji Spa Hotel Mikazuki

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My first onsen experience was in Taiwan. My friends and I went on condition that swim wear was allowed. My second time was a year later with Mr Mode, also in Taiwan, and swim wear was definitely encouraged since it was a mix gender public onsen.

When I heard that we had to go completely naked for an authentic Japanese onsen at Ryugujo Spa in hotel Mikazuki, I firmly said ‘no, no, no’. I mean, if you grew up in a completely naked onsen culture, you’d be open about exposing your bits to strangers and friends alike. But most Singaporeans didn’t grow up that way and my previous onsen experiences didn’t prepare me enough for it!

But an hour later I found myself walking down the hall clothed in a thin, floral, pink Yukata, my heart thumping in anxiety, threatening to shoot out of my birthday suit. We reached our lockers, shed the Yukata, and agreed to look at one another ‘neck up’ hahaha. 😆 Then we commenced the walk of shame, also known as the short distance from lockers to shower area to pool, but which felt like eternity.

The main reason why swimwear is not allowed in a pure onsen is because the goal is to keep the water as clean as possible. Another reason I heard is that the temperatures can be so high they can melt certain kinds of fabric.

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Making Toothpicks The Ninja Way

Under the scorching sun we trailed behind our guide who fervently led the way, crossing this street and that. Despite the harshness of blaring sunlight, we stopped for a brief moment to admire the blooms that lined the roads. Into a inconspicuous dark alley we stepped, and it felt like we were transported back in time, in some ancient period.

Upon reaching a brightly lit room, each of us sat before a tree stump, readied with 1.5 inch long wooden sticks and a small knife with a slant tip. Not knowing what to do we studied the master’s swift wood-cutting actions, his words in Japanese which probably contained plenty of important tips wasted on us. Haha. But as always, actions speak louder than words, and after realizing that no amount of staring would get us out of the situation, we cautiously picked up our own knives and attempted to make our own toothpicks.

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It was one of the hottest days in one of the hottest months in Yokohama. The sun outside was merciless, and we were trapped in a room with no ventilation save for a small fan, trying to make toothpicks out of wood. Actually we weren’t told what kind of wood was that, but research pointed me in the direction of spicebush. They are speckled greenish-black and are flexible yet sturdy, and even imparts a pleasant aroma to the toothpicks.

I was hot, sticky, and wanted to get it over and done with. Why are we doing this, I questioned silently. I raised my head to look at the master who came to help me, his forehead and temples glistening with sweat, and yet he continued to demonstrate and encourage me. I understood not a single word he spoke, but I could hear the enthusiasm in his voice while making those natural wooden skewers.

In his tone, I heard his passion for making these wooden skewers, and to keep this tradition alive. His spirit spurred me on and I wanted to let him know his efforts were not wasted on me, so I decided to do my best. My first few toothpicks were roughly carved and my lack of patience and skill were apparent in the results. I tell you, it’s really no joke. Each strike of the knife greatly determined how the skewer would look like, – if you cut too deeply, the stick would not budge and using brute force is the wrong way; if you cut too shallow, you’ll be making ribbons out of wood. The masters made it look easy, but it was by far one of the hardest manual tasks I’d ever endeavored.

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Harvesting Organic Blueberries In Yokohama

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You know what they say about your food preference determined by your first experience of it? If your first ever taste of something wasn’t fantastic, that will most likely be the impression for the rest of your life. Well, that is until you get a taste of how GOOD it can be.

I’ve never liked blueberries. Perhaps those I’ve tried are always sour and small, and worse are those inside and atop blueberry cakes glazed over with some gooey blueberry gel-like liquid. Oh my, I shudder at the thought of it. :(

The experience at Yokohama Asahi Blueberry Forest changed my idea of blueberries forever. It was the first time I saw blueberries not in boxes or cakes, but in their most natural state – on trees! And they were large and super sweet!

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12 Things I Didn’t Know (But Now Do!) About Davao, Philippines

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It’s funny the reactions I get when I tell people I love outdoorsy adventures. It seems I come across as so, but I’m really not that girly. Well, I do have an obsession with makeup and all things beauty-related, but I wouldn’t hesitate going on new adventures, jumping into rivers, zipping across lush greenery on a rope, cycling 60 feet above ground.

Some things on my Bucket List: swimming with sharks, skydiving, and hang gliding. I hope I get to accomplish these in this lifetime.

So of course I said YES when presented the chance to go on an adventure-oriented trip to Davao, Philippines!

This trip opened my eyes to the incredible sights and sounds of Davao City and here I share 12 things I didn’t know (but now do!) about Davao, Philippines.

1. That It Exists

When people think of the Philippines, they think of Manila, Cebu or the popular beach capital that is Boracay. When I first got wind that I was going on a trip to Davao, my response was “Huh? Where?” and so were all the responses when I told my family and friends where I was going. Haha.

It’s okie if you’ve never heard of Davao before either because it was, and still remains, a well-kept secret to mass tourism. That’s why they have plenty of unspoiled white sandy beaches and marine-rich waters filled with underwater creatures still unacquainted with humans.

Davao city is located in Southeastern Mindanao and is approximately 946 km southeast of Manila over land, and 971 km by sea.

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2. Be Close To Nature

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Being close to nature and embracing Mother Nature’s beauty is a great respite for city dwellers (ME) who are cooped up in a cocoon of concrete walls. We didn’t get lighting fast internet connection all the time, but that forced us to put our phones aside and simply take in the glory of what this Earth has to offer instead of living through our screens.

The government has been actively developing and promoting an eco-tourism program to exhibit the diversity of the country and the activities it has to offer.

At Eden Nature Park’s Butterfly Garden, thousands of butterflies fluttered around us, pollinating flowers, mating, and basically just going about their daily business, while we screamed in silence when a butterfly gently landed on us. LOL.

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Putting Together The Best Memories Of 2015, That’s How I Cope With New Year Blues

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I don’t know how they do it – celebrating, joyously bidding farewell to the year just passed after the clock strikes twelve, with great fanfare and pomp. I wish I could be that happy about the new year too.

For the first 2 weeks of 2016 – I hope I didn’t show it too much – but inside I was feeling incredibly dull, uninspired, bored. :(

I’ve been through 31 new years, but the transition into this year felt especially depressing. While many indulge in retrospection and prepare in advance their new year’s resolutions, I ruminated on 2015 and then felt like I didn’t achieve much. Like I wasted a whole year of my life achieving nothing. It was just a general feel of dread, lack of confidence, self-criticism, and probably exhaustion from a 365-day run.

To get out of the slump, I forced myself to behave positively, by doing things that make me happy, and you know what they say about doing the opposite of what you feel like doing? IT’S TRUE.

All I wanted to do was lie in bed and mull at how boring I felt my life was, but I made myself do things that would make me happy, keep my mind running, my hands moving. So I cooked, baked, went grocery shopping, bought kitchen ware. LOL. My friends have commented that ever since I got moved into my new home I have become very domesticated. I guess that’s how owning a house changes you.

I started moving forward with tiny little steps. Moving forward when you’re not feeling motivated helps you push through your fears, get out of your comfort zone, and win the mental battles you have with yourself.

Some people make resolutions to spur them on in the new year, I think that alone exhausts me, so instead I shall look back on the happy memories of 2015, which I hope will motivate me to create even better ones in 2016! ^_^*

A Place We Call Our Own

Finally, we moved and settled into our own home! It’s such a wonderful feeling to have your own home, and a dream come true to have my own room which is a study, studio, walk-in wardrobe, beauty arena, all in one.

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From: Non-Makeup Gifts That Will Make Your Makeup-Obsessed Friend Just As Happy

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I had one chance to take this set of photos for Scholl Pedi Foot File. The next day, Mr Mode’s built-in wardrobe went up.

I realized I love hosting parties at my house. As much as possible, I prefer to cook for my guests because it gives me an opportunity to try out dishes that can feed more people, otherwise it’s just Mr Mode and me on most days.

Here are some Dayre posts with pictures of our new home and hosting parties!

Cooking & Baking

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I’ve always been interested in cooking and baking, but never had to chance to really cook at my parents’ or in-laws’ coz… you know, it’s ultimately not my kitchen and I don’t want to go around messing up other people’s systems.

Now that I am the mistress to the house and chef (a term used very loosely lol) to my own kitchen, I spend long, long, long hours in there trying new recipes, failing, succeeding, experimenting. There’s so much science to it, and I love reading up on techniques and tricks. It feels very much like how I would spend countless hours reading up on makeup tips and practising when I first got into this beauty industry. Absolutely LOVE embarking on this new journey.

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