Nov 17, 2018

Travel Journal Tokyo 2018

Since I spent most of my time filling in my Traveler's Notebook, I will show you guys how my travel journal looks like. The style that I adopt is mostly collage, using scraps of paper goods I collected during my trip, washi tapes, stickers, etc. 

お楽しみに.


The Traveler's Notebook that I enjoy using now is the Tokyo Station Limited Edition brown cover. I bought this from Tokyo Station. The limited edition Traveler's Notebook is limited to 2 per person. I begin to like the brown cover a lot because as it tarnishes, the colour becomes more vivid. It is slowly becoming of a character of its own. 


The first page is usually not my favorite because the insert is still fresh, lacking of inspiration and flow for me to start the first step. Some people keep it simple by putting just one photo or a quote. If you have any idea how to overcome this problem, let me know.


Throughout the trip I was eating salted salmon onigiri. I ate 2 each day in the morning while doing my makeup. I incorporated a recipe of onigiri in my travel journal. I think travel journal not necessarily focus on your travel tales, you can always add things like song lyrics, book excerpt, poem, etc.


At the bottom right corner, I use a brad to hold all the small pictures together. Although overlapping each other, the pictures can be slid to reveal the bottom pictures. I also use the pictures to protect the leaf stuck at the back.




I kept the ice cream label and drew a vanilla ice cream on it. I really love this idea.


I never knew I could paint a bowl of ramen, but I did.


My favorite page is Alice on Wednesday one. It's one of my favorite childhood cartoon and I still love it now.



This is the only two pages that I use the horizontal page instead of the usual vertical. I stuck in my fortune telling slip into the small envelope and the small postcard of Sensoji Shrine as a background.


What do you think of my journal pages? I know it's a little bit crowded, but I love it that way. Blank spaces bother me a lot. That is why I put lots of stickers to fill up the page. 
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Nov 13, 2018

Halal Nyonya Restaurant in Melaka: Big Nyonya


School holiday is approaching. If you're planning on a trip to Melaka, and you have to tick off the bucket list for good Nyonya food, I highly recommend the Big Nyonya Restaurant.


Big Nyonya is one of the best Nyonya restaurants in town because of its reputable owner, Datuk Kenny. Datuk Kenny was a famous comedian in Malaysia who played a Nyonya character in the longest running comedy Baba Nyonya for 509 episodes. It's not because of the famed owner that the Big Nyonya Restaurant is good. Beyond the star-studded signboard, there's a team of passionate staff who keeps this restaurant running after Datuk Kenny passed away. The chef was personally trained by Datuk Kenny and now his legacy continues in the food they are serving here. This restaurant is a legit Nyonya Restaurant that puts the importance on fresh ingredients and authentic nyonya way of cooking.


In terms of pricing, you can expect to pay about RM80 for 4 dishes which is enough for 4 people. I think it is quite affordable and worth the trip.



Gerang Assam Fish (RM48)

Sambal Sotong (RM28)

Ponteh Chicken (RM20)

Kangkong Belacan (RM14)

Otak-otak

Sambal

Big Nyonya also has a good recommendation from TV3's program Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan. If you are a food lover, you'll know that the Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan's recognition is reliably honest.




Big Nyonya Restaurant is strategically located in Melaka town within walking distance from Hatten Hotel, Imperial Heritage Hotel, and Equatorial Hotel.

For reservation, call: 06-286 3536 
Address: No. 33 & 33A, Jalan Merdeka, Taman Melaka Raya
Closed on Monday.

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Nov 11, 2018

Reusable Straws Comparison


Many states in Malaysia will ban single-use plastic straws. This is a good news to a lot of restaurant operators because it will reduce their cost.


We can definitely do without the straws. But I always have this philosophy that - if you want to embrace zero waste lifestyle, incorporate small steps into your current lifestyle. Don't go for a drastic change because you won't be enjoying the sudden evolvement. So, if you are used to drinking with straws, look for an alternative to those single-use plastic straws that we have gotten used to.


In this post, I have 5 different straws to compare and I have ranked it according to my preference. Of course, you can always choose the reusable straws that suit your own preference.


#1 Stainless Steel Straw



My ultimate favorite is the stainless steel straws. I believe that stainless steel straw is easily acceptable because we have gotten used to using eating utensils like spoon and fork from stainless steel materials. It is durable, easy to clean and probably last forever.

There was an article circulating somewhere on the internet that the stainless steel materials are not harvested in an eco-friendly way. I totally disagree with the article because we have been harvesting the raw material for many reasons - construction, semiconductor, automobile, and other industries are relying on stainless steel. If the material is made into straws for each person on this planet, it would take up less than 0.001% of the harvest raw material. The idea is having 1 stainless steel straw for you to use it over and over again. Unless we are using the stainless steel straws as single-use straw, then there is a problem with


#2 Glass Straws



I also love glass straws, except it isn't durable as stainless steel straws. I avoid bringing it out because I'm afraid it might break in my bag after knocking and friction inside the case. While at home, I'm afraid the kids might drop it. The only problem with the glass straw is the fragile nature.

Other than that, glass straw is great for those who are OCD on the cleanliness of the inside of the straw. You can see clearly if there is something stuck in it. Glass is also aesthetically beautiful when serving juices or coloured drinks.


#3 Bamboo Straws



Some may argue that bamboo straw is the most eco-friendly and sustainable straw of all. I think that depends on the production itself. We can't use the bamboo as straw in its raw form. There is a few steps of the process that needs to be done. Some manufacturer might add bleaching or chemical in the cleaning process. Plus, the hollow of the straw needs to be smoothed out. Plus, the bamboo straws won't last forever as compared to stainless steel or glass (provided it doesn't break).

I don't prefer the bamboo straw as much as stainless steel and glass because there is debris of the bamboo which might be caught inside the straw. Plus, it isn't the most hygienic method because the pores of the bamboo can trap some bacteria if not cleaned properly. Most of all, I don't like it that we have to keep harvesting and process the bamboo just for drinking. For this fact, I don't think I would rate it as the eco-friendly straw. Anyway, that is my take on the eco-friendly or zero-waste concept. Of course, you can have different thoughts about it.


#4 Paper Straws



Paper straws shouldn't be on the top priority when looking for an alternative to plastic straws because it is also a single-use product. However, it is easier to decompose, which makes it better than plastic straws. In the event that you need to serve straws in a bigger scale, such as at parties, paper straw is a good solution.

I also find it convenient to have when you're staying in hospital or at office. In the situation where I don't have the time to wash my reusable straws, I would opt for paper straws.


#5 The Last Straws



The worst reusable straw of all is the Last Straw. You probably have seen this going viral on social media and gained lots of backers on Kickstarter.

First thing first, the production of the straw involves a lot of materials - plastic for the box, stainless steel for the straw structure and rubber for the straw backbone. When there are so many materials involved, the process of making the straw also becomes more complicated. In most cases, the product will be sent to a different manufacturer to complete each part. This increases the carbon footprint.

I seriously don't advocate the Last Straw as an eco-friendly straw. Although they have good marketing and brand presence, it really isn't eco-friendly. If you understand how manufacturing works, you'll totally detest the concept of Last Straw as eco-friendly.

In terms of practicality, I don't see it as good as other straws. The rubber works as the backbone of the straw where you drink from and it has a stainless steel casing to hold the structure. There is a gap in between the two and this gap allows water to trap in there. There is no way you can clean it. The brush that provided only cleans the inner part of the rubber. Imagine all the sugary water getting stuck in between the stainless steel and rubber.


The only good thing about the Last Straw is the casing. It is small and compact which is convenient to carry around. But for all the negative reasons discussed above, I won't be using this.


I often carry my stainless steel straws or glass straws in my straw case. It's made of plastic, which is super durable. I've been using it for almost a year now, and it still working perfectly fine. Someone suggested me to use bamboo case. I tried, but it doesn't last more than a month, then the cover cracked.

Sometimes when I can't wash my straws, I just throw it into the case and wash it when I'm home. It's really convenient.


Stainless steel straw + brush =  RM 12.90 from wanderlustthings.comReusable straw case = RM12.90 from wanderlustthings.comGlass straw + brush = RM8.90 from wanderlustthings.comBamboo straw + brush = RM4.90 from wanderlustthings.comPaper straw from Shopee
Last Straw = USD14.90 from thefoldingstraw.com
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Nov 5, 2018

Oedo Onsen Monogatari @ Odaiba


First thing first, if you ever been to an onsen resort, this place may be lack of wow-factor for you. But if you are an Onsen-virgin, I highly recommend you to visit the Oedo Onsen Monogatari. Located at Odaiba, you can easily walk to the Oedo Onsen from the Museum of Emerging Science or take a bus there. The place is sort of a mini family amusement park with the onsen as main feature.

When arrived, you will be given a wrist tag. Whatever you spent here, it will be recorded in your wrist band. The payment will be calculated when you exit. It can be said as pretty dangerous because you might slack of tracking how much you spend there. Generally, admission is only ¥2720 (around RM100) for adults on the weekday. That being said, if you don't spend on other stuff such as food, massage service, games, etc. Book your entrance ticket on Klook for better deals, almost 40% cheaper.



I didn't take a lot of photos here because a lot of places are photos-prohibited. Most of the time I leave my camera and phone in the locker.


One thing to take note, this place is not tattoo-friendly, despite it is quite mainstream and touristy. Do take note if you have a tattoo. If you entered mistakenly with tattoo on, you are required to leave the place and pay for the entrance fee as well.

After changing into the yukata provided, you will enter the common area where food stalls and games stalls are the focus attraction.


The foot bath area is an open area with Japanese garden concept. It is really pretty to take photos here. It is probably the only bath area that allows photo since you are not required to strip.


After a 45-minutes bath and sauna, we treat ourselves with ramen and beer. I really love the tatami seating area. It feels a very cozy and warm, almost feel like you're at home.



Here are some tips:


  1. You need to strip bare. Yes! No exception or towel is allowed.
  2. If you're feeling shy (like me) hide in the micro bubble bath tub. The micro bubbles make the entire tub look like it's white, so it is safe to hide inside. 
  3. The place isn't wheelchair-friendly or pram-friendly. 
  4. Best time to go is in the morning 11AM or at night after 9PM. The bath area closes between 9AM-11AM for maintenance. Other areas are open 24 hours.
  5. There are resting area and sleeping area here. You can spend a night here if you're short of cash to book a hotel room or just want a quick nap in between your trip. 
  6. They serve really good cold Asahi beer on the tap.
  7. Be mindful of how much you spend on the food, games and souvenir. It is hard to keep track of your spending with the wrist-band. 
  8. Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, comb, hairdryer and everything you need is provided for. You don't need to bring it because you will need to leave your belongings outside and no chance to use your own toiletries anyway. 


I highly recommend you to spend your time here, especially towards the end of your trip for a relaxing day at the bath. I know I didn't provide much info and you probably can't imagine how it is like there. So, I found a video that really explains everything about this place. I'm not sure how this guy get to shoot his video there since it is no-photo area, but his video is really helpful. Enjoy:


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Nov 1, 2018

Types of Flowers Commonly Used for Bridal Bouquets


You can never deny the fact that women usually search for bridal bouquet ideas before reaching this memorable day of their lives. This can be an advantage because with different types of bridal bouquets that you can choose from, making an advance research will save you time and will also help you come up with the best flower arrangement. As much as possible, you have to go for a bridal bouquet that you can easily match to your outfit so you don’t have to change your mind over and over again.

Popular Flowers for Bridal Bouquets
With the selection of wedding bouquet flowers that you can choose from, it is just normal if you’ll have a hard time decided what flowers to use for your bridal bouquet. Listed below are some of the best types of flowers for the bride and bridesmaids.

  • Tropical Flowers – The weather can be very unpredictable. However, if you are planning a wedding during the summer, then you have to choose flowers that could withstand the heat. You can consider the cymbidium orchids with waxy petals that serve as their defense against the heat and from drying out.
  • Succulents – If the venue of your wedding has a warm and dry climate, then succulents can be an ideal choice for bridal flowers. They have a cool and sculptural look that can be used in creating a unique bridal bouquet.
  • Spray and Filler Flowers – These types of flowers are perfect to fill out a bouquet if ever that you want to add volume. You can come up with a beautiful arrangement if you know how to put them into place.
  • Local Flowers – If you want to save money and get away from the hassle of waiting for the flowers to be delivered, then it is best that you go for local flower shop for your bridal bouquet. This can guarantee you of having fresh flowers on your wedding that will add beauty to your gown.
Getting married definitely requires a careful planning. So if you want to have the best bridal bouquet for this special day within a budget, then you can start your research online as early as possible. Look at the images of different flower arrangements and compare the cost. It is also important that you look for a trusted florist online that could deliver you excellent service at reasonable rates if you want to avoid breaking your wallet.
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Oct 31, 2018

The Remainings of Tsukiji Market


You might have read the news that the world-famous Tsukiji market was torn down to make its way for a multi-level carpark construction. The entire market operation has moved to Toyosu, which is about 15 minutes away from the previous location. Although the new location has a better facility and cleaner environment, it can't be compared to the 83-year old Tsukiji market that offers raw fish market experience.


Tsukiji has been the heartbeat of seafood trades for many years and everything it has left there are the results of its heyday. I visited the outer market 2 weeks ago and there are still some stalls operating as usual, even though the internal fish market is no longer there.

Here are some of the food stalls I tried at the outer Tsukiji market:


Despite having an empty stomach, I jump into the grapes and that is the first fruit stall I saw. One small cup cost ¥500 and has mixed red and green grapes. The red ones tasted very riped and you can almost taste the dry red wine aftertaste. And the green ones have a tangy sweetness. I could eat a hundred cups of these grapes. If you were to buy a bunch of these from Isetan, it would probably cost around RM300+. It was a good experience to try them out.


There are a few stalls that are selling Tamagoyaki (egg roll) in Tsukiji, but there is one stall that stands out among the rest. The Marutake tamagoyaki is a popular stall because the owner of the stall is actually a celebrity in Japan. The queue is always long. It cost only ¥100 per stick and it is served fresh and piping hot. It has a sweet taste, it doesn't taste like the usual tamagoyaki we have in sushi restaurants. It took me a few bites to register the taste in my head because I was expecting it to be a bit salty. 


I needed my coffee, so the Yazawa Coffee stall appeared in front of me just in time when I needed a pick-me-up. They use the slow dripping method and all the beans are self-roasted from Ethiopian beans. This stall was featured in the Good Coffee blog, so it's worth a try. My cold milk coffee cost ¥600, which is the price of a Starbucks venti coffee. It isn't cheap in comparison to other stall-based coffee, but the silky smooth taste is all worth every penny.



Spotted some flame-torched hotate (scallop) and immediately I have to try it out. To be honest, I didn't enjoy it much because there are a lot of sands in the scallop. The scallop is huge, even though it doesn't look so in the photo. It took me a while to chew them into pieces and the random sand that pops up really annoyed me.


Most of the food we tried we from random stalls and they were finger food. We finally chose an unagi (eel) store to have a proper lunch. The store has a busy skewer business that sells unagi on skewers. The mixed bowl of unagi and rice is a perfect meal for a busy day. The unagi are freshly cooked and the portion is generous.


If you are a fan of inari sushi, you have to try the inari from Tsukiben stall. They have a few flavours to choose from and I picked the kani ikura (crab with fish roe). The topping is really generous and for ¥500 you will get a filling snack in hand.


There are a lot of stalls that sells premium beef like wagyu. You have to try it because it is cheaper to have it here than going to an actual restaurant. The mister doesn't eat beef due to his religion, so out of respect, I didn't eat any beef as well. If I ever go back there without him, I'll definitely give it a try.


What better place to have fresh oysters than Tsukiji itself? There are plenty of stalls that sell fresh oyster and they are really fresh. Some are just caught in the morning. Just dropping some tips on how to pick your best oysters - choose those oysters that long in shape, instead of those fat and round (just like how you choose a supermodel for a catwalk). The reason is that those fat and round ones have accumulated "dirt" and not safe to be eaten raw. Those oysters need to be cooked before consuming. I learn this from my boss when working in a Chinese restaurant when I was living in Australia. My boss has good knowledge in picking seafood, so I definitely trust him in this department.



Lastly, you have to try the Hokkaido crab. They usually boil it and you can eat it with the sauces that prepared by the stall owner. For ¥2000 for a quarter of the crab, the price is a steal. If you are a fan of crab you will love this a lot.


You can easily spend half a day at the Tsukiji market. Now that most of the stalls have located to Toyosu, the crowd is not as pack as before. But there are also a lot of stalls that moved to the new place. These are the remaining stalls left, which might relocate or maybe they're here to stay.

The market is still very touristy. After the fish market moved away, this place have lost its purpose and retained entirely for the tourist attraction it is famous for. Do expect to pay the tourist price as well. Our entire meal there cost about ¥10000 approximately. So it isn't that cheap. Do bring lots of cash because none of these stalls accept card. As a respect for the Japanese culture, you are not suppose to eat while walking. After you paid for your food, do stand beside the stall to finish your food. Also, bring some wet wipes and tissue paper, you will need that. 
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