Friday, November 17, 2017

Day 8: bye bye Japan

In a blink of an eye, we have come to the last day of our #happyfamilyinjapan holiday. Oh, good times fly by indeed. On this morning, we decided to take it easy. Breakfast was on our own - the girl went to Maccas with the grandparents; the boy and I headed out to seek food while the husband finished packing up.
Pre-coffee

Beams

Because he let me get coffee first, I let him choose his breakfast (Maccas bleargh)

On the way back (we tapaued everything because we needed to feed the husband too), we spotted a role model in the form of a local Japanese man. Look at his choice of beverage - this was at 10am in the morning! Given our running count of beer through the holiday, I had to sneak a snap and share it with my fellow beer-chuggers.
Breakfast beverage - beer.

A worthy team-mate for sure.

We checked out of the hotel and made our way to stroll down the street to Tokyo Tower. It was less than 30minutes away and while it was pretty hot, I thought it was way better than rain. Off we went.

Papa-girl duo.

Tokyo Tower spotted! But first, the shrine
Blessings

We strolled through the shrine compounds for a while and then made it around it through to the main sight.

Upclose
The truth is, we drove past this on Mario-day. But I guess it's not the same if we did not step foot within it.
Ticket
Mascot

Up on the tower!
Peeking all the way down

On a very clear day, we could possibly see Mount Fuji (we didn't that day)

It was a touristy event that I guess is apt for our last day in this country, and I tried to spot as much as I could with the help of maps they provided. We finished off this episode with our last Cremia.... I recall not being hungry at all but it felt like something we needed to do for no-reason at all but just because we could (ice-cream at anytime on a holiday? Checked!)


We made it back to the hotel on foot (coffee stop on the way) and began our adventure to the airport. We had to lug all our luggage with us from hotel to subway to change another subway train then the airport. No pictorial evidence of how we looked (maybe a good thing? though similar pictorial references can be seen from our last luggage commute) but we made it. All luggage and humans were not harmed in the process of commuting. Woot!


At the airport, we checked in our luggage (WE REALLLY MADE IT!) and it was time for lunch. There was a difference in preferences, so we split up - which made it easier for us to snag a table too.

Team ramen - the husband, the boy and I.

Keeping him occupied.

Team K with the rest with their choice of Japanese restaurant

After lunch, we met up and went for a stroll within the airport. We headed to a Hello Kitty shop, the boys went to play with some fake planes and the viewing gallery...

Up. Up. And away!

We met a friend at the airport who was on their way back too; how fun. What a pity we didn't plan better so that we could have met them at Disney too. Ah well.


The flight back was uneventful (or maybe I should not wait 2 months over to recap the holiday...) and I think we all came home with full tummies and happy memories.


The trip would not have been made this amazing... if not for...


1) The sister and her busband - they were so active and deserve full credit for planning and suggesting the itinerary
2) Everyone's patience - travelling with kids is never easy and everyone in the group helped share the load of the children which made a difference. I didn't feel too judged for their behaviours (not that they were bad, but it's not the same with children on holidays)
3) Everyone's can-do-attitude - whether it was what we wanted to eat, or do, or play, or go; everyone played a part in contributing (sometimes silence is the best form of contribution) in one way or other. We would not have met our beer count if we didn't all pull our weight (this may rank higher on the pleasurable can-dos); nor would we have had this much laughs if we didn't just go with the flow in the spirit of fun (our Mario adventures was a key highlight for sure and ranks most-talked-about-highest-hits-on-social-media-cos-we-cool-like-that)


I know the children had fun because they had the company of the extended families to play with, they went to Disneyland (even I had fun because the children are old enough to take fun rides - whee!) and it's definitely a check off family to-dos - fun for all, all for fun!


A full recap of our holiday here, from day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

ASICS Relay 2017 - 2nd year running, a new PB

Colleagues rallied to sign up for this ASICS relay again this year, as it was a pretty fun event last year. I signed up gamely, because I am meant to clock mileage (gasp) and this year, I ran with a different team.


With the experience from last year, I was more prepared with my diet through the day. In the morning, I had my usual breakfast then headed out for a short volunteer stint. By the time it was over and I met up with the family, it was time to go for lunch by the time we headed out.


We ran an errand of picking up the race pack for YOLO, had this pretty nice ramen (Nagi), and I bade farewell to the family as they headed home to rest pre-class; while I had the afternoon to myself. Knowing that I had the run, I devoured all my carbs from the ramen bowl, which I know would come in handy (carbo loading FTW).


I was truly tired, and I decided to head to a safe haven to rest - my office. It didn't make sense for me to go all the way home, as my race was nearer to where I already was; plus I was well-equipped with all that I needed; and so that's where I spent my afternoon. I was so tired that after arranging some seats for best-possible comfort, I fell asleep. I needed the nap and it actually felt pretty restful! I took my time to get ready for the run and at 4+, I made my way. It was just a few train stops away.






Race village sighted
It was such a crowd! We had a rough meeting spot and by the stipulated meeting time (530pm), not everyone had rocked up, so this was the group that made it into this first shot.

The earlier ones
D, C and I were first runners so we left our stuff with the rest and headed to the start pen. Flag off was at 6pm.
Start pen
And.... off we went! I was kinda pumped (slightly) because after running sub-60 last year, I was kinda hoping to do it again. I was also trying out running in a face with my new race belt (Fitbelt) and newer set of shoes.
Happy to share that I did it! According to my Nike app..
Fastest 10km recorded - woot!
To be honest, there's may be some untruth to this because
1. I did stop to have water on several occasions
2. I did walk on some occasions - 2 were due to slopes and fatigue, 1 major stretch was due to a human roadblock in a bottleneck area of the race.
3. I had to jog slowly on 1 occasion where I nearly came to a stop clarifying the race information with the marshals - it was not clear which item was meant to be passed on to my next relay runner
The app stops if I come to a standstill which doesn't take into account the true run wholly, but given that I did put in decent effort to run when I was running, I'm quite happy with my performance. The weather was lovely, sunset was a quick descent due to the pending rain and I got caught in it the last 1km, so I'm quite lucky. The rest of my team (esp runner #2) got more of it, so I can't complain.


Helpful colleague who prepared all these - our personal food/hydration point

Here's one of all of us runner #1 post-race
Running log has been sporadic, but I do have this record from last December. It's been a love-hate r'ship with running these past few months, primarily because of my training (inserts weh weh face); but it all adds up to my personal strength and experience. So, all good!



Race village - pretty lit
Another run, another record, another lesson to self. Checked!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Date night

Good food. Good company. Good life.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Day 7: Visiting Tsukiji, Shopping and our last night in Tokyo

The plan was for us to have breakfast at Tsukij this morning. Ever since our last visit to Japan, the husband has yearned to be head back to Tsukiji again. So finally, this day has come where we managed to tick this off his want list. After grabbing coffee and feeding the kids some bread (their version of breakfast), the #happyfamilyinjapan crew met at the lobby and headed to the markets. It was just a few stops away from our hotel/train station.
Wandering the stalls


#ootd

Our aim this round was simple - to just eat our way through whatever tickled our fancy! The husband picked one particular hole-in-wall restaurant which had very limited seats, so we split up for a while.

This little boy chose to eat with us

The end

J's rendition of our breakfast situation

Fresh fish = happy boys

We had some sets of fresh, fresh sushi and it felt so amazing to sit on the stool to absorb all the buzz in the area. The chefs all looked rather intimidating as they skillfully packed sushi with their nimble fingers. It still felt a bit much to have raw fish for breakfast, but an experience is an experience so one off the list! After eating, we headed off and ventured to meet with the rest.

Sun up in full glory

Making our way through more food stalls

Reunited! And look how happy everyone is! They were well into their meal; don't let the shabby setting fool you, the food was pure gold!

Happy street-side eaters

Uni, anyone?
Uni. Oysters.

Oh the uni experience

K loves her ikura
Soft-serve
It was so good, we went back for thirds
Grilled seafood goodness

We stayed at our food corner for a (long) while, going through food (some purchases more than once), then finally, when we felt satisfied, moved on to venture other parts of the market we haven't went to yet.

Us in the busy streets
See food, seafood.
Having a moment with her strawberry

This made me smile :) I love watching the children enjoy food!
I cannot remember what they were eating but we ate it all

This walking-around-to-eat journey was very different from what the husband and I experienced before. The highlight then was the auction, this time it was sheer enjoying of food. Having good company made it even better.

Our final stop for sashimi

Seahs at Tsukiji

By then, it was mid-day and the sun was so hot. We were full from an extended brunch and decided to head to the city for some shopping. Off to Shibuya we went.

In front of the busiest crossing in the world

We were at this mall (Hachiko, refer to sister's post for that family pic) and the family split up for some time to just walk about free-and-easy. As the husband and I were not inclined to buy anything, I requested for us to go to the Lindt café that I spied earlier.

Lindt

It was a 4-storey building that sold chocolates and had a bar/cashier on level 1, levels 2 & 3 were seats for diners and level 4 was a toilet. We indulged in some major-chocolate-overloaded beverage (YUM) and spent our hour sitting within, enjoying the cool air-conditioning with our amazingly-tasty choices.

Drawing, researching on what to draw and
look at the chocolate goodness

At the designated time, we met back with the family and headed to group-shot to select places (Adidas, Under Armour, Uniqlo, ....)
So, a funny thing happened at Uniqlo. It was a 3-storey building of Uniqlo, and I had K with me and we were browsing around. We were on L1 when I registered a sound calling my name.... I thought I was imagining it, but I wasn't. I headed to the middle of the stairway, and I looked up into the upper levels and saw my parents waving at me from above.


"We are stuck, we cannot go down!" said the mother.
?!?!?!?!


Turns out, they had taken the escalators up and up, not realizing that the top level was not Uniqlo. It was a level of restaurants which were not open. There was only an escalator leading up and none coming down. So, they were stuck.


I quickly asked help from a staff and - no need for panic- the parents made their way down eventually. After this point, we headed to different places. The sister, her busband and the parents went walking about and ended up at Muji. My family headed to H&M to get clothes for the children.


The boy needed to poop so the husband brought him to locate a loo. The girl and I continued shopping.



Someone very happy with her new cap
As the boy had the runs the day before, I was worried that he was unwell. Turns out that not only was the boy fine, this need to search for a toilet turned out to be a blessing. In this place which had the loo, we also found the Michelin-Star cup noodles which was something we had been hunting for our whole trip in Japan! -cues amazing applause-

Husband and his proud ah-ha moment

Winner winner cup-noodle-winner!
Noodle mules as we made our way to MUJI to look for the rest

The Muji café was quite nice. The whole building was full of Muji stuff from clothes to furniture to café; and I kinda wish I had more time to stroll within. All 4-storeys of Muji! I was kinda tired though, so was happy to just sit down at the café and chill. After raving about how we finally found the noodles, just in time too as we fly out the next day, we decided that maybe, what we had bought was not enough. Just 4 cartons?! So the husband made a decision to go back and get more. I accompanied him and this is when I had my second encounter with instant noodles - the first being here as I nearly killed someone with flying cup noodles).

Not my best moment.... photo credit: the cruel husband
Besides being shamed, I was not hurt otherwise - ha! We then made our way back to the hotel to drop our cartons before heading out for dinner. Just as we were leaving the café, we had a mini episode where we nearly lost the boy. After some mild moments of near-panic, we were reunited and everyone was safe again. Phew! (The sister wrote an account here.)


We ran through the list of things we had eaten and decided that it was time to have some BBQ beef. Not before we (1) continued to add to our beer tally (2) made a decision to go to Isetan (because in Japan) and (3) we were not that hungry yet anyway as we had a bite at the Muji café.

The B caught in action chugging down beer. TSK.
The men figuring out navigation
The rest, just... hanging (our value-add was keeping the kids
distracted so they did not destroy the men hard at work)


SHINJUKU TRAIN STATION (that's what it reads in the light glare area)

We made it to Isetan (yay) but it was closing in 30 minutes (boo). We split up to make moving about more convenient, and so the parents went off in one direction... and turns out the sister and her busband were telepathic with us as we met each other a very short while later at the food area. HAHA #eatingourwaythrough indeed.


I know it was pre-dinner, but it was just so glorious to be able to walk around and eat as happily as can be. We had donuts, some tasters and the sister was so sweet she was already in the Q to buy a strawberry shortcake as I wanted to go get one to fulfill that craving!

Mmmmm.

We ate a lot more snacks, and we discovered that we were not allowed to eat in the food zone (go figure). We met up with the parents and then headed out to the streets to locate our dinner. We ended up walking up and down a bit because we had no plan, but the final destination turned out to be ok, we had beef and bbq and beers and we all walked out smelling like our dinner.


We took the train back to the hotel and started the task of needing to pack - groans. That did not stop us from our nightly gathering (without the sister who was sick) where the B briefed us on the next day's plan.

My view from the bed.

Fruits of our labour - tasting the Michelin-noodles!

It has been such an amazing week and I was quite tired by this time. I think we really maximized our days fully from day to night to late-night as we conducted our own parties. We also steadily kept to our beer count and made really good progress!


As I attempted to pack a bit that night, I definitely felt happy and very full - in my tummy and heart #happyfamilyinjapan