Thursday, November 06, 2014

Blog migrated!

Hi all,

I have migrated to www.realgunner.com, do visit me there, I am still alive and kicking! ;)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

烦 Frustration

最近除了工作工作工作再工作 一闲暇下来就会胡思乱想反复思考我的人生。

当初决定离乡背井 北上来到槟城打拼时 我原先定下在这里最多呆个2-3年 用2-3年来累计工作经验 然后就闪人去更遥远的地方寻找自己的蓝天。其实我最初的目标根本不是槟城,而是去新加坡赚2块半,只是申请了很多新加坡公司 苦等了很多个月 最终还是只有苦等。

可惜念书的时候被无良的大公司经理们来到学院演讲唆摆 说什么[考试成绩不重要,人品才是最重要]之类的鸟话 害到天真的我放弃了只追求考试成绩的干劲 结果只考到了一纸二等上学位。 出来社会找工的时候才惊觉如果没有一等学位 那些之前说鸟话的经理根本是不太会理睬的。在座的如果有还在念书的小朋友们 千万要把试给考好 千万千万不要相信[考试成绩不重要]这句鸟话!

不过话说回来,我来到槟城的际遇还算不错。进了一家美国大公司 上司也不错 起初工作还真的蛮愉快的,还去了好几趟美国,所以一呆就呆了6年有多。只是工作越久就觉得越不对境,面对着经济大海啸的打击 看着公司的总裁一次又一次的发了自己几百万美元的红利 同时实行一系列削夺员工福利的措施 心情一次又一次的下沉。

看着自己薪水每年微涨5% 楼价却高涨50%, 经济饭从5年前的RM3.50起价起到现在的RM6 (70%),咖啡冰从RM0.90起到RM1.60 (77%),怎么感觉打工越久生命就越坎坷?

曾几何时,我的计划是在35岁之前赚够被动收入,然后就退休去环游世界。而今面对现实的洗礼,计划顿时化为梦想,而且是近乎幻想似的。我工作了快要6年了,好像跟6年前一样一无是处。 我这6年到底在干什么?

有时候真的很想狠下心来,冲动的去丢信,背上背包去浪迹天涯,寻求属于自己芳草。不过这念头每次都是一闪而过而已,因为很快就会想起6年前辞去吉隆坡的工作,敢敢跑来槟城找工,结果沦落至半年无收入的凄惨。每次想到这个,我心里的那团火就会自动被浇熄。

最近开始看了很多旅游博客的网记,每次看了都会很羡慕,因为他们都做了我想做而不敢做的事情,而且个个都看似对自己的生活很满意。难道我这怕死的心态 错了??难道我应该重复6年前的那股热诚,敢敢抛下所有的顾虑?

很烦。

For me, it has been either working, working, working and then working lately, or when there is some breathing space, I will spend the time to think about nonsense reflect about my life.

When I first decided to leave my hometown and head north to Penang, my original idea was to stay here for 2 to 3 years at most. I will use this 2 to 3 years to work my ass of and accumulate the invaluable work experience, and then fuck off head off to some further away places to search for my piece of blue horizon. To be honest, Penang was not my first choice, I originally wanted to go to Singapore and earn that RM2.50 conversion rate instead. Unfortunately, after applying into many companies and many months of waiting, in the end that was what it ever was, just waiting.

The problem was back in my college days, there used to be a lot of instances where those immoral managers from the big companies would come to give us career talks misguidance. The would spew bullshit like [Exam results are not important, what matters is your attitude], that kind of nonsense. I believed it, and back then because I was sort of nerdy (actually, I still am), I decided to reduce my focus on exams and spent time exploring other fascinating things about college life (like dating, playing snooker, etc). In the end I only got Second Upper for my Degree. Then reality hit when I graduated and began looking for jobs. There are so many fresh graduates every year that the very same managers who claimed that exam results are not important, will mostly select candidates with First Class Degree and discard the rest of the resumes. So if any of you reading this are still in college/university, study hard and bloody get your First Class, and never never never trust that [Exam results are not important]!

It has been good for me though, coming to Penang. I managed to squeeze myself into an American MNC, my manager was very good, and I thoroughly enjoyed my early working life. I even got the opportunity to travel to the US quite frequently. That's why I managed to stay on for 6 years and counting now. Problem is, the longer I work, the more I realize things don't add up. Shortly after I started working, we were hit my the worst economic crisis since The Great Depression. Since then I witnessed our beloved CEO repeatedly implement measures that cut into employees' welfare and benefits, while at the same time draw millions of dollars in bonus for himself. Every time he announces such new measures, my mood will plummet even more. To rub further salt into our wounds, he would make the trip to Penang every once in a while to tell us "We are all in this together, the fiscal measures affect all employees including me!"

I have been witnessing an engineer draw on average, a meager increment in salary of 5% annually, while the price of houses skyrocketed 50% or more. I have watched a plate of economic rice (basically set meal with rice and a couple dishes) increase in price from RM3.50 to RM6 over a 5 year span (70%), and a glass of iced coffee go from RM0.90 to RM1.60 (77% increase). I find myself always questioning myself: why is it the longer we work, the more tragic our life seems to become?

There was a time when I had a plan to create enough passive income at the age of 35, then retire and travel the world. Sadly, after a few years of being baptized by reality, the plan turns into a dream, in fact it is fast becoming more and more like an illusion. I have been working for 6 years, but today I feel almost exactly as accomplished as I felt like 6 years ago. What the heck have I been doing in these 6 years exactly?

Sometimes, I really feel like giving in to that rush of impulse and throw the resignation letter out, pack up my backpack and ride of into the sunset while searching for the love of my life. But every time, that feeling dissipates as quickly as it formed. I would think back to 6 years ago, when I resigned from my first job of 4 months, gave up everything and moved to Penang to hunt for a better job. I ended up going half a year without any income. Whenever I remind myself of this pathetic 6 months, all the fire in my belly is effectively doused.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs by travel bloggers. I always end up feeling very envious of them, because they dared to do the thing that I did not and still do not dare to do. Amazingly, all of them bloggers appear to be so content with their decisions to give up everything, pack up and be on the move. Is my fear of the unknown misguided?? Should I really rekindle the same kind of passion that I had 6 years ago, and once again set everything down and just, go?

This is very frustrating.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Experiment Results

On average, each of my blog post garners between 20 to 30 views, and it takes 2 weeks to get there.

This experiment, which I did 2 days ago:
Insider News: Who Will Win The World Cup 2014

It is a crap post, with no coherent content, misleading heading and keywords, and basically just a rubbish article. The only thing it is rich in is SEO friendly keywords.


Kind of makes me feel depressed considering that I wanted to start writing seriously again. I'm a huge fan of casual and spontaneous when it comes to expressing my views into words. If I have to worry about what keywords to use when I write articles, might as well forget it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Insider News: Who Will Win The World Cup 2014

Actually, this post is an experiment in SEO and it's pitfalls. I am not going to talk about who will win the World Cup in Brazil. I am not going to talk about either Neymar will beat Messi, or the other way round. What do you think I am? Paul the Octopus? When it comes to predicting football, I am more like Pele, always getting it wrongly!

I just wanted to test how much hits I am going to get in a blog post rich with SEO friendly keywords but have utter nonsense content. What is SEO? For the uninitiated, it is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization.

Over the past couple of weeks, while studying the art of traffic generating writing, I came to a realization that most websites spend unbelievable amount of focus and money to ensure their websites rank top in search engines. Most of the time, really meaningful content is sacrificed so that articles can squeeze in Googlebot friendly keywords.

The other day I came across in Google, an article with the title: Piers Morgan Will Marry Taeyeon. What a shocking title, so naturally I clicked in to peek. Turns out it is a website selling golf clubs. The whole article was talking about golf clubs, until the last sentence which said: If Piers Morgan plays golf with our super clubs, even the Korean hot babe Taeyeon of Girls Generation will want to marry him.

Good job, you got me, and wasted 5 minutes of my time reading something totally unrelated to your title and heading.

Okay before I end, maybe I will try to make whoever of you who came here feel your time is less wasted. I will attempt to give you my prediction on who will win the World Cup this year. And by the way, sorry for tricking you guys into clicking this link.

Brazil will win the World Cup.


You are not making a prediction, you are just stating a fact!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

ABOUT ME

I sometimes get asked why there isn't an ABOUT ME post. I never bothered. Lately I'm getting a few queries again. Well...

I started this blog back when Facebook was unknown (at least in this part of the world), and when then term iPhone was nonexistent. This is a really really old blog, I reckon, so I think it is fitting that I use a really really old method to write the ABOUT ME.

I will write them down on a piece of paper with a pen. Here goes...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Moron

There are morons, and then there are morons. Or so they say...

I was sick of watching the World Cup matches at McD Sunshine Square. It does not have a dedicated TV area, so realistically there are only a couple of seats that really offer good viewing experience. So for the Italy vs Costa Rica game, I went to another McD further away.

So there was a couple sitting at the table next to mine. The girl knows her football well. The guy was telling her Italy's star player is Mario Balotelli, and he used to play for Chelsea and now Juventus. She gave him a surprised look and said: "什么?明明是 Manchester City, 还有现在不是在 AC Milan 咩?(What? It was Manchester City obviously, and isn't he now in AC Milan?)"

I am sufficiently impressed with the girl. The boy? Not so much. I wonder what will Super Mario do if he learns that somewhere in the world, there's some dude who got the facts about him wrong.


Anyway that's not the main point. I totally deviated from what I wanted to write about. Let's get back to the topic.

At half time, I was taking some time to calm down after watching Super Mario missed a sitter, and then watching Costa Rica scored a goal. I overheard the couple chatting again. No I wasn't eavesdropping, I swear to ... whatever it is you fancy. I was just sitting there and they happen to be talking in an audible range from me.

Anyway, she was asking him if he watched that Thai tranny music video that got more than 10 million views on Youtube. I'm guessing she meant this one, it is pretty popular on my Facebook feeds lately.


The girl was wondering aloud, why is it that there are so many ladyboys in Thailand compared to other countries in the world, and that it makes no sense to blame it on hormones for this situation (which I totally agree. I don't think it is more due to hormones than it is due to the social environment and exposure, because if it is due to hormone imbalance, it should be the same worldwide rather than certain countries having higher percentage than others). I am getting more and more impressed with the girl. She is really smart and employs logic in her thinking.

"Well, obviously it is because they are a Buddhist country and do not believe in God, so God punished them by making them confused with their gender!"

Wait... WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK?!

No, I am not making this up. These are the exact words that moronic guy spewed, and in English. It pissed me off enough for me to remember the exact words he said. 

Some of you Christian friends might feel frustrated and wonder why us outsiders generally have a less than stellar impression on Christianity in Malaysia, and why we treat those door to door preachers like leprechauns. Well here is your answer. In your midst there exist morons such as this guy who still live in medieval ages and... and... I don't know what to say...

I was pissed enough that I turned around towards their direction. I was preparing to give him a cold hard glare and a bloody piece of my mind. Turns out it was unnecessary. The girl did the job for me.

"Shut up. You know you sound like a moron, right?"

She proceeded to ignore him the whole night.

I would be honest, I am super duper impressed with this girl. If I had met her without the boyfriend, I will definitely attempt to make her my girlfriend.

Well, maybe not. It is mostly because of the moronic guy that made me aware how awesome this girl is.

Anyway, nothing happened. I don't do attached girls, no matter how hot or how awesome I find them to be. Maybe she will break up with that guy. Who knows if we might cross paths again in the future.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Keywords

I usually get 20 to 30 visits per new blog post, which is horrendously pathetic as traffic generating blogs go, but inconsequential to me personally because my blog is sort of personal and for my friends only.

Most of the famous and successful bloggers said placing the right keywords in your blog posts is very important to get hits.


Hmm, sounds about right.

England Will NOT Win The World Cup

I watched my first World Cup match this morning, 6.00AM, England vs Italy. Before the match started, I silently made some predictions:


1. England will start the first 10 minutes brilliantly.
2. Italy will take the lead.
3. England will equalize.
4. Mario Balotelli will score a goal.
5. England would fade away in the second half.
6. ENGLAND WILL LOSE.


Turns out, 6 out of 6. I'm a World Cup Oracle. I think I should plunge into betting seriously this coming couple of weeks.

I watched the game in McDonald's. Basically that is the only place I can catch the action. And goodness me, it was packed with girls. All die hard England supporters. Some were accompanying guys, but there were also 2 tables of all girls gathering. Sambal party?



And no, they were not there because they think David Beckham is still playing, or that Cristiano Ronaldo plays for England. Throughout the match I hear the girls chanting "Sturridge!", "Rooney!", "Gerrard!" and even "Jagielka!". Spectacular, girls are picking up football properly at last, I think.

But then, this is not the reason why I feel the urge to blog. What I really wanted to do is take a dig at the English team. ENGLAND WILL NOT WIN THE WORLD CUP, STOP DAYDREAMING.

The English Premier League is so famous because it is fast paced, exciting, and filled with players from all over the world. It is not because the English players are so superior. Most of the English players are overpaid and overrated and most importantly over-arrogant twats.


And they don't have style. When you think of Brazil or Spain you think of their flamboyant and exciting attacking plays. When you think of Italy you think of solid defence. When you think of Germany you think of their efficient playing. England? Nothing.

In the past the English tabloids and the players will always overplay their chances, spewing crap like "WE HAVE A REALLY GOOD TEAM, WE WILL BE ABLE TO WIN THIS TIME". It appears to me kind of subdued this time around, until I read that Stevie G said: "We have no expectations this time, we don't have the pressure to perform, so I think we will stand a good chance to win." Bollocks. Same old delusional...

I'm sorry, couldn't resist saying it, once again you guys and girls who dreams that England will win the World Cup will have your hearts shattered again.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Spontaneous

The landlord is big on making spontaneous visits. All the rental are paid by me banking in to his bank account and then sending him an SMS notifying him about it. We rarely talk over the phone. Once in a blue moon, I would call him to inform him that something is broken and needs fixing. When he calls me though, it is because he decided he has to come to the house for whatever reason, rather spontaneously.

In the past, it used to be:

Landlord : Mr Leong (actually that is not my surname, but he heard my friends call me Ah Leong, so..), can you open the door? I am at the front gate. I want to collect my letters/check something.
Me         : Huh? I can't. I'm not in. I'm at work/having lunch outside.
Landlord : Huh? Really ah? When will you be back?
Me         : Erm, in another hour or two, I think?
Landlord : Never mind then, I'll come again.

Recently, he is trying to give me advanced notice:

Landlord : Mr Leong, just to let you know ah, I'm on my way to the house now. Can you be ready to open the door in 15 minutes' time?
Me         : Huh? I'm at my hometown/in another country on business trip. I won't be back until next week.
Landlord : Huh? Aiya, okok, never mind, I call you again when I come next time.

Seriously, I think the landlord has certain expectations of me. Like, if I am not working, I should be staying in the house 24-7 guarding his house. Or, if I am going back to hometown or going away for a business trip, I should inform him, I don't know, maybe he wants to arrange someone else to babysit the house. Or something along those lines. I wonder why he can't/won't let me know earlier (like, a day or 2 in advance) that he is planning to come for whatever reasons he has.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Angry Man

I was sitting in the office the other day, pondering about my life, almost 6 years since I moved to Penang for work.

Actually I still can't believe I have been here for that long. Originally, I had only intended to work here for 2 to 3 years, then bail.

While thinking, I came to a realization, I am a much shorter tempered man now compared to 6 years ago. I get frustrated/flustered/impatient/annoyed/offended and switch into internal cursing mode much more easily nowadays. By internal cursing mode, I mean I curse my offender in my heart rather than shouting it out loud. Fortunately I still believe in avoiding conflict as much as possible.

When walking along the corridors in the office, I always find people like to stand in the middle of the walkway or in front of the doors and have a chit chat. This really pisses me off big time. Why can't these fuckers stand away from the door and at the side and not block other people's way? Do they think their dads own the company or what?!

Also, people like to walk at a leisurely pace. By leisurely pace, I mean snail pace. Now, that wouldn't be a problem, except for when there are a few of them, and they like to spread out and walk side by side, and yes, chit chatting. You know, how the Chinese say it, 一字排开. And when you say "Excuse me", they turn around and give you that annoyed look, as if you are the unreasonable one. Fuck these fuckturds! Don't they know that not everyone are as free as them? Sometimes there are people who need to walk fast to rush to attend to issues or meetings?!

When queuing up at a car park's autopay machines, most people like to chit chat or play with their iPhones while in the queue. When it is their turn, then they will put their phone away, fumble for their purse, search for the parking ticket and the money needed. Why? Why do people do that?? Why can't people spend that free time in the queue to get the parking ticket and the required money ready, and then just get on with paying when their turn arrive? You might say I am just suffering from engineer deficiency syndrome or whatever is it you want to call it, but isn't it just common sense to try to minimize everyone else's waiting time in queues whenever and in whatever way possible? Why can't people think like that?!

Driving is another source of frustration. When driving on a 3 lane road, there are always cars that stay on the fast lane driving at 40km/h. What the fuck is wrong with these drivers? If you are slow, why not fuck off into the slow lane?! Worse is, some of them, when you try to overtake them, they start to pick up speed as well. Fuck off! Just because I am overtaking you, it does not mean that I am challenging you to a race! Try to grasp that there are people who need to get to wherever they are going fast. Try to grasp that you are the asshole that is in the way!

Sometimes there are cars that drive in between lanes. And no, I don't mean for a short period of time. I have seen cars (yes, with the s, meaning many times) who drove the whole way from e-Gate to Komtar (that's about 5 kilometers) staying between the middle lane and fast lane. Maybe when they went to the driving school, their driving instructor taught them to stick to the white lines instead of in the lanes. Or maybe they are the idiot ones, when people say stay in your lane, they think it means stay on the lines. They are more dangerous than people who speed. Honestly, I think if speeding deserves a RM300 fine, these idiots deserve RM3000 fines!

Enough of ranting. My point is, I don't know since when, but I am beginning to get offended easily by stuff like this and as a result, pushes my stress and hate level over the edge. Or maybe I have always been like this, but just realized it recently. Is there anyone who thinks and feels like me? Or am I the odd one out?

Anyway, I am an angry man. When you are around me, please don't do the stuff that I mentioned above. Thanks.....

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

How Much Is Your Porn Worth?

This happened in a certain computer shop in Queensbay Mall just now..

Me: I think my hard disk is broken, when connected to my laptop, it can power up and run, but the PC cannot detect it.
Salesman: Let me take a look.

While he was checking the hard disk out,

Me: I checked online, it is still under limited warranty. But when I try to submit for RMA, the website always returns error.
Salesman: Oh, we can do it for you, you can leave the hard disk with us.
Me: Really? Great! Are you able to recover my data for me then?
Salesman: You want to salvage your porn? Have to use third party software to do it, but it will void your warranty.
Me: ......
Salesman: If you think your porn is worth more than RM250, then we can try to recover. If not then leave it as it is and do the RMA.
Me: No, my porn is not in this hard disk I don't have porn in my hard disk.
Salesman: Then no problem, please sign here on this form for the RMA.
Me: Ok...


Sunday, May 04, 2014

Everyone is on hiatus!

This is quite unexpected, and frustrating...

I thought I was the only one who had gotten lazy with maintaining my blog, but when I try to click around on blogs that I used to follow, apparently most of them are on indefinite hiatus as well!

Damn Facebook for making everyone turn into lazy bums, including me!

Okay, on a totally unrelated but equally enjoyable matter to me, a belated Happy St Totteringham's Day to everyone in the world except delusional Spurs fans :-D


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Japan Business Trip 2014: Shinjuku

After making my post about myself being a sore thumb, I stared at my blogroll and realized this one unpublished post and feel it is also a sore thumb, so I better post it now.

--------------------

I did not have time for extended sightseeing from the 1 week trip to Japan. As I mentioned many times, most of the trip was spent having meetings and traveling on trains.

The only opportunity I had to walk around was on arrival day, around our hotel in Shinjuku.

Outside the hotel

Takashimaya, Times Square, right across the hotel. Pedestrian bridge access.

Some Christmas-y deco I guess, right outside the hotel.

It was bad timing to come out for a walk, 5.00pm local time, we are beginning to see the first wave of after work hours rush. But then, that is the only timing I had.

Human crossing outside Shinjuku JR Station

One thing I learned though, is, once you experienced peak hour rush in Tokyo, I suspect you will be able to adapt to peak hour rush anywhere else. It makes peak hour rush in KL like kid's play.

What you get is a whole lot of people pouring out from train stations into the streets, and basically all of the pedestrian walkways are filled to the brim with people. People are walking rushing around close to each other, almost touching. As a tourist, it is impossible to slow down, let alone stop, to get a good angle to snap a photo, within a 2 or 3 km radius of the train station. You have to keep moving along with the crowd, or they will push you and make angry remarks. Not that I understand, since they're in Japanese. So most of the photos I snapped are rubbish and blur, because they are snapped while on the go.

Perhaps this only happens in the main train hubs, Shinjuku being one of them. In fact, I hear Shinjuku train station is the largest train station in Japan!

This was a photo I managed to capture right before the human rush began

Things get better though, the further you drift away from the train station. I have no idea where I am at in below pictures, I just walked blindly around. Judging from where I could still see my hotel tower, I suspect I was in Kabukicho, where Jackie Chan filmed the movie Shinjuku Incident.

Pachinko shop. Too bad it was closed, I'd like to see the interiors of some place I first learned from watching Slam Dunk.

Car park. Again it was closed, I think it should be similar to the ones we see in Tokyo Drift?

Rest of the photos that I think is semi-decent...





I did go into this shop, I may or may not have bought stuff from here. I did not go into this shop.

Did I mention I was able to judge my location from my hotel tower from more than 3km away?

I did not even have the time to properly shop for souvenirs. Even if I have the time, I doubt I would be able to afford to buy. Most of the things I see in the stores start from 1000 yen. So I made just 1 quick dash into a special shop, grabbed everything I could see.

This whole basket costed me 2800 yen.

This is the special shop.

Some of the candy, like that Mitsuya Cider candy from Asahi, yeah, they came from this shop too. I might have overlooked correcting some of you who guessed that 1 pack of those cost 1000 yen. Don't kill me =P.

Well, that's about as much as I have about the Japan trip. I'm not sure if I ever want to visit this country again, even on a vacation basis. You really need to be able to at least understand some Japanese words, because beyond Tokyo, people literally speak no English.

Oh well...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sore Thumb

I have another sightseeing post from my Japan trip, but have been procrastinating for more than a month to get it done. Maybe I'll do it tonight... or tomorrow night... or over the weekend... or next year... or whatever...

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I had another silently-having-the-opposite-perspective-compared-to-my-peers moment a couple of days back. Actually I've been having this kind of moments on and off since entering the working world.

I met an outside vendor with a colleague, the vendor was supposed to come in and verify a few of the instruments that we purchased from them but had drifted out of spec. Apparently, that guy was new, and he came unprepared and not knowing what to do. In fact, he came empty handed, without bringing with him any tools that he can use to perform the verifications. Naturally we were disappointed. What happened next:

[What I had in mind]
I ask the vendor: "If you come empty handed, how are you going to verify whether your instruments has drifted? And how do you plan to perform the verifications?"
I send him back with a stern reminder to be prepared and arrange for him to come back tomorrow.

[What actually happened]

The colleague black faced the vendor and said to him: "Eh hello?! You bring 两疏蕉 come, do what?? Do you know what you are doing?! Verify with your fingers??!"
The vendor got panicked and replied: "Sorry sir, I'm new to this job, maybe I can.."
The colleague interrupted and shouted: "I don't care you are new! This is your job, and you don't know how to do it!"
The colleague stormed off with a promise to escalate this to the vendor's manager.

--------------------

I don't really agree with the [What actually happened]. I don't agree with throwing your weight, piling pressure on people to get things done. I think this is a very stupid way to get things done. Usually, what follows is that the party being pressured panics and tries to do his "best" to fulfill you, and by "best", I mean doing magic, cutting corners, presenting something that only looks good on the surface, hiding faults, etc. A bigger bomb explodes few weeks/months down the road.

I've seen this happen many times before, sadly no one seems to be able to see this, no one seems to want to change their ways. Or maybe it is just me being a sore thumb sticking out?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Japan Business Trip 2014: Getting Around

When we arrived at Narita Airport, we basically were still not entirely sure how to get from there to Shinjuku. We could have taken the bus or airport limousine, but in the end we still opted for the Narita Express, which is basically a train. We also got ourselves the Suica card, which is basically something like the Touch n Go card, you can reload any amount into the card and use it on trains and vending machines around Tokyo.


Being a train that specializes in going between the airport and Tokyo, the train naturally has designated space for our big luggage. It also has screens with information and status of all the train lines in Tokyo. Apparently the day before our arrival it had been snowing quite heavily in Tokyo and many of the train lines were closed.


Tough luck on the Tokyo-ites, luckily the Yamanote Line that we needed to get between the hotel and the office we were visiting was functioning properly.

Below here is the picture of Gotanda Station at some time between 3 to 4pm, we were headed to our Shinkansen transit at Tokyo Station, it is not rush hour.


I am proud to say that I have experienced rush hour on the Yamanote Line, which is basically the main train line around Tokyo. It really is not a pleasant experience. Those video you see, where people are packed like sardine, where there are 'pushman' pushing more people into already full train carriages, it is true. You really can put your hands on hot Japanese chicks' butts and squeeze at your own pleasure without her being able to do anything do not need to hold on to any handles or rails because there are no space between people so even if the train ride is bumpy, you will not fall down.

I am also proud to mention that I have experienced Japan's bullet train, also known as the Shinkansen. Actually I had to, we need to visit a factory in Fukushima and the bullet train is the fastest way to get there. It is quite expensive though, a one way ticket from Tokyo to Fukushima cost 8190 yen (US$90-ish), the distance is about 200km.


First time I try to do what I originally bought the Nikon P520 for: a selfie. I'm not good at it, need to learn how to do it without revealing my double chin >.<


Here comes the bullet train...


When you are inside the train moving, you actually don't feel that it is going at high speed. But rest assured, it really is. We made 5 stops over the 200km-ish journey and arrived just slightly after 1 hour.

When we arrived at Narita, we did not spend much time checking that airport out. But our return flight was through Haneda airport, which is located in downtown Tokyo rather than at the outskirts in Chiba, and the flight was midnight, so we arrived with plenty of time to spare.

This is the first airport that I have been to that has an outdoor observation deck. To be honest, actually, I never really checked out other airports that I have been to anyway, LOL.




But although we arrived relatively early, it was still late at night, almost all the shops in the airport closed within an hour of us arriving. Nothing much to do other than have a quick supper and then wait for our flight home.

Japan Business Trip 2014: Hotel

Being new and unfamiliar in Japan, not to mention having a huge language barrier, we stayed in hotels right next to the train stations.

In Tokyo, we stayed in Century Southern Tower Hotel, right next to Shinjuku Station, the biggest and busiest train station hub in Japan. The hotel was overbooked, instead of single room, we had to take the deluxe double room, the room rate was a whopping 29600 yen, or US$300-ish a night. We learned later that we came to Tokyo at a bad time, it was the week of the universities' entrance exam, most of the high school grads around Japan flock into Tokyo.

This Southern Tower is kind of interesting though. The entire building is 35 floors tall. The first 4 floors are shops, 5th to 18th floor are office floors, 19th and 20th the hotel lobby and restaurants, and 21st onwards are hotel rooms.


Overlooking the Shinjuku Station, lobby view

 Overlooking Times Square/Takashimaya, room view

For some reason I forgot to take photos of the hotel room...

We stayed in the Richmondo Hotel in Fukushima, right next to the Shinkansen station (bullet train). Being out of Tokyo, we were able to get single rooms, and the rate here is much cheaper, 9600 yen a night, or US$100-ish. I suspect that hotel in Tokyo, even with single room, the rate won't be this.


I do have some photos of the room here.

Door magnets

This is what a single room in Japan looks like.



The toilet bowl comes with an interesting gadget. It keeps the seat warm, and has 2 water spraying mode to help you clean your ass after doing big business. I wonder why the American hotels do not come with this convenience.


Conclusion: Accommodation in Tokyo is freaking expensive!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Japan Business Trip 2014: Food

I went on a business trip again last week. Not the US this time though. This time it is Yokoso Japan! I went to 2 places: Tokyo and Fukushima (yes the same district where the nuclear plant leak occured, although it is 100km away).

I'm going to start by talking about the food I had.

Tokyo Day 1:

The hotel that I was staying in, in Shinjuku, does not provide free breakfast. I suspect most hotels in Tokyo does not provide free breakfast too. So we had to go out and look for our own asa-gohan. Problem is, in Japan, most shops including restaurants does not open until 10AM. That leaves us with limited choices. So we went to the only logical place: Starbucks.


Going to Starbucks is a very good experience for guys. You get cute bariste serving you, you get to observe cute OLs coming in for their daily dose of caffeine, and you get to watch even more kawaii OLs and student girls rushing along the streets just outside. When I say cute I mean girls that wrap their upper bodies up completely with thick jackets, scarves, gloves and whatnot, but leave their sexy legs exposed by wearing just a mini skirt.

Ok sorry, this is supposed to be a post about the food. Let's move on to beverages. I had the chance to get my hands on a few Japan specialty drinks. Pocari Sweat is something you will recognize if you watch the anime Slam Dunk. Then there's Kirin Cola and Mitsuya Cider by Asahi. I realized over here that Asahi does not only produce beer, they also produce a wide range of non alcoholic beverages and snacks.


I spent the best part of evening wandering around and getting lost in Shinjuku, so much so that by the time I was ready for dinner, all the restaurants and ramen shops on the streets were fully packed with long queues out on the streets. It is when I discovered Denny's.

Well Denny's is actually an American 24 hours food chain store, sort of. But here the menu is Japanese fusion style. It is here that I discovered even in Tokyo, if you go beyond the malls, it is not English friendly. The menu has no English translations, and the kawaii waitresses are Eigo wa hanasu dekinai.

I do know bits and bits of Japanese words, mostly thanks to watching animes with subs rather than the dubbed versions. This was how I placed my orders with the waitress that served me:

Me: (pointed to the pictures) kore, kore, kore.
Waitress: Hai! !@#$%^&*bla bla bla bla desu ka?
Me: (stares at the waitress and give her a confused look)
Waitress: Kore dake desu ka?
Me: Hai!
Waitress: Wakarimashita, bla bla bla arigato gozaimasu! Sukoshi matte kudasai!

The end result was a plate of wagyu strips on top of a pile of tauge and onions with chips, vege and some special Japanese sauce.


Half-assed translation alert:

1. asa-gohan - breakfast
2. kawaii - cute
3. bariste - female barista (this is Italian LOL).
4. Eigo - English; hanasu - speak; dekinai - cannot (can would be dekiru)
5. kore (pronounced as ko-ray, not core) - this; Hai - yes
6. dake (pronounced as daa-kay, not take with d in t's place) - only; desu ka? - is it? 
7. Wakarimashita - I understand; arigato gozaimasu - thank you; sukoshi - a little; matte - wait; kudasai - please (I think this doesn't work as a standalone word)

Fukushima:

The hotel in Fukushima provides free breakfast, buffet style. It is a Japanese-Western fusion. We get miso soup, steamed mackerel alongside bacon and croissant etc.


It is here that I encountered something with the name of Fukushima Special Potato Stew, and a strange drink called Acerola. According to the description card next to the drink container, it means Indian cherry blossom. I don't understand why we get to drink Indian sakura drink in Japan? @.@"

Lunch in the factory we visited was an interesting affair. We get bento with with different types of food, no doubt to really provide us with a balanced diet. The Japanese take their food health seriously.


We spent 2 nights in Fukushima. We had one of our dinners at a shop that specializes in those fried stuff, but the little boy in me decided to have something on their "special" menu rather than the normal popular choices. I had the Aomori bla bla bla bla buta teishoku, which actually turns out to be really really good.


Half-assed translation alert again:

1. bento - meal box
2. Aomori - a place in Japan (my big bro used to study here hehehe); buta - pork; teishoku - set meal

But the highlight of Fukushima was the other dinner that we had, which was more extravagant. You see, we had a Japanese host that took care of us and provided translation service. He treated us to dinner and this was roughly what happened:

Host: Before we start eating, we must have a beer. Japanese culture.



Host: We must have another beer to go with the appetizer.


He introduced us to this thing called nato. It is basically fermented beans. I suspect it is the same raw ingredient used to make those smelly tofu.



After the beer and appetizers, time for main courses...

Host: Is this you guys first time to Japan? Then you must try the Yamazaki. Very special Japanese drink.



He also introduced us to this thing that comes together in the sashimi moriawase platter. He told us it is "before egg", It's that bowl of white-ish thing in the middle.



After we were done eating...

Host: Okay we are done with food. Now is time for a serious drink.

Us all: @.@" ok...

Host: Let's have the Kaku Single Rock. It is a good drink for the singles.


Well our host is a very well traveled man. He had few year stints in Bangkok, UK, Sweden, and wherever else that he did not tell us. So maybe this is not exactly how a typical dinner with Japanese is.

Back to Tokyo:

We spent 2 days in Fukushima spending nothing on meals as our host paid for all our meals. So once we made it back to Tokyo, we decided to splurge a little. We went to some sort of a western style seafood restaurant located on the 13th floor of Takashimaya Time Square in Shinjuku. Tokyo Ocean Grill or something like that. Twice. Once for lunch and once for dinner.





Also had a sushi meal in the same floor at a place called Tsukiji Tamazushi. Tsukiji is actually that seaside place where they do all those exciting tuna bidding. Probably this restaurant gets their fish supply from Tsukiji or something. First time I had cawanmushi that comes with some sauce on top of the egg.



Then at Haneda Airport for our flight back to Malaysia, finally had the chance to try the famed Tonkotsu Ramen, and experience placing order from the vending machine.


Yeah, I guess food wise, this trip has been very interesting :D