#2088 | Testing testing one two..

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On set earlier this week for FRANK by OCBC, my favourite bank and the one I’ve had since i was old enough to have an atm card (which was quite late for most teens, thanks to my conservative parents). Pretty proud to say that I was actually one of the first people in singapore to get on FRANK because I literally applied for it the minute it launched – very old blog readers might remember this. Anyway. This post isnt really about that, it was just more a bemused rambling: the previous week had been exhausting, I think I teetered on the brink of falling sick without actually going there. So my body obviously took a toll trying to nudge itself back to the safe side of health. In any case it was a nonstop week because I was trying to catch up with friends and reestablish my social life now that my thesis is more on track to being submittable, and also because travelling had refreshed me, kinda, so I felt pretty enthusiastic about resuming my academic research and did so with great gusto. And then monday rolled around and my call time was like, 8am, and i was really freakin sleepy..

I am super not a morning person. Did I mention that ever? I must have, only like seven gazillion times.

Anyway so the bemused rambling that I mentioned earlier – I’m getting to the point. The opening scene of this particular shoot was one of me pretending to be asleep in bed. Because #realism, I had no make up on (therefore mentally felt not awake yet) and also I was more or less in pyjamas. And I was like, jeez, what if I fall asleep while pretending to be asleep?? Meta. And I remembered making a ton of jokes on set because the maniac laughter was the only thing saving me from actually falling asleep on the bed. And damn, that bed was comfy. And that is too many Ands in a sentence.

Anti-climatic plot twist: I didn’t fall asleep. Proud of myself, tho it makes for not a very interesting story. I’m filing it away mentally under “Things that almost became an anecdote but failed”. I cannot help but wonder what a client would do if I really did fall asleep one day – Singaporeans are so polite, would they wake me up? Or just let me sleep, then low-key laugh about it for years? Now that’d be a hell of an anecdote.

x
Jem

#2087 | Mel’s Bali Engagement :)

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Hey guys,

So I was in Bali in end-April for Mel’s engagement party, which I keep accidentally saying is her wedding. The thing about Singaporean weddings, I think, is that they’re such a huge affair that it becomes pretty hard to have quality time with the bride and groom, and it is based on this rationale that Mel decided to throw a much smaller scale engagement party for family and close friends. 🙂

My first time attending a destination wedding – sorry, engagement party/ wedding related activity – and so I was visibly excited at everything going down!! The party was held on this cliffside villa, and it felt like everything was coming together just for this one night – the most perfect sunset of our entire trip we witnessed there, and not gonna lie, it felt like it happened specifically for her engagement. It also rained half the nights we were in Bali, but the weather was perfect that night. 🙂 🙂 🙂 All the smiley faces because what the hell it was amazing!

Here’s my date for the night:

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Amanda wong everybody. Don’t know why she pretends she’s so normal on her instagram when actually she’s the craziest of the lot.

Anyway we kind of hung around upstairs waiting for the party to officially start. We were kinda early cos we expected the Bali jam to be insane but traffic was surprisingly smooth sailing (see above re: perfect conditions). So we arrived when the bridal party and co were still getting ready. When everything was done we headed down to the grassy area where the outdoor party was and basically screamed when she came out because LOOK AT THIS!

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I’ve known Mel for about four years now and I’ve legit never seen her so radiant – she was literally beaming. There was this once I did a bridal themed shoot for a local designer, about two years ago, and when I sent the photo to a friend of mine he replied and said that he nearly cried when he saw it.

You crazy ah cry for what it’s just a shoot I’m not really getting married.
DON’T KNOW LAH its very touching okay??
What???
Very touching to see a friend in a wedding gown what NO MEH
You’re mad. Next time dont show you already.

BUT NOW I TOTALLY GET IT. I nearly teared up when I saw Mel walk out! But of course I didn’t because then everyone would laugh at me. I cried later on, when they were doing the speech, and when the sun had set so no one could see me weeping like a lame person. HAHA.

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With Tara who flew in from Aussie for the wedding!

How much u wanna bet flower crowns are going to be the new bridal trend from here on? Hahaha! Anyway. So we were taking a picture together and hugs were being exchanged and in between photos I found myself alone with James, the man of the hour, who I quite like but don’t know as well as Mel because I kind of know him through her. But he is mega sweet and also possibly the happiest guy on earth and the new hero of all nice guys in the world because he has definitively proved that yes, nice guys finish last, as in, the last one because there will be no more guys after him since he’s marrying the girl!! This is something I joke about a lot with him, but it was not really the occasion to be joking around I suppose so when I found us two standing there I couldnt help but blurt out how happy I was for him.


You know
, I said, I dont think I’ve told you this but when I congratulated Mel after you proposed to her, she said she was so happy and it was all she’s ever wanted ..

And he looked like he was about to tear up right there and then. Don’t make me cry! he said, and I was like, damn. Nearly. So close.

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I wanna freak out a bit over the table setting also because I felt like I was legit living in a pinterest board just for one night. These outdoor weddings have never been very possible in Singapore (or perhaps Ive just never been invited to one?!) because of how humid it is, but in the dry crispness of other countries these fairytale like weddings seem totally achievable. Bali isn’t exactly cooling, but they held the party on a cliff so the constant sea breeze was something of a plus. All of us were soaked through by the end of the night regardless, but that was more because of all the wedding dancing than anything else. This was also one of the first times I’ve seen a real benefit in getting a wedding planner because it takes the burden off worrying about the big day and you can just sit back and actually enjoy the day, and let someone else worry about what could go wrong! HAHA. Mel’s wedding planner was from The Bride Story, judging from how well everything went, I think they did a pretty swell job.

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I’m like mega blonde here cos I went swimming in the sea and it washed all my color out. Haha! Oh yeah and wearing a hat cos they gave out His and Hers straw hats as party favors as we walked in. A pretty cute touch!

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First dance at sundown.

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Here you can see how the night got progressively more ratchet. HAHAHAHA. Because she kept the party small – about fifty people – everyone was jumping around and dancing after dinner, and eventually half of us ended up in the pool. It was mega fun!!!! But I think no one had as much fun as the couple themselves – Mel was practically delirious from happiness at the end, she was hugging everyone and making declarations of love. Aint those the best nights. x

So happy for you Mel. Many blessed years to come. x

x
Jem

#2086 | blast from the past

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today i felt a bit old because i suddenly remembered the time Apple first launched its iPhone and i was walking home from school with my girlfriend Jenna and we were laughing like crazy because we were like, stupid apple is going to fail haha no one is going to buy their phone cos the iPhone has no bluetooth how dumb is that.

(when i was in secondary school bluetooth or infrared was how you transferred files between phones. but bluetooth was better because your phones could be further away: with infrared you had to stick the phones together literally to get any file sent across)

and look where we are today.

i guess we really never know.

x
Jem

#2085 | Five Strangely Geeky Things to Freak out over in Tokyo

It’s very hard to quantify why and how I love Tokyo, but I do. Actually, I adore all of Japan, at least the bits that I’ve seen, but Tokyo was my first foray into the country and so holds a very special place in my heart. Tokyo to me is a little like New York on drugs, wacky, weird, happening, and with more neon lights. Every time I go I accumulate strange encounters, and so I thought it was time to pen down the five weirdest things you can do in Tokyo to satisfy your inner freaky geeky self.

1. Check out the roving exhibitions at the National Art Center Tokyo.

I was fortunate enough to catch Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul exhibition when I was in Tokyo. Click here to watch my #jemmainajiffy vlog of my experience..

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I was legit freaking out. It was one of the best exhibitions I’d ever seen! The balance of art and explanation was ace. You’d think that it’d be an obvious requirement for museums, but a lot of museums have really bad art descriptions, which really ruins the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the exhibition in Tokyo National Art Center got their copy down pat, especially since they’re definitely translated over from Japanese. You go, Japan!

And even if you’re not able to catch Yayoi, from experience – the National Art Center brings in really good exhibitions, so I definitely recommend checking it out anyway.

Last year, I was in Tokyo during Art Week, and so we got to see many literally roving exhibitions. Here’s one of some people pretending to be sushi.

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The art galleries were pretty good too. And if you’re not into that, at least go to admire the architecture – the building itself is amazing!

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Protip: Queue for tickets is mad, so buy your tickets online first. Or if you end up buying on the day itself, BRING YOUR STUDENT PASS. You’ll save like 400YEN on the admission fee. The museum is closed on Tuesdays, so don’t just rock up to the doors like we did without checking first. We had to come back twice because we didn’t realise it was closed on tuesdays the first time!

Additional tip: this museum is located in Roppongi, where the chichi neighbourhood is. You can go cafe hopping, have a drink at the famous Lost in Translation bar atop the Park Hyatt Tokyo, or head to a hedgehog cafe in the area!

2. Go to the Robot Restaurant

This idea was floated to me last year during my previous trip, but I never got around to doing it till this one. The robot restaurant has gotten such mixed reviews from everyone I know who’s been there – it really is either a love or hate kind of situation. But everyone agrees on one thing: only in japan.

I booked the robot restaurant for my sister and I on the Klook app, which is the same app I used for my airport transfer, my disneyland/sea tickets, so on and so forth. When I got to the restaurant I just showed them my phone to enter, which was incredibly convenient since I hate printing and carrying tickets around! Super super fuss free. We got the show-only option because we heard that the food they serve isn’t great. I’d recommend this for sure, because Shinjuku has a lot of great dining options you can go to after the show, like Ichiran ramen’s 24 hour chain and so on.

So we settled down and waited for the show to start. To be honest, when it began I thought it was totally not worth the money because it was just costumed girls running around on floats looking high on life. BUT. Turns out that was just the pre-show! The actual show… it blew me away. I think I must have been slightly delirious from the flight and the rain because I couldnt stop laughing for an hour straight. It truly is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.

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Waiting for the show to start… full house!

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Pre-show

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DANCING ROBOT!!!I screamed when he came out. I’m a sucker for these things.

Essentially, there are three shows in the robot restaurant, each with their own relatively simple storyline. The magic happens when the freakin ROBOTS come out and fight it out. What the damn hell! I screamed and laughed and cried so much I thought i was going to die. And after reading online reviews, I realised that they must have already tampered this down because apparently it was a lot LESS PG before it got so touristy. The show I watched was so crazy already, I cant imagine how it could have been crazier before!

The show was a freakin full house, and they do three shows a day. Even years after they’ve opened doors it’s still a full house every show, so I would suggest booking this early. The entire thing cost 10 million yen to build, and now I understand why. Do it if you’re the type who grew up watching anime and reading manga because to be honest, this is the closest you will get to living in a freaking manga comic. HAHA.

Protip: skip buying the overpriced dinner at the robot restaurant and go for dinner / drinks elsewhere after the show. Golden Gai is nearby for drinks, and the charmingly named Piss alley is also in the area if you want cheap eats.

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PS. Was super amused by the poor dudes who were obviously hired just to control the robots. All the excited dancing robots and costumed girls around them and they’re just like… another day in the life…

3. Get your life movie trailer made at the LINE FRIENDS HARAJUKU store

I must admit that I’m not a huge LINE user myself: I favour Whatsapp (because everyone is on it) and Telegram (because of the stickers!!) more. But I do use the LINE stickers of that weird moon headed man and the bunny on Telegram, and they’re some of my favourites!

You already knew that taking neoprints, or purikura (プリクラ), is a must when headed to Harajuku. But why not amp it up and take the LINE specific purikura pictures? It’s 600YEN for two sets of four pictures, and here’s the kicker – when you download the Purikura app, you can get the photos in full res for free instead of having to try take a picture of your print out. AND, the app automatically creates this short music video of your pictures, which kind of plays like a really cheesy life trailer. But crazy corniness aside, when else are you going to have a trailer of your own life made? This is like the opening to my future reality TV show, y’all. Crazy bear transitions and all.

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Besides, how can you resist a picture with this larger than life LINE bear?

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Protip: The LINE purikura machine is at B1 level. Down the road from the Harajuku LINE shop is Red Rock – where you can get one of the best beef bowls in your life. Yum! Go late to avoid a queue.

4. Play old school video games in the 8bit cafe

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This cafe has an entry fee of 500YEN and a minimum order of 1 drink each. But for good reason! The cafe is a themed one, full of old school games that are fully functional. You can stay for an hour and a half, and the games are a really good mix of familiar (marioKart) and never seen before (Pico Park?). Drinks are named after the owner’s favourite video game characters, which is a cute touch.

It’s not a big cafe, and fills up quickly. I would suggest going about late afternoon (it opens at 6) to avoid the crowds. We were the only ones there save for another couple, but by 630pm people started streaming in!

One last thing: the place is really near the Shinjuku subway exit, but it’s not easy to find. Look for a dodgy little staircase is my best advice, and a sign that says 8bit.

8bit Cafe
Q Building 5F, 3-8-3 Shinjuku,

160-0022 Shinjuku-ku , 13

Protip: It’s in between the Shinjuku Gyoen and the Metropolitan Gov building. So go to the Gyoen before that, then the cafe, then head to the Gov building to check out the free observation deck for a bird’s eye view of Tokyo! Wrote about the Metropolitan Gov Building (amongst other things) in my Broke Student’s Guide to Tokyo here.

5. Ride Mario GoKart down the streets

This is something I regretfully did not get to do myself, because I chickened out. I’m a relatively new driver, and I definitely do not feel confident speeding down the roads of shibuya in a gokart! But I saw a ton of other people doing it, and it looked ridiculous and amazing. You get to dress up as your favourite Mario Kart character and zoom zoom your way down the streets of Tokyo. Again, its something that mostly tourists do. But let’s face it – if you’re reading this, you’re a tourist. And so embrace the life, and get weird with them. Im sure it’ll be an awesome memory, and it’s something I’m mentally preparing myself to try the next time I head to Tokyo!

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Check out this insane looking experience. Image from: thebarrybullockhour.podbean.com

I also really liked the Tokyo Weekender review of the activity. Perhaps I’ll be brave enough to try it on my own next time! Ha.

You can also book this activity off Klook, where they occasionally have discounts for their hosted activities. And the more activities you book on them and reviews you leave, the more points you get towards a discount on your next activity!

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This post might be done but I am definitely not. A slew of Tokyo-related posts (aka. gushing about the city) to come, and till then – hope you guys enjoyed this post! Please send me your recommendations for the city as well, because I know I’m definitely going to be back before long 🙂

x
Jem

This was part of a Tokyo work trip with Klook – a travel activities booking site. Tickets to the Robot Restaurant were also booked on Klook!

#2084 | One of those days..

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Top: Pomelo / Camera: Nikon D750

It’s been a pretty unproductive week for me – I think because I’m falling sick. It must be a bug that’s going around because people around me were sneezing and now my brain feels like its made of damp cotton candy, the kind turning slowly to mush and mould. Still, I trudge on to my office everyday, partly because of guilt, I know. Two weeks away from Singapore – tokyo for work then bali for mel’s engagement – and i come back heavy with the guilt of fun. How dare I, i ask myself, be traipsing off having a good time when things i.e. the THESIS is due??! And so everyday sees me in the office staring at stacks and stacks of words and my brain, slowly, turning to potato salad.

The timing of it all, though, has been propitious. I submitted a first draft (the submission is stage four, the first three stages of research, interviews, and writing, have been ugly) literally the day I flew off to Tokyo, in the airport lounge waiting for my flight to depart. Ho hum, out of my hands – and then the week I got back from Bali, the feedback came in, and so I’m right back to stage four, draft two. I found myself grateful for the perfect precision with which the timelines of my academic and commercial life intersected – even leaving me four days in between touchdown and the revised first draft comments coming in so I could finish up work on some commercial projects. Upcoming soon: a Disneysea Hacks and Guide, Tokyo snacks guide, Tokyo convenience store food post, and Mel’s wedding photo journal (which i thought was a waste not to document since it was such a beautiful day!). And if you haven’t already read my Airbnb Audiowalks post on The Last Bookstore, please do because I wrote it when I was down with a Raging Flu.

I guess because of the being sick business, and this seems rather common as with every time i fall sick, I have been thrown into the midst of a Quarter Life Crisis wondering what is up with my life and where it’s going, etcetera etcetera. I suppose I assumed that I would go straight on to the PhD/MFA right after my masters but right now I’m exhausted guys, no two ways of looking at it. And so perhaps a break is in order, but who the hell takes a break at twenty four? It seems indulgent.

I didnt come to the blog for answers, just for journaling I suppose. Which is what blogs were meant to be about to begin with, but we all seem to forget that nowadays. Be back with the regular programming soon guys, i.e. the travel guides, so stay tuned while I go blow my nose again. x

x
Jem