Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year That Was

A recap of what I have gone throughout the year 2007.

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JANUARY

  • Had a simple New Year 2007 celebration, but did not go for any countdown in the town. Instead, just had a quiet celebration with family members.

FEBRUARY

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  • Started blogging with my very first post.
  • Had a farewell dinner for the batch leaving for Japan in early April.
  • Celebrated Chinese New Year 2007 for the last time as it would be at least a few more years before I got to celebrate it at home again.
  • Finished my foundation studies in PPKTJ.
  • Sent for a BTN camp a.k.a. brainwash camp at Malacca. First visit to Malacca after almost 10 years.

MARCH

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APRIL

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  • Touched down safely in Tokyo under raining condition in a chilling morning.
  • Saw sakura (cherry blossoms) for the first time.
  • Celebrated my 20th birthday abroad for the first time. It was so coincident that there was a gathering dinner among the Malaysians in Nagaoka. So, it can be considered as a two-in-one celebration.
  • Went for hanami (sakura sight-seeing) during the spring with senpai.

MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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  • Went to the biggest island (excluding the four main island) in Japan, Sado Island with the rest of the foreign students from my college for a trip.
  • Finally, after more than four months in Japan, I was hit with an earthquake. It was the first time and it hit me really hard - a magnitude 6.6 quake.
  • The month when she said "yes" to me.

AUGUST

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  • Started the first part of my summer trip. Went to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto with a few batchmates and it was followed up with the Hiroshima trip with Kok Hong.

SEPTEMBER

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  • Second part of my summer trip continued a week after I finished up the first part. This time, it was Hokkaido.
  • Had my first drive in Japan - without a valid license.

OCTOBER

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  • Celebrated Hari Raya in a new and different atmosphere with the Malaysians in Nagaoka.
  • Went for a pear hunt.
  • My battle robot failed miserably in the battle with the other robots.
  • Learnt some Japanese culture in a workshop.

NOVEMBER

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  • It was heading towards the end of the autumn. Went for some maple leaves sight-seeing trips at Okutadami Dam and a maple park at Momijien.
  • Another new experience while living in Japan. This time it was experiencing the snow for the first time ever in my life. The excitement got better when the whole place was covered in snow.

DECEMBER

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  • The month that I was looking forward to the most. It was not for the ski and snowboard trip, but it was the trip back home. I only got to spend barely ten days in Malaysia, but personally, it was a worthy trip. I met her up in Kuala Lumpur and we went down to Malacca for a couple of days. I will be making those updates very soon.

ROUND-UP OF YEAR 2007: To be fair, it was not a bad year as I took myself to another stage in my life. It was an exciting experience and an eye-opener having got the chance to learn new things in a totally new environment and culture. Having said that, it wasn't all only full of bed of roses. There are times when I was emotionally down to the maximum but it was a fortunate thing that I managed to grab myself up every time. I would like to extend my appreciation to all my family members, friends and whoever I might know or not who has been giving a continuous support throughout the year. Apologies as well to anyone who I might have offended as I am sure it was not intended, whether in the real life or in this blog.

I am not a person who do a new resolution every time a new year comes around. Nevertheless, I just have a simple wish, that is hoping for a good health, happiness and everything goes smoothly in the new year ahead.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2008

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Journey Home

Apologies for the lack of updates for the past couple of weeks. I have been busy settling things before I came back and since I touched down, I have been busy travelling up and down, going all over places. So I shall start with the journey from my place until I the moment I touch down in Kuala Lumpur.
The travelling back home was a long one.
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All set and ready.
My flight was on December 22 at 13:30 but I already taken the night train from my place, Nagaoka and travelled for more than 400 kilometers down to Ikebukuro in Tokyo, exchange into the Yamanote Line to Nippori before heading to Narita International Airport with another line.
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Ikebukuro Station at 05:03
While waiting in at Nippori Station, I spot something on the wall. Apparently, there was some renovation work under progress at the check-in counters at Narita International Airport but when I took a closer look at the notice, the Japanese made another England spelling error.
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The Japanese tried to save space by dropping the letter "e".
It was not long when we finally arrived at the airport. It was 8 degree, just like when I first touched down in Japan early this year.
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Narita International Airport at 08:25
However, it was still early in the morning and our luggage which we sent two days earlier had yet to arrive. So I just wandered around the airport. This is a flower arrangement or more commonly known as ikebana in Japanese by the students of Koryuu-Shoutoukai School.
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I was travelling with Muazam this time and we decided to have some breakfast to fill our empty stomach. Again, another Janglish flop made in the menu was spotted.
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A new way of spelling the word "curry"?
Anyway, I went for unadon which consist of eel in soy sauce with rice. The taste of the eel is exactly like the one they use on sushi. It was not bad and I think it is worth a try at least once.
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Even after we had finished our breakfast, it was still early. We actually took turns to walk around the airport as it would be inconvenient to walk along with our hand luggage together. I went to the observatory deck to see one plane after another taking off.
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Observatory Deck at 10:40
However, the wind was blowing quite strongly under such cold condition that it was not long before I decided to return to the main hall inside.
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Observatory Deck at 10:40
While queuing up for the check-in procedure, we met up with Joceline which we later found out that she will be travelling in the same plane with us. Same plane, but one class above our economy class. She was actually surprised to see me there as she thought only Muazam will be going back.
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Flight No. MH71
Before it was time to enter the gate, I managed to grab three McPork from McDonald's outlet to be brought back all the way to Malaysia since our McDonald back home doesn't serve non-halal food. By the way, one McPork cost only 100yen (RM3) which is freaking cheap considering the high living cost in Japan.
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McDonald's Narita at 11:48
I know my hair gel will be confiscated when I go through the security check. But I wanted to see how efficient and tight the security was.
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Departure Hall
It turned out exactly like my early intuition. Same thing happened to my small packet of apple juice. Instead of handing that juice to the custom officer, I finished it up before proceeding to the next check. Nevertheless, my three McPork survived the security check.
I didn't really have the chance to feel the Christmas atmosphere in Japan before I came back.
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Main Building at 12:33
But at least I managed to have a shot with a Christmas tree at the airport before taking the shuttle from the Main Building to the Satellite Building for international flights.
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from inside the Shuttle at 12:35
The shuttle here was much more slower compared to the one in KLIA.
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from inside the Shuttle at 12:35
Although the shuttle moves so slow, when I was just going to have some shots from inside the shuttle, it had arrived at Terminal 2. We later headed straight to the boarding gate and met up with another senpai from my place, Nagaoka who was in the same flight with three of us as well.
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after going through Boarding Gate at 12:41
It was only my second time on the plane but this time, I managed to get a window seat. It was a new experience but I tried my best not to act like a jakun although I just kept on looking outside most of the time.
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When I was still a kid, I used to ask people who have been on the plane about how is the feeling like to be on the plane. After being on the plane twice, I can say there are only two interesting yet dangerous part when taking a plane; that is when it takes off and touch down.
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somewhere near Taiwan at 17:14
The journey from Narita to Kuala Lumpur was a 7-hour-and-35-minute journey and along the way I had one lunch and one light snack;
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Lunch at 15:13
With many cups of fruit juice and three time visiting the toilet. The sunset view from a few thousands feet above the sky was something different from what I had experience before this.
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somewhere in South China Sea at 19:41
When the plane was near to touching down, the pilot wished the foreigners "Welcome to Malaysia" and Malaysians, "Selamat Pulang ke Tanah Air". I touched down safely at KLIA at 20:05 and the rest was history.

~ to be continued ~

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back

I am finally back to Malaysia, after spending almost nine months abroad.
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I know this should come as a surprise to most of you, as I mentioned that I was away for several days because of my ski trip. That was just something I made out. The ski trip was on, but I did not join the trip. Instead, I chose to return to Malaysia.
Apologies if I have offended anyone here on that matter. My trip back this time was kept secret from almost everyone, except for a few people mainly because it was meant to surprise her. Secondly, considering the fact that I will be back for such a short period, I know I will not be able to meet up with everyone to fit my tight schedule. I wanted it to be a low profile trip back home. Updates will be scarce within this period. I will only be doing some more detailed updates when I got back to Japan later on.
The main event today will be the meeting up with her. Here, I would like to offer my special thanks mainly to a few people who made everything happened. Shi Han who has been following our progress all this while, Kok Hong who planned the surprise for us today, Eric who almost leaked out the whole plan but decided to keep it as a secret, my sisters and others that I might missed out. I will make a more proper appreciation post sometime later. Anyway, doumo arigatou gozaimashita again.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kokoni Iruyo

ここにいるよ (Kokoni iruyo), which means "I am here too", by SoulJa.





It has been some time that I have been listening to this song. I just love the rythm, the tone, the beat and the arrangements of this song that I could listen to it over and over again for the whole night. But more importantly, every single word in this song explains exactly what I am going through so far.

And here, I am dedicating this song to her.





※Baby boy 私はここにいるよ どこに行かずに待ってるよ
You know that I love you だからこそ 心配しなくていいんだよ
どんなに遠くにいても変わらないよこの心 言いたい事分かるでしょ?
あなたの事待ってるよ

不器用な俺 遠くいる君
伝えたい気持ちそのまま言えずに 君は行っちまった
今じゃ残された君はアルバムの中
電波でしか会えない日々 だけど見えないぜ君の微笑み
君のぬくもり 髪の香り こののどの渇きはそのまま満たされずに
過ぎてく日々の中 なんだが君の面影ひたすら探した
君とよく歩いたあの道は 今俺だけの足音が響いていた
んなことよりお前の方は元気か? ちゃんと飯食ってるか?
畜生、やっば言えねえや
また今度送るよ 俺からのLetter

(※繰り返し)

鎌倉の砂浜で見た君の姿 波にのまれた君に言いたい言葉
なんだがまじせつねぇ 男なのになんで。。。言葉出てこねぇや
覚えてますか?君と行ったカラオケの中
俺が入れた曲の言葉 モニターに浮かんだまま
ほんとは君に伝えたかった
君と二人きりで始めて待ち合わせをしたあの日
まるで偶然に会ったかのようにはしゃぎ
微笑む君が忘れられないって
話かなりそれちまったが分るよな?俺が言いたい言葉
Shit 残り書く場所がねえや
ごめん 次は絶対に送るから

(※繰り返し)

俺がもっと金持ちだったら もっとまともな仕事をしてたら
もしもすべて特性にできたのなら 俺は絶対に君を。。。
だが Please 勘違いだけはすんな 君に寂しい思いはさせたくねぇが
忙しい中あんま放せねぇが
Baby believe これは all for the future
But 正直 今すぐ君と会いたい 今すぐ抱きしめてやりたい
昔 君が俺の隣で座ってた席には もう誰もいないって。。。
まぁ そんな仕事はいいんだ 言いたいことはそんなんじゃねぇんだ
今さらだが ずっと言いたかった言葉を込め 送る Unsent letter

Baby girl 私はここにいるよ どこも行かずに待ってるよ
You know that I love you だからこそ 心配しなくていいんだよ
どんなに遠くにいても変わらないよこの心 言いたい事分かるでしょ?
あなたの事待ってるよ

Baby boy 私はここにいるよ どこも行かずに待ってるよ
You know that I love you だからこそ 心配しなくていいんだよ
どんなに遠くにいても変わらないよこの心 今なら素直に言えるよ
I don't ever wanna let you go
***************
She doesn't read Japanese. So here is the translation of the song above.
***************
Baby boy, I'll be right here I'll be here waiting for you
You know that I love you, so there's no need for you to worry
No matter how far apart we are, this heart won't change
You know what I'm trying to say, right?
I'll be waiting for you

I'm a bit clumsy, and you are far away
While I struggled to tell you how I feel, you were already gone
Now, what remains of you is inside my albums
These days, radio waves are the only way we can meet
But I can't see your smiles,
Your warmth, the smell of your hair - I can't quench this longing for you
in the days that pass, I desperately searched for traces of you
The road I used to walk with you just echoes with my footsteps now
But more importantly, how are you? Are you taking care of yourself?
Damn it, the words just won't come out
I'll send it next time, a letter from me

Baby boy, I'll be right here I'll be here waiting for you
You know that I love you, so there's no need for you to worry
No matter how far apart we are, this heart won't change
You know what I'm trying to say, right?
I'll be waiting for you

The way you looked at the beach in Kamakura, how the waves swallowed the words I wanted to tell you
This is really difficult, even though I'm a man - the words just won't come out
Do you still remember? When we went to karaoke together
I wanted to say to you those words in the song I sang, just as they appeared on the monitor
I still can't forget your smile
From the first day we spent, just the two of us - you were cheerful as if we had met coincidentally
I've gone on quite a tangent, but you understand, right? What I'm trying to say?
Shit, there's no more space to write
I'm sorry, I'll definitely send this next one

Baby boy, I'll be right here I'll be here waiting for you
You know that I love you, so there's no need for you to worry
No matter how far apart we are, this heart won't change
You know what I'm trying to say, right?
I'll be waiting for you

If I had more money, or if I had a more serious job
If I could give everything else up, I would definitely, for you…
But please, don't ever misunderstand, I hate to make you lonely, but…
While I'm busy, we can't talk much, but baby believe, this is all for our future
But in reality, I want to see you right now, I want to hold you in my arms
The place you used to sit, next to me, is empty now, there's no one…
Well, that's not important, that's not what I'm trying to say
This is coming so late, but I'll fill it with the words I wanted to say and send you my unsent letter

Baby girl, I'll be right here I'll be here waiting for you
You know that I love you, so there's no need for you to worry
No matter how far apart we are, this heart won't change
You know what I'm trying to say, right?
I'll be waiting for you

Baby boy, I'll be right here I'll be here waiting for you
You know that I love you, so there's no need for you to worry
No matter how far apart we are, this heart won't change
Now I can say it to you straight
I don't ever wanna let you go

***************
I hope this will make her feel better =)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Busy Week

First of all, apologies for the lack of updates for the past three days. My blog almost went dead, didn't it?
Just in case you are wondering what I was up to so far in this week, here is the list:
    • Finish up three reports;
    • Maths: General exercises (10 big questions);
    • Maths: Differential and Integration exercises (44 big questions);
    • Study for small tests (Physics, Probability, English, etc);
    • Settle my phone bill;
    • Fill in some forms regarding the school fees;
    • And many other stuffs (including eat, sleep, and laundry)

So, I guess that explains why I have not been updating my blog. Actually, there are still other stuffs which I could not recall at the moment. Lucky thing that the robot battle will be brought forward to next year. Otherwise, it was scheduled to be held this Thursday and knowing the fact that my robot is still having difficulties even to make a few baby steps, I would have to stay up after classes to finish up the robot if the battle wasn't postponed to a later date. This battle is by the way the second one, after we had the first battle not very long time ago.

Classes will be ending by this Friday, and it would be a two-week winter break for us. Being in a place so up north in Japan where it snows so much with so many ski resorts everywhere, it would be silly and wasting this good chance for me not to go skiing and snowboarding during this time of the year. I have seen snow already so far, but have yet to try skiing nor snowboarding. It will be my first time and I know it will be full of siao-ness and of course, tumbling and rolling all over the ski run. By the way, I already make a list on who I will be throwing snowballs at and the list is growing by the day. Let me know if you want your name to listed there.

All those stuffs are expected from the many ski trips that I will be going which will start from the very first one this Friday. We will be heading to the resort immediately after our classes and it will be several days skiing in some ski resort in Niigata. It will be another trip among the foreign students in my college and there will be a few senpais joining us there. They said it is much enjoyable to snowboard compared to skiing. I am not sure about that. We shall see later.

Since I will be away for the ski trip, that would also mean that once again, I will be abandoning my blog for some period, just like how it was during my summer holiday. I still able to make short updates from the place I was visiting then, but this time, I will not be taking my laptop along. Afterall, my main purpose going to the ski trip is to ski, enjoy the day playing with the snow and doing many other stupid stuffs. Hence, the idea of going online from the ski resort is certainly will not be the best idea.

On some unrelated thing, I noticed that there was a group of contractors outside my window, just next to my hostel doing some repairs on the underground pipes last night.

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It may not be visible, but it was still snowing - just look at the roof of the bicycle shade.

One thing that impressed me is that they still continue with their job even though they have to endure the cold at night. I have already start shivering and complaining about the coldness when I only have to walk for less than three minutes from my hostel to class everyday. And there they were, under such condition, with minimal lighting and some snows along the way, carrying on with their task without thinking for a second to take a break and continue doing it on some other better days. I am not trying to generalise anything from this, but just take a short moment and figure out how often you see this back home.
That is why people are way ahead of us. Simple stuff like this actually makes a huge difference in a wider perspective.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

PCK Shopping

PCK may makes you think the title of this entry stands for Phua Chu Kang. But I mean something different. PCK is actually "Pi Cari Kasut". Anyway, there is still some parts that have relations to that contractor from the small kiasu island. Today, I went looking for a pair of boots.
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The reason that I am getting a pair of boots is because winter is here, and it will be snowing almost everyday very soon in this part of Japan. When it snows, the pathways will be covered with a layer of accumulated snows, which make it extremely hard for walking. Slippery is one thing, and another one would be the fact that our shoes will get wet very easily.
One thing about the boots in Japan is that they comes in many types of designs and colours, whereas in Malaysia, you will usually only come across those black boots used by farmers and rubber tappers. The various designs of boots that they have here sometimes make a person having some hard time deciding which one to pick from. In fact, they have boots specially tailored for small children with pictures of the cat without a mouth a.k.a Hello Kitty and the rat without a tail a.k.a Mickey Mouse printed of them.
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Of course, I did not go for those designs. Instead, I just went for a normal one.
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Soon, I will be wearing this to lectures .
If you notice the size of the boots, it is 3L. But that doesn't mean that I am wearing a XXXL sized boots. The size of clothings and shoes in Japan are in centimeters, instead of inches. 3L is around 28-28.5cm. I was actually looking around to see if there were any yellow boots around, but it came to no avail. Anyway, even if I were to wear a yellow boots here, I am quite sure nobody will know anything about PCK, wouldn't they?
Since it was already noon, we thought of having a lunch before heading back to our hostel. I mentioned "we", because I went out with my tutor today. He told me that there is a restaurant serving Chinese cuisine which is located at some blocks away from the station. Apparently, this restaurant specialises on Chinese dishes from the Shichuan province. There is a dish, called 麻婆丼 (Mabadon) which is said to be one of the specialties of this restaurant.
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辛いの苦手の方は無理かも知れません
On the menu, it was written that this dish is extremely spicy and it is impossible for people who couldn't take spicy stuff to take this dish. But I was told that this dish is delicious and I thought that it is worth a try, although I can't really take spicy stuff to be honest.
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When I took my first taste on it, it wasn't as hot as what that is written on the menu. Well, the Japanese just tend to over-emphasis things at times. This dish consists of rice, with topping of minced meat and tofu. The taste is of course spicy (pepper spicy, not Japanese curry spicy), with some sour feeling in between.
And by the way, back to my boots shopping, there was a lucky dip thing on. So I tried my luck although I know quiet well that it will be almost impossible for me to get those shopping vouchers worth thousands of yens. The method is a bit different where we got to turn a cylindrical shape thing until the small ball inside comes out from a tiny hole. And guess what I got from turning that thing.
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At least it is better than nothing.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Calvin's Photoblog

Finally, I am done with it.
It has been some time that I have been considering about setting up a side blog, which I would call it a photoblog. After going through several photo-hosting available, I went for Aminus3 for me to uploads photos which I have captured all this while.
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Photos speaks thousands of words. I will cover various categories, from Abstract and Conceptual up to Plants and Nature. This photoblog will showcase photos, which largely came from my travels around Japan. You might be familiar to some of the pictures here as I have posted some of them in my entries before this.
I will try to make it a one-photo-per-day thing, unless I come to the point that I have nothing else to upload anymore. However, I doubt about that happening. The significant of me choosing the date December 2 for my first photo is because it is exactly 8 months after I step down to Japan. And of all the picture I have in my collection, I chose the first shot I took when I touched down in Narita Airport as the first posting.
So, keep clicking away here from now on.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Painter

Almost one month back, I was away for a one-day trip to a maple park in my place.
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I have blogged about the park here, while having some light moments with the kids in the park. There was another thing that I came across while walking around the park. It was an old man, whom I spotted immediately I entered the main entrance of the park.
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While other visitors were busy taking shots around the park, this old man had something else in his mind. He was sitting there, doing something he loves - painting. I would not say he is a professional painter, but the final result of his art work turned out not bad to my liking.
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Half-time break
He was halfway from finishing his painting, when he decided to take a break for the loo. Perhaps he was trying to get new ideas and inspirations to finish up his painting. Looking at this old man, I guess he is among those elderly grandpas who tries to fill their free time doing something beneficial, rather than sitting down at home doing nothing. As for this old man, I am very sure that he has a passion with arts and painting.
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The concentration he had over his painting was apparent, as his attention was merely placed on his painting without paying any notice to the visitors in the park.
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That made me approached this old man. I stood there silently, looking at him enjoying his time playing with his brushes and watercolours. A few moments after realising I was there admiring his artwork, he spoke out.
やってる?(Do you paint?)
It hit me as a surprise as I did not expect someone who I have never meet before to speak out to me. Here, you can see the difference between among the Japanese. Generally, they have an image of not being friendly to aliens, like me for instance. But that doesn't mean that every single Japanese you meet has the same characteristics. I have came across many of them who are friendly enough without having to think twice to say a simple "Hi" to me.
Back to this old man, I just replied him that I do not paint. Afterall, when it comes to painting, with watercolours especially, I am quite sure that I am nothing close to him. Thinking of the drawings I used to sketch in my notes all the time during my boring lectures just confirms everything.
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I do this to avoid from dozing off in the class.
But I guess you can still recognise my friends in the sketch above, can't you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So Close, But Fortunately

It was a normal futsal game I had last night. In the chilling conditions nowadays, where the temperature usually will not exceed 5 degrees, I hardly sweat throughout the game although it was played in the gymnasium. Nevertheless, it did not make the game less action. They were just simply making shots everywhere while dribbling around as if the pink ball is sticked to their feet. Then, out of a sudden, I felt something had hit me down there.
*Piak*
Someone's shot went a little off the targeted goalmouth and it hit me instead. Of course, it is something common for the ball to hit your body when you play a ball game, but it hit me on the wrong place at the wrong time. To make matter worse, it hit me HARD. You go figure yourself which part I am talking about here.
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This is how close I was for the pink ball from making the ultimate contact with my little brother.
Fortunately, my right palm was just in front of it, and that provided something like a protection to it. However, my palm did not covered it completely as the ball still hit some side part of it. The feeling of getting hit down there was of course, pain. The momentum on the ball was so big that even my palm turned red. I wonder what would have happen if my right palm was a few centimeters away. In fact, I don't even dare to think about that. But if that is to happen, I just have one thing in my mind.
I will not be celebrating Fathers' Day in the future.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Exposed

I passed by the Niigata Prefectual Museum of Modern Art on my way to shopping last weekend and my curiousity made me went to look around the area. I did not went into the museum but what I saw outside the compound just says everything.
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Not a bad way to welcome visitors to a musuem.
I understand if it shows only a naked child, but for that big mummy to be like that? I wonder if we will ever see something like this in Malaysia.