Can't talk. Eating.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

These shoes are made for walking... on the sun.

My favourite shoes

Something i drew for fun as a tribute to the last days of summer-y autumn afternoons, as I lied on the lawn, entertaining myself with thoughts of happiness.

Check out my best friend amy's marvelous illustrations! Go knock yourself out, or rather... go get yourself knocked out.

I have always wanted to share with you some of my old works from uni, particularly from my first year. I guess that was when I worked hardest, before starting to slack off and procrastinate more and more. Guess that's my middle name, if I were to have one.

Extreme convergence perspective - Gotham City
Pencil colours, pastels and collage, 594x420mm.
Basic design studio (2001)

Have a good day, people and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. I know because I have got Smash Mouth's Walking on the Sun in my head and it's fabulous.

All I need now is a new pair of heels ...... and salsa!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Tokyo oasis

So I woke up and decided that I should get out of my shitty dorm* in exchange for some fresh air, and a new perspective. The heavy curtain renders my room in constant darkness and one can easily lose track of one's sense of time and purpose.

I cycled to Shinjuku Gyoen, a big piece of green space tucked in between the concrete jungle that is Tokyo, where the free screening of environmental movies organized by Reina's internship place was being held for the last day.

The whole park was marvellous to walk in and every step brought me further away from my initial plans, and before long, i parked my ass on the grass, lied down and gave in to procrastination. One hour led to another.

The two hour on the grass was haunted by Emilie Simon's "Désert", its steady downtempo beat rewinding itself again and again sans control.

Oh mon amour, mon coeur est lourd
Je compte les heures je compte les jours
Je voudrais te dessiner dans un désert
Le désert de mon coeur

(My love, my heart is heavy. I count the hours and I count the days. I want to draw you into a desert, into the desert of my heart)

Dans la nuit parfois, le nez à la fenêtre
Je t'attends et je sombre
Dans un désert, dans mon désert, voilà

(Sometimes in the night, I wait by the window. I wait for you and I sink.. into a desert, into my desert)

Dans la nuit parfois, le nez à la fenêtre
J'attendais et je sombre
Jetez au vent mes tristes cendres, voilà

(Sometimes in the night, I wait by the window. I have waited for you and i sunk... Throw into the wind, my sad ashes)

That was the perfect melancholic song to offset the perfect weather, perfect turf, perfect breeze, perfect autumn scent in the air, the perfect oasis in parched Tokyo, and its the perfect song for waiting.

There is something about the greyness of Tokyo that offsets my balance: the lack of trees, the not-tastefully-designed buildings apart from the selected few iconic ones, the neon overdose, the onslaught of people yelling into PA systems 24/7, the army of black-suited salarimans during rush hour, traces of vomit on the streets of Shibuya. There is supposed to be no paradise here.

"Désert" is the perfect offset to this beautiful illusion. Désert is the balancing equation.

Refer to the 'City Wok" joke in South Park!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Voilà l'été!

I know the title of the post is very unsuitable for the northern hemisphere as it is nothing summer-like at all at this time of the year. Summer is slowly exiting, the air growing chillier by the day!

I have missed out on the gradual change the seasons, being trapped indoors in the office building, time kept still by fluorescent lighting and the sun (or the absense of sun) shut out by drawn-down blinds.

Despite being a child of the tropics, I am not particularly immune to the blazing sun of japanese summer. This summer I have escaped to the milder Hokkaido which boasts of having the best weather in the whole of Japan during the hellish summer season. Here's a little preview of my trip, and I guarantee that I will write about it soon, though one season too late.

The office I am interning in is of course not particularly lifeless, as a plethora of creatures (particularly our amphibian and reptilian friends, and fishes too) do happily co-exist with us. These creatures enjoy superstar status and are revered by all. I spend at least an hour a day feeding/staring/admiring/talking about these creatures at work!

My fellow colleagues:

Japanese Fire-bellied Newt (ニホンイモリ, in kanji 日本井守). This is what would become of you booze too much.
(Pic taken by Mr Itoh, my Homo sapien colleague)

Black-spotted Pond Frog (トノサマガエル, in kanji 殿様蛙) which actually has a pretty golden sheen. My favourite fella, this.
(Pic taken by me, my Homo sapien self)

Tokyo Daruma Pond Frog (トウキョウダルマガエル, in kanji 東京達磨蛙), a crazy frog that is always jumping around and eating everything!
(Pic taken by Mr Itoh, my Homo sapien colleague)

Another creature that I have encountered from my internship for a conservation project is this cute little thing, my life-long passion, Leopard CAT!! Notice the capitalized "cat". I like cats. Any cats.

Tsushima Leopard Cat (ツシマヤマネコ)
(Pic taken by Mr Itoh, my Homo sapien colleague)

They provide great entertainment but I still can't believe the fact that I find frogs cute.

A song of eternal sunshine, Voilà l'été by Les Négresses Vertes (which I got to hear last weekend when a dear friend of mine visited Tokyo) has been stuck in my mind for the past few days. The infectious shouts of voilà l'été, enfin l'été and toujours l'été are hard to shake off. Summer is here! Finally it's summer! Its always summer!........

Voilà l'été, j'aperçois le soleil
Les nuages filent et le ciel s'éclaircit
Et dans ma tête qui bourdonnent ?
Les abeilles !
J'entends rugir les plaisirs de la vie

The eternal optimist in me is now restored!

Monday, October 08, 2007

A pilgrim's tale

A trip back to Kyoto (with loads of hugs) healed all ailments. Woke up to bird song. Time to take on Tokyo with renewed optimism!

I spent a weekend in Kyoto recuperating and meeting good friends with a free lunch of tomato cream macaroni courtesy of estie and a dinner of smoked salmon salad by kendall, a night out to the Kyoto Sam and Daves, another lunch and karaoke the next day with my dearest friends. Once back in Tokyo, the crowded JR Yamanote line greeted me as I re-started my normal routine of commuting to my workplace.

With estie

Dries the Big Belgian

Even though Japan has never been my choice of country to visit when I was still in Malaysia as Japan is so expensive, Tokyo was somewhat intriguing to me especially the gorgeous buildings by master architects that I have only been able to read about in architectural magazines.

Tokyo for me is a great place to enjoy in solitude if you enjoy taking a stroll, and I personally like Omotesando and Roppongi area best with its stylish buildings, chic museums and that surge of energy that you can't really find elsewhere in Japan. Of course also the display of wealth (vulgar or not, you decide) of one of the world"s most expensive cities.

Here is one of the buildings that I like best, the Prada building in Minami Aoyama designed by Herzog and de Meuron, just a hop from Omotesando metro station.

If you were to peep from your door....

The entrance to the store

I love this pic below, the back of the Prada building, where the ugly power lines can be seen juxtaposed against this iconic structure, reminding us that although Tokyo is touted as the Future, it still lacked the sense to bury these lines under the pavement. Nevertheless this pic has a very "derelicte" sense to it, and for understanding my meaning of this word more deeply, please watch the Zoolander and you will see...

I think this post will be the first of more to come about all my favourite things in this city and all that I see during my many solitary walks.

Come take a walk with me :o)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The faraway gaze

I have moved to Tokyo exactly one month ago for a 4-month internship in a Japanese environmental consultancy company.

There were many ups and downs of course and the past few days were particularly dark for me, and like I have said to friends, one of the darkest days of my entire stay in Japan. I am still trying to survive it, to make sense of it.

On my way home from work to JR Shibuya station, I saw some people gathering around this group of 5 japanese guys and girls, holding placards that say “Free Hugs”.

Feeling like a dump and having nothing to lose, I walked towards the Japanese youngsters enthusiastically holding “Free hugs” signs. I really needed one at that time but to my utter disappointment, all I got were half-assed hugs designed to keep you at a safe distance, and eyes that linger more at the crowd gathering around them, than on me, the supposed object of affection for the moment. I guess these people are more concerned with how other people perceive their “open-mindedness” and their passion. Well, people should step forward, try them and judge for themselves the novelty of their actions. I was left cold, and I am sure I will find people who think the same.

I have wasted 5 hugs on self-absorbed people who haven’t gone past the pedestal that they put themselves onto. Good luck to these people.

I have found the Japanese website for this “Free Hugs” campaign and I would like to file an official complaint. Anyone wanna help? I think they need to improvise.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Hey it's my birthday today, wish me!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Vaseline is good for you

The miracles of kitchen wrap and vaseline (and something else, you won't want to know).

Had spent the whole of the week lusting after the Holga 120 Colour Flash camera with glass lens, checking Ebay for deals a-plenty day after day. Yes, deals are a-plenty and it is extremely tempting but developing 120mm film can get very expensive, I heard... so once again, i have delayed gratification and have rescued my credit card from being molested yet again. I am growing stronger by the day! The Brain has triumphed over the little devils tucking at my purse-strings (!).

Maki and Chu dropped by for lunch today and I was amazed by Chu's Leica camera, one of those fully manual, antique ones with levers and knobs galore. Chu will teach me how to make my own pinhole camera next week, and I am muchas looking forward to it!

I got even more excited about the pinhole camera after seeing a camera obscura featured in "The Girl with a Pearl Earring". I love its simplicity, and the uncertainty of how the image would turn out. Guess its good for character building since I badly need to learn patience, NOW.

I love the dreamy effect that medium format cameras produce, and Chu offered a few tips on how to do it the poor man's way: vaseline and kitchen wrap.

Being an impatient person, I cycled straight to Kamogawa and Kitayama (fave parts of Kyoto) armed with my point-and-shoot digital camera and my Lomo Fisheye, kitchen wrap, vaseline, some tape. I want to look at Kamogawa as if I just woke up from my nap on the river shore.

Stop and smell the flowers!

My beloved bike, my partner in crime. Never talks back at me, though... what a darling!

Before sunset

Demachiyanagi station


Sunset in Shirakawa, this is probably what you will see if you are walking around sedated

The Fisheye pics will have to wait. Will try not to kill myself.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A trip down memory lane

So my bestest friend from home came to visit me.

Having her around had mysteriously made me forget that I am currently in Japan. Frequent memory lapses happened during our bus rides, meals, walks etc and only the bus driver's announcement of bus station names in japanese woke me from my little slumber.

Time stopped for us, eh?

I got much goodies from her, and among them was my student portfolio compiling work from my four years in uni and among them, I found sketches of Sailormoon and Sailor Mercury, drawn when I was 15!

As soon as I saw them, I quickly sprayed fixative, seal in the goods and seal in the memories.

Care to have a look??

Sailor Mercury - 9th July 1997

Sailormoon - 22nd June 1997

I have always told people that I have only started to like Japan after my arrival here, and had only been remotely interested in the past. Finding these sketches reminded me of what I have forgotten.

Now that I am finally alone in my apartment (miss you already, Amy!), I began to clean things up and looked through my portfolio for something useful that I can show to my potential employer for my coming internship programme. To be honest, my past works were pretty useless for the interview (I have diverged into a slightly more different field...), apart from a few good pieces such as my 3-week labour-of-love pencil colour artist's impression of Gotham City, and a bas relief project which quickly degenerated right after the critique session and of course after the photograph was taken. Anyway, it feels surreal to be in a foreign land, and looking back in time and realizing how much I have grown (artistically and mentally) during those four years and now. For a moment, I have also forgotten where I currently am.

I have always been fond of sketching with my trusty pencils (and pencil colour, when I feel that I have enough time to finish them) and below is one of my best sketch that I have ever produced. The word "best" is relative, because in my case, I do not draw a lot as I am too much of a perfectionist and I don't start anything unless I am sure that I will do it perfect. That had been a major hindrance. So let's say that its the best among my limited collection.

Lucky corn

Well, at least this lucky corn got my absolute concentration, and I am usually a feeble-minded, hyperactive girl who can't sit still for more than 15 minutes. I think the guy sitting behind me in class is tired of me fidgeting in my seat already. Sorry Yama-chan!!

This missy here's gonna go places!!!

Well, the past two weeks has been quite an adventure; whirlwind-ing through Tokyo, force-feeding Amy limoncello and a bottle of Chianti, classes, presentations, terrorizing Kyoto Imperial villas and molesting cats! Tiring, but worth every minute.

p.s. This post couldn't have been possible without you, Amy!!! Kudos and hats off......
(I had so much fun with you and wished that you could stay muuuuch longer!!!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New beginnings for a chronic procrastinator

Its not new anymore. I moved in here 3 months ago.

Spring vacation ended with a blast, having hosted a myriad of characters in my new abode, starting with my good friend Yuka before she moved to big bad Tokyo and 4 friends from home arriving in 2 batches. The new place is just a stone's throw from uni, and is situated 15 minutes from the city center (if I cycle very, very fast), is situated at the foot of Kyoto's sacred Daimonji hill and basically fulfills all the criterias that I asked for. The area must be green, the view must be nice, must be quiet, mustn't have thin japanese walls... needless to say, I ended up with an apartment that I can barely pay for.

I seemed to have done something right! These creatures are indeed having fun...

Such an investment (one can't say that it is an investment as I do not get anything in return, except for happiness) worried me to bits, and seeing a rainbow the moment I woke up from my first night in this strange place seemed to be a sign from Big Bang that I have made the correct choice.

Fast forward to 3 months after, spring marked a new beginning of other sorts, the dreaded first year of my masters programme. This means that there will be no more (or less) fun times for me and friends in the same situation. I commerated this occasion by a day out with the girls in our fancy suits and tightly-crossed fingers, in hope for a good academic year. Many things to look forward to... classes conducted in japanese, and fear of being discovered to be incompetent!

Bad ass uni entrance ceremony

Charlie's Angelos

Bad ass floating people

Bad ass salsa queens

Bad ass gypsy chick

A new academic year means having another extra shot at yet another set of resolutions. I hope to be able to learn more about my own weaknesses and of ways of overcoming it in my journey to become a good researcher. Maybe I should just stop procrastinating.

Thanks Charlie's Angelos! I had a blast with you girls.

End of winter

Last snow in Kitashirakawa

Winter bade farewell to Kyoto by unpredictably spewing snow on 18th March, a day more associated with sunshine and sakura trees heaving with unfulfilled promises of a spectacular show you would never forget and of course… dormant insects waking up from beauty sleep and now out for some serious partying. Everyday I walk past these trees, observing hard and searching for minute details of change. Imaginary or no, I seem to have been able to see the buds growing by the day. I can be an impatient person, and anything that is equivalent to watching grass grow (or in this matter, watching sakura bloom only that it has not) can drive my mind crazy and disoriented.

Warmer days ensued after the snow episode. I started to realize how foolish it was of me to lug my jacket around. Despite being a child of the tropics, I showed resilience towards the cold and is known for taking off my jacket during cycling trips in February, something unthinkable to my Japanese friends. My good friend Yuka has suggested that I might have “contracted” premature menopause as I was surely showing symptoms… hot flashes! I enjoyed the cold wind against my face, numbing my ears, my nose.

A nice bike trip to Kamogawa in the pre-spring sunshine brought out the artist in me! I am sure I will miss these bare trees…

Having lived in Kyoto for a year, and having had no contact with any family members, I am glad to have a cousin cross over to the land of the rising sun, specifically in Fukui city. Poor guy is now living in a city where pachinko parlors loom within a 500m radius no matter where you go. Living in Kyoto makes you a spoilt child. With 17 world heritage sites and 40% of all of Japan’s Japanese gardens concentrated here, one can easily turn into a snob. Nevertheless, Fukui has its own charms outside of the city’s boundary and when you step out into the countryside.

Somewhere in Katsuyama

Somewhere in Katsuyama, too.

Eiheiji, one of my favourite temples (my second visit this time)

Holy snow

Driving around Fukui and the countryside with my cousin has brought back the delights of Japanese (mild) winter. This part of Japan is still colder than Kansai area as of that moment. It was snowing so I quickly ditched my jacket, and embraced the cold before it ends for good.

Somewhere in Katsuyama, still.

Having traveled to Fukui with reluctance, I came back to Kyoto with a renewed outlook of the world outside the ancient capital.