For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.


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Japan Travels: Nara’s beauty in Fall

Nara is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. I can’t believe I was totally disinterested in exploring Nara in the past. But perhaps, this time autumn really lent a great helping hand in its beauty. The fiery red and yellow leaves, interspersed with lush green, looked like intricate brocade from afar. Below is my very first jaw-dropping view of Nara. Isuien Garden (依水園) in its autumn grandeur.

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I dropped by Isuien Garden for lunch, and had an interesting traditional meal of mugi tororo (plain rice with thickened grated yam mixed with soy sauce, seaweed and barley). I must say though, the view was worth more than the meal.

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This is the ground yam.

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Pretty assortment of side dishes.

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So you pour the yam over the rice and you will get a sticky consistency almost like porridge but not quite. Doesn’t look very filling but I guess because it is a mixture of yam and rice I was actually full after my meal.

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This kind of scenery is something I always attempted to paint but failed because of my shoddy skills.

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This random hut area is gorgeous with the little rapids.

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This picture just makes me feel so poetic indeed. The green of the water is a reflection of the still green trees above, which brings out the ruby red of the fallen leaves.

After leaving Isuien Garden reluctantly, I moved on to Tōdaiji Temple (東大寺), which was sadly under construction. So I ended up exploring the park filled with deers. Curious, greedy deers who are not at all shy of strangers. They have even learned to bow for treats, and push their wet noses towards anything one holds, believing it to be food. The smell was rather off-putting, given that so many deer are gathered in an area, but they were so adorable I let it slide.

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Cute deer! Reminds me of Bambi =)

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This is how close a deer can get to you, my camera couldn’t even capture its nose! Too close-up!

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Deers drinking at a river flanked by fall leaves is a sight to behold indeed.

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Deers resting on blanket of gold.

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Curious deer sniffing at my camera.

And I finally ended my Nara trip with a really delicious crepe! Nope, the smell didn’t affect my appetite. I always do love a good dessert after a long walk. I ordered baked apples wrapped in a soft warm crepe covered with cinnamon sauce (if I don’t remember wrongly), at this random teahouse along the streets of Nara, so I didn’t think I would chance upon anything this fantastic. I remembered thinking all the other flavours were a little too outlandish for me to try, so I stuck with a relatively safe choice.

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I was sad to leave Nara at the end of the day, because it was just so picturesque. I’m sure, of course, Kyoto would be equally magnificent without all that crowd, as I have been to Kyoto before, but unfortunately, the crowd spoilt it for me. Also, the deers reminded me of my times back in university exchange, when I was at Miyajima, a beautiful island off Hiroshima. I was glad to be able to see Japan during autumn, for the fall foliage is simply breathtaking, especially with the ancient temples and shrines amongst them. Too bad I was one day too early for snow. But filming calls. Never mind. I will definitely see snow someday. And cherry blossoms. ❤

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Goodbye Nara, I will keep your fall glory in my heart. 

On a separate, funny note, I’m sure everyone knows about Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人). But have you heard of Omoshiroi Koibito (面白い恋人)? Shiroi Koibito means white lovers, while Omoshiroi Koibito means funny lover! It is a perfect representation of Osaka people. Just like them to come up with the idea of this souvenir as a parody of Shiroi Koibito. In case you don’t know, Osaka people are known for their comedic side. Many famous comedians come from Osaka. I love Osaka for its people, its culture, its slang, its food. ❤ But well, I didn’t buy it, so I don’t really know how it tastes like, but I heard the cream tastes rather like mitarashi dango, which is pretty good.

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Maybe I will try it someday! 


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Everland – A Lovebirds’ Eden (SBTS)

Before I get into my experience in Everland, I need to make a quick statement on why my face seemed swollen on certain shots, if anyone has noticed. After a few nights of wondering what was causing my face and neck to itch terribly and break out into rashes that I could luckily cover up on the first day, but however turned into a swelling that no amount of cosmetics could hide, we finally figured out the cause. And it was the bedsheets!!! After requesting for a change, even when the hotel receptionist insisted that they change it every day, the next day (which was the final day in Korea and filming has already ended!), the swell finally subsided and my face and neck no longer itched. I had wanted to look like a Korean beauty in my Everland filming, alas, a pig head is forever recorded on film!  Oh well, such is life. On a bright note, I saw cherry blossoms! They still weren’t in full bloom, but I managed to capture a photo of one up close. So lovely and fragile.

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Now, moving on to Everland. Everland is based in Yongin, a city in Gyeonggi-do province, South Korea. It is South Korea’s biggest theme park, and the ride that everyone stresses is a must-ride is the T-express. It is the steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world, with a drop angle of 77 degrees and maximum speed of 104 km/h, it is the second best ride I have ever rode in the series and in my whole life. What’s the first? Arkham Asylum. Want to know why? Check out the Movie World post to see why Arkham Asylum tops my list!

But back to T-express. I have always wanted to ride on a wooden rollercoaster ever since I was about seven, and finally got my wish fulfilled. It didn’t disappoint me one bit. Despite its lack of inversions, the thrills it provided more than made up for it. The first drop was really high, and the speed made me feel like I was plummeting to my screaming doom. I loved it!! Also, because it is made of wood, the ride is particularly bumpy, and I loved this very organic, nostalgic feel to it. As modern coasters are all made of steel, the rides do feel a little too smooth in comparison.

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The crew with our Korean fixer and the most adorable, lovable little contestant in this series. We felt so bad for him when he had to challenge me on T-Express for this ride can be a little daunting even for adults, not to mention a little boy barely 11. He was a brave little soul to have conquered the odds!

Other than this iconic ride, Everland is a great place for all wildlife lovers with its Lost Valley dotted with animals that you would only see on National Geographic or in Africa. You get to travel in this convertible amphibian vehicle which turns from a bus to a boat the moment it gets into the waters, and get really up close with this particular giraffe which has absolutely zero guards around humans as long as it can get its food. This giraffe will stick its head into the window just to grab pieces of lettuce from the park keepers. All my life, having just seen giraffes on the screen, it was quite amazing to see one just inches from my face… I was quite terrified to realise just how big a giraffe really is. Other than this fascinating experience, I got to see a few exotic animals that I haven’t seen before and was quite taken by them. Everland is indeed is a huge theme park, to be able to ride in rollercoasters and experience wildlife rides all in one place is pretty much impossible in Singapore, where even finding adequate space for housing is a problem for our tiny nation.

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Fennec Fox: found in North Africa and Asia, it is the smallest and cutest fox in the world. They’re the size of a chihuahua! I really wanted one as a pet. 

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Black-Tailed Prairie Dog: Cute little rodents native to the grasslands of North America

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I was mostly attracted to the interesting bit of information that states that white-handed gibbons are the only apes that stick to their mates and further adds, “These happily married couples sing of their love in a duet.” This park is definitely marketed to couples.

Aside from the caption above, you will soon see why I proclaim it as a lovebirds’ paradise. Besides being inundated by a rainbow of tulips because it was tulip season, Everland also has rose gardens with four romantic themes. The rose gardens with its various themes: Victorian Garden, Maze Garden, Venus Garden, and Cupid Garden, were all not in bloom yet, as it was still early spring. But with the installation of artificial white roses that light up at night, along with romantic Cupid statues and photo-taking booths specifically for couples, love songs filling the air, many young couples can be seen posing for their selfie sticks.

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At this beautiful moment we had actually been wishing that the LED lights were warmer as we were freezing to death. 

 


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Ocean Park – Marine Marvels (SBTS)

It’s been a while since I updated mainly because my Internet had been down and also because of my work. But I’m back! Finally!

When I went to Ocean Park to film, the focus was mainly on the animals and education on the conservation of these beautiful creatures. So I only got to ride on two rides, The Flash and Hair Raiser. They were both fun in their own ways, but Hair Raiser is faintly more thrilling with its top speed of 88km/h and being so near to the South China Sea that at times it felt like we were at the edge of a cliff and plummeting into the sea. Wheeeee.

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Although it was a pity I couldn’t try out other rides, I loved the old school carnival style of Ocean Park, especially the big clownish mouth entrance of Hair Raiser. Of course, since I am avid lover of National Geographic, it was a marvel to be able to witness the magnificence of the animals surrounding me, particularly dolphins, since I had always wanted to see them in real life. Dolphins are such beautiful, intelligent creatures.

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The closest I got to a dolphin XD

Though, bearing in mind of the recent Silverback Gorilla Harambe’s incident, these animals, however beautiful and intelligent they may be, they still belong to the wild. You can take them out of the wild, but you can never take the wild out of them. It is definitely tragic that such a rare animal is lost forever, but I believe we will all learn a lesson from it. Whether he really meant to harm the child or he was protecting the child, we will never know ( I was quite befuddled, as there were instances of him treating the child tenderly, but the dragging of the kid as if he were just a rag doll, well when I saw that I was pretty much horrified). I think they likely pulled the trigger because of the way he dragged the child about (which is highly likely just his way of pulling his hand to pull him up to safety), it could have caused serious injuries to the kid. I don’t believe the child’s mother was at fault, I have been lost in a shopping centre before when I was a kid, it wasn’t due to my mom’s negligence she’s a great mom, but there will definitely always be a time when a child can just slip away from a parent in the blink of an eye, especially for a parent who had to take care of multiple children. The zoo on the other hand, should really look into the barrier between humans and animals, because ultimately, we all have our own territories that we belong to. Trespassing causes tension and might lead to violence if handled incorrectly. If the barrier had really been adequate, how could a child slip in so easily? So zoos should really start to examine how to strengthen the barriers between animals and us to prevent the future occurrence of such a devastating loss.

Oh well, enough of that incident, because I don’t really think there is a black and white to this anyway. Everyone has their own idea on who’s right and who’s wrong, the blame game never really ends. Moving on, I was blown away by the massive dome of the Grand Aquarium. At 5.5 metres wide, it is the largest dome in the world! I definitely felt like Ariel underneath the dome that weaved shimmering blue watery light into the grounds. I almost broke into ‘Part of Your World’ rendition, but stopped myself just in time. My mind was still singing though. I had a great time prancing around under the dome, pretending I was swimming with a gorgeous tail.

I wish I had more time to cover more rides, but filming in Hong Kong was so hectic as I had to film 3 episodes including the first 2 Disneyland ones so there definitely wasn’t time to explore other rides out of filming. But I did have a visual feast with all the majestic animals showcasing their sheer beauty to me.

 

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The only shark I will ever dare to hug.

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Selfie with a panda.


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Adventure Cove WaterPark – Sea the Wonder (SBTS)

This episode of ‘Science Behind The Scream’ didn’t require me to travel out of Singapore. Adventure Cove Waterpark is located in Resorts World Sentosa. Since it is a water theme park, I figured that there would be lots of water rides of course, but what I didn’t expect was the interaction I would have with the creatures of the sea.

Snorkelling in Rainbow Reef was particularly memorable. Rainbow Reef is aptly named indeed, there were a myriad of species of fish inside, each brilliantly coloured as ocean fishes often are. I have always been fascinated by wild animals, be they land or sea animals. So I was definitely excited to have the opportunity to swim amongst fishes. What struck me was the soundlessness of the water as I dived in, it was perfectly silent, almost surreal. For a moment I felt a little like a mermaid, but well, sadly, I couldn’t swim. I wished I had strived on finishing my swimming lessons in the past, no matter how dark my skin turned, but ah well, my vanity was so strong even as a kid back then. Back to the fishes. My fingers tried to reach out to them, but of course, they wouldn’t even come close to me, knowing that I am a mere intruder, trespassing their sacred territory.

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Next was the feeding of the stingrays at the Ray Bay. They were surprisingly smooth to touch, and undeniably adorable as they placed their sucker-like mouths on my legs to beg for food. Though not forgetting they are still very strong, I really had to maintain my balance while feeding them. I really feel very blessed to have the chance to have such a close contact with marine creatures instead of just watching them onscreen, magnificent and fragile as they are.

As for the rides, while the ride, Riptide Rocket, that I did my challenge in was fun, there was one other ride that I played which didn’t make it to the final cut of the show, but left a deep impression on me. Duelling Racer. It is one of those rides that require you to plunge face first into the water. I had always been reluctant to try out this kind of water ride on my own, because sliding down headfirst had always seemed kind of intimidating to me. But I did it for filming, and it was a really great adrenaline rush!

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By the way, I took quite a few takes to get the one which I smoothly popped myself on the float for the Adventure River scene. Oftentimes I missed and landed smack on the water, much to the amusement of the the crew.

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Road Trip in Melbourne

Half a year since I updated this blog. I really meant to write about my Australia trip before my Hand In Hand drama, but right after the trip I got too involved in the preparation of the drama that I can only write about my holiday now. The memories have become rather blurred, but the feeling of freedom and sheer relaxation is deeply imprinted in me. Yes, my road trip in Melbourne was simply liberating. I only got my driving license not too long ago but I was able to drive down long stretches of roads with rolls of grass on either side of me, dotted with grazing sheep and cows, it was pure serenity. Almost zero traffic, just smooth long hours of driving. Australian drivers are rather like The Flash, and my heart almost always leapt out of my chest whenever giant vehicles whizzed past me, but in general driving in a relaxing countryside is unadulterated bliss. If Australia is this good, I can only imagine how much more tranquil New Zealand would be. While it had been gruelling to drive for 4 hours to reach The Twelve Apostles just to state an example, the scenery was more than sufficient as a reward for me.

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Some really awesome places I visited that left a deep impression on me were The Nobbies at Phillip Island and The Twelve Apostles.

It was terribly cold and it didn’t help that there was a slight drizzle at the Nobbies. The wind whipped the stinging cold rain into our faces but we were determined to explore the whole of the Nobbies to witness the beautiful crashing blue waves. Why are the waters such a gorgeous shade of turquoise at certain parts of the Nobbies I wonder?

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Trying to look mysterious with the rainwater pelting my face isn't easy.

Trying to look mysterious with the rainwater pelting my face was no easy feat.

Also in Phillips Island - Feeding kangaroo with a joey in her pouch. How cute!

Also in Phillip Island – Feeding kangaroo with a joey in her pouch. How cute!

Next up is The Twelves Apostles. A sight not to be missed if you are visiting Melbourne because the limestone apostles are dwindling over the years due to erosion. Sparkling azure blue waters. I really love the beach when it is cool and windy. Only then I am a beach person.

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The sun was shining into my eyes soexcuse the squinty look.

The sun was shining into my eyes so excuse the squinty look.

The last two places have no waters. But brightly coloured flowers and fresh fruits grow in abundance. They are Aloywn Gardens in Yarra Valley and Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens in Mornington Peninsula. And what is cool is that you can taste the fruits in the gardens as well!

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It's a tomato!

It’s a gourd-shaped tomato!