Archive for March, 2011

Just another update

Quote of the day:
“There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have.”
– Don Herold

It has been two days since I’ve obtained my SPM results, which, by the way, happens to be an overall performance of 8 As and 2 Bs. Not my best result considering with only a little more effort, that figure of 8 could’ve been a 10 instead. Nonetheless, my results seemed to be higher than a lot of others despite how I feel about myself. Congratulations to all high achievers anyways. Before the results was a driving lesson done around 9 AM in the morning for two hours.

I woke up earlier that day so I could quickly finish the lesson and proceed to school. Out of the pressure I’ve had however, I’ve been performing badly throughout the lesson. Failures included failing to switch lanes carefully, failing to initiate the slope climbing technique properly, failing to turn into junctions while maintaining the correct lane, and generally failing terribly. All the while, I thought maybe having a little time with my dad helped, but I’m not driving carefully as a matter of fact.

Just today, I came close to accident in the afternoon while leaving my school gate. My mom let me try the wheels to see how I could perform in a congested area. At first, it seemed all okay, but that’s when things started. First of all, I wasn’t parking in alignment. I was asked to push forward and I almost ran over my brother’s feet. He wasn’t to be blamed no matter the condition because I was the driver. After opening the trunk of the car, a few of his friends had come in and we were supposed to leave immediately after loading the bags.

When I came to the exit gate, that’s when the worst part almost came. Apparently, a Kancil was coming in from the right and I paid no attention to it whatsoever. Then when I do realize it coming, I just stoned and the heck I didn’t do anything about it. I pressed forward unknowingly with my foot somewhat numb. My mom immediately yelled at me to dab the brakes. Despite how severe it sounds, I was traveling at no more than 10 km/hour. The rest of this situation was handled by my mom who opted to quickly switch drivers. Since then, everything went haywire for me.

My mom then dropped us home while lecturing me through the journey. After my brother and his friends unloaded, I had a small session with my mom on safety driving. In contrast to everything my father told me, she insisted that I stop on every turn and observe all mirrors every few seconds. For some reason, my confidence has wavered and I slept on the couch for at least two hours just to kill the feeling off. All that sleep led to me writing this post now.

Lessons had been learned. First, as a driver, you have to assume the road type and condition on every road that you travel on. The incident simply happened because I didn’t realize that the exit was actually a T-junction. Because of that, I didn’t apply proper prioritizing and came close to an accident. Second, as a person, you might need plenty of experience before handling the real roads. I came that close to an accident because I hadn’t practiced enough on easier grounds. Third, as a driver, you have to maintain coolness regardless of the condition you are driving under. My mom said that I faced tension because when driving alone, I was entirely alert and while driving with 5 other passengers, I came that close to an accident.

Long story short, I still have a long way to go. I will need more practice especially on safety regulations. This has just been another terrible update that I have to learn from.

It’s time for the truth

Quote of the day:
“About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.”
– Josh Billings

After eleven years of studying in the same school, a test was taken to evaluate my performance over those years. It was in November that I was first tested in that thing called SPM. After exactly 4 months of waiting, from 22nd November 2010 till today, 22nd March 2011, the results will be announced and distributed the next day. It is the moment of truth.

It is imperative that my results are outstanding as I have been placed in a good college and I shall not disappoint my parents any further from this point on. It is time.

As of this post, I will have 12 hours, 12 minutes and 12 seconds (talk about coincidence) to wait before I realize what I have achieved.

Future plans

Quote of the day:
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
– Mark Twain

Sooner or later, I shall have to absorb this. Today was the day when Taylor’s College had its Open Day. I woke up about 10 AM in the morning and was taken there by my father to consider options for pre-university education. I had to decide quickly considering the SPM results were due a couple of days, specifically four.

The college seemed pretty cool, having a bunch of rooms as well as some great and friendly community going on there. Upon arrival, we were directed to the campus cafeteria where most of the information was displayed. Guides on pre-university options were available and I was quickly assigned a person to help explain all that to me. I was introduced to three forms of education, namely Cambridge A-Levels, South Australian Matriculation and Canadian Pre-University. I won’t be going into details considering how it’s tedious and confusing.

After a while though, my father seems to have finalized the whole CAL idea. In the coming few days, I will probably be enrolled into this campus and will take my place as a Cambridge A-Levels student, or at least that’s what I’m assuming at this point of time. Scholarships are also offered to higher achievers of SPM whereby a fee reduction will be implemented. In any case, after the briefing, I was given a quick and simple campus tour by a fellow student there who, apparently, is the same age as I am and is waiting for her own SPM results.

Despite however much she is the same age though, there’s an obvious difference between a regular student and a college student. I guess it will be a matter of time before all that changes. I shall make a mark in Taylor’s if I do end up there. After all, one would only take his or her own preferred subjects into account. I guess it’s all up to the SPM results, or otherwise if my father decides to take on the earlier entries.

Recent events

Quote of the day:
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”
– G. K. Chesterton

As of now, we currently know that Yunnan and Sendai of China and Japan respectively have been struck by massive earthquakes. In light of the Japan incident, this earthquake happened around 11 hours before this post was made and was reported to have marked a Richter scale of approximately 8.9. It is also reported to be the largest earthquake in Japan and the seventh greatest earthquake in the world’s recorded history. Here we have school term holidays beginning with an earthquake. May everyone in Japan be safe and sound.

The earthquake is also reported to have caused a tsunami which caused more extensive damage. The earthquake was also followed by an astonishing number of more than 30 aftershocks. Reports show that the tsunami caused by the earthquake may affect countries within the Pacific Coast. May those surviving continue to find hope, and may those caught in the incident rest in peace.


Quote of the day:
“Never confuse movement with action.”
-Ernest Hemingway

I’m sure I’ve stated it somewhere before that I’ll do a coverage of what this whole 48 fuss is about, and I shall do it in this post. For an introduction, I’ve heard about NMB48 back when I was in Japan through a local TV channel. What I did was I watched a sort of documentary which featured auditions or something similar. After watching for an hour or two, they caught my attention. At that moment of time, all I could see are many young girls dancing in a hall, either practicing or auditioning. Then on the last day of the trip, AKB48 was aired through the local radio. I knew I had to find out about them when I returned to Malaysia later on, and I did.

I first did a check on Wikipedia for NMB48, but there were no entries whatsoever. Instead, the page had redirected me to AKB48, or at least the search results did. After digging through some of the information, I came to know that NMB48 is a sister group under the same project, with the main being AKB48. The next thing I did was run a search on YouTube for this so-called AKB48 because I knew nothing of them. My only impression at that time was this: they were dancers of some sort. Heck, I didn’t care. The thing that drew my attention was the 48, which I assumed was 48 members, and I was right on that part. I was then redirected to a digital single released by them entitled Baby! Baby! Baby! and thus, I listened to it for a bit. That’s when the obsession started, I guess.

Without further ado, AKB48 (エーケービー フォーティーエイト, Ēkēbī Fōtīeito) is an all-female Japanese idol group. The name AKB is derived from a town called Akihabara in Tokyo, Japan. The group was formed in 2006 with the original 21 members forming Team A. Later on, auditions were carried out to form members for Team K and Team B respectively. After a little shuffling here and there, the final change was a reduction of five members from 53 to 48, thus giving the exact match of the aforementioned group name, AKB48.

Currently, each team has 16 members and are led by the following members: Takahashi Minami (高橋みなみ|19|Team A), Akimoto Sayaka (秋元才加|23|Team K), Kashiwagi Yuki (柏木由紀|19|Team B). The group performs songs ranging from various genres such as ballad, pop, rock and they are currently the leading group in Japan, with all of their singles topping the Oricon charts upon debut. With the former information, AKB48 consists of members ranging anywhere between 14 to 25. The oldest member is currently Shinoda Mariko (篠田麻里子|25|Team A) while the youngest is Oku Manami (奥 真奈美|16|Team B). There is also a large team consisting of trainees given the name Research Students or Team Kenkyuusei in Japanese. These members will be promoted as full-fledged members when any of the current ones graduate from the group.

To date, there have been 20 physically released singles from the group as well as 1 digital single, which was the one I mentioned earlier in the upper paragraphs. The next song I heard was Heavy Rotation otherwise known as the group’s 17th single as well as my current favorite as it centers my favorite member. Following that, the group also has a TV program entitled AKBINGO! which is their weekly variety show. Given the nature of the term “variety”, the segments including anything between interviews, pranks, mini-games and open discussions. At the end of each episode is usually a performance by them to promote their productions.

I guess I pictured it differently when I thought about writing this post. In any case, given how there are 48 members, there’s obviously a favorite for me and that’d be Oshima Yuko (大島優子|23|Team K). She won the center position for the single Heavy Rotation, as mentioned earlier, through a public election. There’s not really much to be said about her since details can be found everywhere on the net. She’s a cheerful girl with a very cute smile, huge eyes and dimples. Nevertheless, she isn’t the tallest member out there, standing at a mere 152 cm. It doesn’t matter much to me because her personality makes it up for her. In performances though, she can throw powerful performances and lived up to her center position in that very single. For any of those readers out there, who’s your favorite member? Until then, this is all I have to cover about AKB48. But there will be more information to come in the future.

Also, downloading more than 100 GB worth of AKBINGO! in a matter of just five days really burns HDD space very quickly. Still watching through the archived ones so that might take a while to finish. And just to add, Oshima Yuko will always be a favorite member of mine.

A long-needed update

Quote of the day:
“If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”
– Isaac Asimov

Foreword: This post is a direct record of 8th March, 2011.

Given the nature of the last post, I wasn’t able to continue updating simply because the Japan trip logs had to be in succession. With that in mind, this post will probably be longer update than any of the other recollections before this. Much has happened through January till now including the acquisition of my Learner’s Driving License or the LDL, the acquisition of a new car, Chinese New Year, and just some of the other things that happened around the calendar.

To start things off, January began with me attending a series of courses otherwise known as the KPP theory course and the practical theory course for driving. Each course had lasted 5 hours and 6 hours respectively. The KPP course teaches what its initials stand for, a basic understanding of how the road transport system works, what to and what not to do and things of the sort. After attending this course, one would need to take a computerized test, formerly hand-written, which consists of 50 multi-choice questions. These questions included road priority issues, the Highway Code and proper driving etiquette. One would need to achieve a minimal score of 42 to pass the test. First time I did it, I got 41 marks, the second time I did it, I got a 44.

Following the pass, one needs to attend the practical theory course for six hours. The first three hours explains what is to be done as a driver on the road while the other three teaches basic car maintenance and a little bit on etiquette. Later that, an LDL would be issued. From the date of issuance for three months, this LDL allows a student to learn how to drive by a qualified instructor. Currently, I’m only at this stage, so there’s nothing much that can be done.

January closed in with the acquisition of my LDL on the 21st. Then came February, which is most notably known for Chinese New Year. Like every other year, we traveled back to my grandparents’ home for the purpose of an annual reunion. Things were partially different this time around as we had iPhones to hook 3G services to my laptop. Unlike every other year though, things were very quiet this time around. Hardly anyone played firecrackers in front of our house. Though it was a little merrier back at their place, the mood seems to be lost this year. In fact, till now, I haven’t totaled how much I received from relatives. In other words, I’ll do it soon.

Considering how CNY was more dull this year, school holidays quickly ended and life carried on as per normal. Having the nature of a post-SPM student, I was pretty much stuck at home with nothing much to do, except information digging with my laptop. 17th February was exceptional though; it was the day I had a new car. Yes, it is by far the oddest thing for a non-licensed driver to own a car. The car being mentioned here is a Toyota Vios 1.5E AT. Rather than going through the specifications of the car, I’ll just put it this way; having a car to yourself just gives a great feel to your life. However though, first time I drove it, I almost hit my mom’s car from the side. With that begins the gaining of experience and generally, trying to avoid further accidents.

Just today, I had my first lesson with an instructor. I was tasked to climb a slope and perform a 3-point turn using a manual transmission Perodua Kancil. Yes, it was extremely tight and operating the clutch was annoying. Comparing it to my Vios, it was very small, it didn’t have electronic power steering, it was an MT car, but it can squeeze through traffic. The reason for that, I was given the task of driving to a petrol station and also driving myself home with that very Kancil. It was that day when I was actually driving on a vehicle-infested road. The panic feeling wasn’t there simply maybe it’s because I had driven before my father’s Suzuki SX4 and my uncle’s 11-year-old Volvo. In any case, a lot of experience was gained. That and I drove my brother to dinner tonight too.

Tonight will probably close in quietly and I’ll have my next lesson tomorrow. Until then, there will be a new post the next day. Signing out.

Quote of the day:
“It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them.”
– Pierre Beaumarchais

You know, sooner or later they’re gonna have to run out of these quotes. It’s only a matter of time before that happens. Right, it has been yet another while since I’ve written anything. Sometimes, I just feel if this post would ever be written. Either I’m getting lazier or I’m just being too distracted. The latter half of the trip was more or less fun, consisting of more Tokyo and less snow this time around. In any case, today will be covering the long-delayed second part of the Japan trip I had and somewhat promised myself I would do over a month ago. Right, this time around, we traveled a little here and there in the metropolitan city of Tokyo and of course the last day we had snow or any part of Hokkaido, even. This post should be considerably longer considering how details were heavily left out in the previous parts.

Day 5: Summary
– Visited a landmark, Hokkaido’s Former Government Building
– Passing by Odori Park and Sapporo TV Tower again
– Visited an ancient shrine, the Hokkaido Shrine
– Visited the Olympic Ski Jump course
– Had some expensive crab for lunch
– Departure to Haneda via a local flight at night
– Checked into Shinagawa Prince Hotel @ Tokyo

Day 5: Reviews & Details
We woke up early in the morning as usual to carry on with our tour for the week. I couldn’t exactly recall if we had any breakfast, but I guess probably not. In any case, we departed to view one of the more historic buildings in Hokkaido, the former government building where we snapped yet a few photos. Apparently it had some relation to Americans as the architectural structure from the outside seems really close and resembles American-styled buildings. Later on, we went by the previously-visited Sapporo TV Tower and the Odori Park, which, mentioned earlier, was the area where the annual Spring Festival was carried out.

Our next stop was the Olympic Ski Jump course. We had to access higher ground so yes, it did take a while for the driver to drive us up a mountainous area. It was snowing very heavily throughout most of the journey that it became partially hazardous to drive at our current speed at that time. In any case, when we laid foot, we had to go further up. It’s kind of annoying how the staff were spraying red paint to indicate parking spots. This is because the snow had severely covered the grounds. We went up a single escalator to the main grounds where the ski course was actually located.

Upon reaching the top, we had a small snowball fight. Generally the whole area was covered with snow, so that’s obviously what came to mind. How to describe the fight, I’m not sure how, but it did get us sweaty. For the most part, having to sweat and wear thick clothing both at the same time can be very tedious and patience-draining. Anyway, that was just the main ground. We took a gondola, or what I’d call a cable car, up to the top of the slide. An observatory deck was located there and so indeed, we went there. Inside was a small booth that sells soft cream and hot chocolate. Talk about convenient. There was also a great view of Sapporo plus a machine that dispenses special commemorative coins which can be used as a pendant or a key chain too.

When we got back down, through the same gondola or cable car thing, we had a bigger snowball fight. We were also considered lucky that day to see actual ski jumpers in action. Of course, that was probably a practice session considering we were the first few to actually arrive at the course. Later then, lunch was called for, and we had a rather extravagant one too. Today’s meal was seafood, like really great seafood. Among the dishes included crab, scallops, the highly-valued abalone, and also rice and porridge. This was probably one of the more expensive meals on the trip considering how huge the crabs were.

We then visited a shrine known to have existed over many years ago. Legend has it that there were two shrines that were around. The shrines were manually shifted between one and the other once per 20 years. Or at least that’s what I heard anyways. The shrine, like a lot of other places in Hokkaido, is used today for exhibition purposes. There wasn’t much to be done there, so we quickly carried with our next activity quickly.

I don’t exactly recall what we did after that. It seemed to be that our flight to Tokyo was next in schedule. We bade our coach driver farewell that night and waited for our oncoming flight. As usual, we had our security checks, some light stuff, if I remember right and I also remember buying a dispensed can of hot chocolate. An iPad demonstration quickly followed up while waiting for the flight. One can simply imagine having 12 people swarm to a single device held by Nicholas. We then departed around 7:20 pm, local time, to hit Haneda International Airport, Tokyo about an hour and a half later. The flight, like the local one to Hokkaido, was a standard flight where we had light chats throughout the flight.

There wasn’t any dinner provided for us upon reaching Tokyo. We first checked into Shinagawa Prince Hotel, but activities had varied widely for the blooming city. Instead of having quiet nights, Tokyo was really something. Bolstering a grand population of 13 million people, you could see many people around even late at night. What me and my brother did was this: We walked around with our entrusted tour guide for about a half to an hour or so. We couldn’t strand far away from our hotel, so we didn’t really cover much ground. Of course, that was paired with the inability for us to travel around without an adult supervising us.

In the end, we didn’t go anywhere much except a McDonald’s concession stand just next to the hotel. There, they had something we couldn’t get, the Choco Pie. Having to be known as the chocolate version of the Apple Pie, it only cost us ¥100 each, or about RM3.74. It’s amazing how Japan live in this concept. We save in Malaysia by eating roadside food. They save in Japan by eating fast food such as McDonald’s. It’s really a wonder to think that they do what we avoid to save money. We also had several chicken breasts (and they were boneless too) and some fries. Together in that bill, we went up to our guide’s room to have our unofficial dinner. It was Christmas the next day, so we treated it as Christmas Eve dinner or so, or at least I treated it that way.

After we were done eating, we headed back for our rooms to take the night off. Bryan went on to sleep early while I took time to catch the local TV. It was there and then I was introduced to the 48 series, which would be explained in another post. In any case, I was introduced to NMB48, through a documentary of their formation. It was later then I was introduced to AKB48 (エーケービー フォーティーエイト), which as stated, will be explained in another post. I spent a good hour or two until 1 am to surf between each channel. The day closed in after that. It was the first day of our trip in Tokyo.

Day 6: Summary
– Visited the Asakusa Kannon Temple
– Passed by the Diet Building and Imperial Palace
– Visited Ginza St. a.k.a shopping haven
– Visited Shinjuku St. a.k.a another shopping haven
– Returned to Shinagawa Prince Hotel

Day 6: Reviews & Details
Finally, we got to relax because we were going to accommodate the hotel for two nights. That meaning, no luggage packing was required, what a relief.. In any case, we woke up as usual to catch on with breakfast. One unique thing was that this hotel had 2 dining lounges: one on the top (37th) floor and one more on the ground floor. As per the tour guide’s recommendations, we went to the top floor first. There was a splendid view of Tokyo from that lounge as we were given seats at the edge of the room where a view could be seen. Like most international hotels, this one served also sorts of bread for breakfast in which case, I took anyways because my craving for bread wasn’t exactly gone yet. In any case, we ate quickly and went for the ground floor because today was a shopping day.

Due to the amount of TV surfing I did yesterday, I ended up sleeping in the bus, or at least I think I did. In any case, when we got down, we were at the Asakusa Kannon Temple. From a long distance, it seems to be one of the more ancient temples. Up close though, there’s a shopping street hidden from public view. It kinda felt like Chinatown in there, but it wasn’t. Given our circumstances, the one where we didn’t have any parents, me and my brother actually took a walk outside of the designated zone with our tour guide. We went to convenience stores, takoyaki stands, a riverside, a tour agency, and even our lunch restaurant which nobody else had the chance to go. Long story short, we unintentionally explored a little more of Tokyo on our own than we did if we had parents along.

Okay, I’m skipping the lunch details because the food is almost identical to some of the other food we had in the previous days. Moving on, our next destination was Ginza. As per the summary, and as per the itinerary we got, Ginza is a place to be seen emptying wallets. The street, literally, is full of people. Authorities have closed down the entire road that spanned a good kilometer or two just to allow locals to go nuts shopping. We were dropped off at a toy store for the first part; I just woke up from the bus. For the first few parts, I, my brother and the tour guide did our own shopping. Things started out with Burberry and other fashion shops but the point was this: You could get nearly anything here. It’s a road equivalent of Petaling Jaya’s 1 Utama.

There were things to note here. First of all, Yugioh cards are amazingly cheap here. A standard pack which cost RM8 only costs a good RM5, or approximately that much, in Japan. Also, while a booster box costs RM260 in Malaysia, it only takes RM160 worth of Yen here. In short words, dear Malaysians, or any non-Japanese, if you are playing, stop wasting your money and come here. In any case, we were given 2 hours to walk on our own. The tour guide had returned to the bus to take a rest or something of the sort. Long story short, we didn’t get anything except an iPod Nano which my brother was dying to buy. The price was almost the same when converted into RM or US dollars. Considering how they mentioned the color red was a special edition, my dad figured, why not? We’re in Japan already anyways, so yes, the Nano did end up purchased.

In fact, the shopping spree doesn’t end there. Later on, we went to Shinjuku for additional shopping. We also happened to pass by the Imperial Palace as stated in the itinerary, but merely viewing it from a great distance and not going up close. In any case, we were dropped off at a central ABC-mart that specializes in sports equipments from all around the world. Notable brands included Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and a lot of other stuff. We didn’t do much shopping here, but rather more of just walking and absorbing the culture. We went to subway lines, underground shopping malls, a Japan equivalent of Guardian pharmacy, a bank and just looking around. We had a few funny pictures around the subway lines but one thing remained true: No matter what level of ground you are on, you are bound to see hundreds of people as long as you are in Tokyo.

Once we were done with that, we had a fried food fiesta. Well not exactly. It was in fact, the only restaurant that happened to be open at that time. The restaurant was located in an office building, which probably explains why everything else was closed. In any case, fried food it was, including fried chicken, fried prawns, and rice, followed up by a local drink we know as green tea. Not having much to talk about, once we ate, we returned straight to the hotel.

On our way back though, we happened to pass through the Rainbow Bridge, almost analogous in design to the Penang Bridge, except it’s much shorter than the before mentioned and illuminates in multiple colors at night, hence giving its name. We also happened to pass by a very familiar building, in which I forgot its name, but I can say this. The building I just mentioned can be seen in one of the later episodes in Digimon Adventure’s first season. It serves to be a TV broadcasting station if I can remember it correctly. After that, it was just a silent 15-minute ride back to our hotel. We were spending the night in the same hotel and would be departing for Disneyland the next day.

Having reached the hotel at around 8:30 pm, local time, we had a number of hours to ourselves. To start off, we went to the same McD concession stand and got ourselves more chocolate pies. My brother even got the idea of buying one for our guide on the house, and so yes, we did. When we reached his room, however, there were a bunch of adults just sitting and talking among themselves. What we thought was we give him the pie, and then immediately leave for our rooms. As said, we did.

Now that I think about it, it could have been this day that I knew about AKB48. In fact no, it was NMB48 that I first learned about. The local TV was broadcasting some sort of documentary or an audition about girls joining an entertainment group. Of course, not knowing what it was, I just assumed it was an ordinary group. As stated in the previous-day log, Bryan went on to sleep, I watched that documentary or audition thing, same time trying to figure out what that was. Besides, it was 48 girls (and more), so what the heck? I have a few days left in Japan, best to learn. Later then, another hot bath, yukata, and sleep. Day six was done with.

Day 7: Summary
– Disneyland, self-explanatory
– Had buffet dinner
– Checked into Narita Marroad International Hotel after dark

Day 7: Reviews & Details
We woke up in the morning as usual for our last event of the week. Well not exactly an event, but more of a certain popular destination otherwise known as Tokyo Disneyland. In fact, I don’t really have much to touch upon here considering the park is all Disney and generally speaking, one would need to have at least a map of the park or something just to understand what I may or may not be typing here. In any case however, I’ll try my best to attempt a good explanation for what we did today.

The day started with me and my brother missing breakfast. Yes, due to another one of my screw-ups, we woke up late, or at least I did. We were supposed to have breakfast on the 1st floor instead of the 37th but the queue was too long and we were unable to get any seats inside. So what we did instead was grab a quick bun at a nearby 7-11 store. Got a few snacks on the way and we headed for the bus. Without further ado, and nothing else on schedule, we went for Tokyo Disneyland.

Approximately 10 to 15 minutes later, we were at the group sales counter and we picked up our tickets. While other people had families to go along with, we stuck with the newlyweds Wilson Ooi and Koay Lay Ling. We sort of made them our temporary parents somewhere along the way, or at least I think I did. First stop, the Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, I can’t exactly remember the name of the attraction, but the gist of the attraction is; one boards a mechanized boat into the tracks and views things inside the cave. It’s generally a sit-and-see kind of attraction. Few notable things include the fact that it is potentially pitch-black in there. Not only that, but this Disneyland seems to apply a lot of holographic projections into its attractions.

Once the ride has ended, obviously, we got out, into a souvenir store, like almost all attractions do be it in Japan or Hong Kong. A miracle happened though, after our first ride. Wilson happened to find an unowned card tag, those that are usually worn around the neck. Within it were four admission tickets, specifically two for adults and two for children. At the first sight of that, we had no idea what we had to do. Bryan insisted that we send these tickets to the lost and found; Lay Ling insisted that we send these to Lee-san as maybe he would know what to do with it; Wilson insisted we keep them. I then concluded we might as well keep them because I remembered Hong Kong tickets need not be used to exit the place. Also, me and Wilson agreed that Lee-san would’ve probably kept it for himself.

In whatsoever the case, our tickets were so-called premium tickets which have the Fastpass feature enabled. This feature allows one to insert his park ticket into a Fastpass machine and obtain a Fastpass ticket for a specific attraction or ride thing. All one needs to do is obtain a ticket, and then come back at the specified time. Why this is so important; it’s because as we know, Japan is chock full of people. In fact, even when we got there at 9 am, there was an estimate of already at least a thousand people who have entered the park. Case in point, every attraction had a waiting lane ranging anywhere between 50-120 minutes. Yes, Japanese residents have plenty of patience and time.

In any case, the Fastpass, which I call “cheat”, allows one to jump from the waiting lane to the express lane and thereby changes the figures of 50 to 120 into.. 1. Yes, the absolute power of Fastpass tickets. It INSTANTLY gets you to the front of the line through a special lane which nobody else uses. This allows one to bypass around a hundred to two hundred people without the hassle of waiting for an hour just to get an attraction. So when we found the tickets that time, in addition to our already-premium tickets, well do the math, now we have 8 entry passes with all of them Fastpass-enabled.

Given the four heads; us two brothers and the couple, we could hold 2 Fastpass tickets each time. It was really a miracle. All Disneylands have been known in one way: The entire park cannot be completed in just a single day. Well not for us. Thanks to the tickets that Wilson found on the floor, we, in fact, completed at least 90% of the entire park simply because we didn’t have to wait in line. It was a real miracle for that to have happened that day. I then realized maybe not having parents around for the trip might not be so bad after all. Why? Because there were no restrictions whatsoever.

In any case, we used our cheats to enter the more popular attractions, which are notably roller coasters that included Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain (which we did not go for considering the lack of time). We also used our tickets on Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, the Haunted House, which I forgot the actual name, Captain E.O. and I might have forgotten one or two of the places. Details will be provided for each attraction in the following paragraph.

In short, everything with a “Mountain” in it is a roller coaster. That settles half of it already. The Haunted House is also one of those sit-and-see rides which progresses this way. After queuing up, one enters a room which happens to be an elevator which I’m unaware of whether it goes up or down. One then sits on a chair which will then go through a track. The chair more or less resembles those from the older days one could find in mansions. The inside is almost identical in theme to the Pirates ride mentioned earlier. Inside, one could find ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and all sorts of other things, be it a holographic projection or an actual solid item.

Anyway, I realize I’m terrible at giving details unless I’m truly interested in them. In any case, we had to stop abusing the tickets at some point. Unlike the Hong Kong trip, we only had one day here, so tough luck for us, we couldn’t really shop much. There were a few reasons for that. First of all, I wasn’t exactly a good time manager. Second, I’m not a good shopper and thus, I didn’t spend much. Like the Hong Kong trip however, I did collect special commemorative coins at the cost of ¥100 each. I also got an album to store those coins. Given how my mom wasn’t around, I traveled to every dispenser to get every coin. When it was darker around 6 pm later on, we left for dinner.

Our dinner was a buffet restaurant where I had some beef. One of the group members ordered some kind of Kobe beef which is rather well known to the locals. Short to say, it was expensive and he actually shared it among those seated at our table. Post-dinner, I had 4 cones of soft cream and a waffle topped with a scoop of chocolate ice cream. There was really more freedom in tonight’s dinner. Also, considering it was the light dinner, we ate quite much. My dinner composed of beef, chicken, rice, waffle, ice cream, soft cream, plain water, ice, if that counts. Well that sounded less than it was supposed to be..

In any case, Narita Marroad International Hotel was our next destination. It wasn’t any fancy hotel. In fact, it was just a hotel for those wishing to stay overnight for a next-day flight because that hotel is literally placed next to an airport. The tour guide even advised on closing all windows because it may let in engine noises from aircrafts nearby. We also received the products ordered through a special-order form which somehow I seemed to have forgot to add in the Hokkaido coverage. Later that night, considering how this hotel happened to have a radio, I just tuned into a random local channel and bang, AKB48 again. I left the radio on the whole night despite what Bryan told me. I knew I had to search this AKB48 group when I returned to Malaysia later on.

The night didn’t have much to go around with. All fathers gathered at Lee-san’s room as a last-night-meeting before departure the next day. I was offered beer but I turned it down. After all, I already had sleeping problems. No need for more other health issues. The night closed in with another long night bath, some relaxing, and radio the whole night. With that was declared our last night in Japan and again, the night closed in silently. We return to Malaysia the next day.

Day 8: Summary
– Had breakfast at Narita Marroad International Hotel
– Departure to Changi International Airport, Singapore @ 12 PM
– Departure to KLIA, Malaysia @ 8 PM
– Hit home safely

Day 8: Reviews & Details
The day is pretty much self-explanatory but I’ll do what I can. We woke up in the morning and had breakfast which was provided in the whole package. I had nothing more than simple toast bread and fresh milk. Yes, I realize that throughout the trip, I’ve been eating more Western than Japanese.. We took off to Narita International Airport after breakfast and bade farewell to our Tokyo coach. This time, we really had to make sure we didn’t lose anything because like the Hokkaido coach, we couldn’t afford to lose anything and fortunately, we didn’t.

We then took a direct flight to Changi International Airport which lasted for an approximate six and a half hours. Like the reverse trip, I watched a couple of movies and had on-board lunch. Our flight this time around was a dual-deck economy class airline, also by Singapore Airlines. Like all flights, it was more to sitting and less of everything else. Having watched a movie or two, I went to sleep to compensate for some of the other days. Before we knew it, we had reached Singapore. It was heaty again at an external temperature of 30 degrees at night.

Though this was truly uncalled for, we had Subway sandwiches at Changi. I didn’t know we could pay in MYR and get return change in SGD. Not too much of a difference considering the change was just a few cents. With our stomachs stuffed, our next flight was a transit flight to KLIA about an hour or two later. Throughout this flight, we were given a questionnaire by the tour guide himself for us to assess his performance and add comments regarding his service. Well we were cheating for him throughout most of it, but what could we do? In fact, we owe him in the first place for having required some sort of adult supervision. Add orange juice to the flight; that and some chatting – that covered most of the flight.

We landed in KLIA about a good 40 minutes later and well, homeland again and there’s really nothing to say about homeland; it pretty much describes itself. We took a shuttle bus back to the arrival zone and picked up our luggage. There and then, we wished everyone farewell considering we wouldn’t see them for an extremely long time. Apart from Lee-san, we parted last with the newlyweds Wilson Ooi and Koay Lay Ling. I guess it’s safe to say they were the closest to us throughout the trip and generally, they were our pretend parents, or at least I saw it that way. It isn’t much of a problem now considering how the network called Facebook exists.

We last parted with Lee-san when we saw our father through the transparent glass separating the pathways. When we saw him, we had our last words with Lee-san and carried on with home. We loaded the luggage into my father’s car and rode an hour ride back home. That and then, everyone was awake, and my smallest brother had an iPod 4. We unloaded everything, I got out of my long johns, showered, did more unloading, totaled our spending and kept the rest of the money while returning the USD denominations. That day really called for sleep because we had to go to Genting Highlands the next day. And for the last time in this post, the night closed in quietly. It was home sweet home.