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Hari raya

Posted on: July 17, 2017

Hari raya is almost nearing to an end. We celebrated it in Penang for 2 days and went back to Kedah for few days. 

There wasn’t much activities when celebrating it in Penang as my in laws doesn’t really go out and visit other people, instead we just stayed at home and entertained guests who came.

I had quick catch up wih some friends when I went back to Kedah. Managed to see Zara and Fatin. It was great though I wish we have more time to chit chat and I wished I could have visit other friends.

It’s less tiring this year as my father limit the number of guests for our open house his year. Unlike previous years where almost everybody was invited and I had to spend whole day until night at the kitchen- washing, preparing foods etc. It’s really hard when there’s so many guests as I didn’t have time to chats with them, quite an unfortunate really.

Danish enjoyed his hari raya I think. All the duit raya and fire crackers, and friends and cousins- yeah, best time! It’s so easy being a kid.

Selamat hari raya.

I loved my ramadhan this year. I got reflected about myself and Islam. In a way, I understand more about Islam and Quran and I see myself striving more to become a better Muslim. 
It’s good, I was clueless before, performing the prayers etc without much feeling and actual understanding.

We can have the knowledge but it’s the thought that matters.
We can have the knowledge but we doesn’t really see it through our heart which end up useless. I’m trying to see it through my heart now. 

I came across a statement yesterday; message an old friend and write down a memory u remembered.

I don’t know why but once I read it, I remembered during my final year in Lancaster, either cos we studied until early morning or was waiting for Subuh prayer. Then around 4am, Midah and I decided to walk around the campus. It was summer so the sun rises early and the whole campus was so quiet.

We walked around, taking photos and breathing in the tranquility of the early morning hours. It was peaceful. 

It’s one of the best memory I have with you, Midah. Not sure if u still reading my blog.
Hope all is well for you. It has been so long since we last saw each other.

1. Flight 
I chose ANA airlines as at the time of booking, the price was cheaper than other airlines, it even beats Air Asia. 

I booked the tickets 3 months before the trip.

Overall, it’s way better than Air Asia. With meals, luggage and entertainment all included in the price. The seats were okay, the foods was tasty and we enjoyed the in-flight movies. The stewardess are friendly and hardworking, as most Japanese are. They even gave Danish some sweets and toy. Compared to KLM, ANA is way better!

2. Based Location

I have decided on staying at airbnb as I preferred to have kitchen so we can cook. Not really cooking, just boil the prepacked meals like Brahims. 

Tokyo is big. There’s a lot of district and you really need to narrow down to which area you decided to stay. 

In the end, I chose Nippori. Because we landed at Narita Airport, I found out that the Keisei Skyliner train have direct train to Nippori. That’s the main reason I chose Nippori. The idea of staying elsewhere and the need to change few train lines from the airport is tiring. I figured we’ll be so tired when we reached and with a kid in tow, I don’t want to take the risk so I chose the easiest location and transportation. 

Btw, that train go direct to Nippori and Ueno so I guess u can chose to stay at either location. Though Ueno is a big station and it’s quite a long walk to the exit. Another plus point for Nippori!

Also, the place we stayed have 3 different train lines within walking distance so another plus point. 

3. Accommodations 

When choosing the airbnb, I have listed down my requirements and questions to ask the owner. The house need to have lift if its on upper floors. I need fully equipped kitchen, at least a microwave and rice cooker. I also searched for those with washing machine. Number of beds and room, please note that Japanese double bed is small, only enough for 2 adults, not even an extra kid can fit in. Also, I asked the distance from their house to tourist attractions like Disneyland. Oh, I also ask on flexibility on check in and out as most of the hotel/airbnb there state 11am as check out time and 4pm as check in time.

I shortlisted few houses, updated it on excel sheet and made my decision.

We really like the house that I chose. It has lift, fully equipped kitchen, 2 bedrooms, washing machine and it just felt like home. The owner stayed next door and is proficient in English. He changed our towels every 2 days and was very helpful to us. And the hot air controller in the bathroom was awesome for drying wet clothes. I washed our clothes everyday at night and when we woke up, everything dried including our jeans! 

And oh, we can check in and check out late too with no extra charges on our last day! Bless him!

We like the area too. It took us around 3 mins walk to the nearest train station. It was a housing area and every morning they turn on the street speaker and put on some nice songs. It kinda lifted your spirits, a nice way to start your day. 

4. Food

Recently, Japan has widen the availability of halal food in the countries. There’s quite a lot of halal restaurants in Tokyo itself. Dinner is expensive and the portion is small hence you cannot really share. If want to try eating outside, it’s better to have lunch there as the price is more affordable. 

When we were there, we ate breakfast at home, which covered our lunch as well. We had rice and heat some Brahims and sambal ikan bilis. Thus we usually eat dinner outside and it was expensive. 

Oh, when we went to Disneyland and the ski resort, I packed our own lunch- rice and brahims. At Disneyland we ate around their food court area, bought some fries and ate our lunch. While when we went to the ski resort, we ate in the train. It’s normal to eat when you ride in shinkasen, they even sell some food in the train but we didn’t buy any as we are unsure of the status.

Japanese are really kind. We wanted to buy a fried squid and when I checked the ingredients using Google Translate apps (pls use this when u travel, really useful!), the ingredients looks fine, no alcohol or any kind of meats. I asked the salesgirl to confirm the oil used and she called their office to confirm. I was like, wow. She can just read and translate to us but decided to call the office/distributor to confirm. They are really helpful and kind. They are not friendly like most western people, but when you ask for help or directions, they go beyond to help u. 

So, back to food in Tokyo, i use Google Maps to find it. Just type halal food and it will show the nearest halal restaurant near u. Of course, I did some researched too before we went and had decided which restaurants to try.

If eating out too expensive, just bring lots of Brahims 😉

Btw, we also bring raw packed sausages for Danish and the customs don’t check much. So, it’s safe to bring in any food I think, unlike Australia. 

5. Apps

We relied 100% on Google Maps and Google Translate. We went on our own, no tourist guide and no knowledge in the language either. 

However, with lots of researched and detailed itinerary, it’s doable. 

Oh, and pocket wifi too! I rent from KLIA and our airbnb owner also provide us with one so we have 2 pocket wifis and we did a live update with our families back home :). 

6. Itinerary

Tokyo is big and have lots of attractions. I planned our itinerary by day. For example, first destination was Disneyland. I used excel and put down details such as, how to get there from our airbnb , which train to use, which station to stop / change, which line , how many minutes etc etc. 

Then after Disneyland we wanted to go for dinner so I put that on the excel too. Which restaurant and how to go there from Disneyland and from there to home. 

So each day, I made a plan of where to go, where to eat etc. We didn’t stick 100% to the plan but it’s helpful to have , kinda like a back up plan. And as I researched about the routes , I am becoming familiar with their train systems and station that when we were there, I didn’t panicked. 

I searched the destination on Google Map and just followed the instructions. There were few times the Google Map showed wrong platform but their signage also showed in English so it was fine. I guess don’t follow it 100%, it’s there as a guide and was doing a good job for us. 

I printed the itinerary I had typed and brings it out with us. At least if the pocket wifi battery has finished, we have back up and won’t get lost. 

7. Skincare

When we went, weather was still cold and I didn’t wear any moisturiser or lotions. Ended up with a very dry skin and it hurt. So, don’t be like me.

8. Medicines 

As usual, bring all the medicines and minyak panas. Better to have everything than looking for it in foreign country.

I bought travel insurance from AXA too. For the family package price, the price is reasonable and it’s better to be safe than sorry! 

I also took one Vit C tablet every day to cope with the weather. Don’t want to get sick when on vacation!

9. Travel with kid

I didn’t bring any stroller as Danish never use it. And with all the changing trains and stairs, u will get tired lugging the stroller. Disneyland have stroller you can rent. As for us, we just ignore his whining. Yeah, with all the walking he suddenly have to do, he whines a lot! And he keep on asking for us to use taxi, which is expensive for long distance but if its short distance then the rate is better compared to the train tickets for whole family. 

With whiny kid, which is expected, I tried to plan destination which are fun for him. So, only one temple though I have long list of other boring tourist spots. We went to the fire museum, the ski resort, the ninja museum and Disneyland to make it into an exciting trip for him. So that he have that motivation to walk more, hahaha. 

I also keep in the backpack some snacks, coloring book and simple story book for him. 

It helps, he’s happy doing something fun and we are happy with no whining. 

This was the first time we travelled on our own as family. When we went to Bali, we have a driver to take us around. It was more challenging this time and it went well I think. We didn’t get lost much, didn’t argue much and we were happy. 
It certainly was different when traveling on my own or only with my husband, much easier I think. But the joys on my son face made it worth it. Looking forward to more long distance family trips!

Bye Tokyo

Posted on: May 23, 2017

It’s our final day in Tokyo. There’s still so many places we haven’t visited. NEED ANOTHER TOKYO TRIP!!!

We went to Shinjuku today. Shinjuku is like one of the main shopping district- full of branded shops and busy with people. 

We went to Komehyo- it’s a second hand store for branded items. I bought a bag at a really good price and we bought lots of perfumes for gifts as well. The perfumes there are so cheap! 

Then we went to Rapha , a cycling shop as my cousin ordered some stuff from there. 

From Rapha, we decided to go to Ninja Trick House. It was a long walk based on google maps. We found it at last!

the fee is 1000 yen per person. the whole thing took around 45 mins.

it was fun! We learned about Ninjas and we get to do some ninja tricks, like using the fake sword and attack a ninja mannequin and throwing the ninja star darts. Danish was ecstatic, another dream came true for him i guess. We tried to find some ninja costume for him but it’s too expensive for our budget. 

After the ninja experience, we went for lunch around the shinjuku area. We found a pakistan restaurant, called Saddiq and ordered some pratha and briyani. 

Then it’s time to say goodbye to Japan. Went back to the airbnb, called a taxi, juggled our luggages through train stations and off to Haneda Airport.

We planned to have dinner at the airport but the shop is full and the queue is long. Saw an empty italian restaurant and asked the chef to cook a non-alcoholic vegetarian pasta. It kept our tummy from grumbling.

Bye Tokyo, we shall visit you again. 

Life is unpredictable and u just can’t plan life.

I was outraged with the recent incident occurred here. An 11 years old boy died after being beaten by his school warden. His legs had to be amputated and the doctors was scheduling to amputate his arm too when he died. 

He entered the boarding school with high hopes. The school didn’t allow any communication outside school for 40 days and it was during this time his nightmare began.

I wouldn’t allow my son to go to boarding school. Nope, he’s staying with me until 18. Then he can go to college and university of his choice. 

I believe at 18 he will have enough maturity and responsibility for his own life. He’ll be able to speak up and act on it if something is wrong. That he understand he doesn’t need to be scared of anybody at whatever authority level if his life is in danger.

Before he get to 18, he’s staying with me.

I spend my high school life in boarding school. I hated it. I resented the rules, the teachers, the wardens and the prefects. I broke lots of rules just to prove my points that those rules are stupid. Purposely breaking the rules. 

Those were the stages in my life that I didn’t miss and hardly remember. However it did teach me about life, it did in some way shape me and the teachers did contribute tremendously to my education. But I hated it. I felt fear if someone come to me and say they’ve got a time machine and we will go back to your boarding school time. In a way the experience did affect me psychologically in a negative way. 

So, I hope my son won’t be attending any boarding school. And I really hope the ministry of education can come up with stricter regulations to ensure students safety at school.

The initial plan was to explore Odaiba and go to car parts store. I think the main reason why my husband agreed for this trip is because of japan famous modified car parts! 

However, plan changed. We went to fire museum and only one car parts store-Up Garage.

The fire museum was wonderful. It was just next to a train station and it’s free!!! 

There’s fire trucks, helicopters that kids can try. As Danish are fans of firemen related, this museum is another dream came true for him. 

There wasn’t a lot of crowd on the day we went, maybe cos its weekdays. It would be less fun if it’s crowded as the kids will have to wait for other kids if they want to ride the trucks and helicopters. 

After the fire museum, we went to Up Garage, a car parts store. It was quite a disappointment actually as the store is quite small. We should have gone to super auto bacs as i read the store is much bigger. However the distance to super auto bacs was quite far from our location hence we decided for Up Garage.

We had to walk quite a distance from Up Garage to the nearest train station that it made all of us quite cranky as we didn’t have our lunch yet so we were hungry and tired. 

We found a playground while we walked so Danish had a chance to release some of the stress. We went to family mart near the station for some onigiri and hot fries.

Then we went to Sushi Ken for dinner. It was expensive, we should have gone there for lunch as it’s cheaper. Oh well, at least we tried some sushi in Tokyo.

That end our day. All the walking made us so tired!

Another exciting day! We went to Gala Yuzawa ski resort to play with snow!!

As winter is coming to an end, there wasn’t any snow or traces of snow in tokyo itself. Only the cold weather to remind us that winter has not completely left yet.

So, we went to Gala Yuzawa ski resort to experience snow. Specifically for Danish to see and touch snow! It’s been one of his dreams to play with snow.

We bought a JR wide pass which covered bullet train to Gala Yuzawa. So, we took shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa and take another train to Gala Yuzawa. 

After much researched, I found that Gala Yuzawa is the easiest ski resort to go to as the train station is inside the resort. There’s no need to take additional transport to reach the resort. 

It took us around 2 hours from Ueno station to reached Gala Yuzawa. We reached there around 1 plus and was amazed with the scenery. Snows everywhere! Thick and falling! We rent boots, gloves, ski wear and sled from the resort.

Danish started forming snow balls and throwing at daddy. He keep on saying, this is the best day of my life! Hahhaha, made all the thousands of yen cost of this trip worth it. 

We had a go at sledging. I totally don’t have skills in this though Danish aced it. He was like an expert, sledging as though it wasn’t his first time. Truly enjoyed it and it made me happy to see him like that.

The resort close at 5 plus and we want to catch the 5pm train so by 4.30 we said goodbye to the snow and the sled. 

I had initially planned to stay for a night at Echigo Yuzawa but then the idea of lugging our luggages put me off. Now I regret that, we should just bring some clothes for one night stay and leave the rest of the luggage at the apartment. 

Oh well, another reason to repeat tokyo 😉

Once we reached Ueno, we decided to try the famous Wagyu beef at Yakiniku-Panga. 
Food in Tokyo is always expensive but dinner leaves a much bigger hole in your pocket. 

The serving is small-fit for one person or two if small eater. Danish finished most of the beef and he said it was delicious and he keep on asking for more. I tried some korean dish, bimbap is it- not sure. it was rice mixed with all different veggies. 

At least we tried and we know for future trip, we will just eat some Brahims if we don’t have budget for expensive food.

After dinner, we went to Asakusa. I wanted to see the famous shrine. It was magnificent and the light made it more beautiful. 
We also went to Don Quijote nearby for more kit kats to bring home. 

I wish we have more time and energy to wander around more. i miss the skytree area and the tower. 


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