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Event : Urbanscape x NicheMarket + Week 2 Video

Urbanscape x Bookit's Niche Market :

Last minute event ! The organizer contacted me and asked whether I wanted to open a booth for that Sunday. It was a last-minute fill up so I wasn't sure, but they gave me a discounted booth fees because it was last minute and I told her I can't afford pricy booths for now. So I just joined the event :F

Preparation :
I was busy because of the client-based project I'm currently working on, but I had to steal some time here and there. I managed to finish up the version 3 of Japanese foods and snacks ( I think that's it for now, we'll move on to different stuffs after this ). We went to print out the new and old stickers, and also did the cutting and packaging in short amount of time (+ a lot of Pretty Little Liars series).

Most of my postcards and greeting cards were destroyed so I don't have those to sell anymore T^T I sold mostly sticker packs and the latest Eid money packs. Pheww.

Event day :
The event was held for 12 hours (one of my longest event), it was mostly slow paced (because of the crowd - there wasn't enough people for such a big event), so basically, it was a boring one. Af was sleepy throughout the whole day, and I managed to cut all my Japanese stickers (there are more than 40 new packs - so can you imagine the time I was having).

Also in the building : 
Photography exhibition and arts classes on the third floor, and exhibition on the second floor, music and lights exhibition on the first floor. We were on the ground floor : Niche Market and open mic sessions.

Their branding illustrations are the best : you can see event's posters, signage, labels all around the place, and they are definitely inspiring !

After-thought :
Even though the event was super slow and long, I think it was a success because any booths with sales over RM 500 is a big success to me. Imagine I just sell mostly sticker packs guyyyyys.
Sales : Rm 526
- Booth (last minute discount) : - RM 100
- Parking (Central Market) : - RM 26
- Foods : +- RM 50

Here is a video compiled for this week's activities : 

Mini Escapism : Sungai Kanching + FRIM

This week's outing + picnic session : Sungai Kanching, Rawang and FRIM, Kepong.

We were excited about the picnic that we planned since our last outing to Bagan Lalang. I told Af that I wanted to go to any rivers in the area and after some research, these 2 places came into our attention. 

So we bought some foods and snacks to our mini picnic the night before. I cooked Japanese rice that night because I wanted to make some onigiris in the morning (but failed because they just won't stick together - I guess I can't leave it cool down the whole night, I should have done it right-away) :F So it turned into fried rice instead.

Sungai Kanching :
We took off in the afternoon, after I posted my parcels at the post office. We took around 45 minutes to reach Sungai Kanching. I was so excited ! It was a work-day so the place was quite peaceful, only families of foreigners were there and surprisingly hundreds of monkey!

Monkey Stories :
We hiked at least 2 levels up and sat right in front of a small waterfall where no one was around. We even bought a bamboo mat and the picnic location was perfect :D Af was taking pictures after pictures and I was settling our bags when one big monkey came. It followed us when we were hiking up the stairs, and slowly it came closer and closer to us. From 50 meter to 20 meter on the bridge behind us, and slowly it walked to the big stone right in front of me, and just when I looked over suddenly it was sitting right next to my slippers. I was shocked and terrified :F It peeked to our bags and I started to collect all our stuffs. Af said we should go down where there are more people. Slowly I stood up and took all our stuffs, the monkey showed its teeth alarmingly when Af tried to take my slippers. The other monkey on the bridge even tried to snatch one of my bag when we passed through >.<

So we went down and then we settled to one of the public gazebo where there were more people. 
Again, slowly one by one monkeys came around the gazebo =.= I was annoyed and still terrified because there were a group of monkeys trying to snatch our bags plus foods and we haven't even had our lunch. Af said maybe we should just eat in our car instead, so we finally did. 

Note : These monkeys are dangerous, they walk in a big group of 20-40 monkeys around the area and they do snatch things from people. There are big groups of monkeys everywhere :F Some people bring huge stones and tree branches to shoo them away. Don't bring bags or foods, if you want to go for a swim. I think just bring towels with you. These monkeys aren't kidding guys, they are quite aggressive. 

Next stop : FRIM
The incident in Sungai Kanching annoyed us, so we decided to go to FRIM instead because it is located not so far from our location (around 20 mins).

We went to the picnic area in FRIM. 
Note : There are no bicycle renting during weekdays, the skywalk is closed (and soon forever closed), the river is gloomy compared to Sungai Kanching, most of the forest pathways were almost destroyed and closed.

Let's conclude our outing for this week : it felt almost like a failure. 
The beaches were dirty and contaminated with rubbishes from God knows where.
The rivers were depressingly gloomy or terrorized by a community of monkeys.

I'm not quite sure where to explore in the area - we already did KL city and Melaka. We explored to places a bit farther as well, but nothing seemed good enough to be plastered in my mind and be a place where I want to go over and over again :(

We should definitely plan on our next long big escapism (already have one big international event coming up! )


Work Related : Skillshare Scholarship 2017

Oh, oh, oh!
Last week I received an email from Skillshare stating that I won their Skillshare Scholarship by Mailchimp! So I received a one-year premium subscription :D

How did I win this scholarship ?
  1. I've been using Skillshare Premium on and off, every time I received a promo or referral.
  2. I wanted to use Skillshare more so I tried to search for an alternative. 
  3. That's how I found Skillshare Scholarship list
  4. I applied for Mailchip Scholarship for Small Business (explaining and answering their question about how I started my business and how I've been using Skillshare to help me improve my skills)
  5. And after a few months, I received an email saying that I won the scholarship !
I was so happy that morning when I read the email !
I've been taking a lot of awesome classes by remarkable artists, designers and illustrators. Some of the classes are very fun and useful. 

Try for one-month FREE :

Classes that you can try in that one-month :
Note : I'll update the whole list by time, because I'm still taking classes during my work-time. 

Reckless Life 8 : End of First Week

Well I've always been wanting to become a fulltime-freelancer so I can't get over this excitement. I'm planning on sharing more to a freelancer and illustrator life online (Patreon, blog & Youtube), so here's my outtake on compiling a video + simple animation for my weekly activity. Thanks my Patrons, you'll be getting the latest news every-time, don't you worry !

On video compilation :
I'm usually very-very-very lazty to learn another new software because I want to focus on illustration alone, but Af said it is better if I can explore another skill along the way. So he taught me the basic on Adobe Premier (at first the UI seemed a bit hectic compared to Ai + Psd) but he makes it look less scary - that's why people take classes guys :F Plus I'm also very impatient because I rather do illustrations than spending hours on video editing, so this only took 3 hours of basic learning from him and the simple animation (I figured this out!) were done using Psd. Now I can compile my own video without disturbing him :D - and I bet you did not noticed the "azreechan" by the end of the video? Well, that's a typo I'll change in the future videos guys, I noticed I spelled my own name wrong. Hah.


Other than that, this week :
  • Other than my freelance works,
  • I posted all parcels,
  • had a nice ice-cream day,
  • I went to Bagan Lalang for a sunset hunting with Af,
  • we went to Tasy's engagement partayay,
  • celebrated Mom's day with both Af's and my family
Hope you guys had a great week.

Note : I hope I'll make more video compilation and tutorials soon. 
I'll try to be super productive and share inspiring things that help me get on with my never-ending mini projects. 

Plus, congratulation to Tasy + Ashraf for their engagement ! 

Mini Escapism : Bagan Lalang, Selangor

Another mini escapism with Af.
He wasn't happy about not getting any good shots when we travelled to Kedah 2 weeks ago. So on Fridayay,  he told me that he wanted to go to Bagan Lalang - he's nature-sick :F He needs his dose of nature every once in awhile. Plus he is more to ocean/beaches guy and I'm more to greenery (and I don't fancy water) so, I wasn't full-heartedly excited as he was. 

But being there wasn't all that bad, yes, the beach is still dirty and I always feel saddened by it. Next time I come to these places, I'll bring big plastic bag and a picker to pick up all the rubbish in the area la. So depressing thinking about how human can make such a irresponsible thing. 

Note : It took almost 1 hour 1/2 to drive from my house to this location. 
Next week we'll hunt for different spot :

I sat at the marble bench, waiting for Af to take his video shots. I think he was super excited, because that night he edited the video right-away. He didn't even sleep the whole night. Usually it takes him several weeks/months to finish a video editing (when he isn't inspired) :p 


Now, you can enjoy his video :


Anyway, after that we went to HM Bagan Lalang for a seafood dinner : we ordered 2 ekor sotong celop tepung - ( RM 19.90 ), expensive weyy! and  200 gram of lala masak sambal (RM 7), mixed veggie (RM 4), mushroom fried rice for Af and half plate rice for me. Super full. After this we should consider to reduce the food ordering, we've been trying several time and still not quite sure how to order 'just enough' for both of us yet. 

Osaka - Kyoto 8 : Our Album

We did different thing for our trip this time. 
  1. Flikr album
  2. Our own printed album book
Why ? If you read my posts religiously, you must have known about the story where I lost almost all of my digital pictures since 2009 - 2016 because of my corrupted external hard disk. Never again, will I rely solely on digital keeping. 

So 2 weeks after our trip, we bought some coupons to print out album in a book form. For RM 29.90 each (8x11 inch - portrait with soft cover) , we got ourselves a mini project - to compile all our photos from the trip and turn it into a book. Of course we kept the coupon and did a last minutes job :D Af and I did separate books because we have different styles and likings (and I don't want to argue with this - being both designers are not always easy, guys). My pictures were all taken using iPhone SE, and I was too lazy to make any colour/light correction, so I let all pictures as original as the day they were taken. Note : Pictures taken on this phone are almost perfect ! 

3 more weeks later, we finally managed to compile it and sent it to print. In almost 5 days, the book arrived at the office. Super excited because the images are nice, didn't like the super soft cover (but we chose for the cheaper version, can't complain about this) but the main thing about it all was the book's spine : it wasn't glued properly, so the first few pages were almost teared from the book. Ditto Af's album.

So I reported a complain regarding the issue, saying that it is not our fault and all. The customer service was so nice, guiding me through the process and we finally got a new version. Now we both have extra albums.

Ohh, and if you have noticed, no, I don't have pictures of my family or selfies. As introverted as I am, I noticed that even my pictures tell a story about things, buildings and foods only - there hardly even people in any of my images :F Lonely pictures ! I don't know what's my issue with the human :F

But anyway, I love my album.


Reckless Life 7 : Week 1 All over Again

On being a full-time freelancer :
I've finally decided to become a full-time freelancer again !
This is actually my third time of becoming one (You can read about my previous stories here). After 9 months of working with a start-ups in Cyberjaya, creating and making things - I've decided that being in a boring-comfort-zone-life (even with high salary - normal day job) is no longer suitable for me. I've tried! I just can't work with corporates and day-to-day repetitive life anymore. Free spirits need to be free.

I kept on asking myself almost every day, and I've been asking Af so many time : "why I'm helping people reaching their dreams if I know I can work on reaching my own dreams?". So I've finally decided, this time even without the backup plan : THAT I SHOULD MAKE THIS WORK. I know the struggle, I know the tough decisions and the frugal life that I'll be having, but I was born to make and create things that I want to make and draw every day. I'm super excited with my little plans and I want to make every single day memorable for me. Ma isn't excited with my decision (of course), but I like told her : I'll never know if I really can make it work or not IF I don't try - again).

So I sent my resignation letter from the company's directorship chief designer. 
2-weeks notice, flat, decided and sticked with the plan. 

On working studio :
We already have our own studio office now, we took the master bedroom and turned it into one. I don't want to use the big space only to sleep, so I suggested to Af, that we should really make use of the large master bedroom and turn it into our office instead. Our office needs new paint, and a lot of recovery but we'll manage by time :)  

On clients :
And thankfully, right after I sent the resignation letter - I received a freelance project for this month (will due by the end of this month). It's a very tight schedule, but quite a big exposure and nice pay-check for the upcoming Eid season. So I'm super thankful because I got to live for another 3-4 months after this and will be focusing on the book project that I've been delaying. This is a sign telling me that maybe I made the right choice on becoming a full-time freelancer again.


On the 9-months startups projects (Aug 2016 - May 2017) : 
Check out 3 of my latest projects, those are some of my works for that duration of time.

On my online shops for local :
All packs bought from the shop will receive several postcards for free - from my wrinkled artprints and postcards mini flood incident.

On Patreon :
And yesss, Patreon! If you want to help/support me in my freelance journey and also get snippets, knowledge sharings, personal updates, random free gifts, you can pledge as low as 1$ on my Patreon :

Osaka - Kyoto 7 : Halal Restaurants in Osaka, Kyoto & Nara

Compared with my previous Japan trip, this time we tried so many halal Japanese foods. We clearly spent below budget after the first week stay, so in the second week after my family went back, we hunted for as many halal restaurants we could cover. I wanted to taste the original Japanese ramen, sukiyaki, udon, soba, syabu-syabu, mochi, and takoyaki. So we did! 

I dreaded to write this post, because I had to do my research on the location & find images from my phone =.= I am so lazy...


Places we ate in Osaka :

1. Bulls - Sukiyaki & Syabu-syabu
  • Type of foods : Sukiyaki, syabu-syabu & steak 
  • Rating : 4/5
  • Location : OCAT building, Naniwa-ku, Osaka
We went here with Ishijima Sensei, so she ordered all the foods, several sets of syabu-syabu and sukiyaki (it was my first sukiyaki). I've never tasted meat so nice, all cut in really thin slices, put inside the syabu-syabu for several minutes and dipped in raw egg before eating. It was the best syabu-syabu experience - we've done so many syabu-syabu at home, but it never tasted this nice. It was a different kind of taste. Note : It's near the JR Namba Station


2. Halal Ramen Osaka Honolu
  • Type of foods : Ramen 
  • Rating : 5/5
  • Location : Motomachi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka
This is a 'must-go' place for a ramen lover. All the energy spent on walking so far away from Namba City in windy coldness was worth it. I ordered spicy ramen from the machine, waited at the ramen bar (there's only around 8 seats so first come first serve) and got the best halal spicy ramen Osaka had to offer to me T^T I felt like crying, because it was so spicy like how the Malaysian likes it and it was so delicious! I don't mind coming here again for a hot spicy ramen during winter.


3. Cafe Bintang
  • Type of foods : Indonesian Food 
  • Rating : 1/5
  • Location : Chuo-ku, Osaka
Oh my god, it was such a waste of money. 
Af spent around 1,000 yen for Ayam Penyet set that didn't taste anything like what we have here or the one I eat in Indonesia. The set was just white rice, small skinny fried chicken, salad and tasteless spicy sambal (?) - it was expensive even if I compare to all the other Japanese food restaurants we tried there. While I ordered a tasteless Bakso for 850 yen - there was 4 beef balls, glass noodle and plain soup (I think he forgot salt?). Isk isk isk. I hope the owner will improve their foods, or lower down the price for food sets. It doesn't resemble Indonesian food at all. 


4. Mithilia 
  • Type of foods : Indian Food 
  • Rating : 3/5
  • Location : Chuo-ku, Osaka
Oh, we went here secretly without Ma & Aja, the night we went to Dotonbori for a nightwalk with my little sister. We tried to find halal takoyaki in the area, but I couldn't speak that much Japanese to converse in a food stall. So we just tried to find any halal restaurants near us using Google and we found Mithilia. After some consideration and discussion, we finally settled in a cozy packed Indian restaurant. We ordered some rice set, cheese naan and matcha lassi. The food was nice, sure it wasn't Japanese food, but it was still nice :) I loved the environment and the matcha lassi !


5. The Soba Dining
  • Type of foods : Udon, soba, Japanese food
  • Rating : 4/5
  • Location : Expo City, Bampaku-kinen Park
Oh, we found the place by accident ! We were at a shopping mall called Expo City after spending one whole day in Expo 70' Park, didn't even thought we would find any halal restaurant because it was quite far from the main city. But there it was, right next to the escalator, the 'halal' sign on the glass door. I was so excited. I ordered a Clam soba set, and it was so good T^T I shall remember each moment I found a great Japanese restaurant. 

Halal Soba in Expo City


6. The U-don
  • Type of foods : Udon, soba, Japanese food
  • Rating : 4/5
  • Location : KIX Airport
On our final day we slept over at the airport for the second time. 
There were several restaurants in KIX that offer halal foods, and after several discussion on which one to choose, we decided to go to The U-don. For 920 yen, I ordered Niku Soba (beef) at the counter, waited for my order and tasted another nice Japanese food T^T Well, I love anything with good soup so the Niku Soba was really good (for me) ; just a simple hot soup, udon, slices of beef and leek.


Places we ate in Kyoto :

7. Naritaya Ramen
  • Type of foods : Ramen Japanese food
  • Rating : 3/5
  • Location : Gion, Kyoto
  • Facebook
It was one of our first meal in Japan and we didn't quite like it. We tried different meals so that we could exchange and taste everything. Unfortunately we didn't like any of it. For me, the miso ramen was too salty - too salty, and I just can't. I personally think because of our bad first experience, we spent our lunch money on onigiris everyday afterwards. None of my family suggested dining out after this restaurant :F Note : The friend chicken was nice though.

In Gion, Kyoto


Places we ate in Nara :

8. Jinnayyah Ramen
  • Type of foods : Ramen, Japanese food
  • Rating : 3/5
  • Location : Nara
  • Facebook
We found the place after we got lost in the maze of buildings. It was so cold and we were so hungry. We walked several km before finding it T^T We were the only customer during that time, maybe because it was one hour before their closing time. I asked whether the ramen would be spicy - 'spicy' and he nodded yes, passing me an Indonesian chilies powder for extra spiciness. 

Unfortunately I didn't like the taste. It was between curry and spicy soup, not sure how to write this down, but I just didn't quite like the taste :(

Halal Ramen in Nara

Pictures of us :D


Ways you do to find halal foods in Japan :
  • You can refer to Halal Japan
  • You can download and use app : Okashi Checker for a list of halal foods that you can buy in kombini. They will probably update the list from time to time.
  • Or try Kansai Muslim Friendly guide app on Android or iOS
  • Ask people to read the ingredients (preferably vegan/all plant based to be safe) - if you can speak Japanese, or simple English + visual from smartphones (be creative, they are very helpful, don't worry)
  • Note : Even some drinks like instant coffee got non-halal animal fats/emulsifiers so it isn't that hard to check before you buy. There was this one coffee we really liked when we went to Tokyo, and after consuming almost daily, we found out that it got pig-based emulsifier. That was after we got back from the trip (because I did random checking). I didn't feel good about it later, so I learned from my mistake. 


Yeay for writing these post!
Hopefully it will help you find great halal authentic Japanese foods in Japan 

Note : 
We usually cook our breakfast and dinner at home.
You can find affordable raw foods in market (like eggs, tofu, veggies, fruits, rice, mushroom) and do bring instant cooking ingredient from home.

Mini Escapism : SK - Alor Setar - Sg Petani - SK

Short weekend !

We've been waiting for our short weekend escapism since I received the invite to my former best friend in school 2 months ago. It was supposed to be a group trip with my sisters and Tasy (and her partner) but they had other plans that weekend - so Af and I continued with our original plan. 

We booked the hotel in Alor Setar a week before the weekend using Agoda, paying extra to collect AirAsia points :D We opted for a hotel instead of Airbnb because I really wanted a special treat this time. I wanted the fancy bathroom and clean towel and comfy pillows and breakfast buffet and all those in package. I couldn't find decent Airbnb in Kedah so I didn't mind paying extra for a hotel instead of budget motel (it is not even that much of a difference in term of the price). 

We woke up quite early that Saturday morning, by 630 am we were already in the car. Af drove the whole way, while I slept on and off (because I'm a terrible partner and the worst morning person if I didn't get enough sleep). We arrived at Alor Setar around 1230 pm, a bit too early for the wedding. I changed to my red kurung at the public toilet near Alor Setar toll station and because I was famished, we headed straight to the wedding :D

I greeted her parents and her brother as awkward as I can. 
I asked Af why I was there (because she came to my wedding and she used to be my best friend and we wanted a reason for an escapism) - I agreed. 

The wedding was nice, I didn't see any familiar faces at all (none of friends from school). After one whole hour, I reached out to the newlyweds, wished her congratulation and she was a bit busy, so I bid her goodbye. That was it :F 

Come to think of it. 
We were really-really-really close for 5 years in school and now we are hardly friends. I wish I can explain to her about my introversion and my lack of connection was due to me trying to find myself in those silence that I needed so much. But not many of my friends understand, and I didn't understand it as well during those time, so I lost almost all of my friends in the process. But hey, the one who stayed matters.


Restoran Ikan Bakar Anjung :

Anyway, after we checked in and rested for a few hours, we headed to the nearest beach spot in Alor Setar. We used random Google Map search because there was no nice beach spot recommended by anyone. There's hardly any beautiful beaches in North region - we explored so many, most beaches were very-very depressingly dirty. Remember : Lumut - Tanjung Sepat - Pantai Morib ? These places were very dirty, the pollution is bad, guys.

We headed to a restaurant near the beach hoping for a nice sunset view, but we only found a dirty beach, again T^T I was a bit disappointed, so I only took several pictures and went straight to order foods. Bonus point : The food was nice, we ordered several seafood dishes that costed RM 40 (nasi putih, tomyam campur, sotong goreng tepung, lala masak lemak).

The map :

The storm came soon after so we headed back. We didn't go anywhere at night because I like to stay indoor when the night comes (I have no idea why). It is one of my paranoia I guess.


Menara Alor Setar :

Day 2 - For RM 9, you can reach the observation deck at Menara Alor Setar (88m) and get the 360 view of the city. You can see Gunung Keriang from afar as well, awkwardly separated from other mountains like a sore thumb. It reminds me of me when I stand among others in events.

There's nothing else you can do on the deck other than take photos, maybe you can eat ice cream, because they do sell ice cream and random snacks. That's about all :F There isn't many things to do on the deck, they should have done some interesting stuffs (like what they have in Japanese tower buildings).

Google Map :


Restoran Ikan Bawal, Sungai Petani :

For lunch, we headed to a random restaurant in Sungai Petani. This is a restaurant specialized in Kari Ikan Bawal sets. We wanted to make random stops along the way when we headed back home, so we found the place via Google. The food was decent, for RM 8.50, I got a plate of ulam and sambal, ikan bawal, nasi putih and a small bowl of curry. 

It was a really sunny afternoon, very hot and uncomfortable, I got my usual headache soon after. 


We headed to Pantai Redang Sekinchan after our lunch, we were so far from everything (4 hours+ from Sungai Petani) after almost 2 hours drive from Alor Setar. It was so weird, everything was extra farther that our previous trips. Not sure whether because we used alternative roads or because we just picked the wrong way to get there. Halfway through, we were in the palm plantation area and the rain started to fall heavily. The super bad one, almost no cars around us and it was hard to even see the road. I suggested that we head home instead of going to Pantai Redang (I don't feel good about the trip), so Af agreed. That itself took around 3 hours more to reach home ! It was just a bad trip + bad weather =.=

When we got home, surprise, surprise, our room and kitchen were flooded by the rain + wind from the previous thunderstorm that afternoon. The wind was so strong, it opened all of our windows and rain fell inside. I was so frustrated and demotivated, seeing most of my postcards and cards were destroyed, the bed was 1/3 wet, the floor was wet T^T and I was super exhausted from the long travel. But Af was there, things wan't so bad if he's there with me. 

He said that maybe it's time for me to make new postcards, more artworks to sell, now my local e-shop is available and it's okay if things like this happen from time to time. It is just a reminder :F


That's the end of our short escapism to Kedah :F

Osaka - Kyoto 6 : Nara & Places You Should Go :D

We only visited Nara once, bought the train tickets from Osaka straight to Nara because we didn't know better. The train ticket without any travel passes is twice more expensive. This was the day we learned to buy all passes for the whole week after my family went back home. Tourist passes can be bought in Tourist Infomation Center in the city center or the airport, so yes, please buy passes if you want to travel smart :F

True, the city didn't leave a big impact on me - probably that is why we only went there once (while we visited Kyoto 3 times). But looking back in my album, I noticed that I have as much beautiful photos in Nara as Kyoto and Osaka.

Af said that on the day we visited Nara, it was a cold and very windy day (and I probably complained a lot about that because I can't really tolerate winter) - plus we couldn't find kombini so we were starving and when we were heading to the Halal ramen shop in Nara, we got lost in the empty maze-like roads and it was sooooo far, plus the train tickets were so expensive. Maybe these excuses are the reasons why I didn't quite like the experience in Nara?

Manhole in Nara

Anyway, places you should go in Nara :
Note: We didn't really explored Nara as much as we hoped, so there's not so many things to cram into a one-day visit. So there are more to this place than my short review.
  • Deer Park - the famous deer park where lingering deers ask for deer crackers openly without shame, they will probably nudge you, follow you, and smell you. They are harmless, but they are still wild creatures so you shouldn't try to hold or ride them. The deers were all around the main city, around temples and museums, and there are so many old people (cleaners) sweeping off their wastes on the road all the time. So you can expect a very clean road even though it is full of wild animals walking freely. Deer is considered a sacred animal in the city, so they roam freely.
Deer Park in Nara

  • Yoshikien Garden - we found the garden by accident when we were lost in the area. It is a private garden, free entrance for foreigners :D The area is divided into Japanese Pond Garden, Moss garden, Tea Ceremony & Flower Garden. I love the little moss garden and the ancient Japanese old house in the garden. We were the only two visitors when we went inside, so we had the big private garden to ourselves. Lucky we got lost, or wouldn't have found the garden.
Yoshikien Garden in Nara

  • Todaiji Temple - Where you can see the largest bronze statue of Buddha, and the great south gate (in the picture), as you can see, I can't even take the whole picture of the gate because it was so big. During our visit, there were a lot of renovations so some of the places were closed for public. Honestly, we didn't visit the huge Buddha statue - I didn't know ! We were so hungry, cold and walked for hours since the morning so we just decided to find the nearest halal restaurant in the area. After we took the photo of this huge gate, we headed to the restaurant =.= If I had known better, I would have walked inside !
In Nara

Halal Ramen in Nara


There are so many temples, icy ponds, beautiful rows of houses and zakka shops in Nara that I didn't mention but worth the visit.  Plus the maze-like roads was definitely something, but I was a bit too grumpy, too tired, too cold during this time =.=

So check out my Flikr album for the full photos ya!
(I just uploaded more phootos inside the album)

Streets in Nara

Osaka - Kyoto 5 : Kyoto & Places You Should Go :D

I looooooove Kyoto. 
So much more than Osaka or Nara. We went to Kyoto 3 times during our 2-weeks stay. That means we specifically bought extra passes just so that we can spend more time in that beautiful old city.

Places we went to in Kyoto :
  • Gion 
  • Yasaka Shrine
  • Maruyama Park
  • Hokanji
  • Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest)
  • Nishiki Market
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Inari Mountain Top
  • Shimogamo Shrine 
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kyoto Manga Museum
I'm sure Kyoto will be much nicer in spring and autumn, because the changes of colours. But we went during the transition from winter to spring so there's not as much colours. The moods were mostly grey and blue. Our third trip to Kyoto when we planned to walk as much as we want, it rained almost the whole day =.= We spent time in kombini for random lunch because we were stranded. 

Places you definitely should visit in Kyoto :
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine & Inari Mountain : There are so many shrines and temples in Kyoto so we can't compare - but Fushimi Inari is one of the famous one in Kyoto, the one with red tower-like gate (torii) as long as it can reach the mountain top. We did hiked until the top of the mountain and got back down before the storm. We took around 3 hours, Ma and Aja waited in the main shrine at the waiting house because I didn't want her to walk so far up. There are a lot of sleek looking kitsune statues as well. Not many people hike up until the top of the mountain on that day, so it was easy for us to take the empty path photos :
in Fushimi Inari

  • Nishiki Market : Of course, the old market in downtown of Kyoto. Where pasar can be seen as clean as market in the mall. The market is beautiful, all in colours, varieties of fresh seafoods, and things we didn't even recognize. You can even eat some fresh food right-away, like the small octopus' leg for 200 yen on stick (see this image below). I think my little sister and brother went on buying weird stuffs on the market just to try it out, they are a bit daring =.= The octopus smelt like blergh, and even the after-smell is eurgh. But hey, that's how the Japanese eat it :F Other than fresh tuna and some other raw fishes, I don't really eat stuffs like octopus or squid, tried several times, didn't like it. 
Tsukiji Market in Kyoto

  • Gion : One of the oldest district in Japan where you can see old buildings turned into nice artisan shops and rent kimono (if you like those stuffs). There are a lot of teahouses and cafes, mini and huge temples, private garden and all those beautiful camera-worthy place T^T It was extraordinary. We had our lunch at Maruyama Park, supposedly famous for cherry trees and sakura but during our visit it was nothing but branches of hibernated trees. We also saw the 5-storey pagoda on Higashiyama Hills, huge and magnificent! No real maiko was seen on that day. 
In Gion, Kyoto

  • Arashiyama Town : Should spend half of a day in this small town to visit all the places they can offer. You need to do a lot of walking, from the train station towards the Bamboo Forest, walk through the famous main bridge called Togetsu-Kyo (fullmoon bridge) passes the Katsuragawa River. If you are with an elderly or your parents, I think you should take the bus - because ma had a hard time walking too much on that day. Oh, there are 2 train stations in Arashiyama, you can see a kimono forest with 600 poles of colourful yuzen in Randen Arashiyama and even try out their 200 yen foot spa or the classic Sagano Romantic Train Ride. There's also Iwatayama monkey park in the area (it was closed when we arrived). We only spent around 3 hours before night fall, so most of the places were almost close - and we were dead tired for walking the whole day (it was our 2nd day in Japan). So I personally feel like we should have spend more time in the area.
In Arashiyama, Kyoto


Kyoto is a nice city, I wish to spend more time here - seeing we already spent a lot of times in Osaka and tried almost everything they can offer from the travel passes tour :D Maybe we will be back in different season in the future ! 

Work Related : Japanese Foods & Drinks Sticker Packs Version 2

Read previous post here.

I'm glad I managed to finish up the second version of the Japanese food series last week, I sent out to print and spent the weekend cutting 20 packs of this sticker series (to send the stock to Salt x Paper, KK and put it up in my Etsy shop). We watched a lot of The Office series on iFlix (our current obsession) over the weekend. It's like the first proper weekend rest since almost 2 months ago T^T

I am so happy I made this. These foods and drinks are mostly things that I consumed on my Japan trip or just foods in kombinis that I really like (because their packaging are all cute and colourful). Illustrating them makes me happy, even cutting all these stickers are now a therapy (when I don't want to illustrate things but I still want to work) :F My next illustrations will mainly be the halal foods I ate in this Osaka trip (because this time, we spent a lot on proper Japanese foods as well - compared to the Tokiyo trip). So I have a bunch of things to illustrate 


The sticker packs in group :


Note : Oh, and on the Melaka travelogue, it is already reaching the 70/100 draft phase T^T
I am really considering going full-time freelancing again.

Osaka - Kyoto 4 : Osaka & Places You Should Go :D

I've been wondering on how to write in detail about things that happened in my latest Japan trips, the places I went to, and the foods we ate. Compared to all my previous travel posts, this trip was the longest - so I wouldn't want to write day-per-day stories (14 posts only for the days, not including all other extra posts around it are a bit too much). I decided to write it by places : Osaka - Kyoto and Nara. This way I can focus on the stuffs that worth mention on each places. So people who are planning on their own trip can use these posts as reference as well :D

Images are usually auto-compressed in blogger, so I don't quite like it. You can check out my Japan photos from my Ig or Flickr album here.  I'm not much of a person who keeps my own portraits these days so I hardly have pictures of myself anywhere lah :p Who wants to see my faces in all my travel pictures (like what's the point?) So this is an album of my Japan trip, the things that I found interesting and were nice to my eyes.

Osaka + Kyoto, Japan


On Osaka & its places, using the Osaka Amazing Pass (3,000 yen). All ticket passes accumulated were supposed to be around 4,200 yen and the train rides for those 2-days supposed to be several thousand yen more. But we used the Osaka Amazing Pass, so we only spent 3,000 yen for those 2 days full of activities, places and train rides !

There are a lot more places listed that we can go for free, but there wasn't much time to cover all.
  • Osaka Castle (600 yen)
  • Museum of History (600 yen)
  • Museum of Housing & Living (600 yen)
  • Ferris wheel ride at HEP5 (500 yen)
  • Osaka Science Museum (400 yen)
  • Tempozan Pier and Marketplace (free)
  • Tempozan Ferris Wheel ride (800 yen)
  • Tsutenkaku Tower (700 yen
Not using Osaka Amazing Pass :
  • Kaiyukan Aquarium (2,200 yen) - (discounted : 2,100 yen)
  • Tennoji Zoo (500 yen)
  • Shiseiki Alley (free)
  • Dotonbori Street (free)
  • Joypolice ride at Hep5 (800 yen) - (discounted : 600 yen)
  • Namba City (free)
  • Expo' 70 (250 yen)
  • Expo City (free)

If you buy the pass, make sure you use it fully in those 2 straight days. 

Among all the places I went my favorites were :
  • Kaiyukan Aquarium
  • Tennoji Zoo
  • Expo' 70
  • Tsutenkaku Tower
  • Museum of Housing & Living
I didn't like most of the ferris wheel rides because it was a bit too scary - too high and it moved when people in the cart stood up or changed sits :F All the museums are nice as well, it's more interactive and we can do a lot of things as well : especially Museum of Housing and Living where you can experience the real-size old Japanese town and 4-level Osaka Science Museum where you can play around like kids :D


Extra note :

Kaiyukan Aquarium
 and Tennoji Zoo were my idea - because I really wanted to see their zoo and aquariums, the last time I went in Tokyo, it was super fun! Although the aquarium ticket was a bit expensive, it was worth all the money spent. I saw a lot of new sea animals that I could never think of, and most of the animals were just a glass away. Kaiyukan Aquarium was so big, we spent almost half of the day inside. It was nothing like all the aquariums that I went to before. You'll be walking around the biggest tank with so many sea creatures swimming inside. It is one of the biggest public aquarium in the world - so it is a must go spot. I collected almost all the stamps here - they have stamp stations at so many corners with different animal design.

Tennoji Zoo - even thinking about it makes me smile. Maybe some people are against the idea of locking animals in the cage when they are supposed to be wild and free. But without zoo, I can't imagine seeing wild animals in real life and without actually seeing things in front of my eyes, it's hard for me to feel connected. I'm the kind of person who needs to experience and see things in front of my eyes to 'feel'. So zoo and aquarium are my happy places, I love animals, I love looking at them. The difference between these zoos and the local ones we have here is how they made the barrier between human and those animal as small as possible. We were only separated by thick glass so you can look the animals as near as you want. One of my favorite was floating hippopotamus' butt - we went down to the tank separator down to the fake pond that you can also see from above, and the hippo was showing its huge butt to us. But even how hugeee and heavy it is, the hippo's body keep on floating in the water not reaching the floor. Those big feet with tiny high-heel like feet were hopping and I felt so happy.

Expo' 70 - I don't think people travel to Osaka and have extra time to visit this place. It is located at the Bampaku-Kinen Koen station, you have to take the monorail to reach here. It was quite far from the city. The reason we visited the place was because Af wanted to see the Tower of the Sun. For me, the statue looked a bit odd. The statue is located inside the Expo '70 Park so you can buy an entrance ticket before heading inside. We were of course greeted by the huge statue, it was around 70m high so you can see it lurking from all over the park. We walked all over the park - to the blooming plum garden (I thought it was sakura) so we finally experience the blooming season before we went back home, to the Camelia garden, looked over the budding tiny tulips on the ground and some bamboo tree mini forest. There are many garden without green leaves and flowers as well - because it is still considered cold and too early for spring.

So that's what I felt about Osaka.
Sure, Osaka is a busy city, with buildings and huge crowd of people compared to Kyoto & Nara. But Osaka got a lot of commercialized attraction spots worth visit.

Anyway, Af compiled his take on the Osaka x Kyoto part 1 video :D

Run : 50km Rimba Alam Relay Run (not)

In February I registered for a 52.5km relay run in Putrajaya (with Af). 

The main reason I felt like 52.5km relay run is possible : we had to take turn to run in the laps, passing baton, every lap is 3.75km run mainly flats unused roads in Taman Rimba Alam and 2 up-hills (one long uphill run when we just started and one climbing path before we ended each lap). That looked reasonable kan? 

But it wasn't - if you didn't train for the running and climbing :F

The whole 4 laps over 7 laps that I did was simply awful - for the first time in my running experience, everything felt wrong. Each of us ran :
  • 4/7 laps
  • 15/25 km 
  • in 5 hours 
  • Total : 30/52.5 km per team  

Here's my excuses :

  1. Since we moved back to my old apartment and started living with my family - we hardly have time to work-out. I think I stopped in January (it started well, I was running every week - and then we just stopped for 3 months).
  2. February was fast and March was even faster. The Japan trip, the booths, the restocking items at Salt x Paper, the freelance works, everything was too fast to catchup. So I didn't run.
  3. We didn't trained for it, let just say that for the past 3 months, I've been slacking off. No training at all even though I registered for the 50km relay run.
  4. On the running day, I wasn't feeling well. Even after the first laps - I already knew that the run felt different. My stomach was aching, I felt nauseous throughout the whole run (which was an insane feeling - I assure you). I never felt like this ever before in any of my runs. 
  5. So because I wasn't feeling good inside. I didn't eat - I just drank (water+Revive). No breakfast, no short snacks. Just empty stomach for 16 hours, since we had dinner the night before.
  6. It was really hot day (before the heavy rain) - my eyes aren't so good with the sun's glare (it gives me a really bad headache like a strong pounding in the back of my eyes). If you been following my blog for years, you must have noticed this constant sun's headache of mine. THIS will take over my whole day, so I've decided that from now on I will only enter night run.
  7. I can't, I just can't.
So, after the 4th laps - I decided to quit. It was already 5 hours and Af was continuing his 4th laps, so I texted him and said that I can't continue. I felt awful, nauseous and my body wasn't cooperating. I was having shivers because of my stomach ache and imagining I had to run another 3 more laps.. O.O Af said okay, I searched for the organizer and told him about my condition, and we quit the run.

We returned the baton and ankle bib, drank a gallon, and went back home. 
After a big lunch, we slept for the whole afternoon. When I woke us just before 7pm, my head was pounding so loud I couldn't stand. I felt like throwing up because everything turned around crazily in my head, but we had to go out for Af's birthday dinner with the family. I didn't even ordered any foods because I didn't feel well - just ate bits of everyone's food :D

Aftermath :
The next day, on Sunday was still awful. It was the aftermath of a trail run, so our body ached. But, my family was moving out and the lorry came - it was the day to help them move out! :F We had to help, nothing felt good. All the muscles in the body sores - sneezing was awful (because of the muscle along my stomach sore), bending down (my back), moving items (my shoulder & hands), walking up & down the stairs (my thigh, knee, ankles). That took the whole Sunday off, and by night I had to clean the apartment a bit (just the hall and the kitchen). We arrived home back after sending my little sister, at 11pm. Our weekend ended with exhaustion and muscle sores all over.

Monday - We both took a day off from work =.=


Extra :
I never quit a run, so this felt like a little failure. But having to push myself to run for 4 laps, in heat and unwell body as much as I could - did feel like a little achievement. It wasn't a great running experience for me, but at least I tried. There are around 10 teams that didn't finished the 50km run including us, while all 100km Ultra runners finished their course :F  

Anyway, I already registered for a half marathon night marathon in Cyberjaya (next 5 months) and still waiting for another night marathon in Putrajaya (maybe in the next 7 months). So I need to start my training when I recover from this run :F

Things I learned from this event :

  • Go training every single week
  • Train for uphill run (please)
  • Don't do endurance run without any food intake
  • No more long run under sun

Event : AfG - 50 Shades of Green

Event :
Art for Grabs - The School Jaya One - 25 & 26 Mar 2017 (weekend)
Fifty Shades of Green.

Event application :
I forgot when did I applied for the event, I think it was several weeks before our Japan trip. I saw the vendor application on Facebook and sent my details like always. I even got nothing related to the theme : 50 Shades of Green, I was just trying my luck. The reason I wanted to join them this time is because I think it's already the time for me to open a booth ! I feel very motivated this year.

Result :
During our second week in Japan, I received an email from the organizer saying that I was chosen ! - I've been rejected 2-3 times by event organizers so I know the feeling of wanting to join but not chosen, you see. I can't make the payment to book for the booth so I replied to the organizer rightaway to inform him about having to pay for the booth a bit late. I'm glad he said 'okay-'. 

Preparation :
The time wasn't right. I was trying to catch up with things at the office after the 2 weeks of long holiday - our company received complains and fitna, so the banks called us and tried to shut us down. The whole 2 weeks drama ended with us giving up to the 'powerful' people's decision. 
I also opened my Etsy shop right-away, soon after I received orders and had to prepare for the packages and stuffs. Also to update the Melaka travelogue draft that I promised to the publisher. Plus the blog, and the Patreon page. It was hectic.

So I did just little preparation this time : repacking stickers, cutting more sticker packs and finishing off old stocks. I managed to do it just 2 days before the event date.

Event day :

Like all the events I've been to, I started off the event by being super awkward in front of my booth and had sweaty armpits whenever I see familiar faces. Even when I met an old colleague of mine from Damansara Heights - I asked her to stop by and she did. She is one of my favorite people when I worked at Legion so meeting her back gave me so many awkward nudges (I miscalculated the price of her stuffs and I talked in gibberish mumbles). I also met one of my Patron, also my online friend - that I come to like, because she reminds me so much of me (without the two kids of course). Plus one of the boy from the previous event - he told me about being introvert but wanting to share more to the community, so he asked the organizer if he could read one of his poem on the stage for the open mic session - and he did ! (I'm so proud of him, so inspiring). I met an old senior of mine from school, Af's friend whom just came back from Osaka too (so we exchanged stories) and also saw my ex and exchange awkward smiles (cringe - sweaty armpits all over). 

After-thought :
The event was a success - any events with sales over RM 500 in 2 days are a success to me.
I'm definitely going to apply for their future events (now I know the crowd) :
Sales : RM 540
- Booth Rent : RM 200 (strictly no sharing)
- Lunches & Dinners : +- RM50

Little Stories 223 : My Awan kena sawan 2

Read previous post here.

Yeap, my cat knows how to be all dramatic.

When we went to Japan several weeks ago we sent Awan (my now old cat) to a pet's boarding in Ampang.

This time, we were ready. I asked Aja to borrow a portable cage for Awan so it should be easier to bring her into the car (there were several complicated incidents before). It wasn't that hard to put her into a cage because she trusted me, but once she was inside - she started to give her deep-throat-weird miaows. We got ready, Af drove the car, Aja lead the way, while my little sister and I sat at the back to keep her calm.

After Af put the cage inside the dark car in the parking lot and we sat next to the cage, her cage suddenly shook so hard. I thought she was trying to find ways to escape and when I saw her through the cage's door, I saw Awan was having a seizure. I forgot what I did, I think I shouted saying "Awan is having a seizure!", everyone in the car saw that and waited. Until her body stopped contracting and she slowly regained consciousness again; drowsy eyes, weak legs, drooling saliva, and she accidentally peed in the cage this time. Oh, poor Awan, she must be feeling awful and ashamed. 

She was silent afterwards, all through the 40 minutes car rides. I kept talking with her because she knew my voice - I FELT AWFUL FOR HAVING TO DO THIS. She just kept silent, stared at me in her now wet cage and didn't even cleaned herself up (not even her drooling saliva). It was like I betrayed her T^T

When we arrived at the pet's boarding and put her inside one of the cage, she just stared and sat down silently. She almost never see any cats most of her life and suddenly she was in a room filled with all the cats in their own cage. I think she was shocked and scared. But we had to leave her.

Fast forward to weeks later, Aja took her out from the pet's boarding and brought her home.
No sign of third seizure this time. Aja said she was calmer.

Note : She had 2 seizures in her life under my care and both times when we had to take her out. I don't think there's any medical conditions that I should worry about her. She's just too afraid of going out to see the real world, sometimes she can't control it. Just terrified, thus the seizure =.=