Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ただいま!

Yup, I'm back :D

Although it's kinda late for the title, because I got back Monday morning! (^^U)

My last four nights in Hong Kong only had less than eight hours of sleep - total, not per night (^^U) On the last night I did not get to sleep at all, and our flight back to Manila was the first one, so now I cannot even imagine how I lasted at all.

So when I got back last Monday, I napped, then I worked in the afternoon, then slept early so I could run at the park as soon as it opens at 6 am. I did that yesterday morning and this morning, so it feels great to have been sleeping for about eight hours and then going for a run as soon as I get up (^_^)

So since my last post, I've been really busy and preoccupied, until we went to airport on the wee hours of Wednesday, since we were taking the first flight out. We arrived at Hong Kong before 8 am, then we took the bus to New Territories.

Our friend PW and my sister, on the way out of the airport.

Our first two days were mostly walking and eating and buying things. Although my feet ached at the end of each day, I really enjoyed the long walks (and the frequent trips to Sasa) and the weather was great (^_^)

Strawberry Hair Curlers - among other loot

Although everyone says that there is Nothing in New Territories, I still like staying there because there are less tourists and I like seeing the locals going about their regular, daily life. It's also quiet and there are several spots where one can just sit and read or have coffee or talk with someone, especially near Harbour Plaza Resort City where we stayed. There are also a number of options for good places to eat in.

Clockwise from Top Left: Cheesy Milk Tart, Ostrich Pie, and Pork Neck Pie

Apart from their 711 having good onigiri available, we discovered Pie & Tart and its sort of addicting variety of... pies and tarts :D All the varieties of their milk tarts are really good, and we also tried some of their dessert puddings.

Ostrich Pie - It was my first time to Eat Ostrich Meat (^^U)

Because I want to try something different as much as possible whenever I travel, I decided to get the ostrich pie XD My sister also said she has tried ostrich before somewhere in the Philippines where they really breed ostriches and use them for various dishes. So, I tried the pie and I think it tasted a bit like chicken with an aftertaste of beef. I am not sure though if ostrich meat really tastes good or Pie & Tart just makes really good pie whatever is in it :D

Time for unusual chocolates (^_^)

Of course, we also went to Okashi Land, which we raided last year XD I wanted to get my dose of unusual chocolate so I picked Ginger & Milk, Fruity Lemon, and a Spicy one with "orange bitter and chili pepper."

Spicy Chocolate!

I came across this bunch of cute daruma, with each daruma representing money, love, or anything else that one might need some sort of "help" or luck in. It also comes with a chocolate inside. I wanted to get the one for money, but I wanted a pink daruma, so I just got it instead XD

Pink Daruma Mascot

I immediately used the daruma mascot when we got back to our hotel that day, and then I started seeing it differently after a couple of days XD Although that is another story.... (*^_^*)

Daruma-san joins my kendoka and Kaonashi

On the day before the exam, we still all went out and explored, but my sister and I decided to go "home" early, so we could relax and try to sleep early. 

Milk Tea in a really nice cup :D

So we just spent time with our friends until the early evening, and then they went off to meet other friends for dinner. Before heading back to our hotel, we checked out this interesting matcha + soft cream shop called Cha Cha :3

I wish there were more of these XD

I picked the matcha with soft cream (I think it was made with Hokkaido milk) topped with red bean and mochi. 

The bottom of the cup was matcha jelly - by the time the soft cream melts and the red bean mixes with everything, I died XD

Back in the hotel my sister and I soaked our feet in the tub as we ate garlic noodles and drank grape soda, and talked about girly stuff and the things we bought and the others we wanted to buy, deliberately avoiding any mention of the exam XD 

Cute perfume bottle :3

We then started packing our things because we would be transferring to another room in the other tower of the hotel the next day, where we were "officially" checked in under kendo. 

Butterfly Powder Case

I was already starting to feel quite tense about the exam, but our loads of snacks and purchases cheered us up as we packed them into our bags.

Powder Puff for a Powerpuff Buttercup :3

I woke up quite early the next day and found my sister already up. Then we moved to the other part of the hotel and everything kendo began :) In a nutshell, I did not make it (^^U) Of course I felt bad about it, especially since all my sempai who were present got to watch my keiko, because their exams were done by the time it was my turn, and as we waited for the results, they said they saw me and said it was good. So when I found out I didn't make it, I was quite disappointed. However, it immediately surfaced in my head that I could not do anything anymore except continue to practice, even though it was not clear to me what exactly went wrong. 

Everyone was quite happy and in good spirits even after the exam (^_^)

In the evening though, despite many of us not being able to make it, everyone was in good spirits and one of my sempai encouraged me to continue and to take the exam again next year. I was still quite unsure about taking it next year, but after sleeping it off, I woke up on Saturday feeling much more inspired and motivated than ever, so I knew I will want to try again next year :3 I also realized that Not Making It kind of took away some kind of pressure from me. It is not that I did not want to pass - of course I wanted to pass - but there was also a strange form of "relief" (for lack of a better term) in me and it was like I am just at the right place where I should be now, in terms of my level. And then I could move forward at my own pace. 

Ippon! :)

The rest of the weekend was all competition and free keiko, and we went to support our own during the matches. The point above was made by one of our best players ~ he won this match :) Watching all the other players and being able to practice with people from other countries was so great and inspiring just like last year. Because of this, there was also a part of me that was happy that I can go back next year since I did not make it this year :D 

Kitty Packaging Tape to seal my shinai bag

We headed for the airport on the wee hours of Monday. Prior to that I spent a long time packing and trying to fit everything in my bag (^^U) As my sister and PW slept on their beds, I packed away while listening to my iPod and thinking about someone who stayed at the same floor as we did (who is also the reason why I started looking at the daruma mascot suspiciously). After I finished packing just a few minutes before our alarm went off, I stood by the window and said my goodbyes to Hong Kong and promised I will be back again soon, and said my thanks for all the wonderful things I experienced in it just like my previous visits. 

I Will be there, Viet Nam :3

Suddenly, there is Viet Nam in this post XD Must be the daruma mascot! Anyway, just as suddenly, as I sat in the plane on the way home, I picked up the magazine in front of me and saw the Hanoi Special on the cover. I stared. 

And remembered my decision the day before to replace this year's trip to Malaysia with Viet Nam, all because... (*^_^*) 

Viet Nam is really on my travel list, though I was thinking of scheduling it next year. It has won over Malaysia now, though :3

Then just as I was thinking if flights were easy to book (Viet Nam's kendo players had to fly back home Tuesday because as it turns out there were only specific days when there are available flights to Hanoi), I came to end of the magazine's articles:

March. That's like, tomorrow :D

Today is the last day of the month (and it's a Leap Year at that!) and tomorrow is a new month, a new day. Many things in February did not turn out the way I wanted or expected them to, but I know that they happened this way to make way for even greater things and for me to take even more cheerful steps with a more positive outlook as I move forward (^_^) 

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