Travel: Japan Visa Approval

i’m excited!!! thank you lord! i got my passport today from the japanese embassy with approved 15day single entry tourist visa to japan. yehey! now, at least i have something to look forward to for next month. as you all know, july is my favorite month because it’s my birthmonth and i see to it that every birthday is a memorable one. last year, i went to macau and jump at the world’s highest bungy.

i’m not really planning to go to japan. i’m supposed to attend a cousin’s wedding in the US but unfortunately denied a visa since i don’t have strong ties here in singapore. and so, i made a back-up plan. since it’s been months already since i had my last solo trip and i feel that i deserve a much-needed break from all these corporate slavery and toxic workload, i pursued my planned vacation leave and decided to go somewhere else.

applying for a japan tourist visa is a breeze. unlike in manila where you need to submit lots of documents and no guarantee of an approved visa, here in singapore as long as you give the complete requirements, the approved visa will be available within 3 working days.

i went to the japanese embassy at 8:30 am and get my number slip at the entrance. when my number flashed on the screen, i went to the designated window and submitted my requirements. it didn’t took them long to check my documents because within 5 minutes time, they gave me a paper slip with the claim details and told me to go back after 3 days.

the requirements:

  1. duly accomplished form
  2. passport picture
  3. photocopy of round trip ticket showing returning flight to sg
  4. original passport
  5. photocopy of pass/work permit
  6. photocopy of bank statements and passbook with latest 1-2 months transaction

i badly need a vacation after feeling so overwork … and sad because of people leaving our team. am i going to be the last girl standing?! sniff

Second Month

it was a double celebration for our family yesterday. my baby turned 2 months old and it’s husband’s birthday too. this is one of those times that my husband is older than me. kahit last na sa calendaryo, fresh na fresh pa din di ba?! haha!

it was a very simple day for the three of us. we went to the church first thing in the morning. after that, we bought a dessert for my baby’s monthly cake. you know those sara lee sweets in the frozen section? sarap nun! then we ate lunch at our favorite japanese restaurant. :)

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favorite salmon sashimi

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my dose of ramen

since baby can’t eat solids yet and hubby doesn’t like sweets, he bought his own pizza cake. hehe! i will eat the tiramisu then. hehe!

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with his pizza cake

in the afternoon, we skyped lolo and lola pinas so they can greet bebe. lokong loko ang grandparents, so they also bought a cake. mas bongga pa ang cake nila sa amin!?

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cake by the grandparents

happy 2 months bebe! laki mo na agad, ambigat mo pa! mommy’s wish is for you to grow healthy and well behave.

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happy 2 months!

for my husband, my friend, my partner in crime…belated happy birthday! thank you for taking care of me and bebe all the time.

love you both!

Random: One Hanami Day

hanami in japanese culture, means flower viewing particularly the ‘cherry blossoms’ during spring. people usually go to the park or gardens to have picnic under the beautiful cherry blossom trees with their families, friends or colleagues. japanese sometimes wear their traditional kimono or yukata during the hanami festival. it has always been my dream to go to japan and see the sakuras in bloom.

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but dreams of travel and jetsetting are a reality miles away…

so last year, when i found out that the japanese community here in christchurch organizes a yearly hanami festival, i got so excited and vow to attend the event. no need to go to japan at all because my cherry blossom dreams will now become a reality here in christchurch! spring officially starts from september until november, but the best time to see the sakura is during the early part of september as the flowers are very vibrant and in full bloom.

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compared to last year, this year’s event is better because there are food stalls available showcasing a variety of japanese delicacies such as rice cakes, sweets and gyoza. i tried one of the rice cakes which is similar to our bibingka but with a sakura topping on top. it was good, not too sweet. but the best-selling item during the hanami is the gyoza. check the long queue, everyone wants a gyoza on a good sunny day! for $6, you will get 6 pieces of gyoza, choose from pork or lamb flavor. :) we bought 1 flavor each, yummers!

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there’s also a tea ceremony booth at the far end area of the park. a few women garbed in kimono were doing a traditional tea ceremony while the audience enjoy a cup of hot tea and a rice cake.

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around half past twelve, the drum show started and the people assembled and find their seats. the show run for 30 minutes.

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all these japanese stuff brings back good memories of my japan trip few years ago. :) if there’s one country i want to visit again, japan is on top of the list and most likely I will spend the days just eating ramen, sushi and more rice cakes. *nom*

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Travel: Wellington City Tour and Friends

few weeks ago, my husband and i flew to wellington to have his passport renewed.

well (rant upcoming)…

we could have save some bucks if only the embassy people told us ahead that they will be flying to christchurch as part of their mobile consular services. when i called them for an appointment, they even asked us where we came from and we said that we’re from christchurch. they should have known by that time that they were scheduled to go to christchurch and advised us instead to wait for them rather us flying to the capital and spending for airfare and accommodation. i’m pretty sure they know there’s an upcoming christchurch leg. well ph government office, what else is new?

anyhoo, we just took the opportunity to roam around wellington and catch up with some old friends.

we took the earliest flight on a saturday morning and left our car at the airport for 2 days. this is cheaper compared to us getting a cab or getting the airport shuttle services. it was a smooth 50-minute trip from christchurch to wellington and we were blessed to have a good weather on that particular weekend, after days of cold snap and non-stop rain.

it was both our first time in wellington. husband and i were very amazed when we saw tall buildings, shops and lots of cars. ‘syet ang daming building!’ hahaha! para kaming galing probinsya!

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OFW!!!

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basically, the 3 largest cities in new zealand are auckland, wellington and christchurch. auckland is the largest and populous city in the country and somehow equate to manila. everything is in auckland – shops, events, concerts, traffic and crime! wellington is the second largest city and the country’s capital. it is a balance mix of urban and nature. the seat of government is also based here. lastly, christchurch is the third largest city. we don’t have that many buildings because as you know, there was a major quake a few years back so most of the tall buildings were already demolished. i would describe christchurch as a very laidback city with lots of parks, gardens and nature trails. we don’t have to go out of the city to find nature because hills and ducks are only a few minutes away from our house. i compare christchurch as similar to baguio city, city with a cooler climate.

if i were to choose between the three cities, i would prefer christchurch. i think i already gave up the city lifestyle and would rather live in a place where nature is more accessible than tall buildings and malls. after a long day at work, all i want to do is relax, have a nice view of the surroundings and enjoy strolling at the parks and feed the ducks. haha!

now going back to our wellington adventure, we took the city bus upon arrival at the airport so we can early check-in at the hotel. unfortunately, we were too early since 12pm is the earliest check-in time and it’s only 8am. to use the spare time, we started with the city tour and walk towards the wharf and museum. pregnancy didn’t stop me from doing long walks though i must admit that i easily got exhausted and out-of-breathe after 20 minutes of walking. i forgot to mention that wellington is a hilly city so it’s like hiking at the same time!

we had a quick breakfast at mcdonalds then after that, we went to Te Papa Museum. i like going to museums. i’d rather go to a museum or a library than spend time in a shopping mall. it’s a really nice museum – clean, well maintained and the entrance is free. FREE! woohoo! we spent an hour or two in there before i got a message from Mj, telling me that they’re on their way.

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we walk for another 15 minutes going to the wharf, meeting them at a japanese restaurant for lunch. it’s nice to see her again after years of not seeing each other. she’s got a baby too after 11 long years. wow indeed! so happy for her. :)

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Baby Alex meets Tito and Tita :)

after the lunch and bidding each other goodbyes, we went back to the hotel. i have to endure these long torture hilly walks. i swear, i missed our trusty old car. :-|

we were finally able to check-in at the hotel around 2pm. when we reached our room, i heard some weird noise coming next door. it was like some couple having sex and we could hear the moaning and heavy breathing from the inside. hahaha! juice colored!

Food: Thai Night

there is always something special about finding great food in hidden places. it’s like discovering a secret that only a few people knows. one day while husband and i were strolling along new brighton area, we happen to pass by a simple thai dine and take away place tuck in an alley at a mini mall near the beach. by the looks of it, it can only hold 10 people at a time. i would guess that the thai lady and her kiwi partner runs the place. they are a nice and friendly couple who always welcome us with a smile whenever we ate at their place.

one thing i like about the place is that the owners are very hands-on in that the lady always gets the orders, then she goes inside the kitchen to cook the food while her partner is manning the cashier booth. the guy serves the food and from time to time, checks on the customers how the food was. i don’t remember seeing a third staff working with them. i just feel that the mere presence of the thai lady is more than enough to prove that the food we are about to eat is an authentic home cooked thai food! hehe!

our secret thai place

our secret thai place

smile before lamon

smile before the attack

smiling, posing and chewing in between. multitasking at its finest.

smiling, posing and chewing. multitasking at its finest.

omg, pad thai!

omg, pad thai!

green curry chicken

green curry chicken

chicken satay in peanut sauce

chicken satay in peanut sauce

if we want chinese food, we go to bensons. for japanese food, samurai bowl is the default. if we crave for indian food, there’s always kinara. and if we want thai food, we just go to spicy thai dine and take away place. :)

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