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Travel Time: Niseko March 2017

 

 

Amongst the sea of cooking posts, comes a single travel/videography post. πŸ˜€

This was our 3rd time in Annupuri, Niseko. The first two times, weather wasn’t great, despite being closer to the peak periods. This time, I’d say the weather was perfect. πŸ™‚ We hit our usual makan spots, and tried some new ones. Went all the way to Hirafu to try out Bang Bang, one of the best izakayas around. Hideo-san helped us make a reservation for dinner at Sobadokoro Rakuichi, but the boss lady lost our reservation so we got turned away. Needless to say, Hideo-san was pissed, and our eagerness to try the place has dropped quite a bit, so we might not bother trying to dine there ever again (in Hideo-san’s words, “never again”). On the flipside, we got to try Taj Mahal, which is an Indian restaurant close by. It can actually give our local Indian restaurants here a run for their money. We also managed a trip to Milk Kobo, which is a milk farm serving fresh milk products! Soft serve cone on a hot sunny winter day is the best!

As always, dining with Hideo-san at the villa causes us to meletop every- single- time. Please do not ask how many KGs we gained. πŸ˜› In addition to the shabu-shabu or sukiyaki, he’d ply us with clams, scallops, kinki fish, yanagi no mai or yellow rockfish, sashimi, hairy crabs, rice. We always feel bad not being able to finish the food, but seriously-lah, Hideo-san! You know from our last visit we can’t each much. =.= Anyway, he pleasantly surprised us with a nice balcony BBQ for lunch on our last day, which was cold but awesome!

The video above is my first foray into video capture and editing with my new drone and action cam, so please forgive the rough edges. I’m quite proud of it though, and glad that I finally got around to doing it after so many months. I think I rely too much on the FDR-X3000’s optical stabilization though, as can be seen from the not so steady footage. Proper frame rate selection needs to improve too, as mixing 24fps and 60fps videos prolly isn’t a good idea. Post-processing was done with Davinci Resolve Lite, and in lazy mode: trim according to music and auto color the flat drone footage. Might try straight up 4K next time; thought the 60Mbps limit on the Mavic wouldn’t look nice, but Youtube seems to compress videos up to that level anyways.

Also, I crashed my drone on the 5th day. Yep, totally pilot error. Was trying out the POI function to do an orbit around the villa, but I didn’t check for clearance so it crashed into a low tree. Fortunately, it fell into soft ungroomed snow, so besides losing two propellers and introducing some looseness in the gimbal mount, it came back relatively unscathed.

Anyway, looking forward to our next trip back to this place. Love it!

Still connected.

When you want something done, you gotta do it yourself.

When you still want to build a website over your holiday.

Greetings from Phuket! Tis officially the first day of our vacation here and we’re totally taking it easy by lazing around the pool/beach. While last year we spent most of the time reading and sleeping, this time I have my laptop along for the possible office emergency (hope they don’t call *crosses fingers*).

So here I am, as long as I can stand the screen glare, updating my WordPress JetPack settings (we have Publicize now!), and building an event registration site for our upcoming musical.

Yes, we’re in a musical. Don’t ask me how, but it’s been an enjoyable experience getting ready for the show. If you’re free on the 2nd or 3rd of March, 2013, please come and support us! Link to the Facebook event here. We’re doing RENT in Concert. RENT is a rock musical set in NY city about a group of poor artists trying to get by under the weight of HIV/AIDS. It’s pretty awesome for a musical. We’ve got profanity, homeless people, gay people, lesbians (one of which is played by my wife), drug dealers. I think the younger group would love it. πŸ™‚

Going back to the event registration site, I’m now looking at possible plugins that allow payment via PayPal (that seems to be the only option readily available). The two that I’ve found, Event Planner and Event Registration, both have free integration to PayPal but Planner doesn’t seem to have MYR listed as a currency, so we’re left with Registration. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll have to temporarily shut this site down and run Magento or Spree which should have everything we need. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, it’s getting a little hot. Time for a dip in the pool.

gong xi gong xi~!

happy chinese new year everyone! ^_^

been awfully busy this past week. firstly, a long lost uncle, Uncle LP, visits us from Brisbane, so we’ve been having dinner with him pretty much every night since Saturday. a huge family gathering at myElephant in section 17 where we had thai food, then a small one with just us at Hartamas Square. on Monday we had vegetarian at Kuan Yin (vegetarian suckling pig and frog legs! XD) with the extended family again, and tonight we’ll have another reunion dinner! woo, bz makan siot.

Sis is also going back to Sydney this Thursday, so we’re busy layaning her as well. ^_^ cuzzie and wife are also back from Hong Kong, so yeah, lots of people to meet and hang out with.

more idiots on the road

Jalan 17/1. pasar tani going on. a row of cars parked on the left lane. fine, still can squeeze through. yet traffic still can’t move cuz this lady was having trouble parallel parking her kancil. in and out, in and out, for a good whole minute. >_<

Jalan Universiti, just after KFC.Β  the idiot driver in front of me signals late to make a u-turn into section 12. fine. i check my side view mirror to switch lanes and i bypass him. but as soon as i look ahead i find this pink (yes, pink!) pesona cutting out from the junction right in front of me. lucky for her, i managed to screech to a halt. so here i am, about a meter a way from smacking her brand new car, but she’s still there in front of me for a few minutes. why? because the car in front of her is still trying to clear traffic coming from the hospital. this lady was so damned stupid, that she risked colliding into traffic, just so that she could get stuck in the yellow box and endure our venomous glares.

no fucking brains, and no fucking aptitude for driving.

iroiro na koto

ok ok, here’s my update. of things that’ve happened since we came back from oz. πŸ˜›

signed up for gym. Celebrity Fitness at 1u.Β  86 a month for 3 years. thinking back, maybe i should’ve just topped up another 1K for a lifetime membership. oh well… also paid extra for a trainer; level 3 fariq is his name. aka qael. ^_^;;

it’s funny how you only discipline yourself once you’re forced to pay money. gym and swimming pool at my condo remain unused. πŸ˜› anyways, i’m on a tough regiment of exercise, so i’m usually aching from my 3x-per-week sessions. doesn’t help that i’m on a tough diet too, making me more lethargic than i usually am.

don’t get me wrong though. when i say tough diet i mean eating 8 potatoes, 15 egg whites, and 3 chicken breasts a day. enough to put a small ular sawa to sleep. πŸ˜›

been spending a lot of time wif my dearie~ bliss, just perfect bliss~

as for wow, i’m not able to raid as much with my guild friends as i’d like. feel kinda guilty leaving them half the time, but i just can’t help it with the plans i’m making this year. i’ll try to stick around till we drop Illidan, but after that i’ll probably take a break till the next expansion. i think things would be less hectic after things have settled down. *wink*

in any case, i managed to be present for the Naj’entus and Supremus FTKs. missed Archimonde though. πŸ™

pretty much the whole family has been sick recently, including ayin who’s back for holidays. everyone’s pretty much recovered, except for a coughing fit or two.Β  took a trip down to singapore last weekend to see relatives; hope we didn’t spread our germs. drove out with our lovely cuzzie ichaya to bugis; looked at toiletries and diamonds, among other things. πŸ˜› they’ll be coming up this weekend, so we did some major spring cleaning yesterday. kinda wished i’d have waken up earlier: more time to spend with a certain someone~

so to sum things up, a lot of major things/changes going on with my life. so much so that i’ve been coming to work late perpetually for the last few weeks. don’t worry, i always stay back late to compensate. but if management decides to get nitpicky, i’ll just leave. no point working for a company that’s so hung up on trivial things and only pay you 1/3 the market rate. hmph.

gold coast weekend

wednesday – spent the morning at brisbane’s DFO. drove up to mt coot-tha for its scenic view of the city. finished the rest of the day doing stuff online: facebook, stock market, etc. so by the time we left wired’s place it was already late in the afternoon.Β  drove down to surfer’s paradise to check into our budget beach apartment. no sofa bed this time, so i had to sleep on the floor. >_<

thursday – took a nice drive inland through mt tamborine, then down south to o’reilly’s for it’s nature retreat. we didn’t stay long at tamborine, since it’s very similar to kuranda and i’ve been there before and the rest of the family wasn’t too keen on staying too long.

our drive to o’reilly’s was long and treacherous, with most of the way up restricted to one-way streets. takumi would’ve loved the mountain road though. we arrived around 3pm, and hung around till 4. nice breathtaking views, and the tree-top walk was not bad. i climbed some vertical ladders up two decks to get a better view, and feel the gusts of winds pounding at me. the big annoying fly totally didn’t help the experience.

drive down was a lot easier, seeing how we had to backtrack the way we came. it was also late so there were less cars coming from the opposite direction. at night we just jalan2 in surfer’s paradise.

friday –Β  my sis and i went back to movie world! superman’s escape once again! and lethal weapon too, which was open this time! managed to get ayin to get on the scooby doo coaster, which i truly didn’t recall it being so scary. (sorry, ayin). saw the police academy stunt show, and the parade, again. was picked on a lot this time: the pre-show cop at theΒ  stunt show split me and ayin apart, and i had to sneak past him to get back to ayin (with a squirtful of water in my back). then at the bonnie and clyde show i was the getaway driver. ^_^; mom was supposed to go for a mudcrab fishing tour, but it didn’t happen so she went the following day.

saturday – wet & wild world! water slides galore~! it was great fun. too many slides to name, but i particularly enjoyed the black hole, the sidewinder, and the mammoth. managed to get my shoulders sunburnt too. @_@ mom got her mudcrab cruise too, but she wasn’t too happy with it; would’ve rather went deep sea fishing instead.

at night, we went for 2x 18 holes of mini golf. ^_^

sunday – packed up, checked out. went shopping at pacific fair, finished up our 3rd round of mini golf. long queue at check in, even 2hrs before flight, and barely managed to finish up our drinkable liquids. 9 hours later, back in msia~! yay~!

tadaima~!

brisbane again

my luv~

our flight to Brisbane arrived spot on time. after disembarking we quickly made our way to the car hire booths and settled with Avis. the lady behind the counter was too friendly, so we were charmed. rates were pretty good too, but we decided not to opt for excess insurance for our Toyota Ascent, so hopefully we don’t bump into anyone.

we had an interesting time last night getting lost in the city when we got close to our destination. i pretty much know the location of Chinatown now. @_@ also slept beneath Eugene’s bedpc, since he’s in Melbourne having fun at the moment. today we’ll probably check out the lookout point at Mt Coot-tha and the factory outlets near the airport. will start making the 1hr drive to Gold Coast sometime in the early afternoon.

wish yew were here to gawk at all the gadgetry in this apartment. ^_^

dive dive dive!

anata~

4th day at cairns! we decided to take advice from another tour agent and booked ourselves on the Quicksilver tour to the Agincourt ribbon reefs right out there on the edge of the intercontinental shelf (imagine Nemo taking a step over to the deep side of 2000ft.) our day started with a nice scenic bus ride to Port Douglas where we disembarked to sea on their high-speed wavepiercer catamaran.

the boat itself is a huge luxurious vessel with plenty of room and the journey wasn’t choppy and was very comfortable. we sat together with a couple from the US, who were only planning to take the OceanWalker option when we reach the pontoon out on the GBR. reason being the girl couldn’t swim; kinda reminded me of a certain dearie. ^_^ my mom also took that option, which basically lets you walk on the ocean floor carrying a big air helmet over your head, because she wasn’t keen on diving again. my sister decided to sit out on all optionals and make full use of the facilities on the boat like free all-day snorkelling, underwater observatories, and tours out around the reef on semi-submersible vessels. food selection wasn’t too bad.

since i’ll be taking 2 dives for the day, i didn’t see much of my family, as the dive boat departed as soon as we arrived at the pontoon to take us certified divers closer to the edge of the shelf. it felt great being able to dive again after so long. the divemasters (Nick and Gerhard) were very helpful too, giving us a quick recap of the equipment and turning on our oxygen valves for us (no risk of me killing anyone!). my dive buddy was a pleasant gentleman named Mike. he’s from Texas and had a jolly laugh. turns out he’s also staying at our hotel. works in the computer business too, for Intel.

our first dive took us to this place called Barracuda Bommie. a bommie is basically a pillar of coral that appear out of the ocean bed. the place was supposed to be crawling with barracudas, but we didn’t see any. what we first did was swim circles around it from the bottom upwards. managed to catch glimpses of clownfish, and finger anemones, sea cucumbers, and starfish. not as many parrotfish as from my dive 2 days ago. as we spiraled, looking up gave us great views of huge schools of fish against the sunlight. managed to catch a glimpse of a dark purple-colored eel too. there was also a rare leafy scorpion fish, but i missed it due to my nearsightedness. need to get a pair of contacts quick.

after doing our rounds we explored the surrounding area and to our pleasant surprise we find a white-tipped reef shark resting on the sand bed. then a few moments later we discover a sea turtle resting beneath a coral ledge! now that really made my day~!

we were down below close to 40 mins. the dive boat zoomed back to the pontoon after the dive for a quick lunch (we had extra time) and to see the rest of the family.

the 2nd dive came after lunch, and this time we parked ourselves on the outer edge of the reef, right on top of the shelf edge. this place, the Wreck Bay, is named after an old oriental boat that tried to outrun a hurricane into the bay, but crashed into the reef instead. t’was a wooden thingie, so there weren’t much left, but we did notice the boiler, the anchor, and a few other things. the area is littered with bommies, so it was kinda like a mini underwater maze as we navigate in between them. we managed to see 2-3 white-tips, but didn’t see the hammerhead or the tiger shark that occasionally wander into the area. this dive took about 40 mins as well.

so that was it for the day. by the time we got back to the pontoon, it was already time to leave. again, another pleasant journey back to Port Douglas, and in the meantime we got to see our dive video that was shot by the resident photographer. was tempted to buy it, but it was a whopping $105! ouchies~ probably better to get myself a new digital camera and an underwater case to go with it. ^_^ it was an ok bus ride back to Cairns, but we pretty much slept all the way from fatigue. no thanks to the noisy young lady sitting in front of us. +_+

love yew~

cairns

konnichiwa, anata~ long time no update.

the flight to cairns was uneventful. plenty of space and awesome views out the viewport. we landed abt 15mins later than scheduled, since we were also late in taking off. cairns is a rather quaint city, tis very flat and full of old/original design buildings. we booked a 4.5-star secret hotel via lastminute.com.au, which turned out to be Rydges Esplanade. taxi fare from the airport was ok, t’was abt $10.

our hotel room on the 5th floor is pretty nice, with a pretty good view of the mountain ranges. neighbors are predominantly japanese schoolgirls, who fill the halls with constant chatter and ‘kyaaa-ing’.

1st day, we just walked from our hotel on the promenade to the city. thinking back, we should’ve found a hotel right in the city, cuz the sun was ablaze and it was a 10-15 min walk. the pier, where the reef terminal is located, is also right next to the city. since it was a pain to walk around, we walked back to the hotel and returned later via shuttle. it was much much better at night. don’t wanna take any chances in the ‘skin cancer capital of the world’ as they say.

2nd day, we took an intro dive tour via ReefQuest to the Norman Reef in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). the tour was complete with snorkelling/diving equipment and a small buffet lunch, and their crew was very helpful. on the way to the reef site, 1 1/2 hours away, we were given a briefing by our intro divemaster, Vili. it was a good recap since i haven’t gone down under for at least 2 years.

our dive was after lunch, so we went snorkelling in the morning. the corals were pretty alright, similar to the quality of our own reefs in Malaysia. Mom was already having trouble with her mask, so the ‘snorkel-master’ took her under his wing and towed her around on this buoy-like stick. my sis and i just went our own way. saw some interesting fishies whose names i do not know.

dive time came and off we went. the tank wasn’t as heavy as i remembered, but Mom and Sis were struggling with theirs. all of us still managed to get into the water though. on the surface, Vili made us practice equalising our mask/ears and clearing our regulators, and this we repeated again 1m below the surface. all of us managed to get to the 1m bar, but my mom had trouble with the regulator and refused to go further.

so the rest of us, my sis, myself, and this other guy Stan, followed Vili to the depths of Norman Reef. we were under for maybe 20-30mins, and managed to catch a glimpse of clownfish, and a few other interesting ones Vili pointed out (one i couldn’t make out hiding from under the reef, and another striped sand-dwelling one). i took quite a few pictures with our trusty $20 underwater camera which we picked up from the city earlier. hopefully the shots are good, with fixed focus lens and no flash. >_<

by the time we were done, it was already time to leave. we just hung out under the sun on the top deck all the way back, being sprayed with sea water the whole way.

3rd day, today, we signed up for a tour which took us inland to Kuranda, a lil touristy town. we were taken by bus to the cairns skyrail terminal, where we were taken by cable car 10km to Kuranda over rainforest/tropical canopy. the views with amazing, and you can see visible borders that denote different forest types as our elevation changes. there were 2 stops in between, where we hopped off for some quick boardwalk experience with some amazing views of the valleys below. we also have views of the Barron Falls from the 2nd station, which at the moment is a trickle compared to the old days.

the town of Kuranda itself is really small, with only one main street serving as its center. it is mainly filled with shops selling souvenirs, art, and other touristy things. at the end of the street are the wildlife attractions, but we were only interested in the Koala Gardens, where Ayin got to cuddle her koala for $15 extra. i had the chance to stroke some wallabies too, but i guess they were too hot from the weather to respond actively. there were bird and butterfly parks too, but we didn’t care much for them.

right by the wildlife places are the heritage markets. lots of the same stuff, especially opal products. so we spent the whole day pretty much looking at their wares. i picked up a beach towel to replace my aging travel-towel. Mom was complaining it looked more like a ‘kain buruk’ than anything else.

our journey home was a 1 1/2-hour train ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. we were put on these age-old circa 1936 carriages back down via the railway used during that time. the views were just magnificent as we pass by steep gorges and a waterfall. plenty of computerised commentary too.

so that’s pretty much cairns for now. tomorrow we’ll be out on the reef again, but this time closer to the intercontinental shelf. hope we’ll be able to see more stuff underwater, and this time i’ll be making use of my NAUI license and taking 2 dives out there. hope i get a good diving buddy. ^_^

miss you~