Tag Archive | random

How do you measure a year: 2018 – My TOP 18 achievements, life lessons, and other pot pourri.

“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes – how do you measure,
measure a year?”

2018 – My TOP 18 achievements, life lessons, and other pot pourri.

1. I ran a full marathon. That’s right, all 42.195km of it. Tokyo Marathon – check.

2. I swam a fricking channel with a team (both swimmers and crew) of amazing people. It took us 18.5 hours to swim 42km from Honshu to Hokkaido (ie the Tsugaru channel). In 18-21 degree water. That’s teamwork, grit and insanity right there.

3. I took up hiking. Hiking for me is therapeutic and cathartic. I hiked lots this year. (It’s cheaper than therapy).

4. I like to try and visit one new country a year. This year I went to Belgium – the home of waffles, fries, beer and chocolate – a gastronomad’s paradise. No regrets at all going to Belgium, although the waistline begs to differ.

5. I swam over 300km in total this year. A lot. But not quite enough at the same time.

6. Tiger Balm patches are the bomb.

7. KT Tape is magic duct tape for the body.

8. Growth (success) and comfort cannot co-exist. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable (this means running with blisters, swimming in 17 degree water, taking cold baths, working overtime, making sacrifices, saving money etc etc).

9. I did a solo trek of the Kumano Kodo trail. One of my most memorable experiences this year. Hiking is good for the soul.

10. I changed jobs this year. Every time I change jobs, I try not to think of it as “work” but rather “you’re getting paid to learn every day”. This is a mindset which has helped me get through working life in Tokyo.

11. I scored a reservation at Narisawa – a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Tokyo. Life goals. Great food. Great company.

12. Discovered the joy and simplicity of savoury porridge. Now I can eat porridge for breakfast AND dinner. Cook your oatmeal in a simple broth, add bacon, mushrooms etc. Voila! Savoury porridge. Game changer for the lazy cook.

13. In 2018, I went to the dentist. Last time I visited a dentist was 6 years ago (gasp!). Don’t judge me. Also don’t hate me. I have good teeth. Never had a cavity, filling or braces in my life.

14. You should back up your laptop/computer. You never know when it might die. (Don’t learn this the hard way).

15. Sleep is awesome. It’s also underrated.

16. Elastic pants/shorts are your friend.

17. Everyone should own a thermos and a reuseable drink bottle. This year I made a conscious decision to drastically reduce PET bottle and single use plastic usage. Say no to straws. And refuse plastic bags where possible.

18. You’re stronger than you think. Keep on keeping on.

2018 – you were EPIC. Thanks everyone for sharing in the journey.

I don’t expect 2019 to be as eventful and epic as this year was, but one can always hope. (Challenge accepted).


These lyrics from the musical “Rent” are appropriate.
Song: Seasons of Love

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets,
In midnights, in cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles,
In laughter, in strife?

In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love.
Seasons of love,
Seasons of love.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty five thousand journeys to plan,
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truth that she learned,
Or in times that he cried?
In the bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died?

It’s time now, to sing out,
Though the story never ends.
Let’s celebrate, remember a year,
In the life of friends.

Remember the love, (Oh you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love, (You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love, (Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love, (Measure, measure your life in love)
Seasons of love,
Seasons of love (Measure your life, measure your life in love).

Tsugaru Channel swim: the EPIC video

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I shall just say that 2018 has been an EPIC year for me. And hopefully I’ll get around to writing about some various highlight at some point before the year end.

But for the past 8 months of the year, I was swimming. A lot. I achieved a bucketlist item of swimming Tsugaru Channel (that body of water between Honshu and Hokkaido) and one of the Oceans Seven swims. I swam it as part of an international 3-person relay with two friends (also expats in Tokyo). And for the record, I’ve been trying to do this swim for the past 2-3 years and was never chosen for a slot. But at the end of 2017, I was finally notified of a last-minute slot for 2018 (I think due to someone else cancelling).

It was quite the journey in terms of training and build-up and the actual swim itself. Will eventually write an epic swim report, but for now, I will leave you with the EPIC video documenting our channel swim which we did on 19-20 July 2018. The film was shot and edited by my amazingly talented friend (and crew support on the swim) Matt.

For your viewing pleasure: (and yes, we really did this!)

Staying classy, Sydney

Haven’t blogged for a while. Work takes up way too much of my time. Also went back home for a holiday which was long overdue. Had been nearly 18 months since I went home, so I really enjoyed being back, but it was way too short. Took way too many photos and ate way too much good food.

Before I showcase Sydney in all its glory in upcoming posts, here are couple to keep Sydney grounded.

Because nothing says fresh breath better than One Direction toothpaste:

From Classy Sydney
From Classy Sydney

And Sydney has always been a fashion trendsetter. I had heard of leggings and jeggings, but had never heard of treggings. I found myself having to google what the hell they were. Apparently treggings are a portmanteau of trousers and leggings.

From Classy Sydney

#stayingclassySydney

2015: New year, new word

2014 was a good year. A welcome change from the crappy year of 2013.
2014 was such a good year, that I fear 2015 will be a bit of a mixed year.

As you know, I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, every year, I chose a word at the beginning of the year to embrace for the new year.
Last year’s word was Focus.
Did pretty well on achieving a few goals.
Recap of last year can be summarised as:
– changed jobs during the year;
– lots of travel (4 more countries ticked off the list);
– lots of ticking off stuff on the Japan bucketlist. I think I’ve now done about 40 of the 47 prefectures.
– Also did some PB swim distances. Much of last year was spent in the pool. Did an 8km open water swim race. And got 2nd place medal in age group. Missed out on completing a 10km open water swim. Started it, but was unfortunately pulled. So the elusive 10km marathon swim remains on the bucketlist.
– Was also lucky enough to have both my brothers visit me throughout the year (both at separate times). I also did not go back home last year, which is a rarity for me. But have two trips on the agenda for this year for weddings – both best friends getting married this year.

So for 2015, my word is “Minimal”.
Because less is more.

This year will be about cutting back, decluttering (time to discard all the stuff I have a tendency to hoard), minimising all the necessary crap, consuming less, perhaps eating less (I’ve packed on the festive 5 kilos that ensue with Christmas, New Years holidays.) Will try and spend less this year, lose some weight, work smarter and be more efficient with my lifestyle.

Here’s to another year. Make it count.

Lunar eclipse: October 2014

Here are some of my photos of the lunar eclipse “blood moon” that occurred on 8 October.

From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse

Run! Godzilla

I’ve been too busy to blog lately.
I’ve been attacked by Godzilla.

From Godzilla
From Godzilla
From Godzilla
From Godzilla

I haven’t quite been attacked by Godzilla, but I was recently attacked by jellyfish and sea lice. More to come on that in a future post.

Life has been hectic recently, hence the absence. But it’s all been good hectic. In a nutshell over the last 2 months, I’ve quit my job, got a new job, older brother visited me in Japan, went on a holiday, started new job and last weekend and this weekend have had/will have open water swimming races (race reports to come), and so many travel posts I don’t even know where to begin. Lots of fun and interesting times had recently.

Rest assured, lots of cool posts and photos to come soon!

Fuji Rock 2014 Day 1

The last weekend in July, I went to Fuji Rock – a 3-day music festival in Japan. The old me probably wouldn’t have been for it, but the new me is like, why not. I have pretty daggy taste in music so I’m usually not the best companion for music festivals.

Fuji Rock is held over 3-days on the ski slope mountains of Naeba. The proper experience is to camp there for the 3 days which we did. Although some friends stayed at lodgings instead.

Had read a lot of stuff online about the crowds and traffic to get there.
With the first day of the festival kicking off on Friday (took the day off work), we decided to leave on Thursday night after work. We got the bullet train to Echigo Yuzawa that left Tokyo after 8pm. And we were at Echigo before 9:30pm. We braced ourselves for the crowd outside Echigo Yuzawa station but it wasn’t so bad.

From Fuji Rock 2014

We lined up for the free shuttle bus that takes you to the Fuji Rock site. We only had to wait about 15 minutes. So far so good. Boarded the free bus. The bus ride was kinda long. About 45minutes.

Upon arrival at the site, we exchanged our tickets for wrist bands and got our camp wrist bands and set off in search for a spot to pitch our tents. Mind you, the campsite was on a ski slope so you were a little hardpressed to find flat ground, especially since a lot of people got there on Thursday during the day. It was now close to 11pm and we had to pitch up our tents. Our spot was on a slight slope, but it wasn’t too bad. Weren’t able to get a shady spot either. Highly recommend a spot under trees if possible. We ended up roasting every morning. By 7am it was a sauna in the tents in the blazing summer heat and humidity. We were literally smoked out of our tents come sunrise.

As we were traipsing around at night in search of a tent spot, I saw Mick Jagger!!! My only regret of the weekend was not getting a photo with him. I turned to my friend and said “I swear to God that looks like Mick Jagger”. Friend turned around and said “It sounds like Mick Jagger”. Holy crap, it is Mick Jagger. He was with another ageing rocker friend. He even spoke At me. Something to the effect of ” fark, look at her, she’s got a head torch”. Yes, ever so practical me was wearing a head torch. 11pm at a campsite trying to pitch a tent.
We were laden down with big packbacks, tents, bags etc wandering through a campsite. It was not the time for selfies for Mick Jagger. #bigregret. Oh well.

Tents assembled. Try to get some sleep.

I love my tent: Best 40 buks ever spent.

From Fuji Rock 2014

But I did have some tent envy:

From Fuji Rock 2014

Coolest tent ever:

From Fuji Rock 2014

This was probably the not-so-coolest tent ever:

From Fuji Rock 2014

I’d say it was pretty baaaad (see what I did there):

From Fuji Rock 2014

This tent on the other hand, had a more “homely” feel to it:

From Fuji Rock 2014

Tents galore on the Naeba ski slopes:

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

Friday – Day 1 of Fuji Rock, was looking to be a beautiful day. Fuji Rock is notorious for bad weather. Rain and downpour is the norm.

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

Free water and sink facilities:

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

Everything rocks. Even the lockers!

From Fuji Rock 2014

Fuji + Rocks = Fuji Rock!

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

There’s a helluva lot of people that attend Fuji Rock. Literally tens of thousands. But it was such a well-organised event with such a cool chilled vibe.

It’s a joke-free zone:

From Fuji Rock 2014

And perfect weather for it:

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

The men’s facilities:

From Fuji Rock 2014

There are several stages and it’s a bit of a hike between them. About 30min walk through forest and trail to get to some of them. A lot of walking was done that weekend.

Weather was so hot. But there was a beautiful stream river where people could cool off and chill out.

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

It got really crowded here over the day:

From Fuji Rock 2014

This guy totally had the right idea:

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

Highlight act of the day was….

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

The festival featured cool music and also some great food.

Paella:

From Fuji Rock 2014

Got to have me a meat pie: So good.

From Fuji Rock 2014

Butter chicken:

From Fuji Rock 2014

Pancakes:

From Fuji Rock 2014

(Note: this was consumed over the three days, not in one sitting).

Weiner lollipop, anyone?

From Fuji Rock 2014

Or perhaps, you prefer this:

From Fuji Rock 2014

(A mis-translation of “Dragon Tacos”)

All kinds of good imaginable – ramen, pizza, green curry, lamp chops, hamburgers, fish and chips, and beer, lots of beer.

And everyone BYO’s chairs. We missed that memo.

From Fuji Rock 2014

Complete with cup holder and canopy: The Rolls Royce of picnic chairs.

From Fuji Rock 2014

The Blue Mile:

From Fuji Rock 2014

Plenty of bad iPhone shots taken:

From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014
From Fuji Rock 2014

Day 1 of Fuji Rock was a lotta fun. But hella tiring. Feel like I had aged a hundred years. Hell of a lot of walking, and being around in the sun. And so much walking and being on your feet and then a few hours sleeping in a tent. Hadn’t had a shower in over 24 hours either so was feeling major skanky. Get to do this all over again the next day.

Naoshima Diary: Frame Art Tunnel

This is another art installation found on Teshima Island. In fact, handfuls of random properties have been converted into art installations.

This one was cool and yep, set us back another 300 yen.

From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel

A tunnel made of window frames.

From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel

The view at the other end:

From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel

Silhouette:

From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel
From Teshima frame tunnel

Naoshima Diary: Pumpkin galore

Travel Notes:
After spending a night on Teshima island, we then made our way onwards to Naoshima island.
Unfortunately, this meant going back via Uno port.
There are two boats that run to/from Uno and Teshima – the ferry and then the passenger boat.
We took the passenger boat from Teshima back to Uno. It only took about 20 minutes (half the time it to get to Teshima on the ferry). That meant we were back in time at Uno to take the ferry to Naoshima. We had to bolt for the ferry connection though. We thought the boat back to Uno was going to take about 40 minutes giving us an hour layover in Uno port. But thankfully we made the earlier ferry to Naoshima. Woo hoo. This meant we’d have more time on Naoshima.

Ferry to Naoshima was about 20 minutes and was pretty crowded. Naoshima is pretty popular and it was a summer long weekend.

Upon arrival at Naoshima, first thing in order was to dump our back at the cheap hostel/minshuku we were staying at. And then off to find some bike rentals for the day. We had to try a few places before we found a place with electric bikes. We got lucky and set off on our electric bikes. It was about 1000yen for a 7 hour rental (with a 3000yen deposit). Sweet. A full day of cycling around Naoshima.

I previously posted up photos of the yellow spotty pumpkin art installation from day 1 on Naoshima.

On day 2 we bussed and walked around the island.
Here are photos from day 2 on Naoshima. More pumpkin photos. Cannot. Go. Past. Giant. Pumpkins. Without. Taking. Photos. Of. It.

From Yellow pumpkin day 2
From Yellow pumpkin day 2
From Yellow pumpkin day 2
From Yellow pumpkin day 2
From Yellow pumpkin day 2
From Yellow pumpkin day 2
From Yellow pumpkin day 2

Not only did I get to take lots of photos of pumpkins, but I got to eat pumpkin ice-cream. Surprisingly, delicious. But quite rich and creamy. Just as well we shared one (although we had originally wanted to get one each, but they only had one left!). But pumpkin is a vegetable, so it’s healthy ice cream, right?

The pumpkin ice cream was served in an actual frozen pumpkin:

From Pumpkin icecream
From Pumpkin icecream
From Pumpkin icecream
From Pumpkin icecream

So creamy and delicious:

From Pumpkin icecream
From Pumpkin icecream
From Pumpkin icecream