Friday, 26 March 2010

Pieces of Japan: Day 3 - The Last Ride

21 December 2009
Tokyo Disneyland, Japan

Enter the Magic

Entrance to the Magic Kingdom

Christmas All-Round at Disney

Walter and Mickey.

Picture Perfect with the Epitome of Disney

Worlds Within: Rides of Disney

It's a Small World - Subconscious Hypnosis

Pinnochio's Daring Journey - Best.Ride.Ever.

Grand Circuit Raceway -  Guess who gave a bumpy ride?

Space Mountain - Best.Ride.Ever.Really.

Dark Disney: Disney by Night

21st Wishes at Snow White's Wishing Well

Hobo Looking for a Penny in the Well

Never Looked Better

Sleeping Beauty's Castle by Night

Dinner at Alice in Wonderland Cafe

The Last Ride

"Beep, beep, blop blop." With those sounds and a score of over 30,000 points (as compared to her 6,000 points), we exited the Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters ride.

An announcement repeated over the speakers rang through the dark night sky, as we saw security personnel moving barricades in front of the ride that we had just exited from.

Over 30,000!!!

 "We hope you have enjoyed your time in Tokyo Disneyland. Please visit us again."

And indeed, we had. From the first verse of "It's a Small World", to the wonders of flight in "Peter Pan", to the pleasant surprises of Pooh's Hunny Hunt, through the winding darkness that was Space Mountain, to the (unintentional) bumps of Grand Circuit Raceway; it had indeed been a day filled with magic that could only be crafted by the hands of Disney.

"You're never too old for Disney" was my personal mantra for the day; and seeing the wondrous smile she wore on her face and her Minnie Beanie bouncing up and down from the skip in her step as we exited each ride (save Pinnochio, perhaps), reaffirmed my decision to bring her to Disney on the transitional day where she officially steps out of childhood into adulthood. I've been blessed enough to have my childhood littered with the sprinkles of magic that is Disney, and I guess I only wanted the same for her, before her childhood officially expired.

As we made our way down the pathway, a cold wind blew through us, perhaps accentuated by the absence of a crowd; and serving as a harsh reminder to the bitter cold that we had been battling with all day - from buying hot Teriyaki Chicken Legs to even hiding in the Tiki Room and putting up with a Japanese-speaking Stitch that we hadn't had the faintest idea of what he was singing about, all in the name of getting some warmth.

As we emerged from Tomorrowland back to the circle in front of the castle that served as a central hub, it was astounding to see a sight of such contrast to what we had been used to for the entire day. Absent were the crowds of families, with strollers, toddlers and hand-holding children; all passing through the central ring to get to their next destination.

But instead, a pleasant nothingness stood between us and the enchanted castle, allowing us a full view of her beauty in the darkness, and bringing about a sense of serenity not found over the entire day. Magic was definitely present over the course of the day - an innocent one that even children could relate to, but what came over us was one that was a little different. 


The magic that lingered in the air held a certain tinge of romance, the warm yellow street lights, as a stunning silence provided the perfect accompaniment to the warm visuals. We took our time, we ran around, posing for photos and just enjoying our surroundings, as if having the entire park to ourselves - a feeling that laid in stark contrast to the mood in the day, where we had to jostle with the crowds and join the end of the queue for our little piece of magic; and yet, here it was, presented to us in its full, naked glory as the park crept towards her closing moments.

As we took a slow walk towards Main Street USA, we heard the announcements coming over the speakers again, and we felt obliged to leave our little piece of heaven to rejoin the crowd that had formed around the brightly red-lit Christmas Tree in the centre of Main Street.

Red Christmas on Main Street

After grabbing some obligatory photos with the huge, red Christmas Tree, we walked hand in hand towards the direction of the exit, ready to say our goodbyes to the magic. Something probably caught her eye suddenly, as she let go of my hand and ran off towards one of the shop windows.

I watched her from behind, taking short and somewhat clumsy steps in her boots, body wrapped with layers upon layers of winter wear, the Minnie-ears and the dangling ends on her newly-acquired beanie bouncing in tandem as she hurried towards her target.

Something suddenly came over me and tugged at my heart-strings, as I stopped in my tracks, looking at her getting further and further away from me. I realised that that would probably be the last image that I would have of her as a kid, before she stepped out of the gates into adulthood.

After a brief pause, I took a breath and a step forward towards her. Step by step, as I slowly made my way towards her, I smiled secretly to myself, as  something within consciousness made me realise that: that was hardly a bad last image to have of her official childhood.

- Photo Album @ 21 Dec 09 -

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Pieces of Japan: Day 2 - Frozen

20th December 2009
Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya: Down Love Hotel Hill

 Living out of Suitcases

Down Love Hotel Hill

Odaiba (Day): Remnants of the Fall

Washington Ariake Hotel - Of Service and Value

Room with a View

Brown, nothing but a sea of brown of varying shades and textures; lighter and darker shades, smoother and rougher textures beckoned us from across the street.

Often read about and seen in pictures, but never experienced first-hand, we just couldn't resist wanting to explore the little patch of brown that we had seen as we were on the monorail.

Nothing but trees and leaves, and the casual Sunday-dog-walkers were probably giving us weird glares as they saw our amazement and constant photo-snapping, at what was, perhaps to them, nothing more than just trees and leaves, an everyday sight.

But if they knew our story and if they knew our origin, then perhaps they would be able to relate to our wonderment to something so simple - the very sight of seeing brown leaves, and the thought of considering ourselves lucky to fall between the cracks of the seasons and to be able to catch the remnants of fall on our supposed Winter Escape.

The Fallen

Ginza: Paupers on Privilege Street

Human Traffic: the only Traffic on Sunday

Heat flowed through my mouth as I took a big and deep bite into it, part of me wanting to savour the refreshing bout of warmth, but part of me also reminding myself to hurry to the next bite, as it would only get colder with each bite I took, and fast - much faster than I wanted. 

This, or rather these, was lunch. Doing our rounds at the food level of the major departmental stores we saw along the way, picking up whatever we fancied, and then heading out to the seats along the street to enjoy, or perhaps consume them - considering the highly ephemeral nature of said enjoyment, amounting from the chill of the winds and how fast it turned the food cold.

It was a Sunday on Ginza, and routinely, the major road had been blocked off for the afternoon to allow locals and tourists alike to parade down the street lined with names such as Burberry and Shiseido (which in this instance, was a confectionary) and whatnot.

Chairs lined the middle of the road, and we found comfort in these for the times that we could not find anywhere suitable for us to take a breather and just fill our stomachs with the food in hand. Ever so often, we were the focus of the local glances and the occasional stare, harbouring a tinge of negativity as I continued to nimble on my croquettes, and cakes and the like.

Little did I know (and only to find out later) that it was actually disapproving to be seen eating out in the public in general in the eyes of the Japanese.

Odaiba (Night): Frozen

It was warm inside, and my body was still adjusting to the much-needed warmth. It had been a long night - perhaps not so much in measured in terms of time, but definitely when measured in terms of experiences, or rather, hardship.

Every second out in the cold was a battle in itself. Each time the chilly wind blew, sending a running chill through my joints, (particularly my knees, as they were the least shielded), it took an increasingly great effort to grit my teeth and hold my ground, trying all sorts of methods - the rubbing of hands, the shuddering of shoulders, or a little hop-about-on-the-spot dance to try to garner warmth, all in the name of trying to take in the bay-side sights for that little while longer.

Odaiba's bay-side night scene was as beautiful as I remembered it to be, with the multi-coloured Rainbow Bridge setting the main piece of the backdrop, but this time coupled with a specially Diamond-lit Tokyo Tower adding to the colours and the flavour. The ripples on the bay resonating according to the strength of the wind, as the colourfully-lit boats in a distance sailed along the bay regardless.

Not Pictured: Crazy Shivering

Yet, the luxury of simply standing there to garner the sights was not one that we could afford, as one thing that we learnt on our journey was that: where there's water, there's bound to be wind; and that simply means making it unbearingly cold.

But we were in a safe refuge now, as we probably felt that we had bore enough of the cold and garnered enough of the sights for the night, and all we wanted to do know was to hunt for a place to eat, but for some reason were side-tracked along the way by the distracting lights and sounds of the nearby arcade.

Japanese was boomed continuously from the speakers, and naturally we didn't understand a single word that was said, but it didn't matter, as we were already familiar with the process - only that it had been probably too long since I stepped into one of these, and definitely a first with her.

A timer suddenly showed up on screen without warning and I hurried pulled her to my side just a second before a camera snapshot was heard from the speakers. We were frozen in time as we were, and then the timer started again, as we adjusted ourselves for the next.

It's rather ironic that for something so common, we had to come all the way to Japan to do it together after a good 2 years. And yet, something made this experience feel so familiar and yet so different at the same time.

On one hand, it was reliving a part of me that used to be an everyday thing, and yet, on another, it felt so fresh and so different being in the same booth with her, in a foreign country. Perhaps in that little booth, it shouldn't have mattered where we were, and yet, somehow, it did.

As the sticker-photos dropped from the slot after they were fully printed, I looked at her as she picked them up and held it in her hands, looking hard at it and shifting her gaze slowly across each and every individual shot lovingly.

I leaned over and kissed her lightly on the head, as she looked up at me with a sparkle in her eyes.

Ironic, how the simplest thing that we had done all day was perhaps the most emotionally profound.

Venus Fort

- Photo Album @ 20th Dec 09 -