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Friday, February 10, 2017

JAPAN Summer Trip DAY 3 Pt.1 | Natto, Shinkansen, & Kiyomizu-dera

Alright, continuing this Japan travelogue. Here's what happened so far:
Today we're onto Day 3. 
And moving from Osaka to Kyoto. It was, afterall, my first trip to Japan, so the Golden Route it is. Let's start from the beginning of the day.
Breakfast spread. I've professed my love for Hotel's breakfast buffet again and again, and I think Sheraton Miyako Osaka serves one of best breakfast buffet among the hotels we stayed at during this trip (we stayed at a total of 5 different hotels). Though I will say that while in Japan, I prefer to just eat from conbini rather than paying extra for hotel's breakfast. Conbini just has so much to offer and the choices are yummy af. Only in Japan I would refuse a breakfast buffet lol.
And by the way, these orange slices are THE SWEETEST orange slices I've ever had in my entire life. No exaggeration. I distinctly remember this because that was what made this particular breakfast memorable. Oh, and this:

A video posted by Lily Zhen (@lilyzhen168ii) on

Tried natto for the first time. I agree, it's an acquired taste.

I tried to acquire it.

Twice.

Failed miserably both times. At least I managed to finish the second one (with the help of a bottle of water).

Here's the thing. People say tempeh is an acquired taste. Well, I love tempeh, it's something I grew up eating. I figured that natto would be sorta like tempeh, you know, it being fermented soybeans and all, so I thought I would take it just fine. Well, NOPE. It does kinda taste like tempeh, but in an over-fermented, putrid, and spoiled kinda way.

Maybe I'll successfully acquire it someday. Maybe my tastebud need to level up or something to appreciate natto πŸ˜…. Next time, next time~
I think this is the ticket for the shinkansen we took to go to Kyoto from Osaka.
Tried to take one of those artistic water droplet thing. Failed. Oh, well. Side note, I love shinkansen ride, so peaceful and quiet 😊

There are a lot of souvenir shops at the Kyoto station, so we did a bit of look-see. Most of the souvenirs are sweets.
Like these.
And these.
Also this.
And I bought this. Also at the station.

It's from Yojiya, a Kyoto-born company famous for its high-quality oil-blotting papers, which supposedly are very popular souvenir from Kyoto.

It's a bit expensive for oil-blotting papers, around ¥500 or more I think, but okaylah as a novelty gift.

Is it better than the regular oil-blotting paper? I don't know. People say it is, they say they use less papers per use with this brand. But I'm the type of person who's too lazy and can't be bothered to bring my own oil-blotting papers, so I haven't really given this item a chance.
Look at what conbini has to offer. Rows of different sandwiches. Egg, Katsu, Ham, Fruits. Don't even get me started on the onigiri section.



Our first destination at Kyoto was Kiyomizu-dera.
We had to walk uphill through rows of shops to get to the temple. We weren't allowed time to stop and shop, so it was a challenge getting through it πŸ˜›
Mandatory ticket photo.
This is the gate I think. Eh, don't quote me on anything related to this temple. I don't do my research.
One of the pagoda there. Not the best photo since you can't see the sky, but good enough for this lame blog.
Erhm, the prayer place, I guess?
There are shops selling charms and whatnot at the temple.
I tried omikuji, which is like a fortune-telling type of thing. You basically shake that cylindrical thing and a chopstick will pop out. There is a number on the chopstick that corresponds with the number on rows of drawers. You get the fortune paper inside the corresponding drawer.
At this temple, a kind-looking ojisan will get the paper for you, but there are some temple where you have to look for the drawer yourself. The numbers are written in Japanese, so if you're not familiar with the characters you just have to play image-matching.
I got the second-highest luck if I remember correctly 😏 And what do you know, the second half of that year was indeed a great, lucky, awesome months. How I wish my 2016 were also like that πŸ˜’.
Anyway, if you got the unlucky fortune, you can tie it in this thingy. The monks of the temple will pray for it.
There's this pagoda located quite far from the temple. Okay, I just did a quick research 'cause I wasn't really sure what to write lol. Turned out the Kiyomizu-dera is really spacious, comprised with different halls and pagodas. I only went to the deck area, which is the main hall (Hondo). There is also a hall that has hundreds of Jizo statue too (I love Jizo), a hall where you can experience total darkness like in a womb, and many more!

That obscure pagoda in the photo is Koyasu Pagoda. A visit to this pagoda (which is quite far from the main hall, with uphill terrain I imagine) is said to bring you an easy and safe childbirth. Okaylah, next time I'm preggi I'll go here.

Now that I know how much of the temple I hadn't explored I kinda feel cheated lol πŸ˜‚ The tour guide didn't give us any pointer about the temple and halls there. He just let us roam around on our own without any information whatsoever. Err, isn't the point of a tour is so that we don't have to do extensive research and the guide will, well, GUIDE us?

Although I guess given that we only had an hour at Kiyomizu-dera, we couldn't really explore all of Kiyomizu-dera anyway.
So instead, here's a photo of me looking far into the Koyasu pagoda. Longing for the day I get pregger and finally go there πŸ˜…

Oh, it was also pouring rain, which made it even harder to explore the area. SILVER LINING tho! I got to take photos with the famous cute clear umbrella. Like that photo above.
And this.
Also this.
And this one.

Lazy caption is lazy caption lol.

By the way, in that last one, I was actually walking up to Jishu shire, located behind the main hall. Jishu shrine is dedicated to the deity of love and match-making. Of course I didn't know at the time, but I remember there are a lot of couple type of souvenr in this area.
Bought omamori -that little angpao-looking things in front of the obasan- as a gift for Sam from the main hall shop. Omamori is an amulet, like a good luck charm type of thing. I love the idea of omamori because it reminds me of cheesy romantic moments in manga where the boy/girl will give it to person they like and that person will blush to no end πŸ˜†πŸ’• Okay, it doesn't sound romantic at all from my explanation, but it's really romantic when you read the manga.
Last photo of this post. This place for ema.

Ema is the little wooden board hanging with writing on it. You basically purchase the ema, then you write your wishes on it and hang it here. After that the monks will pray for your wishes to come true.

But I'm too stingy, so if I purchase one, I'll probably bring the ema home with me instead of leaving it hanging here πŸ˜‚

Okay, end of this post. There will three parts of Day 3 because I realize writing super long post bored me. Till then,

take care,
xo

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

CHOOSING CUTICLE NIPPER - [GERmanikΓΌre] 5mm Cuticle Nipper | REVIEW

It's been a long time since I've done a review on anything nail art related, BUT! I'm making a nail care routine video right now, so here's a review for one of the tools I use in the video.

By the way, totally not realated, but I'm LOVING Britney's new album 'Glory', especially the 'Man on the Moon' track. It's so good. Check it out!! /*edit:clearly this post was started months ago lol. But I still love the album tho. Also, NOW blogger support emoji yaayy πŸ’•πŸ˜, they added it on the dashboard πŸ˜†*//*2nd edit: lol the first edit was written months ago when I just discovered the emoji feature*/

Okay, let's get back on track. The review.

GERmanikΓΌre 5mm Cuticle Nipper
I was emailed by Dave last February offering me to try the cuticle nipper and nail file from GERmanikΓΌre. As I was actually looking for a cuticle nipper at the time (yes, I've been planning the nail care routine video for MONTHS! /*edit: more than a year now*/), I immediately looked for information about the brand because I've never heard about them before.

I was specifically looking for a good quality cuticle nipper with sharp blade and reliable material because it's used to cut (dead) skin around your nails after all, so it's better if it's sharp to prevent over-cutting, or worse, tear on your cuticle, which can lead to bleeding and infection (damn, imagining that hang nail tearing down gave an imaginary stinging on my nails).

Ever heard of the phrase "Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones"? Even though that phrase is for kitchen knife, I think it's applicable in cuticle nipper as well. Blunt nipper will just make you tug on your hang nail or dead skin really hard, which is just not safe.

Once I felt pretty confident that it's a quality product (they're a German company btw) and not those generic cheaply made ones, I agreed to give them a try.
I've had this nipper and the nail file for SIX months /*edit: 9 months now*//*2nd edit: 11 months now lol. Now you know how long it takes me to write a single blog post* πŸ˜‚/, so I guess now is about the time that I review them (the nail file review is coming up in the next couple of days).

Like all my reviews, I'm gonna start with the basic information:

  • Handcrafted in Solingen, Germany
  • Made of surgical steel from Sweden
  • Jaw length available in 3mm, 5mm, 7mm, and 9mm
  • Jaw shape available in standard, tapered, and tower point
  • Exclusively available at Zamberg.com
  • Retails for US$37.95 (the 5mm standard jaw I'm reviewing). Full price list HERE.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that GERmanikΓΌre is against forced/child labor, so their products are guaranteed free from unethical workmanship.

With that basic info out of the way, let's get into the nitty gritty.
MATERIAL
GERmanikΓΌre cuticle nipper is made of High Carbon Stainless Steel, also called Surgical Steel. I'm not gonna try to explain what surgical steel is in my own words 'cause that's probably gonna be confusing af, but here's a quote from this website:

Stainless steel is an alloy that contains 10.5% or more of chromium (Cr) and iron (Fe) in excess of 50%. Chromium is the element that makes stainless steel so resistant to stains.
Carbon steel has a good edge when sharpened properly and regularly, and it is a much harder material for using in knife construction. Carbon steel knives corrode more easily and need to be oiled on a regular basis.
High carbon stainless steel is a metal alloy containing relatively high amounts of carbon. When you combine carbon steel and stainless steel to get high carbon stainless steel you get the best of each alloy. This steel is resistant to rust or staining, it’s very hard, and holds an edge with minimal maintenance. It is generally thought of as a higher quality stainless steel alloy.

Think of surgical steel as the best of both world. It's hard and holds its sharpness well like carbon steel, but it's also stain resistant, like stainless steel. As far as I know, at the time of this blog post is being written, GERmanikΓΌre is the ONLY brand that uses this material for its cuticle nipper!
Here's a comparison to another cuticle nipper I bought from Althea (not sure, but I think the brand is called It's My).
You can clearly see the difference in the quality. To be fair, the price of the GERmanikΓΌre nipper is almost 10x to the other one, but it means that the extra cost goes into the quality, not some gimmicky shit.

FEATURES
I'm gonna show you some features that's worth considering when purchasing a cuticle nipper!
Double-Spring & Beveled Joint
This nipper has double-spring, which gives it a smoother and frictionless squeeze (HERE's an example of a single-spring nipper if you're not familiar with it), while the beveled joint works to reduce friction as well. Less friction means less wear and tear, so the nipper can last for years without being jammed. I can definitely vouch for the oh-so-smooth squeeze, it's super easy get control over of the area I want to cut because of this.

Here's a great video if you're not sure what are joint types, spring types, jaw lengths, etc and their differences:

*yes, I realized I made a typo in writing "disassemble", so just pretend I typed it correctly ok πŸ˜…*

Disassembly
You can disassemble the spring for easy cleaning and lubrication. I admit though, having to disassemble it everytime I want to store the nipper becomes a bit mundane to me, or maybe that's just me being a lazyass lol 'cos really it only takes 2secs to disassemble, but I still feel lazy to do it.

Leather Case
I love love love the case. It makes the nipper look chic 😍. Vanity aside, the case also makes it easier to travel with, as the sharp blade is safely protected inside the case, so I don't have to worry that the blade might scratch other things inside my bag.
Oh! And they said that the leather is also dehumidifying and wick away condensation, which I assume can make this nipper even more rust-proof.
Crush Stopper
Probably one of the most essential feature to look for in my opinion (other than material). You see how there's this tiny gap between the sharpened edges? It's a nifty little feature, because if you over-squeeze a cuticle nipper and the sharpened edges meet and firmly pressed against each other, it will dull the nipper overtime. So what crush stopper handle does is it basically prevents you from over-squeezing the blade by only permitting the nipper to close just far enough to cut cuticle tissue, thus the sharpened edges barely touch each other and stay sharp longer. I first thought that I won't be able to cut my cuticle and other bits (like striping tape, etc) because of the gap, but it actually works just fine since the gap is really small.

I put together this quick video to show you just HOW SHARP this cuticle nipper is! (I did double-fold in this video, but the nipper is able to handle until 4-FOLDS, that's 16 LAYERS of +/- 48gr PAPERS people 😱 - tho I don't recommend you to use it to cut paper at all πŸ˜… )


I've had this nipper for 11 months now and it still looks and feels as good as the first time I used it, grip and squeeze smooth as ever, and the sharpness stays the same too (I just tested it again using paper lol. DON'T do this please, it's meant to be used to cut cuticle, so I think using it on paper -multiple layers too at that- over and over again is gonna dull the blade a bit. If you die die have to prove the sharpness, then do it just once or twice).
PRO:
  • Quality build and material
  • Long-lasting
  • Crazy sharp
  • Nice grip and smooth squeeze

CON:
  • Only available online
  • The only other con I can think of is the price point, which admittedly is on the expensive side. Think of it as an investment 'cos this nipper will last you YEARS and only require rare sharpening (I haven't needed to sharpen mine so far after almost a year. I'll update this post when I need to sharpen it, but that's probably still way way down the line).

Here's the LINK to this nipper I'm reviewing. There are other types of nipper available too with different jaw length and shape.

Hope this blog post helps you guys in knowing what to look for in a cuticle nipper!


FTC Disclaimer: The GermanikΓΌre cuticle nipper was sent to me to try. However, I'm not compensated nor obligated to make this review blog post. None of the links are affiliate. I simply write this blog post to share with you a quality cuticle nipper available in the market, and to share what I've learnt to look for in a cuticle nipper.

Monday, January 16, 2017

MANTRA

There's this quote that I really like. You can say that it's my most favorite quote ever.

I love it so much it actually kinda becomes my mantra.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

A bit too cliche? Well, it IS a good quote (it's by Marylin Monroe btw. Man, she could really churn out quotable morsels of wisdom). And something I truly believe in.

I believe in every core of that words.

People DO change, and there's really nothing you can do about it. You can't ask people to sincerely be what you want them to be on command. What you can do is lament the change for eternity. But that's just not productive, is it? So you just have to let go. Don't waste your energy on it. It's not easy, you know, letting go. So sometimes I have to do it bit by bit, but I'm doing it at least. At least I'm not stuck and keep being a baby about it. I'm not even sure if it's for the best, but it is what it is, for now.

Things DO go wrong, even when you have already carefully planned everything in your head. But, I do learn to enjoy the moments where everything's a bliss more. To really take a moment and appreciate how "just right" that moments are. To not take them for granted.

This might sound bitter, but I truly believe, that when it comes down to it, trusting yourself is your best bet.You never know with people, even the ones you ought to trust fully may surprise you. lol I sound like a scorned damsel in distress. But really though, I've learnt that you just can't place a burden on people to always be truthful to you. You can't place that great of responsibility on other people.

And the last thing might just be my favorite of all. Sometimes good things DO fall apart to make way for better things. I love the lingering sense of hope attached to that sentence. It gives me the courage to rise my chin, stand straight, and just keep on going. Not just it is what it is, but what it WILL be.

Not sure if I make much sense. I'm super famished now 😫.

Okay okay, just NOW as I finished typing on famished, my Go-Food order came 😍!!! ok brb to eat now.

Back.

This is totally not related to this post as a whole, but might as well share it while we're on the topic.
Ordered this Creamy Dory Rice Bowl from random tenant I saw on the "nearby list" and I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the portion. It's generous, especially for the price. It costs me 26.5k IDR. Quite cheap, huh? Tastes pretty yummy too. This is the name of the restaurant:

Mister Lie Rice Bowl
Ruko Paramount 7 CS, Blok DF3 No. 27
Jl. Boulevard Raya Gading Serpong, Gading Serpong, Serpong, Tangerang

Worth every penny. Definitely gonna order from this place again via Go-Food ('cos I'm a couch potato and it's free delivery using Go-Pay, so why bother?). Man, I love Go-Food. It never disappoints, always delivers πŸ˜‰.

Ok, i'm finishing this post now. Back to eating. It's amazing how much food can make me happy.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

JAPAN Summer Trip Day 2 Pt. 2 | Dotonbori & Sheraton Miyako Hotel Osaka

Okay, I'm on a roll here, so I'm gonna finish up the part 2 of this post.

Here's what I got so far on the travelogue:

As I said on my previous posts, we had to leave USJ early because we had a dinner reservation.
AT A FREAKING CHINESE RESTAURANT!!! WTFBBQ.
WHO GOES TO JAPAN AND EAT CHINESE FOOD PLEASE? Especially if you're from Indonesia where we pretty much have Chinese food almost every.single.day.
πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘

Though, I can't really blame the tour agent here, because there are some members of the tour who don't like Japanese food, so I'm guessing the tour agent kindly tried to accommodate that. To their credit, the Chinese food here were actually really tasty. And I couldn't really be all the pissed, because (other than the fact that it was my dream vacation-Japan ftw)...
It was also my Mom's birthday!!! I don't even know where they got the birthday cake lol. No way the brought it all the way from Indonesia, right? *By "they", I meant my parents' friends, not the tour agent*
Err, I guess this watermelon was particularly sweet and juicy? That's gotta be it, cos I bothered to take an individual picture of it.
Family pic with the Birthday Girl
And full group pic *sorry for the boring caption, what else could caption it with?*

It was only around 7.30 PM when we finished dinner and we were supposed to head to the hotel already, but I REFUSED to 'cos...well, it's only 7.30 PM πŸ˜‘ So I asked to be dropped off at the Namba area we went to on the first day. My parents and one other family (they're my parents' best friends. Let's call 'em Mr. & Mrs. H and their daughter Irene and son Hans) joined me.

A video posted by Lily Zhen (@lilyzhen168ii) on

Stopped by Family mart 'cos Japan's convenience store is damn awesome.

I highly recommend you to try the Glico caramel pudding (the first thing picked up by the cashier in the video). It's soooo freaking yummy. My lil' brother and I ate a lot of it while we were there, and also carted a whole lot back to Indonesia. The pudding is so smooth and milky and you can already taste the caramel flavor in the pudding, but then you got the luscious caramel sauce too to go with it. SO. SO. GOOD. GO TRY. PLEASE. πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ
Also bought this really yummy takoyaki from a store at the street behind the famous Glico running man sign street. Not sure what's the name of the store is, but it has this big octopus statue on top of it. BUT! I think it's different to the super famous one with gigantic octopus statue alongside Glico running man sign. Ah, sorry lah super confusing. There's the address and name on the side of the box if you can read Japanese.
Walked further into the Dotonbori street to find okonomiyaki for supper (also was still looking for motsunabe), but unfortunately most of the shops had either closed or past last order 😞 We did find one place that serves motsunabe and still open:
I think it was around closing time too, so the place was pretty deserted. 
Settled in, but then the owner said the motsunabe was sold out (they also have kushikatsu, but I already satisfied my craving for that on the first day), so we skedaddled. Felt kinda guilty tho, 'cos we already pulled the chairs and everything πŸ˜–

Walked back to near the takoyaki place (I sorta forget already, but I'm pretty sure it was near the takoyaki place we had earlier) and settled on this random place that serves gyudon.
Beer to accompany the meat πŸ˜‹
Ordered a plate of Gyoza to share. Looks pretty standard, but..

πŸ’œπŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’™ THIS WAS (and still is) THE BEST GYOZA I'VE EVER HAD πŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œ

I've mentioned a couple times in this blog of my distaste for gyoza/kuotie/wotie type of food. Mainly because I can't stomach the skin. The skin just tastes weird to me and most of the time makes me wanna throw up. Even the super famous wotie in Jakarta still tastes yucky to me. At the time I went on this trip, the only gyoza in Jakarta/Tangerang that I can enjoy was the one from Chin-Ma-Ya, and even there I can only eat max. 2 gyoza before I feel nauseated. Now I've found a better one (better than Chin Ma Ya, not the Osaka gyoza) at Aeon BSD-forgot the name of the place-.

Okay, back to the dabombdiggity-so-good-imma-cry gyoza!

The skin DOESN'T TASTE AT ALL like the gyoza skin I've tried before. This one doesn't taste "flour-ish" and the thickness is just right. And the filling...oh the filling..it's SO SO JUICY and savoury and just all around delish.

This was the only gyoza I had during this trip, so I don't know whether this place has like exceptionally good gyoza or it's just that all the gyozas in Japan are really yummy. I suspect the latter, 'cos I didn't have a single bad meal here. Even the tour-standard eating places are at least decent.
The above photo shows my stupidity πŸ˜…

Here's the story:

Mrs. H ordered the gyudon set with tamago (egg) which comes with soup as well. The first thing to arrive at the table were the soup and a bowl of raw egg. She asked me how to eat the raw egg, so I, being a smart-ass, told her that maybe you pour the egg into the soup and the warmth of the soup will sorta cook the egg πŸ˜…πŸ˜…πŸ˜… Soooo stupid I feel embarassed just by typing this lol.

So she did as I said.

Moments went by and the egg was not even cooked at the very least. I said "uhm, just wait, maybe it takes some times."

Then, one of the chef came out to serve the gyudon. He saw the bowl of soup with the raw egg in it and freeze for seconds in confusion. And suddenly he laughed out loud. Like really really laughed out loud. After he's done laughing, he told us in gesture that we're not supposed to mix the egg with the soup.

He then proceeded to take the bowl of ruined soup back to the open kitchen (while still chuckling) and brought back a NEW bowl of soup AND another bowl of egg.

FREE OF CHARGE.

Yup. He gave us another egg even though it was totally our (my) fault that our first batch was ruined. So nice 😭.

It's a simple bowl of egg, but it's not something I see often here where I live and I was just touched, ok? Can't explain it, but i thought it was really nice of him.
He also showed us that the egg was supposed to go on top of the gyudon. I was so stupid πŸ˜…, especially because I've seen countless photos of gyudon with egg yolk on top, I even ordered the gyudon with egg yolk in Yoshinoya SG a couple months prior to this trip. *face palm*

Anyway, moral of the story, the chef was really kind. And I was a ding dong.
One more pic of the awesome gyoza.

We went to the hotel after this 'cos it was almost midnight already.
Our hotel for the night.
The room is actually really spacious for a hotel in Japan (It's as big as a standard hotel room in Indonesia).
Standard coffee/tea. I tapao the tea. *typical chinese*
For luggages etc
The bathroom is rather big too for a hotel in Japan.
Standard tub
Awesomesauce toilet!!! Oh how I miss Japanese toilet 😭
Not sure what rinse is. Conditioner, maybe?
They provide facewash too! I love the amenities provided in Japanese hotel, they always give you huge sizes and also more variety!

Okay, abrupt end of this post, I'm gonna go edit the Day 3 photos now πŸ˜†

Toodles,
xoxo