Thursday, May 31, 2012

Men In Black 3

Synopsis: In "Men in Black 3", Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back... in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K's life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him -- secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind. [Source: Yahoo! Singapore Movies]
The cool old MIB goes back into the past to save his partner and in the process, learned more about the history of himself. It is quite funny to see the reaction of the "future" MIB reacting to decades old technology that had been retired ages ago. From battling aliens that seems to be coming out from anywhere, to finding out more about his partner in the past. The director has also added an emotional touch towards the ending scenes (which was quite unexpected given the past history of the movie). Quite a good movie to catch for the weekend.
Rate: 7/10

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Japan Day 5 part 2 - Ikebukuro

07-May, approximately 1630 - After arriving at Tokyo, we proceed to check in to our hotel (Shinjuku New City Hotel), which was located at the other side of the Shinjuku Central Park. Luckily, we had a shutter bus from the station, or else, we would not have known how to drag our heavy luggages for 1km to the hotel.

After checking in, it is time to explore the side streets of Shinjuku to hunt for our dinner.

We spotted this shop selling ramen for 450 yen from the vending machine. Since the display looked appetizing and the food was relatively cheap, we decided to give the shop a try.

After dinner, the time was spent on exploring the neighbouring town using our unlimited train pass rides. We decided on visiting Ikebukuro.

Typical Japan's street night view

Back to Shinjuku after a few shots of Ikebukuro streets

Sushi for supper at about 2230 in the night

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Japan Day 5 part 1 - Bye Hokkaido, Hello Tokyo

07-May, approximately 0900 - We woke up early in the morning to pack our luggages for the flight back to Tokyo later in the afternoon. Spotted this beautiful scenery outside our hotel room window. Rolling clouds (mist) over the lake surface, feels like we are in heaven! =)

Another hot spring to warm the travellers' hands and feet in front of our hotel.

The bus terminal early in the morning after the drizzle. Waiting for our bus to pick us up to Toya station to catch our train.

And here is the train which we have reserved our seats to bring us to....

Minami-Chitose for a quick transit to the New Chitose Airport.

Feeling hungry from all the travelling, we had our lunch at the airport before boarding our Japan Airlines plane (JAL 512) - A 90minutes journey back to Haneda Airport.
Sayonara Hokkaido, Konichiwa Tokyo

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Marvel's The Avengers

Synopsis: Continuing the epic big-screen adventures beginning in "Iron Man," "The Incredible Hulk," "Iron Man 2," "Thor," and "Captain America: The First Avenger", "The Avengers" is the ultimate superhero ensemble that have ever existed. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.
[Source: Yahoo! Singapore Movies]
A gathering of the greatest superheroes from Marvel to save the Earth. I believe it will only do justice to the movie if it is watched in 3D. The director tried to develop each character by focusing on their personality, which of course clash with each other, not to mention that they are from the different era, which at one point in time cause the team to break apart. On the whole, there are plenty of action scenes (especially towards the last 1 hour of the movie) to keep the audience entertained. A bit of spoilers here: stay till the end of credits to see a preview of Avengers 2.
Rate: 8/10

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Japan Day 4 part 3 - Fireworks over Lake Toya

06-May, approximately 1700 - Finally, we have our own Japanese style room at Hotel Grand Toya! What is good about the hotel is that most of its room are overlooking the lake, so that when night falls, its guest have a clear view of the nightly firework show starting around 2030.

View of the clouds rolling over the hill slopes. You can imagine how cold the surrounding is.

A beautiful work in progress

Hot spring for travellers who got cold feet.

And the nightly firework show began...

One interesting fact: It seems that only the Singaporean are the only ones who brave the cold to come out to the lake side to watch the show. For others, they simply stay in their respective hotel rooms!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Japan Day 4 part 2 - Up towards Mount Usu summit

06-May, approximately 1300 - Having filled our empty stomach, it is time to ride the usuzan ropeway to explore the top of a live volcano! Mount Usu (Usuzan) is a volcano which has erupted four times in the past 100 years, with its most recent eruption occurred in the year 2000. So exciting as I have never go near a volcano before.
View from the top of Mount Usu summit. Nice, isn't it?

Not contented with staying near the ropeway station, we proceeded to climb up the seemingly endless stairs to nowhere...

And we ended up with an observation station overlooking the center of the volcano that is spilling out sulphuric fumes!
View of the town of Toya below the volcano.

The history of Mount Usu eruption, with the latest somewhere in 2000.
Showa Shinzan
View of the shops below showa Shinzan

Having spent about 3 hours at Mount Usu, it is time to head back to our hotel for the checking in.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Japan Day 4 part 1 - Next Stop: Lake Toya

06-May, 0800 - We woke up early in the morning to have a breakfast in the hotel before we rush off to our next destination (Lake Toya). As we went past the 2nd level of the walkway, there is this nice pavilion in the hotel which I believed held a wedding function last night.

After finishing our breakfast, which was nothing great, just the usual few selections of international food, we depart Hotel Monterey Sapporo for a 1 hour train ride to Lake Toya. Lake Toya (Toyako) is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. In addition to the lake itself, the Toyako region features hot springs and an active volcano, Mount Usu, which last erupted in the year 2000. The area also offers many fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities.

Overview of the Toyako region and its attractions at the Toya train station.

In order to reach our hotel, we have to take a 15mins local bus ride from the train station. Their fare payment system is still pretty manual, displaying the fare to pay as the driver went past each stop. Passenger will pay the money before alighting the bus from the front entrance.

Finally, we arrived at Toyako!

And after a 5 mins walk, we arrived at our hotel - Hotel Grand Toya!

As it is still early to check in, we deposit our luggage at the reception counter and decided to head to one of the attraction around the area - Mount Usu. Mount Usu (Usuzan) is a volcano which has erupted four times in the past 100 years. Its most recent eruption occurred in the year 2000. It is still pretty much alive today, as you can see the sulphuric fume being given off from Showa Shinzan, which is a mountain next to Mount Usu which suddenly rose from a flat wheat field to its current height of 290 meters between 1943 and 1945.

View of eateries and shops down slope of Showa Shinzan.

Feeling hungry from the long journey, we stopped by the 喷火亭 to have our lunch. I decided to try their speciality theme - Curry rice! The curry is still not spicy enough in my opinion as I did not have the feel of spitting out fire after the meal. =)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Japan Day 3 part 2 - Exploring Otaru & Susukino

05-May, approximately 1300 - Spotted this cute Anpanman statue, though I have never watched the anime before.

These cute little green moss balls (Cladophora aegagropila) are actually alive!

The name of the brand that sells these wonderful biscuits as seen below

Another unique feature about Japan is that there are clocks and clock towers everywhere! Seems like timekeeping is an important part of their culture.

Caught another beautiful Sakura in full bloom, just beside the train station.

Spotted a gigantic ferry wheel, but unfortunately, it is closed.

As there is nothing on in the night, we decide to head out to the neighbouring city, Susukino to do a little exploration on our own. Susukino is a entertainment district south of Sapporo. It is packed with stores, bars, restaurants, karaoke shops, pachinko parlors and red light establishments. Of special interest to noodle lovers is the Ramen Yokocho, a narrow lane lined with shops serving Sapporo's famous ramen.

As I have enough of ramen for the day, I decide to try something else for dinner, hot soba to drive away the cold weather and rice!!!

A view of Susukino from the top of a ferry wheel in the city.

Sapporo TV clock tower at night.