Sunday, October 26, 2014

osaka, where do i even begin

If anybody wants an interesting experience in Osaka, stay at Meruhen. I'm laughing just thinking about it. Words cannot describe the comical mixture of being sick and staying here. To begin with, Meruhen is a love hotel. And let's say from the regular sound we heard at night, there was plenty of lovin'. That, or someone was banging furniture against the wall at regular intervals - which is, of course, very plausible. My sickly being very much appreciated the well positioned box of tissues on top of the bed. Tissues are so very useful, aren't they.

From my understanding, two floors are reserved for airbnb residence, and the rest operates as your standard Namba love den. My friend and I stayed in the described 'Japanese' style, while our third mate stayed in the 'Western' one. Note the apostrophes. Japanese style? See above. Western style? See below. Because as everyone knows, nothing says the West than a portrait of a (mostly) naked white woman. Wait, you say, that doesn't do it for you? Don't worry! If you turn on the television, you will immediately view censored Japanese porn! All the fun with pixelated tidbits. (Tips for sharing the fun: Skype a friend and face the camera to the television before the connection loads. Love is an universal language, they say.)

Other than the priceless entertainment, it was not the cleanest, but its location was fantastic. It was a short walking distance to Dotonbori - which basically sums up my two-day Osaka experience. We partook in the popular pastime of eating. Takoyaki, okonomiyaki, crepes, oh yes, oh yes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

canola fields in regional nsw

Don't be deceived, as beautiful as they were, the canola fields were not soft! They were prickly and difficult to wade through. The idea to visit a canola field has been over a year in the making, and it finally came into fruition. In my friend's very tiny volkswagen, it was a very steep and bendy four-hour drive from Sydney. It was certainly an interesting trip (we may or may not have been yelled at by a passing truck). Now if there was only a nice lavender field somewhere in NSW. And the portfolio building continues.

We were hoping to have a picnic in the fields, but it wasn't a good idea. On the drive back to Sydney we pulled over at a nice rest stop and had our picnic there. It was a fun day for what it was - eight hours in the car, two Maccas stops (quintessential road trip must), trying to discern our location through radio frequencies, and frolicking in a canola field. The latter, at least we tried. The canola was very tall.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

another day, another set of musings

In my too-often ruminations of uni-is-sucking-my-soul and other questions concerning my (gasp! shock! horror!) future, I contemplate pushing five years of tertiary education to the side and take up alternate career paths. Here are some 'realistic' options I could masquerade as, in no particular order beyond how my brain throws ideas out: (Note 1: 'realistic' as options such as becoming a masked crusader would be rather impractical for Australia. Gotham Sydney is not. Note 2: quotation marks for 'realistic' because this one may not be a good judge of realistic. Still questioning what is realistic.)

1. Photographer

I like taking photos. (Somewhere out there a professional photographer is wringing their hands in the air. Amateurs! aforementioned professional photographer would groan.) But I do like taking photos. Very much so. It is easily one of the best things I like to do. My name is Eva and I like to take and edit photos.

I really enjoy people photography - couples, weddings, families. I love the sheer emotion of moments you can capture. But I also enjoy travel, landscape, food photography. I like looking back at my photos and remembering that point in time and the feelings I felt at that moment. (Above photos are of my friend Sarah, who let me take photos of her so I could practice taking portraits! Hurrah for friends.)

2. Graphic Designer

I, child of the LiveJournal school of Photoshop, really enjoy what you can do and make with Photoshop. Majority of my extra-curricular activities involve some form of design, and I do enjoy it mostly. Who knows, I'm just throwing things into the box at this point.

3. Romance Author

Don't rain my parade! (Turning hay to gold? How about turning fanfiction to money! Somewhere out there E. L. James is laughing into her millions.) But in all honesty, I have read great romance novels, and they are such nice, pleasant reads. My favourite authors include Sherry Thomas and Lisa Kleypas. They are super great, and I remain forever the staunch defender of the romance genre. There might be a lot, and majority of the lot may not be great, but the great ones make it worthwhile. I hold anything with snarky heroines in the highest regard. There can never be enough! And I always welcome recommendations.

And I am still thinking of that novel I've been meaning to write for years and years. I seem to have a lot of first chapters and prologues in a folder buried somewhere.

In conclusion: who knows. There is a thunderstorm outside and I am in the best place I want to be: wrapped in my doona in bed.

Monday, October 13, 2014

travel insurance

To purchase or not to purchase, that is the question. It's never been something I think of when I travel, but I'm going to Europe: a lot of pickpocket hotspots. Now that I'm thinking of adding Barcelona to my trip, I'm even more paranoid. I saw my friend today, and she'd been in Barcelona for exchange for a year. To my question of, 'Did you get pickpocketed?' she gave me a sheepish smile: 'Three times.' Two iPhones and her wallet. 'But Barcelona was very safe!' And then there's also Paris. Enough said.

I'm just indecisive of what to do. My university's insurance will cover my leisure travel as part of exchange, which is limited to health and medical. It's the pickpocketing I'm worried about, if my camera or laptop goes missing. I hate paperwork - and insurance companies aren't going to make it easy. Who knows what loopholes or how difficult that will be. I guess for me it'd be: counting my losses v insurance bureaucracy.

I also have bureaucracy issues with getting my student visa for China, so I might have to take a gamble and go to America and ship my passport back to Sydney. It's cheaper than flying back, and infinitely more fun! I don't think I'll need extra travel insurance for Canada/USA, so if I do, it would just be the Europe leg, and I'm not sure how that would work. Even though I will be staying with friend and family for the American leg, three months of holidays is going to be expensive.

Experiences with pickpocketing in Europe and travel insurance, and advice?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

noodle night markets and football

Lessons in Sydney weather: when in doubt, carry a cardigan. I should've carried an extra layer, despite how very warm it was in the afternoon. Rookie mistake. My cold - bacterial - has become worse despite getting better during the week. This semester has been a nightmare for my health.

October is Sydney Good Food month, and Hyde Park has been rolled out into an exorbitantly overpriced Asian street food market. Two dollars for a tiny dumpling. Seven dollars for a steamed bun. I don't know if prices have gone up or in the three years since my last visit, I've forgotten how expensive it was. One simply goes for the atmosphere, because it's not great street food either. I think another way of calling the Noodle Night Market is Asian food made accessible for white people.

After my friend bought her $7.00 pork belly bun, it was the hunt for the ramen/rice burger .

Not much quality control. My $13.50 miso tofu rice burger was in three broken pieces. There was piece of lettuce dripping in oil, a piece of oily, soggy tofu the size of a matchbox - and oily chunks of deep-fried rice. The best part was the watermelon.

Afterwards it was to see David Villa play in the A-League for Melbourne City. He's only signed on for ten matches and will be in Sydney for two away ones. The very fervent Sydney FC supporting grandma next to me asked twice who my friend and I were supporting - "Uh, just came to watch David Villa." If I've got to be honest: watching Sydney FC and Melbourne City play at times was just plain embarrassing. I nearly fell asleep during the first half of the match. I spent most of the first half debating whether I could run to the other side of the stadium to get some closer photos of Villa while he was warming up or sitting on the bench, but decided the logistics of doing so was too hard.

Sydney Cove. The atmosphere was pretty cool. And then the Melbourne City side. Hah.

David Villa! My bae ever since the 2006 World Cup.

The little kid in front of us spent spent the entire match playing the Minions game. 'How is he so good?' 'He must come to a lot of Sydney FC matches.' But kids and technology!

Came for Villa. Came for Villa to score. Villa scored. That satisfaction.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Sometimes I forget it was only early this year that I went to Japan. It feels so long ago. And when I look at past photos, I get this sweet longing to go back, because Miyajima was so incredibly magical. We stayed in a ryokan for two nights, and it was one of my favourite experiences. Miyajima is an island a short train and ferry ride from Hiroshima, and staying there overnight was such a good idea. (This is why you travel with organised people who make good choices.)

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, and we stayed at Kurayado Iroha, which also had a small hot spring on a balcony facing the sea. Each night they provided us with a small Miyajima dessert and green tea, right before they rolled out our beds. It was such an incredible experience, from the breakfast to the hot springs.

Experiencing falling snow for the first time! This is what happens when you grow up in Australia. Will I ever get over my love for snow? I think not. Did I also catch a cold? It seems to be something I get, like an initiation process for every country I visit. The only good part was that the worst brunt was experienced in Osaka, which I found a little underwhelming. I live for the quiet places that hit every sense with its beauty. That was Miyajima, where the little streets are filled with charming little eats. We may or may not have tried everything in sight.

I had too many of these little desserts, which were small chiffon cakes with different filling. The photo in the above left was advertised as 'deep fried cheese.' Sold! (Except it was those cakes with a cream cheese filling and deep fried. Glory is perfectly deep fried food.)

Unagi nikuman (eel buns) is apparently a thing! A lot of seafood was consumed in this trip. Including Miyajima's specialty of boiled oysters. I can't say I preferred it over raw oysters with lemon and sea salt - delish! (But the chances of getting hepatitis would be greatly reduced. This is what studying law has done to me. I automatically link all oysters to the Graham Barclay Oysters tort case. Oysters were never looked at the same way again.)

And of course, the icon of Miyajima, Itsukushima Shrine and the 'floating' torii gate at hide tide. And it was snowing. Japan, you make me want to live there.