This is the scene that greeted me when I landed in Narita after a redeye flight from Singapore. Rain, gray skies and cold weather. The only thing that cheered me up was the sign that said "Free wifi in Narita".
The SQ flight itself to Tokyo was great. New entertainment system and the usual great service. I had a whole row of seats to myself too. I watched A Million Ways to Die in the West by Seth MacFarlane, and found a million ways to die of boredom from that movie.
After picking up my rental portable internet router from the airport post office, I donned my down jacket and rain jacket and waited for my 90-minute ride to town. "17°C" said the clock outside. Thank goodness I packed the merino wool stuff.
My hotel in Shinjuku (which shall remain unnamed) didn't have any rooms ready for my early check-in. "After 2pm," they said firmly, even though my booking indicated an early check-in. Ah well, I didn't have much luggage anyway (one small backpack for my clothes and one small satchel for my gear) so I was free to wonder around town.
My personal radar led me to Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku where I did some browsing. I swear I didn't buy a thing. Then a quick lunch (where I saw the above menu item), some more walking, and a coffee with a slice of cheesecake later, I was back at the hotel at 1.59pm to check in.
"After 2pm, please," was the reply.
And so at 2.01pm, myself and the lobby of eating guests surged forward to check-in. The room, I have to say, was small. I felt like Gandalf visiting the Hobbits in their home. Heck, the Hobbits would have found the place claustrophobic.
But a room is a room. I took my shower in a Hobbit-sized half-bathtub in the Hobbit-sized bathroom (I didn't even know they made bath tubs this size) and tried not to knock into anything.
One of my readers who lives here told me the rain was going to last all day. At first I wore my rain jacket but eventually I caved in and bought a ¥513 transparent umbrella for Ryan and me, from the Pharmacy-That-Sells-Everything.
Supper was the nicest meal of the day. Good old ramen from 博多風龍 at Shinjuku area. You can add extra ramen for free.
The guy next to us refilled his bowl three times. Really ate until he got his money's worth.
Oh, and the rain that was going on all day? It stopped soon after we bought our umbrellas. It's all a conspiracy, I tell you.
Fury was a fierce WWII movie. Epic tank battles, killing Nazis, gritty underdogs what's not to like?
The middle was a bit draggy though. The movie is no Inglourious Basterds, even both movies have Brad Pitt in it. Fury takes itself very seriously and sometimes, that drags the pace down.
We get it. War is terrible. People die. Body parts have to be cleaned off the inside of tanks.
When Fury gets to the fighting parts, it is clobbering time. And even it's even more entertaining when you know that the Americans are using peashooter M4A3E8 Sherman tanks against vastly superior German Tiger tanks.
What the Shermans lacked in armor and firepower, it made up for in numbers and reliability. And the ability to travel in water. Shermans were the Zergs to the Tigers who were the over-engineered Protoss.
But the German tanks were truly fearsome beasts and a single Tiger could obliterate several Shermans by itself.
Sherman tanks couldn't penetrate their armor without hitting them from the sides or behind, and in one scene, the movie captures this fight brilliantly.
Watching this makes me want to build model tanks again. And maybe play a WWII game. Maybe Battlefield 1942.
Truth be told, I haven't been much of a jeans person for a long time. Between cycling to work and traveling, jeans are usually too hot to wear in Singapore, or too heavy to fit into my ultralight packing ways.
So when Uniqlo asked me to try their jeans, I thought, why not? I bought the jeans before my Germany trip last month (only $59.90! Way less than I pay for my branded jeans in factory outlet stores!).
I noticed right away that the material is lighter and stretchier. Wearing them felt comfy and soft, and not warm. What manner of of quality jeans fabric were these?
I read the label and it said it was Kaihara Denim, and it was lovely. It stretched at the right places (there is a touch of spandex in there) and I could wear it all day without feeling discomfort, whether in hot and humid Singapore or the cold mountains of the Bavarian Alps.
I showed the jeans to my wife and she said, ya, she has a few Uniqlo jeans. They are very comfortable and are among her faves, she told me. I didn't even know she owned one, let alone a few pairs.
So far, I have worn the jeans to work, walked the streets of Berlin and Munich, hiked the Untersberg mountain in Austria (it is part of the Berchtesgaden Alps) and even did a few air guitar jumps for fun.
I washed them a few times in the 15 days I was away last month and each time, the jeans dried way faster than my usual all-cotton jeans.
And I don't always get so happy about pants but I liked them so much, I got myself another pair in grey.
I didn't expect the #ReturnMyCPF Protesters/YMCA Hong Lim blog post to generate that many comments. In case you don't feel like fading through the more than 240 comments on my blog (and elsewhere), I thought I'd share some of the classy ones I got.
This one is from "Chloe", who writes: "You absolutely lost it. Just because you are unfortunate to give birth to a "special needs child" doesn't give you the right to blaspheme our brave freedom fighters. Get the context right - unless you also have special needs."
I like how Chloe uses the word "unfortunate" to describe our family situation. I assure you, we don't feel unfortunate. We are very happy and blessed to have all our children in our lives. I also like the use of the word "blaspheme". I didn't know I was dealing with messiahs.
Here is another one from "selamat": "…We don't care if your daughter is autistic or why you are suddenly sucking up to the pigs. We do care about your brazen attack on our champions. Bring it on, stop using your children as a shield. You are pathetic."
While hiding behind the shield of internet anonymity, the commenter accuses me of using my children as a shield. It amuses me.
This final one is from Singapore’s very own brave anonymous crusaders, Occupy Singapore. Yes, the ones who same fellows who declared "Occupy Raffles Place" and then didn't turn up. They throw in their 2 cents on my Hong Lim post. It made a small tinkling sound on the pavement.