Thursday, February 4, 2016

Comeback Run

So it was, on a random night out with friends, one of them casually mentioned about a railway race, and I thought it would be interesting to give it a try. The following day, a group of 4 runners were formed, whatsapp group created, we submitted our particulars. Viola, the race is on!

Winding the clock back almost 4 years to the year 2012, when I ran my last race before I gave up due to a knee injury. I was 38 then and had a dream to complete a Full Marathon before 40. I have done 3 Half Marathon races, a couple more 10km runs, so I thought I was on track to fulfill the dream. Never a person to run for personal glory (aka best timing), but if I can just finish a 42km run, the achievement will be something.

However, age caught up faster than I expected. My knees, especially the left knee has been giving me problems and pains for a while. To cut the long story short, after a MRI and several physio sessions, my doctor advised me to stop running totally. I can still play certain sports but running will bad for my knees, and in the worst case scenario, surgery is needed. So end of running, end of dream. So I thought.

Coming back to just last Sunday. I overcame the hurdle of my knee injury and completed my first 10km race in the last 4 years. Thanks to Benjamin, Yong Siang and John, we bashed through the Compressport Rail Corridor Run 2016.

To be honest, I was enticed by the idea of running along the Rail Corridor route. I have been to the stations at Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar for photo shoots, but never travel on foot along the former railway tracks. It could bring back memories of the past when we were still kids, taking the train from Singapore to Malaysia.

Among the 4 runners in the group, I am probably the only one who has not been running as much, but the irony started right from the race pack collection day. All 3 of them totally forgot to collect their race pack. Only me who is the most excited (like a child), did the collection.

The race pack is a simple one, with the usual drawstring bag and some pamphlets inside. The new thing was a pair of Compressport socks. This will be my first pair of running socks, so pro.

 

Since the day we signed up for the race, I have been running pretty regularly, 2-3 times per week, each run is about 4-6km. During these runs, my stamina is still okay (thanks to the gym workouts and spinning classes), but the worrying thing were  the knees. Every time I ran, the pain will slowly surface when I reach the 5km mark. But amazingly, the last 2 runs 2 weeks ago, I was able to complete 5km without any pain, and break in between each run was only 1 day. I think I have cleared the psychological barrier.

Final week before the race. I was planning to keep my routine runs simple and light. Then on Tuesday, I was down with fever, flu and cough. It dragged on till Saturday night. I was even contemplating to skip the race. How can I complete the race with fever and a cough?

Well, the fact was, I recovered from the fever and flu in time for the race. But the cough is still my biggest challenge.

Super charged up just to see the thousands of runners getting ready. From the host, we knew that there were a few Kenya runners and Singapore’s own best Marathon runner, Mok Ying Ren were all present. So what he was trying to tell us was to give up on the podium places. Of course right? What a joke?

The weather was great, in fact too hot for a run. Starting at 9am was not a good plan. Organizers, please take note.

Starting point was at Bukit Timah Railway Station and the ending point was at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. So all who brought along bags will have to deposit at the “truck” stations, where it will be transported to the ending for us.

The before flag off photo. We looked fresh and ready to go.

 

Starting Point. Can you see the muddy roads? That was what we are going to run on for the entire 10km race. I pity myself and my shoes, becos I will be washing it after the run.

 

The first 3km was the toughest. I seriously thought of quitting when I reach the half way point. The heat was merciless and adding on my constant cough, I was running with heavy breathing right from the start. But the word “discipline” popped up in my mind and I knew immediately that was the purpose of this run.

Taken nearing the 4km mark.

Slowly the hot sun relented a bit and we had some wind. Just when I thought everything will be fine now, the course started to show us its true self. Little did we know because of rain 2 days before the race date, the road will be so muddy and ponded. Needless to say, my feet were soaked with mud water for the last 3km.

Along the way, we passed by some shelters like under the bridge or roads, and this particular under bridge shelter had a very nice wall graffiti. Pardon the tired face.

After 1 hour 33 mins 11 secs, I completed my 10km run. According to my Runkeeper app, the total distance covered was 10.99km. So that means I reached my target of running 10km within 90mins!

Oh, did I mention that my knee started to give me problem on the 6km mark? Guess, I have to do more strengthening in future. On to the next run!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Famous Braised Duck @ JB

Truth be told that I am not a duck lover, I totally cannot stand the taste of Roasted Duck. BUT …

I totally love Braised Duck! Brought a group of friends into JB recently to look for this famous stall that is located near to Sutera Mall (五福城). It’s about 20mins drive towards Skudai after you have crossed over from the Woodlands Causeway.

八哩半大家发鸭肉
(1-B, Jalan Skudai Batu 8.5 (Lee Pineapple) Skudai 81300, Johor Bahru, Johor)

From the shop front, you may discount the food, nothing spectacular or even looked a bit unhygienic for Singapore standards. But one important fact while eating in JB, don’t ever look at the kitchen. You won’t be WOW by it, but the food will be different. At least here, the hygiene is not too bad.

We reached the place slightly after 2:30pm, but still the place is packed with customers enjoying their meals.

The indoor space is very spacious, with a few tables just outside the shop which is also sheltered.

And we ordered the glorious Braised Duck (mixed) which comes with the duck organs, eggs, dofu, etc.

Heaps of braised duck meat! This is enough for 7 adults and 2 children.

Plus the various duck organs. Can you spot the duck tongue?

One special dish to recommend will be the Braised Pig Trotters. This dish is slightly spicy, maybe not too suitable for the kids, but definitely a hit for the adults. It’s so tasty, you can hardly taste the oil or porky taste, can eat on its own.

You can order rice or noodle, and don’t forget to try the drinks, I would recommend Lime Juice or Pineapple Juice.

Good food with awesome company.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Primary Concern

It is almost 3 weeks of school since the beginning of this new academic year. This year Jayne finally stepped into her journey of studies from Primary all the way to University (hopefully). Looking back just a few months back when I just attended her K2 graduation ceremony, I was slightly worried if this little girl would make it in Primary school or not. As compared to her elder sister, Jayne is more willing (fearless at times) in adapting to new environment and things. Talked to a few other parents, made me realized that 2nd born are usually more “garang”.

It might be because Jayne tends to stick to me more than Joey, I had this feeling that she is not ready for Primary school. Plus her small frame really didn’t add much confidence to me. She is still just my 小不点.

Joey on the other hand tends to be a bit more reserved when it comes to trying new things. But I have seen her grew so much in the past 3 years in her Primary school life.Though as parents, they will always stay like a child in our hearts, but Joey has taken her role of an elder sister very well. Maybe it’s in her just like me to be the one who will take charge most of the times. Looking at her, I really see so much of me. She hardly needs us to coach her in her school works, always clear of what to do and bring for school, sometimes I even hear her telling Kless what to do too.

On the first day of school this year, we woke up early to ensure that all the necessary items are prepared. Jayne put on her school uniform and was so eager to go. If I remembered correctly, Joey was not as excited as Jayne 3 years back. Looking at both of the girls in the uniform that is so familiar to me, brings forth a special pride in me. My girls are in Primary School now!

And Joey is a full-fledged Prefect this year. I was a Prefect too =)

My primary concern for both of them is to enjoy school and learn as much as they can. I do wish to be a stressful father,  stressed out with their results and in turn stressed them for performance. I know to survive especially in Singapore, academic results are extremely important, but if a person is bad in character and has no love for others, being the brightest kid really doesn’t matter much. I just want my girls to have lots of friends in school, loved by most of their classmates, have respect for teachers, not afraid to learn, and takes care of one another.

Simple? I don’t know too. Just try lah.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Taipei Family Trip (Part 1)

Finally after 4 months, I have sat down to write this post. After reading a photographer who had this habit of processing his photos only after 3-4 months of the shoot, so as to relive the moments of a photo as a story rather than an event. I have decided to do the same with this trip. Hope you like it.

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This was the most impromptu trip we had all these years. One morning,  Kless chanced upon a super good  deal that was less than $750 all in with taxes, round trip to Taipei, for the entire family plus both mothers, 4 adults and 2 children. So without consulting our family, we booked the tickets. Still thanking God for the amazing deal.

The headache about traveling with a big group and with 2 mothers was to find a suitable accommodation. We didn’t want to book a hotel with separate rooms for everyone, firstly it was the cost issue and secondly, the security concern for our mothers. The next best choice was Airbnb. Thanks to friends who love to travel, we were recommended this awesome apartment in Da’an which has three bedrooms, just suitable for us.

Ann’s House (www.taipeiannhouse.com.tw)

Master bedroom with attached bathroom.

 

Initially I was planning to use this corner as my working space, just right and cosy. But ended up I was out every night eating and shopping and all the work required was done mainly on my iPhone instead.

Two other bedrooms big enough for 2-3 to sleep. One thing good about bringing both mothers along on this trip was the kids get to spend a bit more time with each one of them, sleeping in the same bedroom together. Of course, that leaves me and Kless to enjoy a few nights of couple time too. One stone kills two birds.

 

And a small but fully equipped kitchen for those who would like to prepare some cook food. But my personal conviction in Taiwan is to only eat out.

A family that eats together stays together. On this trip, we tried to stuff ourselves with as much food as possible. And since it was the first trip for my mother (2nd trip for MIL), it will be nice to bring them around to explore all the nice things they have only seen on TV until now.

My mother is a lover of beef and just near our living apartment, we found a local authentic beef noodle stall. The soup base was the killer, I can imagine the owner brewing the soup non-stop with bone stock soup added into the main pot hourly. Which is why the beef is so soft and tender.

I can see that my mother is enjoying the meal despite the slightly oily soup that is not her usual like. Probably what went through her mind were the images of all the pictures she has seen on Taiwanese TV programs. Now that Pa is gone, the joy of seeing that moment of happiness on her face was so rewarding.

We visited the biggest Night Market in Taipei – Shilin Night Market. Although it was totally crowded despite the rain, it was a good feeling for the family to walk through the streets and soak in the night market feel. It didn’t take long for my MIL to start shopping.

Since we just had a late lunch, we didn’t eat much here but still some street food cannot be ignored. Like this amazing clam boiled in white wine and the must have bubble milk tea in Taiwan.

 

Jayne came to Taipei 3 years back with Kless and her family, so on this trip she was proudly telling her older sister and Grandmother about the food and stalls to visit. There is always some jealousy among the siblings, but all in the good spirit.

Rise and shine, the next glorious morning we woke up to try the famous 永合豆浆 which has an outlet just outside our apartment.

We ordered the usual breakfast locals will eat, which was the rice wrapped in egg 蛋包饭. Very tasty but not to the girls’ liking, I think the girls prefer their western brekkie.

 

The second day in Taipei, we have decided to visit Beitou (北投) and Fisherman’s Wharf (漁人碼頭), which are in the northernmost district of Taipei City.

More of our 北投 / 漁人碼頭 story in my next post.

 

This family trip will always be special, given the story that underlies the reason for it. We left Taipei with our stomach tight, wallet light but our hearts full.

Completed our tourists’ itinerary (visited Taipei 101).

Drank a lot of bubble milk tea (different brands and outlets).

 

Ate lots of street food, the famous 阿宗面线.

Pampered ourselves with the best hair salon experience, haircut, massage, styling.

 

 

The story ends in Taipei, but our lives continue as a family.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 Resolution

Every new year, I will feel a slight pressure to write out my new year’s resolution. Especially when researches have shown that 92% of people fail to accomplish their goals every year. And statistics show that people who write down their goals have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them. Hence, I have decided to write down my goals for 2016.

Family
This year, I want to date my girls. Planning a D&D (Daddy & Daughter) project. The idea is to bring one of the girls out on a 1-on-1 date night. Daddy has to be his girls’ first date. Hopefully along the way, I will be able to cultivate a habit for the girls to share with me what goes on in their lives, before they are all grown up and leave the nest.
For the missus, this year we are finally planning a trip to Seoul, and a chance to experience  冬季恋歌.

Ministry
This year will be a year of discipleship. I’m looking forward to the chance to know some of the members in the team a bit more and hopefully have the chance to serve together and even go for an overseas trip.

Friends
2016 will be a year for reconciliation of relationship. There are some friends I have lost in the past few years, hopefully this year we will be able to catch up and rebuild that friendship.
Another group of friends I want to know more is this awesome group of Daddy Bloggers. We have known each other for about 3-4 years, some even longer. But usually we only meet at events we attend, maybe this year we can be a bit more proactive and stay in contact more with side events for our families.

Health
My aim is to stay fit and hopefully complete a 21km run by the end of this year. I am already signed up for a 10km race on 31 Jan, more to come! Beside the run, I am targeting to ‘flatten” my growing tummy.

Social Media
Target to write one blog post every week. So if you are reading this, you can keep me in check and see if I accomplish this goal or not. Last year on Instagram, I did a 365-days of B&W photo series, so this year, I am giving myself a small break and probably do a 52-weeks B&W series instead. So watch out for it!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

[Giveaway] Trick Eye Museum Singapore

Media Review

After opening its doors to visitors both local and overseas for more than a year, Trick Eye Museum Singapore (TEMS)made a ‘comeback’ this November with new exciting themed zones and art exhibits, as well as never-before 4D elements to enhance visitors’ experience.

The new themed zones will aim to awaken the five senses of the human body by evoking six different emotions stimulated by the zones. The new zones are Mystery, Excitement, Supernatural, Fairytale, Fantasy and Trick World.

Thankful to the TEMS Marketing team, our family was able to visit the new themed zones and experienced the new exhibits.

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It was such a joy to be able to bring my Mother & Mother-in-law together with us, seeing the 2 mothers enjoying the simple joy with the granddaughters and by themselves, I think nothing can take away this family bonding experience.

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Jayne loves this exhibit, partly because her size is small enough to slide in and out of the cage with no difficulty. Just love her expression. One thing about TEM, it allows the visitors to be creative and be free to release all the inner expressions we may not dare to show outside.

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The captives! Joey is still in her Halloween mood.

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One of the most photographed art exhibit in TEM, but you still have to do it no matter what.
Grandparents version versus Grandchildren version.

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The first new exhibit we saw in the main hall area, the Rubik’s Cube! Incidentally, the girls were fiddling with the cubes at home too. So you can imagine the excitement.

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My Mom was a bit more reserved in her actions but my MIL gave her all.

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We went through the ‘old’ exhibits with vigilance, like as if we have not seen it before.

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Jayne totally nailed the ‘Bamboo’ piece, and my MIL has extraordinary strong arms to hold on like that.

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Coming to the new displays.

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I hope the girls will not grow up so fast, so it may be a good idea to trap them in time.

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Kless looking for help, but seems like she is quite enjoying the chance to lay down for a while.

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Levitation.

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While Joey finds some of the exhibits to be too kiddish, Jayne still finds it irresistible.

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This amazing art exhibition takes center place in one of the new themed zone, super cool! Must try!

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Jayne might be the next Kung Fu Hustle. Don’t be fooled by her bony frame, she can be quite strong at times.

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Bye Trick Eye, see you soon.

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GIVEAWAY
1 Winner (Four tickets to Trick Eye Museum Singapore)

To participate and win, please follow the steps below.
1. Like J Babies Dad FB Page (if you have not)
2. Like Trick Eye Museum Singapore FB Page
3. Like & Share my Facebook Page Post.
4. Leave a comment “Treat my family to Trick Eye!”.
5. Remember to tag Isaiah Kuan or J Babies’ Dad, so that I can track your participation.

Closing date of giveaway: Thu, 3 Dec 2015.
Winner will be chosen by random & announced on J Babies’ Dad FB Page. Decision of the judges will be final.

 

Visitor Info
Address: Resorts World Sentosa, 26 Sentosa Gateway, #01-43/44, Singapore 098138
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 10am – 9pm (Last admission 8pm)

Monday, November 16, 2015

50mm Tokyo

This is the second time I have visited Tokyo and also the best trip for year 2015. For three reasons, firstly because this is the last trip in 2015. Secondly, Japan is my favorite destination of traveling currently. Thirdly, this is my yearly anniversary getaway trip with Kless, just the two of us.

And on every trip, one of the most important thing both Kless and I enjoy is the photography portion. Initially I was planning to bring my film camera (Nikon FM2n) on this trip, but the night before we depart, I realized my shutter was stuck and I was not able to do anything. Important lesson learnt, never leave your equipment check till the very last minute, especially if the camera is very well used. So I have to rely back on my trusted Nikon D90 (DSLR). Hence, I upped the challenge by only bringing the 50mm lens for this trip. I have to qualify myself on this decision. If you are visiting Tokyo for the first time, then please bring all your lenses if possible, you do not want to be restricted by the 50mm. Since I have done all the “traveling” shooting I wanted in 2012, this trip I can afford to try something new.

So please don’t expect a pictorial guide on Tokyo in this post. If you really know what to do and where to find the interesting places frequent by tourists or locals, then refer to the posts I have done before. I referred to all the posts in 2012 to get my directions too. Very useful.
Shibuya | Harajuku | Tsukishima | Shimokitazawa | Tsukiji Market | Asakusa | Ichigaya | Roppongi | Akihabara | Nakameguro

Isaiah Kuan’s 50mm Tokyo

Wearing my new pair of NB sneakers to Tokyo. Lots of walking in Japan wherever you go, so a good pair of comfortable shoes is very important. Don’t sacrifice fashion for comfort.

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The small apartment we booked through AirBnb. Cosy queen-sized bed with a very nice bathroom. Around S$450 for four nights. Our host is a very nice Japanese lady, Mackey who has a “Superhost” status.

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Keep your shoes outside, treat the house like your own.

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Traveling in Tokyo is a special experience. People rushing from station to station, squeezing into trains practically everyday, yet no one is angry. No one loses their temper. Everyone just seems to co-exist in peace, so different compared to Singapore or some other countries I have traveled to.

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Times when the station is just empty.

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Among the shopping districts in Tokyo, Harajuku is my favorite. Shinjuku is the place for the boutique and mall shopping. Shibuya has more people interested in the crossing than the shopping. Harajuku is slightly less crowded and the fashion is more affordable. And personally I like the “street” shopping than malls.

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The woman who waits patiently for me when I am off in some shops browsing through. Yes, I shop more than my wife.

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Only in Japan can you see such cute Hello Kitty road blocks.

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Taking the Shibuya Crossing is no east feat. But with the 50mm, somehow the photo brought the people and road came much closer to life than just an overview of the entire crossing.

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Shibuya newspaper auntie. The stall is open even after 10pm. Amazing.

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When we got back from our first trip in 2012, so many of our friends cannot understand why we did not try the Ichiran Ramen in Tokyo. Honestly, I don’t understand too. So on this trip, the first Ramen treat was to the famous Tonkotsu Ichiran Ramen at Harajuku.

(The photo below is taken with iPhone6, just to show you how the noodles looked like.)

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I didn’t take the before but I remembered to take the after.

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The small alley hidden from the customers where the hardworking staff takes your orders and delivers your ramen. Just poked my camera through the bamboo curtains and snapped.

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Kless commented that whenever I travel to Japan, I will fulfill my quota for fish intake. I cannot say it is untrue, but just because the fish are so fresh and without any fishy smell at all. I can stay in Japan and eat fish all day long.

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If you are looking for an awesome night view of Tokyo, I would recommend the FOC Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. There is the North Observatory (opens from 0930 to 2300) and the South Observatory (opens from 0930 to 1730). You can plan to see the daytime view at the South Observatory, then the nighttime view at the North Observatory. Remember to walk the entire round on 202 meters, the views are different.

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If you are looking for some temple scene, then Asakusa is a must. Not only the shopping is great, but what the place can offer for photography is not something you get to see everyday.

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There are some shops that allow you rent a set of kimono for the experience. Pretty cool.

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You get to see the Tokyo Skytree from here too. This tower is another place that offers amazing night view of the city for a fee around 2000 to 3000 Yen.

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The sincere & the believers.

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One of the main reason for visiting Tokyo is to visit Tsukiji Market. I dare say, the sashimi here is one of the best in the world.

(The two photos below is taken with iPhone6, I was too engrossed in the meal, I didn’t have time to whip out my DSLR.)

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There are only two lanes of restaurants for you to choose from. Make your choice wisely, not because you cannot afford all, or not because you cannot eat too much, purely because all the queues are quite long. I waited an hour to get my fix.

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One of the many old bookstores we passed by in Tokyo.

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In Tokyo I would highly recommend you to visit some of the other places that are not so popular or well-known. Actually Shimokitazawa was mentioned on some websites as the upcoming hip venue for the younger generation Japanese. Not too many tourists have explored this district, but this was our second visit so far.

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There are so many cyclists in Tokyo, I believe their cycling equipment must be pretty impressive too. If I can, I would love to buy a fixed-gear bike and sent it home from here.

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There are a lot of interesting shops around in Shimo, you can definitely spend the entire day walking and exploring through the neighborhood, both the North and South part.

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If you ever visit Shimo, then you have to spend some time at the numerous cafes in this district.

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I would personally recommend the following café to those who truly enjoys a good cup of coffee. Bear Pond Espresso. Just take note that no photography is allowed in the small shop that sits up to about 6-7 people. Take secretly.

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From outside Bear Pond Espresso, a cool customer is waiting to be served.

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If you can spend and willing to part with your money, you will be able to find some unique jewelry shop. All their works are handmade and you will be able to see the master at work. Take your photo but don’t disturb their work. Always remember to be conscious of the Japanese’ space.

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Neighborhood dog.

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Neighborhood workers.

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Neighborhood fashion.

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Last but not least, we were glad we made a day trip to a nearby district out of Tokyo city.

Yokohama City. This place is surely slower and quieter than Tokyo. There is a huge Ferris Wheel which probably presents a view of the whole harbor.

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A walk along the sea is such a bliss. Weather was perfect and the scene was beautiful. Especially so with my wife.

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A nice place for picnic.

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One place to visit in Yokohama is the Red Brick Warehouse. This is a building with more than 100 years history. Now, the warehouse is packed with different cafes.

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We rested our legs in this Flower Café.

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After the rest, take the ferry which is just 5 mins away, travel to the opposite of the sea and explore the other parts of the city. You will find the Yamashita Park, the largest Chinatown streets in Japan, the Motomachi Shopping Street.

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The famous “Girl with Red Shoes” aka Akai Kutsu which is located in the middle of the Yamashita Park.

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Streets leading to the Chinatown.

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More cafes. Or simply people watching.

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All good things come to an end. Every trip has to have a departure date. Thanks for reading.

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To see more photos I have taken on this Tokyo trip, feel free to check out my IG account or our tag (#isaiahklessintokyo).