Tuesday, August 27, 2019

11 MUST-TRY Food in Osaka and Kyoto

Ohayo! It's a few months (at the time of writing) since we got back from Japan, but the Nihon bug still bites deep as we realised that we frequent our local Japanese eateries way more nowadays. But to be honest, it is hard to fault us, especially if you've been to Japan. Their streets are beautiful, the culture is amazing, and not to even mention their overt quirkiness (just look at their vending machines). This country is amazing in so many ways, but for this post, I am gonna focus on my favourite - food!

1. Matcha
This is absolutely the pinnacle of all teas, and in Japan, they come in a heck lot of variety - fondue, pancakes, mochi, shaved ice, ice-cream, or if you like the basics - matcha tea. If you're a matcha lover like me, head to Kyoto and have your share. Do you know that it's packed with anti-oxidants? Talking about delicious and cancer-killing health benefits, yes please.

Friday, June 21, 2019

11 Pro-tips for Osaka and Kyoto

Ohayo, our latest and long-awaited trip brought us to the land of the rising sun, among other things, such as its rich history, great sushi, and weird fetishes. Like many others, we faced the common dilemma of where to lose our Nippon virginity - would it be Osaka or Tokyo? We chose Osaka ultimately because it seems to be more cultural appealing, cheaper, and its close proximity to Kyoto and Nara. For now, to us, Tokyo seems just like another city, busy, crowded, albeit lively. So Osaka, it is.

If you haven't, click here to see my 1-week Osaka, Nara and Kyoto itinerary!

After visiting Japan, I understand why it remains a popular holiday destination for Singaporeans. In many ways, Japan is similar to Singapore, just that its cleaner and neater, the people are more friendly and courteous (arguably more beautiful), almost everything looks like an art-piece from their food to toilet seats. It's as if perfectionism seeps in their blood. Despite our existence on the same continent, here are things you should know before you arrive in Japan like a headless chicken. This post will focus on the cities of Osaka and Kyoto which we temporarily made "home" for a week.
See #10 for USJ tips!

1. Get your passes in advance.
There are a lot of different sites to do this, like Klook, Kkday, Changi Recommends, etc. The first thing you should do is to compare their prices and check out their existing promo codes. We went with Klook and got our travel passes (inter-city, SUICA, etc.), 4G SIM card, and attraction passes (USJ, Kaiyukan Aquarium, HEP5). Not only it is cheaper, it also saves you queuing time. You just simply flash the QR code, beep, and you are good to go.
Train leaves on time, just sayin'.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Japan: Osaka + Nara + Kyoto 1-Week Itinerary

Ohayo! Japan is one country that has been on our travel bucket list for the longest time (heck, I was even a huge J-fan before Kpop comes about), and we finally checked it off in May 2019. Because of our pregnancy and the early stages of caring for baby Olivia, it was the first trip we did in almost nine months (the last was Taiwan in August 2018). It wasn't exactly easy to leave our six-month-old baby to go on a holiday, especially for mummy who worried day in and out, but it was a much-needed break.

Here are 11 pro-tips if you're heading to Osaka and Kyoto!

Korea was one of our choices, but then decided to strike it off we have both travelled there in the past, and perhaps, friends have been posting lots on their recent Korea trip. Japan was an alternative, one that I'm glad we chose. It is timeless, and it is amazing how their traditions and cultures still seep deeply in the architecture and its people. It was late spring when we travelled - the warmth in the afternoons coupled with the cool evening breeze.
Read on for:
  1. Our full, actual itinerary (places of interests are marked in orange!)
  2. More travel tips to Japan's Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto districts.
  3. Budget breakdown

Friday, May 31, 2019

Month #5 & 6 - Rolling Over and Starting Solids

These two months have seen some major milestones for baby Olivia, and perhaps, some of the most hectic ones. Her daytime naps are better, but her bedtime remains a total mess - largely due to our habits of latching her to sleep when she wakes. I wouldn't say it's a bad habit because that's just natural for the mother to nurse her child, yet with this sleep association, it isn't exactly healthy for both the parents' and the baby's sleep, as she wakes up approximately 8-10 times from 7am to 7pm. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Advice We Wished We Knew as New Parents

On a faithful afternoon in November 2018, my dear wife and I welcomed our daughter after a long-awaited 40 weeks. Less than a year as husband and wife, we had our (yet another) promotion to parenthood. As compared to the former, this one is literally life-changing and will turn your lives topsy-turvy and in very unexpected ways. Trust me, life - as you know it - will never ever be the same. New responsibilities, change in schedule, and needless to say, a new cause for stress and anxiety. That's right, say good-bye to lots of personal time and sleep. As of the time of writing, we are more than four months into this new role, we are still surviving, taking each day as it is while learning a never-ending list of things.
This post is about advice that we wished we know when we just had our baby, and we thought that it may be of help to new parents. You might have already received tonnes of (unsolicited) advice. I know, I know, we have been there. Your parents telling you one thing, and friends telling you another, there are hundred-and-one methods to sleep train your child, internet resources contradict each other and what not. Read on if you would want to hear our two-cents:

Friday, April 5, 2019

Month #4 - Sleep Training and Sleep Regression?

Whoever says that it will be easier after three months should be hung upside-down. The 4-month milestone sees a SHARP decline in sleep as the baby goes through a heck lot of internal changes - mainly the notorious 4-month sleep regression, and as if that's not enough, BAM. It coincides with the 4-month growth spurt... and a shitnami of things struck:

Frequent wakings
Gone are the days (hopefully temporarily) when baby Olivia could sleep for 5-6 hours straight at night. At four months, she's going through a process called sleep regression, or sleep transitions as experts claim. According to them, the term "regression" means to take a step back, but this is a healthy developmental milestone whereby sleep cycles get adjusted to being more like an adult's. To explain this briefly: One full sleep cycle lasts approximately 45min for babies (it's 90min for adults). Unlike adults, most babies have not learnt how to transit to the next cycle. If you are lucky, they might whimper, shift their bodies slightly, or cry for a few seconds if they have to, and fall right back to sleep for another cycle. Otherwise, parental intervention is needed, such as assurance by patting, humming, or carrying.
Baby, it's not time to wake up yet.

But let's be honest here, waking up every 30-60 minutes (and especially when you are already in deep sleep) sucks big time. For both the baby and the parents. Late last month, we spent between 1 hour to a terrifying 3-4 hours to lull her to sleep, only to have her waking up in 30 minutes. WHAT. Oh, and I can't describe how stressful it is to anticipate involuntarily when she is going to let out a cry. My small heart can't take this.

Heads up from the world of the internet - this process lasts from two to six weeks. To indefinitely. Very helpful information.

Sleep training?
In mid-March, we had a consultant came over to advise us on her feeding and sleeping, and that's when she protested a heck lot. To be fair, weeks of intense rocking, doing squats to make her sleep had already formed some kind of habit. Mummy couldn't take it and cried during the training and even signalled me to end the consultation as soon as possible. It's $200 to have the consultant come over for 3 hours by the way.

Thank God, we started to see the gradual fruits of sleep training - we adopted the gentler shush-pat/pick-up-put-down method. Towards the 4-5th day of sleep training, she's able to sleep in her own cot after 20-30 minutes of shush-pat and minimal rocking, but then sleep regression struck and she's waking up every 45 minutes or so. Uh, what? Here's something to prep ourselves for the near future - we would probably have to restart sleep training every once in a while after certain incidents, such as going overseas, sickness,  and sleep regression. The bad news is that there are approximately five of them until the baby is two years old.

Hey, since we are at this topic, let's delve into sleep training for a little.