Kyoto is surrounded by nature, especially when compared to Tokyo or Osaka. You will often see mountains from a distance.

Today we'll be going to one of the most nature-y attraction in Kyoto - Arashiyama. You'll usually need about half day to cover the main attractions in Arashiyama, and a full day to cover more of this end western part of Kyoto.

April 11th, 2PM - Arashiyama (嵐山), Kyoto.
Technically, "Arashiyama" is referring to just the mountains south of the river but is now commonly used to refer to the entire touristy district. 

The mountains surrounding this district can be seen clearly, you can even spot several blossoming Sakura trees there. I imagine the mountains look even better in autumn with gold and rust foliage.

Still surrounded by mountain backdrop, this was on the way to Tenryu-ji, the most famous temple in the area.

The entrance of Tenryu-ji. There and then, I decided to not go in because I had a little more than enough of temples during the first half of the day.

The walk wasn't wasted though, managed to catch this view on the way out. This area wasn't open to public, so all the fallen petals remained undisturbed. Beautiful!

Another soft serve break before deciding where to go next. This is soy-flavored, yum!

It was then decided that the Monkey Park Iwatayama is next. The park is located somewhere atop a mountain, could be a viewing point too. After all, it's only a "10 minutes hike to the top" according to websites and stuff.

Here's an adorable looking map that shows the adorable hike up.

April 11th, 3.30PM - Monkey Park Iwatayama, Arashiyama (嵐山), Kyoto.


Do not underestimate this seemingly "easy and casual" hike up. It was rather strenuous (for me), and took me what felt like half an hour. So don't treat this like another la-di-da sightseeing, but be prepared for it! Wear proper shoes and clothing and you might actually make it in 10 minutes.

The view from the park.

Was it worth it? Probably. Will I visit again? Probably not.

Of course you can feed monkeys at a monkey park. But only from inside of this feeding cage because that's how they train the monkeys to not misbehave around visitors everywhere else.

If you're worried about the monkeys being exploited for tourism, you need not. This park is more like 2 huts built in a mountain. All the monkeys come and go at their own discretion and are 100% wild. They behave around visitors because they know that's how they get treats.

A breed that's native to Japan, called the Japanese macaque aka Snow monkey.

See, these guys coexist happily with the man-made environment.

Here's a video of those monkeys in action. I call it "Monkey A & B fight over a branch only to have it taken away by the cunning Monkey C." Don't worry, if you're watching closely, you'll see that Monkey A & B found themselves another target at the end.

A family of three cuddling together.

A couple dating.

April 11th, 5PM - Bamboo Groves, Arashiyama (嵐山), Kyoto.
When in Arashiyama, visit the iconic bamboo groves. I'm sure nobody needs to be told that. You can access the groves from the garden (north) exit of Tenryu-ji, so be wise when planning. 

As expected, there were many visitors at the grove. However, because the bamboo grove area is so huge (so huge that you might call it a bamboo forest), you can still find a piece of serenity somewhere. When wind passes through stalks of bamboo trees, it creates a whisper-like sound in addition to the rustles of swaying stalks.

I tried to capture that in video but needless to say, nothing beats the real thing. 

Here's a final photo from my camera before it died.

Yes, my camera died. Some lens error suddenly occurred. Perhaps it was stunned by the beauty of the forest as well? (ew, cheesy) 

Luckily I had my trusty 5S, though the photo quality is incomparable to my Nikon's. Just bear with it until end of this post ok?

On the bright side, it looks more real? 。(*^▽^*)ゞ

Ah, the mandatory tourist shot. 

That wraps up my visit to Arashiyama. You know what this calls for?

Another soft serve yaaaassss. This is hoji-cha flavored.

April 11th, 8PM - Central Kyoto.
Dinner was at a random restaurant, which name I don't remember, in central Kyoto.

I had normal food, gyuniku (beef) over rice.

I also had a taste of basashi (馬刺し), aka horse "sashimi".

I didn't search for this on purpose nor have I even thought about consuming it before. However, at that moment, it was already ordered and on the table. So I gave it a go, for the sake of trying. It tasted like any other sashimi, but much chewier/tougher. I have mixed feelings about this so I didn't really take the time to savor it like how I do with other food. One try is enough!

Day 0.5 - Getting There. And Tsukiji.
Day 1 - Ueno Park. “Hana Yori Dango”.
Day 1 - Sensoji. And an Adventure at Night.
Day 2 - All Things Ghibli (Museum).
What to do when you lose your JR Pass.
[SHORTS]: My First Airbnb Experience.
Day 4 - Hello Kyoto! (Intro).
Day 4 - Eastern and Downtown Kyoto.
Day 5 - Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.
Day 5 - Arashiyama and HORSE SASHIMI?
Day 6 - Fushimi Inari-taisha and Nishiki Market.
Day 7 - Gotta Catch 'Em All in Osaka. And they don't have mints at Mint Bureau.
Day 8 - Kaiyukan & Umeda Sky Building.
Day 9 - Universal Studios Japan.
Day 10 - Osaka Castle and Den Den Den Den Town + Dotonburi.
Day 11 - LAST.
Pretty sure we have all came to terms with our online shopping habit by now. Personally, I prefer online shopping over physical shopping. Why? No driving, looking for parking and carrying shopping bags required. Plus, online shopping gives you parcel excitement and there are often online deals available! So I'm actually already very satisfied with my current online shopping experiences and processes as it is (if you're wondering, I frequently buy from Zalora, Lazada and Uniqlo). 

However, recently I was introduced to ShopBack which enhances my online shopping experience even more! How? Believe it or not, online shopping via ShopBack allows me to earn some cash back. Cashback shopping is a very common thing in other parts of the world, but isn't well known to some of us yet. Just check out some of these deals and how much cashback you can earn!

Is it some kind of scam? Where got so good one? What's the catch? HOW DOES IT WORK? Simple, ShopBack gets commission for referring consumers like us to their vendors (aka our beloved online shopping stores), and shares part of that commission with us. Win, win, win for everyone. In addition, they often have exclusive deals too! If I'm doing an awful job explaining, check out this informative video:

With ShopBack, you can use Zalora vouchers and earn cashback, discover Aliexpress coupon codes daily, and many more! Everything is consolidated in ShopBack, you don't have to search the Internet for coupons for different stores anymore. How to use ShopBack?

The terms to note for each store are all laid out very in ShopBack itself, so as long as you take a second to read, you'll find info such as the cashback rates, conditions for bonus rate and promotions for each store. 

ShopBack is the best site for earning cashback online, why not give it a try especially now that Father's Day is around the corner? Your Father's Day shopping will definitely be more fulfilling with extra savings and deals! Shopback even have the stores by categories such as Fashion, Electronics, Travel, F&B etc. so you're bound to find something that your dad fancies. 

They even have a referral program where you can earn money through referrals - and that's what I'm doing, so.. a little help yeah? ー( ´ ▽ ` )ノ Click here and sign up for ShopBack now! 

Gone were the days when working women wear suit jackets with shoulder pads, long four button jackets and loose trousers. How then should us ladies dress for work? Dressing the part at work is always important as it shows not only your taste of style but also your personality. 

A safe bet would be... DRESSES! Dresses are always the best choice for career ladies to flaunt at the workplace - feminine yet fashionable. But there are so many types of dresses these days, so what are the types of women’s dress designs that are appropriate and perfect for the work setting? Being too sexy is a big no-no, but of course we still want to appear amazingly beautiful for confidence at the office. Here are some of the choices of dresses that every Miss Independent must have in her closet! 

1. Bodycon Dress

If you want that extra boost of confidence at work, bodycon dress should be a must-have piece in your wardrobe. The fitted design hugs you curves nicely and you will definitely feel that sexy feeling in it. Besides that, bodycon dress has that sophisticated touch when worn with a nice pair of high heels. 

2. Maxi Dress

My go-to dress when I want to feel comfy. For the career ladies who prefer a more modest appearance and still feel comfortable, maxi dress should do it. There are a wide range of stylish maxi dresses which you could choose from depending on your style. Not only that, you can rock the maxi dress as a day-to-night outfit with ease. Simply dress it up or down with statement accessories!

3. The A-line Dress

My personal favorite! If you prefer a feminine look at the office, the A-flare dresses has the combination of sweetness and elegance to it which makes it great to be worn at the work place. Choose from the many designs of A-line dress available in the market from plain coloured, prints, laces or floral patterns. If you're afraid it might look overly casual, just throw on a good cardigan or blazer and you're set!

Now, go seize the day looking great and feeling confident! What are some of your favorite dresses to wear to the workplace?

Hello hello! We're still in beautiful Kyoto. Temple and shrine visits are a must-do here. I had time to wander around the other day and stumbled upon random ones but today, we'll get down to business and see the most famous and top-rated places in Kyoto.

April 11th, 11AM - Ryoanji Temple (龍安寺, Ryōanji), Kyoto.

Firstly, the famous zen rock/dry garden and my personal favorite, Ryoanji. The picture above shows the pond surrounding the temple and is not actually the temple yet. Why I absolutely adore this place is because in addition to the temple itself, you will find various breathtaking views in the area. Let's start with the pond area:

 Same pond, different framings.

The place is also rich in greens. Tall trees surrounded paths and luscious moss covered the ground. I can almost smell the fresh air and serenity from here. It's a huge place, so it won't feel overcrowded. However, I'll still recommend to visit early in the day or at the end of the day for best experience.

Mosses and sakura petals look so good together.

These are all the views on the way to the temple. Now, let's go see the temple.

The Kuri building, previously the temple kitchen, now serves as the main entrance.

Miniature of the rock garden, providing a bird's-eye view of the layout. You can try to zen-out and interpret the garden's meaning, but the popular interpretation is "a tiger carrying cubs and crossing river/pond/sea".

The actual garden. The sakura tree makes the view more spectacular.

Behind-the-scenes. Since no one is allowed to step foot onto the lower area, people gather at the corridor to take pictures and stuff. Not so zen after all eh? If you really want to zen, come early in the morning or right before closing time.

Leaving the temple.

It's not the end of beautiful sceneries yet. Ryoanji has gardens on the path out too. I was not expecting it at all and was in such awe of the views.

How can I not? I stepped out, thinking the visit is over, and was greeted by this. 

I've never seen an exit path look so welcoming.

The stuff HD TVs in the stores have on display.

Almost entirely covered by petals.

Close-up of the mosses.

Alright, that's all for Ryoanji. Moving on to the next attraction, but before that..

Ice-cream break!

April 11th, 12PM - Kinkakuji (金閣寺, Golden Pavilion), Kyoto.
This is the magnificent Golden Pavilion that is completely covered in gold leaf (top 2 floors). 

It is one of the highest rated attraction in Kyoto. I can see why, this place is super photogenic. But that's about all. Personally, I ranked it rather low in my list because taking photo is all you can do there. Almost like camping across the Angkor Wat puddle for a photo, only this time it's across a pond. From the photos, you can't tell how many people are there with their tripods and selfie sticks, but there are many.

It was a touch-and-go visit for most people, 15 minutes top. We entered and were directed to the photo-taking spot, where everyone else is. The Golden Pavilion is so far across the pond but it looks amazing with its surroundings. 

The other photo spot with a closer look of the structure. Kinkakuji is yet another Zen temple and believe it or not, it has burned down many times throughout history (since 1400's!) This structure you see here was rebuilt in 1955.

The first floor is built in the Shinden style used for palace buildings during the Heian Period. The second floor is built in the Bukke style used in samurai residences.The third floor is built in the Chinese Zen Hall style, with a golden phoenix on top some more!

On the way out, you can see the White Snake Pagoda, a small structure in the middle of the pond. 

Outside, there's a small rest area with souvenir stands and FOOD, of course.

Dango covered in sesame sauce and a sprinkle of gold flakes. After seeing the Golden Pavilion, must eat some gold also ma, correct?

Mitarashi dango - chewy bland dango with sweet-salty sauce.

Okay, since this post is so lengthy thanks to the pictures, I'll call it a day for now! See you again, hopefully in a day or two!


Day 0.5 - Getting There. And Tsukiji.
Day 1 - Ueno Park. “Hana Yori Dango”.
Day 1 - Sensoji. And an Adventure at Night.
Day 2 - All Things Ghibli (Museum).
What to do when you lose your JR Pass.
[SHORTS]: My First Airbnb Experience.
Day 4 - Hello Kyoto! (Intro).
Day 4 - Eastern and Downtown Kyoto.
Day 5 - Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.
Day 5 - Arashiyama and HORSE SASHIMI?
Day 6 - Fushimi Inari-taisha and Nishiki Market.
Day 7 - Gotta Catch 'Em All in Osaka. And they don't have mints at Mint Bureau.
Day 8 - Kaiyukan & Umeda Sky Building.
Day 9 - Universal Studios Japan.
Day 10 - Osaka Castle and Den Den Den Den Town + Dotonburi.
Day 11 - LAST.