Attended a hi-tea event at New Chapter by Owl Cafe the other day, organized by Watsons Malaysia. It was a beauty date with Steven Sunny, featuring new and exclusive online beauty products from Watsons. 

 Oh stop it, you. (˘v˘· )¬

Look at all these beauties! Can't wait to try them all! *drools*

Steven was going to use the products provided to demonstrate.

Here are some key takeouts from the session (just those which can be understood through text):


Face:
  • For better coverage, apply concealer using your finger by dabbing it on, and not swiping it around.
  • Apply blush in a circular motion.
  • When filling in brows, smudge the parts near the nose down towards the nose bridge slightly to contour.

Eyes:
  • Always curl lashes before applying mascara, as curling after applying might damage the lashes if the mascara has fibres in it.
  • For stubborn lashes, heat up the lash curler slightly (with a lighter or something) before curling - for that perming effect.
  • Apply mascara in a zig-zag motion.

Lips:
  • If you're using a lip ink which comes with an applicator (like Peri Ink), you can control the amount better by using your finger to transfer the product from a spatula/applicator to your lips. This will create a subtle look suitable for daily wear. 

Steven and the two ladies he demonstrated on.

With coussie Rachel. I was wearing a little of Peri Ink. 

We were served food after the workshop, and I must highlight this waffle. It was so so souu good! Earl Grey ice-cream some more, my favorite!

So that was the event. Now it's time to review and test the products on my own. There are a couple that I really wanted to try. Alright, let's begin the rollcall!

The super adorable Physicians Formula Happy Booster blush! Look at the heart shapes! How can you not love? The name is not just for show, this product might really put a smile on your face as it is infused with Happy Boost Blend which features Happy Skin and Euphoryl, natural plant extracts which have been shown to promote a feeling of happiness by mimicking the effect of Endorphins. Sounds so canggih right, maybe I'll smile more often now :) Also, you might not be able to tell from the photo, but it has a mirror and brush inside + it smells so good!

Kate Powdery mousse BB. Similar to BB cream, only it's in mousse form which magically turns into powder and firmly adheres to skin.

Bourjois City radiance foundation. It is the first anti-pollution + skin care foundation, and has anti-grey formula with brightening effect. And of course, SPF 30 with PA+++.

Bourjois City radiance concealer. What I find interesting about this is that it uses water from the glaciers of Mont Blanc and hyaluronic acid to provide 24-hour hydration.

  • Maybelline Barbie mascara. Gives the fluffiest volume and extreme length thanks to its buildable and weightless properties. It contains Arginine serum for lash care too. Though it's not entirely waterproof (easy removal with warm water), it's smudgeproof.
  • Maybelline Power Black liner. If you think the previous Hypersharp liner (the yellow/gold capped one) was black, this is even more so - really intense blackness! The 0.5mm precise tip feels rather similar to the yellow/gold one when used. 

Kate Designing Eyebrow. Three shades for shading the eyebrow and nose bridge, or you can use it for face shading as well. 

Kate Forming Edge Eyes. The lightest shade is for highlight, which is often applied onto the inner corners of the eyes. The medium shade is for the entire eyelid, especially the centre. The darkest shade is for the creases of the eyelids and outer corners. But of course, with the tagline "No More Rules", feel free to use it anyhow you like. Kate is well-known for its strong pigments so you don't have to worry about looking all washed out.

Peripera Peri's Ink. Does this need further introduction? The widely-adored lip ink which is super pigmented and stays put for the longest time. You can go for low intensity using the method mentioned earlier in this post (don't apply it directly). If you're into the Korean tinted gradient lip look, this ink will make your life easier.

That's all for the product intro. I'm now going to show the before after for a few products, namely the Maybelline Power Black liner, Maybelline Barbie mascara, Physicians Formula Happy Booster blush and Peripera Peri's Ink.

 Face set using own concealer, eyebrow pencil and Casio portrait effect.

 Drew a simple liner with the Maybelline Power Black liner.

Pretty pleased with the outcome. For liquid liners, I usually have the problem of getting them super close to the lash line. But you can see in the photo above that there's no gap between the line and lash!

Tested the Maybelline Barbie mascara next. I know I said to curl your lashes before applying mascara, but I couldn't even find my lash curler so I skipped that entirely.

 Still look rather good! Suddenly my eyes are now prominent and.... fluffy? 

 And now, on to the adorable Physicians Formula Happy Booster blush. I feel like I can just omnomnomnom it.

Circular motion circular motion!

 Do I look happier now?

Finishing touch, Peripera Peri's Ink. Since I tried the subtle lip look during the event, this time I went for a fuller lip look by outlining the upper lip clearly. Love the outcome and the long-lastingness!

Look completed!

You guys can now easily purchase beauty products online, on www.watsons.com.my, in addition to the many other products sold there. Some products and brands are EXCLUSIVE to Watsons and Watsons online store only! Go see for yourself. 

Thanks again, Watsons Malaysia for providing this opportunity and experience. 

April 10th, 9AM - Tokyo Station.
Thank goodness I got here on time. I planned on leaving my Arakawa hostel by 7.30AM but didn't manage to until 8.20AMbecause I couldn't find the landlady. I had to power walk my way through the rush hour human traffic with my luggagewhich thankfully wasn't much, as you can see above. 

I was boarding the Nozomi N700 to Kyoto. 9.03AM and we were on the move.

Managed to grab myself a heated coffee while power walking earlier. Put it together with an onigiri, which I always have handy, and breakfast is served. 

Tip: If you're traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto on a shinkansen, try and sit on the right side, because that's the side where you get to see Mount Fuji. Unfortunately, I didn't know this earlier and sat on the left.

How fast is the shinkansen? Let's just say I felt as if I was on a plane that's about to leave the ground. For 3 hours. Well, we did make a few stops so there were times that it had to slow down to a halt.. but you get the idea.

The train ride got me rather emotional, I was thanking Tokyo for its glory and beauty, at the same time zooming past different breathtaking sceneries. I compiled some shots I took in the shinkansen into a short video, here you go:



April 10th, 1PM - Kyoto.
I was staying at a shared room from Airbnb, located right next to Philospher's Path. I got lucky with this booking! When I was looking for a place to stay in Kyoto 2 weeks before my trip, all hotels and even Airbnb are fully booked. I kept checking back everyday and one day, this little gem of a place appeared! 

Settled in nicely, prepped a little and ready to explore Kyoto!


Since I just got here, decided to take it easy and just walk around the neighbourhood for a bit. Yup, no destination in mind.

There's something about Kyoto. Everything here looks neat, refined, muted (including the colours) and... zen. All the houses in the neighbourhood look like they're coordinatednot one stands out, but doesn't mean they're identical. And they all have awesomely-maintained gardens! I would say an OCD person might just love this place. 

To further elaborate.. Sylke, a German traveller whom I met back in Tokyo, told me that Kyoto managed to get authorisation to alter the colour of their McDonalds simply because the signature bright red does not match their town's look and feel. They did this at least 10 years ago. So, I made it a point to look for a McDonalds, just to see it for myself:

Yep.

Taken by my iPhone 5S, 100% no edit at all.

Another thing about Kyoto is that, if you're walking around at a cosy neighbourhood (like the one I was staying in), a wild shrine will appear 60% of the time, every time. Kyoto is after all, known for having "thousands of classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses." << right off Google

This one that I came across coincidentally is the Okazaki Shrine, which is believed to hold the god and goddess of easy childbirth.

I was the only person in the areasomething that almost never happen in Tokyo, so I really took my own sweet time to capture some photos.




The next one I stumbled upon is the Okazaki Betsuin Temple, I think. I'm only remembering these names because I took photos of signboards as well, but they may be matched incorrectly.



I also came across several cemeteries, which were all equally beautiful but I didn't take any photos. So... here, take a couple more plant photos:



And finally, a photo of a dog resting in a house. Gosh I'm such a creep.

I'm going to stop here. This post is really just an intro to Kyoto, just to give you a feel of it. Next up, some main attractions in Kyoto such as Honen-in Temple, Philosopher's Path and Gion.

Oyasuminasai~ (‘∀’●)♡




ALL JAPAN 2015 POSTS:
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)

You might have heard this before, but I'm going to say it again: Getting a JR pass is a smart move, especially if you're traveling between regions. Eg. Between Kanto (where Tokyo is) and Kansai (where Kyoto and Osaka are). To illustrate, let's see how much a one-way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto costs without JR pass.

How to check train fares online?
I always check fares on www.hyperdia.com:

Just insert the station names and...

You will see several routes you can take, along with the time and money needed. 

In this case, you'll see that a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto via bullet train will take 138 minutes and JPY 14,110 (≈ MYR 515). Throw in a trip from Kyoto to Osaka and all the other necessary trips in between and you'll see that a JR pass is very well worth it.

How much is a JR pass and what are the different types of JR passes?
A 1-week JR pass will cost you about USD 253 (≈ MYR 1030). 1 WEEK! UNLIMITED RIDES ON JR TRAINS INCLUDING THE BULLET TRAIN! Of course, this is the price of an ordinary JR pass which is more than enough. The other type is the green first-class, which gets you access to a first-class bullet train. There are also region-specific JR passes, but if you're traveling between regions, it's better to get the full JR pass (the one that I elaborated above). 

You can find out more and purchase JR passes on www.japan-rail-pass.com but I usually prefer to get those passes in person, just so I can avoid paying those extra USDs for shipping. 

How and where to purchase JR pass in Malaysia?
There's this place in KL near Times Square and Lowyat. Remember to pay with cash if you want to avoid the extra fee for card transactions.

Japan Travel Bureau (M) Sdn Bhd
16th Floor, Amoda Bulding,
Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan.
Phone: 03-2141 6866 / 03-2141 9991
Business hours: Weekdays 9am – 5.30pm, Saturdays 9am – 12.30pm,
Closed on Sundays and public holidays.

There are actually more locations you can get the passes from (including Penang and KK), visit www.jnto.org.sg/japan_rail_pass_malaysia.html for the list.

You're not done! The purchase will give you a ticket, which you will need to exchange for the actual pass itself in JR stations in Japan. Some notes taken from JNTO website:
  • The validity period of a Japan Rail Pass is the consecutive 7, 14 or 21 days beginning on the date the Pass is first used.
  • Within 3 months from the date the Exchange Order was issued, you must turn in your Exchange Order to obtain your Japan Rail Pass. At that time, you have to specify the date that you want to start using the Pass. It can be any date within one month from the date the Pass is received.
  • Once the Pass has a starting date written on it, the date cannot be changed.
I booked my Japan's accommodation only 1-2 weeks before the trip. It's not easy to secure your accommodation during Spring, checked most of the hotels and they're either fully booked, capsule hotels or way too expensive. Also, because I had a shoestring budget, I resorted to Airbnb. Managed to book Tokyo and Osaka's in a breeze but had slight difficulty with Kyoto (fully booked even on Airbnb). Thankfully, something showed up at the very last minute.

Let's talk about Tokyo's accommodation first. I booked one in Arakawa, and it was a specialised guesthoust. I elaborated on it a little (with pictures) in my first blogpost (here).

On my last night in the guesthouse, I decided to take more pictures of the place.

The place had several flights of stairs and the owners stayed on the highest floor. You can't really tell from this photo but the steps were rather steep. Lugging huge luggage upstairs would be difficult, but most guests here are backpackers anyway.

 On every floor, there's this DIY "container" with multiple rooms inside. I'm guessing the owners cleared out the few extra floors they had, and constructed a "container" on each floor. Each container can house about 15 rooms I guess? Remember how small the rooms were?

More rooms to come maybe?

 Here's how the inside of the "container" looks like, in one of the hallway (there were about 2-3 hallways in each "container"). At the end of the hallway is a heater which is turned on at night. From here you can kind of see that the "rooms" are really really very close to each other, and there are no actual ceilings for the rooms. 

So yes, everyone hears everything. I know when someone is hungry at 1AM from the sound of chips packet being opened which then followed by crunch crunch crunch. I myself got hungry one night and decided to eat an onigiri I bought from the convenience store. Super self-conscious lor, how can this flimsy plastic wrap make so much noise?? Even my chewing sounded loud.

 The rooftop is where I find solace.The neighborhood is rather peaceful and you can the Skytree nicely lit up at night.

***
Verdict? 8/10.

I would come back again for a short stay. If it was a longer stay, I'd prefer somewhere more spacious. I've listed the plus point below. The not-so-plus point is the accessibility, the place is a walkable distance from a train station. But you will always have to take the train for several stations before arriving at a more popular ward (like Shibuya, Shinjuku etc.)

Here's the listing but they must have recently updated it with new photos and categories of room. The photos on the current listing does not show the category that I stayed in (economy room). If you'd like more privacy and comfort, they have single and deluxe rooms too! 

I would recommend it for the:
  • Friendliness of hosts (Tom and Kimi) - They really are the sweetest hosts you'll get. They are also very willing to assist with your travel plans if you ask.
  • Communal area - Hosting mostly backpackers, sometimes the guests just sit around and talk to each other about their experiences and plans. 
  • Affordability - The lower range rooms are really really cheap and the one I took was good enough for me. Though it may look a little messy and cramped in my photos, it's well maintained and clean.




ALL JAPAN 2015 POSTS:
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)