January 20, 2014

Beauty on Earth : Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kyoto Omiya Imperial Palace, Sento Imperial Palace - Kyoto, Japan

Warning : Lots of beautiful pictures ahead.

On my last trip to Japan, Rockstar and I managed to visit Kyoto and a visit to Kyoto is not complete without visiting the Imperial Palace. It was so beautiful!!!!! One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The weather was perfect. We did get caught in a couple of light drizzle but ducking into small shops bursting to the brim with all sort of delectable knick-knacks were a great way to pass time. 

We entered the grounds of the Imperial Palace via the south east gate and stroll through the outer public garden before reaching the palaces. 

South East Entrance

A beautiful apple green coloured tree.

One of the many beautiful walkways in the park

An old gnarled tree near the office

A tiny gate hidden along a small walkway that we spotted. Didn't managed to explore as we were short on time :(

Sunlight shining but the forest below remind hidden from its rays

The wide pathway right in the middle of the garden

Even though lots of website says that we will need to reserve our visition slot at least 3 months in advance (which we did not), we still managed to get slots. Thank God for that. We just walked right up to the office, located on the north west corner of the garden and decided on which slots we wanted. 

We visited the Kyoto Imperial Place early the next morning. Sadly, I could not find  any of the pictures I took there. Not sure what happened to them :(

That same afternoon, we visited the The Kyoto Omiya Palace and Sento Imperial Palace . It's located in the same area. The Kyoto Omiya Palace is build for the empress dowager to live in and the Sento Imperial Palace is the garden adjourning to the Kyoto Omiya Palace. The structure were destroyed by blaze and were never rebuild. What remains was only 2 tea-houses located in the garden. This tour only came in Japanese but thankfully we were provided with English audio guide free. 

The Kyoto Omiya Palace carriage house. It's the entrance where guest were dropped off from their carriages. 

Closer look at the Kyoto Omiya Palace roof

First glimpse of the Sento Imperial Palace. What a beautiful serene place!

Trees changing colours. Autumn is almost here. 

Sento Imperial Garden is a national heritage and we were not allowed to stray off the path. 

A bridge hidden by the foliage

One of the number of bridges we cross. They all had different names to signify different meanings. 


Stayed behind the group so that I could take more photos of this beautiful garden. 

Ducks 'duh!'

The wisteria trellis covered bridge right in the middle of the garden

I think that is the 'Bridge with Eight Stones' or something like that

Yet another bridge :)

The one and only tiny waterfall in the garden

The stone covered ocean beach. The story behind is that the stones were carried from afar and each person/village that carried a stone to this garden were paid with 1 bag of rice. The beach is called the '1000 bag of rice beach' or something like that. 

A far end look at the south pond, the ocean shore and the wisteria trellis covered bridge

A macro shot of the tiny mosses covering almost the entire grounds. They take great care in maintaining the growth of the moss as its a national heritage/

Far end of the pond opposite the ocean shore. Such beautiful colours!
We had to leave when the tour completed. None was allowed to stay in the garden. As we walked out, Rockstar and I were awe to silence. Just playing images in our mind. Thank God for camera to capture the beauty of the gardens although I got to say that what I captured were just mere representation of the actual beauty. 

A structure resting quietly beside a pond in the public garden area

Homeward Hotel bound

January 9, 2014

Kyoto, Japan - Teramachi Street

I had the opportunity to visit Kyoto a few months back. Unlike Osaka and Tokyo, Kyoto manages to still retain its old town charm - laid back and quaint. One of the tourist spot is the Teramachi Street, an covered shopping street. This is also where the fame Nishiki Market is located. 

What quite a number of people do not know is that Teramachi Street continues, uncovered, up north. Since Rockstar and I  wanted to visit the Imperial Palace Gardens, we decided to walk instead of taking the train. And I'm glad we did... North of Teramachi Street holds tiny quiet streets, quirky little shops, and just everything old. We spotted old folks going about their daily lives, locals cycling around, kids running along the street unaccompanied after school. Whats so exciting is that everything is just so normal and quiet, and i felt like I've fallen into a different time zone. 

Beautiful colours along the main road

An old lady walked passed as I snapped a picture of the bookstore

Straight, peaceful streets

All sorts of wares and treasures to be found

Bicycles parked outside what seems to be an antique/ thrift/ junk store

Another quirky shop selling knick knacks and tribal wares
This store sheltered us from the rain. How I wished their beautiful accessories weren't so darn expensive.  
This is the covered shopping street of Teramachi. See the vast differences? Modern and new with lots of brands, convenience stores and hawkers. If I have to take my pick, I'll choose the north side of Teramchi as a must visit. Oh well, both is good, just different. But if the weather is good, take a stroll up Teramachi Street. You'll find yourself experiencing more of what Kyoto has to offer. 

Covered shopping street of Teramachi

Another angle to the street. Black and white. 

Lot's of people. Lots of eye candy. 

An entertainment outlet on Teramachi Street

January 6, 2014

A day in Kota Kinabalu

Hello everybodyyyyy!!! I'm back... How have your new year been? I ended mine with a bang!! High up at the peak of Mt. Kinabalu. It's absolutely beautiful up there but I couldn't feel my legs after. Anyway, after we got down, we had a day to spare before flying back to Kuala Lumpur. We decided to be adventurous... afterall, we had just conquered Mt. Kinabalu. 

After turning down an overpriced taxi, we decide to catch a local bus to the city center. Catch my foot!!! It sure was a funny sight as a bunch of sore thighs people half walk-ran across the road to catch the bus. After settling in our seats, it was a drowsy ride as the old-school rickety bus slowly lumbered along the road. We 'jingled' the bus driver when it was near to our stop. 

First stop, lunch!!! We found ourselves at Kedai Kopi Yee Fung, fame for its Sabah Laksa. Since there was 4 of us, we decided to order 1 of each dish - Yee Fung Laksa, Yee Fung Ngau Chap and Claypot Chicken rice to share. Simple, delicious and unique. Very unlike the laksa back home. 

Lunchat Kedai Kopi Yee Fung

Teh Maderas Ping

After a satisfying lunch, we rambled around Kota Kinabalu City Center. From Gaya Street, we walked towards Kampung Air and stopped for a mini cup of ice milk tea. Then it was off towards Sinsuran where we spotted a poor God of Wealth and smiley faces. Finally, we arrived at the Handicraft Market and spend some time shopping, chatting with the locals and just watching them live. 

I'm sure the God of Wealth could spare you some cash to fix your old sign.

Capturing smiling faces always makes my day. That's not me. I'm behind the lens. 

Playing Uno. Just like what we do back home. 

Rows of Sewing Men...

Monkeys strung on a string.. 

Fisher boats resting in the sun

Carefree moments..

These bananas are huge. Almost double the banana size back home. 

Malay kuihs. Getting ready for Pasar Malam. Yummy!

Friendly old man stirring his goreng pisang batter

Can you hear me. Can you talk to me. Can you see me. 

Colours. Freedom. Unity. 

We ended the trip with fresh coconuts at a roadside stall. Sadly, we had to leave before the Pasar Malam opens. Oh, how I wish I could wait and watch the place come to live. 

We caught the free shuttle bus from Warisan Mall (in front of the Waterfront) back to 1Borneo Mall. Walking around with sore thighs, calves, feet and wobbly knees is no fun... but I gotta say that it was a beautiful day. Perfect way to end my trip to Kota Kinabalu. 

I will be back someday. So much more to explore.