The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps

“The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps” – the title that attracted my attention on my flight to Japan. One I was glad I watched under the cover of darkness.


Synopsis: (from AsianWiki)
Kaoruko Harima (Ryoko Shinohara) has two children. She lives separately from her husband Kazuaki (Hidetoshi Nishijima). They have agreed to divorce after their daughter’s exam for elementary school finishes. One day, they learn that their daughter drowned in a swimming pool. The doctor informs them that their daughter is brain dead and does not have a chance to recover. The couple has two choices. One choice is to donate Mizuho’s organs to others in need and their other choice is to wait until Mizuho’s heart stops beating.


I do not read the movie synopsis on the flight entertainment system – I thought “interesting title!”, and hey I was bored…so I clicked on it and watched. I did not expect to cry, nor was I looking forward to crying over a movie – but I did, maybe just a little.

The movie started just like any basic tragedy sob drama, victim was an angel, the accident, failing family dynamics, and whatnot. But as the story goes, it got deeper and deeper, and finally, the climax – pulled my heartstrings. As the climax happened, my eyes were watery. There was much dramatic and trite sayings and yet it was undoing my heartstrings.

The movie touched on the weirdness of Japan’s health system – leading to the hard choices that parents has to make and ultimately, those options meant nothing as either way the child is dead. It is tragic – essentially the parents’ options was to determine the cause of their child’s death. Though, I have not looked into the legality of such cases in other countries – it is still a sad choice for a parent to make.

The movie also taught me about “false hope”. “Giving” hope to others may sound good – but it may just be the thing that pushes someone over the edge. Sometimes it is better to be honest, no matter how painful that truth can be. A false hope, is just that – “false”. It is not real, it is not attainable and it hurts when it does not come through.

The movie also brushed on the rights of a comatose of a patient. Is it right to move, and play with their bodies just like you would to a doll? Making her smile – when we do not know if she would smile in that situation. (FYI that smiling scene would make a great origin story for a horror movie. For a second I thought the movie would shift gear and turn into one.)

“If she were to die by my hands…am I a murderer? If she is dead, then you (legal system) cannot make me to be a murderer. I will gladly bloody my hands because…

I need that affirmation.”

The climax – where the mother fell apart, showcases the various learning points of the movie. In it, she decides the fate of her child – is she alive or is she dead. Her desire for that affirmation was due to the false hope given to her by the people around her – telling her that the child might wake up one day and yet that same people felt that it will never happen. She needed to know – she needed proof. So she gladly accept whatever the system would label her as, because it is proof that marks the status of her daughter.

The only gripe I had with the movie was how it handled that passing of the daughter. Not only was it trite, it was also unrealistic. No 6 year old would be that mature. The scene played out more to what the mother would want to hear, in order to let go of her daughter. The scene (to me) did not play out to be where the spirit of a child parting with her mother. But then again, I have never encountered such 6 year olds. Maybe it would make more sense if I had met such a 6 year old.

I recently found out that the movie is based on a Japanese novel. After googling around, I could not find a translated version. Well, I hope to be able to read the novel someday and get the story as whole.

Overall, it a deep, dramatic story. I am not a parent and yet it touched my heart. I would expect that if a parent should watch this movie, they would be able to relate to it more than I did. Heck, anyone in need to release their tear ducts and where a sob is overdue – should watch this.

Parangtritis Beach, Yogyakarta [Yogyakarta, Indonesia]

Pameran Lukisan senandung ibu pertiwi 4
Lukisan Basuki Abdullah, Nyai Roro Kidul. nyairorokidul.com

As all southern coast of Java, Parangtritis is famously linked to the legends of Nyai Roro Kidul, the goddess and queen of the southern seas. In fact, the name of the resort is an obvious homage to the goddess. There is a local belief that wearing green garments would anger the goddess and misfortune will befall on the wearer, and so I avoided packing anything green lest I incur the wrath of a goddess.

 

 

For this trip, our choice of stay was at the Queen of the South Resort. The resort is located right at the Parangtritis Beach.

The resort offers small houses to use as rooms. Actually, there are expansion projects where wooden cottages are being built to accommodate more guests. The houses offers the standard rooms you find in a hotel.

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Sure..it is “instagram-able” but…

I would avoid booking the VIP suite. It is all nice and all, but fall short on luxurious. I booked my parents in the VIP suite and they found that the wooden ceiling to be rotten, and overall just feels that it has been a long time the place had any sort of maintenance, apart from the cleaning before guests comes in. They do however, have a private infinity pool to use, which was nice – very nice. With maintenance, it could be the choice romantic getaway stay for couples.

As it is a private beach section of the resort, it was beautiful and expansive where guests could enjoy activities without the crowd of people. 2018-09-09 16.50.19

We stayed on the beach till sunset, and off we go climbing up those blasted stairs. Out of breath, we made our way to the center of the resort where they have the dining space. The hotel provides dinner and a bar. Dinner was mediocre at best, but the crew the time of their lives nonetheless. They sang, danced and chatted the night away.

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Japan Trip 2019 Snapshot

Day 1

  • Osaka Aquarium
  • Osaka Port – Tempozan Marketplace & Ferris Wheel

Day 2

  • Universal Studios Japan
  • Universal City Walk – TakoPa & JUMP Shop
  • Dotonbori

Day 3

  • Off to the Hokkaido Prefecture – Seikan Tunnel
  • Hakodate

Day 4

Sapporo City

  • Sapporo Beer Museum
  • Tanukikoji Shopping Street
  • Ski Jump Stadium
  • Mt.Moiwa

Day 5

  • Maruyama Park – Photoshoot
  • Otaru
    • Music Box Museum
    • Otaru Canal
    • Sakaimichi Street
    • Shukutsu Panorama Observatory
  • Shiroi Koibito Park

Day 6

  • Arashiyama Zoo
  • Asahikawa Ramen Village
  • Snow Fight

Day 7

  • Off to Kanto
  • Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku – Ichiran Ramen & Robot Restaurant

Day 8

  • Meiji Shrine
  • Takeshima Street, Harajuku
  • Omotesando Hills
  • Shibuya
  • Meguro River

Day 9

  • Samurai Museum – Shinjuku
  • Togoshi Ginza
  • Don Quixote, Shibuya
  • Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku

Day 10

  • Ueno Park
  • Bentendo Shrine
  • Akihabara & Square Enix Cafe
  • Pokemon Tokyo DX & Cafe, Nihonbashi

Puncak Becici, Yogyakarta [Yogyakarta, Indonesia]

After having breakfast at the famous Soto Kadipiro, we made our way to Puncak Becici.

2018-09-09 09.29.15 - Copy (2).jpegPuncak Becici is a scenic hill covered with pine trees. Locals used to climb to the peak to view the nearby town. The locals have also used to gather the saps of the pine trees to make turpentine. After years of gathering, the local site management – RPH Manungan decided to protect the hill. And henceforth, the site has become one of the many tourist, instead of a pine tree harvest site.

2018-09-09 09.32.55.jpegAs we enter the site, the map shows that tourists are able to rent a off-road bike/buggy to tour around the hill or you can hike on-foot to the peak.

 

 

 

The site have also undergone renovation. The once nature sanctum was invaded with human infrastructures such as: shops and stands, hammocks, camping grounds, swings…

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It would be a nice place to unwind. Just relaxing with a breeze blowing through the pine trees. Sunlight peeking through the towering pine trees….

But that was just my imagination.

As the sea of human crowd shattered that beautiful silence, my imagination too..have diminished.

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It was no wonder that the camping grounds were empty

– It was impossible to relax amidst the crowd.

2018-09-09 10.20.06The crowd was mostly your average tourist and so – the peak is the road less traveled. It was not a hard climb, in fact, it is a well-made pathway. The crowd centered on the lower areas with the hammocks and shops. It is a wonder why not many climbed to the peak. And so I made my way up.

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And at the peak, you can see the nearby town. It was not a magnificent view of the town but still, the feeling of being above the town, and the refreshing wind blowing on your face – It is a feeling of exhilaration all the same.

Soto Kadipiro, Yogyakarta [Yogyakarta, Indonesia]

2018-09-09 04.40.02We departed from Gambir station of Jakarta and arrived at Yogyakarta at 0438. It was an 8 hour train ride. Sleepy-eyed, we waited for our bus. The bus was late – VERY LATE. Due to miscommunication, the bus was scheduled to arrive at 0700. And so we waited…

The train station was empty, with sudden crowds dispersing from trains that just arrived and it is all quiet again. Food stalls have just started to open, there was no food to be consumed. Empty stomach, sleepy and tired, we continued resting at the seats, next to the railway.

And finally, our long awaited bus have arrived. Our first destination was to fill our empty bellies. What is the best solution to our belly predicament?

The popular ‘Soto Kadipiro’ – the legendary food that every tourist that set foot in Yogyakarta should not miss. It was established at 1921, a popular family-run restaurant, it grew to 4 branches along Jalan Wates. Each branch is run by a family member, headed by Bapak(Mr.) Karto Wijoyo, where his secret recipe spearheaded the popular local dish. What makes ‘Soto Kadipiro’ different from the Indonesian dish ‘Soto”?

‘Soto Kadipiro’ includes the usual ingredients, added local ingredients, and blended together with the secrets of Bapak Karto Wijoyo.

‘Soto Kadipiro’ also maintained its traditional atmosphere by serving beverages in glass bottles. The shop also displays traditional Javanese ornaments, making it a treasure for the local tourism.

Our crew has nothing but positive notes on our legendary breakfast. Our tummies filled – we boarded the bus and make our way to our next destination: Puncak Becici.

Goodbye My Friend

You were my first pet dog,
You were my first friend when I got back to Jakarta,
And today,
You became my first friend to have left me…

Growing up in a foreign country – the year 2009 was my first time living in Jakarta for a long term. I was worried that I would not be able to make friends. I was scared that I would not get along with my parents. With crappy, I was nervous. Although I expected that I would be lonely – I did not expect that you would come into my life. You were my first pet dog. You became my first friend here.

I remember the days that I struggle with living with my family for the first time. I felt caged, unfamiliar and unsettled. Most days I would long for the day where I would depart for college – to Melbourne.

You were taken away from me when I left for Melbourne.
You were given away when I was in Melbourne.
Sometimes, I wished that I have taken you back home…
Sometimes, I wished I could have taken care of you…
But, I could not subject you to another long journey,
But, I could not bear to take you away from the people who loves you.

But I am glad for you to have found a loving family that takes very good care of you until today.

today,

I reminisce the moments when you would snuggle beside me, listening as I pour my heart out – my feelings, my crush, my struggle.

I reminisce the time when you peed all over my homework and I finally got the opportunity to use the excuse that “my dog peed on my homework.”

I reminisce the day when you licked my tears off my face after bouts with my dad, and when I felt lonely, I would lift you up and you would stare at me with those eyes – eyes that somehow felt reassuring.

I reminisce the bedtimes where I would always feel something warm and nice beside me.

And now – with a heavy heart, I say to you, Dogi…

Goodbye my friend. Rest in Peace.

Compassion, Skepticism [and Hypnotism]

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As I was heading down the escalator after gym, a thin man and his young son approached me. With shame and fear, his voice stutters as he tried to talk to me. I wanted to keep moving, keep walking away from this suspicious man. But I could not. And so I stopped and listened to his tale.

His story was that he and his son was kicked out of the house by his in-laws, without any of his belongings or his child’s. As I did not want to pry, I did not question as to what happened, but it was heartless of them to kick their grandchild along with the man. Anyway – the pair wanted to ride the economy bus to return to his side of family. However, they are short of cash for the ride. They just needed a little bit more – just Rp. 60,000 (roughly $4USD). Of course, what kind of person would I be if I were to refuse handing out a mere sum for them. And so I did. They were very thankful, and headed out to find their bus.
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Of course, this story is not something to write home about. It was a mere small act of kindness. However, still a tale to share with the family – something interesting that happened in my mundane life. As I ended my story, I expected warm responses and a glimmer of tiny pride.
That was not the case. Instead, I was met with questions of distrust towards that poor man and his son.

“What did he look like?”
– A man that needed help.

“You know you can judge a scam by the way they dress?”
– He is dressed like any other men.

“I think you were scammed.”
– It is his own conscious he is toying with. I gave out of compassion.

“He is going to keep scamming people over there.”
– The mall security will catch him then.

“It is a scam, what a waste of money.”
– It is not going to affect my life adversely.

“What if he hypnotizes you?”

Really? I am already a skeptic on the whole hypnotism thing, and besides he would be a master magician if he could hypnotize someone just by staring, touching or spouting key words. Heck, he will be a superhero like The Rumor (of The Umbrella Academy).

 

However, this distrust was not unwarranted. In Indonesia – a country already rife with high petty crimes and  mysticism, believes that such occurrence could happen. The media reports on crimes that the victim believes that was perpetrated by the use of mysticism – hypnotism being the most common occurrence. These crimes were administered through acts such as the staring, and touching – to which,  believe were not possible unless the perpetrators has special gifts and should be scouted by Professor X.

The sad part is…that this resulted in compassion being always met with skepticism.
Strangers grow to distrust one another – the kind believes that there is always an ulterior motive(the bad kind), the needy ashamed and misunderstood. Acts of kindness are seen as weaknesses. The needy – abundant and yet no one would help for the fear of becoming a victim of tricksters.

The Big WHY – Fitness

I have always been the bigger child in my class. And I definitely never excelled in anything physical. I would rather stay at home, on my video games. So why is this fat, lazy kid contemplating on getting fit now?

In one’s heart of hearts, I have always knew what I wanted from getting fit. But is it compelling enough? Is it dumb? weird? embarrassing?. I have stalked the webs on why people get into fitness. Of course, I have found that people do have very compelling reasons to go into fitness. Might not be as deep as others, but I found that people DO have similar reasoning as mine. So here are mine:

Health. Ok – my body IS not functioning as it used to be. I have gout, hellishly dry skin and on the brink of being a type 2 diabetes. My body felt ruined. I do not feel healthy at all. All I want to do is to sleep though the hours. I get tired very easily. I want to feel energized – to get through the day without contemplating on avoiding or procrastinating on things I can get done. I want to do the things without sickness at the back of my mind, gnawing and stopping me from doing.

Mindfulness. I sometimes find myself having sleepless nights, my mind racing on stupid things I have done, or the crap things I said – when I was 10. Sometimes, my mind would go into the dark side – my failures, my life, my worth…”what if it all ended”. Maybe I do have depression, maybe not. I do not know. But I hate it – I want it to end. For years I have used gaming and reading to escape my dark thoughts. However, as I get older, it does not seem to work as well. “Physically punch out your dark thoughts unto a punching bag, lift it up and let it go as the barbell drop.” – sounds nice, just what I want to do.

Confidence. This. This is the most compelling reason for me. I feel that my lack of confidence have stopped me from doing all kinds of things. It stopped me from – reuniting with old friends, making new friends, trying new things, taking selfies as I travel to new places, getting better on my job – many, many things. I want to lift my shirt up without feeling the non-existential judgement that I subject unto myself . I want to feel free, happy and confident.

“I want to be fit” Writing it down is easy. To follow through – that is hard. But now that I have established my reason for doing it, I will have something to lean on when the going gets tough. Here is to getting the better version of myself. And I hope that this blog can reflect this growth – something that my eyes can affirm, and my heart filled with the warm, fuzzy feelings of accomplishment.

YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG [PC]

A buyer’s remorse. My first for 2019. There goes my new year’s resolution to regret less. The trailer – even with the usual RPG trope- made the story seemed cool. Of course, I have only been playing for 15 hours, and therefore, I could not judge how well the story is. However, – after those 15 hours, I could no longer push through to end the game. Why? Alex and Gameplay.

Story

YIIK – pronounced as Y-2-K. I have been pronouncing it as “Yeek” but the game setting was in 1999, and there was even a dialogue about Y2K. To which then I realized that the title was Y-2-K. Full ofhipster trope, the game delve into the minds of young adults and their young adult problems. Characters are worried about getting a job after college. They talk about the economy and how shitty it was for them. Heck, even one of the character had protest boards for weapon. And of course, Y2K.

The blatant problem was the main character. Evident in the many YIIK reviews and discussion, Alex is an ASS. And to that, I agree. He is a lazy ingrate, raised by a single mother who in the game got laid off and yet, would not jump on any opportunity to contribute. He has a “me,me me” attitude. He yelled at his mother for finishing his college fund, to which he used up for not graduating on time. The whole “after the sewers Alex and Rory” scene was very painful to watch. I felt like socking Alex in the face for saying such insensitive things to a guy who lost his sister to suicide. In the words of Vella, Alex is an “entitled little brat”. Granted that I have not finished the game – I could not say if Alex would develop into a likeable character or not. He actually did have a few scenes where his inner thought would tell him off. Maybe he will grow up near the endgame.

TDLR; His outbursts and selfishness is actually very grating and would put me off from continuing the game – not as much as the gameplay though.

The Game

YIIK has a unique, psychedelic kind of atmosphere going on – the art, the dubstep music, the colors, and the strangeness. The story would be one called “woke” these days. And it is too unique. Something like a breath of fresh air in the RPG gaming scene. However, too much technicality that one would find it frustrating.

The battles are tedious AF. Every action constitutes a different mini-game. I mean I get it as this game is considered to be under the same umbrella as Undertale. However, Undertale does not require the grinding of level. YIIK does. This resulted to a very tedious gameplay. Enemies are also not scaled well for players who does not want to grind. Random enemies are available on the overworld, however, dungeons have enemies that does not respawn. This meant that sometimes we would reach a boss fight without the necessary power. Enemies also have higher HP levels and also deals more damage, compared to the party members. For instance, I have been increasing the STR level of Alex, only to have him deal the same damage as when he has lower STR level, however enemies would deal increasing damage as the game continues. When attacking, players would be playing a mini-game to gain “combos” which did not matter much. We could have achieved a 10 hit combo and it would deal a measly 1 damage difference as to when we only did a 5 hit combo. The reward for hitting combos was not there. Character skills are USELESS most of the time. Alex never put any enemies to sleep with his skill, Vella’s heal skill was crap, Michael Quick Snapping deal shitty damage. Chondra’s only useful skill was to spread the effects of items. And speaking about items, the healing items heals based on percentage. And therefore, are not rewarding to use as your HP level is low. Highest I could go on my playthough was 25 HP, which meant that a 50% item would heal 12 HP whilst the enemy bosses are hitting me at 14 a hit. Defending and dodging requires us to do a DDR kind of mini-game, and therefore, DEF status does little to mitigate damage. Items are useless because just to survive I would have to pop one of the expensive item (at that current time) almost every turn. All these combined resulted into a very tedious combat system.

TDLR; crappy battle system, too much mini-games involved, every fight is a long flight thanks to battle system, long fights makes grinding levels a pain, grinding levels is sometimes needed to advance. And I searched the webs for solutions and to which I realized that a lot of reviews are basically saying the same glaring problem – a tedious gameplay.

Final Thought

And also that the only solution to getting over that boss was to grind a few more levels, and to that I said no. I am not grinding when a battle against a normal encounter could last more than 5 minutes, depending on our performance on the attacking mini-game, it could be more. It is frustrating and infuriating.

For RPG gamers looking for a unique experience from a JRPG, YIIK is more than capable for providing that. Heck, if the developers would change the battle system, I am more than happy to give YIIK another go. But for now, in the words of Ariana Grande –

“Thank you, next.”

Hogsmeade Cafe, Daegu [Yeongnam, South Korea]

20170216_133554“Why Daegu?” – My friends questioned my decision for my trip to this quiet city in South Korea.

My sole reason of going to Daegu was mainly to go to Hogsmeade Cafe – a themed cafe based off – you guessed it – Harry Potter. [Hogsmeade is the name of an only all-wizarding village.] And so far, it is the only Harry Potter themed cafe to be established in South Korea. And potterheads in South Korea are raving all about the cafe on their blogs!

As I make my way to Gyeongsan from Daegu (man…I should have taken the ITX from Seoul to Gyeongsan station, which was right across the neighborhood where Hogsmeade was at.) I realized that the cafe was situated smack dab in the heart of a residential area, with tall apartment blocks surrounding the area. And hills too!

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Eyes switching from the road, to the map. After a few wrong turns, at last I found it – Hogsmeade Cafe. Where is it? The map showed that it was near a school and so, I let the sounds of children playing to guide me there. And there it was, right in front of the school gates.

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The cafe has a cozy atmosphere to it. It was dimly lit with brown cabin-like feeling to it. There was a digital(?) fireplace and the top, adorned with wizarding artifacts. From books to a potion apparatus, to details like wands, sorting hat and Potter’s glasses. There was also a huge Gryffindor tapestry, with the smaller Slytherin tapestry hanging from the ceiling.

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the Nimbus 2000, where patrons could grab a robe and scarf and pose for a picture. How neat!

20170216_134250After taking in the sights, I made my way to the counter and placed my order of ‘Tiramisu and Butterbeer’. I am no cake/desert connoissuer but the tiramisu was not great. But the Butterbeer is of more importance! It is after all, the only place in South Korea serving Butterbeer (as far as I could tell). Butterbeer, despite its name, is not beer. I am sure the potterheads who has been tot he Wizarding World in Universal Studios, would know but for those who don’t – it is a non-alcoholic sweet, butterscotch soda drink. Very sweet. And with the added chocolate chips on top, it was very, very sweet.

It was 2pm, I expected it to be busier as the nearby school has ended its’ classes. But alas, there were only the 4 of us – 2 visitors (and from their shenanigans, they  must be fellow travelers), the barista and me. For the next hour, I sat there – reading my book, ingesting my Butterbeer and watching the potter-struck travelers. With the constant kpop music playing, the magic of a Harry Potter themed cafe has slowly dissipated. And also having satisfied my potterhead side, I left the cafe and made my way back to Daegu.

PS. with my limited Korean language knowledge, I spotted a sign saying that the cafe would be renamed to “King’s Cross in Urban”. Makes me wonder if they had a trademark issue as I understand that the word “Hogsmeade” has been trademarked by Warner Brothers.

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Well, you can ask them yourselves. Here is their Facebook Page: 호그스미드

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