Thursday, May 23, 2013 :: Japan Travelogue Day 3 & 4

Before I start this entry, I would like to send my heartfelt appreciation to the kind souls whom have taken time to drop a message, email and even called me to send encouragements my way. There were just too many to mention here but on a particular Sunday right after church service, John and I received so many messages checking after us and sending reassurance our way. God’s grace is indeed amazing. The outpouring of love that we have received in the seemingly darkest time became our strength and we have emerged even stronger and determined than before. Looking back, the severity of the situation seemed to be only 1/10 and there is no need for me, for us, to be bothered to defend because the encouragements we have received is the best assurance that we have been walking the right path all along. 
It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up and if I can quote Lawrence G. Lovasik, "It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenseless one. Only the ignorant and narrow-minded gossip, for they speak of persons instead of things.” Stand in front of me and say it right in my face, then I will deal with the situation, with you and your group of friends. 
And never have I worn a smirk wider than now. 
Finally found time to sieve out the photos and prepare this post – ironically, during my holiday in Taiwan. 
Looking through these photos, I have never been more glad that I headed out the night before this trip to get the awesome SamsungE EX2F camera. About 60% of my Japan photos are unedited because the color is already bright and vibrant – that is if you know how to adjust the right settings. The first photo of this post is unedited. The vibrancy of the colors is just too stunning! My only complain is, the makeup or face smoothing function makes the face overly smooth and doll-like. A little less of the blurred effect on the face would be perfect!

The same ol’ Yoshinoya beef bowl every morning. It was that good to have it every single day!


Dear John is a pretty shy and soft-spoken man (unless provoked haha) and he is not the sort of man who will stand in the public holding a bouquet of roses. If he had to do that, his face will be flushed red – even redder than the Singapore flag. In the past, he would place bouquets of roses in all impossible locations like in the car seat, in the car boot, in the bed, what else, oh in a paper bag -.- Anywhere else but in his hands. 

So this really special day started with walking past a really dreamy flower shop with tons of roses and he asked “Would you like to have them? Go take your pick.” 
I answered “Really!? Can I have just 1 stalk of it in baby pink so I can carry it around in my bag today?” 
Thinking back in humor, I suspect the walk past the flower shop is a deliberate attempt so he does not have to buy it there and then suffer the terrible humiliation on his way back to the hotel walking with it in his hands -.- 

The dearest planned for us to head out of Tokyo to explore Hakone, a beautiful place of scenic nature. Took the Romance Car to reach Hakone and the ride took approx 45 mins to an hour.

Reached Hakone Yumoto and we had to take the Hakone Tozan train line to Gora Station. It was quite an experience taking this train as it is visibly one of the oldest mountain railway I have ever seen. It was a painfully slow ride which lasted about 40-45 minutes but the view outweighs the long ride! We were seated at the front carriage so we managed to capture neat shots of the train navigating around the bends – you cannot get this view if you are seated in the middle!  
It snowed the previous day in Hakone so it was freezing cold when we got there. The fallen snow on the roads, tracks and mountains made such a pretty sight :)

Some of the shops situated just outside the Gora train station.



We had to get on a huge cable car to reach Sounzan Station. This is the part where you leave behind the hot springs, bustling civilization and enter the mountains.

It was a long arduous wait for the cable car to move off. I guess the next car will take a long time to arrive approx 40 minutes judging from the amount of time we waited. 
We were pretty amused by this sight haha. 



Finally arrived at Sounzan station after about 20 minutes ride. It got colder as we went higher up.



I was extremely happy to see snow as it was my first time! Held it in my hands and John had to say “It’s just ice isn’t it” -.-

We had to take a ropeway up the mountains and this time it was by the gondola car. This ride brought us from Sounzan to Owakudani station. Owakudani pretty much means “Great Boiling Valley” and some call it “Welcome to Hell” lol. What a name!

Pretty unfortunate that we had to share the gondola car with some others haha.


The view from high above was breathtaking. It was also during this ride up when I spotted the Hell’s Valley. Read about it briefly online and told John I wanted to come here but we didn’t know this was where we were heading. Talk about fate and chance.


Mt Hakone is a volcanically active area with its last eruption 3000 years BC. This mountain is full of sulphurous hot springs and there are many steam geysers just like the one in my photo below.


When we got down from the cable car, this view greeted us and I was 100% sure by now this is the famous Hell’s Valley so I told John we HAD TO explore this place. However, John actually had other plans haha. He had planned for us to board a boat to head off to Lake Ashinoko also known as “Land of Reeds” which has the prettiest scenery where one can enjoy the natural beauty of Hakone and THAT was his destination to propose. Sadly, my excitement on discovering the Hell’s Valley thwarted his plans and he felt obliged to do a little exploring, first
Thinking back, it is quite hilarious because in my excitement, I can sense his hesitation but I can’t put a finger to it because he agreed to go explore the Hell’s Valley so I thought well nothing is wrong. He kept quiet for abit and seemed squeamish. It turns out he was looking around for plan B – to find another spot to propose because 5 minutes in the Hell’s Valley and seeing my excitement, he thought this will be a perfect plan B.


The weather was beyond our expectations and we were underdressed for the cold weather. It was close to 0 degrees at Hakone. So we headed into the first restaurant to seek refuge and warm our tummies. Do not underestimate what a hot meal can do to provide warmth to your body in this weather!

Kuro-Tamago also known as black egg. These eggs are chicken eggs which have been boiled in the bubbling pools inside a crater at Owakudani. The presence of sulphur and iron in the volcanic water turns the eggshells black. 
But other than its black shell, this famous black volcano egg tasted like a normal egg imo. But legend has it that by consuming 1 black egg, you can prolong your life by seven years.


One of the best tasting meal we have in Japan. We can never forget how delicious this meal was.




Managed to catch a glimpse of the elusive Mount Fuji!



Most of the time, I was walking in front because I was just that excited being in Hell’s Valley. This felt like an exploration adventure to me haha. And all the time when I was walking in front, John was constantly thinking about Plan B in his head hahaha. It is really pretty hilarious and touching when he relayed his thoughts and plans to me that very night of the proposal when we were back in the hotel.

We got to this open hole where sulphur gases were constantly spewing from it. The smell is horrendous higher up the mountains and I had difficulty breathing during our climb. 

We finally reached this spot with a majestic view. I was close to tears when I saw this view because I almost suffered an asthmatic attack from breathing in the sulphur fumes and cold air from the arduous walk haha. 
And this was when John wanted to carry out Plan B.

In the photo below, you can see our bags on the floor. 
Most of the time, John carried his backpack and never once put it down. But this time round, he suddenly placed his bag on the ground, then walked far away from me to position the camera. I was puzzled but I brushed any thoughts off as I thought it was natural for anyone to snap a photo here because this spot had such a memorable view for keepsake. But it was this spot at that point of time where he wanted to propose. 
So before the camera went off, John suddenly raised his hands into this awkward pose you see in the photo below. I felt it was the oddest pose ever but I followed suit haha. Was not thinking right at that time because I was freezing and could barely speak audibly already. 
Turns out when he wanted to propose, more and more people gathered in front of us where our camera is, watching us and he felt his courage diminishing and could not muster anymore courage to go down on one knee. I laughed so badly when he told me this hahaha. I can so imagine his small eyes darting left and right helplessly watching more and more people appear. In the state of helplessness and an internal battle within himself, his hands raised in this odd pose. 
Having been with this man for close to 3 years now, I know he is an extremely shy and gentle giant (yes, unless provoked haha). I enjoy poking fun at his shyness because he gets embarrassed really easily. In the past, I used to tell him his proposal needs to meet two conditions or else... First being in front of a huge huge crowd (lol I knew this was gonna be hard for him) and second is to video down the entire process with photos. The latter was the reason why I did not suspect he will do it in Japan because even though he HAD two friends (one is actually his Salon Vim colleague) who were in Japan at the point of time who could video down the process for us, I did not see or sense he was contacting them or was coordinating anything at all. We stay together every single day so I will know if he has anything up his sleeves. Moreover, he was busy in the salon up to the day we left for Japan.

Then we took the ropeway to catch the boat to Lake Ashinoko. This time round, we had the gondola car all to ourselves heh. 
Sadly, we did not make it in time to catch the last boat out to Lake Ashinoko. So we took a bus down to the foot of Hakone where the civilization and onsens were.


Walked around the town and visited small but cosy country side Japanese shops which I did not manage to snap peektures cos my hands were freezing badly! Found a hideout which overlooked a lake with gentle waters right behind all the civilizations and it is pretty romantic there..:') Photos definitely don't do this place justic. 
Right after this photo was taken, John headed back to where the camera was seated on the fence supposedly to prepare another timer shot but when he was back…

he suddenly turned to face me and gave me a tight hug. Then..he whipped out a piece of paper which he wrote what he wanted to say and a small box, got down on his knees and what progressed from there was the most emotional time of our lives… I can never forget the tears swelling up in his eyes when he proposed. At that point of time, it became so much clearer how much love had grown between us these past 3 years, how much we treasured each other, and how much this man wants me to be a part of his life :*)  
I couldn’t stop crying the moment he got down on one knee :*)  I was entirely overwhelmed by the moment in time. That fleeting moment when I read so many emotions in his eyes…oh boy..:’) That moment, the entire galaxy of stars cannot be compared to the depth in his teary eyes as he knelt on one knee. That moment, I want nothing else in the world except losing myself in his eyes. 
I am eternally thankful to God for gifting me with him. I know he will not only be my husband but also my best of friend, soul-mate and someone who I can always count on.

Unlike the usually steadfast man that he is, John became a nervous wreck moments and hours leading up to the proposal because no one can understand how much he treasured this love in his heart. So I’av forgiven him that he did not set the camera on video timer although he thought he did haha. And I’av forgiven him that he kept searching until he found a quiet place with no trace of human life nearby – knowingly failing to fulfil the two conditions lol. It has become a occasional joke between us now that despite not fulfilling the two conditions given to him, I still shamelessly agreed to his proposal haha. 

Casually, I mentioned to him we will come back right at this spot to renew our wedding vows 5 or 10 years later then video it down. And I know he will make it come true :) I just know because this man has done everything he can to make me the happiest woman on earth.


The only photo the camera captured on timer mode the moment before he knelt down :*)

My ring was not ready in time before we leave for Japan so the owner had to mount the diamond onto a basic ring. When we came back to Sg, John brought me to the store without telling me which was the design of the ring he had chosen. But instead, he told me to take my pick and see if there is any design I take fancy to so he can get the kind owner to change the order for us. After awhile, I picked a really pretty ring design which was a patented design by the shop. To my surprise, the shop owner smiled and exclaimed “Oh my! This is exactly the design your fiance had chosen for you.” When I turned to see John smiling at me, I almost cried right there and then again. No one knows me better, really :’)


My eyes were so puffy from the non stop crying. Even as we took the Romance Car back to Tokyo, everything still felt like a dream to me. 

Reached Tokyo and had Ichiran for dinner.

Most of the time, Ichiran has a queue so while waiting in line…
I was so tired from crying  y’know –.- John was afraid people may think he was bullying me so he had to cover my face as we walked haha.

It was self service at Ichiran and we purchased our meal tickets first before choosing how we want our ramen to be cooked.


When I first peeked my head in through the curtains and saw this seating arrangement, I was surprised and slightly disappointed! Am sooo used to eating with John sitting directly opposite where we can have our chit chats while eating and I have to face a wall to eat now.

But this bowl of goodness instantly made me feel better! This is the bomb! Chose less oil, less salt, firmer noodles – this is my recipe for orgasm.
That pretty much wraps up our Day 3 & 4 in Japan!
Till the next travelogue! ;) 
Lined up a number of activities this week with a shoot today, followed by Skin Inc blogger press event in the late noon. Before the weekend, there are preparations for the MEGA sale event in Vainpot Boutique happening this upcoming June. It is gonna be massive because VGY and MMTP will be clearing off all online items between $5 to $25 (but really, the bulk of it is priced at an average of $10-$15) so you really gotta stay tuned to this sale! 
I am also planning something special with Serene after our huge sale so it is all gonna be pretty exciting in the months ahead! Not forgetting, stay tuned at the end of May to this blog cos I am working with a luxury skincare brand which I can’t wait to share here! There will be a giveaway worth hundreds of dollars! Tremendously blessed to be given this opportunity! :*) 
And hang in there we are so close to the weekend! ;)

With Love,


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