Yakushima: Princess Mononoke Island

I feel so lucky to be here among the lush mountains, thundering waterfalls, endless beach and delicious onsens in Yakushima.

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Yesterday, I began my first workaway experience. When I signed up for it, I was super excited because it’s in Yakushima, the magical land that I’ve wanted to visit for the longest time. Why? Because it inspired Princess Mononoke. And when I got here, it’s exactly that – the Enchanted Forest is alive and larger than life!

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Besides, the work would involve some interaction with students at a special high school. And let me tell you why it’s special.

The Ōzora (means Big Sky) High School is a special school that does not conduct regular classes, but is one where ALL high school students in Japan must come and complete a week-long intensive program in order to receive their high school diploma.

So here, we will see a mixture of regular high school teens, and some who are already in their 30s trying to get through this week so they can finally graduate high school. Many of these older participants used to be troubled students. It is interesting to see a great diversity of students here – even have the feeling of a high-school manga coming to life 😀

Our job was to engage in conversation with them in English and have some sort of cultural exchange. These couple of days, though, there hasn’t been much exchange – on one hand, the students are rather shy and on the other, we’re kinda handicapped by our Japanese inability and therefore, difficult to begin any conversation with them.

My workaway group comprises a Swiss-Chinese guy, a girl from Poland and another from China. Our other job was to take care of tasks at Senvus Village – a huge farm for organic planting, which also includes an amazing cafe-cum-museum that showcases herbs, scents, organic food. Our morning meetings on the Workaway Terrace is the most amazing meetings I’ve had ever – having coffee and snacks overlooking a lush green land, the sea and horizon in the distance, with white clouds rolling by above (it’s starting to sound like a Ghibli movie already, doesn’t it!)

Tasks are not too bad, too. Today I was doing some translation for a video they’ve shot into Malay so they could show it to visitors, while the Chinese girl did the Chinese part. The other two fellas helped with getting the land ready for some exciting sweet potato planting on Thursday, which will be overseen by a professor from Kagoshima University. Wooo! We had breaks regularly too with coffee and ice cream and cookies … I can totally live like this for the rest of my life 😅

Our host, Shinichiro-san used to be a world traveler due to his job at ANA. Now he chooses nature over city lights. After work today, he took us to the magnificent Senpiro-no-Taki Waterfall. Once again, photos don’t do justice to these grand sights. The viewpoint had one side facing the waterfalls and mountains, and the other side facing the vast ocean with white clouds rolling by. The beauty was so unbelievable and overwhelming I swear I had tears in my eyes. Our excited Chinese friend exclaimed, “The movie is real!”

Oh yes, it is, honey, so real 😄 And I believe the best has yet to come. Ahhhhh … my little heart is bursting with so much happiness 😘

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Animals/Nature

Tokyo was all about art and inspiration. I went to an exhibition at the Craft’s Gallery called “Animals, Animals, Animals” that showed how animal motifs are being used in Japanese art and craft and their respective meanings. At the Yokohama Museum of Art, the exhibition was “Reflections of Nature” on how artists see and interpret their appreciation and understanding of nature through art.

So, here I think it’d be nice if people can co-exist harmoniously with her environment and all that live in it, for we are part of them and they, a part of us.

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The Great Stroopwafels Hunt

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Stroopwafels were a significant part of my recent travels in Java. It started when Erik the Dutchman, who I met at the hostel in Bandung and who became my travel buddy to/in Yogyakarta, talked about delicious Dutch food and that I should definitely try the stroopwafels. Then a couple of other Dutch guys said yah try it, and a couple of Germans said they’re amazing … so …

I can’t remember if I’ve had it before but I certainly couldn’t recall the taste. So it became our mission to hunt for the amazing stroopwafels, in supermarkets large and small in Bandung and Yogyakarta. After we went our own ways, I continued looking in Malang, and Erik said the cafe he was volunteering at in Blitar didn’t have em, he was contemplating making them himself.

So, leaving Java without tasting some stroopwafels left a nagging feeling, and it struck me to look for em in Singapore. And voila! Found some from the Stroopwafels & Co, also sold at Dean & DeLuca. Picked some up from the Orchard Central outlet yesterday 😊😋

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[doodle: The Great Stroopwafels Hunt and some pockets of memory from Java with my Dutch travel buddy 😊]

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That’s how old I am

Age is irrelevant
Ask me

How many flights I’ve caught
How many airports I’ve slept in
How many coffees I drink
… at midnight

How many hearts I’ve loved
How many stories I’ve doodled
How many songs I yodel
… at midnight

How many dreams I’ve had
How many journeys I’ve made
How many stars comfort me
… at midnight

That’s how old I am

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Nap@Borobudur Park

Most people would have been eager to explore the awe inspiring world heritage the minute they step into the gates, but we were more attracted to the vast green field and decided to just rest there for a bit. After all, we just drove an hour from the city in dust and sun 😊

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Bandung afternoons

Just rain in the afternoons here in Bandung, giving me the chance to stay in with a cup of hot tea and doodle 😊

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Stars✨Roses🌹Chocs🍫

Haha, I went into hyper doodling mode this Valentines. Well, stuff pops in my head, just gotta get em out : ) Hope you guys get some inspiration from them : )

✨✨✨ Stars ✨✨✨

I’m a mushy romantic, and these 2 quotes move me much 😍😍😍 Plus they fit so well to describe love. I hope my lil doodle does too … You think? 😊😊😊

“So when I was a kid i asked an older kid where does the sun go at night? And then he told me that at night the sun divides itself into small fragments and scatter itself in the sky and form the stars. And in the morning these fragments come together and form the sun again.” – a commenter on one of HONY’s posts

“Celebrate love, not just because it is good and it is happy, but because it is also everything else, and everything in between. It is when it becomes hard, when it hurts, when it shatters you into a million pieces, when love takes from you everything you can give and everything you can’t, when you feel that you have nothing more to give, that love comes and rebuilds you into something greater, someone who you are meant to be.” – a friend

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🌹🌹🌹 Roses 🌹🌹🌹

In Singapore, like elsewhere in Asia except Japan, Valentine’s Day is characterized by the sky-high prices of roses. Some of my friends would make quite a bit of money selling roses this night/day. So, that is the Valentine’s Day for the “flower girl”?

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🍫🍫🍫 Chocs 🍫🍫🍫

In Japan, though, Valentine’s Day is when girls give chocolates to guys they like usually, but now, they’re for friends and colleagues too. The guys will return the favor next month on White Day (March 14). Well, I definitely have someone to give chocolates to if I were in Japan … but he’s got many already so maybe I’ll just save em for myself. Lol.

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