Growth Chart for My Little Ones

Saturday, July 31, 2010

25 Jul 2010 - Zoo trip

We went to the zoo today. The last time that we went was about a year ago. We left our house at about 1030hrs and by the time we reached there, the carpark was full. Along the road, we saw many cars parked by the roadside. Then we realized the guard actually directed drivers to park by the roadside. So we followed the instruction and also parked along the roadside. Fortunately, it's still not too far off from the zoo entrance.

As we entered the zoo, we found that it's very very crowded. I've never had such a feeling before. We spent about 3 hours in the zoo and left. As we drove out from the road, the cars along the roadside had almost stretched out to the main road. Sigh......the crowd is good for the zoo but to me, that makes the trip less enjoyable.........

18 Jul 2010 - Javier loves bread

Ever since we came back from Japan, Javier fell in love with bread. And bread is one of the first word coming out from his mouth. Previously, one loaf of bread will last about 4 days but now, it's 2 days or less. Actually we realized that in just a week, Javier had grown taller. People around us all had the same comment and it's pretty obvious. We do notice it ourselves because on day 1 of our trip, Javier can still go under the hotel desk. However, on the last day in Fukuoka, he actually knocked his head while trying to go under.......

Other than growing taller, my whole family had turned darker, including my little snow white (Jerlene). Hopefully she can get back her "fairness" soon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

11 Jul 2010 - Fukuoka Day 9: Bye Bye Fukuoka

One week has passed and it's time to go home. All of us will be missing this place very much. Tracy and I will miss the Ramen, Beef and Curry Rice. Jerlene and Javier will probably miss the hotel room.

Our flight will be departing Fukuoka at 1015hrs, so we checked out from our hotel at about 0800hrs. After that, we took a taxi from the hotel to the airport.

As this is a day flight, both Jerlene and Javier were wide awake. They were enjoying the Krisworld, especially Dora the Explorer cartoon.

We touched down at Changi Airport at about 1450hrs, half an hour ahead of planned arrival. This marked the end of our Fukuoka trip.

10 Jul 2010 - Fukuoka Day 8: Explore Fukuoka on Green Bus

Today will be our last full day in Fukuoka. So our plan is to cover the remaining area that we had not explored. Based on past few days experience, we knew that there were many places that were not accessible on foot or subway. As such, we decided to get on the green bus which will take us to most of the major attractions in Fukuoka.

The bus started out from Hakata station but we boarded the bus at Gion, which is nearer to our hotel. Again, we had to carry two strollers up the bus.

We alighted at the bus stop next to Fukuoka Tower. Before going over, we realized that Robosquare is actually on the 2nd floor of the building. So we decided to pay a visit there first.

Robosquare is the world’s first robot science museum that offers hands-on experiences. The museum collects 143 robots in 44 kinds and consists of three zones where you can meet the latest robots, communicate with the robots, and learn about robotic development. It's not a big museum, whereby you can see everything in 15 mins time. Jerlene and Javier were pretty facinated by some of the intelligent and cute robots.
Next we walked across the road and entered Fukuoka Tower.

At the top of the tower, we had a marvellous 360 degree panoramic view. It takes approximately 70 seconds by elevator to the observation room at 123m above ground level. On top of being able to view sites of Fukuoka city, such as Hakata wharf and Sefuri Mountain, you can enjoy the gradually changing colours of the blue sky as night falls.

Such observation tower is not new to both Jerlene and Javier. When we were at Melbourne last year, we went up a residential building called Eureka Tower, which in fact was much higher than Fukuoka Tower.

At about noon, we walked over to Yahoo! Dome, which is a baseball field and serves as the headquarters of Fukuoka Softbanks Hawks, one of the more popular baseball team in Japan. The Dome is located in Hawks Town, near Momochi Beach. As there was a match going on, the whole place was packed with people.

We had our lunch in a Japanese restaurant in Hawks Town. The Ramen and fried rice were fantastic.

As there was nothing much to shop in Hawks Town, we decided to take the green bus to Fukuoka Castle Ruins. There were slopes everywhere so we has a hard time pushing the strollers around.

Fukuoka Castle was built in the beginning of the 17th century by Kuroda Nagamasa, the first daimyo (feudal lord) of Chikuzen, the feudal domain which used to cover parts of today's Fukuoka Prefecture. Today only ruins, one gate and one turret of the castle remain. There is a nice view of the city from the former main citadel. Parts of the castle's former moats were used to construct nearby Ohori Park

It was all this while drizzling but as we were about to leave, it started to rain quite heavily. Finally, we were able to make full use of the umbrellas that we have bought at the beginning of this trip. We took the green bus back to Kushisa area to catch another event of the Yamakasa festival.
The event held today (10 Jul) is called Nagaregaki. In the event, each nagare carries its float through its own area in a warming-up exercise. The team that we saw did their practice run along Kawabata shopping street mall. As they run through the mall, the shop owner will pour water at the participants. Glad that we did not miss this event, which was pretty interesting.

After that event, we walked to a shop called Bic Camera, which sells electronics product, at Tenjin area.
Jerlene and Javier were occupied with the balloons in their strollers.
We then walked back to Tenjin underground shopping mall to look for souvenirs. However, we could find suitable ones so we decided to take the subway to Hakata station, where we had previously seen some interesting snacks.
So this marked the end of our Fukuoka trip. Jerlene and Javier had so much fun with the balloons on this very last night in the hotel room.

9 Jul 2010 - Fukuoka Day 7: Dazaifu City

We searched through the internet to see if there is any interesting place around Fukuoka and Dazaifu City came out of the list. To get there, we took Nishitetsu Railway line from Tenjin and change to another train on Dazaifu line at Futsukaichi Station. After we alighted at Futsukaichi station, we saw another train across the platform. Somehow we felt that it was the correct train to Dazaifu but sad to say, we were wrong. After a few stations, we finally realized we were on a wrong train. So we quickly got off at the next station and took the opposite train back to Futsukaichi.

Dazaifu was established in the late 7th century and served as the administrative center of the entire island of Kyushu for over 500 years. The city was built slightly inland from Hakata, whose port was one of the main points of interaction between Japan and mainland Asia. Today, Dazaifu is a small, quiet city on the outskirts of the large city of Fukuoka, from which it is perfect for a day trip. There are a number of temples and shrines in the area, the most famous of which is the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.

From the station to Tenmangu Shrine, we passed through a street with shops on both side of the pavement. These shops sell many unique stuffs and there are some cute figurines at the shopfront.
The first place that we went to is of course Tenmangu Shrine.
The shrine is rather large, stretching about 250 meters from one end to the other. After passing through the torii gate at the entrance, visitors will come across a pond that was built in the shape of the Japanese character for "heart".
Jerlene and Javier enjoyed feeding the Koi and tortoise in the pond.
Jerlene by then is already an "experienced" visitor to traditional Japanese shrine. The moment she saw the fountain of water under the shelter, she knew exactly what to do. :-)
Komyozenji is a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect of Japanese Buddhism that is located just south of Dazaifu's famous Tenmangu Shrine. The temple was founded in the middle of the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) by a disciple of the founder of Kyoto's Tofukuji Temple and belongs to the Tofukuji school of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.
Komyozenji's main attraction is its beautiful Japanese gardens. The temple has two abstract rock gardens that visitors can admire, a front garden and a rear garden. The front garden is the smaller of the two and is composed of fifteen rocks laid amongst a plot of raked pebbles. The rocks are distributed so that they form the Japanese character for "light".
The rear garden can be viewed from the main temple building. It is larger, and incorporates a lot of plant life in addition to its stones and pebbles. The garden's moss patches, rocks and pebbles are laid out as an abstract representation of large land and water bodies.
While we were admiring the garden at the back of the temple, Jerlene wanted to play with my camera. So I asked her (not seriously) to take a picture for mommy and daddy. I did not expect her to be able to do it but to our surprise, she managed to take it pretty steadily. In fact, she was able to position us well in the photo (see below). Too bad I only discovered this at almost the end of the trip. Anyway from this moment onwards, whenever you see pictures with both Tracy and myself in it, it is most likely taken by Jerlene.

On the Dazaifu city map, it states that Kanzenonji Temple is just a 20 mins walk from Dazaifu station. However, we took more than half an hour to reach there. This temple, unlike Tenmangu Shrine, was totally empty.
Next, we continue to walk towards the Government Office ruins. This is the place where a large complex of government offices was constructed to administer the island. It were eventually destroyed once Dazaifu lost political influence, and today the area serves as a public park. Nonetheless, the foundations of buildings allow visitors to imagine the scope of the Dazaifu government office as it stood over a thousand years ago.

We left Dazaifu at about 4:30pm as we wanted to rush back to Hakata to catch the Yamakasa festival. From the government ruins, we walked to the nearest train station and took the train back to Tenjin.
After we alighted at Tenjin, we immediately walked towards Kushida Shrine where the festival is held. As the event has not started, we spent sometimes walking around the shrine.

At one corner, there was a stage where performance started at 7pm. Half way through the performance, we suddenly heard some shouting coming from the road. I quickly went over and get ready to take pictures of the event.
As I've mentioned in my earlier posts, Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival is held every year from 1-15 July. Today, which is 9 Jul, it's a day called Oshioi-tori. On this day, along with the men who will actually carry the float, about a thousand people ranging from infants to the elderly run to Hakozakihama beach in groups by their nagare, performing this ceremony of purification and carrying home purified sand. They ended their run at Kushida Shrine. Glad that we were able to catch this event, which is held only once a year.

As the sky turned dark, the exterior of Kushida Shrine was beautiful with all the lantern lighted up.