Off to Tokyo Again, Alone

 Hanging out in one of the lounges at Changi while waiting for my flight to Tokyo. It’s been more than 2 years since I’ve been in Japan, and the Go Go Curry craving is getting a little unbearable.

I haven’t been in the mood for this trip this past week; too many things on my mind at work and home. But a friend just told me how they would kill to switch places right now, traveling alone (well, for a few days until I’m joined by some friends), getting away from a nagging partner, responsibilities, etc. and I have to say, it woke me right up for this.

It’s super uncool to not have gone on a holiday alone before (I’m guessing being abroad to study doesn’t count), but yeah I’ve never done it. There’s always someone else to plan with, figure out transport with, make decisions and compromises with (or force into compromises most of the time -_-), so now I think I’m going to be a little lost. Wandering and just seeing what happens. Not really my nature!

26° Clear
T1 Link West, Changi, Singapore, Singapore

Tokyo Snack Stash #2

I’m eating yesterday’s Italian Curry cup noodle right now and I was right, it’s a mildly spicy tomato sauce with mystery meat and capsicum bits. But tasty enough to eat way too fast at 2am.

I really like that they realized people are gonna drink the soup from the cup and wrapped the whole thing in shrink-wrapping to keep it clean while on the shelves.

Anyway snack stash video #2 is up.

Hello again, Tokyo

First day in Tokyo (2013 edition) went well. The new hotel we’re trying out is well located near Shinjuku station and roomier than the last place I occupied in Ginza — also a single room, although this one could be a double.

We tried to eat at the Go Go Curry branch we loved near the West exit of the station, but it was closed for renovations or something. Ended up eating a substitute beef curry rice in the basement of the Odakyu department store, I think. Good, but not the same.

The next couple of hours were spent walking in circles trying to get our bearings and cross the sprawling station over to the East side, and then trying to understand all the back lanes that have changed. When you use transient shops as mental landmarks, you risk disorientation. The same happens in Singapore.

Finding a place to have a beer wasn’t easy; many of them were fully packed and had to turn us away. We ended up in an English pub that was having a 50% off celebration day (complete with handwritten ‘thank you for coming to celebrate Hub Day’ cards upon leaving), just as crowded as the rest, and standing room only. Tiring, but fun.

Afterwards, on the walk back to the hotel, we saw amateur acts performing on the streets, hawking self-burnt CDs and having a good time. Great to see unsigned musicians out there and going at it. This doesn’t really happen back home. Is it because they need licenses and those aren’t easy to get? I don’t know.

Along the way we discovered two things. Another Go Go Curry branch that is now second on our to-do lists after sushi tomorrow, and an awesome iPhone accessory shop called AppBank. It has tons of high quality cases and decorative add-ons, and upstairs, a large section devoted to LINE merchandise, alongside Puzzle & Dragons books, figurines, collectibles, etc. and also a Tokyo Otaku Mode corner.

The brand power that LINE and P&D have amassed here is extraordinary. A chat app that has convinced me and many I know to part with tens of dollars for non-essential in-app purchases (imagine then, how much Japanese users must spend), and a single mobile game that currently makes $5M a day in revenue from IAP.

On this trip, I’m trying to shoot more video in addition to photos. I’ll have to see about editing something together to remember this trip by at the end of it (we’re celebrating my cousin’s upcoming wedding), but in the meantime, Qwiki has pivoted from a knowledge tool into an app that automatically assembles clips for you, and it’s done an ok job of the first day.

I also did another Family Mart snack run video rundown, because the only video I made the last trip down here was one where I talked to the camera about the stuff I’d bought, and it was fun.

Sent from my iPhone

First Time in Hong Kong Since 1984 (Photos)

Here are some of my favorite photos from 5 days of eating and sightseeing in Hong Kong; the ones I knew I was lucky to have as soon as I hit the button. As I said a couple of days ago, the Sony RX100 is now my favorite compact camera — just that little bit more versatile than a Ricoh GRD thanks to its 3.8x optical zoom, and, while bigger, still small enough to carry in a pocket. In terms of pure image quality, it takes better photos than any of the small-sensored compacts I’ve fooled around with.

Still, while going through the entire set on Flickr, I was surprised by how many came from the iPhone 5. At this size, can you tell which of the ones below came from an iPhone? Click through to find out.

There are a couple of photos from Art|Basel 2013, which was running at the HK Convention and Exhibition Center (HKCEC) from Thursday to the weekend. One of the low points was sitting at the cafe area and listening to a bunch of very rich people complaining about how their cameras and iPads and iPhone 5s batteries weren’t enough to last through a busy day of buying art (and taking photos of art with the flash on) even after shutting down all the apps by double-clicking the home button (=_=). They also complained that there wasn’t enough art amazing enough to buy on the spot. I wanted to tell them to spend some money on a battery pack over at Wan Chai.

Taxi ride into Hong Kong

Under The Bridge

B&W Tenements

Hysan Place Apple Store Pano

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Causeway Bay Apple Store Exterior

Rainy Day in Hong Kong

Horses — Times Square

High Pixel Density

Golden Wonder

Roasted Meats

Love Shop

Smoking Bin

Scaffolding, Alleyway, Night

Okay Now I'm Coming Down

Do You Fools Not See The Duck Coming?!

Art | Basel HK 2013

PINK

Photo: Hong Kong Lingerie Shop

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A quick word about the Sony RX100 I bought on vacation: best camera I’ve ever owned. Small enough to put in a jeans pocket, amazing quality output, and fast enough to grab shots like this one — I saw it across the street just as Kim managed to hail a taxi; had literally two seconds to shoot blindly while getting in; pleased beyond words that it turned out sharp and captured the look of the lady in the shop. I don’t think you can buy a better compact right now except maybe the larger RX1 which costs five times more.

Visiting Italy

I’ve just gotten back from two weeks in Italy, about 50% of that time on business for a client-side conference. I logged as much as I could on the road at http://hipgeo.com/sangsara, which turned out to be a pretty nifty service now that they’ve enabled offline posting in their iOS app. You take photos or write short posts, and those are geotagged and uploaded to your stream when you have a connection. At the end of it all, you can create a “trip post”, which summarizes your movements on a map. Here’s my Italian trip summed up in too much detail.

A trio of us Sapient guys landed in Milan’s Malpensa Airport, stayed a night, then rented a car and drove down to the sleepy beachside town of Ravenna, then went back up to Milan where we spent the rest of the trip, save for a day in Florence. Here are some photo highlights (I decided to travel light with just my iPhone), the rest are on my Flickr.