Thursday, January 6, 2011

My 53-Day Journey (part one) - Japan, Tokyo

Rewinding back to 25 Oct 2010... the REAL journey begins after 3 months of intensive trainings. 'Training for what?', I heard some of you asked. Many people have the idea that this is a holiday trip for shopping, eating, relaxing and having fun. How I wish!

The SSEAYP (Ship for South East Asian Youth Programme) is a cultural exchange program between 10 ASEAN countries and Japan. Hence we were required to prepare some culture performances like dances, skit, singing..., local games, activities, exhibition on Singapore history/ food, etc to share with one another. This is where our various committees, the Logistic, Exhibition (my committee!), Sports and Club Activity, Sponsorship, Discussion and Performing Arts came into picture. On top of that, we were also separated into 8 Discussion Groups (DG) namely, Corporate Social Contributions, Cross-cultural Understanding Promotion, Environment, Food Culture/ Food and Nutrition Education, Health Education, School Education and Youth Development. As DG is one of the most important activities of SSEAYP, it undoubtly means loooong hours of discussions, plenty of presentations and report write-ups almost everyday for one whole month. -___-

For those who are considering to take part this year, please be mentally, physically and emotionally prepared. Countless meetings, preparations, trainings and evaluation forms await you right from the day you are being selected. There will be programmes and activities lined up for you everyday on the ship as well. This also means very little personal time left for ourselves. Even more sadly, these limited free time were usually taken up by MORE other acivities. One final important thing to bear in mind is that you're require to serve a 3-year Post Programme Activity after your return from the ship.

Of course there were things I've enjoyed along the way which include jogging on the deck of Fuji Maru (the name of our ship!) in the chilling weather, under the STAR-FILLED night sky! It was really amazing...... If you're lucky, you may get to see shooting stars~~~* or dolphins/ whales leaping in the ocean too! Other things I'm missing now include our regular noodle/ snacks parties and queueing up for ice cream in the dining hall at every lunch time (hint: don't ever bother to watch your weight while you're on this trip). Undeniably, the most valuable things I've gained through SSEAYP is (of course not the extra inches around my waist) knowing many wonderful friends. Another highlight of this programme is the opportunity to live in the houses of volunteered families in 6 different countries - Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam (depending on which countries you'll be visiting for that year) for 2 days. Through the homestay programme, we get to experience the daily lifestyles and living conditions of these countries. Now when I visit these countries again, I know I'll have a family waiting there for me. :)

If you ask me, I wouldn't want to do this all over again but I also did not regret taking part last year. I can't tell you exactly how I feel, you have to do it to understand what SSEAYP is all about. All I can say is, it was indeed a very special episode for me, a once in a lifetime adventure.

Here are some snippets of our journey................................................................................

Packing and sealing work to do a few days before our departure.

Distributing of attires and namecards.

Back at home was total madness. Packing and packing... I'm seriously well trained in packing and unpacking my luggages after this trip.. Packing for departure, unpacking when we arrived, packing again for homestays, unpacking again back at the ship, and packing again for another homestay. It went on and on......................

This boy clearly wanted to go with me.

Homestay gifts for my host familes! What could be more meaningful than giving them my own creation? :)

And some Singapore pins, keychains, brochures, food paste, etc.  

On the day of departure 25 Oct 2010...... Still packing........................ -.-

Opppssss... pun intended! :p Fyi, this DOESN'T belong to me.

And we're ready to go. Japan here we come!!!~~~~~~~~~~~

First location, the New Otani Hotel!~~ We had the luxury to stay in a hotel for two nights.

Did I mention I love our 3-bedded room and my roommates???

Exploring the room.

Miniature alcohols.

Bathroom with bathtub!

After a mere half an hour, our room was in total chaos. Valid excuse: Not easy to search for something when you have TWO big luggages and TWO handcarry bags.

All changed and ready to go for our first night walk on TOKYO street! Sadly most of the shops close pretty early in Japan so there weren't much places we could explore that night.

Fast forward a little. On the 2nd day, we were given half a day of free time! Yeahhhhhh!!!!

If you remember this Japanese company, Winged Wheel I worked with few months back and was hoping I could visit their store on this trip. This was my chance. Now let's head on down to that store! (Thank you, Rumi for your clear direction on how to get there and for waiting for me at the train station. :))

Ticketing machine at the train station.

This is confusing.... -_-

Saw this interesting poster on a pillar.

Yes, we're on the right track!

Here we are at Winged Wheel!~~~~ :)
Address: 4-5-4, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

In case you're wondering why there wasn't much customers in the store, it was because the store was supposed to be closed on that day but sweet Rumi opened it SPECIALLY FOR ME! Moreover it was drizzling that day and Rumi took the time out from work to bring me to the store. Super touched. :'|

My designs alongside many other lovely cards. :)

And Rumi just informed me that some of these cards were featured on Daily Candy in the US! :D 

Meet the sweet SWEET RUMI!~

Don't you just love this store? Be sure to check out their main branch in Osaka. Address: 3-6-14, Minami-Senba, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0081. You may also find their website HERE or join their facebook fanpage HERE.

Next stop, bubble tea!!! I tell you, this was the best bubble tea I ever had. WARM green tea on a cold cold day. Pure shiokness (Singapore slang: shiok = fantastic)!! I never like the bubble tea pearls in Singapore but this one was super soft and chewy! Oh I miss it so much!

Picking an umbrella. This was the one an only thing I bought for myself in Japan. And only because it was drizzling that day and my umbrella was about to give way. -.-

Me with our Youth Leader and my NEW umbrella. :)

With our National Leader.

Ralph Lauren. Love the building!

Helmut Lang.

I was so tempted to buy this. Elmo in Hello Kitty outfit, so cute!!! It came in other outfits as well.. but very expensive too. :(

Time for some Japanese ramen! Don't ask me what am I doing in the photo, I couldn't recall either. lol

We had the best meal of our day. Oishi!! ('Delicious' in Japanese).

It was.... very........ very cold............. and I didn't bring my winter jacket out! :S

Finally we ended the day with our contingent meeting. -_- I wished we had more free time in Tokyo. It's okay, I'LL BE BACK, TOKYO!~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check back for part two of my journey. :) Have a beautiful day!~


Pili said...

Wow, it does sound like an overwhelming and totally once in a lifetime experience!

One to treasure, learn from but not to repeat any time soon!

I'm really excited to keep on reading about the rest of the experience!

jacjewelry said...

What a wonderful program! Sounds like you had a lot of fun in Japan. Love all the pictures, and really want a Bubble tea now!!! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to part 2!

Holly said...

Oh Rheea! Why didn't you take me with you? I definitely want to visit Japan sometime within my life, and I will make sure to drop by and see Rumi and look at your work on display when I do. ;-)

These photos are so much fun to look at! You look stunningly beautiful in every one of them, and your eyes are just filled with excitement. I'm so glad you got the opportunity to take this trip, but I'm also glad you're home now. I've missed visiting your blog! I'll definitely be here to check out part 2.

devonrose said...


It's so good to see you back on here and loved looking at all the pictures, you look so beautiful and happy! What an amazing adventure, can't wait to see part 2:)

Emily & Devon