Saturday, March 10, 2018

Jejak Naruto di Jepun : Day 3 - 1st Ramadhan

Posted by NER on March 10, 2018 with No comments


Day 3 was the first fasting day for all Muslim and it was a new experience for me to fast outside of Malaysia. And Day 3 also was the day we have to leave Osaka to go to Tokyo, finally we're gonna meet Naruto-kun!

We decided to go to Fushimi Inari in Kyoto before taking our flight to Tokyo. We checked-out from Picnic Hotel at 7.30 am and stored our luggages at rental lockers. This is one of many best things about Japan, they have very large locker at any subway station. It took us nearly 1.30 hours to arrive at Fushimi Inari Station.

The shrine is a very nice tourist attraction but we chose a wrong time to visit it. There were massive crowd during that day to a point where we have to make a line just to go into the tori. As we want catch for our flight and as much as possible trying to maintain our fasting stamina so we decided to spend time only at the front toris. I remembered the purifying scene in Kamisama no Hajimemashite looking at all the toris. It was the scene where Minami had to confront her past memories as a human god.

After watching people from around the world searching for the best instagram shot and enjoying the shrine, we rushed to Kansai Airport. The domestic departure area is very complicated and we missed our flight. We were so frustrated and had to buy a new flight to go to Narita. With hot summer weather and bad luck, those combinations doing no good to our fasting.

Alhamdulillah, we arrived at Narita at 6.30PM and we broke out fast at halal soba restaurant at Narita.

Their soba was so refreshing. We can choose to have the soba in hot or cold soup. Our first meal in Tokyo was indeed the best ever.

We took 1hour and 20 minutes train to go to Keisei Ueno Station. This station is just few walks away from our hostel in Ueno Park. This hostel named Centurion Ladies Hostel Ueno Park. We stayed at the hostel for 3 more nights. This was also my first time staying in a shared hostel. My sleeping slot is small but enough for a tv and a single mattress. We were provided with a locker too. We cannot talk, eat or make any noise in the sleeping area. We have to go to the 7th floor to have our Sahoor. In this "talking and eating area" we can cook and watch TV.  The subuh time was about 2.30AM. It was very early. For sahoor, we had fish filled onigiri bought at Family Mart and the very delicious Van Hauten chocolate from vending machine in the hostel. That's the only vending machine with that delicious drink.

Jejak Japan [Day 0] [Day 1] [Day 2]

Saturday, February 24, 2018

[Book Review] A Song Flung Up To Heaven

Posted by NER on February 24, 2018 with No comments

I read Maya Angelou's first book last year and skipped to the last installment today. This is the final book of all her 6 autobiography books. Her first book told us about her childhood - teen experiences where she had to live together with her grandmother due to her parents' separation. She had to live with her mother afterwards and was then abused by her mother's lover. The book was really a good book to help those with the same fate. I really do.

I skipped to the last book because I got a discount from Bookdepository. The reason was too simple and materialistic to abandon the story and characters' developments. However, since all her books are standalone and not really dependent to each other, I didn't feel lost at all. In this book, she expressed and revealed her inner emotions dealing with the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., both are the most profound figures in Black people's movement against injustice in US. 

She came back from Ghana following Malcolm's invitation to create African-American organization but he was assassinated after a few days of her arrival in US. The saddest things were, his assassination was done by a black and there were not much reactions from the black people. At that time, it seemed that his death was just another news. With devastated heart, Maya went to Hawaii to recover. It did. The place improved her emotions and motivations by offering her place as a bar's singer and dancer.

She then moved to San Francisco where she worked as theater player and writer.  She went to any places she was needed and where she wants, just like her first book. "I didn't come to stay". Her talents and free spirit were something I envy. I wish I can be at least 30% of that quality.

Her strong feminism and dedication towards her African heritage is also truly admirable. I love and appreciate her brilliant and amazing sense of literature too. I re-read some really powerful sentences over and over again just to savour its very meaning. 

"Sister, change everything you don't like about your life. But when you come to a thing you can't change. then change the way you think about it. You'll see it new, and maybe a new way to change it. - Maya's Grandmother

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Jejak Naruto di Jepun: Day 2 in Osaka

Posted by NER on February 18, 2018 with No comments

Osaka Amazing Pass is really amazing. Every tourist should buy this pass to get discount and free rides in all subways in Osaka. We bought ours at tourist information center in KIX. So using the cards, we explored Osaka as much as we can today because we gonna fly back to Tokyo tomorrow.

We started our journey from Sakuragawa station at 9.30 am and arrived at Grand Front Osaka Mall at 10.30am.From the mall we walked about 10 minutes before we arrived at out 1st destination: Umeda Sky Building. 

Osaka city from Umeda Sky Building
This is the highest building in Osaka and you can watch the city from the building. I really love looking at a new place from the highest ground. The entrance fee is free if you are using Osaka Amazing Pass. On the way back, we met a Malaysian lady who got separated from her group. She called us to help her to contact her group. It is very important to buy your own simcard when you are visiting other countries. Don't rely on wifi only. 

After that, we went to Matsuri, 3 Chome-27-17 Yoshino, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu to have our lunch. To get here, we stop at Noda station subway and walked about 7 minutes. 

The best thing about this halal eatery is we get to make our own takoyaki and they provide a space for solat. We had fried chicken, okonomiyaki and takoyaki. The food were delicious! Totally recommended.

After that, we took a subway to Osakako station to get to Kaiyukan Aquarium. Though aquarium is a normal place but since Japan is surrounded by ocean, their sea creatures are rare. Osaka Amazing Pass is not covering the entrance fee but we have discounted fee. We spent quite a long time in here compared to other places. We even have to cross out Osaka Castle from our list because of the aquarium.

Salamander reminds me a lot to Eyeshield 21. There was a group just like salamander.  

We were too caught up with the excitement till we forgot to take pictures. I have 3 fish videos and my nephews kept on watching them every time he saw my phone. Really nice place to visit. Worth all the long and tiresome walk. To reduce the fatigue, we rejuvenated in an onsen in Suminoe. I always wanted to be in an onsen since I watched Naruto. This onsen is just as I've imagined, natural and relaxing. 

For our dinner, we got a recommendation from a nice couple we met at Matsuri. They told us about a Malaysian who opened a halal diner at Dotonbori. So from Suminoekoen station we took a 15minutes subway to 1 chome Minatomachi station and continue walking for another 15 minutes till we warrived at KennyAsia.1 Chome-7番-25号 Sennichimae, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu. The diner is quite hidden from the main road. We bypassed the small road number of times and almost gave up. Luckily we didn't.

In KennyAsia we ate the most delicious crab! It actually from Hokkaido and everything about the place was so nice. The owner, the owner's wife, the ambience, the food were good. Such a nice ending for our Osaka trip. We went back to Hotel Picnic with happy tummy and total satisfaction.

Jejak Japan [Day 0] [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3]

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jejak Naruto di Jepun: Day 1

Posted by NER on February 05, 2018 with 2 comments

After checked-in at Picnic Hostel, bathed and changed into new clothes, we took the Sennichimae Line subway heading to our dinner. We chose Honolu Ramen located at 2-5-27, Motomachi, Naniwa-ku as our 1st dinner in Japan. From our research, lots of Muslim travelers were recommending this place. Not only it halal, but its also delicious.

The ordering process here is different because we need to order our food using a vending machine. We have to choose our ramen from the vending machine, pay to the machine, take out the ticket and show it to the waiter. Then the waiter will serve your ramen.  

I ate Ramen chicken flavour and my friend chose spicy special. They are sooo delicious. Though it looks like normal maggie/instant noodle but it also rich in chicken flavor. When I tasted the broth, it was thick and fresh. It really suits my taste. 

After our tummies were filled with satisfaction, we then walked about 20 minutes to Namba area.  This area is the center of Osaka's night life. They have Glico-man and Namba bridge. I'm not sure why Glico-man is so special but I knew that Namba bridge is believed to be a place where you might find your true love. I heard it from my boss and she asked us to go there. 

One photo at Namba bridge for our boss, as a proof that we followed her advice. 

After taking our pictures, watching people from around the world trying to find the best angle in front of Glico-man, breathing Osaka's night life, pray for our boss's advice come true, we then walked back to our hotel. It took us about 20 minutes. One of many best things about Japan is its safety. Even though we were walking during the late night but we felt at ease, totally different from any other countries I've been.

I'm gonna continue with the 2nd Day in Japan in the next entry.

Jejak Japan [Day 0] [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3]

Monday, January 29, 2018

Postgraduate financial assistance in UTP

Posted by NER on January 29, 2018 with No comments

This entry is the continuation of my post entitled Master study, how to survive? which I wrote back in 2011 when I was a student. In that post I shared about the financial assistances for Msc and PhD students in Malaysia, some of it already outdated. So in this post I want to add another interesting option for the financial assistance in Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS.

In UTP, we have this financial assistance called Graduate Assistant (GA). Every lecturer is given a certain numbers of GA for them to offer to their potential students to perform MSc study under him/her. In simple term, even though the lecturer does not have a grant, she/he can still supervise a MSc student. A very good initiative by university to enhance research activities.

Under GA program, student's tuition fees, including semester fee and research methodology are covered by university and the best thing is the student will be paid monthly. This program is for the full-time research student only. Students will be assigned 5 hours of academic activities per week in the form of tutorials or laboratory demonstration or any other related academic activities and 22 research days per month.

Monthly subsistence allowance are:

MSc Student: RM1,300.00
PhD Student: RM1,600.00

If you are interested to be an MSc or PhDstudent in my department, Chemical Engineering, you may find the list of lecturers' research area and their contact info at

Saturday, January 27, 2018

[Book Review] 1 month 1 book challenge 2017

Posted by NER on January 27, 2018 with No comments
My time has been extremely packed with academic content. Not that I'm complaining, I love them all. One should not stop learning and always strives to gain more knowledge continuously. However, starting last year I decided to squeeze in fiction novels into my reading routine. It has been many years since I read a fiction novel. My last novel was Sundowners by Lesley Lokko, dated back in 2014. 

I enjoyed reading novels very much but with my study & job I forgot about my hobby. So in 2017, I created a challenge using Goodreads. The challenge called #1month1bookchallenge2017 and it's sole purpose was to makesure I read 1 fiction novel each month from January to December, 12 novels in total.

I would like to share the list of the novels that I've read for my challenge:

1) January

Please forgive me. This is not a fiction novel but a real story of a real person. I pick this book as the 1st book to start my challenge so that I understand her story and be inspired by it. To tell you the truth, I'm more amazed by her father's spirit. 

2) February

From my first book, I had a great interest in what's happening in Middle East. Then I heard about Mr Khaled Hosseini's Kite Runner. But I couldn't find it in MPH Ipoh so I settled with his other book. And the Mountains Echoed did not fail to keep me engaged since this is actually my first fiction novel. It was about the relationship between siblings who got separated because of their unfortunate family situation. 

3) March

While searching for my next novel, my colleague offered me this novel and it's a match made by heaven because I love thriller and crime genre. After all the tragedy from previous novel, I found this novel was really relaxing at the same soothing my emotion. I was in my zone.

4) April

Hello Mr Grisham, meet your new fan. This book kept me engaged throughout the story & if its gonna be adapted for a big screen, I hope Mr Denzel Washington will be the main character. Suits him really well. This story is somehow similar with a Korean drama, Innocent Defendant. Both MCs are lawyers, had unfair trials, blamed for the crime they didn't commit, made breaking out of jail look like very simple & got the best revenge. 

After reading this book, I bought another 5 John Grisham's novels. hehe.

5) May
Very Jdorama-ish. The beginning was so melancholic and depressing to a point where it affected my own mood. Luckily Murakami Sensei's writing style is strangely beautiful that prevented me from stop reading it. The ending was not what I expected, it's actually even better that I've imagined. Great book after 2 continuous crime novels. There are two main reasons why I picked this out-of-my-genre novel; 1) I will go to Japan in end of May, perhaps can give me insight of Japanese manners and 2) I was told by my student that he used to think about ending his own life, somewhat similar with Tsukuru. A book to learn and understand about depression, and how you can get out from it. 

6) June
I'm back with Mr Grisham's novel this month. I sort of needing to get back to my genre after being emotionally wounded by the previous novel. This book supposed to finish in June but with all events & travelling, it extended to second day of July. A Time to Kill is about a father (black man) taking law into his hand by killing 2 white men who had raped & tortured his 10-yr old daughter. The story tells how his lawyer defending him against all pressure, racism, threats from radical groups etc. I enjoyed all 738 pages of the story however, I still feel the ending is kinda rush. They have a movie adaptation from  this book but I didn't see it yet. 

7) July

This book is weird, in a good way. It involves supernatural thing and you really need to focus understand the story. It also gives details story about relationship between human and elephant and somewhere along the line, it makes you think that human and female elephant have more similarity than we can imagine. That's the feeling I got from this book. 

8) August
I chose this book because it won Pulitzer award and Bookdepository gave interesting discount. Since it's not belong under my favorite genre i struggled to finish the book. This book tells about 2 different lights from the point of views of 2 children who lived during Worldwar II. The orphan boy lived in Germany was obsessed with invisible light in electromagnetic spectrum ie. Radio & radar to know about what is happening outside of his shelter home. While the blind girl from France desires just visible light more than anything. This book is heavy with geography, history and physics which has forced me to dig into world map, wikipedia and trigonometry. Great book with excellent character development though I don't like the ending.

9) September
Amidst all special programs happening in busy Sept., I stubbornly chose an autobioraphy to keep my #1month1bookchallenge2017 going. This book however, despite its heavy & disturbing content (banned in some schools & libraries), was saved by its laid-back style of writing. And to be able to tell about your trauma, life & people around you in that easygoing manner, one has to be as good as late Mrs Marguerite. By telling her stories, she spoke directly to your emotions. I was laughing when she made a joke about the Reverend and cried when she was hurt by someone she knows. I have nothing but respect to a book that saves many abused victims' souls while telling them "it's not your fault and do not give up".

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." Maya Angelou.

10) October

I wish I didn't pick this book. I even had to take a breather in the middle of reading it (that page where Amir turned his back on Hasan). This book makes me thing that life can be so unfair to certain people and it is terribly upsetting when bad things only happens to good people. Lots of things happening at the other side of the globe. A good book to learn two or more about them. 

11) November

This book tells about Mr Chick who was on his way to kill himself and decided to check his deceased mother's house for the last time. Then he got into an accident which changed everything he believed in. A book that'll increase your respect & love for your parents especially Mak. Initially I thought this book was a non-fiction novel because the author shared his mother's picture at the last page. 

12) December
I decided to end my 2017 challenge with my favorite author's novel and of course it is belonged to my favorite genre. There's movie adaptation for this novel and on of the characters is played by Mr Denzel Washington. Just like I imagined. However the main character for this story is a girl who managed to unravel the mystery of the whole judge assassinations and that girl is only a law student. She made a report named "Pelican Brief" that shakes the whole country.

All in all, I'm so happy with my dedication and discipline to read this much. I thought I will stop in the middle of it but I pulled it off. Alhamdulillah. Now I'm continuing my reading challenge again for 2018. The goal is the same, 12 books in 12 months. Gambatte!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jejak Naruto di Jepun: Day 0

Posted by NER on January 11, 2018 with No comments

I wanna share about my recent visit to Japan. It was a great visit, obviously because I got to watch Naruto Musical Live Action right in his hometown. That's one of my bucket list.

Day 0 - Experience all types of transportation while you can

We started our journey from Seri Iskandar to KL Sentral via ETS. Since both of us are not used to train system, we decided to commute to KLIA2 from KL Sentral via the expensive KLIA train express. We boarded on AirAsia flight at 3pm and arrived at Haneda Airport at 12pm. The best thing about Haneda Airport is they provide a prayer room for Muslim. After performing our solat and rest outside of the prayer room, we took a bus transit to Narita Airport. We decided to board on Jetstar flight from Narita Aiport to KIX Airport because it costs lesser.

There are 2 halal restaurants in Narita Airport. We had Japanese chicken curry for our lunch in La Toque. They were delicious! Different from curry we have in Malaysia.

From KIX Airport to Namba OCAT Station we took the airport bus Limousin. Namba OCAT Station in the center for all transportation in Osaka. You can find taxi, train, subway, bus in this station.

I'm very impress with their punctuality and manners. All buses and trains are very punctual and have a very systematic operation. While taking the limousin bus, I can see many baseball fields, just like Diamond no Ace anime. From Namba Ocat, we took a subway to our hotel, Picnic Hotel. I love this hotel. It's very close to Sakuragawa subway station. It also near the Namba Bridge and Glico-man. The owner is friendly and the place is clean. We stayed 2 nights in this hotel.

So that's all about our journey to arrive at Osaka.


1) If you are visiting in a group, makesure everyone has his/her own Japan's simcard and have internet data. Don't share wifi. We bought ours from Hello1010 and it worked really good.

2) Use Googlemap to go anywhere any place. If Waze is convenient in Malaysia, Googlemap is the best in Japan. It showed the station & train's name and color. 

Jejak Japan [Day 0] [Day 1] [Day 2]