Torii Gate Fushimi Inari Japan Miaw

Tethered to Japan

I miss Japan terribly. I have written about before. But the yearning for the land of the rising sun kept coming back, each time stronger than ever, when I can’t do anything about it. Yet.

I miss holding the sticky seaweed part of the onigiri before putting it into my mouth. I miss standing in front of the shrine, feeling both insignificant and blessed at the same time.

I miss hunting for a winter jacket in Harajuku because the one I brought wasn’t cool, thick, thin, long or basic enough.

I miss the back and forth bowing. I miss hunting interesting food and unique skin-care in the supermarket. I even miss the multi-purpose hotel spray.

And oh, don’t even let me start with the train! I miss the train, the train station and the long train rides.

I miss the familiar and tantalizing smell of coffee around the Good Day coffee shop on top of the Oshiage train station. I miss the calming voice in the speaker on the elevator, train and train station.

I even miss the tet..tet..tet.. sounding traffic light.

I miss how happy I am once I reach Japan. I miss the excitement of seeing the Torii Gates on the horizon. I miss finding kawaii stationary. I miss sitting down in the Starbucks, sipping coffee, writing my journal or simply reading a book or chit-chatting with Fafa. I miss spending hours in Kinokuniya bookstore. I miss eating rice burger for breakfast and strawberry cake for dessert.

I miss celebrating I miss celebrating New Year in Japan.

I miss roaming around Tsukiji fish market. I miss being an outsider while partaking in the culture. I miss learning and experiencing new and unusual things that are Japan.

I am tethered to Japan.

It’s the only pocket of the world that I obsess about. Which is not great since I still have the whole world to fall in love with. But as they say, the heart wants what it wants.

Echuca Farm Stay Diary: Day 7

Happy New Year from a liminal space in Echuca!

Today is our last day in the farmhouse. Though I’d love to stay for much longer time (weeks if not months), I am grateful for the short time I had here. It recharged me completely ━ mind, soul and body. I feel refresh and rejuvenated. Ready to conquer (no, not “slaying” my year anymore ━ from now onwards, I will be respectful of the new year) 2021.

I closed 2020 by eating 12 grapes and thanking the Universe all the good things I experienced and all the not so good things that helped me grow.

Meanwhile, started 2021 by wishing Fafa and then my parents a Happy New Year (even though it was just 8 PM of a different year on their time) and went to sleep peacefully.

I woke up early to have one last breakfast made by Fafa at the farmhouse. Then I ran, meditated, fed the chickens, pulled the tarot card for the year (Ten of Swords!!!) and did the new year tarot spread.

After writing this, the last part of my last farm stay diary series, I have to pack, tidy up the farmhouse and bid goodbye the baby cows, the farm and the house before heading back to Melbourne and forward to 2021.

Rustic Bedroom Echuca Farm Stay Melbourne VIctoria Australia

Echuca Farm Stay Diary: Day 6

Hello from the last day of the unprecedented year.

Today I woke up from yes, another great night sleep. After slathering my face with the pure luxe face oil I got as a free sample, I started reading The New Parisienne by Lindsey Tramuta in bed.

I was in the middle of writing the annual post of “The Year I..” when Fafa called me for brekkie. Today he only made egg on toast anticipating the delicious lunch date in the town.

I published the above post, pulled a card representation for the year-end (King of Cups), went running, clocked 150km for the year, and sat to do one of my new year rituals; writing my new year intentions and goals, resolutions, and sharing the process with Jik.

2021 Intentions, Goals and Resolutions

By then, it was almost lunchtime. We got ready and drove half-hour in the scorching heat. We had lunch at the Monkey Coo & Asian Kitchen. My order wasn’t as good this time, but the crab spring rolls appetiser was yummy!

Before leaving Echuca town centre, we made a short stop at Candle Scents as I wanted to give a small thank you token to the farmhouse owner who has been so courteous throughout our stay, even when we broke the bathtub yesterday.

It was past 3 PM when we were back in the farmhouse. Since it was too hot to do anything and it’s a liminal space day anyway, after feeding the chickens, I changed into Pjs, opened a new bottle of wine and started journaling.

I wrote my last gratitude list for the year, tarot related goals for the next year and any random things I can think of in between, with the pink-sky backdrop which can be seen from the dinning room where I am writing this from. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

After this as my previous days’ routine, I am going to shower, watch Come Dine With Me on SBS Food, have steak dinner (Fafa’s new year’s eve speciality), drink more wine in the name of festivity, write a bit more, greet the cows, wish my parents an early Happy New Year, read, eat 12 grapes as another new year tradition, drink tea, watch Dexter, pray and go to bed early-ish so I can greet the new year in peace and gratitude.

Happy New Year’s Eve ━ hope you are celebrating it the way you want.

Echuca Farm Stay Melbourne VIctoria Australia

Echuca Farm Stay Diary: Day 5

Another good night sleep (Fafa complained that I started all my recent entries with the status of my sleep ━ it’s a diary, Fa, That’s how I write my diary) and stayed in bed for some time while Fafa cooked us Farmer’s breakfast. I so can get adjusted to this morning routine!

Chicken Echuca Farm Stay Melbourne VIctoria Australia

After breakfast and doing my daily tarot-card draw (Four of Wands), we went out to feed Korona and Kovid ━ the chickens, and I continued walking around the compound for some morning bird-watching session. It’s one of the self-care activities that nourish the old-soul in me.

After an hour in the blazing sun and failing to see any bird from close-proximity, I gave up. More than this, Amma for sure would complain of me being tanner than usual.

Since it’s our anniversary (we met in a bar in Singapore 11 years ago) we thought we would do something different instead of lazing around the farmhouse. We ended up driving to Bendigo town and roamed around the unexpectedly pleasant art-gallery there.

Aboriginal Painting Bendigo Art Gallery Moon

My favourite pieces include the dot paintings, the 1800s European paintings with strong oriental influenced and a wood-block painting of Asakusa temple. There were also beautiful indigenous pattern silk scarf and moon inspired jewellery made by local indigenous artist. In the end, I got the paper towel for our home and a zipper case for Jik, both in a same aboriginal print.

Art-upped, we walked around the town centre for some late lunch, forgetting for a moment that we were in a small town in Australia and nothing opens past 3 PM except for some chain restaurants.

Grill’d is a famous burger chain in Australia that claimed that they make healthy burgers. Since I’m not fond of burgers at all, I have never tried them, until today. It was okay, but not something I would go for again if there is any other choice.

Despite the lunch blunder, I like Bendigo, dare I say, more than Echuca. On the drive back home I told Fafa, I could retire there. He pretended not to hear me.

One-hour later, we were back in the Echuca farm. Just in time for me to shower, write the anniversary card I got for Fafa and watch an hour of Come Dine With Me together. After this, I am going do the Cold full-moon in Cancer (The Chariot) tarot spread, call my parents and read. Later tonight, if the wind storm is not so bad, Fafa and I are going to do some star-gazing.

Not a bad way to celebrate anniversary, eh?

Murray River Paddlesteamers Echuca

Echuca Farm Stay Diary: Day 4

I woke up from another day of excellent sleep and a bit later than usual, but why not eh? After all, it’s my vacation days. I pulled the card of the day ━ Page of Wands ━ journaled a bit about it while updating my to-do list for the next two days and next year.

After breakfast, we went to the Echuca town centre, which is best to be avoided during the holiday season as it’s crowded from assortments of tourist.

We had to go there because it’s also where the Murray River Echuca Paddlestreamer docks. We boarded the 2-hour cruise before noon and sat on the top-deck so we could enjoy the uninterrupted view of the river while enjoying some drinks and reminiscing the old times.

After the recommendation of a colleague, I booked the paddle streamer, but I came with low expectations. I mean, I have seen the Murray River before, it’s brown. How fun could it be cruising through at brown coloured water, I thought. It turned out to be a scenic journey where we got to see the other side of Echuca, including the camping site, private-boat families, kayaking couples, inns by the river and a gorgeous glasshouse.

By the time they put us back on the land, we were hungry and decided to try our luck to find a decentish food in the very crowded town centre. After being turned down by a couple of places, we went inside Monkee & Co Asian Kitchen. Again, I kept my expectation low because I couldn’t see any Asian running the restaurant. I was proven wrong the second time today. The coconut lime seafood curry I ordered was sublime! So was Fafa’s Rendang Bao, so much so that suggested we go there again tomorrow.

Back at the farmhouse, I fed the chickens (which I named Kovid and Korona), lit the Christmas candle I got on a hefty discount from the lovely people at The Candle Scent and put the flowers we got from Coles into a vase and settled for a nap. But I was too restless (maybe too well-rested?), so I went to the beautifully-lit kitchen to try a new summer salad recipe.

This time it included avocado, watermelon and feta cheese. Once it was ready, we sat for a simple dinner of the said salad and spicy Indo instant noodle.

I took a shower before writing this. The plan was to write today’s happenings and cross-off a few things of my to-do list today, but all I want to do is sit in the living room with the TV on, read a book lazily and drink a chilled glass of wine.

You know what, I might do just that. After all, I am already half-way through my holiday (acutely aware and dreading this), I shall enjoy as much as I can by doing all the things I want and not the things I need/must/should do.

Cancer Full Moon Echuca Farm Stay Melbourne VIctoria Australia

Echuca Farm Stay Diary: Day 3

I might have jinxed it when I wrote about the most peaceful sleep I had in months on my first night here — because neither of us got much sleep yesterday, no thanks to the severe wind storm. It had started yesterday afternoon, but by midnight it was a full-blown storm. The whole house kept rattling and the trees swooshing hard that it kept us awake, tossing and turning all night. On top of that, I was so worried that the strong ass wind would blow the chickens away.

When I saw the sunrise, I called defeat and jumped into the shower to freshen up. After pulling the card of the day (Six of Wands again) checking the chickens were still there and alive, Fafa and I sat for a proper breakfast.

We also met the farm owner, a photographer who lives in the bigger house nearby with her farmer husband and their three young kids. She filled us in with the history of the farmhouse. It was locked for 15 years before they bought and turned it into Airbnb earlier this year.

By mid-morning I couldn’t keep my eyes open and strangely felt cold in the 35-degree weather, so I turned on the heater in the bedroom and started reading the latest book Fafa got me (The New Parisienne: The Women & Ideas Shaping Paris Book by Lindsey Tramuta) before snoozing off.

It was past 1 PM when Fafa woke me up. He offered to drive us to a neighbouring town, Kyabram, for some Thai lunch, which I quickly welcomed since Asian food means rice and I haven’t had rice since the day before yesterday. After a 20 minutes drive, we were greeted by an empty town. There goes my rice dream for the day. We then tried our luck in another town, Rochester and were enticed by the menu board that offered both Thai beef salad and sriracha burger. Unfortunately, once we were inside, they told us they were only serving the display counter food. All were sad looking, but I was already hungry by then. I settled with the savoury scones thinking how bad could a scone be. It was bland bad.

So far, the day wasn’t going as I envisioned it to be. On the way home, Fafa, God bless his heart, offered to cook us some steak tonight, which of course I replied with a “yes please!“.

When we came home, I took another shower to wash the dust and heat off and settled in on the dining table with some grapes, spicy chips and a big glass of wine. With that, I could slowly feel I am back on track with the vacation vibes.

Since the weather was not too crazy and the sky was pretty blue-ish, I went out to greet the cattle that were walking back to the parlour for their second and last milking of the day.

By the time I came back, Fafa had started preparing the steak. With an addition of the quick-n-easy Aunty Jen’s summer salad (this time I added the zucchini freshly plucked from the farm) , a glass of wine and a bottle of Furphy we sat for a delicious meal.

After dinner, I prepared a bath for myself using one of the three Lush bath bombs I treated myself for Diwali. Who knew, soaking in the bathtub with a glass of wine while listening to the Wildly Tarot podcast was exactly what my soul, body and mind needed to heal and rejuvenate.

I feel so relaxed. Tonight I have a back to back Come Dine With Me starting from 10 PM, Gone Surfing tea from T2Tea to keep me warm and Home Body by Rupi Kaur downloaded on my kindle. Oh, also some stargazing in between ━ it’s almost full moon (CancerThe Chariot) tonight and it looks so beautiful.

Echuca Farm Stay Melbourne VIctoria Australia

Echuca Farm Stay Diary: Day 1

Hello from Echuca!

I just got done with the night shower and poured myself another glass of red, while waiting for my green-tea paste face-mask to dry so I can wash it off.

Let me tell you about our first day of the farm stay

After a 3-hour drive from Melbourne, going around almost four empty towns that reminded me of Timaru in New Zealand and after a short pit stop for double patty burgers in the summer heat peak, we reached the farm we will be staying at for a week.

The farmhouse looked rundown from the outside, but it had a rustic-charm in the inside. The house, as to how Fafa and I agreed on, has a soul. It is precisely the kind of home we love – complete with the wooden floorboards with a creaking sound, huge rustic windows adorned with french curtains, vintage-tiled bathroom floor and a clawfoot tub, rattan bed frame and plenty of mazes to give us the illusion of extra space.

So far, we have gone out to play in the backyard (frontyard?), fed the chickens, cooked dinner (instant noodles with buttered eggs) — accompanied by a delicious locally-sourced glass of red wine.

While Fafa watched the boxing day test match between Australia and India, I finished reading The Alchemist. What a book! I am so going to re-read it again, but not immediately since I have brought another five books to read during the trip. Right now though, I am going to wash my face, pour myself another glass of red, turn the TV on and binge-watch my favourite local SBS Food channel until we both fall asleep on the big and super cozy sofa.

Staycation Tarot Spread Moon Void Tarot

Meletos Staycation Tarot Spread

Last year Fafa got me a staycation at Meletos farmhouse as a birthday gift. Fifteen months and one more birthday later, we are finally going there this weekend. I pulled a few cards to re-create my go-to travel spread.

Travel Spread position —

  1. My vibe during the staycation
  2. The staycation’s energy
  3. Something to focus on or be mindful of during the staycation
  4. A must (do/see/experience) on the staycation
  5. The staycation’s highlights
  6. Souvenir or lesson learned from the staycation

Here is my reading for our Meletos staycation —

My vibe during the trip: Justice

When this card appears the Universe is working on restoring the balance.

OMG Yes! YES, 100% Yes. After experiencing burn-out in the past few weeks, I am counting on this staycation will help to tip the scale and bring it back to the work-life balance I strive for.

The staycation’s energy: Queen of Pentacles

Deep connection with nature.

For me, the Queen of Pentacles here represent Meletos itself. The farmhouse Meletos is a gorgeous boutique hotel located in acres and acres of land with uninterrupted views across vines and apple orchards to the blue-tinged Great Divide. In a word, it’s fancy. And I am so looking forward to just staying in and absorbing the energy.

Something to focus on during the staycation: The Lovers

An excellent time for us to connect, do fun couple activities. I am thinking wine tasting, long walks through the vineyards and bubble bath sesh.

A must (do/see/experience) on the staycation: King of Swords

King of Swords Moon Void Tarot

I struggle to see how the King of Swords would connect with our staycation, so I looked more intently onto the image. The element of fire pops up (also all Kings represent the element of fire). A reminder to get cozy-up by the fireplace maybe?

The staycation’s highlights: Nine of Cups

Nine glass of wine here I come!

Souvenir or lesson learned from the staycation: The Emperor

Similar to the King of Swords earlier, I turned into the image of the card to see its’ correlation with the staycation.

On the Moon Void Tarot deck, The Emperor card is missing the Emperor. It just has his crown and cape left on the throne. It looks like the Emperor is taking a break himself. It reminds me that everyone, even the Emperor, could benefit from taking a break from the daily duties now and then.

Japan Shrine

I Miss Japan

We have celebrated both Christmas and New Year in Japan the past three years.

If it wasn’t because of Covid, by now, we would have bought the tickets, applied for the visa and booked our room at One@Tokyo hotel in Oshiage.

In a pandemic-sans world, by now, I would have made a complete itinerary on what to do, eat and see day by day in Japan. I would have started counting my days before our trip. Today would have been day-30 as we usually travel on the 24th December.

Like how it was in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

I know, in a grander scheme, I am not allowed to complain given how good life is going at the moment.

But I also know something will feel incomplete on the 1st of January when we are not ringing in the new year with sushi and sake. And that I won’t have the usual Japan Trip: The Good, The New and The Culture post published on the blog on the first week of next year.

I also can’t help but wonder if we had gone to Japan this year, what kind of things we would have gotten to experience there.

Maybe soaking in the Kusatsu Onsen or eating the famous Nozawana pickles. Maybe we would have gone to Tottori or at least Hiroshima. Maybe I would have the chance to practice the language I have been dedicating 10 minutes a day to learn for the most part of the year.

Maybe I would get to tick off from my ultimate Japan trip list or maybe add more to it. I would be okay either way because I will always miss Japan.