A Weekend in Whitby

Last Saturday, Weston Hall organised a trip to Whitby for only £5 so despite not knowing where Whitby actually is and going against my natural instinct to sleep in and laze around on a weekend, I agreed to join the trip with Rumin.

It turns out Whitby is a sleepy coastal fishing town on the eastern shore of England. And when I say sleepy, I really do mean so because of the perpetually gloomy sky (Rebecca, a British Chinese who is also a Weston Hall resident whom I knew through Rumin, reminded us that this is how English weather actually is in contrast to the sunny days we’ve been having in Manchester for weeks now), colder and windier weather and also the fact that the tiny village is mostly populated by senior folks walking their dogs on leashes. It was the first time I’d seen so many senior citizens and/or dogs in the UK.

The bus journey to Whitby was rather tumultuous; I was greeted once again by my good ol’ friend motion sickness and the driver had to pull over with 30 minutes left into town and I had to walk into the nearest butcher’s shop to bashfully ask for a plastic bag that served as a mere placebo because the absence of it only made me more anxious and thus, made the nausea worse. Rumin brought up that if I did puke in the bus, at least it would be something I could write here. I didn’t puke, but I’ll write this in anyway.

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Ironically enough, it was also the first time since landing in the UK that I felt the particular English vibe from my surroundings, if that makes sense? Manchester felt very internationally-influenced. Well, that’s because it is (especially walking along Curry Mile, you’d think we weren’t in the UK at all) and I reckon that’s what makes my experience in Manchester so far so different from my experience in Bath when I stayed with Sa Pek two years ago. Manchester is also an incredibly modernized metropolis, suitably catering to the interests of Generation Y evident in the form of bars, clubs, shopping outlets and fast food joints at every bend of the road and nook of the street. In contrast, Whitby is filled with narrow, winding paths flanked by tiny and quaint shops and cafés. There seems to be a niche market for fudge, toffees and sweets in the quiet town of Whitby.


Grandparents' humour is really something else

Old folk’s humour is really something else



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I got chocolate mint fudge. Worth the £2.25 10/10 would recommend except I probably wouldn't go back to Whitby anytime soon

I got chocolate mint fudge. Worth the £2.25 10/10 would recommend except I probably won’t be going back to Whitby anytime soon

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We then climbed to the top of a hill where the Whitby Abbey was situated, overlooking the entire town.

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Probably the climax of this trip was lunchtime, because we had fish and chips at a town that offered an array of restaurants serving specifically traditional English fish and chips. We had ours at a place called Quayside that had a long queue (you know something’s good when you have to wait for it) and a poster stuck to its display window claiming the bragging right of winner of the National Fish & Chips Award 2014. I really ought not to be surprised anymore by the absurd amount of things people give awards for but I was still astounded by how…English that was.

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After lunch we continued strolling around with ample time to kill.

There was also a huge row of parlours like this that reminded me a lot of pachinko parlours (I miss Japan)

There was also a huge row of parlours like this that reminded me a lot of SEGA arcades and pachinko parlours (I miss Japan so much)

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Why the Whitby Tour Bus gotta look like a minion

Why the Whitby Tour Bus gotta look like a minion

a ROCK concert hell yes!!!! this is my kind of content

a ROCK concert hell yes!!!! this is my kind of content


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The last time I was at a beach was probably two years ago during the Northern Road Trip at Batu Ferringhi. The Whitby beach was cold and windy and looked the part for the setting of an RL Stine book but it was actually pretty soothing looking at and listening to the waves washing ashore as well as the multiple dogs running around in the sand playing catch with their owners.

Me: *points at the sea* If you squint and look very very very far into the distance, you can almost see- Rumin, unamused: Malaysia? Me: Yes!!!!!! Rumin: I knew you'd say that

Me: *points at the sea* If you squint and look very very very far into the distance, you can almost see-
Rumin, unamused: Malaysia?
Me: Yes!!!!!!
Rumin: I knew you’d say that




Despite not actually doing anything in Whitby for the whole day (we did do some shopping though…in Poundland…I bought nine rolls of toilet paper, two tubes of toothpaste and three packets of biscuits, all only for £4. You have no idea how happy I was to find a toilet roll pack of nine for £1 I’ve never seen such a good deal before in any other Poundland/Poundworld franchise in Manchester) we were pretty exhausted by the time we were to board the bus back to Manchester. Rumin was functioning on merely three hours of sleep the previous night and I had a motion sickness pill before the journey started so we were both out for the whole two hours plus of the return journey.

Overall, this weekend getaway wasn’t exactly exciting or stimulating, but it was pretty nice to go somewhere different for once. I’ve only been here for almost three weeks and I’m already starting to get bored of Manchester, which is highly worrying. If anything, I got to see a lot of dogs that day and that in itself was already worth the £5 trip. Always the dogs. I’ll always do it for the dogs.

+ Add New Category: Larger Than Lifesize

Despite the tears and frustrations and headaches it induced, I count it as a small blessing that the complications that arose concerning the issuing of my flight ticket managed to at least occupy some (if not all) of my time and thoughts just a few hours prior to flying off, as the alternative would probably be a breakdown about leaving home and my parents and everything I’ve ever known to fly to a foreign country filled with strangers.

But in the end, the ticket arrived the night before I was to fly and things were finally final but I still felt like I couldn’t really register what was actually happening.

The airport scene was as if not more horrible than I’d pictured, and it still makes my chest heavy even when I think about it now. It was a vicious cycle of me crying and my parents crying and then me crying even harder because they were crying and then came the painful ripping off of the band-aid I’ve known as the comfort of home and my parents all my life at the goddamn descending escalator to the international departure hall. I couldn’t stop crying, and frankly, I didn’t care that I was red-rimmed around the eyes and sniffing back snot in front of so many people (and future university mates at that) because I didn’t have the available mental capacity left to hide my feelings from the rest of the world.

My last conversations in Malaysia besides my parents were with Taliza, Chok, Bellyn and the Shiba Inu whatsapp group comprising of Mei, Ellie, Effie and Atikah, which made the farewell less painful and frightening. And when I was finally seated comfortably (as comfortably as I could, anyway) in the fourth seat to the right of the middle aisle on the flight to Amsterdam, feeling the convulsions and tremors led by the rumbling of the plane engine ready to take off, sensing the briefly startling weightlessness and pressure against my temples when the wheels were no longer in contact with the runway ground, all I could feel was an odd sense of tranquility, suppressing both the heavy boulder of fear and fervent spark of excitement that were dwelling on completely different ends of my emotional spectrum.

The flight was fine; there is literally nothing else I can say to describe it besides the fact that I was doing some heavy repressing the entire time as I struggled to sleep while being jolted awake by anxiety several times and having to watch anime or read fic on my phone to remind myself that I am here, I am doing this, I am quite literally on a plane to a country 10,000km away from home to attend university. And ironically, the disbelief kept me grounded (haha).

Upon reaching Amsterdam, I suddenly acquired the energy of a million suns, despite running on at the very most an hour of sleep and facing a 5-hour transit for my next flight to Manchester. Unlike many other times back at home, I didn’t allow myself to think about running away, mostly because there was no way I could do that, and also because I managed to convince myself that I didn’t want to, and it wasn’t untrue because university in UK was something I’d been looking forward to since before A Levels even ended. So when I finally touched down at Manchester airport, feeling the highest degree of exhaustion and physical grossness, my heart was a leaping organ of joy and anticipation, taking all my surroundings in with a huge grin on my face. The green signboards with the Transport font along the road, the chilly antithetic weather of the English lands, the Northern British accents that felt like music to my ears at the time; I took everything in greedily, feeling so so excited to be in Manchester, befuddled by the newness of everything around me, ready to set out and explore anything and everything. I was slowly developing a migraine in the bus from the fatigue, but I was still capable of romanticizing everything I saw and heard and felt.

Perhaps more than anything, I was most excited to reach my room (as I’d mentioned before in the previous post, owning a room of my own in university was one of the things I was most excited about, don’t ask me why that is because I probably can’t give you an answer you won’t frown in ludicrousness at) in Weston Hall. Immediately after dumping my luggage in my room, I ran out to meet Rumin, who had already arrived a day before on a different flight to London. Despite being absolutely drained of all energy (I was already beating my record of still being conscious and moving after 24+ hours of being awake when I went to Japan) I still had to get bedsheets to sleep in so I followed Rumin to city centre where I got bedsheets and a duvet from Primark, had my first meal in UK (in a Japanese restaurant, how predictable) and bought some necessities from Wilko before passing out at around 10PM before I really had the time to start ruminating about a new routine I was about to have and being intimidated by a brand new set of four walls surrounding me.

The first week of orientation and welcome week was spent Chasing. That is the most accurate term I can come up for how hectic things were that week. As it rightfully should be, many would justify, since there was no lack of events and activities listed out in the little Welcome Week itinerary we were each given.

Like I said, I don’t remember specifically what I did during the first week; the only memories I have are of flurries of activities rushing to the next best thing on the itinerary and we would only stop when we were hungry and/or our tired limbs couldn’t carry us any further only would be retire for the night. I did the international check-in and collected my BRP and student card, visited Primark, Arndale (which was the main shopping mall of the city of Manchester) and the outrageously ginormous Asda to stock up on food, toiletries and homeware, paid the Student’s Union bar a visit at night to further our education on the English social drinking culture, took photos at the critically acclaimed Manchester Gay Village and went sightseeing around Old Trafford and Salford (during which I took photos of the Etihad Stadium to show my MU supporting friends and received unaware backlash as response).

Salford Quays

Yours truly, Ee Min and Yee Lin

I slept really well that week because I was usually dead on my feet each time I came back and there was no time to even stop to think about anything else.

The previous excitement I’d felt at Amsterdam wasn’t entirely gone, but I could also feel some sense of disappointment trickling in. I’m not sure if they were fuelled by repressed homesickness and a craving for familiarity in the form of friends and fandom or if I’d subconsciously harboured a set of ridiculously high expectations for uni, of which they weren’t met at all.

Freshers’ Fair was pretty exciting, I signed up for a lot of clubs and societies purely based on the question of “What would the ideal Michelle do” so I signed up for the uni magazine editorial board, the creative writing society, the journalism society, the UoM blog society, the anime club, the volleyball club and the basketball club.

That weekend, MULS (Manchester University Law Society) had a bar crawl event at Fallowfield and despite the whole bar scene not being our thing, Ee Min, Yee Lin and I decided to check it out anyway since we were granted free entrance given our membership status. It was a 30 minute walk from Victoria Park (where Ee Min and Yee Lin are staying at) in the immense cold and when we got there, only KY, CC and Jia Yang got drinks and then we huddled around a table and played spin the bottle on my phone to make the guys’ £4 entrance fee worth the longer period of stay. And then it was another long walk back to Victoria Park where I stayed at Yee Lin’s place in Canterbury Court for the night. We woke up at 1PM the next day and lazed around Opal Gardens (Ee Min and CC’s residence) reading, watching anime on the projector in their common room and playing badminton.

It was a really relaxing weekend and I loved the contrasting lazy inactivity compared to the busyness of the entire past week. It was good recharging time.

I also cooked lunch for myself during that week and it tasted bland but it was actually Not Too Bad.

On Sunday night, it was mid-autumn festival and I was silently lamenting not being able to eat mooncake this year (I don’t really eat a lot of mooncakes back home but I guess you don’t realise what you’ve lost until it’s gone) when my Chinese flatmates offered some pieces of the HK-style mooncakes they got from Chinatown and I felt really warm and happy that night as I chatted with my flatmates over free pizza after that.

Thank you Bill, Ony and Siwei!

Law induction week started on Monday, and we attended our first lecture introducing us to the basic aspects of law – human rights and morality. It was very general but it got our rusty mind gears going after nine months of stagnancy but honestly? The sessions were pretty interesting and thought-provoking and I just hope this optimism for my law degree course lasts throughout the three years (it usually never does).

Nicole, Xue Wen, yours truly, Ash, Ee Min and Yee Lin (and friends of the photographer photobombing in the back. Aw cute)

On Monday evening, I played volleyball.

And this is kinda a huge thing!!! I mean, I did play volleyball before with Bellyn and Yu Chia but this was different because this was the real thing and it was on a real court in a real sports centre overlooked by a real volleyball coach and it made me so nervous and excited at the same time. It was team trials so naturally I was worried because I’ve never actually really played Real Volleyball TM before but it turned out that I wasn’t the only one. There was a massive turnout and honestly I was a bit sad that there wasn’t any real coaching but some people tossed for us (I received all of them really badly) (but our setter was a Chinese girl and she was wearing a volleyball jersey and she was so pro I couldn’t stop staring everytime she tossed and received) and then we rotated through games of six people like in a real game!!!!! I avoided the ball a lot of the time to the extent that someone asked why I didn’t go after it even though it was heading right for me (it was heading right for me and my face so I got scared and dodged) and I got so embarrassed and started running after the ball everytime after that. I managed to get one serve over the net though I was so happy and proud!!!!! Overall I didn’t really get to  play a whole lot (and whose fault might that be hmm I wonder) but it was so immensely fun even though I sucked and I honest to god want to join the free weekly training sessions in October.

Who would’ve thought I would be a cooking and sports enthusiast at 20 years old????? Not the Michelle of the past 19 years

Tuesday night was spent eating Thai food in UK for the first time at Try Thai in Chinatown with Jovaynne, also an Alor Setarian who I was meeting for the first time. She’s a really lovely person and my social ineptness usually means that I’m terrifyingly awkward around people I’m meeting for the first time but that wasn’t the case this time; I felt very at ease with the company and had a great night out overall.

There was a gathering held by the Malaysian Students’ Society Manchester on Wednesday afternoon at Whitworth Park and the huge Malaysian population in Manchester no longer surprised me, although the large number of Malaysians taking law kind of did. I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone but I can literally walk along any road or sit down at any café and hear the all too familiar Manglish accent coming from behind or the table next to mine.

It feels very comforting to be honest, like there’s a certain kinship between us as a group in this foreign white country. Like I know the whole “don’t just stick to Malaysians when you’re overseas” thing and I agree with horizons expansion but I can’t help but feel a social barrier prompted mostly by cultural differences when it comes to foreigners. Not saying that I’m running away entirely by this form of intimidation but there is a hint of determent that requires an abnormal amount of effort and some days I can’t even pick someone to call when I’m feeling bad so I’m working on that, even though it might be at a supremely slow pace.

Towards the end of the gathering, my head was starting to feel really heavy and I could feel the first traces of a headache settling in, coupled with sudden nausea churning in my gut. I felt so tired and my lazy eye was starting to throb and hurt but activities weren’t over yet and I couldn’t afford to shut down and be quiet when my mind was constantly going “Don’t leave a bad first impression or you won’t even get a second one” and I didn’t want to turn quiet and unapproachable when everyone was going around making sociable rounds between conversation groups but I was also so exhausted and I’d been in the cold in a mere cardigan for 2+ hours. I felt like I had an unspoken self-obligation to fulfil, something that I had to do or suffer the horrible consequences of ruminating regret and guilt later.

In the end, I gave in and went completely silent, secluding myself from the crowds despite the fact that there was a tiny part within me that was still ringing the “Go and socialise!!!! Be sociable!!!!”. But I didn’t have the mental or even physical capability of any more social interactions, feeling comfortable enough when it was only me, Ee Min and Yee Lin walking to the bus stop in front of Students’ Union. On the bus back to Weston alone, I started to feel the energizing effects of recharging. Upon reaching Weston, the headache was gone and my stomach didn’t hurt that bad anymore.

But that’s the irony, because the relief of finally recharging alone was swiftly replaced by the ten-tonne feeling of loneliness as I lied down on my bed because everything still felt so new and fragile here and it made me so afraid. Everything and everyone and everywhere felt so precarious because they still felt so foreign, like I’d not nailed in the solid foundation allowing me to cling onto that will breed familiarity and comfort and stability. And that’s pretty problematic right! University is all about tearing away from a safety net and learning to be independent and brave and going on adventures and trying new things just like what all the kids do these days! God I feel so old and bitter since coming here

And yet there I was, feeling so inexplicably alone as I wept at my mum’s Facebook messages and masochistically watched and scrolled through old videos and photos that just led to more throat constricting feelings.

It also didn’t help that I kept on drawing comparisons about my new beginning in university with my previously new beginning in college, wondering where I went wrong this time when I was able to be so outgoing and optimistic during the start of college. I was trying to hit the middle ground between being sociable enough that I wasn’t unapproachable but also not too sociable that it would be a false and misleading representation of who I really am and would thus lead to extreme exhaustion to keep up the image.

It has been some pretty tiring weeks in university, even more so that I’m still trying to establish an identity for myself here, one that wouldn’t leave me feeling lonelier than I already am but would also enable me to feel confident of myself and do things on my own. I’m struggling at this more than I thought I would, but hopefully once classes start and there is a regular routined rhythm I can fall into once again, things will get better and even if they don’t, at least I’ll be occupied enough to not overthink things.

But in all reality, things probably aren’t as bad as they seem. In fact, if I was able to get my head out of the vicious funk I’ve been in, I’d be able to see just how fortunate I am and how many great things lay in wait for me. And I am able to see it, just that it’s drowned out by the intensity of emotions I’m still feeling from the new environment and such. You’d think I’d be able to adapt quickly by now, judging by college and other things I’ve done but no. But then again, university is truly incomparable and at this point I’m just going in circles contradicting myself aiyo how to become lawyer like this

TL;DR, I did a lot of things since coming to Manchester but sometimes I come back to my room and feel sad. It’s okay, though. To paraphrase my good friend Mei, “I’ll survive this”.


Welcome to My Crib: University Edition

About time I did one of these! One of the things I looked forward to the most prior to coming to Manchester was having a room of my own and decorating it to suit my whimsical needs. I daresay it is probably the one thing I am most proud of since coming here, which tells you a lot about my priorities in life.

I am currently staying in Weston Hall in the north city campus, about a 5-minute walk to city centre and 15-minute walk/5-minute bus ride to the main university campus and the law buildings.

IMG_9257 IMG_9241And now my room!IMG_9525Incredibly comfortable and thick duvet from Primark and Broccoli all the way from home.IMG_9526IMG_9527My view is nothing special, literally facing a carpark building. That and the strategic street location leading to Oxford Road that is usually filled with drunk party people on weekend nights.IMG_9528Ah yes, my arsenal of anime posters that I always provide multiple warnings about for people entering my room for the first time. I really don’t have to justify myself but it made the place feel more like a semblance of home (or what home means to me anyway).IMG_9529Please notice: my DIY Milk bag, black clothes hamper from Primark (I’m getting everything in #aesthetic black) and also my new pair of turquoise New Balance that I got for £35!IMG_9530Semblance of Home #2: extremely important wall of photos and stuff given by family and friends that got me through the first week of homesickness.IMG_9531Door. Hallway. New winter coat from New Look. Really comfy Daiso socks that I wear at night.IMG_9532IMG_9533IMG_9536

Exciting times in the toilet.

We don’t speak of comparisons to SMR because it makes our hearts ache.

So there you have it! I’m slowly approaching week two of Manchester now and things have been up and down…fairly frequently…but as I’d said, it’s only week two and I’m trying not to let my negativity and pessimism run wild. I’ll come back with a more proper update soon.

(Welcome to My Crib Part I)

A Week in Manchester

Right now it is 12:28AM and I am partially covered in the incredibly snug and warm duvet I got from Primark for £12. My feet and shoulders ache from walking in the cold with a heavy backpack hanging from my shoulders, but my heart is warm with intense gratitude. My friends have just walked me back to my halls in the freezing cold at night for more than an hour, carrying bags of groceries, a glass bowl and a box of food stuff while I managed to once again, get lost on the way back despite the help of Google maps. An hour prior to that, I had my first homecooked meal in the UK and they were all simple dishes of rice, chicken, vegetables, omelette and mushroom soup, but it was the best meal I’ve had so far since coming here (as it should be, considering the fact that all I’ve eaten since coming here is a nonstop influx of fast food that doesn’t deviate from the likes of pizzas and burgers and fish and chips). It’s only been a week here and I’m already tired of English food.

A week. I tweeted this before; this week didn’t feel like a week at all, it felt like forever. I’ve been so busy since coming here that I hadn’t actually had a proper time to really rest and indulge in comfortable silence and not actually being obliged to do anything.

  1. This being ironic because it’s moments of alone time that really brings out the resurfacing of homesickness and missing people.
  2. Despite being so incredibly busy, I can’t actually recall anything in specific detail if you asked me what I’ve done. It just feels like a giant bulk of information that I need to sift through thoroughly to truly remember where I went and what I did.
  3. It’s quite baffling that Welcome Week would be busier than the actual starting of classes but eh, it’s a good way to keep busy and occupy the mind from wandering off to negative places as it is especially prone to when I’m placed in a new environment and with new people.

I’m too exhausted to write about all the lessons I’ve learned since coming here, the profound discoveries and milestones I’ve made like I’d experienced in Sem 1 in Sunway. I blame this on fatigue but if I were to really think about it, there aren’t actually any magical revelations I can weave long hyperbolic tales about here since the first week has really just been trying not to think about home too much and hoping to Skype with my friends and parents as much as I can after coming home from the day’s activities besides attempting to make my room seem as homely as possible (which, in my case, translates to pasting photographs and anime posters on my wall) . But all in good time; things are improving and I’m trying to keep an open mind. After all, I am in one of the largest cities in the world, attending university as a law student. This trope is already a fic/story/TV show/movie waiting to happen, and my tale is literally only just beginning to be written.

“I’m too tired to write melodramatic hyperboles,” she says as she does exactly just that

But aside from that, there are many challenges to face, and while I cowered in the face of several of them, I triumphed in more. Taking the bus alone, attending a meeting despite knowing no one, making small talk with foreign strangers (the mental checklist of Generic Questions to Ask Strangers For the First Time: 1) Their name 2) What course they are studying 3) Where they are from 4) Where they are currently staying at 4) When did they reach Manchester 5) Have they attended any of the orientation activities 6) Have they met their flatmates 7) Was Manchester their first choice; the list goes on if I’m not too nervous to remember them – sure it’s pretty generic but it helps by easing the tension of first impressions and paving the way for other potential conversational topics) and even signing up for the university’s volleyball team (pretty bold move when I don’t even have sports shoes yet). The weather has been nothing but cold (and rainy in between), as expected of Manchester and I’ve never missed the Malaysian heat more.

There’s definitely more to talk about, but in a later, more “official” post with a room tour perhaps when it’s not past midnight and I don’t feel like the lower part of my body is immobile. University life in Manchester is still more daunting than it is exciting, but I’m being as optimistic as I can, anticipating the greater things and reassuring myself in the face of the lesser ones.

The U Word

I didn’t publicize my previous post anywhere because I felt like it was written very emotionlessly and in a detached manner but I’d posted it anyway for accurate timeline reasons and then reasoned that I’d maybe rewrite it again when I am able to be “”””poignant”””” in my writing again but it’s been a week, and I’m still in this ~floaty~ mood in which I feel everything and nothing at once and I don’t quite know how to articulate it nor put it into words.

But here I am! Here we are! Here it is! The one thing that’s been occupying every single second of my thinking time from the moment I wake up to the moment my head hits the pillow (and sometimes in between too)!


Okay! Cool! Yeah! I’m so! Terrified and sad and excited! If you ask me how I feel about university, that is the honest answer I will give you!

Honestly, the reluctance to leave home isn’t unexpected, but it’s also pretty ironic considering how I’ve been lamenting my days away since A Levels ended, and now that it’s time to finally leave the stagnant period of literally doing nothing that contributes to the productivity of self, family and country, I want to cling onto precisely the comfort and luxury of being able to go to bed at 2AM without a single worry and then wake up the next afternoon agenda-less and commitment-less. It gets so comfortable, so so blissfully cosy and why would anyone trade that for a whole new foreign environment of stressful tertiary studies, living alone in a different country and attempting friendships with people all around the world of different cultures and experiences equipped with only a horrible inaptitude of social appropriateness?

For the sake of growth and progress, you say. Ah. Okay. Well then. Nothing to argue there. Lazy as I admit myself to be, there are certain things in life that require the intake of a deep breath and a steady foot forward, no matter how uncomfortable or terrifying it may be. And for me, one of these things happen to be starting university in the UK next week.

I think the pummelling has not quite yet been delivered in its full strength yet, much like the Emotional Blockage I felt during the last few weeks of leaving Sunway, but it’s on its way. All the packing and rushing around to get everything done before flying off has managed to dull the immediate forceful effect somewhat, but I feel like I’ve been internally bawling for a good few weeks now. I mean, all of this is just mental and emotional preparation for the day itself; I want to lessen the blow of Manchester Day but perhaps nothing I conjure in my mind will beat the mockingly bright airport lights, waving heavy goodbyes to my parents while furiously wiping the tears and snot away on my sleeve.

This feels like the largest thing that has ever happened to me. And perhaps it is.

I’ve been fluctuating between being sad and reluctant to leave to being excited about meeting new people, travelling to new places and “discovering my identity” (I mean this unironically but I don’t know how to make it sound less ironically) to being afraid of having no friends there and being perpetually alone throughout my entire university life so. This. Is it. An insight to (more or less) what I’ve been thinking for the past month. I don’t know how to end this just like I don’t really know. What. To feel. I just hope I am able to cope and accept and adapt and ultimately be independent to survive on my own. And after this 3-year stunt, I know I’ll emerge a changed and improved (hopefully) person and more than anything, I look forward to embodying that Michelle in the future.

Where Did August Go

Immediately after coming back from Japan, there was hardly time to afford lazing around doing nothing as I’d been doing for the past eight months (which felt quite ironically out-of-comfort-zone-ish considering how much I’d been complaining about doing nothing). I made a day trip to KL by flight with Rumin two days after returning from Japan to get my visa done, and was it coincidence or subconsciousness we will never know, we went to places in KL that reminded us of Tokyo, albeit lesser versions: the manga/Japanese magazines section in Kinokuniya, buying more stuff in Uniqlo, Monki and H&M than in Tokyo despite the Japanese branches being larger and offering a wider variety of choices.

Then a week of writing my Japan blogposts later, I went down to Penang for two days to play volleyball with Bellyn and her friends in light of her recently getting into Haikyuu thanks to me apparently. She even got herself a Mikasa volleyball (after her Thai Molten one got carried away by river currents, literally) and it was super fun to pretend that we were on a volleyball court as Haikyuu characters even though it was just us three tossing and receiving in an open field by the road and suffering from bruises that travelled the length of both arms right after. Actually Playing Volleyball was something that wasn’t unthought of after I got into Haikyuu but because the thought of Michelle + Sports was precisely just that, a thought, it remained wishful thinking which is why I’m eternally grateful for that really fun volleyball-filled weekend at Penang with Bellyn. (ball is life thanks haikyuu)11951261_10206634599678234_8496049665309279792_n

Thanks Yu Chia

Thanks Yu Chia / Got that Kagehina and Iwaoi aesthetic covered

Ok we even did a short ridiculous photoshoot thing at the lorong behind Bellyn’s house in which I dressed up as Kenma complete with the Nekoma shirt, a red parka I just bought from Queensbay, and Bellyn’s old St George’s red trackpants oh my god

Thanks Bellyn

The next day after coming back from Penang, I flew to KL with Rumin again for a University of Manchester pre-departure briefing which turned out to be not very informative at all but we had another sort of psuedo-Tokyo day in the city (will we ever get over Japan I don’t think so and I hope not) at Uniqlo, Parkamaya and Tokyo Street (we had udon for lunch). On the train to KLIA2 to fly back to Alor Setar, we received emails stating there was a JPA briefing in Subang in two days’ time and so it was another day of booking flight and hotel tickets and groaning in exasperation at the short notice.

It was also during this time that Bellyn’s dad messaged me on Facebook about holding a surprise farewell party for Bellyn on Wednesday night before she flies off to New York on Thursday. So instead of flying back to Alor Setar, I bought flight tickets to Penang instead after the JPA briefing.

Upon reaching Subang on Tuesday afternoon, Rumin and I visited this owl-themed café that reminded me of Fukurodani and there was even a map of the Tokyo metro station at the table we sat at. At around 2PM, I left for Grafa where I was going to meet Ellie, Mei and Atikah.

It had been about a year since I last saw Ellie and almost two years since I saw Mei and it was my first time meeting Atikah, I was so excited!! I had such a great time hanging out with them, mostly talking about our uni futures in the UK (Mei is going to UAL and Ellie is starting her second year in University of Kent) and meeting up, when Atikah visits too. Of course, we also talked about anime

I sat in Mei’s car for the first time as she dropped me off at Sunway Pyramid after hugging her and Atikah goodbye, smiling so wide and feeling that Life Is So Good So So Good

Rumin and I crashed at a small motel at SS15 that night and we were lucky enough to procure the only room left which was a family room of four without any additional cost.

The briefing started at 8.30AM the next morning and in a nutshell, we got our respective tentative flying dates. University of Manchester students were scheduled to fly off on the 14th of September.

My flight was at 4PM while Rumin’s was at 4.40PM so we chilled at a Thai café at SS15 for a while before taking a taxi to the airport.

The surprise wasn’t entirely successful because Bellyn was in the car as well when Bellyn’s dad picked me up from the airport. Regardless, the night of the farewell party was so nice as Bellyn’s friends, Janice, Yu Chia, Xin Yi and Erneetha turned up too.

I felt the spillover of the Departure Sadness a little and it was a bit ironic that Bellyn was the one to send me off at the bus station in the end on the next day when she was the one leaving that evening. I left Penang with an incredibly heavy heart, even more so because of Bellyn’s departure and also the thought that this might be my last time on this island where I’d had had so many fond memories before I fly to the UK.

And that was all that had happened, besides binge watching Masterchef USA with my parents, leading up to the approximately one week left I have in Malaysia before I’m off to the UK, to university.

(Like Japan, I am both very excited and also very scared.)

(六) さようなら (Goodbye, Japan)

We had to check out of our airbnb by 11AM so we packed all our luggage before leaving the place, lump in my throat the entire time but I kept it under control by reminding myself to not let negative emotions ruin the last day I had in Osaka.

We visited Kuromon Market first where we had breakfast (fresh scallop and octopus aka the absolute best)

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I took this photo cus of the Totoro

I took this photo cus of the Totoro

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The best 100 yen matcha latte which, if given the chance, I would buy in bulk to bring home

The best 100 yen matcha latte which, if given the chance, I would buy in bulk to bring home

Our last sightseeing spot in Osaka was Osaka Castle, and we took the subway to Osaka Business Park which was the station nearest to the Castle.

Shortly after breakfast, my stomach started grumbling in the fashion of a stomachache, and I was left to divert my full concentration to keeping it in check throughout the entire subway journey. Hence, as soon as we reached Osaka Business Park, I dashed straight for the nearest toilet at the station.

Whenever I have to do a number two in public, the first worry that immediately jumps to mind is the availability of tissue paper and a bidet but because I remembered I was in Japan and not Malaysia, I waved the concern away as a baseless worry, having sown incredible faith in Japanese public toilets. So you can imagine my utmost shock when I discovered that the toilets in the Osaka Business Park subway station had no bidets. No array of buttons stuck to the toilet bowl that to this day, still amuse me greatly with its efficiency and, uh, precision. Not even the manual taps that some toilets in KL have in place of separate bidets. What they did have though, was a sensor on the wall that played nature sounds and the chirping of birds when they detect movement ie when you move to sit down on the toilet bowl (allegedly to cover the sound of your peeing so you don’t get embarrassed).

What an unnecessary contraption!!!!! An investment in the wrong type of infrastructure when they could’ve invested in bidets instead!!!!!! The nature sounds only served to agitate and mock the entire time I pulled on toilet paper endlessly, thinking about how bad an idea this was and how I wouldn’t wish my current predicament on my worst enemy, especially not if they were having diarrhea. (Like I was.)

Thank God when we exited the station we stumbled upon another toilet in the business building adjacent to the station and this time, I could almost cry in relief at the sight of the little buttons connected to the toilet bowl that were readily available for my needs. I was so glad and thankful that I even took a photo of their sinks that had a three-way use – soap, rinse and blow dry.

I love Japan technology

I love Japan technology

Finally liberated from the clutches of my stomachache, we headed for Osaka Castle.

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Photo credit: Rujia

Photo credit: Rujia




And then it was finally, finally time to head back and we stopped at Dotonbori for ramen lunch at Ichiran. Throughout the trip, I’d heard Rumin’s aunt mention Ichiran a couple of times but I had no idea what it was like so when I entered the place, I was taken for a huge surprise ride.

IMG_8328At the entrance was one of those machines I’d seen at fuji restaurants and I thought it would be like that so I placed a 500 yen coin into it and pressed the button with the most basic ramen selection. After getting my ticket, I thought that was it. I thought it would be the same procedure wherein I give the ticket to the person behind the counter and wait for my number to be called.

So I was surprised when we went up one floor and were given a piece of paper each by a server. On the paper were several rows of food details such as “soup consistency”, “spiciness”, “hardness of noodles” etc and in different columns, choices like “concentrated/normal/diluted”, “very spicy/normal/non-spicy”, “hard/normal/soft” etc for us to circle our preferences and I was both very shocked and fascinated (it felt like a cooking game). We brought the papers with us and went up another floor where the seats were (perhaps the next part should be explained with pictures).

Each person gets a cubicle like this (there are partitions separating each person’s cubicle which you can fold up if you want to)

Place ticket + survey form in front of the gap (which is actually the kitchen)

Place ticket + form in front of the gap in front of you (which is actually the kitchen)

Drinking water tap for your bottomless refilling needs

Drinking water tap for your bottomless refilling needs

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When your order is ready, someone will place your bowl in front of you through the gap

When your order is ready, someone will place your bowl in front of you through the gap

...and close it so you can enjoy your meal in peace

…and then close it afterwards so you can enjoy your meal in peace

DSCN5138 DSCN5139How neat is that!!! So very neat and the ramen was good too 10/10 would recommend and come here again

We still had time to spare before we had to head for the airport so we did some shopping at Shinsaibashi where I got some gifts and a new phone case.

Takoyaki! It tasted weird

Takoyaki! It tasted weird

And then commenced the dreaded journey to Kansai Airport where it was finally, reluctantly, time to say goodbye to Japan. :'(

The last photo I took of Osaka city as we walked to the subway station. I was trying to absorb my surroundings as much as I could, paying extra attention to sights, sounds and smells because they would all be gone soon

The last photo I took of Osaka city as we walked to the subway station. I was trying to absorb my surroundings as much as I could, paying extra attention to sights, sounds and smells because they would all be gone soon

Sad face at airport means sad right

Sad face at airport means sad right

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Obligatory pose for da Instagram masses

Obligatory pose for da Instagram masses

Want to go home already still haunted by anime

Want to go home already still haunted by anime wherever I go

We had gyudon at Sukiya at the airport and I ordered a gyudon with spring onions and egg but I had no idea the egg would come raw so for a while I was so incredibly confused to have my rice bathed in raw egg white until I found out that this was how it was supposed to be. I still didn’t finish it though, a heavy weight sitting on my stomach from the sadness and nerves.

Our flight was 2335 hours and my first step onto the plane was also my last step on Japanese soil.

KL at 5AM from the plane

KL at 5AM from the plane

For some reason, I got a Quiet Zone seat on the Osaka-KL flight which meant that there were few enough people in the entire section for me to occupy an entire three-seat row for myself. I spent the first few hours watching Hyouka on my laptop and trying to sleep (but failing miserably because 1) I have a history of never sleeping well on planes and 2) some idiotic part of my brain reasoned that since it hadn’t been cold on the KL-Tokyo flight, it wouldn’t be cold this time either! so I wore pajamas shorts and it felt like the freaking Antarctic Circle).

When it was finally announced that we would be reaching KLIA2, Japan already felt like light years away, like a wonderful dream I’d just woken up from.

This epilogue wasn’t written without reason because there is a story to tell about our domestic flight back home to Alor Setar.

We reached KLIA2 at approximately 5AM and our flight to Alor Setar was scheduled at 7AM. At this point, I was feeling as gross as I had been during the Osaka bus ride but worse because I was functioning on at most an hour of sleep and I was walking around in pajamas shorts and I just wanted to go home and sleep like a dead log for the next five million years or so. So that was all I thought of during the one-hour flight to Alor Setar.

However, after an hour, I was anticipating the pilot to announced over the system that we would be landing shortly but it never came. In fact, at one point, I felt the plane steadily ascending again and someone started retching very, very loudly and I could feel my stomach drop along with the contents in it. It didn’t help that the person next to me was also reaching for the vomit bag. As if I didn’t dislike flights enough already, I was absolutely terrified pinned to my seat, trying my hardest to focus on watching Haikyuu on my phone and not my surroundings.

And then finally, the pilot explained that we were experiencing really bad weather in Alor Setar and had been circling around in the sky so now we had to stop at Penang airport to refuel and wait for the weather condition to get better. This set my mind more at ease although not much because we had been in the air for almost two hours and my ideal location right then would be a bed, not an airplane experiencing turbulence.

At Penang airport, Rumin’s aunt opened up some packets of biscuits we’d bought from Japan for us to snack on and I was reminded that oh yeah, Japan was a place we’d just been to it didn’t even feel real anymore

Half an hour later, we got back into the air again and finally landed at the Alor Setar airport safely. I felt so tremendously relieved to be back on firm ground and even more so to see my parents waiting for me. In the car, I recounted the entire airplane experience excitably and incredulously and when I finally reached home, after taking a long cold shower and swallowing some mihun, I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.