Monday, December 26, 2011 @ 8:20 PM
Finally going home
We are finally going home!

We left the hotel early for the flight. Some of us slept little and some didn’t even sleep at all.

We checked in and everything went smoothly, there’s no delay of flight also. After settling down at the waiting room, there’s extra time for us to walk and shop around the airport. Many of us did some last minute shopping before boarding the plane.

Next we transited at Hong Kong and this time we were early! Most of us went to grab some food before boarding the plane back to Singapore.

The plane touched down Singapore at around 8.30am. After collecting our luggage and instrument we board the chartered bus back to school and we had debrief in school before going home.

This isn’t the end of the journey, just the beginning. The start of us as a better person. After removing our horse-blinders, we learnt to become more aware of our surroundings, to be considerate, and most importantly to take every chance as a new learning experience. Despite how bad circumstances are, there are always different ways to reading it, and the best way would be to learn from it. We hope that this trip has been of a great learning experience to all. For those who were unable to go for the trip, we do hope that whatever that we have learnt and brought back to Singapore, would be able to influence and change them too.

@ 6:21 PM
Day 5 in Kyoto: Toba and Heian High School Exchange

We‘re going to Kyoto today! Kyoto is an hour away from Osaka. By this time on our trip in Osaka in Japan, the weather has already become colder and our teachers told us that Kyoto is even colder. So we suited up our thermal wear in the bus and slept in the bus. On our way there, the glass of the bus froze up and we could barely see through the glass. Finally after an hour, we have arrived at Yasaka Shrine.

Yasaka Shrine was first built in 656 AD. It was dedicated to Susa-no-o, the god of prosperity and good health, and his wife and 8 children. It was a very beautiful temple. After walking through the temple, we went to the Gion town which was one of kyoto’s famous geisha district. Many of us tried to spot a geisha but only some of us saw the geisha in a taxi. The Geisha was probably going to the host house to perform. We were given awhile to shop here. After that is done, we went to the Kiyomizu Temple.

After the sightseeing in the temple, we had lunch at Baizan do, a steamboat like lunch.

After that satisfying meal, we finally head for the band exchange with Heian and Toba high school at Heian itself.

When we arrived at Heian, we headed for the hall to tune up and get ready. They had ushers to guide us around the school. We were the first band to perform. But before that, one of the Heian students read out a message in English to address their welcome to this exchange and similarly we had Irfan to do the same for Heian and Toba. Then, we finally started. We gave all our best into that performance and the students clapped happily along to our pop piece love-ing. After that, Heian and Toba performed. They performed 2 songs. Both of which was very impressive. The second song was a Japanese folk song and they had the chorus group to sing it and coupled with some gimmicks. The performance was very pleasant to watch. Soon after that, we had interaction time with the Heian and Toba students. We were grouped according to our sections. Most of us started off by introducing our names and some of us felt that we did not know what to do, but after awhile i think we have warmed up to them. Many of us presented our gifts to them and some of us even exchanged games with them. We asked them for a Japenese game then we teached them our very own game. I think that they had been a very good host to us as their attitude towards us without fail was really nice and they were very polite.

After we took our last few pictures, we had to head back for our hotel already. Many of us exchanged contacts with them. We waved to them as we rode on the bus and slept on our way back to the hotel.

@ 5:01 PM
Free and Easy Day 4 in Osaka
Today is the free and easy day of the trip. Everyone woke up early and had their breakfast like the previous days. We started off the day by walking towards the Moriguchi station.

Most of the locals have to get off their bike and walk to get pass us. Felt bad for blocking the path of the locals there. After we have gotten the tickets, we made our way through the gates. We were required to insert the ticket into the machine and have to collect it at the other end of the gate. There wasn’t any significant sign as to where the ticket will pop out again. Many of us stood at the gate for some time trying to find the ticket. After everyone got through the gate, we made our way to our 1st destination, Dobutsuen-mae station. This means 'in front of the zoo' in English.

In order to get to the station, we have to transit at 2 different stations. Although we were kind of told to keep quiet in the trains, we were making noises in the train. There were also a few that were taking pictures in the trains.

After around 10 to 20mins of train ride, we reached the dobutsuen-mae station.

We made our way to the zoo. Most of us took many pictures in front of the zoo before making our way in. We made our way to the savannah section where animals like lions, zebras, giraffe and etc are in. Most of the time the animals had their butts facing us. We saw different variety of animals from small ones like birds to big animals like lions, jaguar and tigers. We spend around 1hour at the place. Although it was a short time and we did not have enough time to see all the animals, we enjoyed the experience at the zoo.

After visiting the zoo, we were told to settle our lunch before gathering back at the entrance of the zoo.We went to get some takoyaki at the street right in front of the zoo called Shinsekai.
All of us have not gotten any takoyaki since the day we reached Japan.
Everyone was excited when we knew that there was a takoyaki shop in the street.

Almost all of us bought a box of takoyaki. Most of us got sick of the takoyaki after finishing a box of it. After we gathered back at the entrance of the zoo, we made our way back to the subway station to proceed to our next destination, Tenjinbashisuji-6 station.

We went to the museum which is on top of the station.

In the museum, we were able to experience Japan in the olden days. We were allowed into a room with buildings build to resemble those of the olden Japan. There is an area where visitors can dress up in the traditional Japanese costumes. Some of us dressed up in the traditional Japanese costumes and took pictures as we walk around the area.

After visiting the museum, we went to a shopping district near the nipponbashi station. There is a big electronic shop in the area. The place is flooded with people walking from different directions.After reaching deciding where to gather later, we set off in different groups again. There were many shops in the area and a lot of us bought many things there.

After shopping, we were told that we could enjoy the beautiful festive decorations along the road.
The sun was down and the wind was blowing.

The road was filled with many people from different parts of Japan, all wanting to see the decorations in the area. Police and barricades were deployed in the area to control the crowd. Once we were given time to walk around by ourselves, we started to tour the place. Not before long, all of us met up again and decided to find a place that we could be sheltered and not face the chilly wind. We decided to hide in the subway station nearby.

We counted the strength of the people present and had to find the other members before we could gather back at the place. We spent around 10 to 15 mins in the subway before we start to move to the meeting place. On our way to the meeting place, everyone was rushing as the wind is blowing at us. We immediately head back to the hotel through to our hotel.

On our way back, it was during the peak hour. Most of the adults were all wanting to get back home through the subway. There were so many people that some of us had to squeeze into the 2nd train to get to another area. It was so packed that there is no effort needed to get out. Everyone else was pushing and we got out easily. After we got back to moriguchi station and to our hotel, we had our dinner and prepared for the next day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @ 10:41 PM
OGENKI DESUKA! DAY 3 20 Dec 2011
After a scrumptious breakfast, we started our day to the Universal Studio Japan (USJ) in Osaka.

The moment we entered USJ, we made a beeline for the entrance. Upon reaching the entrance, we spent some time taking photos for memories. We were so excited that we forgot about the chilly weather!

Once we entered USJ, everyone made a dash for the rides because there were many thrilling rides waiting ahead us!

One of the thrilling rides that were there was Hollywood Dream- The Ride. It was the largest rollercoaster ride in USJ! The first drop of the ride was the steepest and the most heart stopping moment! The unique part of this ride was that we are treated to tracks of different genre.

Here’s a picture of the thrilling roller coaster

The other thrilling ride was Space Fantasy- The Ride. It was based on a Solar Shuttle to journey through the wonders of the Solar System on a mission to save the Sun. Since its an indoor rollercoaster, we would never knew what will happen next.

And of course, the most epic ride of all, The Snoopy’s Great Race. Great? Well, guess what? The ride is meant for kids! Mr Ong and Wei Shan actually squeezed into one carrier which is meant for two kids. Although this ride is meant for kids, it was still exciting and fun.

We were also pleasantly surprised and entertained to see the Christmas parade. We felt extremely privileged to witness this event as it is a special event to celebrate their 10thanniversary. It was magical and we even had the opportunity to take picture with the Santas and elves.

Last but not least, the day ended with some shopping for souvenirs for family and friends.

@ 7:51 PM
Ohayo Gozaimasu! Day 2- 19 DEC 2011
Our Japanese lesson before the trip really helps us a lot! Thanks Akiko! Arigato-gozimasu!

After a long grueling 5-hour flight, we finally reached Kansai International Airport in Osaka. Despite that, we summoned up the strength to begin our first day in Osaka. With the help of our guide, Fuuji-san, and our helpful driver, Natsu-san, we headed to our first destination, The Osaka Museum Of History, which is right next to the Osaka Castle! The morning was very chilly, but we still enjoyed the morning scenery there.

We had a better understanding of the history of Osaka from the museum trip. We started from the 10th floor and descended floor by floor to find the stamps as part of our learning journey.

Next we moved on to the majestic Osaka Castle. There are many artifacts at the Castle that enhanced our knowledge of the history and culture of Osaka. We saw a very beautiful bird's eye view of the castle grounds from the top of the castle.

Next we went to have lunch at a local restaurant at the Osaka Castle. We had a very satisfying lunch - Udon and hotpot!! After lunch, we saw the filming of The Amazing Race right before our very eyes. A few teams with camera crews ran past us in search of their next destination. Similarly, we ourselves starting heading towards our next destination: the Shinsaibashi, a popular shopping district in Osaka. We had an awesome time there and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

At the later part of the day, we went for dinner at the hotel restaurant. Ittadakimasu! We had spaghetti and rice with curry and it was delicious ! :D

After dinner, we headed to the Moriguchi Culture Hall for a full band rehearsal. It was very productive and motivated us to do well during our actual exchange with Yodogawa High School and Heian and Toba High School!

After the rehearsal came a surprise! We pretended that everything was normal and bought a cake to celebrate Jasmine's 18th birthday at the Moriguchi Culture Hall. Happy 18th Birthday Jasmine!

Jasmine was pleasantly surprised and impressed us all by blowing out all 18 candles in 1 breath!

Tomorrow, we would be going to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka ! Do look forward to our next post ! :D Oyasumi-nasai !

@ 3:46 PM

We were very excited about the trip to Japan.!!!! We gathered in school at 1.30pm with our luggage. :) hmm.. The bus came and we loaded our instrument and luggages. VERY TIRING. :/ On our way to the airport, there was a road accident that did not involve us. :X When we reached the airport, we unloaded the instruments.

While we were checking in our luggages and instruments, we got news that our flight to HONG KONG had been DELAYED BY 2 HOURS!

We decided to have our dinner in Changi Airport instead of having it in the plane. :O So we have to spend some extra EXTRA money :S and sad to say some of us did not bring along SGD. $.$ YADA.YADA.. AFTER a long wait, we boarded the plane after a delay of 3 hours instead of 2. Our dinner on plane became our supper. :( We reached hongkong airport at 1.15am and had to rush to catch our next flight departing at 1.35am. WE RAN LIKE CRAZYZXCZCZXCZXC. O.o and some of them almost went to the wrong gate. Luckily none of us were lost during the transit. Most of us did not had much sleep in the plane. =( We still managed to reach our destination, KANSAI AIRPORT, at the estimated time and the schedule was not delayed. After washing up in the airport, we prepared ourselves for DAY 2..