European Discovery!!

InnisbrookHey guys, how are you all? Today I wanted to share with you guys tons of pictures of my trip across Europe. I took a trip with Contiki tours which is an organized tour for individuals between the ages of eighteen or thirty-five. The trip was really spectacular. I went from London to Amsterdam, Rhine Valley, Munich, Innisbrook, Hopfgarten, Venice, Rome, Florence, Paris and back to London again… ALL IN TEN DAYS. Really this was one of the most life changing trips I’ve ever taken. I really didn’t take any pictures in London because I’ve been to the city so many times but here are some highlights from my trip.

My favourite city of the entire trip is definitely Venice with Florence being a close second. I just love how the cities are so warm and exciting. Venice was a dream, really. And we really didn’t get to spend enough time in Florence because we were literally there for less than a day and then quickly hopped back onto the coach bus for France. Rome had been one of my most looked-forward-to destinations but in general the city didn’t live up to the dreamy expectations I had had in my Latin and ancient history studies. The highlight of Amsterdam was the Anne Frank Museum and later in Germany, we took a detour into a concentration camp in Dachau which was a really eye-opening and humbling visit for me. Innisbrook and Hopfgarten were the coziest and sleepiest towns I’d ever been in. We were literally whispering on the streets because of how tight-knit the community was. My favourite part of Rhine Valley was the wine tasting because their white wines and ice wine was just absolutely A-MA-ZING.

On the bus >v<France though was probably one of the most hectic days for me. The night we arrived in Paris, we headed to the Eiffel Tower, went all the way to the top, checked off my bucket list and then ran down EVERY SINGLE STEP back to the coach bus cause we thought we wouldn’t make it in time hahaha. The next morning, my travel buddies and I woke up extra early to get into the city by seven. Since the Metro is so convenient, we got into the Notre Dame on Easter Sunday which was really wonderful. Next stop, I headed to the Louvre while my friends headed shopping. Then over to Angelina’s for some delicious brunch and (famous) hot chocolate of course. Finally, we walked down the Champs-Elysees and hiked up to the Arc de Triomphe. The entire trip ended with a fabulous night at Moulin Rouge with singing, dancing, good food and good wine. All in all, it was an absolutely magical and fantastic trip. If you guys get the chance you should definitely take a tour with Contiki cause it’s a great way to meet new and diverse people from all over the world.

These are just some of my main highlights from the memories on my trip. Hopefully in the next week or so I can skim through my travel video clips and put together one or two vlogs to share on my channel. Till then, I hope you guys enjoy some of these pictures =)

Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Munich in Germany, Innisbrook and Hopfgarten Austria…

Venice, Rome and Florence in Italy…

Paris, France…

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

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Nathan Sykes Concert in Newcastle, UK

Hey guys! I hope you are all well. Today I wanted to share with you some long overdue concert photography. I had the pleasure of seeing Nathan Sykes in concert earlier in April at Newcastle in England.

For those of you who don’t know, Nathan Sykes was previously a member of the Wanted and is recently pursuing activities as a solo artist now. His new music has snappy brass sounds and immesenyl catchy beats. It was such a pleasure to hear him live because he is SUCH a powerhouse. Shout out to my flatmate Mia who dragged me to the concert in the first place. It really opened my eyes up to a whole new talented artist int he music world.

Since my friend was super busy fangirling at the front of the stage, I set myself up a little farther back. I’d only brought my Nikon 1 J3 with its original 10-30mm and 30-110mm zoom lens since I was afraid they wouldn’t let big DSLR cameras into the show as all the music featured in concert were completely new songs. I shot in shutter speed priority and manual mode, switching between both depending on the song and how quickly the performers were moving. The J3 did surprisingly well but there was still a lot of post-processing work involved with exposure and lighting. For photos that didn’t quite colour well with the settings, I rendered black and white. The grayscale style also goes quite well with the concert atmosphere I think. Overall I’m quite pleased with how the photographs turned out and though I haven’t shot a concert in over three years, I hope you guys enjoy these photos nonetheless.

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Chibi Maruko-chan 25th Anniversary in Hong Kong

Hey guys today I’m bringing nostalgia back with a special blog post on the Chibi Maruko-chan exhibit that was hosted at Causeaway Bay. Chibi Maruko-chan is a slice of life manga originally by Momoka Sakura and was later adapted into an anime series. The manga ran from 1986 to 2009 and trademark Maruko-chan expression she sports is still echoed in many anime characters’ comedic facial features today. I hit a fangirl max with all the pictures I took and all the running around I did to get all the stamps and see all the sculptures. Special shout out to my mom for helping me find all three malls and plazas cause I would not have been able to manage navigating Causeaway Bay on my own even though the malls were all relatively close.

There was a main sculpture walk through at the big Windsor Mall where the main display was set-up and in conjunction with two other malls, fans and tourists were sent on a scavenger hunt to scour out three different stamp machines and five different Maruko-chan sculptures in three different malls. I really enjoyed the little quest they sent us on. Since it was the 25th Anniversary celebration of Chibi Maruko-chan’s popular history in Hong Kong, there was also commemorative memorabilia to buy, a small gallery of vintage merchandise, key animation frames and anime notes as well as a fun draw you could participate in for a little prize. Some of you guys ask me what was my very first anime I watched and I really think it has to be Chibi Maruko-chan when I was about four or five years old. I barely remember the story nowadays but I do remember Maruko-chan’s fun-loving charm and hilarious expressions when interacting with other characters.

Stamp Machine and Stamp Booklet

ChibiMaruko-chan Sculptures and other decorative illustrations:

Chibi Maruko-chan Gallery:

Main Chibi Maruko Display at the Windsor Mall:

I hope you guys enjoy this video, took my a while to edit the photos but really I only fixed some of the brightness and added my watermark. Please credit me if you use my photos, thank you all for reading and dropping in. If you haven’t seen or heard of Chibi-Maruko before I highly recommend you give the series a try if you’re looking to delve into some old school manga that made a fairly big impact in the history of the otaku world.

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Pom Pom Purin in Hong Kong!!

Hey guys how are you all? I hope you’ve all had wonderful holiday celebrations with your family and friends. I know I have and there are quite a few interesting holiday events and installations to check out this time of the year in Hong Kong. One particular character named Pom Pom Purin was featured in a lovely display at the Metro City Plaza at Po Lam. Pom Pom Purin is a Sanrio character and it is typically associated with tea and pudding. It’s translated Chinese name literally means Pudding Puppy (or dog).

I found these sculptures and little displays really quite festive and fitting for the holidays. They went with a dreamy Christmas Wonderland theme while keeping to the golds and caramels unique to the Pom Pom Purin trademark look. There was even a crane game and promotional features for fans to check out. Overall I was really impressed with how this event went.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post =) Regularly scheduled reviews will return soon!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Kuroshitsuji (黒執事) Book of Circus & Murder Animate Cafe

Hey guys how are you all? I’ve been crazy busy this week with family stuff and family friend meet-ups but I did have a chance to swing by the latest Animate Cafe featured in Tseun Wan, Hong Kong. The cafe is based on Yana Toboso’s popular series, Kuroshitsuji or Black Butler, mainly with poster prints, character stand-ups and a lovely menu themed around the Book of Circus and Book of Murder arc. The Book of Circus anime adaptation just finished this summer season and the Book of Murder arc will be released as an OVA.

This was my very first Animate Cafe and the food wasn’t as bad as I expected. Actually, it was quite tasty for food that was mostly featured for the sake of the theme. Each drink came with a free coaster and each dish came with a bookmark, all were blind draws so you didn’t get to pick your favourite design. For the coasters I got Sebastian and Charles Phipps. There were five bookmark designs in total and I was SO CLOSE to getting all of them but in the end I got one duplicate. I went with two other people so we got quite a few dishes. We ordered the hamburger steak, curry, darjeeling tea, hot chocolate, the afternoon tea set and the strawberry parfait. For an extra 20 HK dollars (around 4-5 Canadian or US dollars), the parfait came with a lovely folder. As well, I got a button and an extra key chain from the gift shop part of the cafe, both were blind-draw boxes, specially featured for this event. I was thrilled to receive the Joker on both pieces because not only is he exclusive to the Book of Circus arc, he’s also voice by my favourite voice actor, Mamoru Miyano. Below you’ll also find a picture (I secretly took) of Daisuke Ono’s signature \*O*/ (yeah, you’re not supposed to take pictures LOL)

I hope you guys enjoyed this video and if you did, don’t forget to check out my channel over on Youtube for more vlogs because this video is part of a new series of vlogs I’m featuring this holiday taking place in Hong Kong ^^

 

Snoopy 65th Anniversary in Hong Kong

Here’s the story of how I happened upon a legion of Snoopys…

DSC_5032My mom had arrived in Hong Kong a few weeks earlier than me and the first place she took me the morning after I arrived was the APM Mall in Kwun Tong where she knew the giant anniversary commemorative display was set up.Growing up, Charles Schulz’ Peanuts gang was my favourite comic strip series and it still is. I just love Schulz’s characters for their varying personalities, quirky and amusing interactions. He has some of the most unforgettable classic characters ever. My favourite tidbit of the display? The giant character statues that showcased Snoopy’s transformation from his early days on all fours, to the 90s where he hits that iconic image.

If you’re looking for some live footage, check out the first vlog in my Hong Kong Christmas Series on my channel!!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

(Please credit me if you use my pictures and let me know!!)

Uta no Prince-sama Animate Cafe Hong Kong 2014

A few months ago Animate went and opened a lovely Uta no Prince-sama cafe right in Hong Kong. Seeing as I have some relatives over there, I asked some of them to check it out and take some photos. Animate cafes are totally cool because they always follow a specific theme. Though they open for a limited time but they have tons of awesome merchandise and art featured. In the UtaPri cafe, each dish and drink is inspired by a character and they come with some cute coaster freebies as well =P I hope some of you UtaPri fangirls enjoyed this post and I my new anime reviews will be up very soon!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Just Kidding Films in Toronto 2014

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Hi guys, earlier tonight I got to meet three of my favourite Youtubers from Just Kidding Films. Bart Kwan, Joverdose and Geo Antoinette visited the University of Toronto and held a meet and greet with a bunch of their Canadian fans. The event was brought to us by MTM Productions and three videos were shown. The first being “Crazy Asian Parent,” one of the much older but really hilarious shorts from two years back. The second was the first part to “Gun Fu” that was previously promoted in a teaser trailer and the third was a sneak peek of this Sunday’s new video, “Secrets.”

I always love meeting Youtubers because unlike many celebrities, they’re actually reachable and relatable people who are pretty friendly and down to earth. Plus, they vlog so most of their lives are already on the internet for everyone to see. Although the gathering was of a relatively good number, there wasn’t as much as hype as there is with Youtube musicians who hold an entire concert. Still, the Q & A session was probably my favourite part of the Live. Of course, there the meet and greet was a highlight as well…

I actually bumped into Geo while I was in the bathroom and had a Youtube Star-struck moment haha but she was super nice about meeting me 🙂 and I just realized that I look super tiny next to Bart LOL

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Les Misérables 2013 in Toronto

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During my Thanksgiving weekend, amidst family greetings, family friend mingles and midterm studies, I’m fortunate to say that I had the utmost pleasure to see Cameron Mackintosh’s version of Boubil & Schönberg’s classic Les Misérables performed on stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre in downtown Toronto. It really made my weekend. (Your turkey was good too, Uncle Ray)

“Look down and show some mercy if you can. Look down, look down upon your fellow man.” (Beggars on the streets)

By now, thanks to the release of the Hollywood movie in 2012, those who were originally unfamiliar with the story have probably come into contact with some of the music or have a general idea of what the plot entails. Les Misérables is one of those stories you never tire of. It has something for everyone, history lovers, diehard romantics, and Broadway fans. In productions like Les Misérables, no excessive dialogue is necessary, the entire story is portrayed through song and lyric, much of the score repeated to evoke nostalgia for certain parts early in the story reiterated in latter moments.

Stage and Set Design: 5/5 happy clouds Crop_5 Clouds Transparent

Though the Princess of Wales Theatre, located on 300 King Street West is one of the older playhouses of downtown Toronto. It seats 2000 at a time and the last time I was there, I saw the Sound of Music. This time, the scenery was definitely more complicated to convey, ranging from the ship on the seas where Jean Valjean first labours, to the impoverished streets of 18th century France and of course, the infamous barricade. Despite the size of the stage, which is deeper than it is wide, I was thoroughly impressed with the lighting and stage direction of the characters and set. Transitions were incredibly smooth and quick. If you hold a minimal suspension of belief that theatre usually demands of you, you barely notice the changes and the story just flows from one setting to the next much like the camera shots in film.

The most amazing moment of stage effects must be during Javert’s suicide on top of a balcony above the rushing waters. I really expected him to jump into an open trap door on the stage, however, to my surprise and delight, the motions of his fall was recreated with ingenious manipulation of lights and the special effects of the animated backgrounds. He jumped and fell. I didn’t even see the performer exit the stage, not a glimpse of him sneaking off the stage at all!

Costume: 4.5/5 happy clouds Crop_45 Clouds Transparent

“At the end of the day you’re another day colder, and the shirt on your back doesn’t keep out the chill.” (Beggars on the streets)

Costume design was really stunning and since it’s the characters that leave the longest impressions on us, costume is a big factor on how memorable they become in our minds. In my opinion, the skill of the costume designer isn’t one who creates the most elaborate and beautiful costumes for the main characters, but how much detail is found in the wardrobe of the supporting cast. It’s easy to spend twenty+ hours on Fantine, Valjean, Javert or Marius but it’s the outfits of the chorus and the miscellaneous characters that I always scrutinize… seriously, how many “simple” peasant outfits can you make and how many colours are you allowed? The supporting characters need to look individually different but aren’t allowed to overshadow the main cast aesthetically speaking and despite looking different, there should be a similar colour palette and theme throughout their wardrobe so when they stand together, they seem like a collective unit.

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Cast and Characters: 4/5 happy clouds Crop_4 Clouds Transparent

“And remember, the truth that once was spoken… To love another person is to see the face of god.” (The Epilogue)

Overall, I felt that the cast definitely possessed enough chemistry to render the story believable. Javert is always one of my favourite characters because of his sudden and rather shocking inner struggle and change after his encounters with Valjean. I loved Javert and Valjean as foils to each other especially in their encounters at the Barricade. Javert is always one of my favourite characters because it is as if his entire being encompasses the values of autocratic law-abiding values of the past and he serves to juxtapose the revolutionary ideologies of the Enlightenment.

As always, I’m a fan of Marius and Cosette. (Being the sappy Romeo and Juliet fan that I am) Having Marius climb atop the gate to sing to Cosette standing on her balcony completely melted my heart but the most heart-wrenching moment has to be Eponine’s death in Marius’s arms. It’s hard to fake a death. I know.

Everyone around me was crying by the time the Barricade was dismantled but I hit my breaking point at “Empty Chairs and Empty tables” with Marius. I was especially moved when the candles that were originally set on the stage by the women in “Turning,” were taken by the men of the Barricade, reappearing in the memories of Marius who each extinguish a candle, leaving Marius with the sole remaining light on the stage.

Music: 5/5 happy clouds Crop_5 Clouds Transparent

“In my life, there are times when I catch in the silence the sigh of a faraway song.” – Cosette

Theatre and Audience: 5/5 happy cloudsCrop_5 Clouds TransparentDSC04158Les Misérables wasn’t my first stage production, and I’m immensely grateful for the disclaimer on the tickets site that warns parents to keep their kids quiet, well-behaved or away from the theatre. Okay, they made it sound nicer on the site but that’s really what they mean. I have personally attended a show surrounded by families with crying kids, babbling toddlers and screaming six year olds. It’s. Not. Pleasant. At. All. And if I’m paying almost a hundred dollars for my ticket, I deserve to a show without any disruptions. The atmosphere was courteous and sophisticated which I really enjoyed. Everyone kept silent when they were expected to be silent and clapped when they were expected to clap… Now, this is just a personal pet peeve of mine, but don’t sing along in the theatre. I have an intense urge to sing as well, but people around you have paid to hear the people on stage sing, not you. Be respectful in the theatre. Mind your etiquette.

Overall Rating: 5/5 happy cloudsCrop_5 Clouds Transparent

If you’re a big Broadway buff and around the Toronto area, you should definitely check out the show. As of today, it’s still running and if you’ve already seen it, it’s worth seeing twice. If I wasn’t away in University, I would even go re-watch it again.

As well, there’s a ton of Les Mis merchandise available in the lobby after the show. Even though I know that merchandise is a ploy to get more money out of the audience, some of things they have are a real treat for fans of the story. You can even get a t-shirt with 24601 printed across the chest! Here are some of the things I purchased…

I hope you guys enjoyed this review. It’s not every week that I get to see such a spectacular production and my wallet never agrees with me when I venture into the world of theatre. Thank you for reading!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

T&T Night Market

Hey guys! I got the chance to drop by Cherry Street to check out the T&T Night Market last weekend. I arrived earlier than I did last week for Night-it-Up so the lighting conditions are much more pleasant. With my Nikon D3100 and a sigma 17-70mm macro lens, I lasted with an 800ISO until the full dark hit. Next time I hit a night market I’m going to have to come up with more interesting and unique compositions than the classic angles.

Hope you guys enjoyed this post. Thank you so much for reading and I will post new content soon!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?