Two-Thirds Of The Long Weekend So Far ……

Another long weekend beckons ……

And a much needed one as well after running pretty much at full steam end May / June. Of course some pretty unpleasant stuff / minor setbacks occurred over the past week – putting a brake to the ‘momentum’ I have been building up, to my discontentment.

Which means its time to take a step back, take stock for a bit and do some necessary ‘re-charge’ to get back to a more ‘optimal’ state of mind again.

Long weekend started early for me as Friday was my usual-out-of-office day. However couldn’t shake off my restless state of mind (must been the angst I have been carrying out throughout the week). Meditation …… heart opening yoga sequence (only to end up struggling on the balancing poses) did not help much. Guess I need more time to get over this ‘bump’ ……

Yesterday (Saturday) – went back to office as planned to do my monthly scanning/clearing/decluttering/archiving. Somehow, at the half-way point of the year, I feel that my progress on the scanning/clearing/decluttering/archiving front has been rather slow. I’m still working on older stuff (pre-2013 materials) before even getting to the newer records (year 2013 onwards) that I will need to start extracting from the common data folder provided by company. Not sure if just 1 Sat afternoon per month (which I started only in April proper) is sufficient to finish up by end of this year …… but just like yoga/life, have to keep going …… and going! Perhaps for the next round in July, I shall try to reach office earlier (around 11) to give myself a better headstart.

Of course, the highlight of going back to work on a Saturday is always filling myself up with a nice lunch. Initially planned to have pasta at Everton Park, only to realise said restaurant is closed on Saturdays. So walked to Amoy Street Food Centre …… saw that not many stalls were open. ¬†Ended up walking further down right to the end of Amoy Street, and settled for Korean lunch @ Wang Dae Bak – one of my ‘more regular’ favourites that serve tasty and value for money Korean set lunches.

Had a seafood soup + seafood pancake …… and together with side dishes, it made for a pretty appetizing and filling lunch. Moreover, I had a pretty light breakfast and was kinda hungry as well ūüėõ

Packed up and left office a little after 6 …… and came home just in time for dinner. Decided to take a break / day off from yoga practice / stretching (have learnt not to guilt trip myself for taking breaks) …… and sat down to finally think about and start jotting down some ideas/things to do/destinations for my next holiday!

Nothing firmed yet. The only thing I know right now is it will be 90% a solo trip as I desire to have some space & quiet this time round. I hope I can make it happen, at the time period that I’m looking at (Q4 2017). Being in the last lap of the banding year, there are also work considerations to think about. It will also mean $$$ spent (versus saving it) …… but let’s think abundance ūüôā

Rather than wasting away my Sunday, got up nice and early to go for my once-a-month YIN yoga class @ Yoga Inc Gulliemard – as a ‘treat’ to myself for the long weekend. Probably my ‘longest’ break from YIN class – 6 weeks to be exact as my focus was on rebuilding strength and flexibility post Bali and post food poisoning (a.k.a Bali Belly). As one would describe YIN class, it is about feeling 1% uncomfortable (in the form of holding poses for longer periods – up to 5 mins) to be 99% comfortable (i.e. to allow the muscles to relax). And the tightness in my hips is apparent …… and it does feel slightly uncomfortable and getting used to be holding poses for long periods again after all the ‘yang’ workouts that I have been doing.

The bonus was the rain, and it was really chill and calming to have the cool air coming into the studio. Just like the saying from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow goes – The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.¬†

And enjoy the moment!

The theme of ‘courage’ floated in my thoughts throughout the 1 hr 15 min class – it will be something I will think about/reflect/meditate upon in the next couple of days.

Preferred to have local food for lunch post class, and so braved the rain (with umbrella in hand) and walked over to Lor 28 Geylang to check out Fishball Story as originally planned. The noodles did not disappoint and I am very happy with my lunch. Realised there are many coffeeshops within Geylang itself and wondered why didn’t I venture out earlier (the default choice is always to walk to Old Airport Road FC after class for a meal). Gonna google some food bloggers’ Geylang recommended eats as I type now ūüėõ

Took a bus down to Bugis after lunch – specifically to Sephora at Bugis+ to get a new shampoo to try. Starting to feel the YIN in my legs, and so headed back home, lazed a bit and writing this blog entry.

Probably gonna play catch-up on some work and my journalling (super back-log dating back April *gasp*) after dinner. Was deliberating between doing 9am class @ Yoga Lab CBD for another early start tomorrow versus a longer self practice …… but since the 9am class is waitlisted (it was still book-able during lunch), it seems like self practice will be the plan for the last part of my long weekend!

Significance

In my previous entry, I posted this collection of stones – which were used to mark our attendance for classes at Radiantly Alive.

After blogging my previous entry (while struggling with writer’s / blogger’s block), it occurred to me subsequently that there is a deeper meaning to these stones other than simply getting 3 prosperity stones in a row and a good luck stone for my ‘last’ class at Radiantly Alive. Thus this follow-up entry.

Classes attended in the following order:

1.  Starting From Top Left РGentle Flow at 0730 Hrs on a Monday morning (1st May 2017 no less).

My original intention was to attend the Meditation and Pranayama (yoga breathing) class happening concurrently to the studio’s signature Gentle Flow class.

However for some reason, the Meditation class was cancelled last minute, and having paid RP 50,000 for the driver to take me there Рit means that I ended up doing Gentle Flow instead. I could have been pissed and simply turned back, but decided to be open and do the Gentle Flow class that I have been wanting to try (although this instructor was not my preferred instructor).

I liked the sequencing for the class – very focused on hip opening and working the spine, which left me feeling really good for the day ahead. More than sequencing / the ‘asana’ part of the class – the teacher’s main theme for the class is heart, mainly on opening your heart to a brand new day, new experiences etc. …… Thinking aback now, I guess¬†this was what we mean by an open heart – in going into something with no expectations.

2. Top Right – Still Gentle Flow, albeit the next morning (Tuesday 2 May 2017)

And still a prosperity stone – which I believe is a reminder for me to keep an abundance mindset as always.

This class was taken by Jasmine Danino – one half of the husband-and-wife team who own Radiantly Alive, and she came highly recommended as a teacher in various online reviews that I have come across (thus wanted to do her class).

Jasmine started going into the theme of the class – which was family. She shared with the class that she was thinking about her family back home (Note: She is Peru-vian). And co-incidentally, it was a packed class, with the majority of the Radiantly Alive teaching team in attendance as well to flow along with the rest. In her words, her Bali family showed up just when she thought about her own family …… which I thought was really sweet. Personally, I did think of home for a moment as I looked forward to getting home after hols come to an end.

3. Bottom Right – Still A Prosperity Stone.

Returned back in the afternoon for some much needed Roll & Release as my mid upper back is starting to feel tired/strained after all the downward dogs ūüėõ

Apart from the recurring message of prosperity, I think of it now as prosperity in having a ‘free’ body – and being strong and flexible at the same time. In fact, I’m looking into ways to maintain this Roll & Release routine that is good for my fascia / overall body and incorporating into my practice / daily life.

4. Bottom Left – Meditation & Pranayama

Since we had to go back to the warung further down the road to ‘reclaim’ our umbrellas (that we accidentally left behind), we went back to Radiantly Alive on our last morning for classes. Although my mid upper back felt much better after the Roll & Release the afternoon before, but I decided to skip Gentle Flow (was getting sick of doing downward dog after downward dog) and do instead the Mediation and Pranayama class that I have been wanting to do.

Not only did I learn how to get into a good sitting position for Meditation (to keep the spine straight aka above ground and not sink), also learnt proper breathing/pranayama techniques. These are stuff that I have been experimenting/DIY-ing myself over the past year, and it was good for me to learn some of these basics as I have always believed that Yoga is beyond asana practice.

Anyway to cut the story short – the teacher shared something very personal at the end of the class, which to me is the most poignant – the most important thing to do in yoga (and in life) is to show up!

May Reminiscence: Bali 2017

2 mins to the end of May and here I go to log in a blog entry (in order not to leave the month of May ‘completely blank) ……

Now where did ALL the time in May go?

Ended April & Started May in Bali – my only holiday for year 2017 so far (with plans for another one in the works). Came back to Singapore, came down with food poisoning / stomach virus (because it could be airborne as well), and spent pretty much the remaining 3-4 weeks of May (ironically the month of May is a 5 week month by itself) getting back my footing (and struggling quite a bit along the way) …… and experiencing quite a roller coaster of emotions. Somewhere along the way – had wanted to do 1 photo challenge as well but life got in the way.

And that sums up May for me!

And now for the highlights of my Bali Trip – the main title of this blog entry!

For this trip, we were based primarily in Ubud, and did not venture out to other areas (i.e. Seminyak, Canggur, Kuta etc.)

Very ‘quotable’ quotes that we spotted along the streets of Ubud

 

Not forgetting the delicious local Balinese cuisine we had throughout our 4 days stay ……

Starting right from the top – Bali Guling (balinese suckling pig) from Ibu Oka

2nd row, from the right side – Fried Duck from Bedek Bengali (which was only 5 min walk from our hotel!), Balinese style Paella from Casa Luna (easily one of the best meals we had, and fantastic blend of flavours and ingredients), Ribs from Pundi Pundi (within vicinity of our hotel as well)

3rd row, from right side – Seafood Skewers with Mash Potato from Pundi Pundi as well, Ayam Betutu (Balinese style steamed/roast chicken which looked very unassuming and took the kitchen rather long to prepare, but it was really delicious as well), Tomato Omelette & Fish from Run’s Warung (looked unassuming too but was really really delicious as well).

Weather was generally great save for 1 rainy day (3rd day of our trip). Even managed to capture a beautiful moon picture (with no headlights obstructing) after Yin Class on my walk back to the hotel.

Not forgetting the main objective of this trip – DIY Yoga Retreat. Ubud is literally yoga heaven. Which means Yoga Barn (of Eat Pray Love fame) was a must-visit!

Both myself and Z have very different objectives and ideas about our individual practices. For myself, I didn’t feel strong enough to do 2-3 classes in a day, and was intending to do like 1 physical asana class per day. Did end up having 3 days of 2 classes (out of which for 1 day i.e the rainy day we mixed 1 morning flow class together with a roll and release class, while I did a meditation & pranayama class on my last day). In the end, we were able to compromise and come to a common understanding on class scheduling and it worked out well.

Also visited Radiantly Alive – another major yoga studio in Ubud as well. Have heard about the stones that were given to ‘mark’ your attendance when attending class …… and I was really looking forward to receive them.

Below are the ones that I got for the 4 classes I attended at Radiantly Alive. Notice the pattern – prosperity (X3) + good luck (which was the last stone I got on my final day). Definitely a manifestation of my innermost consciousness as having a abundance vs scarcity mindset was consistently on my mind ….. while good luck was obvious as I had a challenging follow up to do at work.

The yoga itself deserves a separate entry of its own. Will blog if I can get over my acute writer’s block.

Ubud is also known for having lots of clean eating options, however the local Balinese cuisine (see earlier photo collage) was relatively inexpensive and too delicious to miss ūüėõ …… Do miss having the fresh cold pressed juices from Garden Kafe (part of Yoga Barn). It was not only fresh, but really cheap at 45,000 IDR (rupiah) – which is around SGD 4.70! A similar sized bottle from Juice Junkie goes for SGD 10 to 11 *gasp*

As much as this was meant to be retreat to rest/recharge/refresh and do lots of yoga – by the 3rd day, my mid back was starting to feel strained/tired simply by just holding downward facing dog. And so it was pretty much it, no more asana-based flow classes for the remaining 1.5 days in Bali.

Unfortunately too, immediately after touching down in Singapore, started to get the runs (which interrupted my sleep completely – when I didn’t sleep that well in Ubud) and it was full blown food poisoning post trip for the next 2-3 days that completely drained me and lost my appetite totally.

Instead of feeling refreshed and recharged …… I ended up in a really dark and negative state and being unhappy/frustrated at every single thing post trip and post food poisoning. It didn’t help also that I suddenly felt regretful of not enjoying much scenery (be it the scenic Bukit Campuhan Ridge walk or a gorgeous beach / sunset view) during the trip as well. Thankfully, I’m pretty much out of this negative state after some reflection and self-adjustment. After taking a yoga ‘break’ post trip, and despite having to rebuild my strength and flexibility again post food poisoning – am happy to say I’m getting the ‘mojo’ and enthusiasm back in my practice again, and with a stronger focus ūüôā

In fact, I am thinking of a return trip next year. Hopefully by then, I will be a much stronger yogi than I am now. And if I were to return – will definitely have mountain/ridge/beach/sunset time incorporated in as well.

Food Mission 2016: Noodle Bar by Tokyo Latte

Another hidden gem in Western Singapore!

Walked past this cute cafe a couple of times in JCube and finally decided to pop in for dinner on a non-crowded Monday evening.

The food here is actually a mix of Asian (mainly Japanese/Korean) and Western Fusion. A snippet of their restaurant description from their official Facebook page:

Here at Noodle Bar by Tokyo Latte, we seek to make casual dining a gastronomic experience. Our menu combines the quality and innovation of the Japanese (Tokyo), with the comfort of old-fashioned European cuisine (Latte). Come make yourselves at home at our humble space in JCube, and let us serve you quality dishes made with heart.

The menu is predominantly noodles. There were other main courses as well – as such Seafood Baked Rice, Tenderloin Steak, Fish & Chips etc.

Decided to have their signature Classic Grilled Seafood Tomato with ramen noodles**

** There was a choice of noodles, ranging from ramen, udon, cha soba & even nissin noodles.

Tomato soup brewed with herbs and spices and mixed together with an assortment of seafood (grilled sea prawns, white claims, squid) and vegetables that was very very flavorful. Most important, it was REAL tomato soup (as versus to canned tomato soup). Was also glad I chose the ramen noodles to go with this soup base as the texture of the ramen noodles goes best with tomato soup as compared to cha soba and udon.

The portion was not that huge though, but for $6.90 – it made for a pretty decent dinner. Most recently when I walked past, I noted that prices have since been adjusted slightly upwards. Nevertheless, the next time I go back again, would like to check out the Kimchi Beef combo.

 

Details:

Noodle Bar by Tokyo Latte

#02-03 JCube, 2 Jurong East Central 1                                                                                                         Singapore 609731

Tel: +65 6262 6803                                                       Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noodlebarbytokyolatte Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/noodlebarbytokyolatte/

Opening Hours:

1130 Hrs to 2200 Hrs (Last Order At 2130 Hrs)

Food Mission 2016: nahm

Using the 1st day of the new year (year 2017) to play blog catch-up.

While I had quite a few foodie adventures in year 2016 itself, one of the highlights was definitely dining at Nahm while I was in Bangkok in April 2016. Incidentally, this is also my one and only overseas trip/holiday for year 2016.

More specifically, the reason why we ended up at nahm was because it was meant to be a birthday treat for Z – who really really wanted to check out nahm!

Apart from the many awards and accoldales nahm has received, notably being ranked in Asia’s 50 Best¬†Restaurants (No. 7 in Year 2015 and No. 8 in Year 2016), ¬†nahm is also notable as a set-up by David Thompson – an Australian chef specialized in Thai cuisine. Also noted from Z that Nahm is the ‘parent’ of Long Chim @ Marina Bay Sands that also serves similar styled thai cuisine.

Location-wise, Nahm is not difficult to find as it is situated right at the ground level of the COMO Metropolitian Bangkok Hotel in the Sathorn district. Which in turn was just 10 to 15 min away by cab from Pratunam (where we were staying).

No pictures of the restaurant though as we were busy getting ourselves settled down and relaxed at our corner table, and was a bit tired to be snapping away at the restaurant interior after our early morning flight into Bangkok.

We went for the 1,600 baht (before taxes) set lunch that works out to be around SGD 75 to 76. Rather than ala-carte, I decided the set lunch would be better for the complete dining experience + it was intended also to be brithday treat for Z.

And so, how does Thai cuisine cooked by an Australian fare in a smart casual setting?

The set lunch consists of 8 courses – which I combined into a collage and posted it on my personal instagram.

In the order from left to right to downwards (and sideways and downwards again) – our meal kicked off with a complementary¬†Amuse Bouche ‘Ma Hor’. This is essentially minced chicken, pork and prawn (which lumped together felt like ba kwa) covered with palm sugar topped with fried shallots on a pineapple. At 1st bite, it was refreshing, and the combination of sweet (i.e. the pineapple) and savoury (i.e. the pork) was perfect!

Next up, a canape (or rather appetizer) РThai satay + egg nets with prawns, wild almonds and kaffir line, which made for another sweet and savoury combination as well.

Followed by the mains – Scallop¬†salad with coconut & lemongrass …. Steamed coral trout fish with Bang rak yellow beans & prickled garlic (understand this was a signature David Thomson creation where the recipe can be found here) …. Beef rendang curry …. Hot and Sour Shop with chicken, prawns and wild mushrooms.

From the pictures, food wise and presentation wise, it looks like home cooked thai fare. The beef rendang curry was really fragrant, and while the hot and sour soup (aka tom yum soup David Thompson style) was not really that hot (in temperature), but was definitely spicy (although it looked otherwise). I personally liked the steam fish as there was a light lemongrass and garlic aftertaste that went well with the sweet soy sauce.

Thank god for the dessert – which was tropical fruits in scented syrup that took some of the spiciness from the soup off. And we were given a complimentary fruit as well.

Not a cheap meal by all means (as many Singaporeans travel to Bangkok with the expectation that food/dinning in Bangkok is cheap), but good experience to check out thai-style fine dining (as versus to thai-style street food) for a change. What I liked was that the food felt clean (as versus to street-like greasy), while retaining the basic thai sensibility of sweet and savoury flavours by using spices and condiments such as lemongrass.

Apart from the set lunch, Nahm also serves set dinner priced at 2,500 baht per pax Рwhich is a full tasting menu which consists of a canapes, 1 dish from every individual main course section and desserts. We almost went for that, but it was impossible to get reservations for dinner as it was booked out 2-3 weeks in advance. Will love to go back for that next time!

Details:

nahm

COMO Metropolitian Bangkok                                                                                                                         27 South Sathorn Road                                                                                                                       Tungmahamek Sathorn,
Bangkok 10120, Thailand

Tel:  +66 2 625 3388
Email:  nahm.met.bkk@comohotels.com                                                                                                         Website:  http://www.comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok/dining/nahm

Opening Hours:

Lunch – Monday to Friday
12pm to 2pm

Dinner – Daily
7pm to 10.30pm (last order)

 

Michelin Half Star

One of the major news in July was the publication of Singapore’s first ever Michelin Guide.

https://guide.michelin.sg/

And one unique feature of Singapore’s Michelin Guide would be its Bib Gourmand section which includes more hawker stalls and restaurants that offer good value for money (capped at SGD45 max).

Co-incidentally in the week that the Michelin Guide raitngs were annouced (Week 3 July), I happened to have tasted 2 dishes in the guide itself.

One being my usual Ba Chor Mee (Minced Pork Noodle) at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, and the other being my usual Fried Hokkien Mee whenever I lunch at Tiong Bahru Market (Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee).

Only slight catch was that the Bar Chor Mee that I had was from a relative-run offshoot of the original Tai Hwa located at Hong Lim Food Centre. Thus this explains the blog title – Michelin Half-Star ūüėõ

There has also been a fair bit of discussion online on why this particular hokkien mee stall in Tiong Bahru Market was given the Bib Gourmand market made it to the list …… as versus to much more well-known & better rated Hokkien Mee from the likes of Nam Sing (Old Airport Road), Ah Hock (Chomp Chomp), Hainan (Beach Road), Geylang Lor 29. Well I would say its a decent plate of hokkien mee, where you can feel the wok hei, plus it is really reasonably priced with decent portions (starting from $3). Of course, having tried Ah Hock and Hainan, I have to say these 2 stalls are better in my personal opinion and are the ‘gold standard’ of hokkien mee in Singapore.

Japan 2015: Kobe Re-Visited

Totally unplanned but ended up re-visiting Kobe (for myself that is, sis has not been to Kobe before) for a day trip on Day 7 of our trip. It was a last minute tweak to our itinerary as we had originally planned to visit Ise (from Nagoya) Рonly to abandon it due to the longer journey it would take if we were to cover it using the JR Pass all the way.

Originally, the initial plan was to stay in Kobe for 2 days, and from Kobe, do day trips to Osaka/Kyoto/Himeji. However due to difficulty in securing accommodation for Kobe on weekend dates, we ended up in Takayama instead. The journey took about 1 and a half hours, via shinkansen to Shin-Osaka, then direct rapid service all the way to Sannomiya Station – the main hub of Kobe City …… and all covered by the JR Pass.

Started off our Kobe daytrip with a visit to Ikuta Shrine, located right in the heart of Sannomiya.

P1050522

2016-05-29 20.35.25

 

Ikuta Shrine is a Shinto Shrine that is one of the oldest in Japan, with a history of over 1800 years. Apart from protecting the deity of Ikuta (Ikuta means the place with vibrant energy), there is another¬†interesting piece of history surrounding the shrine. In AD 80, 44 kambe (Á•ěśął) or court officials (fuko) who served shrines, were sent by the court to serve at this shrine. Thus gradually the area around the shrine became what is known as Kobe (Á•ěśął) city today. The shrine is also of great significance to the people of Kobe – as a symbol of resurrection …… as it has survived many wars and natural disasters over the years, with the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 being the latest.

Sources: Ikuta Shrine Official Website, Japan Experience

Thus it was also the place to offer some prayers right at the mid-point of our trip as well.

After visiting the shrine, crossed the road opposite to the huge Tokyu Hands – a building by itself about 5 stories high, with another basement floor. Looked around a bit before deciding to head off for lunch.

P1050531

Quaint looking European style shop/building in a corner of Sannomiya. Walked in to take a look and the shop sells exclusively Baumkuchen cakes.

We decided to get lunch in Sannomiya area itself. As sis does not eat beef, as such Kobe Beef is not an option , and eating at Wakkoqu was a no go! Did some googling and decided we could check out Nishimura Coffee for lunch – as they have an outlet right along the stretch beside Hankyu Sannomiya Station. Nishimura Coffee was also the same cafe where I packed a strawberry shortcake back to my hotel room during my last trip back in November 2013.

(Note: We did not manage to locate their iconic red brick outlet at Kitanozaka, which is around the corner from Ikuta Shrine)

2016-05-29 20.48.42

The cafe itself has a very 1960s vibe. And to our surprise, they allow smoking inside the cafe! So it was not that comfortable eating in a smoky cafe of sorts ……

2016-06-07 12.36.41

The dessert counter. Spoilt with choice with so many different varieties of cakes and pies to choose from.

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My lunch set! A little disappointed not to see any Kobe Beef on the menu ….. so opted for one of their set lunches instead. Can’t remember the exact name of this main course. Basically it is baked balls – one with bacon and cheese, another with an assortment of seafood ….. accompanied by a salmon & ham (within a jelly) ….. and minestrone soup. I must say the way they baked the balls is very creative & igneous …. retaining the western influence while incorporating some Japanese sensibility and creativity.

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Sis had a more traditional ham sandwich accompanied with salad and minestrone soup.

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Kobe – as a major port city, is also a gateway to western culture and influences. As such, they are well-known for their bakeries and pastries. ¬†So having a dessert is a must! Got a baked cheese cake to share as it is not so rich/heavy as we were to take a fruit tart / mount blanc / cream-based cake ……

Off to Kobe Harborland after lunch ……

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The iconic ferris wheel right beside the Anpanman Museum ….. with the Old Kobe Harbor Signal Tower in the distance @ the end of the harbour.

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Takahama Quay that is right below the Mosaic shopping area ….. which overlooks Meriken Park and the iconic buildings that flank it – from left to right …… Kobe Port Tower, Hotel Okura, Kawasaki Good Times World (Maritime Museum) and the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel (that I stayed in during my last trip).

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As you can see, it is also a cloudy and pretty ‘grey’ day, ready to rain anytime. Still feel the million-dollar night views that I experienced back in year 2013 were way superior …….

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Flowerbed at the other end of the quay.

We wanted to proceed to the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens & Ropeway next ….. but by the time we reach there, it will be around 1630 Hrs. With sunset starting at 1645 Hrs and the Ropeway closing at 1700 Hrs …… and considering that its such a cloudy day with high chance of rain, went back to Sannomiya to do some omiyage shopping to end off the day trip (technically half-day only) to Kobe.