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TI5 is going to be upon us soon, and it’s never too soon to start planning a trip, because… cheaper air tickets!
I’ve been to all the TIs since 2012, and I’ve had quite a few people asking me about how much it would be and what to expect etc, so I thought I’d do up a post for people to refer to. I travel from Singapore to Seattle, and I prefer going by the Pacific Ocean route.

If you have any questions, or anything more that you’d like me to elaborate on, just comment and I’ll either reply, or add on in this post!

Expenses (At least SGD3,000, excluding food and expenses)
Air Tickets : SGD1,800 – 2,400
Accommodation : SGD800 for slightly more than a week
Local transport : Airport transfer – roughly USD 60 each way
Food : 20USD per meal
Admission : Estimate 200USD
Secret Shop stuff : up to you
Visa : SGD20

Air Tickets
I’ve travelled by Emirates, Delta and JAL. All of them have pros and cons.
I will personally try Asiana or Eva air next. I’m not keen on travelling in from Europe again though because that’s one big round.
I’d suggest that you get an international flight straight into (and out of) Seattle, rather than a flight into another USA airport followed by a domestic flight to Seattle, simply because I’ve had really bad experiences taking domestic flights. I had to wait 7 hours because my connecting domestic flight was cancelled, and on another trip, I had to wait overnight at another airport for my connecting flight after I was 10mins late for physical check in (I checked in online already ffs…)
I usually check out prices on skyscanner.com

I do recommend that you book really early, especially if you’re planning on getting a good location, or a popular hotel. August is the best part of summer in Seattle, and lots of people travel in during that period. If 2015 is going to be similar, the players stay at Bellevue for the group stages, and shift over to Seattle for the finals. If you’re only planning to go for the final event, then get a place in Seattle because travelling from Bellevue to Seattle is about 40mins each way. Bellevue is a really nice town though.
For TI4, I bunked in with 3 other people at an Airbnb apartment, and it cost us roughly 800 per person for more than a week.

Local Transport
Walking gets you almost everywhere in Seattle. I have walked from Key arena all the way to Pike Place, and back. In general, walking is friendly, the town is quite flat, weather is usually good during that period, save for some drizzles. The only transport you will have to budget for would be taxi to and from the airport.

Food in Seattle is GOOD. Oysters are great and I like eating their French cuisine. There’s a great variety for you to choose from, but do make sure to keep some of your budget and appetite for the famous Pike’s Place Chowder.
If you’re on a budget, there’s always the supermarket where you can get instant noodles or if your apartment has a kitchennette, you can do some basic cooking.

I’d suggest that you put aside a little more budget for admission, because ticket sales go really fast, and if you miss the release timeslot, you might have to pay a little more to get them off the black market. There might be different tiers of tickets as well, but I think a ticket on the black market was going for around 250 last year.

Secret Shop Stuff
I have never spent a cent on purchasing physical Secret Shop items, but I do know of people who spent thousands and thousands buying stuff for resale and such. You CAN survive the trip without spending a single cent there, and without queueing a single minute. But, WILL YOU?

Singaporeans are exempt from this, but you will still need to apply for an ESTA, which is a travel authorisation. I normally do so at this link https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ and it remains valid for 2 years.
Some other sites charge more, I’m not sure why. So I just stick to this one. Approval is more or less instant, and you don’t need it to buy your air tickets. So, you can delay application until the day before you fly or so. (If you’re worried, then just apply earlier. After experiencing the process once, you’ll be clearer the next time.)

Places to Visit
– Pike’s Place, especially on a weekend. Eat the food (the chowder!), check out the first ever Starbucks.
– Aquarium and seaside walk. If you have some extra time to kill.
– Macy’s, Nordstrom etcetc. Lots of US brands downtown.
– The nearest LAN shop is very far away, and it’s called Game Clucks that’s over at 3333 184th St SW, Suite D, Lynnwood, Washington 98037. Here’s their facebook page, in case you REALLY need to play. https://www.facebook.com/GameClucksLynnwood I’d suggest just bringing your own laptop and using a wifi connection somewhere.
– the Space Needle, which was made more famous by InFamous.

Climate, Clothes etc
I’m chilled easily, but Seattle in the summer has really nice weather. TI4 was in July, and it wasn’t at it’s peak yet, but since it will be in August this year, you probably won’t see anything but blue skies and hot sun everyday. You should pack some extra warmer stuff in case though!
On a good, sunny day, I can go out in shorts and a long sleeved shirt, and a light jacket/cardigan.
On a moderately cold day (cloudy, no rain, but not much sun either), I’d be in jeans, a camisole with a long sleeved shirt over, and I’ll carry a hoodie for good measure. If it’s raining and cold, I’ll add a pair of tights/leggings under my jeans, and take a thicker jacket with a scarf.

TI 2012


TI 2013


TI 2014

The stage booths are, if I’m not wrong, the same ones that they used in TI2 and TI3. So, no banana, but you can use the booths for scale!

[TRAVEL] Planned Itinerary : Japan in Winter (27 Jan – 6 Feb 2015) – Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Nara, Kyoto

Mitaka-shi, Tokyo


Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto

The Philisopher’s Walk, Kyoto

Tsukiji Market Omakase Chirashi Don


Although I just went to Japan last year, it felt like I had only scratched the surface of what this amazing country had to offer. I have heard that Japan looks different in every season, and until I have seen it myself, I won’t be satisfied. So I’m really happy to be able to go back so soon, and in Winter, this time. I’m hoping for a little snow too. =D

I didn’t write about my 2014 Spring trip to Japan, so I’ll give a rough outline before I talk about my planning for this year’s Winter trip.

*** Skip this portion if you’re only interested in my planning for Osaka/Kyoto!***

Last year, this was my rough itinerary (29 March to 13 April 16D15N) and you can check out some facebook photos here or you can take a look at my Flickr album here :
Tokyo – Hakone – Tokyo – Shin Osaka – Kyoto – Tokyo.

For the first sector – Tokyo Hakone Tokyo, we kept a room at Hotel Mystays Kamata open from 29 March to 4th April and took a 2D1N trip to Hakone (Hotel Daihakone) and Odawara (2-3 April), leaving most of our luggage there. I highly recommend Mystays Kamata. The location is good, the rooms are beautiful and sound proof and the bed is so comfortable.
Hotel Daihakone was, in my opinion, a little too pricey. It was roughly 210USD (2pax) for 1 night, including dinner and breakfast. The room was huge though, and faced a golf course. It wasn’t very sound proof, and our neighbours were up at 6am watching TV, which wasn’t too pleasant for me because I’m a very light sleeper. The onsen was quite enjoyable though, partly because I fortunately went when there was no one else using it. I might have felt a little too self conscious if there were other people using it too.
If you have time, there are many attractions to check out around Hakone too, including the Little Prince Museum, and the ropeway (cable car).
We took the Hakone Tozan Railway line up, and it was quite an experience.
On our way back to Tokyo, we stopped off at Odawara to have lunch and check out the castle. Do check it out and take a walk around the town, it’s worth spending a couple of hours there.

Next, the Shin-Osaka/Kyoto part of the trip.
On the 4th, we checked out and took the Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka Hotel Washington which I wouldn’t highly recommend – the bed wasn’t very comfortable and the walls were really thin and not sound proof. It was very affordable though, and if you’re not too picky, it serves it’s purpose.
Staying at Shin-Osaka was a recommendation made by a friend because hotels there are cheaper than in Osaka and Kyoto, and both are accessible by Shinkansen or train which are about 15minutes away. If price of accommodation is a big factor for you, you can do this too. We had the JR pass which we used to travel to Kyoto daily.
The first day, after travelling there and checking in there wasn’t much time left, so we decided to explore Osaka. We had dinner in Namba, and walked around window shopping, and shopping. On the 5th and 6th, we spent most of our time in Kyoto.
We are pretty relaxed travellers, so we don’t rush around to see one attraction after another. We prefer to savour the sights, sounds and flavours and walk around getting lost in the culture. So in Kyoto, we only went to Kiyomizudera, Ginkaku-ji, The Philosopher’s Walk, the Imperial Palace, Yasaka Shrine and Gion (in particular, Hanamikoji Dori).

On the 7th, we checked out and went back to Tokyo where we rented an apartment from Airbnb from the 8-12 April. Our host was extremely helpful and even gave us a pocket wifi to use while we were there. Here’s the listing if you’re interested! The apartment is located in Sangenjaya in a quiet, pleasant estate with lots of hipster cafes and restaurants. It’s not very near to the nearest train station, so expect to drag your suitcase for a distance! Also, there is no lift, and if I’m not wrong, the apartment is on the 3rd floor. It was a very pleasant apartment though, and I would definitely stay there again if I had the chance to.

My most memorable Tokyo attractions that we visited are – Ghibli Museum, Kabukicho, Tsukiji Fish Market, Ueno Park and Odaiba. Other areas I explored – Meji Jinggu, Shibuya, Omotesando, Harajuku, Roppongi…
(I might do a more indepth post about my Spring 2014 trip in future. If I do, I’ll link it here.)


Winter 2015 Itinerary

So, well, as you can see, I spent a lot of time in Tokyo on my previous trip, and I realised that I really wished I had had more time in Kyoto/Osaka. As vibrant and interesting as Tokyo is, my most memorable meal was in Osaka, and I simply loved everything about Kyoto.

So, this time round, we will be going to explore Osaka and Kyoto a little more.

The first thing you should do when visiting Japan, is to check out the dates of festivals or special occassions. I discovered that 24 Jan is the date when they set the Nara hillsides on fire, and if the weather is bad, they’ll shift it to the 31st. 2-4th Feb is Setsubun, which is the welcoming of Spring festival where they chase misfortune away.

With these dates in mind, it was easy to plan the trip.

27th – fly into KIX (Kansai Airport, Osaka) 12.15pm, Owl Cafe, Abeno Harukas
28th – Day trip to Kobe/Himeji
29th & 30th – Premium Outlet, Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Aquarium
31st – Nara
1st – Check out, last visits in Osaka, move to Kyoto.
2nd to 4th – Experience Setsubun at the different temples in Kyoto (using this as a guide) – Yasaka Shrine [MUST GO! Will have performing Maiko], Rozanji Temple, Yoshida Shrine, Suga Shrine, Heian Shrine, Fushimi Inari Taisha
5th – Kyoto Hirogawara (skiing)
6th – return to Singapore (710pm flight from KIX)

Other places in Kyoto to visit :
Arashiyama, Kurama & Kibune, Kyoto Tower, Kinkaku-ji
Eigamura, Kabuki Show, Nishiki Market

4 Reasons Why A Dating Couple Should Take Public Transport

Because I’m female, I’m obviously writing from my perspective. Pretty sure some point are relevant to guys too, but what would I know!
Decided to write one of those cheesy X Reasons Why articles cos I’ve been seeing a lot of them linked around here and there, and some of them are funny, but some of them are quite meh…
So, just trying my hand here, let me know if you like it!

It shows you how much effort you’re worth.
Not saying that driving a car doesn’t take any effort, just that if your bf picks you up from work daily, and he has to travel there by public transport, it says a lot about the effort he’s willing to put in for you. Or if he sends you home after a date, by train, then takes a bus home, it definitely takes a lot more out of him than dropping you off on the way would.
Conversely, if he complains about how far it is, and how long it takes, you’ll know how much effort he’s (not) willing to put in.
Of course there are exceptions, like if he works really long hours, or if the distance is really far. But I’ll leave you to figure those out yourself. Ultimately, you’ll be able to gauge how much of his convenience he’s willing to give up for your comfort and happiness.

It gives you time to bond, and learn more about each other.
Share a set of headphones and get talking about the music you enjoy.
Exchange latest reads on your kindle.
Talk about the latest gossip on facebook and figure out your respective stand on things.
It just gives (or forces?) you an extra hour or so of time to spend 100% on each other.

There are fewer distractions.
No one has to concentrate on making sure he doesn’t kiss someone’s bumper, and no one has to look out for the correct exit, or plan the route, or examine the GPS.
Also, no one has to worry about how much the parking is going to cost, or if the summon aunty has come round yet.
If it gets too late for bus and train, just hail a cab.
It’s just time, at your disposal, as you two travel from A to B.

You get to see how he interacts with strangers.
Does he keep an eye out for elderly passengers and automatically give up his seat for them?
Does he notice that you’re in an uncomfortable position (squashed between a large lady and a huge man perhaps) and make efforts to shield you from them?
Does he get annoyed with that baby bawling in the corner?
When someone accidentally treads on his shoes, what is his reaction?
Ultimately, it’s about how he treats other people, it shows you what kind of person he is.

So put your smartphones aside (unless you’re listening to music together!), and be prepared to fully utilise your journey-time with conversation and observation!

Lord of the Steakzz Part II (the Sparknotes version)


Sparknotes version, because it’s totally not cryptic.

It seems that without fail, every discussion about gaming in Singapore has to mention NS. I’m going to invoke problem solving quote #1: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Dude, that quote is meant to stop, like, ALCOHOLISM (let’s pin its failure rate on alcoholism just being a really difficult problem to solve). Surely it can be used to tackle what I dub the “e-sports and NS problem” (they don’t work well together).

Context: That’s the serenity prayer, and has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous as a part of their program.

Just to prove that I wasn’t bullshitting. Also makes a nice frontpage photo.


Things you cannot change

– NS. It’s not going anywhere.

– Lack of wisdom. Yes, the first third of this quote essentially eliminates the need for the last third. We don’t have wisdom to know the difference. Whatever.

Yes. It’s not going anywhere.


Things that maybe can be changed

WOAH! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

There are two problems. One is very obvious. One isn’t. First, players in their prime who enter NS have difficulties keeping up with competitive gaming.

Second. Somehow or other, there are disproportionately more players pre-NS than post-NS. That kind of demographic is actually very different from many other first-world countries.

Why though? Let’s see possible reasons and think about how plausible they are.

#1 – Younger people just have more talent.

#2 – Pre-NS people just have more time.

#3 – Players who enter NS have to give up and never return.

#4 – Post-NS, most people have better things to do with their time.

They say it’s for career underachievers. It’s also a company I’d love to work for.


#1 is beyond my understanding, so I won’t discuss it. #3 is far too broad, but generally proven to be false, so I won’t discuss it as well.

#2 and #4 are actually closely related.

See, we’re in Singapore. There’s this thing called an “education” that takes up most of your time pre-NS. You’re really not going to be THAT busy when working (you ARE if you have a child, but “parents who play games competitively” are a VERY SMALL demographic in SG), or in University, unless (here I’m comparing the time spent in JC/Sec Sch vs. time spent at work or Uni for the same person):

(a) You’re making (or slated to make) a crapton of money (doctor, lawyer, investment banker), in which case, reason #4 applies.

(b) You’re underachieving in school.

(c) You’re not in school, in which case you have a short time before NS, so *bleh*.

(d) You’re too good for our education system, in which case usually reason #4 applies.

(e) You’ve fallen to a stream which gives you too little work (SOMEONE NEEDS TO REWORD THIS TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT).


It all boils down to reason #4. People have “better” things to do with their time after NS.


Lord of the Steakzz, Part I, talks about how it’s not NS. It’s the problems with giving the majority of power to people who fall into the above categories b to e. Here I have a different idea. Perhaps nothing needs to be done – it’ll happen on its own. Give the power to people post-NS. My grand bloghost (FURRYFISH) might advocate for more participation from female gamers. I advocate for more participation from older gamers who have “better” things to do with their time.

Because, seriously lah, one night, open one bottle, $200. One night, sit at LAN shop, $20. Best, go make a school of gaming called “Drunken DotA”. Got troll? Got rager? Got noob? Just unleash your drunken fury!

Maybe you can even have one on the house!

Worst case, all your friends call you no-life nerd. BUT THEN HORH, YOU CAN BECOME THIS NERD:

Recognize this nerd?



Games in Asia Meet Up

pic courtesy of Games in Asia

Was invited to speak on the panel of the Games in Asia Meet Up, which was held at the Wargaming HQ at Dhoby Ghaut MRT.

The time passed pretty quickly and I felt that certain issues weren’t discussed in detail, but I think that’s more because everyone had an opinion, as opposed to scheduling problems.

I noted down a few things in my book which follows me everywhere. I’m very big on writing.

QN : What do you think of eSports in Singapore?
I think that as with everything else in life, if you want something, you have to go ahead and get it. Those on top can only do so much for you, the rest of it is up to how much you want it, and what you’re willing to do to get there.
As a gamer you need to take yourself seriously, there has to be a level of professionalism. If you don’t even believe in yourself, that you can make a living and a future out of doing what you love, how are you going to convince everyone else around you?

QN : Is drive nature or nurture?
Drive isn’t something you can nurture. It comes with knowing what you want in life, and wisdom to know how to get there. Then all you need to do is create the opportunities, or wait for them to open up.
It all starts with WANTING something badly enough for you to go and do something about it yourself.
eg. Chawy isn’t exactly a personality, but he’s been finding a balance between knowing that his fans want to know more about him and being an excellent player.
eg. Ant doesn’t have the drive to succeed in gaming because he has other avenues in life that he would rather focus on, and that’s perfectly fine, by the way.

QN : Any tips on how to build the attitude that will lead to drive?
I think this is the million dollar question that everyone is asking. Even people in the Ministry of Education would like to know how to put drive into the kids nowadays. They can make it gradable, they can set up courses, but in the end, you can’t really build drive. And here in Singapore, everyone is just born with a silver spoon in their mouths, everything handed to them on a silver platter. There’s nothing to fight for. Everyone is just tagging along for the heck of it, and waiting for someone else to make the first move.

QN : Do we need the support of the government in Singapore?
As Jasper said, if you can’t even get something going on your own, why should the government set up something to regulate something that doesn’t even exist?
The government might be seen as an invincible entity in Singapore, but there are many aspects in which they cannot interfere with, your own desire and drive is one.
We can look at getting cooperation from the government, so that leave from NS, Schools, and work is easier, if we need to attend competitions, but what more do you really want from them? As Wanda mentioned, we have all the infrastructure, cheap LAN available, affordable internet, there’s nothing stopping us from doing what we want. As for 2 years of NS, a player who thinks about the game the most, is more likely to do better. Spend your book out time focussing on your game instead of your entertainment and life, spend your book in time thinking about strategies or memorising damage output, mana cost, skill upgrades, armour stats, reading changelogs etc (all of which iceiceice used to do in camp!)

QN : What is the first step towards getting one of the eSports regulatory boards set up in Singapore? (Jensen/Donovan)
I don’t actually think anyone answered Jensen properly on this one. I think it’s possible that we can do it Taiwan style – have a few organisations grow huge enough (eg, Asterisk*, iSg, SCOGA maybe… Scythe, FCG) and then decide to band together to become an informal regulatory board.
So Step 1 would be growing independant organisations to a level that they are influential, Step 2 would be getting them to cooperate with each other to form a board.

QN : How do you fix the misconceptions about eSports in Singapore? (Pokemon guy)
I really didn’t manage to catch this guys name, but I know he holds events for Pokemon. So to me, the greatest misconception not just in Singapore, but globally, is that eSports is for kids who like to play games. In actual fact, eSports is for adults (like any other career, or job), or for kids who can think like adults.

So these are the questions that I felt like emphasizing. I think that what Games in Asia is doing is great, and you all should go support them at https://www.facebook.com/GamesInAsia?fref=ts !

Looking forward to the next meet up, perhaps this time as a spectator =)