Isaac’s Birthday Trip to Japan (3)

After spending some time in Karuizawa and the Izu Peninsula, we were off to Tokyo for the final leg of our trip! In general, Ning and I are not particularly fond of cities — we much prefer more rugged and adventuresome destination (hence our mountain/desert trip to the Middle East later this year!). But since were we were in Japan and had to fly in and out of Tokyo, we thought we should spend a few days there. It helped that the Aman Tokyo had just opened, and I have always heard great reviews of the Aman chain and was eager to try it out.

It was a smooth journey to Tokyo — our luggage had been sent ahead of time and by now we were more familiar with the rail system in Japan. Aman Tokyo was only minutes from Tokyo Station in the Otemachi districit — which was wonderful because Tokyo Station is one of the main interchanges so we could take a direct train almost right to the doorstep of the hotel. Tokyo Station itself can be a bit confusing — with many different lines on many different levels and multiple exits. But we managed to find a map of Tokyo Station earlier and figured out the way.

We took a taxi from Tokyo Station to the hotel just to be sure, but we could easily have walked. Otemachi is part of the financial district so there were plenty of tall, gleaming buildings, wide and well-paved side walks, and it was not nearly as crowded as the shopping districts.

Aman Tokyo takes up the top floors of the Otemachi tower. The lobby is a wonderful expansive space and feels like the inside of a paper lantern.


Here’s Isaac approaching the water feature with glee — minutes later he would have created a splash to the mortification of his parents. But the hotel staff were very nice and told us it was ok, except that the water was not sterilised so perhaps we would like to wash Isaac’s hands.


A cot was set up in our room for Isaac — which made us laugh because he wasn’t going to sleep in it! But he had fun playing for a little bit in it anyway. IMG_7055

And we were quite impressed by the fact that they prepared some baby bath things for us =)


We booked a suite which had views of the Tokyo Sky Tree — but in retrospect the basic room would have sufficed, and would have looked out to what we thought would have a been better view of the Imperial Gardens.


One of the best things about our trip to Japan is that everywhere we stayed, the bathrooms and showers were all made of wood or stone — so we weren’t worried about Isaac tripping (he had only began to walk for about a month) and could let him have a blast in the water. IMG_7129

The view out of the bath was quite lovely, especially at night when it was all lit up. In pre-Isaac days, I would have enjoyed a glass of wine while reclining in the bath, listening to good music. I think I managed it for about twenty minutes one night before Isaac started whining for me. Oh well! So for the other nights, both Isaac and I enjoyed the bath together! No wine though >.<

There was also a wonderful gym and a lovely pool from which according to the Aman website, you could see the pink glow around Mount Fuji at sunset when you rose to take a breath. Unfortunately, it was cloudy during our time there so we never caught it.

The hotel was walking distance from the Imperial Gardens. Ning ran there a couple of afternoons — and the most curious thing he cited was that there were plenty of people running there at odd times! We brought Isaac there and unsurprisingly, his chief interest was the gravel.


We also went to the Meiji Temple which was slightly crowded, but still quite lovely. There we did typical touristy things like getting the bamboo stick of fortune (I’m not sure what it’s actually called. It’s like what you can do at the Chinese temples as well, shake a little container of bamboo sticks, and then get your fortune based on the stick that comes out), bought some Japanese charms. Here’s Isaac looking suave at the temple.


These were some ceremonial mochi they were making in the temple?


The leafy path on the way in.


Barrels of sake on the path in.


On the way back, we took a walk in Harajuku which was very crowded.


There was a demonstration going on, with Godzilla joined in. I think they were protesting against nuclear power, among other things (like TPP).


Apart from these two day trips, we didn’t venture out too much, mostly because the room was too comfortable! We also had convenience stores right below our hotel, great for yummy bentos.


Ning and I concluded that one of the best parts of the entire trip was really the food. And it wasn’t even just the kaiseki dinners and food at expensive restaurants — even a simple bento from the train station or convenience store was delicious. Our stay in Aman also came with these beautiful, healthy, breakfast with colourful juices and fresh fruits, served in the room.


Ning and I have had the privilege of staying in really beautiful hotels — but Aman Tokyo is one of those places I can imagine living in. On our last day we splurged on lunch at the Aman restaurant. Here’s Isaac being surprisingly well-behaved.


Goodbye to the view!


Because we have such great experience with the train — we decided to take the Narita Express back to the airport, while juggling with our full suite of luggage. But we were well-prepared and made it!

We enjoyed a bit of the ANA lounge where Isaac had a grumpy shower. Here’s the sake bar at the lounge.


Overall, we really had a wonderful trip! Most excitingly, Aman will be opening a new hotel in Japan next year — Isaac’s second birthday trip!

Faith: A Place to Start

These days, I find myself in a bit of a contemplative mood. I have always been able to believe, to feel a soaring sense of purpose and rightness behind life’s vagaries, in this world. But at the same time, I am also fiercely logical, and find that there are many unanswered questions behind my own faith.

But I’ve been thinking — what is faith, but just a place to start?

I am not sure why I believe, I am not sure what is the entirety of what I believe. But if I ask myself, do you believe? I would say yes in a heartbeat. And where I find this faith, is in my church of glass and pinewood and granite, on my knees, looking up to a carved, suspended sculpture of Christ.

Part of why I have always been so private about my faith is because my words about it sounds so trite to me — I don’t mean that my faith, or that faith in general is trite; but that I lack in the ability to convey the entirety of what I feel. I still do.

But it struck me yesterday that faith is not about having the answers, all the answers now; but the questions you want to ask, and the way you trust in the answers unfolding over time.

So here, I start, with myself, with reflection and contemplation, and faith, and belief.

Isaac is finally weaned off nursing at night!

Of course the title of the post makes it sound like I was more active about the process than I actually was. After making a bit of progress with night-weaning earlier, it was a bit of a stop-start process. Basically, Isaac got incredibly stubborn at times, and like all the months that went before, I was just too soft-hearted (and plain lazy) to see it through. Some nights Isaac would wake once and cry a little, but other nights he would wake more often. And it was easier to simpler nurse him when he woke so he slept for another couple of hours rather than fight with him, and have him wake up an hour later and then fight again. So we reached a steady state where he’ll wake up around 2-3 times a night (at 1, 3-ish, and 5/6-ish).

But! Around three weeks around, we began to see some changes in Isaac. First, he sometimes woke at 1-ish, would sit up and grumble a bit, and then just tumble over or snuggle into me and continue sleeping. Second, he started waking up less often, and dropped the 3-ish waking. Finally, over a few random nights, he would sometimes wake up and I would be too sleepy to nurse him in time, and he’ll cry a bit and continue sleeping. So one night, I decided to not nurse him on his waking. He cried for maybe 10-15 minutes, then slept. But what gave us the confidence to continue was the fact that he slept all the way till around 6, instead of waking up an hour later.

So over the past two weeks, I’ve stopped nursing him at 1 am entirely. He’ll cry a little a first, then less, and less. This was unlike his younger days when his crying would actually escalate — which was why we never got through any form of “sleep training”, however mild and gentle. He would actually cry more the second day then first, more the third than second and so on. By the fourth day we usually decide that it was simply not the right time and stop. But this time, he did fuss less and less, until the past few nights when he didn’t even cry at all! He still wakes for a bit at between 1-3 a.m., but he’ll just look for me, snuggle into me and fall asleep again promptly, all the way until around 6 a.m. (which is a fine waking time for me).

SO YAYYYYY! Finally our stubborn little baby is able to go an entire night without nursing! Plus, he doesn’t need soothing when he wakes! It’s been getting better over the past three weeks so I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that we’re finally onto that sleeping through the night thing for good.

It struck me though — that perhaps the readiness of a child is really important, and every child is different. I would have loved to have had a baby who slept through the night for twelve hours at a stretch at two months (which apparently, I was when I was a baby), but as it is, Isaac is a bit of a stubborn one, he’s needy and attached to me especially at night, and he’s just… different from other babies. Still, we’re getting there, and despite nights when I would scold him in between, I’m glad we arrived here rather gently. But I think I’m the one who has to re-learn sleeping through the night now because after all these months, I find myself waking at the times when he used to, even when he doesn’t wake anymore!

To end off, here’s a picture that illustrates how stubborn Isaac can be — he was completely exhausted, but just had to keep going and going, unless he literally dropped off mid-play on the bed in this awkward position!