Johann Strauss II–Best waltzes and performers (vol. 4, part 2)

Johann Strauss Museum (Wien / Vienna – December 13, 2019) – an original Arthur Oon Yong Hong (“AtelierArturYH”) image. (All pictures taken in the Johann Strauss Apartment Museum, Madame Tussauds Wien, Schloss Schönbrunn Vienna within this post belong to AtelierArturYH)

Finally! After 7 years, the final volume in Johann Strauss’ best waltzes has come to be. Imagine – the last volume was in 2013 which was a damn freaking long time ago. You can still access volume 4, part 1 here.

I also finally visited Vienna in December 2019. How could I write about the ‘laughing genius of Vienna’ without ever having visited the city where he lived and breathed waltzes and polkas?

Madame Tussauds Vienna – I’m guessing Johann Strauss is about 170cm tall if this is an approximate replica of the real-life persona. I mean, I have to still bend over to be able to take a wefie with him (and I’m only 176cm short). Still, for a 19th-century pop idol, he’s the approximate Justin Bieber of the day in light music and operetta. Herbert von Karajan stands proudly on the podium behind him. Both are (or were) truly handsome.
Hmm, I prefer this angle better. Ready to strike up the band. “Heut spielt der Strauss!” The different sort of genius, Albert Einstein could be seen in the background looking sullen.

Obviously today, these oom-pa-pa dances are no longer trending and the heydays of the Strauss family are a thing of the past – but thank goodness I made that trip last year shortly before the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic struck the world. That reinforced my self-reminder that if I dreamt of doing something in my bucket list or hobby to-do’s, then let that day be today and not tomorrow, because tomorrow will become tomorrow and so on…you get what I mean.

Since this is the last volume where I’d be reviewing Strauss’ most famous waltzes, let’s start this segment with me sharing some pics of my pilgrimage to the Strauss apartment (Johann Strauss Wohnung) in Praterstrasse, Leopoldstadt where he lived in the mid-1860s. It’s not to be confused with this museum – which is about the entire Strauss family.

Looking up at the first floor – above the Cafe 3/4 time (Takt) with 4 Austrian flags to indicate a historic location within Vienna. An overhanging plaque briefly explains that the unofficial Austrian national anthem An der schönenblauen Donau was composed by Johann Strauss II here in 1867.

You could easily reach there by the U-bahn at the Nestroyplatz station. The museum isn’t far and you could walk there. Enter the museum by the left side of the 3/4 Takt Cafe. I’m not familiar with the construction of European apartment blocks and got stuck trying to go up. Ring the doorbell before gaining entry. It would be locked especially if you’re among the first few visitors in the morning. The ornate staircase and bits of falling masonry reminded me of the age of the place – it is older than anything Malaysia ever has in its urban areas, except for the A Famosa in Malacca.

Some history about the apartment

The caretaker of the museum was rather curt and insisted on speaking only German. “Das ist ja ausgezeichnet!” Nevermind – just ask if he speaks English – “Sprechen sie Englisch?” and he’d murmur a polite “Bitte sehr”. Yeah, I know he’s an ok guy, just typical Viennese dry behavior which you’d get used to. Ooh, and the floor boards! They creak terribly at every step. It feels like you cannot even tiptoe there.

For some strange reason, I quite like this bust. The moustache and beard style reminds me that this is a depiction of Strauss at the age where he enjoyed the peak of his creative powers.

You could make it worth your time and money by opting to buy the Vienna Pass so you get to go in free. No, this is not a sponsored post and so I won’t add any links here nor compare it with the Vienna City Card (which was my initial selection but upon comparing both, the Pass got my approval due to my own travel itinerary and not because the City Card is inferior in any way.)

The apartment is divided into 4 or 5 distinctive sections, each documenting a period of Strauss’ life and some of his most famous works.

1853 – 5 years after Strauss’ debut at the Dommayer’s Casino. The actual location is still there but I didn’t check it out.
Here, this should give you some idea on how the rooms are divided. Exhibits are pegged to the walls and the place was brightly lit. My hands (and heart) were excited, hence it seems like I took these pictures with a solar calculator
Strauss conducting from the violin was not unusual – apparently, this was the Vorgeiger style popularized by Johann Strauss I and carried on through to Willi Boskovsky.
Johann Strauss II and his family (accurately speaking, the women in his life)
Caricatures of Johann Strauss. Most seem to emphasize the whiskery beard and the sharp eyebrows.
Looks old but still gold. 2 talented brothers teaming up to create a masterpiece
Ok, one final picture before we hit the main content. I love this picture the most – as it says, Strauss was an avid tarot card player (Tarock – not sure which version was played, i.e. Tapp Tarock or Illustrated Tarock)

During the coronavirus outbreak, I’m not 100% certain if the museum is open for visit but if you’ve time to spare, do check out this quaint and well-maintained museum. The above pictures are just a woefully short summary of the actual exhibits on display. Expect to spend at least an hour, taking pictures or reading up more on the Waltz King and his life story.

I’ve now compiled the following waltzes which round up Strauss’ 400-something opus list. Enjoy the selection! After that, I also draw up a quick summary of waltzes that I’ve, in my silliest moments, missed out on. YouTube and Spotify are indeed wonderful creations for those who love music.

Playing cards box depicting Strauss, his third wife Adele (right) and daughter (left)

(1) Sinnen und Minnen (“Reverie and Loving”) – op. 435. Dang, how did I miss this cheerful little postcard earlier? Its cheeky Waltz 1A is so charming that at first listen in 2008, I thought that this was one of the better waltzes that I’ve heard that year, besides In’s Zentrum (op. 378) and ‘Funf Paragraphe aus dem Walzer-Codex’ (op. 105). The middle waltz parts are consistent – not overtly humdrum and just lent a nice balance to the rest of the piece. The absence of a lengthy Coda reprising earlier themes meant that the breezy Waltz 1A dances in very quickly and ends on a resounding flourish. Recordings: As far as I know, Alfred Walter’s interpretation with the Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Košice) on the Johann Strauss Complete Edition vol. 24 is the only known recording but it’s splendid enough.

Gloriette of the Schönbrunn Palace. I read that it was destroyed during World War 2. How sad that one could find the heart to ruin these astounding architectures.  
Schloss Schönbrunn atop the small hill behind the main palace complex. In the winter after it snowed, the roads are frozen solid into ice which you have to carefully make your way up. But what a wonderful sight that lovely and dear Vienna is! The Stephansdom (Steffl) stands proudly head and shoulders above all other buildings at a distance but you could see how vast Vienna had become.

(2) Groß-Wien (“Great Vienna”) – op. 440. I became acquainted with this waltz in 1999. It came out in the 100 Best Works of Johann Strauss series run by Naxos. Originally conceived as a choral waltz, it follows the structure of similar works such as ‘Wein, Weib und Gesang’ (op. 333), ‘Neu-Wien’ (op. 342), ‘Bei uns z’Haus’ (op. 361) and Myrthenblüten (op. 395) where a somewhat lengthy introduction precedes a four two-part waltz chain which ends without a Coda. Yes, it finishes without the Waltz 1A again. That’s how innovative Johann Strauss II was in his treatment of the waltz genre. I’d rank this opus 440 as one of the truly last great waltzes of his time, simply because there is no evidence that Strauss had his inspiration for creations in 3/4 time diminished. Waltz 2A and 2B stood out for me whereas Waltz 4A had a breezy quiet quality like only a couple dancing in an empty ballroom to the soft strains of this cooling melody. Recordings: You have 2 choices to hear out this great waltz – the usual Naxos interpretation (of course, where else) and a very rare but special recording by Eduard Strauss leading his orchestra in the now near-obsolete ‘The Great Composers and Their Music’ by Marshall-Cavendish (volume 41). I bought quite a number of out-of-print partworks from this site and their service has always been impeccable and professional. (I didn’t receive any remuneration to mention them on this page, so feel free to shop around as you like. You may pick up a couple of real gems along the way, if you’re into old recordings / magazines). The CD also comes with a strong lineup of Strauss favorites that aren’t in mainstream recordings, including Vienna Sweets (op. 307) and Praise of Women polka-mazurka (op. 315) which is the divider piece between the mighty Blue Danube waltz (op. 314) and the awesome Artists’ Life (op. 316) waltzes. The sound quality is slightly wiry but the interpretation was sharper than the Alfred Walter usual relaxed style.

Friedrich Schiller – the famous poet who wrote the ode “An die Freude” (To Joy) made legendary by Ludwig van Beethoven in his 9th Symphony and which contains the phrase ‘Seid Umschlungen Millionen’. (Credits: Original portrait by Gerhard von Kügelgen) – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain,

(3) Seid umschlungen, Millionen (“Be Embraced, Millions!”) – op. 443. I first savored this masterwork in 1996 when I found it on a CD as a pair of hitherto unheard works with Wiener Bonbons (op. 307) in an album of Wiener Volksoper Orchester interpretation of the usual Strauss’ waltzes and polkas (like Artists’ Life and Morning Papers waltzes). I can’t express how much I loved the Wiener Bonbons because I found that CD as a proper godsend but this mature work is nothing like you’ve heard before. It has the grandeur and musical fibre of the Kaiser-Walzer (op. 437) but the exuberance of its younger cousins. We can start with the masterful Introduction – a stately first section punctuated by a more exciting second. The other waltz sections (Waltzes 1A, 2A, 3A and B that follow would surely delight you too – the irresistible Waltz 4A always made me smile. Recordings: You may imagine that my first choice would the the Volksoper / Alfred Scholz recordings. Not this time – I’ve found a rather more worthy contemporary. You would be thoroughly entertained by an unusual choral rendition featuring the Wiener Symphoniker backed by the Wiener Jugendchor and led by Alois Melichar (in a CD featuring Anton Paulik’s gems). The pacing and rhythm throughout is simply delectable. However, if the choral rendition is not your cup of kaffee mit schlag, then there are the alternatives – Nikolaus Harnoncourt leading the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic in the 2001 Neujahrskonzert. Another one would be the Volksoper recordings – the very one clocking in at approximately 10 plus minutes is the one that was an early favorite.

(4) Märchen aus dem Orient (“Fairytales from the Orient”) – op. 444. Strauss entertained a fair degree of fascination with Arabian themes, most notably in his first ever operetta, Indigo and the Forty Thieves (Indigo und die vierzig Räuber) premiered in 1871. His earlier Persian March (op. 289) was also descriptively Arabian in feel and execution. As for this late waltz, there is of course an evocative feel of the Thousand and One nights (Waltz 1A definitely) but one suspects that Johann Strauss’ Viennese roots are too strong for him to ignore – in some parts, he stole in quite a few bars of his own Austrian creations. The result is a hotchpotch of melodies that could only be summarized as ‘different’ from that of his other 3/4 time works. In this context, this work stands out because while it doesn’t quite sound Arabic in nature, it does have its own sense of identity and this was important at that time and age where Carl Michael Ziehrer was also pumping out more or less the same repetitious waltz melodies to satiate his own team of adoring Viennese audiences. Odd one, this particular waltz – but strangely enjoyable. And Ziehrer’s works are generally still boring. Recordings: Plenty to choose from, so this means that you don’t have to necessarily go for Naxos’ version nor Robert Stolz’s shortened and uninspired version in his mammoth Wiener Musik series (it’s always either a hit or miss with Robert Stolz – and only his volume 7 of Wiener Musik was consistent enough to be recommended). Ok, long story short – go for Daniel Barenboim’s or Zubin Mehta’s Neujahrskonzert versions (2009 or 2015, whichever you could get your hands on). You might also be entertained with Alfred Eschwé conducting the Wiener Johann Strauss Orchester in the ‘Wiener Bonbons’ album of live recordings. Check that red-colored album out – it’s chockful filled with rare gems like ‘Auf Zum Tanze’ polka (op. 436), ‘Fata Morgana’ polka-mazurka (op. 330), the ‘Eine Nacht in Venedig’ operetta overture, and the masterful ‘Die Publicisten’ waltz (op. 321) with the tasty ‘Wiener Bonbons’ waltz (op. 307). Alfred Eschwé is fast becoming my go-to Johann Strauss interpreter, having first heard his contribution to the massive Johann Strauss Complete Edition (volume 17), then to his recent work with the Wiener Johann Strauss Orchester and watched him conduct live at the Wiener Volksoper in a marvellous production of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ in December 2019.

(5) Hochzeitsreigen (“Wedding Procession”) – op. 453. This regal-sounding waltz was dedicated to a member of the royalty – Princess Marie Luise of Bourbon-Parma. I first heard this work in 2009 and was initially unimpressed. For one, the large repository of Johann Strauss Complete Edition was open to me after I bought a copy of my own. Spoilt for choice, this work was quickly filtered out in favor of other rarities. Later on, I came across the piano version of this work and tried it out. Strangely, being able to re-interpret it to my own liking did it for me – the Waltz 1A has a gentle yet determined quality of its own whereas the other waltz chains that follow form a cohesive unit. Not exactly a waltz that would wow you but if you’re looking for a late 19th-century work near to the end of Strauss’ life where he had developed a distinctive matured style, this one fits the bill nicely. Waltzes like ‘Ich bin dir Gut’ (op. 455) nor ‘Heut’ ist heut’ (op. 471) could sometimes be undone by poor orchestra performance / conductor so perhaps more alternative recordings could put these right. For example, the waltz ‘Gartenlaube’ (op. 461) is quite ok, nothing spectacular either, but I guess the ponderous and lethargic treatment by Christian Pollack didn’t cut it for me to include it here. Recordings: Only one so far as I recall – Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Košice) led by Alfred Walter.

An illustration showing Clever Gretel from the Brothers Grimm fairytale collection. (Credits: By Walter Crane c1890 –, Public Domain,

(6) Klug Gretelein (“Clever Gretel”) – op. 462. Most people would know this fairytale and so I won’t elaborate it here. Far as I know, this waltz exists as a vocal waltz like the earlier classic ‘Voices of Spring’ Frühlingsstimmen (op. 410). The cleverly-conceived work is however, quite repetitious – more so when the main waltz 1A pops out its head at at least 4 sections to say ‘Hi! I’m awesome! Hear me out!’. Yes, it’s attractive – Strauss knew it and unashamedly spammed it. Earlier, his pensive yet sweet Kuss Walzer (op. 400) also had its main waltz 1A repeated every so often. That said, it should not detract you from enjoying its charms and spontaneity. Recordings: Naxos (volume 30) or the vocal version – Jack Rothstein’s delectable version with the Johann Strauss Orchestra in the Vienna Premiere Volume 2 set on the Chandos label. Marilyn Hill Smith provides the vocals here. Both versions are great although the vocal version had some minor embellishments which made it sound rather different from the Naxos version purely for orchestra.

op. 463 derives it melodies chiefly from the operetta Waldmeister. The Overture is a sparkling masterpiece with excellent counterpoint melody.

(7) Trau, schau, wem! (“Beware of whom you trust!”) – op. 463. The Waldmeister operetta contains a wealth of melodies, none more evident than its brilliant overture which is a frequent mainstay in the New Year’s Concerts. The only waltz that was born from the operetta’s tunes contains the main melody in the overture – which you could decipher as a ‘Blue Danube waltz’ in reverse. The overall mood of this work is quite reflective and nowhere near as exuberant as that of Strauss’ earlier pieces. It may seem like a furtive handbrake towards the end of Strauss’ life but such is the general prevalent mood of his final few compositions. When I first heard this in 1999, I’m just ok with it but as I appreciated the sublime Overture, I got to understand this waltz better and recognize it as a tiny sparkle in the long list of Strauss’ waltzes. Recordings: so far, only two. Three, if you count a half-assed attempt so I won’t cover it here. The two are: Naxos and featuring the then lumbering Johannes Wildner (hey, he’s improved his conducting speed a lot. In recent recordings with the Wiener Johann Strauss Orchester, he’s quite an accomplished Strauss interpreter now. Time surely will change things a lot.). Ok, I don’t really like the Naxos version even till now, so I’d go for Robert Stolz’s incomplete but tempo-friendly version with the Berlin Symphoniker Orchester.

(8) An der Elbe (“On the Elbe”) – op. 477. Here we go – the last waltz in the entire list. I’d observed painfully that the last few dozens of Johann Strauss’ works were lacking in élan and verve. If you ask me to specifically listen to ‘Trau, Schau, Wem‘ on a hot tropical day here in the steamy part of Southeast Asia? Forget it! Remember the sharp and smart ‘Die Publicisten‘? Or the quiet yet melancholic optimism of Artists’ Life? Maybe the exquisite Vienna Blood is more up your alley? Those days were long gone before this final masterpiece. Where do I even start in reviewing this work? The Introduction is uneasy, unsettling and somewhat nervy but as it calmed down to the Waltz 1A, you know that it’s truly something special. There is not one weak link in this amazing chain of 4 two-part waltzes. The calmness and lucid memory of Waltz 4A soothed the joyful Waltz 3. The masterful Coda binds all the previous wistful moods together to its last flourish. It was as if this truly dawned on Strauss that – “…ok, this is it – the final waltz ever.” And he summoned all his creative energies and inspiration to create this now-forgotten wonder in 3/4 time. I first appraised this work in 2008 and I know no other fitting finale to Strauss’ reign as the Waltz King as did this work. Look up this waltz and give it a good listen – you will not regret it. Recordings: Fortunately, there is quite a handful of galvanizing recordings available – (1) First up, never ignore Naxos’ contribution! Alfred Walter conducts the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Košice) as able as he could in this recording which doesn’t disappoint even if he still cut corners and shaved minutes off, but whatever; (2) Matthias Georg Kendlinger leads the K&K Philharmoniker in recordings of rare Strauss family works under the album ‘Unter den Linden‘ which is the title of one of the more inspired waltzes penned by Johann Strauss III (Eduard Strauss’ son who became a somewhat forgotten composer). His style of conducting is somewhat rushed but he was certainly careful to preserve the pensiveness of this waltz. Not bad. (3) Christian Thielemann gave a convincing rendition with the Staatskapelle Dresden in the album ‘Live aus der Semperoper‘. He made sure the overall sounds were warm, thoughtful and that was a treat. Ignore the shortened length of the work, because you have the final option which is (4) Zubin Mehta leading the venerable Wiener Philharmoniker Orchester in the 2015 Neujahrskonzert. This recording clocks in at 9 minutes and 35 seconds which is in perfect tempo as to how this last waltz should be interpreted.

Ok, this is it. I don’t have much business here talking about the Strauss family any longer than I should. Their music have been and always will be a part of my life. I’ve been playing Strauss waltzes on the piano since I was 14 years of age and long may this continue. I’m glad that I completed this undertaking just a week before Johann Strauss II’s birthday on 25 October. Pretty good timing, if I should say so myself.

Before I wrap up, here is a further addendum of recommended waltzes to the earlier list, starting from opus 1 to the last waltz:

Opus 4 ‘Serailtänze’ – An early hidden gem. Waltz 1A right up to Waltz 5B. Richard Edlinger conducts this interpretation on Naxos.

Opus 27 ‘Die Sanguiniker’ – boisterous spirited piece especially fitting for the sanguine ones. Early Strauss work that failed to capture the imagination but hopefully that could change.

Opus 68 ‘Aeols-Töne’ – lovely Waltz 1A, melancholic but melodious.

Opus 94 ‘Rhadamantus-Klänge’ – signs of developing maturity in the young Johann Strauss’ style. The structure was cleverly conceived and the vibrancy was suitably maintained throughout.

Opus 128 ‘Solon-Sprüche’ – a vivacious and stylish work, Waltzes 2A and 2B convinced me to turn this into a featured review. Waltz 1A sounds weird but in a good way. Trust me on this.

Opus 164 ‘Sirenen’ – Maybe not as atmospheric as Waldteufel’s similar Les sirènes, Op.154 but this Strauss waltz contains a wealth of tuneful melodies that you should be able to enjoy.

Opus 177 ‘Juristenball-Tänze’ – While it doesn’t contain a particularly captivating Waltz 1A, the latter half of this Waltz reveals a charming and disarmingly swirling set of well-constructed waltz parts. Go for the Paul Angerer interpretation where he conducts the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in a truly committed performance.

Opus 189 ‘Paroxysmen’ – how on earth did I miss this out earlier? That was really careless of me. From start to finish, this nervous-sounding work tried to replicate the spasms of human body and ending with a gong strike. There are pockets of lovely waltz sections in the middle but overall, a very attractive work.

Opus 204 ‘Vibrationen’ – Another mistake of mind to leave this out earlier. From the minor-sounding and brooding Waltz 1A to the exuberant Waltzes 3 and 4, this is pure Straussian creative genius at its core. Seek this waltz out.

Opus 312 ‘Feenmärchen’ – another big title left out. This waltz immediately precedes the great Blue Danube waltz and overflows with smartly-crafted melodies and also blessed with a somewhat poignant mood which renders it a delight. Seek out the Paul Angerer version with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra – it’s awesome.

Opus 318 ‘Telegramme’ – maybe because it came after the famous Blue Danube waltz op. 314 as well as the great ‘Artists’ Life’ waltz op. 316 that rendered this consummately-composed waltz a forgotten stepchild. Waltz 1A is as good as any that Strauss would write during this creative period of his career and the rest just pulls you in along for the ride. My only contention would be that Waltz 5A was repeated far too often in the Coda that seemed to drag it into the boredom quagmire – but otherwise the rest are good.

Opus 357 ‘Carnevalsbilder’ – like the ‘Tausend und Eine Nacht’ op. 346, this waltz derives its melodies from Strauss’ 2nd operetta ‘Der Carneval in Rom’ which is filled to the brim with sparkling melodies and good spirits. Waltz 2A reminds you of the beautiful overture as well, which you should not miss out on.

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In Retrospect…

This would be the first post in 4 years, and also the first post celebrating 14 years of ‘Leidartikel’.

No, blogging is no longer in trend – so this anniversary probably felt hollow to me. I’ve followed dozens of amazing Malaysian blogs in the past decade or so and many died a natural death. I’ve no idea what possessed me to suddenly take up reins to blog again but it did feel that something was long overdue.

My next immediate post would be to complete the Johann Strauss Jr.’s famous waltzes series for good. I’ve always tried to finish my projects whenever time permits but I admit that most of my enterprises (even those outside of this blog) have frequently met a premature end. For now, I don’t have a clear idea if I would even continue this blog beyond the above planned post but let’s see how it goes.

Now that I have the future more or less addressed, now’s the time to look back amusingly and at the same time with absolute honest reflection at Leidartikel’s past. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. I’ve been writing a shitload of rubbish on this blog since 2006 till about maybe, 2012. Take a look at my archives – tons of old video games (Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Megadrive) that no one absolutely plays anymore, of Arsenal’s slide from EPL champs to also-rans and Dutch football, music that I don’t even care today, irrelevant soliloquies etc. It holds true – the lack of good content translates to appalling visitor rates – regardless of whether the good old days of blogging is dead or on life support currently.
  2. Most content were written using some old Microsoft blog writer. No, that’s not the problem. The problem is that I somehow had an amazingly poor sense of color that most of my early posts are now illegible because they’re in yellow or white. The picture library that accompanies most of the posts are also an extinct breed all of a sudden. That’s too much work to repair them even for nostalgic reasons.
  3. Further to 1 above, writing rubbish is fine as long as they’re funny as hell. But boredom is the killer. Somehow I’m just unable to earlier express how I really feel about something and in the end, I played it safe. The result is a sterile environment where this blog is as interesting as that of the diary of a monk. No, I’m not advocating writing angst-filled entries or grumpy threads criticizing everything and anything which revolves around the sun. It’s plain simple – until I’m able to say what I mean, then I won’t be able to mean what I say.
  4. Ok before this retrospect descends into self-flagellation, I do want to say that my craft-modeling works on ships, armored cars and infantry is something I enjoyed. No, I concede that the pictures do suck but that’s because I took them with a toaster. I do love building 1/700 scale waterline ships and would do so when time permits. Oh, yes – and also post only the finished product replete with paint / rigging. Natural grey kits do not count as finished.
  5. For a long time since its publication in 2008, my utterly irreverent post on the Classical Collection published by Orbis, De Agostini was impactful for 2 reasons – (a) the number of view and visits to this site naturally swelled after it was published. Of course, it attracted people for both good and bad reasons but: (b) I was proud that it witnessed the birth of a project by someone by the name of Steve Woolley. You could see his name appearing in the comments section just so I’m not bullshitting. Now, Steve approached me in 2010 via email because he wanted to index the music tracks issue per issue within his entire Classical Collection. That’s a whopping 106 compact discs captured in a massive encyclopedia on Microsoft Excel format replete with indexing and song title / length etc. In his first comment on the post, he wrote that he “have been labouriously trying to rip and catalogue my collection to my PC and Hard drives. Thanks to your site I have finally completed this task“. No, sir – I salute you – it’s your own hard work and credit alone – Well done! We probably shared our admiration of the now-forgotten collection but that’s far as it goes. Nothing monetary involved and that’s the beauty of it. That said, we are / were not friends by any means but that does not mean I wasn’t impressed with his work. The link to his site is no longer accessible but while it existed, it was a beautiful little refuge – the effort of a dedicated craftsman.
  6. To resuscitate this dying blog, I tried dabbling in earnest on travel and food blogs since my visit to Hong Kong and Macau in late 2013. Truthfully, I arrived too late in the game and woefully unprepared – lousy camera, skill and quality of pictures taken, concept of presentation. All poorly executed. This was the time when Facebook was at its zenith and people just don’t have the time to trawl blogs to admire pictures. Maybe blogs would still have some traction if it had some vital information sure, but I didn’t consider that aspect too much. Today, though – I look back fondly at this pitiful task of travel blogging which didn’t really hit off. Hey, sometimes the journey itself is the memorable one, not the end product.
  7. I’m running out of mileage on this reminiscing trip. One last aspect is – regardless of the many mistakes I made in life and on this space – I did have a lot of fun writing on this blog. It doesn’t necessarily reflect a lot of my life in the past 14 years but it’s important to recall that writing was therapeutic on its own. It may not have made any impact (and I don’t think it ever will seeing as I’m now likely to use IG or whatever social media) but I think of it now as an improvement in my life over these years in several ways.

So, there you have it. The future and the past so far in 2020. Will I repair this poor old blog? No, as I mentioned above, I don’t see any future for blogging as a whole currently. I would however, from here onwards, add only quality content that would bring value to people.

Also, it’s the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic now as I type this entry although many countries have eased their respective lockdowns in interest of economic rejuvenation. We’ve heard of the following like a broken record – our lives will be to adapt to a ‘new normal’, we have to live with this coronavirus till a vaccine is found or not, face-to-face interaction will probably never be the same ever. It may be the rise of blogging again or a late renaissance and it may be another fascinating 14 years of Leidartikel.

Finally, 2020 may be the annus horribilis for many who suffered the financial and health effects of this pandemic. I’d like to share that most of my blog entries in late 2007 to 2008 were written at a time of abject personal circumstances and suffering the harsh realities of making my way in the corporate world. Near penniless and jobless during that period, and facing rejection after rejection from hiring companies for many months due to the 2007-2008 financial crisis – nonetheless, the light at the end of the tunnel did come eventually. And good will come to you too if you persevere.

I wish you all the very best in life and be blessed always.

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Let’s visit the Netherlands! (30 April–5 May 2015) – Day 3: Gouda, Den Haag, Madurodam and Rotterdam

I know that I haven’t been updating this blog for a very long time – entries have been far and few between. Still, this blog isn’t dead yet and I’d be providing updates from time to time.

Today’s entry would be about the city of Gouda – famed for cheese and a sweet Dutch treat, stroopwafel!


This is Gouda station. There’s a small Albert Heijn kiosk there with a rude cashier there but I won’t dwell on that.


More canals.





I came to Gouda to buy stroopwafels. There are several stores selling the real deal but I went for this one:



I’m telling you – nothing beats the original stroopwafel fresh from the griddle! Stroopwafels are kinda chewy and gooey when still warm and the syrup just flows from the centre but not so viscous so as to dribble down your hand. You won’t want to eat the store-bought stroopwafel after this!



Next stop – Den Haag (The Hague). The International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court is situated here.



Trams in Den Haag. This is on the Green Line – Scheveningen Noorderstrand. These rolling stock GTL look pretty old (which they actually are).





Statue of William 1 of Orange (or William the Silent), Prince of Orange (not to be confused with William 1, King of the Netherlands – the king who lost Belgium).



Time for a quick snack! It’s not yet herring season but I’d love to try the Hollandse Nieuwe!



I ordered a ‘broodje haring’ – raw herring and raw onions slapped in between an ordinary slab of bread. You may be wondering how it tastes like – it’s creamy (even without additional condiments) but not too salty. The raw onions weren’t designed to mask the fishy smell – in fact it complements the entire package well. I would have ordered another bun but quickly thought that traveling alone meant that I could not risk getting diarrhea or something like that. 



Den Haag Chinatown


I’d have spent more time in Den Haag as it was a surprisingly lovely place to visit. Where Eindhoven is a provincial city, Den Haag is bustling enough to be lively yet not too large so as to create the impression of being smothered by crowds of people.

It was getting late and I decided to leg it to Madurodam:





What do we have here? Holland in miniature form! And it’s not Lego city – it’s an actual representation of Holland within a reasonably large funfair-like ground, replete with moving vehicles, bridges and with live fishes and canals.







These fish are not really all that big…



It’s great fun waiting for the trains to make a loop around its circuit.



Real life tulips in a small patch.


There’s just enough time to travel to Rotterdam which is just some ways south of Den Haag. Honestly, I have no idea what to do in Rotterdam but would just try my luck there.



I had wanted to visit De Kuip Stadion but decided against going too far when there’s a Feyenoord club shop here within Centraal Station.


Nice walk along beautiful streets of Rotterdam:





Markthal Rotterdam (Markethall)








Erasmus Bridge.


That’s a long, tiring day. The next day would be filled with tulips and gardens which brings peace to the mind and, if you think so as well, soul.

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Let’s visit the Netherlands! (30 April–5 May 2015) – Day 2: Alkmaar, Eindhoven and Maastricht (Part 2)




After a most delightful noon at the Philips Stadion with the legends of PSV (goalkeeper Hans van Breukelen lifting the European Cup (now Champions League) in 1988 and also Romário), it’s  time to visit Eindhoven and see what the city has to offer.



The imposing Augustijnenkerk.



Sint-Katharinakerk dominates the Eindhoven central landscape.


Eindhoven city centre. The government are obviously football fans too.




Some more pics of Eindhoven. It’s a modern city – quite unlike the other typical Dutch cities with waterways and canals dotting the built-up areas. Strangely, I felt that the city lacked a soul, save for the PSV stadium.

From here onwards, I have a dilemma. It was already almost 3pm and I have enough time to go to one more location. Since I could realistically go a bit further south, I decided to visit Maastricht.


On the way, we passed by the small city of Sittard.


I don’t know if this is Offermans Joosten Stadion stadium (home of Fortuna Sittard) since I snapped a pic of it on the train and have no time to take well-positioned shots for comparison. I’m aware that their old home, de Baandert is no longer in use.


Maastricht is very far south, close to the border with Germany and Belgium.


From the railway station, you’d need to walk rather far to access the ancient city. Keep walking along the Stationstraat and you’d end up at the Roman bridge.


It’s quite a distance, though, so be prepared to spend some time.


This is the old part of Maastricht.



Basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw (Basilica of Our Lady).




Lots of old buildings..




Scenic views along the River Maas. This place is a definite contrast with Eindhoven. If possible, I’d surely visit this city again – just to explore the historical aspect of it.



For now – it was an exhausting first full day in the Netherlands. The next day would be equally tiring, but would be a sweet experience. I think you could almost smell the syrup…

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Let’s visit the Netherlands! (30 April–5 May 2015) – Day 2: Alkmaar, Eindhoven and Maastricht (Part 1)



I know this trip has become old news due to my tardiness. So, I’m trying to finish sharing the pictures by cutting down the small talk and getting right to the action moving forward.

Since I arrived at Amsterdam rather late the day before, I was only able to visit the city center and visit the funfair, taking a few pictures.

Back in my hotel room, I had to plan very quickly as to how I would maximize my time. I’d definitely need to go to Eindhoven to buy the PSV kits since that was my primary objective here. Incidentally, the next day is Friday as well and my handy travel guide says that Alkmaar has a cheese market every Fridays. Well, why not…


I was having accomms at Schiphol so I have to rely on token common sense to get me to Alkmaar.


Heemskerk is the hometown of Arthur Numan and Rafael van der Vaart of the Dutch national football team but I don’t have the time to singly make a dedicated visit there. Instead, I’d pass thru Zaandam which is the birthplace of Ronald Koeman.


The entire journey north to Alkmaar takes approximately 45 mins, and it was a rather dull ride. We passed by places like Uitgeest and Castricum which I’ve not heard of of before.


But Alkmaar is a welcome sight when we drew to the station. It’s a lovely city.



Fear not if you arrive at Alkmaar not knowing where the Cheese market is – you would be able to see lots of helpful signposts guiding you along.


This is the ‘Grote or Sint-Laurenskerk’ – a prominent landmark of Alkmaar.


Good day for a visit!


This is the city hall / stadhuis. I had trouble fitting the entire dimensions into the now-technically limited iPhone 5.


After much walking, I’m here at the Waag building – the site of the Friday Cheese market.



Taking a look at the cheese auction. I read that it is the entire thing is just for show now.  It is possible to assume better vantage spots at the shops nearby in case you are not as tall as the average tourist.




More pictures of Alkmaar.

In my view, the distance from the railway station is rather far – just to manage your expectations. Walking around the Netherlands is roughly the same sort of thing unless you’d rather rent a bike.


I spent a rather long time in Alkmaar and thought not to stay for brunch. Instead, I’d be making the arduous trip down south to Eindhoven. On the way, I’d pass thru Utrecht and den Bosch which I don’t plan to drop by for a quick visit. When you are a PSV fan, you’d instantly know that the long wait to reclaim the Eredivisie title means that you’d not waste anymore time in getting the kits to commemorate the victory.




I know where to go – the Philips Stadion. Look at all the buntings celebrating PSV’s latest triumph.



As I approach the stadium, it feels…strange. I have only ever visited Highbury from the outside and even then I didn’t enter the club shop since it was closed on that day roughly 10 years ago. But now – the PSV store beckons!




This is the great Mr. PSV – Willy van der Kuijlen!


Alright – here we go..




Championship souvenirs – mugs, caps, scarves and geeky glasses. PSV’s last season with Nike means that all their old kits are valuable in my eyes. I cant understand why Umbro has been chosen as sponsor of the 2015/2016 season. Their kits suck – British kits suck.


Ik hou van PSV Eindhoven!


I spent around €150 on the lovely blue 3rd kit, the home kit (only XXL size left T T), a mug, some PSV flags, and a lanyard.


That figure also includes stamping my name and chosen number on the 3rd kit. See that unique PSV numbering style?


This is the Eredivisie-title winning team for 2014/2015. One of the best teams PSV had in over a decade – and now disintegrated by Man Ure and Newcastle United. PSV will thrive though – we just beat Man Ure 2-1 in the Champions League.

Finally –  a long-held wish came true – a visit to Eindhoven and to Philips Stadion!

(More of Eindhoven and Maastricht in a following post)




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Let’s visit the Netherlands! (30 April–5 May 2015)–Day 1: KL to Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam (Schiphol and Amsterdam Centraal)



I was mortified to note that my last post was on 30 August last year. Now, don’t imagine for a second that this blog is dead and buried. It’s just that nothing terribly interesting has been happening at all – still haven’t met the girl that I could love unconditionally, ordinary work schedules drowning me, people around me are still not as inspirational as ever.  The list goes on and on. 

This was the second time I traveled alone to a foreign country – the first was to Japan.

I could write lengthy discourses on the benefits of traveling alone but the first one is this – if ever I screwed up my trip, it was my fault and I would have to take responsibility entirely. People all their lives seldom want to take responsibility for themselves and so, is a trait which I don’t want to be associated with.

The second one would be the need to engage my brains constantly. Third – I’m apprehensive of traveling with just about anyone. Past trips to France a decade ago and Singapore last year confirmed that we see the worst in friends during trips. I so hate people screaming at me when I’m driving.  Fourth – I could go to anywhere I want and at anytime. Rain or shine, I don’t need particularly long stops or lazing around in a café.  I don’t need to put up with complaining and bitter people who don’t share my convictions or travel plans.

That’s not to say I will never travel with someone – it would have to be with someone great and the gut feeling will tell me when the time comes. I’d just know it.  

Now – I’ve always wanted to go to Holland for these reasons (in no particular order): (i) Oranje is my favourite football team – possibly the strongest never to win the World Cup; (ii) the Netherlands is one of the most beautiful countries with unspoiled beauty; and (iii) I’ve wondered how flat the entire country is and came away a total believer.


Etihad Airways offered the most attractive price for a last minute booking as compared to the other airlines. The catch is – I’d have to transit via Abu Dhabi airport to continue to Amsterdam from Kuala Lumpur. The delay was for three hours but time passed soon enough. I only booked my flight one week before the actual trip and planned my itinerary within that timeframe. KLM and Lufthansa initially provided some pretty good packages to mull over but with each passing day (delay), the predictably elevating costs would mean that some form of sacrifice isn’t too bad.



There was Wi-Fi connection within the airport itself, so I shot off some Facebook pics, messages and waited for time to pass. Three hours aren’t terribly long if you are sufficiently occupied.




There wasn’t much to do around the duty free area, so I opted to wait at the gates where my flight was due. Remember that the airport staff are terribly rude – I was asking for directions to the Terminal 1 (my e-ticket said Terminal 3) and the helpdesk guy took my ticket and mumbled something in Arabic and pointed agitatedly one direction.

There are complimentary copies of TimeOut (Middle East editions) which you could pick up to pass time too. There are some global dailies which you can also read while waiting to board the plane.

All in all, my visit to Abu Dhabi airport was uneventful – I was content to wait and time also obligingly passed soon enough.



The trip to Amsterdam was around 7 hours long. When I touched down at Schiphol, the first thing to do was to get an OV-Chipkaart.






A card costs around € 7.50. At any point of time, you’d have to load at least € 30.00 before traveling. You may load up to € 150.00 per card which is sufficient for you to travel around the Netherlands. You may purchase this card at the counter shown above. The staff are friendly and helpful, so don’t be apprehensive to approach them.


At Schiphol airport (or at most train stations), always remember to ‘check in’ before boarding a train. There are free-standing posts erected around the escalator terminals. Just tap your card once and you’d see some Dutch words stating that you have checked in.

I’m saying this because I made the mistake of not checking in at Schiphol and ended up going to the next station ‘Hoofddorp’ paying €20.00 which is crazy fare upon checking out. This is because if the system doesn’t know which station you came from, that automatic fare would kick in.

In fact, this doesn’t just happen at Schiphol – there are similar systems at Den Haag or parts of Amsterdam. The Nederlandse Spoorwegen won’t check on you – it’s up to you to ‘check in’ at the station you are boarding on and then dutifully check out at your destination. If you are used to barrier gates (like the MRT in Singapore), then it’s fairly easy to get caught in this mess.

Anyway, once I checked into my hotel (Best Western Hotel Amsterdam), I ventured into Amsterdam Centraal for a quick stroll:








I got some ‘Oliebollen’ for supper and also a large packet of ‘Manneken Pis’ fries which the storeowners claimed is the best in Holland. They got that part totally wrong. It was dried out, bland fries which didn’t seem much different from ordinary ones. Definitely overrated stuff.

The ‘oliebollen’ was fantastic funfair food though – laced with sinful cream and powdered sugar.

The next day would be a busy day, though – and a wonderful trip to southern provinces of Brabant and Limburg. Stay tuned for more updates!





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Tokyo Trip (15 December 2013 to 18 December 2013)–Asakusa (evening) & Shinjuku (night) on 17 December 2013

It’s another day at Asakusa and this time to take in the sights at dusk and to have a look at the Hagoita-ichi fair at the Sensoji temple grounds.


Returning to Asakusa at the expense of visiting other sights in Tokyo isn’t a very easy decision to make. For one, I hadn’t even seen the Imperial Palace and the gardens. I had also wanted to go up the Sumida Skytree but simply didn’t have the time. Again, I think that at some point, when I do return to Tokyo, it would be for a longer period and I could plan my itinerary a lot better.


This is the famed fugu fish (puffer fish) in the aquarium near Asakusa. A meal there could cost a bomb and certainly wouldn’t be in my contemplation. Maybe next time…


Here we are, back again to Sensoji temple for the Hagoita-ichi fair.




This is the Battledore Fair – where hundreds of colourful rectangular boards adorned with beatiful motifs of women, samurai warriors, and even politicians are sold for ornamental purposes. See if you could spot one with Prince William and Kate Middleton in the picture directly above. I don’t suppose that you could use these to play vigorous games of battledore, it would be rather impractical as well since some of the dimensions are too small to play the game in any conceivable manner.



The tradition is that once a battledore piece is sold, the vendor would clap their hands with the buyer in unison. Some occasional shouts may be heard as well to announce the successful purchase.


After that, I could already sense the nearby Nakamise-dori shopping street becoming alive with night lights too. But first, there are some sumptuous street snacks to savour too.



I love kara-age. Fried chicken prepared to perfection – doused with the right amount of mayonnaise. There are also other Japanese snacks there too – okonomiyaki and also oden. For me, lugging the beloved Dreamcast console along proved difficult to enjoy anything else. Next time, I will stay in Tokyo longer so I don’t have to miss out anything.



It’s a joy to see friends coming together to draw in the sights and sounds of this bustling street. This place just gives me amazingly good vibes.



Below are also some pictures of Ginza, which I stopped by along the long journey to Shinjuku to see what nightlife there is about.

Walking along Ginza in the frigid weather and drinking in the Christmas atmosphere was one of the better things I’ve experienced in a difficult year 2013. I thought I was at peace and with a better perspective to think things through. First, there are no one else around who knows me and next, I was far far away from some people (read: idiot bosses in my ex-firm) in Malaysia whom I absolutely detest. It’s important to believe that once you could travel alone by yourself to a foreign country and take care of all logistics and other pertinent matters, you can do anything that you set your mind to. These detractors and naysayers don’t matter at all in your life. Just kick them out like bad crap.



I didn’t stay long at Ginza since I was already there yesterday, so I travelled to Shinjuku shortly after.


The pace of life here is simply out of this world too.



So many people streaming from all direction but the streets are so clean. Kuala Lumpur is so…different by comparison.




I visited this large Kinokuniya bookstore as well. Pity that only one floor was dedicated to the English language. Perhaps if I had studied Japanese language more assiduously, that would have been a book haven to me.


Here are the final few pictures of Shinjuku at night:




You could see so many ‘Game’ outlets around Shinjuku. Maybe you could count McDonald’s as part of this statistic as well. Christmas was in the air and you could also feel it…


(next post: Shimbashi, Meiji Jingu and Harajuku…and sayonara, Tokyo – how I missed you!)

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Tokyo Trip (15 December 2013 to 18 December 2013)–Akihabara & Asakusa (afternoon) on 17 December 2013

I had better finish writing about my Tokyo trip before this entire thing turns stale. I would need to get this out of my system once and for all – then complete the Johann Strauss best waltzes review and then work on other projects, such as Lego sets and more.


So as you could see from the previous entry, Akihabara is not only an electronics town, it also boasts a well-stocked hobby centre and (as we can see in the following paragraphs) it is also rich in history.

But first, in the picture that you could see above, I’d be showing you a sweet snack that I enjoyed.



This is ‘Taiyaki’, made of pancake batter and typically contains sweet filling, often red bean but may also be of other kinds, such as chocolate, cheese or sweet potato.


The filling is sweet potato – fresh and hot from the griddle. I would have taken better pictures of the snack, I must concede, if not for the heavy load that is the ‘Dreamcast’ console that I’ve bought just half an hour before. I mean, it would be unthinkable to lay down the game console on the road while I eat this delicacy. Besides, eating hot ‘taiyaki’ in the middle of a street isn’t a really pleasant experience. Still, it was a tasty snack and the chilly weather had a somewhat balancing effect.


This is a look at the back of the packaging.


Now, it’s time to get to another tourist attraction within walking distance from Akihabara.


This is the torii to Kanda Myojin (神田明神).


Here’s some historical overview of the shrine. I hope the text in the picture above is legible enough.




This shrine exuded a sense of calmness perhaps because there weren’t many worshippers and visitors.



There was also a pony within the compound of the shrine too. I’m not sure of its significance, I’m afraid, so if any Japanese readers could shed some information here, that would be great.




Here are more pictures of the beautiful pony.

I must admit that sometimes I’m wearing blinkers while taking photos and also blind to many things in life. There are so many other sights that other bloggers have captured and I sometimes wonder if I’m just sleepwalking or dreaming awake because I missed out so many details. I promise myself to be more attentive while enjoying the sights at the same time. The reader must come away from this blog with a proper message and not getting disenchanted.



Time for a quick snack. This is the delicious onigiri which I’ve been snacking on when I need a rapid energy boost. At 188 calories and 120 yen per snack, this is an economical and sensible choice when travelling from one location to another within a short space of time.



I’m back at my favourite spot in Tokyo – Asakusa for the second time in 2 days. The city model above is located inside the Asakusa tourist information centre.



This time, I’d be heading to Imado Jinja to have a better look at the maneki neko (better known as ‘beckoning cats’) which are thought to bring business luck to its owner.


It’s not such a good idea to walk so far there, since it was a quite a long trek from the heart of Asakusa to the cat shrine.



Well, here we are. When I arrived, a group of exuberant school children were coming out of the shrine.

It’s really wonderful to see the blend of modernity and mystic in one scene. I suppose that traditions could never be easily swept away.


Aww, beckoning cats.


A brief description on the Imado earthenware history.


It’s thought to be good luck to take a picture of the shrine and the beckoning cats together. You may save the picture if you wish….. you’re welcome : )


The shrine office is at the left, where you could buy some souvenirs, lucky charms, omikuji (fortune telling scripts) and omamori (protective amulets). The two ladies ‘womanning’ the office were thoroughly amused that a Malaysian Chinese could have visited this shrine and bought omikuji for fortune. The kindly elder lady even gave me a small bar of meiji chocolate. How nice!


As evening turns to dusk, the lights of Asakusa were all aglow. See it all in the next post.


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Tokyo Trip (15 December 2013 to 18 December 2013)–Akihabara on 17 December 2013 (morning to noon)

This is it – the pinnacle of my trip to Tokyo. I’ve planned this for 5 years. 5 freaking years! I dreamt of getting a Sega Dreamcast console from this electronic town as it is one of the most reliable places that one could go for just to lay hands on a working model. Consider this  as a pilgrimage to a special place where video game fans could revel in all its splendors…

I’m not there for the otaku culture, though but am curious nonetheless to see what I may find there!


Getting to Akihabara is easy. The hard part is getting around Akihabara to those not-so-obvious places that sell used video game consoles. There are plenty of those shops around town but the trick is getting one working copy that is well worth your money. I’d explain as we go along.


Oh and this is a selfie in my hotel room to start the day. Fully equipped to resist the chilly weather and ready to go! See my new Uniqlo coat? Don’t look at my face too much – admire the new navy blue coat!


Confusing guide map mounted on the walls of the JR station.


Remember to get hold of one of these guide maps. These aren’t very descriptive but you’d have a better idea of the district layout.


I’m ready to raid the Electronic Town!



One of the many ubiquitous Sega outlets dotting Akihabara.



Akihabara Gamers. More manga than you could ever read in your lifetime.



A maid café. 450 yen could get you a cheap decent meal, as seen on the posters outside. The maids are rather attractive too – but I’m generally cautious of flirty behaviour unless you really mean it, of course Winking smile

I can’t get the part on the obsession with maids, though.




Look – Colonel Sanders is also garbed for the season! KFC is hot in Japan too during Christmas season – 24 December here is celebrated with good old piping hot buckets of fried chicken!


Alright – enough sidetracking already.

This is Super Potato. The famous potato shop every classic video game fan should pay pilgrimage to! This branch is just some ways away from the KFC branch pictured above.


Inside Super Potato: these are Famicom cartridges. I’m not in Japan for a Famicom console, but it’s nice to see these nostalgic baubles still around!



I’m here for these Dreamcast consoles.

To my disappointment, they don’t come packaged with the power supply, which is a big red flag. How would I know which cables to get then? My limited conversational Japanese won’t work here – I’d have to look elsewhere.   


There are plenty of Dreamcast games at Super Potato, sure – but what’s the point of getting software without the machine to play it with?


These are Sega Megadrive carts (Genesis in the USA). These come ‘loose’ – i.e. without the original plastic black box and game manual. Do not presume that the prices are also easy on the wallet because of this.



I wanted to get that Sonic 2 boxed! But I was here for all three of them and since I could only get hands on one, then it’s ok.


Playstation 2 accessories on the top floor.



I don’t know about you, but when I was browsing through these stuff, I got this irrational fear of being hit by a massive earthquake that would cause these games to literally bury me alive. To be killed as a result of (over)playing video games is heard before – but to be slain by a cascade of video games is not.


Wow – cute Game Boy carts! These are the ones primary school pupils fight over to get a chance to play TMNT in black and white.

Since Super Potato didn’t give me what I want, I’d also return the favor – I’ll get my goods at some other place.

My next stop – Liberty.



Not suitable for persons below 18 years old. Since my brain may also intermittently be below this age limit, I also made a mental note to stay clear.


Hmm – more videos than video games. My mood turned south after visiting this sad joint. At least the place is clean and tidy.

It’s already close to noon by the time I headed for Trader, so there was this growing expectation that I must seal the deal for the Dreamcast console soon.




Much better – so much better! These are what I’m looking for! I quickly reserved the middle Dreamcast console for myself. A feel good grin stole across my wicked face.


I also wanted to get a Super Famicom console but logic quickly decided that my rather small luggage bag would suffer for it. Stuffing it inside is one thing – it’s another thing to ensure that all that bumping around town and in the airplane compartment doesn’t cause damage to it! I intended to bolster my Dreamcast console with plastic bags and other Japanese snacks.


It is already 1 p.m. when I left Trader.

The next stop would be to Tam Tam Hobby which is also not far down the main street. This mammoth store encompasses about four floors of hobby stuff (gundam), scale model kits and other interests – even air rifles. Pretty serious stuff this. 








There is a good selection of Fujimi kits available. I’d want that Hosho kit! Who’s gonna get it for me?


These, my friends, are the air rifle and other weapons on sale. See that sniper rifle at the middle tier? Pity that my stupid country doesn’t allow me to bring these in. Stupid lame country sitting at the end of the Asian main continent.




Anyway, this is not all for Akihabara. What I’ve covered so far is only the retro gaming stuff, but there is also a snack review and a religious trip in the next entry!


By the way, this is my haul from Akihabara. Not bad for a 5-year plan, if I may say so myself.

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Tokyo Trip (15 December 2013 to 18 December 2013)–Shibuya (evening of 16 December 2013)

I may be a Kuala Lumpur city boy but I felt like I just came out from a village when I saw how large Tokyo is – and how busy the Shibuya intersection was. KL is indeed very, very small compared to Tokyo.


I was just fresh off visiting the Kaichu Inari Shrine near Ōkubo Station (based on this recommended route) and was pondering as to my next destination. Initially I wanted to visit Shinjuku but was thinking of my friend’s strong recommendation to see Shibuya for myself and so I was won over. Besides, there is a Tower Records outlet there and also a Uniqlo outlet where I could get some warmer clothes than the jacket I bought in 1Utama.


Now, I’m finally here at the famous Shibuya Crossing. And yes, it is inundated with so many people that crossing it is a challenge as I wouldn’t want to bump into someone coming from…the opposite, the sides – in fact, everywhere.






‘OIOI’ is the ‘Marui’ department store.


I finally arrived at the Tower Records outlet and it’s huge. Like an excited boy on Christmas Day, I made may way to the entrance.



Did you see that? Rows and rows of CDs like a well-stocked public library! Only thing is – the albums are mostly Japanese versions and if shopping for classical music like I did, then you’d need to browse rather carefully at each aisle. If pressed for time, then this may not be so good. But if you’re travelling alone like I’m doing, then feel free to take your time – it’s worth your while and you may dig up something interesting.


Collection of Johann Strauss CDs. These are considered reasonably good since some rare works are thrown in alongside some familiar ones. I think the selection would be better in Vienna, Austria and that’s where I’m headed next for more choices.



I think I spent around an hour at this outlet, finally settling on purchasing some operetta works. I was tempted to get the Johann Strauss II complete edition set but decided against getting it in the end since my luggage space is limited and I haven’t even bought my Dreamcast console from Akihabara yet, which is the main point of coming to Tokyo in the first place.



 Well, look – it’s already nightfall. The weather was getting really chilly and I thought it  was high time I got my coat from Uniqlo which is not far off.







Well, here we are. I got one nice four-way coat for about RM350 which is way cheaper than the RM499 price tag for the same item in Kuala Lumpur. Four-way means that there are four possible ways to wear the coat (e.g. with or without the bubble jacket inside or you could choose to just wear that bubble jacket insulation alone without the external coat).

I would be wearing it to Akihabara the next day!


I was content to walk around Shibuya, lugging around my new purchase which is quite heavy to be honest. The cold weather suits me perfectly since I love walking around and drinking in the sights while clearing my mind off problems emanating from back home in Malaysia.



The magic of Christmas was in the air. I mean – everything was there isn’t it? What it lacked was snow. I heard it snowed here when I was back in Malaysia Sad smile




I think that the bottom picture offers a better perspective of how busy the Shibuya crossing could be at night.

I still had some tasty onigiri, tuna sandwiches and a boiled egg left from morning rations, so I had them for dinner since I don’t want to lug around my new coat needlessly and get my fingers tortured by the taut plastic bag handles. My hotel also had some refreshments (trust me there is a good kiosk for every interest here in Tokyo) and I got some drinks for a rather cheap price. It’s going to get exciting in Akihabara the next day, so I prepared to sleep early.

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