Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PS Vita Princess Mint Wallpapers

Just finished these as a little creative side-project before the new year. PS Vita wallpapers featuring Princess Mint of East Heaven Kingdom from Threads of Fate/Dewprism. Both use the same drawing -- as you might have noticed.

I took some liberties with the length of her fringes. They should be a bit longer. As always, feel free to use/share/edit or rehost, but please credit me for the artwork.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Paragon of Justice: Crimson Ranger Episode 11: This Is How I Fight!

The story so far: Pete Robinson was just another self-sufficient, lackadaisical otaku until one day, a red comet fell from the sky which turned out to be the super-powered paragon of justice and all-around busybody, the Crimson Ranger.  Pete is conned by the dying Crimson Ranger into taking the Red One Changer and taking on the mantle of the Crimson Ranger. Fortunately, Pete is not completely alone as he fumbles his way through the new role forced upon him. The spirit of the original Crimson Ranger returns to help him as a twin-tailed 13 year-old Japanese schoolgirl named Giselle Orchardwither with an annoyingly cute voice and who only exists in Pete’s head. Whether she is for real or a mere figment of Pete’s imagination is irrelevant since Pete is the only one who can perceive her.

Stripped of his powers with the Red One Changer in Wrath’s hands and feeling down after having recently been betrayed by Miss Vanity, Pete undergoes intense hand-to-hand combat training with Baphomet. At first, he reveals himself to be a reluctant fighter and constantly puts himself down for not knowing how to fight. However, Baphomet realizes that there is a lot more to him than even he himself is aware of.
Baphomet attacks Pete seriously with a knife and with his life in danger, Pete’s natural fighting prowess comes to the surface. At this point, Pete realizes the reason why he continues to fight…

Pete Robinson: Pete is the epitome of average. The only notable thing about his character is that he is a video game and anime otaku and he loves to spend his meager salary importing weird things from Japan. Despite his hobbies, Pete is the type of person who does not hold strong beliefs and would rather go with the flow and avoid conflict if possible. Pete works as an employee at Games R’ Go.

Sheryl Harrison: A good friend of Pete who works as a manager at the hobby shop that Pete hangs out in. She has a very nerdy appearance and wears dark-rimmed glasses and has frizzy hair that looks quite reminiscent of overcooked spaghetti. Sheryl can be a bit of a control freak and likes to keep her shop nice and tidy. Lately, she has taken an interest in a comic book known as “The Adventures of Black Trojan”

Primela Rosenkreuz: Pete’s co-worker who serves as the secretary of Games R’ Go. A young woman with a model-like appearance that matches her trans-atlantic accent when she speaks. Most people wonder why she sticks to such a mundane job when she could easily be mistaken for a fashion model or actress. She seems to be on good terms with Pete.

Giselle Orchardwither: The original Crimson Ranger who currently only exists in Pete’s head. She takes the form of a 13 year-old twin-tailed Japanese schoolgirl with a snarky personality. Possesses supreme mastery of the pwnage powers of the Crimson Ranger.

Miss Vanity: A beautiful super-powered vigilante who wields an elegant broadsword. She seems to value fashion and beauty above all else, even going as far as to avoid a battle if it might result in a broken nail. She has since revealed her secret identity to Pete Robinson – a secret that only the two of them may ever know.

Baphomet: A self-proclaimed protector of animal rights who is a master of stealth. He wears a horned goat’s mask and appears to be a master of mixed martial arts – even going so far as to defeat an opponent who has been tainted with the light of RAGE using a triangle choke.

Wrath: The interstellar warlord and conqueror of worlds and ultimate ragequitter who is currently targeting Earth. Possesses an army of one-hit kill underlings who serve no useful purpose other than target practice for heroes of justice. He can also use the light of RAGE in order to invoke a human being’s pent-up anger and use this potential in order to transform them into a super-powered monster of the week. Upon defeat, a person who has fallen into RAGE transforms back into human form unharmed.

Chapter 11: This Is How I Fight!

The ground was shiny and was constructed out of large, thick-looking metal sheets that had been welded together hastily. It seemed ridiculous, but the entire planet seemed to have been built this way. Wrath’s interstellar fortress was a lot further away from the sun than Earth. Thererfore, the weather was cold here and although it wasn’t quite snowing, it was enough to be an annoyance for most people, but Pete Robinson – even considering his tiny frame, was far from your average individual. In fact, without batting an eye, Pete could honestly say that the cold never bothered him anyway.

Pete was carrying a small backpack with certain provisions and had a belt bag tied around his waist. In contrast, Baphomet had everything he needed in a lightweight utility belt and his state of the art, quintuple weave Kevlar full body armor.

“Are you ready, Crimson Ranger?” Baphomet growled in his usual, deep, throaty, almost unintelligible voice.

“Uh… y-yeah… but, are we going to skip how we even got to Wrath’s fortress in the first place now? We are in outer space somewhere just outside of Earth’s orbit after all…”

Pete saw a slight shiver from the frame of the masked Vigilante. He could swear that Baphomet was smirking mischievously beneath his horned goat mask.

“You don’t need a reason, Crimson ranger…”

“Oh no…” The annoyingly cute voice of Giselle Orchardwither echoed within Pete’s head.

“Coz… I’m BAPHOMET!”

“Sigh… you had to go there, didn’t you? Don’t feed him straight lines, son. He’ll take advantage of it every single time.”

“Anyway… why do I have to wear this ridiculous hero mask?”

Indeed, Pete Robinson was wearing a ridiculous hero mask made out of red spandex material that snugly covered his entire head and had a large slight around the center which was lined with thin, yellow felt stuck on with hot glue.

Again, Pete saw a slight shiver from Baphomet – which was seriously starting to annoy him.

“Behold, Crimson Ranger… the interstellar fortress of our common enemy, Wrath!”

Pete and Baphomet stood directly outside of a large series of monolithic structures made of dark metal of varying heights with towering double doors approximately 40 feet in height that seemed to beckon them to come in. The sky was a distinct shade of purple and it rumbled incessantly with a constant…

“Wait! STOP THE NARRATION! You purposely ignored my question just now, didn’t you?”

“Oh, Crimson Ranger. Whatever are you talking about? You just really need to let it go…”

“Pete, I swear that if he starts singing, I’m going to stab him in the back with that ridiculous horned goat mask he’s wearing.”

Of course, nothing would come of Giselle Orchardwither’s empty threats since Pete was the only one who could hear her annoyingly cute voice.


Suddenly a loud snap, literally snapped Pete Robinson back into reality. He turned towards the direction of the sound and realized that it had actually come from Baphomet who was brandishing a crude, homemade leather whip.

“Come, Crimson Ranger, it’s time!”

As if the fortress itself had been simply waiting for the crack of Baphomet’s whip, the giant double doors opened before the two unlikely heroes.
Baphomet stomped forward with an air of confidence and a definite spring in his step – almost as if he were enjoying himself – which he probably was.

“Wait… that is the most obvious trap I’ve ever seen, so we’re just going to walk in, storm the front and all that? No plans, no nothing?”
Baphomet shivered slightly.

“What are you talking about, Crimson Ranger? I’m Baphomet! I ALWAYS have a plan.”

“Ok, so what’s the plan?”

At the back of his mind, Pete was hoping that this ridiculous masked vigilante with whom he had undertaken this suicide mission with did indeed have a plan… but somewhere deep within his consciousness, an annoyingly cute voice had another question.

“Doesn’t his throat get sore from talking like that all the time?”

Pete could only do an epic facepalm at Giselle Orchardwither’s misplaced sense of priorities.

“Hrmph! So here’s the plan, Crimson Ranger. We walk in… beat everyone up, take back the Red One Changer and go home and save the day.”
Pete sighed and hesitantly walked behind Baphomet – as if he had resigned himself to his fate.

“Bwahaha! You have got to be kidding me, you two! I didn’t think anyone would be stupid or bone-headed enough to just walk into the enemy’s fortress without a plan. Allow me to say… surrender, fools… but it doesn’t matter because you were as good as dead as soon as you set foot in here anyway.”

A loud booming voice from atop the balcony of a tower overlooking the entrance greeted Baphomet and Pete as soon as they set foot inside the fortress. Pete and Baphomet looked up to see that it had come from a guy wearing a Darth Maul party mask and clad all in red spandex not unlike Pete’s Crimson Ranger attire – which distinguished him from the 50 or so lackeys behind him who were all wearing grey over-alls with cheap scream party masks draped over their heads.

This person was not the interstellar conqueror of worlds and ultimate ragequitter known as Wrath, but was in fact a high-ranking officer from Wrath’s army of one-hit kill underlings. Unlike the others, it took 12 hits to get a KO on this sucker.


Without warning, the double doors slammed shut, trapping the stalwart young masked heroes inside.

“Hoo boy! I knew this would happen. Yup, we walked right into a trap.”
Unperturbed, Baphomet nonchalantly took out a smartphone and fiddled around with it for about 5 seconds.

Trumpets blared and loud electric guitar riffs suddenly blasted out from all the corners of Wrath’s monolithic fortress. Apparently, Baphomet had used his smartphone’s Bluetooth function to hack into the fortress’ sound system.

“Hrmph!” Baphomet cleared his throat

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, he addressed the figure who was still quite a distance on top of the tower with a clear, baritone voice that was completely different from the deep, throaty growls with which he usually conversed with.

“Hah! Did you really think a one-hit kill underling like you could ever hope to defeat us heroes of justice?”

Appalled by Baphomet’s bravado, the officer in red answered his taunt.

“Hah! What are you talking about? You think playing some useless power metal tune is going to help you? A little reality check, oh ‘heroes of justice’ but you’re surrounded and completely here.”

“Hahaha!” Baphomet laughed while still maintaining his deep, baritone voice.

“Hey Pete, don’t let Baphomet hog all the credit. You say something too!” Giselle Orchardwither echoed from within Pete’s head.

“That’s right…” Pete said disinterestedly.

“Umm… coz we’re the good guys and the good guys always win!”

“L-lame! That was the lamest most hackneyed response I’ve ever heard… you should be ashamed of yourself, Pete.” Giselle Orchardwither remarked with her hands covering her mouth in a mix of exasperation and amusement at Pete’s words.

“Hahaha!” The red officer laughed with a most evil laugh.

“People have this silly notion good always beats evil, well it doesn't – as you two and your companion are about to find out.”

Meanwhile, Baphomet’s power metal music had reached its climax and he saw it fit to say one last thing before the battle inevitably began.
He pointed his finger defiantly at the red officer.

“You…” This time, he had reverted back to his usual deep, throaty growl.

“You were screwed as soon as my theme song started playing. You don’t mess with a guy who has his own theme song.”

No sooner had Baphomet said this when suddenly, the music stopped and all that could be heard was the usual rumble of the violent thunderstorm that perpetually lingered over Wrath’s fortress planet.

Pete took out a pair of binoculars from inside his backpack and he saw that the Red Officer was holding a giant power plug – he had pulled the plug and blacked out the entire fortress.

Without warning, the red officer vanished into thin air together with his army of one-hit kill underlings.

“At the ready, Crimson Ranger… it begins.”

Baphomet was correct. In less than a blink of an eye, the red officer and his underlings had descended from the tower at superhuman speed and now had the two heroes surrounded.

Pete felt himself sweating profusely from underneath his spandex mask. This allowed the cool air from the planet’s atmosphere to seep inside and induce a shiver from the former Crimson Ranger.

Pete knew very well that the odds were severely stacked against them. He had been through many life and death situations before, but he had always been able to rely on the Red One Changer and the powers of the Crimson Ranger to see him through.

He did not have that luxury right now. Baphomet, as skilled as he might be, was simply a human being who had trained his body to peak-human levels. Meanwhile, Pete could not even make that claim as he had received all of one day of training from Baphomet.

In Pete’s mind, he realized that two normal human beings had virtually no chance of survival against an army of superpowered super villains – even if they are nothing more than one-hit kill underlings… still, he had come this far, so he was not about to go down without a fight... and thus, he had come prepared to fight in -- his own way.

The Red Officer ignored Pete completely and went straight for Baphomet.

“What now, oh hero of justice? I’ve completely destroyed your trump card.”
The Red Officer used his slightly pwnage powers to teleport behind Wrath and fire three red fireballs at him. The flames were of such intensity that they could easily burn a man alive with a single hit. Of course, Baphomet’s new quintuple weave Kevlar armor did grant him some degree of protection, but the fireballs were still a threat to him nonetheless.

Without turning to face his adversary, Baphomet did a triple backflip in the nick of time just barely dodging the fireballs. Upon landing next to the red officer, he immediately unleashed a series of four lashes at the villain who winced in pain before teleporting behind Baphomet once again.

Seeing that Baphomet had the situation under control with the officer in red, Pete felt that it was his time to fight as well. 10 or so one-hit kill underlings warily surrounded him. They knew that this person was once the Crimson Ranger, but they were unaware of what he was capable of in his human form.

Pete closed his eyes to concentrate.

“Pete, you can do this.” Giselle Orchardwither urged him on sincerely despite her annoyingly cute voice.

“Thanks, Giselle. Don’t worry, with you by my side, I won’t lose…”

Pete reached into his backpack and took out a machine pistol modified with a drum magazine that he had been hiding inside his backpack.

Chaka! Chaka! Chaka!

Using quick bursts of fire, he made short work of the one hit kill underlings surrounding him and all were defeated within 2 seconds.

“M-M-M-MULTI KILL!” A celestial announcer’s voiced echoed throughout the field of battle from out of nowhere.

“Whut the… you didn’t have to use all that heroic talk if all you were planning to do was shoot them! What happened to all that training from the previous chapter!” Giselle Orchardwither squealed.

“Well… I’m pretty sure that me beating Baphomet was PIS (plot induced stupidity). Did you really expect a guy wearing a red spandex mask to take on an army of super villains unarmed? That’s not heroism, Giselle. That’s just suicide.”

Pete Robinson paused and without batting an eye, turned and shot a one-hit kill underling who had snuck up behind him. He smirked beneath his mask.

“The weak have their own way of fighting.”

And thus, the battle to save our world went on in this manner… for hours upon hours it went on and on until finally, exhausted and on the verge of collapse, the heroic duo found themselves surrounded by more and more waves of enemies.

“Baphomet… I’m almost out of bullets… I think this is it.”

They stood with their backs to each other, their enemies slowly closing the distance. Yes, the heroes were formidable, but even the greatest heroes could succumb to superior numbers – their enemies were aware of this as were Pete, Giselle and Baphomet.

“Hrmph! A slight miscalculation. I never expected them to be this many. Nevertheless… Crimson Ranger, it was an honor to have fought by your side.”

“No Baphomet, It is my honor to have…”


A white blur descended from above and danced its way around the arena. Each time, the distinct metallic swish of a long bladed weapon making contact with its target could be heard.

“Don’t worry, Dah-Links! I used the back of my sword!”

“You’re using a double edged sword!” The underlings who had been slashed all cried out in unison before doubling over in pain from their near-fatal wounds.

Pete could recognize that distinctively fake trans-atlantic accent from anywhere.

“Miss… Vanity?”

“No time for discussions, Pete Dah-link. We must make haste.”

“Crimson Ranger, I’m not interested in interfering with your love life, but she’s cleared a path for us, so let’s GTFO like now!” Somehow, Baphomet still managed to say this in his deep, throaty growl – which led Pete to the conclusion that this must be his normal, conversational voice.

Sure enough, Miss Vanity had defeated a string of five enemies per row that led back to the towering double doors of Wrath’s fortress. They had to escape now before the underlings could realize exactly what was happening.
With no time to waste, the trio ran as fast as their legs could carry them towards the exit. Fortunately, in his haste to take out Baphomet’s theme music, the red officer from before had cut the power to the entire fortress and caused the double doors to open automatically as an emergency safety feature.

A garishly adorned horseless carriage with a reinforced glass bubble was parked a scant 10 meters away from the entrance to Wrath’s fortress. Apparently, Miss Vanity had thought things through.

“Huff! Huff! … isn’t it going to be a bit crowded in there?” Pete remarked.

“Oh come now, Dah-link! Surely you didn’t expect moi to use a gaudy old spaceship? That’s just so plebian. Besides, I had it custom-made just for this occasion. See?”

As they neared the carriage, saw the words. “Vanity’s Escape” etched in monotype corsiva and at the side of the carriage.

“Hey Pete… didn’t I warn you about her?” Giselle Orchardwither suddenly chimed in.

However, Pete was deaf to her complaints.

“Beggars can’t be choosers, Giselle. It’s not like we have any other choice right now.”

This was something that the little girl inside of Pete’s head could not argue with.

Baphomet simply kept silent – unsure of what to make of the situation… or possibly devising a plan!

The trio made it to Miss Vanity’s vehicle without a hitch and once they were safely in outer space with no pursuers in sight, Pete was the first to break the silence.

“Miss V… Vivian… why are you helping us?”

Miss Vanity set the carriage on auto-pilot and then turned towards Pete. She blinked twice as if lost in thought – and then she smiled – a smile that could melt any man’s heart.

“Pete, Dah-link… I’m sooo sorry!”

And then she reached out to hug him, which immediately incited a blush from Pete… who was quite thankful to be wearing a spandex hero mask that completely concealed his face.

Baphomet remained silent and cupped his chin as if he were taking in everything that was happening around him and trying to make sense of it.

“Ahem… now then, dah-link. Allow me to explain. First of all, I, Miss Vanity – that’s Vivian to you and only you, dah-link, never truly planned to betray you. However… at the time of your initial encounter with Wrath, I had no choice but to act as if I were on his side… because of… REASONS! Ok?”

“Sounds fishy to me.” Giselle’s complaints went unheeded as Pete was completely absorbed in Miss Vanity’s discussion.

“Anyway, dah-link. Things have changed quite rapidly ever since that encounter. I had planned to somehow steal the Red One Changer away from him while he was distracted, but Wrath is a shrewd one. You are aware of his reality-altering powers no? Well, what he has done is that he has placed the Red One Changer inside of a tacky little reality marble – so to speak, not unlike the one that you two fought in. Really, that Wrath has no fashion sense whatsoever… well, to continue, he cannot access the Red One Changer on his own since the thing is sort of like a living entity in that it has a personality and chooses its wielder and not the other way around.”

“Wait… what? Run that last part by me again?”

“Oh? You didn’t know? Not just anyone can transform into the Crimson Ranger. You had to have been chosen by the Red One Changer.”

“Ooook? And by what standards?”

“Haha! Dah-link! I thought that was obvious…”

“Naturally, the answer is love!”

To be continued… See you in the next episode and have a happy new year! Thanks for reading!

Next Episode Preview: Pete Robinson watches TV… on analog! But it’s all good because analog TV is actually superior to HDTV technology because resolutions don’t matter! If it looks good to you, then it’s good! This causes Sheryl Harrison to facepalm at Pete’s ignorance, because everyone knows that you miss out on certain details like that brief pantyshot on Sailor Moon Crystal if you still insist on watching TV on analog. Furthermore, the 4:3 aspect ratio stretches out the picture and makes the characters look anorexic. Stay tuned for more hyperspace  interstellar busybody fighting action in the next exciting episode of Paragon of Justice: Crimson Ranger.

Did you like this episode? New readers can jump in and read this story from any chapter because of my awesome recap that covers just about everything you need to know at the start of each episode, but if you'd like to know how things really began for Pete, then head on over to https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3028741/1/Paragon-of-Justice-Crimson-Ranger and read all the episodes of Paragon of Justice: Crimson ranger that you missed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 477: Late Night Diner <- Effective. Midday Cafe <- Worthless -- Review and Synopsis

Character designs are getting better, methinks.

Synopsis: Hina is minding the Cafe Donguri and Athena is with her. They talk a bit about how the coffee at this cafe is soothing, but Athena mentions that there's no one to serve said coffee to.

At that moment, Saki barges in and asks for some hot milk. She looks troubled, so Hina asks her why and she confesses that she's living with someone she has feelings for and wishes that things could be better between them.

Hina wants to help out, but Athena cautions her that it's her worst area. She's dedicated to playing out her role as the "Soothing Coffee Master" and thus she goes off to give her unsolicited advice to Saki.

Her advice is that everything can be solved through hard work and frills, lots of frills. Saki thinks highly of her advice and says that she'll go ahead and wear more frills.
Hina's groundless confidence amuses me.
After Saki leaves, Chiharu comes in and she looks troubled as well. Athena correctly deduces that she looks like some embarrassing secret has been found out, but Hina is convinced that her troubles are love-related.

She comes up to Chiharu and tells her that she and frills are a perfect match. Chiharu is shocked and thinks that Hina somehow found out about her secret -- which sends her running off.
Everything is better with Frills.

Athena muses that she thinks she knows why this cafe is so unpopular. At that moment, the hamster comes in and looks troubled as well.

Athena once again correctly deduces that she has some love troubles, but Hina is convinced that she's worried about school. She goes up to the Hamster and offers her a math book along with more unsolicited advice which goes, "there are lots of difficult problems, but you must believe that it's all a misunderstanding." 

Ayumu is totally down with this advice and says that she'll keep believing in Hayate.

Thus ends the chapter.

Review: Haha! Athena and Hina are really great together. The contrast between their personalities is extremely hilarious. 

Misunderstandings -- The cornerstone of Hayate The Combat Butler plotlines.

I like how Athena was right with her deductions every single time while Hina was totally off-track but totally confident... and then inadvertently giving out unsolicited advice that actually fits in with the customer's situation.

I found it funny how Hina felt motivated to keep on giving unsolicited advice after she establishes that she is the "Soothing Coffee Master." I think this is a rather refreshing side of her that doesn't come to the surface all too often. Of course, when it all comes down to it, this aspect of her personality is actually related to her basic "I hate to lose" persona, but it really works well for comedic effect when she's interacting with Athena.

Speaking of Chiharu, her reaction was totally priceless as well.
LOL Dat Reaction!
On a tangential note, this short comedy chapter helps to establish how the theme of misunderstandings is often used to comedic effect in this manga. As I've said in a previous review, the characters all have incomplete information regarding each other -- so what may be crystal clear to us readers isn't really that obvious to the characters within the Hayateverse.

Fanart Corner: Looks like we're in for a break and I have no speculations for now. Have some new fanart from me. I thought I'd take a break from drawing Nagi this time and someone from FB gave me the idea to do this one instead.
Never trust someone with a perpetually smiling face... no matter how cute.

Hah! Almost forgot... just think of this as even more leverage for my preferred ship. I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 476: I Love Kitties -- Review and Synopsis

Izumi's probably one of the few girls with a distinctive look with the new design
Synopsis: Katsura-sensei checks in with the Hakuo Baka-trio and asks them whatever happened to the Video Koushien they were entering and is surprised to learn that it's still going on and that they're in the finals. It seems they won with a series of cat videos.

They show her the first video which is of a cute cat playing with a butterfly, but in the background, there was a truck accident followed by an impromptu robbery of an old lady from an overly defensive truck driver.

The second video that they used was simply a video of Hina playing with the same cute cat from before.
Hata poking fun at his own manga's fanbase
For some reason, it garnered the most votes. Now that they're in the finals, they've run out of videos, so Yukiji urges them to film a prank video and win the competition and to give her the money. Since they're all rich, they agree and the one they choose to play a prank on is none other than Hayate.

The prank is to have Izumi make a confession of love to him and to film his reaction -- since the others are totally unaware that Izumi actually does have feelings for him.

Izumi reluctantly agrees and confronts Hayate just as he's on his way to see Aika and confesses out loud to him.

His reaction is rather hilarious since he had just been confessed to by Konoha.

Review: This seems a lot like another filler chapter, but it does also serve to tie up some loose ends. Namely, the video koushien thing that's been going on since near the start of Ruka's arc.

Over-all, it was a pretty funny chapter although really nothing to mince words on. I found the poke at the fanbase using Hina rather hilarious... perhaps her runaway popularity has Hata perplexed as well.

The best part was Hayate's reaction though. His facial expression is just indescribable, so I'll just leave it here.
Read the chapter for the frontal version of his expression.
Fanart Corner: No speculation corner nor any new fanart for today, but I did do a little shop on this image to make it so that she's wearing the ring on her left hand -- as pointed out by Doughnut Gunso via twitter.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

My 4-Day Trip To Hong Kong: Day 4

The final day of our trip to Hong Kong was set aside for a trip to Macau. We started with breakfast at Café De Coral at about 9:00 AM. After that, we went back to the hostel room and made sure that our passports were ready for the ferry trip.

Getting to the actual ferry terminal was a simple task since we’d already scouted out the area the day before. Once again, I led the way. This time, we found the street leading to the ferry terminal much faster. It was still about 15 minutes to get to the mall on which the ferry terminal was located on foot from the Chung King Mansions though.

We arrived at the mall by about 10:15 AM and we still had some time before we had to leave by around 11:30. After a short walk around the mall to see what it had to offer, we decided to buy our tickets early.

We chose one of many travel agency stalls which were located right next to the actual ticket terminals and bought two round trip tickets to and from Macau. The attendant told us that we could return at any time before the last boat leaves Macau at 10:30 PM, what we wouldn’t find out until later is that we were just chance passengers on any other timeslot before 10:30 and we had to catch our flight back to the Philippines at 2:00 AM later.

Anyway, we queued up for the 11:30 AM trip and got through customs and immigrations checks without a hitch. My mother was all excited about all the wonderful stuff we’d do at Macau including trying out the free samples of food and the free bus transportation there, but again, the skeptic in me kept telling me, “ideal vs. reality.” Yes, I’m cynical that way, but this is what life has brought me up to be after all.

The boat came at 11:30 AM as scheduled and once we found our seats, we were finally on our way to Macau… what I hadn’t bargained for is that it would be at last an hour and 15 minutes by boat between Macau and Hong Kong.

I’m very prone to motion sickness, so I was a bit dizzy after the trip, but I didn’t let on because my mother worries too much about these things.

Anyway, there was another custom security check after the boat ride, but all we really needed were our passports.

Outside of the Macau ferry terminal, we got some instructions from one of the ladies (at least I think it was a girl… could be a trap :D) promoting the different hotels and casinos and got on the free bus transportation to a place called The Venetian Macau.

Inside the bus, we got acquainted with a Filipino who was actually working at that place and he offered to give us a tour before he assumed his duties there.

After a 15-minute bus ride, we were finally at the Venetian Macau. It was a huge Hotel and Casino and was most definitely a 5-star hotel. It was also going to be the host of the Pacquiao vs Algieri fight and had promotional material of the fight all over. We couldn’t enter the actual Cotai Arena, but there was a replica ring with some promotional posters just outside of the West Lobby of the hotel.

Our volunteer guide took us to some food stalls where we could sample some of the pastries that they were selling. I wasn’t really into that kind of stuff, so I chose not to sample any although my mother tried out quite a few.

We cut through the Casino and I had to take out my passport because the guard was skeptical that I was over 21. Inside the Casino, our guide grabbed a few bottles of water for us and told us that it was free.

After that, we made our way to the indoor replica of Venice and the artificial clouds. They even had actual gondolas and oarsmen who sang as they took passengers across the artificial indoor river, which was about a kilometer long. Incidentally, our guide told us that we could ask them to let us ride for free if we wanted because the oarsmen were actually Filipinos. We decided to give it a pass since it wouldn’t be fair to the long line of customers queued up for the ride.

It seems people also liked to throw coins into the lake.  The river path was lined with brand-name shops to the left and right. Finally, we reached the food court area where our guide was working. We said our thanks and parted ways there.

Since we’d seen enough of The Venetian, we decided to go back to the West Lobby and ride the bus back to the ferry to see some other part of Macau.

The Venetian was so big that we got lost quite a few times before we finally found our way back to the bus stop. It was about 2:30 PM now. The traffic was quite dense during the bus ride back, so it took us about 30 minutes to get back to the ferry terminal. We still had some time before we planned to return to Hong Kong by about 5:30-6:00, so we asked for some instructions from a different set of Casino ladies this time – and one of them just happened to be a Filipina once again, and decided to go to the Grand Lisboa to see San Malo.

Grand Lisboa was just a short 5-minut ride from the ferry, se were already there by about 3:12 PM. Just like The Venetian, it was also a very large Hotel and Casino. We overheard some security guards speaking in Tagalog and asked for instructions from them on how to get to San Malo. We tried following their instructions at first, but quickly lost our bearings, so we decided to return to the Hotel to ask again. This time, another Filipino who wasn’t working there offered to take us along to San Malo.

We followed him as he took us a few blocks across the hotel to where San Malo was. It turned out to be some kind of thrift shop/market just like the Mongkok Night market. My mother decided that she wouldn’t be buying anything from there, so we just decided to try finding the Ruins of St. Paul. Unfortunately, the signs in Macau are not as clear-cut as they are in Hong Kong and they were either in Spanish or Chinese.

We ended up somehow hiking our way to the top of some kind of small hill that led to Macau’s Museum. At this point, my mother was too tired from the hike up to even traverse the stairs that actually led up to the museum. I decided to take a look at what was on top and I saw the ruins of St. Paul that we were looking for from there. It was actually quite a few blocks back from where we had walked.

It was already nearing 5:00 PM at this point however, so we decided to make the long walk back to the Grand Lisboa to catch the bus trip to the ferry terminal.

After a long, tiring walk back to the bus stop at the Grand Lisboa, we discovered that we needed to buy some kind of ticket to ride the bus from there, but we didn’t carry any Macau currency nor did we know where to even buy the tickets. The woman assisting the passengers there turned out to be a Filipino once again and she told us to just get on and that we didn’t need any tickets.

We made it just in the nick of time to catch the 6:00 ferry to Hong Kong from the Macau Terminal – at this point, my mother’s anxieties were rising and it was compounded even more by the fact that we had discovered that we were to be chance passengers on the boat. We could only ride if there were free seats since our tickets were booked for 10:30 PM.

The man who was queued up right behind us reassured my mother that we were very near the line so we’d definitely get seats there. She was very anxious at this point that we wouldn’t have enough time to prepare for our 2:30 AM flight back to Iloilo. The kind stranger turned out to be a Nepalese man who managed a business in Hong Kong as a resident there. He made some small talk with us, which served to calm my mother down.

Finally, it was our turn to take our seats and as the man had said, we made it for the 6:00 trip. The trip turned out to be a very rocky one. Since I was very prone to motion sickness, I had to concentrate all the time on making my breathing study and making sure that my eyes were focused on a single object all the time.

By the end of the rough trip that included several power fluctuations inside the boat, my hands were clammy and I could barely stand up, but I managed to prevent myself from throwing up… which I couldn’t say for the old man seated perpendicular to me who had to grab the barf bag.

Once again, we had to go through some customary security check, but were finally back in Hong Kong. We were once again inside the mall by 7:15. I suggested that we go back to the hostel room so I could rest up first and we could do some final checks before we went to the airport.

After walking back to our Hostel and a short rest, we went down to have dinner at about 8:30. This time, my mother was worried about which bus we should take on the way to the airport. We asked a few different people, including two policemen and they gave us different directions each time.

Worry was once again plastered all over my mother’s face. We went to have dinner at the same KFC from day two, but I ended up eating most of our orders up myself since my mother as too paranoid at this point that we might miss our flight – even though it was only about 9:00 PM. She saw a young man who had some distinctly Filipino facial features enter the restaurant and she asked him if he knew how to get to the airport. Unfortunately, it turns out he’d only been here for around 7 days and wasn’t really sure.

At this point, I knew I had to do something before my mother killed herself with anxiety, so I told her, “I didn’t buy anything for myself here in Hong Kong, right? So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna reload our Octopus cards with 100 HKD each and we’re going to use those cards to take the airport express train from the subways so that we don’t have to worry about a thing. So for now, please enjoy your dinner.”

Of course, she still couldn’t eat much, but I definitely saw the fear and worry draining away from my mother’s face  as soon as what I’d said had dawned on her. She agreed with my suggestion, so we stopped by a 7-11 store on the way back and had our Octopus cards reloaded.

After going back to Chung King, we took our heavy luggage, checked out of the hostel and then made our way to the subways. It was only a few stops before the airport express and the airport express train itself was really nice. It had separate seats for everyone and even had a luggage area where you could stow away your luggage. The trip itself took about 45 minutes because we had to switch trains at least twice.

Finally, we’d made it to the airport terminal 2 (as it said on our tickets) by about 11:15 PM. We had to spend a little bit of time finding the check-in counter for the Cebu Pacific flight since there were hundreds of rows of check-in counters inside the airport.

We asked for directions from one of the airport employees and finally found the Check-In Counter for our flight. There was a medium-length line there and one could tell right away and we even got a little taste of “Pinoy” behavior during the queue when a middle-aged man tried to cut in line in front of my mother by pulling his cart in faster when a new check-in counter had just opened up and the employee motioned for my mother to line up there. Fortunately, the employee behind the counter told him that my mother was next in line and not him – much to his embarrassment.
They had to check our luggage and I have to admit that I was a bit worried when they said that they had to send my laptop through their scanners again for a re-check, but not really THAT worried since I’m pretty sure I’m not a drug courier.

After check-in, there was a very long walk that must’ve been at least 1.2 kilometers before we could get to gate 31 where our flight would be. Fortunately, the moving walkways made the trip much faster. We met up with the young couple that we had met in day one. We made small talk and shared our experiences in Hong Kong. It turns out that the Taxi Driver couldn’t figure out where they were staying in Jordan and just left them there in the middle of the street. Just like us, they also had to find a McDonald’s wherein they could wait the night out.

We had a pleasant time chatting about our experiences in HK (mostly my mother, actually) until it was time for our flight. They had to move the terminal from number 31 to 24 about 15 minutes before the flight.

I was still feeling a bit dizzy, so I once again had to concentrate 100% not to give in to the feeling for the 2 hour flight.

I had planned to buy some water when they started selling them later since I really needed a drink. My mother took out the apple that she’d bought at Ngong Ping and suggested that I take a bit just to moisturize my throat a bit – so I did.

At one point during the flight, I bought some water from the flight stewardess and the woman who had the seat next to my mother wanted to buy one too, but she only had a 1000-peso bill and they didn’t have any change, so I took out the loose change in Philippine pesos that I still had and bought one for her as well.

I was feeling very nauseous after the flight, but I was also relieved to be on solid ground wherein I could get up on my own two feet again. I felt the worst when I had to sit down and just endure the plane ride.

It turns out that they were monitoring for Ebola as part of the post-flight security check. We were the last in line because I took some time to catch my breath after the plane ride, but fortunately, we made it through without a hitch.

Outside the airport, my cousin was waiting to take us back home in the car. It was 5:00 AM.

Finally, this concludes the last portion of my 4-day trip to Hong Kong. It had its highs and lows, but over-all, it was a trip worth having and I really have to thank my sister for this opportunity to have our first trip outside of the Philippines.

Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me (Dreamcast): A VIsual Novel Review by Mid-Tier Guard

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