Fateful days – the sequel

Do you remember this post? Bandi and I received a sad news on the first day of new year. Bandi was diagnosed positive on Hepatitis C.

Looking for a good and reputable hospital to do a pre-marital check up, a friend recommended Eka Hospital. We paid a pretty fat cheque for our full check up, just to make sure we are not only a match made in heaven by the Universe, but also a match made in laboratory.

I did my blood test first, followed by Bandi a couple of days later. We were waiting to meet the obgyn when Bandi received a phone call, “Sir, can you please come back to the lab to give another blood sample?”

Bandi asked, “Why?”

“The result for HCV is reactive. Let’s do another test to confirm.”

“What is HCV?”

“It’s Hepatitis C.”

The result from obgyn then didn’t really matter to me anymore because my only goal in life is to live with Bandi til we’re 100 years old. The news obviously troubled my mind.

We then went to meet the GP to discuss about the lab result. The GP wasn’t very informative. “How could someone be infected by Hep C?” I asked the doctor.

“It’s transmitted by blood and sex.”

Bandi was too confused to talk so I kept challenging the doctor, “well, my hubby never had blood transfusion, doesn’t have tattoo and the only sexual partner is me. If he’s having it, I will be having whatever he’s having.”

The doctor implicitly said that when results like these happen, the marriage tends to be shaken. (WTF, she actually thought Bandi was what-fucking girls around?)

I knew it by heart it’s bullshit. Nobody in this world tells me shits like this. I know Bandi and that is final. Nobody knows Bandi like I do.

We have shared everything, you name it, even chewing gum. There’s no way we’re not sharing this virus either.

The doctor told us to wait for the second test. Maybe it was a mistake on the first test. We agreed on that.

Bandi and I flew back to Singapore the next day. We received an email from the doctor, a scanned document of Bandi’s lab result. It was still positive, it wasn’t borderline, it was way off positive, like seriously positive. The doctor advised Bandi not to share nail clipper, shaving razor, or anything personal with me.

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Bandi took it to the next level. He didn’t let me drink from the same cup with him, eat from the same spoon, we even stopped making out for a while. Don’t even mention about sex. As much as I wanted to be selfish and demand everything to be back to normal,  it couldn’t. I knew he went through so much, he was sad. All I did was hugging him all the time, telling him that we’re gonna kick this shit ass no matter what. His only concern was to pass it to our future baby. I told him not to think about it yet, the only priority is to make sure he’s okay.

During this time, we did a lot of google research and was comforted with the fact that Hepatitis C can be cured. It’s not the end of the world. But we decided to scrape off our Aussie plan and focus on eliminating this virus. I just want to live with Bandi, til 100 years old. I want to travel the world with him, and we will do anything to make sure it’s happening.

Bandi made appointment to see the top hepatologist in Singapore General Hospital (SGH), and only got an appointment 10 weeks later on 8th March.

In 2 months, Bandi went through the phase of sadness, anger, denial and acceptance.

I was in Jakarta for work when he went to his first doctor’s visit. I really wish I could be there with him. Bandi told me to wait til I came back to Singapore which was a day later, to discuss the detail. Doctor referred him to do another blood test, the very detailed one especially to understand how serious the HCV was doing in his body and how much time he had until the virus starting to affect his liver. This costed a whopping $790. (++)

I finally got to see him the next night. He picked me up in Changi Airport and we talked in the uber. He told me that he’s gonna apply for Singapore Citizen. I was shocked, “why?”

“The cost for curing Hepatitis C is 80,000 Singapore Dollars, but government subsidies it to be 12,000 for citizen. We cannot afford $80,000.”

My jaw dropped. Yes, and I cannot afford to lose you either.

I was puzzled. How on earth are we going to find $80,000?

“How much time do we need? When do you need to start the medication?”

“The result will come on 22 March, and I’ll meet the doctor again to understand about the medication plan. But don’t worry, we don’t need to do it ASAP.”

I was sad, and pissed off. Why is this happening to us? Bandi is the kindest, the sweetest, the most thoughtful human being I know. He doesn’t deserve this, he doesn’t deserve anything that can hurt him or make him sad. He only deserves happiness. Universe can hurt me instead. I’ll take bullet for him. I’m bulletproof anyway.

I went for another work trip to Jakarta, again on the same day when we had appointment with his doctor in SGH so he went alone again. I told him to let me know as soon as he had updates. So on Thursday morning, when I was eating breakfast in the hotel, I saw a missed call from Bandi. I called him back rightaway.

“May…”

“Yes?”

“I got nothing.”

“WHAT?”

“Doctor said the result from Singapore Lab says I’m clean.”

“WHAT THE FUCK?!”

“Yeah.”

“There goes 5 years of my life!!!”

“I know, but I’m so relieved.”

“I’m so gonna fucking sue Eka Hospital’s ass.”

“I don’t care. All I care is I’m healthy, and I’m gonna keep living my life with you. That’s the only thing I want.”

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We continued the conversation with hundred of OMG I’m so relieved  and I love you. I felt like I got even closer to Bandi. I know, I really think it’s impossible to be even closer to Bandi, but I felt like I was given a second chance.

I don’t know if any one of you can relate this. There are two ways of seeing it.

One, Eka Hospital ruined 3 months of our life, not to mention our sex life. I swear I gained wrinkles during this past 3 months. Our life was perfect before the incident and Eka Hospital ruined it for 3 months by giving us false alarm.

Two, We are the lucky ones. To be able to go through such whirlwind rollercoaster, and yet holding hands steady and strong, ready to kick ass. We felt like resetting the playstation button when our game starting to be sucky. We were given second chance.

In the end, of course we’re not suing. What is it for? Money? How much money can bring back the 3 months of our life?  How much money can erase the tearful night that Bandi was having? We can’t get our 3 months back. The craziest, most worried 3 months in our life.

We’re so lucky we can ask for second (if not third) opinion in Singapore. But what if this happens to someone else who doesn’t have the fortune to do it (it costed $1,000 altogether from end to end) or even the stupid lab result could ruin their marriage?

How could Eka Hospital screwed up Bandi’s blood test TWICE, I don’t know, only god knows. But what we know, for sure is…

We’re always blessed, we’re always protected. We never doubt that. It’s us, Universe’s favourite people.

As long as we’re positive (no pun intended), and we’re together, nothing can hurt us. And even though it hurts,  so what? it’s not about avoiding the pain, it’s about surviving it.

I still can’t believe such drama happened in our life. We didn’t tell anyone until today. But I’ve decided to share this story because:

  1. We’re warning you to choose hospital wisely. You wouldn’t want to experience their over-priced incompetence.
  2. If there is any doctor reading this, maybe there’s a scientific explanation behind the two different test results. I don’t speak medicine, so maybe incorrect process or method that caused this confusion? If so, what should the doctor do when facing this kind of situation? Obviously not passive-aggressively inducing ideas about dishonesty.

For now, I’m just happy and content with the fact that I can continue my plan, to live with Bandi til we’re 100 years old. :)

And don’t forget to say I love you to your loved ones. Why? Because why not? Life is short.

Cheers,

May (and Bandi), the lucky ones.

Coffeed Series: In Motion

I’ve been wanting to runaway since I knew how to read. Thanks to Enid Blyton’s adventurous stories, I dreamt of going away and creating trouble. Books were my best friends, library was my sanctuary. When you had dream, you started to create plan, when you’ve created the plan, you had goals to tick. I’m so goal oriented, driven and just don’t quit. I remember drenched, riding my motorbike in Jakarta and I thought, just a couple of $$ more til I’ve had enough saving to move to Singapore.
I love every adventures I’ve had, I’m used to moving around and not having a place called home. I questioned what home meant for so long until I knew home was not necessarily a place. It can be feeling or people. Even when I travel somewhere far, I can feel homie, even it’s just a stopover I can feel comfortable.
To sit on the train, looking out the window, passing by meadows or farms, the chugging sound of a moving train is so calming ironically. Taking on a bus ride, or driving on a road trip, fly on a plane somewhere, all of them are amazing feelings. No matter where you go, whether you go to a foreign land, or you go home onto your Mom’s arms. Sometimes when you’re lucky, your mind will wander and imagination comes by.
It turns out… I just love to be in motion. I love going somewhere, whether it’s a new place or the same familiar environment, I love the feeling of leaving things behind, I love the feeling of running away. I know this could be psycho-analysed by some shrink, judging me to have some shitty past or whatever, but you know what? There’s nothing wrong on admitting something weird that you love. And for so long, I thought it was weird, until… I shared this feeling with someone, Bandi.
How lucky I am to be able to share my life with someone who feels as weird as I do, who likes the same things, who makes me feel less lonely, less of an outcast?
I’m getting old and no matter how self-assured I am, I do wonder sometimes, should I slow down a little bit? Settle down? Have you ever wondered why it’s called “settle down” but not “settle up”? Because it’s basically a downgrade from an exciting motion! LOL.
I think it’s not about age per se, it’s just when you’re older, you’ve learned more things in life, you enjoy things differently.
Like the other day, Bandi and I went out on a Friday Night date. We had a couple of drinks, fun conversation and after dinner, we walked around Clarke Quay to check out the street acrobat. It was 10 pm and we both yawned, “shall we go home?” I would’ve thought it’s lame to go home early, but god I so badly wanted to go home early, take a shower and rest.
It’s the same thing with our travel. We no longer travel like energizer bunny who sleeps at 1 am and wake up at 7 am. We take things slower, we actually love having our breakfast slow sometimes. Life is so short, I don’t wanna rush it anymore. I wanna make sure every moments count.
The phrase “settle down” scares me. it seems like stopping forever. I don’t wanna stop, I love to be in motion. But if the high speed is nauseating, let’s be in a slower motion. But let’s not stop.
You can’t change yourself to be who you are not, that won’t be sustainable, that’s gonna break. But you can compromise, be more flexible.
For me, as long as we do not stop. :) What’s the weird thing you enjoy the most?

 

Cheers,
May, literally waiting for a plane in Airport.

Coffeed, Prologue: My relationship with coffee.

This is the first of the many of my coffeed-brain rambling about stuffs.

If I could metaphorically explain my relationship with coffee, it would be Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. It started in a very young age, on and off, we make up we break up, and some of the break ups are not pretty. But however, just like Selena and Justin, we are currently getting back together.

To be fair, whenever I break up with coffee, it’s never its fault, it’s always me. Indeed, for my case, “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse is genuine.Image result for it's not you it's me gif

Coffee only does good thing to me, in fact I really think coffee is the only reason why I could be such an interesting person, pretty shameless to call yourself interesting but well… Because I started drinking coffee from a very young age, I didn’t remember how I was before coffee invasion, maybe I was boring and dull, I don’t know.

It was because I needed to watch football at 2-3 am in the morning and went to school at 7 am in the morning, I had to drink coffee, it is known to wake you up. But after so many years living with coffee, I don’t think coffee wakes you up physically, it only wakes your brain, but not your body, thus some people experience coffee crash, where they feel so tired, but can’t sleep.

Everytime I drink coffee, I become interesting, I can tell stories very well, I am animated and I become super smart. I’m serious. I think I am pretty smart in general, but when I drink coffee, my brain turns into baby brain, that can absorb things so quickly, I could maybe even fly a plane! The last one is a joke, but I hope you get what I mean.

So I abused coffee, whenever I wanted to write stories, I drank coffee; whenever I wanted to create something, I drank coffee; painted, drank coffee, hung out with friend, drank coffee; watched football, drank coffee; had arguments with Bandi, drank coffee. I drank coffee pretty much the whole life until… my gastric acid said to stop. Or I just got old, I don’t know. I then spent some time away from coffee and went through a gastric medication for a while. Whenever I felt better, I started to go back to coffee again, just like an addict. Then my stomach hurt again and I suffered the whole night and then I quit again. There was even one point when coffee gave me allergy, because it heat up my body and I’m allergic to heat. The relationship was unhealthy at that point of time; on and off and on and off, and I was tired.

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I know, it was not the coffee that gave me a super power to be smart, it was the caffeine. So, I came to look for a healthier option to be caffeinated. I was in South Korea when I fell in love with green tea, so I started to forget about coffee and drank tea daily to fill in the void of my soul. Tea doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee (come on, even the name caffeine is pretty much taken from caffe, which means coffee – not sure about this, let’s google later) so I had to drink so much tea in order to keep the brain cells jumping. Some days I even drank more tea than water in a day, I’m serious. But the good thing is, tea doesn’t give me gastric.

So, I was coffee-free for about 5 months, and I thought I could finally sing Taylor Swift’s song “we are never ever ever getting back together!”

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But then I started my new job 3 weeks ago, and this job requires more brain cells than I could ever afford with only tea! I knew it that I had to take my super power in order not to only survive, but to over-achieve. Yeah you guess it right, I crawled my ass back to coffee’s warm and fuzzy love. Baby, let’s have a one night stand, I thought.

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I promised myself, only for the first week, because I needed to absorb all the knowledge, then I would switch back to tea again.

Now, it’s my fourth week in, and guess what? I’m writing this under coffee influence.

Coffee is just so good, it makes me feel invincible, it makes me so smart, so interesting, so fun! When I scroll back to my blog posts, I could literally tell which was written under coffee influence, which was not; and if you meet me in person, you could tell whether I had coffee for the day or not.

One day, I was in the airport alone, waiting for my flight while sipping iced latte and I thought, this brain works like maniac whenever I have coffee, I wish I could document what it thinks of, what it wants to say! I boarded my plane and during take-off, le brain kept talking non-stop to me, and I reminisced my teenage days when I drank coffee and started to day-dream like a crack head. I imagined the unthinkable, I dreamt the highest and I created so many scenarios in my head of how my life would turn out. Coffee helped me to where I am today, a place where I feel content, happy and safe.

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Maybe our relationship could evolve from the chaotic dependency, to be matured and respectful. It will always be there when I need but I can learn to love myself more even without it. So I hope this is how Justin and Selena turn out to be as well.

Cheers,

May, caffeinated.

PS: This series is inspired by Domics, my current favourite youtuber, but unlike him, I can’t make animated video, thus, only the story. :)

Drifted to Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan

I spent my first weekend of 2018 in Taiwan with my mom. Since it was our very first girls trip, I didn’t plan a lot of things so we could chill and relax and not to rush on to anything, but I still wanted to make it special so after seeking advice from my local Taiwanese friend, he recommended to go to Sun-Moon Lake as a side trip. Out of 5 days in Taipei, it won’t hurt to get away from the city for a day.

And it turned out to be the highlight of our Taiwan trip, at least for me. I’ve always loved nature and Sun Moon lake didn’t disappoint.

There are a lot of tour agency that offer day trip package from Taichung, it involves transportation from and to Taichung HSR station, biking, getting into cable car and boat riding in the Sun Moon Lake; and lunch! We paid S$80 per person for this one day tour and our tour guide was so fun! This price is excluded return high speed train from Taipei.

The rock that caused people to quarrel because they wanted to take photos in front of it.

But if you want to arrange a DIY trip, it’s very doable. Of course the first step is to take a train from Taipei to Taichung and then take public bus from Taichung Station to Sun Moon Lake visitor centre. From the visitor centre, there are a lot of options; you can rent a bike, walk around or rent a motorbike!

Me and my mom cycling around the lake

My first of many lakes in 2018 -I wish!

There are also a lot of hotels and inns around the lake; after all it’s one of Taiwan’s beloved nature attraction; there were so many tourists from all around the world, and all around Taiwan.

I enjoyed our time biking around the lake in the morning, it was BEAUTIFUL! Oh I really wish I could go back without the tour so I could just hang around in the lake, watching seabirds and cranes! Both Sun Lake and Moon Lake form a huge lake, probably need 3-4 hours to totally bike around it; which I hope to do one day with Bandi. :)

Unfortunately the rain started to pour after lunch, so we hopped on to the boat when it was raining. We didn’t see much from the boat. It was also very foggy when we took the cable car.

So, if you’re bored hanging around in Taipei and look for an easy day trip, go for Sun Moon Lake, it’s worth the trip!

Cheers,

May, so excited about 2018

Fateful days

The year has come to an end and it’s inevitable not to look back to 2017 and start reminiscing all the good things happened in my life, praising myself for the things I’ve done right and accepting the mistakes I’ve made, each I could learn something from.

I made new friends, gone to new places, worked at Facebook, fell in love with tea (yes I’m serious), learned how to drive a car, and accepting flaws of life.

About giving second chance

First impression is important, I agree on that; however, you could miss out on something incredible if you never give second chances. I’ve been to Viet Nam four times; the first time I came was on 2012 (if I’m not wrong), I tried Bun Cha and I hated it. Since then, whenever I went to Viet Nam, I’ve never had Bun Cha. On the Christmas week, Bandi and I went to Hanoi for our friend’s wedding, we had 2 days extra to just chill in Hanoi. Hanoi during winter is the best! That’s what I call a perfect weather.

I gave Bun Cha a second chance and boy did I not regret it! This was not the Bun Cha I remembered. I figured that maybe the first time I ate Bun Cha, I ate it wrong.

This made me realize that giving a second chance is indeed not a bad idea. :)

About Coco and why humans cry

If you haven’t watched Coco, please do, and if you don’t like spoilers, skip this part. I cried in the theatre during… um, I think almost the entire movie when I watched Coco for the first time. I was so drawn into the movie, I got so emotional the whole movie. The second time I watched, though, I cried twice (yes I watched Coco twice in the movie theatre because Bandi wanted to); first, the scene when Miguel closed his eyes, played his guitar while watching De La Cruz on the TV in his hideaway. That scene touched me so much, I cried. Second, of course the famous  Miguel and Mama Coco scene at the end where they sang ‘Remember Me’ together.

I then had an epiphany of why humans cry. We cry not because we’re sad, crying indeed is an action of love. Miguel loves music so much, it too touches me and I cried. I realised I cry watching movies about passion for something, when you love to do something so much, you become so passionate about it, you’d cry!

We cry because we love someone too much. When you lose someone you love, you cry non stop. But you cry not because of the death, you cry because you love that person but you can’t tell them, because you no longer can hug and kiss that person physically.

Obviously we cry because we get emotional, I know sometimes we cry because we’re angry. But, nobody could make you angry unless you let them, and I personally will only be angry to people I love. I wouldn’t be angry to a stranger, that’s a waste of time.

So, why should we be embarrassed when we cry? Crying is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of love. Sometimes when I’m alone, I think about Bandi, and everything he’s done for me, and I’d cry, just because I get emotional, and it soothes me, because I know I love someone this much. Loving is indeed the greatest action in our life.

About acceptance

On our second day of 2018, Bandi and I received a bad news that’s affecting our life very seriously (I won’t tell what it is coz it’s very personal for us-so please don’t ask); so to be honest, we started this year with tears.

It’s not easy to accept something we resent, and we would question the universe and why bad things happen to us. But, instead of being angry, we chose to accept it. We’ve been through a lot together; and we’re gonna get through this too, just like we always did.

No matter what happens, as long as we both have each other, we’ll be fine.

And someday… maybe, we live long enough to understand the reason why this happened. :)

Cheers,

May, having faith.

Exploring Himachal Pradesh: Our toughest trip yet.

It was about 4 years ago when I saw an ads at the back of some airline’s seats, it was a picture of a dreamy winter wonderland, called Himachal Pradesh, situated in the north India, just at the foot of the Himalayan mountains.

You know sometimes we see a beautiful place in a picture and decided to put in in out list? This is one of those moments.

Bandi and I spared 2 weeks to explore Himachal Pradesh, the longest trip we have this year! We initially planned to fly in to New Delhi, but the price was just ridiculous; so thankfully we have our beloved Scoot, which offers flights to Amritsar for only $300 return! Off we went!

Himachal Pradesh is unquestionably beautiful, with snowy mountains surrounding you, everything was magical there. But, this trip is exhausting, it will drain you like no other trip! Oxygen level was thinner, roads are tough (I’m talking about car sick, like serious car sick), and if you go during winter, weather can be harsh. Bandi and I crown this trip as our toughest trip yet. It’s not about the temperature degree per se, we’ve been to sub-zero places before but this gotta be the harshest because most of Indian houses were not built for winter, it was cold in and out of the house.

If you decided to go, let’s talk about some planning. I chose to talk about technical part of the trip because I reaaaaally think it’s the most important part for this one. Well, not so many people know Himachal Pradesh and want to go there. Even when I was planning for it, I couldn’t find a decent amount of blog posts about it, most of the tourists are local tourists so very limited source of ideas from a foreigner perspective.

i) Plan your route and budget

Your first priority should be your route, so you can book hotels/airbnb and then look for driver. Since I planned to spend time in New Delhi and Agra the first 2 days in India, my route is from New Delhi and back to Amritsar. So here’s my route:

New Delhi to Kalka – by Train (2,380 rupees / 4 hours)

Kalka to Shimla – by heritage Train, The Himalayan Queen (520 rupees / 5 hours)

Shimla to Manali – by car (we started to hire driver at our last day in Shimla) (7 hours)

Manali to Dharamsala – by car (7 hours)

Dharamsala to Dalhousie – by car (4 hours)

Dalhousie to Amrtisar – by car (4 hours) (Total cost for 9 days booking a driver and car is 16,000 rupees)

Once you have your route fixed, book your driver (I book it from here, they’re very helpful and the service is good. Email address is: himachaltaxitours@gmail.com) and book your accommodation.

I did a lot of research on our drivers, compared quotation prices and asked my Indian friend to call them asking about the company; and I didn’t regret my decision making. Another point to highlight is to get a local Himachal drivers who knows their way to drive in Himachal (t’s a different world out there) and this company is based in Shimla.

ii) Hire a driver

Himachal Pradesh is hilly region, and the only way you can explore from one town to the other is by car. But remember this, no matter how good your driving skill is, DO NOT SELF DRIVE. Just book a driver + car, it’s not worth the risk and the energy; the region is a totally different world for a driver, even if you’re used to driving in mountainous area, in India, people drive like they’re inside Fast and Furious movie all the time. Indian drivers are crazy awesome, man!

Bandi and I love to do road trips, we mostly drive anywhere we go if possible, and this time we skip it because of advices from locals. Now that we have gone there, we are giving the same advice.

iii) Apply a visa

One of the annoying about holding third-world passport is getting visa to go almost everywhere, including India. To give you contacts, Indonesian used to have a visa-on-arrival scheme, but not anymore. :(

Please be patience with the visa website because it will crash a couple of times, and after talking with friends who went to India with visa as well, this happened to them too. And oh boy, did they ask you soooo many questions, including your grandpa’s name. I hope you do remember your granpa and give him a call today! :D

You can click here to apply for India visa.

iv) Pre-purchase Indian Sim Card in your home country

I don’t know if this option is available in all countries, but I know this is available in Singapore. At first we didn’t understand why Changi airport offered this, why don’t we just but it in India? It’s gonna be cheaper, isn’t it?

It turns out, you can’t just buy a sim card in India. We got rejected so many times because they needed local guarantor to sign up for a sim card. Of all the countries we have travelled to, this is the first time we couldn’t get a sim card. In India, everything is based on relationship, this is indeed true.

The other option is to buy it in Airport, however again, we couldn’t get the sim card because the seller told us it’s sold out. Really?

v) Understanding India

If this is your first time going to India, I suggest to read up some cultural information about India so you won’t do something funny there. Cows are sacred, don’t ask for a beef burger in their McDonalds, that would be ridiculous. Minimize PDA (public display affection), tipping anybody that serves you; these are some of the key points that I remember. Just be as mindful and respectful as possible. Bandi told me India is the one country where he felt the most un-describeable energy. You’ll understand when you’re there. India is indeed magical.

If you still have some questions about your planning, you may leave a comment below of message me via facebook. I hope I can help. :)

And now, here are some interesting points from our trip that hopefully can give you ideas:

  • India is now joining Bandi and May’s list of “Country where we never had bad food at”; following Thailand and Japan. We love spices and India didn’t fail us on spicing up our palette, we were looking forward for every meal, whether it’s street food or buffet in the hotel, every meal is delicious! We had the best home cooked meal during our airbnb stay in Dalhousie and Bandi couldn’t help but finishing everything!
  • Indian people put Masala on all food and drinks; seriously you name it. They put Masala on hash brown, sausage, french fries, Lays, tea, coffee, candy, everything! So if you don’t like spices, probably a bad idea to visit India.
  • People are generally nice. I know there are a lot of bad media about traveling to India, but we’ve met a lot of good people and people asked to take pictures with us just because we look different; which I found innocently funny at first (but more irritated with the stares.) Keep your scepticism whenever you travel, but be open with kindness. We’ve troubled a lot of people during our runaway to Banikhet and we were so grateful to meet good people.
  • Animals are even nicer! This is the thing I love the most about India!!! I looooovveeee animals, and in India, you find them EVERYWHERE. Dogs, monkeys, cows, horses, donkeys, yaks, sheeps, they’re roaming around the street; and the best we’ve ever encountered is… wait for it… ELEPHANT! Yes, a f***ing elephant walking in the busy road of New Delhi. I’m serious. People will just nonchalantly avoiding the animals but everyone and everything are living together in harmony.
  • I’m disappointed that the real romance in India doesn’t involve dancing and singing in the rain. Growing up watching dancing scene of Sharukh Khan, I thought people in India literally dance on the road when they’re in love. But not even once we witness this in our 2 weeks life in India, not even one flashmob.
  • The only negative part: India is filthy and messy; and this is coming from an Indonesian. And it’s not “organized messy” like in Hanoi, it’s chaotic messy! It’s messy and filthy. You won’t know the real filth til you see slums in India. We passed by slums in the outskirt of Agra and they have tough life, seriously. Rubbish are everywhere; even in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, you still see piles of rubbish. I had to google about waste management problem in India because it really bothered me, and can you believe most of big cities in India had up to 2000% of waste increase in the last 15 years and the infrastructure couldn’t catch up with that. The good thing is: we never receive plastic bag in India. Starting this year it has been banned (at least in the north?) and we only received either paper bags or cloth bags.
  • I need to highlight Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal is REMARKABLE. I seriously thought it’s gonna be overrated, but holy cow… it’s one magnificent well-thought building full of details!!!IMG_8860
  • Shimla has one of the best sunset view in the world. Hands down.IMG_7363
  • Dharamshala is a must visit, learn about Dalai Lama’s flee from Tibet, it’s very intriguing! #freetibet
  • Amritsar is just 45 minutes away from Lahore, Pakistan. If you intended to visit Amritsar, might as well as apply for Pakistani visa and visit Lahore. We regret we didn’t plan it well and have visa beforehand, otherwise it would be another amazing experience. You’re welcome.
  • And since you’re in Amritsar, you would want to visit the Golden Temple, it’s the pilgrimage place for Sikhsm. To be honest, I didn’t even know about Sikhsm at all until I came to visit and it was very interesting. They are welcoming people to understand their religion, you can see how people travel so far to visit he holy tree and to bathe in the holy water.IMG_7703

Like always, I hope my travel post can inspire you to… GO. :)

I know traveling is not always fun, sometimes we suffer during our trip, but everything is part of the experiences, part of learning, part of growing up to be a better and wiser person.

Cheers,

May, coming back stronger.

The beautiful doors of Bodrum

Strolling in a beautiful seaside town of Bodrum, I couldn’t help but adoring the beautiful doors of Bodrum. Yes, aside of its beautiful landscape of hilly town, view of amazing Aegean sea, white houses and colorful flowers, Bodrum has beautiful doors. This town is like the more creative and less pretentious cousin of Santorini; it is in fact only apart by Aegean sea to Santorini. You may sail there and combine Turkey trip with Greece trip! :)

There is nothing specific to do in Bodrum for me rather than chilling and relaxing. In the summer, people probably flock the town, but since it was Autumn when I visited, with not so many beach activity available, the town was sleepy and calm. I was really surprised by how empty Bodrum was, and it was not even cold! Seriously, I personally think it was the best time to visit!

Although I personally enjoy Bodrum, I realized that Bodrum is much more expensive comparing to other Turkish cities. This is probably because Bodrum caters for European market and is a perfect summer holiday. Just like Bali is waaay more expensive than the other Indonesian cities now and some places even have USD in the price-list.

Apart from that, it’s totally a perfect place for holiday, to just chill and drink wine by the sea. Bodrum city centre is full of so many restaurants and bars, but we found a gem, which is a burger house called mEAT. The price is not expensive and the burger is honestly one of the best burgers we’ve ever had! Pay a visit if you’re there and say hi to the cats and dogs! :D

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Bodrum also will always be a place I remember because it was where I first learned how to drive a car! Yaiy! I felt bad because Bandi has always been the one who drive during our road trips, and we LOVE road trip. Seriously, we REALLY LOVE road trip; the only thing we love more is cheap flight tickets. :D

And since we’re planning for our epic road trip, I’m starting to learn how to drive a car, so I could help Bandi. :)

I took some pictures of the beautiful doors of Bodrum hoping it could inspire you to visit this lovely town, because it is indeed worth detouring.

Bonus: Side trip to Ephesus

If you’re into archeological site, this place is A MUST! Ephesus is a huge ancient city in Turkey, the only place that can top this is probably Rome. You may visit Ephesus from Bodrum, which is 2 and half hour drive, or from Izmir, which is 1 hour drive, if you rent a car. If you don’t have your own car, you may follow day tour from either cities.

To sum up the series of Turkey posts, I would like to highlight how underrated Turkey is. Turkey is usually overshadowed by the other European countries, but I personally feel Turkey offers so much more! Turkey is much cheaper comparing to the other European countries, and for Indonesian (and assuming other countries too), you don’t need to apply visa to visit, e-visa is done within 5 minutes! People are friendly in Turkey, food is delicious (especially their breakfast, oh god), and their stray dogs are fluffy and friendly! :D

So? GO!

Cheers,

Mei, plotting the next trip.

The magical Cappadocia

When my Egypt trip was cancelled and Qatar was no longer flying there, Bandi and I looked for alternative only to find much more expensive tickets to Cairo, so we ended up googling other destinations, cheaper ones. We found Cappadocia as very attractive from the photos, but we were a bit skeptic coz sometimes people enhance the photos so extremely it became unreal. However, we decided to book tickets to Istanbul kinda last minute (because of the cancelled trip). Our main destination was Cappadocia, we even thought to skip Istanbul so we spend much more time in Cappadocia, thank god we didn’t do that.

Cappadocia is small! 4 days 3 nights is a perfect length for Cappadocia, seriously. We did everything we could do! We went on hot air balloon ride (the one that everyone said is a must), we did horseback riding for 2.5 hours chasing for sunset, we went for hiking and we even slept in 2 different towns, Goreme and Ortahisar.

I wouldn’t repeat talking about Cappadocia in this blog post because I created a vlog for it in my youtube channel. If you’re interested to visit Cappadocia, it’s very essential and informative to watch!

Even if you’re not, please subscribe to Bay Travels! I will try my best to create more videos on my travel. Sometimes I’m just sooo lazy, but I’ll try to be better. :)

Cheers,

May, missing the magic already.

Drinking çay in Istanbul

There is no word that can describe the feeling when I first drank my Çay (Traditional Turkish Tea), the taste, the way I held it with my fingertips on the rim of the tulip-shaped glass, and the amazing ambience of Istanbul. I didn’t stop drinking ever since; every hour if possible. I have to be honest, food (and drink) usually plays important role on how Bandi and I end up loving the place we travelled to or not; and Turkey scored well on that department. We were really looking forward to every meal.

We started everyday with scrumptious Turkey breakfast; which just like their tea, is a big deal for them. From this experience, I learned the best way to eat my toast: with butter, cream and honey. Mind blowing. Although most of the recommended dishes in Turkey are meat heavy, there were some pleasant surprise of vegetarian options. I turned into a vegetarian most of the days because I simply couldn’t eat meat everyday. I love love love their Lentil Soup, pairing with Turkish famous bread makes it perfect.

Before I continue rambling about food, let’s talk about the city itself.

I rarely fall in love with cities. Cities are not my most favourite place to travel to and only few cities left mark in my memories; London, Tokyo, Rome. So I was surprised when I grew fond of Istanbul organically. Istanbul is visually beautiful, no doubts, but it also has something unique that enticed me. Maybe it’s the culture, the people or the food, I didn’t really know when exactly I fell in love with it.

I knew it was love because there’s something I hate about it, yet I still love it. Turks smoke like they drink their çay, non-stop; and I hate coming home with my hair smelling disgusting.

Bandi and I visited the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, or famously known as the Blue Mosque. I had goosebumps all over me when I entered, it was the same feeling when I first entered Pantheon in Rome, the unforgettable feeling, the wow-this-is-out-of-this-world feeling. It was BEAUTIFUL. Please take note that you have to dress modestly if you plan to go in, you also need to take off your shoes. There is no entrance fee as this is a functioning mosque.

The exterior of Sultan Ahmet Mosque

The beautiful interior

 

Our second stop was Hagia Sophia, which has a very long history. It was a church during Byzantine period. Hagia Sophia has more interesting stories than the building itself. We stopped for a while before we entered, sat on the park bench, just to read the long history of Hagia Sophia, it’s really interesting how this building has witnessed so many revolutions happened. Google for the story, it could be 20 pages long! The main wodden door in Hagia Sophia has been standing since 6th century!

Super old door!

Bandi and I, in the park between Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmet Mosque

The third must-visit place in Istanbul is Topkapi Palace. This place is huuuge! Slot some time to really walk around and explore the place. Bandi and I really enjoyed this place, especially the kitchen museum, imagining how it feels to be the chief cook in that era, leading a team to cook for the whole palace (roughly 4,000 people), it was massive in that era. The museum has a lot of information written all over it, so we could really learn about the palace.

Sadly the 40 Lira entrance fee doesn’t include the Harem (the place where the Sultan spent his private life with his family). You need to pay additional 25 Lira to get to know the Harem.

If you’re a Moslem, or interested in one, there is some seriously important artefact stored in Topkapi Palace, such as footprint of Prophet Muhammad, Moses’ staff, and other impressive collections! You may googling more about the list and its authenticity, but it is definitely a must visit!

Our favorite place in Topkapi Palace is the balcony where you can see the sea. It was such a beautiful day in Istanbul, and seriously how can you not love this city?

My only regret is not to spend longer time in Istanbul. I was so mesmerized by the seabirds that followed us all the way when we boarded ferry from the European Istanbul to the Asian Istanbul. There were thousand of them, hovering above the ferry, while cruising from one continent to another. Everything about Istanbul is visually beautiful.

And the vibe in Galatasaray bridge in the evening, full of people fishing, chatting, hassling… A dad teaching his daughter how to fish, a group of friend hanging out while eating fish sandwich, a couple having fun under the bridge, where the restaurants are, and their pink sunset… This city is really special, their sunset is pink color! I love Istanbul, I really do. I will definitely come back because I’ve left a piece of my heart there. :)

Cheers,

May, with a hair as pink as Istanbul’s Sunset.

A love story about Western Australia and Bandi

Here comes another long post full of love.

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You would’ve known by now how much I love Australia from this legendary road trip post. I never stop thinking to come back to Australia ever since, so when Jetstar teased us with another cheap Australia fare, we didn’t think twice. This time, we chose the west coast. We bought the ticket in 2016 (I know, we planned waaaay too ahead), just because. Come to think of it, I’ve never been itinerary-less in the past 9 years… We always have planned ticket somewhere. We knew we were going to have another road trip, so we extended the party to Bandi’s mom, because she has been wanting to visit Australia. The party then grew bigger when my bestie, Angel and her mom joined the trip. Given the condition, of course I will plan the trip, because… it’s me. =p

Fast forward to June 2017, Bandi discussed with me if he should go for the short assignment to Australia that’s offered by the company’s counterpart in Australia. I knew he wanted the chance, but he didn’t want to leave me. I mean, 3 months is not a long time (compared to the 2 years of Long Distance Relationship between Singapore and US for god’s sake) but we have grown to be so dependent to each other, we can’t imagine living apart anymore. I swear this will sound cheesy, but I seriously think I will live each of my every day with Bandi and never get tired of it. He is literally the best part of my every day.

Well, Bandi and I went for business trips once in a while, but never more than 5 days, and usually we miss each other so much. So, would we take this chance/challenge? We ended up saying yes to the chance, because… when opportunity knocks, you answer, no matter what the situations are, you’ll make it work.

So, I said goodbye to him in Changi Airport on 3rd July 2017. :(

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This cheeky guy whom I miss so much

The Western Australia trip fell in between of Bandi’s assignment, so at least, I got to see him for a while. I must say… it was one of the best trip I’ve ever had. Australia is BEAUTIFUL. I say this again and I will keep saying this.

We drove total of 2,485 km in 8 days

It was by far our longest road trip ever, probably because we do a return journey, and thankfully Bandi could switch driving with Angel so each of them would get a rest. Me? Oh, I can’t drive. :p

I loved every places we visited and let me go through each of them below:

#1 Margaret River

Wine region southern from Perth that happens to have the BEST bakery in the world. I might sound exaggerating, but it was seriously the best coconut cake, sourdough bread, pies ever! Which bakery, you ask? You will find it. It’s literally called “Margaret River Bakery” and everyone knows where it is, it’s in the main road, you will find it, I swear. Our host recommended it to us, and when I brought it up to the Jane Brook Vineyard’s owner (which happens in Swan Valley, hundreds km away), he knew this place too!

We didn’t do a lot of things here, mostly just walk around town, go to grocery store and ended up cooking most of the time coz our airbnb house was just sooooo comfy! We also didn’t do any wine tasting in Margaret River because it was raining all the time so we escaped from Margaret River to Busselton, which is about 40 minutes driving from.

Well also drove to Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin, both are beautiful, but it was a very windy day, thus I felt so cold all the time!

#2 Busselton

It was one sunny day in Busselton on the second day when we wanted to walk along the longest Jetty on earth. It was getting windy when we walked half way though, but the view was remarkable.

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Busselton is a charming little town with a rich history, it reminds me of Stars Hollow, a fictional town in Gilmore Girls, especially the part where I saw the Repertory club, which is totally similar with Miss Patty’s Dance School!

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#3 Fremantle

Another town full of history, but the highlight of Fremantle of course, the famous Fremantle Market! Oh my god, I love this market! I know we loved Asian market (like the ones in Taipei), but this one is just topping every markets we visited. The things they sell are just so high quality and full of variety. You have to try the HONEY CAKETry the cocoa one! I loved it so much, I bought 1 box back to Singapore and my colleagues finished it in minutes.

We also bought tea from Roogenic, which is amazing! We also ate the Poke Bowl at Ipoke Bar, which was sooo delicious and the ramen (didn’t remember the name but so yum!).

#4 Kalbarri

If I had to single out the best part of our trip, it is definitely Kalbarri! We started the awesomeness by passing by the Pink lake of Hutt Lagoon, which fascinated me so much, because it was really pink. I was in awe for a minute there, like… is this serious? How could this be so beautiful and so real? I thought those pictures in the internet was edited… It wasn’t… The pink lake is real!

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And Kalbarri National Park was…….. I’m lost for words. It’s beyond beautiful! Beautiful would be an understatement.

I finally come to a realisation that of all the places I’ve travelled to, I’ve always enjoyed landscapes the most. I don’t fancy visiting city, I love beaches (but not a fan of stickiness feeling), I love mountains but scared of cold, but landscapes are just the perfect match for me. I love standing in high places looking out to vast oceans or greens or rocks. I love hiking in national park!

Recommended tracks that we did:

Track 1: Natural Window (Skill level: Easy)

The track to Natural Window was short and easy, so everyone was able to do it. You can extend the track to the loop track from and to Natural window, which I would looooovveee to do it because it’s a rocky track and from high places. I love rocky tracks and I love looking out from high places! But sadly we couldn’t do it that time because we choose to go to other tracks, and it was an 8 km tracks, will need half day to finish. (I swear I’ll be back and do it.)

Track 2: Z-Bend (difficulty level: Easy)

The first ending of the track is a platform where you can look out to the Gorge River. The walk from the carpark to here was easy and pretty near.

Track 3: Z-Bend Extended to the river (difficulty level: Hard)

From the platform, you can choose to continue the bushwalking (how Aussies call trekking :p) to the river below. It requires some serious physical fitness because you need to climb up and down the rocks and stairs. Some parts were pretty scary and dangerous too, but it was FUN and the view was AWESOME. Only Angel and I did this track because of the difficulty level, and Bandi was waiting in the cars with the Moms. When Angel and I walked back up, we were so heated up that we took off our clothes in a winter weather! Felt like an accomplishment to beat up winter. XD

Track 4: Coastal Cliffs Walk (difficulty level: Pretty easy)

The walk is easy because it’s pretty much just the same level walk throughout, by the cliff. Can you imagine the view?!

You can choose how long you want to walk, there are a couple of points with car-park. Angel, her mom and I decided to walk from Natural Bridge to Grandstand (2.6 km walk if I’m not mistaken). We did it during the sunset time and the view was breathtaking. I LOVED IT.

I specially made vlog for our Kalbarri trip, you can watch it on our youtube channel, Bay Travels. :)

#5 Swan Valley

Whoever said Disneyland is the happiest on earth obviously never visited Swan Valley. Well, this might be bias because I was high most of the times in Swan Valley. We went to so many vineyards to taste wines, so let me try to remember each of them and write the story.

Once we reached Swan Valley, we saw polices doing blow checks to car-drivers, to know their alcohol level, to avoid drunk driving. I right away knew it was a perfect place. Good news is… I don’t drive, I have unlimited threshold of alcohol. LOL

The first place we visited was Swan Valley Visitor Centre, which I recommend everyone to do because the visitor centre officer is just so friendly and knowledgeable about the town! They know literally every vineyard existed in Swan Valley. I told them what I like, which is sparkling wine and asked them which route should I take and some recommendation for food.

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What does people do in Swan Valley actually? We visit the vineyard/winery, ask them nicely if they do wine tasting, if yes, they would pour the wine and you drink, if you love it, you buy it. You will get bonus of some interesting stories from the owner! Fun huh?

Taste #1: Pinelli

I love all of the wines they poured for us, especially their white rosé!

Taste #2: Funk Cidery

This one was not a free tasting, we paid AU$15 for 6 different 30 ml ciders, they have around 20-ish and we could choose which one we wanted. All of them are bombs! Love love love!!!

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Taste #3: Jane Brook’s Vineyard

Oh how I enjoyed our time there. We had nice and friendly conversation with the owner and tasted a lot of their wine. I settled with opening 1 bottle of their most amazing sparkling wine and had brunch there, beside a creek, in an amazing sunny winter day. Oh I hope I live like that every day. What a wonderful day.

Taste #4: Tyler’s Vineyard

We were actually recommended to visit Tyler’s vineyard by the Ugg Boots’ merchant that we met the first day of exploring Perth. Angel and I were chatting with the merchant that we would visit Swan Valley the day after and she right away recommended this place which could personalise your wine label with your photo, to make it even more fun, Tyler’s vineyard has animals with Happy the dog as our greeter!

Happy the dog was named happy for a reason indeed! I also made acquaintances with Digby and Gizmo, the sheep.

Taste #5 Mann Vineyard

This is A MUST VISIT! They have Cygne grapes that they patented, which made awesome sparking wine! They are specialised in sparkling wine and they still handmade them! Please pay them a visit, but I believe they only open when their wines are still in stock, August onwards. You need to visit the visitor centre and ask them first.

#6 Perth, Kingspark, the Pinnacle

Driving from Kalbarri back to Perth, we aimed to reach Pinnacle dessert just in time to view the sunset, enjoy it and continue to Perth for dinner. We reached Pinnacle dessert just right about 5 minutes before the sun swallowed by the horizon, we even still witnessed the amazing view from the car while we drove deeper into the dessert. I ran right from the car and climbed up onto the sand hill without my shoes, sadly, I didn’t get to see the sun anymore once I reached the top of the hill.

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The dusk was serene from top. A brief magical moment of how wonderful the world is. Bandi and I promised that we will come back to this place, bringing a slide, so we can sand slide in the sand dunes the whole day. :)

The rocks in Pinnacle is one of a kind, if you’re into geological formation, you should spend more time exploring this national park.

In Perth itself, nothing much to do except chilling in the cafe, shop around and visit parks. The must-visit of course is the gigantic Kings Park which has some awesome views.

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We travel for food

And of course, we will list down the unforgettable food we encountered during this trip, and here are the best ones which we recommend you to try if you happen to be around!

#1 Alfred’s Kitchen – Swan Valley

This road side’s simple sandwich shops served us the best sandwich we ever had in our life! A local recommended this place because it was mentioned in Australia’s master chef and the review popped up in the national newspaper, all for one reason only: it’s freaking delicious!

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#2 The Bakery – Margaret River

I mentioned this on top, and highlighting this again. All of their pastries are freshly baked and yummy! We also had breakfast on our last day in Margaret River there. :)

I really enjoyed my time in West Australia, it was just a tiny piece of WA that we explored and I was already so amazed by how beautiful it was. And again… that thought revisited, what if we lived here, this amazing part of the world, far from the buzzing cities, just us.

We don’t have a privilege to just drop everything and go, our passport doesn’t allow that, our bank account won’t survive that and we don’t only live for ourselves (at least for now). We have to make a plan.

But we’ll do anything for love. It’s undeniable. You can’t just fall in love and forget about it. You can’t just give up without fighting for your love, can you?

So… wish us luck! :)

Cheers,

May, loving the world more and more