Seoul in the eyes of a non K-pop fan

This is the first time I’m travelling during festive season (Christmas and New Year) so this is also the first time I paid expensive ticket to go somewhere. I usually go to random destinations depends on the ticket price, so I would start a blog post bragging about how cheap my flight ticket is. Not this time. :(

We got a free one-way ticket to Bangkok to start holiday with and I didn’t want to be stuck in Bangkok for so long, so we decided to fly to Seoul, South Korea. We knew nothing about South Korea or Seoul in particular. There are only 2 things people tell me from their Seoul Trip:

One is everything related to K-Pop or K-drama. Two is how cheap their cosmetics are.

Both turned out to be the highlights of Seoul. I’m not a fan of K-Pop, I know nothing about K-pop and K-drama, so point number one is invalid for me; but point number two… oh boy, are they right about it.

Looking at Seoul from a non Kpop fan perspective, I must say that Seoul is interesting, Seoul is hip, Seoul is loud, but it is lack of personality. City is not an ideal destination for me, so I have certain expectation when I visit cities. I don’t say I’m disappointed with Seoul, no. Seoul has so many things to offer. I visited Seoul in winter, the most harsh weather of all, and I still enjoyed it. But if you want to talk about soul of the city, Seoul doesn’t have it. It’s not like London or Tokyo who will give you goosebumps when you explore them. Oh I really love London, London left such an impression for me. You don’t have to like a city to know its personality. Hong Kong for example, has a personality. Not the personality that I love though. I don’t fancy Hong Kong, I visited once and had returned yet. I will probably will return because my best friend lives there, not because I like it. But anyway, there is a possibility I found Seoul a bit boring because I visited during winter, it was super cold. Maybe I’ll visit again someday when the weather is warmer.

Cranky me, kept asking to go inside because it was super cold.

Cranky me, kept asking to go inside because it was super cold.

I don’t know if this makes sense. So to cut it short, Seoul has lack of personality. Contrasting to its name, Seoul is soulless. I just felt some of the part of it is artificial. It doesn’t make this statement true. It’s just my opinion.

I took a stroll at MyeongDong and totally understood why beauty products competition in Korea is very steep. There are millions of different products, you will get lost following the trends.

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Then I went to Hongdae, which is my favourite spot in Seoul, it’s full of hype and so alive. Youngsters perform in the street, clubs are loud during Friday night, Food is cheaper than the other hip neighbourhoods, beer is cheap and stores are full of promotion and discounts. Hongdae is the little sister of Orchard Road who is in meth.

But it is in Bukchon Hanook Village, I found a gem in this busy and loud city. This small village full of traditional hanook houses is just so beautiful and picturesque. It’s an Oasis in this newly developed country’s capital city. While walking around, I imagined how people lived there a thousand years ago, during spring when the flowers bloomed, must be a luxury.

Picturesque view. You have no idea the struggle I had to take this angle.

Picturesque view. You have no idea the struggle I had to take this angle.

A sticky tripod and an effort to get a good angle. Voila!

A sticky tripod and an effort to get a good angle. Voila!

We planned to visit Nami Island cause the place popped up repeatedly in everyone’s blog, so it seemed like a must-visit place. However after further reading about the small island which rocketed to fame out of a K-Drama and the fact that I couldn’t survive more than 15 minutes in the outdoor winter wind, we decided not to go.

The thing that I adore the most from Seoul as a visitor is their superb transportation system. One card for everything, just like in Singapore. Their MRT is clean, fast, reliable, just awesome. We took the bus 1 time and had the same good experience. While the best thing about Seoul is… THE FOOD, the spicy food to be precise. Just like so many Indonesians, Bandi and I love spicy food and Koreans mean it when they say it’s spicy. Their spicy is not a gimmick, it really is! If you know the famous Samyang spicy ramen noodle, there are a lot of Samyang’s spiciness equivalent in Seoul.

Dry trees during winter can be a nice prop too. The gloominess creates such drama.

Dry trees during winter can be a nice prop too. The gloominess creates such dramatic effect.

The only good thing about visiting Seoul during winter is the fact that you can go skiing, which we did. It was our first time skiing so we bought a package from Expedia for a day trip to Elysian Ski Resort which includes English speaking beginner’s ski lesson. The journey from Seoul to Elysian Resort took about one and a half hour, providing no traffic jam. Sadly we were stuck in the traffic when we returned to Seoul. It’s a big city after all, traffic jam is part of it.

This is so heavy, ugh! I was sweating inside.

This is so heavy, ugh! I was sweating inside.

Selfie in goggles!

Selfie in goggles!

Overall, I enjoyed Seoul. I probably would love enjoy it more if I visited during spring because it was so cold when I visited (-5 degrees for the love of god, I thought I would die) and most of the trees were dead. I don’t usually go shopping when I travel, but there is no way you visit Seoul without buying their skincare products. And surprisingly it was fun to shop skincare. I am vain too afterall. Judge me.

Check my vlog about Seoul here:

Bandi and traveled to East Java during the Chinese new year break, together with Bandi’s family. It was one hell of journey. I hope I’ll have time to write it and edit the blog because Q1 is the busiest time of my work. For now until April, I will take a travel-off period because I really need to work. Help me god, I will have some time off here and there so I can do some simple blogging.

Talk to you guys next time!

Cheers,

May, literally typing this while sitting on the toilet bowl.

Personal: We’re gonna keep going.

I wanna travel for the rest of my life. I hope this is not a phase. I hope this is not “travel as much as you want before you have kids because once you do, then it’s over” kind of thing. Bandi shares the same vision with me and I know that’s what’s important.

Family means no harm, we know that. We fully understand that as Asian kids, we have to take our family as consideration in our decision, no matter how liberal our thinkings are. Trust me, we could’ve just gone, resign from our jobs, withdraw our investment and just go. But we don’t do that, do we? we balance our love to travel with being good asian kids. Working, have stable income, sending money home and make our parents proud. That’s the only way to make Asian parents proud. Oh and yeah, to have baby, which is a little overdue now.

I was not that kid of person, I do care about my mom, but I used to not care about what she thinks of me, but Bandi has thought me that you can have strong character and still make other people happy, that I should not be extremely stubborn, that idealism can be flexible.

Bandi made me a better person, I’m still selfish, I’m just less selfish. And together, we are good. I feel it. With him, I feel good. I feel that we can actually go around the world, with our own timeline, with our own ways.

And we never think to actually stop having income and travel around the world like hippies, because everyone has different way to travel. We’re just taking our time, one city at a time. We still want to travel comfortably, but still on budget though. We don’t spend much money on other things, really. I don’t have any other hobbies that cost a lot of money. I borrow books from library, I stop buying them, and I write. Bandi plays football with his friends, which doesn’t cost anything, really. So, how come we have so much money for traveling? Because we don’t spend money for other stuffs.

I wanna travel for the rest of my life. There are so many things in this world I wanna see, there are so many places in this world I wanna visit. I don’t wanna stop now, I don’t wanna stop when we have kids, I don’t wanna stop when we get old. I don’t wanna stop ever. I wanna keep living life like this. This is not a phase, this is not a “hobby before kids”, this is our life. When we stop travel, we stop living.

And when we have kids, we will still travel. How? I don’t know, we’ll figure it out. There were so many things happened in my life which I didn’t know how to handle, but I figured it out. Now with Bandi, I’m sure we can do it. We have figured out so many odd things. We survived freaking long distance relationship, so I guess we could always try, as long as we’re together.

Nothing is being on hold because we still want to travel. we are not “still want to travel”, we are traveling for life, not still, not then. We’re gonna keep going, because we love it.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia, 31 January 2017.

May.

Serendipity called Jeju

Don’t you just love it when you have a fortunate accident, an unexpected wonder, a serendipity? That’s Jeju Island for me. I almost skipped this small island, but thankfully a friend of mine insisted I had to visit it because I would love it.  He persistently asked me to go. And yes, he’s right. I LOVED IT. I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT. I left a piece of my heart there. Yes, to that extent.

To be fair, I always love island destination and I love road-tripping, so going around an island in a car usually ends wonderfully for me. We rented a car in Jeju and grabbed a local map, the rest was history. We got to see so many wonderful things in Jeju and oh boy, this island is a gem!

The first thing across my mind whenever I found an awesome destination is to share it with the world and to tell everyone to come. So, here are the things in Jeju that I absolutely love and would experience again when I come back and hopefully inspire you to visit:

1. Staying in this cute and humble airbnb called “Sun Story”

I’m so thankful we stayed in this airbnb. The place was just so comfy and unique, and oh the owners are a happy couple who were so kind and welcoming. I happened to break their shower head and they did not fine me -ha! They also recommended us to hike Oreums, which brings us to the next reason why I will definitely come back to Jeju for more!

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The off-path humble bed and breakfast.

Surviving winter

Surviving winter

Imagine chilling during summer on that hammock.

Imagine chilling during summer on that hammock.

2. Hiking the Oreums

Oreums are like hills, big vast hills. Hiking the oreums is like bushwalking in Australia. One of my favourite thing to do while traveling. Yongnuni Oreum means dragon hill, and if we could take a look from the top, the oreum looks like a sleeping dragon. The track was easy and good to walk on with family. Bandi and I had a very good time hiking this Oreoum during winter, it was a wonderful weather and wonderful view from the top! Definitely something to do if you’re in Jeju!

Let's go!

Let’s go!

What an incredible start of the year!

What an incredible start of the year!

3. Eating Black Pork BBQ in this Ajumma’s Restaurant

We didn’t know the name of the restaurant, but Bandi read in someone’s blog that Running Man had an episode there. Eating black pork BBQ with Kimchi Soup and purple rice, surrounded by ten side dishes is one of the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. Each of them create such a beautiful symphony in my mouth and everything they say about Korean BBQ made sense. (P.s I didn’t fancy Korean BBQ until that meal in that Ajumma’s restaurant) Turned out you just need to go to the right place. If you want to visit this place by public transport, I cannot help you because I don’t know how to type the name, but if you’re driving a car, just key in this phone number (784-1007) to your GPS. Just park on the road side, the store looks like this. You’re welcome.

I don’t know what’s its name or write it in alphabets, but this is how the restaurant looks like!

A wonderful meal experience and one of the best dishes we've ever had in our life!

A wonderful meal experience and one of the best dishes we’ve ever had in our life!

4. Play on the beach and in the clear turquoise water

We did not get to do this because it was winter when we visited. Even though in the picture it looked sunny and warm, it was 7 degrees. The closest we got to the water was this boat canoeing in the bay. We didn’t so much cash left but when we were driving around and saw people canoeing happily in this sunny winter weather, I wanted too, so we stopped over, parked the car and asked how much it was. It was 10,000 won for 30 minutes per person and they accepted credit card, yay! They have credit card machine everywhere, so we could be conveniently over-budget.

Row row row your boat!

Row row row your boat!

I think it's safe for Brownie to plan in the water during winter because of those layer of fats. LOL

I think it’s safe for Brownie to plan in the water during winter because of those layer of fats. LOL

5. Chill in the café watching the sun sets in the blue sea.

Bonmal Cafe. Remember this name and visit when you’re in Jeju. It was a shame that we didn’t get to spend longer time chilling here because we got to go to the airport.

A very instagrammable cafe

A very instagrammable cafe

Great coffee too!

Great coffee too!

Great place to chill!

Great place to chill!

6. Drive around the island

Hands down, my most favourite thing in life is road-tripping (so ironic because I can’t drive –  so I’m stuck with Bandi for the rest of my life), and it’s even more fun road-tripping in an island, because you’ve got to go back in the circle to the place where you started, just like coldplay song, “Oh let’s go back to the start…” Yeah, I’m dramatic that way.

7. OSULLOC Green Tea Museum (and Green Tea Ice Cream FTW)

This place is not overrated! You must have heard about this place somewhere or someone must have mentioned it before because this place is famous, and it is famous with good reasons! Yes the green tea museum is not so big, but I could still get to learn some stuffs about tea culture in Korea and do you know that green tea and black tea are from the same plants, the difference is the process of roasting! Well, I didn’t know that, I always thought they were from different plants! I also got to see the beautiful tea plantation (just like the one we have in Bogor, East Java, Indonesia). They sell high quality teas too, just like TWG, but much cheaper. I don’t understand why people have to choose to be a coffee person or a tea person, why can’t I just be both? I love both teas and coffees! I want to be both! Aaaaakkkk! So yeah, their tea is amazing. I bought some for my mom and mother in law because… who doesn’t love a good cup of tea, right?

The small but informative green tea museum!

The small but informative green tea museum!

Tea plantation!

Tea plantation!

None of these are overrated. Truly delicious products of the humble green tea.

None of these are overrated. Truly delicious products of the humble green tea.

8. Hiking Mt Hallasan!

Okay, we did not get to do this because it was winter and I would die going up to a mountain while winter. I was dying climbing in summer, how do you think I would survive winter climbing? But the next time I visit Jeju, I will conquer Mt. Halia! This is a promise!

9. Watching sunrise in Seongsan summit.

Climbing up to the Seongsan Summit (or most of people call sunrise peak) is not difficult and it’s one of the must-to-do things in Jeju. We woke up very early to watch the first sunrise in Seongsan, but little did we know, thousands of people wanted the same thing, so the hiking trails were packed with people and we were not allowed to continue to the peak and were redirected to another peak. We stayed for 15 minutes only to realise how chaotic it would be once the sun rose and everyone would leave on the same time and the road would be jammed. So we left early and watched the sunrise on some random people’s ranch, together with this horsey. :p

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10. Visiting all the wacky but informative themed museums

From Hello Kitty land to Sex Museums, Jeju offers all kind of different and unique themed exhibitions. The most famous would be the Teddy Bear museums, which we didn’t go because we chose to go to the Love Land, which is a park that celebrates all things sexual. Oh la la! Yes, I ditched the huggable Ted for some dick sculptures. Judge me.

Other themed park/museum that probably suit your fetish-ahem, I mean interest, is Maze Park, Stone parks full of penis-shaped stone, mini land (full of mini size of world’s famous buildings/landscapes), K-Drama museum, Ripley’s believe it or not museum, glass museum or Women’s divers museum.

Guess what?

Guess what?

And…. the greatest reasons of all… Jeju is feminist and environmentalist.

Jeju has long history of strong women. Jeju is well-known for their women’s divers and women from Jeju are strong and independent. My kind of women, wink. This fact just made me fall in love even more with Jeju.

Jeju uses renewable energy! Looking at those pretty windmills when we drove around island made me happy. It’s really the new time, it’s the time of renewable energy!

And of those things I listed still didn’t convince you to pack your bag and go to Jeju, I hope this clip I put up together will. Enjoy!

Cheers,

May, missing Jeju already.

Personal update and about aspiring in youtube.

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

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It seems like forever since I updated personal matter in this blog. My life has been a whirlwind of roller-coaster this year and I did not really have time to sit down and reflect and actually write what I’m thinking. Even now I wanted to open my laptop and blogged about my personal update, I hesitated. I just feel like the older I get, the less trust I have with the world. I didn’t feel like pouring out my life to the internet anymore, like I used to when I was young, when blogging was carefree. As you grow older you expect yourself to be in certain standard. To be wise, to act decent, to just be a successful human being according to your own definition.

But I guess, I’m nowhere near that, and I don’t want to restrict myself from being a kid I’ve always been. I always have a young heart, wild and free. I know that for sure for a very very VERY long time.

So here I am… in the intersection of thirty something life.

2016 is crazy, crazy beautiful and crazy sad. I worked hard, I actually gave a damn about my career, which was very weird for me because I never see myself working in the office forever. This happened because I have a great team, great colleagues and I believe in the company I work for, Schneider Electric which is doing something good for the earth, renewable energy, hear hear! So I actually care about my work and my career.

I played hard too, wasted in some party, went out with friends and had really good times with my friends. I traveled to places I’ve never been before, I freaking climbed mount Fuji.

And I learned hard too. I lost my brother and my father. And it broke my heart in pieces in the way I could never imagined before. It was then I truly learned what being strong mean. I always thought I was strong… hell no, I was still learning to be strong. It’s not about not to cry, it’s about not to break. You can cry, you can brief, you can be angry with the world, but you can’t break.

I realized life is so short. How well will I spend mine?

You have no idea how long I’ve struggled about what I want to do with my life. Funny the way I said it like I know now what I want to do. I have a plan even though it’s still quite blurry now.

You guys know I love to take photos and videos and I love to travel and these things are great combination, right? I’ve been making videos about my travel and I even started vlogging when I was in Norway. I just felt that it was very brave to throw yourself out there so people can see you, watch you and comment about you. I know it sounds stupid, but it’s true. Putting youtube videos for public consumption is brave, and did I mention fun? Sometimes when I’m in the train I would just daydream about things I would love to shoot. Like sunrise, snow, animals running in the wild. I hope you can understand what I mean… I started to accept myself for what I actually like and enjoy doing even though it’s seems obscure now. I like the whole process, shooting, editing, publishing.

So two weeks ago I invited my friends to create video which does not have any relation with travel at all. I wanted to know if I only enjoy shooting scenery or I enjoy shooting in general. It was a two and a half hour shoot and the editing part was super long! It took me 16 hours to edit! And guess what, I had fun! And I wanted more. And I have sooooooooo many ideas in my head about what I want to do next.

Of course I will not leave my first love which is blogging, oh I love writing! But I will concentrate more on making videos because I want to learn more about shooting and editing. Of course I still need to learn to write too because hey, we’re learning everyday in our life. :)

Please search “Bay Travels” in youtube. That’s my youtube channel, subscribe if you like it! I have some great plan about it and I want you all to be part of it! Please leave a comment if you guys want me to shoot you and give me some ideas about videos, we can work together! :)

Here’s the video that I was talking about, 16 hours of editing. What a fun project. :)

And I finally finished my Okinawa Vlog, I cannot emphasize anymore how much I love Okinawa!

I’m going to Changi Aiport in 1 hour to travel! I will be back in new year and will be crazy busy until April because of work. I hope I still can squeeze some time to blog and vlog and keep the ideas rolling.

Thanks for reading this til the end, it’s been almost 10 years of online blogging with wordpress and I will never stop blogging! High five all of the bloggers out there!

And of course, wish you a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

Cheers,

May, excited.

You don’t

You don’t always get what you want in life. The moment you accept it is the moment you become an adult.

You don’t always get the answer from your questions.
You don’t always see the reason behind every actions.
You don’t always venture from your risks.

You don’t always get the people you love to stay.
Oh honey, I hope you do, but in life, you don’t.
Life is so fragile, so short, so priceless.
All the unknowns and the unsure are the ones that give life meaning, letting you try without insurance.
Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail.
Sometimes you try again, sometimes you let go.
You don’t always know, dear and you don’t need to always agree with your heart. But follow your heart as it will never be wrong.

It hurts sometimes, I know. But as long as you’re still alive, the pain is still bearable. You’ll be alright, deary.

You’ll be fine before you know it.

You don’t always get to feel the way you wanted to.

You don’t always understand what’s going on in your heart or your head.

You don’t always agree with what you feel or what’s been filling your mind.

The thing is, most of the times you’re trying to fight what’s uncomfortable, when you should’ve just embraced it. Let it sink in, and if it hurts you, then let it hurt you and it will make you stronger.

Nothing in this life, NOTHING should make you feel less. You are you, just stronger, wiser, better, tougher.

And don’t forget to have fun. That’s the only way life should be. Fun.

2016.12.09

I will be happy again.

“Death is what gives life meaning, to know your days are numbered and your time is short.” I heard this sentence in Dr. Strange movie, a week after my Dad passed away and 10 months after my brother passed away.

I’m not good with grieving. I guess nobody is. Death is certain, but timing is relative. I was still healing my broken heart of losing a brother so early in my life, when I received a news that my Dad passed away so suddenly one night, because of heart attack. I broke down and cry. I was shaky and I didn’t know what to do. The first thing I did was opening my whatsapp chat window with my Dad. He just sent me a video two days before and I did not reply him… because I was such an asshole for not having the time to watch the 3 minutes video. And then that moment, I opened the video. It was an advertisement about a Dad and his daughter. The Dad fetched the daughter to school when she was young, just like my Dad and I. The Dad went to hospital and thankfully, the Dad survived. The Dad then walked the daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. At the end of the advertisement, there was a message saying to tell your father that you love them.

I did not.

It hurt me so so so much because I did not have second chance. I wish I did. Oh how I fuckin wish I did.

I flew back home as soon as the sun rose, and went straight to the funeral home. I met my Dad, he was lifeless. I couldn’t believe how painful it was to see him lifeless. I know he knows that I love him. I’m very very sure he does. I always have loved him and I will always love him. Death doesn’t end relationship. I believe both of us know it.

I don’t want to live my life with regrets, I want to forgive myself for not texting him back. I want to be happy again, because I know that’s what he wants too.

That day, when we sent him away and spread his ashes to the sea, I felt a little piece of my heart dissolved. A part of me just left. I will never be the same, life will never be the same again. You know when you miss someone and you can just call or text or fly home? Now I cannot do that anymore. I can’t just call or text when I miss him, because he’s no longer exist in this world.

And oh god, how difficult it is to understand this concept, that my Dad no longer exist, that nothing… NOTHING could reverse this fact. He is dead. He is no longer there. His room is empty now, there were only his things, his photos, his journals, but not him.

It takes some time (3 weeks) for me to finally write this, to finally let the reality sinks in. I have lost a father, whom I dearly loved so so so SO MUCH, whom sacrificed a lot of things in his life for me, for the daughter who didn’t text him back.

My Dad… was the one who taught me how to write journal, cause he wrote one too. It was the beginning of my love affair with books as well and with writings. My Dad… taught me how to draw, before he had a stroke that paralyzed right part of his body. My Dad… was my hero. My Dad could do anything. ANYTHING.

He cheated death so many times, I thought he would live forever. I took it for granted. I thought I had time.

That’s our problem nowadays. We thought we had time.

We didn’t.

We spent so much time and money buying stuffs, which will not mean anything once we’re dead. I spent the whole day cleaning up my Dad’s room, I threw 90% of stuffs from his room. I only kept his journal, his sketch books, his letters, his birthday cards, and his photo albums. Those are memories. The rests are trash.

My Dad… had taught me a lot of things and passed me values all of his life, even after he was gone.

I will be a better person for you Papa. And I will be happy again. Not now, not today… but I will be.

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Northern Vietnam through my right eye

Adventures… Sometimes it really happened crazier than you expected. Just when your left eye were medicated-thus blurry and you were suffering for back ache. Great timing, adventure god!

Meet four people: May, Bandi, Trang and Thinh. Our goal is to chase a cloud in Y Ty, a very small town northern from Sapa (which is already northern from Hanoi (which is already a North City in Viet Nam)), so north that it can’t be even more north; so north that just some steps away, you reached China.

The clouds in Y Ty supposed to be like this:

Some random believable photo from the internet

Some random believable photo from the internet

But alas… the adventure god wanted something different, so came there non-stop rain, muddy roads, fogs and a ghost! Yes, I saw a ghost (and if you know me, I’m not a person who would believe in ghost).

First of all, my left eye was 80% not working during this trip. It was on full medication so it was dilated and blurry. The whole beauty of Northern Vietnam was only seen by my right eye. Bandi and I arrived in Hanoi in a Friday afternoon, we then waited for Trang and Thinh who flew from Ho Chi Minh. Little background story, Trang was my colleague when she was working in Singapore, and Thinh is her fiance. That evening, we had a very scrumptious dinner at Trang’s house. Her lovely mom and aunt cooked for us an authentic Vietnamese dinner experience! :)

Homecooked meal.

Homecooked meal.

After dinner, we took taxi to the train station where I happened to catch Pikachu and took a midnight train to Lao Cai. Around 5 am in the morning, we arrived at Lao Cai, and continued our journey by overpacked van to Sa Pa. The journey from Lao Cai to Sa Pa was horrible! It was so zig-zaggy, one person requested to stop for a while to throw up. Thankfully Bandi and I are so used to seasick, mountain sick doesn’t feel so bad anymore. Once we reached Sa Pa, we rightaway wore our jacket because it was soooo cold (at least for me, the true blue tropical creature).

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Sa Pa is wonderful, a small mountainous town which is surrounded by so many mountains and traditional Vietnamese village. It is also a home of the longest cable car in Viet Nam which can bring you to the summit of Fansipan Mountain, the highest peak of Viet Nam!

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But it is the journey from Sa Pa to Y Ty that caught my (blurry) eyes. The view was… AMAZING! Tidily Architectured rice paddy fields with mountains in the background, oh what a feast to the eyes! The four of us rented motorcycle, and rode to Y ty. It was only 72 km away from Sa Pa on the map, but we spent four and a half hours!

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We reached Y Ty around 4 pm, rested a while and had dinner. We met another local couple and went for coffee in a deserted cafe in the middle of nowhere, even walking there was a thrill!

But what happened that night was probably the craziest thing ever happened to me. I saw a ghost! This human-like shadow was standing between Bandi and Thinh and stared at them when they were asleep. It just happened that I suddenly woke up and saw it. The bed seemed to be protected because we used mosquito nets and the room was pitch dark. After I felt that I gave enough time for it to disappear but it didn’t, I took my phone and opened the torch light. I torched onto it, because on that moment I was so scared that it could be a thief! That’s even scarier right?

But when I torched it, it flew away and vanished into thin air. That was when I finally accepted the fact that maybe I saw a ghost.

I didn’t tell Bandi rightaway because he would need to drive back to Sa Pa the next day, so I just really tried so hard to sleep. Obviously, I couldn’t sleep well.

The next day I told Bandi, his face was priceless. LOL

As though this trip hasn’t been crazy enough, that morning when we tried to ride up above the clouds, fogs kept following us and it rained. We had to pass the muddy road in the middle of the rain, a lot of times we felt like almost falling down. We did fall down from motorcyle eventually, which was not new to me. It happened a couple of times for me and Bandi together.

Even though Y Ty trip was a total failure, I was happy we did that. What a crazy trip that left us with so many crazy stories! Oh the feeling of riding up to the top above the clouds through mountainous muddy road with an amateur motorcyle was both recklessly stupid and excited.

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This is absolutely one of the most memorable trip ever and I would cherish all the moments we shared. :) Pretty photos incoming!

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If you would like to go to Sa Pa, you can take midnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and continue with shuttle bus (van) to Sa Pa. Getting back to Hanoi would be faster by sleeper bus. I post the detail itinerary on how to reach Sa Pa on my instagram @jaunemai .

But I don’t recommend you to go to Y Ty without local people going with you, and you also have to be an experienced motorboke rider since the road is quite dangerous during rainy season.

Personally I would love to come back again to Sa Pa just for relaxing, sipping coffee while staring at the vast green mountains. Would you? ;)

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Cheers,

May, with new bruises

The Glitch

You weren’t suppose to fall in love with me, the pattern has been broken. You should’ve stayed in and have a normal life. I should’ve flown alone.

I don’t understand it logically. It’s love, isn’t it supposed to be illogical?

It’s true what they said that someday we would break, because you and I can’t collide. You had a pattern and you should’ve followed it. I was not in it.

But then… Maybe it’s not me who broke the pattern. You did.

It’s illogical.

Because you’re a glitch.

I was too wild to settle down and you were too domestic for my kind of adventure. I moved away from you, but you broke the pattern and you flew with me.

You didn’t let that pattern define you.

You’re the glitch.

The sun awaits you in Okinawa

Japan is known for its amazing culture, high tech toilet, delicious food and friendly people. Its cities like Tokyo and Osaka are fusion of traditional and modern atmosphere. Japan is always special, at least for me. This time, I’ve got to visit Japan with Bandi, it’s his first visit to Japan; and we decided not to start our Japan adventure in the mainland, but rather southern from the mainland, much much southern, which is…

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I will not make a post about how much I love Okinawa or reasons why you should visit Okinawa too, because trust me, OKINAWA is THE BEST beach destination for us. We love Okinawa so much that when we waited for our flight out of Okinawa, Bandi has already searched for another cheap flight ticket to Okinawa. He didn’t want to leave Okinawa so bad.

Don’t think twice to put Okinawa into your bucket list. This small Island (which surrounded by so many tiny islands) is a paradise! The food, the beach, the people…

So now let’s talk about technical stuff, because you’re going to Okinawa! No excuse!

How to reach Okinawa?

Fly there! The cheapest option would be flying from Taipei because there are a lot of budget airline from Taipei to Naha International Aiport (Okinawa). I flew with Peach Air from Taipei to Okinawa and it costed me S$100. The second cheapest would be flying local from Tokyo. I also heard there is a tourist package where you can buy from Tokyo to fly to Okinawa and return to Tokyo for only 1,000 Yen!

Another way is from Hongkong or Manila, which also have direct flight to Okinawa. But I didn’t do any search about it because I got my Taipei ticket before deciding to continue to Okinawa.

I believe there are various options to fly direct to Okinawa but usually they’re much more expensive. Singapore has direct flight to Okinawa by Silk Air, but I don’t even bother to check the price.

How to go around Okinawa Island?

Naha City is the biggest city in Okinawa and around Naha, there are trains and buses, however the public transport isn’t working so well in other parts of island like Nago and central Okinawa. (Naha is Southern Okinawa where Airport is in.) So the best choice for visitor is to rent a car! Cars are cheap to rent in Okinawa. I got mine for 18,000 yen for 4 days rent.

From Naha to Nago, it took us about 2 hours to drive if we continuously used toll road, which I found expensive. The normal road has so many traffic lights and could add another 1 hour traveling time. So your choice, time or money, literally.

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Beautiful coastline along the way… you’ll never get tired of it.

How to go from one island to another island?

There are a lot of ferry port in Okinawa main island. We got a free tourist booklet from airport which is very informative about all the islands in Okinawa and how you get there, which ferry you should take, etc. People is also friendly and you can easily ask for information or just browse google on which ferry to take.

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When we boarded the ferry.

We visited Minna Island which is located in the western part of Okinawa, it took us about 20 minutes ferry ride. Minna Island was very small, we could walk from end to end in 10 minutes! We swam, snorkeled and relaxed on the beach.

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I got seasick after snorkeled too long.

Where should I stay in Okinawa?

Hotels are common in Naha City, while Nago has only expensive resort. We booked airbnb studio apartment in Naha which costed us around $300 for 4 nights. I believe you can get the same price for 3 star hotel, but you know how I feel about airbnb. :)

Is Okinawa expensive?

Comparing to mainland Japan, Okinawa is much cheaper! But Japan itself is labeled as expensive destination (which I don’t fully agree to). Personally I think Okinawa is the most valuable destination ever. I got super cheap flight ticket to go there, cheap amazing airbnb, cheap car rental, cheap foods and… FREE BEACH! Think about it, in order to relax and have fun in amazing beaches, you have to pay some fee, and sometimes a night in a resort… but not in Okinawa! There are some beaches that require entrance fee (500 yen to 1000 yen) but there are tons on beaches that are free! We, of course, went to all the free beaches. :p

So if you compare the amount of money with the free facilities, quality of food and extremely pristine clear water beaches, Okinawa is a steal!!!

What are the highlights of Okinawa?

I think 4 days in Okinawa is definitely not enough. I seriously want to come back for 1 week or 10 days trip to Okinawa, doing island hopping and some serious laziness-related beach activity like… reading while sunbathing. But 4 days is enough to make me fall in love. :)

So here’s the highlight:

The Beaches and lookouts

Of course, duh! Okinawan beaches have white sand and sparkling pristine water, which is everyone’s dream beach. The best thing about the beaches is free facilities, like free parking, free shower, free toilet and there is no street vendor that pushes you to buy stuffs like in other Asian beaches. And… I put my phone, car key and some change under my towel which I neglected on the beach and since it’s Japan, nobody stole it. JAPAN IS THE BEEEEST!

Emerald Beach in the Northern Okinawa

Emerald Beach in the Northern Okinawa

Bandi, attempting to do weird stuffs

Bandi, attempting to do weird stuffs

What pose we should do next?

What pose we should do next?

Since we drove a car, we could easily stop by at look-out points or lighthouses, Okinawa has tons of them. If only we stayed longer there, we would’ve gone for some picnic. But watch out for snakes!

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Cape Manzano, the elephant rock.

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Oh the view!

Kokusai Street

It’s very touristy, but I kinda like it! This street is full of souvenir’s shop, restaurant and food stalls. Bandi’s favorite kind of street. If you decided to go to Kokusai Street, don’t forget to eat at Mahoroba Soba and try the Spicy Taiwanese noddle. I know it’s ironic to eat Taiwan type Soba in Okinawa. but it’s the best!!!

IMG_9014Shuri Castle

We didn’t manage to go in the castle because if time constraint, but even walking around the castle gave you an idea of how amazing this castle is.

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Kin-town (The Amerinca Town)

We went there very late evening so not much to see, but try to visit this place to try the Okinawan Taco Rice! Taco rice doesn’t originally come from Mexico, It comes from Okinawa!

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Taco Rice!

Okinawan Soba

I don’t really fancy this, but you’ve got to try at least once. It’s a thick hot soba in a clear pork broth soup with mushrooms and sliced pork cheeks/bellies. It is delicious, but when you eat it in a tropical island where the sun is as hot as Zac Efron’s abs, you can’t fully enjoy it.

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The islands around

This is the best highlight of Okinawa, the small islands around the mainland. As I mentioned before, try to search which island you’re interested in and find out which port has the ferry to bring you there.

Minna Island

Minna Island

 

Shisa

It is a legendary “animal” which is a mixture of a lion and a dog, believed to protect Okinawan villagers, that’s why you will see a lot of Shisas guarding in front of people’s home or store.

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Cute Sisha in our airbnb

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I bought a Shisa coin purse for the shisa to guard my coins! :D

There are so many other things which I haven’t explored in Okinawa which will always keep me wanting to come back. I hope this post inspires you to pack your back and go to Okinawa! It’s the most underrated place on earth. :)

Go go go!!!

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Cheers,

May, missing beaches already

No matter what

This is the happiest moment in my life, right here right now, in your arms, she said. She tightened her grasp on his back and felt warmth in her heart. Nothing would ever feel as good, not even close to what she was feeling then. And then she kissed his lips and everytime it felt like the first time, which happened eleven years ago. She couldn’t understand, every single day of her life, she kept wondering, how could she love someone this much? How was this even possible, to keep loving someone so hard so extreme every single day?

Isn’t something like this crazy won’t last long? Isn’t it too good to be true? She thought to herself. The ecstasy of being in his arms wiped away those questions. We will stay like this forever, her illogical side told her.

She tilted her head to see his eyes, closed. He smiled cheekily and rubbed his stubble beard on her forehead, something that she always complained about. She touched the stubble and asked him to shave the next morning and she said, I’m very proud of you, randomly.

He was her star, her inspirations.

***

This is awful, why do I have to feel this sadness, she said. She tightened her grasp on his back and felt warmth in her heart. You have one bad day down, he said and then kissed her forehead. She looked up, his face was blurry covered by her own tears. He slurped her tears and she chuckled, it was something that he did to cheer her up whenever she cried. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was, to have someone who would always fight alongside her. No matter what happens, no matter how hurtful people could be to her, she would always have him, as her sidekick.

He took a glass of water and asked her to drink up, replenished the energy, re-hydrate the frustration. Yeah it was sad what happened to her, but sad won’t last forever, just like joy, anger and other hundreds of adjectives in the dictionary. But I bet this will last forever, she thought to herself. Right here right now, the moment when she was feeling grateful to have someone to share burden with, to vent frustration to, to just be with.

She loves him whenever she’s happy, she loves him whenever she’s sad. She loves him no matter what.

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