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

The Next Hotspot: Ipoh

Have you heard of Ipoh, a capital city of Perak, Malaysia? If you haven’t, you will soon. With the great theme park coming up, more budget airlines opening destinations there and easy access via bus, Ipoh is gonna booming soon!

Thankfully, I have a good friend who is an Ipoh Mali (a local from Ipoh). The six of us took overnight bus from Singapore around 10 pm and reached Ipoh 8 am in the morning. The bus was so comfortable and costed S$45. We flew back to Singapore with Tiger Air.

In Ipoh, try to rent a car and do self-drive. Public transport is not recommended, according to the local guy. Watch our blog in youtube below about all the food we ate and the places we visited. Kellie’s castle was the star! I also listed down the places below.

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Kellie’s Castle, a beautiful surprise in Ipoh.

The full blog of our adventure in Ipoh:

Food and places in Ipoh:

1. Kellie’s Castle

31000 Batu Gajah, Perak, Malaysia

2. Gua Tempurung

Pusat Pelancongan Gua Tempurung,, 31600 Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia

Come early (before 12 noon) if you want to do caving and get wet!

3. Cave Temple

Sam Poh Tong Temple [三寶佛洞] – Cavern of Triple Gems

Gunung Rapat,  31350 Ipoh

— List of eateries we visited (including the GPS coordinates)—

1. Dimsum Place:

Restoran Yoke Fook Moon San Bhd

No. 65-69 Jalan Leong Sin Nam, 30300 Ipoh

GPS Coordinates: 4.596819, 101.086496

2. Ice Cendol:

Ice Cendol Kacang near Padang Kelab Kilat

Jalan Bunga Raya, Taman Pasir Pinji, 31650 Ipoh

GPS Coordinates: 4.571068, 101.084247

3. Mochi & Peanut Dessert

Hong Kee Mah Chee 芳记(麻芝与花生糊)

572-580, Jalan Queen, Pasir Penjih, 31650 Ipoh

GPS Coordinates: 4.573137, 101.086918

4. The Big Tree (where we eat Sagot):

Chung Kee Famous Yong Tau Foo 忠記兵如港大樹頭炸料粉

652, Jalan King, Taman Hoover, 31650 Ipoh

GPS Coordinates: 4.582214, 101.085834

we ate:

– Sagot, some other yong tau foo

– dry curry bee hoon noodles

– assam laksa

5. Snow Beer/ Snowflake Beer:

Kafe Sun Yoon Wah 新元华美食阁

(Some stalls in Concubine Lane

7, Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

GPS Coordinates: 4.596117, 101.078861

6. Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken (Nga Choi Kai):

Restoran Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiau 高温街芽菜鸡沙河粉

44, Jalan Raja Ekram, Kampung Jawa, 31350 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

GPS Coordinates: 4.597580, 101.085842

Opening Hours: 6.30-11PM (Thu-Sun)

–> I swear by Jon Snow King of the North, this is a must place to visit, their food is crazy delicious!!!

7. Ipoh Hor Fun + Cheong Fun (Morning):

Restoran Ipoh Kong Heng 怡保光興茶室

(Beside Thean Chun 天津茶室)

75, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

GPS Coordinates: 4.596385, 101.077912

We ate:

– Custard Pudding

– Satay

– 3 kinds of Cheong Fun

– Ipoh Slice Chicken Hor Fun

– White Coffee (so good I drank Rickie’s coffee and they all complained!)

8. Ipoh White Coffee:

Kedai Makanan Nam Heong 南香茶餐室

(Original Old Town White Coffee Store)

2, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000 Ipoh

GPS Coordinates: 4.593212, 101.077006

The following is other best coffee that May missed out. lol~~~ (Rickie typed this)

Kedai Kopi Sun Yuan Loong 新源隆茶餐室

(Branch of Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong)

Medan Bendahara 2, Taman Taiping, 31650 Ipoh

GPS Coordinates: 4.585366, 101.080190

9. The Salted Chicken:

Ayam Garam Aun Kheng Lim 宴琼林盐焗鸡

24, Jalan Theatre, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh

GPS Coordinates: 4.594757, 101.083371


I hope this post will inspire you to go to Ipoh and I hope you’ll enjoy Ipoh as much as we did! :)

Cheers,

May, loving Horfun

Chasing Waterfalls

I experienced something new again last weekend! I went canyoneering for the first time in Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines! The trek was 10.5 kilometres full of walking, swimming, jumping, and hiking ended with this beautiful Kawasan waterfalls.

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Unfortunately I didn’t take so many pictures that day because I was too busy surviving not to die (am not a daredevil like so many people think I am), so I hope the story of Kawasan Falls will still convince you to go despite lack of pretty photos. So here we go…

We arrived at Cebu last weekend and we hired a local transport to bring us to Moalboal. The trip took about 3 hours because of the bad road and traffic. We stayed in Parrot Resort and we asked the receptionist about what activities to do (we didn’t do any homework about Cebu obviously) and was recommended to do full day canyoneering with an adventure tour called Cyan Adventure, which turned to be a very good idea. Shout out to Mark, our friendly guide!

We paid for 3,450 pesos (equivalent to S$100) for the full gear (wet suit, boots, life vest, helmet), transport from and to our resort, and meal. There were 10 other guests going with us that day, which ended up becoming our friends, what a wonderful gift of travel, making new friends.

The adventure started around 9 am with one hour rough and bumpy road trip to Badian Canyon area. After parking the multi cab (van that’s used for public transport in Philippines), the guides paid our entrance fee and then we started hiking for good 20 minutes then we were approaching the forestry and starting going down to our first water dip, ahhhh it felt so good, the water was cold!

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Riding the multi cab

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The start of the trek

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The first dip felt so good after long sunny hike!

It was pure awesomeness from there, 3 hours full of walking, swim, slide with streams, jump off from edge, pretty much what an adventure should be.

There was this time when they jumped off from an 8 meters high rock to the lagoon (I skipped it anyway and walked down the slippery rock but Bandi had the best time of his life boohoo-ing all the way) and once you reached the water, there was a vast stream of water and you had to jump again and let your body moved by the stream down the limestone cave. Oh MY GOD… It was really really beautiful, I was again amazed by how amazing our mother earth is. I don’t have the photo but you really have to experience it at least once in your life.

Bandi Jumped

Bandi was loving it!

The jump became higher and higher and if you love heights, you’re gonna enjoy every second of it. The high jumps are optional, of course, because there is no way I’m gonna do that. Bandi, on the other hand, enjoyed the feeling. I love every second of the adventures except this part, just because I hate the feeling of falling.

The last jump was 12.5 meters and look at Bandi doing it happily, while I had to climbed down on the edge of the waterfall… :(

Bandi Jumped 2

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So, that last jump wrapped up the whole adventure, but sadly we had to walk another 30 minutes hungry and tired. When we finally reached the end of the trek, we were served (super late) lunch and beer!

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Cheers to great adventure and new friendship!

Life is formed by amazing moments like this. I’m truly grateful with all the wonderful people we’ve crossed path with and the breathtaking places we’ve seen. I hope I’ll live my life like this forever, the only way I want it to be.

So, if you have plans to go to Cebu, don’t skip Kawasan Falls! Go canyoneering and meet new people, life’s good! And if you don’t have plans to visit Cebu or Philippines in general, start planning it, the beer is freaking $1 for god’s sake! Our next target for Philippines is Palawan! We love the Philippines!

Cheers,

May, sore from the hike.

 

 

 

Hiking Lion Rock at Hong Kong

If you’re googling about what to do in Hong Kong as a tourist, you will be served with list of shopping places, sinful eateries and Disneyland.

Little did I know, Hong Kong has huge area of greenery and reservoir, which pleasantly surprised me. Hong Kong gained more respect from me because I’ve always adored big bustling city that can reserve nature, it’s important to boost the economy, but green is not less important. We all know how expensive Hong Kong land per meter square is. If you know about Singapore’s expensive land, Hong Kong is even more ridiculous, so reserving the green is admirable act. Kudos, Hong Kong!

I had 48 hours in Hong Kong with my three girlfriends, Angel, Tannia and Renny. Since we live in different countries, we always make effort to meet once in a while. So we all book tickets to Hong Kong, where Tannia lives. She knows great places to hike in Hong Kong. We planned to hike to 2 places, but if you know me in person, you know that’s not gonna happen to me. *Grin*

Where is Lion Rock and how to get there?

Lion Rock lays in Kowloon Island. If you decided to go there by MTR, I’m wishing you luck because the walk is crazy far from MTR (Wong Tai Sin) to the beginning of the trail. If you stopped at Wong Tai Sin MTR, please hail a cab and go to Fat Jong Temple. We took cab from central area to the trail entrance (going up from Fat Jong Temple). The cab driver refused to drive up at first but we assured him that there’s motor road all the way up (which is true), so he drove all the way up to the trail entrance.

Here’s the entrance of the trail! Angel, Olive, Tannia, Me and Renny!

How long is the hike and is it difficult?

The hike started with a very boring stairs surrounded by trees for about 15 minutes, and then the view turned to be nicer when we reached higher altitude. We stopped a lot of times of pictures and idiotic video making.

I had great times and I believe my friends did as well because they loved making fun of how ‘weak’ I am. I complain a lot when I hike. I hate the burning feeling on my chest and throat whenever I climb up (probably the abnormal ECG test thingy) but I love views from above (not from the edge), so I guess I have to suck it up.

The difficult part started from here, look at the photo below. When you see that, behold your guts, it’s all burning thighs from there.

Get ready!

It took about solid 20 minutes full of heavy breath and burning quads oil we reach the top. The view was awesome, it’s a view of Hong Kong. You can see the old airport which runway turned into a park from the top. Move to another rock formation, you will see the pretty bridge that links Kowloon Island to Tsing Yi. Pretty amazing.

My favorite shot!

If you like looking out to cities, this is a must!

If you’re wondering why it’s named Lion Rock, it’s named that way because of the rock formation that actually looks like a head of a lion. Use some imagination now!

The lion head is the rock behind us, imagine the eye of the lion is the deep line above my head.

The descent trail was more fun than the ascend, there were more variety of rocks and paths which made it less boring. It took us about 2 hours up and down the Lion Rock, including photo taking time, and believe me, we did a looof of that. Personally I don’t think Lion Rock is a difficult trail, however it could be very exhausting if you’re unfit. And get ready to be sore the next day. Oh I love the sore feeling, judge me.

So what did we do at night after hiking? Guess what? We partied till morning! Haha! We celebrated Renny’s birthday with an amazing Thai meal and continued to dance the night away. After all, we didn’t meet very often, so we wanted to make every moments count.

If you’re visiting Hong Kong and looking for an outdoor activity, I really recommend hiking to Lion Rock, of course it would be more fun doing it with friends. :) Good luck and have fun!

Cheers,

May, finally free from work deadline and up for more adventures.

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.