The Complete guide of our epic American Hiking Trip

7,205 miles or 11,595 kms. That’s how long we’ve driven in our North American journey. The distance is comparable with a flight from Manila to New York, yes it’s that far. There were some days that we drove for 10 hours, with occasional stops of junk-food drive ins and quick hike. The feeling of freedom was unbeatable, it was just me and Bandi and the road, so many stories, so many inside jokes of road-trip games (water tank!), so many out-of-tune singalong to the radio, so many windshields clean up I was actually becoming so good at it, so many cups of coffee, it was indeed the time of our life.

In some point in our life, we shared this amazing invincible feeling together.

There are 2 main purposes on this trip: (1) To hike and (2) to drive the Route 66. The first one happened because of our love to the nature, the second one was because of our adventurous old soul. I will create another post about Route 66 so let’s focus on the hiking part for now.

I am not a good hiker, let’s get that straight. But not good at it doesn’t mean you can’t love it. I usually try to hike the most popular trail in the park, but will limit to 5 miles distance, and if I had extra time and energy, I’d do a couple of short trails with different angle or view of the park. Both in Canada and US, the national parks are well organized so you can plan well for your hikes. My favourite app/web would be Alltrails where you can read other people’s review on the trails and understand whether it’s suitable for you or not. All of the hiking trails I mention in this post will be linked to its details from Alltrails web.

I will write all of the 9 National Park we visited during the trip and some highlights about it. I know usually I wrote details for my travel, but since this is a huge trip, I don’t think it would be comparable to what I usually wrote, I will only write the highlights. If you’re interested in one of the parks and have some questions, don’t hesitate to contact me, I love to share!

Here are the National Parks we’ve visited:

Banff National Park, Alberta (Canada)

This is probably my most favourite place on earth. I’ve decided that I want to retire in Banff. Words can’t describe how beautiful it is… Snowy Rocky Mountains, lush hills to hike on, beautiful wildlife, serene turquoise lakes, this place is out of this world. Please take note that their summer window is quite short compared to the other National Park. I visited on May and some of the lakes were still frozen. So if you want to do water sports, make sure to go on July and August.

Banff Town

Hiking Tunnel Mountain

This beautiful and enjoyable trail is pretty easy to do, there were some steep steps along the way, but nothing extreme. I’ve got to meet so many cute dogs on the trails which was a huge bonus. We arrived at the summit around noon and sat down for 30 minutes to enjoy the sun and ate banana bread.

Taking Cable Car to Sulphur Mountain

We spent almost a day on the top of Sulphur Mountain, learning about the history of how Banff became a famous destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The surrounding Mountains were magnet for curious trekkers and it has such a rich history. The summit has museum which is worth a visit and also the historic Cosmic Ray Station. If you do not want to pay the cable car to go to the Sulphur mountain summit, you can hike up; while taking the cable car down is free. The hike is 7 miles long though. Good luck!

The view from the Cosmic Ray Station is AMAZING. I couldn’t believe I actually lived to see this. It was one of the best view I’ve ever seen in my life. I could literally live there. It was a clear day with blue sky and we saw all the mountains surrounding us. I was falling in love… again and again… with mountains.

Driving the Icefield Parkway

The road from Banff to Jasper via Lake Louise is called The Icefield Parkway and this road turns to be a magical winter wonderland when it’s not summer. When you drive on this road, you wouldn’t believe the view you see. This gotta be the most beautiful road trip one could ever have.

The oh-so-many beautiful lakes

Banff has so many beautiful lakes, I can name a few; Morraine Lake, Emerald Lake, Lake Louise, Two Jake Lake, just follow the map and when you see lakes, stop over and enjoy it.

Staying in Emerald Lodge with no outside contact

So… we didn’t know what we signed up for, really. We booked 2 nights at the Emerald Lake Lodge without knowing that it means we won’t have internet connection or any connection at all. We even had to burn fire wood to keep us warm in the lodge. The lodge was last refurbished in the 1980’s and is tuck away from the outside world. We even had to park our car about 2 miles away and took the lodge shuttle to the Lake. I enjoyed it, but Bandi was a bit frustrated because he doesn’t have his TV and Internet. After hours of doing nothing, he decided to light up some fire and watch the woods burned. It was a nice moment for us. :)

Yosemite National Park, California

For a huge and majestic place like Yosemite, my 2 days visit couldn’t do any justice. But Yosemite is expensive, and this girl has a long way to go, thus… decision, decision! We maxed out our Yosemite trip by staying in the Yosemite Lodge and saw the Yosemite Falls by going through the lower Fall trail. Unfortunately my foot was hurting the whole time I was in Yosemite, thus I didn’t get to do a lot of hiking. :( And probably we were still jet-lagging too.

Yosemite has million years of rock formation stories and you can learn about it in the visitor centre. The rock formation makes Yosemite so special, thus the beautiful waterfalls too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Acadia National Park, Maine

From west, we flew all the way to the very east of USA, Maine. Known for its Seafood and setting for Stephen King’s horror novel, we come to Maine for the nature. It did not disappoint.

If you’re wondering whether the cold should hinder you to visit Maine, then the answer is NO. Yes it is cold, but Maine is such a beautiful place, Acadia National Park to be exact, with Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor as their host towns. Don’t forget about the New England food of Clam Chowder and Lobster Roll, oh the visit will be perfection.

I love Maine, and if I need to single out one highlight from Acadia National Park, it’s the Beehive Trail. It is the most famous trail of Acadia and it’s famous for a reason.

Bar Harbor, a wonderful little town

We drove all the way from Boston to Bar Harbor because it’s the perfect town to stay to explore Acadia National Park. If you ever plan to visit Acadia, I recommend to stay at Bar Harbor Motel, it was the cutest, most comfortable Motel we’ve stayed throughout our US trip. The staffs were super friendly too! Bar Harbor is a charming little town, one which you secretly wish to live in.

Beehive Trail, a must do in Acadia

This wonderful and fun trail is not very long, but… it is difficult. There were times where I had to climed vertically, with no harness, just railing to grab on. It was horrifying, but exciting, and the view from the top was rewarding. If you plan to go, please read the reviews from Alltrails so you get to understand more of the trails before you actually decide to take it. Once you reach certain height, it’s not advisable to go down. Going up is still safer than going down. This trail is a loop, so once you reach the summit, you need to continue going down in the longer route to the beginning of the trail.

Another great thing about this trail is that you can combine it with so many other trails. We continued to The Bowl from the intersection and it became a very fruitful hike! A bowl of Shrimp Chowder waited for me as a reward. :)

The food!

We didn’t expect the food in Maine to be this good, we enjoyed every meal we had in Maine! Lobster Roll and clam chowders are available in almost every diner and we’ve had them in every meal. Our cholesterol level definitely hiked up! We crowned Maine as the Best State for the food.

Cadillac Mountain

I want to remember the moment when Bandi and I went to Cadillac Mountain. I want to remember the feeling… We loved it so much and the sky was clear so we decided to come back again at night to stargaze. It was crazy cold, we stayed in the car and watch the stars. It was one of the moment in your life that you just know… that it will stay forever. It’s impossible not to question life, when the stars seem so near, the things that are so out of reach suddenly touch our life. If there are lives in the earth, there might be lives in other planets too… Our milky way is just one of millions galaxies out there… What is life? Where do we go after we die? It was the same question when Hubble discovered another galaxy hundred years ago, and it is still the question now.

Bandi and I didn’t get to find the answer that night (of course), but we bonded over our curiosity and our humbleness to this huge universe. We are nothing compare to the stars… We are merely a dot.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Fast forward to Colorado!!! (Between Maine and Colorado we spent so much time in the cities, either visiting museums, friends or driving on the route 66).

We didn’t plan to come here, we didn’t even know that Colorado has sand dunes; we were driving from Albuquerque to Denver when we stumbled upon the sand dunes in the map and decided to give it a visit.

It was pretty okay, I don’t really fancy sand dunes, I guess it will be more beautiful to view it from the air or from afar; hiking on the sand dunes is pretty painful actually, there were sands on my eyes, hair, socks, panties (didn’t know how it got there).

IMG_0757

We only hiked for about an hour and went back to the car when we saw sheriff arresting somebody. (If only we came back a little earlier to witness some American Drama!)

Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado

This is crowned as my most favourite National Park in USA. I can tell you hundred of reasons why, but due to limited time and space, let me just say… the mountains are so maginifcent, it will blow you away.

Trail Ridge Road

I love mountains, so that one reason only has eaten up the quotas of making reasons. The park is so huge, 3 days were definitely not enough. There are 2 towns that can host you while exploring the park: Estes Park and Grand Lake. The first one is bigger and more touristy than the later. These two towns are connected by Trail Ridge Road, the highest elevated road in North America; but this road is not always open because of the unpredicted snowstorm.

We decided to stay in both Estes Park and Grand Lake; if the Trail Ridge Road wasn’t open, we had to detour for 4 hours (while the Trail Ridge will only takes 1 hour and 45 mins, and it was the drive of our life!!!) Even though you don’t need to go to Grand Lake, I would still suggest for you to drive to the Trail Ridge Road, it was so crazy beautiful up there! It is a must-do scenic drive in your lifetime!

IMG_0955IMG_0952

The wildlife

We hiked to the Bear Trail and even though at the end of the trail we got hit by snowstrom, we had fun and met some wildlife, fox and bears. Yes, we met bears, and they were cute and actually were afraid of humans. It was still pretty cold when we visited (end of May) and some of the hiking trails were still covered by snow, some were 1 meter high! We went for picnic on one of the days and it was just calming and I felt very happy and peaceful. Here, we also picked up a new hobby, putt putt golf! Oh, I hope we have more putt putt golf in Asia!

IMG_1037IMG_1043

If I had to choose 1 place of all the places we went during our American road trip, Rocky mountains is the one. It’s that special for me. I know, I know, I said that for Banff too, well, let’s just say I can’t choose which rocky mountain I love more, all of them are special.

Arches National Park, Utah

We spent the whole day in Arches and had so much fun. Arches is the one national park where I didn’t have so much expectation but ended up blowing me away. The size of the park wasn’t as big as the other parks we visited, so we practically drove all the available paved roads. Since we only had a day there, we visited the highlights of the park: The Delicate Arch (take a hike there), Balanced Rock (very short hike), fiery furnace (require a permit to hike inside – hoping we’ll do it next time). The other famous trail in Arches is called Devil’s garden, however you’ll need a day to finish the whole round, so probably good to have 2 days 1 night camp in Arches, but the camping ground is limited and fully booked fast during summer, so better plan ahead.

IMG_E0563IMG_1193IMG_1167IMG_0479

We hiked to the Delicate Arch during a very dry and hot day and kind of underestimated it by not bringing enough water. We ended up feeling so thirsty, it could be dangerous, I think. So please bring enough water when you hike in the desert during summer.

Zion National Park, Utah

We went to Zion during summer and it was CROWDED. Fortunately the NPS has got it under control. Summer time is the time where everyone hits the park, so no private car is allowed further than the visitor centre areas. We drove there and park our car in the visitor centre, and then take the shuttle bus to different bus stops along the parks. You should come very early to make sure getting a parking spot. We didn’t come early, and it was impossible to find parking spot. However, for the hundredth time, I was helped by my luck, thus we got a spot. :)

We had to queue to ride the park shuttle bus, though the queue was very long, we had no choice but to wait under the sun, 40 minutes later, we were on the bus. We rode the park shuttle bus to the very last stop , which is the entrance for The Narrow. There are 2 most famous hiking trails in Zion: Angel’s Landing and The Narrow. Angel’s Landing is shorter but steeper, the trail ends in quite high elevation and stories said it’s an amazing view. We chose The Narrow, which is a very long and wet trails, most of the trails are in the river, so it’s more like wading than walking.

We were well prepared for The Narrow, wearing a lightweight pants and bringing extra shirt. After 2 hours of wading, there was nowhere near the end, we asked some people who walked back if they saw the end, they didn’t, we learned afterwards that the river runs through Colorado River, so I guess you can go as far as you can. But the further you go, the less crowded it is, and the deeper too!

Bandi and I had fun the The Narrow, it was a refreshing hike in the water during a super hot and dry summer day, and very much different from our normal hike.

IMG_1539

Wet shoes go on the top of the car. LOL

Guess what we did after the tiring day in The Narrow? Binging on Pizza!!! :D

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

I am guilty. My crime is not spending more time in Grand Canyon. We pratically just ‘passed by’ Grand Canyon, we didn’t spend the night there. Even though we spent almost the whole day in Grand Canyon, it felt like touch and go because of the size of Grand Canyon, it’s HUUUGE! We visited from the North Rim entrance which is the less crowded and less touristy.

IMG_1377

Once we passed by the entrance, we were greeted by loads of American Bisons! Aren’t they cute? We then just kept driving up to the vantage point, where we were stunned by how grand the grand canyon is, thus the name of grand canyon. :p

IMG_1391

Obviously this won’t be our last time here. There’s a challenge to hike Grand Canyon from North Rim to South Rim, that’ll take 2 days 1 night, but it would be an experience of a lifetime, worth to think about. :)

Bonus: Antelope Canyon, Arizona

This magnificent nature’s creation is famous for a reason, its beauty that will leave you speechless. I was contemplating whether I wanted to give Antelope Canyon a visit because I was afraid it would be overrated and it was so expensive; thankfully I chose to take a leap of faith and went!

The operator that we went with is called Ken’s tour and it’s from the Lower Antelope canyon. You may find them in Tripadvisor or their website and book via email. It costs US$50 per person, yes it’s expensive, but the other tours cost about the same.

Side trip to Horseshoe Bend!

Once you’re done with Antelope Canyon, don’t forget to give Horseshoe Bend a visit, it’s just 10 mins drive away, you may park your car in the car park and hike up about 15 mins.

IMG_1372

The magical Colorado River flows through.

End Notes

The most important things to plan a hiking trip is to understand the size of the park you’re visiting and allocate enough time. We spent five days in Banff and spent only 1 day in Zion. Hunestly both are not enough, but you get the point, lol. Anyway I think it’s just my problem, nothing is long enough for me to explore the park. But normally 3 days would be fine, of course if the park is huge like Rocky mountains, you can stay there for a week and won’t get bored, but for a much smaller park like Arches, you can spend the 2 days and explored 90% of it. If you’re planning to visit one of the parks I mentioned, don’t hesitate to contact me, I love planning and I love talking about traveling, so it’s win-win. Ha!

Entrance Park Fees VS buying annual pass

Since entrance price to the park could be quite expensive, and we planned to visit lots of them, we bought the annual pass which costed us US$85, applicable for one car with maximum of 4 persons, that’s a steal!

Top 3 hikes

To summarize, here are our top 3 favourite hikes:

  1. The Beehive, Acadia.
  2. The Narrows, Zion.
  3. Delicate Arch, Arches.

Came back smarter and wiser

I always say traveling is an investment for yourself, I usually looked back on what I’ve learned from my travels in the past but this time, I’ll write them down so I won’t forget. Here are some points of my enhanced self after this trip:

  • I am now fluent in Miles, Feet and Fahrenheit, making me bilingual in metrics system, haha!
  • I am now a -much- better driver than I’d ever been
  • I love and appreciate nature more (will it ever be less? No way)
  • I know where to retire
  • I am more motivated to save up for my pension coz I can’t wait to retire, thus making me a better worker.
  • I learned more about Art
  • I learned more about International Space Station
  • I am now able to locate Ursa Major and Cassiopeia in the night sky thanks to stargazing and planetarium sessions.
  • I learned to be more chilled and easy-going like Americans.

We are planning for our 2021 North American Road Trip again with these parks in our mind: Great Smoky Mountain in Tennessee, Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming and probably some side trip to South Carolina and North Carolina. So if you happen to have the same passion like us, let’s go hit the road together, it will be fun! :)

Travel Green

And since we are in nature topic, I just want to remind about the importance to be educated about environment and wildlife. Leave no trace, if you really need to pee in the wild, bring back your tissues, do not step anywhere else beside the trails, it could be restoration area, don’t do so just for the sake of instagram pictures, do not leave any marks, no graffiti shits, nobody wants to see your stupid art, do not feed any wildlife, do not pet them no matter how cute they are (I struggled the most). If you’re not sure with anything, google it! Don’t be ignorant. It’s okay not to know everything, but try to learn more each time. I don’t know anything either, but I’m trying to be more eco-friendly each day, not to leave more carbon footprint.

Travel green is hard. That is for sure. Being eco-friendly is already hard in routine, it’s even harder during travel. From this long trip, I’ve learned a couple of new tricks for being more eco-friendly while travelling, that reminds me to write another post about this. (Oh darn, I owe so many posts.)

I hope this inspires you to travel to the Northwest! Hit me up anytime if you need advice on your travel, you know that’s always been my favourite subject! :)

Cheers,

May, missing Colorado.

Coffeed Series: In Motion

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

 

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

Coffeed, Prologue: My relationship with coffee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for together gif

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

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

Related image

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

Related image

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

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

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

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

Image result for acceptance gif

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

Cheers,

May, caffeinated.

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

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.

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.

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.

IMG_4334

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

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.

file-17-11-16-3-18-06-pm

After he’s gone

*) Disclaimer: This is very personal, please be considerate before posting comments.

I’ve stared the screen for a while, thinking how honest I would write, and wondering if truth is really what I need now… maybe I should sugar-coat to make me feel better, or if that is actually what I’m feeling for real?

1 year from now, 5 years from now or 20 years from now, when I re-read this post, what I will want to know then? What will I want to remember?

I don’t wanna be bitter. That’s for sure.

I like my life, I got to be the cheerful optimist sanguine who goes wherever she wants to.

I don’t plan to change it.

But…

Of course things changed after the tragedy.

Sometimes I woke up in the morning to a weird feeling, like……. some part of my heart died. A small bite in the flesh, sharp pain for a second. That second when I remembered my brother has died, I could literally hear the sound of my heart cracked.

Nothing could ever prepare me for that. Nothing.

Nothing.

Sometimes a scene flashed in my mind, when he hit me or when I slapped his face and it hurt me even more now because it turns out I don’t have any more time with him, no more chance for redemption. And what a painful thing it is for not having a chance.

Our goodbye was never said.

But of course not everything is dark and blue when I think of him, lately I’ve remembered all the fun things we used to do, long long way before our innocences were taken away from us. When it was just us and toys and imaginations. We used to share imaginations, about having our own version of Kentucky Fried Chicken, our version of Dragon Balls, about playing in the clouds, about creating castles. He was my very first best friend…

… Until drugs have taken him away from me.

And I didn’t save him. I chose to runaway, I saved myself only.

Sometimes I wonder if I could’ve saved him… but I’m sane enough to know I should not feel guilty of anything that is beyond my control. I should not be resentful, should not be bitter and angry with the world being unfair. I may be very far from making peace with my past, but I’m on my way there.

Trust me, reading this, you’ll think it’s that simple. It’s not. I’ve gone through any kind of emotions, what-if-moments, resentment, denials, anger, disappointments and even some suicidal thoughts, but then I’ll remember that it’s all temporary. All the pain are temporary. Nothing is permanent in this life.

Whenever I passed by the alley where I talked to him for the last time, I let the feeling sink in. Maybe if I let it in, it will hurt less. I remember every word he said to me.

And he said… he wanted to come to see me.

He never did. But sometimes I feel he watched over me. I just knew when he was watching over me.

When I went back to Jakarta to check up on my mom, She was devastated and broken hearted in so unimaginable way. I came to Jakarta on a mission, to make her happy. The moment I met her, I knew it was an impossible thing to do. And I will never make her happy. Only she could lift herself up again and be happy, and I will wait. I can only wait.

Nobody can tell her to move on. She’s entitled to her feelings and she can mourn and she’s allowed to willow as long as she wants to. I will just be there.

I want to remember and not to feel hurt. I’m wondering if it’s too much to ask. But Universe always gives me what I need. And I believe this time, I will be able to remember and not to feel hurt anymore.

After he’s gone, that’s a new timeline in my life. There was a time in my life where he was still in the picture, alive; and there is a time now when he’s not in anymore. My life is now divided into 2 time, when he was still there and after he’s gone.

My brother is the only family that reads my blog. He would comment on our personal Facebook chat about what he felt after he read my blog, all of them were happy thoughts. He once said he was happy to know that I’m happy. Some time, he would post it on his Facebook wall, a post about our president, Jokowi and a post about my dream-came-true trip to Parma. So I know he will read this post too. :)

Our relationship doesn’t end just because he’s dead. We’re tied with blood and love, it’s unbreakable. He has a kind soul and his soul will live on for eternity.

That’s all that matters.

Nothing matters in this life but kindness you’ve done and joy that you’ve brought to someone’s life.

I choose to love my brother, no matter what.

And after he’s gone… I will still continue to love. Life is too short to hate, to resent, to be bitter and angry. Our heart will never be full by loving too much or too hard, our heart will expand with no limits, it can’t never be full and rejecting the love it gives and receives.

Love will heal regrets.

May. <3

Til we meet again in the Paradise of free souls

Dear Koko,  
I promise I will not be bitter, because love is stronger than regrets.

I bid you the most loving farewell with what I’m best at, writing.

You’re embarking a beautiful journey to the paradise of free souls.

Where pain no longer exists and sadness is long gone.

There is only love, eternal and pure love.

Where you can play guitar and sing as many Richie Ren’s songs as you want.

And you can dance with our late dogs, Dodol, Coka, Cassey, and the others in the rainbow bridge.

Send my best kisses for them too, I will join you all in my time.

Where you can build a fort made up of pillows and pretended you were a king who made so many non-sense rules, just like when we were kids.

You used to boss me around and I frowned but little did I know, that’s what brothers do.

We have a very unique relationship, that only we understand. The kind that’s truly ours. And it will be continuing, our relationship is eternal, just like my memory of you.

There is no longer grudge, we’ve forgiven each other and we’ve passed all the fights and the sad words said. I will still be tearing up remembering you… You know, all the phrase… Delusion, reminiscent, devastation, resentment.

I’m still on earth afterall, embedded with emotions.

But deep down I know for sure, someday I’ll see you again in the paradise of free souls.

You, with your cheeky grin, will be handing me a playstation controller, “ready for another FF game?”

For now… this is the end of your earthly adventure.

You will always be my brother, for death ends only your life, not our relationship.

When I let go off your ashes in the sea, I knew that wherever beach I will go, I will see you. Our relationship will continue, it didn’t end becuause you died, it carries on. You are in my heart for always.

Til we meet again, Koko. I will always remember you.

 
Your strong and independent sister that you’re proud of,

May.