The sun awaits you in Okinawa

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

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

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

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

How to reach Okinawa?

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

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

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

How to go around Okinawa Island?

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

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

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

How to go from one island to another island?

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

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When we boarded the ferry.

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

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I got seasick after snorkeled too long.

Where should I stay in Okinawa?

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

Is Okinawa expensive?

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

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

What are the highlights of Okinawa?

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

So here’s the highlight:

The Beaches and lookouts

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

Emerald Beach in the Northern Okinawa

Emerald Beach in the Northern Okinawa

Bandi, attempting to do weird stuffs

Bandi, attempting to do weird stuffs

What pose we should do next?

What pose we should do next?

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

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Cape Manzano, the elephant rock.

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Oh the view!

Kokusai Street

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

IMG_9014Shuri Castle

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

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Kin-town (The Amerinca Town)

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

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Taco Rice!

Okinawan Soba

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

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The islands around

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

Minna Island

Minna Island

 

Shisa

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

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Cute Sisha in our airbnb

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

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

Go go go!!!

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Cheers,

May, missing beaches already

On the top of Mount Fuji

I climbed Mount Fuji.

I still can’t believe I did it. It was the most horrible thing I’ve done to myself. And it’s all because internet is such a dark place full of lies! I climbed Mount Fuji because people in the internet says it’s not difficult, that grandparents and kindergarteners climb Mount Fuji. So I decided to write this post and give you the truth; like I always do.

First of all, kindergarteners did not climb mount Fuji. They hiked from 5th Station to 6th Station and then they went back. I met a lot of kindergerteners along my hike from 5th Station to 6th Station. It was a breezy long walk with amazing views.

Some grandparents do hike Mt Fuji, but only those super crazy fit grandparents who train daily. During my hike, I met some ‘older’ people, probably those with teenager kids, but no individual grandparents. The only old people I met were those who led the group of hikers (so it’s probably his professional job). So here’s a flash news: normal grandparents do not climb mount Fuji.

So, who climb mount Fuji?

Fools.

Only fools like me climb mount Fuji.

I’m trying here guys… to make you really really understand that it’s no joke. Do not climb mount Fuji expecting it’s gonna be an easy climb. It’s freaking horrible… grovels and rocks and rain and hail and fog and the cold…. oh the cold…

It’s not gonna be pleasant, it’s not gonna be rainbow and unicorn, the weather might change so fast just like teenager’s mood and the wind will tear your soul apart.

If you read this post and plan to climb Mount Fuji, I want you to be prepared. And even after you accept these ugly truths you still want to go, then go. Go conquer that beautiful mountain!

I’m not a hiker and my ECG test result came out abnormal (inherited from my Dad), even though I do yoga I know I am not generally fit person. But I decided to climb Mount Fuji with 2 persons who are so close to me, my hubby and my bestfriend. I know they would understand my weakness and will not shame me if in any case I couldn’t make it.

If you’re still interested with the story and want to know technicality on “how-to”, go ahead and read, but if you have lazy eyes, just grab the pop corn and watch the vlog instead:

So here’s a story of Bandi, Tannia and May conquering Fuji-San:

Storing our other luggage at Shinjuku Station

I tried to find in the internet on where should I store my stuffs which I didn’t want to bring to Fuji but there is no exact clear answer. I know there are a lot of coin lockers in every train station in Tokyo, but I knew that it’s only for 24 hours. What happen if I want to leave it there for 36 hours? You can do that. You just need to pay the penalty when you take out your luggage. You can leave your bags up tp 72 hours. So don’t worry about luggage!

Arriving at 5th Station – 2,305 Meters

We took the Fuji highway bus on 14th July 9:45 am from Shinjuku Express Bus Station. It’s located in the 4th Floor of Shinjuku JR Station. The bus ticket can be booked online only if your IP address is in Japan, if you’re from overseas then you can call them. We booked our outbound tickets through phone and inbound tickets through internet once we reached Tokyo one day before the hike. The price for one way ticket is 2,700 yen.

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We then exchange the booking code with the actual tickets in the bus station. It’s Japan, so everything is well planned.

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The bus ride took about 2 hours and 15 minutes, so we reached Fuji 5th Station on noon. We ate our lunch and bought the walking stick made of wood, which is a perfect souvenir from your Fuji adventure. You will know why later on!

5th Station to 6th Station – 2,390 Meters

We took Yoshida Trail (the most common trail people take) so all the stations I’m mentioning is in Yoshida Trail. The walk between 5th Station to 6th Station is nice and breezy. From the altitude you can see it’s only 85 Meters difference in altitude, so with the long walk, you don’t really realize you’re climbing a mountain.

At the end of 6th Station, you can take a selfie like us coz this is gonna be your last happy selfie.

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6th Station to 7th Station – 2,700 Meters

Most of the terrain during this climb is grovels and sands, in a long zig-zag inclined road. Just right before reaching 7th Station you will have your first spiderman climb on the rocks. It was fun!

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7th Station to 8th Station – 3,020 Meters

I think this is the most exhausting and difficult part of the climb. It’s all big rocks with sands so you have to use both your hands and your legs to climb. I stopped in every corner and I started to have difficulty yo breath properly because the thin air. The original 8th Station supposed to be on 3,360 Meters but somehow they moved here… I think it’s probably because it’s just too difficult so people won’t quit if the distance between 7th and 8th are too far from each other. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it rained! We took out our gears and wore our raincoats… and kept walking.

8th Station to Original 8th Station – 3,360 Meters

Still the same… grovels and rocks and then it stopped raining coz… it hailed! On this moment my soul has already been torn apart… I kept imagining laying down in my bed with warm tea on my hand…  but the reality is I was cold, my hands are frozen til I thought my fingers needed to be chopped off (I’m a drama queen whaaat). We started to be panic because it was already 7 pm, the sky was getting darker and darker and we haven’t reached our Mountain Hut… I knew nothing to book Goraiko-kan Hut which is located in the highest of all huts!!! Good job, May!

Original 8th Station to Goraiko-kan (8.5 Station) – 3,450 Meters

I remember it was only the 3 of us and the other 2 persons climbing up from 8th Station. Soon, the 2 persons stopped at a mountain hut before us… and there were only the three of us left, climbing slowly…

When we finally reached Goraiko-kan on 8 pm, I was so happy…. I just wanted to sit in a warm room and rest. I had better… I ate a bowl of ramen. It was the best ramen I’ve ever eaten in my life.

We were given shoe bag where we put our dirty shoes in and then shown into our sleeping bag. We were sleeping in the attic and because I drank too much water before sleeping, I had to go to the toilet in the middle of midnight and the toilet is outside the hut! Noooo!!! I had to walk out alone in the cold! brrr….

Anyway, I had about 3-4 hours sleep until one person started to turn on a torch light and made noise when he packed his stuffs. He was then followed by other people and in minutes, everyone were awake, including us. We ate breakfast in the small attic (imagine it was only 1 meters attic so you have to sit or crawl when you move), which we got from the staffs the night before. It was rice with salmon and tamago. After breakfast, we packed our stuffs and made a move. I was so scared with the cold I almost wanted to give up.

To be honest, even though I groaned a lot, I’ve been very sure I would reach the summit all along… until that morning… when I saw darkness and felt cold. I couldn’t imagine I had to climb in the cold! But of course Tannia and Bandi cheered me up and made sure it’s gonna be alright.

Goraiko-kan to Summit (3,776 Meters)

The distance between Goraiko-kan to the summit was techincally very near, but with the elevation and the cold with little rain, it took us 1 hour to reach the summit. Bad news, there were no sunrise because of the fog. But to be honest, I didn’t really care about the sunrise anymore. I JUST WANTED TO GO BACK TO A WARM PLACE AND SLEEP.

We bought a 500 yen canned drinks that were boiled in the water. Yes they put cans into this boiling water so the canned drinks were boiling hot. Great idea! We held into this small hot can and felt the instant relief of warmth… Oh…. finally… after such a wet cold climb…

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We sat inside a crowded mountain hut and everyone felt so proud of themselves, exchanging stories. I was just so sad because now I had to descend back to where we started, which seemed so horrible for me because I didn’t have any energy left and I had no appetite to eat anything; I was just so tired.

Summit to 5th Station (Descending Trail)

The descending trail is different from the ascending trail. The descend trail is longer but easier. It’s just a small zig-zag road full of rocks and grovels. We descend for 4-5hours I couldn’t remember just because I sat down to rest for every 10 minutes. LOL.

Like I told you, I was in low batter mode already.

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Aftermath

I was definitely proud of myself, no doubt. Climbing Mt. Fuji is by far the greatest physical challenge I’ve ever encountered; and completed. However if you asked me whether I will ever do it again, the answer is very easy: NO WAY in a million gazillion years.

I was left sore and beaten up and I slept the whole evening til the next noon. Bandi insisted to wake up earlier so he could go to Tsukiji Market. Crap.

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Cheers,

May, loving Japan even more.

8 Reasons why we love Taipei

Guess how much we spent on air ticket to Taipei? S$24!

You guys know that Bandi has a talent on finding cheap flight ticket, but this is by far Bandi’s greatest achievement in life.

When a friend asked me on how do I choose a travel destination, I answered “sorted by price”, meaning I would go to wherever cheap tickets will bring me. Taipei is one of them.

But Taipei is exceptional because… it exceeds our expectation in so many ways. The last time I created reasons to love a place post was Boracay, you can read it here.

1. THE NIGHT MARKETS – OMAGAH isn’t it obvious?

Taipei is well-known to its vibrant (and cheap) night market. With so many stories in the internet, and so many videos in youtube. the night markets still live up to Bandi’s expectation, even exceeded it! Bandi’s friend who is living in Taipei said that the night market food is somehow touristy thus the price is slightly higher. ARE YOU KIDDING? Bubble tea for 50TWD is considered expensive? Kill me now… Then how cheap can a Taiwanese food be?

Bandi posing in front of Shilin night market sign

Bandi posing in front of Shilin night market sign

2. Friendly people

You know Chinese people is well known of being rude and manner-less, so we were prepared to be ignored for not being able to speak Chinese even though we look Chinese (just like what happened in Hong Kong), but suprisingly, Taiwanese people is nothing like Chinese. And please read history, they are not the same country or related to People’s Republic of China. Taiwan’s official name is Republic of China, and they were a nation first long before PRC. The people is friendly and helpful, I feel they’re more like Japanese people. So don’t worry, they won’t diss you for not being able to speak Chinese.

3. It’s surrounded by mountains – thus hiking friendly!

Do you know that Taiwan is one of the most dense mountainous area? If you look at the map, the whole island is likely covered in mountainous area, that’s why even from Taipei city, you can see a lot of mountains and hills. And it’s just making Taipei beautiful.

Bandi and I at Jiu Fen Old Market

Bandi and I at Jiu Fen Old Market

The terrain also makes Taipei a city that is very near to nature and you can go hiking even from the MRT exit. And to look at Taiwan as a whole, this country is a hiking paradise! Too bad we visited during Typhoon (our first Typhoon!) and 3 days were too short anyway. We’re definitely coming back to Taiwan!

4. Taipei is the capital city of bubble tea

Like I need to explain it.

5. And co-capital city of dessert!

Like I need to explain this one either.

I can eat this as dessert everyday... if only I cannot be fat.

I can eat this as dessert everyday… if only I cannot be fat.

6. The beef noodle.

I know I know, now it seems like I’m just listing down food names. But seriously, the beef noodle is a noodle soup like nothing I’ve ever had before. You know Vietnam has their own version of beef noddle, Chinese Indonesian has their own version of beef noodle, even Japanese, but hereby I validate that… Taiwan has the best version. The soup is not so thick yet very tasty, so it won’t give you sore throat so easily, meaning you can keep eating it again and again. The beef OMG is sooooo tender you don’t even need to chew it, it’d just melt in your mouth together with the soup broth. The noodle is thick and chewy, which is my most favorite kind of noodle! Put these all together and it’s orgasm in your mouth!

Oh look at that sexy beef

Oh look at that sexy beef

I tried beef noodle twice; one was in Kee Lung Market (somewhere inside that market maze) and the other one is in Yong Kang. Both are AH-MAH-ZEEEENG!

7. Great public transportation

Our first plan is to rent a motorbike but because of the forecast typhoon, we thought it would be wise not to ride bike, thus we stuck with public transport and once we got to know it, the MRT and bus system were amazing! It simply worked and got us from point A to point B, and… it’s cheap!

A random photo of Chiang Kai sek memorial park

A random photo of Chiang Kai sek memorial park

8. Variety of Toiletries and Drug Stores

This is my biggest guilty pleasures, to shop for toiletries! So if you’re toiletries addict like me, Taipei is our toiletries paradise! Taipei also sells cheap and colorful contact lens which I regret to only buy 1 pack. I also didn’t buy so much drug store items because we had to fly to Japan after Taipei so we wouldn’t want to shop at that moment. Oh how I so regret that… The next time I’m going to Taiwan, I will buy 20 kg allowance just for my toiletries!

So….. If you happen to stumble into this post and planning your Taipei (or General Taiwan) trip, Oh I envy you. I so want to come back to Taiwan again soon!!! Taiwan has all the good reasons to be a great travel destination: four seasons (you can pick your favorite season to go), good food, CHEAP transport and accommodation (this is important), great scenery and friendly locals.

Bandi and I are planning a 2-weeks of Taiwan road trip to go around the whole island to hike and to eat. Hopefully we will have time to fulfill that. :)

To end this yummy post, here’s a yummy vlog on 101 Million things to eat at Taipei! Please do subscribe to my youtube channel Baytravels. This is something new for me to start building up my youtube portfolio. :) Enjoy!

Cheers,

May, gaining 2 kgs just by watching the video.

Vertical Exploration

I just came back from Bali and this time, I didn’t do the usual beach trip. I trekked up Mt. Batur.

To be honest, this is my first real mountain-hike. Mt Bromo was not a hike at all. Jeep covered 80% of the trekking and horse did 15% and I just used my feet for 5% of the whole journey.

Trekking Mt. batur was a very unique experience for me. It’s not a surprise for me that I love outdoor activity, I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but so far I’ve only done horizontal hiking, like in Italy (Cinque terre hiking) and some national park in Australia. Yes, Blue mountains was vertical too, but Mt. Batur was raw. No man-made steps or anything. It was just me and the mountain. It’s raw. The feeling was mixed between exciting, scared, curious and amazed. It’s personal, intimate.

The path from the "New Crater"

The path from the “New Crater”

Technical stuffs first!

If you want to trek mount Batur, you need a car and a guide. If you want to pay around US$80 then you can book online and some tour will pick you up from hotel.

But we don’t wanna pay US$80 of course. :p we rented a car and drove from our villa in Ubud. The journey supposed to be 1-1.5 hours until the carpark of Mt Batur Trekking guide association, but we were lost so it took us 2.5 hours. :(

We finally reached there abour 4:30 am and immediatelly found a guide. Don’t worry there are plenty of guides, you won’t run out of guides. Our guide, Made, was a cheerful and humorous person and he, of course, knows a lot about Mt. Batur. Throughout the journey he told stories about the eruptions (there are several eruptions) and how once the whole village was swept off just like Pompeii.

We dealt for 750K (S$75) which shared by 5 persons. Bandi, I, Ricky (Bandi’s groomsman), Wai Sie (Ricky’s gf), and Klemens (my childhood friend). It’s super cheap if you compare with the tour that costs US$80 per person!

The guide will provide torch and he will bring your stuffs if you’re tired (just try not to bring so many stuffs!) and of course they will open the trek for you.

The journey

Trekking Mt. Batur is no joke. I’m not super fit with six packs but I exercise regularly and I consider myself fit, however… I still huffed and puffed all the way up. The trek was quite challenging especially yhe part between the first stop-base to the first summit (the one with so many monkeys).

Ain't it kiddo cute!?

Ain’t this kiddo cute!?

So the first part of the trekking was from carpark to the stop-base. It took about 1 hours, at first it was flat and then became quite steep. We left Klemens in the stop-base coz he was not fit that day and he decided to stop. The four of us continued going up and it was really tiring for me. First of all, I haven’t eaten anything, that’s probably my biggest mistake. Learn from it. Eat something before challenging Mt. Batur!

It took me another 45 minutes full of 42 degrees of steepness and total rough rocks. Super difficult for me as a newbie in mountaneering. But once I reached the top, it was worth it. :) the view was amazing. Universe is awesome, eh? I met so many cute monkeys too!

Oh life's good.

Oh life’s good.

We made it!

We made it!

There is actually another summit (maybe another 45 minutes up) and I rejected the proposal. I was effing tired. So the guide proposed to explore other area, the new crater. It was another 45 minutes to the new crater and another 1 hour to another viewing point. The journey was much more interesting than going up. We walked around the mountain to the other side and went up to the crater. It was not so difficult but dangerous as some wrong steps could lead to falling down.

I enjoyed this part so much. When we went back down, there was one part of the area that was full of sand and we had to run in order to go down and the sand would suck our feet while we ran and it seemed like we were flying down the mountains like a ninja. It was super fun!!!

My friend, Ricky made this image below as a memoir of our adventure. The four of us made a pact to trek to Mt. Agung next year!

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The aftermath

Of course I slept like dead once I reached the villa, just right after I stuffed 1 huge pack of nasi padang into my mouth. Oh wait, we’re not talking about that aftermath, are we?

I swore a lot in my mind when I climbed up the trek why did I do this? How could I end up here, gasping for air to breathe? This will be the last time! Etc. But then I felt a foreign feeling when I reached the peak and I wanted more. It’s like addiction. It’s like that annoying TV commercial that plays in your head. It’s annoying but it comforts you strangely.

It’s not the mountain we conquered, but ourselves.

– Sir. Edmund Hillary

I always wanted to see the world. It turns out we can explore the world vertically ad well. I’m still unable to face my phobia of being drowning hence no diving, but I can keep exploring mountains.

Cheers,

May, keep exploring.

Encounter with Bromo

So it was just a regular day at work when my boss told me 11 September was gazetted as polling day, so it would be public holiday.

My first reaction was “hmm… Where should I go?”
I had a talk with my best buddy, Angel about some possible destinations and we decided to make our long-waited Bromo Plan to be reality. Yep, we talked about going to Bromo hundred of times. This time we really did it.
It was even better when Tannia had a flight to Surabaya for her roster (she’s the flight attendant) so we could meet up and sleep at her hotel (Shang FTW) but the dream was crushed when she realized, “guys, I saw the date wrong. I’ll reach Surabaya on the 13th, not 12th.” Arrggh! You have one job, Tannia! One Job!

11th September 2015

Angel and I flew from Singapore and reached Surabaya in the morning. We went around to Pasar Atom and met Angel’s relative. We did some shopping too and of course we aaaatttteeeee every hour. LOL. Renny and Fenty reached Surabaya in the evening. We picked them up from the airport and went straight to Bromo. We rented a car and hired a driver. We were so tired, we all slept in the car on the way to Bromo.
We also passed Sidoarjo and saw the high dam built by Ba**rie to keep the mud in the area. But the truth is… What we heard from our driver was the mud kept rising and rising and it’s just about time until it becomes national disaster. It’s so sad :( the mud drowned almost half of the Sidoarjo city. Can you imagine your home is just gone?! Puff! Just like that? :( sad.
We arrived in Bromo around 11:30 at night. It was freeeeeziiinng cold! We slept and woke up on 3 am for our Bromo adventure!

12th September 2015

Our jeep had arrived and we were going to see the sunrise from Penanjakan. I didn’t take a shower of course. Who would do that? It was super mega freaking cold! I told my friends that I will take a shower in Surabaya when the temperature came back to normal. Lol. The jeep ride was about 30 minutes. We passed the dessert full of sand and we almost couldn’t see anything it was scary.
When the jeep stopped near the hill (Penanjakan), the driver told us to go up. It was soooo scary since we couldn’t see anything. Nobody brought torch so we only relied on the people above us. The hike was short and difficult because of the sand, but we made it.
The weather was super cold, about 14 degrees, windy which made me even more shivering. The air was thin, it made us a little more difficult to breath. It was dark and quiet at first.
And then I looked up.
And I was stunned.
Universe.
Yes, a paint of universe.
A sky full of stars.
Such a beautiful dark canvas full of sparkly dots.
And then I googled the constellations and started to hunt for some constellations. The whole novelty experience was pretty romantic and dreamy. Sitting down in the edge of the hills, cold and dark with this great set of stars above your head. Unforgettable. I even dreamt about it the next night. :)
The sun is coming up! ((Sorry for the bad quality photo as we didn't bring any pro camera))

The sun is coming up! ((Sorry for the bad quality photo as we didn’t bring any pro camera))

So cold! Yet so pretty!

So cold! Yet so pretty!

Amazing moment

Amazing moment

These girls. <3

These girls. <3

We went down again and we were sooo cold and hungry. Baso Malang to the rescue!

We went down again and we were sooo cold and hungry. Baso Malang to the rescue!

We visited the Bromo crater after that and we rode horses!!! It was so fun!!! I never rode horse before and it turned out to be fun! I bonded with my horse, Jingo instantly. We made an instant love connection. He was shy and sweet and has very soft mane! I fell in love!

Me and Jingo.

Me and Jingo, ahhh don’t you see the sparks? LOL

We hiked up to see the crater.

We hiked up to see the crater.

All of us with our horses. Cutttee!

All of us with our horses. Cutttee!

We went back to Surabaya after that and hung out for a while, nothing was special because in my opinion, Surabaya is just like any other big city in Indonesia. Great food, traffic jam, overcrowded malls and hipster cafe.

13th September 2015

My flight was very early in the morning. Thankfully all of us could wake up on time and we rushed to the airport to meet Tannia! You remember I said she saw the wrong date? She arrived on the day we supposed to leave. But we didn’t wanna miss a chance to finally get back together in a complete set, so here we are!
Back together again!

Back together again!

A short trip to Bromo. A sweet and beautiful one. Added to my list of amazing things in my life. Looking forward to more amazing things to come!
Photo 12-9-15 6 37 23 am
P.S. I have a great news. Super great news. But it’s too early to tell. I will tell later when it’s time! Kyaa~~!
Cheers,
May, always happy.

The life we will remember

I went to Japan, three weeks ago.
It changed my life. :)

Yeah yeah yeah I always said that everytime I came back from a trip. Every trips change my life. True. I’m a drama queen. A drop of water could change my life. Lol.

But this trip is different! Bandi has always been my travel buddy since….. Forever. And this time I didn’t travel with him. I travel with my three best friends.

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You might know them from this post and this post and so many of other posts.
They’re my partners in crime, my soul sisters, my annoying friends.

For the sake of travel blog information, I would talk about the trip itself and the highlight.

1. Fuji-san
I went to Fuji on summer and it was climbing season! We met soon many people dressed in climbing gears about to conquer Fuji-san. It was exciting just to see them excited.

Angel and Renny were at Fuji-Q-Highland about to conquer their own version of Fuji, called Fujiyama – the king of roller coaster.

I’m not a daredevil so I chose to cycle around Lake Kawaguchiko. (Newsflash: I don’t enjoy going onto Roller Coasters or any daredevil things. Whatever has happened in the past were either stupidity or curiosity. XD)

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

I cycled for about 2.5 hours until I hurt my bum, then I stopped in a park to watch people. Couples snuggling, kids playing baseball with their parents, dogs running around, tourist exhausted and needs a break (that’s me!)

Pretty Katsuyama

Pretty Katsuyama

And then I dozed off for about 15 minutes. Power nap! And continued with selfie sessions!

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Fun time, beautiful place. :)

Well, what about Renny and Angel? After queuing for 2 hours, they went through this:

Epic face, Renny!!!

Epic face, Renny!!!

2. Tokyo
Omg!!! I fell in love with Tokyoooooo!!! Did I tell you that London had an amazing personality as city? Well… Tokyo is her bff. In my imagination, London and Tokyo are two bff with amazing personality, Paris is also their friend, the bitchy one. Lol

Asakusa

Asakusa

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Asakusa

Epic Tsukemen!

Epic Tsukemen!

We went to Tsukiji Fish Market and met this cute uncle!

We went to Tsukiji Fish Market and met this cute uncle!

Fujiko F Fujio Musem at Kawasaki CIty

Fujiko F Fujio Musem at Kawasaki CIty

3. Shirakawa-Go
I LEFT MY HEART THERE.
Just beautiful. Just beautiful! When I travel, my favorite part is to go somewhere far away from city buzz, and Shirakawa-Go is just beautiful… beautiful… I lost words….

Photos incoming!

Get ready!

Get ready!

I loveee this photo! Himawari and Green tea ice cream! My list of favorite things!

I loveee this photo! Himawari and Green tea ice cream! My list of favorite things!

<3

<3

On an island in the sun.

On an island in the sun.

We hiked all the way up to see this!!!

We hiked all the way up to see this!!!

Another angle

Another angle

I made a simple video for our Shirakawa-Go Trip!

P.S. for my three girls: Never forget our epic moment in the cafe with the guitar and a girl asked for our photo! 10 years from now we will laugh our asses off again remembering this!

4. Kyoto
Well, as I already hooked up with Tokyo, no other city could amaze me more. But Kyoto has this feeling, especially when you’re in Gion and we saw a real Geisha!!!!
It felt like we were “kena pelet” by the Geisha inside the car!

It was raining when we went to Arashiyama, but it didn't stop us! :D

It was raining when we went to Arashiyama, but it didn’t stop us! :D

And then we spent 2 hours to do purikura (photo box) with costumes! Sailor moon and High School Project.

And then we spent 2 hours to do purikura (photo box) with costumes! Sailor moon and High School Project.

The next day we went to Fushimi Inari wearing Yukata!

The next day we went to Fushimi Inari wearing Yukata!

<3

<3

Tadaimaaaaa!!

Tadaimaaaaa!!

Our last lunch together in Osaka before one by one heading home. :(

Our last lunch together in Osaka before one by one heading home. :(

I guess those 4 is the highlight.

I didn’t mention technical part of the trip because things might always change. My suggestion is to google! :)

And here’s another cute video to close the trip!

Fun facts about Japan:

  1. They broadcast different sounds in train station, for example in Tokyo we heard birds singing in the station, for Takayama we heard some kind of fun fair themed sound in the train.
  2. JR Pass is very useful
  3. Kids playing OUT in the park on weekends. A kind of thing I rarely see. :”)
  4. There is actually people who will steal your underwear. My host told me not to dry your underwear outside.
  5. We know Japanese toilet is awesome, but there is one button that amazed me. “Privacy” button that will create sounds to cover your poop sounds. Lololol
  6. Japanese people take a bow to each cars in the train and when the bus is leaving the bus stop.
  7. There is no place like Japan…. Look how grateful they are, how they always strive for perfection. I think we all should learn to be more like Japanese people. :)

Soo…. When people asked me “how was Japan?” it’s really hard to answer…

We saw two Maikos! Seeing Maiko is considered good luck, we met two! We hiked in Shirakawa-go for the best beef we’ve ever tasted. We sang and danced like no one was watching. We were mistakenly thought as celebrities, this was super epic! We were asked to take photos many times when we were on our yukata which was fun to have such attention! #attentionhooker We jumped into Onsen, we met so many nice people, we missed trains, we got lost, we were soaked wet in the rain, but in the end… what we only remember is… WE HAD FUN. :)
And for closing, please enjoy our video clip of Avicii Song: The Nights.
I’m so proud of my video editing skill! :D go watch! (This video might be unavailable on mobile phone due to copyright issue, so if you have time watch it on laptop – with sounds!)
Cheers,
Meitori <3

Visiting Maldives 101

Two months have been passed since Bandi and I had our honeymoon in Maldives and somehow the beautiful feeling still lingers everytime I hear the name “Maldives”. Maldives is such a truly beautiful country with literally thousands of beautiful islands.

I might have promised some friends about the Maldives posting, so here it finally comes. But please take note that this post is not my story about my honeymoon in Maldives. It’s merely about process to book your dream holiday to Maldives, some tips and tricks and budget perspective as well.

So let’s begin the class of Maldives 101!

How to go to Maldives?

The answer is so freaking easy! By plane! The international airport (the only hub that you need to remember) is at Male, the capital city of Republic of Maldives. Male is a small (tiny) crowded city that you won’t want to explore after your dreamy heavenly holiday in one of the Maldives Island. Take note to that!

From Singapore, there are 2 direct flights to Male; by Singapore airlines or Tiger Airways. I chose the later one because of budget constrain. :p

The cheapest plane you can find is Srilankan Airline and Malaysian Airline, but both will have to stopover in Colombo and Kuala Lumpur respectively. I don’t like waiting in the airports, so layover was not an option for me that time.

Srilankan Airlines offered around S$600 for round trip from Singapore to Male and Malaysian Airlines offered slightly cheaper.

Which Maldivian atoll should I go?

Here’s the thing. You probably can’t do island hopping in Maldives. Why? First, because it’s super expensive! Second, why would you do that? You suppose to relax and have fun!

And from this sentence forward, I will have to switch the word island to atoll. Atoll is a (much) smaller version of island. Maldives has thousands of atoll. If I’m not mistaken only 10% is habitant. The rests are inhabitant. I’m not sure about the number though, you can always google them.

Some habitant atolls are public atoll, meaning there are Maldivian living there. But most of the habitant atolls are owned by… Private Resorts.

These private resorts will become your home during your holiday.

Now, let’s talk about how you choose the atoll/resort to go. You have to do the research! Read from travel blogs, tripadvisor, agoda, anything that has honest reviews from real travelers!

Bear in mind that the hotel/resort/atoll you pick will be your home during your holiday. You will be stuck there! It’s impossible to go out from it unless you want to swim across Indian Ocean. :p

I stayed at Kuredu Resort, and I can say I’m truly pleased with everything. :)

Types of rooms and types of boards.

Hotel/resort in Maldives are a bit different from the rest of the world. First, you have to choose a room between Beach Villa and Water Villa. Beach Villa is the small house located on the beach, while Water Villa is the small house that was built on the water.

The water villa where we stayed for a week. Sunset was the most beautiful time.

The water villa where we stayed for a week. Sunset was the most beautiful time.

One of my best shot from Maldives.

One of my best shot from Maldives.

After you picked your room, you have to pick your boarding types: Half board means your breakfast and dinner are covered. Full Board means all breakfast, lunch and dinner are covered. All Inclusive means All meals plus alcoholic drinks are covered.

What would you do over there?

I thought I would be bored, but how wrong I was! The resort I stayed offered so much, I could never get bored. There are a lot of activities to do such as Swimming (of course), snorkeling, diving, sailing, kayaking, golfing, soccer, jogging, games (billiard, chess, and other stuffs), and other sporting games. They also offered excursion trip to nearby Maldivian public island.

But then again, remember the main purpose for your Maldivian Holiday: to relax and unwind. :)

Hubby. Relaxing.

Hubby. Relaxing.

Can we go backpacking to Maldives?

As a budget traveler, this might be my first luxury trip. I usually backpacked with Bandi, but then it was our honeymoon and it was Maldives, so we decided to splurge. However I think it is possible to have a budget trip to Maldives but you maybe only explore the nearby atolls around Male. It won’t be as serene as those atolls that’s organized by resorts. But when there is a will, there is a way!

How to go to the Atolls from Male?

Don’t worry, the resorts representative will pick you in Male and they will put you on a small seaplane (operated by Trans Maldivian Air) and it will transport you from and to the atolls. Well, with a charge of course, varies from US$250 – US$500 (round trip) depends on the distance. The further your resort, the more expensive it is.

Mine was US$330. Bummer.

The aerial view from the seaplane.

The aerial view from the seaplane.

But our eyes will be spoiled by the beautiful scenery along the way. So I guess it’s worth– it?

Money matters.

Once you arrive in the resort, you will not need to pay anything. You can drink in any bar as you like, buy whatever you want… But then on the day you check out from your room, the bills will wait you there. Hahaha!

That’s the great thing about Maldives, they made you forget about money for a while! :D

Your breakfast, lunch and dinner will be in buffet style (no wonder I got fat) but they also have some premium ala carte Restaurant. We managed to have our romantic honeymoon dinner by the beach. We were having lobster, drinking some champagne, and got carried away. It was beautiful. Surely a moment to remember.

Great food, surprisingly. :)

Great food, surprisingly. :)

Drinking water throughout our stay was free but I read reviews from other travelers who stayed in different resorts, some charged drinking water as high as $10 per bottle! And since you’re stuck in the atoll, you don’t have any other choice than buying it. (Unless you’re willing to drink salt water for days).

That’s why it’s important to get a wonderful resort.

Technical!

  1. Regardless of you nationality, you don’t need Visa to enter Maldives.
  2. You are not allowed to bring in any kind of alcohol into Maldives.
  3. If you arrived late (after 5pm in Male) you will have to spend the night in Male and fly to your resort the next day. Same goes if your departing flight from Male is very early in the morning, you better spend your last night in Male.
  4. The currency of Maldives is Rufiyaa, however resort would only accept US Dollars. I only use Rufiyaa when I was in Male.

Any Other Questions?

Just hit me up in comments. I’ll be glad to help to plan your next dreamy holiday in Maldives!!! Woot Woot!

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Cheers always,

May, loving the good life.