Seoul in the eyes of a non K-pop fan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selfie in goggles!

Selfie in goggles!

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

Check my vlog about Seoul here:

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

Talk to you guys next time!

Cheers,

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

Serendipity called Jeju

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

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

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

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

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

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The off-path humble bed and breakfast.

Surviving winter

Surviving winter

Imagine chilling during summer on that hammock.

Imagine chilling during summer on that hammock.

2. Hiking the Oreums

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

Let's go!

Let’s go!

What an incredible start of the year!

What an incredible start of the year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Row row row your boat!

Row row row your boat!

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

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

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

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

A very instagrammable cafe

A very instagrammable cafe

Great coffee too!

Great coffee too!

Great place to chill!

Great place to chill!

6. Drive around the island

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

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

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

The small but informative green tea museum!

The small but informative green tea museum!

Tea plantation!

Tea plantation!

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

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

8. Hiking Mt Hallasan!

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

9. Watching sunrise in Seongsan summit.

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

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10. Visiting all the wacky but informative themed museums

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

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

Guess what?

Guess what?

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

May, missing Jeju already.

You don’t need to quit your job to travel the world

I got a goosebumps just now, when I wrote my first word on this post. I can assure you that this post will be, by far, the most passionate piece of blog post I’ve written. (And it will be word-heavy, get your popcorn!)

This post is specially written to those who are truly passionate about travel and for the dreamers like me. :)

Here's a photo of me in Mt. Bromo to jump start the mood!

Here’s a photo of me in Mt. Bromo to jump start the mood!

I have a new star in my life and his name is Gunnar Garfors. Check his blog and you will fall in love too. This guy travelled to every country in the world while he’s having a full-time job and traveling is not the job itself.

Travel is his hobby, and he’s doing it right. He’s criticized of being too ambitions for doing so many rush trip such as traveling to 4 continents in a day but if you understand his style, he’s the kind of guy who keeps wanting to break the record, who likes to tick off challenges and trust me, he really loves the idea of traveling (moving from one place to another).

I was a bit disappointed reading his book though, the English translation is poor and he visited Batam for his Indonesia trip. Sigh. Apart from that, it’s an interesting book!

The most important thing about his existence is that it strengthened my belief to travel around the world without doing that dramatic move: Quit my job. (except I strike a lottery, then I will quit my job. LOL)

I don’t agree with quitting your job and then go travel until you’re totally bankrupt. What’s the point of it? You can only travel for maybe 1 year, then what’s after that? It’s true you have to live in the moments, like today is your last day on earth, but…. I wanna live in the moments throughout my whole life, not only 1 year and then suffer. I want to live long and travel forever! I don’t want my travel to have an expiry date! I want the adventure continues forever!

I love to travel, it’s my hobby, my lifestyle, my true love, whatever you people call it these days. But since as long as I remember, I’ve always been fascinated by the Globe. When I was a kid, I would spend hours reading Atlas Book and staring at the Globe while dreaming about my adventure. I’m a common girl (not very academic-smart, not very pretty, but super lucky) from a middle income family in a third world country. Going overseas or let alone holiday was almost impossible. When my Dad lost his job, it was even harder for me to survive life.

Bottom part, I was not fed with golden spoon in a silver platter. But….

I am a dreamer.

I wanted to travel the world. AND I WILL. BECAUSE I CAN.

So, I made a plan. My plan was simple: Find a decent paying job and save some money to travel the world, one city at a time.

The challenge was: I have to support my Mom and Dad, how am I suppose to feed 3 mouths and saving money to travel?

Travel needs money, we all know that. So, I made a very very risky move: I left my country and moved to a neighbor-first world country, because I needed the currency. Thankfully I made it. So, now that I can spare my money for both my parents and my travel, I need to find the time, because I have a full time job, remember?

Then, I realize, to travel you just need 2 things: MONEY and TIME. So now…. let’s analyze the shit out of it!

MONEY

Used by 90% of people as an excuse not to travel… Money! I don’t have money to travel, blah blah blah. I didn’t have the money to travel either, but I MADE MONEY. BECAUSE I CAN.

No matter how little money you make, you can always spare 5% or 10% for travel. Everyone could have different amount, but I’m a believer: AS LONG AS YOU’RE FOCUSED ON YOUR GOAL, YOU CAN. Nothing in this world you cannot do unless you say so.

1. Have a decent paying job, which you actually like.

You don’t have to be super passionate about your day-job. As long as you like the job, you’re happy, you’re having fun with your colleagues, the environment is good, and make a decent living, you’re on the right track. Remember, don’t suffer your self in a job you hate just because it pays you more money. I know you love to travel and have to focus about your goal, but hey… be kind to yourself too. :)

2. Buy cheap air tickets.

I totally agree with Garfors in this post he made about cheap flight tickets. Calculate how much money you make per hour, and then buy the tickets that is the cheapest calculated by YOUR VALUE. Remember, time equals money too! And my personal travel tips would be: WHEN YOU SEE A PROMOTION ticket price that is too good to be true, BUY! I know it’s an impulse buy, but it’ll bring you to a new place, go for it! Always ALWAYS subscribe for all kind of airplane newsletter.

Sometimes I didn’t plan where I would go. My travel destination could be very random, depending on the cheapest air ticket. My ultimate goal is to travel the whole world anyway, where to visit first doesn’t really matter anymore (after Europe). For next year, I’ve bought tickets for 2 different trips and both were impulsive because the price was ridiculously cheap. I didn’t think too much, I just bought it.

3. Free/Cheap accommodation.

Since Airbnb was invented, I no longer stayed at hotels when I travel. I only stay at hotels for relaxing trip (such as anniversary trip and honeymoon). Airbnb is THE BEST THING that could happen to me (after Bandi lah of course). I know there are a lot of scary stories about airbnb. The thing is… you can never find a flawless system in the world, because no matter how many people having good intentions, there are always some bad people who wants to ruin it. There are always some bad apples.

Be Smart about everything. Don’t just blindly trust people and follow your instinct! If you don’t feel comfortable, or suspicious about someone, GO AWAY. 99% of the time your feeling is right! So yeah, airbnb saves a lot of money for my travel. But if I have friend in a place I’m about to visit, I will notify them. You’ll never know if they are willing to host you, or maybe willing to show you around their city. It’s always fun to travel with locals!

I’ve shared so many wonderful experiences with airbnb in most of my travel posts genuinely because I want everyone to experience trip in the best way possible. :)

Anyway, if you haven’t had airbnb account, please sign up with my reference link here, you’ll get SG$28 free for your first booking! :D (This is not an advertised post, I swear!)

4. No Shopping Policy.

I don’t really shop when I travel. I can’t relate when people said “empty your luggage and come back full.” I feel like shopping is a waste of time. I can always shop in Singapore if I need something. I will not spare my time to shop. (It only happened once in my life, when I went to Japan with my girlfriends. Osaka has some crazy cheap stuffs!) But anyway, if it’s already struggling for you to buy air tickets, why would you waste your money buying stuffs you don’t need (and you can’t afford)?

It’s all about priority. I’ve written a post in Bahasa before about prioritizing your money. I got this comment a lot, “Wow, you must be making a lot of money, you travel a lot.” People perceives traveling as a luxury. Well, yeah it’s value-added (it’s the only thing you buy that gives you actual value to your life) but I don’t think it’s luxury lah… It just happened that I prioritized travel above shopping, above wasting money clubbing or hanging out in a expensive cafes. We just happen to use our money for different purposes.

There is nothing impossible in this life unless you say so. It’s the same with money. Set your goal, calculate and math the fu*k out of it!

TIME

I once worked in a company that gives 7 days leave a year (shit, right?) and I could still travel. I went to my 26 days of Europe trip with only 3 days unpaid leave. I saved my leave, I prioritize my travel. Once again, prioritizing is the key word here.

Starting next year, I will have around 20 days leave. I’ve planned 2 big trips and 1 small trip so far. It will be 3 new countries for me. So exciting! I’ve calculated the budget too so I can still pay my bills, my rent, my house mortgage etc. I’m still a common adult who has responsibilities you know… I just chose traveling as my number 1 hobby (and priority.

1. You need a good plan.

I must say my planning skill is super impressive. #shameless. But seriously, I could travel to Mt. Bromo, went to KL (for Bon Jovi concert) and roadtripping in NSW, Australia in the same month and only took 5 days of leave. Amazing, huh? Told you my planning skill is crazy! :p Visit my post about my Eurotrip and you’ll understand what I meant by crazy planning skill! I have itchy feet. This year, my passport documented at least one trip per month! No matter if it’s just a short weekend trip, I just have to gooooo! :D

2. Planning on next year’s calendar.

Whenever I see there is public holiday, I see it as a travel opportunity. Whenever there is a promo priced ticket, I see it as travel opportunity. My skill at chasing of cheap air tickets has also increased throughout the time. I now pronounced my best catch ever is when I bought return ticket from Singapore to Taipei for only S$55. No kidding. I felt like winning gold medal when I got that price. LOL. Back to the topic, I will block the long weekends and spread my leave to acquire as many trips as I can get (of course must calculate the budget too lah).

3. Energy.

There are some days (like in September) when I traveled every week, I didn’t have enough sleep because I needed to work. You need to recharge your energy, so find an activity that recharge your energy. Some recharge by sleeping, some by exercising, some by spending time with family, some… with more travels! LOL. My point is… know your limit. Don’t overdo yourself. If your body tells you it’s tired, it is. Spend some time for yourself too!

I don’t know what else to say about saving your time, so I guess the list ended on number three.

About prioritizing life

It is very difficult for me to finally swallow this ugly truth, but I just have to accept it and now saying it… To travel around the world will be a bit difficult when you have kids.

I will get hate comments for this, but this is the truth. You can keep denying it, but it won’t bend the truth.

Why? Because kids need time and money. It doesn’t mean you can’t travel at all, no I didn’t mean that. It’s just more difficult and your frequency of travel will be less, of course.

AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THESE TWO. You just have to shift your priority, that’s what life is about anyway, prioritizing things.

We make decisions all the time, and we should never regret anything. You just have to be honest about what you want and do things that make you happy.

If you decided to have kids and be happy about it, you should stop making sad comments on people’s traveling photos like “ohh… so nice… I wish I was there but I had to take care of my kids”. Is it suppose to make the other person feel bad or to make you feel better? That you chose a path as a mother, and it’s an honorable thing to be a mom? (Oh wait, now I’m rambling about a totally different topic here)

Bottom line is… EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT PRIORITY IN LIFE. BE HAPPY ABOUT WHAT YOU CHOSE. :)

NEVER COMPARE YOUR LIFE WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S.

Also as I mentioned before, not everyone loves to travel, which is very understandable. Some will save money to buy branded bags, some for fast cars, some for staying in a five stars resort. Please understand that everyone has different way to spend their money and NEVER JUDGE. Never think that your way is better than someone else’s way. Again, don’t compare.

But I believe if you read this post, you should be one of those people who loves to travel. :)

And if you’re an adventurer like me, keep going! Don’t stop, don’t compromise your happiness. Keep your curiosity, explore the world. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a waste of time or waste of money. Traveling is a great investment, trust me. You feed your soul when you travel, you experience, your view is widened.

Don’t stop.

ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE! :D

Cheers,

May, keep moving.

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!

Photo 25-11-15, 11 29 34 AM

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.

The Legendary Pacific Coast road trip

Bandi and I went to Australia! Woot! It’s our first time in Australia and Bandi’s fifth continent! He technically has traveled around the world. :)

I can’t wait to visit my forth and fifth continent too.

Anyway, where did we go in Australia? It’s quite difficult to answer this question in a short sentence because we didn’t just go to 1 or 2 cities, we went to tens of them. How? Because we did a road trip.

So, here’s our map:

Pacific Roadtrip

If you’re interested in building an itinerary, I recommend you to visit this website.

Well, every adventure has its own charm, so does this one. I personally love road trip, but I can’t drive. I feel so blessed that Bandi would do it for me because he knows how much I love road trip. :)

Road trip is more fun, more relaxing, you can see more things and stop by wherever you want. It has more freedom and I lovvvvvvvvvveeeeee freedom. :p

I will not tell the technicality of the stories like when did I go to this place, how long is the distance etc etc, I will list our stops below and tell you my story. Every stops are unique, but you will find out which on is my favorite. This will help you if you want to build a road trip itinerary of your own.

Anyway, this post will not be helpful if you want to visit Australia with public transportation, because we hired a car, so I don’t know a thing about Australia’s public transportation. So all the places we went to, we drove there,

STOP #1: GOLDCOAST

Gold coast is overrated. We decided we won’t stay long in Gold Coast because it was full of tourists. Sure it was warm and the beach was nice, but everything there is more expensive and more touristy. Anyway, we went to Surfer’s Paradise and had our lunch there, waled around for a while and had to pay $8 parking for 1 freaking hour. Talking about expensive…

STOP #2: BYRON BAY

Byron bay was also full of tourists… but we love it! haha! Double standard! I’ve been livin in a city my whole life, so I always prefer small town for holiday destination. I love small town’s charm and Byron Bay has it. Our host at Byron Bay was sooo friendly and warm, contrary to Byron Bay’s weather that was super cold!

If you put in Byron Bay in your road trip destination list, remember this: VISIT THE LIGHTHOUSE. Seriously pretty view from the lighthouse, and have some walk! You will reach to a most east point of Australia. And have I said, the view is spectacular!!! If you’re lucky, you can see whales or Dolphins!

You have to pay AUD$7 for a car if you drive here, but hey you get a free parking!

The Byron Bay Lighthouse

The Byron Bay Lighthouse

Bandi, trying to do some yoga shits with sunset as background. LOL

Bandi, trying to do some yoga shits with sunset as background. LOL

We walked around the most east trail of Australia

We walked around the most east trail of Australia

Spoiled by this view.

Spoiled by this view.

STOP #3: NIMBIN

Nimbin is just so…… unique! First of all, it is a drug town, marijuana to be exact. So if you’re extremely against marijuana, don’t come here at the first place. Nimbin is also a hippie town. It is a very small town where the community believe in everything organic, non-corporation-related, free-trade and also believe in healing stones, tarot reading and using weeds as medicine.

It was so interesting to see the town itself and see the people, I visited some of the stores are all of them were so unique and fun! It is a definitely must-see if you’re around Byron Bay area. it’s about 1 hour driving (or 2 hours driving if you decided to choose the longer route-but more scenic- like we did).

Cute little town!

Cute little town!

Some Psychic doing her thing.

Some Psychic doing her thing.

Even the apothecary sign was cute!

Even the apothecary sign was cute!

STOP #3: BALLINA

Ballina was very…. quiet! I think we only met total of 20 people there. Haha. Yes, it was so quiet and big, but the beach was beautiful. I didn’t get to learn a lot about this town as we didn’t really spend a lot of time here. We just went to watch waves crashing the coast, and took some lovey-dovey pictures of course. :)

Mwack!

Mwack!

:)

:)

Wooo!

Wooo!

STOP #4: LENNOX HEAD

Lennox head is a charming little beach town. I had one of the best salad in my life here! Groovers Cafe is the name (if you ever visit Lennox head, give it a try) which also served awesome sweet potato chips.

The beach was as fantastic as the other beaches we saw in Autralia’s pacific coast line. Can I just make a statement now that there are no best beaches in Australia, all beach has its own charm and atmosphere. Basically all you have to do is just drive from Brisbane to Sydney and stop wherever you want and visit the beach. The whole coastline is beautiful.

A walk along the lake.

A walk along the lake.

STOP #5: HAT HEAD NATIONAL PARK

Bandi and I went bushwalking to korogoro track, the loop one. I think there are three or four different walking tracks. It was drizzling at first but we didn’t hesitate. The track was easy at first, however it became more advance later on. The view when we reached on the top of the hill where the gap was, was REALLY AMAZING. It was raining and nobody was there so it was a bit spooky, so we hurried up back to our base, if it was sunny, I would spend hours there just to watch the sea. :)
We saw kangaroos too, living wild. Ahh…. it’s a privilege to see wild animals as a city girl. :) We didn’t really take many pictures because it was drizzling the whole time. Look at our wet hair!

Raining and hiking!

Raining and hiking!

:)

:)

STOP #7: COFFS HARBOUR

A short stopover at Coffs Harbour before we reach South West Rock. We bought a fresh caught fish turned to Fish and Chips here. OMG! Australia has the best Fish and Chips! Nothing can beat fresh seafood! We also had fresh prawns and squids! Yum!

STOP #6: SOUTH WEST ROCK

I had the best airbnb experience in South West Rock! Our host, Shirley and Mick were soooo friendly and super nice people. They brought us around their beautiful tiny little town. The town was so small, it doesn’t have any traffic lights! It has 5,000 population and has only 1 primary school. So when their kid grew up and entered high school, the kid had to go to high school in the neighbor town.

South West Rock is famous among local Australians and divers. We saw the Fish Rock, a famous diving site and went up to the lighthouse but it was to windy to actually go up to the lighthouse. So we detour to watch cute kangaroos around the lighthouse instead. :)

Wild Kangaroos

Wild Kangaroos

Our sweet sweet host, Mick and Shirley.

Our sweet sweet host, Mick and Shirley.

Found a baby kangaroo that was sticking out! Super cuteeee!

Found a baby kangaroo that was sticking out! Super cuteeee!

South West Rock has so many lookout points that have spectacular views! Here are the photos to give you ideas!

What a view

What a view. Universe is awesome, isn’t it?

And old jail with breathtaking view around.

And old jail with breathtaking view around.

The beach!

The beach!

I really really enjoyed South West Rock. In the evening, Bandi and I had the best dinner we’ve had in Australia in a Restaurant called Seabreeze, which is also a hotel. Go ahead an try it if you’re there!

STOP #7: PORT MACQUARIE

A short stopover at Port macquarie, a small city 2 hours from South West Rock. I fell in love with this small town and promised myself to come back again someday. :)

First stop was a Koala Hospital. There was no injured Koala on the operating table, so thanks goodness everyone is in good condition. So we just visited them in their ward, most of them were sleeping. Do you know that Koala needs to sleep at least 20 hours a day to digest the eucalyptus leaves? :)

Look at this cutieeee!

Look at this cutieeee!

And then we visited Roto’s House, which is a heritage house from the world war era. We went there accidentally actually but I enjoyed it! :)

The entrance of Roto House

The entrance of Roto House

Hanging out at Roto's Balcony

Hanging out at Roto’s Balcony

We walked around the park and sat to discuss where to go next.

We walked around the park and sat to discuss where to go next.

Then we went to the most beautiful small cafe in the outskirt of Port Macquarie, that is also a vineyard. Sooooo beautiful. Ah… I just loved Australia so much!

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

You + Me. We're invincible.

You + Me. We’re invincible, together.

STOP #8: PORT STEPHENS

We reached Port Stephens quite late and went out for Dinner at Nelson Bay. There was only 1 town centre which has the boat docks, some restaurants and some shops. We had the Hog’s Breath, a steak chain in Australia that we’ve been eye-ing on. The steak was not so bad though, but not that fantastic either.

I remember when I talked to our host, an artist who was born in Easter Europe and had lived in Australia for so long, “you’re very funny!”, because she kept making jokes with us. her reply was something that I will remember, “Ain’t it the only way to live?”

Yes, we should not take life so seriously. Life is funny, so should we. =)

Her house was beautiful and we stayed in the floral themed bedroom, sadly we stayed there only for a night, a short night, because the next morning, around 5 am, we had already checked out for our Dolphins adventure. WILD Dolphins! WOOHOO!!! So excited!

As written in some of my blog post, I’m passionately against dolphins in captivity. If you understand about this issue and you still go to those sad dolphins show, we have trust issue, my friend. If you know nothing about it, please read my post here, and learn something new today and educate yourself. =)

We went on a boat trip and it was a bumpy ride. Bandi has zero tolerance on sea motion, so he swallowed some pills and knocked out in the boat. Not fun, huh? Haha.

I was cheering and singing with the other crews and swimmers on the front deck, calling for Dolphins. After some ride away from the bay, we met them! Oh…. I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw them… Swimming freely in the ocean, making happy noises, jumping up and over in the sea. Such beautiful and smart creature. I learned another fact about dolphins, when you sing louder, they will jump higher and show off to us even more! They’re such happy creature! Some of the participants went into the sea and swam along with the dolphins. Don’t worry we didn’t do anything or change anything about them. They were free and happy!

Sadly, I don’t have so much pictures of the excursion trip because I kept my phone safe in my pocket and didn’t want to risk dropping it into the sea. :p

So here’s the only picture I captured from my Dolphins video.

Happy dolphins.

Happy dolphins.

STOP #9: NEWCASTLE

Before we hit Sydney, we made a quick stop to have a late lunch in Newcastle, like usual Fish and Chips and coffee. Newcastle is a satellite city of Sydney which has a number of car dealerships, factories and big buildings. I felt it’s more like Karawang or Bekasi.

Nothing special here and I barely took photos. Next!

STOP #10: SYDNEY

Sydney… Sydney… Sydney… the most expensive city we’ve ever been in our life! $8 for 30 minutes carpark? $17 for one-way trip (so freaking near) from Airport to town? Zoo was $56? Geez…. It surely costs a lot to live here.

Thankfully we got free parking in our airbnb, I couldn’t imagine how much we pay for overnight parking.

Our first stop in Sydney was to meet CALEB, the cutest baby in Instagram! LOLOLOL

Dian, Caleb and me! This photo took thousands of takes! LOL

Dian, Caleb and me! This photo took thousands of takes! LOL

Caleb was super cutttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeeeee! Now I want a baby! :p

Anyway, finally I got to meet Dian (I don’t even hyperlink your blog anymore cause it’s dead), we’ve been missing each other very long. She’se been providing me with airport tax money, bus card and sending me cute postcards, she’s like my sugar mama. XD Thanks for all the fun time Dian! I will be back to Australia!

Sydney is surely a beautiful city with the pretty bay full of boats and birds contrasted with some old buildings. I enjoyed Sydney a lot and it has awesome Thai food (one of the perks of big city – good international food).

A city by the bay is always good idea.

A city by the bay is always good idea.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Yellow wildflowers!

Yellow wildflowers!

Awesome stuff!

Awesome stuff!

This is like the BEST IDEA ever, riiiiight?

This is like the BEST IDEA ever, riiiiight?

And before I left Sydney and went back to Singapore, guess what happened? My flight was delayed for about 6 hours and it was a blessing in disguise because I got to meet my gurl, Tannia! We thought we would miss each other because she will land when I fly out but now we could meet!

The foxy global trotter

The foxy global trotter

And during September, we got to meet at Surabaya (Bromo trip), Kuala Lumpur (for Bon Jovi concert) and now here in Sydney! If it wasn’t meant to be when I don’t know what is. :D

SPIN OFF: BLUE MOUNTAINS AND LEURA

We took one day off from Sydney to visit Blue Mountain and it was gorgeousssss! I loveeee it! My only regret was not to pay parking tickets for longer hour so I could hike longer and explored more.

If you intend to visit Blue mountans without hiking/bushwalking, you may spare only 1 hour here just to visit three sisters, but if you want to hike, spare minimum 5 hours because the trail was a bit tough.

We paid our parking ticket for only 4 hours and ended up panicking because we had to come back ASAP. Bandi left me with our friend (who joined us on the ride) and he ran to the car just to make sure we didn’t get fine tickets. hahahaha

The stairs were horrible!

The stairs were horrible!

Three Sisters from far far away

Three Sisters from far far away

Beauty

Beauty

The tiny waterfall.

The tiny waterfall.

After the super-tiring hike, we thought we wanted to chill a little bit before we drove back to Sydney, so we read some local newspaper and found a garden in nearby town called Leura. It was an impromptu trip, so we went there and it was a pretty little town! :)

A friend asked us to take this photo. so cute!

A friend asked us to take this photo. so cute!

I wanna have a garden this pretty! :D

I wanna have a garden this pretty! :D

So yeah… the journey was fun, amazing and full of coffee. LOL. WE LOVE AUSTRALIAAAA! And I want to come back so so so badly! I even thought about having a gap month to explore Australia. Watch out Europe, you have a competition! Haha!

But of course Europe is full of beautiful history, ruins, museums and old building, while Australia is full of unique wildlife, beautiful beaches and amazing national parks. There are totally 2 different adventures.

I found something new: I LOVE BUSHWALKING! (But only when the weather is cold, so I don’t get all sweaty) Australia is full of unique animals so when we bushwalked, we would meet porcupine, kangaroos, rare birds and other interesting animals that I didn’t even know their names. And Australians are friendly and happy people so we enjoyed everything there actually!

I can’t wait to plan my next Australia Trip! :D

And to sum up our Great Pacific Roadtrip, here’s the video that I made! (I have a new hobby to make 1 summary video per trip so in the future when I feel like remembering the trip, I will just play the video; instead of scrolling to thousands of photos. :p)

Enjoy!

Cheers,

May, adventure-ing

Photo 24-9-15, 3 02 23 PM

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.

IMG_1977
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!

IMG_0752

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

IMG_0538

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