The Glitch

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

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

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

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

It’s illogical.

Because you’re a glitch.

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

You didn’t let that pattern define you.

You’re the glitch.

The sun awaits you in Okinawa

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

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

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

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

How to reach Okinawa?

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

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

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

How to go around Okinawa Island?

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

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

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

How to go from one island to another island?

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

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When we boarded the ferry.

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

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I got seasick after snorkeled too long.

Where should I stay in Okinawa?

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

Is Okinawa expensive?

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

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

What are the highlights of Okinawa?

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

So here’s the highlight:

The Beaches and lookouts

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

Emerald Beach in the Northern Okinawa

Emerald Beach in the Northern Okinawa

Bandi, attempting to do weird stuffs

Bandi, attempting to do weird stuffs

What pose we should do next?

What pose we should do next?

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

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Cape Manzano, the elephant rock.

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Oh the view!

Kokusai Street

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

IMG_9014Shuri Castle

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

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Kin-town (The Amerinca Town)

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

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Taco Rice!

Okinawan Soba

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

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The islands around

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

Minna Island

Minna Island

 

Shisa

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

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Cute Sisha in our airbnb

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

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

Go go go!!!

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Cheers,

May, missing beaches already

No matter what

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

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

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

He was her star, her inspirations.

***

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

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

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

From now til the end of time.IMG_7852.JPG

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.

Hiking the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)

Hiking the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)

Preikestolen only opens for public hiking without guide in summer, when there are a lot of sunlight. It is forbidden to hike in winter without a guide.

But I mean, why would you want to hike in Winter? Are you nuts? It is already super cold in summer!

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The hiking route – for you to decide whether you wanna do it.

The hike itself is moderate, not very steep, but very rocky, so proper footwear is recommended. But to be honest, I prefer rocky mountains than dusty mountains. The route is guided by a red T sign in almost every 100m, so I don’t think you will be lost. The route is also very safe, unless of course you decided to jump off the cliff. You will pass by some lakes and swamps. No animals in sight during my hike.

The view along the hike

The view along the hike

Me, acting silly.

Me, acting silly.

You won't get lost.

You won’t get lost.

Bandi, on the top of Pulpit Rock

Bandi, on the top of Pulpit Rock

Geeeeeezzz!!!

Geeeeeezzz!!!

How to get there?

You can fly/take train/bus or drive a car to… Stavanger. From Stavanger Central, you take Ferry to a small town called Tau. There is only 1 Ferry terminal in Stavanger Central, you won’t miss it. Just board the ferry to Tau, and purchase the ticket directly in the ferry. I suggest to buy a combo ticket that includes Ferry ride return and bus ride return. The bus schedule changes every year, you can find more information here. Once you reach Tau, board the bus that has “TIDE” sticker on it. Keep your combo ticket and show it to the bus driver. The bus will take you to Preikestolen Fjellstue (mountain lodge). I spent the night here coz I wanted to go on a morning hike. You may or may not spend the night here. It’s possible to do day trip to Preikestolen, but it’s good to unwind here because the view is amazing.

The view from the mountain lodge.

The view from the mountain lodge.

The small room in the mountain Lodge.

The small room in the mountain Lodge.

If you decided to stay the night in the lodge, you can book your room here. It costed us 770 Nok for this room, which is not so bad. We had to make our own bed though and had to remove the sheets and threw it to the laundry basket once we checked out. It was pretty much like hostel.

What time to start hike?

During summer time, there is no restriction of the time to hike, we basically can start anytime. Bandi and I started the hike around 3:30 am, it was already quite bright. We only met total of 6 people during our hike up and only 1 couple on the top of pulpit rock when we reached there around 6 am. It was a Norway Day (Independence Day) when we hiked so during our trip down, there were a lot of people starting to hike bringing the Norwegian Flag. Thank god we hiked up early.

People hiking to Preikestolen on Norway Day

People hiking to Preikestolen on Norway Day

Is it worth the trip?

That was my question too. And I had to do it myself to find the answer, which is: Yes. I think the view along the hike was breathtaking. The whole experience was amazing too, to sleep in the mountain lodge and it turned out that our dinner in the Lodge Restaurant was the best dinner we’ve had in Norway! :) It was also the start of my addiction to Pear Cider. SO GOOD! Bandi kept repeating “I will come back” during our stay there. The place was just so peaceful and beautiful, it felt like the time stopped for a while. It was also the first time I saw Bandi taking pictures so often. He rarely took pictures, but he just kept taking pictures and mumbled, “Oh it’s so beautiful.” I’m glad we went to Preikestolen and we will be back to try the other hikes!

I hope this post clears off some doubt you have whether you should or should not go to Pulpit Rock. It’s a pretty easy and accessible trip. I don’t see any reason why not going. :) Good luck and have fun if you’re going to Preikestolen!

Cheers,

May.

An incredible journey to the far north

It’s been zillion years since I logged in to wordpress, let alone blogging. I’ve been caught up with work and lost all the energy to write. It’s sad, I know. Adulting is hard.

On 13th May, I’ve got to have a break by taking a trip to… Norway!

It was an incredible journey to the far north, leaving warm Singapore to get showered by snow! :)

Why Norway?

Last year we saw a promotion from Lufthansa, all flat $700 return tickets to any destination in Europe. Bandi and I chose the furthest destination, Oslo. You would probably think Reykjavik (Iceland) is futher? Nope, wrong! Norway has the northest (I don’t think this is a word) point in the North, it’s called Nordkapp. We didn’t travel that far though. our furthest North point was Tromso.

View of Tromso from the top of a mountain.

View of Tromso from the top of a mountain.

Norway in the summer.

Being a super tropical species, I have a low tolerance of cold. Going to Norway in the summer seems pretty sensible to me. It was okay in Oslo (10-12 degrees) but once we reached Tromso, it dropped to ZERO! It was 3 degrees in the sunniest day though (yeah, like 3 degrees warmer makes a lot of difference). Guess what, I cancelled the hike (HAHA). I wouldn’t want to suicide.

I don’t like cold. I feel uncomfortable in the cold. Runny nose, aching bone, numb toes and cracked lips. I wasn’t built for arctic winds, that’s for sure.

Summer in Norway means 24 hours daylight. They call it Midnight Sun, when it was 12 midnight and the sun is still up. You can only see midnight sun in the Northern part, like Tromso. We literally had 24 hours daylight, we could have outdoor activities for 24 hours if it wasn’t so cold. :(

Fjords, Lakes, Waterfalls, Snowy Mountains, Fairy Tale.

I think Norway is like a Fairy Tale. It’s so beautiful beyond words. On the second day, we did a DIY trip from Oslo to Bergen using “Norway in the Nutshell” route. I made a vlog about it here.

I got chills in every turn, I couldn’t contain it, I teared once. Because it was just too much to handle. It was just so beautiful. Period.

Oslo has so many museums per square meters.

We ended up going to 7 different museums! National Gallery, Munch Museet, Vigiland Museet, Kontiki, Viking Ships, Astrup Fernley Museum and Noble Peace Centre. SO MUCH FUN! We learned a lot of stuffs too! :)

Bandi asked for a photo (which is rare)

Bandi asked for a photo (which is rare)

Smitten by Munch.

Edvard Munch had a sad story. He was a victim of death, disappointments and broken hearts. He poured his feelings in his art, he was a genius! He was considered as a very sensitive man in that era, being daring to express his feeling. So I guess, he was a feminist, eh? :)

I remember the moment I saw his painting named “Puberty” and I had goosebumps all over me (I still do now remembering it). The aura that the painting created was inevitable, as the whirlwind of emotion inside my heart. The young girl staring at me, wondering, questioning, scared, brave, what is it? I asked my self. What is it about puberty that is so sad that the dark soul left the young girl’s body.

"Puberty" By Edvard Munch.

“Puberty” By Edvard Munch.

I went to Munch Museum the next day to learn more about him. I watched his movie and cried when he talked about death. That people could be easily forgotten after they died. :(

What is the price of a soul?

Hiking the Pulpit Rock

Bandi and I spent the night in the mountain lodge, it was a bit scary because it was in the middle of nowhere and it has a haunting atmosphere. We had a very nice dinner, we enjoyed the scenery and relaxed, had a good talk and went to bed early to wake up in 3 am in the morning for the hiking. I will write a separate post about Pulpit Rock because I think it will benefit other people who would want to do a hike to understand the technical preparation.

We did it!

We did it!

Fun Facts about Norway (from a visitor perspective)

  1. Norwegian people are generally loves to travel and adventurous. Maybe because of their country’s landscape that offers so much adventures and they are generally rich too so they can afford the time. My host at Bergen said that his dream life is to live in Bali. LOL
  2. It’s the most pet friendly country I’ve ever known. Dogs follow their owner EVERYWHERE. Seriously, buses, trains, ferries, even planes. I met dogs everywhere! In a hike, in a restaurant, in the airport, you name it. What an amazing thing. ;)
  3. Oslo is the most expensive city for a tourist (according to my opinion). Food in the restaurant costs 200-300 Nok ($30-$45) for a meal. A meal and a glass of beer can easily cost me $50, and it will be a whooping $100 for 2 persons. We mostly bought food in convenient store like Narvessen or 7/11 and also bought groceries from supermarket and cooked.
  4. Their toilet paper are so soft and nice. Their toilet is always clean. Maybe the second best toilet after Japan.
  5. Plastic bags are very rare. No paper tickets on our local flights, all sent to our passbook in our iPhone and just scan them. I love how environmentally responsible Norwegians are. They are very proud of being a green country.
  6. Everything is self-service, another thing I like! Bandi and I love self-service because we get to do everything in our own pace. Living in Singapore, we were not really foreign with the practice, only whenever we had to pay something using cards, they would just hand over the machine. We had to use the machine ourselves.
  7. Wifi are everywhere. And free. Seriously everywhere including IN THE PLANE.
  8. It’s illegal to honk in Norway, as our bus driver told us.

The Northern Light Question

The most questions I got from people when they knew I visited Norway was “Did you get to see Northern Light?” Let me get the facts right. Summer means 24 hours daylight and Northern light (Aurora Beorealis) is only visible when the sky is dark. So you go figure.

More Photos and Videos

These are some of my favorite photos of Norway, and at the end of the post you can view my video of the Norway trip summary with a tune of Jack Johnson’s Better Together. :)

Oslo in the evening.

Oslo in the evening.

The vast snow as far as the eye can see.

The vast snow as far as the eye can see.

Fjords.

Fjords.

The beautiful Bergen.

The beautiful Bergen.

Kissing under Sakura Tree. <3

Kissing under Sakura Tree. <3

Stavanger. The place that we will definitely come back someday. =)

Stavanger. The place that we will definitely come back someday. =)

On the top of Pulpit Rock, just us. Oh The places we've been. <3

On the top of Pulpit Rock, just us. Oh The places we’ve been. <3

And now, the video! I hope you enjoy it! =)

I’ll update soon for another travel stories!

Cheers,

May, finally warm.

After he’s gone

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t plan to change it.

But…

Of course things changed after the tragedy.

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

Nothing could ever prepare me for that. Nothing.

Nothing.

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

Our goodbye was never said.

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

… Until drugs have taken him away from me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all that matters.

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

I choose to love my brother, no matter what.

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

Love will heal regrets.

May. <3

Til we meet again in the Paradise of free souls

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

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

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

Where pain no longer exists and sadness is long gone.

There is only love, eternal and pure love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May.

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.