Friday, July 10, 2015

Welcome to the Second Half of 2015

It's July! Which means that we are already halfway done with the year. Pretty soon, we'll be bidding 2015 goodbye and welcoming 2016.

So, how was your first half of the year? Where did you guys go for holidays? Did you visit any new places or were you exploring and discovering new sights on familiar cities?

As for me, the first half of the year was rather slow, travel-wise. Work and study took most of my times away. However, I still managed to go for 2 vacations. The first was back in January when I went to Boracay, Philippines.

Pristine white beach in Boracay, Philippines

It was supposed to be trip with another travel blogger but she had to bail out due to family commitment. I'm not much of a beach person so the most I can spend are 4 days by the beach doing nothing. However, Boracay is more of a "since I'm here, might as well" for the main highlight for me is the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo. What a colourful and lively festival it is.

Colourful parade of the Ati-Atihan Festival

The second one was my South Korea adventure in April with my friends. I was amazed and fascinated with the country, what with the constant import of Korean cultures in Malaysia, and I came back in love with it. The food, the people, the heritage, everything is just a delight. Plus, we went during spring, which means being surrounded with the lovely sakuras all the times. What a perfect way to spend my birthday.

Sakura trees everywhere

Street foods are aplenty in Seoul

Table full of Korean delights

I'm looking forward to the remaining half of the year, with tentatively 3 more trips to go. I say tentatively because these 3 trips are already all locked up and ready to launch and I'm considering another one during Christmas break. Let's see how it goes on that one.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hotel Review - Eight Acres Resort, Raub

We live in a world where technologies have become an essential part of our lives, to the point where we seem to forget what truly matters; human connection. It's not quite unusual to see families or groups of friends, sitting together and yet, they have never been more further apart from each other as they focus more on their electronic gadgets than one another. It seems that these days, words and laughter are exchanged through texts and emojis, not verbally.

Uncle Kam, resort manager and proud father of the resort, noticed such predicament and has every intention to instil that connectivity among humans as well as with nature back in his guests. That's why there's barely any coverage throughout Eight Acres, so that we can unhook ourselves from the abyss that's the Internet and focus on people around us. Even the yellow man will not follow you to the resort, so, you have been warned.

Eight Acres

Now, what to do in a resort located deep in the estate plantation with the nearest town about 40 minutes away? Plenty. Boredom does not exist in Eight Acres for there are many activities to fill up the time.

One such activity is the traditional kampung games such as guli (marble balls) and gasing (spinning tops). These recreational activities were popular among children back in the olden days. I remembered playing guli when I was a kid growing up in a small town. It must be more than 15 years since I last touched one of those tiny little marble balls that I immediately start to play with it. In fact, all of us are sporting a gleeful smile on our faces throughout the session as our childhood memories start rushing back.

I doubt that youngsters these days know what these games are or how to play. Angry Birds and Candy Crush, yes, but gasing and congkak? This is really a good initiative to reintroduce back traditional games to the young generation.

Traditional games await you

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Indonesia - Prambanan

Again, I'm back after another hiatus which I hope will be the last one in near future. Now, I just want to finish the story about my Yogyakarta trip that happened 2 years back which I started writing about almost a year ago. Talk about procrastination.


So, after our Mount Merapi jeep adventure, we moved on to next attraction in Yogyakarta: Prambanan. Other than its gorgeous islands, Indonesia is also famous for its historic religious sites and Prambanan is one of the many.

About 30 minutes from city centre, this Hindu temple is the largest in the country and among the biggest in the region. Dedicated to the deities Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Shiva (Destroyer), the complex was inscribed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, together with Borobudur.

Upon entering the complex, you will notice that not all of the buildings are still structurally intact. A lot of the smaller candi on the outer ring are either damaged or in a rumbled state. In fact, the main temple, the worship site for Shiva, which is located at the centre of the compound, is still considered unstable and they only allowed 50 people to enter at one go.

Some of the damaged structures

Warning sign for Shiva temple

All these has nothing to do with poor management but rather the fury of Mother Nature. Recent earthquakes and volcano eruptions have caused major damages to the complex, some of which are simply irreparable.

You have to wear safety helmets before going to the temple

You should take your own time slowly exploring the complex and admiring the craftsmanship of the olden days. I think we spent about 2 hours, more or less, before our grumbling stomachs drew our attentions. Our driver, Saiful, took us to a nearby restaurant we had some simple and traditional Indonesian cuisines.

Such detailed craftsmanship 

Group shot

After our lunch, we were clueless as to where to go. We did stop by Ratu Bako, another cultural site but we decided not to enter. We went back to the city centre around 6 and did a quick walk before calling it a day since we have been out since 8 in the morning.

Fried chicken


The following day was rather free and easy with nothing planned except for our flight home. After breakfast, we were all ready to be back home.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Indonesia - Mount Merapi

When we bought the flight tickets to Yogyakarta, I had every intention to hike the fiery Mount Merapi. I did some research about the possibilities of hiking to the peak and it seems to be doable. When we reached the city, there are even tour packages that will bring you to the top of the mountain. However, the weather was not really conducive for such an adventure, what with the regular rain during our stays. Hence, the hiking expedition was cancelled.

Mount Merapi

However, we did ended up going to Mount Merapi, admiring the majestic mountain from a safe distance. We departed early in the morning with a hired car recommended by my friend. It was quite a deal to rent a whole car plus driver if you come in a group. We decided to rent the car service for half day, starting our journey at 7 am.

Maximum capacity of the Jeep, excluding the driver, is 4 persons

Our first destination was Mount Merapi. The driver, Saiful, brought us to this tour agency,Jeep Extreme Adventure, that offers Jeep ride, as advertised, up to the mountain. It was quite reasonably priced, I think, for a 3 hour Jeep ride and much fun than I expected, heading up the rocky terrain with the vehicle. It goes without saying that the journey was a bit bumpy which was rather exhilarating, to say the least.

Mount Merapi serving as our background

We made a few pit stops along the way to the highest possible point before reverting back. We noticed that we were not the only group who explored Mount Merapi in a Jeep. Apparently, it is quite a popular activity and a preferred way of going through the terrain of the volcano.

Cloud has decided to gather by the mountain, a cue for us to go

When we reached our final destination, Bukit Glagahsari, the view of Mount Merapi is simply majestic. We stood there admiring it. Of course, while absorbing its beauty, there is the background music of shutter clicking non stop, of which I'm the guilty one. We spent about 10 minutes plus before heading back down as clouds began to gather around the mountain.

What Left of My Possessions Museum, loosely translated from its Indonesian 

Before we reached the base, we made a last stop. It is a museum of sort, one that showcase the aftermath of the eruption of the volcano few years back. All the items on displays are what left of it, melted to its irregular shapes and sizes. Some still retain its original looks while some rendered before recognition, leaving us wonder what these items were back then. It was quite depressing to see how life can make a twist to the worst in just a matter of minutes. Entrance is free but donations are welcome.

Melted possessions

Jeep Ride Adventure
IDR 450,000 (per person)


Monday, April 6, 2015

Indonesia - Taman Sari

Wow, I just realized that the last entry was dated back in September 2014. 6 months of MIA! Studying takes a large portion of your times away, especially after works. Well, I'm going to better manage my time and start writing again because, I really do like to write.

Walking to Taman Sari from the Palace

Let us continue with the story. It was in April 2013 that I went to Yogyakarta with my fellow uni-mates and we had visited Dieng Plateau, Borobudur and Kraton, the city palace. On the same day that we explored Kraton Ngayogyakarta, we also dropped by Taman Sari, a ruined complex used to be the bathing pools for the Sultan.

Taman Sari

Walking distance from the palace, Taman Sari served as a pleasure recreation for the Sultan. It is said that one of the bathing pools will be crowded with his ladies while the Sultan would be sitting in his tower, overlooking the scene and making his pick for the day. Such a scintillating lifestyle, won't you agree?

Tower (left) is where the Sultan made his pick from the ladies in the pool

As we listened to the story, out of nowhere rain started to fall heavily. We were stranded in the water castle, taking a shelter as we waited for the rain to stop. The irony, to be in the ancient water complex yet afraid to get drenched by the rain.

Nothing to do but to take photos as we waited for the rain to stop

After a while, it seemed that the rain was unlikely to stop. So, when the torrent slowed down a bit, we quickly got ourselves a tricycle or two to get us back to the hotel. April is not exactly a good time to visit Indonesia as it is the raining season. We spent the rest of the day hiding in our rooms before heading out for dinner.

Taman Sari
Entrance fee: IDR 7,000
Camera fee: IDR 1,000