2012 can’t come fast enough

This morning I realized that it is already the end of November but I haven’t finished writing this year’s new year resolutions!

It makes today’s prompt for BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel blogging project even more funny. I haven’t made plans for my life but I’ve already made plans for travelling.

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(Image from my TripIt app. Here’s a review of the Web program.)

Aside from the Chinese New Year tickets, the flights for the rest of the trips were bought on offer and I’m dang proud of myself for that. 

Some of next year’s travel will be more challenging. For the two Vietnam trips, I’ll be going alone and I don’t speak Vietnamese.

But that also makes it more exciting because they’ll be like warm up for my RTW trip where I plan to visit many countries which I don’t speak the language.

Yogjakarta has been on my To Go list after I found out about the ancient Hindu temples nearby. I’ll be travelling with D, my travel buddy who I went to Bandung with a few years ago. (This trip also reminds me I need to visit Angkor Wat.)

The locations I’m going to are great for indie travelers because they aren’t really huge cities and you can cover a lot of the areas within a few days of wondering around.

Can’t wait for 2012 to come.

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This blog post is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel Project. Day 30 (last day!): 2012 TICKET

Where are you going in 2012?  Why is that place great for indie travelers? 

The rest of my posts for the project can be found here.

What travel means to me in one word

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ESCAPE

During my trip in Paris, I had an unhealthy obsession with escape signs. I didn’t really know why I felt compelled to take photos of every exit sign I see and to seek escape signs where I can’t see them.

In the description of a Facebook photo album titled Escape in France (related photos here), I wrote:

I discovered that I’m actually very fascinated with escape signs. In a novel, this would have deep meaning but in real life, it means I’m weird.

These few weeks I had been feverish with the wish to travel. Then one day, I realized recently at work (my mind wanders) that for me, travelling means to escape, to be free. 

But to escape from what? 

Is it to be away from the usual scenery and to be in an unfamiliar place? Is it to be away from the local food and to taste something different? Is it to smell a different air?

That, I’m to afraid to answer.

This post is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project. Day 29: ONE WORD

What does travel mean to you in one word?  

The rest of my posts for the project can be found here.

Lavender-colored dream

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(Image grabbed from Wikipedia)

Where do I want to be now? In a field of waist high (not possible) lavendar. I don’t care in which part of the world it is, I want to be there.

I want to be among the buzzing bees and intoxicating scent of lavender. I want to pluck bunches of the flower and dunk them in olive oil to make scented oil.

As you can see, I have a fetish for lavender.

I don’t know how that happened but I have the urge to buy every lavender scented product I see. Fortunately, my budget does not allow me to purchase much of the real or artificial lavender products out there.

When BootsnAll posted Day 27’s prompt: WanderlustShare a photo or video that just makes you want to GO. RIGHT. NOW“, I thought hard. I couldn’t think of a location or a monument I want to see now.

Then I remembered where I want my dream home to be: next to a field of lavender. So here it is.

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The rest of my posts for the project can be found here.

Open Monument Day conquered

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Armenian Church
Sitting in round chapel of the Armenian Church. D and I finished the 5 required stops of Open Monument Day. Received a pair of tickets for Already Famous, a local comedy featuring stereotypes of Malaysian.
Anyway, we went on a guided tour of Hajjah Fatima Mosque and Sultan Mosque with Alphonso (i think). It was a nice tour and it didn’t rain.
Sadly the Open Monument Day [in case anyone’s doing media monitoring] was badly organized. Although the concept is nice and makes you go around visiting different sites.
Details about the guided tour was only sent to me, not D. No one knew where the shuttle bus was supposed to stop. No one seem to know what all that stamps are about.
Sitting in this pretty church, I have sort of forgotten about the rain, bad organization and just feel at peace.
Amen.

Zero meaningful connection on the road

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I am unfortunately a painfully shy person when it comes to strangers. I blame it on being ISFP, a personality trait aptly encapsultaed on this Web page:

[ISFPs] seldom speak with strangers because they’re reserved; that quality can make them seem standoffish and even unapproachable, despite their innately caring personality.

That’s why I never made any long lasting friendships while on the road.

But I did try to be friendlier and create a short lasting companionship with a fellow hosteller while in Luoyang China.

It didn’t work out. Continue reading “Zero meaningful connection on the road”

Long live Vietnamese coffee

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The first time I had Vietnamese coffee was in My Tho, the hometown of N. Before the trip, I was already a coffee junkie, requiring one cup of coffee with milk each day or else I’ll feel a headache coming up.

Before the trip, I’ve read about Vietnamese coffee. Butter roasted, dripped through a metal filter into condensed milk. I figured it would taste the same as the regular coffee in Malaysia or Singapore since we use condensed milk too.

I waited for the cup of coffee to finish filtering and stirred in my condensed milk.

I lifted the cup and took a zip, then frowned. Continue reading “Long live Vietnamese coffee”

Mental baggage during work travel

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Prompt #16: BAGGAGE
Mental baggage can weigh us down as much as physical baggage when we travel. How do you travel lightly – either emotionally or physically?

 One of the perks of my job is (if you do your work well enough), we get to fly overseas to cover events.

The first I heard of this, my eyes went wide and my brain starting imagining all sort of wonderful places I could go. But since I was a freshie, my boss didn’t let me go on any trips until I was about a year plus into the job.

It was to Taiwan, my mother’s home country. Coincidentally, my parents were also going there at the same period.

Unfortunately, it was a difficult event that I had to cover. It involved microprocessor chips, which I frankly was not that familiar with.

Anyway, I extended my work trip so I arrive in Taipei some days before the event for travelling with the folks.

It was the most stressful travel. Every day, I had to think of my work. “Have I finished all my preparations?” “Will I understand what they announce at the event?”

The trip was still fun and exciting. But every night in the room, I would panic over my work. I also had to do some work in the morning while my parents went in search of breakfast.

After that trip, I decided that it’s not worth a free plane ticket if I get so worried about work while I’m supposed to have fun. Since then, I only travel on my own expenses.

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This post is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel. Day 16: Baggage.

The rest of my posts for the project can be found here.

Stayed: Capsule Ryokan Kyoto

My mom and I stayed at Capsule Ryokan Kyoto for 7 nights during our 10-day trip to Japan in late-October.

This is my second time in Kyoto, during the last trip, my friends and I stayed at a hostel where the sheets smelled like the last occupant. I decided to switch accomodation this time.

After trusting my guts, I booked the Ryokan Ensuite at Capsule Ryokan Kyoto. The room includes two futon, a fancy space shower and a toilet cubicle right next to the entrance. It is really amazing how they manage to save space.

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Mom and I stuffed our luggage under our bed. We kept the futon rolled up when not sleeping to watch TV, do book keeping, eat rice balls.

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We reached Kyoto at 6am as we came on a night bus. The hotel officially opens at 10am so we hung around the station. While it opens at 10am, we could only shift in at 3pm so we kept our luggage and went off.

The lady at the counter spoke perfect English, in case anyone is worried.

Nishi Honwanji (西本願寺) is just around the corner of the ryokan so that makes it a great first place to go.

Price
7,980yen per night for two persons. Not a bad price for Kyoto. 

Location
The ryokan is indeed within walking distance to Kyoto Station but I would rather take the bus. If you bought the 500yen Kyoto bus pass, take the buses that stop at Shichi-jo-Horikawa (七条堀川), the ryokan is just nearby.

The location is good for sightseeing sites and there’s a direct bus to Gion area.

Internet
Internet connection is one of the most important criteria for me when choosing a hotel. This place does have Internet, but Wi-Fi connection is limited to the ground floor. Inside our room, we have a LAN socket (they have LAN cables).

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While I brought a netbook, there are things that felt better on the phone. During the nights when I update Facebook/mobile blog/check my horoscope on my iPhone, there was a family of what I guess are Brazilian-Japanese folks having dinner, being merry. I’m not the sort to mingle quickly with people so I kept to myself all the time.

Laundry
There is also some washing machines and one dryer at the fire escape landing. If all machines are full, there is a self-service launderette opposite the ryokan which charges a few hundred yen more.

If I go back to Kyoto, I would like to stay there again. But since the New York Times covered it, I seriously doubt whether I can get a room.

 

 

 

City of Lights, Day 15 of 30 Days of Indie Travel Project

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

Parisian cliché

Saying your favorite city is Paris has become a cliché, especially for jaded young Singaporeans who already have traipsed across Europe right after their university graduation. They’ll likely tell you that while their favorite European city is Stockholm, there’s no place like home where the transport system and the government works.

(On another note, Tokyo is slowly becoming another cliché but the people here still do not think of it yet because they like sushi and J-pop so much.)

Despite what they say, my favorite city is still Paris.

Continue reading “City of Lights, Day 15 of 30 Days of Indie Travel Project”

Read: Eat, Pray, Love

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I admit. I was one of the nasty people who scoffed at the premise of Eat, Pray, Love when I first heard about it.

What? Rich lady travels the world to eat, pray and love? I immediately filed it under Stuff Other People Read, right next to Twilight.

Guess what, I read Twilight last month and I just finished Eat, Pray, Love (one hour ago, to be exact).

First off, I should have never put Eat, Pray, Love next to Twilight in my mind. Twilight needs to be thrown in a fire, along with the movie franchise and shirtless boys. Continue reading “Read: Eat, Pray, Love”