February 13, 2020

It’s Valentine’s day tomorrow.
Last year I received this mega bouquet from Marty, what a cutie. Back then I was working at R/GA, my team and I sat just behind reception and we saw a stream of couriers arrive throughout the day with bouquets for the various ladies. Then this one came, and I didn’t bother looking up until he said
“Is there a Ahh..ye..sha?”

And I snapped up. I saw the bouquet. I heart skipped a beat and immediately I had tears in my eyes.

This year, I’ve just accepted a new job and will be starting soon, so no bouquet will be delivered to an office :p

Anyway, I just wanted to write what’s been happening this year, this decade so far.

I’ve finished my first book of the year – Kafka on the Shore by Murakami and I’m now midway through Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I’ve decided I’ll alternate between fiction and non-fiction this year. Kafka was a really interesting book and very timely I should say because I have been feeling like a lost little lamb at the start of this year, wondering what to do. The story was rather random but I imagine the author must have gone through something similar in his life to be able to write a story like that. I’ve faced so many decisions and dilemmas and it really makes me wonder how I’ve avoided awkward situations or difficult crossroads for so long in my life. It could also be that as I’m getting older I’m more wary of things, I’m more picky about things and that’s making decisions harder each time. The pros and cons are more severe and I actually have to think about what I’m sacrificing each time. Sometimes I feel impulsive like Kafka, like something is just pulling me, I treat every random occurrence like a sign; sometimes I feel like Nakata, that I have this overarching mission in life and everything that happens to me, spontaneous or planned, will eventually guide me there.

I’ve played through Pokemon Shield – what a fun little game, though I found it slightly more challenging than other Pokemon games, or maybe I just have lesser patience for grinding these days. I really liked the gym leaders’ battle music and wished they used it more but I only got to hear it 8 times :c Now I’m watching Marty play Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Oh yes, we finally did our last bit of moving last weekend and have a fridge, washing machine and our PS4 set up 😀 I’m enjoying backseat driving like “Hmm.. let’s climb that vine.. I think you should go talk to that NPC.. nah jump off this cliff and see where you go” without having to remember all the controls to execute hehehe.

Speaking of last weekend.. Sydney (well most of Australia) experienced torrential rain for almost a full week. Boy, it was relentless! The good thing is I got to wear my knee-high boots that week and I had fun stepping into puddles without worry. However the rest of Australia did not have such a happy week as lots of places have flooded and property damaged, families displaced. It’s really been a wild start to the year for Australia, this coming just after the devastating bushfires. I suppose on the plus side one of the larger and difficult to contain fires that was burning for I think it was 74 days was finally extinguished and the dam levels have risen quite significantly.

I love Australia and it hurts to see so much of the countryside destroyed, but I’m sure it’ll all recover and beauty will be restored.

Aside from these natural disasters, the world is now tackling the fast-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19). Flights are being cancelled, people flying in are being told to self-quarantine for 14 days, global events are being cancelled, university students returning are worried about being asked to stay home, I even saw a poor student was rudely evicted from her rental place upon returning from a trip home to Malaysia. Honestly, I have no clue what I’d do in that situation especially if it was during my first year in uni, I was so useless back then. It feels like there’s too much fear and paranoia around people and some are acting horribly and unreasonably. I’ve seen on my social media how people in Singapore are hoarding items and clearing out supermarkets. There are (at point of writing) 50 cases in Singapore for a population of over 5.5 million with 15 recoveries made. I know it’s scary and it can spread quickly, but really I think people need to just watch their hygiene rather than conduct such rude behaviour.

On a happier and as an ending note, my brother and his family (yes that means his two babies!) are visiting me tomorrow, so now I can celebrate this day of love with more people! 😀 I’m also super happy, it’s the first time they’re coming to Australia since I came here in 2012!
*happy dance time

A little hiccup.

My holiday to Mexico has barely begun yet I’ve experienced so many things today I want to write down.

I’m sitting at the Qantas Lounge, it’s been about 3.5 hours since I got here and my flight to Dallas has been delayed 8 hours meaning I will miss my connecting flight to Cancun and I have to stay a night in chilly Dallas (last checked it was 7degrees eeep! I only have summer clothes packed, uh oh). That’s ok, that’s life I supposed. Me before moving to Australia would probably be cursing my bad luck and be quietly seething in rage – how dare the world inconvenience me. Boy, I used to be such an entitled brat.

The customer service officer at the Qantas counter was empathetic to our situation and showed competence in his job as he managed to get us a few options for us (transiting to Vancouver instead which was unavailable as we wouldn’t be able to get a Canadian visa in time or adding an extra stop after Dallas at Honolulu which would put us in Cancun 3 hours earlier tomorrow – however that would include a 10-hour layover). Spending a night in Dallas felt like the best option). He printed our boarding passes and sent us off with a cheerful wave and said “Don’t let this little hiccup get to you, don’t you get upset, you’re going to have a wonderful holiday!” I really appreciated that and gave him my biggest smile. I was already impressed by how well he did his job (I’m sad to say I’ve met so many people who really don’t try) and also happy he didn’t ever once say anything like “oh typical Qantas” or “yeah it’s a shitty situation”. I get the feel he likes his job and is proud of Qantas, which is such a great attitude!

With hours to kill, I started reading my 2nd book of the year (woohoo!) ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. The book flows easily and I’m thoroughly enjoying it, my only fear now is that I finish the book in 2 days.

I occasionally glance up at the other travellers in the lounge, the man behind me is very fidgety, and frequently bumps my seat, so much so that I have to move my one-seater sofa forward – which makes it out of line with all the other sofas :C

I notice the table beside us has a Tumi bag, a pixel phone, a laptop and a Gucci purse left unattended with 2 other carry-on suitcases. I feel uncomfortable just looking at that and I could never leave my 1/20th-of-the-price items left unattended at a public place, even if it was a business lounge.

I spy a man eating his ice cream from a tiny cup with a spoon and fork. He is carefully loading his spoon with ice cream and taking very gentle bites. How interesting!

Marty takes a shower and I decide to take one too. This is the first time I’ve ever taken a shower at an airport and oh my goodness, what a treat! The shower stall is huge and is more than double my height, so about 3.5metres tall? The rain shower has the perfect pressure and the soaps smell delicious. A hot shower must be one of my favourite feelings in the world. Closely followed by the feeling of taking your shoes off after a long day (especially if they’re heels) or the feeling of food (like the scampi nigri from Toko) melting in your mouth, heck I could eat some of that now!

There’s only about 30minutes left before we head to the gate. I’m going back to Michelle’s childhood now!

New cooking blog?

So I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands and that has led to all sorts of wild ideas. Each day I fluctuate between being excited to try something new, getting dejected when I get an automatic decline on a job application, perking up when I hear a call or new email, feeling guilty when I’ve spent the past 3 hours gaming..

Aside from applying for jobs and interviewing, I’ve been reading and watching some anime and playing Pokemon Shield and going for aerial classes. So far on track to meet my 2020 goals!

I also thought I’d try writing a food section on my blog – so on the right you’ll see ‘Ayesha in the Kitchen‘ where I’m going to put recipes. I’ll try to keep them simple with no backstory or random thoughts and comments (which is going to be difficult for me!) I’m not sure how I want that page to look like yet so it’s super basic right now. I’ll put more thought into it and if I can’t sustain writing new recipes then.. I’ll delete that page and pretend it never existed :p

I also want to write some lyra tutorials or infographics – maybe when I get better at it 🙂

2020, the year of..

2019 ended pretty nicely. I went home and saw my family and my darling nephews, Marty had his first experience holding a baby.

Most of the trip was rainy but we got ONE sunny day where we went to the Bird Park :3

Most importantly, we had yummy foods every day, including a hotpot at home!

Back in Australia, we had a fun Christmas Lunch and rang in the new year, new decade at the Ryman Resort with the MPA crew! Here are a bunch of beautiful photos from Luc and some silly polaroids.

We ate, we laughed, we sang, we danced, we got got!

And now, it’s time for my reset, I’ve thought of more concrete goals for the year than usual, so I have no excuse, I can’t allow myself to take shortcuts. Up first, in the “General Life” category –

  • Find a fun new, hopefully permanent job!
    Yes it was my last day at AL on Friday. It was a short and sweet adventure and I’m glad I sated my curiosity of the VFX industry. Of course I’ve only seen and felt the tip of the iceberg but I am in a better place than before.
  • Learn 6 new recipes/try cooking 6 new things (cooking or baking)
  • Keep my new indoor plant babies alive and healthy
    I received stole a Rubber plant at Secret Santa and recently bought a Peace Lily to help sleep better 🙂
  • Write here at least once a month, and write something meaningful and try to stop ranting so much and feeling sorry for myself :p
  • Read 6 books, once every 2 months is do-able right?!
  • Get lasik eye treatment
  • Get Australian PR (can’t really influence this one, might stretch into 2021) and then plan move to the US

I’ve been feeling like a potato, I need to stop being half-assed and actually exercise more consistently.

  • Fix back posture. Think I’m doing OK on this one, I actively remember every 10 minutes or so to straighten up, hopefully it becomes subconscious soon!
  • Achieve front and side splits
  • Advance 2 levels in Lyra, currently in Emeralds, so I need to complete Rubies!
  • Advance to High Intermediate in Tennis (honestly might be the toughest of my fitness goals just cause how difficult it is to get a booking – I know this sounds like an excuse but it’s true!)
  • Achieve Handstands! (this is a stretch goal, a nice-to-have :))

People need to set fun goals too! Soooo, I’d like to..

  • Get better at snowboarding (possibly go overseas a snow holiday to NZ or Japan if I can nail my S turns!)
  • Visit NZ and try swimming with whales (this goal is to be fulfilled before moving to the US so can be delayed to 2021 depending on circumstances
  • Attend a music festival or some other fun event overseas.

GAMES! It’s silly but I really do want to complete these games, because even though I love games, I get distracted so much from them!

  • Finish Breath of the wild
  • Pokemon Shield
  • Witcher 3
  • ?
  • ?? (leaving a couple blanks for games that come out in 2020 and I want to make time for!)

On top of those goals I’ve also decided that I’m now discarding all my old negative thoughts – what I mean is that I’ve done a bunch of stupid shit, I said stupid things and hurt people. I’ve been careless, blunt and rude over the years and I’ve held a large amount of guilt and remorse inside me.

To the people whom I’ve offended who I possibly will never see again – I’m sorry.

Some people who I’ve pissed off, have blocked me online and pretend I don’t exist – I’m sorry.

I don’t have the time or energy to think about you and feel bad anymore. I hope you understand I was young, stupid, naive and careless – and can get over that. I’m done beating myself up for silly things I did in the past. I can’t undo it so I hope if we meet again, you give me another chance and forgive my past self.

I want to look forward and work on my present and future.

Reset

Today I’m flying home for a visit after almost 4 years. The last I was in Singapore was for my brother’s wedding which was on –

2nd Jan 2016

This time, I’m excited to go home and fully intending to spend all my time with family. I used to want to run around and be outside with friends all the time but I have very little desire to do that now, a sign of getting old?

This trip home is going to be a reset button for me.

I’ll come back 15 days later, just a week before Christmas.

The day I land I’ll will be moving apartments, I’ll need to find a new job, it’ll soon be a new year, a new decade.

2019 has been a strange year. I set up to accomplish a hell lot but I’ve met so many unexpected hurdles, I thought I had a routine from 2017 and 2018 but 2019 just felt off-balance. My habits changed, my perceptions changed, my lifestyle changed, heck even my facial structure and appearance changed. I’m going to believe everything changed for the better / will end up being a change for the better.

See you in 2020!

Or maybe slightly before if I decide to write about my trip! 😛

New Smile

440 days of diligence later, I was finally allowed to take off my aligners. This was 440 days of wearing them for approximately 22 hours a day, from 3rd June 2018 to 16 September 2019.

Most of you probably think it’s like retainers, but it’s actually more like braces. Every 2 weeks I swap out my aligners for a tighter set. The pain is very similar to braces, I know as I’ve also had braces before. The trick is to only correct your teeth after your wisdom teeth are out rather than at teenagehood otherwise they move again D:

Aligners stain very easily too so while they’re on, one shouldn’t be eating or drinking anything besides water. I learnt this lesson very quickly as I ate a gummy with them on in my first week and the transparent plastic turned yellow immediately into visalign.

Now I can proudly show that all the gaps in the bottom row of my teeth have closed and my bite has changed with my teeth being pulled inwards by elastic bands. This has caused a slight change in the shape of my face. I love it!

While I’d like to show better before/after pics, it’s not easy to show all my teeth in a regular smile so these will have to do.

You can just see the gaps on my bottom row on the left and a chubbier face shape, and the right shows my new blonde hair, a more defined jaw and while you can’t see the bottom row, I assure you – NO GAPS!

Yahoo!

Indoneaster 2019

Disclaimer – Not all the photos in this post are mine, they’re mostly taken by my very talented travel buddies.

Disclaimer 2 – I could probably written a book about this trip and all the unimaginable experiences. All the fear, joy, anxiety and other emotions, it may not seem like it but I broke so many personal boundaries this trip.

Believe me, I’ve held back in this post :p

I recently (lol 5 months ago) had the holiday of a lifetime with some incredible peeps (8 of us in total) I met in 2016 when I moved to Sydney.

TLDR, video made by Andy

Day 1 – Departure

The day started off with an allergic reaction to the Malaria tablets. Whoa. I was so certain I had touched someone like a farmer or agricultural professional that triggered this reaction on the train that caused my eyes to go jelly. Actual jelly. I left at midday to go to the doc and he said “hmm.. but you took your first malaria tablet yesterday but nothing else about your diet or lifestyle has changed..”

Better safe than sorry, I had to purchase a new and more expensive set of Malaria tablets.

  • Flight 1 – Syd to SG
    I found the plane comfy but no one else did xD.
    Had yum fishball noodles. I’ve forgotten how to order at a food court eeep!
  • Flight 2 – SG to Bali Denpasar
    First taste of the heat and Indo food. There was live music at the airport 🙂
  • Flight 3 – Bali to Labuan Bajo
    Had this cute little Porco Rosso-like plane.
    We accidentally set off the alarm at the airport.
    Swarmed by drivers upon arrival.

It’s been about 24 hours.

No time to rest we set out to organise our cruise for the next day. Our first dinner at the fish market. It was a Friday night, teeming with locals but we all only had sleep on our minds.

The bed at Sunset Hill was nice, the view was

Day 2 – Komodo dragons!

I had a nasi goreng breakfast while everyone opted for the American or British breakfast. They make good juices there, I had a pineapple one.

We were whisked away in a bright green mini bus off the beaten path, a rocky ‘short cut’ to avoid the morning crowds. We were deposited near the fish markets to board our cruise with a German couple, another couple from Germany (Columbian& Spanish, tho they said they’re still seen as tourists there) and a Viet man.

The boat was surprisingly nice, the water was tranquil and there was barely any rocking.

Here are my cute friends :3

 

We sailed for 2hours to our first stop – Rinca Island. This was where we would encounter our first wild Komodo dragon just chilling outside the tourist centre. Here’s a pair just cuddling in the shade.

Our guide Paul was a heck of a troll. He held a straight face on our little hike while saying things like ‘look in the tree, there’s a deer head.’ or ‘baby Komodos live in trees because the bigger dragons eat them. Sometimes when they see tourists they jump out of the trees for a hug because they lack affection.’

I think he was trying to scare us further despite us getting spooked by the slightest movement or sound we heard.

There were also water buffaloes, boars and deers on the island. We had a climb for a pretty pic and then back to the boat to escape the heat. I’m surprised at how well this picture came out. At the time we had barely gotten to know our friends on the boat and we were pretty much instructed by the guides to take this together.

We had lunch on the boat after, similar to the fish market we had fried fish and rice. Yum!

The next stop was Pink Beach. I think everyone was asking and asking to swim otherwise we would have gone to Komodo Island first. Getting changed on deck was a mission. I won’t elaborate.

Can I just pause and say how ridiculously beautiful Flores is?!

Today, I had my first snorkel and flippers experience! It was calming at first but then as it got deeper I panicked and inhaled seawater. I tried to blow it all out but had to swallow some so I could breathe again. I sure hope the next snorkeling has clearer water. I also hope I don’t drown. (Spoiler – I didn’t)

Jesse said there were purple and green corals below me as well as clownfish and angelfish but I could not make them out.

We moved on to Komodo Island after, the sky was getting dark then and we didn’t have time to do a longer trek through the forest but has a 300m trail on the beach. There were 3 big dragons. I’m not sure if they were more docile or we were just tired from being on a boat for ages but everyone crept much closer to them. One of the rangers nudged them with their Y-prong stick to make them move more. How bold!

We had ice creams and left to the boat.

Drinks, dinner, chill beats, and a tiny bit of rain and then we docked in the middle of the sea.

The crew started to pull out some fishing lines and I held one, also a first experience, but failed to catch anything. I wasn’t very patient tho, and I didn’t know what I was doing. The crew caught some squids, then another first experience – I got some ink squirted on me from the squid flailing.

Sleeping on the deck was ok. There were mattresses and it was covered. I feel like it’s been more than a decade since I slept without a shower or clean clothes and especially clean feet. :/

Day 3 – Ocean pancakes

The boat started moving at 4am as we headed to Padar Island to watch the sunrise.

I struggled internally about the hygiene of wearing putting on my contact lenses without solution or washing my fingers in running water. But I had to, I couldn’t go snorkeling without my lenses. #firstworldproblems

The hike to the top was 60 flights of stairs according to google.

Wheeeewwww! What a view!

Throughout the trip we were all finding every opportunity to snap yoga poses and dabs :p

I don’t think many people made it to the top, it was empty and quiet. Perfect morning. I love the shape of the this island, it’s curves and flats and peaks.

I’m not obsessed with Padar, you are!

Back on the boat for about 3 hours and we arrived at the highly anticipated Manta Point. This was a big hurdle for me because I’m afraid of the ocean and fish. This was not snorkeling off a coast, it was just jumping off the boat and into the open! The open deep dark abyss…

The 30 minutes leading up to the area felt like the longest ever. Everyone said yesterday’s snorkel wasn’t real and this was true snorkeling. I was screaming inside.

Yes that is I, screaming.. inside..

But I did it! And I saw Manta rays and corals and fishies like Dory and Nemo and his anemone. The ocean floor was maybe 20metres or more deep but I could see the bottom clearly! Nothing like Pink beach at all! We followed a big Manta boy around for awhile as he floated back and forth beneath us. So surreal.

 

We had fish for lunch, it was the 3rd time we were having fish this trip, we were getting good at plucking the fish clean and eating parts of its head.

Our final stop on the cruise was Kanawa Island which looked really beautiful but we were all tired and didn’t want to pay more entrance fees (every island has a fee!)

We snorkeled around the jetty and the boat, saw more fishies and corals. Up on the jetty, we were observing some starfish when a man said “hey guys, let’s make a video”. I wasn’t sure what he meant then suddenly a drone flew straight at us, eye-level .. into Lewis’s face! 

Poor Lewis, he got 3 small cuts from that and I failed to mention but yesterday at Pink beach he stubbed his toe on a big rock and that was bleeding lots too.

Lewis was taken away on a boat to get his wound cleaned and disinfected. This photo cracks us all up because it looks like he’s being kidnapped but in reality the people were very sweet.

Our adventure on Kanawa was cut short due to
– us being tired in general
– Lewis being hurt
– us wanting to shower and change asap in a comfortable hotel

And so we boarded the boat one second last time, jumped off the boat for funsies, boarded it the last time and set out for shore.

A storm came as soon as we checked in to Komodo Lodge. Phew. We finally got a sweet shower to wash off all the grime and dirt and salt and it was time to head out for dins. The hotel was much closer to the city than Sunset Hill was so we could walk.

We went to a very spacious but cosy Italian restaurant called Mediterraneo. Everyone opted for western non-seafood food for a change.

I don’t remember falling asleep that night, I woke to the sound of morning prayers.

Day 4 – Scoots!

Our last day in LBJ we hired scooters and scooted away to the secluded Rangko Cave. The beginning of our trip was slightly eventful as we had to fill all our tanks and the petrol kiosk ran out of petrol. We scooted across the road and got petrol out of a bottle. Hmm.

As we were on our merry way we met a good Samaritan who asked where we were headed and then told us we were going the wrong way. He then took it upon himself to guide us there. Everyone was suspicious at this point whether he was leading us astray or is he after money?

The road to Rangko was a windy road along the coast. Perfect for scooting!

Then we got a flat tyre. And we stopped our scooter. The guide turned back noticing we weren’t following and said “Come on the back of mine, I’ll take you there. Leave your bike here, I’ll come back for it” Marty and I just shrugged. What could we do, a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere.

We took the leap of faith and ditched the scooter.

We arrived at a little village where good Samaritan said – “Here’s my house! Ok now you take a boat with this man to Rangko and I will get the scooter.” He also asked for $10 to buy an inner tube. So we gave him the money and took another leap of faith and hopped on a boat.

The thing is people here speak little English so this whole time our conversations were like

“Rangko Cave! Boat? How much? Come back 1pm ok? We fly today” with hand signs.

And the responses would be

“Ah ok. I have boat. 100,000 per boat. 8 person 2 boat ok?”

Similarly while on the cruise our conversations with the crew went like

Us: Swimming now? (while flapping our arms)
Crew: No.

*5 minutes later

Crew: Ladies and gentlemen, we are arrive, you swim here. 2 hour.

We got to another island and found the cave pretty easily. My first cave! I’m surprised at my boldness this trip, but then again, I am pushing myself to be uncomfortable because as Andy says – I can’t live in fear. I need to push myself to experience all these great things!

The cave was lovely. The water was so clear and shaded from the sun. We floated around and chilled, tried to identify the rock formations. It was approximately noon when Lewis said “T minus 3 hours and 30 minutes to our flight”. Everyone just stared at each other and burst out laughing.

We were in a cave, off the main island 20mins boat ride away which was then 30min scooter ride away from the main town where our bags were and we had a flight to catch!

We allowed ourselves another 5 minutes and then got up to leave. It was slightly dangerous getting out due to the muddy rocks but we did it! 🙂

Our party of 8 are all very caring members. Besides myself, the 7 have known each other almost half their lives or more!

We got back to the village and there it was. Our scooter, with a shiny new tyre, ready to roll.

O
M
G

There really are good people in the world.

We took a photo with the legend and gave him some money for all of his help even though he didn’t ask. He just smiled.

We made it back to town at 2pm, without our good Samaritan guide this time, no tyre trouble, no petrol stops. There wasn’t time for lunch so we grabbed our bags and went to the airport.

I flew in my swimsuit. That’s another first. Sheltered city slicker no more.

Bye-bye LBJ, your charming sea village really propelled us into our holiday.

The flight to Maumere was short and sweet. We were looking at photos and giggling – being the annoying people on a flight. Oh well.

We were much more confident facing the crowd of drivers at the airport this time, we asserted our price and off we went to Coconut Garden Beach Resort.

This place is right out of a reality show. Pictures aren’t enough so I made a video. It’s pretty terrible but for the sake of this blog –

Everything here is coconuts.

The huts are coconut-shaped
The pot plants are planted inside coconut husks
The welcome drink was coconut
Food is cooked with coconut oil
The welcome mat says “coconut” spelt backwards
The wifi login is coconut
The password is coconutwater
The pancakes were coconut flavour
The resident Rottweiler is called Coco

Also there are frangipanis and shells everywhere, table decorations, in your food and drink, shells hold your cutlery together, they’re on the bed, bed frame shelves and bathroom.

Day 5 – Beach, please

We decided against doing the Kelimutu lake hike as it was a 4hour drive to the base and we would have had to wake at 1am to catch the sunrise.

So we had a full day enjoying each other’s company sitting around all the sand, frangipanis and coconuts. 🙂

PS – I was dehydrated/sun-stroked during my stay. But I’m okay now. (PPS – I was writing this on the go hence the tenses are all over the place. I was okay the next day.)

Day 6 – To Ubud!

After a super chill day just lounging around, doing some SUP (first time!) and reading we had a very busy next 30hours.

We rose around 5:30am from the sunrise and roosters cock-a-doodling. We packed, had brekkie and said goodbye to Coco and the beach resort. It was time to depart for Ubud!

The flight was about 2hours a would have been great if not for the smell of cigarette smoke wafting through the cabins. We then had a long squeezy ride to the accommodation. 8 of us in 1 car, with bags! We arrived and checked-in fine but was told we’d have to swap rooms tomorrow. That’s ok.

The accommodation, Sumantra House (I think they call it a homestay?) wasn’t too great but it had a nice pool. (The room we moved too was lots better!) We had a quick dip and went off to get lunch and some strolls in the scorching heat. 32degrees. I also finally managed to get some contact lens solution today, what day is it? *shudders

The Monkey Forest was 2km down our street so we headed there slowly while window-shopping. Ubud is not as cheap as I thought. I guess it’s a giant tourist trap. It’s still pretty just walking and observing everything.

(moments before Andy got bitten, he didn’t get rabies)

We had decided spontaneously to ball out on dinner at Mozaic. The restaurant was huge but tucked away in garden away from the bustling streets. We were taken to a private dining area with an open kitchen where we could walk up and peruse the cooking process and talk to the chefs.

Some of us got cocktails and they came with little stories on small parchment about the flavours and where the ingredients came from.

I shan’t bore you with details, the food was amaze 🙂

We were all super sleepy from our early start, and dinner seemed to drag on for ages, well it did, it lasted 4 hours. I myself was either giggling hysterically at something trivial or spacing out most of the night.

Did I mention that during our stroll we booked a sunrise trekking hour for the next day and pick-up was at 2am and that dinner was 4hours long and we started at 730pm?

Day 7 – 30hours

(This is still part of the crazy 30hours)

A quick 2hour nap after the degustation, we rose again, packed our bags to climb Mount Batur.

2am – 3am
Picking up other tourists, heading for breakfast

3am – 3:30am
Breakfast (none of us were hungry since dinner ended 4hours ago lol)

4:30am
Arrived at base, met our guide Bagung and he supplied us flashlights, one for a pair instead of one per person like I hoped

We climbed in the darkness, scrambled over rocks, through the fog or possibly clouds? (1,717m above sea) barely stopping for a minute til reached the top, 58minutes later.

The top was chilly, dew had formed on my head and on my jacket and bag.

The first rays of light peeked out at about 5:45am and the majestic Sun slowly emerged just after 6am.

There was an intense Instagram photoshoot going on near us while we made silly silhouettes and a star and regular people photos.

Some of us were inspired by the photoshoot to try a streetwear shot tho.

We spent about an hour at the top watching light fill the earth, revealing a town, lake and Mount Agung in the distance (I’m told it’s 10x harder to climb).

Our descent took longer than the ascent.

Everyone piled into the car, bade farewell to our guide and shut their eyes for what we thought was a 2hour ride home. Alas, we were bamboozled and taken to a coffee plantation where we saw civet cats in cages and were given 13 varieties of tea and coffee to sample. I wore the grumpiest face as I was ushered off the the bus. I’m sorry coffee plantation lady, it’s been a very long 30hours.

I opted to nap for a bit while the others had lunch and a swim. We all got massages between 2-4pm. Our first massage~~~ the Clear Spa was heavenly, it was a 3 storey spa tucked away behind a hobbit door with a river inside and a spiral staircase up to the beds.

The massage itself was spectacular, I enjoyed the arm and neck areas the most.

We had an early dinner to end the day at Arang Sate Bar which had a live musician on Thursdays, what a treat! He did a spectacular rendition of Creep at our request. I also indulged in a Caramel Popcorn flavoured ice cream on our walk back.

Day 8 – Shipwreck

Friday was another early start with a 5am pick-up from our buddy Ketut (he drove us to Mozaic) to Tulamben.

The boys were keen on a scuba dive to the USS Liberty shipwreck and headed straight to Wonder Dive. While some of had a hearty breakfast at a resort instead and stopped to take scenic pics.

A quick history lesson: The USS Liberty was an American cargo ship that was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine during WW2 in 1942. A US destroyer and a Dutch destroyer attempted to dock the ship North of Bali but she took too much water and was beached at Tulamben so cargo could be salvaged.

In 1963, tremors from the eruption of Mount Agung caused the vessel to slip off the beach, she now lies a few metres from the shore providing one of the most popular dive sites off Bali.

We hired scuba and snorkeling gear from Wonder Dive Bali and started our morning! The wreck was super cool to look at, lots of friendly ship swam around unafraid of humans.

Due to the full moon, the tides were high and I could not take the bobbing and had to retreat to land after a short while. The beach didn’t have sand but just black pebbles which made it quite dangerous to enter and leave between the crashing waves.

I guess we weren’t so lucky. Also Andy’s GoPro did not work at the site. Rip. Here’s a group photo of us with the diving instructor Kadek, who Ash had a temporary crush on.

We had tea and waited for the boys to finish their dives and returned our gear to Kadek. Everyone was slightly sea sick from the bobbing. At lunch today we saw the tourist tax in action. Marty’s meal was the exact same as our driver and he paid exactly double. I did think our food all along had been to expensive for locals. Oh well.

We couldn’t go to the Gates of Heaven like we had planned originally as the boys would suffer decompression sickness. None of us had imagined the temple was high up. Hahah. Instead we went to Tirta Gingga the water palace.

The place was teeming with tourists. I sometimes wonder what it’d be like if Instagram was never a thing (and there is no alternative platform). I guess people would still use their phones or other cameras, but it would be less manic? The Gates of Heaven supposedly had a 1 hour queue for photo so we were stuck either way. While we didn’t get the individual shots we desired we got a pretty sick group photo 🙂

That’s Ketut our driver in the middle!

We had a hurried drive home as it was Ash’s birthday and we had to go to dinner! We had repeatedly tried to book this Mexican place Cilantro but no one picked up all day. Surprisingly this restaurant with 1000 reviews averaging 4.5 was empty when we got there. Hurray.

The food was pre gewwwd and we had lots of laughs throughout the night except Lew who was sick 🙁 We ventured into some weird topics which.. I might just keep to myself lol.

Day 9 – Duck and Swing

We finally had a sleep in today, til about 9am. Hehe. Theres so much I wanted to do, massages, shopping, yoga, more swims.. I landed with going shopping with Jess. And it was a successful shop, got a crossbody bag I’d been eyeing since day 1, a playsuit from a cute shop Pina Colada and another top and shorts from another place all in just over an hour.

The others had some massages at Clear and we regrouped there for lunch. I had pasta! I missed pasta.

As it was our last day in Ubud we had to go checkout some rice fields. So we grabbed scooters and set off for Tegalalang.

The fields were huge but organised neatly by the farmers. I havent the faintest idea about farming but I’m sure it’s tedious and probably not easy to make look pretty but they did anyway.

We climbed up, down, in and out of the fields, meandering through the layers and found our way to a swing high up above majority of the terraces looking out at all the tourists.

We gave in to the locals and paid for a go on the giant swing. Ash was sitting on the other end of the terraces but said she couldn’t get a good photo of the swing where our faces were distinguishable.

The swing was wild, I really let my hair down.

We had to swap hotels that night only because we had a 7am flight and we wanted to be closer to the airport. We called Ketut who had suggested we go to a market for some grilled food where the locals loved to go. However he also said the market might not have fresh food as the food would have been cooked since morning. Mixed signals.

We ended up going to Tepi Sawah for crispy duck, another recommendation from Ketut. He said the president and miss universe had dined there before. It was very fancy and the best date spot in town and too expensive for the locals.

The food was indeed phenomenal and I’m really glad we went there! Ugh!

The ambience was great, each party had a private outdoor table. We were also entertained by a very large gecko who only came down to chomp on flies and then scurried back up the wooden beams.

I’m glad we found Ketut, he’s definitely enhanced our Ubud experience greatly. We said our goodbyes at the new hotel near the airport.

Day 10 – The Greenhouse

We started bright and early again and 5:20am for our 7am flight. It was quite a journey, we were dropped at the domestic terminal and had to check in at the international terminal. Then go back to domestic for security and boarding. We ended up running towards the gate after hearing the Final Boarding call.

The flight itself felt like it ascended and immediately descended. It was quick.

We had airport pickup for this hotel, hastily organised the night before 😛 Yogyakarta was a change from all the other places we had been to. There was more infrastructure, proper road signs and traffic lights. But still lots of weaving.

The hotel was like a giant greenhouse with plants in every nook and cranny. The hotel was quite modern too which was a welcome change from all the traditional homestay/hotels we had been in.

As we couldn’t check-in for a few more hours we got scooters again! We rented them for the next few days to save the hassle of renting daily.

We debated slightly about what to do and finally ended on going to Taman Sari, the water castle. Some parts were under renovation which was a pity. The place was different from what I remembered from 3 years ago. I tried to navigate but it was just all so unfamiliar. I don’t know why my memory of this place is so fragmented. Was I having too much fun back then?

Marty and I left the group as we had booked a massage at 2:30pm. We were given a couple room, it was mildly entertaining to watch each other get massaged.

We had a relaxing afternoon and walked to the big market at Jalan Malioboro. It as intense as I remember it, almost as if the entire population of Yogyakarta was there.

It was there that we finally got our friendship anklets/bracelets! We also boldly attempted street satay. I personally felt ok after, but Lewy got sick, unsure if coincidence or it was actually bad?

Day 11 – Sand & Sun

Today was a weird day. We took a long time to get ready and indulged in a buffet breakfast at $9 per person. It was probably the first day (excluding coconut garden day) we had not woken up early.

We scooted around to a funny look out but didn’t quite make it, but found another photo spot! We had cosy lunch in a little shop in a deserted .. town? village? It was this little spot with just 6 or 7 shops in a row.

Then scooted to Parangtritis beach for funny pics (I know that sounds like a disease)

Then scooted abit more to the sand dunes. Jesse was pretty great at sandboarding. I tried to slide down sitting and the board flipped and I went backwards.

We scooted back, lots of scooting today, and had delish dinner at Agenda restaurant. The restaurant was big and spacious with chill vibes. If this were Sydney it would be packed out. We were treated again to live music. I love live music.

Day 12 – Photoshoot on wheels

Marty set off for a motorbike adventure with Jesse in the morning. I lounged around, had buffet breakfast, picked up laundry, bought a USB and swam for a bit. Slow mornings are great. We had a plan for the day tho.

Went towards Mount Merapi for the Jeep tour. We were ambitious in not booking ahead and wanting to go to Borobudur Temple after.  There was a school excursion that day and the few jeeps remaining were broken or couldn’t fit 5 people. We spent a long time searching for a suitable jeep and driver and as we were about to give up, we found a knight in a shiny land rover.

Land rover legend took us on the wildest roughest paths and also became our personal photographer, he took some funny photos of us. I can bet he was having more fun than we were.

Got back at 6pm and Marty still wasn’t back. Goodness. He must have had a long day. We had showers and went to Mediterranean for dinner. (This was more of an Italian restaurant again) I had a very very cheesy pasta.

Since we got a USB in the morning we could finally watch Game of Thrones!! Almost 2 weeks late!

Day 13 – Local life

We only watched a 20minute recap and episode 1 the night before. We had another early morning today, a bicycle tour around a Javanese Village – Rahayu Jurug.

The village was surprisingly close to us, just a 15 minute bike ride away from the main city.

Our first stop was a family-owned Keropok business. We were shown the process from starting with the filling using garlic shrimp onions which is then kneaded into the dough. A special machine is used that makes circular motions to draws circle shaped crackers, then it gets steamed for abit and dried in the sun for a couple days, then finally fried. This family supplies crackers all over Indonesia and has set up a distribution in Amsterdam.

A little down the road was the Cow Bank where the villagers buy baby calves and raise for 18months before selling at a profit A cow sells for about AUD $3000 but can go up to $5000 during Ramadan. There is a security roster for the locals to take turns guarding the cows your thieves each night.

We road past several rice fields which were at different stages of their harvest.
– baby saplings are planted in a line using a bamboo stick as a ruler.
– they take a few months to grow and the irrigation canals are blocked off.
– harvesting is done with a sickle and then a comb-like machine separates the rice from the straw, then finally the grains are sent to a rice mill to peel the rice husks off.

We farmers now. Unfortunately due to how hard life as a farmer is, the number of farmers are decreasing and land owners are developing rice fields into property instead. Our tour guide fears this village/bicycle tour will not be around in 10years.

The straw left after separating the rice doesn’t go to waste it’s used in brick-making and Tempe-making.

-Using 5-year old soil, the farmers dig a few metres of soil up and mix it with water to get the brick ‘batter’. They had a mould that looks like a small ladder to cut the brick pieces. Then they use their fingers to make a little swipe across each brick to make an impression (that interlocks the bricks later). Then the brick is dried in the sun for a couple days and then edges are cleaned with a knife. Finally burned for 3 days or more for the bricks to turn red. The straw is used is burning.

The farmers then pour fertilizer into to replenish the land so it can be used to grow rice again.

Our last stop, also the home of the village chief was where tempe is made. Soy beans are imported from the US and pressed/peeled then wrapped in banana leaves and straw. Tempe can only last 4 days and needs to be thrown.

The bike tour was about 4 hours in total and we were all quite exhausted after that adventure. We chilled, ate lunch, had massage and dinner and then watched ep 2 of GoT. And we had yet another early morning the next day!

Day 14 – I’m a celebrity, get me in there!

More early mornings woo. Assembled to check out at 730am and headed to Borobudur Temple. We stopped by a bakery owned by a French man Marty and Jesse met on their dirt bike day.

Borobudur was packed with school kids, quite odd that we’re encountering kids so often.

We hired a guide for an hour and he told us all about the full history of Borobudur from 1600 years ago. It’s older than Angkor Wat and it’s a Buddhist temple. The temple fell into ruins during earthquakes and war and had been overrun with shrubs for centuries before Stamford Raffles discovered it. It’s now a UNESCO site and has been reinforced structurally without changing its design so it can withstand weather and visitors. However some parts of the Buddha were stolen or destroyed and cannot be replicated. He told us some tales about the carvings in the sides, each panel connecting to the next but the panels below and above telling their own separate story.

There was also a magic Buddha that survived the war, a bomb placed inside it’s bell did not explode and it is said touching that Buddha grants wishes. There are security guards around that one Buddha to prevent people from climbing and damaging the statue and bell.

Once the hour was up our guide say goodbye, it was as though a spotlight shown on us, we were swarmed by schoolkids asking for photos and selfies. We made our way very slowly down and out the west side of the temple with a huge entourage of kids following us like paparazzi. Once we past the security gates we were free from the kids and cameras but we found ourselves in an endless market maze. Around and around we went, at this time we were about to be late for our pickup time so we were hurrying along but the shops were endless.

We eventually made it out and were off to the airport for our final domestic flight, back to Denpasar.

We stayed in Sanur for the time at a funky arty hotel called Artotel. Marty and I scored a free upgrade as they ran out of rooms. We had dinner on the beach and I had a bath, had to make use of the upgrade 😛

Day 15 – Lazy days

I’m behind on days so my writing is getting skimpy. The next 3 days on Lembongan were a great way to round up our holiday. It was the only AirBnB we booked and was double the price of any other accommodation we had. (For context we were paying about $30-$40 a night per person)

We took a boat in the morning to Lembongan and were granted an early check-in at 1. Our AirBnB conveniently had 5 scooters available for rent so we scooted into town for lunch.

We chilled for abit back at the resort and head back to town at 530 to watch the sunset from a rooftop restaurant.

We sat there for a few hours chatting, laughing into the night.

Day 16 – Blues, greens, teals

Rise and shine, yet another early morning!! We had hired a private boat today to take us out snorkeling around the island. By the way breakfast provided was yum. I would go on to have the exact same breakfast for the next 2 mornings.

Our driver was also the boat captain and he took us down to the wharf and out into the sea. We cruised around to Penida where we saw hordes of tourists – we would be there tomorrow and came to our first stop. Manta point here was not like Manta point in Flores. The ocean floor was deeper and less clear, we did see a Manta Ray again but he was so far below and we could not trail him like we did in Flores.

We hopped back on the boat and went to Crystal Bay to look at fish and corals, I don’t really remember this one too much besides the squid/cuttlefish and a nice big rock with lots of corals because the 3rd stop Mangrove Point was soooo beautiful, the water was clear and it was very shallow. I could see lots of colourful corals and sea life, fish darting around. There was a gentle current that pushed us across the seabed for a good amount of time so we just bobbed happily and our captain zipped around to pick us up at the other end.

The snorkel gear this time was the best gear I’ve had compared to Flores and the Shipwreck site, I was really pleased and much much calmer in the water this time. Also the GoPro worked and Andy got some nice piccys. 🙂

After we got back scooted into town for the best Mexican on the island, it wasn’t very good.

Marty and I went for a sunset yoga class at 4pm while the others went to explore Ceningan and its beaches.

We met again for dinner, shared a big grilled fish with some peeps, had amazing raspberry gelato. Back at the resort pool, Aba and I looked at some constellations together then had an early night for another early morning!!!

Day 17 -High risk, high reward

The last early morning of this trip, it’s been mentally draining and my body was giving up knowing it was the last day. We were picked up and taken to Yellow Bridge (the bridge connecting Lembongan and Ceningan) where we caught a boat to Penida. This was a different boat to the one from Sanur to Lembongan. This one was a speed boat whereas the Sanur boat was like a ferry with indoor seats.

We piled into a van when we arrived and were zooming off to the first stop. We had booked this day trip via our AirBnB host, we had specified our 3 stops and agreed on a price. The driver started to make conversation with us and said “hi guys, today we will go to X, Y, Z” and we were all like – hold up fam, we paid to go to A, B, C. The driver was like wtf no, that’s not what I was told, you need to pay more for that trip because that’s going to the East and West of the island! He abruptly turned the van around and zoomed back to the harbour.

This was by far the scariest, craziest ride because Penida’s roads were so narrow and broken.

Back at the harbour we had to negotiate with our other driver (who picked us from Lembongan) and showed him our correspondence with the host and then compromised to pay $10 more per person to get the trip we wanted.

We zoomed about 45minutes to our first stop –

Diamond beach, I believe named so because of the random rocks resembling diamonds in the sea.

The beach was paradise-like, tucked behind a sheer cliff with shrubbery on either side. A rock platform for the gram and a cave off the shore to explore (probably about 20min of swimming still).

Diamond beach was so beautiful we dubbed it the best beach in the world. But the path to the best beach in the world was a steep challenge. I’m curious how many people get hurt on their way in and out.

It was scorching so we jumped in eagerly. The waves were quite big but I think I’ve gotten better at water and the beach. Also the water in Indonesia seems to be a lot warmer than anywhere in Australia.

We did some shoulder wrestling and took a few group pics and climbed the cliff up. The climb up was way easier than the climb down somehow, it was steep and some parts had no railings or clear footholds quite scary.

At the top of the cliff to the side left was another cliff leading to Atuh beach. It looked beautiful as well but we didn’t have time to descend and come back so we headed west for Kelingking beach.

The ride was bumpy and rough again with more tight squeezes with two way traffic on one lane. Looks like we were arriving as people were leaving.

Kelingking is also referred to as dinosaur’s head, you can see why! It was a terribly steep descent that only the boys went down and back up. Ash and I chilled at the top~

Day 18 – The End.

One final massage, one final scoot across the Yellow Bridge, some chill by the pool and then the flight back home to Sydney in Winter.

Cool shit I did in 2018.

I flew home from a magical getaway at Coffs Harbour today. I scrolled through a long Instagram feed of other people’s magical moments, read their reflections, regrets, ambitions and promises for the new year and it got me thinking..

So here’s the stuff I can remember that I did in 2018!  (* = first time)

January

Watched the Cricket Ashes* at the SCG with my work

Went to Australian Open*, saw the GOAT and many other superb athletes like Elina Svitolina.

Spent Australia Day at Brady’s (usually with MPA) and met the chillest dog.

February

Attended St.Jerome’s Laneway festival* saw Basenji, A paak, Mac deMarco, Odesza, War on Drugs                                 

Did a walk around Watson’s bay with Safraaz

March

Jetboating* along Sydney Harbour on Marty’s birthday

Went to Jamabaroo* with Brady & friends! We made a fire!*

April

Went to the Royal Easter show*             

Advanced to Intermediate tennis

May

Went to VIVID                                                 

Went to Lockley’s Pylon* with MPA       

June

Attended Tom & Becs wedding

Joined a kickass company and made cool friends, actually enjoyed events with clients/company xmas party/dressed up as Wally during comic book party

July

Started Invisalign (bonus: this was a new year resolution)

Went to Kingdom Hearts orchestra (* inside the opera house)

Saw Kendrick!*                                                                                  

August

Went axe-throwing* as part of work team building

Watched an NRL game live* courtesy of clients

September

Cut a big amount of hair off

Picked up Yoga

Went to Mr. Wong’s* for crabilicous birthday dinner

October

Went to PAX* and saw Jordan Mays (Elfishguy) casting live!*

Went to Melbourne with dinner crew + other fine dining stuff

November

Played lawn bowls* during team outing

Went to Tokyoooo*  and did a bunch of things like omakase, robo restaurant, emperor’s castle, ghibli, arcade games, almost saw fuji (+ bonus NYR to visit Japan)

Went on scary monkey hike in Hong Kong

Did a few more longer solo drives (NYR)

Went to Dangar Island* for fun times    

December

Went on bridge climb*, hyams beach*, and the blue mountains with my sister

Holidayed in Coffs Harbour* for the new year with mpa

Swam in freshwater* + under a waterfall* + drank fresh water*

———————————————————–

2019 started off with a sandstorm and I’ve face my fears and accomplished a jetty jump*!

Going to watch Anderson Paak, Sydney International, Ultra festival and hopefuly plenty more, will also write a new NYR list soon!

Happy

I’d like to document that today, 26 July 2018, I feel really happy, as I sit at home alone, close to the heater, fresh out of a shower and with food just delivered.

It’s not that something special happened today, I’m just having a happy time. I just saw Kendrick last night with a bunch of special friends, some of us saw the Kingdom Hearts World Tour Orchestra just a week ago. I’m having a great time at work and love my colleagues and really look forward to each day. I feel so comfortable with other things in my life like progressing in tennis, discovering new anime, going fine dining with my usual crew.

I sure hope this happiness keeps going for awhile, I know things are bound to change but I feel like it’s been a long time, a long deserved wave of happiness.

I’m so glad I moved to Sydney.

It’s really changed my life.

Although it really was the butterfly effect of everything…

I moved to Sydney over a boy,

I met boy in an online video game,

I only knew of the game because I dated another who owned a cyber cafe. I often think that other relationship was a bad phase but it led me to here.

I had that other relationship because my friend from dance school introduced me.

I wouldn’t have gone to dance school if not for my stepmom, who I often criticise and whine about.

I wouldn’t have a stepmom if my dad didn’t work where he was and his marriage to mom was a good one.

Those are just the big steps, there were so many steps inbetween that led to where I am. And I can’t help wondering if my life was truly planned for me or were my decisions really my own and I made it to where I am on my own (after a loonnnggg string of mistakes, trials and tribulations).