霞女之旅

Xia's Journey

BBB in Bali

As like every other year, I would attempt to do a sunrise on my birthday; i.e. Sunrise on a sunflower field in Thailand, Trekking up Mt Kinabalu or a Cold chilly sunrise at Bagan, Myanmar.

For 2016, I thought I should take a break and go on a yoga retreat instead. And so I went ahead to book my air tics and yoga retreat package at Bali.

Alas, 3 weeks before my trip, I had a nasty fall and broke my left elbow and fractured my right thumb during a night cycling. As I had paid for the deposit at the yoga retreat centre, I managed to cancel the yoga retreat package and had it converted into a two nights accommodation.

BBB in Bali

Had a nasty fall three weeks before my yoga retreat and had to cancel it.

Fast forward to 1 Dec, I flew over to Bali and made my way to the yoga retreat centre.

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Arrives in Bali and wowww…. was really an impressive airport.

2 Dec 2016, Friday

After staying 2 days at the yoga retreat centre in Canggu (Serenity Eco Guest House). I had to make my way to Kuta.

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Had a two-days stay here. Love it for its rustic-ness and the variety of yoga classes. But as the premise was really huge, many of the spots were not well-kept and at times, dusty. I had not sneezed so much in a long time.

As I was wandering along the streets outside the resort, I chanced upon a “motor-taxi” and after some negotiations, we agreed at IDR 50,000 from Canggu to Kuta, which was about an hour’s ride away. I thought I had gotten a good deal, but bammm….

After boarding the bike, he started talking. Being the chatty and talkative me, I started replying too, thinking that he was just being friendly and letting my defences down.

Below’s a transcript of our conversation. Thinking back, I think it was both scary and funny… Wahahaa…

Babbling Bike Boy (BBB)

BBB: Are you here on this trip alone?

Me: Yaa.

BBB: Your boyfriend never come?

Me: Ohh… He’s busy.

BBB: So, do you have sex with your boyfriend everyday?

Me: (Hmmm… what kind of question is this and what business is it of his!?) Hmmm…. Yaa…

BBB: So, is he good in bed? And he began to rock the bike!

Me: (Huhh…??!! Omg….) Ohh… yaaa….

BBB: I have a Big, Black Banana. Do you want to try?

Me: Errrmm, No… Thank you.

Me: (Omg… where is he going? Will he send me to my destination? Shall I jump off the bike and get another transport? I do not even know where am I and how easy was it to get another transport if I got off his bike. Thoughts ran amok in my head but I was quite surprised at how calm I was.)

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Babbling Bike Boy with his Big Black Banana (BBB : X )

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Behind this smile was a thumping heart and an amok brain… Should I jump off the bike and run or should I continue with the journey on his bike? OMG… what have I gotten myself into?

He kept going on and on, telling me how good he was in bed. I just kept quiet and prayed hard that I’ll reach my destination soon. Thankfully, I arrived at my destination, for what seems like an eternity.

3 Dec 2016, Saturday

Since I could no longer do the yoga retreat, one of my friends suggested I catch a sunrise at Sanur Beach near Kuta for my birthday.

On 3 Dec morning, I dragged myself out of the bed at 4.30am and decided to catch a (proper) cab to the beach after my ordeal with the motor taxi the day prior.

It was 5am and pitch dark when I got into the cab. The cab driver started talking and asked why am I going to the beach at 5am in the morning. I told him I was there to catch a sunrise.

CD : “Are you here on this trip alone?”

Me : (Instinctively, I knew something was not right because I was asked the exact same question by the BBB (Babbling Bike Boy) the day prior.) “No, I’m here with my boyfriend.”

CD : “Ohh, so, where is he?”

Me : “He’s in the hotel room.”

CD : “I see. Now, its only 5am. You can reach the beach by 5.30am. It’s too early. Why don’t we sit by the beach and kiss?” (He suggested.)

Me : “Ohh noo…. I’m busy.” (Garnering my experience from the previous encounter.) “I’m a travel reporter and I’m here for work. I need to find a framing for the sunrise, take notes etc. I need to document my entire sunrise experience, including this cab ride.”

CD : Suddenly, he knew he was in danger of being “exposed’ to the media. And he laughed. “Ohh… maybe you would write about this cheeky taxi-driver too?”. Ohh yes… you bet. And there, you are… Hahahaa… (Unfortunately it was too dark and I didn’t manage to catch any picture of him.)

Not long after, he called one of his friends to take over the job of sending me to the beach and gave excuses that he had just received another job. Holy crap… But, well, so much for the perils of a single female traveller.

Anyways, I got to the beach and back, safe and sound ~ pheww! And I caught this beautiful sunrise on my 40th birthday. Thank you, God, for the love and protection and for giving me yet another beautiful sunrise.

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Thank you God for the beautiful sunrise!

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Love the smell of a sunrise, though its a tug-of-war with the bed.

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The serenity of a sunrise beats anything else.

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Happy 40th Birthday, my dear friend. May there be many more sunrises to come, and may there be someone dear for me to watch the sunrise with… : )

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Yup… Its a beautiful day and let’s cherish every single day that we have…. be it Birthday or not…

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小红探险记

With my new RED HOT CONTE, I was off exploring the PCN, testing the bike and its performance. Here are some of my favorite pictures with 小红.

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小红’s virgin ride to Punggol Park
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小红 saw this half-parched tree on the Punggol PCN towards Sengkang Riverside Park. Poor tree… 😦
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Almost every weekend, 小红 will cycle past SAFRA Punggol. Today, it has finally opened its doors. It is a rather amazing feeling similar to a baby being born after a nine months pregnancy.
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I had just touched down in Singapore and was so itching for a ride. Glad I decided to go for it despite being so drained else, I wouldn’t have caught this amazing sunset near Punggol Marina.
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I super-love this sunset for the amazing reflection it had on the mirrored waters and its rays fighting to break through the clouds. Taken at Punggol PCN as well.
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小红 went gai gai with old fren Java TT7. Was so glad that I had two bikes and that I could go cycling with a good friend of mine.
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It was Joyce’s first visit to the Coney island and it was already a remarkable feat for her to be able to cover that distance. Good job, my dear friend. So proud of you!
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Love this hill beside SAFRA Punggol which gives the illusion of the bike being in the clouds.
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小红与大树. We are really really so minute in this universe.

小红 was put to test one of the nights when I chased after a cyclist.

During my recent 8.5 days meditation retreat at Bodhi Meditation Center, we were constantly ‘drilled’ with values such as patience, compassion and loving kindness to all. We were encouraged to practice loving kindness and to treat everyone we see on the streets as our own sibling, parents or grandparents.

During all these times when I cycle on the PCN’s (park connectors), I’ll see foreign workers cycling past me or towards me without any lights. I reckon most either do not wish to or do not feel the need to, to spend their additional savings on the lights, which I can fully understand. But, they do not realise how dangerous that is for themselves and for other PCN users, especially because certain segments of the PCN can get quite dark without any street lights.

Hence, I bought lots of front and rear bike lights from Bike Zone Connection Sengkang Square to pass to any of these foreign workers if I should come across any of them. Knowing that I was out on a mission, Johnson and Alan (the really sweet and kind guyz at Bike Zone) even gave me a discount on the lights.

As I cycled back after the sunset one of the nights, I saw a foreign worker cycling towards me without any bike lights. I hesitated and was afraid to approach him.

“Stop him. No, I think I better not. Stop him. No, maybe he doesn’t need a light. Stop him. I think maybe another day. Stop him. No, I’m scared.” After all that deliberation, the foreign worker had already cycled way past me.

I finally decided to turn around and chased after him to give him the lights. My Conte’s performance was put to the test in that chase and I finally caught up with him. I guess it was scary for him to have someone popping out of nowhere and stopping him in the middle of the PCN as well.

I asked if he had a light (what a silly question, obviously he didn’t have one!) and asked why he didn’t have a light. (Another even sillier question… Duhh….!) Because, I didn’t know how else or what else to ask to break the ice from his frightened and startled face.

I helped him install the front and rear lights on his bike. He was happy and grateful and gave me a huge smile before he disappeared into the dark PCN again.

Instead of lamenting (like in the past) why they refuse to install bike lights, we can instead be the light they need ~ brightening the PCN one bike at a time.

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The frightened and startled foreign worker must have heaved a sigh of relief after I helped him installed the lights. Haahaa…. 🙂 He broke into a huge smile before he disappeared into the dark PCN again.

I did up a post on my Facebook and had the biggest shock of my life when the post went viral, garnering 81 shares.

To me, I believe that we should not do good because of fame or glory or because it makes us happy. We should do it because we believe that our little act of kindness will make a small difference to the other person’s life or day. Our days on Earth are very limited, and we should always try to do good every single day or at every single chance we get.

Below is an excerpt of the article published in Lianhe Wanbao (a local news publication) as well as in an online media, Mothership.sg

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Didn’t even know that this was out in the papers until a friend tipped me off.

Article in Mothership.sg;

http://mothership.sg/2016/06/thanks-to-this-girl-foreign-workers-in-singapore-can-cycle-at-night-safely/

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Staying Alive @ Alive Museum

Since my first visit to the Alive Museum one year back with my crazy pal, I had always wanted to do a re-visit. I could remember distinctly how much fun we had and how wacky we went over the 3D artworks, props and digital art pieces. Alas, with our hectic schedules, we never got round to doing so.

With a special invite from Alive Museum for their one year anniversary, it was my best excuse to make the re-visit. Yayhoo… You can imagine how ecstatic I was, and was literally brimming from ear to ear even before I could enter the museum.

I visited the museum with a friend (Meifang) and her niece (Donna) and nephew (Toby). This visit brought back lots of wonderful memories and at the same time, created fresh ones. With over 10,000 sq ft holding more than 80 artwork exhibits, 30 per cent of the art pieces had been changed since its inception. And as a matter of fact, the museum changes 30 per cent of their art pieces every 12 to 18 months.

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“Look at this trove, Treasures untold, How many wonders can one cavern hold? Looking around here you think, Sure, she’s got everything!” Soundtrack from Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid) My little mermaid and merman is ready for ya! Are you…? 🙂

 

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Welcome to Alive Museum!

 

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Even Toby has instructed his men to give ya a warm welcome.

 

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And here’s my AGA way of welcoming you, Roaarrrrr…

 

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The museum has Pose point icons and Photo point icons on the ground indicating the best spots to pose and shoot from. So, don’t worry if you can’t figure out cos they even have a “Sample pic” on how it would look like. But, of course, who’s to say you can’t add a little creativity of your own!

 

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OMG…. Look at what the kids found in the washing machine?!

 

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Love this Digital Art piece. Donna was actually jumping on a gym mat and the mural at the back was inverted. After the jump, all we need to do was to flip the image upside down and we could see her in the inverted posture. I thought it was very cleverly done as we were standing there wondering why was the mural at the back inverted. *Scratching our heads* Haahaa… 😀

 

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How do you like my moon-walking with MJ? Can pass?

 

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Ever wondered how it was to look thru the eyes of ET?

 

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With a wide range of Digital Art, 3D Art and Object Arts, visitors can look forward to a wow and immersive experience to ‘trick’ and bewilder their friends. The crux is to ‘stay alive’ whilst being chomped up by Marilyn Monroe, dangling within metres from the crocodile’s fangs and being chased by zoombies….!!

 

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There were no signages leading to this glass chamber and it was such a thrill for us popping our heads in to find that it leads to another segment of the Museum.

 

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Getting around the Museum is easy… You can hitch a flight

 

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catch a lift from the poodle,

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get on the trunk of an elephant,

 

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or simply get on a boat ride.

 

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The kids certainly look like they are having a lot of fun…

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and so is Mei Fang! Haahaa… : D

 

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We’re so L O V I N G it here!

 

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And this is how much we L O V E the Alive Museum… 🙂 Tell me how could you not after visiting!

 

Tips when visiting the Alive Museum :

– For ladies, it will be best to go in pants / jeans. Yes, I know we look prettier and more photogenic in that little dress, but well, some of the art pieces require a bit of climbing, crawling, jumping or even lying on the floor. Hence, things can get a little ‘unglam’, you know…

– Visit the washroom which is just next to the Museum before you enter it. As the Museum is quite huge and there are so many of these art pieces to camwhore with, its going to take quite a while before you get out. You wouldn’t want to miss any of those art pieces, right, cos’ you may not be able to re-enter once you exit.

– Many of these art pieces need an extra pair of hands for photography. Best to go with family, friends, loved ones or even your enemy! (If he/she doesn’t mind going with you!)

 

Address: Suntec City Mall #03-372 (between Towers 3 & 4) / (Beside Golden Village)

Operation Hours: Opens daily from 10am to 10pm (last admission at 9pm). Check here just to ensure that they are not closed for private events.

Approximate Duration of Visit: 1.5 hours

Ticket Prices: $25 (Adults), $20 (Children 3-12 yrs)

How to get to the Museum:

By Train :

Take the MRT to Promenade Station (Circle Line, CC4). Use Exit C and walk into the East Atrium (between Towers 3 and 4). Take the lifts / escalator up to the 3rd level.

By Bus :

Bus 36 and 531 stops at Suntec Tower 3 (busstop# 02149), which is a mere 5 minutes away from the Museum.

By Drive :

There are 4 access routes to Suntec City by car ;
•  Raffles Boulevard (from Bras Basah Road)
•  Temasek Avenue
•  Rochor Road exit from East Coast Expressway (ECP)
•  Nicoll Highway
Park in the RED zone for closer proximity to Towers 3 and 4.

 

This blog post is made possible by Alive Museum.

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Adventuring Yogyakarta

As there were quite a number of attractions at Yogyakarta, I decided to split up the blog post and cover the different attractions in this blog post. You can read (part I) Exploring Yogyakarta here.

Attractions Collage

Clockwise from top left: Jomblang Cave, Prambanan Temples, Borobudur Temple, Parangritis Beach

Date of Trip : 12 to 17 February 2015, Thursday to Tuesday

Flight
To : AirAsia QZ 659, 12 Feb 2015, Thursday, 11.10am – 12.25pm
Return : AirAsia AK 1791, 17 Feb 2015, Tuesday, 7.25am – 10.25am
Cost of Flight : S$220 per pax, with two way 15kg check-in luggage

Accommodation
5 nights Accommodation at Whiz Hotel : SG$123.46 per pax (twin-share)

You can read my review of this accommodation here.

Attractions:

Borobudur Temple
On the second day of our trip, we chartered a cab (from the same cab driver which brought us from Yogyakarta airport to our hotel) for a day trip to Borobudur Temple. As we intended to shoot the sunrise from Borobudur Temple, we chartered his cab for an 11-hour day trip from 4am to 3pm at IDR 350,000.

By 3.50am, we were standing-by and waiting for him at the hotel’s lobby. We started chatting with the hotel staff and upon learning that we were going to shoot sunrise from Borobudur Temple, he suggested that we visit Punthuk Setumbu lookout point too. With his suggestion, we switched plans and decided to make a trip to Punthuk Setumbu lookout point instead.

We reached Punthuk Setumbu lookout point at about 5.15am and paid an entrance fee of IDR 30,000 per pax (SG$3.20) and a parking fee of IDR 5,000 (SG$0.50).

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To our dismay, it was a mountain view with the sun popping out from behind the mountains. We have had tons of mountain sunrise shots with the most recent one from Myanmar just 2 months ago. Disappointed that this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind, we decided to make a dash for Borobudur Temple in a last frail attempt to try and catch a glimpse of the rising sun with the Buddha’s silhouette.

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Sunrise from Punthuk Setumbu lookout point. Well, this wasn’t exactly what we have in mind. And instead of spending more time here, we decided to make a dash to Borobudur Temple to try to catch a sunrise with the Buddha’s silhouette.

But alas, we were a tad too late when we got to Borobudur Temple at 6am. The sun had risen.

Nonetheless, we paid the entrance fees of IDR 280,000 and entered the temple.

For those of you that are keen to do a sunrise shoot at Borobudur Temple, you would need to make your way to Manohara Hotel and purchase a Sunrise + Borobudur Entrance Fee ticket costing IDR 380,000. This ticket entitles you to enter the temple before 6am (after 4am).

Guests staying at Manohara Hotel enjoys a discount and pays IDR 230,000 for a Sunrise + Borobudur Entrance Fee. Similarly, this ticket entitles you to enter the temple after 4am and before 6am.

Pricing Structure
Entrance Fee (after 6am) = IDR 280,000
Sunrise (Surcharge from 4am to 6am) + Entrance Fee (Public) = IDR 380,000
Sunrise (Surcharge from 4am to 6am) + Entrance Fee (Manohara Hotel guests) = IDR 230,000

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Covering 2,500 square meters, Borobudur Temple is the world’s largest Mahayana Buddhist monument and this five tiered architectural site has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. The monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and houses 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome located at the centre of the top platform is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated within a perforated stupa.

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Lots of lots of stupas but only one facing sunrise that is exposed.

With so many Buddha statues, I had imagined it to be a magnificent sight. I walked round and round and round and round… only to find two Buddha statues that were ‘exposed’. One of the Buddha statues faces the sunrise direction and another faces a different direction. Oh well… It wasn’t peak season when we went and could you actually imagine the number of tourists hogging behind this one ‘exposed’ Buddha statue to shoot during peak seasons.

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This is one of the ‘exposed Buddha’ whilst the rest of the Buddhas were encased within their respective perforated stupas.

According to one of the guides (as eavesdropped), the best period to visit is from May to July. But the best part of us being here during this off-peak season was that, the site was not swarming with tourists and that we were able to capture some ‘clean shots’ of the temple and of course, enjoy our favorite pasttime of camwhoring too!

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A failed standing bow pose… I must practise more liaoz… Haahaa… : D

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Don’t ask me what is this Xiao Char Bo doing…. Cos’ I oso dunno… Haahaa…. 🙂

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The site has a rich history but we didn’t hire a guide cos we wanted to maximise the time to shoot. But, on second thoughts now, maybe we should have done so.

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There were lots of these reliefs and Buddha statues. However, they were not meaningful to us as we did not hire a guide to explain its history.

Hence, after some brief strolls through the temple, we were off to Borobodur Butterfly Park which was a mere 5 minutes drive away.

Borobodur Butterfly Park
The Borobodur Butterfly Park is a very small enclosure that can be viewed ‘at one glance’. There wasn’t much butterflies when we went, and the park seemed to have more floral than butterflies. From our research, they used to charge an entrance fee, but it is now free, possibly in an attempt to push visitorship. With very minimal to shoot, we had a brief stroll through the garden and was out in less than an hour.

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One of the few butterflies that I spotted.

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peek-a-bOO…

Candi Merdut
Before heading for our lunch, we dropped by Candi Merdut temple. It looked pathetically small and with an entrance fee of IDR 3,500 we decided to give it a miss and went for our lunch before calling it a day.

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This was it for Candi Merdut. It didn’t look like there was much to see in there and with an entrance of IDR 3,500 we decided to give it a miss.

Sultan Palace (Kraton)
Sultan Palace, also known as the ton, / Karaton or Kraton defines a place where the Queen and King resides. It was a grand complex that was meticulously planned to reflect the Javanese cosmos. Started in 1755, constructions were completed some 35 years later, in 1790.

Today, it is a museum for visitors in the mornings, and a functioning palace in the afternoons, where it is being used for official functions, political meetings and as the royal residence. Do take note that the palace is only open to visitors from 830am to 1230pm, except for Fridays and Saturdays where it closes at 11am. It is closed on all afternoons.

Located in the city centre, we caught a becek (trishaw), costing IDR 20,000 for a 15 minutes ride to the Kraton.

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We arrived the palace at about 10am, and paid an entrance fees of IDR 12,500 per pax and IDR 1,000 for camera charges. My travel mate was stopped at the entrance for wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and had to purchase a top from one of the stalls. (Strict dress code applies here; No sleeveless T-shirt for guys. I didn’t seem to see any for ladies though and I was wearing a short sleeve tee-shirt with berms.)

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My travel mate wearing his new batik top costing IDR 20,000 (SG$2.10). Dashing right… Heh heh hehh… : D

As we entered the palace, we walked through a pavilion or “Pagelaran” where the Sultan’s ministers and troops used to assemble. Now, this space is being used for musical and theatrical performances on the last Sunday of each month and special occasions such as the Sultan’s birthday. We were pretty lucky that our visit coincided with one of these performances and were treated to a Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet show) although we visited on a Saturday morning. As time was tight, we didn’t sit through the entire performance and started to make our way around the palace.

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How lucky of us to arrive just-in-time for this Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet show).

Most of the pavilions or “pendopo” we came across were, largely open air structures, supported by ornately carved pillars. However, many of these very pretty pavilions were out-of-bounds to visitors and it was really such a shame.

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Many of the pavilions had these signages and were out-of-bounds to visitors. If so, why do they bother to even open up the palace for visitation in the first place, I wondered….

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So much attention given to the pillars.

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Love this ‘street lamp’ near the palace entrance.

Housed within the palace were several ‘museums’, bearing different artifacts of Javanese musical instruments, antiques and heirlooms. Most of the descriptions were either in Bahasa Indonesian or badly constructed English. Either way, it was a good guessing game on what the artifact was about or trying to divulge. With minimal English descriptions, it is a no wonder that this place was an ideal location for the second pit stop in The Amazing Race 19. Haahaa… 🙂

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The only, ‘very palace-like’ pavilion at the Kraton

Taman Sari / Water Castle
2km to the south of the Sultan palace, lies an open secret. Constructed in 1758, the Taman Sari also known as Taman Sari Water Castle was used as a bathing complex, resting area, workshop, meditation area, defense area and a hiding place.

The Taman Sari consisted of four distinct areas; a bathing complex in the centre, a complex of pavilions and pools in the south, a lake in the east and a large lake with islands and pavilions in the west. However, today, only the central bathing complex remains as many other parts of the complex were destroyed during the British invasion in 1812.

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There are two gates leading to the bathing complex. The western gate is known as Gedhong Gapura Hageng and the eastern gate is known as Gedhong Gapura Panggung. Both gates are decorated with ornaments of stylized birds and flowering foliages as seen in above pic.

When I stepped foot at the central bathing complex, I stopped dead in my tracks. Disappointed and disillusioned, the bathing complex’s glorious days … … as it is named… was a thing of its past. It used to be a pool for the royals, but now it just looks like a sad pool for the mozzies. The pool is no longer maintained and the bottom was engulfed by moss and fungi. Ohh well, so much for the awesome pictures that I saw online.

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We ventured around the passages and pathways and came across a group of people sitting inside a circular area. Wondering how they got there, we walked around looking for it. And out of the nowhere, we stumbled upon an entrance to the Gumuling Well (Sumur Gumuling), which was a circular structure being used as a mosque in the 1700s.

The entrance led to an underground tunnel and the underground tunnel had a mystery feel to it and it felt like we were going on some Nat Geo exploration when walked down the steps into the dark tunnel. In there, it was cold and empty with some light coming through the arches.

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Going on a Nat Geo exploration.

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The light coming through the arches made for such awesome ‘feel-yin’ shots.

Reaching the central area of the building was an elevated platform where four staircases meet. And from the platform, there is a staircase that brings one up to the first level. The platform got kind of crowded when everyone tried to get a snapshot on it. Eventually, we didn’t want to wait and left.

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We followed some locals and came to a dilapidated one level structure known as the Kenongo building. In the past, the entire area that we were standing on, was known as the Segaran Lake (a man-made lake). This man-made lake was then the main complex of Taman Sari. In the middle of this man-made lake was an island and on that island, was this Kenongo building.

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Nothing left of the Kenongo Building except this ruins

Today, the Segaran lake has been drained of its water and the lake bed has been taken over by human settlements. There is nothing left of Kenongo building now, except these ruins.

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This area, once an artificial lake, is now filled with human settlements

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Saw this really cool-looking peeping hole at the back of the ruins

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Climbed up this rock and I felt like I’ve been transported to another world

Jomblang Cave
According to the research, not many tour operators knew how to get to Jomblang Cave and hence to save the hassle, we called up the owner directly (Mr Cahyo Alkantana +62 81111 7010).

The transport picked us up from our accommodation at 730am and it was a 2 hours drive to Jomblang Cave. The last 300m leading to the site was very very very bumpy and it could very well be the bumpiest ride I’ve ever ever sat through. Although it was a mere 15 minutes drive on that bumpy stretch, it felt like forever with your guts spilling out from your throat with every bump.

We arrived the site at about 930am and after some tea and fitting on the rubber boots, we were all set to go on our adventure.

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We made new friends!

Sadly for me, they didn’t have any rubber boots of my size, as they were either too small or too big. I didn’t have a choice and had to force my feet into a pair that was two sizes smaller and I finally could comprehend how a bound-feet woman in the Chinese ancient time feels like. It was excruciating! And to top it up, the inside of the rubber boots were wet and muddy from the previous users making it even more nasty.

We got to the edge of the cliff and were hoisted 20 meters down to the bottom of the cave.

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See the staff behind me…? That’s where we were being hoisted 20m down the cliff before getting into the cave. Ohh man… I need Superman powers to do this…!

Upon reaching the bottom of the cave, we had to trek through a forest trail before arriving at the mouth of the cave. As we were there during the rainy season, the way down to Jomblang cave was wet, slippery and muddy. There were no hand rails and proper stairs except for a rope stringed through several poles planted gingerly into the soft muddy ground to act as support. We were literally going on all fours, getting down and dirty.

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After the descend, we made our way into a tunnel and had to trek over rocks, rocks and more rocks. I had to maneuver my way around carefully as it was dark, wet, muddy, slippery and remember that my rubber boots were ill-fitting too! It was made worse as I did not have a strong enough light to illuminate the path ahead of me and I was honestly using my feet to feel my way around. I’m not too sure if the organisers provided headlamps cos’ I was not given one and had to use my own tiny weenie hand-held torch which didn’t provide much light.

After an arduous 20 minute trek, we finally got to Luweng Grubug, a sinkhole with the stunning “heaven’s light”.

It was a very surreal magical feeling when we saw the 90m light pillar shine through the flowstone in the dark cave.

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We climbed onto a calcite rock and basked in the light. The best time to be here is from 10am to 12noon when sunlight shines directly into the hole. We came here hoping to see this ray of light and we were so thankful that it was a bright and sunny day and the light rays coming through were just so strong and majestic. We took shots, lots of it, cos it was just simply amazing and jaw-dropping. Awesome is an understatement.

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See the tiny weenie light that I have on my bag? That’s how much light I had in the pitch dark tunnel. Haahaa… : p

Before we knew it, it was time to make our way back up. Awwww….

It has not been an easy caving experience but we loved the authentic experience of going on all fours and getting really dirty rather than the touristy version of well-paved paths and tracks. Despite the many discomforts and high costs, the two hours car ride getting here was totally worth it. It has been our favorite activity on this trip.

Some tips to take note of when going for the caving adventure;
1. Wear clothes that you intend to discard as we got all muddy from the caving and the mud stains were still irremovable after the hotel’s laundry service. Long pants would help prevent any abrasions during the descend as well as provide some additional surface area for wiping the mud off your hands.

2. Bring along a hat / cap or shower cap so that you could put it on before placing the helmet as the helmet reeks of a thousand years perspiration!

3. Wear slip-on foot-wear as you would need to change out into rubber boots cos’ I’m sure you wouldn’t want to stain your clean socks and shoes with mud. (There are shower cubicles where you could wash off the mud though.)

4. Bring along a waterproof camera or house your camera / handphone in a waterproof casing with a lanyard over the neck. The cave is rather wet and it can get quite cumbersome to take the camera in and out from the bag pack.

5. BYOH ~ Bring your own headlamp. I’m not too sure if they provide headlamps cos’ I was not given one. My friend was given a handheld torch whilst the other two guests were given headlamps. I had to use my own tiny weenie handheld torch which was rather weak and didn’t provide much assistance. However, having said that, whatever small amount of light was better than none as it got really really pitch dark at certain segments of the cave. A headlamp would be a better alternative as it frees up both your hands to grab onto the sides if you should need to.

The caving experience costs IDR 450,000 per pax inclusive of a boxed lunch and the transport costs IDR 500,000 per vehicle. Since there were only both of us, we paid IDR 700,000 (SG$73) each. We contemplated on doing so as it wasn’t exactly cheap, but thankfully we decided to go ahead with it as it had been such a phenomenal experience.

Parangritis Beach
Parangritis Beach and Jomblang cave are not too far from one another. My suggestion would be that you speak to the driver that brings you to Jomblang Cave to send you to Parangritis beach after the Jomblang Cave activity ends. I’m not too sure how much additional that will costs as we made the mistake of going back to our hotel at the city centre and then going to Parangritis beach, wasting too much time and incurring higher costs.

map parangritis beach

Parangritis beach is a popular tourist beach located on the southern coast of Java. We were enticed by the mirror reflection on the shallow coastline as seen in many of the promotional pictures and decided to make a trip there. We were so overwhelmed by our caving experience in the earlier part of the day, that it had completely slipped my mind to visit this location right after the caving experience.

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Thankfully, we still had beautiful sunshine when we got to Parangritis beach.

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This beach is not exactly the best beach for swimming as it is known to have strong rips and currents tormenting it. But comes sunset, the volcanic black sand coupled with the shallow coastline turned the shore into a long glistening stretch of mirror, transforming it into an amazing photo piece. Although we didn’t spend a lot of time on this beach, it was our second favorite attraction on this trip.

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Love the beautiful mirror reflection on the beach during sunset

Queen of the South Resort
Our driver suggested we visit “Queen of the South” resort for dinner as it offered a magnificent view of the beach during sunset. True enough, when we got to the “Queen of the South” resort, there was an infinity pool overlooking the sea. I could so imagine myself sipping a cocktail, hanging over the edge of the pool, watching the sun dip into the abyss of the sea. Woww… this is life!

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As the restaurant was closed for that day, we did not manage to have dinner here but we were glad that we dropped by albeit such a short time.

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Prambanan Temples
As we read that Prambanan Temples and Ratu Boko Temple were nearby and that Ratu Boko was a perfect location for sunset, we decided to run the trip in the afternoon and catch the sunset at Ratu Boko. We started the half day tour at 2pm and bamm… not the best decision afterall.

We got to Prambanan Temples at about 3.30pm and after an hour or so, we were still not done.

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Hence, we had to forgo Ratu Boko Temple as the last entry time was 5pm. Since we were unable to catch the sunset at Ratu Boko Temple, we settled for dinner at Boko Resto (a restaurant nearby) so as to catch the Ramayana Ballet performance at 7.30pm.

The restaurant offers a view overlooking the city but the sunset was partially blocked at the angle where we were at. What a shame!

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Nothing fantastic about the dinner, but the view on my left was jes awesome for a rough day like this

We ended the dinner at about 7pm and headed to the Ramayana Ballet performance. And to our surprise, there was no performance on the day that we went! Ahhhh…. How could this have happened?! We miss the sunset and now, we miss the Ramayana Ballet performance. Argghhh…. Well… I guess it was my own oversight that we underestimated the time we needed at Prambanan temples and hence missed the sunset and I had also not researched well enough that there was no performance on the day that I went. Do click on this Ramayana Ballet Performance schedule to check for the performances dates before making your trip down, and hopefully you’ll not make the same mistake that I did…!

It had been an interesting and memorable trip and my ‘favoritiest’ activity on this trip was the caving experience as it offered a very unique and astounding adventure. This was followed by the short sunset that we had on Parangritis beach which was really gorgeous and breath-taking. I am not a shopaholic but I cannot hide the fact that I loved the unbelievable prices I had at Malioboro street which really put ‘shop till you drop’ to the test. And of course, not forgetting the unlimited amount of Magnum ice creams that I had… Awwww… how much I missed that since returning home to SG.

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Exploring Yogyakarta

Date of Trip : 12 to 17 February 2015, Thursday to Tuesday

Flight
To : AirAsia QZ 659, 12 Feb 2015, Thursday, 11.10am – 12.25pm
Return : AirAsia AK 1791, 17 Feb 2015, Tuesday, 7.25am – 10.25am
Cost of Flight : S$220 per pax, with two way 15kg check-in luggage

Accommodation
5 nights Accommodation at Whiz Hotel : SG$123.46 per pax (twin-share)

When I told my friends I’m going Yogyakarta, most of my friends would go, “Huhh, Where? Jakarta you mean…” “No. Not Jakarta. Yogyakarta.” I explained (over and over again). Haahaa… 🙂

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Off to Yogyakarta, not Jakarta.

Yogyakarta can be quite a mouthful for some, and although both are in Indonesia and ends with a ‘karta’, they are not of the same place. As we can see from the map below, Jakarta is pretty much north of Java, whilst Yogyakarta is on the south.

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Same same ‘karta’, but different.

This blog post will hopefully give you a better insight into Yogyakarta; what to expect and what to take note. I’ll be covering some favorite places of interest in the next blog post. Do keep a look out for it.

Where is Yogyakarta?
Located in Indonesia, Yogyakarta is home to Borobudur temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It is also within close proximity to the Prambanan Temples, the Sultan Palace (Kraton), Jomblang Cave, several beaches and museums. Many tourists visit Yogyakarta for its strong Javanese culture and tradition. Today, it is the second most important tourist destination in Indonesia after Bali. With such a massive site for photo opportunities, what could stop my photo pal and myself from making a trip there? It was another check off our bucket list.

Attractions Collage

Clockwise from top left : Jomblang Cave, Prambanan Temples, Borobudur, Parangritis Beach.

Price Haggling
Well, I would never have thought that my price haggling skills would start right from the minute I land at Yogyakarta till the minute I depart.

As we were exiting Yogyakarta Adisucipto International Airport (JOG), cab drivers started crowding around us, asking us where we wanted to go and started tailing us. For a ride from the airport to the city centre / Malioboro area, one of them quoted us IDR 100,000 (SG$11). We did our research and thanks to many of you out there who had so generously shared your information with us, (which I shall attempt to do so as well), we read that a ride from the airport to the city should costs no more than IDR 50,000 (SG$5.50). After much haggling and walking away, he finally relented and charged us IDR 50,000 ~ half of his initial quoted price.

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Lots of cab drivers awaiting to hound you.

On our return journey to the airport, we hailed a cab from the street just outside our hotel. We were told by the hotel staffs that the cab drivers outside our hotel ran on meter and hence got into one of the cabs. After we settled in comfortably, the cab driver quoted us IDR 70,000 for the ride. We insisted that he ran on meter since the hotel staff said so. Disgruntled, he turned on the meter and took us to the airport.

The flagdown rate started at IDR 6,650 and it was a IDR 400 jump each click. When we arrived at the airport, the meter read IDR 54,650. We did not have anymore small change with us and gave him a IDR 100,000. He did not have small change either (or perhaps pretended not to have, I’m not sure, I choose to believe in the first) and returned us IDR 35,000. Our trip to the airport had costs us IDR 65,000 instead of the metered IDR 54,650.

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Bought these shawls that went from 3 for IDR 100,000 to 2 for IDR 50,000 to 3 for IDR 60,000.

Over the week, we had several instances of price haggling from getting onto a becak to purchasing a shawl. We were outside Candi Merdut when the street vendor offered her shawls at 3 for IDR 100,000. As I expressed interest, she went from 3 for IDR 100,000 to 2 for IDR 50,000 and then 3 for IDR 60,000. Ultimately, I got my purchase at 5 for IDR 100,000 as she didn’t have IDR 40,000 change.

Mode of Transport
After getting into Yogyakarta city, there are several main modes of going around. For several of the day trips, we chartered a cab. Other times, we either went on foot or caught a becek (trishaw). Below is a guide of the prices we paid.

Becek
Took a becak from Whiz hotel at Malioboro area to Kraton (about 15 mins ride) = IDR 20,000

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The quoted price for a becek was IDR 20,000 (SG$2.10 for 2 paxs). Its rather affordable and we didn’t have the heart to bargain it down further.

Chartered Cabs
Chartered 2 ways cab from Whiz hotel at Malioboro area to catch Borobudur sunrise from 4am to 3pm = IDR 350,000
Chartered 2 ways cab from Whiz hotel at Malioboro area to Jomblang Cave from 7.30am to 3pm = IDR 500,000
Chartered 2 ways cab from Whiz hotel at Malioboro area to Parangritis beach from 4.30pm to 9.30pm = IDR 200,000
Chartered 2 ways cab from Whiz hotel at Malioboro area to Prambanan Temples from 2pm to 10pm = IDR 150,000
Cab from Airport to Whiz hotel at Malioboro area = IDR 50,000 (negotiated down from IDR 100,000)
Cab from Whiz hotel at Malioboro area to Airport
Actual metered costs = IDR 54,650
Paid = IDR 65,000 as we did not have smaller bills. (Do ensure that you have some smaller bills even until you have arrived at the airport for departure.)

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Called up the owner of Jomblang Cave directly and he arranged for this cab to come pick us up. Very costly at IDR 500,000.

As you can see, the costs for the chartered cab to Jomblang cave was the most expensive, as firstly, not many drivers know the way there and secondly, the last 300m to the cave was very very very bumpy which needed a 4-wheel drive to get through. Although it was a mere 15 minutes drive on that very bumpy stretch, it felt like forever with your guts spilling out from your throat with every bump. For this day trip, we called up the owner of Jomblang Cave directly (Mr Cahyo Alkantana +62 81111 7010), and he arranged for a driver to come pick us up at IDR 500,000. I reckon you could find your own driver at a lower cost if he is familiar with the roads and knows his way there.

Accommodation
We did a 5 nights stay at Whiz Hotel which was located at the Malioboro area. It wasn’t exactly right smack on Malioboro street but a side road adjacent to it. To me, I think it is an excellent location as it is within 1 minute of walking distance to all the food and shopping amenities but yet not as crowded and as noisy on the Malioboro street. The street that we stayed on is known as Jl. Dagen and Whiz Hotel is the first hotel on this stretch after a right / left turn from Malioboro street. Malioboro street is an equivalent to Singapore’s Orchard Road with lots of shopping and eateries etc.

Whiz Hotel

Love this hotel for its price and location. Highly recommended!

At about SG$25 per pax, per night for a twin room, not only is it affordable, it is also clean and modernly furnished. Although it is a tad small, I’ll still give my two thumbs up for its price, location, cleanliness and convenience. A hotel that I’ll highly recommend.

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Costs SG$25 per pax, per night – its a two thumbs up!

Local Delights 
I’m no foodie but the below is an account of the local food and eateries which we tried.

Lunch at Gudeg Yu Djum: IDR 70,000 (SG$7.40)
This eatery was highly recommended by the staffs at our hotel and we decided to give it a try since it was nearby.

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Was starving when we landed and thankfully the first meal at Yogyakarta was this delicious Gudeg Yu Djum’s, Gudeg with chicken and beef rind on rice.

We ordered the signature dish, Gudeg with chicken and beef rind on rice. Gudeg means jackfruit in sweet curry, and as such, it was rather aromatic and sweet on the taste buds.

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One set of Gudeg with chicken and beef rind on rice costs IDR 30,000 (SG$3.20) and a bottle of Teh Botol at IDR 5,000 (SG$0.50).

Dinner at Roadside stalls: IDR 10,000 (SG$1.05) + IDR 146,000 (SG$15.40)
We strolled along the streets and came to some makeshift stalls. Curiosity got the better of us and we decided to have a shot at these local stalls. We ordered the dishes without knowing what they were and how much they costs, as our conversations were only limited to ‘ayam'(chicken), ‘ikan'(fish), ‘lembu'(beef), ‘satu'(one), ‘dua'(two), ‘tiga'(three), ‘goreng'(fried), ‘pengkan'(bbq) etc. Haahaa… But well, we survived!

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It was quite an experience for us eating by the roadside, sitting on the mats. Our first order was a simple ‘Cai Fan'(Dishes ontop of the rice) costing IDR 10,000 (SG$1.05).

Still feeling greedy, we got to another roadside stall and ordered ‘Zi Char’ (Dishes prepared upon order).

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We had an oily deep-fried fish, prawns, stir-fried kangkung and side salad totalling IDR 146,000. The deep-dried fish costs IDR 65,000 and it was quite yumzz and fresh. The prawns on the other hand fared quite badly as they were tiny and didn’t tasted fresh.

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Dinner at Dafter Restaurant: IDR 59,400 (SG$6.30)
We ended up at Dafter restaurant for one of our dinners. It was another ‘sit-on-the-floor’ dining and my travel pal was almost concussed from the contortionisms.

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My poor travel pal nearly got cemented on the floor with leg cramps  : X

We decided not to have another yoga session and moved to a table seating instead.

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We ordered Dafter restaurant’s specialty, Ayam Rica Rica which was fiery and spicy but a little too tough. There were five different types of sambal and each costs IDR 2,000 (The five saucers in the middle of the picture).

We tried a Wedhang Uwuh, which is a hot Javanese drink made of cloves, nutmeg, ginger and palm sugar. It was hot and spicy at the same time. The total cost for this dinner came to IDR 59,400 (SG$6.30). It was really cheap considering it was a shared dinner amongst both of us.

Dinner at Boko Resto: IDR 138,000 (SG$14.60)
Our initial plans were to visit Prambanan temples and then shoot sunset from Ratu Boko. Alas, we ran late at the Prambanan temples and had to forgo the sunset shoot. It was such a shame. However, since we were already at Ratu Boko, we decided to make the best out of it and settled for a dinner at Boko Resto (a restaurant at Ratu Boko hilltop) before hopping back to watch the Ramayana Ballet performance.

The dinner at Boko Resto was nothing extraordinary but the view that came with it was breath-taking. It had not been one of our best days and a view like this was soothing balm for the nerves.

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The food was well…. nothing to rave about… but the view beside me was awesome!

Our dinner came to IDR 138,000 including a packed meal for our driver costing IDR 30,000. It was still a relatively reasonable and affordable meal considering the absolutely gorgeous view that we had.

Hotel Dafam Fortuna rooftop bar and resto
Long Island Tea: IDR 70,000 (SG$7.40)
Inspiration Cocktail: IDR 80,000 (SG$8.40)
Buffet Dinner: IDR 62,000 each (SG$6.50)
Total: IDR 331,500 (SG$35.00)
Hotel Dafam Fortuna is situated along Jl. Dagen, about a 5 minutes walk from our accommodation, Whiz Hotel. From afar, the rooftop looks ‘happening’ with glittering lights and buzz. We decided to go check it out and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be.

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Cheers to a great trip and Happy Valentine’s Day, my travel pal…! May God grant you, your dreams of finding someone lovely soon, so that you can Celebrate Life with that person and no need to be tormented by me for future trips. Heh heh hehh… 🙂

We visited on a Valentine’s Day night and they were having a Valentine’s Day special performance with buffet dinner at IDR 62,000 per pax (SG$6.50). (The usual buffet dinners on Saturdays costs IDR 60,000). The Valentine’s Day buffet dinner comprises of a variety of fishes, shells, warm items such as spaghetti and soup etc. What caught our attention was the free-flow of fishes cooked in any rendition; deep-fried, barbeque or tom yum. If you had remembered (from one of my earlier dinners), a deep-fried fish at the roadside street stall costs IDR 65,000. Here, we could have as many as we wanted at only IDR 62,000…!!

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Wooo… Look at the number of fishes on display…!! Bet the staffs didn’t expect that these two gluttons would gobble up half of the stock they had there…!! Wahahaha…. : D

And yes, as you could have guessed, we lost no time in sitting ourselves down and ‘preping’ our tummies for the feast. Would you like to make a guess how many fishes we had by the end of the buffet? 2, 3, 5, 8, 10… Go on… It was a whopping 13 fishes in two hours! We tried all three renditions on the different variety of fishes. And if you think we only had one bite on each fish, nope, that was not true. We finished up the entire fish for all 13 fishes. By the end of the meal, we could feel fins growing out from our limbs and had this urge to jump into the pool and start swimming around. Haahaa…. 🙂

Dessert at roadside stall
Kuehs: IDR 8,000 (SG$0.84)
Not only did we try the local delicacies, we even laid our hands on some of the local desserts.

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This seller was so cheerful and friendly that we couldn’t resist to stop and make a purchase from him.

We passed by this ‘kueh’ stall and the seller was so cheerful and friendly that we decided to get some ‘kuehs’ from him. Not knowing what they were, we ordered one of each item and the total came up to IDR 8,000 (SG$0.84).

The local putu (bamboo steamed rice cakes) costs IDR 1,000. Lumpia (fried popiah) costs IDR 3,500. Cenil (glutinous gummy with coconut flakes) costs IDR 250. Kelepon (known commonly to us as ondeh ondeh in Singapore) costs IDR 500. Onde Onde (Fried Sesame Balls) costs IDR 2,000. Now, that got us a bit confused right…?! Haahaa…. Yes, because their kelepon is actually our ondeh ondeh and their ondeh ondeh is actually our fried sesame balls. Hence, its Same Same but Different.

Ronde: IDR 7,000 (SG$0.70)

Every night, we will stroll along Malioboro street and I was tempted to get a bowl of Ronde. However, every night we got ourselves so stuffed up that there was no more room for desserts. One fine night, we decided to go easy on our dinner and make room for a bowl of Ronde since it exuded such a killer ginger aroma.

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This Ronde had a killer ginger aroma. Finally got to try it after a few nights of temptation.

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Ronde; Like our Tang Yuan in ginger soup, but Jogja version includes jelly, bread and peanuts.

Ronde tasted very much like our local Tang Yuan in ginger soup, but the Jogja version includes jelly, bread and roasted peanuts to the soup, giving it a crunchy bite.

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Shopping
Shopping has never been on our agenda, especially for a ‘cultural-themed destination’ like Yogyakarta. However, we stumbled upon some great finds like some of the items below. Remember to bring some extra bucks for you’ll never know what treasures you may just chance upon.
Some of the items that were a steal :
5 Scarves = IDR 100,000 (SG$2.10 each)
Men’s Batik Shirt = IDR 20,000 (SG$2.10 each)
Ladies Batik Skirt = IDR 30,000 (SG$3.10 each)
‘Couple’ T-Shirts = IDR 30,000 each (SG$3.10 each)

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Love this couple Tee. So cute. Only costs IDR 30,000 (SG$3.10) per piece 🙂 Too bad I don’t have anyone to buy for or wear with… Sighh…. 😦

Magnum

The price range for a Magnum went from IDR 12,000 (SG$1.25) to IDR 15,000 (SG$1.60). For Magnum fans like myself, you’ll probably have your eyes popped out cos’ a Magnum in Singapore costs anything from SG$4 to SG$4.50. And in Yogyakarta, each Magnum went for SG$1.60 or less!

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OMG… Magnum at IDR 13,000 (SG$1.40). Please teach me how to resist ?! Haahaa… : /

We did a “stock-up” of Magnums – not in any of the fridges but in our tummies. We had an average of two Magnums each day and still feel that we didn’t have enough. Haahaahaa…. 🙂

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Attractions
As there were quite a number of attractions at Yogyakarta, I decided to split up the blog post and cover the different attractions in the next blog post instead. Do keep a lookout for it.

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A Birthday Sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar

Back in 2011, I took a cab to Changi beach and shot a sunrise on my birthday. Ever since then, I will try to shoot a sunrise on my birthday to remind myself of the blessings I have had, and to rejoice in the days ahead.

In 2012, I flew to Thailand and caught a sunrise on a sunflower field in Lopburi. In 2013, I trained for 6 months and scaled the 4095.2m Mount Kinabalu, risking my dear life to catch a glimpse of the rising sun. Last year in 2014, I battled the cold winds and meandered through the thick, sandy paths in the dark on an e-bike to catch a shot of the rising sun at Bagan, Myanmar. This blog post details of my account back on that wondrous day.

3 Dec 2014, Wednesday

Unlike the previous years where I struggled to get a shot of the rising sun on my own, I had company this time round! My very sweet friend / travel pal / nanny / chauffeur / doctor / financial controller had very kindly agreed to join me on my virgin trip to Myanmar. After some planning and discussions, my birthday sunrise (as I named it) would coincide with one of the days in Bagan instead of my initial plans to catch it from a bedside window on Inle Lake.

We arrived Bagan on 2 Dec 2014, Tuesday, 8pm and rented an e-bike from a stall near our accommodation. By 5am on 3 December morning, we were up and on our way to Thisa Wadi Pagoda for a sunrise shot.

Upon arriving at the pagoda, we had to remove our footwear (Ahhh… please do not remind me how much I hated going around barefooted) and up, we went on the steps. At the top of the pagoda, we set up our tripods and waited, and waited, and waited, out in the cold, dark, windy morning before the break of dawn.

Just as we thought the dawn has broken, the sun rose from behind the hills, blanketed by a shroud of mist. In less than 5 minutes, it went from less than-a-fraction of a yolk to a full, burning egg yolk. It was simply breath-taking, awesome and a lack for better word – Amazing!

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Picture shot at 6.11am

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Picture shot at 6.13am.

Just as quickly as the sun came, as quickly as it left.

Below’s a wacky poem which I came up with for the morning sunrise. Haahaaa… 🙂

Early early we rose for the dawn,
Off we go on our E-bike with headlights on.
Up and up the sunrays flaunt,
One by one, everyone else is gone.
Two Ah Xiao’s suddenly went ding dong,
For all you know, tomorrow, a fashion star is born…
(“Ah Xiao” is a Singaporean (Hokkien) term meaning loony peeps and “Ding Dong” meaning crazy)

And thereafter, when everyone else was gone, we did what we loved best!

A friend once described both of us as, “Put these two together with cameras and they are like kids in a candy store” and there is no doubt about that! We were shrilling over how and where to pose as if we were really super models. And the best part was that, both of us were neither the most stunning, flawless subjects, but yet, we brought out the best in each other. And that is the best part of having a crazy travel pal.

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My Birthday – hence, the dressed up for the ‘fashion-shoot’! Haahaa… : D

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Man-Hunt of the Year

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This is one of my favorite pics! Simply loved the context of this pic with the high ceiling, lighting and shadow. Shot at Dhamma-Yan-Gyi Temple.

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This is another pic which I loved. The juxtaposition of a small subject in a wide and large space. Converted it to black and white and gave it a dash of colour on my dress. Shot at Dhamma-Yan-Gyi Temple.

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My photo pal, travel buddy, stylist, nanny, chauffeur, doctor, financial controller, all rolled in one. What more can I ask for…

Night came and we chanced upon this eatery. Not too long after we sat down, we bumped into Nick (again!) for the third time. We were on the same flight from Inle to Bagan and bumped into him at Thisa Wadi Pagoda during the morning sunrise and then here again at dinner. It was too much of a coincidence. Maybe he was stalking me! Wahahaa… Jes kidding! I wished! 🙂

We invited him to join us for dinner. Upon realising that it was my Birthday, he sang me a Birthday song in Ming Nan language (Taiwanese Hokkien). Awww… How sweet of him.

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Bumped into Nick once again (for the third time), and invited him to join us for dinner.

We decided to proceed to a cafe to chill. But as we couldn’t locate a nice and conducive one, we bought some drinks and headed back to our accommodation for some quiet time.

Quietly and sneakingly, Nick had bought a cake (a swissroll) to celebrate my birthday. I was really taken aback and touched as we had barely known each other. Every other year, I would be celebrating my Birthday (actual day) alone. This time round, not only did I have my best friend with me which was already such a bonus, I had such a shweet surprise from a new-found friend too. It was a day that will bring back many beautiful, lovely, memories for a long time to come.

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Thank you for the lovely Bday cake, Nick and also a big hug to my bestest friend for the shweet dinner and drinks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pengerang – Same Old Place, Brand New Route

Date of Trip : 28 June 2014, Saturday to 29 June 2014, Sunday

1 night Accommodation at Let Seng Hotel (Sungai Renggit) : RM 60 triple-share room
(would have costs RM 50 for a twin room, but they had ran out of twin rooms.)

Long distance cycling in Pengerang has become almost like a ‘weekend retreat’ for Darren and myself, popping over to Sg Renggit whenever we ‘feel like it’. Although it has been a good six months since our last trip there (due to my poor friend’s unfortunate arm injury at Batam a couple of months back), nothing much has changed ~ we were still very much looking forward to the cycling expeditions! We simply couldn’t wait to devour the lobsters and to savour the nature on our route.

This time round, we met up at 9am at the Changi Ferry Terminal, but soon realized it was a tad too late. We only managed to get onto a boat at 11.40am and arrived Sg Renggit at 1pm.

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Why am I headed to? *Confused*…

Whilst waiting at the ferry terminal, two ladies came up from behind and asked, “Are you guyz bloggers?” We were in for a surprise and muttered a sheepish “Errr… Yaa..”. “Ohh.. We read your blog posts on Pengerang and we are heading there today!” Woww… That really came as quite a surprise for us to meet someone who had read our blog posts and were inspired to go on the same journey.

As we continued chatting, Poonam and Jacintha (pic as below) shared with us that they had printed out the Pengerang map that Darren had put up on his blog, took notes, brought along their own bikes and helmets and were going to cycle from Tanjung Pengelih to Sg Renggit town, stop for lunch at Straits View Restaurant (as per our last recommended) and then head on to Desaru for the night. Boy, that was quite a distance that they’ll be covering and no mean feat for a first-timer!

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These two pretty ladies, Poonam (on my left) and Jacintha (on Darren’s right) came up and asked if we were bloggers. They had read our earlier blog posts and were going on their maiden long distance cycling trip in Pengerang. Good job ladies, keep it up…!!

Tanjung Pengilih (the jetty that we will be arriving at) to Sg Renggit town was about 18km (about 2.5 hours on our leisure cycling mode). Sg Renggit town to Desaru was 30km with about 10km of ‘killer stretch’ going up and down never-ending slopes. It usually takes us about 4 hours to cover this distance. We were really glad they took on the challenge and did the entire route. Good job guyz, we’re really proud of you! If you happen to see this blog post, please give us a shout-out and share with us your amazing experience. The two gals and their guy friend left on an earlier boat whilst we got on an 11.40am boat and arrived Tanjung Pengelih at about 1pm.

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The sleepy heads on our boat… Hahaa… It usually gets quite drowsy with the heat and warmth on the 1 hour+ boat ride.

We got into Sg Renggit town close to 1.30pm and popped over to Straits View Restaurant. One of the staffs recognised us immediately and ushered us to a table. Her son was surfing the net one of the days and came across our blogs and showed it to her. Although our pictures were not prominent, she could remember us at an instant. We were really heartened.

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This time round, we ordered a salty yolk lobster 550gm (RM 88), a Ginger Wine Egg Soup ~ which we loved the previous time round (RM 6), a curry brinjal (RM 10) and a Xiao Bai Cai (RM 8). The salty yolk lobsters came in this very apt shell-serving-plate. It was quite yummzz and we almost licked up the entire plate of the sauce. The staffs could even re-use it without anyone knowing!! Hahaa… 🙂

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The ginger wine egg soup tasted just as good as we had six months ago. I love the xiao bai cai best of all. The cooking time for the dish was just perfect and that it remained crispy and juicy upon the big ‘umm’. Darren loved the curry brinjal for its strong fragrance and texture although it reminded me very much of curry Twistees.

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Salty Yolk Lobsters 550gm RM88, Curry Brinjal RM 10, Xiao Bai Cai RM 8, Ginger Wine Egg Soup RM 6, 1 rice RM 1. Total bill : RM113.

By the time we ended our meal, it was close to 2.30pm. It was time to hunt for our accommodation… We had tried quite a number of accommodations in Sungei Renggit but have yet to try Let Seng as it was always “Fully Booked”. This time round, we were lucky. We managed to get a triple room at RM 60 (all their RM 50 twin rooms were fully taken up). The room was quite huge with a Queen and a Single bed. Although the mattresses and pillows were not comfy and the toilet reek of a weird smell, the wifi-connection was the strongest amongst the so many hotels that we had stayed at, at Sungei Renggit town.

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Had tried so many accommodations, finally got to try Let Seng Hotel.

After dropping off our stuffs, renting a bike from Mr Soon and slurping down an ice-kacang and a chendol, it was 3.30pm and we were all ready to set off for our cycling expedition. Gosh… This has got to be the latest time we set off…

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Showing off my new cap-helmet and having an ice kacang and a chendol to cool off before we even started !! Hahaa… 🙂

Trying a different route this time, we ventured from Sungai Renggit town to Tanjung Pengelih jetty. The journey was 18km one way. The initial segment of the route was heavy traffic with huge construction vehicles, treating our faces to dust facials as they went past. The road shoulders were wide enough but most parts of the road shoulders were lined with sand and gravel making it slippery and prone to falls. I had a couple of near misses and could now fully understood how my cycling buddy fell the last time round.

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Most parts of the road shoulders were lined with sand and gravel making it slippery and prone to falls. Really gotta be extra careful when cycling on this route.

We passed by a Kuan Yin temple. It was a small temple but the figurines were very well done and intricate. There was even a flagpole at the front of the temple.

Kuan Yin Temple which we passed by.

We took a left turn on one of the roads and came to a beachside temple and this short jetty. There was nothing else on this jetty and … … … <there we go again!>… … Sometimes, I really take my hats off us. We have to be the most crazy peeps for we can be camwhoring on literally anything and everything; drains, urinals, escalators, walls, construction sites and even this very nondescript jetty.

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We spent almost an eternity cam-whoring at this jetty and never did get to Tanjung Pengelih jetty.  We started our journey back to Sungai Renggit town.

The warm rays of the setting sun started beating down on us as we cycled past a mosque and a carpet of a lalang field. The smell of the rustic villages, the vast fields of nature and the amazing creations of Mother Nature reminded us that it is scenes like these, that have been spurring us to continue coming back here, time again and again… experiencing a new adventure each time.

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Apart from our love for nature, our tummies couldn’t hide our gluttony for the lobster meals that we yearn for.

Jade Garden which was once located at the restaurant stretch had moved and we decided to go check it out. It has grown from a seafood restaurant to a ‘resort’ overnight, owning a huge piece of land at the fringe of the town. The 4-storey building comprises of a hotel at the upper levels and huge ballrooms on the first level. The ballroom could accommodate more than a hundred tables. Venturing around the grounds, we reckon they were preparing several lobster or prawning ponds.

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Restaurant on first level and hotel on upper levels. Gotta try this accommodation the next time round. Hopefully, its open by then…

Jade Garden Setting

Banquet setting with huge tanks of live lobsters at the new Jade Garden Resort.

Back at our dining table, the menu itself was quite a heavyweight one too. It is made from thick solid cardboard as heavy as a lobster!

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Really ‘heavy weight’ menu! And they even have desserts now too…

Without us knowing, we placed our order, a Marmite Lobster (RM 86), a Cabbage (RM 10), a Fish Maw soup (RM 25) and a Deep Fried Baby squid (RM 18) with the lady boss of the resort. Only upon my comment on the menu, did she give the slip that she was the boss of the resort. Haha… 🙂
The Marmite Lobsters were HUGE but a little too sweet for a Marmite rendition. The fish maw soup and cabbage were quite tasty. The deep fried baby squid got cold after our incessant shooting. We ordered “small” servings for the dishes, but the “small” servings felt very much like a “medium” serving that could serve about 4 paxs. It got a bit too much for both of us and we eventually had to ‘tar pao’ (pack) the Deep Fried Baby Squid and have it for supper (which we unfortunately did not consume…). Our bill came to RM 164. It was relatively quite cheap considering the huge, small portions that we had.

Jade Garden

Looking at the scale and progress of this “Jade Garden Resort”, this may very well turn into the next ‘big thing’ at Sg Renggit / Pengerang, serving both locals and out-of-towners with banquet style restaurants, high rise hotels, resort facilities etc. We are excited and looking forward to its progress and can’t wait to make our next trip there.

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Lazarus Island – The Beach Paradise of Singapore

When Darren suggested making a trip to Lazarus Island, I was like, “Huh… Where?” The name sounded so ‘exotic’ unlike any of the 63 islands that we have here in Singapore, which usually begins with Pulau (meaning island in Malay); Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Brani, Pulau Hantu amongst many others.

There was not much information nor pictures of the island on our best friend, Google. And all I knew was that we were going to a pristine beach ~ which we shall soon be finding it out for ourselves.

9 March 2014, Sunday
I met up Jeffrey (Darren’s friend who was visiting from Hawaii) at Marina Bay train station, at 8.20am. After a slew of messages, Darren would swing by the train station to pick us up and we’ll head to Marina South Pier for the 9am ferry.

As Murphy’s law would consume us, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. After some circling in the cab, Darren finally found us along the road across the train station. It was by then 8.50am.

After we got into the cab and with a fourth time going around the Marina Bay belt, our trepidation was turned up another 5 notches! It was 9am. We were racing against time. When we eventually got to the Marina South Pier, we sprang off the cab and made a dash for the ferry counter. Unfortunately, we were 5 minutes too late, the ferry had left and it was going to be a 2 hours wait for the next ferry. Ohh well… 😦

We made the best use of our time having breakfast and the guys visiting the Maritime Gallery on second level. By 10.30am, crowds started streaming in to purchase the ferry tickets. I quickly proceeded to do so too.

Costing SG$18 for adults and SG$12 for children (from 1 to 12 years old), this is a round-trip ticket from Marina South Pier to St John’s Island to Kusu island. The journey from Marina South Pier to St John’s island is 30 minutes and 15 minutes from St John’s to Kusu island. Click on here for a detailed ferry schedule.
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Getting to St John’s / Lazarus Island.

St John’s Island
Upon arriving at St John’s island, we were delightfully greeted by a stretch of white sandy beach and clear green waters on our right. On our left, we saw the skyscape of Singapore!

We were a mere 30 minutes away from Singapore mainland. It was so near, but yet seemed so far with this phenomenal looking beach like what we witnessed when we visited Krabi two months back.

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Finally arrives St John’s Island.

 

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Singapore skyscape on the left and awesome beach on the right.

As we walked out of the pier, we came to an entrance. Wondering where it led to, we ventured in. We came to what looked like ‘prison-grounds’ with the high fences and barbed wires.

St John’s island had a long past…

It was once used as a quarantine station for cholera-stricken Chinese immigrants, a screening ground for Muslim pilgrims returning to Singapore, a holding place for detainees before deportation, and a rehabilitation centre for opium addicts.

Feeling amazed on our virgin “prison-grounds” experience, we went further in.

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So enthralled by the high fences and barbed wires.

Our ‘cam-whoring knob’ was turned on to level 9.9 out of 10. We were cam-whoring on almost anything and everything from the vast green field to a long row of toilet cubicles (or were they prison cells?!), rust stains and even urinals… Gosh… I have a feeling this is going to be a long, crazy day… Hahaa… 🙂

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Gone Bonkers

 

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Some loony lying on the ground…?!

 

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Cam-whoring at its ultimate!

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A must-have “We were here” pic. Hahaa… 🙂

The way to Lazarus island is to take a left turn after exiting the jetty. Walking along the concrete path, we came to these couple of boats parked on the shore. I turned back to look at Darren and he looked at me. At that instant, both our eyes lighted up! Niceeee… And before Jeffrey could get over the trauma of our cam-whoring at the prison grounds, we had jumped off the concrete path and headed onto the boat, kicking off our footwear.

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This rickety boat was not spared either.

After some 20 minutes of shooting, we were up and on our way – but not for long… We came across this red, fiery tractor. I let out a screech and hopped onto it.

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Ohh my ! A red, fiery tractor… How often does one sees a red, fiery tractor?!

Just across the red tractor, we saw a breakwater and wasted no time in getting onto it too.

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We could even see Singapore from the breakwater.

The pathway from the pier to Lazarus Island would most probably take anyone a maximum of 10 minutes. But as you could have guessed, at the rate we went, it took us almost 45 minutes before we ‘officially arrived’ at Lazarus island. Unbelievable right? Hahaa… 🙂

 

Lazarus Island
As we got onto Lazarus island, we saw a stretch of beach on our left and thought that, this was all Lazarus had to offer. Since it was scorching hot on the beach and we were totally famished, we decided to lay our butts beside a construction site for lunch. I had made some sandwiches, bought some apples, snacks and drinks etc for our little picnic.

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Had lunch beside a construction site – of all places !?

After muting our growling tummies, we were all ready to explore the island.

The drought that we had in the last 2 months was so evident when we passed by an entire field of dried shrubs and guessed what… Not only were they not spared from the beating sun, they were not spared from more ‘torture’!

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Parched grass after a 2-months drought. Poor grass… 😦

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One of my favorite pics – feels so ‘Vogue”… Hahaa… 🙂

 

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The sash feels so ‘salah’ (wrong in Malay), but nevermind… Life is about having fun and more fun…

As we went around a corner, we heard some laughter and sounds and followed them. We went nearer. Our jaws dropped to the ground from what laid before our eyes.

We had gotten to this magical beach that we had read on-line!

It was indeed a pure, white sandy beach, unspoilt, with clear green waters that we could even see our feet. It may not be the most gorgeous beach that I have been to, but it certainly is the best that I have seen in Singapore.

Most of us had flown miles getting to Krabi, Boracay or Maldives when we already had such an awesome beach right here in our own backyard! And the biggest irony was that most of the visitors on the beach were tourists. There were no other locals in sight. When I posted a picture of the beach on my Facebook, most of my friends were equally astonished that we had such an amazing beach.

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Ohh Goshh… Look at the gorgeous beach and the clear waters beneath our feet.

We went frolicking in the cool green waters. We were in paradise. We would have soaked-in the entire day if we had not planned to go on to Kusu Island.

Kusu Island

We boarded the 3.50pm ferry to Kusu Island and arrived the island at about 4.15pm.

Also known as “Tortoise Island”, tortoise figurines are the landmarks of this island. Legend has that a Chinese and a Malay fisherman wrecked their boat while plying the waters near Kusu. Upon seeing their plight, a giant tortoise transformed itself into an island to provide sanctuary for them to land on. Since then, the island has been named as “Tortoise Island” in commemoration of this selfless tortoise.

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Tortoise figurines are a landmark on Kusu / Tortoise Island.

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Ariel-wanna-be…

The island houses a Chinese temple and three Malay keramats (shrines). Whilst climbing up the 152 steps, we saw yellow rocks with ‘graffiti’ lining the path. At the peak, we came across this Catholic brolly sheltering a Taoist alter. This was a true blue example of our multi-cultural society…

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Catholic brolly, Taoist alter, Muslim shrine = Our multi-cultural society

The sun was setting but our spirits were not. We seized the opportunity to create more crazy moments and some wacky silhouettes before we call it a day.

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Sun is setting, but our spirits were not.

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More crazy fun before wrapping up the day.

 

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Its almost time to call it a day… Really couldn’t bear to say goodbye to our fun-filled cam-whoring day… 😦

We got back to Marina South Pier just in time to catch the glorious sun making his way home. As the sun went down, the giraffes started sticking their necks out.

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Giraffes sticking their necks out.

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Encasing the sun and not letting it go home.

We ended the day with a sumptuous dinner at Kah Soh (Swee Kee Fish Head Noodle House) at Amoy Street, before walking Jeffrey back to his hotel in Chinatown. It has been one crazy day of fun, joy and laughter that will bring back tons of wondrous memories for a long time to come…

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Sumptuous dinner at Ka Soh to fill our growling tummies.

 

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S̄wạs̄dī xīk khrậng Krabi ~ Hello Again, Krabi (Day 2 : 10 Jan 2014) ~ Phi Phi Island Hopping

10 January 2014, Friday

Activity : Phi-Phi Islands Hopping (Day Trip)
Cost : THB 950
Islands Visited : Bamboo Island, Lohsamah Bay (snorkelling), Hin Klang (snorkelling), Phi Phi Don Island (Lunch), Viking Cave, Pileh Bay, Monkey Bay, Maya Bay (‘The Beach’ filming location)
After an insane Day 1, this has been the day that I have been looking forward to since I confirmed the trip.
2 years back, my sis and I had signed up for a Phi Phi island-hopping session, but it didn’t materialize as it stormed heavily back then (in May, during the monsoon season).This time round, I was really excited and praying hard for gorgeous weather to bring us through. The Phi Phi islands day trip was one of the main reasons why I decided to visit Krabi once again.

 

Phi Phi Island Hopping

Phi Phi islands is made up of 6 islands. Located between Phuket and the western Straits of Malacca coast of the mainland, Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest and most populated island in the group. The other 5 islands in the group include Ko Phi Phi Lee, Ko Bida Nok, Ko Bida Noi, Koh Yung and Ko Mai Phai (Bamboo Island).

The islands became a hit overnight after Koh Phi Phi Lee (Maya Bay) was used as a backdrop in the year 2000 block buster, ‘The Beach’, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. The island is surrounded by sheer cliffs plunging into the ocean and a sea lake between the cliffs allowing water to enter. The stunt escalated tourism at a tremendous rate with hotels and businesses springing up overnight.

Phi Phi Island Hopping Package

There were tons and tons of travel agencies offering the Phi Phi islands packages. They ranged from THB 1000 to THB 1300 and offered pretty much the same; insurance, size of boat, lunch etc. What actually set them apart was the sincerity and disposition of the ‘seller’. Some were more cheerful than others, whilst some were more adamant. Basically, we ‘bought’ from any of them that came across as sincere and genuine.

Phi Phi Island Hopping, Here we come! Woohooooo… 🙂

The tour agency picked us up at 8.30am in the morning in a huge 40 seater bus. The bus was almost full when we got on board. We took up the last few seats and those that came up after us had to stand. Thankfully, it wasn’t too far a journey.

We were brought to a ‘holding area’ by the beach and separated into respective boats.

We arrived at the first island; Bamboo island at 10am and had 40 minutes here.

Despite that this was my third beach adventure in three consecutive months (Putri & Sepa Island in Nov 2013, Sapi Island in Dec 2013, Phi Phi Island in Jan 2014), I was mesmerized by the clear green waters and stunning blue skies.

We wasted no time in cam-whoring!

It was just too gorgeous NOT to.

We had a dip in the waters and before we knew it, it was time for us to hop off to the next location.

What a shame… I wished we had more time.

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One my favorite pics by far… : )

 

Bamboo Island Camwhoring Collage R1

Quick… Cam-whoring time. The pic on the left is hilarious where we posed as Teenage magazine cover models cos our apparels were of similar colours. I bought the rainbow dress the previous night without realising what my cam-whoring buddy was about to wear ! We had tons of fun and went all crazy… Hahahahhaa… : D

Next up were snorkelling sessions at Lohsamah Bay and Hin Klang.

May and I don on the life jackets before plunging into the waters.

This was the first time I went ‘unguided’ (after a horrible, unpleasant guided snorkelling session in Sapi Island, Kota Kinabalu.)

The life jacket was a saver since I wasn’t very much of a strong swimmer.

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“Kia-Si” – Better to don on the life jackets since I was not a very strong swimmer…. : p

Initially, I swam around the boat as I was too ‘kia-si’ (afraid of death) to venture too far off.

Darren came by and pulled me to one of the sites to have a look at the blue corals etc.

The underwater world was simply breath-taking. I have never seen such colours under the sea. It was such a shame that I did not have any underwater camera gears with me.

I was extremely thankful that he brought me to those sites, because if not, I would most probably not have been able to witness such spectrums.

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Darren used all his might to pull me to those awesome sites… A Big Thank You to him for opening my eyes to the beautiful underwater world.

After the two snorkelling workouts, we were more than famished.

Thankfully, it was time for lunch at Phi Phi Don Island.

It was a buffet line with rice, vegetables, soup and chicken wings (limited to 2 pieces per person!). Not that I was being petty, but for the amount that we paid for our island hopping package, how much more could a few chicken wings costs?! Every other warmer was replenished constantly except for the chicken wings warmer… : X

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Famished… Food…!!

After filling up our tummies, we strolled around the island.

There really was nothing much on this island apart from a small souvenir shop and the cafeteria that served us lunch.

We hopped onto the boat and off we continued on the island hopping.

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Thankfully the ropes didn’t give way… Phew… : D

We visited Viking Cave, Pileh Bay and Monkey Beach.Viking Cave is easily identified by the wooden structures at the entrance. The cave houses indefinite amount of bird’s nests. Due to the low structures, we could only watch from afar.

We did not even knew we had arrived at Piley Bay because Piley Bay was a seabed lavished with corals under our boat as we drove by.

We went past Monkey Beach very briskly.

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Viking Cave housed with Bird’s Nests

The last island that we hopped off was Maya Bay where ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo Dicaprio was filmed.It was a very small beach overcrowded with boats, tourists and swimmers.

It  has a very narrow shore-line but the sand on the shore was so soft, fine and powdery when we tread on it. It reminded me of the sand on Cottesloe Beach in Perth. It has been a long time since my toes savored on such fine sand.

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The infamous Maya Bay where ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo Dicaprio was filmed.

After getting some shots and visiting the bathroom, that was all the time we had at this last stop. It was the end of the island hopping.

What a shame… I felt that it was way too short. We didn’t have enough of cam-whoring, dipping into the waters not to even mention exploring the islands.

My favorite stops were Bamboo Island where we did most of our cam-whoring, the snorkelling spots which Darren brought me to and Maya Bay for the amazing sand.

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Last pit stop = Maya Bay. Ohhh… The island hopping was way too short… : O

 

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Snorkelling and Sea Walking at Sapi Island

Date of Trip                   :           1 Dec 2013, Sunday to 5 Dec 2013, Thursday.

Flight
To                                  :           AirAsia AK 1792, 1 Dec 2013, Sunday, 5.35pm – 8.05pm

Return                           :           AirAsia AK 1791, 5 Dec 2013, Thursday, 2.35pm – 5.00pm

Cost of Flight                 :           S$171 per pax, with two way 20kg check-in luggage

Accommodations

1 night Accommodation at Step-In Lodge   :   SG$10.96 (4-person dorm)

2 nights Accommodation at Seri Borneo     :   SG$81.32 (SG$40.66 per night)

Sapi Island

Snorkelling Gear + Sea Walk Experience         :                 RM 180

Ferry                                                                :                 RM 20

Conservation Fee                                            :                 RM 3 (Local Adult Rate)

Buffet Lunch                                                    :                 RM 45

4 December 2013, Wednesday

After an arduous 20 hours 30 mins climb at Mount Kinabalu on my Birthday, it was time to pamper myself with a good Rest & Relax.

I had friends recommending ‘Walking in the Sea with an astronaut costume’. Intrigued, I wondered what that was and googled for it. It was known as the “Sea Walk Experience”.

Costs

Horizon Borneo – the agency that I did my Kota Kinabalu climb with, quoted me a RM 250 for the Sea Walk experience and RM 190 for rental of Snorkelling gear, Ferry charges, Conservation Fee and a Buffet Lunch.

Amazing Borneo had an online offer of RM 295 for the Sea Walk experience, rental of Snorkelling gear, Ferry charges, Conservation Fee and a Buffet Lunch. It was an attractive offer but it needed two paxs to go.

As I was travelling alone, it would cost me RM 590 instead. It was way too costly and absurd.

I found some infor on the web that it was much cheaper to travel there on my own and decided to do so.

Amazing Borneo Package

RM 295 – Quite a good deal from Amazing Borneo.

Found Gold

As I was strolling from my accommodation to Jesselton Jetty, a man standing by the roadside slightly after the round-about along Jalan Pantai approached me.

He was selling / (touting) his Day Tours and Island Packages.

He offered a RM 180 for the Sea Walking experience which would have cost RM 250 at the usual price.

The ferry costs RM 20 although I read from the web that it was RM 30.20 with taxes.

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Met the man near this round-about who offered me a fabulous deal… : D

Conservation Fee (Entrance Fee) at the island costs RM 3 for Local Adults and RM 10 for Adult Tourists.

Since I was dark enough to pass off as a local, he managed to get me a RM 3 local rate.

In all, I paid RM 203 for the Sea Walk experience + rental of Snorkelling Gear which he threw in to me for free and I bought a Buffet Lunch at the island for RM 45.

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So many different prices for Conservation Fee !

Different Prices I encountered

Horizon Borneo Amazing Borneo Infor on Web My Costs
Sea Walk Experience RM 250 RM 250 RM 180
Rental of Snorkelling Gear RM 190 RM 10 FOC
Ferry
(Inclusive in RM 190 Snorkelling package)
RM 23 + RM 7.20 = RM 30.20 RM 20
Conservation Fee
(Inclusive in RM 190 Snorkelling package)
RM 10 RM 3 (paid at entrance of Sapi Island)
Buffet Lunch
(Inclusive in RM 190 Snorkelling package)
RM 45 RM 45 (paid directly to stall at Sapi Island)
TOTAL RM 440 (single traveller) RM 590 (single traveller) RM 345.20 RM 248
  RM 295 (2 paxs to go)

Snorkelling

As the venue was highly recommended for its clear and clean waters to snorkel, I was really looking forward to it.

As the speedboat neared the island, I saw debris, flotsam and jetsam on the surface of the waters; water bottles, flip flops, plastic bags etc.

It was a far cry from what I had imagined it to be.

I changed out and got into the waters for some snorkelling but with the thought that the debris were just above my head, that really ired me.

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Debris, flotsam and jetsam on the surface of the waters… Goshh…!!

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Looks clear and awesome, but there is an ugly side to it too. Look carefully and you’ll see leaves, twigs and branches on the waves and waters.

Sapi Island collage

Sapi Island

Sea Walking Experience

I won’t really call it a Sea Walking experience per se. I think it was more like a “Sea Standing experience” rather. Haahaa… 🙂

There were three other Chinese ladies when I signed up for the Sea Walking experience.

The four of us were driven in a speedboat to a platform in-between Gaya Island and Sapi Island and it was here that we did the Sea Walking experience.

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Need to don on this 35kg helmet

They provided us with some rubber footwear and one by one, we don on the ’35kg helmet’ before dipping into the waters.

We went down a flight of steps and arrived at the sea bed.

We held on to the rope and walked (barely more than 10 steps) to the right so that the divers could get some shots of us.

We were given fish feeds and all the nemos and fishes started crowding around us and nibbled on our fingers when we fed them.

The Sea Walking experience lasted about 15 to 20 minutes which I felt was just right.

Any longer, and I could feel my head going groggy with the 35kg weight.

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Sea Walking Experience / (More like Sea Standing Experience)… Wahahaha… : D

Barbequed Seafood Buffet Lunch 

When I got to the island at 10am, many of the staff were setting up and preparing the tentages.

I thought there was going to be a party of some sort.

By lunch time, these tentages turned into buffet lines whipping up sumptuous barbequed seafood with crabs, prawns, chicken wings, satay, salad, fruits etc.

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Such pretty tentages – I thought was some party.

One of the stalls was serving up the buffet for RM 45 and I decided to have a go at it.

The variety was relatively huge with about 15 items to choose from.

The food was quite yummy despite that some of them were already cold since they did not have the warmers beneath them.

I would say it was good value for money especially so for those who went for seconds and thirds.

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Had crabs, prawns, chicken wings, satay, fruits, salad etc at the RM 45 Barbequed Seafood Buffet Lunch.

Buffet Lunch Collage

Huge variety for a RM 45 Barbequed Seafood Lunch Buffet

However, if you do not wish to take up the Barbequed Seafood Buffet Lunch, there is also a cafeteria near the beach.

They serve ala carte dishes such as Noodles, Rice etc at an average price of RM 9 per dish.

It didn’t look too appetizing and that was why I opted for the buffet lunch although I only went one round on it.

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Ala Carte meals at the cafeteria near the beach.

After Thoughts

I cut short my time at Sapi island and took the 2pm speedboat back to Kota Kinabalu mainland. Although the beautiful sun, sand and sea was a good reprise from the hustle and bustle of our everyday life, the beach was not as awesome as I had imagined it to be. I visited Jakarta’s Putri Island recently and thought Sapi Island would be just as awesome if not more since they had such fave reviews. Sadly, Sapi Island turned out to be quite a damper.

The waters here were rather filthy and there was way too much tourists on the island, causing much noise and litter pollution.

Ultimately, I got back to the mainland to indulge in my good rest instead.

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