Travels for the year 2013!

2013 saw me travelling quite a fair bit. Bali, Melbourne, Sydney, Cambodia  Penang, Yogyakarta and then concluding the year with Sri Lanka. My highlight, of course, will be overcoming my inhibitions and attempting my first solo travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Although, it was a short 4D3N, the trip taught me a lot on solo travelling.

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Sunset at Seminyak beach, Bali

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Post lunch smiles, Bali

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Kuta Beach, Bali

Bali, May 2013: A 3-night getaway with a couple of friends. Beach, sunset and laughter over cocktails. Got ourselves inked only for it to last not more than an hour. Also, my slippers that almost sailed away in the waters while at Tanah Lot. Oh, the fun times.

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Mt Buller Ski Resort, Melbourne

Melbourne, June 2013: A week of adventures with the sister. Tried out skiing for the first time. Amidst all the crashings and butt-aches was a memorable stay at Mt Buller. Watched 3 movies over the span of a week I was there. Felt like a local rather than a tourist. No surprises there, given my frequency in visiting Australia. Myriad of asian cuisine range conquered: Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese. Survived -10 degrees for 30 minutes in Chill On Bar. Relived bits of our childhood watching Circus Oz.

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Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb: Check!

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Skydiving: CHECK!!

Sydney, August 2013: Sole purpose of this last minute travel was to conquer the Harbour Bridge Climb. Ended up, I conquered one of my biggest fears as well – tandem skydiving! At times, I still cannot digest the fact I went through with this decision. Plus given the fact I was alone, I must be quite brave I think. After all that adrenaline rush, spent the next 2 days in Manly just chilling. Manly is such a perfect beach town, you can just wake up, stumble into a coffee house and laze the day away, without feeling any tinge of guilt. Most spontaneous travel decision ever. And also, by far, my most favourite trip to Sydney.

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Ice ball making in process, Penang.

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Roadside chendol, Penang

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Street vendor selling banana pancakes, Penang

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Dim sum buffet for breakfast, Penang

Penang, October 2013: Nothing but a 3 day galore of food, food and more food. And I mean, GALORE. I’m sure my pictures are a testament to it.

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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The stranger who literally saved my life, Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, November 2013: Highlight #1: My first (real) solo travel. Highlight #2: Catching sunrise at Borobudur which costed me nearly SGD 100. Was definitely worth it though. I won’t forget how I was almost stranded on Parangtritis Beach, 5 hours before my flight. The stranger (pictured above) showed me what kindness truly is and brought me back home for a nominal amount.

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Background of Sigiriya Rock from Hotel Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

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Scenic boat ride, Sri Lanka

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Footsteps in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

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Chaaya Blu Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

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The Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, December 2013: 10 days, 10 pax, clocked 1800km on the road. Truckloads of memories. Nothing beats the euphoria of scaling Sigiriya Rock (Lion’s Rock) despite the bad weather condition as we started our ascend. Waking up in Kandy at 6am to a full moon amidst the mist. Watching sunset at Galle. Will be doing up a full post on Sri Lanka very soon.

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Amidst all my travelling, I juggled a new job that has taught me so many things I love and hate about the real world. Obviously more hate, than love. But anyways.

Also, I decided to give accounting a shot and enrolled myself in ACCA. Have completed 3 papers till date.

Got myself a basic rock climbing certification.

Did a couple of runs. Conquered my first 10km at Sundown.

2013 has been by far the toughest year to get by. I’m glad I’m still surviving and standing strong. I recall that fateful span of 3 days in July where I lost 2 very dear people. There are days I just wanna crumble and disappear out of this world. The void is so indescribable that I have quit writing. But, there are other days I wanna live to make you’ll proud. Those days help me get by.

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I will live to make you proud.

I’m planning to march in to 2014 without any expectations whatsoever. I’m gonna quit wishing for things to happen and take things as they come along.

Keep writing your goals for the year ahead and, if necessary, re-write them as you go along. After all, we have got another year to get it right. Have a blessed year ahead folks!

Till we meet again,

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Yogyakarta: Survival 101.

BhudSilhouette of Buddha from the steps of Borobudur 

1. Getting around is the hardest part of travelling when you are in developing countries. So, the only way to survive is get a driver throughout your stay there or, alternatively, when you hop on to a taxi make sure it is 2-way. Because, except for Malioboro Street, it is virtually impossible for you to get a taxi anywhere in Jogja. You can trust me on that, as I was literally stranded on Parangtritis beach with just 5 hours between me and my flight back home.

IMG_1777Malioboro Street

2. Jogja people are generally helpful and forthcoming in being your tour guide and/or your driver. That also means, they rely heavily on tip from foreigners as their primary source of income. So, a general rule of thumb would be tip anywhere between IDR 10,000 – 20,000 and you are safe.

IMG_1752Mee Bakso stall outside the vicinity of Taman Seri

3. Street food is really cheap. You can easily have a bowl of Soto Ayam for IDR 7,000. Popular desserts would be Es Teler, for example, which is basically a concoction of fruits served in coconut milk. With the sweltering heat, a ice-cold dessert after a meal would be refreshing.

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Sunset at Prambanan Temples

4. Like most Asian countries, haggling is a MUST. You generally can make a purchase for half of the initial price or even less, at times. So, you really have to master the art to survive.

IMG_2597  Parangtritis beach

5. People are persistent when they want you to buy something from them. You have to be a bit thick-skinned to get them off your back. Or, alternatively, you can shove them with a pack of cigarettes and they will leave you alone. That trick worked for me inspite of the fact that bribing my way into Borobudur to catch sunrise didn’t.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Travel jitters!

I booked the tickets for my upcoming trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia this weekend, sometime back in July. It was, of course, an unplanned decision only because the flight tickets were on sale. So, I felt like I had to grab the opportunity to embark on my first (real) solo trip a week after me turning the BIG 2-5. I mean, this is what they call mid-life crisis after all right?

While I was on Tiger Airlines homepage, I was browsing Airbnb for a nice, comfortable place for me to stay 3 nights at. Upon seeing this homestay, it was only a matter of seconds before I booked my tickets. (no surprises there!) Let the pictures of where I’ll be staying put at speak for itself.

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I absolutely cannot wait to catch sunrise at Borobudur as well.

Slightly nerve-wrecking but more so just excited! 🙂 🙂 🙂 See you’ll when I’m back kids.