Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bhutan Trip Day 2 and 3 - 24 and 25 June 2015 - Thimphu and Journey to Bumthang

Read the Bhutan trip day 1 and 2 here

Wed, 24 June 2015

After done with packing, it's almost lunch time. Aue Sonam Pelden, Luzee's boss, whom I met few months back in Singapore, invited me for lunch at Folk Heritage.

Bhutanese food lunch at Folk Heritage, Thimphu

Tourists or foreigners were usually brought to this restaurant as to introduce them how the Bhutan food culture looked like.

Taengme, zaw and suja - Folk Heritage, Thimphu

For example: Once you were seated they would bring suja (butter tea) accompanied with zaw (rice crackers) and taengma (cereal maize) served in a traditional woven bamboo plate.

Array of Bhutanese dishes

Then main course was served using the traditional wooden plates. Array of Bhutanese food, such as: kewa datshi (potato with cheese), phaksha-pha (spicy dried pork), chicken curry, broccoli, ema datshi (chilli with cheese) with Bhutanese red rice.

The weather was very nice that afternoon.  It wasn't raining and there wasn't much sunlight too. We had it outdoor under the apple trees as the other tables were fully booked. Many Bhutanese were also seen there. Overall the lunch experience was great. Only that the phaksha-pha filled your mouth with too much oil :P *sinful.

Nice meeting you in person Yangchen and Jigme :)

After lunch I visited my friend's house, Yangchen, at Upper Mothithang. We had known each other for about two years but only through online. She was studying Law school in New Delhi. So since I had some time, I decided to visit her and her son, Jigme, (her hubby, Pema, was working night shift. Therefore, I couldn't meet him). We had a chit chat and tea. In a while I had to go back home to take some rest then prepare for the bloggers meeting.

Thurs, 25 June 2015

I woke up at 5.30am and prepared my stuffs. Rekha had kindly prepared breakfast for me and sent me to the bus station. I was traveling alone by public bus to Bumthang.

Passing by Dochula Pass 108 Chortens

It's my first time traveling during monsoon season (June-July). I often heard people saying that it's not advisable to visit Bhutan during this season as the road would be muddy, there would be road block, sometimes landslide, and so on.

Muddy and slippery road

However, plan had already been made and I just had to proceed with it. And throughout the journey, I witnessed it myself that the road conditions were really bad especially on our way from Thimphu to Wangdue. We passed by many muddy road. For big bus like what I took, the problem was slightly lesser as it had bigger wheels. I was wondering about the small little cars that many Bhutanese usually drove.

Chorten (stupa) in the middle of the road

I was praying all throughout the journey that we would have a safe and smooth journey. Our driver played a very big part too in saving our lives. He always made a turn over the Chorten (stupa) for one round as a respect and wishing for a safe and smooth journey.

Road block in Wangdue 

There was one road block and we had to wait for about one hour. They said it's necessary as there was road repair. While waiting, all passengers could go down stretching their legs and walk around. Many street sellers came approaching each vehicles that stopped and offered their goods like momo, samosa, chilli chops, ngaja, even doma, and so on.

Thank Buddha our journey was smooth. We reached Bumthang station at 6.45pm. My friend, Neela, had already been there looking for me. So we went to his house and Devi served me fried rice and coffee as a snack :D

Wonderful hospitality from Neela and Devi family :)

Again at 8pm we started drinking Druk 11000 plus Chang pa (food accompany for beer), then continued with dinner. We chit chatted so much and went to bedroom at midnight.

Read the next day trip - Nimalung Tshechu - here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bhutan Trip Day 1 and 2 - 23 and 24 June 2015 Blogger's Meeting in Thimphu

Yalama kheno!!! The holiday that is supposed to chill and relax, turns out to be the most tiring one!!! I think this has to do with my horoscope this year no? Don't tell me that I have to quit traveling too if because of too many activities then I'll have no time to write my blog and I'll have to resign from traveling? :P He-he..

Drizzling rain welcome me to Bhutan :)

It's my third trip here in Bhutan. It was actually last minute decision since I had had enough doing the same things for the past six years on my job and I guessed it's time for me to move on and take a little longer break before started to find the new one.

At the same time I would love to find out too what kind of job that will suit me for my next career path. Who knows I could get some lights that leads me on where to go and what to do.

I'm trying to do something that suits with my skills, ability, knowledge, and most importantly passion. And when my blogger friend, Rekha, offered me to stay at her place if I happen visiting Bhutan, I accepted her offer almost immediately!

From Paro airport - our visit to open air bushes to attend nature calls :P

Luzee was exciting upon hearing that I wanted to come. She asked Kuenza to help me with the visa. Three of them had spent so much time and effort helping me out with all the arrangements. I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude from the bottom of my heart for everything that all of you have done to me. Thank you, thank you, and thank you three wonderful ladies for your help and hospitality la!

Hearty Bhutanese meal warmed my stomach and hearts :)

Before coming here, I made list of plans on what to do and whom to meet for each and everyday of my stay here in Bhutan. It required lots of planning and arrangements as I have sooo.... many friends to visit since it wasn't easy for me to come here :)

With Bhutanese bloggers at Bloggers Meeting

To make it easy, I suggested Luzee, Kuenza and Rekha to ask Nawang to arrange for the bloggers meeting 1.5 months earlier before my arrival so that everyone could all meet up at one place only - those who stays all over Bhutan, or those who are currently having school break within and outside Bhutan.

Many fresh faces and first time meeting (Left to right: Lobsang Nima, Sonam Chokie, Au Yeshey Dorji, Ugyen Zangpo, Chador Wangmo, Pema Wangyel, and Sangay Khandu)

First time met but felt like knowing them for ages ^^

Some I had to personally inform them far in advance to ensure they were able to attend. And not bad lah! Many managed turning up for the event (35 bloggers attended the event yesterday night). Read more what the meeting was about here (by Passu)here (by Nawang), here (by Chador Wangmo), here (by Rekha), here (by Binita), and personal minutes written by Peky Samal here.

Bhutanese Bloggers Meeting Group Photo - 24 June 2015 in Thimphu, Bhutan

Since the very first day I had to travel so many hours to reach Bhutan through Bangkok.  I chose this way because I thought if many Bhutanese could do it that easy, I too, sure will be able to do the same.

So that night it was seemed so long. I had to lie down on the bench inside the passenger claim baggage area inside the airport for more than 4 hours in the middle of the night 12am Bangkok time until 4 plus am, the checking in time. Again in airplane, I couldn't fall asleep.

After touching down to the airport, I had to queue twice for immigration since I was confidently queuing without filling the arrival immigration form. Rekha who fetched me at the airport, thought something happened to me that I couldn't arrive (I was the last passenger who appeared from the exit door :P)

My 'feeling like my home sweet home' place. Always! :)

Then we had to do many things such as: buying bus ticket to Bumthang, buying phone prepaid card, having Bhutanese food lunch with these three wonderful ladies, applying the route permit at the immigration office, changing money currency, and when we almost wanted to go home, I remembered that there was one more thing I wanted to do on my arrival day, which was visiting Memorial Chorten to thank Buddha for my good karma that I could land here safely and lighted up the candles wishing for everyone's good health and happiness. Only then we went back to her house.

I took a bath and sipped in the chai or milk tea, accompanied with banana bread. At 5.45pm, despite lack of sleep and rest, I went up to Sangaygang alone as Rekha stayed at home preparing our meal for dinner. She stays at Mothithang area, my favorite place to stay in Thimphu since it's located so near to Sangaygang.

Thimphu city view from Sangaygang :)

As I took the short cut way, I felt getting much older now and my physic was not as strong as before. Every few steps I climbed, I lost my breath and my heartbeat was going so fast until I was afraid if it's going too fast, it would refuse to work any longer. Therefore I had the journey slowly, taking so many stops to rest and simply enjoying the scenery.

Many people had bypassed me and I had to keep calm and think that I wasn't attending competition here. So why should I rush? I couldn't compare myself with them no? Maybe there were here for so many times, building their stamina and walking speed. And for them, climbing is part of their daily life no? Unlike Singapore that having a flat road and we are pampered with escalators and lifts everywhere! Anyhow, I enjoyed the walk. I felt so peace and happy until it was raining. So my first day in Bhutan, I already had to dance under the rain :P (as Kipchu said, I got blessed with monsoon la!) ;)

Welcome dinner and wine celebration ^^

Good thing that dinner was ready when I reached Rekha's home. After drying my hair and changing my clothes, we had our welcome meal cooked especially for me, plus one bottle of wine to celebrate my arrival! Once the bottle empty, I went directly to my bed and had a really good night sleep.

However, it doesn't last long. At 3am I was awake and instead of going back sleeping, I browsed Internet and then packing my bag for my upcoming journey. 5 hours sleeping wasn't enough but I didn't feel like wasting my holiday just to stay at home and sleep. Continue trip day 3 here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Books read and movie watched for the first half of the year 2015

June is coming to an end soon. Despite the busy schedules and previous troubles on my head, reading is still my priority and my passion that fills my days with. Below please find the list of the book read during the first half of the year of 2015.

January 2015

January 2015:  
1    Kisah Tragis Oei Hui Lan - Agnes Davonar
2    The Shock of the Fall - Nathan Filer
3    How to Fall In Love - Cecelia Ahern
4    Diary of a Taxi Driver - Cai Ming Jie PhD

5    Cabbies: The Inside Story - Reflections of a Singapore Taxi Driver - Sam Huang
6    The Dusty Sneakers - Kisah Kawan di Ujung Sana - Teddy W Kusuma and Maesy Ang
7    Love Me Or Leave Me - Claudia Carroll

February 2015

February 2015: 

1    The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank; Edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler
2    The Strange Library - Haruki Murakami
3    The Kitchen God's Wife - Amy Tan
4    Don't Worry Be Hopey - Ajahn Brahm

March 2015

March 2015: 

1    The Sleeper - Emily Barr
2    La Ama - Chador Wangmo
3    Adultery - Paulo Coelho
4    The Rosy Project - Graeme Simsion
5    The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion

April 2015

April 2015: 
1    Nocturnes: Five Story of Music and Nightfall - Kazuo Ishiguro
2    The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai
3    The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt

May 2015

May 2015: 
1    The Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell
2    Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty
3    Aunty Lee's Delights - Ovidia Yu
4    The River's Song - Suchen Christine Lim

June 2015

June 2015: 
1    A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
2    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin
3    Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng
4    The Little Paris Bookshop - Nina George

This year too, I develop a habit to watch movies. Sometimes when it's difficult to digest the book, or to wonder how it's been translated into movie, I'd watch its movies instead, while other reason doing that is merely entertainment. Some are really good when it's translated into movie, while some has lack of the literature details.

Minion Quote :)

Below are the list of the movies I watched for the first half of the year 2015 :)

January 2015:
1    Night at the Museum 3
2    Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt book
3    PK
4    The Interview
5    Big Hero 6
6    Annabelle
7    The Book Thief - Markus Zusak book
February 2015:

1    The Best of Me - Cecelia Ahern book
2    Love, Rosie - Cecelia Ahern book
3    The Theory of Everything - Biography of Stephen Hawking
March 2015:   

1    Penguin of Madagascar
2    The Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James book
3    Frozen
4    Cinderella
April 2015:  

1    The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro book
2    Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro book
May 2015:  

1    The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger's book
2    Skin Trade
3    The Great Gatsby - novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
4    John Carter
June 2015:   

1    Travellers and Magicians
2    Samsara
3    Jurassic World
4    Minions

So, let's the spirit continue and most importantly, enjoy every bit of your life the way you live it! :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

"Instead of whispering instructions to them like you would to a horse - lie down, woman, put your harness on - you should listen to them. Listen to what they want. In fact, they want to be free and to sail across the sky." 

"It takes only one word to hurt woman, a matter of seconds, one stupid, impatient blow of the crop. But winning back her trust takes years. And sometimes there isn't the time."

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

"Jeanno, women can love so much more intelligently than us men! They never love a man for his body, even if they can enjoy that too - and how. But women love you for your character, your strength, your intelligence. Or because you can protect a child. Because you're a good person, you're honourable and dignified. They never love you as stupidly men love women. Not because you've got especially beautiful calves or look good in a suit that their business partners look on jealously when they introduce you. Such women do exist, but only as a cautionary example to others. A horse admires your overall personality"

Those above are some paragraphs quoted from the above book, as given by a father, Monsieur Joaquin Perdu, to his son, Jean Albert Victor Perdu, in short Jean Perdu, who owns the Literary Apothecary, a boat with a low-slung belly, a galley, two sleeping berths, a bathroom and eight thousand books.

"I sell books like medicines. There are books that are suitable for a million people, others only for a hundred. There are even medicines - sorry, books - that were written for one person only."

"Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments, that's how I sell books."

Well, that's true. He has the ability to sense which books will soothe the troubled soul of his customers.

However, he is unable to cure, himself, since the night, twenty-one years ago, the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read.

"Sanary says that you have to travel south by water to find answers to your dreams. He says too that you find yourself again there, but only if you get lost on the way - completely lost. Through love. Through longing. Through fear. Down south they listen to the sea in order to understand that laughing and crying sound the same, and that the soul sometimes needs to cry to be happy."

He sailed his floating bookshop to the south, Provence, to search for his beloved.

"Habit is a vain and treacherous goddess. She lets nothing disrupt her rule. She smothers one desire after another: the desire to travel, the desire for a better job or a new love. She stops us from living as we would like, because habit prevents us from asking ourselves whether we continue to enjoy what we do."

It's a beautiful book to read. I fall in love with the words it's said, the meaning that the author wants to convey.

It's equipped with alluring poems and diary of Manon. A must read book written by a journalist and the author of numerous bestselling novels, Nina George. Find out what's going on till the end and make it as a must read book this year! Hope you'll love it the way I do :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

2D1N Trip to Batam Island - Day 2

Selamat pagi!!! :)

Good morning!!! :)

After a very long day at our first day in Batam, we woke up the next morning at 8.30am and had breakfast provided by the hotel. They served simple Indonesian dishes like bubur ayam or chicken porridge, fried rice, fried beehoon, chicken curry, sautéed vegetables, bread and jams, coffee and tea, also choices of sunny side eggs and/or omelets.

Must do in Batam!!!

At 10.10am we headed to Reborn to have 2-hours Balinese massage, just few meters away from the hotel doorstep on the right, to relax our body muscles after months of stressful work and hours of walking the day before.

Reborn Therapy Price List

From 10am to 2pm on weekdays, it's happy hour where we were entitled to get 30% discount on any package. Do take note okie?? ;)

After that we checked out from our hotel and had our lunch at the Nagoya Hill food street. My friend recommended me Ayam Cabe Ijo, However, due to the start of fasting month (first day, in fact), the hotel staff was afraid the store was closed in the afternoon. Therefore we tried the second recommended makan place called "Warung Cobain".

Warung Cobain at Nagoya Hill, Batam 

It's kinda similar with Ayam Penyet Ria, but this time we tried their sambal cabe ijo (green chilli) to be eaten with the fried chicken, Rawon (black beef) soup, chicken satay, fried petai (smelly beans), and not forgetting my favorite Avocado juice (with chocolate milk). Hhmm... and it all cost us S$8 :)

Meal with a great view @Pempek Kolecta - Batam 

We were all full and refreshed. We took our bag and headed to Mega Mall again at Batam Centre. Since we still had plenty of time, we decided to watch movie again :D The show started at 2.25pm. We watched the cute Minions this time ^^ After that we shopped again at the Hypermart buying some necessities and went to Pempek Kolecta to sit down, eat snacks and enjoy the free WiFi hehehe..., plus enjoy the beautiful sea view ;)

'Til we meet again :)

We sat there until it's time to board our ferry. The sun was setting when we departed. Leaving beautiful memory for both of us. We shall go back again soon!!! Sampai jumpa!!! ^^

Friday, June 19, 2015

2D1N Trip to Batam Island - Day 1

My hubby is always the happiest when traveling with me as I know best of what he loves. And the best thing is that he doesn't have to headache about anything. He just has to prepare his clothes, carry the bag, and follow me, his personal guide, as I would usually prepare the rest of the things in advance, and guide him all through the journey. This time, I brought him to revel in the 2-day-1-night getaway to Batam Island, Indonesia (the last time I went there was 7 years ago together with ex-colleagues - read about it here).

Short getaway to Batam :)

It's only an hour journey there by ferry from Harbourfront Terminal. You can directly purchase the ferry ticket at the terminal itself or buy and book it in advance as to prevent long waiting and run out of ticket situation.

As recommended, I ordered the ticket through someone from Carousel Apps. I met the person in Somerset, paid and collected the ticket, then booked the time slot through sms by sending them the intended departure time and our passport details. This way, we paid S$31 per person :)

Sindo Ferry Schedule 2015

My friend recommended me to stay in few areas, such as Nagoya Hill, Batam City Square (BCS), or just near the Batam Center terminal. I chose staying at Nagoya Hill; and from, I booked Amaris Hotel as it was convenient, simple, clean, and it offered reasonable price of S$51.03 or US$37.83 per room per night, included the breakfast for two.

Our room @Amaris Hotel, Nagoya Hill - Batam

We took the 9am ferry and reached in less than an hour time. Although near, there was one hour time difference. So we reached Batam also around 9am. The nearest mall, Mega Mall, only opened at 10am. We ended up waiting inside the KFC and ate some snacks :)

There was XXI Cinema there but it's only opened at 11.30am. We decided to go for a hair spa first at  Salon Christopher. It cost me around S$19 (included S$2 tips) for hair spa (long hair) plus blow dry, and hubby around S$20 for hair spa and cut (both included head and shoulder massage). It's relaxing and at the same time spoiling our hair with treatment and love :)

Spoiled ourselves :)

Once done, we headed to cinema and bought our tickets. We decided to watch Jurassic World, and it cost only S$3 for 3D while normal one cost S$2.50!!! So shiok!!! (In Singapore, movie ticket cost about S$8.50 on weekdays and as expensive as S$13 on weekends while 3D movie cost S$12-14 each). That's why I seldom watch movie here in Singapore! While waiting, we had a quick lunch at A and W fast food joint. The fried chicken package was served with rice (very common in Indonesia) and root beer. I chose chicken with the soup package. The soup taste was so nostalgic, reminded me of my childhood time.

We headed to Nagoya Hill once movie was over. We checked in to our hotel then started browsing the Nagoya Hill shopping mall. It's amazing that so many shops and stalls selling almost the same things.

Ayam Penyet Ria at Nagoya Hill Batam

At 5pm we decided to have an early dinner. After going one round, we decided to eat at Ayam Penyet Ria. We went in and looked at their menu. Wow! It's so much cheaper compared with their stores in Singapore! The above was our order and it cost us only S$12!!! (In Singapore we might pay triple price for the same order!!!) I wished my son was here with us. We ate too much these one whole day and it's more than enough portions for 3 of us! :P

We shopped at Hypermart then went back to the hotel to take a rest. However, my hubby couldn't stay still until he got his supper on hand.

Martabak Sari Eco, Nagoya Hill - Batam 

At 9pm after getting directions from the hotel staffs, we walked outside the complex and got our Martabak Telor and Martabak Keju mixed with chocolate at Martabak Sari Eco. It cost S$2 and S$2.50 each! In Singapore the similar items cost triple!!! We had it with root beer and Bintang Beer - the local produced beer with lots of ice! ;)

Day 1 of enjoyment was finally over. It's finally time for us to rest and sleep. Read the day 2 trip here :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

My last day....

Farewell lunch and dinner from dear colleagues :')

Everything went so fast. Before, 2 days felt like 2 years. But now, I feel like I'm in a dreamworld.

I don't know if it's real. Really. But I had done it, gone over it.

What I feel now?

Relieve. Let go. But at the same time, I feel sad. Six years and one and a half months are not short. But not long either. I've made lots of friendship. Lots of happiness, and there were some sorrow too.

Dear colleagues from all areas in hospitality industry :)

Anyway, any good thing will have to come to an end. Nothing lasts forever. I just have to accept the reality. Most importantly, looking forward. As we never know what lies in front of us.

I'll be missing you all guys...

But I'm glad though. I made so much friendship. I'm glad, we still keep in touch, although we are no more together. We still share the same hobby, and same passion.

Half gone half stay ^_^

Hope Buddha blesses us. You and me.

Wake up and realise, I'm no longer belong as the family. But at least, I'm not alone. Thank you everyone, for everything. One thing I will do tomorrow, to call my Boss and thank her for the opportunity, support, and everything she'd given me all this while.

It's just a job that I quitted, but I hope our friendship will remain forever... Take care all my dear friends, and all the best to you! Most importantly, be happy always.... Cheers!!! :)

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Welcome June!!!

Time flies. 

Without realising, we have come into the middle of the year now. 

It's summertime.

This month, it's exceptionally hot though!

We started this beautiful month with Vesak Day celebration. Moon was shining brightly up high in the sky. The sun was shining glaringly early in the morning too! 

The heat, the rays, it just absorbed fully into our body. To energise, to revitalise, to refresh our body and mind, to live again, to grow, and bloom again! 

Add the right positivity seeds in, feed enough water to hydrate, some vitamins to let us grow healthily and beautifully, and the rest, let time and nature play its part. 

With new hope that we can bloom wiser and most importantly, happy. Not forget to share it with others, to make other people's life beautiful too! So that we have a purpose in life on why we live in this world.

This month, is a month full of celebrations :) May good luck stay with us and guide us along through our life journey! May all sentient beings be happy. Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu :)
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