Richmond staycation

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to enjoy the beauty of life, the company of friends, the best of food.

We wanted to go to Kelowna for Thanksgiving but alas, due to my school schedule, we couldn’t. So after looking around for places to stay near Vancouver, we ended up in Richmond but somehow it felt like we were somewhere else, perhaps Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Richmond is just a stone throw away from where we all live but we haven’t explored much of it yet, especially as a group.

Turned out, it was the perfect place to be for us. We ate and ate, played games, shared life frustrations, experimented with 360 camera, stayed up all night. Sometimes it really does not matter where you go, it’s the people that make the difference.

Places we went to:

  • Claypot Hotpot: fancy three tier hot pot, steam, BBQ. It comes up to $30ish for each. All you can eat. Average quality of items.
  • Excellent Tofu: we went for desserts at 9:30pm and got seats right away. Spent about $5 each.
  • Jade Restaurant: we called an hour before coming in and they were able to reserve a table for us. Try the radish cake, it’s extra delicious here.
  • Hou Lok: late night congee and other greasy snacks. Order $30 worth of stuff, get 1 free large congee.

Lessons from the stars

There’s just something magical about spending the night under the stars, all cuddled up. At the start of (almost all) my relationships, my (then) boyfriend would say “We should go stargazing sometime!” and then we never did.

But with meteor showers in the forecast, there’s no better excuse to go. So EP and I drove all the way to the ski hill area of Cypress at 10pm. I have always enjoyed driving but last night’s drive was definitely more than enjoyable. I felt like I was one with the car, the wind in my hair, the music serenading the trip up.

Once there, I was distracted with messages I got on my phone but EP wasn’t. He’s there to look at the stars and he quickly saw the meteors that were showering the night sky. I looked up and was feeling frustrated that I couldn’t see any. He said “To see one, you have to look.” And as soon as I put away my phone and just focus on the sky, sure enough I started seeing the meteors passing by.

I would not say the night was the most romantic one ever, because it was not, but it made me realize one thing:

Stars

It’s a vast universe. There are over 7 billion people in the world. Yet EP and I managed to find each other and that itself, is special.

I tried capturing the night sky with my Canon 5D mark ii and was pleasantly surprised by a few of the blindly-captured photos we took:14012570_10157486956185647_1110761575_o14002327_10157486956295647_485226288_o14001740_10157486956015647_159097859_o

Thank you stars for reminding me that I’m just a tiny speck in this universe. I’m also reminded that some stars are brighter than others and I wish to be one that helps shine the night.


Photo taken with Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm lens
Edited with Photoshop CS3
Cypress Mountain, West Vancouver, B.C.

Up in the Air

I travel a lot this past year, mostly between Vancouver, Jakarta, and Bali. So now while I’m waiting to board my plane again, I decided to write down all the places I’ve been to (by plane) since May 23, 2015.

Sooo.. how many trips did I take? What’s the total amount time I spent up in the air?

Drum roll please….

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37 trips.

215 hours.

I had no idea I spent that much time on the plane! 215 hours = 8.9 days?! Holly moly! Can I claim that #jetsetter title now?

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Tending the Mayor

1 night I was in Bali, then I was in Jakarta, then I was on the plane, then Port Moody, then downtown Vancouver. All back to back. What’s going on?!

At first when my dad asked if I wanted to go home to Vancouver out of nowhere, I didn’t know what to say. Yes I want to go, but I also had a long list of things I wanted to do at the hotel. But I couldn’t turn down his offer because I was going to Vancouver to attend Globe Series Conference and be the personal driver/assistant to Ridwan Kamil, the #1 mayor in Indonesia right now.

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I didn’t even have time to be jetlagged, it was always a time to go go go go.

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We took him to UBC briefly. He enjoyed Vancouver so much that he said he might convince his son might be interested to study in Vancouver.

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Later that night, he did a candid interview and dropped some wisdom at the Indonesian consulate.

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Then the tour continued..

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We started the conversation in Vancouver..

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And we continued it in Bandung!

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I was pretty exhausted but happy for the opportunity. It was amazing to hear directly from him the ideas and plans he has for Bandung and I can only hope his energy and goodwill would spread to the rest of Indonesia.

Mandapa Reserve Resort, Ubud

Life is good at Mandapa Reserve, the only hard thing is the damage on my wallet.

When I was looking for a place to check out this weekend, I was recommended over and over again to check out Mandapa Reserve by Ritz-Carlton in Ubud. It just opened a few months ago and is supposed to be the new luxury.

We were sure in for a treat. At $700 a night for their 100 sqm suite, this place doesn’t disappoint. I love their interior – luxurious but not pretentious. With only 35 suites and 15 villas, the place feels pretty homey and personal.

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The breakfast restaurant offers a very standard buffet but the view of the Ayung River and the tasteful decor made up for it.

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Rose gold cutleries? Genius.

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After breakfast, we joined in the rice planting activity. This is one of the complimentary activities they have and it sure was fun! I’ve walked and biked on rice paddies before, but never actually planted them… until today!

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Mud bath is the best kind of bath!

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Afterwards we chilled by the rice paddy, just enjoying the brisk wind and taking in the view. When it got dark, we went down to the restaurant lounge by the river.

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What’s so nice about the restaurant lounge is that it’s situated right by the river and they put spotlights on some trees too. So not only you get the sound of the Ayung River, but you also get to enjoy the view at night in your private little “cocoons”.

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Mandapa Reserve, thank you for the inspiration and the experience.

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Pasar Lama, Kota Tua Tangerang

The more I visit Tangerang, the more I see its charm. Unlike Jakarta, Tangerang feels like it still has a visible community touch to it. The roads are just as big and busy as Jakarta, but the buildings are more animated and the bridges are colourful.

Today we visited Pasar Lama in Kota Tua part of Tangerang. We weren’t looking for anything specific and so we wandered around with our cameras out like tourists.

We found some heritage homes, a busy local Vihara, street food vendors, and vegetable market.

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What surprised me the most was the long river by it. It’s clear of garbage, which unfortunately is a huge shocker for rivers in Indonesia. We’re notoriously known for our inability to keep our natural beauty clean but this river didn’t fall under that category.

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Overall it was a lovely area to be on a Sunday morning and I’m glad we went to check it out instead of going to the mall. If you are in Jakarta and want to enjoy a simpler life, even just for an hour or two, do check out Pasar Lama in Tangerang. I suggest bringing some cash to buy their fresh fruits and vegetable too.

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Bali – Labuan Bajo – Kawah Ijen – Sukamade – Jogjakarta – Jakarta

12 days of epic adventures. That’s what I’ll forever remember my trip with Greg, Danielle, Crystal, and Vicky as.

When I told Greg and Danielle I’m moving to Indonesia back in February, they told they would come visit me one day. I didn’t know then that it would come true just months after I left. We spent months talking about it, weeks planning it, and I know this would be one trip we’ll continue to tell others about for years.

What exactly made this trip particularly memorable? Well here’s what we did:

Some of the activities were so special that I would even consider it a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m thankful for the friends that shared them with me.

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The total trip costs us around CAD$1500 per person (excluding the round trip flight from Vancouver).

If you are interested in going to any of these places, here’s the list of people that made this trip possible for us:

Labuan Bajo
Organizer/Driver Rizki
Contact # 081237722937
Price Rp. 7.5jt ++
What’s included Private boat + accomodation
Custom itinerary
3 meals a day
Pick up from airport
Kawah Ijen
Organizer/Driver Ervin
Contact # 081233156656
Price Rp. 3.8jt ++
What’s included Car rental
Driver
Ferry Ticket
Guide Kawah Ijen
Jeep Sukamade
Guide Sukamade
Baby turtle release
Jogjakarta
Organizer/Driver Bahai Tour Organizer
Contact # 085643330708
Price Rp. 4.2jt
What’s included Car rental
Cave Tubing
Food
Driver/guide
Entrance fee
Transportation from/to airport

Here’s our detailed schedule as well! I’ve researched each place and their proximity with each other.

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I’m not a travel blogger by any means but I do love travelling and I take great pleasure in planning my trips. But I know how overwhelming it could be if you don’t even know what to look for, so I hope this would help you get some ideas of what you can do in Indonesia. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to do even more!

Summer Berries

Ah how I miss the taste of fresh summer berries! They’re pretty much the number one reason why I love Summer so much!

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Having gone berry picking for a few years now, I certainly miss it this year. I tried looking for blueberries here but I could not find any! Maybe some frozen ones, but even those are rare. Some nights before I hit the hay, I think about the weeks where I sold blueberries at work two years ago. I literally sold over 150 lbs a week and was making some good, quick bucks out of them. I spent the money earned to buy even more blueberries for myself. I can finish 10lbs in a week by myself! Yes, I love them that much.

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Of course being here in a tropical country has its perks too. The mangoes are sweeter, the fruits are cheaper, but I cannot help but to crave for those berries. Can someone please FedEx some over?!

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I hope there will be some left when I’m in Vancouver in August!

Trip to Mara River Safari Lodge& Canyoning at Gitgit Waterfall

My mom came to visit this weekend for a wedding and I did not waste on this opportunity to take her out on an adventure! I planned on bringing her to Le Pirate at Nusa Ceningan but found out just a day before that they had a fire accident and our reservation had to be canceled. I quickly looked for another alternative and found Mara River Safari Lodge and thought it would be a good opportunity to check the place out and see if it would be fun for my nephews when they come to visit in August.

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Opened in 2007, Mara River Safari Lodge offers their guests a unique and immersive experience of living in a Safari. Our Swala comes with a direct view of the safari animals and some carrots to feed them. The hotel also offers multiple activities throughout the day including piranha feeding, elephant bathing, dine with lions, white tiger show, night safari.

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We had fun interacting with some of the animals there but had worse luck with the service. Considering how much I paid for the room, the service was subpar to say the least. They did not seem interested in pleasing the guests and we had to wait at least 5 minutes every time we want to go or leave the hotel.

Beside the hotel experience, I wanted to do something fun, something a little bit crazy. I have been done anything too fun since I got back to Indonesia so I looked for something i have not done before. After hours of googling, I found this company that does canyoning in North Bali. I had I had never really heard of canyoning before and did not know what to expect. My poor mom had no clue, none whatsoever, what we were doing until we got to the base camp.

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We left the hotel at 6am and drove two hours to Singaraja to the base camp of Adventure And Spirit : Indonesian Team of Canyoning. We were quickly strapped in and in just two hours, we successfully rappelled down 7 waterfalls, slide down 5 times, jumped from a 4m, 2m, and 6 metres cliff, ziplined, and swam in the cold water! 

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What an incredible adventure! I have been wanting to do cliff diving but never really gathered enough courage and met anyone that wants to do it with me. I’m so glad I had the chance to test myself with the jumps today. My heart stopped when I jumped off the first time, but it quickly caught up by the second and third. I am so proud of my brave mom for completing the whole course with me and to think of it, it was really risky considering her age. But she was such a great sport and had a huge smile on her face the whole time.

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Watch the highlights from our trip here.

If you are ever in Bali, I highly recommend giving canyoning with the Adventure and Spirit guys a try! I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you mas Angga and mas Rama for being such great guides!