Friday, June 24, 2016

Pacitan revisited

I always do what I said I would do - So yes, I went back to Pacitan again in February this year! TO experience the waves in a different period!  Feb was the so-called rainy season in that part of Indonesia and the surfable waves are a little messy and unpredictable but then you get to surf right outside of Harry's.  As usual, I stayed at Harry's and it was really quiet!  There were maybe 10 of us - yes just 10 of us in the waters surfing at any given time maximum!  That was cool!  This time, my mind was on other things to do in Pacitan, besides the surfing. 

It was raining the first morning and by the time I got around to surf it was mid morning.  The waves were messy and seriously not that great for beginners.  I got some small waves but mainly trying to fight and paddle out to find the waves.  Still was fun getting into the water.  In the afternoon was what I was looking forward to - the zipline!  The longest zipline in the entire South East Asia!!  To note - it is only open on weekends and public holidays so do take note if you want to try!  It's about a 45min ride to the entrance and you have to hike a bit to get up to the zipline where you zip across the beach with the view of the ocean! Only 30,000 rupiah per try - and I went twice!!  Just don't think about how the wires are anchored to the whatever structure and you will be fine!

The next day was my last full day in Pacitan, I did surf a little but I wanted to explore the beaches more.  I had wanted to go to Tibo but that was too far.  So I hopped onto Harry's bike to Pantai Srau.  They surfed while I explored.  You can take a short hike around the island to discover the many deserted beaches.  The view was amazing and finally I found my small little private cove where I spent some time just playing around!
Random fisherman who stopped me just so I could take a picture of him with his catch with MY PHONE!!

My private cove

The 2-3 days I spent in Pacitan was fun!  Met some cool German surfer dudes and saw great beaches and places!  It was my last beach vacation before I moved my ass to Netherlands.
Amazing sunset

The next day saw me took a long journey again back to Yogyakarta where I spent the night and the next day in a really nice hotel (free stay!) and went to visit Prambanan.  People who are interested to take the bus trip to Pacitan could possibly contact Bintang Terang Tour & Travel (Jogja contact 081229711951/087751833330) - takes you right to the door step instead of the bus station.  Runs from Pacitan back to Jogja as well and costs 85,000 rupiah.  I think it has 3-4 trips per day each direction.

Met a Polish girl who lives in Singapore now - she rode a bike all the way from Yogja to Pacitan.  IT took about 4 hours but you pass through beautiful coastal routes where you could just stop and stay for a day or so before you continue the journey!

Prambanan was really beautiful. I went early in the morning, you pay entrance fee (foreigner and local prices are like heaven and earth difference) and then you can decide to hire a guide for 100,000 rupiah to explain the main Prambanan temple.  A guide was really useful in explaining the architecture, history and statues.  You could also hire the same guide for the entire palace for an extra 50,000 but I thought 1 was enough and then went off to just explore on my own.  Set aside 2-3 hours to leisurely tour the whole place.  You could take the public bus that stops about 2 km from the entrance.  There is also a bus from there to the airport - very convenient and very cheap (I think it was 3,600 rupiah per journey).  The timing is always the tricky part but I think it was like every 20-30 minutes.

If I were to go back again, sure I'd love to surf a bit, but I would really like to just ride along the coast to discover the different beaches... That would be nice. Provided I don't crash my bike again.... Hahaha that's a story for another time maybe....

Oh Manchester Oh Manchester!

Finally I stepped foot into UK! But instead of London, I was in Manchester and it was lovely to begin with!  Disclaimer: I was here for work in May, but had a long weekend which I totally took advantage of!  The weather was so lovely when I was there that apparently that was it for Manchurians - the summer was there and then and over!  Yes, Manchester is notorious for its bad weather (sounds just like Netherlands) but I had the glorious sun especially during the long weekend I was there and you know how much I love the sun shining on me. 

I met up with my lovely friend Sarah Ashton who so kindly hosted me for the weekend.  Can't give enough thanks to her for letting me sleep on her cozy spare bed with 3 layers of blanket, wearing her cute colourful PJs, and sharing her oh so delicious fruit flavoured cheese that I can't get enough of!  And also for introducing me to Eurovision! Watching this cheesy European song competition in a gay bar was kinda pretty darn cool!

So what can I say about Manchester?  We did lots in the 3 days - I did a walking tour of Manchester city myself and it was easy and quick - love the architecture - those old medieval buildings mixed with modern structures - that was pretty cool!  And of course an English tea with scones is a must to get into the English lifestyle - Richmond Tea House is a great place to check out.
English scones and tea

There isn't much to sightsee in Manchester city itself but the area around is awesome with lovely towns and parks. 


Where we had our English ale!

Chester is a lovely town with the remains of the old Roman walls.  It was easy to get to with the train - just make sure you take note of the tickets you buy - if you buy the restricted ones (cheaper) you can only board certain trains.  We made the mistake of boarding just about any train and had to travel back to Manchester to change.  Because of that, we got to know the lovely Stockport which we passed through 4 times in total....... It's about an hour ride to Chester (or slightly more), and from Chester station, it's a 10-15min walk to the town with signpost to direct you exactly where you should turn and walk.  It was really crowded on the Sat we were there but the town is lovely!  The really old buildings that are now transformed into pubs, bars, restaurants and shopping areas.  The old church.  And of course, take the time to walk the entire Roman wall!  Took us about 1-2hours to complete the whole cycle including an ice cream stop.  Yes, you have to try the Cheshire ice cream!  It was there that I had my first taste of the real English Fish & Chips, complete with mashed peas and beer battered fish.  And also a half pint of English ale!  I now know why English drink so much ale - it's so light, it's like drinking water!!!  But they are darn cheap at 1.5 pounds it's a steal!

Lyme Park

The next day, once again a glorious sunny day, we made our way to Lyme Park - a state park which was once privately owned.  These people were bloody rich!  The whole area was so darn big that you couldn't possibly finish it in one day!  The gardens were beautiful, while in comparison the house itself was small , though still grand but small... Perspective.  Highly recommend locals to get the annual pass which allows you free entry including parking to ALL state parks in England and Scotland.  I had to pay like 9 pounds for entry.  The tour of the house itself took us about an hour or so and you could really see how grand the rich were.  The outside area was the main highlight I think.  We walked to the far away tower (where they apparently kept the hounds) and the view from up there was amazing!  There are also a number of hiking trails you could take (get a map from the information counter)  We did 2 hikes that brought us up to a height where you could have an almost bird's eye view of the whole area.  Really loved it.  We drove there, but public transport is possible as there's a train station nearby.  It's also a really great place for a picnic when the weather is nice!

The Peak district

The next day, I bade farewell to my wonderful hostess and made my way to hike the Peak.  I did the Kinder Scout trail which start at Edale station.  The information center is just a 10min walk from the station and there you can get information on the trails.  Unfortunately the maps are not for free but you could get the simplest one for 2.5 pounds, which is pretty useful unless you are a seasoned hiker in that area.  I went for the route that was supposed to take 6hours to complete, but I did it in 4 - woohoo wonderwoman!  Anyway, the hike in itself is not hard.  The hardest part - depends on which direction you start, I started from the Penine Way - for me was the steps going up at Jacob's Ladder - that was the steepest but on a scale of 1-10 it was a 6 or 7.  Then after it was more smooth sailing walking.  The trails are well marked as they were pretty well trodden but there weren't really signposts to indicate which direction or route you are on, so a map or compass is a safe bet.  The view was amazing, overlooking the valleys and you also pass through some cool rock formations!  I came down via Grindsbrook - just follow the path and you get to the end and the last part going down could be a little tricky as they were a little steep but still a 5-6 only.  Do check the train timings at the visitor center before you set out as the trains do not run every hour!!  Because I had time on my hand before the next train and I finished my hike earlier than expected, I went for another hike to the other side of the valley up to Hollins Cross!  This was a little trickier to find - the hike was No 2 on my map and the starting point was through a gate that looked kinda private but once you get close, you will see a sign that points you to the correct entrance. 

From there, keep your map and guide close by as the sign posts are far apart - you'll see them still but the guide gives you pretty precise directions on how you should turn and how many gates you should pass.  Finally reaching a granite road, follow the map directions if you want to get up to the peak.  It was really windy going up there and you know how you expect a sign or board that tells you that is the peak? Nope, you get none.  You just have to assume that's the peak according to the map and the fact that it then branches out to different tracks.  From the top, you can see the view of the town from the other side and also the trains that run through.  This hike took 2 hours - could have been shorter if I had NOT made a wrong turn.

Highly recommended to give the Peak a go especially on a great day!  It'll always be kinda windy and slight chilly there even if it's a sunny day so pack appropriately!

That night met up with another friend from Singapore and we had a nice drink at a crafts beer place Brew Dog where we tried 5 different types of beer!  Lovely strong beer - much better than those English ale.

There are loads to do outside of Manchester city so do give those a try!! 

The famous Manchester Tart! Custard with coconut and cream and glazed berries

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Diary from The Netherlands

Hola Amigos y Amigas! Wait, why am I writing in Spanish when I'm now in Netherlands? Fuck Dutch, I'm going Espanol! 

Dear readers, friends, strangers, it's been A LONG WHILE since I updated this blog.  I know I've been lazy with the blog lately and it's not really due to the lack of travelling! I've been travelling for such - mainly for work.  But it's just a lot going on in my life now!  As most of you know, I've recently moved my ASS out of comfy warm tropical Singapore to cold rainy Netherlands due to job rotation.  And to be honest don't ask me why I chose Netherlands if the weather is so bad.  I got a chance to move somewhere, I took it - weather permitting or not. And Europe ain't that bad - Netherlands ain't too!  And it's been some hectic (ok not really that hectic) months settling down, meeting and finding new friends, getting myself acquainted with this  new exciting country.

It all started with the moving, the administrative chore of getting registered and settling in, making my home a home, stocking up my already furnished apartment with more stuff, finding a gym, yoga studio, joining new activities and just going out there!  And at the same time, work goes on and I still had to travel for work whilst all these were going on!  And you start wondering "where the heck has time gone?"  It's at that stage that you start realizing that your day is just so jam packed with stuff to do, activities, meetups that you miss the alone time at home, chilling, watching some TV and basically do nothing!  And there are still so much I want to do, learn that I find I don't have time to do everything!  Well that's not happened in Singapore before!  I guess that's what happens when you get out of your comfort zone and into a new environment - makes you take that extra step out of your circle and do stuff.  3 months into Netherlands life and I have NOT taken any short weekend trip to neighboring cities/countries - my weekends are so scarce!

Many people have asked me if I miss home - to be honest I don't right now.  Seriously.  And that's because I have just so much to do that I really don't have time to start missing home or anything.  And also, I'm like a caged bird set free - I'm enjoying my freedom right now and definitely do not miss the cage.  I can do anything I want at home - walk around butt naked, half naked, eat anywhere, organize my stuff the way I like it without anyone saying or nagging about it.  I live my own life now without judgement, and I do what I want and like.  I'm learning new stuff and doing things I've always wanted to but never had the time or companions to do so - pole dancing, hiking the nature, salsa workshops (soon), kite surfing (soon), acroyoga... See what I mean - where got time to think about my life back in Singapore???  Occasionally, when the weather sucks here, I miss the warmth of Singapore, the convenience of our public transport when I have to wait 20mins if I missed the train by 30seconds, the food (when I don't have time to cook).  My tennis buddies - still haven't managed to secure one here.  And when I have to start washing my own clothes, mop the floor - I think about how privileged I was not having to do those at home.  I'm not trying to insinuate anything but I'm having great time and fun with new friends here - making promises to meet up, the gatherings with these people - whilst back home it was always so hard to meet my oldies but goodies that I feel so connected here.  And probably because of my adventurous nature, I'm finding I fit in well here with the new friends I've met who are also into adventure!  Sure, I miss the fun mindless conversations with my Singaporean friends talking about all news close to heart but honestly it doesn't keep me up at night thinking about those.  It's likely just a phase - just like how the honeymoon period is always the greatest before everything slides down. 

There may come a day when I'll break down suddenly in my HUGE comfy super king size bed, missing everything that is HOME.  That day is not today.  Maybe that comes with my adaptable nature, my wondering mind that just goes haywire at times thinking of different things.  The fact that I love travelling and being out.  The fact that I'm really a bird, happy to be set free.  It's been real fun living on my own, stepping out of my comfort zone.  It grows you, makes you a lot more mature and mindful.  I'm loving it now. 

So this is my update for now. Everyone I'm happy and doing good in my new life here in Netherlands.  Yes, the weather still sucks pretty much more often but when it's sunny it's really really nice!  But you know those sunny days are as rare as the loch ness monster sightings.  And my dear friends who plan to come visit, you're more than welcome! I have a really small spare room without a bed but you can set up your own sleeping bag.  Or, if you prefer I have a sofa bed in the living room that's big enough for 2! And in exchange, you can do my laundry and clean up my apartment :) sounds fair? 
Travelog will come soon I promise (hopefully).  I've been to Manchester, Mexico/Acapulco and did some really great trips!  Finland coming soon.  Hopefully I get the time to write those down and share them up here.

Peace out!