Sunday, October 15, 2017

RTW #2: India

1 August 2017

Series of Unfortunate Events
I was laying all the cards in the table and I decided to leave Bangkok airport and spend an hour or two in Bangkok city centre. I do have 6 hour window before my next flight. I already have my boarding pass so I don’t think it is all that risky.

To my horror, the immigration queue was horrendous. I can’t believe I forgot how many tourists visit Bangkok. So an hour out of the window. I am then left with 5 hours (less 45 minutes travel time). I decided I will get a relaxing massage. Then go back to the airport. This should be more than enough so I can relax in the lounge prior to the flight.

But then again, my connnection back to the Airport got f*ckedup. I ended up stranded in Siam for an hour or even more. At 9:30 pm, I still haven’t left Siam. I know that 10:30 pm is the departure time and I needed to board by 9:50 pm. I can’t do anything because even if I take a cab. I would just get stuck at traffic. So I decided to give up and started calling Thai Airways to know my remedies. And of course to ensure I have my luggage with me and not go through to Mumbai.

I arrived 10:29 pm. I can’t be The Flash and speed through the plane within a minute. So I wrote it off and decided to ensure two things happen even before I eat... a. I need to ensure I get my bag and b. I need to ensure I get a flight directly to Delhi. The thing with booking complex itineraries is that one mistake can lead to complete disaster. Domino effect on all the reservations. So I just had to let go of seeing Mumbai. And hope for the best that I will arrive Delhi safe and meet my brother.
To make the long story short. I got my luggage with me and I had booked Spicejet. Not anything related to the Spice Girls but I reckon passengers do love their spices and I hope they don’t perspire too much. Otherwise, I might get my first knockout punch and die of suffocation.

When all things were settled I called my brother and to my horror. So many unfortunate things also happened to him. Oh well, even how hard you plan – some things can still go wrong. He wasn’t able get the car that we hired. So I had to make sure that I will be very mobile when I travel around India. I have 65” luggage with 20kgs to drag along the streets of India. So I had to repack and think of things I will be bringing. I thought of this while stucked in Bangkok so I did buy my backpack and cap (to hide the drenched head –from sweat due to stressing). I ate in a nice japanese restaurant and did my repacking there.

Funny that I brought a lot. Thinking that having a car- I can enjoy the luxury of having so many clothes. But now, such a pity that I can only bring so much. Total disaster but a big adventure lies ahead in discovering why India is indeed Incredible India.

2 August 2017

All efforts to go to India
Spicejet is not so bad! Minus the ignorant ground staff (who says I have an invalid indian visa) all is good. The ignorant girl that I hate so much didn’t even apologies for her mistake. She even dared to ask me, are you sure you haven’t been to India given that you have BKK-BOM boarding pass with you? Far out! I told her the reason I booked Spicejet is obvious because I missed my flight! She so stupid that she can’t even skim through my BP to know that if I indeed went to BOM, then I wouldn’t be here. I would be in a staralliance flight!

And of course, what more can you expect after checking-in. The massive cattle towards Thailand Immigration. Never pick a queue just because it’s short. Study the turnaround and who is the officer processing it. I got stuck in the queue just because officer is oldie and very strict. One hour just to queue and leave BKK. Seems like Thailand wants me on their country and India is like the holy grail. Anyway, sleepless I managed to board Spicejet. 99% were from India. With all the debacle of getting through this flight. Somehow the silver-lining is there and I did come to appreciate the funny ways how their lifestyle works. One, they check-in in packs! Like minimum 5 and can even be 7 or 8. I reckon they do want to maximise their baggage allowance. Poor check-in lady, was shy and calm at first but now she was shouting at them just because they insist to bring the gigantic barbie doll (don’t ask me why – ROFL). Second, I saw a lot of head-shaking rituals. I saw a lot of staring in my direction. They do stare a lot. Finally, everyone is just in a hurry to get in the plane even if their way at the end of the zone in boarding.

I did sleep well due to stress and the good aroma of spices that Spicejet has to offer. But its a good experience as I wake up with the sweltering heat of Delhi and unusual stench that goes through your skin whilst you walk the busy chaotic streets of Delhi.

Delhi at first sight
I learned a lot from my brother’s horrific stories and some blogs I read before to be careful at Airports esp at DEL. So I did my own investigation on the cab prices to the centre. It can be as cheap as 600 rupees or as expensive as 2000 rupees (all in *accdg to them). I said I was waiting for my brother who is picking me up. I know that even thought they say 600INR. I will endup not getting in to my intended destination because they do get commission if they show me to different hotel or to tourist shops. So no thank you guys. I manage to get the cheaper alternative which is the Airport Express. Quick 25 minutes and I am at the New Delhi station. I left my luggage at the airport and paid 400 rupees upfront balance of 1400 rupees when I claim it after 4 days.

The streets of New Delhi is not what I was expecting. So many beggars. Skinny dark people. Toots asking me to ride their rickshaw. And all eyes were on me. I was like a prey in horrid jungle. Soon as I was out of the station I googled my way to the bus. I then realise that instead of riding bus, I will just map it and walk it. As I walk viciously – I saw lots of locals sleeping by the street with dirty torn clothes. Some where gambling. Others were shouting through to their conversation because of the beeping noise everyone (i mean every vehicle makes). The deafening noise made me walk even faster. I spoke to my brother and told him to meet me at Delhi Gate station. And what a relief once I finally saw him. It’s like he did survive a big war and I was just in the middle of it.

It’s just an eye opener but as I am writing this. It’s not too bad. You learn a lot by seeing the worse. Eventually you will get used to it and feel at ease. Because deep down inside, Indian locals are not all bad. The reason they are so aggressive is that because they are in desperate need. I meet a local who did tell me a lot of tips and tricks and I am thankful for her kindness.

Looking for Tou-Bu
Much like the amazing race, this is unforgettable struggle to find Tourist Bureau. For some reasons, they seem to have hidden the location so far from the Metro Railway Station and you have to walk deeper and realise that it does exist. We manage to book all our train tickets throughout our stay in India. Rest a bit and finally wait for the train ride to see the Majestic Taj Mahal.

Ancient Indian Railway Express
The first impression of the train was something I've never anticipated. I did ask myself whether it was indeed First Class...

RTW #1: Indonesia

28 July 2017

Arrival in Jakarta
Although I was expecting the heavy traffic, I never realised how bad it really is until I experienced it myself. Imagine 5km/h pacing. It was horrendous. I am hopeful that the government of Indonesia can speed up the airport railway project.

Given that I have a big luggage I had to take the cab. Always take BlueBird, that's my advice.

I arrived safely in my Airbnb somewhere in the South of Jakarta, the place is called Taman Rasuna in Setiabudi. The nieghbourhood is really nice and I'm guessing this is where most of the expats live. It has its own amenties within the building complex ranging from convenience store, ATM, pool, basketball court, gym, and of course short walk to Epiwalk (shopping mall). My host was not in the country when I arrived but has given me adequate information to properly check-in.

Meeting my old friends from E&Y Philippines
When I was still working in Philippines, my batch from E&Y left altogether and moved to Jakarta. I was considering moving here as well. Anyway, after 10+ years we finally got reunited in nice italian restaurant called Trattoria. They are lovely person and very hospitable. They took me under their care and showed me around Jakarta even as far as Taman Safari.

Got reacquanted and shared our own little stories. Eventually after couple of hours we called it a  night and decided to head back home. Luckily I live near their place so it was so convenient for me. Nice 6+ hours sleep and was recharging my batteries for the big event next day.

29 July 2017

Taman Safari, an experience with the wildlings
Woke up as early as 5 am so we can lessen the risk of being held up in traffic. My previous boss accompanied me to Taman Safari. We rented a car and I forgot that I drank coffee and Berocca that I had to hold my bladder for the longest time in traffic. I guess I re-learned that skill once again (having a bad traffic in Manila too).

When we entered Taman Safari, I had to seat in front and pretend to be a local. Do not speak and act nonchalant. I did pass the test. And after all, I do look like one of them. I guess this is the best part of Indonesia trip. A prelude to Safari's if you may (later on my RTW, I am doing the main Kenyan Safari). I saw lots of elephant, camel, giraffe, deer, antlers, lion, tiger, hippo, rhino, you name it. They have all kinds of animals out in the wild forest. And we can feed them carrots. I wonder if this animals never get sick of eating carrots. Seems like they don't really mind. Come to think of it, it makes their eyesight much better. So they don't damage cars, right!

We also did shows of dolphin and tiger. Dolphins are one of the smartest mammals hence they can do maths. Imagine, they can multiply!! Plus they can play sport (like soccer ball to the audience - ROFL). I therefore conclude they are well-rounded mammals.

Finally, due to time constraint we have to pick only one more animal show. I had a choice between cowboy show or tiger show. Of course I had to pick the latter. Cowboys are not animals!! One of the scariest, I reckon. The trainers are so at risk of being eaten alive right in front of the audience. You can see how hungry they are and how often they ask food. If they are not given food, they keep on chasing the trainers. It was so awkward to watch but in the end, they did surivive. In my opinion this should not be part of the park's attraction. Too risky and no real talent for tigers. Maybe its just me.
And for the highlight of my Taman Safari adventure. I manage to be brave enough and sat beside a tiger for about two to five minutes. Taking selfies while under the constant risk of being desert for the tiger. He is from Sumatra and I know they are really tenacious. But I did survive and got my 20k IDR's worth of pics.

We called it a day and took of at around 3ish. Just in time to avoid heavy traffic jam and huge rain poured whilst driving.

Prelude to the Great Malls of Indonesia
Jakarta has the biggest, most glamourous malls. It is so lavish that I can't compare any other cities in Asia, let alone Australia or USA for that matter. Too bad my budget doesn't call for any shopping spree. I can only buy selected souvenirs! By the way the mall is called Plaza something but it has a signage of Galaries Lafayette (from Paris).

Then we went home after feeling the exhaustion.

Go-Everything App
When I arrived home, I searched the web for home massage and I came across go-massage. Apparently the Go-App offers variety of service from shopping, eating, massage and even glam (which I think is make up for the girls). How lazy can you get, huh? Anyway, for 80k IDR it was really cheap and I ended up giving the masseur, 5 stars for taking away the stress of Taman Safari and the Great Mall tour.

Slept very well and ready for another big adventure in-stored for me the next day.

30 July 2017

Indonesia in half a day
I’ve seen all of Indonesia in half a day. How is it possible? Visit Taman Mini and you’ll see the highlights of every main destinations like Sumatra, Papua, Bali, etc. It’s a cultural village much like Philippines’ Nayong Pilipino. My friend Jb and her hubby showed me around. Jacob (their son) was so enthusiastic that helped me forget about the humid day in Jakarta.

Livin’ it like them
The other half of the day was spent much like how they spent their normal Sunday’s.
We went to their one of a kind shopping mall, with good cinema too. Can you believe it they do have beds in the cinema? And they call it Velvet seats.

Went to church after that. That time seems a bit gloomy so we ended up going to Wings Tip (something like that). They do have very tasty wings. Got mine in garlic and parmesan (I think) with super good chips and unlimited drinks. Finally went for bit of grocery shopping just to see what local chocolates and coffee look like. I ended up bringing it back home as souvenirs.

31 July 2017

Time to say goodbye
The final day in Jakarta I did it on my own. I went for Go-Jek for the first time. I was damn scared that I might fall or something might hit me. Go-Jek is like your Grab or Uber but its a motorcyle instead. Only downside to it is that sometimes there’s no reception in some areas of Jakarta so you ended up walking until you get data and book your Go-Jek. It’s the best antidote for overcharging tourists!

I’ve seen the old town located in Tua Pua (?). There’s really nothing special here to be honest. I was hoping I can get all the famous sights ticked but I ended up in a dumpster somewhere I don’t even know how I managed to reach by foot. So scary and I don’t know how I survived. Anyway soon as I saw the familiar landmark, I breathed much better and immediately called my next Go-Jek to Manas (?). To my horror Monday is maintenance day. How can I be stupid not to research it before I go, right? Out of frustration, I just ate Mee Goreng and Teh Bohl (?) and called it a day.

The joy of doing nothing
Straightened my things back in the apartment and I did enjoy packing and organising my things. Getting ready for India. Then my Airbnb host messaged me and he wanted to meet me in the apartment. I was having the impression that the reason he wanted to go to the apartment is to check that I haven’t burned the place down. LOL J It ended up to be a good meeting of fellow aviation geek and travel enthusiasts. The conversation went on and on. I was happy that I met someone who shared the same interests as I do, so I ended up giving him the dried mango!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Countdown begins...

50 days to go before my world travel. I can't wait to begin. Although I am still coupled with worries, I know that staying organised will help me put 'a tick' on all the checklist of logistics I need before I begin my journey.

The days are pouring like the weather here in Manila. It often rains even if the monsoon season hasn't started yet. I've been living here in my mum's place for the past 1.5 months and I am happy to be here. Being with family is very nurturing and helps me take away all the worries I have looking ahead. I know that a great deal of ordeal is about to happen when I return back to Sydney. So far so good. I am much better now.

I started to do my first vlog. and I remembered to also update the old-fashioned way ~blog. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dark ages end.

After all the waiting and living under darkness, finally the spectacle of light appeared.  It created a rainbow and a gleaming pot of gold presented itself.

Now I begin the planning of the journey I was looking forward to.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Off to chase rainbows and butterflies

Admittedly this route I am about to take is what my tagline mentions. Walking with blindfold and figuring out where I am headed to.

I don't know what tomorrow brings though I like the idea of going back home. Back where it all began. My hometown, the Philippines.

I intend to find out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It begins with a complete silence. Reflection. Brainstorming. Unstressed mind without time constraint.

I know that once I reach an idea it will blossom to something special. A place with endless rainbows and butterflies.

Back to basic. Make fantasy come to reality.

Monday, April 10, 2017

See ya later, SYD.

I'm a bit anxious to get back home to Philippines but I know there are a LOT of things to think about. It is not easy going back without a plan especially when I am staying in Manila for the next 5 months.

I know clearly that the last thing I want to think about is having to stress about what I want to do with my career when I get back in Sydney in September. One reason for this career break is to reflect on what direction I wanted to choose when I get back. So it seems that I have a lot of time to think this through.

I can't help but wonder about this transition and this journey I am about to embark upon.

Nostalgic to think about people I havr met along the way whilst I was in Sydney. I know they are always on my back and I can lean on them when things get tough.

I hope for the best and I bid Sydney goodbye for now. See ya later, mates!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2016 missing

There is this huge cloud over 2016 for me. I know I have not blogged for the whole year. But now I have finally moved on...

Losing my father last year was a big heartache. Living in another country, another continent makes it unbearable. I tend to look for something that will divert the thoughts temporarily.

Now I am ready to put them in writing. He was one of the great pillars in my life that I look up to. The person who is very considerate and appreciate the little efforts I put through back when I was young. Actually both my parents are the best parents anyone can wish for. Very ideal and they brought me up quite well and I am proud of that.

The day I learnt about my father's passing, was when I was with my older brother after he picked me up from NAIA. The emotions were not visible but in my heart it was in unimaginable pain. I let go of all the walls that I built to protect my composure and I hugged a friend. I started crying. But deep inside, I know that he is in a much better place and he would like us to move on and get on with our lives.

Throughout the year, I was doing my best at work. Trying to do what I like most. I am not bounded by traditions so I went on for holidays to Melbourne, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand and back to Philippines pre-Christmas. I learnt that my avenue for sorrow still belongs to travelling.

When I travel I go to a different mindset. A place where I venture the unexpected. Learn of other cultures. Appreciate the arts. See how other people in other countries live their life. And discover my thirst to explore something new.

Though I missed 366 days worth of entries on this blog, I know that I can encapsulate everything in one notion. That is, I learnt how to let go and I took baby steps to moving on.