2016 – the year of shoes

I have never bought as many shoes as i did this year. But i am not and wont be one of those girls who pile their shoes in their closet and never wore most of them, If i want to buy another pair, i gave away the ones i dont wear anymore, and they were still in pretty good conditions. So yeah i got 5 pairs now, based on my need.

When Oprah cant stop remembering how she wanted to have bicycle but she couldnt, in the past, i cant stop feeling so grateful having been able to afford those shoes easily, as when in the past, i remember i wore leaking shoes, that got my feet wet cold when it rained, till i had to ask a friend if she got extra shoes i could wear.

The abundant blessing, that took me a while to adjust and register in my mind, that freaks me out a little. The year didnt start easy, it put me into so many challenging situation that i have never thought i would be in before, but those experiences are so personal that no matter how hard you try to tell the stories people will not understand. It is yours and yours alone. But there this strength and peace that grows inside me that felt so strong that will hold me thru any other rain and storms.

Looking back, not too far back, just the past 355 days, things i had to go thru and still manage to stand here strong, different, better i hope, but i know i am stronger. I am deeply greatly grateful. And i know there are still a lot to learn, still doing my best to receive any tiny blessing, it might come in harsh way but Life is a hard work, Miracle is a hard work.

Thank you UNIVERSE for so many shoes and other tiny big blessings.

my-shoes

 

 

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Day 91 – what then? 

I was there on the tip of one the big rocks, on my left was the big stream of waterfall and on the other side was him swimming in the pool under the stream. Slightly i had a thought of doing what people these days love doing : selfie. But another thought hit me : what for? What would you do with it then? Post it on facebook? It will be soon forgotten anyway, it will be soon just one piece in thousands collage after collage that you would loose track. Isn’t every moment just another fraction?

No! It is not pointless! But i just decided to pick the things i know it will stay in my mind a little bit longer. Things that matter the most, being present from tiime to time.  When at the end, there would be just i and my self, and it is more about the journey than the destination.

A dream land – a sweet end of the journey (Phong Nha & Hanoi)

Leaving Hoi An behind and going to new town with no expectation; Phong Nha.

Took 8 hours sleepers bus to get to Phong Nha from Hoi An. Went to the hostel i have booked and already saw some bunch of tourist hanging out at the restaurant. Checked into a nice dorm room with two bunk beds. Tried to sleep for an early tour to the caves. Didnt see much of the town at night, but when i woke up in the morning and saw two big rock hills right behind the hotel, i felt excited instantly.

We went with two small vans with about 18 people in the group, going thru the national park with lime stones hills, beautiful, but my jaw only dropped right when we entered Paradise Cave.

p1948820130-3(photo credit : http://www.hungontheworld.com/p288769096/h7428A2A2#h7428a2a2)

I took a really slow walk to really enjoy this nature master piece, it was like going to the elf’s world. It was massive and magical. The path is about 1 km long. This is the part of the longest cave is Asia, i forgot how long, didnt pay attention when the guide explained about it. My jaw was still dropping.

The second cave we went is called Dark Cave. This was when the slight adrenalin and more fun happened. It included Ziplining, mud pool, swim in cold water, kayaking (the kayak was too stubborn).

11779868_10153646780327845_1187427612075315010_oIn Phong Nha i met some wonderful people that gave me enough reason to visit the country, that i have never thought of going before. Phong Nha it self is such a beautiful place.

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As i had to fly back to Indonesia thru Hanoi, i was happy to catch up with Vincy, my host. The gang took me for a night ride across the old bridge, after a fabulous dinner, awesome dessert, hanging out on the bridge looking at the river and the new bridge with light while eating such yummy chicken feet till some police told us to leave. I missed them already.

I left Vietnam with such a content and grateful feeling for the experiences and mostly for the people that i met along the way.

Thank you, Universe for the chance! One dream fulfilled, it was an awesome gift!

Lost in the concrete jungle / Ants Kingdom (Singapore in 3 days) : day 2

Noer took me with her to the train back in the city, right after the breakfast. We walked a bit, in an easy pace that allowed us to chat in easy pace. The trip by train took sometimes to where i wanted to go, somehow we both were drown to our own silence, among the crowd in the train. Noer apologized her self saying she tends to be like she was stoned in the train, i didnt mind her as i did the same. Till we departed.

I went back to the hotel to supposedly meet my friends, just to see what they are up to, and i supposed to meet other friend that came late to go for pictures hunting. But, as i have somehow expected, no one was there, and no trace were left for me. So i went on solo. Took a little stroll around the neighborhood called Little India. India is rich with colors, thats what i love the most. The Saries they display on the shops, the flowers thingy, their sweets look intriguing, their head shake when they talk always make me smile.

I saw this 2 levels bus, with no roof, the day before, and i wanted to hop in that. So as i have decided to do some bus hopping for the day, having so frustrated with tunnels and rushing people and escalators, bus sounded more compromising. I stopped at the bus stop and tried to read some clues, which number goes where, tho i have no clue what i can expect to see even if they have road names. See! my other bad habit is that, i hardly do any research, i just go and see whatever happen, didnt try to build any expectation.  But then…that bus showed up right before i even figured out the numbers on the board, so with no 2nd thought i just hopped in, showed my mrt/bus card and asked to the driver whether i can use it (having told i can use the card for the buses too, but it is for city bus). And the bus is not city bus, it is a tour bus that i have to pay cash 33,3 SGD. I checked my wallet and took out everything that looks foreign in there and i came out with 34SGD. I gave it to the driver, with no other thoughts whatsoever. The driver said he’ll give me the ticket later, and pointed me to get an earphone and a brochure. I did what i was told and went straight to the 2nd level, with no roof. By the time i sat down, i realized what i just did, i just gave all the money i had that supposedly for my last 2 days in this city. I think that random really means “you just do”. As soon as the bus started moving and i saw my surrounding all worries were simply disappear, i sat down relax, feeling so self contented. Absorbing the view, breath in the air, peace and joy.

The distorted Singapore that i experienced the day before gradually came back in align as the bus moving circling the city, making stops for other tourist to hop in or out. Amazed by the different sight appeared at every turn the bus made. From one building to another, from one neat road line to another, some incredible malls, one even seems to be underground you can see from a fountain on a roundabout. I had my camera on my lap, but somehow i felt like i just want to sit and enjoy whatever there was, and…..absorb. The weather was cool, it rained a bit, just cooling the heat a bit, then the blue sky came back even brighter. The bus stopped at a place called Suntech Park ( i guess, stated before i am awful with places name), i supposed to hop on to another bus, but once i heard the announcement saying that i can carry on, so i did carry on. Went the city tour for one more around, and made few quick stops at few places i saw before.

After the 2nd round, everyone should hop off and change another bus, i didnt know the route, i should have read the brochure. I didnt, but i just followed white middle aged tourist hopped in another bus, thought just took another round, i knew i could do this the whole day and make more stops. But, in fact, the  2nd bus i took was taking us to a different route. And this time we went on more like the sideway of Singapore, to more fancy and neat neighborhood, I remember the name of that area is Naseem Boulevard, it did impress that much that i remember. Some fancy classic design houses are in that area. Then we passed another road called Orchad, i remember this name, coz my friends, who have been in Singapore few times, keep mentioning this road. It is a long road with a huge mall, and big crowd of people queuing on the traffic lights wants to cross the street, with fancy brands displaying on the mall walls, some interesting artwork along the way, blue and white diamond lights hanging on the trees along the road, it should be nice at night. But the general idea of this place didnt quite tempt me to come back, especially that crowd of people. The bus then took us going thru the city but from opposite direction, change perspectives, and i saw more buildings that i didnt see before. I suppose i have seen Singapore overall.

After probably 4 hours ride, i decided to stop and hopped off at Little India, where i started the trip. My headache started to came back lightly. I checked my wallet and found one piece of 2SGD and collected the coins, i got 3 SGD in total, then…walked passing the shops, i just made a sudden stop at a shop selling Indian sweets. I suddenly remembered  Ladoo, an Indian sweet mentioned in “Water” indian movie, an old widow craving for it and got it before she died. So i bought some sweets; a Ladoo and two others i dunno, i just pointed my finger, for lunch, i should be able to survive till my friend picked me later in the evening. And the sweets were….strange taste but surprisingly nice…it was indeed intriguing.

I took a nap, or tried to take a nap while waiting for an old good friend to pick me up to crash at his place for the night, in Johor Baru – Malaysia. I was imagining that we will cross the land border like from America to Mexico. Another adventure expected to happen. Contacted one of my friends, and he told me that they were at Orchad. Somehow i felt relief i didnt join them, else i might turned out to be a disturbing biacth thinking back the human crowd i saw before when passing that road.

I was so excited to see Buci picked me up at the hotel with his white old big van called Jumbo. I told him my exciting day including the fact that i didnt have any more SGD left to pass the night, but he took me to an interesting area, that i also saw before during the bus tour and i liked what i saw, called Malaysian Heritage; Arabic road. Nice restaurant with mostly middle east design line up the road. It was a bit tough to find a parking space but we did it anyway. Buci took me to this restaurant ( i think i know how to get there, but again, not the name) he said he ate before ages ago, and the meat impressed him. Found our selves seats, ordered the big package that consist probably all meat in there (beef, chicken and lamb/goat, basically HALAL), asked for bread rather than rice. And cold tab water…it felt heaven to drink fresh water. It was indeed superb meat. They are Bbq, but the sauce is just deliciouuuss. We ate, and chat, and more chat, arguing on how long ago we did first meet in Bali. We, then took a light stroll to the mosque that was nearby, an old one, i forgot the year.

Buci, did mention about having trouble with Jumbo’s battery before, and it happened, that we had to find another car to help up charge Jumbo back to life. It was pretty easy, good thing living in Asia, i believe, people are so helpful. I knocked on the window of a car that was about to leave the parking lot, and he was willingly helping us. And Jumbo back to life and we were heading to JB, Malaysia.

Seeing Singapore or the center of Singapore from sideway is amazing, those blocks where people live in mostly, those concretes, and hearing about how high the living cost, how high the taxes, makes Indonesia is a way nicer place to survive. Buci kept saying that Singapore is not a country, its a company. And the citizens are the clients. Remembering back the rushing crowd thru those tunnels catching the trains, and remembering some scene i saw in a movie, remembering the tour i took today, where in every turn there came out another different building, i couldnt think of anything else than ants in their kingdom. Perhaps…Jakarta is like that, i havent visited that city for ages. But Singapore is indeed more neat, and i felt so secure and safe when i walked alone there.  And reminiscing those lights in the speeding van driven by a good old friend did make my evening. I had such a fulfilled day.

After crossing some big road, not quite a free way, we stopped at the border, and Buci dropped me there to check in the immigration. I did my protest saying that i thought it will be like America-Mexico borders that i will get my stamps in the car, with army and guns guarding the post. But nevertheless, i followed the crowd that were dropped by the buses to check in the immigration. That was easy, after double immigration post, we were finally in Malaysia.

Lost in the concrete jungle / Ants Kingdom (Singapore in 3 days) : day 1

We ( I and a bunch of friends) bought the tickets last year. It supposed to be our group travel. From about 23 friends who had bought the tickets, we ended up leaving with 17 of us. It was still a big group. I am not a big city fan. I have never thought nor interested to visit this city/country, but traveling with big group of friends sounded tempting, thus I decided to join in. Yet, decided not going to go in the near departure weeks, until 3 days before the H day I changed my mind. So, there I was in the early flight with my friends heading to Singapore.

The 1st day was tough. Not only I have no freaking ideas what the plan was, my own bad didn’t follow up my friends group planning, I only knew that we supposed to be together on the first day, then we can split up and do whatever we want on the 2nd and 3rd day. From the moment we were about to leave the airport we got split up into 2 groups. We left the arrival gate heading into connecting building by taking a transport they call it “Sky Train”, some of my friends sounded excited by the idea or maybe by its name, which is indeed cool. But what it is about is nothing than a speeding capsule in the dark. Next, we got our selves MRT/City bus card, to transport around. Then we hopped into the train to get to the hostel where my friends are going to stay in Little India. My 2 friends took charge reading the map to know which trains to take. So, I basically just followed wherever the group is going. 1st train, 2nd train I was alrite, but as soon as I lost track at how many platforms we were at, how many escalators we took, how many trains we hopped in, the frustration and exhaustion started to creep in. All I saw that moment was a crowd of rushing people and tunnels. We woke up really early, we were hungry, and we had to find our way, and I specifically have light claustrophobia and agoraphobia (that’s the point where my head starts throbbing), and I am used to be the one who navigate, not to be navigated, so it was kind of tough for me. Even once we were in open space, I still couldn’t catch my breath as we needed to keep moving to find the hotel and food.

We found the hotel, and even to go for lunch, we had to travel by the train again, coz a friend wanted to take us to this particular place to eat. So its another struggle with people and tunnels and escalators. But we did it anyway, and after lunch we felt recharged, we had chicken rice, the chicken was amazingly juicy and soft. We went to China town and visited a big Buddhist temple ( I never quite paid attention to places name, so I don’t know the name for this temple), all I can remember this temple has 4 floors and a roof garden and quite beautiful and well maintained and that I had to go up and down the elevator just to find a toilet which actually located at the emergency exit stairs, and it was quite an emergency for me. Then we took a walk around a bit, while waiting for the 2nd group to join in. At the end of the day, we never got together (fyi). Then my friend took us to Marina Bay, to take pictures with THE LION. All I looked for was a place I can rest my head and nap a bit. So I saw stairs and a little piece of wall, so I sat down, laid my head on the wall, covered my face with my hat, and doze off…for few minutes, while my friends taking pictures. After one more building visit, I and a couple friend decided to go back to the hotel earlier, too tired to enjoy anything at all. I was already a zombie with a headache.

While my friends staying at hotels, I decided to CouchSurf for 2 reasons only, I couldn’t afford the hotel and I simply want to experience couch surf and staying with the local. I contacted a friend; Noer, who I met in Bali before. She lives at one of the end areas of Singapore, in one of the high blocks, it is a flat. Noer lives with her sister and brother and parents in a simple small space. It was interesting really. In Indonesia, we call it Rumah Susun ( I don’t know the term in English), I don’t quite remember I have even been in one before. It is basically just one block divided into few rooms and a kitchen and a bathroom, it has little front porch, and located on the 7th floor of the building ( I think..or was it 6th).  And there are 3 buildings that have the same structures as where Noer lives in.  They don’t have the field….to play kites, or just running around wildly. They do have playgrounds, small one compare to where I used to play.  I met her mum for breakfast, and had a nice prata bread (indian bread with curry sauce) and a glass of tea, chatted with her a bit before experiencing another day. And in fact, my day started to get better by then on.

Things I noticed at that first day were, almost everyone wearing earphones, and busy with their phones/pad/tablets/devices, they are always in hurry, they seem never sit on the floor on the stations (the fact that when we were just sitting on the floor resting a bit in one of the stations, people were looking at us, strange). And coming from a less developed country compare to Singapore, everything become so damn expensive in there. We kept looking for free tab water around to fill our bottles rather than paying One dollar to get the medium size mineral water. (1SGD = 9.500IDR)

Oh! I did a little crime on that day, Noer was shocked when I told her. I managed to hop on the train without tapping my card, but tailing my friends, in a quick movement while they tapped their cards and crossed the automatic metal gate (in and out). Mind you! CCTV is everywhere and fine is crazily high (like 500SGD at least), but YAY! It was more for fun sake and dunno…breaking the rules a bit…fun.

Ijen Crater (beauty and irony)

 

Its beautifully dreamy for me, the whole picture of the mountain and the lake. But once i have to face the sulfur miners, my heart couldnt bear the image. They have to carry at least 50Kg sulfur from the crater to the post on their shoulders. Each Kg worth only about 600 IDR (not even a cent usd). The sound of their creaking bamboo basket and their gasping breath went penetrate straight to my heart, choked out the spoil person out of me, and all i could do just stumble and cried. If only my language is good enough to describe how rough it is to struggle with your breath and sight to cut the sulfur rocks. the smoke stuff your lung like heavy mist that block the air in. The trek from the crater up to the summit is mostly loose rocks that every clumsy move could roll you down and break your bones, yet those miners mostly only wear flip flops. Their shoulders had turn to rock it self from carry the burden.

“i think they are happy, Sita!” was a comment from a photo-journalist friend who stayed at the miners village for 3 days, and we agreed that they are like that simply because they havent seen the world out there, where better life exist.

And sound of the creaking bamboo basket and gasping breath haunted me for weeks.