Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tasmania~ I'm in love


I guess it all started during our trip to Melbourne when we found a small booklet about backpacking in Tasmania and the book made Tasmania sound so interesting. And then during the MATTA fair, there was this booth dedicated only to promote Tasmania of all the regions in Australia. We took all the booklets and brochures back and I honestly had kept it hidden underneath the rest of the booklets that I got from the expo.. We were actually so eager to go to NZ and I actually already booked a return ticket to NZ and we were supposed to spend 8 days there and spared 5 days for Tasmania.

But then suddenly I received an email telling that our flight has been rescheduled and our trip to NZ got shortened to 5 days only. We were being positive that it's worth to spend 9 days in Tasmania. So we manage to grab a $10 one way ticket from Melbourne to Horbart and another $10 ticket from Launceston to Melbourne. That was our best deal ever! And the best thing is, I later LOVED TASMANIA MORE THAN NZ!

The trip was right after my depressing months, so it was a trip in which I look forward to recharge and start anew. I didn't study a thing! When we were waiting for our next flight at the airport, I was clueless to the things mentioned by MR and RA; the walks, the gorge, the mountains, the national parks. We were basically revising our itinerary that I'd took no part in and I just listened. I did the hotel bookings for Tasmania though but I didn't know where they are and just booked them according to the itinerary in our shared Google spreadsheet.

Tiger airways check in and boarding is in a different terminal so be sure to know where you should be going. During our time there were still some constructions going on but maybe now the main terminal is connected to the Tiger Airways', I don't know.. Anyway I remember there were no seats at the check in hall and the boarding hall was a very small one with about 3-5 boarding gates. And they are very strict about hand luggage. You must have only one piece with you.

I remember there was a small sushi stall in the boarding hall because I was very hungry and went to look for things to eat heeeeee So the above is and eagle eye's view of Melbourne city

So during flight, we continue to revise our checklist and MR mentioned about Tasmania or was it Horbart as having one of the most cleanest air in the world. And to my surprise, as we step out of the aircraft and filled my lungs with Tasmanian air, MashaAllah, memang fresh! It felt like early in the morning when actually it was already near sunset! Serius aku bukan exaggerating..

So as usual, we picked our rental car at the airport. MR was actually taking the pic of the car from every corners before we start using it tapi kami pi berposing2 jugak di dalam. You know, so that we don't get charged for scratches or dents that already exist before we use it.This is just for precaution.

We spent two nights at The Pickled Frog hostel. The wi-fi was not working during our stay so we just hang around at the hall at night and chat with the other travelers. We met this very friendly French guy who seem to know everybody at the hostel. He was apparently on a very very long working holiday and have yet to find a job there. And the funny thing was we met him again at Launceston and he told us he already got a job as carpenter at a barn there. Dia ni macam sot sot sikit and macam high jak selalu sebab tu macam diingat betul hahaha

Typically Australia, everything closes at 6pm!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stress ok~
The receptionist told us the Woolsworth would still be opened until 8pm but we got lost and couldn't find it and walked back in despair...

So lemme show you the map of our entire trip before I get started with my 'series' :p

So, we started from Horbart and then to Bucheno.. Jumpa 'Jodoh Pasti Bertemu~' hahahaha

And then from Bucheno to Cradle Mountain. And staying in a cabin within a national park is the best experience ever! Nanti aku bagitau kenapa (^^)

And then from Cradle Mountain to Burnie.. Okay, aku ada buat sesatu yang bodoh masa ni hahaha
Luckily la bff travel aku ni understanding and nda marah pon dengan kejadian super bodoh itu..
 We just laugh it off and continue our journey happily.

And lastly, Burnie to Launceston...

Tasmania is one of the very very very best trip...
1. It's the first place where we got disconnected from the rest of world for 9 days!
2. The first place we traveled without GPS
3. Jumpa pacik flasher muka innocent...
4. Found snow at an unexpected place.. Although we read about it in the guidebooks but still got really surprised
5. Outnumbered by wallabees...

Yeah~ Tasmania is all about...

signboard dekat exit from Horbart airport and yes we were ceaselessly surprised throughout our trip

As usual, the posts will take some time to finish because I am trying hard to manage my time with all the things going on in my life.
Pagi ni aku menulis pon sebab aku macam stressssssssss betol..

It's really hard to go on with what you've been committed to when you start to feel unappreciated..
And when you start to feel it actually stunt you..
Experience is growth and you progress as you manage to settle more and more tasks..
But in my field, you must also expand in knowledge...
Like applicable theoretical knowledge..
And I wonder why is it so hard to let you do so...

Anyway.. memang la post aku ni slow..
Sebab ini bukan travel guide..
Tapi kisah kami ;)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

From Amsterdam to Brussels


So after Iceland we flew back to London and then went to Amsterdam. We arrived rather late at night and we found it hard to find our hostel. And, unfortunately,  I had mistakenly made two bookings at the same hostel for the same dates. The hostel actually emailed me for confirmation when we were still on the way to Amsterdam but I couldn't access my email while we were in Luton so I have to pay anyway huhuhu

The streets on which we lived was rather scary however there were quite a number of halal food options in the area. And I wouldn't recommend this hostel anyway because I think they lack security. The girls who shared room with us just came back from the police station when we checked in. One of their room mate the night before had stolen their stuffs which include their credit cards.

So, first thing the next morning was getting ourselves the public transport tickets. We went to the train station at first but then was directed to another building which was about 5 minutes walk from the station. We went to the counter and asked how to go to Zaanse Schans. I remember the two guys at the counter were very funny and helpful at the same time.

So there are two options; one is to buy a ticket like the one above and another one is to purchase the IAmsterdam card which entitles you to free entrance in selected museums and attractions, free GVB public transport and discounts on items in selected outlets. Which is better? It really depends on your itinerary. We took the 48 hours IAmsterdam card and then bought another 24 hours public transport ticket. They are activated upon the first use and this is by element. Lets say you use tram at 8 am and enter a museum at 10 am, so the transport element is activated at 8am and ends at 8 am 2 days later while your  museum  element will end at 10 am 2 days later. Faham ka? hahaha

We took a bus to Zaanse Schans. I remember it took us around 40 minutes to get there. I'd thought that Amsterdam was a rather well-preserved old city since the buildings were mostly dated back in the 19th century. How do we know? Most of the buildings have the year of construction imprinted on the building. But when we arrived in Zaanse Schans, it felt like as if we just got off from a time machine. Everything look so.. antique; the houses, the boats and of course the windmills. 

This man was singing some dutch songs when we arrived. When we got to the platform to watch the sails of the windmill, he continued singing from below. 

So sweeeeetttt~

There used to be thousands of windmills here in the olden days and this village used to be one of the most important industrial center for the Dutch . Many of them were destroyed. Today, there are only a few which are restored and some are newly built windmills. We were very fascinated actually because these are real working windmills in which they solely depend on the wind energy to get things done!

On top is the oil mill in which they produce oil from grinding peanuts! 

This is the saw mill which is one of the new windmill. We were shown the video of how it was constructed  before we enter the windmill itself. Bukan sanang ok! They tried to mimic exactly how the ancient windmill was built so it requires very high precision and accuracy. 

Aku selalu fikir, sebab dulu2 teda sangat benda yang melalaikan, sebab tu dorang punya inventions mengagumkan hahaha

Believe me, we spent more than an hour in this windmill and I think we were the most interested visitor of the day. The manager just stood there with us the whole time answering our endless questions.This place really incite our curiosity. We watched the whole process; from moving the log from the canal into the windmill then removing the bark and to the cutting process. Some people do find this place boring. But we really appreciate the hard work, the complex and immaculate design and engineering of the windmill and all the machinery, and of course the end product. 

Later that evening, we decided to do the canal cruise since it's free with our IAmsterdam card. We met some Indonesians who were there for some conference in one of the University.

I was very impressed with the captain's maneuver. The canal is very narrow and at one time we even did a u turn. I predicted the captain would need to adjust the position several times before we could complete the u turn. But No! He just did a single spin on the steering wheel and succeeded!
I think the cruise is very interesting and everybody should try at least once if you happen to be in Amsterdam. It gives you the opportunity to view the boat houses up-close and you can even peek into some of them to see what it's like inside. I saw a couple having early dinner in one of the boat house.

Since Brussels is just a few hours away so why not hop in a train and head there. 

We stayed in Meininger Hotel and booked a six bed dorm. I say we made the best choice! The hotel is about 2-3 minutes from the subway and there were many halal food around. We didn't know there were many Muslims in the area.

When we arrived there we were confused about the location of the hotel and I guess it was clear inour face that it prods this lady to approach us. She can't speak a word of English so I initially didn't know what she wants from us. Then she just took the booking voucher from me, look at the address and instructed us to go straight in French.

"Ooooo nak tolong rupenye. Ingatkan nak ape tadi.. Merci beaucoup!"

If you ask me, Brussels is my second favourite European city after Prague. It's extremely beautiful and the crowd and the pace is hurm tolerable hahaha eyh ka aku pernah cakap Lucerne 2nd after Prague?
But really, I love it there!

The waffles are very popular but we didn't try it because we were not confident with the ingredients. But we went to this chocolate shop and shopped like crazy. At first the lady was hesitant and was rather harsh when I asked "Do you have those that don't have alcohol in it?"
"Of course we have.." I sensed annoyance in her tone..
I think, I should have asked "which one of your chocolate that has no alcohol in it?"

Ha! Ada drama tahu masa dalam kedai chocolate itu!
It's not about the lady because she transformed into a very sweet chocolatier when she saw each of our basket were filled to the brim

A few minutes after we entered the shop, suddenly a swarm of Chinese tourists came in to shop as well. And then came this blonde lady who always held her handbag in front of her. I actually noticed her because I think her behaviour was rather odd, you know. The way she was looking around was weird.. And the way she held her bag was weird... Yang sangkut beg d tangan macam pegang bakul d pasar tu bha..

And I found it strange that she was the only one who was just looking around and didn't pick up any product to look at the flavour, ingredients or what ever. Okay, I was not staring. Aku memang jenis kalo ko lalu depan aku, I can notice 90% of what you're wearing, how you behave... I don't know why.. Super power kali...

So... Mo d jadikan cerita.. This woman stood next to me at one point... I just ignore her because I was busy choosing chocolates.. The area has free wifi and suddenly I felt my phone vibrate and when I slip my hand into my bag to grab my phone, guess what! There was another hand inside!!!!!!!!!!!!

She was going to steal my purse!!!!! Luckily I had too many stuffs inside my sling bag that she might have found it hard to find which one is my purse \(^^")/
i was stupefied! I went to the back of the shop and start rummaging my bag and fuh~ my purse was still in there...

MR was the first to notice my panic reaction.
 "GG kenape?"
"Perasan tak pompuan yang blonde ade beg kat depan tu. OMG! Die seluk beg GG!"
"Huh? Alamak tadi die berdiri sebelah kite jugak!"
And MR start to rummage her bag as well and Alhamdulillah nothing was stolen too~ 

RA and me had an extra day in Amsterdam so we spent an entire day sight seeing. Surprisingly, we found it was very different during the weekends compared to the weekdays. There were so many things going on on the streets and we even saw a man in a penis suit walking around and it looked like someone dared him to do that, you know. It was really funny, though.

We took a tram just to get this cliche picture.. I think almost everybody who went to Amsterdam must get this one, right?

We went to Madame Tussaud, went to find some souvenirs and then went back early to pack our stuffs...

So that's the end of our Eurotrip.. Actually, there are a lot more things that happened and I didn't get to write everything.. InshaAllah, we'll be back to Europe again in 2015.. Oleh itu, aku harus berjimat cermat tahap dewa mulai saat dan ketika ini.. Oh tidak! Tiba2 lapar...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Iceland: Part 4


So now where were we...? Oooo.... Okay, right after Skeftafell we chose to spend a night in Hofn since the next destination was still hours away from us. Surprisingly, the room that we booked in Hofn was actually a small cabin with two cozy bunk beds, a kitchen, equipped with a heater and an ensuite bathroom and toilet for a price of €70 per night so it cost us around RM 70. The reception counter was inside a restaurant and I remember the waiters and waitresses were very friendly and cheerful and each of them greeted us with a broad grin.

The next morning we head to The Golden Circle route and started with Gullfoss. The scenery on the way there was utterly stunning. Similar to our journey in the southeast,  the landscape keeps on changing over this side of the country too. The difference is just that there are more greenery, and we crossed some gorge and at times the land become so barren with only black rocks and sand surrounding us.

When we reached the parking lot, it was full with tourist buses but still the area is huge enough that it didn't look crowded at all. It was so windy and we fought our way towards the lookout for a better view of the mighty waterfall. The force is so incredible that you can feel water spray from all directions. Gullfoss is the largest waterfall that I've ever seen so far.

In the past, it was once threatened when some party wanted to turn it into a power plant to generate hydro electrical power. But then it was saved by a woman who had fought against it. So thanks to this woman that we are still able to witness this nature wonder to this day :)

I still remember the very friendly boy who worked at the cashier that afternoon at the gift shop. He must be around 14 or 15 and worked there for the summer. He thought I was chinese because the shop was actually crammed with tourists from China at that time and they didn't speak a word of English. So when it was my turn to pay and he heard me speak English he said,

"Phew! Finally a Chinese who speaks English.."
"But I'm not a Chinese... I'm a Malaysian..."
And we had a short conversation at the counter. He said he never met a Malaysian before and have mistaken me for a Chinese..

After Gullfoss, we drove towards Geysir to see the famous geysers. Unfortunately, the great Geysir has been inactive and have not sprayed water for quite some time.. So we waited for Strokkur to be in action. The area was actually chained to a few metres from the spring to ensure that visitors are at safe distance when the water shoot into the air because the temperature could be markedly high.

Strokkur from the parking lot when we arrive

Geyser is considered a rare phenomenon and can only be found in certain areas with volcanic activity. The spring actually extend to a few hundred or thousand metres below the ground where the water become in contact with hot rocks. And when the highly pressurized water reaches the boiling point, it causes the geyser effect and the water and steam shoots into the air

What I called 'Short Swell'

According to the signage there, Strokkur is supposed to produce a spray every 8-10 minutes but sometimes the eruption could be small and unsatisfactory hahaha when we arrived at the parking lot, Strokkur was producing a very high spray but we were too far to record it. And 10 minutes after that Strokkur only produce a short swell and and didn't produce a spray (^^") So I continue to hold my camera faithfully so that I could capture the best of this rare phenomenon. And when the water start to swell and rise I heard whispers saying "Cmon... Cmon.." and when the water spouts upward, everybody cheered and that includes us! \(^^)/ like some football team just scored a winning gooooaaaalll!!!!! We waited some more until Strokkur produce two more sprays before leaving to Thingvellir.

We were in a hurry because we need to return the rental car by 5 pm and we are still far from Reykjavik. If I ever have the chance to go to Iceland again, I most likely go to Thingvellir first because it is such a beautiful place and we only spend so little time there. It is another place in Iceland with a magical vibe where the surrounding look so.. hurm.. nothing on earth... I was driving so I didn't took pictures of the surrounding.. But really it was so different..

We stopped to walk on the trail up to one of the waterfall. The path was built in between huge boulders so I felt as if I was walking in some enchanted kingdom belonging to the.. hurm trolls perhaps hahaha

Anyway, we didn't spend much time at all.. Macam touch and go.. And to think of it, I really really going to go there first if I ever go to Iceland again. Actually, that evening, we ran out of gas and was slightly bewildered when the GPS showed that the next gas station was quite far from the park. We rolled down the windows and drove slowly towards the gas station.. Syukor lah cukop minyak itu \\(",)

We returned the car that evening and walked to a seafood restaurant whose owner is married to a Philipino. We enjoyed our time at the restaurant because the owner is so bubbly and he even explained to us how to eat each of the dishes on the buffet; like in which sauce to dip them in etc.

We spent the rest of the evening walking around Reykjavik before leaving the next morning.

Our visit to Iceland is so memorable because there are just too many things that we saw there and have not yet seen in any other places that we went to. We learned a lot about geology for sure hahaha

So for the coming post, I might just combine Netherlands and Brussels in one post because it was really a short visit..