Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Norway: Svalbard Part 1


Honestly, I really miss those days when Malaysian travelers used to blog about their traveling experience. There are still some around but not as much as in the past. Since traveling have become something trendy and affordable for Malaysians for the past few years, people tend to love sharing itineraries, pictures and budget rather than stories. But.. Yeah.. We travel for different reasons and mine is always to satiate my curiosity. If the place is common for others and I haven't been there, it's not because it's cliche, but because there is nothing I'm looking for there.

So I was in Norway for the polar bear because I still can't afford to join the 2 weeks Arctic Expedition. I really really want to experience the roof of the world so I searched from where does the north pole expedition usually starts because I thought that must be among the northernmost point that I can go to other than the actual north pole. There are 2 starting points; one is Svalbard, Norway and the other is Murmansk in Russia. I decided on Svalbard for the ease of travel since no visa is needed.

I tried making our route for this trip with the lowest cost possible and all of us were monitoring for ticket prices for many months. So it was,

Oslo - Tromso - Svalbard - Tromso - Bodo - Oslo

Tromso to Bodo was by bus while the others were by air with SAS and Norwegian air. I missed the cheap ticket for Oslo to Svalbard so my ticket was somewhere near 200 euros while MR's was about 100 Euros. The ticket never dropped to lesser than 100 Euros to Longyearbyen.

While on transit in tromso

For SAS flight, it stopped for about an hour in Tromso. We got off the plane and there was security and immigration check before we board the flight again. We were greeted by a tremendous view when we arrived because the weather was very good that day that there was not a single cloud in the sky.

Everything is so organized in Norway, as expected of Scandinavia. When we arrived at the airport, we don't have to worry about the transport to our guesthouse. There were three tourist buses waiting outside with each of them had their bag compartments opened and there were papers with the names of the guesthouses that they are stopping at hanging at the door of the compartments. So we just placed our luggage in the compartment with our guesthouse name and board the bus. You can either pay by cash or debit card and you will get discount if you buy the return ticket.

The view from inside our bus

The view on the way to town was splendid that I didn't regret spending so much money flying to that part of the world. Our guesthouse is located at the end of town since it is one of the very few cheap options (which is not cheap at all). It cost us  ~ RM 400+ per night for a small room but it was very comfortable and I don't have anything to complain about for as long as the heater is working well. What I like about our rooms in Norway, even though most of them were with shared bathroom but all of them have a sink and a mirror inside so it was really convenient for ablution and the water is drinkable so we don't have to go to the kitchen to get water.

On the day of our arrival we were supposed to do ice caving but there was a miscommunication between the receptionist and our guide, so our guide went off without us because he thought we were not there (^^") So we took the opportunity to walk around town that evening.

It took us more than 30 minutes walking to the center although we were told it should be around 20 minutes walk. I think it was because we were not used to walking on icy roads and we just walked slowly to avoid from falling. I did fell on my butt once because it was so slippery. We took pictures around town but sadly, besides our GoPro, all of our devices shut down because the battery can't withstand the low temperature.

I told MR, I think they are no Muslims in Svalbard. But then, as we were walking towards a convenient store, two teenagers greeted us with Salam. They were smiling broadly at us. I think it must be quite rare to see people with hijab in Svalbard or they are just happy to see another Muslim.

We went to search for some souvenirs at the store and I got myself a puzzle because I already have too many fridge magnets and mugs and I don't want to have anything that will collect dust. Surprisingly, things are cheaper on that island due to the tax free status. I was surprised to see the Coke was 3x cheaper than in Oslo. I refrained myself  from drinking Coke in Oslo because it was 25 kr (~RM 12 ++) per can there! It was 7 kr (~RM 3.60) in Svalbard. When I first saw that I literally said to MR,

"Dorang pakai currency lain ke kat sini???" And leaned closer to the price tag to look at the currency

As we walk back to our guesthouse that evening, MR and I saw 3 huge animals with white fur from afar walking towards our direction. We can't really tell what they were at first and thought they were some wandering wild huskies but then we thought, "Ade ke wild huskies? Takkan lah tuan die lepaskan macam ni?" But then as the three got closer and closer (because MR and I stopped walking because we were afraid if they are some dangerous creature), they were actually 3 reindeer! And.. both of us got excited.

I have problem transferring the pics from my GoPro so it's going to be a while for the next post, I guess...

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

99 Cahaya di Langit Eropah


I haven't been writing about the books that I read for nearly 5 years! I used to love doing book reviews in the past and occasionally I did get email of appreciation from the authors too! Nowadays, I only updated my Good Reads bookshelf once in a while but I never leave reviews. Just to keep track whether I have reach my number of books read per year target or not. My target is very low, just 12 books per year; that's one book per month.

This one is my latest favourite, written by an Indonesian lady. It's not that hard to understand since there are not many Indonesian words that are unfamiliar to me. It's basically a travelogue while her husband and her lived in Austria for a few years. It was about how they had to adapt from living in an Islamic country to being a minority in Europe. And how they discovered the history of Islam all over Europe and come to love Islam more and more thereafter.

The first part of this book tells about how the expansion of the Ottoman empire was halted in Austria. Then they went to Paris and was accompanied by a historian who brought them into the Lourve where she showed them the exhibits that proves how Islamic culture was highly regarded for centuries in the past. Then they went to Spain to learn more about the Al-Andalus.

I'm quite familiar with the Islamic history and I remember them quite well from watching many documentaries but this book tells me a lot of things that I've never  heard of like how Croissant is related to the defeat of the Ottoman. I also love how the couple responded when their devotion were questioned by those who didn't believe in God and how the other characters that they met worked hard to portray that Islam is a religion of peace.

I love how she can incorporate the Quranic verses and Hadith in the paragraphs. This reminds me of "Ayat-ayat Cinta" the first book that made me fall in love with Indonesian books; they are just full of reminders that make me stop and ponder for a while or if it's something unheard of, I will search for itand get to learn something new.

What made it so exciting while I was reading this, I was in Europe! And I was in Spain when I finally get the time to read it since there were a lot of moving about while we were in Norway. The film is good, I was told but I decided to read the book first before watching it. I highly recommend this for leisure read (^^)

This book really made me think of how Islam reached its peak in the past. It was how the people of that time really understand and follow what was taught in the Al Quran and Hadith; they put knowledge on top of everything and observed good akhlaq. As oppose to people nowadays, there are even group of 'intellects' who are trying to challenge the interpretation of the Al Quran and Hadith to suit their lifestyle. Unbelievable~  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How stupid of me...


This is a story of me being so stupid...

MR arrived in Oslo 3 days later than me and that day she was already late for breakfast. Her bag was lost during the connecting flight and it was snowing heavily outside, so we just lie on our beds and chatted.

MR asked, "Ramai ke orang mase breakfast..?"
"Ramai jugak.. Tapi kan.. Ramai orang tue.. Sampai at one point tu Gg seriusly ingatkan Gg kat rumah orang tua.."

And MR found my statement was very true the next day. During dinner we found ourselves surrounded by elderly..

"Ya Allah Mar.. Pakcik depan Gg ni tangan bergegar sampai tak boleh koyak paket gule. Patot ke kite tolong die.."
"Ish selalu ramai jugak jumpe orang tue.. Tapi ni tue yang tak berdaye ok!"
"Tu la.. Ni bukan tahap mak ayah kite.. Ni tahap tok nenek kte yang dah takde kot.. Omaigod Gg rase pacik ni ade masalah paru-paru.. bunyi nafas die pun tau.."
"Eyh ramai sangat ni.."
"Ke ade rumah orang tue kat area ni and tompang makan sini.."

We never found our answer...

On our way to the airport to go to Svalbard, an elderly woman board the bus and sat next to me. She was so old that I think she should be around late 80s. Her face and hands were all wrinkled, she had a roundback and her hands were trembling vigorously that it was hard for her to zip open her purse. I watched her try to put money into her purse which also looked like she was putting a lot of effort.

"Do you need some help..??" I asked. She replied me in Norwegian with a smile and continued talking even though I think she knew I can't understand her.

And there were subsequent events in which we saw a down syndrome lady who travelled alone from Tromso to a small village before Narvik and a wheelchair bound woman who travelled alone from Narvik To Bødø.

From my story, it's clear that Norway is travel friendly for people with special needs. But how does all these encounter brings to the topic of me being stupid...??? I was stupid to have thought that 30 was where all the fun and adventure should cease, where I should contain my curiousity, be stationary  and learn to be content with slow pace and everything familiar. And there I was in Norway, watching all these people who had the strongest of reasons to stay put but didn't.

Perhaps I was somewhat affected by one particular 'voice' that kept on pressing me about being single for too long makes one unworthy. I allowed this 'voice' to shroud my clear conscience about life and thank God I snapped out of it!

20's was like dark chocolate, I said. The sweet taste were the memories made while the bitter were the mistakes. The good; the  lessons learned are the things that makes the rest of the years to come be better, InshaAllah. 30's is not the reason to slow down, I finally figured out. It's time to 'speed up' because we are actually running out of time..

It's time to spend more time with our parents because they will not be around forever. Perhaps, I haven't got the means to make them live in luxury, but I'm trying my best to make life easy and comfortable for both of them. Perhaps I haven't been  given the chance to 'complete half  of my deen'.  But as I once said to a bestfriend of mine, "Takkan lah pahala berbakti dengan orang yang lahirkan kita dan jaga kita dari kecil tu lebih sedikit dari pahala berbakti dekat suami...??"

It's time to chase our dreams even the forgotten ones. I've always dreamt of travelling. As a child, I love climbing the small hill near my house and would start thinking of going abroad for adventures. Thus, I studied English diligently because mommy said if I can speak well, I can talk to anybody in this world. Traveling is not a forgotten dream. The abandoned dream of mine is my wish to study foreign languages other than English. I wanted to pursue on language after school but studying in a Science stream school and performing well in the science subjects prevented me from that. I always felt stuck although I've learnt to love my job (perhaps because healthcare gives you daily opportunity for act of service). Ever since I realized that it will never be too late to chase my forgotten dreams, I've become even happier with my day job (^^)

30s is not the time to cut off enjoyment and stop gaining experience, but it's time to do so in a more sensible and responsible manner that despite of still having all the fun, we still remember to take care of oursleves and not be drifted away. Have more savings and more money to spend for loved ones rather than splurged for our own wants.

After I came back from Norway, I've realized that aging is not the reason to totally abandon life and just exist. It's not the reason to just wake up, earn for a living, eat and sleep. Instead, it's the reason why one should be more mentally and physically active. There is no such thing as "I'm too old for this...". While we might not be as strong or as fit as the youngsters, but WE STILL CAN!

For instance MR and I drove on ice at 31 while the pakcik2 aviation investigators does that with us in their 50s!

Really.. how stupid of me and I'm just happy to be enlightened in Norway...

Whatever it is, in 2017 I will only accept marriage proposal from G-Dragon or Song Joong-Ki. Period!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Midyear post~


So I haven't been updating my blog as frequently as I wanted to. I really really don't know why I'm so0o0o0o0 busy at 30! I seldom waste my time on social media nowadays, but I always always have other things to do. Perhaps, it's how we prioritize things at this age.

A mid year post is something unprecedented but it's going to be a summary of what I've ticked from my 2017 resolutions and all the other mundane things in life like...

I'VE LOST WEIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will not post a before and after comparison picture but I'm currently 2 kg away from my weight when I graduated yeay! What prompt me to lose weight is not particularly aesthetic but it was more to how having more weight affect my physical well being. Well, at first it was really disturbing when more and more of my outfits became tighter. But then I started getting praises that I look better with more weight which was not helping; where from there onward I was actually encouraged to gain more!

But as days passed, I started feeling sluggish and sleepy during the day and even more tired at night. I started by doing regular tabata and man! tabata works miracle on my weight and stamina! And then I start going for regular runs (at least twice a week), I started joining sports tournaments again despite my deep-seated lack of confidence and I started rock climbing again! It was a struggle at first because I was not used to doing all these with my 'new' weight and it was actually slightly demotivating because the things that were supposed to be easy peasy became hard. But I told myself to be patient and not to expect instant results.

One of the videos I prefer when doing Tabata..
My friends said, "Ko suka dorang sebab hensem2 kan?" Hurm.. perhaps that's one of the reason why hahaha

I started this earlier this year in January and nowadays it's already a habit to must have some physical activities at least 5 times a week. Even during Ramadhan, I will go for evening walks and make sure to be home by the time for breakfast. Before this, I never realize how being physically active makes a lot of difference to my body because I've always been active. Nowadays, I can feel how my metabolism is being boosted and I feel terrific when I wake up in the morning. I guess, you have to lose what you had to appreciate it. I WILL NEVER ABANDON YOU EXERCISE! 


I just got my parcel from on Wednesday but not all of them are mine. But MOST of them are. I'm not an aspiring beauty blogger or vlogger; I'm not comfortable with having my face all over social media. But yes, currently I am super obsess with skincare routine and I noticed the difference and loving it!

I've been adherent to the basics since 3 years ago; that's the cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Sunblock has always been my best friend because my skin is so prickly when it burns and it will turn GREY when it gets darker.  I can see the difference then because I have regular acne outbreaks since I was a teen maybe because I was very active with sports and didn't straight away wash my face after I finished with training or tournaments but it improved with adhering to the 3 steps. Then, last year I started to add up my routines with the oil cleansing, regular exfoliation and masks. And this year I added up serum and eye cream as well hahaha

Thus, I have to start preparing for work 30 minutes earlier than before because I needed some time for the products to be absorbed before I apply the next one. O ya I shifted from Body Shop to Korean products because at one time there was stock problem all over KK when they wanted to change the packaging of the line that I was using. My friends recommended Korean products and I must say they are more suitable for Asian skin.


It's slightly harder to get leaves in my current department thus I've changed my holiday-taking pattern from taking a week off every 3 months to taking long leaves every 5-6 months my bosses seem more pleased with the current pattern.

So recently, I went to Norway with MR. RA can't make it because her little sister got married on the same weekend (but she already got her tickets when the  date was announced to her). Our main destination in Norway was Svalbard but we were in Oslo for a few days and were in Tromso and Bodo to get back to Oslo. The red pin is where Svalbard is located. It is the most populated nothernmost city in the world; that's less than 3000 people.

Norway is too well-known for the Aurora that everybody thought we were there for that. Unfortunately at this time, it was already 24-hours daylight in Svalbard which made it impossible to see Aurora at all. I'm in no hurry to watch Aurora because to me Aurora is not threatened by anything (not that I know~) which means 10 years from now it will still be there and I can always opt whether to watch the Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis in the Southern hemisphere. But, the polar bear is threatened by the global warming and also hunting so I need to see them first!

We were lucky to find a mother polar bear with her cubs! I'll write the full story later (ayat cliche untuk semua post trip aku yang masih non-existent sampai sekarang)

And we also did ice caving there! We were suppose to do it in Iceland 4 years ago but then we came in summer at that time and the ice cave was no longer accessible. Likewise, the ice cave in Svalbard is also not accessible in summer but it's not because the ice melted. The ice doesn't melt there because the wall of ice is actually part of the glacier. But there will be water flowing inside the cave during summer.

After Norway I was in Spain and I got to go to TWO REAL MADRID MATCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Real Madrid VS Atletico Madrid (Champions League Semifinal)
Real Madrid VS Granada (La Liga) 

The semifinal was something unplanned. I was in Madrid to watch one of the biggest bullfight event in the world (and later sworn that as my first and last bullfight ever) and found out that the semifinal will be held on the day I was there. I was actually checking out whether the ticket for the  match with Granada was already on sale or not but end up buying the semifinal in Santiago Barnabeau.

I splurged for this seat and I regret it NOT!!!!!!! The ticket was selling fast on the 1st day of sale and how I wish I got the seats at row 1 or 2 instead. But Row 16 was okay because the view was clearer for both side of the goal. I heard that for EPL, ticket is sold only for season pass holder.

It's easier to watch match in Spain I guess because the ticket is open for everybody; only some seats are reserved for season pass holder. When I checked the Real Madrid site a few days before the match, there were empty seats in some of the best seats in the stadium. Those were the seats of the season pass holders who let go of their seats for the match. The price was comparable with mine too! But this is really based on luck. Better buy the ticket earlier than feel sorry for not doing so earlier.

Well, since I've watched the match in Madrid, I was thinking, "Maybe I could skip the one in Granada." But, bila kau suda di situ and have nothing to do at night, memang tak tertahankan suda perasaan. I end up buying the ticket while I was on the train from Seville to Granada and I regret it not too!

The price for the first row was waaaayyyyy cheaper here. And although CR7 was not here, I got to see James Rodriguez and Morata in action! And Isco, Karim Benzema and Marcello did their warm ups in front of me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And sepanjang dorang warm up la aku x tengok match lol~ The four goals happened on the side where I was sitting.

When I was about to turn 30, I thought of slowing down a bit; perhaps consider having my own family, travel less and take life more seriously. But this first trip as a 30 year old changed it all. Throughout my recent journey, I met a lot of people who didn't let age limit their actions and they continue to excel. I've decided I don't want to be affected by the societal ideals! I will just let this life flow as it should be and make the best of my time to live happily and in content YOSH!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Leh, India: August 2016 Part 2


Luckily, the symptoms subside after 24 hours and we had the chance to explore Leh the day before we start our hike. Everything is in walk-able distance in Leh so it was really easy to get around. We went to the Leh Palace first.

The palace is the most prominent structure in town set on a hill so we were actually itching to go there. We had to pay a small amount of fee to enter; I don't remember how much but it was not that expensive. The palace was built back in the 15th Century and it's actually a miniature version of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It is 9-storey high and when we were there all sections were already opened (during my research some bloggers mentioned about some sections being closed for renovation). There were  balconies on each level that overlooks the town and there were prayer flags hung there whose colours added beauty to the background.

 The topmost balcony gives a 360 view of Leh so we were actually surprised to see the green side of the town.

The inside of this palace was not well lit because it was purposely constructed in such a way that there is no need for artificial lighting so I have no clear pictures to show how it looked like. The halls were basically not furnished, just one or two halls with boards with pictures and infos. There was one room for a short video show. The part I remember is when the narrator mentioned that the materials to build this palace was actually passed by hand by men forming a looooooong line.

Then we went strolling around the town and see what can be useful to bring along for our hike. We went to a pharmacy to get more Dexamethasone and was again surprised to see the price of medicines and health and beauty products were like 3 times cheaper than Malaysia! Dan tiba-tiba aku memborong facial cleanser di sana. A few shops from it was a bookshop and the books were twice cheaper there! Harry Potter and The Cursed Child just came out that time and the pre=order price in Malaysia was RM 100+ and I got it for only RM53 in India!

It started to drizzle later that afternoon. Before coming to Leh, we didn't really searched for Halal food in particular because we normally go to Indian restaurant when traveling to other countries since we can always order vegetarian food there. That evening, we decided to randomly pick any of the restaurant in town for dinner. As it was drizzling and the pavement was not roofed, we had to run from one shop to another to get to the end of the shop lot where we saw a lot of restaurants there on our way to the pharmacy.

And when we reached this small opening that has narrow stairs that leads to some souvenir shops, a man suddenly appeared from behind the stairs. He promoted his souvenir shop at first. And when I said we just arrived and not searching for souvenirs yet, he went on asking where we were from and what are our plans in Leh. When I told him that we are actually looking for a good restaurant, preferably Muslim's, he told us there is a Muslim Restaurant just a few meters away called Mazwan Planet. "It might be one of the best around here!" 

As he was giving us the direction, he saw the owner of the restaurant passed just across the street. He yelled the owner's name and they spoke in Ladakhi. 
"He is going to the restaurant. You can follow him."

Well, we end up eating there for lunch and dinner in most days since the food was very good and the price was reasonable. 

Leh has been a popular destination for European for many years, so I guess that what makes it easy to find good food around Leh and the menu is variable. Below is one of my English breakfast set. This place is actually a square with 4 or 5 restaurants. We had breakfast here almost everyday and tried them all. The set usually come with coffee or tea and juice and you get to choose 3 or even 4 dishes in one set and it was really really cheap; like about RM5 per set.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wedding Preparation; The Do's And the Don'ts


Wedding preparation in years to come, that is. Well, I got involved in lots of weddings before and currently am busied with the preparation of my cousin's wedding. So, finally I found some time to write down the DO's and DON'Ts that I've collected for years lol. I write it down here for the purpose of easy retrieval. Who reads my rambling in this blog anyway tchhhh


There might be things that we deemed as unnecessary in a wedding but is considered a must by our folks. From my observation, defying those things behind their backs will only give rise to new problems and often it will be mentioned over and over again (as a bad example) even after the wedding. So I think, communicating is the best solution and my bff told me "be prepared to lose, make sacrifices and let it be"


The  Jab. Agama put it that the forms can be submitted within 3 months to 2 weeks before the date of the nikah. However, all the documents can actually be prepared earlier on. I've seen the huge difference between those who prepared earlier on and those who just started preparing within the period given. Those who prepared earlier didn't have to hassle on incomplete applications or if there are kinks, they still had enough time to settle them. Whereas those who decided to do it at the last minute had to struggle to ensure things are done on time.


Actually this is my personal POV. I think food is the most important one because it's usually the thing that I remembered most when I attend a wedding. Like SJ's roasted lamb on her side and ikan keli on her husband's side, HH's ikan patin, the delicious nasi briyani during my friend Azie's wedding and how my cousin Mahani creatively served her desserts are among the things I remember. I will also remember the weddings at which I had to go to a restaurant right after because the food was not enough. I don't usually complain because there is no perfect wedding after all. I just have a good memory of them, that's all. Putting most of the budget on food is worth it!


The things you don't necessarily have to splurge on to me are...

- Barang hantaran
Perfume, al quran, cosmetics, kasut etc are the things that I already have! Lain la kalo mo bagi kereta ka, kunci rumah ka :p

- Photograph and video
Although these are in my 'must have'  list, but I think cheap packages still produce good works.

- Make up
It surprises me how people can splurge on something that you will wipe off after a few hours. Same with photograph and videos, there are still many skillful MUAs with reasonable price out there.

- Baju kahwin
I think this is only necessary when one is a non-standard size type. Or like a relative of mine who is good in designing clothes; her wedding dress is simple and elegant yet the type that can be worn in other occasion as well. The bridals often come with packages that includes pelamin and baju pengantin. If you can find good offers, they will even include cakes and dessert booth too!

-Door gift
I have a stack of unread yassin in my room and my Umie's book shelf have one petition that's dedicated for placing unused souvenirs from weddings. When my time comes, the door gift will either something different from these or something consumable like food.


I think this really helps to organize things, save budget and to avoid from things that you paid for turning out to be different from what you expected. Things can look great in pictures yet the real thing might not be as satisfactory.


There are a lot of posts on fb that read something like 'masih ada perempuan yang minta duit hantaran murah di luar sana' or 'Ku pinang dia dengan RM 500'. I don't really get it what's the fuss about that since there might be difference in culture between me and these people. But to us, the high dowry is not like the guy is 'buying' the daughter. It's to show that the guy is being respectful to the girl's parents by partially financially supporting the wedding on their side. And all the monetary gifts received during the wedding will be fully given to the married couple to start their life.

And what I meant by saying it's your parents' day as well is I've seen just how happy parents were while hosting their children's wedding even though it's exhausting. I think it's worth it to consider how they want it to be as long as you can afford it.


I can't say much about this since most of my friends had to make loans to afford their weddings. But I still have time to try to avoid this. I have always have a separate saving just for my wedding; which means it's aside from my other savings. Truth be told, my savings are divided into; saving for the future, emergency, travel aaannnddd wedding LOL I've started it ever since I started working thinking that it will be one of my biggest investment hahaha Tapi sebab aku NDA AKAN KAHWIN TAHUN 2017, I'm going to use the money for my coming big trips!

I purposely capitalize the "NDA AKAN KAHWIN TAHUN 2017" because whenever I said this, people will go like

"Selalu kalau cakap begini, tekahwin ni.."

I've said this sooooo many times years before and I'm still a carefree single and it will still be the same for the year 2017! \(^^)/

I'm soooooo looking forward to my next trip!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just some of those things I did...


Recently, I went to try two hiking trails in Tambunan. I've never been to Tambunan all my life so I was really looking forward to the first trail we did in Mount Wakid.

I didn't took the pictures of the trail but to me it was easy enough for a beginner. It was about 7 km hike from the starting point to the peak and back. At the first part we were walking through a village and then passed some paddy fields and vegetation. The trail to me is a slow incline but was very steep towards the peak; I say it was close to 90 degrees that we were almost like rock climbing there. It was a bit muddy due to rainy season so we have to grab the stems and roots for support as we climb. If you're not comfortable with getting dirty, it's best to have a pair of gloves ready. And what I didn't expect was the number of river crossing. It was only around ankle to knee-high deep but some rocks were loose and I did trip and dipped my legs into the river.

You can see there, it's just 1372 meters so since it was only a month away from my hiking in Markha Valley, I found it was quite okay that I didn't have to struggle to bring air into my lungs. We paid RM 80 for the trip which included guides and late lunch which was served when we completed the trail. 

It was actually a well-organized trip. The guides were professional since they were officially from Taman-taman Sabah. There were enough rest for all but a bit too much rest for me because I can be easily tired if I have to slow down my pace. 

The next trip was Minduk Sirung which I'd underestimated and decided to not wear my knee guard for the climb! What on earth was I thinking!!!!!!????

I did take a look at the trail and the elevation given in the group, the trail was a long stretch with slow inclination but I didn't notice that the descend was tough and long; which is actually a known disadvantage to me. The total distance is 12 km and we completed it in 8 hours.

The footpath was not in its best condition because there was a trail run the week before and it was raining for the past few days before we arrived. So can you imagine how muddy and uneven the trail was with hundreds of people using it the week before.

My left knee was in severe pain when I reached the peak. I took Hakim's muscle spray and literally finished it by the time I completed the trail. Although the spray was for muscle pain, it did work for my aching joint. When the pain was no longer bearable, I'd to spray it to go on. It rained when I reached 2/3 of the trail and it was already getting dark when I reached the Mahua Waterfall. 

The trail actually reminded me of Mount Irau's. The climate was cool since the very beginning and the tree barks are mostly covered with moss. If I ever to do this again, I'll make sure I wear my knee guards and from now onward I will never ever leave them behind even if the trail is easy. Promise!

And last year I got to go to UMS Bon Odori. Luckily we were already back from Jakarta. And my proudest moment is that I donned this Yukata on my own!!!!! \(^^)/

To be honest, I practiced for 2 days! A full day on the day of the event; my Yukata was the first thing I reach the moment I woke up that morning. I was afraid if the Obi (the ribbon) is not tight enough that it loosen as I walk around. I was planning, if that was to happen, I better prepare myself some safety pins. Alhamdulillah it didn't! 

The event was great. There were Japanese involved too. There were martial arts performance, a tea ceremony demonstration and the Bon Odori dance.

Can't wait for my Japan trip!! I'm so looking forward to go to the places that I didn't get to go last time.. The Samurai museum, the sumo tournament, the zen gardens, the war memorials... #Japaneseatheart

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Leh, India; August 2016


Whenever one of my travel mates mentioned about going to India, I will quickly displayed my reluctance. I was very influenced by the 'Slumdog Millionaire' movie. I don't think I can stand what filth shown in the movie; especially that earlier part where there was a guy wading inside a river full of garbage. And whenever we meet another traveler, they never come up with a convincing story that attract me to India. It was always about severe diarrhea (like they almost die there) or overcrowded attractions and scams. I'm the scam-magnet in our pact so it's logical for me to feel intimidated and scared.

I had a change of heart when a friend of mine who is also an outdoor enthusiast showed me a picture of Ladakh; a picture of a huge electric blue lake surrounded by brownish mountains and there were two horses grazing nearby. It was a rare sight to me; you don't always get to see dry barren mountains as beautiful as what I saw. And I told my friends; if we are going to India it's going to be Ladakh.

That was somewhere in 2013 or 2014. At that time I did some research of how to get there. I remember it was not yet readily accessible to tourists and I've put the idea off because of that. It was at the end of 2015 that the idea of going there popped out again. I was triggered by a documentary that I was watching during one of my insomniac night. It was about a lady journalist who spent weeks moving about the Changtang plateau with the nomads. I was mesmerized by the change of landscape as they shift from one grazing site to another. It was surreal and from experience I then knew, that it would be better be seen by the naked eyes rather than just on TV.

I'm the kind who needs this kind of trigger to have this unwavering determination to get the tickets. So, after that I start monitoring cheap tickets to India and I got RM 399 for KL-Delhi. From Delhi, you can actually choose to go by land or by air to Ladakh. There are two routes by land which will equally take at least 3 days and the cost are more or less the same. But your journey can be further delayed due to road condition such as land slide or due to safety because you will have to go through some parts of Kashmir that are occasionally in tension. We were lucky to have opted to by air because there was an insurgence in Kashmir at that time. We met another group of girls who were in Kashmir before they got to Ladakh and they have to sneak out of Kashmir in the middle of the night to avoid the clash.

The ticket is quite pricey for a domestic flight. And mind you, we picked the high season which is during summer because Ladakh's weather can be unpleasant during winter. From what I saw, it ranges from RM 900-RM 2000 for GoAir, Air India and Jet Airways. I didn't get the cheapest price because there were only two seats left in that flight whereas I needed four. I got RM 1300 return ticket and MR who bought the tickets two weeks before the trip got RM 2000 plus return ticket.

We spent a night in Delhi and took the first flight to Leh the next morning. To my surprise when I arrive in Delhi, the immigration officer insisted to speak Urdu to me. He only stopped after I told him "Sorry, I don't speak Urdu. I'm Malaysian." And then a few days later I learned that there are people in parts of India that has Sabahan features and one of them is Ladakh.

I studied a bit about the Indian side of Himalaya and was impressed with the different sight offered by it from air. The Nepali side of Himalaya is filled with lush greenery, but there from above, they look like sand dunes with patches of snow in some peaks. "Beautiful ey" said the man who sat by the window in our row. He was a Canadian who is going for a hike in another trail. The flight was smooth until we were about to land. As the aircraft descend, it started to vibrate due to the swift moving wind in between the mountains. The Canadian joked, "I hope there is somewhere flat for this thing to land". That something flat was nowhere to be seen. Then the aircraft made a left turn around a huge mountain, the nose continue tilting down and it was slightly shaking. Despite all that, the captain made a smooth landing on the runway. I turned to RA and said, "Patutlah ticket mahal.. Pilot terer ni!"

I was immediately spell bound by what surrounded me. We went to many mountain range in the world but what Ladakh has is of its own. We never seen anything like it! They were so close and colossal, covered with sand and rocks and has delicate ridges whose features change during different sun-phase throughout the day.

The airport was very basic yet efficient. Foreigners were given a special form to fill and to my surprise again it was not handed to me upon arrival. I had to go the immigration desk to ask for it. The lady there spoke something in Ladakhi to me and without understanding what she said I just responded, "I'm Malaysian". It was a relief to find a toilet spray in the toilet. On my way back from the toilet I saw the huge signboard about how to avoid acute mountain sickness (AMS) and only then I realized that the repeated announcement that I wasn't paying attention to was actually about AMS.

Yangphel Guesthouse; we paid INR 6800 for 2 rooms for 2 nights. I gave a good review for this place and highly recommend it. You can ask the staffs  to cook breakfast and dinner and the price is quite reasonable. Trust me, when you have AMS, no matter how close the town is from this guesthouse, you will be too disoriented to walk there.

We went straight to our guesthouse. To my dismay, although they have wifi there, there was a power cut that afternoon. It was hard to stay awake when you are suppose to rest while you have nothing to distract you from falling asleep. Since I've felt AMS when we were in Nepal, I took some Dexamethasone as prophylaxis. I've expected it would be worst there in Leh, because we flew from sea level to about 3500m above sea level. I prepared my water and just lay down on the bed. RA was busy cleaning her bag because something spilled. Later that evening she had a very bad AMS and turned pale that we had to cancel our plan to go around Leh town. As we waited for dinner, MR actually fell asleep in her room and later had a severe headache during dinner. I've never seen her in so much pain. She was literally rolling on the sofa and keep saying she feels like knocking her head on the wall. Although I think she wasn't going to do it, I was scared anyway.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

20's.. You won't be missed..


I still find it hard to believe that a decade have passed since I turned 20. I remember that particular birthday because I was wearing a full leg cast at that time and my friends made a birthday surprise that I least expected because it was during Christmas. We had a halaqah session (a religious study circle) that night and closed it with a short tadarus Al-Quran. Everybody went back to their rooms while me and a few friends stayed there for a while talking crap. And suddenly the lights were turned off and the girls who already went back to their rooms came in with a cake. Of course, I got emotional and cried. At the end of all that, all of them took turns to write and draw pictures on my leg cast.

This blog is like an archive of my twenties that I sometimes go back to; reminiscing the good old days... For the past 10 years, I admittedly learnt a lot. Well, for me the 20's was when I started to independently make conscious decisions on my own that weren't always right. So, ya, it was somewhat like Dark Chocolate; black, bittersweet but good in many ways hahaha

I turned 20 learning that I won't be the only one who is going to be affected by my choices and actions. I learned that, if I don't take a good care of myself, there are people who will be sad and even fall sick out of worry. On one of those days, when I was not able to move freely, still waiting for my leg to heal, there was an Explore Race going on. I requested for my mom to drive me around town so I can watch my friends do their challenge. Silently, as I sit inside the car looking outside the window, I thought about what I'd missed and wonder if it will ever happen to me again; being immobilized like that. At the end of that ordeal that year, I learned that when you get the chance to catch your dreams, grab it because the future is still a mystery. I also learn that I'm stronger than I think to have completed the semester as a cripple.

Life goes on after that. I searched and found my passions. I discovered my love for nature especially the mountains. And I became sure that I have chosen healthcare because I found satisfaction when it comes to serving others. I seriously dread it when it was time for our Retail Pharmacy attachment or Industrial Pharmacy subjects but extremely love it when it was time for ward attachments, community service and home medication review programs. I also learned that, I have to be proactive in order to grow and not just wait for good things to happen.

And then I start to realize that a person's feelings towards another do change and a relationship wouldn't last if the effort is one sided. Hold on and be patient only until it's no longer worth it. I immediately decided to walk away when I finally found his change in behaviour is due to the presence of another girl. When it's too crowded, there is no point of staying and fighting for it anymore. It was my first ever serious relationship and it hit me real hard when it ended. It took a long time and a lot of strength for me to get hold of myself and stand again. But that was the second turning point of my life where I began to not focus my definition of happiness in the existence of one man. Instead, I start to divide my source of happiness in small chunks and the largest portion is, of course, belong to my beloved family. After the accident, this was the next occasion that taught me that during the darkest of times, it will only be Allah that you can turn to and talk to and ask for strength from.

I moved on, of course. I challenged myself to excel and for years after that I was focused on personal achievements until I entered the working world. It went smooth for a while until one fateful day, during my oncall as a PRP, I failed to respond competently. It was understandable that I was a newbie but then I was demoralized and start to think that I'm not suitable for the job. My mom talked me into it and reminded me that mistakes happen for us to learn from it. Ever since, I began to understand that knowledge is necessary. My aunt once said to me, "Jangan luan pandai, J. Nanti nada orang mau..". (Don't be too smart or else no one will want you (for marriage)). She might be partly right since I'm not married yet hahaha But then, the way I see it, having knowledge is not for so that you can feel superior than others. It's necessary in order to function well in every aspects in life. I need knowledge to be a competent pharmacist, I need knowledge so I can teach the little ones in my family, I need knowledge to communicate and connect with others as I travel and I need knowledge to be a good Muslim too. There's no limit in gaining and applying knowledge. And having more doesn't make you better than your parents, better than your teachers or your spouse. It just adds your value as a person.

When everything was starting to be right and great, came my greatest lost. I dedicated a few posts for Nurul alone in this blog; before and after her passing. So you can easily guess just how close both of us were. My condition was even worst than during my first heartbreak. For months, I cried every morning (on my way to work) and in the evening (on my way back from work) because that was the only alone time I had to pour my greatest weakness which is losing someone I really love. My productivity was going downward; my room was in a mess and so was everything else in my life. But then, slowly, I started to see the wisdom behind this deep-seated sadness that dwell in us as a family. I guess, it's natural to feel that death is real when someone so close to you is gone. And it's even eye opening when one of the youngest is fated to go first. You will never know when is your turn. The inspiring part of Nurul's departure was the massive amount of people who offered their prayers and gave us support. I was surprised to find the amount of donation was enough for all the kenduri (We had kenduri 7 days straight, and then every weekend during Ramadhan and on the 40th and 100th day). At the end of it all, I thought, Nurul only lived for 17 years but she received a lot of duas from people who don't even know her in person. Not everybody is blessed with that. I've seen people who don't even have any next of kin who come to claim the body after their demise. So, if I were to leave this world one day, I want to be remembered as good.

In between all that, I fell in love again after 4 years. I was so afraid when I noticed that that once-a-familiar-feeling came back to me whenever I was with him. He was this type of love that you meet at the wrong time. On this part of my 20s, I learn that it's worth it to choose something that will cause less or no drama. You might not get the one you want, but at least you will live with a peace of mind. I coped with this loss well although it hurts too. I believe that if it was meant to be, it will be. If it was not him, then it will be someone else. He was the one that made me believe in giving love another chance. He made me believe that there is still a good guy out there who is kind and sincere, It was just the wrong time and he was just another person who came to give me new wisdom.

I very much developed my career afterwards. I sub-specialized. I learn that although my field can sometimes be a staccato, but if I look carefully, there is actually still a lot to be learned. And then, the best way to make someone improve their performance is not by scolding them but by guiding them. It's important to learn to forgive and give chance too, because all of us make mistakes. There were times when I used to despised those who didn't make use of their second chances in life wisely and chose to continue the life that have brought them where they end up instead. It made me feel as if I'd made that possible. But then, I figured that I couldn't go on thinking like this. So I start to see myself as part of Allah's tool of delivering the second chance. As long as I played my part right, whatever choices that comes after that is not accounted on me.

When I was ready to push myself further in my career, I had to let go one of my plan for the sake of others. It was a tough choice, to be honest. But then, at that point of time I asked myself which one will I regret the most not doing. Alhamdulillah, I made a right choice and the sweetness from the fruit of this decision is tasted not only by me but also by the people I care most. In this world where we are fed with the idea of making ourselves happy and just do whatever we want to do; to me that is not always the case. Things must be thought through. It will not always be about me and my life. Sometimes happiness is by putting others first and by putting others first doesn't mean you will suffer for life too.

After all those years, I'm no where near perfect or will ever be. I hurt others too but there are some people who hate me for reasons I don't understand. I evaluated our relationship, I admit that I have flaws too but I don't think I deserve to be treated to that extend. It's not like I did harmful things to these people but they just hate me so much. The most important thing is I did ease my pride and apologized. I walked away with my self-respect intact and I didn't keep up on any of them. I learn that you can't make everybody to like you. The best thing one can do in dealing with people like this is try not to make further damage and just move on. If you ever found out that they still talk about you, bear in mind these people most likely has minimal contact with you, don't even know you well and don't know your struggles as well.

After two heartbreaks and watching some of my friends' marriage broke, I started to understand marriage is not a life goal, it's a blessing. As I aged, the question of when is not so much of a problem anymore but recently I was challenged with perceptions. Some women will see you as a threat who's going to steal their husbands, male friends will start to think you are man-hunting if you treat them well and even say you're desperate and there are so many times that me and my single friends shared stories about how older men like to harass us with obscene words these days. I guess, a lot of patience is all you need in this type of society.

Honestly, I'm not afraid to fall in love. What I'm afraid of is putting my Iman at stake because as I grow older, the more I see people loosened their Iman for something they believed to be love. After all the answered prayers for strength, for guidance, for happiness, for understanding and whatnot, I don't want to turn my back to the Almighty for another human being. It's not an easy thing to do but I'm still trying. The man I was attracted to a year ago also had the perception that I was desperate when his confession was easily answered with a widely open door. I boldly said, I accept nothing less than marriage. He was someone who I saw good in despite what people have been telling me and despite his harsh treatment on me. I'd given him the chance to show me his true colours but he didn't take it so I didn't show mine. We end it without even giving it a real chance. I guess, it's just not meant to be again. I was sad on the last day we met and my best friend was thoughtful enough to take a time off to be there for me. The saddest part is when this particular guy was constantly being provocative afterwards and keep on pointing out that I was desperate. I lost my patience and cut ties for good. I learned that I'm not always right in seeing good in people. Two things that's worth to guard with all your life; one is your Iman and another is your self-respect. He taught me I can be strong enough to do both simultaneously.

Finally, those who have more than you is not necessarily happier than you. Success is not defined merely by possessions and position; it's about who you have become in this world and what do you have with you to return to your Creator. Live within your means because debt is a silent killer. If the things you've worked for doesn't happen on time, just continue working on it, because Allah will make  it happen on the right time.

So, that's it for my first post this year, 2017, at 30 years 2 weeks old.

Resolutions.. I want to...
Develop new skills while sharpening my existing skills
Improvise Japanese and Arabic, learn Spanish because I'm so going to watch Real Madrid play live in front of my eyes this year
Going to scratch off at least 3 bucket list this year
Save more.. While traveling more (LOL)
Put more smiles on people faces too!

All the best peeps!