Prologue: The Bali Off-Grid

/ 6/07/2017
The smell of the ocean still lingers vividly and before it completely disappear from my memory, here goes the long awaited stories from the Maldives of Bali by Yours Truly.  It was a quick decision and through a successful luring from my travel buddy, i was already booking a flight to Bali. Alhamdullilah, it was a safe flight. I landed in Denpasar in the early hours and headed straight to Sanur Beach. I was desperate for fresh air so there was no need of sight seeing in Bali yet.
I waited at the holding area at the beachfront while the workers pile our luggage up the ferry and our footwear were put into a basket. The ferry cost me 500K return (with my expired student pass), 550K normal price. We boarded the Sri Rejeki Ferry - barefooted, bound to a beautiful paradise. The ride was choppy, water were splashing into the ferry, life jacket in sight which is a good thing & the sound of traditional Balinese instrumentals can be heard against the sound of angry waves. It felt so peaceful that I almost fell asleep.
20 minutes after what felt like a long bumpy ride across the Bali sea, i arrived safely at Nusa Lembongan. The water is unusually murky, compared to the 7 islands and around Phi Phi Island. There's no grand signage that says, "Welcome to Nusa Lembongan" nor a proper jetty - it was raw as hell. Nusa Lembongan served as my main medium between the other 2 island and mainland throughout the trip. The ferry docked at Junggutbatu beach and all the passengers depart.

We were all greeted with our feet touching the sea as we walked up to the holding bay for our backpacks. Classy. We were then sorted by the region we are staying across the island before the driver send us to our accommodation. What was i feeling right then? Fresh air, cold water, strong wind, sunny island. I'm ready for isolation!
Shortly after, i have safely reached my accommodation at Mushroom Beach. A beautiful hut overlooking the blue sea. Lumbung Bali Hut was my choice of stay and i never regret it despite the pros and cons of staying here. Sleeping here was peaceful for me, the sound of waves crashing the shore, the birds pecking on the hut and the coolness during the night. It felt like a momentary bliss in abyss - well for me. While my travel partner is scared to her death with all the weird sounds, i on the other hand, zoned out like a log.

I have to commend the food they served here is amazing especially their seafood spread. A deliciously looking Grill Station is set up every night, luring quite a number of other travelers into the in-house restaurant. Their fresh grilled prawns is amazing and cheap, it is a must try! Well, all of it sounds too good to be true, though i do hate one thing about the hut which is the toilet. It is an open top toilet and we had to climb up and down the ladder with our half covered ass with a towel is seemingly troublesome. It felt like i was a robber in my own room sneaking into the toilet.

After we are all settled in, i came down to socialize with the staff and that is where i met Pak Ketut. Pak Ketut helped us in terms of transportation and places to go in and around the island. We decided to not waste our precious time and start exploring. Well, i'm about to tell you how we escaped death in the next one.

Stay tuned for more stories in Bali.
The smell of the ocean still lingers vividly and before it completely disappear from my memory, here goes the long awaited stories from the Maldives of Bali by Yours Truly.  It was a quick decision and through a successful luring from my travel buddy, i was already booking a flight to Bali. Alhamdullilah, it was a safe flight. I landed in Denpasar in the early hours and headed straight to Sanur Beach. I was desperate for fresh air so there was no need of sight seeing in Bali yet.
I waited at the holding area at the beachfront while the workers pile our luggage up the ferry and our footwear were put into a basket. The ferry cost me 500K return (with my expired student pass), 550K normal price. We boarded the Sri Rejeki Ferry - barefooted, bound to a beautiful paradise. The ride was choppy, water were splashing into the ferry, life jacket in sight which is a good thing & the sound of traditional Balinese instrumentals can be heard against the sound of angry waves. It felt so peaceful that I almost fell asleep.
20 minutes after what felt like a long bumpy ride across the Bali sea, i arrived safely at Nusa Lembongan. The water is unusually murky, compared to the 7 islands and around Phi Phi Island. There's no grand signage that says, "Welcome to Nusa Lembongan" nor a proper jetty - it was raw as hell. Nusa Lembongan served as my main medium between the other 2 island and mainland throughout the trip. The ferry docked at Junggutbatu beach and all the passengers depart.

We were all greeted with our feet touching the sea as we walked up to the holding bay for our backpacks. Classy. We were then sorted by the region we are staying across the island before the driver send us to our accommodation. What was i feeling right then? Fresh air, cold water, strong wind, sunny island. I'm ready for isolation!
Shortly after, i have safely reached my accommodation at Mushroom Beach. A beautiful hut overlooking the blue sea. Lumbung Bali Hut was my choice of stay and i never regret it despite the pros and cons of staying here. Sleeping here was peaceful for me, the sound of waves crashing the shore, the birds pecking on the hut and the coolness during the night. It felt like a momentary bliss in abyss - well for me. While my travel partner is scared to her death with all the weird sounds, i on the other hand, zoned out like a log.

I have to commend the food they served here is amazing especially their seafood spread. A deliciously looking Grill Station is set up every night, luring quite a number of other travelers into the in-house restaurant. Their fresh grilled prawns is amazing and cheap, it is a must try! Well, all of it sounds too good to be true, though i do hate one thing about the hut which is the toilet. It is an open top toilet and we had to climb up and down the ladder with our half covered ass with a towel is seemingly troublesome. It felt like i was a robber in my own room sneaking into the toilet.

After we are all settled in, i came down to socialize with the staff and that is where i met Pak Ketut. Pak Ketut helped us in terms of transportation and places to go in and around the island. We decided to not waste our precious time and start exploring. Well, i'm about to tell you how we escaped death in the next one.

Stay tuned for more stories in Bali.
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They say, third time is a charm. Following my past horrible experience in KL, i believed every one and every place should be given a chance - just like how i did with Vietnam. If you like to read what happen to me in KL:    

Some of you may have already known the deets though, if yes, read ahead on this post for a some positive vibes. 

With an open heart, i grab my travel buddy & we whizzed off on a coach bus to Kuala Lumpur on my birthday weekend. Our 6 hours ride was smooth and we reached KL safely. Our bus stopped us at Berjaya Times Square & we went a little crazy on the shopping there. Realizing that we were wasting too much time at BTS, we took a GrabCar to our accommodation and sort out the rest of our day. 
Our accommodation was through AirBNB - The Regalia. Its a private apartment with infinity pool!! I am in love with it and the apartment i'm staying belongs to a Thai lady but the owner was not around so i was greeted by her Vietnamese friend. Ah! I already feel at home, just because.  

Lets cut to the chase & relive my time in KL:
Infinity Pool at The Regalia with Huda & Aini
Had amazing time soaking into the pool with such a mesmerizing view.

Visiting cool cafes & buildings
This is partly with the help of Najib that we get to explore a different part of KL and i love seeing a different side of this city properly.

Petaling Street
Yas! I finally managed to visit this dodgy street for a photo opportunity. The last few times i tried to come here always failed as something will stop me.
Tapak Food Corner
My first experience in an outdoor food truck setting! So fun prancing around the area to find food. This is also where i tasted my first poutine (a Canadian food).


Other places i visited/ re-visited that was not mentioned in this post:
Kenanga Mall
Pavilion Mall
Lot 10
Fahrenheit88
KLCC
KULCats
TTDI Shell Out
Kuay Teow Mali @ Danau Kota
KL Helipad Lounge : An old post 
Broga Hill  : Spending my birthday hiking
Gotham City of Asia : KL looking awesome in photos

*If you like to read more on my Adventures in Malaysia, click here.

For the most part of the trip, i ate and shop a lot! Like a ton of food (especially boat noodles!) but what's amazing is i was able to share the moments with my old and new friends from Malaysia. I honestly appreciated their heartwarming hospitality and taking their time off to meet me. We bonded over past memories that we had together through their hard times in Singapore with me. I hope this post served as a closure to my readers (and me) on my experience in KL. Malaysia is truly Asia. Safe travels. 

KUALA LUMPUR: VERSION 3

by on 5/28/2017
They say, third time is a charm. Following my past horrible experience in KL, i believed every one and every place should be given a chanc...
Mount Gede, oh Mount Gede. How shall i begin? It was 10 months ago, i was headed to Jakarta to get away from Singapore. Its the cheapest option that fits my extremely poor budget. It wouldn't be smart of me to run from city to another city so i thought to myself, "Let's hike." I got on google search and to find the nearest mountain would be Mount Gede in Bogor. Actually there was a few other mountains that i was quite torn in choosing so this was a random pick.

It was another solo attempt indefinitely but i was too broke to get there so i decided to call up any acquaintance that had love to join me so we could split the cost. Intan, an ex co-worker when i was a teenager, came up & then there was a certain Sulaiman, as young as my little brother, who was already in Jakarta and planning to hike there and that's how Team Gede was born. Well, luck was on my side - i feel the force was strongly with me.
There was one problem though, to enter Mount Gede, we need a permit with a guide as well. After tons of research, i found a way to peak Mount Gede with the help of a local guide from the Airbnb accommodation that i stayed in. The accommodation was dirt cheap, 10 bucks split 3 ways, i was so grateful for having new friends on board. 

My guide? His name is Tom. What does he says he claims he is? A member of the Botanic Gardens of Indonesia and his father is an ex  Director of Botanic Gardens of Indonesia  & National Park of Indonesia. His accommodation reflects well from what he claims. I was stunned that his house is like a jungle - trees inside the bungalow and lots of botanical research books, photos and paraphernalia of plants etc strewn on the floors and pasted on the walls. It felt like i just barged into a detectives house of plants. Other than that, photos of travelers that used to stay in his house was also pasted together on the wall with the mess going on. Pretty nostalgic place - he sure knows his stuff. We stayed for a night and head out before dawn to Mount Gede.

  It was a trip full of stopovers to change vehicles. Once we arrived at the base of Mount Gede, we went to fill up our stomach before the hike begins. I tried my first Nasi Uduk which is known to be a popular breakfast meal in Indonesia. We then started distributing the weights of our bags equally and warm up for the long day ahead. 
 Everything was about to go disastrous from this point on.....
When we started our hike, there was a porter that followed us up till the first base camp (pictured below). That makes a total of 5 people hiking up together. Over here, we are suppose to show our permit to enter the mountains and this was when all the misunderstanding happen. Tom assume i wanted to hike up till Cibereum Waterfalls and spend the night there therefore our permit was a half journey permit and we will not be able to hike up to the peak.
All of us started discussing the possibility of hiking up the peak without the full permit & a proper guide as tourist needed a guide. So let's rewind a little bit....in my conversation with him before this ordeal, he said he can be my guide to bring us all the way up to the peak with full confidence. Unfortunately, he meant up till the waterfalls....further on, we need a proper guide. I take it from my part that we had a miscommunication while i clearly said i wanted to go to the peak. 

We were given a choice to pay slightly more to bring the porter up to the next base camp to pitch but we didn't want to spend more than we accounted for. We were stranded for half an hour or so because our porter had to take a bigger tent for us and we were worried that the both of them had left us here. Thankfully, they came back and we continued our beautiful journey.

We then reach the waterfall site and pick a spot to pitch our tent. We dump our stuff in the tent except for our passport and money and take a risk to continue our way up. It started drizzling, we rested and then kept going until we reach a hot waterfall crossing. It was an interesting experience. We had to hold on to ropes and take turns to climb the big wet rocks at the edge of the mountain with the heat from the waterfall.It was pretty crowded with the locals coming down from Surya Kencana base camp. The name of the main camp before you summit. 
We had to stop here, the last little climb to Surya Kencana due to the bad weather and getting dark. It was measured at 2400m at the hot waterfall and with a heavy heart, we started to descend. Our day was not ruin - we still felt good and the next day we went to have a bath at the waterfall! Its a beautiful sight! I am in awe. It has been a truly great experienced and i would do it again in a heartbeat. 

I muttered under my breathe,"Almost there, Mt Gede. Almost there........" 
With that, we left Mt Gede for another city. Safe travels.

ALMOST THERE, MT GEDE

by on 4/14/2017
Mount Gede, oh Mount Gede. How shall i begin? It was 10 months ago, i was headed to Jakarta to get away from Singapore. Its the cheapest o...
It seems like i'm about to start a new ritual of hiking on my birthday every year now. On my 24th birthday, i took a trip to KL and it won't be a satisfying trip without a mountain to hike. In this case, a hill. As much as i am aware that Broga Hill or also known as Bukit Lalang is quite a popular hiking spot among students and families, there must be a reason to it. It was easy, fun and the views are so lively. It wouldn't hurt to give it a try!

I woke up as early as 4:30am and waited for a friend to pick me up. We drove towards Semenyih where the hill is located. On our way there, the weather started to pick up and it started raining for a good few minutes but that's it. I was slightly worried that the path might get muddy and it would be dangerous to go up in case i slipped. When we arrived at our destination, there were so many people going up. We started hiking at 5:45am and reached at almost 7am just in time for the sun to spread it rays into the horizon. Overall, it is fairly an easy hike - not too strenuous but it could get a little slippery. You don't need a guide to go up, just diligently follow the path with the rest of the hikers. Most of them are local students and families that starts their morning in this crowded hill. The views at the top is breathtaking as it is filled with lush greenery. If you prefer a quiet and more lonesome hike, this might not be of your fancy. 

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful scenery. Another year, another hill/mountain on my special day. Where shall i go next on my birthday?

Early Hike in Broga Hill

by on 4/01/2017
It seems like i'm about to start a new ritual of hiking on my birthday every year now. On my 24th birthday, i took a trip to KL and i...
*A long forgotten drafted post on my New Zealand trip*

Today was the day. Its inevitable however much I try to avoid it. I have already paid my ticket. Time to face my fear of height, this time at full throttle thrill. What was I thinking when I paid for the bungy? I was in fact hesitating the whole time, to jump or not to jump?

Only days after, the feeling of regret swarmed in. I tried not to let it deter me. I am bound to do this. If I could face my fears of other things, I'm sure this one will have to come to an end too. I started watching bungee jumping videos on youtube and convincing myself that if others can do it, i can do it too. All i need to do is just jump.

And the unthinkable happen...

Well, Liya lived to tell the tale kids.....

It took me great courage for this, i swear. I was the last few to jump as i weigh lighter (oh this gave me a self confidence boost!) My feet felt heavy, my hands are sweaty and every move i made towards the edge felt draggy. I was heavily strapped and felt like something was pulling me down. Jumpy music were blasting through my ears to energise me.....

"5, 4, 3, 2, 1"

And i stood still. Oh was i suppose to jump? Am i flying yet? Did i hit something along the way down? Why am i still standing here? I turned and asked one of the facilitators to push me instead but all they said was..."Its a bungee jump! You are suppose to jump on your own."
"Oh yeah, i paid for this right....." then it went again....

"5, 4, 3, 2......"

Everything muffled out as i went straight down towards the deep blue sea. A series of "What the fuck is going on?" and then the "Superman fist" because you are supposed to make sure you fall head down if you want to touch the water which is why i try to stop my body from going leg first and turn by force (i opted to touch it but i wasn't in the correct position to dip so there goes my chance.) Followed by screams and choking hahahha because my body is lunging down and to my surprise- it is still attach to my head is not in the right gravitational position and being stretched out in pain and then came the "Remember when you are down and swinging 1 and 2 - pull out the red rope with your strength, as hard as you could so you could get back to 180."


A post shared by gypsysoldier (@chasingleia) on


And then i was back at the jump pod again.

What do you expect out of this post? Of course i jumped. I paid for it and i have nothing to lose except maybe my pride. Tsk.

Location of jump: Auckland Bridge (AJ Hackett Bungy) Price: 160 NZD
The jump wouldn't be made possible thanks to AJ Hackett and this post wouldn't be up thanks to AJ Hackett again for bringing me up in one piece.