Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Travellers Gold by Matthew Robinson.

"Strolling through new lands
At one with my wits
No concrete plans
Or miscellaneous bits

On paths unyet trod
To seas unyet seen
In the hands of the gods
Who made meadows green

To see people old
With eyes made anew
By the traveller's gold
That lays in us few

The few that do seek
All that we don't know
We surely aren't meek
We move and we grow

And where will it lead
To a life I don't know
But the golds guaranteed
Just follow the flow."

So, a guy I met in Brunei and travelled with to KK in Borneo wrote this at the start of his trip. I just wanted to share it with my friends because I really love the poem! Enjoy. 

Never enough time!

Most exciting news I'm yet to write about... I booked another three weeks!! I have no idea where I'm going to go, or what I'm going to do... But I'm not ready to go home in 2 weeks. There's nothing at home for me, but there's a whole world out here to see! I'm thinking of doing Southern Laos as I had to miss it last time, or finally getting my diving certificate from koh tao. In fact, I think I might do both. Who knows, I'll play it by ear and see where I end up

Thankfully, because I'm flying with emirates, it was free to change my flight to this date. I had to do the 8th because any earlier I'd have to pay an extra £150 which I probably wouldn't have done. 


Here's an article I fell in love with. It summarises everything I've never been able to put into words for people about why I feel the need to always travel.

The hardest part of travelling noone talks about, by Kellie Donnelly on

You see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places, learn about other cultures – then it’s all over. People always talk about leaving, but what about coming home?

We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home. All of these sad goodbyes are bolstered by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.

Then you return home, have your reunions, spend your first two weeks meeting with family and friends, catch up, tell stories, reminisce, etc. You’re Hollywood for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting. And then it all just…goes away. Everyone gets used to you being home, you’re not the new shiny object anymore and the questions start coming: So do you have a job yet? What’s your plan? Are you dating anyone? 

But the sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed. You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean hair, weight, dress or anything else that has to do with appearance. I mean what’s going on inside of your head. The way your dreams have changed, they way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you. You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school. You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?

You feel angry. You feel lost. You have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed but then you feel like it’s the only thing you’ve done that is important because it changed everything. What is the solution to this side of traveling? It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.

This is why once you’ve traveled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited.

This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again. 

Borobudur temple

Originally we planned on flying to Bali today, but the tickets are now all sold out so we've moved it to tomorrow morning. At £50 each, it wouldn't be my usual mode of transport, but mum didn't want to get a long bus again, especially with such limited time left. In a way it's good we couldn't leave tonight as it meant we didn't have to rush the temples and could go to the puppet show that mum had been dying to see. 

We were planning on getting a taxi to the bus station, but once we were inside the taxi we thought we may as well ask how much it would be for him to take us there. Originally he quoted us 500,000 (£25) for a return, but we got it down to 400,000 (£20) and agreed on that price because the journey was an hour and a half away and he'd have to wait for us for two hours whilst we explored before taking us home again.

The journey ended up taking over two hours there! So much traffic... As there always is in Indonesia. When we got there... Just oh my gosh. I went from Z-list celebrity yesterday to A-lister today. I thought yesterday was bad... But today I had more photos taken of me, than I took! And that's hard because as you can see... I take a lot of photos! No joke though, I had over 100 photos with different people. All the members of every family. I actually had to push my way through them and tell them that I was sorry but no more photos because at this point, mum and I were trying to get a photo of us, but had stood there for 15 minutes with other families and more and more people kept joining the queue. 

Along the way, when little girls asked me, I quickly posed, but then ran off to stop other people coming up too. Lots of male students wanted photos with me too to pretend I was their girlfriend haha. 

It's nice to think that when I'm having a negative body image day, that there are probably a million Indonesians who find me fascinating and beautiful. That's not supposed to sound as vain as it does... It's not just true of me, but of many people. 

The temple was the most packed I've ever seen a place, there was just nowhere to move or stand. No wonder they say sunrise is the best time to go... Before all the students and families get there! It's the worlds largest Buddhist temple and so a huge place of pilgrimage. 

On our way out we were just hounded by vendors. I bargained a temple statue down from 300,000rp (£15 as he kept trying to claim it was hand made and took 4 days), to 50,000rp (£2.50). Then I ended up dropping it further down the road... And I smashed Buddhas head off... Whoops! So I had to go back and buy a new one. Mum got a set of puppets that she been looking for... I'm so glad mum can take all of this stuff home for me haha. 

This evening I was supposed to go to see the puppet show with mum, but my American Express interview was scheduled half way during it so unfortunately I couldn't go to it. The interview went really well though so fingers crossed! I really want this job.... Like.... I really want it, I did so much research for it. I've been thinking more and more of going into the financial industry. I still don't know. 

Repping the good cause.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Prambanan temples & Ramayana Ballet

We paid 5,000rp (25p) for the bus ticket to the temples, and it was supposed to take 40 minutes but took a bit over an hour. When we finally found the entrance, for a student it was 100,000 (£5), and for an adult it was 200,000 (£10). We then booked tickets to see the ballet in the evening which, much to our surprise, weren't sold out. For the seats we went for it was 175,000 a person, which had a great view. The theater is outdoors and very small, so frankly I'd say go for the cheapest tickets, it makes little difference.

Anyway, the temple is the largest Hindu temple in South East Asia but unfortunately most of it was destroyed by a earthquake in 2006, yet they've renovated the main temple. It was built in the 9th century and is dedicated to Shiva. Legend has it that the statue in the north of the temple is of Roro Jongrang because she refused the advances of a man, said she'd only marry him if he built a thousand temples in one night. The man set to work with his genies, and because he had almost achieved her aim, and she didn't want him, she set fire to a building nearby to make it look as if dawn was coming and thus scared of the genies, causing the temples to go unfinished. As a result, he cursed her and turned her into stone and placed her there. It's an interesting story, but apparently the statue is actually Dewi Durga, the wife shiva. Boring...

After spending two hours browsing round, taking photos and watching the sunset, we decided to head towards the ballet as the temple shut at 6pm and the ballet started at 7:30pm and seats were first come first served and we wanted to get a good view (though as I said turns out everywhere was fine.) 

During the day I felt like a real celebrity. I was tired of the paparazzi haha. I constantly had people coming up to me asking for photos with me. I think part of it was the black contact lenses I was wearing... That combined with make up that they don't usually see. These boys asked me to do a 'rawr' pose with them like lady gaga because I reminded them of her hahah. These other girls were cute too, it was clear they wanted a photo with me, they kept following me around for ages, and eventually one bucked up the courage to ask me haha, bless them.

Anyway, the ballet was preformed in an open air theatre with the Prambanan temples in the background. It told the traditional Hindu tale of the prince Ramayana whose fiancé is kidnapped by another man who wants her. Ramayana fights for her and eventually wins her back, but in order to prove she is still pure and did not engage in sex with this man (despite her strongly refusing his advances), he burns her alive and if the gods rescue her, then it means she is pure. Much to my surprise, the story was a happy ending and the God of Fire saves her. The story represents courage, misery, tradegy and romance. 
The show was hard to follow and so there was a board behind explaining what was going on. I didn't think much of the show though compared to ballets like swan lake as this was more just stepping round the stage instead of dancing so much. 

We got a taxi back with another couple which cost 100,000rp (£5) between us. We ordered chips to our room, snuggled down and called it a night.

The bus journey nightmares are made off.

So, leaving our hotel in Jakarta at 11am, we were advised against getting the long taxi to the bus station and instead getting a train to Bogor and getting a connection to Cianjur via there instead. So, off we set to find the train station and after paying a huge sum of 3000rp (15p) each, we got on the train, only to find out why the trains aren't used very much... It was the slowest journey ever. It took an hour and a half because we just kept stopping before stations and waiting on the tracks for 10 minutes at a time!

On bathe train I decided it would be best if we actually skipped Cianjur and instead went straight to Yogyakarta because if not, we'd have limited time in Bali... Well, my mum would anyway because she leaves on Sunday. 

When we finally got to Bogor, the train station was mental. It was so busy, people just crowded everywhere shuffling like a heard of sheep towards the exit. We went for a quick nibble at Dunkin' doughnuts before getting in a mini bus tuk tuk style thing to go to the bus station. Bogor is crazy, I liked it because there was so much character. Everywhere was heaving and people were just smiling away. 

Upon arrival at the bus station we were told we were at the wrong one so instead had to transfer to Lorana bus services which was 10 minutes away. As we went to book a ticket turns out a bus was just getting ready to leave, and so they offered us seats on there. However, we were totally ripped off in that it was 400,000rp each (£20) when lonely planet advertises it as 200,000 (£10), but given that we had nowhere to go we reluctantly accepted their offer. It was also an executive bus which is their reasoning for the price. It had a toilet on board and a smoking area at the back in a little private room. Anyway, she told me it would take 15 hours, though lonely planet said 12... But she then said, it depends on traffic, I think you'll arrive tomorrow afternoon. Of course I thought she had just got hers maths wrong. It was 2:30pm, and 15 hours later would be 5:30am, that's the morning... Not afternoon....

So... Turns out she was right about the afternoon arrival... Just not the 15 hour bit. It was the slowest bus journey ever. The amount of traffic was unreal, it was like being stuck on the M25 during a crash... Except there was never an end in sight. It continued all morning and all night. The bus played ridiculously loud Karaoke and was just very uncomfortable and all the stops it made had disgusting food that neither my mum or I wanted to eat, leaving us starving by the time we arrived in Yogyakarta at 2:20pm. 

We ran to the McDonald's, conveniently located a minute walk from the bus station, scoffed our faces and went to get a taxi to our hotel, UNY. On our way to the taxi rank we came across a very odd guy.... He was just butt naked, very tanned and walking round nude on the streets... It was so bizarre.   

Anyway, we were relieved the hotel was nice, mum crashed out for a bit whilst I played on my iPad researching what to do in the area. We really wanted to go to see the puppet show but it wasn't on because of the bank holiday. Instead, to avoid sitting in all night, we decided to go to the movies to see the latest Step Up film. It was ok, but I prefer the original (as usual), we then just came home and both crashed out. Again though, we were annoyingly located near a mosque that insisted on playing it's prayers through the loud speakers at stupid times, not as bad as Jakarta though.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Jakarta City.

Today we ventured out to the independence monument, it was a shame as we weren't allowed up it due to Ramadan visitors or something. So we'd have to wait till 3:30pm. The statue itself was rather disappointing in comparison to other independence ones I've seen. My favourite is the one in KL. We decided to walk over to the national museum to kill some time, but on arrival after stepping inside I realised this was the museum I wasn't interested in. Sure I love history, but not every part of history, I love modern history. So, after a quick look around we left and noticed a sign for a tour bus.

To our surprise, the tour bus was free! We decided to get off at this market area, it was heaving with people, bikes and cars stupidly trying to squeeze through. As usual, we were the only westerners around so stood out. The market was great for knock of belts, wallets and Levis for men but had little else other than toot. I did end up buying a camera though for £30, it turned out to be shit. I should have paid the £20 extra and got a genuine make like Nikon. I also bought 5 pairs of coloured contact lenses. I love contact lenses, they're so much fun and change what a person looks like so much. Anyone who knows me will know I love to change everything. My hair colour, my eye colour, make up, goth to glam etc. even my name haha. I mean, why stay the same when you can be a million different people?! Far more fun hehe.

We decided to eat at a&w hoping it would be nice and hygienic since it's a western establishment... But boy were we wrong... The whole place was rotting and falling apart, and there was  a bug crawling along the table next to us that made me shiver. Yuck.

Eventually, because I wasn't feeling very well, we got a tricycle back to the hotel and I rested whilst mum went to seaworld. Bless her, her first adventure out on her own! I forget how used to everything I am. My mum finds everything amazing and is constantly taking photos... I forget it's not normal to have 5 people on a motorbike or for people to live in shacks. 

After she returned we just spent the evening in again as I still wasn't very well and the area we were in was very rough to venture out in to find food, so room service was ordered once more and we called it an early night! 

Jakarta has security everywhere, police just litter the streets and every building of any value has security guards. Again, there were few westerners in Jakarta but unlike he Philippines, people didn't stare or point at you. Only the small children, and that's to be expected really. It's sad how run down it is. Even with the security it feels very unsafe.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Luge time!

After checking out the hotel and scoffing down a Pizza Hut, we headed back to Sensota village (where universal studios and the aquarium are) to go on the sky ride and luge. It was S$15 (£7) for one go. I wouldn't do it again as it was a big of a disappointment, it was over way too quickly and the route wasn't exactly exciting! But it was interesting to do once. We did a far better track when we were younger in Switzerland down the mountains so of course, anything looks pale in comparison - spoilt me! 

After eating we rushed to the airport. Singapore airport it beautiful and huge with lots to do, but we didn't have time, I'm sure mum will have a field day on her way home. Anyway, the flight to Jakarta took 2 hours, and once in Jakarta we just booked a taxi from the official desk. This meant it cost far more than it should have but it was worth the service. It cost 210,000 RP (£12) to get to our hotel. When we got outside the airport and saw the weather we were very glad we had a taxi already booked as there was torrential rain and chaos everywhere with people rushing in all directions. I know that had I been alone I would have just sat there stressed out and confused, looking round for a cheap mode of transport before settling on an over priced taxi too.

When we got to the hotel we'd booked through hostel bookers we were pleasantly surprised! The hotel was very posh and huge and our room was lovely. We were too lazy to move in the evening as it was around 9:30pm by the time we'd settled down and we were located in a rough area, so, instead we ordered room service and laid in bed watching the dark knight rises and eating hotdogs and chips. Perfect! Eventually, after the film finished we both dozed off to sleep but mum was disrupted during the night by the mosque blaring out a prayer at 2am for 20 minutes!