There’s a saying,
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
Therefore, every year it has been a routine for me to do a month worth of travel mostly within Southeast Asia. Partly because of budget, and partly because Southeast Asia or Asia itself is one heck of a continent that’s rich in culture. It pays to go to some dingy, dodgy area just to see the non-touristy side of each country doesn’t it?
P/s: I only have 300 words or less to describe this month-long adventure so I’mma keep it short. Here goes.
A simple breakdown of the adventure:
30 days: 24th August 2017 – 23rd September 2017
7 cities: Ubud, Canggu, Mataram, Bogor, Singapore, Cebu, El Nido
5 islands: Bali, Lombok, Gili Air, Singapore, El Nido
3 countries: Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines
Bali, Indonesia: 24th August 2017 – 1st September 2017
Known as The Island of God for the Balinese and the place where Elizabeth Gilbert found love, Bali is an island that’s pretty well-balanced with hilly nature and beaches alongside distinctive Balinese temples. It’s an island where the people believe “Everything happens for a reason”. Believe me, that phrase resonated with me a lot. Apart from the cultural bits, it’s also an island with great sun, sand, and sea. Solid breaking waves, awesome coffee selections, and of course the OG Naughty Nuri’s right at the heart of Bali in Ubud.
Some places you should probably visit:
Ubud: Naughty Nuri’s, Campuhan Ridgewalk, Yoga at Ubud, Giant Swing, Tegenungan Waterfall, Lazy Cats Cafe, Naughty Nuri’s (repeating this because nobody should miss great pork ribs).
Seminyak: Expat Coffee, Boss Man Burger, Revolver Coffee, Motel Mexicola.
Canggu: Rise & Shine Cafe, Gypsy, Deus Ex Machina, Old Man’s, Warung Bu, Echo Beach.
Gili Air, Indonesia: 2nd September 2017 – 4th September 2017
The Gili Islands are made up of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air – with Gili Air being the smallest island of the three.
Why Gili Air?
To be honest, it was a random choice. Also probably because it’s the closest to Lombok which was where I was headed next. Being the smallest of the three islands, Gili Air has its perks – it’s much more tranquil, less packed, and basically just chilled. But do not let this tiny island fool you. It’s a hotspot for freediving, scuba diving, and island hopping to its neighbouring island.
If you’re wondering how small this island is, you could run about 5km laps around it. Yeah. It’s pretty damn tiny.
Lombok, Indonesia: 4th September 2017 – 6th September 2017
Trippin’ from one island to the next, Lombok is the third island in the list with an impromptu objective.
Hiking. Mount. Rinjani.
Yup, you read it right. With a pair of shorts, long pants, a jumper, and a dri-fit tee battling 1°C to 5°C a.k.a. cold as fuck weather at night, this hike was somewhat manageable. What initially was supposed to be a 2-man hike with 2 guides and 1 porter hike, turned into a solo hike with 2 guides and 1 porter instead. The hike took 8-10 hours up to the crater rim at Mount Rinjani, another 6 hours down the mountain, an overnighter up at the crater rim, and lastly, a majestic view at 6 in the morning. It was fucking worth the hike.
The route taken was an experimental one. The local guides started the trip with a 20-minute bike ride passing through the village where I stayed the night in a banana plantation. I then hiked to the first stop where we had lunch and refilled our water supply.
It got cloudy and cold really quick. It even started drizzling and at that moment all I could think was, “Am I really going to hike up this mountain in the rain only to see cloudy skies?”
I was wrong, things eventually cleared up. The weather was much better above the fluffy clouds. The view got heaps better and it also got burning hot. For that view though, I’d do it all over again.
Highlight of the entire hike: Seeing the sun set and moon rise all in one view.
Bogor, Indonesia: 6th September 2017 – 17th September 2017
Bogor was a silent period, literally. No communication with the outside world and complete silence for 9.5 days.
Because meditation. I got really interested in experiencing what it’d be like to meditate full-time for 9 days when one of our colleagues here in C27 did it. Frankly, it was quite an experience. From learning how to clear your noisy and racing mind to knowing different people from all around the world.
Singapore: 17th September 2017 – 18th September 2017
As much as I wanted to catch Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition, I found out that it was all packed up and done while booking my flight 2 days before departing. The places I covered in Singapore were spots that were further out such as the Southern Ridges and some unexplored cafes around town.
A few places you’d probably want to check out: Booksactually, Ham Bao Bao, The National Art Gallery, Southern Ridges, a long walk from Little India to Chinatown passing Orchard Road, Ronin 17 Coffee, Chye Seng Huat, Basheer Bookstore, and The National Library.
Cebu, Phillipines: 18th September 2017 – 20th September 2017
The second last stop of the trip was my first time in the Philippines. I didn’t know what it’d be like there nor did I understand how the transportation system worked.
Imagine yourself in a time capsule where technology is fused with ruggedness. A gem on its own. Old buildings, cathedrals, churches, jeepneys, Mexican food, chorizos, and the culture are all definitely worth looking out for.
Travelling in a jeepney was an experience on its own. Imagine travelling in an open-ended truck where it’s only 80 cents for an entire journey. There are no buses within Cebu. You may find Grab Cars or cabs but if you ever find yourself in Cebu, you gotta get in one of the Jeepneys.
Some notable places in Cebu: Basilica del Santo Niño, Red Lizard, StayFit Cebu, Yolk Coffee and Breakfast, Common Ground Store, Abaca Baking Company, Temple of Leah.
Palawan, Philippines: 20th September 2017 – 23rd September 2017
Alas, the final stop of this trip. I started with an island and so we shall end with an island. Travelling from one island to another within the Philippines wasn’t exactly the easiest – you’ve got to take into consideration where you land by flight and how long the journey is from where you are to other parts of the island.
So why Palawan?
Google Maps. No shit, my friends. Once upon a time, while searching for directions on Google Maps, I stumbled upon a small little island on the map and 2 years later, I was on the island.
Blue skies, turquoise waters, and some hills. While there’s a lot to explore, it’s also a good spot to do some outdoor lead climbing for you fellow rock climbers out there.
When you’re on two wheels: Nacpan Beach, Caelan Beach, Lapus Lapus Beach, Las Cabanas.
Until the next solo trip, its back to business for now.
Some other shots are on Instagram.
Known on the interwebs as blackodc, San spends most of her time running marathons, taking photos, and binge eating potato chips.