At the start of the year I wished to see more places and I was given the opportunity.
A look back at 2017 had me feeling grateful and more appreciative of Asian landscape which I’ve heard people call as “paradise”. That was a comment made by a visitor when we were trekking and chanced upon rows of banana trees. And I was like “seriously?!”, just because I used to see all sorts of trees growing in the backyard when I was living in Indonesia- a land I appreciate little until I really did find paradise there. And I did not mean great views from Indonesian resorts, because you do get great views even on Bintan island 2 hours away from Singapore. Below is such view I captured when I visited one of the resort in Bintan..
but I’d like to say Indonesia is SO MUCH more than that.
In 2017, I started with a trek in January to Malaysia’s Gunung Datuk just 884m high. I was like “ah that’s short I can do it fine”, but obviously the route wasn’t a vertical 884m but more like a 5 hour up&down for professionals and 7-8 hours for me.
March was colorful because Chiang Mai solo trip was memorable (even the mosquitos); some people I met earlier in life said I would surely love it. I ended up liking it, but did not love it the way I expected for a small town with creative bazaars.
I met new people who I probably will never meet again in life, but I can never forget the kindness I received for a bad swelling ankle kilometers away from the city. Then and there I saw how strong I can be, and staying positive help kept my legs going.
I was never tired of Bali so I got excited to land there on the way to Flores, which ended up to be so much more than what I expected. If Bali is really beautiful in every way, Flores is the untouched island that took my heart, more and more each day I was there. Coming back, I even told my parents I might want to get a land there and build some airbnb rooms. I never looked at Indonesia the same after trekking the hills and swimming in the oceans there.
I also found out amazing places eastern of Indo like Sumba, Maluku, Sulawesi, Raja Ampat (Papua) and aspire to visit them, thanks to Flores. The month of May was life-changing and I highly recommend those places for both beaches and mountains 🙂
July was coming to an end. Because of my new-found affection for Indonesia I decided to visit places in eastern Java, so Ijen crater I went to – it was horribly packed like Orchard Road during great Singapore Sale, even on 45 degrees slope. I believe I would have enjoyed this with 50% less crowd and if someone had not stolen my $ pouch out of my backpack. We took the popular route, Ijen crater – Bromo national park – Madakaripura waterfall (I think everyone should wear metal shields, local govt needs more safety procedures)- Malang City for night bazaar – Surabaya.
If you have 4 pax, the best way is to hire a car with driver as going by yourself will be confusing. I continued to Lombok by flight for the mighty 3D2N Rinjani hike, this was really meaningful too because I actually reached the summit at 3726m and even had my flu cured somewhere during the trek. By grace, I made it back without starving.
If you are thinking of Myanmar/Burma, it is a destination to go if you like temples. You land in Yangon but can travel to Bagan for more temples (or Cambodia is near for Angkor Watt). I did this 3d2n weekend to start my September.
I felt the prettier places were not where I was, but on the Northern side by train – you can see the lush forests from the window, with the train track built to over a valley (which my instinct and local friend says is dangerous). You can Google ‘Gokteik Viaduct’ in Myanmar, a railway bridge over 100 metres high and nearly 700 metres long.
October came and Hong Kong has perfect forecast from 18-23 degrees celsius when I visited. I tried being like a local, not taking taxi now because bus and train works. Going for the quieter side of Hong Kong, Stanley village and the trek at Dragon’s back was lovely. Next time you hike, trust your eyes more than online maps please – I almost created my own trail because the map said there was a trail going down when there were only high rocks. Well who knew a Typhoon warning level 8 also came during that weekend; that spiced up the otherwise peaceful trip. And with this, I’ve used up all annual leaves but God works in mysterious ways so I did have a December trip.
December gave a sweet treat to end the year, I had the opportunity to visit Japan and look around during the weekends. Takao Mountain was pretty in winter, although I am so sure I did not take the scenic route up for some reason. Discovering different districts were fun, and I saw things I never have seen in my life. Tokyo was too huge and my step tracker said I walked ~25k steps for days, I think you’re going to walk alot too unless you take cabs around which will cost you. The trains cost more than HK/SG too, and the map is confusing so prepare to experiment!
I am so thankful to have roamed around Asia and met really nice people from everywhere! So yes Asia is paradise, you should explore and experience it for yourselves. If you are thinking of Indonesia, please let me know and I’ll be happy to share some thoughts 🙂
Ps: I am working full time so I used weekends plus public holidays as well as days in between. Happy planning.