Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So that's what they call serendipity...

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On a-Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

(Fly Me To The Moon - the 1st song we shared online)

Ok, here it goes.. this is indeed the most personal post i've written.

It's a weird, wonderful feeling that words could not begin to describe.. I mean, am not the type that share my intimate feelings on my blog but to not share it, is like betraying myself.. and my blog! :p

From the first encounter on Facebook (ya, the place i hangout most :p) a month back, it has been surreal how things have developed. No, i had not been looking for someone on the Net, nor even really searching for that someone elsewhere.. But the Almighty works in a mysterious and funny way.. and before we knew it.. it just happened.

He added me as `friend'. Ok, I've been receiving many friends requests and I tried to add only people I know or at least with some close common ties. I checked out his profile.. we had quite a bit in common and he seemed quite interesting. Didn't know why I dropped him a private message and asked: `do i know you..?' And that was the start of our continuous conversation on line.. from Facebook to G-talk.

Since then, we have spent hours (which adds up to days and maybe more..) chatting online. It was really really nice talking and also found we have so much in common.. we talked about everything under the sun, from family to food, politics to religion, and other frivolous stuff like sharing songs on youtube. And although we hadn't met physically, a bond has gradually formed and yes.. whether we wanted to admit it or now, the feelings for each other has developed...

But of course, neither of us believe it's possible to have this `relationship' just by chatting online, behind our screens.. the friendship has grown and I think in a way `absence makes the heart grows fonder.. So ya, after my Bali trip (during which there were quite a bit of sms exchanges) we met up for the first time and we enjoyed the company just like we had been online. And we continued chatting online.. and then in the days to come, the realisation of our feelings for each other sank in.

Lately, I had been dropping `hints' or just a fragment of my happiness on my Facebook status for the last two weeks or so. And yes, they arouse some curiosity.. No, i did not mean to flaunt it, but when the surreal has become reality.. it's not for me to hide it as well. Hey, might as well just come out of the open!

So on the one month `anniversary' that we met, we took the plunge and changed the relationship status. After all, we `owed it' to Facebook else we won't even have met!? ;) I was quite amused though by the influx of `congratulatory' comments.. but guess friends and relatives are just happy for me.

While it may seems fast.. but I guess it happens when matters of the hearts are concerned. We are no lovestruck teenagers.. and are going into it with our eyes opened. And to me, what is wonderful is that it's not the physical attraction that started it all.. We have talked and shared so much and that we can be very good friends anyways.. And I guess the most beautiful thing about our relationship is that neither of us saw it coming. Some may call it `fate' but I know it's our God brought us together.. And to him, knowing me is his` serendipity' (a word he needed to explain to me) .. he even wrote about it in his blog.

It is not merely about the warm and fuzzy feeling of falling in love, though that feels wonderful. But I just feel so blessed when I know there's someone whom you can click with so well, share so much with, who cares for you very much, who wants the best of your interests in heart.. and most importantly, likes you and loves you as who you are. Of course we all have our own flaws and weaknesses but I like to think we will encourage each other and bring out the best of each other.

Oh, and he makes me laugh so much.. he's quite a paradox (in a good way), and many things about him amazes me (don't blush now dear if u're reading this! :p) So, ya, I can't deny that I have been feeling on cloud nine for the last one-two weeks. Still am..

But of course, we also know life is not a bed of roses, and one has to put in efforts in a relationship. I mean we have only just begun our walk and surely there would be setbacks and challenges along the way. But at the same time, I know that our all-loving God who has given us more than we expect and deserve, would be leading us every step of the journey ahead. And we both also want to put Him first in our lives.

Thank you God for your immense blessings :) May our journey together and with You be a beautiful one that glorifies Your name.

Monday, March 15, 2010

a sweet solo sojourn..

When I told people that I was going on a solo-trip to Bali, I generally got two types of responses. They either were very surprise and bewildered that why on earth would I want to travel without any company; or some were happily excited for me and admired my courage for doing so.

Having gone and come back.. I could totally relate to what my friend Alex (who has done this herself) said: it is really liberating and something one should try at least once!

So I'm back for five days already but am still in a Bali-state-of-mind... What an experience it was, travelling for the first time on my own to one my favourite places on Earth. And I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Imagine having the liberty to do what you want, go where you wish without having to plan and take into consideration others' preferences..

Being alone and being lonely are two different things.. really, how would you feel lonely when you're in the island paradise of beautiful Bali? I certainly didn't!

I've booked my flight as November last year and started searching and booking the accommodations online in January. Everything was set. I even booked a spa session in Ubud at this quaint and reasonably-priced spa.

So what did I do? Quite a lot, and of course the things I wanted to do! ;) Since I've already visited Bali twice (both in 2007) and already been to all the well known temples and tourist attractions, so I could afford to take it easy.. the highlight I would say was eating, shopping, relaxing and just chilling and enjoying the beautiful places.

I think it's best to let the photos (a small portion of what i've taken!)tell the story..

I arrived on a sunny Saturday afternoon into Kuta. The hotel I've booked is Febri's at Tuban area - nothing luxurious and has two very nice pools! In fact, I was upgraded to its premium room that has a view of a small pool.

The only `drawback' was that the weather was way too hot, I mean scorching HOT. So one thing I didn't plan was ending up buying quite a number of light-weight sleeveless dresses since I felt too warm even in my regular tees and peddle-pushers. Drinking a (small) bottle of local Bintang beer is another favourite of beating the heat!

Balinese are generally very friendly, and many of them curious. Seeing that I went about by myself, I got asked many times whether I was travelling alone. But I guess they have seen many single female travellers before, so it's not really an abnormality.

The main reason I stayed in Kuta was for the sea. Actually I much much prefer Ubud and in hindsight, I should have just stayed in Ubud for the five days.. But since I do love the sea..and did go twice on the beach. I had to walk through the hotel opposite of the road to get to the beach. And on my second visit, got my pedicure and a heel scrub done while lying on the beach chair! ;)

In both Kuta and Ubud, although there were taxis, the easiest way to commute was actually on a motorbike, and there were no short of motorbikers who would offer to take tourists on to earn a few bucks. So yes, I hopped on more motorbikes than I did on taxis - as it's much faster and convenient and also could save a few bucks or rupiah! :p

My first motorbiker was a girl from a salon/coffee-shop. I was too hot and tired and stopped there for a beer.
On the first night, I met up with my friend from KL whose holiday in Bali overlapped with mine. We had dinner at the famous Made Warong and I ordered Nasi Campur/Gado Gado. We also went for a drink at one of the nightspots with live music.

On the second night, I took a cab to Seminyak to catch the famous sunset scene at the famous but overpriced Kudeta restaurant/bar. But stupidly I thought the sun set at about the same time as in Malaysia but in fact it was earlier in Bali. So by the time I reached, it was almost dark. And I just went and took some photos and also talked to some tourists from Australia. Indeed the beach and sunset are lovely there but the place is just too packed!

I had dinner at a cosy and relaxing restaurant in Seminyak Square - sitting outside in a sofa with nice music. Ordered a dish called Nasi Goreng Gila! :D

Really enjoyed myself but after dinner. Was disappointed when I wanted to look at the shops but most of them are closed way too early! So I went back to Kuta and inadvertently got stuck in the commercial areas..

My favourite store in Kuta that I discovered.. and ended up buying a few items..

Of course, the highlight of my trip would be in Ubud, which I took almost 3x as many photos as I did in Kuta. But I could only select a small faction of it here..

The road trip to Ubud was interesting, which saw us passing the the arts and craft wholesalers - stone and wood carving, arts and handicrafts. And of course the sceneries of rice fields and other plantations were nice sights..

I was pleasantly surprised by Puri Garden Hotel, which cost US$20 less for two nights compared to Febri's. It was totally Balinese in style, small, quaint and charming. There were lots of plants everywhere.. and my room even has a four-poster bed!
My room!
So of course, I went about exploring Ubud.. beginning with a lovely field-side restaurant near my hotel and then discovered the streets were longer and further than I remembered! I walked (and shopped) till dark..

Free WiFi was something I looked out for.. ya, somehow it was more fun updating friends back home what I was doing on my holiday in Bali! ;p

The first night, I had the famous Bebek Bengkil (Dirty Duck). It was raining when I arrived but the restaurant had a very nice ambience.. one of the very few times I dined at a nice place by myself, but it's my solo-holiday! I even ordered a glass of red wine but they brought white wine instead!
Next morning, after breakfast, I set off to see the famous rice terrace at Tegal Lalang.. beautiful!
I also thronged the famous Ubud market where the stalls are so packed up but full of good bargains..
After 3-days of Indonesian food, I decided to eat something different.. Casa Luna is quite a well known Italian/Western cafe. Lovely pasta and finally, a proper cup of strong caffe! ;)

I just had to check out this art gallery/shop that's called the `Owl House' which according to my map, was located at a beaten path off Jalan Bisma - a road flanked by vast padi fields and some quaint villas and cafes..

After walking for 10-15 mins or so, I saw the sign!
But too bad the artist wasn't there - he was having an exhibition in Japan! And by then my camera had run out of battery.. suffice to say, the little `art shop' was filled with everything owls! and I quite like the water-colour paintings of owls.. But since they do not take credit cards, I didn't have enough rupiah to buy any.. oh well. But i think i will return next time :)

After that I found myself in the middle of a huge remote padi field whereby the nearest way back to civilisation was easily 20-30 mins walk... I walked and walked without hardly seeing a single soul.. it looked much longer than the map! Finally a kind young motorcyclist gave me a ride back to the main road.. which was near where Karma Spa - the spa I've booked - located..

I spent almost four hours in the spa - so timely as my tired body (and mind) was nicely pampered and rejuvenated.. After a warm shower, I had a full body `Java Lulur' scrub, followed by a flower bath. Then a cream bath for my hair and finally a 90-minute Balinese massage.. Ahh.. heavenly, I almost dose off into dreamland..

I wanted to search for somewhere with free Wifi for dinner.. and chanced upon a new restaurant `Cafe Havana' which has a nice ambience and value-for- money food! I was recommended to try the grilled prawns - six large succulent prawns with rice and mango salsa/salad - at only Rup 550,000 - which is around RM20!! Incredible by KL standard.. and they're really fresh and nice too! And of course, it was matched perfectly with ice cold beer.. :p

Check out the door and old-fashion pad-lock they use for some of the rooms in Puri Garden!
I decided to check out the beautiful hotel opposite mine - Tegal Sari, which is nestle amidst vast green padi fields. I read of it on the Net and tried booking it online but unfortunately it was already full-booked. I could understand why now.. I was taken on a tour around and I must say it is simply gorgeous and breath-taking..! And compared to other hotels/villas of similar kind, this is really quite affordable!

One of the most well known attractions in Ubud is the Monkey Forest reserve.. which I had missed in my last two trips. So this time, I decided I should go in and I must say I really enjoyed myself amidst the tropical rain forest and most of all the many monkeys, and watching their cute and funny antics! Can't believe I took so many photos of them and videos too!

This naughty monkey grabbed my drink!!
I was too tired to walk all the way up Jln Monkey Forest to the main street so I got on my newly discovered favourite vehicle - motorbike!
And had lunch at the famous Babi Guling Ibu Oka! I actually had not tried babi guling before so I thought I must not missed it this time. It's quite nice but to be honest, I think our `siew yoke' is more tasty! I bumped into a group of tourists from Malaysia.. they were quite surprised I came travelling here on my own..

Finally in the afternoon, it was time to check out... My luggage was at least 4-5kg heavier..

My last `itinerary': I have requested for the driver to take me to see the Mango Tree Spa by L'Occitane at Kupubarong. I was mesmerised when I found this spa on the Internet but a look at the prices I decided was better to be a bit more frugal. Nevertheless, I just wanted to see the place... and yes, it was beautiful and truly a class of its own..

Then again.. it's like a once-in-a-life time experience that I should try out.. And I know, this will not be the last time I visit to Bali.

So would I go on a solo trip again? I guess I don't need to give you the answer.. ;)