Lessons STILL not learned from the road.

Travelling makes you realise a lot of things about yourself. It puts you in touch with who you are and over time you will realise some things that you are good at, some improvements you have made, and some things that you just stubbornly can’t master.

As I’m nearing my last travel in Asia (for a while at least), I reflect and realise that I’m hopeless at these few things – no matter how much practice I have got, I still behave like I’m a novice.

Booking accommodation early

Trust me, things like airbnb.com, hostelbookers, agoda, booking.com have made life easy for everyone. But it is just ingrained in me that I have to leave things to the last minute because I’m too lazy to check locations for accommodations, read every single review etc, so much so that all the good places are always snatched up by the time I decide to move my lazy fingers and type those websites in. Thank goodness that we are spoilt with choices, I still manage to end up with some decent places whenever I travel.

Sense of direction

I can get lost anywhere I almost think it’s a talent. I have been lost on countless streets of every country I’ve visited, in the malls or buildings in general, bathrooms (I kid you not), hotels, etc. I honestly don’t know I have survived this long living in general, let alone travelling.

And something closely related to this…

Reading maps

I tend to abuse all paper maps that I get hold of, turning and turning while I am stuck at crossroads until the criss-crossing lines start to make sense.

With the advent of Google Maps, one would think that things have improved for me. But no. I still turn my phone around and curse at it whenever the map rotates along with it.

Bringing a pen

Pens are almost always essential in every travel. You would need them to fill in those immigration forms, pen your thoughts down in a travel journal or just for taking general notes on the go. But despite telling myself sternly countless times to bring a pen for my next trip, I still don’t, and will only realise it when it’s too late, like when I’m already in the taxi on the way to the airport or worse, on the plane a few thousands feet up in the air when they start distributing the immigration forms.

Although if this pen is magical, I would have so much more motivation to carry it around with me.
Although if bringing this pen means that I can find my prince charming right away, I will have it with me ALL THE TIME.

Continue reading “Lessons STILL not learned from the road.”

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Instant photo booth nightmare.

It must have been a record breaking silence since the inception of this blog, but I can assure you that it is well justified. In my 13 days of absence from blogging, I have managed to travel 6,663 miles up north, made some progress in what I’m going to do for the next one year and completed my long to-do list before the trip. Apart from all those, I have also discovered new things about myself, like the fact that I think I may possess slightly below average level of intelligence.

I know that some people will rush to refute me on this. All my life people have called me smart. But sometimes I suspect that it was all a cover up, that they are employed by my parents to put me in a bubble and make me think that I actually possess certain level of intelligence. My latest encounter with an instant pass photo box heightened this suspicion.

I was about to apply for my UK visa and I got to the visa application centre before realising in horror that I have been using the same ID photo for the visa application for the past 2 years (and we were supposed to only submit pictures taken within the last 6 months). Not wanting to risk not getting my visa rejected because of some silly old photo, I decided to make use of the instant photo booth facility at the application centre. Although expensive, 12 dollars at the point in time seemed like a pretty good trade off compared to the risk of not being able to enter the UK.

I went to the booth, and tried to follow the instructions on the screen. It seemed easy enough. First I needed to adjust the seat height so that I would be at the correct eye level with the camera. I even pat myself on the back a little for understanding some of the instructions in Japanese. I sat down, pressed some buttons and took the photo.

The result: I was off centre, one of my shoulders was out of the frame and I wasn’t even looking at the camera.

Continue reading “Instant photo booth nightmare.”

Train passes and sunflower.

I must sincerely apologise for the slow posts over the past few weeks. It’s been hectic, almost manic, with so many things going on. Apart from completing the long to-do list, a few more things have cropped up, like recovering from annoying sickness and preparing myself to be a wedding emcee for the very first time and I had to do it in Mandarin. (Fortunately, it all went very well yesterday, with only very minor glitches when I mispronounced some of the champagne toasts, but everyone thought it was all scripted so my reputation is still intact).

Anyway, just when I thought that I might collapse anytime soon under all the pressure, two things arrived at my doorstep that lifted my spirit up immensely almost immediately.

eurail1

First, my Eurail pass is here, much earlier than expected! Opening it was extremely exciting, just like unravelling some long-lost treasure. It even came with a map of Europe showing all the railways connecting one city to another.

Continue reading “Train passes and sunflower.”

A long to-do list.

With my upcoming trip of the year looming closer, I can’t help but feeling a little stressed about it. I’ve got so many things I need to do, perhaps jotting them down here will make me feel a little better.

  1. Applying for my UK visa, and actually doing it instead of writing a blogpost about visas.
  2. Start collecting all the necessary document for the said visa application, which includes these.
  3. Change my return flight to extend my trip for another 3 weeks.
  4. Book all hotels in Europe.
  5. Research on all the trains that I have to take.
  6. Figure out how I’m going to pack 5 weeks worth of clothes into a shared luggage.
  7. Start saving money to cover for my trip expenses.
  8. Search for inspiration on what to make my family wear this year. For my Europe trip last year, we all wore matching shirts that I bought them from Nepal.

    Not sure if they still hate me for this.
    Not sure if they still hate me for this.
  9. Give Netherlands my full support in the World Cup (now that England is ousted) through this pixelated live streaming.

    Go Dutch!
    Go Dutch!

So much to do, so little time.

My passport full of visas.

As much as I like travelling and will go the distance (literally) to be somewhere I want to see, there is one pet peeve about it that has never quite grown on me: visa application.

To me, the trouble and the money spent seem to serve as a rite of passage to see how much you really want to visit the country. Unfortunately, being an Indonesian who aspires to see as much as the world as possible, this is something that I have to live with unless my dear homeland ever allows for dual citizenship. It is doubly annoying when everyone around you in Singapore never seemed to have to apply for any visas – they can just buy a ticket and hop onto a plane to virtually any countries they wish.

I’m ranting so much clearly because I am in the midst of applying for another visa. In anticipation of my BIG trip in July, I would need to whip myself up a UK visa before the end of next month. Even though this is the fourth UK visa that I’m applying over the past four years, I still am nowhere good at it. Partly because the amount of information they requested is ridiculous, and partly because life would be so much easier if I had had the sense to just retain a copy of my latest application form as reference. Which I obviously had not.

So here I am, flipping through my passport to jot down the list of countries that I have visited over the past ten years. TEN years. Good thing they limited the entries to 10. Otherwise I would spend a whole day just flipping through my passport till the pages tear and still I would not be able to complete it properly.

As I went through each entry, I realised over the years I have collected quite a considerable number of visas. For the benefit of those who almost never have to go through the pain of applying for visas (no bitterness here), here are how visas of different countries look like.

For a start, the Chinese visa – one that most people who have been to China would have seen.

visa1

Continue reading “My passport full of visas.”