I had a hard time deciding what the header of the month should be for May.
So I decided on London, the city I know and love best after Copenhagen. And since my favourite London friend’s birthday is this month, I suppose it is apt to dedicate this feature post to the city where he grew up.
By the Thames, London, United Kingdom.
We all just have to accept this fact: Samuel Johnson did not exaggerate. His famous quote, “No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,” was true to the last word. Having visited London on three different occasions now, I still can’t get enough of it. It simply has everything, from old architecture to modern ones; musical plays and football stadiums; a place like Canary Wharf buzzing with serious looking people and hipsters’ den at Camden; expensive shops and shabby ones; dirty toilets and beautiful scenery. A place of contrast – some people may call it messy, but to me, they are all co-existing in a beautiful chaos.
The city is as beautiful during the day as it is during sunset, and at night. During Christmas period, it gets an added sparkle from the festive and twinkling lights. It may seem off-season to post Christmas pictures now, but just in case you plan to visit London in December, here are pictures that I took of some of the most beautiful sights in the city.
As much as I love my Nyhavn shot, even the best pictures get old. And what can I do to keep the look fresh without much effort? Why of course to keep changing the header. I have now decided to add a new feature to this blog – Header of the Month, where I will be picking pictures taken by yours truly from some of my travel destinations as headers of the blog and write about them. I think this is one of my stroke of brilliance since if anything, it will at least ensure that I have to fill you guys in once a month even when my travel traffic is low.
So without further ado, the header of this month (December and January and February):
It is funny that ever since I started this blog in December, I haven’t actually been travelling. The only place I have visited since Christmas day was my hometown, Jakarta. Under normal circumstances, I would not count such as travelling. However, my latest trip back home was far from normal. Five friends of three different nationalities came along with me to spend a long weekend in Jakarta, which certainly had to count for something. Hence, this is my first real post-travel blog post ever since this blog was set up, and I am pleased that I am writing about my own hometown.
I remember fretting for a few weeks leading up to the trip, trying to plan a perfect getaway for my friends. Living in Jakarta for 17 years as a rather antisocial person meant that I was practically clueless about cool hangout places and interesting things to do. So it was really down to a bit of online research, asking some more experienced friends for tips and outsourcing the tour guide service to two of my friends that I managed to pull the weekend through, very successfully if I may say so.
As a reminder for myself, I have listed down the below of what I deem to be the winning recipe for my fantastic weekend in Jakarta.
Food, glorious food. Always fill the trip with good food. From artery-clogging sweet martabak, to a goat’s eye in milky soup to crispy curly fish – when every single meal is to be remembered, even if all else fails, the food will always be fond memories. After all, the closest way to a person’s heart is through the stomach.
If there ever was a statistic collected on how many times a person visits Denmark in their lifetime, I probably would be an outlier, at the FAR high side. Having visited the country four times over the past five years and meeting the PRINCE once while visiting (OKAY, I will stop bragging about it after this post, maybe), I think I can safely declare that Denmark is indeed my favourite country in the world.
Those who know me will know about my love for Denmark and suspect that I have a secret Danish boyfriend. But those who know me well, will know that I can just be weird that way.
Having said that, I don’t think I am THAT weird. There are so many things about the country that do not get the glory it deserves (although that’s partly the reason why I love it so much since it doesn’t get too much attention). Just like how a lot of people did not know that giant corporations such as Lego, Maersk and Carlsberg are from Denmark, here are the list of some cool things that I love from the Land of the Vikings, that you may or may not already know:
To me, one of the most important balances to have is being able to see all the important sights during travel while still having that element of surprise. It is the balance between the “Ohh, I’m glad to see this world-renowned structure” and “Wow, I did not know such beauty exist in this world!”.
If that makes sense.
There were a few times during my trip in Myanmar that I thought to myself “thank goodness my friend told me about this” or “I wish I had known this before”. In my sincere attempt to continue to be Myanmar tourism evangelist, I have compiled this list of good-to-know-before-you-go so you can maximise your trip without me spoiling much of the surprise the place beholds.
Flip flops are the way to go. Forget about your sneakers or flats. By the end of my trip, I visited more than 30 temples and none of them allowed you to wear any footwear inside. Unless you have extremely patient friends who don’t mind to wait while you tie and untie your shoelaces and unless you want dirt-stained footwear as keepsakes from Myanmar, stick to the flip flops. One tip: bring a plastic bag to carry your flip flops around the temple since most places will ask for donation if you put your footwear at a cabinet outside the temple.
“This is Burma. It is quite unlike any place you know about.”
If I were as eloquent as Rudyard Kipling, that would probably be my default reply whenever someone ask how my recent trip to Myanmar was. But I am not. Instead, I always come up with a lame three-word sentence that goes along the lines of:
“Myanmar was incredible.”
(Or replace the word “incredible” with “awesome”, “beautiful”, “lovely” and other praising adjectives that do not really say anything.)
In return, I normally get raised eyebrows and somewhat non-subtle skepticism from my listeners.
I don’t blame them. After all, the country is a hidden South East Asian gem, only opening up its economy to the world in the last two years. It is still shrouded in mystery (although I guess the biggest mystery to most of my fellow South East Asians is why we want to visit the place in the first place since there is an unspoken rule of the closer a place to our place of birth, the less interesting it is).
Anyway, since I feel the need to make up for my verbal incapability in travel story-telling, I have resolved to turn into Myanmar tourism evangelist through writing to do the country some justice it so deserves. However, I am not going to bore anyone to death by putting my travel itinerary here. Instead, I am going to list down my 10 personal favourite moments during my 9-day travel to Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon.
Contrary to popular belief, I have long established myself as an introvert. In travelling terms, this explains the reason why I find so much joy in taking long plane rides alone or even take off for a solo travel.
Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling with friends. Not only is it a lot of fun, but also having friends around has a lot of benefits, one of the obvious ones being that you have someone to help you snap the cool shots, especially if you are travelling with skillful photographer friends, you will not have to worry about not having that new profile picture on Facebook (and they won’t complain if you ask them to help you snap photos because hey, after all, you are helping them practise their photography skills).
But back to the point of travelling solo. I remember there was a point some time last year that I just ended up feeling so suffocated by following everyone else’s travel demands. In the end I booked a solo trip to Copenhagen and London on impulse at the expense of end-of-year travel to Vietnam with my friends.