7 months, x countries, x adventures

7 months abroad...let's see where I go, what I do, and who I meet.

I’m smiling.

It’s 3:37pm here in Singapore. It’s dark and grey outside and all I want to do is blast the AC, curl up in my bed, and watch a movie. Unfortunately, I’m stuck in the mac room slaving over a excruciatingly large pile of readings for my final exam next Thursday. But I’m smiling. 

Why? just because… because life is so unexpected. full of both fortunate and misfortunate moments. happy things and sad things.

Instead of watching youtube or checking Facebook during my unnecessarily frequent study breaks, I decided to catch up on the various travel blogs that my friends have created. 

gracing-london.

adutchamericaninsingapore.

20&learning.

theadapter.

kellyhandro.

inldn. 

As I scrolled through these blogs, I couldn’t help but smile at the pictures and the stories that were posted. It’s amazing to read about everyone’s experiences abroad and it’s weird to think that others are probably thinking the same thing when they read my blog. With only 2 weeks left in Singapore and a month left in Asia, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Nostalgic about the places/people I’ll be returning to and nostalgic about the places/people I’ll be leaving. And I can sense that a lot of you other travellers are feeling the same. I’ve learned a lot while being abroad and I’m learning a lot from reading these blogs. Some have put into words what I couldn’t and it makes me smile to read about it. One friend of mine, theadapter, said in her blog that it’s hard to get an accurate impression of a person or a city or anything in a short amount of time…and therefore we need to use the limited time, and be whoever you are. If you want to be crazy, be crazy. If you want to speak up,don’t bite your tongue.I think she said it best. 

As our times abroad come to an end, I hope that we’ve all been true to who we are and been as crazy as we’ve wanted to be. I don’t know when I’ll be back in Singapore or Southeast Asia and I don’t know when I’ll ever see my incredible friends again. Nonetheless, I hope that the impression that I’ve made on them and the ones that I have of them are and remain our most genuine selves as we separate and move onto the next phase in our lives.

random post. travel posts coming after finals LOL

Visit from Ms.H! 

Extremely late post. Ms. Hampton visited me back in August and we had an amazing time together exploring Singapore. We went to the Bird Park, Singapore Zoo, Geylang (Red Light District), Little India, Chinatown, and more. Her visit was short but I enjoyed the time I got to spend with her. After 3 long months of living abroad, seeing a familiar face was exactly what I needed. 

Thank you for visiting me Ms.Hampton! Can’t wait to see you in 2 more months :)) Love you and miss you! 

Three days have passed but I still can’t stop thinking about it. It was the best day I’ve had this year so far and I can’t express just how happy I’ve been since then.  Seriously though, I think I cried at least 3 times that day … just out of pure happiness. 

10.16.13 | My 21st Birthday

My birthday morning started out with my roommates surprising me with my favorite dessert, chocolate molten cake, from Starbucks and a bottle of sparkling apple cider. After wishing me a happy birthday, my roommates directed my attention to another surprise by Hannah – my door decorated with a picture collage and a birthday sign. Although I was half awake, I was already so happy and overwhelmed by the thoughtful and loving birthday gifts given to me by my roommates and Hannah.

As soon as I logged into my Facebook that morning, a shower of “happy birthday” posts greeted me from my friends here in Singapore. Within a few hours - as it got closer to mid-morning and then late evening in the States - my Facebook wall filled up with even more birthday posts from friends back home and at school. I attempted to “like” every post but got lazy along the way so I thought I would take this chance to say THANK YOU to every single one of you who posted on my wall. And as cheesy as this may sound, I appreciate the thought and time every single one of you took to acknowledge my birthday - no matter what level of friendship we have with one another. However, I would like to especially thank those of you who took the extra effort (1) to dig through your albums to make a collage of us and (2) to write and send me a personal message. Reading all of your heartfelt messages and comments brought me both tears and smiles. Although many of you complimented me and described what I meant to you, I believe every single word you paid me is a reflection of the type of person you are – caring, beautiful, loving, genuine, and then some. I am honestly so honored and blessed to have friends like you guys.

I have to give a big shout-out to my friends who sent me flowers from continents away. At first, I was a little caught off guard when I received a call saying that I had flowers waiting for me. Who could it be from? Definitely not a guy… haha. But one look at the message and I knew it was from you guys. Thank you so much for thinking about me and for going through the trouble to send me the sweetest gift on my birthday.

My biggest thanks, however, has to go to my friends here at NUS. Thank you for everything… I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to share my 21st with. Heck I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to share my entire study abroad experience with. For those of you who weren’t here… this is how my birthday celebration went down…

From what I knew, my birthday celebration consisted of a small girls’ dinner followed by a night out in the town with the rest of our friends. Much to my (and Goda’s) surprise, the girls’ dinner wasn’t a girls’ dinner after all. When we reached the restaurant, Lucha Loco, Goda and I were surprised by not only all of our closest girl friends but GUY friends as well. Being me, I was so oblivious to it all that I almost walked right past the huge table consisting of 23 people all waiting for us. When I finally realized what was going on, I couldn’t believe it. Goda and I were greeted with flowers, kisses, hugs, and just so much love. My favorite part: the boys were all dressed up with their little bow ties. I didn’t have much time before the first round of tequila shots came around… and then the second. But don’t worry, I made sure to eat a delicious chicken quesadilla in between shots. The celebration continued with an amazing birthday cheesecake that Belicia made for us. It was so delicious and beautifully decorated…idk how she does it. Thank you Beli! (Note: while chatting at the bar with Bethany and Caroline, I also ended up casually meeting Paul Digiovanni from Boys Like Girls! Hah what are the chances… so random)

Anyways, after dinner, we all prepared to move the party to Club Kyo where our other friends were waiting to join us. However, before leaving, I realized that there was a bit of a problem with the bill. Of course…the bill was figured out eventually but I wanted make sure to recognize that some friends had to put in a lot more than they needed to to cover the bill. Many people didn’t include the cost of service charges and shared drinks/food (shots and extra tacos) that were included in the bill, which led to the significant shortage of money. I really appreciate those of you who put in extra and I hope that I can repay you at some point because that really wasn’t fair. Nonetheless, thanks to these guys… we were able to make our way to Kyo where my roommates and other guests I had invited to the celebration greeted me. Within a few hours, I think everyone and anyone from NUS was there. Whether to congratulate our birthdays or not, it was so fun having so many people be there with us! It was truly an unforgettable and fun night.

Here’s the deep part…

Sometimes we forget how much we have and especially how much we are loved in this world. Whether it is by one person or thousands of people, I think it is important to realize that everyone matters to someone in this world. Unfortunately, I am guilty of forgetting this sometimes, especially when things get tough and I am left alone… however, its moments like this that I recognize just how lucky and blessed I have been to be where I am and to be with the people I am with. Its days like this when you are reminded of the impact you have made (and continue to make) in this world and to the people around you. Whether it is winning a Nobel Peace Prize or just being a loyal friend, its not about the level of success or reward you get for doing something noteworthy… rather it is about understanding that everything and anything you do (of any magnitude) is valuable and influential in defining how others but especially how you come to see yourself. Over the course of 48 hours (because I first turned 21 in Singapore and then the US), I have not only turned 21 but have found out that the type of person I’ve become in 21 years is pretty decent… Thank you all for reminding me of that.

Month 1 - by Naveen Raja (fellow exchanger at NUS)

Today, I ran across Naveen’s travel video of Thailand while converting movie files, for my NM4219 group project, at the dining room table of a fellow Singaporean classmate. Through a series of facebook “likes” and “comments” - because you know that’s how we create relationships in the 21st century - I started talking to the creator of this sick travel video, Naveen. Honestly, this has got to be the coolest way to document your travels and I’m so annoyed at myself for not doing this ages ago… Anyways… while briefly chatting with Naveen about borrowing his idea and the program he used, he linked me to his first video, “Month 1.” After watching it, I thought it would be nice to share it on my blog. Although the experiences and memories captured in this video aren’t the same as mine, I think the essence or, for the lack of a better word, AWESOMENESS of our study abroad experience is conveyed the best by this short video.

Enjoy! 

4. Lombok (Mt. Rinjani), Indonesia (travel summary courtesy of Finn):

Date: Sept 25-28

An exciting hike on Lombok

Today I have returned from one of the most amazing experiences in my life that will certainly remain as a great memory. With a group of 10 people we hiked up Mt. Rinjani, a volcano on the Indonesian island Lombok, which demanded high levels of motivation and mental conviction to get through some really tough parts. The entire trip lasted for 4 days, sleeping for three nights in tents at different campsites around the volcano. 

Day 1 (9/25) 

We started early in the morning at 6am with some quick breakfast at the hotel before we jumped on the bus that drove us to the start of the hike. The bus drove forever, but it could not effect our excitement for the trip and we sang a lot of different songs along the way. When we finally got out of the bus and started hiking, you could see a lot of smiles on the faces, which gladly never disappeared throughout the entire trip. 

The first day we hiked up the volcano from the east where the landscape was rather dry and the ground quite dusty. Whereas, the terrain was rather flat at the beginning, it got steeper and steeper. We climbed 7 hills that were following each other in short frequency. AS we moved up the hills got steeper and longer, and the top seemed unreachable. The guides were motivating and always gave us a hand when needed. After about six hours, we reached the top (well our campsite) where our guides and the porters set up the campsite and cooked us an amazing dinner. After sunset, we went to bed early, as we needed to get up at 2am in the morning in order to leave for the summit, which we intended to reach for sunrise. 

Day 2 (9/26) 

It was dark and cold when we started hiking up the mountain. We all hoped the wind would die down and that the layers of clothes would be sufficient. All of us wearing headlamps, we slowly moved up the mountain. The first half an hour was a steep climb until we reached the rim. It was somewhat good that it was dark, as you could not see how many meters you had left. 

In a row, we slowly moved along the rim and as we moved up the mountain the wind became stronger and stronger. The last half an hour was really exhausting because the ground consisted of ash and loose stones. With every two steps up the mountain, we slid one step down. 

It was a very tough hike and every single one of us needed to push ourselves a lot. Luckily we walked in behind each other which kept up the pace for everyone. We made it up to the summit faster than expected and had to wait half an hour until the sun rose. It was bloody cold up there. 

All the effort and sweat became very rewarding when the sun rose behind the clouds in the horizon. It was an absolutely amazing feeling. We felt like we were on top of the world. There were approximately 35 people on the summit that morning, among them were some very experienced hikers that admitted that out of the many hikes they have done, this was definitely one of the toughest - that felt great for amateurs like us! 

On the way down from the summit, we were fully recharged and could run down the duty summit. Our shoes quickly filled with dust and stones and needed to be emptied once in awhile. After a second breakfast back at camp, we packed our things and hiked down the mountains into the crater where we planned to have lunch. 

Inside the crater, we were facing an entirely different terrain with a lot more stones and less dust. We managed to reach the lake around noon and had a well-deserved lunch after a refreshing swim in the lake. Our campsite was absolutely amazing and we enjoyed every minute down there in the crater of the volcano at the beautiful lake. After lunch, we went to some hot springs nearby and spent most of the afternoon there. 

Day 3 (9/27) 

As we did not need to hike very far, we got permission by our guides to sleep in. With no electricity, the only entertainment we had was playing some basic (but very fun) games. After a nice breakfast and a morning swim in the lake, we went back to the hot springs where we relaxed and recharged ourselves. It was nice to stay at the lake for a little longer. 

After lunch we continued the trip and hiked up the other side of the crater to our third campsite. The west side of the crater was even rockier and significantly steeper. The first steep bit was again challenging but in a different way. We reached the top of the west side of the crater early afternoon and managed to secure a great spot for our camp. From the rim, we had a great view of both the lake and the mountain as well as the western part of the island. We were all excited for the great sunset, which we were supposed to see from there. Unfortunately, the clouds prevented us from seeing it as clearly as we would have liked. After some relaxing and a round of games with the porters, we all headed to bed early for our descent back down to Senaru the next day. 

Day 4 (9/28) 

The last hike down the mountain back to the village was probably the hardest for me - but the best for the boys. After half an hour on rocky and dusty ground, we reached the forest. Boys flew down the hill, jumping over tree roots and rocks.  

After another sweaty and interesting hike, we reached the village and were relieved to be back in civilization. We were all exhausted but our excitement and pride without outweighed the pain in our legs. WE DID IT! 

The ultimate reward was a shower under an incredible waterfall. After the shower, we all headed to the airport… mind you everyone fell asleep on the car-ride there haha. 

3. Myanmar (Yangon, Bagan, and Inle Lake) 

Date: Sept 7 - 11

Cost: $164 (Jetstar)

Day 1 (Singapore -> Yangon -> Bagan): As soon as we arrived in Yangon (capital of Myanmar), we took a taxi to Shwedagon Pagoda. It is an ancient Buddhist pagoda built in the 14th century… covered in gold and surrounded by smaller prayer rooms all over the complex. The place was a maze with so many areas/buddhas for different prayer purposes. It was a beautiful temple though… While walking through the temple, all the locals just stared at us, some were smiles and others were just blank stares. It wasn’t very comfortable but I guess that’s what you get when you are an misplaced kind of Myanmarian looking Asian with 5 white Europeans. I forgot to mention that before entering the pagoda we all had to take our shoes and socks off at the entrance. We also got scammed into getting a tour guide…it was nice having him tell us what all the temples/buddhas symbolized and were used for but I honestly just did my own thing and wondered around taking pictures and exploring each room. One interesting thing I noticed about Myanmar was that all the men/boys wear these skirts/pants made out of a big sheet of cloth rather than regular trousers or shorts. Also, there are monks everywhere! BUddhism is obviously the national religion and it’s practiced everywhere by everyone. Its presence is very apparent and loud. After the pagoda, we went searching for the bus ticketing place where we could get a night bus ticket to Bagan. After circling the area that we got dropped off at, we found the little stand where some lady was selling bus tickets. Zan, Ivan, Maurits, Hannah and I booked a seat on the night bus for $15 USD/ticket. After that, we decided to check out another pagoda right in front of the bus ticket booth, Sule Pagoda. A quick walk around the pagoda was all that was needed because it was so similar to the other pagoda. What we were more worried about was eating!! We found a Burmese restaurant to go to in our handy dandy Lonely Planet book. At the restaurant, we ended up getting a variety of curries and side dishes and just shared it all with rice and soup. The dining style reminded me a lot of the way Koreans dined with 밥, 국물 and 반찬. The food was pretty spectacular considering we had no idea what Burmese food was… yummy. After dinner, we walked around gathering snacks for our long bus ride to Bagan. Soon enough we all got into a large taxi van to get to the bus terminal which was way up north from where we were. In the taxi with us was this random Russian/German couple who were all over each other the entire trip to the terminal. Seriously get a room! The girl was kissing the guy wherever she could and the guy was making animal noises in her ear and urgh it was disgusting, awkward, and just a weird situation to be in a car with for like a good hour. I felt especially bad for Maurits who had to sit next to them haha. Interestingly, we found out that these two travelers didn’t even know each other that well… probably a one night hookup turned into whatever this was. As soon as we reached the terminal we got prepared to board when Ivan realized that he had left his mini ipad in the taxi. Yeah… I know “no chance you’re getting that back.” Surprisingly enough, the taxi driver was nice enough to turn around and meet the bus to return Ivan his ipad.. how freaking lucky is he?!?! Bus ride was pretty bad… freezing bus and seats weren’t comfortable. It was crazy but the bus was filled to capacity… meaning that people were even sitting in the aisle on plastic chairs. I have never experienced something like that. After 9-10 hours, we arrived in Bagan around 4am? Grabbed a horse-carriage - yeah i know haha - to Winner Guest House where Finn, Milan, and Sami were staying (they had come a few days before all of us). 

Day 2 (Bagan -> Inle Lake): As soon as we got to the guesthouse, the guys told us to grab a bike so that we could bike to a nearby temple to watch the sunrise. Sadly, my bike riding kills were not up to par and I struggled a ot getting to the pagoda haha. But hey I have to give myself some props for making it there despite the dark, dirt roads, and not having ridden a bike in like at least 7 years. Anyways, we climbed up the pagoda and watched the sunrise. Unfortunately, the sunrise wasn’t as beautiful as we had hoped because it was so foggy/cloudy out. Afterwards, we headed back to the hostel to grab breakfast and planned the rest of the day. Ultimately, Hannah and I decided that we would do Bagan in one day and head to Inle Lake with Milan and Finn that night. 

Boat trip to underwater pagoda (35,000 kyat): not so much an underwater pagoda but a beautiful one nonetheless. All nine of us boarded a cute little boat near the edge of the village and headed off to a pagoda further out. Originally we thought it was going to be a pagoda in a cave … only accessible by boat but we were wrong. Once we got there, we realized that it was just a regular pagoda just way off the main strip of pagodas back near town. In one part of the temple, there were a million bats just chilling on the ceiling - scary stuff. I saw a few bats fly out and did not attempt to go into the room full of them. Inside the main part of the pagoda, there was a passage way that led to a secret passageway that supposedly led to Inle Lake.. that is if someone was willing to crawl for some crazy # of km in a dark little hole

Temple Run: After the boat ride, Finn, Milan, and Sami led us to a few pagodas that they really liked. It was really incredible seeing them in person in the light. I couldn’t believe how many there were all over Bagan. Supposedly there used to be around 5000? But then there was an earthquake and a lot of them got destroyed. 

Lunch @ Weatherspoon: After an awesome photoshoot at the pagodas, we biked into town to grab lunch at a local restaurant. Weatherspoon is apparently some bar in the UK … so Hannah and Sami were pretty excited about it. The owner actually lived in Bristol for about 2 years. Anywho, lunch was very yummy.. tomato salad, ginger salad, chicken vermicelli, bomb pineapple juice, and the Myanmar Mule! At the end of our lunch, we all wrote a little message on the restaurant wall where a lot other backpackers had written messages and bid farewell to our favorite Bagan restaurant. 

Temple Run #2 (Bike Rental -1500 kyat) : Since Hannah and I were leaving for Inle Lake that night, we decided to go on our own and explore a few more temples before departing Bagan. Only problem was that we couldn’t tell the temples apart and roamed around aimlessly haha. Nevertheless, we successfully explored a few really cool temples and even bought some paintings along the way. 

Bus Ride (11,000 kyat): JJ bus, which was the VIP bus that Finn and MIlan had taken to Bagan didn’t go to Inle so we had to take a really bad bus (once again for me and Hannah). 27 person bus vs. 55 person bus. PAINFUL! 

Day 3: Inle Lake: 9 hours of a hot and cramped bus ride later… arrived at Inle Lake early in the morning. We picked a random guesthouse to go to, May Guest House, and knocked out for a few hours before exploring Inle Lake. One thing about traveling is that you need to make the most of your day (especially if it is a short trip like the one Hannah and I were taking). After a quick breakfast, we headed out to take a boat tour of the lake. As we drove through the water, it was so surprising to see what we saw. First of all, the view was breathtaking. The mountain/hilltops went on for days and clouds outlined the sky and overlapped the mountains like a painting. We were also blessed with nice weather which made everything 10x better. The air was crisp and breezy and the sun was so bright that we had to make sure to sunscreen like no other. As we glided across the lake, we saw houses built on stilts on the lake… I was amazed to see that communities of people were living on water. We saw fishermen balancing on the edge of their boats throwing fish nets, spearing fish, or paddling with their legs. It was incredible. Even further down, we saw young children also paddling their own boats. Some young boys were even fishing. Other women and girls could be seen sitting on a rock or a deck washing clothes or taking baths. everything was so beautiful, so simple and natural. To be honest, I felt like I was watching scenes from Pocahontas or like Mulan hahahh. My favorite thing to see was the children. It made me so happy to see so many happy/smiling children. Now onto the boat tour:

Silversmith: basically a huge display room full of handmade goods and people working on the goods as well.I bought a ring for $14. 

Lunch/Pagoda: had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant called Ngwe Zin Yaw. Afterwards, we visited a pagoda right across from the restaurant. 

Tobacco/Cigar-Making: little house were people were packing all-natural nicotine-free cigars by hand. there were two girls - age 15 - who were packing alongside 4 other older women. 

Silk: second to last stop was silk-making… a larger building with levels of machines for weaving silk. watched a lady pull silk threads out of a lotus stem which was pretty cool. 

Monastery: final stop on the boat ride… beautiful statues of Buddha were inside. Huge statues made up of gold and gems. It was a beautiful monastery… took some incredible pictures there because they had an amazing view of the landscape at one end of the temple. 

After a long day of boating, we went to dinner at a restaurant called Seagull. Talk about a perfect ending to a perfect day. Dinner was on point. The company was great. I swear life couldn’t get any better. 

Day 4 (Inle —> Yangon): Last day at Inle Lake. It’s been a long post so I will summarize our last day. We took the boat out again and this time went to a pagoda in a new section of the lake. Afterwards, we finished off our boat tour visiting the “long-neck people.” By the time we returned, it was time for Hannah and I to head to the bus terminal for our night bus back to Yangon for our flight back to Singapore. This time around Hannah and I took a VIP bus…hehe luxury. 

Day 5 (Yangon): arrived in Yangon around 6AM and taxied straight to the airport. It was a whirlwind of a trip because Hannah and I only had 4 days to everything but it all worked out for the best… a great trip!

Boat Ride in Langkawi!!! Look at that water…dem islands!!!

2. Langkawi, Malaysia

Date: Aug 31- Sept 3

Cost: $150 (Air Asia)

Day 1 - Maurits, Sami, Ivan, Hannah, and I departed from Singapore @ 10:55am and landed in Langkawi around 12pm. As soon as we landed, we were greeted by Kelly, Finn and Milan and a pyramid of beers…haha talk about getting the party started. Kelly H. is a new member of our group! Born and bred in the friendliest of countries, Canada, this chica is nothing but fun! Each of us grabbed a beer and hopped in a taxi to head to our cute guesthouse called Rainbow. The day’s schedule was already set thanks to Finn, Milan and Kelly who planned a boat trip for all of us to go island hopping. Before doing so, I made the biggest mistake of my life - okay maybe not that dramatic but yeah… So the guys had all gotten a motor bike to ride around the island and well, being the dumb accident prone klutz that I am, I attempted to drive one and had an accident. I ended up cutting my left foot and leg up pretty badly against a barbed wire fence and it was just a bloody mess. Not even an hour on the island and I had managed to ruin the trip. Fortunately, everyone was super sympathetic and helped me get cleaned up. Despite the shock and pretty bad injury, the crew convinced me to go on the boat trip with them. Meanwhile, Hannah’s local friend Lio (Hannah had already been to Langkawi before school had started) met up with us and hooked us up with a boat and a cooler full of beer and food for the trip. 

The boat ride and island hopping experience was amazing. I wasn’t able to swim so I don’t think I had the best time but I was happy that I came along. I couldn’t stop staring at everything. It was so breathtaking. Our first stop was the Pregnant Maiden: a lake in the middle of an island. On the island I had my first run-in with monkeys which was cool! Next stop was another random island where we had a beach party! Here, I was dragged into the water by Milan and Hannah to clean up my foot in the salt water… urghhhhhhhh it hurt like no other… but I am grateful to them, my personal doctors.

After a full day of boating, we all returned home and got ready for a night out in the town! First we went to dinner at a local Indian restaurant called Tomato. Then we went to a random beach party nearby. Unfortunately, it started pouring in the middle of the party and we all had to just sit at a beach bar waiting for the rain to stop. But the rain never stopped. So eventually, after a couple hours of sitting around and having drinks at the bar, we all decided to head out… even in the rain. Hannah and I wanted to keep the night going but the rain didn’t seem like it was going to stop anytime soon. So instead, we all stopped at another restaurant and had our second dinner. haha you can never go wrong with eating. The torrential downpour continued for hours and we had to grab a taxi to go to back to Rainbow which was legit 3 min away from where we were. Hannah, Finn and Ivan actually walked back and were soaked. With that, our first night in Langkawi ended. 

Day 2 - Finn and Milan left early the next day. The rest of us ended up having a late start and gathered around lunchtime to go on a motor bike tour of Langkawi. With all the boys driving and each of us girls in the back… we headed off to see the two waterfalls! Although I’ll never drive a motor bike ever again (there goes my dream of driving a motorcycle haha), the guys were awesome at it and it was actually a lot of fun riding on the back of one! It was definitely a thrill to speed through the mountains and on the open road. Our first stop was at Seven Wells: at the top, the water flowed down a waterslide of rocks that you could ride. Of course, I couldnt :( … but it looked so fun!! The water then fell down the edge into a huge waterfall - which we went down to after. The view from the top as well as the bottom was unbelievable. It was my first time seeing a waterfall so that made it even more exciting for me! The second waterfall was also beautiful, more tranquil than the last. The water trickled down the rocky mountain and gathered in a pool at the bottom and it was just magical. After swimming at both of the waterfalls, we headed back towards town to eat at a night market! Unfortunately, on the way back, we ended up having a few accidents with our motor bikes. Sami dropped his while turning it around and all the gas leaked out. Ivan and Kelly made a turn too sharp and both slid and fell on the road. They weren’t injured too bad but Ivan was bleeding a bit so we went to a nearby clinic to get him cleaned up. I guess I’m not the only klutz. After getting cleaned up quickly - for really cheap may I add - we reached the night market where we grubbed like we’ve never before. Stands upon stands of food for so cheap…delicious food!!! We all bought like 2 or 3 packages of different foods and all shared. Probably one of the best meals I’ve had while abroad. 

Post dinner, we had decided to all head out for another night out. This time, it wasn’t raining (well not as badly) so we hoped to have a better night out. Hannah’s other local friends took us all out and it ended up being a really fun night!!! 

Day 3 - I don’t know how Sami, Kelly, and Ivan made it to their flight but they did! Maurits, Hannah, and I decided to take it chill for our last day. After eating on the beach, Maurits and I went to ride the cable car. It ended up being a waste though because it was so cloudy/foggy that we didn’t see anything at the top of the cable car ride. Afterwards, all three of us went back to the beach to sleep and watch the sunset. The sunset was probably the best part of Day 3. I mean just take a look at that picture … Around 7:30pm, we joined Lio for dinner. She took us to a local seafood restaurant where she treated us to an epic meal that I will never forget. Close tie with the night market dinner, second best meal everrrrr…  During dinner, Lio really opened up about her life. Despite her usual loud and humorous self, we found out that there was a lot of pain, sadness, and loss in her life as we listened to her story. I forget all the details but her story was inspiring… made me realize just how lucky we are, how similar we all are… 

Overall, it was a humbling last night in Langkawi. A great trip despite all the little mishaps. <3 Next destination: Myanmar

1. Tioman Island, Malaysia 

Date: Aug 24-25

Trip Cost: $145

Transportation: Bus —> Ferry —> 4-Wheel Drive

First trip of the semester!! After a late night out with Sami, Hannah, and Milan, I stayed up until 4am to hit the road to Tioman Island. The trip was planned by a group called NUS Exchangers. There was only a limited number of spots for the trip deal so only a few of us from the group made it there together. Marija and Goda got there on Friday while Ivan, Stefan, Giovanni, and I got there on Saturday. The trip was seriously way to long and dragged out… it took around 8hrs? It might’ve been longer… I don’t remember (sigh, the consequence of updating my blog 2 months late). Anyways, during the long trip I had the pleasure of making a new friend, Bethany! She’s from Hawaii! Aloha :) It was so nice talking to a fellow America… so many jokes and little comments that only Americans would make and understand. I missed it. She and I ended up being a couple the entire trip and rooming together.

So the trip went like this… bused to the border of Singapore and Malaysia, got off the bus twice to go through customs, got back on the bus and drove to the harbor, waited for the ferry for like 3 hours, rode the ferry for 2 hours (all these estimates may be completely off… sigh), got to the island and rode a 4-wheel drive truck up and over the mountain to the other side of the island. When we finally reached the place we were going… I was so happy to stop traveling. I honestly did not enjoy that experience. It was way too much waiting. But I knew I had to get used to it … future traveling would be similar to that if not worse.

As soon as we got there we all changed and went to the beach for some quality tan and swimming time. It was so beautiful… despite the horrible traveling, it was totally worth it. After a few hours on the beach, a few of us decided to go on a hike to a “waterfall” that was supposedly somewhere in the middle of the mountain/jungle. That hike was not easy. We got lost for little which wasn’t good but we eventually found our way. I didn’t end up swimming because I changed out of my bathing suit. After maybe an hr at the waterfall… which was btw more of a stream than a waterfall, we headed back to the beach.

That night, everyone on the trip had dinner together at the shack and celebrated Marija and some other guy’s birthday! After dinner, we all headed down to the beach for a beach party. Met a lot of people at that…At one point, some local kids were lighting fireworks near us which wasn’t safe. One an exchanger but he was fine. 

One long day at the beach and that was the end of the trip for me and the other exchangers who came on Saturday. Sunday afternoon we all boarded the ferry again and headed back to Singapore. A lot of people actually got a bit sick on the ferry on the way back haha… guess they had a good night ;P At the border in Singapore, a few of us got stuck at customs for not having our Student Pass and for writing the wrong number of days on our departure card. Nonetheless, the trip was good!! For it being the first trip, I was happy with it. Now onto the next one…. yeeee

Coming of Age

The day has come sooner than expected. A few years ago, my 21st birthday seemed like ages away. For most people (at lease in America), 21 is the last milestone in terms of birthdays into adulthood. But what comes with turning 21? Well I guess you can legally buy and consume alcohol …but what else? As I reflect on this fact, I feel like I’m losing a lot more than I am gaining. As my birthday approaches, I feel a bit nostalgic. I guess the fact that I am abroad, away from loved family and familiar friends, contributes to this feeling but I don’t know… something about 21 gives me mixed feeling. In one aspect, I am really excited. Yes I am finally of age. Yes I can flash my card to bouncers and waiters and be confident that I won’t get rejected. But with turning 21, I feel like I’m taking a large jump into adulthood and am afraid. While I am still a kid at heart, I am realizing that I am really growing up and so are the people around me. Slowly but surely, I am starting to see my friends enter long term relationships, get engaged, plan weddings, move away, build careers, and so much more. Although I’ve known this for awhile, it’s just hitting me now. Other than turning 21, maybe it’s the fact that I am more than half way through my college career and reaching the doorway to complete independence. It’s ironic how I fear “complete independence” when I’ve been completely independent since I was 17… if not younger. When I look back on my past and see where I’ve been and then look at the places that I am going and imagine the places that I will be going… well, there’s a stark difference…one that I could have never predicted. 21, yeah it’s a big birthday. But I’m going to kind of miss being the youngin looking forward to  her 21st. 

whatshouldasiacallme

I know that I haven’t updated my blog in ages and I promise I will get to it … eventually … but for now, this tumblr - that a group of exchangers made in singapore - is pretty accurate and entertaining! It gives you a very good visual of how we are living and reacting to all the things we are experiencing in Singapore and South East Asia. 98% of the content applies to me and I could not stop laughing cuz it’s so true. Anyways, enjoy!!!!

Love her <3

Club Lava + Club Avalon