Friday, August 16, 2019

Rennes and Saint-Malo

Flashing back to a beautiful weekend visiting Rennes and Saint-Malo when I was in France a while ago. Special thanks to my sweethearts Ana, Rocky and baby Nael for not only hosting me at their beautiful home in Poilley but also for giving me such comfort, home-cooked meals, good company, support and love, and finally for showing me around Normandy and Brittany. 

Located just few hours away from Paris, I found both Rennes and Saint-Malo are incredibly cute, unique, rich of histories. I never thought when I visited Paris for the first time in 2015, I would continue exploring France even to some places I never heard of before. From Provence Cote d’Azur to Colmar to Rennes, honestly the more I visit different cities in France, the more I’m in love with this beautiful country. 


Monday, August 12, 2019

Sumba, Indonesia

Flashing back to one amazing week exploring Sumba with Alam Indonesia last March. I’ve been incredibly lucky to see so many beautiful places around the world but unfortunately I’ve only been to few places in my own country. I know that’s quite embarrassing but that’s because I want to save the best for the last. But since I visited Komodo Islands few years ago, I promised myself to visit at least one new place in Indonesia each year. And this year I couldn’t be more happier to make it to Sumba. If you haven’t heard about Sumba before, this beautiful island located in eastern Indonesia or around an hour flight from Bali. I joined 5 days 4 nights tour with Alam Indonesia ( you can find them on Instagram @alam_indonesia ) for USD 350/person. The tour includes accommodation, transportation, meals 3 times a day and tour guide. However you still have to purchase your own flight ticket from Jakarta or Bali to Tambolaka and then Waingapu to Denpasar. Alam Indonesia offers various tours with different days, so just in case you can’t spend 5 days to explore Sumba, they even offer 3 days 2 night tour. The tour starts at Tambolaka where you’d explore places like Ratenggaro and Mbawana beach, Weekuri Lagoon and the local village for the first 2 days. After that they’d take you to Lapopu and Waimarang waterfalls, Wairinding and Tanarara hills also another local village where you can purchase a special batik from Sumba.

I found Sumba not only magical and stunningly beautiful ( the nature just incredible and if you love photography like me, it’s a perfect place to hunt good portraits ) but it was also a very humbling experience. Just to be home for a while, to appreciate the beauty Indonesia has to offer and to celebrate how far I’ve come. I am very lucky and blessed to have experienced things I never thought I could, also to have access to chase my dreams - while back home, here in Sumba I can see not everyone can have the same privilege. But even though they don’t have a lot, I can see they’re incredibly happy and wouldn’t think twice to share. Talking about the art of having just enough, pure happiness and gratitude.

Sumba reminds me to create bigger…to give back. While life has been incredibly kind to give me more than I deserve, I ask myself what is it that I can do today to give back? Perhaps it doesn’t have to be a huge thing, any act of kindness is more than enough. And a commitment to never stop improving myself, to always experimenting with my art, do things from the heart for one day they would lead me to bigger opportunities and you never know who you are inspiring.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Rainbow Mountain, Peru

When I first stumbled upon an image of Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca on Instagram a year ago, I couldn’t believe such a place exists. I mean, it looks like a slice of ham or rainbow cake, but you know when they say you can’t get to a place you don’t believe exists. So after I purchased my flight tickets to Peru, I knew I have two missions here: Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain. Well, I guess life has bigger missions for me rather than just visiting two places.

How to get to Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca? 

I joined Rainbow Mountain Travels for USD30/person including pick up/drop off, breakfast, lunch, and guides. They pick you up at your hotels in Cusco at 3.00 am, I know it’s super early and super cold too ( don’t forget to bring gloves and scarf ) but actually it’s good to start hiking early before other travel companies drop their guests.

While Colca Canyon taught me so much about strength and resilience, I found the hardest part of hiking Rainbow Mountain was simply dealing with the altitude sickness. With an altitude of 5200 m above sea level, it was definitely not easy to hike Vinicunca. But that’s what I love most about being in nature, feeling so tiny but yet so alive. Mother nature knows best how to humble, surprise and remind you that you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. Breathing is hard enough when you start hiking the Rainbow Mountain, but when you take a pause, look around and see how the local people bring tourists up and down the mountain, working so hard to earn a living…I feel incredibly lucky and blessed for all the opportunities and access I have to chase my dreams and live the kind of life I have always dreamed of. Sure I have problems but it’s nothing compared to how hard these people have to work every day. After one and a half hours ( plus so many breaks in between ) I finally made it to the top of Rainbow Mountain. There’s a sense of pride, a joy that I couldn’t even explain but also a huge question mark how did I even get here? Looking back, things were so different last year.

It’s crazy I’ve been in Peru now for over a month. I had a goal to hit South America this year and I’m grateful Peru has been nothing short of amazing from day one. This country has filled my soul with peace, joy, love, and gratitude. I remember I was so nervous the moment I landed at Jorge Chavez International Airport, Lima. I don’t speak Spanish and if you read the news, people would only tell you how dangerous Peru is - especially for solo female travelers. No one really describes or write how magical this country. How incredibly nice and kind Peruvian people, and ohh the food…how delicious and cheap Peruvian food, honestly I couldn’t stop eating. I also find Peru is safe, pretty tourist-friendly but you still have to be careful. Within a month, I’ve grown from someone who walked into a local restaurant in Lima and pointed the food that I want to eat without actually know the words, to someone who gets more confident each day as I pick up new words in Spanish. I made new friends not only with a bunch of travelers but also Peruvian people I met at the hotel, cafes, pole dance studio. If only I knew what was waiting for me in Peru, that life has prepared this huge surprise with a huge amount of love, wild adventures, lessons, challenges, beautiful nature, food, culture, and people. But of course from the beginning of the trip even months before I purchased my tickets, somehow I knew Peru would change my life for the better. I knew this entire trip would be a life-changing experience. I knew I’d meet the right people and life would take care of me as usual, provide me with everything I need from good stamina, good weather to good people. Something tells me everything’s going to be fine and I’m going to have so much fun.