Monday, December 7, 2015

Being Festively Special at The Majestic Hotel

Christmas is coming and more and more people are looking for places to dine and treat a special some-one during those festive nights. Set amidst the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur's refined historical atmosphere, any dining experience would definitely be unforgettable. I've experienced first hand how attentive the hotel's team are to details during my stay there last year and they have successfully demonstrated an all-out effort to ensure that every guest (including the lill ones) content and happy!

Luckily, I was again, able to enjoy a special experience there. I was invited to join a Sampling of Festive Cheer Menu event held at Colonial Cafe, Level 1 of the Majestic Hotel last Friday night. They let me bring another person and so knowing that my younger sister was begging to bring her to some place exclusive, I decided to bring her along.

Love the design on this !
It is learnt that every year the hotel creates merriment that captures the enchantment and tradition of Christmas and New Year the Majestic Way. They'll create dining experiences that lets guests eat, drink and be joyous with the carefully crafted Christmas inspired menus, live music from renowned musicians and fine wines (which I don't drink. Hehe.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In and About #TBM2015 - Travel Bloggers Meetup 2015

Four travelers were invited to become panelists for this year's Travel Bloggers Meetup hosted by Sedunia Travel and the theme was 6 Degrees of Travel. Each person were to share their travel connections and experiences to the floor as they are given questions from the attendees. Topics varied from how to meet the locals to how to structure a travel itinerary. A perfect summary of the event can be read here, written by panelist Ms. Anis Ibrahim. A freelance writer who loves open spaces and could walk for miles and miles just because she loves it. Hehe. Other panelists were pakcik RAW of Ramble and Wander, Menk of Routexplorers and Zarah of (oppsss.. she sounds highly familiar, ermm...), each of them are seasoned travelers (except the last person).

I love the painting at the back! Here's a picture of all four panelists for that day. From the left - Menk, RAW, Anis and the one who shouldn't be there. :P
I will not blog more on what the speakers has shared during the event, but will blog more on who and what was going on throughout the event through Instagram pictures posted by the attendees. There was an Instagram contest going on with the hashtag #TBM2015 and these were some of the pictures shared.

Here's TBM2015 via Instagram Pictures. Thanks to those who posted 'em.

A photo posted by Riz Baldivia (@lamyerda) on

The meetup was held in Calavera. A cozy place with eccentric decor.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Captured, Framed and Judged

There aren't that many travel related reality TV shows out there. The ones that I know of are the likes of "The Amazing Race" and perhaps "Survivor". And then I learnt there is another travel related TV show that not only showcases countries they've visited, they also help educate the viewers on how to get the best shot. Shot? I mean photo shots. :)

I was invited to attend this launch of a reality show called Photo Face-Off season 2, coming to HISTORY Asia starting Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 10pm (tomorrow)!. After declining many event and sponsored trips before this, I suddenly decided to attend this one after a long absence from the blogger event scene.

At the event I get to meet Azril Azam, Ignitius Kong, Desmond Teoh and Pro Photographer Justin Mott who spoke to the media during this launch of Photo Face-Off Season 2. I honestly didn't watch the first season as I have no TV at home (opps) but the promotional videos looks awesome!

Three contestants from Malaysia : 
Here are the personal biodata of the three contestants who will battle to the finish in this year's season two. Only one will move forward to  compete with winning contestants from Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My Weekend to Medan in Istagram Pictures

Having been to Medan numerous times before, I don't actually get tired with the many outdoor activities you can do there. I've been to the typical Danau Toba and Sepiso-piso attractions. But nothing beats body tubing at a high current river or trekking into the jungle in search for the two colored waterfalls.

Am not gonna write more on what I've done during the past weekend and let the pictures tell it's stories.

From Medan --- Tangkahan (famous for the elephants reservoir) ---  Sibolangit (waterfall trekking ) --- Negeri Suah ( River with natural hot springs ) --- Goa Penen

Elephants at tangkahan
Air terjun Dua Warna at Sibolangit
Goa Penen..

i would love to blog about these places but seem to find no time for it! Hahaha! If you have any questions regarding these places, feel free to comment below or contact me directly via email. :)

Happy weekend guys!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Princess Treatment at Castle Inn Cappadocia

I first came to know of this "castle-like" accommodation from another travel blogger and decided to give it a try. Initially I wanted to stay at the highly tourist dense town of Goreme to be close to the UNESCO listed Goreme Open Museum but at the very last minute decided to check Ortahisar instead Well, after reading the short details on Castle Inn as read below on with an impressive 9.4 score in reviews, you'd too would have a change of heart!

9.4 guys!!! 

"Located in the heart of Ortahisar district, Castle Inn Cappadocia has a unique architecture with a stone-built structure. The property offers a terrace with views over the town, and arched or cave rooms with authentic interiors and modern amenities. The rooms of Castle Inn Cappadocia are equipped with orthopaedic beds and pillows. They all have a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, free table PC, a phone with free local calls, and an electric kettle with complimentary coffee, black herbal tea. All rooms have a fireplace and some rooms offer a private spa bath. Daily breakfast is served as an open buffet with local products. You can enjoy your breakfast in the authentic breakfast room with an arched ceiling. 

Goreme Open Air Museum is within 2 km. Nevsehir Cappadocia Airport is 40 km away"

Friday, July 10, 2015

Talang, My First Volcano - Part 2

Continuing from where I left off from here....

I woke up several times that morning. A little after 3am.. tried hearing noises from the other tent. None.

Then woke up again at 4:30am... and heard some rustling next door. I yelped a cry-out but no response. So I decided to go out. Sure enough, I spotted Yayan scrambling in the dark, trying to heat some water. Haha. I lent him my lamp and awaited inside their tent as he makes hot tea. Syahrial was still snoozing beside me.

We started our ascend after our subuh prayers. It was still dark, but rays of the morning sun was creeping upon us. Yayan told me that it takes one hour to reach the peak. Yeah okayyyyy... with my speed, it might take us twice that long. Hehe. I brought with me a headlamp, a light pack of snacks and the lads brought hot tea and water.

Not at the peak yet, but the best views from the top were here where you can see all the three lakes; Danau Di Atas, Danau Di Bawah and Danau Talang. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Talang, My First Volcano - Part 1

Rising 2567 meters above sea level, Mt. Talang is one of the many volcanoes on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes Indonesia. That said, the volcanoes in Indonesia (estimated to have 150 volcanoes) are also among the most active with some notable for the eruptions.

After being seduced to the natural beauty found at the mountain by my good friend Yayan, a mountain lover who resides in Padang,  two hours away from Solok in which resides Mt Talang, I decided to climb it. "This will be the first volcano for Jard the Great!" He beamed, He failed to mention that it was also going to be my first time on back of a motorcycle for two hours with a 55L backpack on my back.

I was told that the mountain was a beginner's favorite. An easy trek up within two hours to Lembah Kasih, the main camping site before summit attack the next morning. Yayan also told me that even though the sunrise and sunsets were not that spectacular compared to other mountains, but the view on top is just as beautiful.

I wasn't in the best physical form when I decided to climb Talang as three weeks before I was in and out of hotels, eating five times a day as would any conference package provides, and doing nearly zero exercise. Hahaha. I figured that since Mt Talang was a beginner's mountain, it'd be a walk in a park.

Boy was I  dead wrong!

Do be reminded that a beginner's trail as presumed by Yayan is actually a non-ending upward trail through wide trails of MUD until you reach Lembah Kasih. But before the mud trail, you'd be walking through a scenic tea plantation. Thankfully, I changed my hiking shoes to my mountain sandals before embarking this torturous hike through mud. Else my shoes would be buried in mud and it will take weeks to wash it off! :P

"Jard, when you meet other hikers on the trail, greet them with "pak" or "ibuk"', Yayan advised me as we started our trip. We were accompanied by his best friend, Syahrial who helped carry my 3kg tent. Hehe. My bag was lighter among the three, filled with my own personal wear, some rations, food and water. I sometimes feel guilty just thinking about it.

Our bags during toilet run and before our ascend. 
En route to Lembah Kasih...

Monday, June 29, 2015

List of Airlines That I've Experienced

I have this little addiction in trying different kind of airlines every-time I travel. Thus the reason why I love putting as much countries as possible in one short time-frame so that I can fly more often. Hehehe. Each of the airlines I've tried and airports I've been through gave me some unforgettable memories. From the check-in time possible 5 minutes before boarding (NOK Air of Thailand), the full body scan by entering a large scanning machine (Domodedevo Aiport in Moscow, Russia), lotion and soap sniffing customs officer (Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Airport of Palembang, Sumatera), five-star experience of Turkish Airlines... yeahh... and so many more! It just makes me love flying even more!
View from Egypt Air from Jordan to Cairo. 

So here's a list of Airlines I've personally flew with. Will update this page from time to time when I fly with other airlines or remembered some that I did but forgot to mention. :)

  1. Malaysian Airlines
  2. AirAsia
  3. Malindo Air
  4. INDIGO Airlines (India)
  5. Lion Air (Indonesia)
  6. Korean Air
  7. Jeju Air (Korea)
  8. EastarJet (Korea)
  9. Jetstar (Australia)
  10. Vietnam Airlines
  11. Norwegian Air
  12. WOW air (Iceland)
  13. EasyJet (UK)
  14. LOT Air (Poland)
  15. NOK Air (Thailand)
  16. Qatar Airlines
  17. Pegasus Airlines (Turkey)
  18. Aegean Airlines (Greece)
  19. Egypt Air
  20. Turkish Airlines
  21. British Airways
  22. Iberia (Spain)
How about you guys? Do you remember which airlines you've flown with? And which ones were your favorite ones? I have to say... Turkish Airlines were the best for me in terms of flight experience and FOOD! Haha.

Oh well... happy traveling peeps! See you in a next post (I hope). :P

Sunday, May 31, 2015

How to Pack for Your Hiking Trip?

Ever fell in a river while hiking and had all your stuff in your backpack wet, resulting in a very heavy pack on your back?  The bad luck doesn't end there though... you had 5 hours more of hiking to do before you reach your next destination! Wet clothes combined with heavy wet backpack! Gahh!!

One unlucky hiker also shared his experience of having all his clothes and sleeping bag wet when he hiked in the rain. He reached the peak with no dry clothes and ended up sleeping in the tent, cold with only the heat from his buddies to warm him.

I learnt it the hard way. So did he.

And so... as experience had it... I readjusted my packing method and become better at it. Hope this "common" piece of information help other hikers out there on how to pack their stuff. To avoid what happened to me, happening to them. Fair trade, no?

The Essential Things You Need on a Hiking and Camping Trip
Rules I learnt when hiking and camping in the tropical forests:

  1. Always keep your stuff DRY. So each items are stored in a drybag according to usage. I had my sleeping clothes and sleeping bag in one drybag. Wet tissues, small cosmetic items and headlamp in one small drybag and all the other clothes in one drybag. Food has it's own bag too.
  2. To pack light, two sets of clothing is enough. One to change when what you're wearing is WET. And another set ESPECIALLY for sleeping only. You could be in the jungle for 2 to 5 days. 2 sets are enough. Trust me. Bring more if you can carry more weight. Hehe. The cold is a SILENT KILLER. Stay warm and dry is important during the night.
  3. Wet tissues are handy when you need to poo-poo and other stuff. 
  4. Food rich in carbs are good for energy -- kurma, peanuts, chocolate 
  5. Socks! Need more than one set especially if it is rainy season! 
  6. Extra large plastic bags (120 liters) is good to become your bag's rain cover. And also to put your bag in during the night so that it keeps dry.
  7. Dry bags are better than wet bags. Why? If your stuff are wet... It gets more HEAVIER and you die carrying the extra weight! 
  8. Plastic bag is also used to store all of these items and then put into your bag. Hehe.
  9. Oh and yeah... Was kidding about the dying part. Have any more tips? Do share!?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Couchsurfing and the Azan

I accepted a couchsurfing request sometime last week when I didn't know things were about to get crazy for me after that. I didn't foresee my 'lill sister was coming to stay with me during the same weekend my couchsurfer from Ukraine was coming. And I certainly didn't foresee that my parents were also coming a few days after for a heart operation at Institut Jantung Malaysia (Malaysia's Heart Institution).

Even after knowing all of these things were gonna happen on the same week.. I didn't have the heart to cancel the couchsurfer's request and just allowed her to come. At that time, I probably had thought of a dozens of excuses to cancel the request but it never fall through. Haha. And so she came and I was hoping that she wouldn't mind being cramped in a small room with my sister and I.

Thankfully... all my housemates were not home during that long Thaipusam weekend except for one girl. And my sister was being very hospitable. Since it was a public holiday, I was free to bring my guest around KL for some sight-seeing without being tied up with office work.

One funny moment happened that washed away all my doubts in hosting couchsurfers. An adorable moment. My guest heard a loud sound through the loudspeakers in my neighborhood and the conversation started like this :

Guest : Did you hear that? What is that man singing about?
My sister : Oh, that's the azan. A calling for prayers.
Guest : Azan?
My sister : We Muslims are being called five times a day to pray by this "singer". It's like a reminder so that we don't forget. 
Guest : It sounds lovely. I never been to a Muslim country.

I smiled when I heard their conversation. And this is why I love hosting and being hosted on I get to share my culture and the way of living of a local with foreigners. Let them know... hey.. Malaysia is a beautiful country and yeah, we're not terrorists! Hahaha!

With my guest, Lika at KLCC.
My head and heart lightened up after that and I continued to be the gracious host despite having doubts of hosting when times were getting tough. I shall not forget the reason why I joined couchsurfing in the first place as I believe in the site's aim in creating.. “a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection”.. Praise thee god for the life given.  :)

PS: The news about guests being raped is shocking! I hope I won't have such experience when I couchsurf!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Trekking to Pisang Waterfalls via the Twin Drains

Who would've known that there's a waterfall just within Kuala Lumpur.. Situated in Gombak, Pisang Waterfalls is fast becoming popular among waterfall hunters and also a perfect place to escape the hustle-bustle of the big city.

Some time last year, I was hosting a couchsurfer from Philippines. She had another local friend in KL and the three of us altogether decided to trek to Pisang Waterfalls. I never heard about this place until that day her male friend told us about it.

So it happened like this.... her friend would pick us up from an arranged spot and he will drive us to the starting point of Pisang Waterfalls trail. I was surprised to know that it was very close to KL! Our driver parked his car at the side-road, paid a parking fee of RM5 and a nominal entrance fee of RM1 per person,.. and off we go!

We got our stuff that consist of extra clothing, towels, water and packed lunch, and started our trek, with our male friend leading the way.

And to where first?

To two HUGE DRAINS with water going through it!

The famous twin drains that will lead us to the enclosed Pisang Waterfalls.

Friday, January 23, 2015

6 Things To Do in Batam That You May Not Know About

My office did an office trip to Batam sometime last year and about 40 people joined with the exception of me. They didn't actually sleep there, but made it into a daytrip from Johor into Batam via ferry.

Almost all of my office-mates told me that there was NOTHING to do in Batam except do some shopping. So why stay longer? OK, I got the longer part and decided to prove them long by spending one fine weekend in Batam.

Did I do any shopping?


With a struck of good luck, I happen to know a good friend in Batam named Mukhlis whom I fortunately met during my backpacking trip to India the year before and decided to pay him a visit.

Hold on... you might be actually asking yourselves.. is there really ANYTHING to see in Batam? Lemme give you a teaser picture before I continue on with this blogpost.

Guess where this is? Nongsa beach at Pulau Purti Batam. Pictured with Mukhlis. Spot at number 3 in the list!
I really didn't have much budget planning for this trip so I only set aside about RM200 for my personal expenses (if any), excluding the ferry and bus tickets as blogged already here..

Monday, January 19, 2015

Trekking to Rainbow Waterfall, Sg Lembing, Pahang

My traveling partner in crime to Sg Lembing has blogged about our trip here...

Zilla booked a night at the famous Time Capsule Hotel in Sg Lembing and advertised on her facebook wall, looking for a travelmate to share the room. I immediately messaged her, telling her I wanted to join! Hahaha!

And so off we went to Sg Lembing. Me, from Kuala Lumpur while Zilla was coming from somewhere in Pahang. The best thing I liked about Zilla is that she likes using the public transportation as much as I do. It's an adventurous trait that I  find it rare among Malaysians

Trekking to Rainbow Waterfall is an easy task. You could easily book at any homestay/hotel/hostel operators in Sg Lembing. There are an abundance of them. If you ask any locals there, they'd surely direct you to the correct person. Zilla and I just booked the trip for RM40 (transport, maggi cup, guide) with our hotel.

The trip starts as early as 5:30am. A 4WD will pick us up from the hotel and send us to have breakfast (self-paid) in Sg Tembeling town. A mosque is a walking distance away, where Zilla and I did our prayers. It was around 6:35am that we headed to the waterfalls area... with 12 other people.

The 4WD drive through mud and lush rainforest. Picture taken from Zilla's blog
I'm not sure how long we were on that bumpy ride to the waterfalls. More than an hour perhaps? All I remembered as we were seated at the back, was the jumping all over the place and us holding tightly to the rails around us. Some might say it was impossible, but I did however got some eye-shut. Hehehe.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Travel Nightmare : Sleeping at Hanoi International Airport

To Moscow With Love - Day 1 - Sleeping at Hanoi International Airport 

This is a long overdue post continuing from this post.

I was in the state of "not properly healed" but my soul was souring when I first checked-in for my flight to Moscow with an overnight transit in Hanoi. Knowing that my parents would be worried if I didn't update them before my departure, I decided to post a picture on my Instagram and Facebook instead. I think I was too bummed to reply the  good-wishers. Hehe. #maafSombong

Posted with the #sickGirlGoesTravelling hashtag on Facebook. 
Traveling alone in my state of health (at that time) was not a situation to be joking about. I brought with me all the medicine that the hospital prescribed me and also all the needed lotions to keep my skin moisturized. I was heading to a cold country and my skin was extra sensitive that time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Travel Recap - A Year of Total Randomness

Happy belated new year!!!


Just a short recap on my travels in 2014.. I know.. I know... we are already in the middle of January 2015. I just turned a year older on the 6th of January and I pray for many, many adventures for this year!

So let's stop babbling and let me recap. OK? Before my brain grows old and starts forgetting. Huh!
Jard, do you have a bucketlist that you follow for this year?
No I don't... I fly to where-ever the cheap flight tickets bring me to... and these are among the countries that I've been to.. minus the local ones though. Hehe.

Clockwise from upper right - Luang Prabang, St. Petersburg, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Disney World Hong Kong.

January 17 - 22 ---- Myanmar RM108 + 75USD
January 31 - February 2 -- Jogjakarta + Semarang, Indonesia RM80 + 381k rupiah
February 20 - 24 --- Maldives
March 29 - April 6 --- Hong Kong - Shen Zhen - Guangzhou - Macau RM117 + 328 MOP
April 8 - 13 --- Thailand (Bangkok - Udon Thani) - Laos (Vientiane - Luang Prabang) RM164 + 1189 THb
May 10 - 13 --- Padang, Sumatera Barat (My first entrance into Sumatera!! Woohoo!!) RM218
May 23 - 25 --- Medan, Indonesia RM80
June 20 -22 -- Bali, Indonesia RM292
June 26 - July 1 --- Sri Lanka RM401
July 26 - 29 -- Aidilfitri at Sabah
September 26 - October 12 --- Russia + 8 other countries
November 14 - 17 --- Palembang, Indonesia RM111
December 6 - 7 --- Batam, Indonesia
December 12 - 15 -- Jogjakarta, Indonesia RM137
December 25 - 28 --- Solok, Sumatera  RM157

There.... goodbye 2014.. hello 2015!!

Happy traveling peeps!!! :P

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sunrise at Mount Datuk, Negeri Sembilan

Located at Rembau, Negeri Sembilan of Malaysia, Mount Datuk has become a favorite among nature lovers to do some exercise during weekends as the view from the peak is among the best in Malaysia. The mountain's highest peak is at 885m which comprises of big rock boulders. A regular hiker would take around 2 to 3 hours to reach the top and for the avid ones, maybe around 45 minutes. My small group of friends, 4 guys and 4 girls (including me) have planned to meet up near the Seremban toll where we will head to Rembau together.

At the  peak of Mt. Datuk. 
It takes about 2 to 3 hours drive to get to the foot of the mountain from Kuala Lumpur and we started pretty early. I stayed at my friend's house, Anne, before our 2:00 am drive to Rembau. We didn't sleep that much as Anne had accompanied me to buy headlamps from DIY which costs RM9.90 to RM20 each. It enthralls me that we'd be hiking in the DARK!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ferrying Across Singapore Strait to Batam, Indonesia

My friend, Anne and I started our journey to Batam, Indonesia from TBS  also known as Terminal Bersepadu Sentral in Bandar Tasik Selatan. I love how modern and efficient the bus transport system is there. I could just simply buy a ticket to any part of West Malaysia at any counters in the station as ticketing is now centralized! A big plus for efficiency! Now everyone can "bus"! Ehh...

My friend and I bought return tickets to Larkin Johor Bahru for our first leg of the journey. Knowing that it takes about 5 hours to get there, we opted the midnight bus so that we can reach Johor by Subuh. And after Subuh prayers (there's a relatively large mushollah at Larkin Bus Station on the third floor), we'll catch the earliest ferry to Batam from Stulang Laut Johor Bahru ferry port.

Oh ya.. did you know that you could catch some eye-shut at Larkin's mushollah? There were many people sleeping there! Hahaha! You could also bath at the paid toilets there. If you don't fancy the food stalls found there, you can always opt eating at Pizza hut or KFC situated just a walking distance away.
Sunrise from Stulang Laut Johor Bahru, before boarding the ferry.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

10 Things To Do in Palembang Besides Shopping

I spent about four days in Palembang with no intentions whatsoever to go shopping. I didn't realize until just recently that I have many friends who lives in Palembang and I decided to pay them a visit. And while visiting, they introduced me to these spots below which I considered sharing with my blog readers.

1. Have lunch with a local... guy.. :P

It was not intended but I had to buy this poor lad a meal for helping to fetch me from the airport (arranged by a friend of mine who was out of town) and sending me to my friend's place!

Here's dedek Irwin, fresh from college. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kalibiru, at the Edge of the World

(continuing from the previous post here)

Our chat, weeks before my arrival in Jogjakarta...

Friend whom I had a crush on : Just list down the places you want to visit in Jogja.
Me : Dieng!
Friend : Dieng? Ok aja!

Our chat a day before my arrival...

Friend : We have to skip Dieng. It's raining and not advisable.
Me : ok #sadface
Friend : Where else? On Saturday, do you mind going to Kalibiru?
Me : Ok. I'll just follow whatever your plans are. :)

I googled Dieng... found pictures exactly like this one that I personally took. It was LOVELY! 
(Later we found out there were some landslides in the Dieng area and I was glad we didn't end up going there.)