The amazing view of Gem Island from Pulau Kapas

Pulau Kapas: the perfect Malaysian island to do nothing

When one thinks of a beach holiday in Southeast Asia, the usual suspects come to mind: Phuket, Bali, Koh Samui, or for those who stick to the regular backpacking circuit, Koh Phangan. Beaches in Malaysia usually come as an afterthought.

 

And when one finally does think about Malaysia, just about every other tourist ends up in Perhentian Islands, Langkawi or Sipadan in East Malaysia. As a local, I knew better but despite that fact, and having escaped to many islands on the east of Malaysia (not just the ones mentioned), Pulau Kapas was strangely never on my radar.

Read More
Hock Teik Cheng Sin, a Hokkien clan Temple in Lebuh Armenian, Penang

My German in-laws in Southeast Asia (Part 2)

Day 3-5: Penang

 

My mother-in-law looked pale as she made her way to the arrival hall of Penang International Airport. She still didn’t feel very well but decided that she couldn’t bear to stay another day in bed. Also she didn’t like the idea of us leaving them alone in Singapore, so she mustered all the strength she had to journey on with us.

Read More
food at Bendemeer Food Centre

My German in-laws in Southeast Asia (Part 1)

Sometime last year….

 

“The dinner at the restaurant was phwoar…horrible!” I shuddered at the thought of our dinner last night with some friends at an Asian restaurant nearby. “Don’t know how people can stomach that junk,” I said when my in-laws asked us how our dinner went over our weekly Sunday lunch.

 

“Really? But people like going there,” said my mother-in-law looking surprised. My in-laws’ idea of Asian food is limited to sushi, fried noodles and fried crispy duck over a steaming plate of rice with mixed vegetables on the side.  “Can the food really be so bad?”

 

Na klar. Wait till you come to Malaysia and I’ll show you the REAL deal,” I promised.

Read More
art and science museum singapore

Love in the time of skyscrapers and steel: Why I loved living in Singapore

Yes, I loved my time as an expat in Singapore. Didn’t expect to like it but I did. There, I said it.

 

Such a statement of affection coming from a Malaysian who’d spent most of her twenties exploring obscure nooks around the world might elicit some shocked gasps and widened eyes from some of you. You loved it? How? Wasn’t it boring and a little too orderly? Turns out Singapore can be exciting, if only we dig a little deeper.

 

Just the other day in Kuala Lumpur, amidst the noise and delicious smells of tandoori chicken, I suggested to a friend who was looking for potential places to move to, “What about Singapore?” She made a face and said, “No freaking way.”

Read More
adriatic coast croatia

An unexpected jewel along the Adriatic coast of Croatia: Lukovo Šugarje

August 2015

The first thing that came to mind, when we first caught a glimpse of the Adriatic Sea, was “Wow!” As the car turned at the bend of the road and trundled down the snaking mountainous roads of the Croatian coastline, we’d watched the glinting blue and emerald come into view.

 

Croatia, the country famed for its Game of Throne filming locations, is speckled with islands along the coastline. If you’re one of those who fantasize balmy days, stunning sunsets against sapphire waters and ancient walled towns, this country will make your fantasies a reality.

Read More
enjoying the sunrise from zipp bar gili air

6 Reasons Why We Love Gili Air

I’ve always left Gili Islands out of my to-go places in Indonesia simply because it hadn’t appealed to me as a solo backpacker. It had sounded very much like another fun Thai island like Ko Phangan or the sort of place that you’d prefer to take romantic sunset walks with a loved one. However, when it came to planning our honeymoon, Chris and I had thought it sounded perfect: neither of us had been there and we needed something nice and relaxing to cap off our Indonesian trip.

Read More
hatta island

Discovering Zen on Hatta Island (Banda Islands, Maluku)

We had our first run-in with bad luck on Hatta island. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little about Hatta island–the jewel of Banda Islands.

 

We’ve loved the looks on people’s faces when we tell them that we were going to the Banda Islands for our honeymoon.

 

Huh, where?

 

Eyebrows furrow and blank looks all around. One was even suspicious that I was actually pulling his leg.

 

No one has heard of the Banda Islands before. I don’t blame them. I didn’t too–until I ran a deep search about Indonesia’s lesser-known islands, especially the small ones that deliver huge rewards.

Read More
mount rinjani lombok from air

What the heck Lion Air: How We Almost Never Made It To Bali From Ambon

Indonesia is a beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Like a drug, I keep coming back to explore her mystical far-flung corners. Mostly untouched by mass tourism and usually promising a great deal of adventure, Indonesia can be so much fun but there’s often a price to pay.

 

The price is, you can never rely on its transportation network.

 

Maybe the ferry leaves today, maybe it doesn’t–Depends, the locals shrug. Maybe you lucky.

 

Sometimes, it isn’t only inefficient, it’s also dangerous. If I survive this taxi ride from Tulehu port to Kota Ambon, I’ll call my dad and tell him that I love him. These thoughts race through my head each time I find myself in a taxi or a minivan in Indonesia.

 

And the planes? Don’t get me started. Here’s our recent flight comedy of sorts with Lion Air at Ambon and Makassar airports.

Read More
Learning German in Jena

An epic guide: German Language Visa application to learn German in Germany*

*For Malaysians

For the life of me, if I don’t know why you’d want to learn German in the first place. It’s difficult (trust me, it is), it takes forever to master and it’ll take you a lifetime before you could pass off as a German native speaker. However, if you’re doing it out of love, for a university programme, or if you’re just plain masochistic, well then, where else would you rather learn German but in Germany? I don’t need to extol here the benefits of learning the language at the country of its origin and embracing the experience of living abroad so I’ll just get on right to how to go about applying for the German Language Visa.

 

First of all, if you find a programme that could be completed in three months, you could just sign up and learn it on a regular “tourist visa”. For Malaysians, we could enter and stay within the EU/Schengen zone  for 90 days within 180 days without a visa. Which means, you have 90 days to remain and travel freely within the Schengen area.

Read More
Waiting at bagan train station

How Travel Taught Me Minimalism

One morning, I’m flicking over one of the weekly shopping brochures. It is from a furniture store not too far away and a reasonable sized wardrobe caught my eyes. We’ve been looking for a wardrobe for a while now but due to our uncertainty over where we’ll be living in the future, we’ve been putting off the need to purchase one. But still, our makeshift wardrobes are now bursting at its seams. Out of sheer practicality, our situation is actually dire.

 

But my typical backpacker self thought instead: Do I need it? Would I die without it? Would my life change if I get one? Old habits die hard.

 

I’ve adopted this line of thinking for most of my time as a nomad. Buying large and expensive things fire off all sorts of cautionary alarms in me. What if I need to up and move again? What am I going to do with it? That’s why, up to this point in life, I’ve never had many possessions. And my need for a variety of clothes and accessories were minimal, so I never had to get a wardrobe. Ever.

Read More
Hamburg Lion King Theatre

What’s it like to watch Disney’s Lion King Musical in Hamburg

Chasing unconventional experiences is what I love best when travelling.

 

If you’ve an opportunity to do something different or unusual, you should always go for it.

 

The beauty of saying yes to a spontaneous and unusual experience somewhere foreign is always so much more memorable than going through a checklist of sightseeing spots. Like our attempt to catch a midnight movie in a cinema in Batam (but failed, because we fell asleep out of exhaustion in the hotel), watching the Valentine’s Day opera in Riga, and now, watching a famous Disney’s Lion King in Hamburg. In German.

 

Of course, this wasn’t as unplanned as the rest. The tickets to the musical was after all our wedding gift from our friends. But they must have known us well, to have gifted us with such a precious opportunity to do something completely different. I mean, they could have just bought us a kitchen appliance or simply cash, but no, these geniuses had other plans.

 

Read More
Page 1 of 41234