With The Power Of A Minus 7.5 Glasses

.. plus 2 cylinder

Bangkok – Part 1

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Previously on NG2013: Pre-departure

Rika Potter has waved her wand and I am spell-bound to finish the November Getaway 2013 series (or at least write this post).

9 Nov

 

CGK-BKK

On my birthday I hopped on a 4.35 PM plane to Bangkok. The flight from Jakarta took about 3.5 hours and there was no time difference between the two cities (GMT+7). This time the pilot did not make birthday announcement on the plane. Phew!

Soekarno Hatta and Suvarnabhumi International Airport

After obtaining visa on arrival and meeting with the travel mate whose flight from Singapore was one hour earlier than mine, we took  the City Line train to Phaya Thai station (45 THB). There were 2 train lines heading to the city and the other one, the Express Line, was the expensive one.

To The City!

Exiting from Phaya Thai station and out into Bangkok street at night I was feeling.. that particular mix.. excited and scared at the same time. Not that I didn’t feel it from the time the travel plan started but up until Phaya Thai station it was kinda bit dreamy and also everything seemed to be no different than my daily routine when I knew exactly where to go and how to. But when I was outside the station, trying to get a taxi to the Happy House, it seemed reality pinched me in the cheek and said: let the journey begin!

City Line token

So the journey began with waiting for the right taxi, that is the taxi that was willing to take us to our stay using meter. My guide book said that most taxis would use meter.. not! Within minutes I could see how it was done in that spot: flagging down taxi, asking to use meter, getting a no answer, giving the destination place, haggling for the fare, if deal – getting in, if no deal – back to step 1.

It was not like there was shortage of taxi there, the travel mate and I had been flagging several taxis in just few minutes before we decided to get in the next taxi that would agree on 150 THB (the guide book said going places in the city usually costs 60-100 THB).

To Happy House Hou!

Mr. Taxi Driver that agreed to take us did not speak that much of English and kept asking to see the map and address on the hostel booking print out. The hostel was supposed to be near the famous backpacker street, Khao San Road, but it seemed Mr. Taxi Driver didn’t recognize it.

He asked fellow local for direction, ‘Happy hou, happy hou’! while I whispered the ‘s’ ending inside my head. (Note: it seemed in the three countries that I visited, the local tends to omit the ‘s’ at the end of an English word).

Somewhere along the way Mr. Taxi Driver pointed to a group of people in the street and said ‘Mob! Mob!’ Then I saw what would be the reason why most taxi drivers were a bit reluctant to drive to our area. I knew that there was a demo going on in Bangkok before I left but my searches told me that it was on other side of city so I assumed they were not in my route and certainly I didn’t expect them to still have activities past the sunset!

Anyway, the mob/demo seemed to be a peaceful one that night and we safely checked in into Happy Hou. This is the end of day 1… not!

To Khao San Road!

Happy Hou was within 5 minutes walking distance of Khao San Road and that’s good because I found several accommodations on Khao San Road and I wondered how the guest could sleep at night (well, they probably didn’t). This crowded street is a line of restaurants and bars with loud music, travel agents, massage spots, clothes/souvenir sellers and food sellers.

Khao San Road

Khao San Road

Some street food sellers, snack and heavy meal sellers alike, didn’t have sitting area so people would buy and eat it while walking. I finally got to taste Pad Thai in its original place and leisurely enjoyed it sitting down on the floor in front of one closed store. A beer seller girl who had just set up her stall in front of us chatted us a bit, telling that she was from outside Bangkok. She offered drinks to which we politely declined and then we continued strolling down the busy street.

People of all ages were having fun along this street. Yes, I spotted families with kids at approaching midnight hour. I saw man dancing solo to the song played in one bar and people around him laughing and clapping his performance.

I saw lines of beach chairs full of foreigners enjoying massage outdoor (I was tempted to snap a picture but didn’t want to make them feel like they were some kind of tourist attraction. Well, they were kinda to me haha).

I saw people staring at exotic food, like scorpion, and apparently I was not that adventurous enough to try it. Taking picture cost 10 THB. I was kinda hoping to see people who bought and tasted the food, to see their reaction but I found none that night. And I saw KFC and Burger King (the latter was recently open).

Khao San Road

First Supper!

The street next to Khao San Road was still alive at midnight as well. This street whose name is still unknown to me had restaurants and bars as well but the music was not as loud as those in the neighbor street. We picked a random restaurant and had Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam) and Tom Yum for supper. I didn’t know that unripe papaya could be that delicious and refreshing! You shouldn’t go into that ripe state, Papaya, just die young (in my stomach) and stay yummy in my memory.

First Supper

Tummy’s full and the battery’s low. Time to head to bed in Happy Hou. Good night, Bangkok, see you later.

Plan: arrive in Bangkok Reality: arrive in Bangkok, Khao San Road 

Written by Elfira Y S

December 14th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

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November Getaway 2013

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Welcome to my second post in 2013! Mwahaha.

So. This post is going to be the first of a series of me babbling about my latest getaway, the November 2013 getaway! Tadaaa..

November Getaway 2013

The text in the travel book cover is NG2013 in summary: Bandung – Jakarta – Bangkok – Siem Reap – Saigon – Singapore – Bandung, 9 – 18 November 2013. This post will note the predeparture stories. Without further ado..

First: Tickets

This year I got long service leave (a whole month off yay) and I chose to take it in my special month, November.

I’ve always been that person who likes to plan something for own birthday. In high school I saved up my allowance to buy the complete series of Shoot manga. But when I bought Tigerair’ JKT-BKK ticket for Nov 9, it was not a special birthday plan, it was because the fare was the cheapest that day.

I actually wanted to avoid flying on my birthday because last time, the first time I ever travelled on the day, the airline pilot announced it and the crew congratulated me and gave me a birthday card signed by them. This happened up in the air so I couldn’t run away or pretend that I wasn’t the birthday girl.

Lucky last time I was with this guy so the awkward level could be toned down a bit I think. This time I will fly solo and if they don’t have any gift card to please me, please please don’t call my name I pray.

Anyway, on one July night I dreamt of going solo travelling that involves road trip abroad and before I knew it, I was browsing through budget airline websites and feeling this urge to get these 3 tickets:

  1. Tigerair Jakarta – Bangkok 9 Nov
  2. Tigerair Ho Chi Minh City – Singapore 17 Nov
  3. Airasia Singapore – Bandung 18 Nov

Tickets I bought and a happy girl I was. Then I’d just have to figure out how to get to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) from Bangkok. Oh the excitement!

Second: The Planning

I put Siem Reap as a stop between Bangkok and Saigon. I wanted to see the famous Angkor Wat. So my early searches was on how to do land trip Bangkok-Siem Reap and then Siem Reap-Saigon.

Siem Reap – Saigon was resolved almost immediately thanks to the lost wanderer who had taken bus trip Saigon – Siem Reap. For Bangkok – Siem Reap I meant to follow this guide.

Third: Changes to Plan

Before the trip even started there were already changes. First, I got a travel mate so it wouldn’t be a solo travelling anymore. This change was very much welcome. I was a bit scared going on a road trip alone.

The second change gave a dent to my budget plan. When my friend and I were going through the travel plan, I found out that the bus service that’s supposed to take us from Siem Reap to Saigon had announced on their web that they would not be operating on our travel dates due to the Bon Om Touk, one of the biggest national celebrations in Cambodia.

After considering several options (one of them was to take boat trip from Siem Reap to Pnom Penh to see the festival but how to get to Saigon?), we purchased flight tickets from Cambodian Angkor Air. You know what, the price of this one ticket one hour trip equals to about 80% of the sum of my other 3 tickets! Lalalala..

Fourth: All Set, sort of

On Nov 7 skype call with the travel mate, I believe we had covered about 60-70%-ish of our trip plan. I tried to create an hourly schedule but soon I got bored. At that time I might have felt there were still holes, like several how to get there etc, but I didn’t really want to do one more travel related googling. Just get me on the plane already!!

Money

I had in me 6500 THB, 500 USD, and 60 SGD (the travel mate had my 170 USD since I used my credit card for the Siem Reap – Saigon ticket). They didn’t sell VND here in Bandung.

Luggage

Oh the hell with travelling light haha.. Easy to say, difficult to execute. Next time I MUST bring fewer clothes. Just buy on destination or use the laundry service. I brought Eiger Lavost 5.1.2 50 L backpack, one shoulder bag, and one folded bag. I should really have to go on another trip if it’s only just to improve my packing and shopping skill alalalala..

The original schedule
9 Nov night – arrive in Bangkok 10 Nov – Chatuchak Weekend Market, malls at Siam Square, Siam Niramit show 11 Nov – Grand Palace, Wat Arum, Wat Pho, Cloud 47 12 Nov – land trip to Siem Reap 13 Nov – Angkor National MuseumPhare Circus 14 Nov – Angkor Complex 15 Nov – flight to Saigon, Golden Dragon Water Puppet 16 Nov – Chu Chi Tunnel half day tour, XO Night Tour 17 Nov – flight to Singapore, Bras Basah, Red Dot Design Museum, Orchard 18 Nov – flight to Bandung
Several things took different turns of course but let’s leave it for another posts~~ *hope I can finish this series, fingers crossed lalala~

Written by Elfira Y S

December 1st, 2013 at 3:01 pm

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親愛なる君へ

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[Copy paste. Love this song so much. Though I don’t have the skill to comprehend the lyrics (yet :P), but I’ll trust on the google result I found.]

 

悲しくないわけじゃないの 誰にも言わずにいただけ 「私、大人なんだから」

誰も傷つけないよう そうよ、笑って振る舞えるわ 「私、大人でしょ?」

強がらずに生きてくには その手にすがればよかっただけなのに 上手に泣けないでいる君へ

君が幸せでありますように 私が心から想ってるわ 君が幸せでいてくれるなら 私もね、強がって生きるわ

繋ぎとめるためになんて 涙は流したくない 「もう、大丈夫よ」

おかしいでしょ 見え見えの 悲しいくらいの嘘を わざと(ついて) 笑顔(つくる) そういう生き物よ

振り返らず生きてくには 何かを忘れてゆくものなのに 素直に泣けないでいる君へ

君が幸せでありますように 私が心から想ってるわ 出逢うことなどなくたっていい この地球(ほし)の何処かにいるから

その理想を捨てきれず雨に打たれ Deeply Deeply Deeply Deeply そこから 何かがまた始まるわ

君が幸せでありますように 私が心から想ってるわ 君が幸せでいてくれるなら 私もね、歩いてゆけるわ

君が幸せでありますように この地球(ほし)の何処かで想ってるわ 出逢うことなどなくたっていい 胸張って強がって生きましょう

-何処かにいる親愛なる君-

Written by Elfira Y S

May 18th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

2012

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It’s been a very long year. It’s been quite some time since I talk about feeling in this blog so just skip this haha. It will be just me rambling. You’ve been warned.

When do I get here? It’s like there’s this invisible line and suddenly it’s difficult just to wake up day by day. That’s an overstatement of course. There were still those days which I could not wait to start. I’m grateful that this year I get enough of those moments to help me get through. Well, I’m sure that’s probably what happened to people, there are ups and downs et cetera et cetera.

I took one month unpaid leave at office. And right before the time I had to go back to work, I failed another scholarship attempt (I thought I’d get used to the feeling but hell no!) I got to see Jason Mraz live performance again, awesome night. I scored my first fiction translation project (and I’m currently on my first non-fiction translation project).

The number of my working day this year is the lowest since I started working because in addition to one month unpaid leave, I took a lot of sick leaves and I used all my annual leaves before the end of the year. And it’s not for fun reason, I didn’t travel this year. I’m glad that it’s over and it arrived at a good end.

I might not have expressed enough gratitude for the help and support from my A+ for this. If any of you read this, thank you. I was not even the main character of the whole thing but it did hit me quite hard. Thank you for being there, for the ears and shoulders, for the kind words, for all running-away sessions. I hope I can return the favor, not that I want any of you to fall into a pit or something like that but I’d like to remind you over and over again that for you guys, everything is always above 8. ;)

What else, what else? Oh, I love my November 9 this year (and year before that -Mraz!- and year before that -forget!- and year before that -Lombok!- and year… oh, you know, it’s Nov 9 :D). I think that’s all I want to share so let’s end this post with picture of this handsome little fellow, meet Benjy:

Benjy, si bule

 

And hm, I think I’ve got a busted heart, hehe.

Written by Elfira Y S

December 31st, 2012 at 12:26 pm

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Review: Tears of the Giraffe

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Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2)Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book of the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I borrowed it from Adhit. I chose this book from his list because I wanted something light and fresh. Fresh means that I haven’t read the synopsis or anything that can lead me to knowing what the book is all about.

I got something fresh indeed. The book introduces me to Botswana through the eyes of Mma Ramotswe, Mr. J.L.B Matekoni and several other characters. It is not a pure detective story because it mixes the case with personal life of the lady detective and people around her. That, I think, is one of the difference with the other novel books in which the detective does not seem to have a life outside solving cases after cases.

Though that point makes this book closer to reality, I still don’t know where I stand on the pure heart of good people of Botswana. The good people seem flawless, kind-hearted, and polite even in their mind. It could be that I am one who’s corrupted, can easily get selfish thoughts creeping in my mind. It could be that the Botswana’s good values are deeply rooted in the heart of her people. Of that, I’d like to know more.

I actually wanted to go to the Book Depository and ordered all thirteen books in this series after reading about 20 pages. But I am aware I can be impulsive so I decided to wait until I have finished reading. And now that I have, I’m happily waiting for four books of these series flying home to my shelve. :D

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Written by Elfira Y S

September 29th, 2012 at 4:46 pm

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Gone With The Wind, Part 2

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I actually read the 9 chapters in part 2 faster than part 1 and this post has been sitting as a draft for a week! But first, thanks again to mbak Fanda at Fanda Classiclit blog for hosting this read along. I’ve enjoyed reading the update posts of other participants and I’m guessing this read along will not be the last on my reading life.

 

Spoiler alert~

Written by Elfira Y S

September 29th, 2012 at 11:30 am

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Gone With The Wind, Part 1

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This is my first fiction read along and I’m glad I found this event at Fanda Classiclit blog (thank you for hosting this, mbak Fanda!).  Gone With The Wind is famous, famous for what I honestly didn’t know haha. I have never tried to find the movie or the book or even the synopsis of the story. I guess it’s time to find out why and good thing there’s this reading along because this novel is 993 pages long (e-book version from Green Light publisher, only 0.99 USD at Kobo! xD)

Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler

A lot of them. Because I just want to note my impression of the first 7 chapters of the novel. Check out fellow readers’ updates here. :D

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Elfira Y S

September 15th, 2012 at 11:14 am

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Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Halfway through this book I was thinking that this book got a bit of Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. Both books allow the readers to get to know one special boy through his stories and his thoughts. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie, the main character, writes letters to a stranger during his first year of high school.

I love it that the story is built so smoothly that I didn’t even realize that Charlie was special until I had read about 4 or 5 of his letters? I don’t know the exact number because the subtlety worked so well for me.

Charlie’s letters are beautifully written and they show what kind of person Charlie is. If I can choose 3 adjectives, they would be pure, selfless, and humble. While from the outside he could be perceived as weird or freak, but knowing him little by little, I can’t help but symphatize and feel ache when he on one of his breakdowns wished someone to tell him what’s wrong with him.

Just tell me how to be different in a way that makes sense. To make this all go away.

The book is divided into 4 parts, one for each season I guess, and an epilogue. I got carried away with my speculation and comparison with Haddon novel so the epilogue left me a bit surprised. I can’t wait to see the movie adaptation that will come out around September this year. Hope it will be as sweet as the book! Oh, one more thing, I’m glad I chose this book as my first ebook purchase for my Sonel, a Sony PRS-T1~

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Written by Elfira Y S

August 11th, 2012 at 11:21 pm

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Written by Elfira Y S

July 13th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

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Review: Laika

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Laika Laika by Nick Abadzis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the story of a Russian dog sent to the earth orbit in Sputnik II, Laika (lit. the barker). The story was sad but that’s what happened in a real life. I feel like it’s a story of helpless, trapped characters.

There was a chief designer who was forced to answer his leader wish to launch something into space in a month time, the team who had to make adjustments here and there and decided to not include the return-to-earth plan, the dogs carer/instructor who knew a little too late about the whole plan and had nothing on her hand to stop it, and of course Laika who could not do anything but to submit to whatever mankind had decided to do with her life.

Throughout the story, I also gradually became helpless, I found it hard to blame anybody. The nearest person I’d like to curse might be the chief designer. The leader? I stay away from him, they’re Russian. But then again the chief designer was just doing what he had been told to. And it was not just that, before he was a chief designer, he was wrongly accused and got prisoned. He struggled through hard times but he didn’t give up. I like how he kept reminding himself by saying: “I will not die. I am destined to be somebody big. I will not die” (pardon my sentences, I read the Indonesian translation and have not checked the original edition). That’s how the opening goes, him walking in a stormy night trying to get to Moscow with a hope to get his name cleared.

Laika’s life before Sputnik II is also portrayed in a way that I root for the dog because of her patience. She was loved of course, she was told to be one special dog. But she also managed to keep running into people who wanted to hurt her (can I count the Sputnik team in?). What mesmerized me was Laika seemed to keep her faith in kindness and in human. Is it because she is a dog? But I’ve seen dogs in Dog Whisperer TV shows that got traumatized. Or maybe because it’s just a graphic novel and the author got to decide? I don’t know, I haven’t yet to find out how deep the author’s research for this novel.

More heartwrentching point? There’s a quote from the chief designer at the end of the novel. He said that the information gathered from the Sputnik II launch was not significant. It didn’t have contribution to the first human trip to space that happened 4 years after Sputnik II. At this point, the for-science excuse immediately faded away and the unforgiving thought in my mind wondered if Laika died to only fulfill the leader’s wish.

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Written by Elfira Y S

July 8th, 2012 at 11:56 am

Posted in my bookshelves