Two weeks more to New Mexico and New York!

Remember my solo trip to Japan? I remember it like it happened yesterday. All I have to do is close my eyes and travel through dust, colours, space and time to a breezy autumn day where I met a lovely couple in Otaru. Sometimes I believe the universe works in mysterious ways; a serendipitous meeting halfway around the world is one of them. I mentioned Ray and Satoko in my earlier post, they were the couple I explored Otaru with for an entire day after a fortuitous train ride.

I spoke about my fascination with the cosmos, planets, galaxies and above all, the simple pleasure of camping and stargazing – something Singapore will never offer. And he described the most beautiful skies from his porch and told me to plan for a trip to US next to visit him and Satoko. I politely acquiesced and put it out of my mind because I thought he was just being nice, you know, offer without any real intention of fulfilling it. How delightfully wrong I was!

In 2 weeks time, I’ll be flying over to New Mexico, Arizona to stay with Ray and Satoka-san. Words can’t adequately express my excitement. I’ll be hiking with them, and we’ll be camping outside their house to stargaze at night – which by the way is at the foot of Gila National Forest. More than three million acres of beautiful, rugged landscape and wilderness. It’s the heart of old country.

Part of my trip includes traveling back in time (no TARDIS or Dr Who), where outlaws and bounty hunters rained bullets on each other, leading or ending to epic victories and deaths. I believe I’ll be staying in Silver City where Native Indians prospered and thrived before their land was…taken. A famous Apache Indian Chief lived there, Geronimo. More of him later but Silver city, where Ray and Satoko live has the second highest population of Native Americans after Alaska, something which I am quite excited about.

I’ll also be visiting Tombstone, a place steeped in history as old as civilisation. One of the greatest gang fights took place at Tombstone, led by Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday against gunslinging frontier outlaws. Then off to Bisbee, and down to Gila National Park. I knew there was a reason I loved reading cheesy romance set during the civil war, deep in the south with cowboys, gunslingers, Native Indians, bounty hunters and lawmen in spurs. I fell in love with Regency romance after that, but I do have a soft spot for western historical romance. (Next year, to see England and Scotland, of course) I’ve stopped reading romance and returned to fantasy where dragons rule, but hey, once in a while, every girl deserves a non-committal fictional lover – minus the utter 50 shades of rubbish. Now that I’m done rambling…I can’t wait to walk the roads that Billy the Kid and his cronies ruled, and follow the footsteps of Wyatt Earp – metaphorically.

After a week of southern hospitality, I’ll be flying off to New York for a different kind of therapy. A peregrination of museums, parks, historical landmarks and…shopping and Broadway! Plus, I can’t wait to see The Cripple of Inishmaan; I’ve read such amazing reviews about Daniel Radcliffe’s performance and I’ll finally be 5 rows away from him. I can’t believe all these will happen in 2 weeks time. I’ve waited 8 months for this trip and I think Time is on a stately SLOW march, moving at a glacial pace. A good friend will be flying over from Singapore to meet me in New York and we’ll be having our first girls’ city trip together. It’s going to be great and I can’t wait to check out the scene; blues bars, live music, great food and to have a slice of the Big Apple.

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Day 3 – Oh, Otaru, how do I love thee

As I stood at the train platform waiting for the train to Otaru, I saw a man queuing up a few rows away (everyone forms a line to board the trains in Japan), and smiled at him. I thought he had the kindest face I’d seen in a while and also, he looked just like Jim Broadbent! If they ever need a double for Jim Broadbent, he’s the man.

I snapped a few pictures of the train parked across the platform. The Twilight Express is a thing of beauty. Coated in dark evergreen and gold typography, it looked beautiful outside and inside. It’s a sleeper train, and one day, I hope to travel in the Twilight Express – wherever it goes. (I just googled, and it’s the longest train ride in Japan from Osaka – Sapporo/22 hours – Woah nelly!) Think of a hotel that moves. I tried to snap a few shots of it before it started rolling away, and my JR Super Express screeched in the distance and appeared in front of me within seconds.

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Sorry for the bad quality, it was moving!

The ride to Otaru took us only about 30 minutes or so. I wasn’t paying attention to the time. Actually, the most beautiful part about a vacation is not having to keep track of the day/time (unless you’re rushing for the next train or something). I had honestly lost track of the days in Japan and for obscure reasons, I kept thinking everyday was either a Saturday or Monday in Japan.

I reached Otaru, and at this point had no idea of what I wanted to do, apart from visiting the Otaru Canal; and I didn’t know where exactly this canal was and what else to do. I had reasoned to myself that I could use the handy portable wi-fi to find my way around Otaru. I was walking across when a man asked me “And where are you from young lady”? and that fortuitous meeting is the highlight of my Japan trip. And although I’ve met superbly amazing people along the way, the meeting with Ray, Satoko-San and Ayana was a blessing. I spent the whole day with them, exploring charming Otaru and every little shop as we went by.

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Picturesque Otaru Canal

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A lone busker along Otaru Canal

Otaru is lined with shops boasting beautiful, delicate and pretty glassware from beer glass mugs to gorgeous plates and bowls. They come in all shapes and sizes, with intricate designs carved on them. 

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One of the biggest glassware shops

Another major tourist attraction is their music boxes. Dotted along the streets of Otaru are shops selling music boxes of all shapes, sizes and sounds. You’ll know you’re walking past the museum when you hear sweet tinkling sounds teasing your senses. 

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Otaru Music Box Museum

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Ancient gramophone (i think)

Ray’s from New Mexico, Arizona and his wife was originally from Sendai.  He’s the Chief of the Pharmaceutical department in Hillary Regional hospital in Silver City, but they come to Japan every year for a month to visit Satoko-san’s family, and to explore Japan as well. Ray’s a hilarious man, witty and full of jokes. He’d say something with a straight face, and I’d laugh out loud, whereas Ayana would look bewildered for a second before realising he was merely pulling a fast one on us!

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Looks a little like Jim Broadbent, doesn’t he? 🙂

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From left to right: Ayana, Satoko-san, Ray

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Us, just before sunset

Ray also made sure I never spent a single cent on food and kept saying “save your money for your trip”. I insisted that ice-cream was on me, and made sure everyone had an ice-cream! Apart from making me feel like one of them, he also had the warmest and kindest words to say. He said I had the most beautiful smile and that was one of the reasons why he even approached me! I really couldn’t think of what to say except thank you and told him the truth; that I smiled at him because he had the kindest face. Happy day, this 🙂  Every time I feel fugly or unworthy of anyone/anything, I’ll remember his kind words. I’m going to type this out, and will come back to read it whenever I need to. He had e-mailed me this.

“It was a wonderful day, better than I could expect when it started thanks to your beautiful mesmerizing smile, and charming personality. You are an absolutely exceptional gorgeous lady. One of the top 3 most beautiful and charming I have met in my life. I will send pictures and see you in New Mexico, and show you the time of your life.”

Yep, I am going to New Mexico next year to visit them. I can’t wait for summer ’14. His house is absolutely stunning; the view from his patio is picturesque and breath-taking. Saw pictures, just in case you’re wondering. Just thinking about it makes me happy!

 

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After sunset at Otaru before leaving this beautiful place

After we left Otaru, we headed back to Sapporo where they invited me over to their hotel room to check out the view of Sapporo – they live on one of the top floors with a ceiling to floor window – and it floored me. Ayana left as she had to work, but we went straight to the hotel bar on the topmost floor, chilled with a drink before I bade them goodbye with a mix of emotions. They’re really a wonderful couple; extremely kind and smart. I enjoyed talking to Ray about everything, ranging from U.S politics to camping and hiking. We’re keeping in touch through e-mails and it’s amazing to know I made a life-long friend on my solo adventure. 

Day 1 in Japan. Sometimes, I impress myself.

I’m a few days behind time because honestly I’ve been having too much fun! I’m at Osaka right now, but I’ve been scribbling away in my diary during my long bullet train rides (when I’m not too distracted by the beautiful views outside). Very looong entry coming up. Below is mostly rambles of my experience and of what I’ve observed thus far. And my writing isn’t linear. Too many randomness. 

Day 1 Ohayo, Japan

If anything can be said about the Japanese people, it’s just how precise they are with everything. Their trains are never late. Never. I learnt that on the first day. How? I missed my first train out of Narita to Tokyo. It had said Ikebukuro. I didn’t know that it was still bound for Tokyo. Plus, it had arrived early. I was expecting it to be on time. Not earlier. So lesson learnt. Because of that, I’ve also learnt how to read the train displays at the station. The Narita Express and Shinkansen trains are very sleek and comfortable with more leg space than the flight I took to Tokyo – which is saying a lot. I’m looking at ya, Scoot.

The train passed by many sleepy towns on the way to the city. Every small town in Japan has its quirks. They also looked exactly like the ones stacked beside one another.  Cookie cutter, except perhaps of a different roof colour. A lot can be said about uniformity here. It’s a conformed society. But I can’t say Singapore’s any different. Some houses have a dedicated tiny plot of land blooming with flowers right in front of the main door. Really pretty. The weather wasn’t as sunny as I expected in Tokyo. It was a pale grey, a little gloomy and the houses seem to blend in with the sad sky. I’ve noticed that most houses here look sad. Not a sad state, but a sad colour. Nothing ostentatious or loud. Beige or grey, and I think the rebels paint their houses a light blue,  but still hoping to blend in with the sky, being as inconspicuous as possible. Another thing I noticed – their cemeteries are always on a very very small plot of land normally beside a few homes. 

As I was jotting down notes in my diary, an European couple were in each other’s embrace. And then they were held by lovers gaze. Finally, they kissed. I couldn’t look at them without feeling a tinge of envy, and a slight pang of melancholy. I decided that only Mumford and Sons could make this weary, sad feeling go away (which was of course totally rubbish), I ended up with tears in my eyes. What was I thinking…going on a trip by myself. But this fleeting thought only lasted a few minutes. I’m on my fourth day in Japan, and I have to say, I love my company. 

I had my concerns about getting to Hakodate in one piece. I mean let’s face it. I get lost in Mustafa shopping centre. At 1.06pm, the train announcement advised passengers to be ready with their luggage and belongings. I jumped out the train as soon as it stopped – which can only be said as the stupidest thing to do when one is carrying a backpack that weights approximately 10kgs with a bad right knee. Anyway, I arrowed right for the intended platform, half surprising myself that I managed to figure it out without losing my way at all. Japan has certainly improved – the main stations have English information now. I’ve actually realised  that when you’re traveling alone, you’re so much more self-reliant, and observant, therefore, I impressed myself at not getting lost too often. I had 30 minutes to spare before boarding the much anticipated Shinkansen (this has been a childhood dream!), so I explored the underground shopping mall which is a sprawling underground complex. I trawled the food section, because I hadn’t had anything much to eat from the flight from Singapore itself. Got myself a riceball, a chicken stick and made my way to the platform. When my Shinkansen screeched in, with it’s hornet-green shark face zooming right past me, I was in awe. I tried snapping a few pictures, but because it ninja-ed by, the pictures have blurry effects; pretty neat. 

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The Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori

The Japanese are extremely prepared – they come in with food mostly bought from the stations, and as soon as the train moves off, they begin eating. In Singapore, you’ll be fined $5,00 for eating. Ridiculous government we have. But then again, the Japanese are extremely clean and conscientious. They carry their rubbish out and separate them, too. Plastic, paper, cans and others. I can’t say the same for most Singaporeans. I was dying for a cup of coffee and even contemplated stepping out quickly to get one from the vending machine but dismissed that dumb notion as soon as it popped into my mind. How on earth am I to catch a bullet train if it speeds by me as I’m deciding coffee with milk or without milk. But luckily, they have train attendants who push trolleys filled with food and drinks, so I bought coffee from her. Very Harry Potter-ish! This is all still very surreal for me…traveling in a Shinkansen. Never thought I’d do it! 

And halloooo Hakodate!

After a long, bone-weary journey, I made it to Hakodate in one, albeit, tired-piece. My host (and also the owner of the inn!) Susumu-San, upon hearing that I was only staying the one night at Hakodate, quickly said that he’ll drive me around Hakodate to show me some of its beautiful sights. As tired as I was (also had a migraine), I didn’t have the heart to say no. Two reasons. It would’ve looked very rude, the man was offering to drive me around at no costs, purely out of the kindness of his heart, and 2nd, I wanted to see Hakodate- had intended on seeing it until I realised the journey took 8-flipping-hours. So I happily agreed. Plus, the cold breeze helped a lot and I needed to stretch my legs, too. He drove me to Mount Hakodate, something I would’ve had to pay to get up, and apart from that, take a bus to the ropeway. Susumu-san also drove me to a spot where the Sea of Japan could be heard (too dark at night) crashing against the shoreline. He told me that the bright spots far away at sea were ships/vessels catching squid. The lights attract plankton, the plankton attract squids, and that’s how we get our calamari 😀  I also learnt that Hakodate’s official logo is a squid. We drove back at around 12.30am where I crashed immediately. 

So far every Japanese has been extremely helpful and polite. In my diary, I had written down “I hope my lucky streak continues” and I can only say so far I’ve been super lucky, blessed and happy. Sapporo has been the highlight of my trip so far, though my one night stopover in Tokyo was crazzyyyyyy! Heard of Kagaya, anyone? Yeah…that crazy awesome izakaya. More on that later! Also, I met an amazing couple at Sapporo and next year, I’ll be visiting them at New Mexico for a camping trip! More on that soon.. I’m off to bed. I plan on going to Nara tomorrow! But I have so much to say – so much I really want to continue typing…oh..heard there was a typhoon in Osaka, a few hours before I arrived >.< 

7 days to my solo Japan trip

Life has a way of always keeping us on our toes. Just like the ever capricious weather, and if you’re not prepared, let me quote Game of Throne: a storm is coming. What initially started out as two girls venturing out to Japan has now turned to 1 girl’s solo trip to Japan. I would be lying if I said I’m not worried, but I’m more excited about it now than I was about the trip earlier. My friend backing out last minute means I get travel alone. I was looking for an adventure, but I guess it found me first. Well played, Adventure, well played.

These few nights my thoughts have been mutinously terrorised by vivid images taken right out of a Japanese thriller; Japanese police finding my cold, lifeless body on the freakishly clean road, turning into a Japbo (like hobo) because of frivolous stationery shopping, or losing my way in their massive labyrinth of a subway that is actually the Arena of the Hunger Games, and because I’m handicapped (keyword: suck at map-reading) with maps, I’ll never be able to find the Cornucopia, and finally my emaciated body will be collected by a Hovercraft. Every night brings new and exciting scenarios, my heart rate fires up and I can only hope that I’m at least burning some calories while I hyperventilate.

Apart from all the dramatic endings of my abridged existence, I’m really excited about my trip now than I was before. My friend backing out last minute means I get travel alone, and may I just say this “OMG I’M GOING TO JAPAN AND I’M FLYING SOLO THIS TIME!!!!!” Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my pulsating (that sounds wrong) chest, I shall try to maintain some composure.

Initially, the plan was to travel further up north to Kamikawa from Sapporo, but because I’ll be traveling alone now I decided to drop that plan. I mean if someone had to find my body, I rather not have it decomposed beyond recognition and Kamikawa gives the impression that lost things will remain…lost. Honestly, I was looking towards a bit of trekking, but I’ve never been to Sapporo before this, and 4 days will allow me to explore the biggest city in Hokkaido. After that it’s back to Tokyo and Osaka, cities created for peregrination.

Any country that you’ve visited before in the company of people becomes an unchartered territory full of mysteries when you brave it alone. When you travel alone, you’re free from distractions presented by your company. You pay scant attention to the country’s personality when you’re with a group. The quirks of its people and its stray animals, the graffiti on the walls, the roads and the cars and everything else that is imbued within the country is lost when you’re busy discoursing on a cultural hype you walked by. I was going to say Gangnam Style. I stopped to berate myself. Something as shitty as that in Japan? The Japanese will sooner choke on kimchi! Wait… hmm. This is something I’m definitely looking forward to. I cannot wait to stumble upon hidden cafes, old curio shops and meandering alleyways.

As one of the leaders and pioneers in Innovation and Technology, Japan is undoubtedly a powerhouse of R&D. It is the only country in the world that relies heavily on industrial robot workers. But I’ll be remiss if I did not mention that what drives them to this prestigious rank is steeped in tradition. The Shinto followers believe that any object, animate or inanimate possesses a living soul or spirit. Tradition, culture, heritage, religion permeate everything we see in Japan. I love how philosophical this is as well. One cannot co-exist without another. I’ll stop this drivel before I digress into my love of science and belief in God!

So 7 more days into the land of the rising sun, the heart of Ghibli (which I’m desperately trying to get tickets now), yummy ramen and calorie-laden desserts.

10 things I wish someone told me when I was 18

1. Map out a simple career plan (or goals) It’ll get you started. And let that plan guide you. Remember the episode in Seinfeld, where George Costanza walked out on his job, and had no idea what to do next? That is terrifying! Seriously, start thinking about what you plan to do for the better part of your life. Or, you’ll end up wasting thousands of dollars getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology, wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do with it. It’s ok to switch jobs; I’ve done that a few times (4 to be exact). But I was always sure about what I eventually wanted to do. It’s scary when a friend tells me they’ve no idea what they want to do. They drag themselves to work each day. The last time that happened I left my job. No, wait. They fired me. And I’m glad they did. I’m much happier!

2. Your first love is called first, because there will be others. Unless you’re really, really (feel free to add a few more lucky(s)) lucky, you’ll have your heart broken a few times, and mauled beyond the ability to feel. A few damned times. So, don’t fall too hard for the next guy/girl too quickly. Also, be honest and identify what went wrong and you’ll be a better partner for the next one. If you’re over analysing things, stop. If you have low self-esteem, don’t get into a relationship until you learn to love yourself. It’s not fair to project those fears on the person you’re with either, right?

 3. Brains > Beauty 
Looks matter, but it shouldn’t take over your life in any wayAnd almost everyone looks awkward with a bad haircut before hitting 21 – unless your mum is Gwen Stefani, you will resemble one of the ugly step-sisters from Cinderella.  It’s about carrying yourself well. Who said you had to look like Scarlett Johansson (I love her – but I’m not aspiring to look like her) or one of the VS angels. It’s THEIR jobs to resemble sticks on stilts! Putting in an effort to look and feel good reflect a lot about how you view yourself; it’s self worth and it’s telling in the way you carry yourself. If you feel like a prize, you also act like a prize and people will treat you like a prize. You can be 20 kgs overweight, and still look good.

4. Words can be poisonous. You will let someone’s words get to you, and it’s ok to feel shitty about yourself when that happens. A lot of motivational quotes advise us not to let others get to us. But sometimes our walls crumble. We are thinking, feeling creatures. I think the key is to not take it too personally, and get over it as fast as you can, before it causes too much damage. Do whatever you have to. Torture your best friend, by talking about it like a broken recorder for the next 2 weeks. That’s what friends are there for. To remind us why they love us. Repay in kind when they need your listening ear. Took a 5 point damage to your armour? It’s good practise. This way, you’ll actually realise that your colleague’s scathing remark about your deformed feet sounds like a compliment! And while I’m at it, it’s worth remembering that we could be someone else’s personal nightmare. Therefore, be nice.

5. Always pick your battles. ALWAYS. This is one lesson I learnt the hard way. It applies to everything; your personal and professional aspects of your life. I know people say relationships get stronger after arguments. That’s true. But too many fights can wear the strongest relationship down. If it isn’t important, take the high road. Fight if you must. But fight to stay together, not push each other away. Fighting brings out the worst in ourselves, and oftentimes, you can never take back the words once they’re spoken. And sometimes, your significant other will never let it go. He’ll never talk about it, but it’ll always be there, at the back of his mind.

6. Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you have to spend it. I wish I had listened to my parents with this piece of advise. Easy to say, hard to do. We never fully appreciate this until we’re old enough. Right?

7. Invest in GOOD bras and panties. Ladies, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of wearing the right bra. Get yourself fitted by the boutique assistant, and try to buy a new bra every month, until you have at least 6 good ones for daily wear. Lingerie for sexy time doesn’t really count, because let’s face it; we wear it for them to take it off (and when we do take it off, we want to look good naked when everything is hanging loose) ;D But the one closest to your skin for at least 8 hours; invest in a bra/undie that lifts and supports. I’m a Wacoal convert, and my only regret is not investing in it sooner. Urgh.

8. Don’t be a tourist, be an explorer. Travel and explore as much as you can, and never rely on travel books for the “next hot cafe” or “best beach in Thailand” You know how that turns out right? It stinks. The Internet is a better place to turn to for information before setting forth. Discover your own favourite secret spots by getting lost. I’ve never regretted getting lost when I was overseas. But please don’t start exploring at 3am in the morning. That’s tempting fate. I once went around Bangkok in a taxi for an hour around 11pm, because I kept telling my cabbie, “Sukhothai” instead of Sukhumvit. Sukhothai is a flight away. Genius, right? Sleep deprivation does that. That night also turned out to be a surreal experience, complete with an explosion that caused a huge fire, and we lost a bag of dirty clothes. See? Priceless memories and stories to tell. Get lost today. The best experiences are the random ones. I can’t wait for my Japan trip!

9. Do something new, even if it isn’t the most exciting thing.  Pick up a hobby, start writing, go to pottery classes, or sway to some good music. Stimulate those brain cells. Don’t vegetate too much in front of the television, no matter how tempting that sounds. It makes you more interesting and you’ll appreciate this skill when you meet people. And the chances of meeting new people? So much higher when you do something new like signing up for AA (I kid…I kid…). It doesn’t get better than this. I plan on picking up a foreign language soon. I’ve been procrastinating for a while. Once I’m back from Japan, I’m signing up for either French or Italian. I can’t wait!

10. Everyone will tell you what to do, but there’s only one chair in the cockpit, and that chair has YOUR name on it. How you live your life is fully in your control. You don’t need to justify your actions to anyone but yourself. Disclaimer: This does not apply to criminals, ok? When people say “I don’t have a choice”, I wonder what they really mean. Because there’s always a choice. It may not always be the choice you want or like, but when that happens, suit up and take charge. In the end, do what you think is right. If it feels right to you, and you feel good about it, chances are, you’re on the right track. We do make our lives.
And… I’m off to bed.

A rustic Batam trip

Over the weekend, a friend and I decided to sail (ferry across) to Batam. I had two reasons to go: one was to lie limply on a hard bed while the masseuse made me squirm in pain for 90 minutes. I will never understand how some can fall asleep under such conditions; I can only assume pain is pleasure for some. The only thought that was running through my mind was, “I am one with the pain” over and over again. There was no fooling my brain, and there was no drifting off into a state of bliss for this girl.

The second objective was to see if this friend and I could travel together. I decided rather quickly that I’d never be able to tolerate her for over 4 hours. I should’ve known this, since we’ve been friends for over 4 years, but she’s always going on about how I don’t travel with her, so I decided to take a chance.

  1. I love exploring. She loves taking pictures of her food.
  2. I don’t like shopping.
  3. I can walk hours under the sun, exploring the city. She can walk for hours in a shopping mall.
  4. I don’t assume every local is out there to get me. They have their lives to live.
  5. I’m independent. I don’t mind splitting up and regrouping later. She needs to do everything together.

She’s a close friend and a genuinely great person, but we also share different interests, beliefs and opinions. I also think our friendship is important, and it doesn’t make it any less amazing just because she’s not travel-friendly for me. Like-minded souls will get along with her fabulously. I’m also rather picky when it comes to traveling companions. I need someone who finds the night sky as awe-inspiring as I do.

The place we stayed at was slightly dilapidated, but if you love rustic wooden huts surrounded by trees, you’ll like it. There’s nothing much to do once you step out, because it’s in the middle of nowhere and hiking was out of the question, simply because I wasn’t with an adventurous soul and she’d get offended if I left her for a few hours. There was a Guan Yin temple right beside the resort, but we didn’t manage to go in because we had very little time. However, I did manage to murmur a small prayer of thanks as we drove past.

Something interesting happened during our stay, though.I kinda gatecrashed a Hare Krishna ceremony. I lingered outside, until a lady came out and ambushed her when she went to the loo. I just wanted to know what was happening.

She told me it was a Hare Krishna event and invited me to join; which I happily accepted and skipped merrily inside. Before going further, I must say this. I had no idea that Hare Krishna is an organisation that believes Lord Krishna is the supreme god above all other gods. As a non-practicing hindu, but very much proud of my religion and culture, I found this a little disconcerting.

I witnessed the Hare Krishnas at the peak of their mantra, the tempo was getting higher and faster. The lights were off, there was a small fire in front of a Krishna statue, and two priests singing and around 30-40 adults with cute children singing/dancing happily, chanting. They asked me to stay for a while more and I was tempted to, but I couldn’t, because my friend was outside waiting. It was all new to me. I didn’t expect to walk right into a Hare Krishna prayer in a Batam resort, so that definitely was an experience. I also didn’t know Hare Krishnas had a bad rep of sorts for proselytizing. Hinduism usually doesn’t have such demands, so I was a little surprised after reading up on their beliefs. But nonetheless, I had witnessed something beautiful and it was all in good faith.

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We stayed in one of these

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Snapped during our spa session

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Enjoying a cuppa Kopi Luwak

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My city’s skyline is distinct even from Batam.