Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tamparuli Acoustic Getaway 2015 @ Borneo Orchard House

There is no right answer to camping, but yes.

Except. Well, okay I'll tell you about it later... 

Safuan and his friends (righfully called The Happen Makers) organised a Tamparuli Acoustic Getaway, which literally means an acoustic getaway at the beautiful Borneo Orchard House.

This is genius.

There were a few things, the fact that it's a musical weekend getaway and that us ladies are finally going camping together.... meant it was going to be nothing but fun. I invited Jessy along and we all drove to Tamparuli together :)

The last time I was in Tamparuli was a couple of years ago for Kiulu white water rafting. It's good to be back, but this time, the bridge had a very National Geographic feel to it; yellow frame and all. The girls were snapping away, it was too hot for me to comprehend so some of us stood by the stalls imagining how it would be like for drunkards to drink and drive near that bridge with no barricade around it.

That would be interesting. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Work/ Play in Kuta

Right after Siem Reap, I flew into Bali for work.

I was very excited to go back to Bali now that this time to Kuta.

My previous visit to Bali was a very leisure trip, one I spend on my own resting, reading and taking time to see the cultured things that make up Bali. I stayed in Ubud, didn’t move an inch while I was in Ubud, and didn’t even bother to explore any other place except... for Tanah Lot.

Now that I’m back!! And in the infamous Kuta!!

I stayed in the newest Starwood property in Indonesia; Four Points by Sheraton Bali Kuta. I’ve worked with them previously and was just so excited to meet the awesome people behind this beautiful property.

Look at how beautiful this hotel is. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Petite Temple Suite Spa; Tropical pool, in-room massages and colourful breakfast

I was on overdrive from July to October, between the opening of the new restaurants, and volunteering in events, and the newfound passion with mum. There’s something going on every-day between these, family and friendships right up till October.

So this quarter, I decided to focus more on my first love, BLOGGING! 

This isn’t a travel blog, it just so happen that I feel most inspired to write after going to different places. This time, I want to share with you about my recent family trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have never felt so … luxurious in any of my trips before, and this was that one that was. And we weren’t even spending money like water, it was just – that we had a good hotel, it was more laidback and relaxed. I am always so … “particular” about my budget when it comes to traveling, I’m not thrifty, I just like to make sure that what I’m buying is good value for money.

Before going to Siem Reap I spent my weekends trying to figure out “what kind of vacation this will be”. Siem Reap is voted as the no1 destination in the world in 2015 from Tripadvisor, and I’ve read numerous reviews and write-ups about Siem Reap to make my decision easier. And the fact that I had exerted myself the past few months – means it’s going to be ALL LEISURE.

Leisure starts with accommodation. 

Temple Running (with slippers and a 60 year old)

That disclaimer needs to come first because the idea of temple running is often associated with the impossibility for someone older (like my mum in this case) and it's often so overwhelmed with the idea of being young, tough and rough, having the right kits and the right shoes (unless you're in a huge tour group). Whoever invented this image?

Well, we did it with me on slippers (although I must say, not recommended though) and mum joining in.

Of course we didn't do ALL the temples in the Angkor Wat Central, in fact we only chose 4 from the selection. We wanted to be very honest with ourselves, do we really want to do temple running THE WHOLE 4 DAYS?

No, we wanted to do other local things, eat, meet local people, tuk tuk around and basically enjoy Siem Reap as we honestly would. Also, it was very impractical for mum to painfully follow us temple running throughout the trip.

So in a day we went to;

1) Angkor Wat
2) Bayon Temple
3) Angkor Thom
4) Ta Phrom (the Tomb Raider temple)

We booked our tickets the day before, because everyone else was doing the same thing, and decided to catch the sunset from the highest peak of Phnom Bakheng. My mum joined us hike halfway through the hill but couldn't continue, so my sister and I ran towards the peak where we saw a million more people in front of us.

RIGHT. We decided we were gonna que like the good people that we are, and eventually reached the highest peak - when the sun was already down :( :( :(

I should have been disapointed, but there was something about hiking with the world's most beautiful sunset with your sister and the rush and the crap talk we had like while hiking up that made me the happiest. We took lots of photos of the panoramic view of Siem Reap, and took it all in, that we are .. in Siem Reap!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Older, but better holidays

Writing this post in a small room of this Younique Hotel at my layover from Siem Reap before I fly really early in the morning tomorrow to Bali for work.

I've had a really good time with the two ladies, now it's back to the grind.

I wanted this vacation for the longest time because of the streak I had since ... July probably. Haven't had a proper breather from anything since then. It's good to go off the grid once in a while and get lost in translation, food, culture and anything in between. I admit I used to be so hard on myself when it comes to traveling/ vacation; like I MUST try all, follow the itinerary, meet new people, get uncomfortable, must see underground new things, take cool photos.

Whoever invented these rules?

Now I realized, the most important thing about going away, is to actually do things that make you happy. I started listing down a few things that I cannot miss, and followed my body. I made sure my health is taken care too, and embracing every misadventures and unplanned events as lessons. Most importantly, I tried  to listen to myself and follow my instinct as oppose to listening to what people told me about what I'd not known.

After-all, it's a holiday. 

Like every other destination I've been in, I loved Siem Reap. And staying in a small private room/ villa with our own balcony was really something I never thought I'd wanted, but eventually does. The defining decision between one place and another was the pool - sweet sweet pool after the temple running.

What Siem Reap's streets made me realize even more was how lucky I am to have a job, income, or any sort of providence. I wouldn't say I took it for granted, but I was very stressed before going onto this trip that I had forgotten how good of a stress it was. That I was blessed to have a good income to support me.

Temple running, tuk tuk, socially responsible activities and food - more posts about Siem Reap coming up. (It's not like I'm done with Japan either).


Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Day trip to Hiroshima

Japan is a nation rich in history. Some if not most of the innovation we know today have been attributed to Japan. But, there are times when Japan is in the history for the worst reason.

Hiroshima, 6 August 1945 marks a very tragic date to mankind. Hiroshima is the capital of the Hiroshima Prefecture, most known for being the first city on this planet to be wiped out by the first nuclear atomic bomb, used on civilians, and was done by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). It was war times, world war 2 to be specific, and the war that was between the United States and its allies with Germany, Italy and it's ally - Japan (please correct me if I'm wrong, this is my understanding). With a far more complicated than meets the eye allegations, conspiracies and allies during the world war 2, with the United Kingdom, and Italy and some parts of Asia joining in the picture - war times were complicated, and difficult.

One thing was very clear - Hiroshima was the victim to the darkest side of war, weapons and destruction; an American B-29 Bomber, sparked, dropped and wiped out an estimated total of 80,000 soldiers and civilians, but injuries and radiations from the bomb have estimated killing up to 160, 000 people by the end of the year. It destroyed at least 70% of everything that was between the radius of 1.5 kilometres. Some, until today, have reported to have suffered various illnesses, including cancer, cell dislocation, and so on.

We decided to drop by Hiroshima to make full use of our Japan Rail 7 Day Pass, and I must say it was a great decision. Knowing nothing about this beautiful prefecture, it was only right for us to visit the memorial parks, the peace museum and check out the beautiful city. Hiroshima is a gorgeous place, although rebuilt just only 70 years ago, I am SO impressed by how far they have come, and how fast the Japanese have rebuilt themselves (it's something they're very famous for). It was a gazillion times more modern than some of the places I've visited albeit they have been around much longer. Trams, skycrappers, creative buildings, interesting pathways, peace parks, restaurants, markets. If one hadn't know about the history of the city, one wouldn't expect that it's a very young city.

Backpacking through Hiroshima city  

 Hiroshima is so beautiful 

We were there from 10am - 4pm, just enough time to learn a little bit about the city from its peace parks and memorial parks. I would recommend you to do the same if you have time :)

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Monday, August 03, 2015

YB Senator

Been weeks since dad has been well and very much living in our conversations.

I think it started when Mum stumbled upon uncle Herald, a very good friend of my late dad during his "tougher" times. Ever since then, mum and brother have been sharing all the good times growing up, relating with me with the ones I remember. That seafood restaurant we never fail to visit before every movie. Brother's immense love for Tamiya because while dad spends an hour to get a massage next to the Tamiya shop, brother would drool over its new circuits. Dad's insistence in spending the weekend with us watching action-packed movies too long and too complicated for us to actually understand but it didn't matter because dad was there (although snoring loudly), letting us eat junk and pizzas just because he could treat us. He's really good at it too, my brother, always has the most animated, most visual descriptions when telling these moments I partially recall. And so honest while he's at it.

I remember watching a movie with dad it was so packed, and we sat at the first seat far left, with our heads tilted to the left throughout the entire 3 hours. We'd come out with headaches and backaches, but it didn't matter, dad was there. 

My dad left us in a tragic car accident on July 11, 1997 on the way to Kota Kinabalu from Keningau while driving his memorable yellow 4WD. It was a Saturday night and he left us for the weekend to visit his family and friends in Tenom, a practice we've gotten accustomed to by then that he's a "YB". We had some leftovers and puddings, and the night was only to get better, movie and being all by ourselves!

I never really knew "who" my dad was, except the "funny man" and the "politician" that he was. Funny man because as we got older, and he got busier, and the lesser time with him, he would always amuse and entertain us with all sorts of jokes and antiques - often times, mum was the subject. Whatever they were, they were always so funny. The politician because of all the remnants of a "YB Senator Jinuin Jimin" namecards, placards, photos of the events he graced and the signages he left around the house. Honestly, now that I think about, I remember so little about my mum when I was a kid, I mean compared to my boisterous dad last time, it felt like she was just... bland..

Until she was put to the spotlight she so deserved. 

After graduating from his fully-sponsored degree in Economics in the University of Canberra Australia, he came back to Sabah doing odd jobs, for long years, until he found his love in my mum and politics. He tried all that he could, including contested as an independent candidate, which garnered a really sorry 5 vote. And then he moved on to lots of other things, business and ventures some of which mum couldn't even bear to bring up when asked.

It wasn't easy. 

Mum vividly described how the little house that they built physically grew from a one living room, with two rattan sofas with one old Nissan (God bless this car) to 2 living rooms, few televisions, 5-6 rooms and 4 cars under one giant porch.

Your dad was a visionary. 

Mum would always say that. He had lots of ideas to move Kota Kinabalu, or Sabah ahead, maybe too fast for some people. Back then, the natives couldn't relate to an economist who was an overseas graduate, who talked about the sky is the limit, untapped business possibilities or the idea of always learning, the natives loved a "hands on" person who would always "be there" for them in needy and partying times. And Dad was that, except he was also more. 

Sometimes, I wished I had known more of the person my brother so amazingly described. You know where I learned to eat dried salty prawns just like that? Daddy lah. He was in the market waiting for mummy to buy some stuff and he took a handful of those and eat them just like that. Like keropok bah. 

It was such a bad habit, but when your dad does it, you do it too. 

Over all those years, mum came out of the rough raising three difficult personalities to become the diamond that she is now. She was the deserving heroine in this story, as she had let my dad take centre stage in most times as he compensated for all those times he worked too hard. She had let my brother, my little sister and myself adored the short-lived glamorous life we were living and let us put our only dad on a pedestal. Of course, things changed and....

Life goes on. 

Mum passed down on us many inspirational and beautiful notes throughout our life, but the one lesson she truly embodied and personified from all the words she has given away, was: 'Life goes on'. Where change is necessary, new life is too, and in any detours of any journey, or no matter how uncomfortable life gets, it simply must go on.

Thanks mum and dad, you two were destined to produce three of us nerds, and I think you two were more compatible than you could possibly ever thought you were.

You raised us, somehow, together.

In loving memory of my dad, YB Senator Jinuin Jimin with his youngest daughter, my sister, Jessy. 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Nappark Hostel @ Tanee Road, Khaosan, Bangkok

I booked the entire Ladies NapSpace Dorm for all eight of us for at least 3 months ahead. Since they didn’t require deposit I was always at the edge of my seat, making sure that they don’t give away my reservations.

YES I can be super paranoid.

Angel, Ingrid and myself reached earlier than the rest of the gang so we were automatically tasked to look for the place. I was even more paranoid throughout the entire 2 hours journey to the hostel from Don Mueang Airport.

Is it supposed to be 2 hours?!?! 

We found out later that Michelle and the rest took less than half an hour with a cab to the hostel from Don Mueang Airport - I reckon that was kind of a good bus experience. EXCEPT – that we had to walk around the famous infamous Khaosan Hostel (where Hangover 2 filmed) in our rollers -_-“ seriously we are real backpackers who are just practical about shopping!! And yet we are roving around our rollers looking super impractical and lost in one of the busiest street in South East Asia.

Okay, nevermind. 

We got dropped off 15 minutes-walk off Nappark Hostel so we had to... WALK. I am usually good with walking all over the place, I did that for almost 8 hours in Seoul, but something about passing tourists, lots and LOTS of tourists tire me much easily. Through super huge Bangkok roads with all kinds of vehicles rushing through the hours. When we finally found Nappark Hostel, loved how it is located inside a comfy shady (by trees!!) area of Tanee Road, 5 minutes off Khaosan Road! Also loved that you can start shopping right of the entrance hehe

When we finally reached the hostel, checked ourselves in, we were told that our dorm is 4 floors up.

We looked at each other. TIME TO TRAIN THOSE BICEPS!

(I know my bestfriends would probably have cursed in their hearts but they never show it ^_^ they probably just want to kill me in my sleep)

And then HELLO! 

SO GOOD to have the entire floor / dorm to yourself! We had a fully functioning washing machine and a half functioning heater which seemed to work but really did not do its job quite right I guess.
A study table, our own shower rooms and toilets, and our favourite of all – a peaceful garden :)

^Our dorm actually has a balcony (but none of us used it because it's too hot outside.)

^Look at how beautiful the garden is! Gives me this great idea of turning a balcony into a small garden!! Or better yet, somewhere you can meditate or calm down - after all that shopping probably:)  

^The adorable shower room and toilets with typical Thai stuff on its rustic cemented wall :)  

For more:  

Nappark Tripadvisor 
Nappark Website 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Day 4 - First day in Kyoto, Japan

Prior coming to this beautiful country, I asked those who've been to Japan which were their favourite cities, and why. 5/6 of my friends voted Kyoto as number 1 using similar keywords to describe their experience, authentic and beautiful.

I didn't know what to expect really... I never spent a lot of time Googling about Japan neither have I discussed a lot on this beautiful country, but I do know one thing - I love Japanese food...

I know so shallow. But thank God after this visit, I know a lot more about Japan than meets the eye.
The people, the lives, what matters, what are they looking forward to.

Upon reaching Kyoto (via Shinkansen and local train).

We started our day meeting up with our Airbnb host Ms Rumi (a self proclaimed grandma who proposed the idea to the owner of the home to turn that home we stayed in into a meeting point for conversations and gatherings for the people around her area - because "people are just too busy with their own lives, we don't talk anymore"). I remember describing Rumi on Instagram as this beautiful cool collective chick who would randomly help a kid on the street to cross the road - as mysteriously kind.

She looked very shy and cold at first  --- but she is nothing but kind and friendly with the best of intentions. And then we were welcomed by a beautiful traditional Japanese home !

I was also so happy that the journey to Rumi's home had flower shops around so I would mesmerise on them everytime we passed them :) SO HAPPY.

KYOTO WAS SO COLD!  The heater was on all the time and we had the blankets up to our nose the entire stay! And I remember the first thing we did when we reached the town, I decided I wanted HOT SOUP. I also loved how Rumi told us that to keep warm - *she slowly shoves a local sake to us* - is to drink alcohol too ^_^

Kyoto Town 

Reached town - walked around and had this epic sukiyaki!!!!!!!

OMG I love Sukiyaki. I LOVE.

Soft white taufus yes, hot and spicy soup yes, kimchi yes, vegetables yes, MEAT yes.

Sengakuji Temple 

The next day, we decided to check out the famous Samurai Temple called Sengakuji first thing in the morning and take in one of Japan's famous legacy - the zen garden amidst Sengakuji Temple. Quite frankly, when we reached Sengakuji we had little knowledge of what's going on because we decided to opt out the chargeable media and tour guide. Instead we followed this huge guided group of Western tourists from behind and eavesdropped from time to time :p

Yes, I'm notorious for doing this.

This temple carefully unfolded the stories and experiences of how the samurais committed and dedicated their lives to protecting their feudal kings. They unfolded their daily routines, which include their hiding places when protecting their kings. The layout and architecture - the nightingale floors, where it squeaks when intruders walked in. Are all part of the learning and training of being the finest warrior.

After Senkaguji, we visited the famous Kinkakuji Golden Temple, where throngs of tourist poured in (much more than Sengakuji) and it felt more like a tourist area. And in my constant chase of the ladies dressed in the traditional Kimono (it didn't matter whether they were the original geishas or not, I understood that they're like the real ninjas because they don't really show up on broad daylights) I found three around the area!!

It was my first time seeing these beautiful ladies clad in the traditional Kimono (let alone in Japan) so I got super excited I took a photo of them halfway across the street :) :) :)

They look so cute!!

The Kinkakuji Temple was a Zen Temple covered in gold and was also the retirement villa of the super wealthy and famous shogun (commander in chief) Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. 

Their rock gardens and temples are incredible... I truly began to understand the peace and tranquility of going through a rock /pond garden.  

And then we continued our journey to town by looking for the trams / trains. While walking we tried every possible Japanese bakeries they were, we loved their buns so much........... And found this particular bakery the best! The chef over here was so kind to offer us to try his freshly baked buns and HIS buns HYPNOTISED us.

We couldn't stopped talking, thinking about them after that. THEY WERE SOFT, DELICIOUS, TASTY and BOUNCY.

Thank you kind MR BAKERY CHEF ! You're an angel! (If only I saved your name and your bakery's name!!)

Kyoto Manga Museum 

We found out there's a manga museum in Kyoto and with a free itinerary like us, there is only one thing to do - CHECK IT OUT! Also because I had absolutely no education about Manga I figured the best way to do is learning it from Japan!!

The International Manga Museum in Kyoto : is a building with up to 3 floors with thousands of mangas from around Japan with a detailed history and story written on each of the manga and on each of the section.

If you ever do come to this museum, you can opt to stay here entire day, or really just look out for the things that will fascinate you. If you're lucky or if you follow their website, they have featured events from time to time sometimes they have private sessions with famous manga artists as well. Unfortunately, when we were there - there were no featured events nor artists. So we took our time exploring the floors.

This make-your-own-manga section captivated me, so I spent quite a fair bit making my own comic here :)  They have a special app to churn the mangas out with tons of special effects and dialogues and interesting characters, I loved it so much !!

I tried to do my own love story but there were a bunch of people waiting to use this computer as well, so I decided to not end my love story :(

We spent the afternoon in the museum until evening just enough time to catch dinner before heading back home. It was raining and cold and we were so hungry... and then we SAW THIS.



We walked in and followed, mimicked, observed through this line of people putting all kinds of tempura to pair with their soup / udon/ soba. SOUP?! IN THE COLD?!


I chose brinjal, crab and chicken :P

That night we almost froze to death when it reached 2 degrees probably even 0 halfway through...

Related articles: 

Day 3 - Shinkansen to Kyoto
Day 2 - Disneyland 
Day 1 - Tokyo, Shibuya and Akihabara

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.