Saturday, November 19, 2016

Just trying out the new emojis!! / Also, being adult these days

12 years later on blogger, finally I've got emojis to play with!

😂😂

I've been a loyal user of this platform, not because there are no other better platforms to use... but rather because I'm too lazy to change the entire thing. It has gone through numerous breakups, facelifts, templates, enhancement .. from a fun thing, to "I have now gone to not being able to live without" this space thing.

See, I talk a lot.
I think a lot too.

Sometimes I need to contain myself from talking so much about what I think.
So I learn to describe things better in words, I write, throughout the years, throughout the lives.

And when everything changes, this space hasn't.

I still bear a lot of honesty, a lot of truth, a lot of me in this space. *hugs my blog*

And I work a lot. Monday - Sunday, sometimes even up to 18 hours a day 😔 Writing is my past time, that no one can PAY me. I mean yes, you can pay me for brand write ups and content marketing *hint*, but my life and all its honesty that I share here have no price to it 💖

These days, I'm still busy traveling mostly for work, keeping my job to heart, and my past times closer. My social life has gone down the drain, because all I ever do is work, go home, watch SATC (which has saved my mental health), sometimes listen to music depending on what savage or emo mood I'm in and play with my cats 👇👇. AT BEST - eat dinner / chill with some friends, but even that once in a very, very blue moon.

Which is far more valuable really 💓


BUT GUYS. 

Even my cats are getting more action................................ 😒😒😒😒

I like to be by myself these days. Or rather I have no choice since everyone (I like to hangout with) is also so busy 😂 And I'm always on the move 😏😏

The gang that have always loved me.


That night Jessy and I decide to spend RM 150 for a night run, which really we thought was mostly for the concert after - featuring a few Korean megastars (wasn't sure how to feel about these, I did danced 💃💃 and walao they had lots of fans), Sonaone !!! 💓💓💓 and Taboo. My initial objective was to catch Yuna for the concert, the run though was a decoy for us to exercise which was excellent I get to bond with my sister too, but Yuna only came for the pre-run (which I missed, went to Swee's wedding) so Sonaone came.

Just aint the same no more. Just aint the same no more 💃💃


And if I'm not in KK, I'm in my second home taken care by the LOVELIEST, SWEETEST Kee. She makes Sandakan my second home, treating me to the best places for lunch, dinner, and most importantly, giving me the company she thought I'd always needed 😙

But I'm always fine eating by myself 😂 I love the peace I have with my own thoughts.
And the no judgement on my choices of breakfast.

Like eating cheese with my chocolate croissant.


Otherwise, I'm busy helping with the flowers.

Which really harnesses my creative side 😉😜😵




Okaylah I didn't use much emojis also la hehehehe . Words still > emojis  🙌🙌

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Free half day tour in return for English sessions in Hanoi!

A week before actually travelling to Hanoi I spent my days, nights, hours and seconds Googling about everythhingggg. It was like a crash course of Hanoi. Where to stay? Where to eat? What to do?! Rush, rush, rush, type, type, type. 

It was the fastest itinerary I've ever done!


Even though I had saved enough, I was still very thrifty at that time after having to travel to Shanghai, to KL and then to Hanoi. I was stubborn so I tried to push the envelope of travelling for my birthday as well while keeping it minimum. Always travel within your means guys or you'll have to swallow your own saliva.

While I was busy looking out for the best deals possible online - I read tons of blogs, I even found my dear Tho and was immediately attracted to how she wrote and spoke about food! Please follow her at tholovesfood.wordpress.com :) While getting lost in all of the blogs, which I diligently read line by line, I saw people talking about HanoiKids.org which offered free half day or full day tours around Hanoi.

FREE TOURS?!

What's the catch?!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Making our own cement bags with a local!

When we decided to visit Siem Reap, I was adamant about doing sustainable tourism. I wanted to do something for the local community or with the local community but I simply just didn't know how to go about it. All I had in mind was it to be something to do with art and community.

Thankfully, I found BackStreetAcademy.com while I was heavily browsing online searching for "sustainable tourism in Siem Reap". I was hesitant about booking a tour supposedly hosted by the locals and coordinated by an online channel. But after going through it's impeccable website with all the information I needed to know and the 5* reviews on Tripadvisor... I was convinced that this was the next best thing. After all, how else do we make decisions these days!

Why

I wanted to choose a family bonding activity with mummy and sister, one can never get enough family time, and decided that getting our hands on, picking up a skill and essentially connecting with Cambodian local ladies would be the choice.

I kept the entire activity a secret right up till our local host came and started laying down all our materials on the floor. Jessy and mum were guessing all sorts of things. Nothing they could ever imagined of course hehe.

WE'RE SEWING OUR OWN BAGS!
*shifty eyes*

CEMENT BAGS!
*jaws dropped*

What

"Personalized Cement Bags with a Local Seamstress". 

I chose this activity because it is just SO unique and the fact that it is in collaboration with Angkor Handicraft Association (AHA) which serves as a platform for local Cambodians to craft their art / pieces for living is an obvious choice my thing! After Chris telling me about the cement bags, I couldn't stop thinking about it. There were two sessions, we chose the one in the morning because knew we would be energized in the morning... and to avoid the afternoon heat.

None of us ever learned how to make bags, handle a sewing machine, let alone sewing cement bags with a sewing machine! It was so indie, hipster altogether. But that was the whole idea of picking up a completely random and localised activity to connect us three ladies. And it's SO empowering to be hosted by two of the most amazing, most beautiful, most talented and most hilarious Cambodian ladies, Sreyren and Sreymom! They really lit up our day. Even mum was warmed by Sreyren! (and it's difficult to warm mum up :P)

Everytime I meet amazing ladies like them I get even more convinced at how different, how beautiful each and every woman is in this world.

How

I registered with the website for free, and proceeded to communicate with the hosts / team about the activity via the website. The initial communication between BSA and me in the website itself were swift, smooth and very helpful. I get notifications when they replied, so that really helped. I asked them about the place, the directions, which you can opt for Tuk Tuk.

Location

Bear in mind some of the locations of these local tours are remote, and odd so always communicate that in your messages. One of the reason why I decided on this association was because it wasn't very far from where we stayed, proximity is key when it comes to deciding an activity for me. We took the Tuk Tuk and it was only about 20 mins ride from where we stayed.

Cost 

For the three of us, it cost USD 26 / RM 104 which include the activity, learning how to sew and of course the bags we made ourselves! I thought it was really reasonable, especially if it could turn as a souvenir!

But learning how to sew, meet a local and help the community?
PRICELESS. 



I had so much laughs while learning, I loved every bit of the session. Sreyren and Sreymom each had their stories of leaving their village / homes and having their own aspirations and dreams to become an accountant and earning more for their families.

It's so humbling and rewarding to be speaking to these amazing ladies about their dreams. It's always so inspiring to speak to anyone about their dreams! It's like a break from reality.

My only hope is that I get to cross paths with them again in future, and if you ever have to choose a tour, always great to do it this way, and meet the locals!

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Ladies fashion around the world

Now that I’m older, and presumably wiser, I have built my own opinions on a lot of things and another, style. Most times I am either clad in a simple top with dark pants, pearl earrings and my famous string bag pack. Other times you’ll see me donning something sweeter, mostly in white, I like the clean, crisp and casual feel of a white shirt / top.

Perks of traveling around the world is seeing a lot of interesting things, learning new stuff and eventually exploring new ideas. Food, architecture, people and fashion to name a few are the things that I truly love to observe. I picked up so many new ways of fashioning myself throughout my travels; scarves, bracelets, anklets and a little bit of everything else to mix and match. My style is a cross of bohemian, sweet (pearls, braided long hair) and just chilled.

(unless I'm in the office 9 -6, then, I am in my monkey suit)

This is a rare post of me talking about the ladies fashion around the world that I’ve come across with, but rare is a good thing! I am not always particularly on the lookout when it comes to fashion, but something about some destinations that scream attention and fascination.

From Bali, to Paris, to Venice to Burma. Style and fashion transcends all borders, all ages, all religions and definitely all races. These are some of the interesting things that caught my eye (and that I manage to take photos of!)


Melbourne

Melbourne... is an interesting place.

It's a city truly best described as "melting pot". It's a blend of Pan Asia and Europe and is always upping the notch in its fashion, cafes, restaurants arts and more. I remember a street filled with Greek food, row after row, another with English and another with Asian. It's also one of the place that I discovered world's best Eggs Benedict, that no other could. *salivating

Melbourne's Hosier Lane is famous for its graffiti. I saw one wall that truly reflect the women of today, and I couldn't help but capture the strength but gentleness of women in this photo.

This probably had other layers of meaning, what do you think this meant?



I was walking around the streets of Melbourne with Yuen, after a visit of one of the flea market around the corner when we stumbled upon this interesting shop selling all kinds of knick knacks. They had antiques, thrift clothes, vintage furniture and these interesting glasses.

It's so funky and hip, I don't think you'd see me wearing these anywhere around the street where I live at home, but Coachella and in some other free spirited concerts maybe lol.

Ladies, if sun rays are no issue, and fashion is a statement.
Then do it!




Sunday, October 30, 2016

Eating street in Hanoi

I will be honest. 

My influence to visit Hanoi was inspired by Mr Bourdain (again), not from the legendary visit that the world knew so much, on stools with Mr Obama over Bun Ca. But from No Reservations, after a whole day of crazy at work with a bowl of ice cream thinking how blegh the world could get. That episode, he was in Hoi An, cruising through the buzzing streets enjoying the good things in life; good food.

That looks so good I said.

There are so many good things in life. Like great new friends, new hair, new clothes, a good dinner, some good movies, and GOOD FOOD. This is a terrible introduction, but the food photos are coming, so please bear with me.

I wanted to be more impromptu and spontaneous in life, and this was that trip that I was. I decided on a few days before the actual date, and had very little research. Which is quite unlike me, I usually spend months ahead researching for the places I'm visiting, learning a thing or two about their culture (except for Shanghai of course, this span of a few weeks were the busiest I've been), their food and their language. SO - because I only had one goal in mind; food, and I had no knowledge about it, I decided I was going to ask for help. For the sake of food, I asked for help.

I met Tho online while I was researching for Hanoi street food. I emailed her about my intentions to write about eating street in Hanoi, or just eating in Hanoi in general and she wholeheartedly helped me out. From outlining the places to eat, down right to its location and photos of the places to some history about it. She was an angel.

In ALL of my trips, FOOD has always been one of the main underlying theme. I usually jot down notes on some of the things to try, and where I can try and get them, but in any case that I don't get to experience it, I would be fine with it and move on.

Until, this Hanoi trip. 

I decided, food would be my focus. I weighed in the idea that I would look like a balloon after this trip, but it didn't matter, I wanted to explore this very idea, and this very idea, I explored.

These were some off the food I've tried in Hanoi within the span of a few days. Some things have pork, please take note.

I arrived Hanoi approximately 12pm, just in time for LUNCH. So after check ins, and numerous messages with Tho, I finally met up with Tho, and there was no greater introduction to Vietnam food than the legendary Bun Cha. Never underestimate the connection of food two can make :p We walked towards the streets of Hanoi, zig zagged through the hundreds of bikes and back alleys. I will not remember this place, I told myself. 

Bun Ca at Old Quarter 

That setting, the insides of an alley, by the road on Vietnam's famous stool and small table, was a remarkable intro. This was Bun Ca [(Bun - round rice noodle and Ca (fish) with Ca Cuon (roll) Thit (meat)]. Tho carefully explained to me that the most important thing, "lies in the broth" - and this broth was magical alright. Freshly made and served while hot, it's a stew of fresh Vietnamese herbs, veggies, fried fish, pineapple and tomatoes. With a side of pork wrapped in freshly fried fish dipped into the famous fish sauce enjoyed best with slurps of this soup in between.

Fk, I made myself hungry.

We went to the one around the Old Quarter.

Lo and behold; freshly made bun ca, with cold Vietnam tea and fish sauce. 



^Ca Cuon Tit, pork wrapped in fish 


Saturday, October 08, 2016

Thank you Tho

Dear Tho,

Thank you for having me in Hanoi, and for taking care of me within the few hours that I stepped onto Hanoi. Thank you for introducing to me the wonders of Vietnam cuisines, welcoming some of the most amazing culinary experiences I've ever had into my life. Now I can't wait to experiment and try to make my own Vietnamese cuisines (they seem quite easy but who am I kidding!!).

Thank you for navigating me through some of the oldest alleys, into the beautiful colourful buzzing streets of Hanoi and for inviting me to have meals with you in the most awkward positions I've ever been in. Knee to knee, elbow to elbow on one of the smallest tool I've sat on with monoxide blowing to my face. Ah, life is very good :)

I have never lived enough, the least, till I did all of that. Thank you again. xxx 

Thank you for introducing me to each and every one of the dish we've explored together. You were so FUNNY, patient, kind and obviously knowledgeable about everything. For taking the time to explain the differences between each dish, the textures, the methods, to relate with me to some of the dishes back home, the type of ingredients, and for hilariously answering my silly questions about everything. About the food, Hanoi's history and so forth. I had so much laughs and learned so much from you.

Thank you for opening your heart and some parts of your life to me, about your turmoil past. From seeing your parents drift away, to being abducted to hunger strikes. My life is no where close to that much of a drama you've had to endure, and the way you looked at life... is so fascinating! As you take the time to inch day by day in your established career in a fascinating industry., I love how you look at life full of humour and reflection, and taking each and every phases of your life as episodes, ready for the next.

I love how you are taking a stand to take a different course in your life in the near future. What is it about being comfortable to change that is so .. admirable? Uprooting yourself especially, taking a different path in life sounds like an awesome way of living.. Is life too short for the same thing? I've talked about doing things like that, either I'm not as adventurous as I thought I am, or I just don't know how to, or where to start? Maybe both.

As I overlook the Hoan Kiem Lake from a roof top view on one of the oldest cafe in Hanoi with you with Jessy J's price tag as background with you singing to it. I registered into my heart; moments that are so beautiful, so foreign, but still so familiar reminding me of home wherever I am at moments like these. And to the friends I've met along my travels who have been so kind to me, almost strangers of a family, I can never put the price on your time and kindness.

To sum it all, thank you for your friendship. Please wait for my Hanoi posts!
See you again :)



Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Turning a year older // travelling alone

Man this journal is becoming a complete and wholesome travel journal day by day. And I'm not so sure about that.. Eventhough I did change the title to 'Travel with Me', I'm not sure I want to completely disconnect my honest thoughts away from this space and focus completely on my travels. (which are honest account of them also anyway) *emoticon thinking face*

Anyway, I turned a year older last week and in true Jacqkie fashion, I hopped onto the plane to go somewhere new, somewhere foreign, and made some new friends :) And yes, I flew to Hanoi, Vietnam for my birthday. By myself.

I didn't had the time to update everyone about it (except for mum, sister and bro) and a handful of girlfriends, plus the moment I arrived Hanoi, I was so overwhelmed by the traffic that after a day of out in the streets of Hanoi, I was so beat I can't even form proper updates on Insta...

I have decided that this trip is purely.. FOODCATION. 

Yup, you saw it right. As if I haven't had enough food in my life right? *pinches my chubby cheeks* NO. I LOVE FOOD. I LOVE GOOD FOOD. I LOVE GOOD FOOD WITH GOOD COMPANY. Life is too short for one type of food. Life is too short for the same food. And a good meal, delicious freshly made food is what gets me going!

Okay enough food and caps in one place.

So I did as I promised to myself. There was nothing else in my itinerary except for.. street food. And I mean, by STREET FOOD. Road side, by the pavements delicious street food. I didn't step into any one restaurant or "proper shop" at all, I was just grabbing things as I see from the street and from the street vendors with the help of my instinct, crowd indicator and with the advise and help from my lovely new Hanoi friends!

I roamed freely around the streets of Hanoi (like I always do), and felt the happiest and at ease at everything. I really feel at peace travelling alone these days. It wasn't always like that though I must admit. When I first travelled alone back in 2010, I FELT SO LONELY. Being in the airport terminal alone was still okay, because I can plug into music, finally feel that I could settle my mind at ease after crazy days at work. But upon reaching my destination, seeing interesting things and eating alone - WAH THAT WAS THE TOUGHEST. I mean, look at this beautiful painting? Who to tell? Can you feel this amazing material? Anyone else want to feel this material?? And this delicious food? Anyone wants to share with me? No one??? No one?? No one?!! Okay no one then...

(don't get me started about meeting people while travelling alone, that's a new discussion itself)

It started as boredom, to lonely, to accepting it, to embracing it, to enjoying it! 



^Hanoi beer with fermented fried pork at the Old Quarter


As I get older, as I slowly embrace solitary discoveries I begin to truly, genuinely enjoy travelling by myself. Waking up at any time I want, and being okay with missing all the tourist attractions, yes I travelled all the way to this part of the world to CHILL, so yes we missed a few places, is anyone gonna die? Or what about eating what I want? Do you know how tricky it is to be so diplomatic about eating together sometimes? What do you want to eat? Anything la. I'm okay one. You? Anything lah. (okay, maybe I will be forever alone T_T) Sleeping alone? How is that a problem again...?! You mean I get to starfish and roll around however I want to? *pun may-be intended* The point is, the beauty in being with yourself is limitless if only you choose to see it.

Back to Hanoi, I took the time to eye on things to eat and taste, and experience. With the exception of two afternoons where I spent the loveliest time with Har from HanoiKids roaming around the streets of Hanoi going through history and colours.

OK I DIGRESS. 

My point is: life has been great. It feels great to be older, not sure about wiser, but I have started to learn to think for myself first. This "another coming of age realisation" is refreshing I must say. I am learning to manage my self esteem, this is work in progress. Self esteem is a magical thing. You can look a million bucks but if you constantly feel the need of approval by people, then there's something amiss. You can have a million bucks, but if you constantly feel that things are not enough then you will always feel not enough. When will we ever feel enough? You can look like me (which is terrible in most days) but if you feel content good to go through the day, you would feel just as positive. As I get older, I begin to differentiate between what really matters to me, and what doesn't. I have no time for terrible people in my life. Now I surround myself with the love of my family, my handful of best friends, spending quality time to unwind and talking to God. Yeah, really, like just stare at my walls and speak to him/her about my worries and troubles. I really feel the weight take off from my shoulders when I do that.

Who exactly are we waiting to fix help us? But us? 

Last but not least, thank you everyone for your wishes and for your kind thoughts. I can feel them. I can truly feel them buzzing around me like the warmth of a hot chocolate does to you. I have made some pretty awesome friends throughout the year, and true real friends over the past few years :)

Okay gtg, ttyl back to living life!
More posts about Hanoi coming soon!


Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ni hao Shanghai - pt 1

I must admit, I have never been so intimidated to visit any place in the world, much like I was intimidated to my recent visit.. to China.

And it was for just one reason; language. 

I don't think any of my 'Ke-yi', or 'Meh si', or 'okay mou' - which are mostly Cantonese anyway would help me go far. And I did a terrible mistake of not learning any of the basic Chinese prior because I was just.. too.. busy. Also, doesn't help that I'm going there with my friends who can all speak Mandarin, or understand Mandarin at the very least. So I kind of took it for granted.

And that part intimidated me a little bit knowing that I cannot lose sight of them.

But it turns out, every trip is different and I'm different in every trip.

I've gone to so many solo adventurous trips that I am so glad I stuck by them like a baby guppy, because it reminded how much laughs and loves they always give me like old times. And that traveling in group means you sign up for group activities, and is about togetherness; which my independent self is always so bad at.

I was supposed to be in the same flight together to Shanghai with Carmen, but her flight was delayed and she had to settle for the flight the next day. Which basically delays one day of her schedule.

I reached Shanghai really late, around 3am, together with CH's sister and family. And all I wanted to do was to SHOWER. I don't know how CH convinced us to stay in Intercontinental where he works, but he did.... so it was SO GOOD to reach to a comfy bed and a luxurious rain shower. Shanghai and KK has the same timezone, so there was not much jetlag.

BRO, NEXT MORNING I'M WAKING UP LATE. 

I told Beh, yes, I woke up just before 11am in time for us to get our snacks before breakfast before meeting CH. Intercontinental Shanghai Pudong is located within some eateries and malls, so it was an easy walk around. And the weather, was perfect!

Supposedly summer, but with a chance of breeze :)


I would probably choose a restaurant with photos if I wasn't with the boys.

We were so hungry, but took CH's word that he would take us to dimsum for lunch, so we agreed to share on a bowl of dumpling only prior. MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD T_T

And then the promised dim sum :)))))))


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dining in Rome & Venice

If Elizabeth Gilbert had dedicated a chapter of her life to the pleasures and delight of dining in Italy, and Dean Martin so much so longingly professed that your eyes could go big as pizza pie as amore, synonym to finding one's mojo back in life, or being in love or better yet, better than love itself........

One can only imagine the passion, intensity and life the Italian meals can create in most of us, for them to profess their surrender to these delicious cuisines.

1. They love their sweet life 
If we haven't already known, the Italians are notorious for being the world's most romantic, most pleasurable people in the world. They love a good life, and love a good way of living life. And what better way to celebrate life than through food. Italians usually start their day with dolce which basically means 'sweet' or anything sweet. I don't really take sweet stuff in the morning.. but you know what they say, when in Rome.......

If they're not puffed in sugar, or baked till golden brown and filled to the brim with cream, then don't even. This pastry below has rich baileys filling, and there's only one time it's good to indulge it at: 9.00am of course.



2. When in doubt, gelato 
First, the flavours. Try having to decide from an array of at least 20 flavours from a gelato parlour and then having to stumble another option of 20 to 30 flavours right next door after finishing the painfully delicious Pistachio gelato, you just ever had in your life. Next door you see lime sorbet, Nutella cream, rum and raisin and a million more. How does anyone ever stop trying these flavours? How do you ever claim the previous' was the best you've had? You just can't.

If you feel the need to fill those walks with a munch or put some perspective back in your life, I think you're gonna have to gelato. And please don't blame me when after half a day's walk you probably had 2 or 3 just before your next lunch adventure, I did warn you - because really, how do you successfully pass by the walks  in the beautiful city without having one cone in your hand all the time?

Everyone will forgive you for having cream all over your face, so just go for it. Life is short.


Friday, August 19, 2016

2D/ 1N long overdue Kampung Tenom visit

My late dad was born and raised in Tenom. Minus his amazing background stories of him having to walk for hours to and from school, having to continue to work at the rubber estates after school, then to study in the dark just before sleep, then sponsored by the Government to continue his studies in economics in Canberra Australia, and then continued his lifelong journey of being the awesome man that he was - he will always be fondly remembered as the hilarious dad and charismatic politician that he was.

Coming back to basics to where he was from is not only so humbling, but so refreshing from the constant chase in the city. We wanted to see dad's side of the family to announce that my brother is finally getting married (Finally! Hopefully that'll keep mum lay low for a couple of years -_-) and that he's pursuing his studies in KL.

Sometimes, I feel so bad that my dad's side appear so little in my pictures due to distance. I work hard almost 7 days a week, up to late night at times. And even this visit to Tenom was arranged right after work for Jessy and me.

Life can be so messy when you're in the fast lane.

We reached Tenom about 5pm, and immediately checked into this hotel at downtown called Sri Perdana which didn't really fit all 4 of us as he promised, but good enough. Luckily, us three girls are so short we manage to squeeze on to the bed HAHA.

Dinner after church :)


The next morning we woke up early to catch Tenom's famous breakfast of pork and egg. I don't eat it....... Don't ask me why, but the whole family loves it so I'm happy :D

And then we went and catch the Sunday market. 

 ^I wanted to snap a photo of this uncle with the I LOVE PM cap hehehehe<3 cap.="" hehehehehe="" nbsp="" p="" pm="">

Tenom is located right at the heart of Sabah, is one of the access to Malaysia's most famous adventure activity - the Padas white water rafting, between the beautiful valleys of the Crocker range. So beautiful, you'll see valleys and green mountains everywhere in Tenom.

Amazing landscape. You don't get to do a roundabout over a landscape like that every other day.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Missing Venice

Sun lit alleyways, wooden windows, coffee smell, masquerades for sale, soft accordion in the background, stone pebble driveways, people drawing, flowers, fresh vegetables for sale, summer dresses, gondolas, Italian yells, glasses clinking, melting ice creams, chuckles and kisses.

I always think of Venice as a painting, a distant painting impossible to get acquainted with. A travel myth, an illusion, that only the people in the myth tells the love stories. A dream that only one can dream. I mean why wouldn't I, so many emulations of this canal city everywhere in the world. From the casinos in Macau, to Vegas, to every other entertainment city in the world, creators creating an illusion of a place so synonym with love and dream.

Until last May. 

Everything I envisioned of Venice was unfolding right by my eyes from the moment I stepped out of the train station. A grandeur of a welcome by the iconically decorated gondolas, slowly cruising the green blue waters in between the bridges and canals I remember mostly from paintings, amidst throngs of people clad in hats and summer dresses. I think it was the perfect season too.

I am in love. Am I the few that loved Venice so much?

I always fell in love with every, destination I've been in. I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to learning new places. I come nothing but with an open heart and mind. I take everything as lessons, and essentially part of the experience, I enjoy the good and the trials of an exploration, like I personally think every adventurer should. And Venice, was no less.

Staying with Cecilia was one of the highlight of the trip, yes. But the walk with her friend, Alessandro was when I fell head over heels with Venice. It made me put some soul and weight to this beautiful canal city, learning every trick of a pathway there is and every history ever embodied told.

But most of all, I genuinely, simply, just miss staring at the buildings stacked right next to each other almost creating a rhythm, a song in between the blue green waters. Worn and torn from time but still depending on one another. And the suave cruise of the lovely gondolas by slick tanned Italian blokes that seem so easy in small alleys but strangely tougher in big water pathways. Or maybe not so strange. And then it reminded me of my wobbly platform, the boat I was standing on.

I loved Venice. 

Like every other place I've visited, I miss everything about it. I miss everything I've just described, and I wished I could do it more justice then from my one dimensional pictures and words would, I wished that time and distance would give me chance to visit Venice again and relive the pleasantness of being in a painting I thought I've seen before. But like every promise, coming back to a place you've loved is almost always impossible to keep :(

I hope everyone that comes and sees Venice, sees Venice in her best days. 

Like I did, and fell in love with.



Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cooking class in Pattaya

Winning a lucky draw like free stays are GREAT, but when you're thrown into a destination you barely know of.............

I decided this would be a great time for me to bond with my little sister Jessy despite not knowing what we could do together in Pattaya. There were a few things to choose, from a floating market to petting the most adorable elephants. Eventually I decided to do something that would be more educational, in a sense, some useful information that we could bring back home and possibly apply.

I reckon cooking seems like the perfect bet!

So we decided on the website with the best SEO, haha, cause I simply Googled "cooking classes in Pattaya" and Walter and Lom came up first. I emailed Walter about 2 weeks before the actual date, and Jessy and I secured ourselves a half day class with him and his wife :)

Happy Chef Thai Cooking Class: http://learnthaicooking.net/

For every activity I do, I must choose the ones that are close to my hotel obviously for easy transport.

Getting there, was an adventure on its own. 

Jessy and I were given the options separately to choose the dishes that we wanted to cook. It seemed very natural for us to choose different dishes from another so that we could try, and obviously emulate the ones we liked back home.

My first dish was Chicken with Cashewnuts. OMG DIVINE.

I keep telling myself that I wouldn't be able to finish the dish........

But, I just kept eating.....

And eating.....

And next thing I know.. I cleaned up the plate! -_-" (must be the heat)

^So good.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A night in Papar in Koposizon Homestay

There is nothing - nothing like the feeling of seeing one of your best friend walking down the aisle. Angel was asking me whether I'd come for Stephie's wedding, but the actual fact that she is one of my closest, and coolest, made me consider whether I'd stay on for the party till night.

Because, why not. 

So I said yes, and just maybe continue the night. I wasn't gonna cut short on a friend I've known for almost 20 years' wedding party. After all, I've got all the freedom in the world to }:)

One of the highest honour in life is to be able to help your friend on her wedding day. I sorted her bouquets, the flower girls' flowers and even her bridesmaids'. She requested for it to look tropical, and I tried just that. It looked like a tropical jungle out there! So so beautiful.



After the church wedding, we drove to Papar and started the party.......... #yolo decided to stay on for the night (minus Morris because he is from Papar himself). We hooked ourselves up with a stay under the Koposizan Homestay, with Uncle Nasius who was also at the party...................................



Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Rome by Foot

Yes you can! 

We did just that without knowing that we could. Prior to executing our actual visits to Rome's main attractions, I was looking through online and found out that these places are "quite near to each other". So I took everyone's word for it, and decided a day for Rome's city centre.

I had to decide only on 3/4 attractions, the ones that we really wanted to visit. Mum said, Spanish Stairs, I said Villa Borghese, Fontana de Trevi and city of Trastevere. Jessy chose Fontana de Trevi as well. We had only our map to equip us with the day, our phones are not on roaming so the option is out. And we reckon, that the crowd is our source of information.

Our stay in Rome was very central.

We're just by the side of a bus station that connects us to basically everywhere, so we decided to hop onto the bus to bring us to our first main attraction, Villa Borghese. Little did we know... this was the no 1 starting point of going into the road that would lead us to all the attractions.

Let's start with this map.

Not sure who to credit this map, because the website is a bit strange: 
http://www.keyword-suggestions.com/cm9tZSB0b3VyaXN0IG1hcA/ 
Hotel Marghere 


^At the very top of the map is Villa Borghese.

As you can remember, we wanted see Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, that just these two could make us happy already. What we didn't realise was that we could start with (and eventually did all) of Villa Borghese, Piazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, Santa Maria in Trastevere and even the city of Trastevere itself! (One of Rome's oldest city).

2 versus 9 attractions!

But that also means, WE WALKED THE ENTIRE PLACE.

It would have been easy if it was just me, while I manage my own walk and time, but I was bringing my 60 year old mum and sister together with just my map. The road that connected to all the attractions was DEL CORSO. What was supposedly a main road, was flooded by people and I assumed that is why there were not many cars or buses into the main road because it was just impossible to!

1. Piazza del Popolo 
The irony that we wanted to visit Villa Borghese, but was dropped by bus at Piazza del Puopolo and then we completely forgot that we're supposed to visit Villa Borghese... Argh, the Romans architecture does that to you. You see one very beautiful building or architecture and you just forget the world.

Piazza del Popolo is a beautiful square, I even see people jogging circling it?! There was a beautiful fountain right in the middle of it all.

^This is one of the smaller/ inner roads from Piazza del Popolo.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Temple Running" in Bangkok

Before we took the flight to Bangkok for our all girls trip, we asked Stephie - the bachelorette to decide what else she'd like to do.

And she said, temples! But of course!

I forgot Bangkok is beaming with beautiful temples, that I only remembered the shopping part of this city. So I did all my research and suggested a few.OK - one day for temples it is :)

We started the day the usual.

Headed to Terminal 21 for a heavy brunch, sort ourselves out, learned our saved maps in our phones and then made our way out. It seemed like the best way to navigate to all the places that we wanted to go was to go back to where we were yesterday (Taling chan "floating market") which is Saphan Taksin/ Chao Phraya Pier, I've got so many inverted commas for this day please bear with me...

So we did just that.

We took the train straight to the last station towards the big river, queued for the boat and started on our first temple which was Wat Pho (the lovely Reclining Buddha). When we reached the stop... we were melting....

Even more when we walked out of the area. I think it was 12 something in the afternoon and I was already getting disillusioned by the heat #drama. When we saw a few tourists eating ice cream, I thought it was salvation. So we stopped by and ate the coconut ice cream we love so much under our tourist hats.




Luckily, Wat Pho was only within minutes walk from the ice cream stop. We took the time to explore Wat Pho, reading inscriptions, admiring the beauty of each carvings, and especially the main star - the reclining Buddha.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

3D/ 2N in Intercontinental Pattaya Resort

This is going to be a straightforward post of how lovely the Intercontinental Pattaya is. The more interesting ones are coming up in a few weeks time :)

I actually won free stays from my company's annual staff party and I for one would not give it a pass. I coincide the trip with Stephie and Ingrid, but this time with Jessy (because I promised her).

Jessy and I head to Pattaya by bus we took from Victory Monument in Bangkok to Pattaya around 4pm. We were expecting to reach Pattaya around 6/7 pm, just in time for dinner, and a good sleep when we reach the hotel.

It was quite smooth sailing, except, by the time we reach Pattaya every other cabs we hailed said "they don't use meters". I don't even know what that means, but after living in KK for so long, I think I'm beginning to adapt to it. Doesn't mean I condone it, taxis should always have meter charges.

Once we reached......



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Airbnb at Venice, Mirano

Some of you may have seen my instagram posts @jacqkierowena on my Italian trip and may have wondered whether any of the posts I shared were too good to be true.

Well yes, they were too good, but still very true.

Staying in a place that looks like it came straight out of a postcard, with the friendliest of furry friends that would rub against you and shake your hand (YES) and with the loveliest family that would be kind enough to bring you to church together with them.

I don't usually endorse a lot of things, but I have gained so much from my experiences through Airbnb, that I admit it was what I have been looking for during all my travel years. To be able to meet locals from the places I've visited, ask questions, see them live. From Sri Lanka, to Japan, and now Italy. I'm just a young traveler, cool with innovations, and loving the idea to keep people around the world connected. So I'm always up for trying these things.

I'm dedicating this entire post about staying at the countryside in Venice because that's how lovely it was.

First, meet Cecilia. 




Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cost of self-planned 10 days 9 nights - Venice & Rome


This post was 3 months in the making!

(I know I owe other posts about Bangkok, which are in queue..)

But no seriously.. I started this post end March so that I can be diligent with my posts and tips. I wanted to include all the numbers and facts first before I impart all the photos (from the actual trip) and here goes:

1) Return flight KK - KL (has to be accounted for since we had to fly from KK) 
Total per person: MYR 350.40nett per person via Malaysia Airlines. They had the best deal for the best times at that time so it was a no brainer. And the whole trick of getting tickets, before and after the flights to Rome.
2) Overnight in KL (also to be accounted for because this is part of the cost) 
Total per person: RM 56.10 per person. Including taxi and airport transfer to and fro. We stayed in Youniq Hotel because it was cheaper than anywhere else, plus it could host us 3. And I remember the airport transfer from the hotel to the airport which I thought was cheap and convenient. Mixed reviews online, I think generally okay but I felt the frontdesk blokes could be more helpful. They were just giving me one word answers sometime which can be annoying after a flight :p

3) Return flight KL - Italy (Rome) 
The trick is to buy a return ticket instead of a one way and come back to the same destination, because for whatever reason, one way tickets are MUCH MORE expensive than return tickets. Even doubled/ tripled the price. We were toying with Emirates, Qatar and KLM in the first place and eventually decided on Emirates for the best price and time. We had no issues with this, because we wanted to do only two cities in between 9 nights anyway.. There was one qualm though, well not quite for us because we've never been there - but if you choose Emirates there are possibilities that you'd have to transit in Dubai. Some like a direct flight, while others prefer to cut it in between. As you want. Total per person: MYR 2577.90 per person. 

3) Accommodation in Rome (6 nights) 
We had to stay somewhere near the airport the first night of arrival, because we expect to arrive late. And then expected to leave in the morning to Venice in between. First night's accommodation (with breakfast): B&B La Brezza Marina  (MYR 337 per night/ for 3).  Airport Transfer from Fiumicino Airport to Roma Termini Station, we used a cab just cause we wanted to wake up slightly later: MYR 99.84nett per person. Remaining nights in Rome (with breakfast): La Rotella Nel Sacco (MYR 440.57 per night/ for 3). Total per person:  MYR 700nett per person. 
  • Booking.com (I prefer to book through Booking.com because of the non-chargeable conditions) 
  • Both the places we stayed in Rome and Fiumicino (Airport area) were great. La Rotella Nel Sacco, the second part of the Rome trip was an interesting choice at first, because it was located towards the end of Roma Termini station, like seriously, and we thought we could carry our own luggage and walk all the way, probably a kilometre walk. I would recommend, if you have big bags like we did, especially for my poor 60 year old mum, to take a cab or tram or bus to get to her place. Otherwise, her place is central! You can hop on and hop off from her place to anywhere you like or as a jumping off point to Termini which can get you anywhere! 
  • You can also choose to airbnb :) 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Shopping in Bangkok

Best friends Ingrid, Stephie and I have known each other most of our lives. When I say most, I mean at least 13 - 18 years. Now some say, 13 years is nothing, on the other hand, some say a decade is enough to know.

Well I think, who gives a fk.

20 years, 3 days, 5 months, a lifetime. 
When you've got a good friendship, you've got it good. 




We've always talked about taking a trip together, now that Stephie is finally getting hitched, we thought it's the perfect excuse to go for an all girls trip, like I did last year with the rest of the girls. AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.

We decided that it was going to be ALL about shopping. That we'd come to Bangkok, enjoy a little bit, and spend most of our waking time shopping. I've never had a shopping holiday........ I must say....... Now that I'm older and earning my own...... It feels DARN GOOD.

We stayed in The Blocks Hostel, which was a quirky hipster hostel managed by youngsters. I chose that hostel because of it's excellent reviews on Tripadvisor,, value for money and apparently great location. In fact, IT WAS. We were away throughout the day most of the time, so we only wanted to stay together in one room, with our private bathroom - so The Blocks Hostel was an alright choice. The only hassle was when we first checked in, or rather throughout our stay, their elevator was broken so we had to climb four floors up every, single, time.

  • The Blocks Hostel: I booked via Booking.com, but you can compare the best prices in Tripadvisor 

This is only an issue because we've been maxing out our body and legs walking around the entire shopping complexes or street every, single, day that by the time we reached our hostel, WE WERE SO EXHAUSTED thatthe idea of going another four floors up again - is insane.

Actually, technically, this isn't a post about shopping in Bangkok because there are barely photos.... and actual testaments about what's selling on the malls that we went.... just a random post about me going shopping ^_^

Ratchada Train Market 

We heard about the original Ratchada Train Market but was made to understand that it was far from where we are and was told that the one near city is this one.. Which was fine by us, if it saved us some time, and we could explore an interesting night market, we wouldn't pass that for sure.

After a day full of adventures, or misadventures in Taling Chan, we wanted something easy to cool us down. A good dinner, some drinks, and coconut juices maybe. Ratchada Train Market in the city has such a hipster feel to it.

Some pop up cafes, restaurants, and food trucks. Loved it.



Stephie and her beer. This was such a good meal.




Sunday, May 22, 2016

One night at Kundasang, Mile 36 Lodge

It's been ages since we're trying to fix a date and time to go for an outing together. Finally! We decided on a date and worked our way towards it.

And for Sabahans. There seem no other places.......

Mostly because it's so near to KK, and it's an entire world on its own. Cool, scenic, windy and refreshing, it's like an entirely new place yet so near from the city. And it's only less than 2 hours away from the city.

So it's only natural... everyone voted for Kundasang.


Mile 36 Lodge 

There were nine of us, so trying to find a place that could fit all 9 of us, was tricky. Eventually, we found Mile 36 Lodge who so conveniently have bunk beds and one king bed for all 10 of us. We fit in just like a big family, haha.


There were a full operating kitchen, outdoor barbecue pit extension, with stove, knives, plates and other utensils, sink, cutting board etc. IT WAS COMPLETE! We kinda underestimate the lodge, not only was it complete, it was clean, and still very cute.




No Mt Kinabalu view though. We were surrounded by trees and forests. Very near to the reception, making it easy for us to get wifi signals when we wanted to (not necessarily could be a good thing!). But really, absolutely no wifi signal in the room - have to go to reception T__________T

Mile 36 Lodge via Booking.com : Click Here 
RM 480nett for 10 persons per night