I felt such a naughty fellow everytime I lied to some of my good friends for not answering the same questions last month: “When are you flying to Indonesia?”

“No, I don’t feel to go home” – “Well, I don’t mind to spend my annual leave in Morocco instead” – “I have no ticket yet, hey I have told you I won’t go home this year” – even to my mom, “Maybe I won’t go home”

Yeah, you can call me a puckish fake actor perhaps. Don’t count the one to my mom as a lie, it was just the way I loved to surprise her, promise.

I might be a liar yet couldn’t lie to myself how it felt when I had passed immigration in Lagos airport. When I sent a picture of my passport to my very best friend, Andreas Knogler, he immediately replied “Nice feeling, huh?”, I said, “Yeah it felt the same” :)

I have been here in Indonesia for eighteen days already SIGH TIME FLIES TOO FAST!!! HOW COME THIS HAPPENS AGAIN!

Nothing but grateful still had time to hang out with my best friends few times for food hunting, coffees, friend talks, and managed two days to finally visit Mount Bromo for the first time cause funny enough I live in Surabaya which isn’t that far. Woke up by 3am to catch the sunrise (how peaceful it was, not to mention the crowd tho), climbed 250 steps just to see the crater, managed to take photographs with some dust flying made a quite exhausted morning that I thought having an afternoon tea at Aman Tokyo with Alice Gao sounds more me :) (Andreas would definitely love this kind of trip since one of his hobbies is hiking)

Apart of that, things made me grafetul the most was the fact that I spent the time there with Ruli’s family (after five years I couldn’t make time to see his parents!). Do you think some scenes below’s such in Mars?



Galata, Topkapı & Ortaköy I

were three places we created those friendship memories…


Spring breeze that night was icier. I was running in hurry on my way back to the hostel with a happy smile on my face. Had to admit that I was so stoked on the day I met Hakan and Saf. It didn’t come to my mind I would meet and became close friends instantly just like that, spent time together till midnight (anything better than ice creams and friend’s laughters to end the day?). Back to where I met them for the first time, Saf was the first person who offered me to join him and Hakan if I had no place to go. I almost said no to Saf yet I kept it in my mind till I remembered something: “while you have no itinerary on this trip, so make it memorable with unpredictable, unplanned, unexpected things!.”


“Where do you have in mind to spend tomorrow at, Hakan?”


Since it was Saf’s first visit in Istanbul, Hakan was his guide if I may say. Key questions about the city went directly to Hakan if we had some. When Hakan mentioned about “boat” on Bosphorus Strait, I won’t say no when he offered me on the second day. If you googled things to do in Istanbul for the first time, boat tour is among the top must do. Before boat tour, Galata Tower was the first place we visited.

We agreed to meet there at 11 in the morning. Hakan said 10am before but I knew we won’t make it cause hello, spent a whole day and ended by walking from Sultan Ahmed till Taksim Square in midnight wasn’t a joke (Istanbul has many uphill alleys, kindly note). I took sometimes earlier before I met them by enjoying a buffet at Parole İstiklal on my way to Galata. I shouldn’t tell you the truth this brekkie scenes more like ‘picture-purpose’ yet I did enjoy Turkish chai in spring. I’m serious.

As much as I enjoyed Istanbul, I tried to take my time to do one of my favourite things when I’m traveling: starting my morning with a cup of cappuccino in a coffee shop. When Hakan sent me a message they would be a bit late, I took my time to linger around to take some pictures and ended with a coffee right in front of Galata Tower. I was about to tease myself spending my Turkish Lira to bring home one of cute vintage table lamp from a small shop (designer’s temptation, classic – full stop). Nevertheless, I didn’t enter when I finally saw Hakan and Saf were walking hurriedly. A bit confused but I understood why it took sometimes for them to arrive at our meeting point. Hakan said, “there were three men behind us when Saf wanted to get a new ring but we didn’t take it” while Saf added after, “so sorry Azis, we didn’t mind to unrespect you by came late”.

I answered, “so let’s get tickets and enjoy Istanbul from above”. 

Surely, with a bright smile on my face cause we would spend a whole day together.

More pictures to come on part II :)


Happy Eid Mubarak for those who celebrate! I wonder to celebrate Eid next year in somewhere new. Marrakech perhaps? Or even, Paris? Dreaming is free, right :)

One Of The Best Mornings I Ever Had


If there is one thing that makes me hate my very best friend, Andreas Knogler, is when he greets me from somewhere new in Europe. He did it few times. From Denmark, Greece, Germany, Romania, Slovenia, and the last one was from Croatia. Next, will be from Kosovo (oh wait, he’s in Croatia again today!). Do I really hate him? YES, I do. No, I’m kidding. Yes, I’M SURE I DO. No wait, envious? I think that is the word.

When I made a joke that Andreas will always be a winner comparing his travel history with mine, he laughed “my geographical location is better Azis, so it doesn’t count”. For me, it counts! So when I had an opportunity to runaway from hectic and crazy Lagos and flew to Turkey, I already thought I should “greeting from Istanbul, Andreas!” to get one score. Tho I’m still far away behind his score, I always find interesting every time we share our travel stories.

The time I was stoked sending a short video to Andreas when I was at the downtown in Cappadocia. He replied me that his dad, onkel Knogler, was there last year and enjoyed it so much. I must agree with the fact that it is hard not to enjoy a dazzling place like Cappadocia. Even by writing this sentence makes me dream to enjoy Cappadocia one more time!


“I was on the phone with Andreas just few minutes before I ended my day. Few hours before I had to wake up at 3.30am”


On day one when I arrived at my hotel, the lady in the reception told me that perhaps the balloon flight on my schedule might be cancelled. She wasn’t sure but the pilot had announced the chance to fly was 70%. “But I had checked on forecast that tomorrow will be sunnier than today” I said. “It depends on the wind, but he’s not sure. We will let you know in the evening if it cancel or not” she smiled. No worries, Azis came with no expectation, huh? so he shouldn’t be disappointed if he couldn’t finally be on the hot air balloon.

I woke up very early tho I wasn’t ready to leave my bed (you know why, soft bed, thick white blanket, and cool morning). I stood under the shower very quickly, prayed, and sat on the couch in the reception before 4.30am. It was silent, no one there but a receptionist. “Am I late?”, he answered with smile, “No, don’t worry, 10 minutes before your pick up time”

The shuttle bus arrived. I sat nicely inside with few travelers on the same purpose heading to a place where we took light breakfast. Inside the room, there were so many people ready for an exciting experience. Most of them were dressed super stylish like as if they were ready having pictures of themselves with the best possible appearance. I sat down with a cup of hot tea, few cheeses, strawberries, a slice of bread, and light conversation with a solo female traveler from Colombia. She was in Turkey only for 3 days, didn’t know that she had to reserve in a prior to the balloon flight. She looked a bit dissatisfied yet I could see how excited she was for 73 days ahead exploring Europe.

Thirty minutes after breakfast time, I stood in front of some balloons with an exciting feeling, also my dread to be up there.

When I was enjoying Istanbul from above in Galata Tower with Hakan and Saf, I was worried how would it feel inside the basket for my balloon flight. I mean, Galata Tower just about 206 feet high huh, and I was a bit terrified when breeze was blowing. I don’t have acrophobia, but wondering myself inside the basket and way up, up there, I was scared shitless. If you never or you’re planning to experience hot air balloon, there’s nothing you need to worry about cause the pilot is experienced and certificated.

When the balloon starts go up and up, you’ll definitely enjoy the view like nowhere else. I was on cloud nine when we were up. It wasn’t scary at all. Admiring the stunning landscape of Cappadocia from hot air balloon just before the edge of the sun appears over the horizon in the morning was unbelievable.

I had never imagined I would have an opportunity to experience it by myself this year. I had never imagined I did it, went up there to feel, to see and to remember, one of the best mornings in my life. In Cappadocia.

“I’m not a travel blogger you guys know :), but I could share some tips if you’re planning to experience this by yourself…”

  • Trust me, tho it’s not that cheap, it is worth it for a life time experience (yes, Cappadocia balloon flight is among top 3 in the world). I guess your trip to Cappadocia wouldn’t be accomplished without hot air ballooning :)
  • It’s way much better to reserve your schedule days before and it is also important to check the weather on forecast. As mentioned above, the flight depends on the wind. I picked my date when it was sunny, I mean, if the day is clear it should be safer than cloudy day right?
  • When you have date for your stay in Cappadocia and hot air balloon is in your bucket list, prepare minimum three days including your arrival. In case your schedule is being cancelled, you’ll have a chance to fly on the next day. Before I checked out on my last day, I heard a convo between two Asian ladies and the receptionist. They were disappointed cause their flight was cancelled. So, I was lucky everything went well huh? :)
  • You’ll be so passionate to take million of pictures when you are up there with your camera, that’s okay, but give time for yourself to enjoy the moment. Photograph captures a moment that’s gone forever I know, but when you are up there, drop the camera and close your eyes for seconds, take a deep breath, open your eyes widely then capture the real moment in your mind. Trust me, you’ll remember the moment too well
  • Dress moderately but clever, you must prepare that up there could be colder. I wore a tee, a sweater and a jacket to make me warm yet still comfortable :)
  • Listen to the pilot’s instruction for your own safety, they’ll brief you do’s and don’t’s before flying. A little practice for landing is one of the important thing you must do. My flight was 100 percent smooth, I did not have to do what I practiced after the basket landed on the ground
  • Don’t forget to be grateful if you have an opportunity to experience this by yourself :)

Day Five, Cappadocia

“I guess for everyone who has been to Cappadocia will agree with me, Cappadocia is something else.”


Since I travelled with no expectation from my very first day, I had no regret if there was place/something I couldn’t visit or achieve in Turkey. It could be different when you have high expectation about a place and in the end you will say, “this is not what I had in mind”. If you haven’t been to or you are planning to visit Turkey, I must tell you this: Turkey is stunning. Turkey is a dazzling country. I mean it.

I landed at Kayseri Erkilet Airport in the afternoon with a stunning view of Mount Erciyes Dağı right after my arrival. On my fifth day in Turkey, Kayseri welcomed me with a warmer spring breeze and brighter sky, just exactly what I checked on forecast a week before I flew to Istanbul. Since I had a complete travel package that time, it was easier for the pick up from the airport to my hotel. Everything was arranged smoothly. I had a pleasant conversation with the shuttle bus driver, Mr Umar, who speaks English fluently. Lucky enough, I was the only passenger inside the bus. It made me felt like a private guest how would I felt if our ride were an open roof Mercedes (stop dreaming!). Gazining the beautiful landscape of Kayseri inside a clean shuttle bus with a wide clear window glass was exhilarating. When I was almost arrived at my hotel and finally saw those cone-shaped rock formations and fairy chimneys with my naked eyes, I felt confident Cappadocia would leave something special in my heart.

I didn’t explore much on my first day in Cappadocia. Just mingling around from where I stayed, took pictures as many as I could, was also a bit anxious when I starved in the late afternoon but happy in the end cause I found the way to the downtown. I closed my first day in Cappadocia with happy tummy and tempted eyes (textures and colors in Turkey such a heaven for a creative person like me!).

Still have many pictures how stunning this place was. More to come!

Oh, should I mention here how I was so snuffy with my very good friend, Hakan, when he sent me a phenomenal -at least that’s what I call it with Saf- video of him eating croissants with Saf when I was starving that noon? No, don’t worry, it’s a humbug :) I do love Hakan and Saf anyway, how could I upset -with Saf’s annoying laughter yes!- kinda happy with a video I keep in my iPhone that makes me smile again and again.

I can’t wait to continue this post, how I enjoyed two days in Istanbul with Hakan and Saf started from Galata Tower!

And The Rest Was Such A Long-time Friendship


..was one of the best day I had in Turkey.


One of the lesson I learned from my trip to Tokyo and Kyoto last year was simple: give yourself time to sit down at one corner, feel the ambiance and surrounding, breathe easy, and forget about destination. As mentioned that I had no itinerary when I was in Turkey, it gave me more spaces and options how I could enjoy my day. On my first day in hostel, I took an hour to do a small research and decided where was the best place to visit the day after.

Day two was when I headed to Sultanahmed area. I sat on the bench and enjoyed the view of the park in front of Hagia Sofia before strolling around Sirkeci, Grand Bazaar, and an afternoon treat at Hafidz Mustafa. I headed back to Hagia Sofia (though I didn’t enter cause I read the best time to visit is 9am) but I entered to one of the most beautiful sacred place nearby, instead.

There, I found some magical moments. The echo of call prayer from the mosque was magical. The architecture of the mosque was magical. And the thing I loved the most that day was an accidental friendship I found inside the mosque. I honestly love unpredictable moment just jumped up like that while I traveled. Magnifique, as French says.



“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”


I’m pretty sure you guys know the sentence above is one of the basic rules in life. If you do not ask for something, you’ll always have no as an answer. That exactly what I had in mind when I was inside Sultan Ahmed mosque.

Right after Asr prayer, I was still admiring the beauty of the mosque with a camera in my hand, typical tourist. Taking some pictures while my mind thought about every details on those fascinating domes. Five minutes after, I dropped my camera and what I wanted to do was recording the moment in my brain till there was a whisper knocked my mind, “take one with yourself in the picture.” 

If you ask me, I’m more like BTS person when I’m traveling. I do prefer to photograph the objects/people than seeing myself in the picture. But I said like, “come on, you are in Turkey, just do what you want to do. Having one with yourself in isn’t a bad idea, nah? even just one.”  I stood from the floor after I saw a gentleman stood too. The whisper was sounded louder than before,“if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

I had a fickle heart to ask to someone who I saw was busy taking picture. I bet you will think the same like what I thought then. If you are a solo traveler, you’ll prefer to ask somebody who looks like traveling alone. When I saw Safoine stood with his smart phone, I asked him if he could help me with my camera. The first time I gave my camera, he handed over to a gentleman that was standing in front of us, which I later knew his name is Hakan. Saf said Hakan could take photograph better. I offered them to have some photos from my camera after Hakan took myself twice. After that moment, we introduced ourselves. I never felt such a welcome acquaintance like what I had with Hakan and Saf before. It was warm, gracious, and genuine.

We left the mosque together and headed to somewhere near Galata bridge for sunset, with interesting conversations in between. Enjoying the late afternoon just before the golden hour will always be one of my happiness. And enjoying it with a view of Bosphorus strait, cool spring breeze, shrieking seagulls, and two new pleasant friends like Hakan and Safoine, could be one the best happiness I won’t forget on my second day in Istanbul. Sadly, I couldn’t show you our picture we took together here as requested by Hakan. That’s not a big deal right? Saf’s smile you can see below’s such a prove how bright the day we had then.



Thank you to the internet nowadays for making everything easier. I connected to Hakan after we exchanged our WhatsApp numbers before he and Saf went back to their hotel. We met again for a dinner at Mom’s Corner Istanbul as suggested by Hakan (he’s Turkish by blood and a real foodie anyway, so we just need to follow him for the best places in Istanbul). A cozy beautiful evening at a restaurant with strong elements, authentic Turkish food, warm conversation with InstaStories plus Snapchats and our new friendship.

We were walking to İstiklal Avenue after dinner (gosh, it was such an exercise walking on uphill road in the evening!), passed Galata Tower, took scopes of ice cream and ended by chilling at Taksim Square.

I want to share some fun facts on my second day :)

  • I had 4 different interviews kind-of from some pupils around Hagia Sofia. They were having an English assignment and had to find somebody who could be asked some questions in English and recorded. The last one was when they stopped me, Hakan and Saf with the same purpose. Kinda funny yet interesting
  • I have to admit that most time I could be so garish when I meet someone new. When Hakan and Saf said they landed in the morning on the same day we met, flew from Paris, and they speak French, I said “I hate you guys”. Excusez-moi, call me garish and I don’t care
  • It was so fun I could record our dinner scene and posted on my Instagram Stories that day, I felt so cool you know :D (this is beyond garish I know)
  • We took an iPhone selfie (sadly I couldn’t show it here, as requested by WHY Hakan WHY) that was so much better than the Bangladesh man took from my camera. I did wish he could take the photo perfectly but a picture of myself with closed eyes was like “WHYYY?”
  • Hakan is so much better taking selfie photo rather than me. Most time I always shake holding an iPhone for a selfie
  • I just knew that croissant means crescent moon in English. I heard Hakan said “our meeting point is where that croissant is”, when he pointed the moon shape on one Turkish flag. I thought Hakan was jested for a real “croissant” after I told him and Saf that I’m a croissant lover
  • I met with Ali Murad, originally from Cyprus that works and lives in Qatar when I was waiting for Hakan & Saf before our dinner. He was on a business trip in Istanbul and asked me if I could join him to the club in Taksim. I told him I had an appointment with Hakan and Saf, he said “you can ask them to join later” ((oops! maybe next time Ali! :P three of us do not drink!). We became friends after exchanged our WhatsApp numbers. The last time I spoke with him on the phone when he heard that I lost my wallet in Istanbul


Next post is when I thought was one of the most memorable day I had with still, Hakan and Saf.


That Spring Breeze, In Istanbul


“Perhaps, traveling with no itinerary is the best travel style”


To be honest, I’m not that good doing a travel research. Though I do love reading travel stories from other travelers or bloggers, but I’m not that thorough concerning a destination. I always try to take notes for some key informations such as how to get there, do and don’t till exchange rates. My trip to Turkey wasn’t like my trip to Japan last year when most of my needs had been sorted before I even flew. This one was more like “let’s find the way when you are there”. Also, I had no itinerary except in Cappadocia for the balloon ride. So, basically my recent trip was like “I’m ready for any surprises”.

Arrived on Friday morning at Atatürk Airport, I headed straight to Taksim. Metro in Istanbul isn’t as complicated as Tokyo, and that’s a good news. Flying to Turkey with zero expectation reminded me of something:


“Though I wasn’t full of the joys of spring even when I landed, but stood inside the train and found myself in somewhere I haven’t been to, was surreal”


I was still wondering what Turkey has that could surprise me when I was standing inside the train. Yet I felt a feeling I’d missed that sparkled immediately. That feeling when you were inside the train and you could see difference faces and styles you’ve never seen before, and probably it was my wanderlust.

I did arrive around 11am at my hostel called #bunk, received a warm welcome and informative tips from Olga, a Russian lady that works in the front desk. She asked me, “your first time in Istanbul?”, “yep, zero expectation. Let’s see what will I experience here” I replied. “You’ll love it, Azis”, Olga convinced me with a sweet smile on her face.



I didn’t start sightseeing on my very first day in Istanbul, I only looked the nearest mosque for Friday prayer, took lunch with my first Turkish dishes (that always look tantalising from the glass window), went back to hostel for napping, and relaxing in Taksim Square in the evening (when I realised evening in spring was so cold).

I went places on my second day. I started my mood right. I setted a bright smile on my face, listened to fav songs from my iPhone, and walked along to Taksim station. Before I went down to the station, I stopped my steps in front of Monumento a la República. I could vividly remember what I did. I stared to the sky, it was so clear and blue. I breathed easy and let the spring breeze and bright sunshine that morning kissed my face. I said to myself “I think I love spring”.


“Day two could be one of the most beautiful day on my trip”


First, I really enjoyed my morning in the tram heading to Sultanahmed district. Sitting in front of a Turkish lady that speaks English very well who kind enough giving me some travel trips while accompanying a friend from States. I will always love a simply moment like that, sitting by the window in a sunny yet cool morning, seeing random faces, gazening out to the unusual morning scene, and heading to somewhere new.

Second, giving myself “me-time” by sitting at Hafiz Mustafa in the afternoon after strolling around Sultanahmed district. There was nothing better by sitting by the window upstairs with a slice of pretty cake and a cup of hot Turkish tea while spring breeze was still cool.

And the last thing that made my second day in Istanbul beautiful was an accidental friendship with a very friendly and welcome des amis français in the Blue Mosque. Perhaps that could be the real meaning of the joys of spring for me.

Will share how it happened on the next post.



Istanbul, Prelude

“I flew to Turkey with zero expectation. I mean, it was real zero…”


Even from two days before my departure, I had no interest to expect much from Turkey. Let me make this simpler, I never put Turkey in my “country-to-visit-before-I-die” list. Tho I used to browse “Turkey for a week” on Google, and learned about their currency, some greetings in Turkish, but truly I wasn’t that excited to be honest.

So, how did it start?

On January this year, I finally got an agreement with the company for two weeks casual leave. It should be on February and ended by mid April (cause something happened in between, rggh). I had a fickle heart during that time to decide where to go and almost cancelled the trip. I should be over the moon right? but for some reasons I wasn’t keen to travel. Lurking at the air fare was one of the reason, too. This is why I always envy with my friends that live in Europe, where they just need to take a train for two to three hours and “greeting from Berlin!” will be on my iPhone screen like Andreas did. Or like my Ukrainian friend that I met in Istanbul (I’ll share about him on separate post) that told me he just paid around $200 for return ticket from Kiev. Flying abroad from here with only $200? FORGET IT. Airfare from and to Africa continent is always crazy. Don’t gasp if I tell you how much I paid my one way ticket from Jakarta to Lagos last year. It was $1700. Return could be cheaper but hey, it could be as close as $2800-$3000. INSANE. I was thinking I could even pass Istanbul on my way back to Indonesia when I have my annual leave. I did check the airfare for multi-city and it was reasonable. But my boss said “Azis, stick with your schedule. You need to rest. You are going to Turkey right?, just go.” 

I thought about it twice. Morocco came in between.

K, I never tell you that the agreement was included half of my ticket would be paid by the company. $883 divided into two, I paid half. It was still high right? it was! but if I didn’t take that opportunity and kept thinking about my travel cost, I would not have those beautiful moments and memories and pics for this blog :). Oh please note, that airfare wasn’t even direct flight to Istanbul. I had to transit in Cairo for 6 boring hours via EgyptAir. Not to underestimate Egypt but my flight via EgyptAir was the worst international flight I’ve experienced. How could I be on the air for almost 6 hours without even a small screen with movies or songs right in front of my seat? I don’t recommend at all :). My next flight from Cairo to Istanbul was so much better via Turkish Airlines although it was only 2 hours, but everything was good (not to mention how I enjoyed that warm sandwich with mozzarella, tomato and mushroom when I was starving by 5am!).


“My friend, Andreas, used to say to me that traveling will give us more stories.

He’s hundred percent true


My trip to Turkey was full of stories.

Right after I got my e-ticket, I applied the e-Visa. I used to read how easy to apply online but in my case, I found some gravels. I had to try three times here. The first try was almost done till I found that I couldn’t do the next step: payment. It was stated then that I couldn’t get the visa in this city. I found it strange till I had to read the same case on TripAdvisor forum. When my departure date was getting closer and closer, I became a bit anxious. I had to contact Turkey Embassy in the capital city but got a bit confused with dual languages on the phone. I tried to contact the Turkey Consulate General here in Lagos but no response. Till I saw one phone number people suggested on Google under Turkey Embassy so I made a call. When I was on the phone I knew it was fraud. I did explain what my visa issue was to him and he answered that the website was having a problem that moment. He told me I could get the visa from the Turkey Consulate after I sent a copy of my passport and made a payment for N 125K. Excusez-moi, that was more than $200 while the official e-Visa fee is $25! I finally got the visa after I got the additional link the Turkey Embassy sent to my email.

Another story I had when I arrived a bit late in the airport after I had to pass one bank to collect my debit cards, then went to the office to drop my hand-over notes, then traffic jam. Tho I had checked online, arrived late in the airport for international flight would give you butterflies in your stomach. I had annoying moment when I was at the passport checking point. There were two EgyptAir staffs that checked my travel docs. One lady with a very bitter no-smile face and one man who held me for more than 30 minutes. The man held my passport and asked why I only had e-Visa without OECD? I said, “Excusez-moi? what the hell is OECD?” I didn’t say what the hell but my voice tone was similar with that. I never heard about OECD before and he asked me the same question with force and one book in his hand. I looked at the book when he was re checking my e-Visa and found that “OMG! why you have to check all those countries list on that manual book and force me for OECD, there is internet in 2017 you know!”. I spent almost 40 minutes waiting for him till I had no patient and spoke to him like “I’m Indonesian passport holder. I just need e-Visa to Turkey. And I travel only for vacation, please look at this”. And he gave my passport back after I showed him one article on my iPhone, gosh that was nonsensical nonsense.

I’ll continue sharing stories from this trip on the next post. Let me refresh you with some photographs from Istanbul after my too-long prelude :P


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