Sacred. Silent. And The Enchanting Dawns I Won’t Forget ( i )

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There is one man who always reminded me that I should have gone since. “You can afford it, you travel places but not there, why?.”

Every time that question stood in front of my face, I smiled.

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I kept answering with the same answer: “You know you can afford it easily because you have the money. But when the echo here, in your heart, never calls you, no matter what, you won’t go.”

His name is not Ibrahim but I don’t know why I always call him Mr. Ibrahim. He’s the one I always come to if I need to exchange foreign currency. Perhaps, what he told me was a sign from up. And perhaps, I was also true having that kind of logic because I do believe in one thing. A spiritual trip to the Holy Ground is not just about you can afford it, it is more about the perfect time He invites you to come.

I sat on the floor with my legs crossed. It was after evening prayer, there was an echo in my head whispering me one thing: “Perhaps it’s time.” Perhaps, I had to make the time. As I heard the echo, I was sure that was the time I had to make the trip. If I’m not mistaken, that was two months before one of the saddest times I had in life happened: my dad passed. It was October 24th, two years ago.

The echo in my head came down to my heart. That time was stronger, I had to make it. I didn’t think anything but to send him a prayer. I had a lot of wrongdoings I did when he was still alive, the distance could be one of the reasons but truly, I felt nothing but chagrined to the bottom of my heart. I should have done these and those but everything is futile right now. Nothing could bring him back, nothing I could fix. Until I’m typing this sentence I still grieved, I still keep my last tribute in the draft, I’m still brokenhearted yet what I could only do to ease myself is to let him peacefully smiling up there through prayers.

Three days before my departure I told my mom about the trip. She was a bit surprised yet smiling at the end when she looked at my passport. I could feel she was relieved with the fact that I finally made the trip she always reminded me of. In our culture specifically, making a trip to the Holy Mecca could be considered as one of the essential life achievements. There is a culture of celebration by inviting people to send some prayers a day before the trip starts but I didn’t go with such a direction. I prefer to keep it as secret as the trip is such a personal one, and I did go there just for two things: to pray for my late dad and my self-healing.

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Time changed. And I didn’t feel the same.

I packed light. I dressed casually in black. I kept the tailored uniform inside my blue Herschel. I kept everything tidily as it should be.

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-Medina-

After seven hours of flight from Singapore, I found myself in Jeddah with a group of people. I found it interesting with the fact that the group contained forty years old and above. As I never involved myself in a tour before, it was such an experience.

I got a box of too-late dinner on the bus. It helped me a bit from starving but it didn’t release my exhausting mood. It was a quarter after one and I felt the weather was chill. Five hours on the road didn’t feel long as I thought it would be. I tried not to feel nervous cause I did prefer flying if I might say. Perhaps it would be different if we were looking at the sunset and being offered by a distinct landscape, but it was too dark from the bus window to see the road. Our old travel guide was telling some kind of rules and different prayers when I checked on how long we had until we could reach our hotel. As I kept everything tidily silent, I landed in Medina at midnight. By the time I stepped my feet out of the bus, I did finally feel the spark. I looked around, the street was quiet with some not-too-bright yellow street light at some corners, tall buildings everywhere, marbles, and different kind of midnight talks.

When we were almost done checking in, our tour guide announced we would have free time until 7 am. The only thing I would love to do was just to get some rest on the bed. I stayed with two gentlemen in a room with three twin beds. I was truly exhausted but I couldn’t laze because the time we had wasn’t much. I unpacked all necessities out of my small suitcase and started preparing what to wear in the next few hours. I could only close my eyes for 2 hours and found myself under a warm shower thirty minutes before 4. My muscles could breathe, my eyes relaxed and my mind somehow was still in the air with the fact that I made the trip. Our hotel is right in front of Nabawi Mosque, one of the biggest mosques on earth and was built by Prophet Muhammad. As I’m writing this sentence I remember vividly the sensation when I first stepped out of my hotel: freezing, sacred, and memorable. When I finished with tahajjud, I did my last sujūd and accomplished my main purpose: asking God for forgiveness for my dad. It was emotional, relieved, happy tears on my eyes.

I took a deep breath, I felt indescribable peace in my chest. I received an endless blessing from above. I sat among millions of people in Medina on the alluring marble floor, I could clearly see my dad was smiling from above.

“I did it, I did it, Dad.”, I whispered to myself, calmly, waiting for the first obligatory prayer of the day.

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The twilight was enchanting. The dawn at Nabawi was the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen in my life.

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Medina stole my heart from the day I breathed the air. The sun, the sky, the breeze, the marble floor at Nabawi, how serene the morning was, everything. I won’t forget the feeling of gaiety in my heart every time I stared to the enchanting sky after dawn. The fresh air, the echo of prayer calls five times a day, the beauty on every corner of Nabawi mosque, the endless sacred prayers by diverse faces who came from every part of the world. The tranquil vibe in the sky before sunset.

I was speechless on how my system received such unbelievable goosebumps among the crowd in front of Prophet Muhammad’s tomb. Goosebumps which led me to shed tears. My eyes used to cry a little when I saw Prophet Muhammad’s hair at a museum in Istanbul with the calm Qur’an chant in the air. But standing in front of his tomb, where everyone cries, I didn’t know if that was a mixture of elation and desolation. What I knew, it was real. It was spiritually impalpable.

The day I realized I had to send such an adieu to Medina, my heart sank. Three days came to end and I headed to the next indelible journey.

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~ to be continued ~

Eine Unvergessliche Reise (Teil Eins)

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One time on Sunday afternoon early March, we had a chat on what we wanted to do.

It was around 2 o’clock and I did say from the beginning:”Anything about best food or sort, I trust you.”.

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I didn’t do any research on things to do, not even must-visit spots or something like that (coffee shops excluded of course). I only had one clear purpose of the trip: nothing less than to enjoy every single moment.

I flew on May 5th. A flight from Cape Town with two hours transit in Dubai was smooth yet exhausting. I didn’t make time to sleep on the plane yet I couldn’t blame myself cause those questions why Hong Kong anxiously came out twice. I had a very good seat and entertainment on board with choices of good movies. I did watch some movies yet I knew, I lied to myself if I wasn’t bored. It was only a hot coffee I requested just before landing time which made me felt better.

I should have felt excited because a pleasant week from South Africa would continue in Asia. But there was a reason why Hong Kong was a bit peculiar: I never thought I would fly all the way for such a busy crowded city for a vacation. I did think Hong Kong was never on my top list.

I never landed but I could feel the heat. I was still on my window seat witnessing a typical iconic Hong Kong skyscrapers tucked with thick clouds. The sun was bright as I was gathering my excitement and pushing one by one questions of why Hong Kong in 2018.

I was inside an airport train to immigration when I finally felt the Asia vibe again. “Damn, I’m close enough to home. Should I pay a visit on my last three days here?”, I never even started my trip but a thought of going home was echoed inside my mind. I knew I was exhausted but somehow, I loved the sensation being on a very tight train among strangers.

I remember, I hugged Andreas twice to ensure he was real. Lé pardon if the sentence before this was too much. I did hug him twice to reassure it wasn’t a dream. When he stood there with my name handwritten on a piece of paper, my mind excitingly remembered to this magical note, “We both do not know where that will be, but we know it will happen.” As much as I remind myself to strongly believe that every dream will find its way to be real, someday, with some shiny glittering magic in between, a beautiful moment at that airport had proved it right. My peculiar feeling of why Hong Kong was evaporated in the air and suddenly showering different kind of excitements.

We took a fast train to the central. The day was sunny as I could see from the window. Andreas sat where my will-always-be-my-spot a.k.a window seat while I asked him twice, “Isn’t this strange? Don’t you think so?.” He answered it was. I felt it was strange in a very good way that hours we spent on Skype for the past two and half years brought us to real a life again. As we were on the train passing some typical Hong Kong residences, my heart was ready for some new surprises. I sat with memories when we had a chat twice in Tokyo which weren’t long. In the morning I repacked my things from Kyoto and a to-midnight short conversation at the lobby that has a wide clear glass somewhere in Akihabara.

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Here how our travel time through four memorable days was documented.

On a sunny afternoon, I finally felt glücklich to be in Hong Kong and let Andreas showed the best Hong Kong has to offer.

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Off from the airport, we went straight to my hostel (yes with S, you didn’t read wrong). I didn’t rent a portable pocket Wi-Fi since I found it was expensive, so on the first day Andreas was my live-Google-Map. Well, I had some screenshots on my iPhone to where I should have headed but I trusted him to lead the way. I remember we were off from the train and stopped at one train station heading to where we stood for a bus. When we realized the bus was heading to the opposite destination, we changed to the right one by burning calories under the sun until we finally arrived at Shek Pai Wan Road, Aberdeen.

I was managing myself to sort everything out rapidly while Andreas was waiting. I even forgot to enjoy my bath under the shower (best part: there are two with clear glass to enjoy the view outside, oh ofc not from floor to ceiling). I felt better and fresher after changing that faded green Zara tee with more comfortable one in black.

When I stepped out of the hostel, I looked up. It was after 5 pm and the sky turned to grey.

I was a little worried if it started raining. In front of where we stood for a bus, Andreas was checking the route on the information board. I thought that time, he wanted to reassure we won’t just get in to a wrong bus again. I was admiring the environment around us, the Cantonese in the air, and typical Hong Kong tight crowded flats with ACs placed outside the building. The first thing Andreas did and I loved it so much: he brought me to the upper deck of the bus that has a wide clear glass (and it was empty!) where we could actually see different scenes on the road.

The time we sat, I started believing that evening would be a great start of a wonderful travel experience.


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Off from the bus, he brought me to another simply exciting experience: we took a Hong Kong open tram and we again sat on the upper deck. “Azis, come with me, I’ll show the best spot to be on this tram. You’ll love it.”

And for God-sake, it was beautiful. I sat with a California Dream in the air. By writing this, I still remember the sensation sitting behind him gazing out to the people on busy roads, different shops with neon signage lights, the breeze, the rush. My travel bugs were flying high and dancing gleefully until I didn’t think it was necessary to capture the moment with my camera but my own brain. And keeping it somewhere safe.

Andreas brought me to a place where we had dinner. It was such a food court kind of that was crowded and sonorous but somehow, it was epic. The sensation was distinct where I could feel the strong Hong Kong vibe surrounded. I had delicious Vietnamese Pho while Andreas had curry noodle. That evening was a bit cloudy but warm. We took a walk for a ferry ride to peninsula afterwards.

It was a great experience on the ferry but more than that, I did enjoy all the simple things that evening. It was a kind of travel style I love the most: no plans, just surprises. Going to places with no expectations but ended with some memorable memories. I remember crystal clear, a young lady was singing a Cantonese song with guitar behind us, I joked I could take her mic and sang better. I crossed my legs on the hard cement floor when we had a slow time for friendship talk. He got a cold canned beer which I opened and had a ship. My first beer in my life at the Hong Kong harbor I said, proudly.

It tasted so weird but the view in front of my eyes was picturesque. I captured and remembered it.


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I sat on the second floor at Kowloon mosque. It was around 4 pm-ish. I never sent a text asking if Andreas had time to accompany me again on the second day until I later got one; “I just finished my research at uni. Any idea of what we should do?.” I had waited for a while for something stated in my reply; “Something to eat.” He later answered with an idea of where to go.

I remember the mosque was near Tim Sha Tsui station. Andreas was standing near exit C and I came to him with an empty tummy. I had no idea what he had in mind but I trusted every decision he made. We later found ourselves at Tim Ho Wan Olympian City 2 in West Kowloon. As we entered, I only had one request to him: a seat by the window for good lighting, what else?

The best part of our lunch was the restaurant wasn’t crowded then so it gave us a good time to talk in between pleasantly. The meal was great, not to mention he was the only one who had schweinefleisch in warm buns. He joked I should have tried a little taste of heaven. We spent an hour plus then we were heading to Ladies Market, a bet of eating durian (which he didn’t try! he should have tried it when in Asia even though I can’t eat raw durian too), passing some interesting stalls with Cantonese everywhere.

Everything was really interesting.


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He used to spend eight months in Hong Kong years ago as an exchange student so trusting him to show all best sites was the best decision (if I shouldn’t mention it was such an excuse for being lazy). When the day got dark we sat at one of the famous traditional Hong Kong restaurants in Jordan called Australia Diary Company.

He told me to taste the popular meal: scrambled egg served on toast. I must say the scrambled egg tasted so good but sadly I couldn’t finish eating it. I was full from Tim Ho Wan but the best part was the milk tea.

Oh God, it was heaven. The best I ever tasted.


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As a milk tea lover, he was blithe having a full glass with generous ice. I remember he was laughing when looking on how I looked after he told me not to expect a polite service and eating slowly because the waiter could forcibly get you to stand out from your chair. It was a typical Hong Kong restaurant service when they could roughly drop a food you order on the table. But that wasn’t a big deal for me because the way I enjoyed the most that evening apart of the milk tea was the vibe, the strangers’s chats, and some unique details my mind had captured: pen scribble on a waiter’s pocket that clearly showed on his white shirt, six vertical stacks of white coffee cups behind where Andreas sat, the grumpy face of the man behind the bar brewing Vietnamese coffee, and of course, the yellow menu card.

We ended the day by sitting near TST promenade for a random friendship talk with a view of Hong Kong skylines. Andreas told me we could get in The Peak Tram if the weather was friendly. Thought I won’t mind to experience the famous view of Hong Kong with her skyscrapers, there was no necessary apologetic “why” from the nature.

Staring to the clouds up there, deep down in my heart, I sent my gratitude to the universe for giving me a privilege such travel.


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~ to be continued to part ii ~

Two Nights At

Back to where I spent two nights in November last year.


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Even this sounds mainstream but Ubud will always be one of my favorite getaway destinations.

Ubud always has my heart. Last year after I had a very hectic, if this is another word to replace a hard time, I flew to Bali for five days and decided to respect myself by ran from affordable hostel to a little fancy private room. It’s called AIR Ubud, an artistic Airbnb (it was a second time after my first try of Airbnb in Cape Town) located at Jalan Kanjeng. It’s near downtown Ubud, but getting there a bit tricky at the beginning. Thanks to the host whose quick response was helpful.

I stayed only for two nights which later I felt the regret. Not because it was too short, but my plan to do nothing was totally failed. I was on vacation but had to do some design concepts for one renowned brand for their annual biggest concert. I had no choice but did the work for the office. Although the room was so cosy and gave me good energy to finish the work, I finally squeezed myself for having a me-time.

My me-time was set on the last night till the next morning before I checked out. I finished my work early morning on day 2 (ofc after I did sleep for three to four hours only) so I could have my nap. If you see the bed, you’ll understand why it was calling my name. Taking a proper nap when I’m having a vacation is one of the favorite things to do. Walking to Ubud downtown looking for lunch was the next thing I did, it wasn’t long of course cause it’s mandatory to relax in a beautiful place like AIR. Why bother leaving your room?

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I later had to tell myself on my way back coming to a restaurant nearby. I had Balinese mixed rice with a view the day before, rather than I came back with nothing, just in case I starved at midnight, I packed vegan fried rice (vegan, me? not now :)). It’s not funny to look for food while the location is a bit remote. The day became dark and as far as I remember, walking through the rice field was relaxing. Near the alley I had to pass, I found a torchlight rayed a spot on the ground which later I knew it was a little frog. Marian, a friendly lady from Spain, was the one who answered my curiosity about what someone did with a frog. From there, we spoke and shared some stories until the next day we had breakfast at the Cat Cafe. She travelled to some cities in Indonesia then (she was in Borneo to see Orang Utan. I should consider putting Borneo for a future destination).

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I came back to my room, having a packed dinner on the floor when I was on Skype with Andreas, and the rain was pouring outside.

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“I did find myself feeling comfortable when I stepped my feet in front of my room for the first time, I said, “it’s perfect”. Perhaps, I should have stayed one night longer”

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Canggu

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I was in between two things for the rest of my stay in Surabaya. Staying in the house, shopping some last minute needs, coffee hopping with friends. Or quick escape for the sound of the ocean, sunset at the beach, a little fancy food, alone. I had dreamed of spending three days in Lombok since my new friend, Hayyi, stays in Lombok. But that time, it didn’t go well. In my fickle heart, I picked the second option to Canggu: booked a return ticket and a $5 new hostel two days before departure (counted as a little present for myself after I passed my German Prüfung).

I did mostly nothing: napping, 5pm to the beach, 7am sitting at Avocado Factory and Shady Shack on the next day, cookies ice cream at Kynd Community, affordable Javanese food in between, looking at all those strangers with dogs happily running around by the water at the beach, back to Pison for a hot cappuccino before flying back to Surabaya.

The most favorite part of my quick escape: witnessing the glory of the sunset while thinking about life.


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“I came as the first. It has a rice field right in front of the small space where I ended sitting with a bowl of greens, vegan chocolate mousse, and a cup of matcha made in heaven. It was a perfect way to start a morning in Canggu.”

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“I sat alone on the balcony at Pison. An afternoon wind was quietly chilled. I opened a book and read a few pages, I looked at my wrist watch when I finished with my meal and left a little coffee in the cup.”

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“Two nights at Socialista Hostel Canggu where it was easy to reach the nearest beach and felt the breeze of the ocean. Thinking about life, about most things I experienced lately. That was the main reason why I grabbed my bag and did a very short runaway”

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“Updating sugar dose on one fine afternoon at Kynd”

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“At Shady Shack, I had a blueberry smoothie bowl with pineapple smoothie on my last morning after reading some pages of a current book I was having. The sunshine was bright before turned into grey with a little drizzle from above”

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“And I got what I imagined and expected for, two sunsets on my two evenings at the beach. When I was staring at the gift from the universe, I  felt there are so many things to be grateful for this worth living life.”

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Slow Time In Cape Town

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I’m writing this post when travel bugs around me are flying higher. I think it’s such a good sign to hurry packing a bag pack and explore somewhere new.

This might be the last post I dedicated for a pretty city called Cape Town. Last year during this time, I was in my room thinking about a destination. Few choices, few new places in mind. I was pretty excited as always to start browsing where are the hits coffee shops in town, museums I needed to pay a visit, how about outfits to bring, and of course, thinking about how my indulgence in photography would be stronger.

Cape Town as I mentioned a few times on previous posts was beautiful. Having a week there was a cup of tea. Combination of nice weather (clear sky, tho sometimes was too-chill in the evening), delicious food, picturesque landscapes, freedom to visit and documented places as I wished without a schedule. I loved it when I woke up a bit late and took a good coffee nearby. I loved it when I didn’t need to rush because of drizzling and enjoyed the vibe after rain without an umbrella. I loved it when I went to a supermarket at noon and stood confusingly choosing what to eat. I loved it when I went to places and got photographs of Cape Town. All of these make me want to, let me repeat from above; make me want to pack my bag and explore somewhere new sooner than later.

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Colors I saw after I had a very quality breakfast and coffee at Truth


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To be honest I was quite disappointed with what I found “just this?” at Boo-Kap. Good news, it wasn’t far from where I stayed


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A little fancy brunch at Hemelhvijs (the ceiling has dry colorful hydrangeas). That day was very windy so I ordered hot Srilankan tea


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It was a lovely and calming time at Honest Chocolate. Perhaps, it was the most favorite time I had when in Cape Town. I sat beside the window with cappuccino and banana cake when it was drizzling outside


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Two photographs I took at one shop and one restaurant at V&A Waterfront 


 

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Strolling at Cape Town Civic Centre after visiting Ramadhan bazaar where I met one Indonesian lady selling Indonesian food


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Okay, last ones. These were taken near where I stayed. Last morning and last sunset


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Table Mountain

 


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“A visit to Table Mountain could be counted as the only “must-do” I did, literally”

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As mentioned on several posts, my trip was a relax one. I didn’t really go places but spent my time as slow as I could. It was pretty much like, “Oh, how many days I have remain here?” 

I’m serious, when in Cape Town I was, “Really? I still have 3 days? I thought it was only 2”. I think because I was so relax and did nothing most of my stay then time was running slowly.

I had a fickle heart on May third, to visit Table Mountain cause you know: “Don’t wake me up, still have an affair with my blanket cause hey morning in spring is cold, very cold”. But again, I had to gather my will to visit one of the famous sites Cape Town has to offer. Basically there are two ways to get a ticket to Table Mountain, buying it on the spot or online. I chose the second option a day before I paid a visit. Either you buy it at the ticket counter or online, you still need to join the queue before entering the site.

My choice to wake up early (tho it was hard cause hell ya, it was very cold) brought me to a place that made me throwing smiles to the air. Many times. On my way to Table Mountain was perfect. I had sunshine thru the car window, passing some gorgeous houses along the way (they are so gorgeous, one of the reasons why I said you won’t feel “Africa” in CPT), the sky was clear and blue and too pretty, but two things missed: I had no proper breakfast and I didn’t even care with what I read on the website on how wearing proper shoes is recommended. When I was close to Table Mountain, I could already see how beautiful up there from the car: the peak was covered with thick white clouds.

These photographs below do not do justice how clear, how blue the sky was. Believe me, apart of layouts and some B&W photographs, no Photoshop’s needed to convince you how gorgeous this place was.

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I took a little deep breath and slowed my steps down when I was up there.

It was magical staring at those layers of clouds, standing with a magical view, fresh air and shades of blue.

I, remember”

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“It was typical spring weather, the sky was blue and the sun was bright,

but the air was as cool as my feeling.

I sat for an hour, with gratitude, staring at Cape Town from above. She’s even prettier.

Sometimes the breeze made me shiver a bit, but I had to say it didn’t stop me thinking that this earth is,

exquisite”

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“I know I still have a lot of places I’d like to see with my naked eyes on this earth, there are a lot in number.

Sometimes, even just dreaming about each one of them, it gives me spirit to stand there someday.

Standing on Table Mountain was such a fantasy which came to real”

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Notes:

  • Take photograph of yourself with Cape Town as a background, don’t miss it even though you are such a BTS person like me. In my case, it was a bit tricky finding someone who familiar with camera so I had you know “why-this?” kind photograph (yes, it wasn’t pleasant when I got a dark one cause someone took mine against sun light) ~ lesson learned, time to get a tripod every time I travel alone
  • I suggest to check the weather in advance to ensure it is a good day, no rain, no cloudy sky so you won’t miss how fun the cable car is (or if you love hiking then try to hike till up, it must be fun)
  • Standing by the side in the car when you could see the scenery from the glass is a plus. It was a bit terrifying for me first time I entered, but it was fun in the end
  • Check the official website to know more about your preferred time to visit, I did wish I was there for sunset. I could imagine how beautiful it would be yet in my opinion anytime is good
  • There are souvenir shop, cafe and Wi-Fi lounge up. Even if it’s not much, spend some rand for some souvenirs so you have something to remember from the trip
  • I went to the cafe for late breakfast, though you know typical tourist site the price is higher but I had nice sautéed mushroom, so I won’t complain (having breakfast with stunning view was pleasant of course)
  • Don’t spend too much of your time to take photographs, I mean it. It is difficult not to do so especially if you love photography cause every angle would be delighting. Take your time to sit, breath the fresh air while your eyes are pampered with picturesque scenes. It is worth every second

Schön Dich Wieder Zu Sehen!

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“It was a lovely morning. You could even see from an iPhone picture above”.


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Cape Town, May 5th 2018 

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Some movies on Netflix last night slacken my system. I woke up early on Saturday morning but my spirit was still hiding under a thick duvet and seemed so hard to leave. I could see the sky was still dark from the glass windows even though I nearly blind when I don’t have my spectacles on. That thick white duvet wasn’t the only thing I could blame. The air was very cold, no AC was on, I can’t sleep with AC on fyi. My system was really slow yet fortunately, I had packed all stuffs back to my small suitcase. It was so typical of me packing things night before I travelled. Thirty minutes gone and I was still trying so hard to leave. On the bed, I was cross checking my flight to Asia to ensure I had enough time before leaving this AirBnB.

I finally had my clothes on and prepared light breakfast from the food that was left in the fridge. I cancelled my plan to visit Truth for the last cup of cappuccino even though if I did, I still had enough time for Uber and an hour coffee time since the distance from the city centre to the airport is 30 minutes only.

My Uber was outside. That time, I realized the sky was way brighter than the day I arrived in Cape Town. The sky was very blue, the air was still cold, and the breeze was cool. The sun made the day clearer and it was a good thing. As I was listening to some songs with earpieces on my way to the airport, I was smiling all the way. I sat inside the car with a thought those days I had in Cape Town were amazing.

My flight was for 1pm. Before I stood among those people who would travel to different parts of the globe, I slowed my steps down to record every single scenes in my brain. I was pleased by the fact that I’d seen a tiny part of South Africa but as far as I remember,

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“Till I stood in front of a huge clear glass window staring at two airplanes outside.

My good feeling was sinking to an excitement as if I couldn’t wait any longer jumping in the plane to memorize how beautiful a sunset that day would be. And also, to the fact that my vacation wasn’t over yet”

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On the way to Dubai, May 5th 2018 

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You know that feeling when you do not realize you’ve created some memories at some corners of this earth and started feeling blue cause it’s time to leave them there? When the plane was up small by small it gave me such an instant nostalgic feeling, but at the same time I tried not to be too maudlin. I could call it as a peculiar feeling number two on this journey.

Cape Town seemed as pretty and neat as the first time I stared out of the window. The blue sky I talked about was closer to me, throwing a perfect afternoon light on my seat. I started to let all those memories stayed in Cape Town when I tucked myself for nine more hours to Dubai. I knew I had to make this journey as comfortable as possible with blanket, earphones, The Shape of Water and low cholesterol meal I accidentally ordered online which was tasteless yet helped so much from starving (bad one, I had no chocolate mousse but fruits as dessert – no, you don’t eat fruit as a dessert, do you? – this is a honest statement, I was secretly drooling when I looked at a lady’s dessert beside me). Tasteless meal didn’t stop me to feel good cause a sunset I suspected that day would be pretty, came to be gorgeous.

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Landed in Dubai for two hours only gave me something I could count as a peculiar feeling number three. Well, not to mention how I was still bemused by the lady who sat on the same row on the plane that played Candy Crush for almost seven hours non-stop (believe me, she did. No movies, no sleep, like seriously). My peculiar feeling number three was how I, Azis – who’s picky for good food – was craving a crispy fried chicken. It was really strange how I thought about fried chicken and ended with a regret at McDonalds. What I got instead were one chocolate donut, one croissant and a cup of coffee cause I had no interest on McD’s burgers – I could tell you, I only eat burger once or max twice a whole year, not a fan. It wasn’t only fried chicken I counted as a peculiar feeling number three. I asked for a coke when I had my on board meal – I mean, that was something since I barely drink anything like coke and friends – and it tasted so damn good with ice cubes.

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Hong Kong, May 6th 2018 

Unlike the flight from Cape Town, I spent most of my time by watching some movies pretended I wasn’t bored. I should have slept more since I felt so tired but these eyes didn’t even want to close. The time I witnessed a gentle sunrise from above, I knew all those peculiar feelings were part of an upcoming exciting journey.

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I kept smiling after few photographs of sunrise were taken. It was pretty, it was tranquil. I smiled because I felt lucky still having an opportunity to travel, flying from one corner to another where life experiences awaited. I tried closing my eyes for an hour but I was awoke immediately when a harsh light fell thru my window. Morning light was brighter as the sun came up, it told me gently that Hong Kong was closer.

Those skyscrapers were seen among fluffy white clouds. It was a similar view I saw last year when I had a connecting flight from Tokyo to Jakarta. That was just few hours flying from the airport but this journey won’t be the same. I was on top of Hong Kong, a country I used to put at those last ones to visit cause I wasn’t interested, what else.

I was on the queue to enter a train to the immigration. I had one peculiar feeling of “Back to Asia” added when I stood and learned where the train would stop (how many times I said ‘peculiar’ here? You count?). It was a busy afternoon when my mind was even just, meager. I was feeling meager actually, blame my eyes. A message dropped from a friend of mine right after my iPhone connected to airport’s WiFi.

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He asked, “You’ve taken a train to the city?”

I replied with a picture of a route showed outside the train, “Not yet, heading to immigration first”


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I experienced the same thing in front of the immigration officer. Damn, it took longer to check my passport. I had no clue why perhaps my name? But it didn’t shake me at all. I mean, I had no clue what surprises I’d have so let’s face it. Immigration done and time to learn those signages on the spot. I admit I didn’t delve anything about Hong Kong, well somebody I could ask everything was there, lazy me. I walked with a little migraine, oily straight face, and stiff shoulders but my eyes and brain had to connect learning those signages where I should get a train ticket to the central. All I wanted that afternoon was taking bath, standing under the shower, clean towel and spray of perfume before lied down on the bed.

My steps stopped at one corner of a foreign exchange counter. Two o’clock, I came out to the arrival point and followed those signages till I stopped with worse migraine. Believe me, I’d be so glad if I had a magic door like Doraemon has. Although a magic door seemed like a mindless dream, I was standing with a dream when a 5,5 feet somebody surprisingly came from the right side. As my mind was still meager, I clearly remembered I didn’t expect any travel agents. But, there was Andreas Knogler with a little Mr. written thinner than Azis Abdul in capital on a piece of paper.

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“I had a daze for seven seconds till I woke up that this somebody was actually Andreas Knogler. It was ridiculous, diverting per se”

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On the eighth second, I realized it wasn’t a dream when we both hugged and I said, “Wie geht’s Herr Knogler?!!!!” (No I didn’t ask him in German, in English of course. Herr means Mr. as I always call him Mr. Knogler, fyi). If you are attentive enough how many exclamation marks on the German question, you would know how bemused it was. Andreas didn’t even tell me he waited in the airport and the way he asked if I had already taken a train to the city wasn’t such a piece of puzzles. Honestly speaking, I didn’t surmise Andreas could create a surprise which imho, it was ridiculously-geniusly done.

If you just visited this blog, I wrote how Andreas and I met in Tokyo on 2016 here. For the past two years we have been communicating through Skype sharing and talking random things every time we both free (on no, sometimes I have to book his time ahead – no you’re not reading wrongly – in case he’s climbing somewhere in Southern Italy, or running marathon in Athens). I must say talking to Andreas over the screen on Skype is always pleasing but had an opportunity to see him again in person this year was remarkable. I don’t know, there is something special about seeing best friends halfway around the world.

Andreas was way too kind for becoming a travel companion while we were in Hong Kong. I’m gonna share days we spent on separate posts when we had so much fun. But before this post ends, I want to share a note which originally written by him through Messenger two years ago, August 8th – I copied his note for a picture purpose, you all know. Please read his last sentence, you’ll start believing that universe has a magical way to make a sincere wish, strongly, secretly, becomes real when all opportunities meet together without even telling you when. Till right now, I could even feel the magic of this note.

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P.S. A photograph of Andreas above was actually taken few minutes before he caught a flight to Seoul. I asked him to recreate the scene of him holding that – travel agent, oh Lord it was funny- paper before he left Hong Kong for a short vacation whilst I still had few days left. Let me remind you one thing, it is true that some moments in life are fine to keep in our memory. But trust me, if you could freeze that moment into a photograph, you’ll have double memories which easier to be remembered in the next let say, ten to twenty years :)  

Truth And The Academics

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“Oh, you didn’t go to Disneyland when in Hong Kong?”, someone asked me last week.

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The happiest place on earth, people say, wasn’t on my list then. I honestly thought about it cause I’m still curious (yes, till today) how Disneyland is. Also, I used to be a big fan of Mickey Mouse. Next time if I have an opportunity to travel to countries where Disneyland’s located, I should try to pay a visit at least once in my life.

My answer for such a question above was the same and will always be. I’d stick on my travel style which is fifty percent of my time I’ll use it for “must-visit” places while another fifty percent is free. On the recent vacation, my free time was increased to seventy percent and I loved it somehow. I have a standard time when I visit a country for leisure: it must be minimum seven days stay. It would be great if I could visit at least two different cities but I came to realize that I much prefer to explore one city for a week cause that would give me enough time to find some ideas of my luxury (read: do nothing, coffee-hopping, taking a lot of photographs, late night ice cream? I’m listing). I was lucky enough I had two different cappuccinos at two different excellent coffee shops in two different countries last month.

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TRUTH COFFEE

– Cape Town –


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I had no idea that Truth Coffee was listed as the best coffee shop in the world by The Telegraph on 2016 when I was in Cape Town. You know, I woke up and thought, “Oh a cup of hot cappuccino would be good” then Google was kind enough to let me know Truth Coffee wasn’t that far from where I stayed.

Only 6 minutes Uber ride to finally pay a visit for a cup of excellent cappuccino and eggs benedict served with Norwegian salmon for breakfast. I’m not a coffee connoisseur, I just love to enjoy a cup of good one and examine as much as I could which coffee tastes good. And I must confess the one I had at Truth was excellent.

Few things: You could have your coffee as early as 6 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekend // Don’t ever expect sugar (nothing!) cause that’s the best way to enjoy coffee // I suggest to come when it’s not packed with people (so you could enjoy yours by the window, no rush) // Take some photographs of the interior, the steampunk-vibe is distinct (I didn’t take that many :)).

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THE COFFEE ACADEMICS

– Hong Kong –


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I admit one of the reasons why I decided to visit Hong Kong this year was the coffee. I heard there are quite many good coffees. I repeat this, I visited some coffee shops when I was there not because I’m a coffee connoisseur nor for Instagram purpose. Although after I read a post on The Telegraph about Truth Coffee was listed as the first best coffee shop in the world and The Coffee Academics in Hong Kong was the second I made a promise, “Ok, I’ll pay a visit”.

It was an accidental visit if I might say. It was just a day before I flew back to a real life, I was lingered around Central for Friday prayer. Well, I didn’t pray on time cause I woke up a bit late, took a wrong bus from hostel and also, finding the mosque was tricky (Google map didn’t help me much). When I was a bit close to where the mosque’s located, I passed The Coffee Academics and believed it was a sign to pay my promise, huh?

After I came back from the mosque – I took a wrong way –  (and some uphill alleys made myself weak, think I should start accompanying Andreas for hiking, sometimes in the future *fingercrossed*) and ended with a cup of cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake. It’s written on my bio on this blog that I could die for a yummy buttery croissant, I’ll add this: a luscious carrot cake is on the second place.

Few things I remember: I never took any food for breakfast till late noon that day, so the carrot cake was the first meal (that wasn’t a good thing cause I walked a lot) // The Coffee Academics has several locations, if you are in Hong Kong you could browse the nearest location in case you want to pay a visit, their coffee is excellent // Although coffee in Hong Kong isn’t that cheap but it’s worth to try. I asked for Shaken Viennese after cappuccino and I was blithesome after. When I stood and found, “Oh, Vienna”, I sent a message to Andreas with those silly wishes (well I know he used to it :)). I just took it as a sign that someday I’ll visit Vienna, so why not to try when I was there, right? // If you look at one photograph below where you could see a guy standing with his phone, that was where I sat. I also love to do this when I travel: sitting with a coffee and enjoying the vibe surrounds me. It’s a busy street, and you know Hong Kong life is hectic, so looking at people walking by when I was having my coffee was an experience // When I wanted to bring my cup in, a lady who works there came and took it from my hand. She smiled and we started a conversation about the coffee, it was a short one but lovely. I know I also love to do that when I could talk with a stranger with some smiles in between.

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Airlines And AirBnb


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“Apart of hunting an affordable airline, looking for a place to stay is one of the fun things to do before travel starts”

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Well, I’m not good enough on the first one. Looking for an affordable ticket needs patience but that’s not the reason why I always end paying “so-so” price.

Perhaps these are things involved:

  • First, I don’t have much money but love nice things. This means when I travel I’ll always try to be as comfortable as I could from picking good airlines till how I eat. I keep thinking that’s how I appreciate myself after work hard. Of course without breaking the bank (which bank to break? I don’t really have much saving cause I’m not really good to save money, but I’m trying right now lol)
  • Two, most of the time I have short preparation for vacation and this affects on when I have to buy my ticket. I’ll try to think about buying it six months in advance but again, if something unfortunately happens in between and I have to change/reschedule, I’m going to spend more isn’t it?
  • And the last one, perhaps my believe that “We could earn money again” is strong. Having time to travel when we are still healthy is an opportunity apart of the funds itself. Mostly, when I’m in front of my laptop looking for a flight I won’t take too long to pay. Of course, I have to be wise spending my money cause earning it is not as easy as flipping my palm

I’ll keep writing but I have to breathe a bit. I just remembered I never calculate how much I spent for my last trips to South Africa and Hong Kong. Thankfully I wrote everything on my iPhone so it’s easy to track. Ah hold on, I did mention my believe that I would earn more money again, huh? I hope so (read: calm down, you don’t need to worry this much Zis (finger crossed :P)). I think I have to add one more reason why I could never save money if I travel from here is no budget airlines. Most airfare from and to Africa continent isn’t that affordable. Nowadays, it’s much better than few years back when I used to pay “oh-my-God” amount of money for one-way ticket from Jakarta to Lagos.

Even though I had a slightly longer time to prepare my last trips but that didn’t really save me in terms of airfare. Since I traveled from Lagos and wanted spending a week in Cape Town and a week to see my best friend Andreas in Hong Kong then back to Lagos, I had to be ready with the bills. I had to pick three different airlines after I found that buying separate tickets was a bit cheaper than multi-city option. I did a good job by finding three flights with minimum transit duration to save my time. Except for 20 hours layover in Istanbul that I deliberately wanted strolling around Istanbul again for 12 hours. I flew with Turkish Airlines from Lagos – Istanbul – Cape Town, Emirates from Cape Town to Hong Kong with two hours transit in Dubai, and ended my travel from Hong Kong to Lagos with three hours transit in Abu Dhabi via Etihad. There were some cheaper options but looking at long transit didn’t impress me to save money. If I may count the transit countries, I was at five different countries on two weeks :P

Let’s move to where I stayed. If you are a reader of this blog you have read many times why I prefer hostel than hotel. If you just found and visited this blog, you might interested to read why, and why, and why I prefer hostel for my stay. Of course I have criterias on how my hostel would be. It must have a cool spot (you may say it must be instagramable, that’s the word huh?), good design (it’s a plus if it’s new hostel cause the facilities must be good!), good location, and of course value for money. I did pick hostel during my stay in Cape Town for 4 nights and for my last 2 nights I decided to try my first AirBnb.

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The hostel I stayed in Cape Town is quite popular for travelers and tourists. I recommend if you plan to visit Cape Town cause indeed the location is strategic, the facility isn’t bad at all, and the staffs are quite helpful. If you asked me did I meet with some travelers and became friends during my stay there the answer is no. I didn’t really meet with kind travelers who stayed at the same dorm room except an Italian guy who stayed beside my bed for two nights. He traveled to Cape Town from Durban for a quick jaunt in between of a project he’s doing. He speaks English well but we didn’t exchange contacts so it didn’t count. There was a cool Brazilian girl who travels quite often but she wasn’t seem friendly (maybe it was just to me but as far as I know Brazilian is friendly isn’t it?), two female siblings from Canada (we had a very short conversation but I didn’t know when they left), a Swiss man with only some hellos, and an old American man who is a bit picky having a conversation with (he talked more to the Italian guy I mentioned ;P). Summing up, I didn’t really look for new friends when I was there tbh so when the time for me to check out and moved to an apartment I was quite excited.

If I picked hotel last year when I was in Cappadocia as a treat for myself, I did it too in Cape Town. Though my travel style was completely slow but I thought about a distinct experience I’d love to try by staying in an apartment. When I browsed in AirBnb few days before I flew, I had crush on some beautiful houses in Cape Town but unfortunately the date didn’t match.

It was a pleasant experience for my first AirBnb. It’s a nice room, comfortable bed (ah I always love thick clean white blanket!), very clean bathroom and kitchen, and full entertainment on the screen. Even though I only communicated with the host via mail (he reminded me few times to save water since Cape Town is experiencing a serious water drainage but never answer my questions, haha), it was a good place to stay. I pretended as if I would be there for a longer stay cause the room is really cozy. I thought about “Today I don’t feel like doing anything” on my last two last days in Cape Town, didn’t want to leave the apartment and watching movies on Netflix instead, cooking some meals (I thought to shop some ingredients but ended with ‘ready-to-enjoy’ meals and some fruits) but later became lazy cause hello, “I cook almost everyday in my own apartment in Lagos to save my pocket-money and I’m on vacation right now”.

Here are some photographs of the apartment which do not do justice how cozy it was.

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I would share how my stay in Hong Kong was (didn’t really take picture of the hostel) with some interesting stories on separate post, promise. When Andreas told me he had a great time and experience trying couchsurfing on his last trip in South Korea, I think I’d like to try that for my future trip.

Wait, did I mention doing some breakfast scenes at the apartment was a nice thing to do?

All You Have To Do Is…



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“There was a memory I could vividly remember years back when I was in the middle school”

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My classroom was kind of an old Dutch building that has a high ceiling and tall wooden doors painted in ivory. I remember where I sat, the first chair right after the door. I was the first student who knew if there was a teacher came in. As a ‘kid’, I was like anyone else in the class who would be very happy when our teacher didn’t come to teach us. Every time it happened, I would do my favorite thing: staring to the front yard and enjoying an afternoon breeze while my mind wasn’t even there. Thinking how many hours left till I could pack my bag and went home.

I literally sat on the bench just me and myself on my first year. I found it hard to blend to where those cool kids were. To blend where those mischievous were. I found it hard to blend myself to 39 different characters in the class. Meaning for almost two semesters during my first year I had no best friend and no gang, of course. It was quite tough finding friends who would accept me to be in their team. I was still super introvert if that’s the word for somebody who speaks very less, doesn’t have a communication skill, feeling way more comfortable being alone than standing in front of the class.

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“I remember one of my very good friends Atre used to say: human learns. We are all learning something in this life. By learning we are all growing”

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So do I.

I used to be a very introvert when speaking to someone new was like a nightmare. When what I could do just being resentful to myself every time my Dad said, “Go outside and find friends!”. I swear, he was kind of worry with me if I had no friends. But I kinda felt fine to be honest. The only time I felt bad when you know, if there was homework as a team in Physic class for instance, I started feeling like a left-over plastic bag no one had interest to pick it up. Time flies and I finally found the new transformation on how I open myself.

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“Traveling is where I learn to be more open to people…in which has changed me into “I’m not an -too- introvert like before”

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I was heading to Ginza when I was texting Hiromi with, “Let’s catch-up, I’m here!”. If you just visited this blog, fyi I met Hiromi on my last day in Tokyo on my first visit two years ago. I was literally waiting for Andreas Knogler to wake up at the reception and I saw Hiromi with a man from Afghanistan, an architect lives in Berlin who had Hiromi as his travel guide. Started with a very short acquaintance and exchanged contacts, we’ve been communicating ever since.

Hiromi thought I was joking after I sent an iPhone picture of Ginza Station. That was a quite surprise in my opinion. Even though I wasn’t really sure to meet her again last summer, I let the universe lead the way as always. It was a pleasant thing I felt when Hiromi sent a message where and when we could meet.

The next day I left my hostel, earpieces on my ears and started my morning by walking to a train station. I googled some places before I met Hiromi in the evening at Roppongi Station and I received a message from my childhood best friend: “How’s your day there? Have you met a new friend?” 

His message pinched me like, “Yeah, this is my third day in Tokyo and I haven’t made a new friend yet”

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“Surprises always spark when we travel”

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The day I met Hiromi led me to some new friendships

Hiromi was very kind treating me at Roppongi Hills for dinner. She told me we could enjoy Tokyo from above at Observation Room after all. I did enjoy every second staring at how pretty Tokyo at night till I got a bit distracted by two guys beside me which later I knew his name is Earvin and another one is Eric. Earvin is Canadian with Philippines roots, while Eric is from California. Eric was capturing Earvin with Tokyo Tower as a background before I started a light conversation. We spent sometimes to talk about Japan, and how Earvin and Eric met in the wrong train when they were heading to somewhere days before they visited Roppongi together.

That’s one of exciting parts of traveling when you just meet random traveler and become friends, right?

I must admit I did one of the cheesiest things before we all hugged and wished we could meet again in Japan someday (maybe Olympic 2020? :), I don’t mind another place on earth!). It was oh, recording a farewell video of us. It was actually fun having a short meeting with Hiromi, Earvin and Eric that day although you know, I wished we had longer time to talk about things cause somehow farewell is still hard to do :) (I must thank to myself for the cheesiness cause at least I still have our few selfies too).

When I was in the train with Earvin back to my hostel, I realized two things: that kind of moment will always be one of my reasons to travel more, and hey, universe had answered a question my best friend asked above? I told you :)


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Oh, hello Luís!

I came back to the hostel a bit late and went straight to my room. I almost entered but stopped my steps when someone asked if I had a rough day by looking at how tired I was. We had a short conversation on how our days were after acquainted ourselves. His name is Luís Dorelli, a very friendly guy from Brazil currently lives and works in Google London. Luís was the one I mostly spent my days in Tokyo with.

Even Luís seems so busy right now till we didn’t really have a chance to communicate like before, but I had two favorite moments I’ll always remember when we were in Tokyo. One, we went outside looking for light food after the rain. We both were tired but his idea walking under drizzle in the evening with transparent umbrellas was a good one. I always love the ambiance after the rain, especially in Tokyo where those neon lights makes the scene more memorable. Although in the end we couldn’t find any place nearby but having random conversation, some photo captured at Sensō-ji, and ended by buying snacks at 24hours supermarket was fun.

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Second moment was when we finally ended our trip at Haneda. We left on the same day, so heading to the airport together was a good idea. We took the same train, had a dinner at one restaurant in the airport before passing immigration, shopping time (he got sake while I was fine with whiskey, oh I mean some Tokyo Bananas), and ended with a bear hug. It was actually an impressive farewell I’ll keep in mind. Again, I must thank to myself for another cheesiness in the end of our trip (yes, I recorded an iPhone video with Luís before he flew back to London).

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I hope you still remember how fun the time we had with some fellow travelers at the pantry till midnight, Luís. Perhaps some pictures below will remind you, of course Chang is here :)

(P.S. I had to rip my shame by posting a photo with my face for memory purpose)

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Wait, I’ll say hi cause they’re leaving

Before I went out with Luís after the rain, I saw two guys were ready to leave with their backpacks at the lobby. The guys I saw few times early morning days before. They also stayed at the same room where me and Luís were but had no chance to talk even a single word. They both were so busy, too busy with their days in Japan till I had no courage to start a conversation. I just saw one of them was taking his things from the locker which placed few inches in front of my bed. Few times I saw him, few times I also kept silent till that evening I finally said few words right before I entered the lift.

My heart said, “Come on, few words do not cost you anything”

I was stoked I did it. It might be only 10 minutes but it was one of the warmest and friendliest conversations I’ve ever had.

I could see how magical “hi” to open a conversation and ended with a beautiful one. That was what I found when I finally spoke with Santiago and Omar before they were leaving to Kyoto. This “hi” may not work to everybody (I mean, a stranger we meet) but just remember, when your heart says to do so, just do it. It could be something which will mark in your heart and mind.

I didn’t take time to ask their details so we could keep in touch after. Santiago and Omar were the kindest Colombian I’ve ever met. It was just totally different with what I thought from few days I saw Santiago in the room. Our short conversation that day continues till today, and somehow I think that is more important when we could still keep in touch and remember each other. Oh, don’t blame me if I recorded an iPhone video too with a kind wish I could see them again sooner than later either in Bogotá or somewhere else on earth (from now on, we should FaceTime-ing more often, Santiago!).


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That’s why they both look stunning

I’ll never forget how my conversation with a very kind human, Meryl started. We met few times at the bathroom and there, our random conversations begun. Before I even realized Meryl and Nikki had only three days with very short time to visit places in Tokyo, I ended feeling beyond grateful cause Meryl started with an idea to take picture together before they left. I woke up late that morning and felt very tired but having some photographs with both of them made my day.

If I visit Philippines someday I would definitely let Meryl and Nikki know cause I’m sure we will have a very good time sharing our travel stories. Meryl and Nikki travel the world cause both are flight attendants (how cool, huh?)


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Oh, that was the highlight of my trip!

I actually woke up by 7am. That was a very short from the time I slept around 2am. Even though I was still felt exhausted but I had to wake up to bag few things to my suitcase. After I packed, I went straight to the pantry on the 7th floor. The pantry was empty, I sat on the wooden chair with that ‘feeling’ when you realize you should make your last day unforgettable one. I took my time by staring at the glass doors gazing at some buildings on the gloomy morning. Of course I played a song with earpieces from my iPhone to complete the whole scene. It is just a simple way to create some memories in my brain. Then I was ready for a very simple breakfast. White bread filled with chocolate paste and strawberry jam, pineapple juice, two slices of banana and pistachio (see, I remember every details!). I ate very slowly although I ran out of time.

The day I met Renata was the highlight of my trip. It was just genuinely, beautifully, happened just like that. I even remember every single scenes the morning I met with, le pardon if this sounds so exaggerated but honestly, she is one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met in my life.

It was just begun with a simply sentence I said to her, “hey, your breakfast is so healthy” and the rest was like we have known each other for years. I felt connected with Renata in so many ways. I might only have two hours but universe had done something I’ll forever grateful for letting me know Renata and created a real friendship. I remember, after we recorded an iPhone video, it felt hard for me to say goodbye to her, wishing we should have met like days before and spent time together in Tokyo. But again, universe will always have ways to surprise us and the thing makes me even more grateful is we both still communicating till today. For me, that’s the point for our friendship :)

I’m probably missing Renata right now but my believe to see her again sooner than later is strong.

Sure, I’ll let universe decides where it will be :)