Day 3 - Gili Trawangan

what goes around comes around
like a boomerang in the universe
boom boom my heart beats strong
we can't be wrong on top of the world

What Goes Around - Philippe Cohen Solal & Chassol ft. Adam Glover & Tim Gustave

Day 3 was spent going to Gili Trawangan. We were taking a speed boat there and the beach to take it from is somewhere in Senggigi area. It's quite a drive to Senggigi but not as far as the drive the day before to Senaru to see the waterfalls. First stop was at a lookout point where we could see the 3 Gili islands across the water - Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, Gili Air. The picture below if I'm not mistaken is the Gili Trawangan island.

On the other side of the lookout, you could also see the Senggigi beach. You see more tourists in Senggigi than Mataram where we stayed, but we hardly spent any time in Senggigi at all.

After that we made our way to the beach to take our speed boat. The boat was rented just for us and it was really fast, I think it only took 15 minutes. Our driver / guide already told us that Gili Trawangan would feel more like Bali because there's so many foreign tourists. I first heard about the island from Eat, Pray, Love, the book. I guess many people do too and hence it is increasing in popularity. When we arrived, the island did look quite crowded. The trip we booked included free rental of bicycles and everyone was on board to do this. There's no car in the island, transportation is by bicycles or horse drawn carts. Once our bicycles were sorted out, off we went. The day was pretty hot and I stopped a few times to take pictures. Went to go nearer the empty beach a few times, but the beach wasn't that nice to walk on with the many corals washed up. In fact the nicest beach to walk on was the beach we were dropped off in, but that area had a number of boats so it's not that empty. Anyways below is a picture of some of the swings at the beach that many tourists like to take pictures with. As you can see, they're submerged. I guess the low tide is more during sunset which is the time when many people take their pictures?

Along the way my brother was way ahead that he left us and it's just me and my mom, aunt, and uncle. There were some parts where the path had many sands on them, so it wasn't that nice to ride on. In fact it's pretty impossible that there were a few times when we just had to walk our bicycles. The stupid us kinda overshot our starting points. I guess we're just in a hurry to leave the crowded area with all the restaurants, cafes, tourists (especially the ones newly arriving in boats) not realizing we have passed our starting point. I did have an inkling that we may have passed it, but then I was the last in the group so I just followed the rest until one point when I was super sure that we have passed the same place. So then we had to backtrack. Well as I said at least I managed to get 2 scoops of ice cream when we overshot our starting point.

Our starting point was a restaurant that provided our bicycles and lunch. When we arrived back, it was time for lunch. After lunch, we just sat around and talked. We only explored the perimeter of the island when we went cycling. The perimeter is dotted with hotels, restaurants, and such. More inside the island is where the locals live and I think there's quite a number of residents there. We saw little kids in uniform, so there's a school. There's also a mosque because I heard the call for prayer. I wonder how the locals feel about all this. If they're practicing Muslims, how do they feel about the many foreign tourists with all their merriment which do not exactly fit with the more conservative culture and religious obligations? I don't know, maybe they try to be understanding because their livelihood is dependent on it? That's what we assume at least. Anyways, I guess it's around 02:30 pm when we said we're ready to go. Our driver / guide called the boat and off we went back. The ride back was rougher. The boat guy was saying afternoon waves are bigger. I would definitely get sea sick if not for the motion sickness pill I took that morning. Even though I was fine, it's not a pleasant feeling being tossed with every bump of the wave. I'm glad everyone made it okay. Then we're driven for dinner in Senggigi area. The restaurant was overlooking the beach. It was too early for dinner so I thought we should walk around first, but only me and mom did that. We tried to get to the Balinese temple below, but we were approaching from the side gate and when we went in, the locals were telling us to go enter from the front, but we're too tired to do that, so we went back to the rest.

It's kinda interesting that the beach we were in has black sand. We spent the rest of the time waiting talking and watching the sun set. By the way somehow during all our dinners in Lombok, we always had cats nearby. This time too, there were cats waiting.

Overall I thought the whole trip was pretty good. It was nice spending time with the family and I'm glad all went well. There are other places in Lombok that we have yet to visit, but I don't know if I'll go back anytime soon. Below is the last sunset we had in Lombok while waiting for dinner. For pictures of Senggigi and Gili Trawangan, you can go here.

We left the next morning. I was transiting in Jakarta again. So when my family left, I still had to wait quite a long time :( Now that I'm back, it didn't take long to go back to the downward swing. It should not be surprising, but I did feel rather surprised at how fast I was feeling down :( We have less than 2 months in 2019 and I feel like I have so many things to do and not enough time to do them all. I do hope you have less anxiety than me.

:) eKa @ 8:30:00 PM • 0 comments

Day 2 - Sendang Gile & Tiu Kelep Waterfalls

we tune out all the nasty weather
and it's all in front of you
all in front of you and me

San Francisco Street - Sun Rai

Day 2 was spent visiting waterfalls. It was a long drive to get there and towards the end my uncle started to feel a bit unwell. We first arrived at a restaurant to have lunch before making the hike to the waterfalls. My uncle decided to just sit this one out and not go through the hike for us. The restaurant itself has a nice view all around. From one of its viewing platform you could see small cascading waters in a distance. There's also some monkeys in the area.

Our driver / guide handed us to the local guide who would walk with us to the waterfalls. The entrance wasn't far from the restaurant. It started with a walk down which already got in me quite alarmed because that would mean it would be hard to get back. I like to do difficult things first. There were some monkeys as we walked, but I thought they were okay.

It wasn't that difficult to reach the first waterfall, Sendang Gile. Like all waterfalls I've been before in Indonesia, you can get as close as you want and even soak yourself in the pool below. I didn't see anyone doing that on that day though. One reason could be that the water was going hard. It must hurt a lot if you stand directly under it. I did see a foreign tourist taking out his drone. I may sound like an ungrateful Indonesian, but after seeing quite a number of waterfalls in Indonesia, I'm just rarely impressed now. I wonder if waterfall is not my thing.

After staying for awhile we made the longer hike to the other waterfall, Tiu Kelep. My mom and aunt are not young and I did have some worry if they could make it to this waterfall. I guess I underestimated them. The path to Tiu Kelep also involved some stairs, but there's also the getting up and down of rocks, fallen tree trunk, streams, and I'm just glad there's a guide to help us all through it. This waterfall is the most difficult waterfall that I had ever gone to. It's rewarding though because I have to say, the Tiu Kelep waterfall is more impressive. There's already a group of people there having fun and enjoying the water. The waterfall is wider and the pool underneath it was bigger too. When I put my water on the stream, I like how cool the water was.

After that we made our way back to my uncle. Then we made the long drive back. We stopped by a road in Senggigi that has a warung nearby and sat there waiting for the sunset. A warung is a small Indonesian shop that sells simple stuff and sometime food too. Here the aunt got young coconuts and mom got some mangoes. As the sun went down, I noticed there's a silhouette of a mountain across the sea. I think it's Bali's Gunung Agung. See if you can spot it on this picture below, it's on the right.

After the sun was down, we went for dinner. For pictures from the hike, you can go here.

:) eKa @ 8:55:00 PM • 0 comments

Day 1 - Lombok's Pink and Sandy Beaches

I'm getting thirsty for the marvellous
I'm getting hungry for the best
I'm getting thirsty for the meaningful

Like Mermaids - Lisa Ekdahl

So last long weekend, I went to Lombok with my mom, brother, an aunt and uncle. It was pretty nice spending time with them. I left Singapore Friday night. There are direct flights from Singapore to Mataram (the capital city of the West Nusa Tenggara province and is located in the Lombok island), however the timing didn't work for me. I ended up taking Garuda Indonesia with a transit in Jakarta. I arrived late at night at around 11 pm and the next flight was at 05:45 AM. Since it'd be a waste of time to go home and get back to the airport again, I opted to stay at the capsule hotel in the airport. It's called Digital Airport hotel and it's at terminal 3. I thought it was quite a brilliant idea that they have this. That being said I was a little apprehensive about staying there. I'm not one who's curious about trying a capsule hotel, but as the universe wanted it, I got to experience one and the experience wasn't that good. The capsule itself was okay. It was pretty spacious and there's a TV and a bottle of water. I got the upper bunk capsule and it's not that convenient to get up. They also provided slippers and a locker. What I didn't like was the noise. That night it was particularly full and I was just so surprised that there's so many people going in and out even after midnight. There were repeated sounds of the door to the toilet section being opened, the sound of lockers being opened and closed. I also heard someone snoring, so it's really not quiet and for me who don't sleep easily, it's all too annoying. So much so that I decided to just really get up earlier and took a shower. Shower area wasn't that clean, but soap and towel was provided. Overall I don't want to do this again. Well unless I really need too and have no other choice.

Anyways so then I met my family at the gate. The flight was uneventful. I feel Garuda's quality is dropping, like their meals are not really good now. At Lombok airport we found our driver / guide and we proceeded with the plan for the day. The Lombok island is considerably smaller than Java, but it still took a long time to drive around even without traffic jam and good road condition. We were driving to a beach which I couldn't remember the name to take a private boat which would take us to different beaches by the Lombok island. Day 1 was my favorite day of the whole trip though I think my family would have their own different opinion. The beaches we were going to go were called the pink beaches. They have a few of them and they just called it pink beach 1, 2, and so on. Approaching the first pink beach, we stopped by a small floating platform near the beach where there were 4 nets submerged. In one of the nets, there were lobster. These weren't farmed. They were from the water below. We could buy the lobster and get it cooked at another beach, but the family weren't interested. The lobster weren't very big and I heard it could take another year for it to grow bigger. I like the colours.

Then we were dropped at the first pink beach. Honestly I like it very much because it's pretty and no one else was there. You have to appreciate the rarity of having a beach for yourself. The sand was very soft and easy to walk on. It's beautiful with the beautiful water and sand.

The sand has reddish particles on it which make people call it the pink beach. This red colour comes from the eroded washed up dead red corals. One of our boat guy found one for my aunt. She asked if she could take it home, I don't know if she really did. I did find some really nice washed up dead coral and was really tempted to take one, but I thought its purpose might be better served being there rather than be stored somewhere with me.

On the way to the second beach, we stopped by a place where we saw some foreign tourists snorkeling. I was expecting to snorkel in this trip, but ended up not doing it. One of our boat guy was taking out bread to feed the fish and it was quite funny seeing how fast the fishes swam from deeper water to the bread. On the second beach, we had lunch. Lunch and dinner were included in this trip we booked and all of them had really big portion. I was surprised at the variety of dishes presented to us for lunch. This second beach is the only beach with people living and working in it. It's accessible from the mainland. I saw 2 foreign girl tourists arriving by motorcycle and you just got to admire their tenacity for doing that. In fact we saw quite a few foreigners riding motorbikes around. I guess it's that safe to drive in Lombok? I don't know. I guess the Indonesians renting these out also don't really care about the tourists' skill. So anyways there were a few other tourists here eating lunch too. The island doesn't have fresh water so I heard fresh water have to be delivered by boat. When we were in Lombok, the dry season was in full swing that most of the trees were bare and it was really hot. In my whole entire life, I experienced sunburn for the first time ever that day. I didn't know it could happen to me. Now I'm a bit worried I could get skin cancer :( Anyways, there's kinda a small hill by the beach and I'm glad we walked up even though it's so hot because the view below was unexpected. The water was just gorgeous. By the way the water was so clear in most places that you could see through a lot.

My brother walked up the other higher side of the hill. I didn't because it was too hot. I don't know if the view was good too. After that we went to the next beach. When we arrived at the third beach, there's already a Chinese couple there, but they left soon after. It's really something to have a beach for yourself. I love the beautiful blue water and soft sand. Then after that we went to another beach which the guide simply called sandy beach. When we passed by this beach in the morning, it was submerged, but by late afternoon it's in the low tide and a substantial area was dry and you can walk on it. We saw a lot of starfish, big ones. Unfortunately I don't know what type they are. There's also a number of sea urchins in groups. I don't think the locals harvest this though. Maybe they don't think it's worth the trouble. By the way we did pass around a lot of round buoys in rows and were told that those are to farm pearls.

Walking around this last beach and seeing the different things is perhaps my favorite part of the entire trip. I love it so much. After that we made our way back to the pier and off to dinner. For pictures from day 1, please go here.

:) eKa @ 10:35:00 PM • 0 comments

Book 3 - The Overstory

I finished reading The Overstory by Richard Powers, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I kinda like it, though I'm not sure about the ending. I wrote a bit about this before. The book has tree as a running theme. It also follows the structure of a tree, starting from roots, trunk, crown, to seeds. The last time I wrote about the book I was at the roots part where it was like short stories about 9 different people and I wasn't sure if they would connect. After reading the whole thing, I think these people are like starting at different points on the roots and some of them connect on their journey up the trunk. It's like they're transported up the same vessel, but then they are dispersed out when they reach the crown. Upon reaching the seeds section, I was thinking wow this seems very hopeful because it felt to me these people are gonna be seeds that would grow into something new. It feels very optimistic because I'm not sure if my life would end up being a seed that grow into something else. I think I may be one those seeds that don't grow. So anyways, that's what I thought would happen to these people, but reading the end, I'm just not sure how to understand the ending. For many of the characters, their lives begin to go on a trajectory that define their lives when they started to see trees deeply. They spend their lives trying to save trees and if I understand what one of the characters understood in the end was that the trees don't need saving, it's the human who does. If so, it's like shifting the point of view a bit. We hear a lot about saving the environment, but human activities to harm it doesn't even slow down. If we talk about saving ourselves, will people work harder? I don't know, at the same time the book points to our choice to be ignorant.

So the ending is kinda hard to decipher for me. Times like this, it would be good to have someone who reads the same book and who I can discuss this with, but there's no one :( I'm also still clueless about trees, but the book does make me stop and look at trees more and notice them more. On my bus ride most of every day, I suddenly noticed that there's a tree who grows really straight up, its trunk is so straight up. Then there's this Frangipani / Plumeria tree who currently doesn't have any leaf at all, it's all branches. Yet one day I saw a clump of orange red flowers blooming. Reading the book makes me wonder on why the tree would do that. I don't know, to let others around it know it's alive? I know it's alive even though it's all branches. I don't know when it would grow leaf again. Reading the book really makes me wonder why trees do what they do and the book would tell you that tree do have reasons for what they do. Anyways in an odd way, that frangipani tree is kinda inspiring. It's barren right now, but it's still here and one day it will grow leaves and more flowers. Right now it's not, but it's okay, it's like it knows that there's nothing to be worried about and also in its state right, it still looks pretty interesting if you bother to look.

I wish we can have more forests. I don't know if the day would come when I have my own place, but when I do, I do hope I get to fill it with as many green living things as possible. Only around 2 months and a half left in 2019 and I'm only at book 3, I don't know if I can make it to 5 guys. Now I'm reading An Ice-Cream War, a book published in the year I was born and was nominated for the Booker Prize. It takes place in East Africa during the British and German occupations. My knowledge of that time period is totally zero. So I guess I would be learning new things. By the way, in the last post I wrote about Columbus' Egg, that happened to be the topic of my composition homework for Japanese class last week. Even in English, the last post was short and weak in content. Somehow for my homework I managed to put in 3 paragraphs using The Overstory as the starting point instead. The composition is pretty weak especially in the third paragraph. I'm sure there's a lot of grammar mistakes, but I hope my sensei kinda gets it. Though I don't even know if I convince myself.

On other news, something really sad happened last week. I can't talk about it though. So much thoughts and all are pretty sad *sigh* Anyways, in honor of the The Overstory, here's a picture of the redwood trees in Muir Woods, one of my favorite place on earth. I don't know if I will ever walk in Muir Woods again. If I do, that would be something.

:) eKa @ 8:52:00 PM • 0 comments

Columbus' Egg

Do you know what Columbus' egg is? If you do, wow because I didn't know. We started a new level in Japanese class a few weeks ago and the first chapter has a reading with the title コロンブスの卵 or Columbus' egg. None of us in class knew what it was and when sensei explained it to us, I think I kinda got it, but since my Japanese is so bad, I wondered if I truly got it especially when some of the things she said sounded weird to me. This Wikipedia entry matches what I understood her say though. The Wikipedia entry made me wonder how come I never came across this term when I was studying Italian.

When my sensei was explaining the term and asked if there's a similar term in our own language, I wondered if it's similar to the Indonesian phrase, pecah telur. Honestly though I wonder if there's really an Indonesian phrase of pecah telur (breaking the egg), I only ever heard my cousin used it when she's describing something that hasn't happened to us cousins and she wondered who would be first to do it. In our Japanese reading, the term Columbus' egg means something that is deemed easy by everyone like discovering America because people thought it was bound to happen anyway and yet none was able to do it and it was Columbus who did it first. I don't know why the passage was titled this when this term wasn't mentioned a lot. The whole passage was about looking at things differently and changing how you think about something.

After class last week, I wasn't particularly feeling good about class as I often do when I'm doing badly in class and I was thinking how I can't see myself differently. I can list things about me that I think is really cool but it's always the darkness that wins over. Like today. Today is not a particularly good day. This morning I remember thinking I just have a bad feeling about something and true enough or perhaps it's true because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy of my negativity, some shitty things happened and it continued up to dinner. As usual I'm spiraling. I want to feel less. I definitely don't want to do tomorrow.

:) eKa @ 8:44:00 PM • 0 comments

Home in August

August, the only good thing that happened so far or at least the time when I was most unrattled and somewhat happy was when I went home during the long weekend. I practically didn't do much. The goal was to enjoy as much TV as possible. I did go to the mall with mom and met up with an aunt and uncle. The anti social me wasn't feeling an evening out with the good friends, but somehow in that mall trip I met the mom of one of my good friend, Dewi. My mom was the one who noticed her first. Met her big family in fact, sans Dewi because she apparently was travelling with friends at work for the weekend. So I met her kids and when I kissed the youngest goodbye, he smiled and that made my heart smile too. It was lucky he didn't cry seeing a strange lady charging at him and planting kisses :D I was a bit confused seeing him walking, because the last time I saw him, he was kinda new.

It was good to be in Jakarta. I do have to say I saw something disappointing. August is the month of Indonesia's independence. All through my life, it's like when it's August, raise your flag up, but there in my street, not many people were raising their flags. I commented to mom, what the hell was going on with our neighbours. Our house had a small kinda pitiful flag, but at least the flag was up. Pretty much the people who put up the flags are like the old timers, the neighbours who have stayed there even before I was born. It was totally disappointing and even more disappointing when on our way to the mall, we saw very few flags were up. Shocking and very very sad. It's not even hard to get flags and bamboo poles. I saw 2 people selling them when I was there, one of them was even going round in his cart selling these. As an Indonesian, I think the flag and a bamboo pole is just something that you have to have in your house. I don't know how long this has been going on since I can't remember the last time I was home in August. Indonesians or at least Indonesians in my part of West Jakarta need to do better :(

In light of other things in Indonesia, putting out flag seems to be so trivial. These days the news have been about the conflict with the Papuans. The Papuans are asked to be magnanimous and forgiving, at which point I'm rolling my eyes. Really there's a certain group of people in Indonesia who always think that they're the superior ones. They're actually the intolerant one and yet every time they did something stupid and hurt the minorities, we're the one who have to be forgiving. How come there's no consequence for them and they can go on ruining the country? Will things change for Papua after what happened, I hope so but looking at past track records, I think we haven't do them justice. Another news that got me thinking was about the president's plan to move the capital. He has his reasons about Jakarta being unsustainable anymore and how we really need to build the Indonesia outside Java. I disagree with this plan though I don't know if there's any way we can make Jakarta better especially with the useless governor we are currently having. The president's plan is to move to Kalimantan. He has a budget in mind, I think the budget might be better used to protect or perhaps expand forest areas. With the news about fires in the Amazon, we really need to have more forest.

Anyways I only spent a very short time home, but when coming back here I was like disoriented. It felt like I just experienced something wondrous and there it was life chugging along in its mundane way not caring or knowing the wonderful thing I had. Life was just so keen to go back irritating me. It took me around 2 hours upon landing in Singapore to realize how I really want all this to be over. Another thing that I realized about me recently is how angry I am. I'm pissed about so many things and these days I don't even really try to control myself anymore. I curse more, I slam things, I really want to throw things, but luckily I haven't done that. I wonder how far this will escalate. Because I'm angry, it also means I can't forgive. It's like if I could torch the earth like Daenerys, I would. Yeah it's bad, even worse I think my anger is also to God, it's like God, what?!? why?!? I still pray and plead with Him though. Will this ever be over? How would the end be?

:) eKa @ 9:57:00 PM • 0 comments

Book 2 - Milkman

I finished reading Milkman by Anna Burns last week. Gosh, we're halfway into 2019 and I only finished 2 books. I don't know if we'll get to 5 books this year :( Milkman is actually not very thick at all, but it wasn't an easy read for me. Not that the subject matter was difficult but the writing which was like a stream of consciousness didn't really draw me in. It's weird that I say that because I know my own stream of consciousness is not very interesting at all. The stream of consciousness of Milkman came from an 18-year old girl who had to deal with a older man taking an interest at her. To add to her problem, she lived in a place with cultural and political issue and this issue infiltrated the daily lives of the people living there. The man preying on her had a "position" in the community and since she didn't have any support system, her life sucked even more. It's not mentioned where the place was, in fact there's no name to identify the characters which perhaps makes it hard to read as well, at least for me. I find that the story can take place anywhere in the world because there are many places in the world with the same situation as hers so I think this is quite relatable. Since the author is from Northern Ireland, it's just accepted that the story took place there. What do I know about the history of Northern Ireland? Almost non-existent. I did watch The Wind That Shakes the Barley, but couldn't remember much about the movie except that the ending was sad.

Milkman won 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction but I can't say I enjoyed it much and I'm glad that's done. Taste is very subjective or perhaps I'm not smart enough to enjoy it? Anyway now I'm reading this year Pulitzer prize winner for fiction, The Overstory by Richard Powers. So far so good, I like the writing. Right now it seems to me the book is like a collection of short stories about people with trees as the running theme. I don't know if the people would somehow be connected to each other. The first story that I read ends at a tragic point, but I still find it very interesting. I haven't read a lot but already the book got me thinking about how it is true when we see a tree, we don't think about what's underneath. When we see a tree, we only see half of it. If we think of how deep and far the roots go, it's like another life down there. It is a bit sad that I don't know much about trees, it's like when the writer wrote about a chestnut tree, I have no image of what that tree looks like :( Also sad is that I don't know much about the American states, especially where they are located in relations to each other and the other thing about American story is that when they use inches and feet, I have no idea how long those are. It's kinda annoying having to pause and check this. In general I like how some writers can write in details about something, things like clock, fabrics, fishing, and so on and I really admire them for that but since I don't have much knowledge in them, it feels a bit sad not being able to form images on these topics. It's like when learning a new language, when you don't know many words, you may understand the the overall meaning, but you lose nuances. I guess I just like knowing something in great details and when I don't, it bothers me.

:) eKa @ 10:05:00 PM • 0 comments

Day 13 - Qorikancha and Leaving Peru

I ain't got nothing to prove
there's no lower I'd ever stoop to

Newsflash! - Niki

The song is from Niki, an Indonesian singer. I stumbled into her when I was watching a YouTube video of Rich Brian, the Indonesian rapper who's doing really well overseas. Both people are talented and I'm particularly jealous of Rich Brian's accent when he's speaking English. His music is not really my kind of music, but his latest song, Kids, is really good. In fact it's perhaps his only song so far that I like. The video clip is also very good too and make one feels proud and hopeful about Indonesia. I for one got nostalgic seeing shots of Mall Taman Anggrek being that I live in West Jakarta and can point out which area my house is in that shot. Okay since I think the song and clip are cool, I'm gonna put it here and then we'll continue talking about the trip.

Day 13 was the day we were leaving Peru. Nothing was planned for that day. In fact the plan was just to check out late and then take the free hotel shuttle to the airport, but then that morning I decided that I might as well use the time to go to Qorikancha. I asked Gioia if she wanted to go, but she didn't want to so I set off on my own. It's weird how certain things would make you feel something without you even realizing that you feel it. When I walked out of the hotel on my own, I suddenly realized this was what I feel when I traveled alone and set off on my own. It's the feeling of freedom, a sense of adventure that one gets when travelling alone. I don't normally notice that when I'm traveling alone, but right then after days spent with someone, it's all coming back to me and it felt good and I was thankful that God gave me that opportunity to feel what it's like to travel alone again.

Qorikancha is located halfway between the hotel I stayed in and Cusco old town center. There's a slight incline when walking there, not very steep especially when compared to the old town area. I arrived at what I thought was the entrance, but it wasn't, it was instead the entrance to the archaeological museum. I was given direction by the staff and off I went. I had to turn right and then walked up. The incline was steeper and I was gosh, darn it, but luckily before I was totally tired, I made it. I didn't know what to expect of Qorikancha and didn't have any knowledge of it at all. I did hear about it being the Sun Temple and now that I googled it, I learned that it was the most important temple in the Inca Empire. What I saw when I entered was this big cloister, which reminded me of Jerónimos Monastery that I visited last year but not as grand. The Spanish incorporated this and added a church. There's some section where you can still see part of the old temple and the stones.

It has a garden outside, but the ticket doesn't include access to this garden. I think it's included if you visit the archaeological museum. You do get a view of Cusco city, not of the old town but more of the houses on the hill.

Other things that you can see on the ground level are treasures belonging to the church which you cannot take picture of and also relic from the Inca time like this gold plate below, which I'm not sure if it's real or a replica. I forget what the plate is for, but it has imagery of man, stars, and so on.

The second floor was much quieter. Here there's an art exhibition with paintings, sculptures, and installation art. While Qorikancha itself wasn't particularly crowded, it was kinda nice to be alone on the second floor.

Before leaving, I walked around the cloister again a bit and went back to the temple section to take some pictures. For pictures from Qorikancha, you can go here.

I still had some time so instead of going straight back to the hotel, I went to the arts and craft market in front of the hotel. It was kinda quiet there. I hope the people can still make money. The items were of course colourful and interesting. As someone who wears dark colours in my day to day life, I actually really love colours a lot. Anyways, then I went back to the hotel. Met up with Gioia and before long we could board the free hotel shuttle to the airport. There's only another couple going with us. They're from Florida and since they're another Americans we met from Florida, I was thinking if people from Florida do travel a lot. The guy was Pakistani-American if I'm not mistaken. He's not a practicing Muslim anymore and didn't realize it was Ramadhan at that time which made me think that in this side / my of the world, it's not so easy to be an open non-practicing Muslim. People here be like, what do you mean?!?! And the word they use can be very hurtful. Many people like in Indonesia can be very militant in their refusal to extend even a little bit of understanding.

Anyway the flight from Cusco to Lima was uneventful. When we arrived in Lima to exit looked nicer than the international exit. The international and domestic area is actually connected, but one has to really exit the door from the domestic one and enter through another door. The queue to check in for our flight was crazy long. As we queued, a trio of 3 guys walked behind me and I kinda stared at them because they looked Indonesians and one of them was wearing blangkon, an Indonesian headgear. Eventually the guy with the blangkon said "Hi" first and we talked while waiting in the queue. They were on work assignment in Peru for the past 2 months and it was nice that their work finished just in time for them to celebrate the end of Ramadhan. We were on the same flight to Amsterdam and then their next flight to Jakarta was via Kuala Lumpur while I was going straight to Singapore. I wasn't that nice of me that I didn't make an effort to say good bye upon arriving in Amsterdam. I quickly got off the plane and didn't see them again.

Transit time in Amsterdam was actually enough to be spent in the city. However since I didn't have a visa (poor Indonesian passport!), I could only stay inside. Gioia decided that she didn't want to go out on her own either. So we just waited there. She was having a good time looking and buying things at the Rijksmuseum shop in the airport. Next to the shop they also exhibit some paintings which were nice, but also made me miss visiting an arts museum. For me, the priority was to get stroopwafel and I did get them. It was a dilemma of if I should just get 3 or 6 packs. Then I thought I should just have 3 because getting 6 and unwilling to share it with anybody is just obnoxious. That being said, I just finished my second pack yesterday and I feel sad that I didn't get 6. Darn it, I really like stroopwafel and I couldn't find it here especially the ones with the different filling :(

Arriving back in Singapore, as mentioned in the first post about this trip, my body was battered. That first week I was like out of it. Blood was still coming out when I blew my nose that I started to get worried. Luckily I did get better. However mentally I started to break down again. It's been more than 1 month now since the trip and I'm back to my depressed state, back to not being able to sleep. Anyway this is the last post about the trip *phew* I'm done :) Of course after 1 month, I don't remember things as vividly anymore and I guess impression changes? As always I'm thankful to God for His blessings. It's good to have someone to do this trip with. However having someone also meant there's someone who witnessed or on the receiving end of my temper tantrums and when I remember those I do feel embarrassed. I wonder when if ever I would mature or maybe at this age, I'm just set in my ways? Anyways thankful, I am thankful to God.

:) eKa @ 9:14:00 PM • 0 comments

Day 12 - Sacred Valley Part 2: Chinchero, Moray, and Maras

stretching toward the sky like I don't care
wishing you could see me standing there

Sunflower - Shannon Purser

The song is from the Netflix movie, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, which when I watched it, I was like this is so not my demographic anymore. The song talks about how things would be if one was a rose, when in actuality one is a sunflower. By the years I have spent on this earth, I have come to the realization that I would be a proud sunflower if I were one, not wishing to be anything else. However I am not, I wrote about this some time ago when I likened someone as a sunflower and I'm as a thunderstorm cloud. Anyway I could see how teens or the teenage me could get all warm and fuzzy about this movie. The song was sung by Shannon Purser who played Sierra Burgess and she was also Barb in Stranger Things which I am currently watching now. Anyways, moving on to the trip. We're towards the end now.

Day 12 was supposed to be light, but sometime during the day I was feverish again :( That day we're visiting Maras and Moray. First stop was actually Chinchero again and that was unexpected because it's not in the itinerary. The day before I told Gioia that I read normally a visit there would take you to a weaving house, but luckily we didn't because it's not nice to be brought somewhere to buy souvenirs, but that day we actually were brought to a weaving house. There are many of these kind of houses in Chinchero and they're identified by the clay vase of flowers in front of the door. I'm not sure if people actually live in the house or it's just for work purposes only. Also house may not be the correct term to use. This "house" hosts more than 1 family and each family would display their weaving products. By the way the house had a llama or alpaca and a pen for guinea pigs which were not pet but food. When we arrived, we were given tea and one of the girl was explaining how the llama or alpaca's wool were processed and dyed. In Arequipa's Mundo Alpaca we saw what kind of plant was used to get the different colours, here the lady was giving a live demonstration. First we were shown the plant that they use to wash the wool to make it clean. Then how the thread were spooled and next how the thread were dyed. All were done using natural products, like parasites in cactus give out very bright red colour. On another particular plant, they combined it with mineral and a different colour came out, it was fascinating.

After the demonstration, we were given time to see the different products, all handmade and beautiful. I love the bright colours. It's kinda nice that the women had a place to work together though I do wonder if they work for a boss or if it's really something that they run independently as a group.

Then it was off to Moray. The drive there was pretty cool. The view was quite different than what we had seen so far. I guess we're just on a different side of the valley? I don't know.

Moray is cool because unlike the terraces in other places, the terraces in Moray are in circular form and there are 4 of them if I'm not mistaken. The guide showed us photo from up above that managed to capture all the terraces and they look very very cool. The different levels of the terrace experience different temperature and the Inca utilized this differences by planting specific plant suited to the temperature. We were given time to explore, but we didn't walk down to the bottom of the terrace. It was hot and here I started to feel a bit weird that I needed to sit in the shade.

After that we made our way to Maras, but before reaching there we stopped at a shop that sells salt products. Maras is famous for its salt mines. When I saw pictures of Maras I was very interested and since I had never been to a salt mine before, I was really excited about going there. At the shop, the guide gave us some explanation and time to shop. The shop sold interesting products like salt (as expected) and salt flavored chocolate. I didn't get anything though. Here I was really feeling not so good. I was feeling feverish, so I took ibuprofen. Really this trip was the hardest on me physically.

Then it's off to Maras. It was crazy hot and it was quite a walk to reach the salt mines. Isn't it a curiosity to have salt mines in the mountains? The water does come from the mountain and it was salty, we tasted it. Then the mines, well mine is not the correct word, I should be using salt ponds. Well the salt ponds are in the terraces and the water is channeled to these ponds. There are so many ponds and they are in different stages of salt crystallization. Gioia said if you look closely, you can see crystal forming. I tried, but couldn't see it and also I didn't have time to really see because there were so many tourists. It was really busy with tourists than workers. You can walk some part of the perimeter but you can't go deep into the ponds. These are actual working salt ponds. From each pond, if I recall correctly, around 3 types of salt can be harvested, from your common table salt to the ones you use to bath in. It was quite something seeing this. We agreed this was hard work. You need the sun to get the salt, but seeing the workers walking up and down the terrace carrying the salt, that's tough.

After that we're done for the day. It was a long day that day. We decided to be dropped off near Plaza de Armas. There was like a cultural performance or competition thing going on in the Plaza.

We didn't watch much, instead we went inside the Cathedral. I forgot how much the ticket price was. You could buy a combined ticket which included other churches, but we didn't feel like walking to explore the other churches so we just settled for the Cathedral only. You couldn't take picture so I don't have any picture from the inside. What I recall was that the Cathedral was pretty expansive. Then we decided to call it the day. I spent the evening watching When Harry Met Sally... on TV. For pictures from that day, please go here.

:) eKa @ 9:34:00 PM • 0 comments

Day 11 - Sacred Valley Part 1: Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero

so I close my eyes and realize
that I'm alive deep inside

Strange American Dream - Rayland Baxter

During breakfast on day 11 I said, life would have been so different if we stayed in this hotel all along. It was nice to finally get my own room. I finally managed to get some sleep, but because I hadn't been getting proper rest my body was breaking down more and more and the problem I had in Arequipa was happening in Cusco at a scarier level. The good news was that the next 2 days would be lighter. I like to do difficult things first and I often schedule light easier things towards the end on my trip. That day we're doing the first of our Sacred Valley tour which would cover Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero. The day tour for that day and the next didn't include entry tickets. They needed to be bought separately. There are different tourist tickets available for 2 days, 10 days, etc and we bought the 2-day one which covered places that we visited that day and the next. Hence why the visit to Sacred Valley was planned to be back to back. The pick up time was getting better at 07:30 am something. We're kinda always the first to be picked up. I guess because the hotel is not really at the old town center. First stop was Pisac archaeological site. The sites that we visited in Pisac and Ollantaytambo are quite the same to the one in Machu Picchu. These were human settlements. So you would see terraces which they use to cultivate their food, mostly potatoes and you would also see the ruins of the habitations. When we arrived there weren't many people yet and it's kinda cool that way.

Again the pictures are not good, I don't know what's wrong with me, but here you can see the settlements. They're located on a higher elevation. I guess to make it easier to see people coming in.

The site has a lot of terraces. An interesting thing about this terrace to me is that from afar I didn't think they were tall but up close the height of each level is like one metre or so. I don't know why only then it hit me when I already saw similar terraces the day before in Machu Picchu.

The settlements in Pisac faces a big mountain and the view of this mountain with the valley below was quite something.

As usual I don't recall anymore what the guide explained. He gave us some time to explore the ruins. There's a lot of steps if you really want to get all the way to the top. I can't recall if I really explored everything. Also by this time, there were more tourists coming in. After this site, we went to Pisac the town. There's nothing much here actually. After a visit to a silver shop, we walked around the craft and souvenirs market. I was so so tempted to get the ludo board game because the pieces were cute, but I didn't :( instead I just took photos.

Then we went for lunch. It was buffet lunch and it wasn't bad. The restaurant catered to a lot of tourists that they had a band playing. After that we made our way to Ollantaytambo archaeological site. I kinda already saw what the site looked like when we passed by the day before to take the train and I thought man, we're travelling back and forth to this town. It's actually not very near from Cusco, it takes almost a 2-hour drive to get there. This site is kinda divided into 2 sections. The part that we visited is accessible by steps and steps. There were so many of them and it took a lot of effort. Climbing up these steps were harder than all the things we did thus far. This section of the settlement also faces a mountain. In the mountain, you can see some ruins. I recalled the guide telling us that some of the ruins were for food storage. I thought they chose it to be high up to make it difficult to be stolen, but like in Machu Picchu, they chose a place with good ventilation to preserve the harvest. I don't know if one can visit the site in the mountain, but I think it will take a lot more effort to get there.

After the guide finished his explanation, again we're given time to explore on our own. I tried my best, but I didn't get all the way up. Here's a section of the sites that we could explore.

Last visit of the day was Chinchero. The town was small and quiet when we're there. We visited the Colonial church. Below is the arch gate to enter the church compound.

There was a service inside the church and we couldn't take picture. I recalled that the ceiling was beautiful. Nearby the church there was another section of terraces, similar to what we've seen so far. The sun was setting and it was getting colder. The view of the hills were pretty nice.

Then it's back to Cusco. We didn't get back too late, but we're also too lazy to walk around that we decided to just eat in the hotel. One of the dish we ordered was guinea pig. It's out of curiosity and the cold-hearted us didn't have any hesitation at all in eating it :D Our hotel didn't do it in the traditional way which was to roast it whole. It was confit and we weren't served whole. I don't know if it's because it's confit, it tasted to us like ducks. Oh, I also ordered lucuma milkshake following the waiter's recommendation. I didn't know what lucuma is and wasn't sure if I heard him correctly, I googled it and he confirmed it was correct. The drink was nice and I like it. It's kinda nice to try local fruits. I know my mom would be interested, she loves fruits. Too bad we couldn't get those fruits this side of the world. Overall the day was less hectic which was good and very welcomed. For pictures from that day, please go here.

:) eKa @ 9:54:00 PM • 0 comments