Thursday, December 26, 2013

Malaysia



in Malaysia

1. Old Town White Coffee Mocha Freezy
2. Cheap AirAsia flights
3. The way they often write English with oddly tall letters (y fours and backwards 6's)
4. KL Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
5. Samosas
6. Lime water
7. Spinning Christmas Eve dinner on the KL tower
8. New friends from South Korea and Singapore
9. Public Transportation
10. Street food
11. Larger than life skyscrapers
12. Best. Indian. Food. Ever. found at a sketchy looking food cafeteria stall on the corner after wandering the streets in the middle of the night
13. Worst bathroom I've ever been to in my life (spotted a guy leaving his shower on my way to the "toilet", quotes are due to the fact that a watery floor does not a toilet make)


View from the train platform

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Travel Journal: Malaysia (KL, more time to write, when are we moving here?)

December 25th, 2013 Continued...

Christmas dessert, Malay style
I love listening to the sounds of a city. You can tell a lot about it that way. Close your eyes and listen. Like NYC, it sounds chaotic, and oddly small. Even with the sirens and honks all hours of the day and night, down the right corner you'll hear an Italian teenager serenading the steer with his guitar or a rhythmic conversation in a foreign language. KL is just like this. I instantly loved it.

Travel Journal: Malaysia (KL quick notes, photos and a Merry Christmas)

Spinning Christmas dinner on the tower!
December 25th, 2013

"Top-a-tee"...yes, that is what he just called a tortilla. It's Christmas Day. I've had no time to write in KL. Way too busy seeing things. 2 days wasn't even close to enough here. I just love this city. It's cultured and interesting with so many different foods, religions, temples, mosques, jungle just a bus ride away, on the beach and so soo warm! It was too hot for boyfriend, of course. It was even a bit hot for me trekking around all day, but mostly comfortable.

Our hostel was very nice. We made a USA paper plate for their wall of random paper plates. The Indian food was just amazing. I love having European toilets. Last night we went out to Club Zouk. It was expensive at almost $40 USD per person, but it was Christmas Eve and a completely amazing night.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Indonesia





in Indonesia

1. Yogya, Reggae band
2. Circling Borobudur
3. Flavored ice with weird jellies, outdoor hut restaurant near Prambanan
4. Train ride to Yogya
5. Arak with the locals
6. Water palace







7. Best. fried. chicken.

8. Yogya red chili sauce
9. Ice cream sandwich (with colored bread) at the market in Yogya
10. Rainy, empty beach in Bali
11. Royal kraton tea
12. Lovely little bookstores (Boomarang)
13. Cheap Roxy gear!





Sunday, December 22, 2013

Legion Beach, Bali and just a little more rain...



TRAVEL JOURNAL: INDONESIA
December 22nd, 2013

Just laying on a beach bed in Bali. It's amazing we've been in Indonesia for just one week. Surreal. Traveling sometimes goes so quickly. Ah, but it so extends your lifetime as a whole.

We just stopped at a tourist-y restaurant in Legion beach because the rain was as much like a monsoon as I've ever experienced. In Yogya, we got big drops, often. Here it comes in sheets, from all angles. The food wasn't awesome, but we did try shark fin soup (a big local thing). Boyfriend is surfing now. We had a bit of a squabble about what I should do since there's nowhere dry to hang out. Silly me. This umbrella is just perfect after all. He's so handsome surfing. There's a few people out. It's nice to be able to spot him so easily. In Cali, there's so many surfers...my bad eye sight makes it impossible. People keep walking up and offering me bracelets, drinks, pins, souvenirs, more or bigger umbrellas. The restroom is expensive. I went in the water. I wish I had a simple set of watercolors. Pen drawings could never do Bali justice.

Earlier we found more fried chicken. So yummy. I don't know if its the natural-ness or fresh-ness or what, but the chicken here tastes nothing like the chicken in the states. It's juicy and sweet. I think we'll get some more later. I'm excited for Malaysia, but I think you could easily spend months in Indonesia.

December 23rd, 2013

We're flying out now, headed to KL. Had a troubling morning...the hostel couldn't find us a taxi (crazy, I know). So, we had to walk in the pouring rain with all our stuff. Then the airport was just insane. No signs, no directions...just ages and ages of aimless walking around and up ramps and levels and closed doors and tunnels until finally we found the gate. Then, we had to pay a $30 USD "airport fee"....paying just to put up with that madness. Lucky us :)

Doesn't change my love of Indonesia. I love Java. Bali was fun, but all we did was Kuta. Any traveler would scold us. It would be an amazing summer vacation to go back with more time to see Ubud. I love Balinese culture and it would be great to see and learn more next time. I can't wait to Google the offerings when I get home.

- Air Asia Flight, Window Seat 17A, 6:15AM (time for bed)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kuta, Bali and homemade liquor


They keep fuel in old vodka bottles.
It took us a hot minute to figure out what's with the racks of vodka at all the repair shops!
TRAVEL JOURNAL: INDONESIA
December 21st, 2013

Travel Journal: Indonesia (Yogyakarta & the water castle)


Travel Tips: Indonesia



Just a few random things to remember for the next trip to Indonesia...

  • Rupiah (currency) is pronounced "roo-pee-uh".
  • Bring crisp U.S. money - they are super picky.
  • Tip everyone - they expect it, but you can tip very small amounts.
  • Most understand the word hostel better than a failed attempt at their language.
  • Alcohol is very expensive - go with beer. Also, next time I'd buy a duty free bottle at the airport.
  • Always negotiate costs, but you won't get very far here. I think it's best to go for fixed prices at local shops rather than try to haggle in a tourist area.
  • Indonesians smile a lot.
  • Nothing is open late besides bars, so if you're going to need chips and Gatorade - buy it early.
  • Don't call them Javanese when they are Balinese (and vice versa).
  • To acknowledge or say thank you from a distance - bow slightly (no head nodding).
  • Modesty is important, even modern Balinese women don't show too much skin (especially on a temple day, no short shorts or skirts).
  • Just like in any Asian toilet situation, make sure to use your right hand to eat and greet other people.
  • The textiles/clothing patterns are beautiful and unique - but bring money to buy! Clothes are expensive.
  • Same with small sculptures - wood, stone, cloth. There are gorgeous home decor options in Java.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Travel Journal: Indonesia (Jakarta & my first train ride)

On our way to Southeast Asia...
Adorable little meals on the Malaysian Airlines flight and the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport - so cute! 
The prayer room

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hiatus

Well, my 3-4 (maybe) blog readers. I'm sad to say this is the beginning of a hiatus. Boyfriend and I will be taking off traveling for the rest of December/January, then our apartment lease is up 2 days after we get back. Sooo we'll be jumping around until we figure out what's next. Sometimes our sporadic, constantly moving lifestyle gets hectic and I have to work to keep my head on straight. But, I wouldn't change it for anything. What is life if not an adventure? 

I can't imagine an existence where you always know what's next and life is just a big plan full of responsibilities and commitments. That life will never be for me. Sometimes it makes for some non-traditional priorities and it creates negativity from the more grounded people in my life...
Regardless - at the end of the day, I really believe in that saying that life is what you make it.

I think back about my adult life (after college) and I just feel overwhelming pride. I hear friends say they don't know where time has gone and what have they done with the past 5 years? I'm extremely thankful to feel the opposite of those sentiments. I've done a lot with my humble beginnings and my relatively small support system (thanks mom! ha). 

I'm so excited for our trip and our Christmas abroad and all the beautiful things to see and taste and hear and just live. I made the little books pictured below. I tore out the relevant pages of Lonely Planet, grabbed a bunch of random paper and bits of water color paintings, created a cover page with all the important words in each language and tips for cost conversion, then bound it all together. This is my first big travel and I'm still such a tourist. I want to keep a little journal and try to use local language - all the good stuff. I'll post some photos of them when I get back (hopefully all covered in writing and messy!).

Here's a few updates:
- made it to the playoffs in my fantasy football league! Too bad I won't be here...haha
- been busy re-painting our apartment back to white - sad to see the navy blue go (so pretty)
- bought this adorable hat for our trip
- my last day at my job is next Wednesday!
- made a 2 page description of how to take care of little gryffie while I'm gone
- recently strengthened my LinkedIn profile based on online recommendations...kind of nerdy, but apparently it's solid gold for job hunting
- bought a teaching English abroad certification course
- bought the cutest outfit you've ever seen for my niece
- excited to plan an awesome 60th birthday for my dad

I think that's about it for now. I'll catch up next year!

Much love and Merry Christmas xoxox
Ellie

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fall into fun

I love the fall - not so much here though. San Francisco never changes. It just gets colder. There are a couple of maple trees on Golden Gate park. When I walk Gryffindor I'm always paying attention to how orange they get. The leaves started falling last week. Gryffindor likes to walk them lol which is mostly funny because he doesn't like to walk in anything other than carpet.
Our roommate's lova lady, Annie, came to visit, so we took a drive to Napa/Sonoma and had wine and food and some great car game time. Napa's beautiful and it was fun to see it in the fall with all the leaves changing and falling. It's a lush landscape - you can tell even after the grapes are harvested and the grass is dead. I picked up some Christmas presents and we checked out a lot of fun, vintage clothing. We just did two wine tasting spots; mostly cause I don't think any of us are real wine people. It's an experience, but I'll still take a perfected agave Tequila over the most vintage amazing wine ever.
Annie's an awesome chick and I'm really glad we're friends. It was cool to hang with her while she was visiting. She came to town earlier this year but I was so busy I hardly said hi to her before we were off somewhere. While she was here, we went on a run together and found a rose garden. It's nice to stop and smell the flowers. She just moved to Denver actually. Now, my best friend is moving to Colorado (not sure where yet) and another good friend (one of my very favorites) is moving back to the Denver area this month. I smell a Denver trip next year. I've been saving up Southwest points like crazy so if I'm lucky I can manage it for free!
After Napa, we decided to cross another item off our San Francisco bucket list and visit the Six Flags outside of Sacramento. The drive was quick - it's only about an hour and a half - the park is absolutely dead this time of year. I think we were there for about 3.5 hours and had already ridden every coaster plus two of them twice. Perfect! Being a roller coaster enthusiast, I can't leave San Francisco without hitting up the best in the area.

The cool and unexpected part is that it's also an aquarium! They have seals and penguins and two giant walruses. I pet the sting rays and we fed the sea lions. And all that was included in the park ticket price. I highly recommended it ! Just for record keeping purposes, my favorite coaster at this park was definitely the Superman. Although, very different from the Magic Mountain Superman, it's still awesome. I also liked the Medusa a lot, but those Superman's always have the element of surprise - can't beat it.





Another great part about the drive from Six Flags was going across the Golden Gate. Since I live in the city and work south (not north), I don't pass it much. It really deserves all the hype it gets. I could just be old school, but the new bay bridge just don't have shit on Golden Gate. Right when you come through the tunnel and see those pillars - its spectacular. 
Angelo had us stop at the Palace of Fine Arts on the way home. I have no idea why it's called that...since there's no art there. But, it's beautiful! And we were there right at sunset, so the building and water all had that warm glow. Pretty willow trees, ducks, swans, and tons of birds. 


For Thanksgiving we drove down to San Diego, of course. Man I love those people. Boyfriend has the most amazing family. I feel more grateful than I can even describe in words to be considered a part of their unit. I got in my first fight with Elaine (boyfriend's mom and my best friend in Diego). We just never fight because I'm always trying to keep drama out of her life (not add to it!) Things just got a little crazy with scheduling and me being selfish about spending more time in the car. It all worked out though - I'm still a bridesmaid for her wedding in June. Can't wait!! I'm also going to make the bouquets (you can't being real flowers onto the cruise ship (cruise wedding), so I'm going to make awesome fake bouquets with some sparkle and brooches). I hope she loves them.
Thanksgiving also happened to be these guys' 71st wedding anniversary. Boyfriend's great grandparents - or, nana and papa we all so dearly call them. Papa is still so spunky (and rude!) haha in the most adorable way. He loves Gryffindor too, so I'm pretty sure he was glad to see him. Nana forgets things, but it doesn't matter because she's still so happy. You can tell she appreciates what everyone does to help take care of her. She's so sweet and she always remembers me.
We also brought our friend Kara from San Francisco down with us. She's spending almost a month in her hometown for Christmas, so I guess she couldn't justify two trips. I think she felt welcome with us though :) And we got to introduce her to a bunch of great friends!! Especially the lovey Robyn and Rachel, and our funniest friend Lawrence. It was great too to see all of boyfriend's cousins. We stayed with Daniel, boyfriend's brother. He has the most classy, retro, chic apartment. It suits him well. I think we destroyed it a little with three people and a dog crashing over, but we helped get it back in order before we left.

This Holiday season is going to be different, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Much <3
Ellie