Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Was Enchanted To Meet You

She is amazing, talented and beautiful. She is Taylor Swift.

I have the opportunity to see her Live in KL for her Red Tour and so co-incidentally her concert fell on the same day as my birthday. Dad bought the ticket for me and brother and the both of us went together with my colleague, Terence.

Yeap, so that was roughly the distance between us and the stage. Frankly I was quite surprise that it was rather near.  I bought the Cat. 2 ticket which cost me RM398.

The obligatory selfie that brother complied with. Hehe!

The concert was held at Stadium Indoor Putra, Bukit Jalil. Tickets were all sold out and I remembered how I queued from 7.20am for the ticket. The stadium was filling up fast and you could really feel the anticipation of the fans in the air.

She opened her Red Tour with her first track from the RED album called State of Grace. I had goosebumps. She was amazing.


She sang a total of 12 songs; State of Grace, Red, Holy Ground, I Knew You Were Trouble, All Too Well, 22, Enchanted, You Belong With Me, Love Story, The Lucky One, Sparks Fly and We are never ever getting back together.



She really knew how to deliver a fantastic performance what with all the break dancers, ballerinas, masquerades and circus acts.


She surprised us with Enchanted and I was blown away during the song. Literally the song I felt each time I had a crush on someone. Even now.

Here is a snippet from Enchanted


As I have foreseen, I had goosebumps and teared up during All Too Well somewhere along the line of "Time won't fly it's like I'm paralyzed by it..."


She closed her Red Tour with the hit single We are never ever getting back together.


Sigh...it was indeed a perfect night.

Friday, June 27, 2014

breakfast in bed

I rolled around in the bed and opened my eyes reluctantly. The sunlight was streaming into my room and the birds were chirping happily. I turned and look at the clock on my bed stand.

“8:00” That was too early to wake up at this time on a Saturday. I rolled to the other side trying to catch back on my sleep when I heard the slight noise which sounded like it came from the kitchen. Few minutes later, a couple of soft knock followed on my door. I woke up unglamorously with my messy hair and opened the door. There he was with his boyish grin and a tray of most delicious breakfast ever.

“GOOD MORNING!” That was too much happy even for me.

“Morning…” I grunted. “Wait, what’s the occasion? What’s with the breakfast? Did I forget something?” I said as the dates for birthdays, anniversaries and possible special occasions ran through my head at the speed of lightning. Nothing came close.

“I can’t believe you forget!” he gasped.

“Wait what did I forget? It isn't your birthday or is this some silly 123 days anniversary..?” I said.

He laughed while he set the tray down on my bed. I inspected the tray; there were two glasses of fresh milk, a cup of coffee, sandwiches and pancakes. Yum! I thought at the same time my stomach started to growl.

“I was just kidding Ms Grumpy! No special occasion but I just want to make you feel happy. You were all stressed out this week at work and well, if you have not notice, we did not exchange more than just good morning and good night every single day this week,” he said while sitting down on my bed.

“Awww…” was all I could manage.

“So I hope you don’t have plans today…” he said while giving me a mysterious smile.

“What did you have in mind exactly?” I eyed him warily.

“Snuggles, cuddles, movie marathon and some surprises along the way,” he answered. I was touched. Touched that I was loved so deeply by him and that it was as if making me happy was his life mission. I climbed into his arms and stayed there while I whispered, “I love you very much.” 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Solid Ground

I never liked you the first time we met. It was pure intense dislike, close to hatred. Everything you said, everything you did. Nobody knows why and no one could figure it out. There was never a time where I was nice to you. In fact everything you said made me want to retort back. There were times I felt threatened by your existence. So much so, that I refused help from you even though it was obvious that I could not carry this alone.

I thought it was weird. I have never felt this way before. It was easier to say that you brought out the worst in me but there was an inner voice that knew the truth all along. You reflected everything that I could be but I did not become simply because I was afraid. Fear; have known to be pulling people backwards into that trench of loneliness. A friend tried to point it out. I brushed it aside putting all the blame on you. 

It is always easier to push the responsibility to others and not claim it yours.

Then it happened. We talked like two civilize people do with much restraint from my side. The conversation took me to a place far away. I saw myself standing in a room of glass wall. My reflection bounced off each of the wall creating different sides of me. Each reflection told a story. I saw a girl diving in the great ocean along to sea turtles, dolphins and whales. I saw her writing stories after stories of the adventures that she embarked on. I saw a kind hearted girl who was supportive and helpful to her family and friends. In another reflection was a girl, so fearless that she held the universe in her hand and that sky is her limit. Those reflections showed only one face.

Mine.

The room evolved and I was staring back at you. In your clear brown eyes, I saw that void and vacant space in my heart. It had been too long and that space was waiting to be filled up. Our conversation ended. You gave me an encouraging smile. That smile that urged me to take a step forward to be bold again. I took a step out into the sun. I opened my arms and inhaled that summer air. I felt the heat and the sunny glare blinded my vision. Someone distant and faraway called out to me.

“Hailey…time to wake up, honey.” 

I felt a gentle nudge on my arm. I opened my eyes and that same pair of clear brown eyes looked back at me with that smile. The same smile I would never forget for the rest of my life. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

feeling good is an understatement

Just like that, May is over.
Almost half of the year is gone and in about a few more days, I am turning a year older. A lot has changed over the past few months even though it was just a short 5 months.

I have been feeling really good lately about myself. Not that I don't feel good about myself before this but this time, it is just different. Starting with the decision to try new things, to never hesitate and to also on the constant look out for opportunities in life. Have I also mentioned how the first half of the year was a bang because I can finally say, I traveled solo.

So, what's next? I have a rough idea but nothing is confirmed. I will keep hoping for the best and hopefully by the end of the year, I could actually look back and be proud of all my achievements.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chishingtan, Zhiqiang Night Market & A Little Bit of Hualien Town

I got to know this girl name Emmeline the first night I arrived at Hualien and we went out to dinner. My initial plan was to visit Taroko Gorge on the second day and Chishingtan (the pebble beach) on the third day but since Emmeline mentioned she would like to visit the beach the next day, I decided to swap my plans and explore the beach with her. That was the first thing I learned about solo travel is that I get to change my plans on my own without having to consult with anyone and it makes me feel good.

We had breakfast together, Emmeline and Shih Han (another girl that I came to know working temporarily at Sleeping Boot). 
This is how a typical Taiwan breakfast place would look like. They have toast, sandwiches and fan tuan.


Since it was my first morning there, I was lost. Took me awhile to get used to their terms in mandarin.


This is like an egg pancake rolled with ham or pork floss. Taste good and normally, their breakfast comes with soy bean.

One of the reasons I fell in love with Hualien is the mountains. The misty mountains! We rented a bicycle each and found our way to the beach. All thanks to Emmeline actually. I mostly trailed at the back.


If you are lucky, you would be able to spot dolphins too!

The weather was perfect for a beach outing. It was sunny but it was also windy which is the perfect combination. Our cycling journey took 30 minutes from town. Not advisable to walk here at all because it is quite a distance.


There weren't many people around and we were quite early as well.


The pebbles are really pretty but we were not supposed to take them back. So if you intend to take it, do it at your own risk. 


We sat there for an hour taking our time taking pictures and just talking.


Well if you get to the beach by a cab and thinks that the beach is a little too long to be explored by foot, don't worry. There's a bicycle rental centre (Giant) at the beach. 

How can you not fall in love with this? Unless you are not much of a nature lover.

Coming with Emmeline was a right thing to do because she is basically very flexible and we stopped at almost everywhere just to take pictures or just to look at the beauty of nature.

If you can, try renting the electric bicycle which will make cycling even easier and faster. Some might say its for the lazy people but hey, I have more cycling to do in the evening. 


Here's me one last time at Chishingtan.

We cycled back into town and went to this Chenghuan temple that everyone said is one of the attraction of the town.

We noticed that the opposite shop was selling these cakes and red tea and we decided to give it a try.


We tried all the flavour and my favourite was the coffee one.

Emmeline had to leave to Taipei so I decided to explore Hualien on my own for the better half of the day. Earlier in the morning, I passed by this shop and thought I would really like to give their coffee a try.



Yes, I admit it was the quirky decor that caught my eye.


I ordered popeye latte. It was okay. I'd give it a 5 over 10.

Shih Han told me about the shop where they helped deliver postcard at a later time according to the sender's wish so I thought I really had to check the shop out. Unfortunately, all I knew was that it is behind Starbucks but I had no idea what was that shop's name and which alley it is.
I had to ask around and finally as I was almost giving up, I found the shop!

The shop owner is a lady and she was very helpful. She explained the different rates for different duration and also the postcard available at store. 
I wrote one for myself and told her to try to send it by June next year. 

I rented a bicycle again and this cycled to Zhiqiang night market. This is because walking to the night market from my hostel will take about 40 minutes and I thought it would be easier to just rent a bike and cycle there.

There are a few stalls that are famous and they are the must-try ones in Zhiqiang night market. The first one will be this shop that sells the food on the skewer. 


I heard that if you come on weekends, the queue will take about an hour or more.

I got these three and it was really good. 

Next one will be the sizzling beef steak. There are a lot of stalls there but this one was recommended so I decided to give it a try.


The portion is HUGE and it's worth the money because it is delicious. I ordered the one with the pepper sauce. They have it in mushroom too. 

I couldn't really try more food as I was alone and I cannot really eat a lot so I decided to just walk around and later cycle to find the Gong Zheng Bao Zhi that opens 24 hours and is really famous.


I decided to take away just one of the bao and tried it while I was walking back to my hostel after returning the bicycle.


I am not really a pork fan myself but the bao changed my mind. The filling is so good that I almost regretted not getting a second one. 


And this conclude my second day around Hualien. Taroko Gorge would be in the next entries with zillions of pictures.

Note: All the pictures above taken using my iPhone 4S. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Closure

What started early of the year has come to an end. As much as I do not want it to end, I have no choice but to bid farewell to this little feeling of mine. A conversation yesterday late in the evening with a friend somehow got stuck in my head.

Everything happens for a reason and this, this happened for a reason too.

I wanted to cry, you know, because I was so sad.

I know. You can borrow my shoulder anytime and I promise you, this too shall pass. 

When it happened the first time, it seemed like I will never be able to come out of it. I think I was immobilised for days but as time passed, it gets better. I got better. I didn't rebuild my walls when it was crushed the last time.
This time round, it was easier. I was much clearer on how to react and know that it wasn't because I was not good enough but simply because, we're just not meant to be together.

I looked at friends around me who tried to make me feel better and I am eternally grateful for all their effort. For that moment I realised, it isn't so bad. This happened for a reason. And for now, I have my friends around me and that is all I needed.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sleeping Boot Backpacker, Hualien

The first day of my trip was mostly spent on transportation. The plan was to spend my first three nights at Hualien. Hualien is one of the largest county located in the eastern coast of Taiwan. My flight from KL was at 10am and I landed at Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei around 2.30pm.


Weather at Taipei was fine. 
The plan was to buy a Taiwan sim pack first so that I can stay in touch with my family. After all, this is the first time I travel alone and they will be worried. 
To buy the sim pack, there are counters by various telco at the airport. Once you exited the arrival hall, turn and head left to the very end. Turn left again and you will see the all the counters offering various package. I took the 10 days package with NTD400 airtime that cost me NTD770 in total. 
Next, the bus station to Taipei Main Station is located at the other end (on the right side of the arrival hall). I bought the bus ticket from Kuo-kang bus company (NTD125) that goes to the Taipei Main Station.




The journey to Taipei Main Station is about 40 minutes. I was glad that I didn't buy the train tickets online first because I did not expect to spend so long waiting in line for my sim pack at the airport.
Once reached the main station, the direction to TRA (Taiwan Railway) counters are pretty easy to be found. Bought a ticket to Hualien and voila, I am on my way. There are also a lot of types of express train and I got the Taroko Express for NTD440 and my journey was less than 3 hours.



I would have been able to see the beautiful scenery as claimed by many from Taipei to Hualien but because I boarded the train quite late already so it was pretty dark all the way. I grabbed my long awaited favourite fan tuan (onigiri) from the 7 Eleven. Gawd, I miss those! For three years!


The train ride was comfortable and I mostly try not to think too much. Heh! I reached Hualien on time at 7.50pm and followed the instruction given online to my hostel.


I chose Sleeping Boot Backpacker Hostel after reading all the great reviews on them at Trip Advisor and also HostelWorld. It is a good 10 to 15 minutes walk away from TRA Hualien Station and because it was at night, I actually missed this small signage!


A quick check on the good ol' Google Maps, I turned back and found it.


One lesson learnt here, do google up on how the front entrance look like before looking for your hostel so that you get an idea what you are looking for. 
Paul, the staff in-charged greeted me at the front entrance and briefed me with their hand drawn map of Hualien. The map is useful. It actually highlights the places to eat and what to see. Paul asked if it is alright that I stay at the 4 person dorm for the first time (I actually booked to stay in the 6 person female dorm) and I said alright.


So this is where my first night was at the lower bunk. The 4 person dorm actually comes with a private shower room/toilet. Not bad. I was transferred to this, the next day.



Both the shower room and toilet is just right outside. Each of us are given our own personal locker.
One thing I love about Sleeping Boot Backpacker is that the staff there encourages everyone to interact with each other. So I spent most of my time at the common area getting to know different people that came in and out.


The first night when I reached, Paul introduced me to Emmeline and asked if the both of us wanted to go to dinner together. That was how I get to know her. Emmeline is from Singapore and is in the culinary art line. I like her bubbly personality. Apparently this is not her first time of traveling solo.


The wall decor with postcards and interesting places to visit in the hostel.


I must say that Sleeping Boot Backpackers live up to all the reviews given and no wonder they ranked 3rd in Trip Advisor!


The place is really clean and staff are extremely helpful. They helped explained and suggested my stops for my excursion to Taroko Gorge because I am pretty clueless about the place.
I booked the place through Agoda and paid before I arrived. 3 nights cost me RM176.52 which I think it's pretty good given that the place is fantastic.
Next up will be my cycling trip on the second day to Chi Shing Tan (a pebble beach) with Emmeline.

If you want to find out more about Sleeping Boot Backpackers, here you go:
http://www.sleepingboot.com/