July 18, 2014

✈ Lombok, Indonesia x Jeeva Beloam x "Off The Grid"

My birthday this year was the most unforgettable and special one yet. There were many firsts - first birthday spent overseas, first time in Lombok, first time being somewhere so close to nature.

With the location being a surprise destination, the only hint I got from C was that it was "off the grid", which made me even more curious and anticipative of where he was going to bring me. Upon reaching Lombok International Airport, we were whisked off to the secret location. The journey was about 2 hours. By the time we arrived at the destination, the sky was pitch-dark and I was told to retire early for the night. There was very minimal light, we used a lantern lamp to guide us back to the resort and I could barely make out the surroundings.

Snapped a quick picture before we rested for the night

What greeted me the next morning was a sight to behold. Opened my eyes to this amazing view! I could really get used to this!

And so, it was finally revealed to me that the secret location was Jeeva Beloam, deep in a 55-hectare nature forest preserve and facing the Timor Sea. Our resort, home for the next few days, or Beruga Pantai as they called it, was one of the eleven Berugas in Jeeva Beloam (yes only eleven, for the exclusivity as well as preservation of nature).

As the Beruga is built using wood, bamboo and alang-alang roof, it provides a cooling shelter from the afternoon sun and allows the sea breeze to waft in. The sleeping area is actually air-conditioned but most of the time we loved to laze round in the terrace on the daybed, feel the sea breeze and listen to the waves crash against the shore, over and over again.

Due to the exclusive location of Jeeva Beloam, all three meals were provided for daily with a varied selection of Western and Indonesian cuisine. The menus were rotated regularly and for the period we were there, we got to try different varieties.

The chefs were also very accommodating to special requests. As a spicy food lover, I have to highly recommend the sambal chilli, it is spicy and provides a punchy kick!

And off we went to explore around Jeeva Beloam!

Oh glorious sun, sea and sand! This place is an untainted paradise, where we truly experienced the beauty of nature along the beach facing the Alas Strait, so untouched and clean.

For two days, we took a short drive to Pink Beach and set sail on a local fishing boat into the blue to the nearby islands for snorkelling and water activities!

The waters are so clear that we could see the corals and sea bed just by looking in. How precious are these clear blue waters, I hope this little piece of God's creation will remain unpolluted for the longest time possible.

Our guide brought us to a sand bank, which is a deposit of sand forming a shallow area in the sea, seemingly disguised as an island. What a surreal experience being the only two persons on it!

Here's a photo I googled for better illustration:
Photo credit to Source

On our last night, the staff at Jeeva Beloam arranged a barbeque by the campfire. I did not manage to capture any stills, but it was a night full of stars. So beautiful. My heart was filled with so much gratitude that night.

It has been an incredible experience. Many thanks to Jeeva Beloam for the awesome hospitality and C for planning this surprise birthday trip!

+62 (0) 370 693 035
Jalan Pantai Beloam, Tanjung Ringgit,
Sekaroh, Jerowaru
East Lombok - Indonesia 

December 25, 2013

✈ Osaka Travelogue: Christmas Light Illuminations

As cliché as it may sound, Christmas is indeed my favorite holiday season of the year, where it is the time to rejoice, spend time with your loved ones and show appreciation to your family and friends by giving.

This year, spending Christmas in Osaka has certainly exceeded my expectations. I hadn't expected Osaka to be big about Christmas, in fact I was all cool about just having a simple casual dinner with my other half and enjoying each other's company in a foreign land. Little did I know that there is actually a committee set up to plan and put together a structured program which includes a series of events and illumination displays that were lit across the city center of Osaka! Trust the Japanese to be so thoughtful and organised. For more information, you may look it up here.

There was little research to be done with all the information readily available at the website. We were on a mission to see all the lights illumination at "Festival of the light in Osaka 2013". Let the merry making begin!

The Christmas carols playing, bright lights shining, with streets all beautifully decorated with ornaments and trees, have really lifted the Christmas spirits. 

Osaka Hikari-Renaissance 2013
Miotsukushi Promenade  @ Nakanoshima Park 

Christmas stalls selling hot wine, sausages, turkey legs and the likes near the vicinity of Osaka City Hall. So reminiscent of the Europe Christmas markets I have been to during my school exchange days!

Super pretty 3D lights display on the facade of Osaka Central Public Hall

Twilight Fantasy @ Osaka Station City

Merry Christmas all, xoxo

December 23, 2013

✈ Kyoto Travelogue | Ayashiyama x Bamboo Grove x Tofu Ryori

We travelled to the western outskirts of Kyoto to Ayashiyama for its famous bamboo groves. Ayashiyama, a popular area for day trips, has much to offer be it travelling by foot or by bicycle.

Directions to Ayashiyama
Take JR Sagano Line to Sago-Ayashiyama from Kyoto Station

The 10-minutes walk from the JR station to Ayashiyama was a pleasant one. The cotton-like clouds that spread across the clear blue sky was an instant mood-lifter, and we were blessed by the sun which gave us some warmth from the chilly weather.

"The Sagano Bamboo Forest is one of Japan's national treasures. It is spectacularly beautiful - not just visually, but aurally as well. The sound of culms knocking together and the wind sighing through the upper branches is an extraordinary sensory experience."

The lush greenery and rustle of bamboo leaves is definitely a sight that city dwellers like us do not get to see everyday.

Tenryū­ji's scenic garden designed by the Zen master Musō Soseki 

There are many different types of Ryori that is unique to Kyoto, such as Shojin Ryori, Obanzai Ryori, Kawayuka/Kawadoko.

Famous in Ayashiyama/Kyoto for its tofu cuisine which include yudofu (boiled tofu), koyadofu (dried-frozen tofu) and yuba (bean curd skin), we had to give it a try! It wasn't an ordinary vegetarian meal but a delicious and satisfying one. The yudofu simmered in vegetables and broth was so soft and simply melted in one's mouth. If only more healthy dishes could be this delicious!

So many things to uncover about Kyoto, so little time. We ended our Kyoto leg with Kinkaku-ji Temple. Such a pretty sight, with the golden reflection of the Golden Pavilion shimmering across the pond.

Beautiful landscapes captured in the train from Kyoto to Osaka

December 22, 2013

✈ Kyoto Travelogue | Tōfuku-ji x Fushimi Inari Taisha

I was looking forward to today's itinerary the most and reeling with excitement and anticipation at the thought of visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha. I have watched too many animes and Japanese-related movies about the famous Senbon torii and i cannot wait to experience walking through the thousands of vermillion gates myself!

As recommended by a friend, we first headed to Tōfuku-ji since it was on route to Fushimi Inari. The best season to visit is actually during autumn for the blossom of maple trees!

Directions to Tōfuku-ji
Take JR Nara line to Tofukuji from Kyoto Station

Tōfuku-ji is one of the five "Kyoto Gozan" temples. The name "Tofuku-ji" was taken from two major temples in Nara, Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple.

A sneak peek from Tsūten-kyō bridge

The view that greeted us when we entered the garden (400 yen to enter). Even though it was winter and despite the barren trees, the autumn colours of the remaining fall foliage which littered the ground were simply breathtaking and a sight to behold.

Thanks to Clement's fantastic navigation, we took a little walk via a pleasant side-path through the woods and private properties from Tōfuku-ji to Fushimi Inari. And here we are, at the magnificent and awe-inspiring Fushimi Inari Shrine of Kyoto!

It felt so surreal to be walking through the countless torii gates! 

Right at the other end of the stretch of torii gates was a small shrine dedicated to the fox messengers as well as the starting point of a trekking trail. I had my prayers hung up as well! 

I couldn't believe it myself, but we actually made it to the top of Mount Inari! It was really cold and the air was thin which made the trail more difficult to trek during winter. The torii gates were more sparse and less maintained as you climb higher into the woods and in all honesty, there was only a shrine with not much of a view when you reach the top. Nevertheless, it was an experience i was glad i pushed myself to accomplish. It took us about two hours to complete the trek.

I am truly blessed to be here. ありがとう!