In a month, I’m turning 30! To celebrate three decades of delight, heartbreaks, and most importantly, adventure, my goal is to churn out as many Top 30 articles as I can to share the bits and pieces I’ve learned and realized for the almost-thirty years I’ve been blessed with. This is the first article of the series; if you have ideas for brilliant and funny topics I should write about, feel free to let me know through the comments. I’m really excited to kick things off — I hope you enjoy reading these!
The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.
–- Samuel Johnson
The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.
–- Amelia E. Barr
You don’t choose the day you enter the world and you don’t chose the day you leave. It’s what you do in between that makes all the difference.
–- Anita Septimus
The temple of Bayon is often outshone by the mighty Angkor Wat and alluring Ta Phrom, but it was the one that drew me in. Bayon’s towers are studded by faces on each side, and I remember standing agape, trying to study each expression, each smile. It might not be not as celebrated as the other bigger temples, but this was the definitely the one that the Khmer engineers had fun building.
The myth has been busted — apparently, I am capable of showing up early for work.
Today, though, work doesn’t mean putting on a frock and a pair of heels. Instead, I panic-packed several shorts, tops, and of course, my office’s official volunteer shirts, all before rushing madly to the airport to make my 6:15 am flight.
“It is easy to go over the border. It’s much harder to come back,” the guide teases.
As I look on to the thin stretch of elevated concrete, that crucial marker that keeps the peace for one of the most volatile feuds still existing in the world, flimsy is the word that comes to mind. It almost beckons you to at least try to violate it. Well, I say almost, if not for the stern-faced soldiers gravely guarding the demarcation line. They are staggered all over the Joint Security Area (JSA), one of the few things which North Korea and South Korea both agreed to share. Tension hangs thick in the air; the soldiers breathe this in all-day. Continue reading Our Ten Minutes in North Korea→
How Taiwan isn’t rolling off everyone’s tongues when they speak of adventure trips in Asia is a bit baffling. In the brief time I’ve spent overall in this country, I’ve seen stunning landscapes, met inspiring people, and took part in memorable traditions. Hualien County, around 2-3 hours by train from urban Taipei, is one of such little-known places, but one I would urge all my friends to see. Continue reading Wow, Hualien!→
Before I get to the list, there’s one important thing I need to share — Ferdy. That’s the only name you’ll ever need to know in Bali.
Ours was a serendipitous meeting — we were a group of six stranded in Jimbaran, at the mercy of the overpriced taxis that lurked outside the restaurants. That was, until Ferdy came along in his Bluebird cab to drop off his passengers.
“Six, can?” – Us
“Can!” – Ferdy
And with three words, a bond was formed.
Ferdy had a smiling rest-face, which puts you at ease at once. We liked him so much that we hired him to be our driver/guide for the whole of the next day. He was honest, cheerful, and extremely generous the whole time, as if he were taking long-time friends around to see his home. I can honestly say that our trip wouldn’t have been as memorable if we didn’t get to know Ferdy.
Okay, now that you know the best driver-slash-guide in Bali, it’s time to explore! The island is simply humungous. For the six visits I’ve made to Bali, I’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s uncanny: each time I go, I find around 5 more things to do when I return to the Island of the Gods.
Here are ten suggestions on how you can make your own Balinese adventure unforgettable, based on the knockout experiences that made me come back for more (I’ve listed them in no particular order):
1. Paraglide at Timbis Beach
A sure way to get a Bali high is to paraglide at Timbis Beach. It sounds crazy to jump off a bluff, but once you soar above the hills and the sea, over the ridiculously expensive cliffside mansions, then it will all make sense. If you’re lucky, your tandem instructor may let you take the reins and control the chute for a bit. If you’re extremely lucky, you may even get to literally touch the clouds! This adventure is time-dependent; paragliding season in Timbis Beach is from May to October.