Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend

Here’s my entry for this week’s challengeAscend

The most beautiful stairs I’ve ever seen is in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Japan, last spring 2016, when most steps were covered with fallen sakura or cherry blossom petals. It was just like bed of roses cherry blossoms! I’ll never forget the moment I stepped on the stairs and feel like a queen!

bed of sakura



Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

via Photo Challenge: Morning

A room with a balcony and a mountain view has always been my love affair. On my trip to Japan, I purposely spent more on accommodation for the sake of getting an experience to view Mt. Fuji solely by opening my room window.

So I stayed one night in Mizuno Hotel mainly because it’s the most affordable hotel, approximately $150 per night, offering rooms facing the most beautiful mountain in Japan. The hotel has positive testimonials, too. I would give a shot, then.

I wonder whether I would become a satisfied guest like many others or be a great copywriting or testimonial victim. Moreover, Mt. Fuji could be unpredictable. Not everyone succeeds to see the mountain in clear sky, without fog or cloud concealing the appearance of its snowy peak.

“You’ve got to see this!!” said my PiC in full excitement at 6 am when I was half awake. I hurriedly looked at the hotel room window and saw this:


I was speechless and grabbed my camera immediately to immortalize the moment while it last. My prayer was answered, one of the nature’s greatest gifts appeared in clear sky, for real, with Lake Kawaguchi in front of it.

Sneak Peak: I’ll share the story of my stay in Mizuno Hotel with fascinating pictures of each corner of the hotel in my next post!

Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “On the Way.”

Many major attractions in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China take long hours drive to reach. In the beginning, I made use most of my time to sleep in the bus along the way to compensate 6 am morning calls (sometimes 5 am).

However, I realized that I should not miss one thing that I would never be able to do during the tour: visiting traditional houses of indigenous people in the region, the Miao minorities. Thus, I felt a sense of urgency to capture them, although they were just from the bus window.

What I like best is that they let the houses just the way they are, untouched by tourists.

miao traditional house

miao house

miao traditional house

Weekly Photo Challenge – Minimalist: Morning View from the Plane

The following is my answer to the challenge on Minimalist:

mountains in the sky

Those who know me know best how much I hate catching a morning flight, especially I’m not completely “awake” and my grey cells are still half-dead. But something happened.

Usually, the flight from Jakarta to Yogyakarta only takes 45 minutes. It’s such a short trip that you sometimes don’t have enough time to close your eyes for a quick nap. Nonetheless, when I was on board, the departure was 15 minutes behind schedule and that’s not it. The plane was taxiing longer than it should be because the air force occupied the airside areas for training. Some passengers slept, listened to the music, chit chatted to kill the time, some just stared at their watch, waiting for the time comes for landing.

Despite the delay, I got something in return. I looked at the window and stunned with the amazing view before me: clear blue sky with the peak of Mount Merbabu on the left and Mount Merapi on the right side, floating on a “fluffy” cloud. I know I wouldn’t be able to see this unless my plane spent another extra 30 minutes to wander the sky.

The next thing I did was to race with the moving plane while capturing the nature beauty before it’s gone. In the beginning, I was worried about the smudged stain on the top left of the window. But thank God, I was relieved that my Fuji didn’t succeed to capture that annoying stain.

Probably it was the best morning experience ever. I’m grateful that I woke up that morning.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Who’s the Real Object?

no pictures, please!

Is he posing for Aqua, the famous Indonesian mineral water brand, or he’s protecting himself from “paparazzi?” No matter what he’s doing, I ask him once more to face the camera and smile. Let’s try this in a different location. May be he’s more comfortable and finally will make up his mind.

And here’s the result……

again, no pictures, please!

He insists on hiding his face with the Aqua bottle. I give up. He’s too shy for the camera.

The Aqua bottle wins. It’s the real object. Full stop.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

“Sorry, Strauss. Not Today.”

I followed what the map showed me to find the famous Johann Strauss memorial in Vienna, to cross the street and find the park. However, the red figure was flashing longer than usual. Instead of whining and groaning, pedestrians were excited with something. They had their mobile and pocket cameras ready in their hands. What was going on?

Rows of antique cars began marching on street. Participants smiled, waved and raised a victory sign to their spectators to express joy and pride behind the wheel. I couldn’t afford missing the moment. I spontaneously took my old camera and captured every single moving vehicle in front of me. I was glad I got a great spot though the lightning wasn’t the best. But I didn’t care. The pictures satisfied me no matter what. Those cars were such a beauty that one will recreate in a million years.

After the show was over, I felt tired of walking. Moreover, Johann Strauss was still far from my sight. So I decided to return to the main shopping street and get something to eat.

Sorry Strauss, I’d like to waltz with you, but not today.

Forget about a perfect plan for a while. Let imperfection infiltrate your travelling moments. Expect the unexpected, then you will discover the art of travelling.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says, “Honesty is the Best Policy”

I’ve been wandering around the globe and found out one thing that we, citizens of the world, often miss nowadays: honesty. So, what has honesty got to do with traveling? A lot, especially when it is sacrificed many times for tons of reasons. Look around us: souvenir vendors bullying buyers, showing an expired or a fake student card to get a discounted ticket to the museum, taking a subway without paying the fare, modifying a taxi meter to cheat passengers, pick-pocketing tourists’ wallets, and oh dear, gimme more examples. I know you can do it.

“Honesty is the best policy”. An old saying that will never be obsolete. Signs we see around us speak for themselves how much we’ve been dreaming of scam-free cities.

Honesty Market, Reykjavic

Fruits in the wooden basket are for sale, not samples. But no employees outside keeping an eye for the fruits either. Honesty of the buyers is being tested.

Charlie Brown Cafe, Singapore

Check your bill. Claim a refund if there’s any service charge included.

Mirota Store, Jogjakarta

“COPET DILARANG MASUK” (no pickpockets allowed). Nothing more to explain. Though real pickpockets pretend not to understand what it means or just don’t give a shit.

Still at Mirota, when the big signboard at the back is zoomed in…..

“WATCH YOUR MOBILE PHONE AND WALLET. It’s fun to be a pickpocket, huh? Get goodies for free? Sorry, man! GET REAL, WAKE UP!” Call your priest, if not the police, to make a confession.

Penang Cab
image credit: http://www.penang-traveltips.com/taking-the-taxi.htm

“This taxi uses meter. Bargaining’s not allowed. Get the receipt.” Though I didn’t take this picture, I experienced how it applies in real life in Penang. Very few or none of those taxis actually use meter, including the ones with the sign on the door. The sign says, “I’m lying to you!”


Weekly Photo Challenge: In The Background

fishing in Kutuh Village offshore, Bali

Taken from Timbis Hill, Bali, about 800 metres above sea level, deep blue sea withdraws the attention from the initial subject: Kutuh Village people fishing in a seaweed plantation site. The offshore holds one of the biggest seaweed exporters in Bali to China, giving more prosperity of its inhabitants. It’s up to the eyes of the beholders how to interpret the message or from which angle they view the  image: the sea, the “dots” (people) in the coastline, the green-brown thing (seaweed) situated before the sea, or the calm wave.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

Praha, Czech Rep

Crossing a busy street from the narrow alley I passed in Praha to Prague Castle on the other side reminds me of the possible obstacles to achieve your goals and dreams. You never know what happen to the street you’re going to cross in front of you. That’s why there’s a traffic light and a place to pray to keep you safe to reach your destination. In order to succeed, working hard on your own is just not enough. You need other people to help you and God to give you blessings.

The traffic light and its red button below represent other people’s help (who create the traffic light). The statue of Jesus represents God’s blessings, even though it’s too abstract to show blessings in a physical form. Crowded street and the other side, which is unseen until you climb the stairs, represents winding and rocky road you may find on the way to success. There’s no escalator or elevator to success, only stairs. Success is the process, not a destination or a quick scheme program.

Never give up on your dreams, even if you reach the peak of trouble. Remember to move forward and take action to achieve them. When you’re successful, don’t forget to thank people who help you and God who gives you strength and blessings – so don’t stop praying.