Category Archives: Tales of a Traveller

Jordan-Israel 2016: My Unforgettable Journey

We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed and that changes everything. – Jonah Lehrer.

It was my third time arranging for what I considered, the trip of my lifetime. After Germany, going to Israel is one of my bucket list, so imagine when I managed to cajole my clients to follow me on my trip, I was elated. It was May. That’s when the testing comes.

As my company (now ex company) was undergoing restructuring, I had to apply for permission before they issue my air-tickets. No  response. Yes, yes, I believe they will approve, that’s what the manager chirped. As the date drew nearer, no response came. The date I was scheduled to fly passed and yet, I received no response from either the boss or the manager. All they could do was grin. It was annoying.

Being the optimistic me, I scheduled myself to fly again in June. Again, radio silence. This time it irked me. Just tell me the truth, I flared. All I had gotten was a grin. I heId back my temper. I had really wanted to slap that smug grin off their faces.

Then Ataturk airport got bombed. I was supposed to fly to Israel that day.

I sat down in front of my TV, stunned, while trying to settle the tourists who was already in the air trying to fly into the airport that went up in smoke. I stayed on my phone, trying to assure my clients, heart pounding while eyes were glued to the TV. Reality slowly sank in. I was supposed to fly that day, but because my company hadn’t issued my tickets, I stayed at home. I felt lucky. It was like a sign from above. I resigned from my company one month later.

After my resignation, I decided to rest a bit and bought my tickets to fly out to Cappadocia to visit my friends instead.

This time, the coup happened and Ataturk airport closed down. Again. I was supposed to fly that day. Bummer.

**********

When I told my friends my little (mis)adventure with the airport, I couldn’t help but be amused. However, when my clients once again asked me about the long awaited trip, I figured third try could be my lucky charm and decided to try again. The day I made my reservations, I sat down once again at the pewter, praying, let 3 be my lucky charm, let me fly to the Holyland if this is God’s Will.

Exactly four months later, on 10 September 2016 at 14:25, I was on the plane on my way to Amman, Jordan. Looks like third is indeed my lucky charm.

*********

Welcome to Amman, Jordan

IMG_20160911_073508.jpg

Welcome to Amman, Jordan!

IMG_20160912_235919.jpg

McDonald’s in Amman. And the streets are so empty during Eid.

IMG_20160913_130259.jpg

Throughout Eid (4 days), you can find people selling sheeps and sacrificing them along the roads.

Amman, the city of white, is the capital of Jordan. Situated in north-central Jordan, the city has a population of 4,007,526 and a land area of 1,680 square kilometres. Amman is considered to be among the most liberal and westernized Arab cities. I even saw tourists wearing shorts strolling around. But my experience on the plane was so different: my clients and I were the only passenger who didn’t wear the hijab and I had absent-mindedly put on my sleeveless t-shirt. I had almost wanted to dug myself a whole in the ground. However, the other passengers were very kind and friendly. One even tried to smile at me even though she was covered from head to toe (I thought I noticed her squinting as if she was smiling at me). No one judged me based on my (poor) choice of clothing. It was a relief.

IMG_20160912_235740.jpg

Mount Nebo

I was surprised to find biblical places in Jordan. Jordan gives me the impression of a sandy wilderness located in the middle of the scorching desert, where ancient civilization resides. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to be walking on the land which I used to read in the bible. It was like bible coming alive.

Mount Nebo, located in Madaba, southwest of Amman, is an elevated ridge in Jordan, about 817 metre above sea level. It was here where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land (currently Israel). The mount provides a panorama view of the Jordan Valley and Moses Spring.

IMG_20160913_000611.jpg

Kerak Castle

Next, we travelled a short distance away to the Crusader castle of Kerak. It is one of the largest crusader castle, which was built in the 1140s. The Crusaders called it Crac des Moabites or “Karak in Moab”, as it is frequently referred to in history books. The view from the top was phenomenal.

IMG_20160913_000749.jpg

And we were at the famous Petra

The next day we went to Petra, a famous archaeological site in Jordan’s southwestern desert, famous for their rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Petra was the capital of the Arab Nabatean Kingdom, established possibly as early as 312 BC. The Nabateans were nomadic Arabs who benefited from the proximity of Petra to the regional trade routes, in becoming a major trading hub, thus enabling them to gather wealth. The Nabateans are also known for their great ability in constructing efficient water collecting methods in the barren deserts and their talent in carving structures into solid rocks. It is magnificent site, to cover the whole area would take 13 hours, tunneling through canyon which provide the much needed shade from the sun.

We went there as early as 8am to avoid the crowds and the sun. The walk was long and we covered less than half of the whole site (we could only go as far as the Royal Tombs) in a total four hours. On our way back, we had to brace the scorching sun. There were a few times I had doubted if I would be able to make it out alive since I had forgotten to bring my hat along and we had to walk under the very harsh elements of the sun and the sand. My son was so exhausted he couldn’t even muster the energy to complain. As we described our experience in Chinese, we “had left half our lives inside Petra”. But it was worth every pain.

IMG_20160913_130706.jpg

Next stop, Jerash Roman City

Jerash is an ancient city in Jordan,  inhabited since the Bronze Age, it’s known for the ruins of the walled Greco-Roman settlement of Gerasa just outside the modern city.

According to Wikipedia, a strong earthquake destroyed in 749 AD large parts of Jerash, while subsequent earthquakes along with wars and turmoil contributed to additional destruction. The ruins remained buried in the soil for hundreds of years until they were discovered by German Orientalist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1806. In addition to the role of the people of old villages near Jerash, the process of building the modern city of Jerash was mainly done by the resettlement of Circassian Muslims by the Ottoman authorities; the Circassians came to Transjordan from the Caucasus after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. Subsequently a community of people from Syria came to the area at the beginning of the 20th century.

What I enjoyed most was the auditorium. It was built in such a way, no modern system could beat its natural surround system. If you had the chance to visit, get a friend to stand on the other side of the auditorium and whisper your secrets into one of the round hollowed out  structures you find along the auditorium, your voice is so crystal clear, it was as if you are just sitting besides your friend whispering.

IMG_20160913_131720.jpg

Freshly made bread in a restaurant near Jerash City, made especially for us!

******

Next stop, the Holyland

After lunch, we had to embark on a 2 hour journey to one of the three borders connecting Jordan to Israel. We took Sheikh Hussein bridge, 90km north of Amman. I was stunned to find out that I had to pay 10 Jordanian Dollars (14 USD) to get out of Jordan. Pay to get out? This is the first in my life. In addition, I had to pay an additional 1.50 Jordanian Dollars (2.30 USD) to take a 5 minutes bus ride across the border to Israel. There we ran into a Dutch group waiting in line to get into Israel.

And we got stuck.

Apparently, my wonderful business partner in Israel applied for a group visa (of 10 people) for my two beloved clients. So where are the rest of the people? The border officer asked. We don’t know (but seriously, these people don’t even exist). So we were stuck at the border for the next three hours while my partner frantically made phonecalls to the foreign affairs to rectify the matters. (I was given my slip of paper, which is equivalent to a stamp in my passport, since some countries will create problems for the passports with stamps from Israel). And the waiting game began. Others have been telling my clients, no, they couldn’t enter Israel with the visa my partner applied for them. But what the heck, we are all in an experimental mood, so here we are, stuck at the border.

Indeed, after three hours of waiting and the possibility of the Jordanian borders closing, an elderly Jewish man came out (with his Jewish cap on his head), to tell me that my clients had to return to Jordan because they were denied entry. I flipped. After three hours of waiting and this is the result? Maybe I look demure, maybe he was expecting me to take in whatever he dished out. But I am not who I look like. Upon hearing the news, I turned into the hot-tempered demon. Since we couldn’t go back to Jordan and couldn’t enter Israel, I demanded them to escort us to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv so we could change our tickets and forever forget Israel. In addition, I even threatened to not promote Israel to my clients. He was so stunned at my requests and temper, he cocked his head sideways as if apologetic for putting us in such a situation and whispered, “sign these papers and I will issue your friends their visa. No need to change your tickets.” I shot back, “are your sure?” This time, he looked frustrated and bewildered, “I am the border senior office, of course, I am sure.” He looked slightly pissed at my retorts. Here is this foreign crazy girl, travelling with her son and two friends, stuck at the border, who according to my friends was bordering on being rude towards a police officer. My friends were so afraid he would simply throw me into jail.

Miracles, they were issued a week’s visa and we quickly scrambled out of his way, in case he changed his mind. Holyland, here we come!

IMG_20160914_221213.jpg

Mount Zion, Room of the Last Supper and the great King David

Mount Zion is a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City.

IMG_20160914_222709.jpg

This is where St Mary “sleeps”, the Tomb of Virgin Mary

IMG_20160914_223117.jpg

Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the oldest church in the world.

IMG_20160914_223328.jpg

This is the birthplace of Jesus and the manger where he was placed

We stayed the rest of our journey in Jerusalem but we drove to Bethlehem the next day. Apparently Bethlehem is a Palestinian town south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. The biblical birthplace of Jesus, it’s a major Christian pilgrimage destination. The birth is marked by an inlaid silver star in a grotto under the 6th-century Church of the Nativity, which shares Manger Square with the 15th-century Church of St. Catherine and the 1860 Mosque of Omar. Even though it is a Palestinian town, it was controlled by the Israeli army so sometimes you might get checks just like a border control checks.

IMG_20160914_223702.jpg

This is the crypt where the babies King Herold had ordered to kill were buried, and St Jerome lived besides them. He was the person who translated bible into our now Latin language.

IMG_20160914_224024.jpg

And this is the only Starbucks in Palestine (and even Israel)

IMG_20160914_224311.jpg

Shepherds’ field, where the angels descended and announced the coming of the Messiah to the shepherds. People once lived in these caves, on top of which churches were built.

IMG_20160915_234907.jpg

Mount Olives, where Jesus once overlooked the whole of Jerusalem.

IMG_20160915_235143.jpg

We were also in time to witness a few Bat Mitzvah happening at the Western Wall, which signifies the coming of age for the boys.

IMG_20160915_235453.jpg

Via Dolorosa, the way of the cross

IMG_20160915_235756.jpg

Altogether there are 14 stations, where Jesus carried his cross to his crucifixion

IMG_20160916_000224.jpg

This is me, I couldn’t resist touching the handprint of Jesus

IMG_20160916_000832.jpg

Tomb of Jesus. It was believed the true cross was dumped here and Adam was believed to be buried underneath the cross where the blood of Jesus flowed down into the ground below. People were buried in small little caves.

IMG_20160916_225837.jpg

This is my favourite place, on top of Mount of Precipice, overlooking the valley of Armageddon, where the final battle of the good and evil is supposed to take place God knows when.

IMG_20160916_230118.jpg

In the House of St Mary where she once lived and Angel Gabriel brought her the news of her coming pregnancy of Jesus

IMG_20160916_230734.jpg

Church of St Joseph, where the family of Jesus once lived

IMG_20160916_231103.jpg

Look, I’ve even found a portrait of St Mary created from Singapore! Countries all over the world created their images of St Mary and gifted into this church.

IMG_20160916_231406.jpg

The Wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into fine wine. Good place to renew wedding vows

IMG_20160916_231550.jpg

Next stop, enjoy the fish where Jesus once fed the multitudes. Even the fish looked like a dinosaur. Huge!

IMG_20160916_232046.jpg

And we sailed on the Sea of Galilee, together with the Chinese. They even fly the Chinese flag for their clients.

IMG_20160916_232542.jpg

In the Church of Multiplication (5 loaves and 2 fishes) and the church of Primacy (where St Peter is appointed and given the key to the Kingdom)

IMG_20160916_161003.jpg

I couldn’t resist showcasing our guide’s finger

IMG_20160916_233330.jpg

Jerusalem is divided into East and West.

West Jerusalem is where the Jews live (above) and the East Jerusalem is where the Arabs Palestinians live (below). Look at the contrast, the street where the Jews roam is so clean and tidy while the area where the Palestinians live is so filthy and unkempt. And the street is just next to each other. That’s the thing that blows my mind: we are all humans with the same set of features – 2 eyes, 2 ears, 1 nose and 1 mouth, and yet we are forever divided according to our birthright and our skin. It’s shameful. This reminded me of the people who had once shut me out of their lives just because they felt that I was below their status and told me that they shouldn’t hang out with me anymore. It was the most humiliating but humbling experience I had to endure. At the same time, it comforted me to know that God welcomes us all with open arms at the end of our journey, rich or poor. It forever changed my life.

 

 

 

Life Is Not An Absolute

I never liked French.

More than 10 years ago, I remembered telling my friend I never liked (and I was so sure I will never like) French nor the people nor their culture. I couldn’t understand why French need to assign everything in this whole world, including non living things like the chair, la chaise (female? chair) and le fauteuil (male ARMCHAIR), to either a female or a male gender. Neither could I understand why they are condescending and snobbish. So far I have stayed away from their path, only coming across two (one French guy from France and the other person is a half French) in my life and they actually proved my point – they (unfortunately are French people) are rude, snobbish and yes, very condescending. And so I went and picked up German instead. But something happened.

Three years ago, I was preparing myself to go to Germany once more – I was learning German once again, searching for German schools for my son, and planned to go to Frankfurt to meet a guy friend, until I received news of my father’s cancer. I dropped all my plans abruptly then.

After the funeral, I found myself unable to bring myself to learn German any longer. It seemed my dreams of going to Germany died the day my father died. Instead, I returned back to Turkey to crave a life out for myself and my son. I need a new life. I want a new distraction. I found it in the most unlikely hobby – I started picking up French instead. And I found myself picking it up way faster than I was picking up German.

It was then I started noticing more French stuffs – my friends went to France and shared pictures on my Facebook. I saw pictures of Lyon and Marseilles, and it piped my curiosity. On long overnight flights, I found myself watching more French movies (I find their ideas on love and comedies intriguing). My best friend went to France, lived there for a year and came back to tell me more of her love for France (and I love to contradict her by professing my distaste for everything French. Ironically, I disliked all her ex boyfriends except the French guy. He gave out good vibes). I was searching for international schools in Turkey and had more information on French schools than any other schools. Then I got to know a couple of French idiots who put me off everything French forever. They pissed me off enough to quit my French lessons for quite a while. Or so I thought.

Lately I was fiddling with the idea to pick up French again. It started ever since I decided to quit my previous company. So I went hunting for French language books, still undecided to whether to pick up it for real this time. Until I started working in the new company last Thursday.

I stayed back late in the company as usual, trying to get myself adjusted to the new environment. Just then, a foreign looking lady came in. Shortly after, four men burst through the door as I was about to answer it. The tall man in the group and the lady spoke fluent French. Ohh, so now I am sharing office with the French department. I was so excited I told my best friend about it. And my friend mocked me of the judgement I had made years ago.

Friend: This time round, you are sure to be able to pick up French fast. Maybe I can get to visit you in France.
Me: ……..

One thing I have learnt is – life is not an absolute. In the past, I was so sure I would be going to Germany but my plans somehow got delayed in the last 10 years and in the end, it never materialized. I was so sure I will hate France and everything French. But not now. For the first time in my life, I opened up my heart, and am actually open to visit France and everything French. Perhaps, the moment when I gave up insisting what is ideal, what should be right, my life will be able to move forward and unfold itself in mysterious ways. Maybe, just maybe, I will get to travel somewhere different this time. Perhaps this time round, my life will move up and gets better. Yes, that definitely is something worth looking forward to.

This Is Where You Should Live Based On Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

It was said each city holds distinctive personalities. An INFP myself, looks like I am currently stuck in the wrong country.

I have been planning to go to Germany for quite some time, but now looking at this, I may reconsider my next destination: Netherlands. In fact, I do not mind it at all, ever since a new cute and tall intern (who hails from Netherlands) had just started in my office, I think it might be a good idea to one day explore a city full of potential eye candies. Checking out this list, it had sort of sealed my fate. Next stop – Amsterdam, please.

To find out which one best matches your own personality, take the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator and then check out which city will you thrive best in.

ISFJ – Zurich, Switzerland

If there’s anything an ISFJ likes it’s a clean, well-ordered environment where everyone gets along nicely and everything works the way it should. In the pristine city of Zurich, ISFJs will find themselves perfectly at home. Reserved but polite, the citizens of Switzerland don’t like to raise much of a fuss unless they have to. They go about their days, get business done as they should and then retire to their well-maintained homes with their close-knit families. Ever-neutral Switzerland is the ideal spot for the peace-seeking ISFJ. No fuss, no muss, no hefty disagreements.

ENTP – Hong Kong

Hong Kong offers a diverse fusion of the Eastern and Western worlds, with enough food, entertainment, languages, religions, diversity and opportunity to keep the ENTP intellectually stimulated until the end of time. This type loves exploring new avenues of thought and new methods of experiencing life. The sprawling city of Hong Kong is as diverse as the ENTP’s mind – constantly presenting a new opportunity to learn, progress and change. It is the ideal fit for the ever-evolving existence of the ENTP.

ISTP – Queenstown, New Zealand

Coining itself the “Adrenaline capital of the world,” Queenstown looks like a giant playground to the sensory-oriented ISTP. This type thrives on hands-on activities and is drawn to extreme sports like heli skiing, skydiving, mountain biking and hang gliding. ISTPs can usually be found dangling from cliffs with a Gopro strapped to their head and complete disregard for the rules strapped to their psyche. They’re independent by nature and adventurous in spirit – more or less the precise definition of a Kiwi.

INFP – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tolerance and mutual respect are at the core of Amsterdam’s values, which sits well with the peace-keeping INFP. This type craves harmony, connection and deep analysis of the human condition: All of which present themselves in the eclectic city that is Amsterdam. Once you get past the scandal of the drug scene, you find a fascinating well of culture that resembles the psyche of the INFP: Hesitant and reserved, yet deeply understanding of various forms of life. INFPs find comfort in the liberal values of Amsterdam, while enjoying the space to fully consider their own beliefs and values.

ESTJ – Shanghai, China

Known as the economic, commercial and financial center of China, Shanghai is an ideal fit for the business-savvy ESTJ. This type thrives on efficiency and progression in the workplace, which means they like to move up quickly. Shanghai offers the opportunity for ESTJs to play in the big leagues of international business, while still occasionally letting loose and getting rowdy in one of the many international nightlife districts. This impressive Chinese city places the hard-working ESTJ right in the heart of opportunity.

INTP – Silicon Valley, USA

Not so much a city as a suburb of one, Silicon Valley is an ideal spot for the innovative INTP. This type thrives in intellectually stimulating environments that encourage both logical analysis and creative inspiration. The massive quantity of tech companies and startup businesses in Silicon Valley allows the opportunity for this inquisitive type to thrive. There is no shortage of brainpower in the intellectual district of San Francisco, which means the INTP almost never runs out of new ideas to pick apart.

ESFP – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

ESFPs like it hot – in every sense of the phrase. Rio de Janeiro is alive and thrumming with music, culture, passion and excitement, which is perfect for the vivacious ESFP. This type likes to be where the action is and where the party never stops. Rio de Janeiro provides unlimited opportunity for this people-centered type to mingle, mix and live it up. Plus the mind-blowing backdrop of the city appeals to the aesthetic focus of this sensory-oriented type.

ENTJ – New York, USA

If there’s one thing ENTJs love it’s getting things done – in the most efficient and progressive way possible. This innovative type likes to be exactly where the action is, so that they can analyze the action, come up with a more efficient way to harness it and then turn it into a profitable enterprise that they get to take charge of. What better a place for this progressive type than the center of the world, New York City? They want to be on top of all the latest developments and if there’s one place where the action never stops, it is in the big apple.

ESTP –Capetown, South Africa

Thrumming with action and adventure, Capetown is the perfect escape for the ever-wired ESTP. Daring and bold, this type enjoys collecting new experiences and moving quickly toward novel endeavors. They are incredibly in tune with their external environment, which means the outdoorsy nature of Capetown appeals to them. Mountains in the backyard? Check. Surfing two blocks over? Done. The fearless ESTP will find plenty to occupy themselves with in the stimulating city of Capetown.

INTJ – Seattle, USA

As the most highly educated and most literate city in the United States, Seattle offers an ideal fit for the cerebral INTJ. This type is open-minded yet guarded, curious yet hesitant and private yet deeply intrigued by all aspects of the human experience. Seattle itself offers similar contrasts: It is progressive yet secluded, wealthy yet humble and urban yet environmentally conscious. INTJs find themselves perfectly at home in this progressive city, as the science and technology fields attract NT types in hordes. This means they have an ideal peer group to share thoughts, ideas and theories with. Plus the gloomy weather tends to drive people indoors, so the INTJ is free to shut themselves away to work on their latest project.

ISFP – Honolulu, Hawaii

ISFPs are the embodiment of the tranquil, harmonious culture of Hawaii. This type puts a heavy emphasis on aesthetics, which makes the lush backdrop of Honolulu an ideal spot for the artistic ISFP to find inspiration. Collectivistic yet reserved, this type enjoys deep connections with loved ones but takes time to warm up to others – which is why the small, remote location of Hawaii suits them perfectly. Small enough to comfort them, wild enough to let them roam free.

ENFJ – Florence, Italy

With all of the charm but less of the chaos of most Italian cities, Florence’s delightful streets practically beg for ENFJ invasion. The quaint streets and comfortable neighborhoods allow for close-knit communities to form, which is a priority for the ENFJ. This type loves nothing more than establishing deep connections with others and fostering those relationships closely. The family-oriented culture of Italy embraces these values whole-heartedly – with a country steeped in history and artistic creativity to boot.

ISTJ – Berlin, Germany

ISTJs like clear-cut, upstanding efficiency – and Germany offers the ideal cultural fit. The historical city of Berlin holds a heavy focus on education, development and intellect, which appeals to the no-nonsense nature of the ISTJ. This type doesn’t hesitate when it comes to getting things done and they enjoy living in a city that holds the same value. Patriotic to the core but private with their personal lives, this type enjoys the structured, independent values of Germany.

ESFJ – Los Angeles, USA

ESFJs want to be where the people are – particularly where the people are hooking up, shacking up, breaking up and living it up. This type thrives on connection, which makes the celebrity-ridden matrix of Los Angeles an ideal spot for ESFJs to keep up to date with the latest goings-on. Plus the ever-changing nature of the film industry provides ample opportunity for people-centered work, which is what the ESFJ truly shines at.

INFJ – Paris, France

Paris offers an unprecedented combination of class, culture, history and style. The city has been a metropolitan melting pot of artists and intellectuals since its first days and is unbearably attractive to the idealistic NFs of the world. Valuing privacy but feeling deeply engaged with the artistic community, INFJs find themselves blending nicely into the cosmopolitan streets of Paris. They are able to explore their interests in depth, engage with the history of the nation and keep to themselves as much or as little as they please. The delightful French culture of Paris sits well with the INFJ – who is as rare a gem as the city itself.

ENFP – San Francisco, USA

ENFPs barf rainbows. San Francisco barfs rainbows. It’s a perfect fit. But in all seriousness, the liberal values of San Francisco have been attracting NF types for decades. Known for its hippy-dippy attitude and intellectual focus alike, the city is a perfect fit for the idealistic, liberally minded ENFP. This type enjoys exploring numerous avenues of self-expression and personal growth, which San Francisco provides ample opportunity for. This buzzing, vibrant city mirrors the attitude of the effervescent ENFP in almost every way possible.

*This article first appeared in Thought Catalog by Heidi Priebe

When You Know It’s Time To Go

I was lucky I grew up away from my biological family. Even though I grew up in my grandmother’s household, I basically see my aunt and my two cousins everyday. Until today, I still call my aunt and uncle, Mi (short form for mummy) and Dad. I always see them as my fake parents. It also happened that one of my cousins is only 4 months younger than me, so we were brought up as twins. I once found a pictures of me and my cousin wearing similar clothes – his blue, while mine was red. When I was nine, I was sent home to live my own real parents. That was when my cousins’ parents missed me. And so I was the only child in my family allowed to tag along with them on their yearly trips overseas. That’s how I got my love for travel.

The longest I was away from home was when I spent a month in Switzerland with my cousin and his parents. They asked if I had missed home and my answer was no. Food, yes, but the rest, no. I was genuinely happy to be away from home. I suspected even my own father knew I would not come home if I had the chance to go overseas. That was why he offered to let me study in Australia when I first started dating. He wanted to be sure that I would come home. I never went. Until I had broken off all romantic relationships and stayed single for a couple of years before finally leaving. By then, I had stashed enough money to go to Turkey and Germany, where I ended up relocating to Turkey. That was 8 years ago.

But the path to my relocation was not a smooth one. I was constantly doubting myself and my decisions. Can I make it? Can I pick up their language? What if I could not fit in? WHY should I go?  It took more than a little push from my friend to finally take the plunge. And I’m glad I did.

Even though I had relocated to Turkey, my wanderlust never got cured. I must fly somewhere at least once a year. I can’t help it. It’s in my bones. Travel and flying has become me. I had been deliberately staying single for the past year because I want to fly somewhere at a drop of a hat, without feeling guilt nor missing anyone. The last thing I want is a commitment. More importantly, I was trying to figure out if I would relocate or stay more permanently in Turkey in the next few years. My son is going to start formal schooling so I would have to stay grounded for more than a couple of years. Since I had done it once, I believe I can do it again.

Here’s how you know it’s time to go.

1. You crave adventure.

The monotony of life leaves you unfulfilled and hollow inside. There are things you want to see and share. Yes, there is great risk by setting foot outside your comfort zone but on the flip side, there is great adventure waiting to be experienced. You want to appreciate the ”here and now”, enjoy every minute of it, find and try new things, taste, learn, listen and love. Involve all your five senses and open up your heart. When you look back, you want little regret and many moments to be proud of.

Moving overseas will give you this and more.

It will let you live a fuller life, not watch it pass you by.

2. You will find yourself.

It may be cliche but moving abroad is the ultimate experience for helping you find yourself. Got lost in your life direction? Nothing beats the survival instinct that kicks in when you wander off a less trodden path or lose yourself in the sea of strangers in a vast continent.

Heading overseas lets you step away from familiarity, giving you the space to breathe, to reflect, to consider and to assess what is important to you.

It lets you find out who you really are.

3. You will satisfy your curiosity.

You are naturally curious and you constantly bug your friends with your endless whys. You know there is always more for you to learn and you are game for it. What is it like to live in a foreign culture? What are the people like? Are the sights as impressive as the ones you saw in the calendar and TV programs?

You need to put yourself out there and experience unique and unusual situations. You need to travel beyond your local borders to see and appreciate other people’s perspectives.

You need to find out what else is out there.

4. You realize it”s not just about the money.

Many believed that an international move is considered overly expensive and unaffordable. But a life aboard need not to cost the earth. You don’t need to travel first class or live in the finest accommodations.

Think outside the box and consider your long term goals. How long do you plan to be away? Where you will visit or choose to live? Is this a permanent move?

I came to Turkey planning to further my studies but ended up with a job offer instead. Since I found work and am earning a decent living, I decided to stay a bit longer. And longer and longer. And 8 years later, I am still counting. Somehow things just work itself out.

5. You can’t have regrets.

You cherish where you’re from but you know there’s more to life. Family will disapprove if you go, your departure will be upsetting. I had to endure seeing my grandmother cried and regretting if only she had kept me by her side, I would not fly so far away. Sure, your emotions are in a state of upheaval and you’re unsure what to do.

It’s stressful but it’s also clear something has to change. Is it worth hoping for the best, and jumping headfirst into the unknown?

Of course it is.

You would readily start a new relationship, plunging into the unknown with that someone new. Moving overseas would be plunging into the unknown with yourself. Face your fears, head on and wait no more.

6. It’s all going to worth it.

Travel, expat life, temporary time-out, call it whatever names you want it. These things may bring upset, a level of financial stress, some uncertainty and frequent unease. You may hate it. You may resent a loved one for pushing you to go. You could regret leaving.

But you probably won’t. Well, I didn’t.

Over time, you realize that these issues aren’t issues unless you choose to let them become so. What matters is the journey to get where you’re going and the outcome once you get there.

Now you will have control over your life’s direction. The emphasis on what matters most to you. The opportunities coming your way if you stay the course. Finally the life you’ve always wanted.

How do I know it? Because I had done it once. It’s definitely worth an experience of a lifetime.

Adventures In Beijing Part 2

In my usual mode, I took my time to get myself to the airport to catch my flight from Shanghai to Beijing. It was 6 am in the morning and I had only had 3 hours of sleep the night before. I was half asleep and started wondering what the hell was I thinking booking myself such an early flight. I reached the airport more than a full hour before flight time. However, I almost had a heart attack trying to stop time while in the queue, checking my bags in and later again in the queue trying to get through the customs. I got there just in time to get into yet another queue into the plane. People were crawling everywhere in China. Including the airport at 7 am in the morning. People never sleep. Just amazing.

Yong He Gong Temple

On my trip this time, I wanted to visit the temples in Beijing and someone told me this particular temple grants wishes to anyone who prays. Why not try it since there is nothing to lose? I really do have a wish I could ask. In fact, I have two.

20141116_152928 20141116_152959 The entrance is lined by two rows of trees. I guessed I came at the right time since my friend told me the leaves will stay this way for only 7 days. Not sure how true that is.

My idea of a temple was a place that house a Buddha in which you would light 3 incense sticks. So I was actually expecting only 3 incense sticks. I was puzzled why would they give me a stack of incense sticks. What was I supposed to do with all of them?

20141116_153859

20141116_154805

20141116_154914

20141116_155103

20141116_161417

20141116_162516

20141116_163931 I now know why I was given a stack of incense sticks. I lost count of the number of temples I had visited, and also lost the interest in taking any more pictures. The further I walked in, the more temples I found hidden behind the courtyard. All I could remember was I could no longer kneel towards the end. My knees simply could not bend anymore.

The interesting part came only after my visit to the temple. On my way back to my hotel, I had decided to take the train back instead of walking. I put in two coins to get my tickets. Instead of a ticket, I found 4 coins. Amazed at our find, we went to the next machine and checked the change slot – we found another 2 more coins. Wow, I had gotten a 200 percent return on my two coins that day. If only the money in my bank account could multiply this way. Sigh. If only.

The Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan Temple)

On my last trip, at the exit of the Forbidden City, I lifted my head and saw this temple sticking out among the trees. I set my heart to visit there on this trip and was asking about this temple I saw across the Forbidden City. Nobody could understand what I was describing until I told them the English name of this temple. Everyone was baffled and amused at my sense of direction (Note: this temple is not exactly the opposite of Forbidden City).

20141117_10451020141117_10474620141117_104718

At the entrance, you could see people dancing folk lore at the park. I found a couple of men writing calligraphy with water. It was beautiful.

20141117_10533120141117_105239

You know what these people are gathering for? They are parents advertising and hoping to arrange marriage for their children. Who needs online dating when you have parents helping to arrange your future spouse – in the park?

20141117_110120

20141117_11060520141117_110705

20141117_11091120141117_11112720141117_11385420141117_11374220141117_114623

I learnt that the Emperor built this temple to pray for the weather for a good harvest every year. Okay, it made sense. Later, I found that they also have a Temple of Earth. Hmmm, right, maybe that could be slotted for my next trip.

20141117_11550520141117_115804

I think this is one of the few rare spots of greenery in Beijing. So rare I could kiss and hug a tree.

Like spicy food? 

20141117_20185920141117_18422720141117_184652 Seriously, it was so spicy my mouth was numbed from the spices. And my coat stank from all that smell.

20141117_18472620141117_200044 And I love frog legs.

The Bar Where Cats Roam Free

20141117_20541020141117_21064520141117_21083320141117_20561320141117_213030

Now this is a special bar – cats come and go within the bar, be it jumping on the counter drinking water to cats sitting besides you. I shared a sofa with that sleeping white cat. It was love at first sight.

Almost Every Website Was Banned in China

I had just ended my tour in China this morning and it took me some adjusting to get myself back to social media. It took me 3 days to upload the pictures for my Shanghai trip, and I thought it was the internet problem. Oh yes, it was the internet problem and this time round, I found out that basically every website was banned in China. I had no social media for the whole week in China and was wondering if I could survive. Well, I did survive and when I touchdown in Singapore this morning, I only realized how much I don’t really miss Facebook or Instagram. But I do miss blogging. So note to myself, next time before I go to China again, I should get myself a VPN program. I might as well start getting used to using VPN if ever one day Turkey were to follow the footsteps of the Chinese and ban every single website out there in this world. Sure saves you a lot of What The Fuck! curses.

My 3 Nights In Shanghai

For the adventurous at heart, be prepared to do this when you decided to transit in China.
I had decided to transit in Chengdu International airport in the wee hour of 0630 in the morning while half asleep.
image

And this was what I found out: International airport is NOT linked to domestic airport. So I had to exit the international airport to cross over the domestic airport.
image

What the……

Shanghai: the land of tall buildings and sculptures?
image

image

Upon reaching my hotel, I was a)pleased to know that I will be staying in the heart of Shanghai, Nanjing Street and b)horrified to know it is a 100 years old building. And there is NO heater. I never want to crawl out of my blanket…

Breakfast….YUM

image

Oh yes, I missed porridge.
image

And egg tarts. They are heaven.

Dinner in Shanghai
I had to attend a workshop and a business dinner last night at the 45th floor of Radisson Blu New World. The restaurant turns as we eat. FaNcy..

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

After dinner, how can I say no to a walk down Nanjing Street? Next stop, M Glamour Bar.
image

image

image

image

The next day
Somehow I tend to associate Shanghai wit Thai food. Tonight I had to have Thai food.
image

image

image

Then we took a long walk back to our hotel. Christmas is coming…
image

image

image

Tomorrow’s destination: Beijing.
Tune in for more. This is the invisible girl signing off for the night.
image

Welcome to the land of no Facebook

After enduring 2 straight nights on flight, I was left with little brain cells to function and crashed into bed immediately last night. Welcome to Shanghai, where I will be disconnected from Facebook, Instagram, Google map, my favourite Newsstand on my phone and even WordPress. OMG, I can’t read anything online except Yahoo from here! Even my new sim card is not working on my phone! I don’t know if I can survive in one piece. Heck, what kind of life exist before we are all connected on the internet?
image

Note: Out of curiosity, I just had to see if I can publish this post out there since I could not access anything from here so I might as well drop something into the black hole and see if there is any response. Drop me a line or like to let me know I am out there.