Sometimes, it requires big effort just get to the places that we want to. But when we finally reach to the destination and find it beautiful or beyond our expectation, then we feel happy, satisfy, and full, double times more! That's my exact feeling about Togean Islands. The only thing I regret is, I should've stay longer.

Hello, I decided to make a section called Photo Diary. Basically the content is pictures with a little story behind it. It is all about my experience, my thought, and it's more personal. I've been writing articles more about the destination itself, like information about where to go, how to get there, all those stuffs, so when it comes to photo diary, I'm able to share whatever on my mind and how I feel.

The Togean (or Togian) Islands are one of the less-traveled islands in Indonesia. Isolated in the middle of Tomini Gulf, Central Sulawesi, Togean Islands are the best-kept secret islands, far from the frenetic crowd, which I love so. One can argue - there's nothing much to do here - that's acceptable. However, some people, including me are fond to a lone quiet place to rejuvenate ourselves.  Therefore, this island is unsuitable for everyone, it depends on what you're looking for.

Truthfully it feels scary - how time rolls so fast and there's no way to turn back. Everything that I did since university till now, it just went quickly. A year in Australia, gone in a snap. Now I'm at the age of a quarter century. I started to worry about my future. It's time to get real.

Here comes part three of my overall New Zealand story. Pretty long, huh? I was there for a month, no wonder it'll get this long. I hope you guys still following my journey. If you haven't read the previous one, click the link below.

Day 11: Roys Peak Track

Arriving in Wanaka, we're unsure what activities we would do until we hit the tourism board and checked the attractions nearby. We found two interesting hike, Roys Peak Track and Rob Roys Glacier. I wonder why they're both have Roys named on, probably he's an important person in this area before? Well..We decided to do Roys Peak first.

The track
The starting point for Roys Peak Track is not too far from the township, about 6 km. From the parking, the track begins winding up until the summit. The track cuts through private land. Herd of sheep staring at us human while chewing grass in their mouth. Sometimes they're chasing each other, shouting each other with their baritone voice. It's cute to have them as companion, just be careful with your step, poo's literally everywhere. 

Resting in between before summit
Roys Peak track is not my kind of track. Don't get me wrong, the view is absolutely amazing. One side you'll see Mt. Aspiring Ranges surrounding the lake, on the other side, a  green mixed with gold-ish land is alluringly visible from up there. It's not a difficult track, it's just the track was a bit boring for me, gently sloping up like walking on a body of snake. I had a hard time finishing this 11 kms track, still, it's enjoyable enough.

Day 12: Rob Roy Glacier

Getting to the starting point for Rob Roy Glacier itself was an adventure, or even a struggle for us because we had to drive through 30 kms of gravel road with our car. Big car or off-road car won't have problems with this road, but mini-medium car and campervan have to be strong enough to face this road condition. There are about 7 fords, like small river stream to pass through. It's passable as well for mini cars, be careful with unseen rocks.

Trekking in Rob Roy Glacier was the opposite experience from Roys Peak. I was captivated with the beauty of the landscape. Making our way following the river stream with blue to white water, passing hanging bridges, and natural setting of the forest reminds me of the forest where Alice was lost in wonderland. Pretty yet tiny yellow flowers spread along the bushes. The track was enthralling, combination of ups and downs, turns and flat.

A wonderland
Glaciers draw off snow that accumulates in the basins, takes about a year to convert loose snow into hard glacial ice. Rob Roy Glacier once filled in the valley and flowed into the great Matukituki Glacier which combined with Wanaka Glacier. Even though the glaciers start retreating due to the warm climate, Rob Roy still has about 100 glaciers.

There was this magic moment that I felt, when the ice melting, it creates a tiny waterfall from the peak, where the wind blows onto it and they break apart dancing in the sky. To the end of the track, I couldn't believe what I've seen, huge hanging ice covering the peak.

Makarora Campsite ($13pp)

Not so big campsite, good for few vans and small area for tent site under a big tree. Small kitchen but the advantage here was spacious bathroom. I think it's my best shower here.

Day 13: Driving on the West Coast.

Time to head up to West Cost! They said it's the wettest area in New Zealand, receiving more than 10,000 mm rainfall in a year! Taking our time on wheels passing through Haast Pass, there's nothing much we can do despite many stops we could make. Dark clouds rumbling, mist covering the density of the rain forest. The weather was really disappointing, no matter how long we stay, the forecast showed no good sign.

Show must go on, first stop was Blue Pool and we had a blast! Regardless shitty weather, the pool was in perfect blue. If the light was too much probably the pool looked whiter. A nice short walk but only we're distracted by sandflies, the rest was beautiful. Some people even dare to jump in that cold water with no sun, they're insane!
Blue Pool
Just a short distance from Blue Pools, we stopped at Fantail Falls. There are many waterfalls around this area but we chose only the one with good review, or cause it's a short walk. Fantail Waterfall is not so tall, less attractive but good enough. Then we did the taller one, Thunder Creek Falls. You know what its named that way :)

Lake Paringa Lodge ($15/pp)

Offers campsite and rooms to rent. Very lovely and friendly owner. Next to Lake Paringa, you can do kayaking when the weather is nice. The only downside is they have only one bathroom to share, but their common room and kitchen is spacious, nice to hang out with other travelers. Many sandflies.

Day 14: Fox Glacier

No sign of weather improvement. We continued our journey to Fox Glacier. Nestled in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, tucked in the dense canopy of trees, it is somehow interesting, and rare to see thick jungle like this remembering how majority of New Zealand's land has turned to home for sheep and cattle. Walking in Fox Glacier track takes about an hour return passing the river bed and a steep ascending at last part of climbing. The glaciers which were previously snaking down the mountain has slowly disappeared, little of the glaciers remain.

Further up from Fox Glacier there is another popular glacier named Franz Josef. Unfortunately we cancelled Franz Josef because of the rain. It has similar feature with Fox Glacier. To get a closer look of the glacier, tour operates taking you to the glacier by helicopter and next you can walk on it.

Hotel Hari Hari (12pp)

A country-style hotel with open area for camping next to it. Free shower, small kitchen, stable wi-fi at the lobby.

Day 15: Hokitika

Did nothing much again. The main reason for us to come to Hokitika was the glowworm. Glowworm is an insect larvae that glow through bioluminescence.  Actually the best place to see glowworm in New Zealand is at Waitomo Caves on the North Island. However, the price is out of our range, so while there's a free one, we just did it.

Glowworm Dell, photo by catperku
There are two glowworm dells in Hokitika, one near the city and the other one is next to the pub where we stayed. After sunset, we stepped into a small hole. No one else inside. The room was dark, not too big, I think it fits enough for 10 people only. As we focused on the wall, there we saw the lights, the glowworms that turns to stars, how beautiful. Turn off your camera, cellphone and just enjoy for a moment.

Woodstock Hotel (5pp)

An old tavern, very cheap but no facility. Right next to the glowworm dell. Camping not allowed so we slept in the car, although some people set up tents. Good that we slept in the car cause it's raining cats and dogs, mosquitoes and sandflies!

Day 16: Picton

Due to the bad weather we decided to skip all the cities along the way such as Greymouth, Punaikaki, Westpac, and Abel Tasman, instead we drove straight to Picton to take the ferry to North Island. We were two days earlier than the initial schedule for the crossing. Not many good campsites on the way so we drove 5 hours straight to a decent campsite, 45 minutes before Picton. I felt unwell on that day so Vivi had to drive by herself, sorry and thank you!

Smiths Farm Holiday Park (16pp)

Lovely campground! Welcomed by homemade muffin. Good shower and kitchen facility, access to glowworm dell and waterfall. $1 for 250mb wifi. The owner gave us treats to feed the animals.

Day 17: Picton - Wellington

Crossing from Picton to Wellington. What a nice ferry! It looks more like a cruise, or a shopping mall, or a hotel, whatever. There are several sections for food, one looks like a cafetaria, another one looks like bar. The wi-fi on board was hardly accessible during that time. Three hours left till we reach North Island!

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Traveled in 27 December 2016-26 January 2017

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The idea behind this post is actually came from the people, friends that I met on the road. You know, many backpackers doing South East Asia trip, including Indonesia. When I asked them where they wanna go in Indonesia, 90% answered Bali.  Although I got mix reactions of how some people against Bali merely because it's too "touristy", they said, I personally think it is a right decision for them to visit Bali, even though there are a lot more to see in Indonesia. However, as a first comer in Indonesia, Bali is the right choice for you because:

Day 7: Milford Sound - Glenorchy

Okay, the last township as I said was Te Anau. There’s nothing in Milford Sound except parking area, pier, and a cafĂ©. That’s why some people join package tour from Queenstown or Te Anau. There are three ways to experience Milford Sound. Flying, which is ridiculously expensive for me, a big no obviously, kayaking, surprisingly pretty expensive as well, and cruising, which would be my last choice. I booked the most basic cruise experience with Jucy Cruise for $40. Another affordable cruise company is Go Orange

Tour started at 8 a.m. Since we still have 55 km to travel from Cascade Creek, we set one and a half hour earlier driving through another windier road with sharper turn. I could only speed up to 60-80 km/h in average. The sky was terribly grey and rain started to pour, what a shame cause unquestionably the view was amazing but we just couldn’t see in that misty morning. I tried to cheer myself up without expecting too much, “Milford Sound looks amazing as well even in rainy days, that’s what I read!”, I convinced my friends.

Glacier on the way to Milford Sound
The boat looks similar like the one I boarded during whale-watching in Sydney. Restaurant-alike seating, convenient toilet, and a bench with breakfast prepared for the trip. View decks were along the sides, front, and upper deck. Three of us had our raincoat and camera ready and rushed to upper deck. It’s true that Milford Sound is special on rainy day. The rain creates some new waterfalls, flowing down from the cliff, another magical sight. There’s this moment when the boat moved deeper under the waterfall and those who stood on the deck got showered, splashed, and flooded by the water. Super fun!

Overall, not under the best weather condition, we could’ve seen better view of Milford Sound, those towering peaks, regardless it’s still memorable for me. From Milford Sound we drove back to Te Anau, had a quick stop at Chasm Fall then drove straight to Queenstown however all the holiday parks were booked out. Plan’s changed!

Chasm Fall
Mrs Woollys Campsite ($15pp)

Not so big campground but it feels fresh and homey. It was late when we arrived and everything's fully booked. Fortunately, the kind lady allowed us to set up our tent on a free space near the park. Facilities were great, laundry, kitchen, paid shower +$2.

Day 8: Glenorchy - Queenstown

It’s not exactly a change of plan, we just swapped the order, Glenorchy first then Queenstown. Doesn’t make any difference, we had to pass Queenstown anyway to get to Glenorchy.I fell in love on my first sight. This is my kind of retirement place that I longed-for, peaceful and surrounded by nature. We headed to the wharf for a refreshing morning walk. Then we did the walkway next to it, a nice short walk with mountains exposed, ah, we met a swarm of black swans! We drove 20 minutes away to see Lord of the Ring movie set then headed to Queenstown.
If Glenorchy sounds like an ideal retirement place for me, then Queenstown would be the place that I wanna settle down right now. Situated next to Lake Wakatipu and home to mountain ranges, The Remarkable, Queenstown is the city where adventure begins. What I like more about Queenstown is the fact that it’s a big city but no skyscraper at all! It looks more like a holiday town with motels, cafes, and shops. Many activities can be done here; sailing, paragliding, mountain biking, hiking, and loads.  Try Fergburger if you happen to be in town, famous for its gourmet burger and people line up like crazy!

Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park ($25 pp)

Just few minutes walk to downtown, good facilities. It was peak season so it's super busy, in fact it's the only holiday park that's not fully-booked on that day. Big, but not enough space between campers. Big kitchen, laundry, shower +$2 for 7 minutes on peak season. Not the best stay and best deal compares to other holiday parks.
Day 9: Ben Lomond Track

I would consider Ben Lomond as the most difficult one day hike that I’ve done during my entire hike in New Zealand. It took us 8 hours to complete but the view was definitely rewarding.  First we passed through the pine-tree forest till we got a bit lost near the waterfall. Then, we were in an open area and constantly ascending under the heat. 

Half way to the saddle, I could see Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and Remarkable Range. I couldn’t stop turning back and marveling the view. The later it was, the more people doing the hike even kids younger than me showed big enthusiasm hiking this not so easy track. Up to the saddle, clearly better view from what we've seen before. Eventually on the other side, there's another range of mountain, the Southern Alps.

View of Remarkable
View of Southern Alps on the other side
The real "track" was just about to begin, enough warming up. Another hour to go to the summit. From the saddle I could tell how torturous the hike would be. The incline was so steep, looking at it would only discourage myself. Slowly but sure I climbed up the rocks. Once in a while I took a break tried to catch my breath. Finally all of us made it up to the summit, what an effort!

Day 10: Queenstown - Wanaka

The scenic drive from Queenstown to Wanaka was quite interesting with brownish hills along the way. That afternoon we did nothing much. Visited the lonely tree but for me it’s a bit overrated.  I wasn’t really amazed by Lake Wanaka especially after Tekapo and Pukaki.

Albert Town Camping Ground ($10pp)

A decent campsite not too far from Lake Wanaka, pretty relaxing. Flush toilet available.

To be continued..

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Traveled in 27 December 2016-26 January 2017

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Being able to travel New Zealand is another achievement for me in 2016. This beloved country fills my bucket-list for so long until I finally ticked it off. As a mountain-junkie I've been dreaming endlessly to present myself and now, here I am! I'll share my one month itinerary in New Zealand, both south and north island. Enjoy!

Whenever I had conversations with travelers in Australia, none of them would NOT mention about Red Center, about the experience driving in the outback. Classic story, huh? What's so cool about it? Well, it's true that the iconic face in the outback which is Uluru has been used in magazine, advertisement, calendar all over the world. People would immediately recognize this red giant stone. Again, what's so cool about it?

Choosing Sydney as my base in Australia is by far the most righteous decision that I made. Some might not  agree but I have strong argument on why Sydney is a great city to live in. Yes, Sydney is a metropolitan city. It's busy, dynamic, just like another big cities. You can find any good restaurants, Asian, Italian, French, cool cafes for brunch, nice shopping area, crazy nightlife, and many more. If CBD is too busy for you, don't worry. Sydney has many nice suburbs to live.

Have you ever felt when you're traveling and moving too much, you continually felt exhausted thus you just wanted to stay, collecting back your soul before you're ready to disembark on another journey. Frankly, that's how I feel at this moment. It's funny while some people desperately need a break from their life by having vacation, I need a break from my traveling. 

I knew that Tasmania would quench my desire after a long pause traveling-mode that I've been craving for, certainly not a disappointment. There's a sense of pureness, adventure, and laid-back feeling that lured me to love this part of Australia. The only thing that I couldn't adjust myself to was the cold, which is understandable as it's close enough to Antarctic Circle. Do you know with forty percent of the island protected in parks and reserves, Tasmania is one of the cleanest places on Earth? Here are my favorite places in Tasmania:

If you’re following my Instagram, lately, I’ve been intensively posting pictures, hashtag Australia, which I would only do when I travel. True, for the last one month of my stay in Australia I decided to travel. I felt that I should see more of the country rather than just eat, sleep, and work in Sydney for the past ten months. I’m sick of work, and I really need to be back on the road so badly, whatever, I’m coming for you Straya!

It all started from a small conversation between me and my colleague. Another chill morning in the coffee shop that I worked at when we had so much free time to chit chat. She was so enthusiastic telling her story about what she had done on the weekend, doing whale watching tour. When she mentioned the price was only $40, I soon lost my interest until I thought about it again, hey, that wasn't too bad.

Hey, how is it going? I might have to punish myself for abandoning my blog for quite a while. Life's been busy and really exhausting. I don't really have time for myself, even when I have, I'd rather just lay down on my bed and do nothing. I tried several times to write on something cause I've been doing stuffs, but again, I can't be bother "squeezing" my brain, I apologize for that.

Kuala Lumpur is close enough to my heart that I would call it as my second home. The fact that it's a neighbouring country to Indonesia, and the fact that it's just 30-minutes on sky from my hometown, it's not an unfamiliar place for me at all. I've been flying back and forth since I was a kid.

When I was a little girl, my mom would ask me on Sunday, "Hey, do you wanna come with me to the market?" I was like, "Hell no!" Yea, market was a nightmare for me, especially when I was around that age, fifteen year ago? (Damn, I feel old now). 

"Have you heard of Vivid? That's when the whole Sydney is glowing."

I love how my colleague described Vivid to me. The images of the whole buildings beaming with colorful light suddenly popped up in my head, it must be really exciting. I've long known about Vivid since my fellow blogger friend posted some breathtaking photos of the no-longer white Opera House. I never really see myself walking around world-famous harbor, Circular Quay, watching the most-talked Opera House changing its color. "Well, I cannot miss this show while I'm here in Sydney." I told myself. 

After my six months here in Sydney working and dealing with different types of people, I get to observe how 'Sydneysiders' behave, also their habit. Well, probably not for all of them, generally. Here, I found out some interesting things about them.