Langkah-langkah untuk memohon visa ke USA: MUDAH!

This post is written in my mother tongue, Malay.

Fuuh, berbaloinya ke USA!

Fuhh, berbaloinya ke USA! Ini ialah Lake Tahoe, di Nevada, ala negeri yang ada Las Vegas tu.

Saya pasti ramai yang diluar sana kadangkala buntu dan masih tak faham cara-cara untuk mohon visa ke USA, dan juga ramai yang berharap visa rakyat Malaysia untuk ke USA akan dimansuhkan secepat mungkin. USA sekarang sedang sibuk memulihkan hubungan dengan Cuba dan itupun makan masa bertahun lamanya walaupun dua-dua negara ini sangat berdekatan. Maka perihal pemansuhan visa rakyat Malaysia ke USA mungkin makan masa 2 atau 3 tahun lagi sebelum solusi dicapai. Untuk itu, saya tuliskan yang paling ringkas untuk anda mohon visa ke USA. Saya jamin jikalau anda baca dan fahamkan dari pos saya ini, anda akan rasa mudah untuk mulakan proses permohonan.

Ringkasan cara-cara mohon tourist visa, B2 ke USA

Mula-mula, fahami:

1. Jenis visa yang anda perlu mohon

2. Harga jenis visa pilihan

3. Pembayaran dan cara bayar untuk proses permohonan visa

4. Maklumat dan cara isi borang DS-160 online

5. Masa menunggu untuk appointment 

6. Gambar pasport dan cap jari digital

Maklumat Umum Visa ke USA

1. Jenis visa untuk TOURIST ialah B2.

2. Harga sekarang ialah MYR576.00/USD160 seorang. Harga dalam RM berubah ikut nilai tukaran semasa, tapi harga tetap ialah USD160.

3. Cara bayar ialah melalui bank Standard Chartered. Sebelum ke bank untuk buat bayaran dan mendapatkan nombor akaun Virtual untuk isi borang online, pergi ke sini dan cetak(print). Lengkapkan borang deposit ini dan pergi ke mana-mana Standard Chartered untuk buat pembayaran. Nanti akan dapat Virtual Account Number untuk digunakan untuk buat “appointment online”. Simpan nombor ini.

Buat hanya SATU bayaran untuk setiap Virtual Account Number kerana bayaran tidak akan dikembalikan. Adalah penting untuk anda simpan nombor yang diberi, kerana ini juga ialah bukti pembayaran proses visa yang  diperlukan untuk membuat “appointment” kemudian nanti. 

Sebelum “schedule appointment online”, sila pastikan anda ada semua ini:

  • Pasport sah sekurang-kurangnya 6 bulan untuk keluar Malaysia(pasport merah). Kalau ada anak kecil gunakan pasport anda, pun wajib mohon untuk anak kecil itu. Visa TAK boleh dikongsi.
  • Resit bayaran permohonan visa dari Standard Chartered Bank
  • Confirmation page of DS-160 (baca yang seterusnya di bawah pasal DS-160, penting)
  • Alamat e-mail anda yang sah
  • Sedia dan bawa dokumen sokongan untuk temuduga dan proses aplikasi atas talian. Untuk B2 atau tourist visa, pemohon perlu sediakan bukti yang anda ada hubungan kuat dengan Malaysia dan anda akan pasti pulang semula ke Malaysia selepas selesai melancong di USA. Dokumen sokongan yang perlu ada untuk dibawa ke interview ialah resume/curriculum vitae, slip gaji terkini, surat pelepasan majikan, bil bayar kereta dan rumah, surat cuti sekolah anak-anak, dan sebagainya yang berkaitan. Hanya tunjuk dokumen sokongan bila ditanya oleh pegawai.
Gambar motivasi semasa mohon visa! Siapa yang tak nak tengok Grand Canyon ni?

Gambar motivasi semasa mohon visa! Siapa yang tak nak tengok Grand Canyon ni?

PENTING DAN DIBUAT SEBELUM “SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT”:

Borang DS-160 hendaklah diisi. Setiap pemohon satu borang, termasuk untuk anak kecil dan setiap anak-anak yang ikut sama dalam trip anda. Pergi ke sini untuk mulakan apply/isi borang DS-160.

1. Pilih KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA sebagai “applying location”. Jenis visa ialah tourist visa/B2 NON-IMMIGRANT.

2. Panduan isi borang DS-160 ada di sini. Baca dengan teliti sebelum meneruskan isi borang DS-160.

3. Pastikan anda siap imbas(scan) gambar pasport semua pemohon dalam keluarga untuk dimuat naik ketika isi borang ini.

4. Semasa isi DS-160, sila sediakan maklumat “Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States”, atau tarikh lawatan terakhir anda ke USA dalam 5 tahun lalu, jika pernah ke USA. Dan anda juga akan ditanya apakah pengalaman anda travel ke luar negara dalam masa 5 tahun yang lalu.

Samada anda “schedule appointment” di sini atau menghubungi ini, anda perlu ada Virtual Account number untuk teruskan dengan “appointment scheduling” yang didapati setelah membuat pembayaran di bank Standard Chartered.

Bila dah isi borang, dan dah selesai bayar, boleh jadualkan temujanji (schedule appointment) untuk temuduga di pejabat kedutaan di Jalan Tun Razak. Jadualkan temuduga anda di sini.

UNTUK KEKOSONGAN TARIKH SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT:

Slot kosong untuk temuduga ialah berdasarkan jumlah pemohon yang “queue” lepas isi borang online. Kadangkala kekosongan untuk temuduga hanya akan ada dalam 2-3 minggu selepas anda isi borang, maksudnya ramai yang memohon dan ramai juga yang sudah memilih tarikh temuduga terdekat. Jika bernasib baik, anda boleh pilih masa keesokan harinya selepas isi borang, maksudnya makin cepat anda ke temuduga, makin cepat dapat visa, jika diluluskan.

Akhir sekali,

PERINGATAN!

Jangan beli tiket dahulu selagi belum dapat visa. Selalu mohon visa dahulu sebelum beli tiket. Bila visa tak diluluskan, kedutaan Amerika takkan pulangkan duit visa USD160 yang anda dah bayar tadi dan juga takkan bayar balik duit tiket kapal terbang yang anda dah beli. Melainkan anda tak kisah syarikat penerbangan “refund” separuh atau alih destinasi, risiko ini anda tanggung sendiri. Surat appointment untuk interview juga bukan jaminan dapat visa. Visa hanya dapat selepas temuduga, kalau diluluskan akan dapat dalam masa 3(TIGA) hari bekerja. Dinasihatkan untuk buat semua langkah di atas pada hari Isnin, supaya visa juga dapat dalam minggu yang sama, itupun jikalau tidak ada masalah sistem online kedutaan Amerika.

Waktu temuduga, kalaupun anda dah beli tiket(saya tak galakkan, mereka pun tak galakkan), jangan disebut kepada pegawai kedutaan. Bila dia tanya apa kita nak buat di USA dan ke mana kita nak pergi dalam US dan bila rancang untuk pulang ke Malaysia, siapkan ITINERARI, tunjukkan pada mereka bila ditanya. Tiket kapal terbang BUKAN bukti anda akan pergi dan pulang. Jangan dengar cakap orang yang dah beli tiket dan tunjuk tiket sebagai bukti, kerana yang berjaya dapat visa lepas beli/tunjuk tiket itu ialah atas nasib baik masing-masing. Ini ialah nasihat berdasarkan pengalaman saya bercakap dan berurusan dengan pegawai kedutaan Amerika di KL sendiri, bukan sekali dua tapi banyak kali. Kalau anda ke kedutaan juga akan terlihat notis di mana pembelian tiket terlebih dahulu adalah sangat tidak dianjurkan.

Waktu temuduga, wajib bawa CONFIRMATION PAGE OF DS-160 yang dah diisi dan ditandatangani secara elektronik dan juga nombor APPLICATION ID. Bertenang di saat temuduga, kerana mereka juga manusia, dan tak perlu begitu fasih cakap Bahasa Inggeris pun boleh dapat visa. Dan pegawai kedutaan suka pemohon yang berkeyakinan tinggi dan nampak tahu apa yang patut dilakukan dan telah awal bersedia dan buat kajian sebelum datang ke temuduga. Kalau ikut cerita saya di Facebook saya, anda boleh bentangkan pada pegawai ke mana anda ingin pergi bila di USA.

JIKA VISA ANDA DILULUSKAN:

Yay! Anda boleh track pasport anda di sini dan jika ianya sudah sedia dengan visa ditampal di dalam, anda boleh dapatkan semula pasport anda di alamat ini:

No. 39, Lot 77159, Lorong Jala 14/ks 10, Telok Gong 42000, Port Klang, Selangor.  

Horseshoe Bend ini menanti anda di Utah, USA!

Horseshoe Bend ini menanti anda di Utah, USA!

Kedengaran sukar bukan? Kalau anda baca langkah mudah yang dah saya ringkaskan di atas, tidaklah sukar sebenarnya. Jujur saya katakan. Juga, sangatlah berbaloi menempuh pengalaman ini, kerana USA ialah sebuah negara yang amat cantik. Sesiapa mengikuti cerita perjalanan saya dan melihat semua gambar yang saya ambil, anda pasti tahu sedikit sebanyak dan tentunya teruja untuk ke USA! Keterujaan juga sumber motivasi yang besar!

Selamat maju jaya, jangan mudah putus asa!

How not to be a good traveler

Even a traveler who is constantly on the road makes mistakes sometimes. Mistakes are avoidable if you know exactly what not to do. Note that #2 is definitely unforgiving, so don’t ever try to.

We can never be perfect, but we definitely can try not to pick wrong choices.

1. Underestimating what you are getting into and what you actually are prepared for

In my case, I had underestimated Yosemite National Park, when I thought I can just go there without planning on which part of the park I should go, to see places I wanted to see. I had no idea that all those things are so far away from where we started. It was already 2pm on that day and we made our move from a place that was 4 hours away from all the attractions in Yosemite which is in the valley. On the map, those places look so near, I even underestimated that. Improper planning leads to unnecessary drive and exhaustion. I totaled an excruciating 8 hours of tiresome drive, for 3 minutes of just this photo, and putting my partner’s life at risk.

As a result, I only got to see this spot for 3 minutes because the sun was going down. Was it worthy? We still had 3 hours on the road to our final destination that day, including driving in the dark on dangerous, winding road. I got nothing but this photo and yes I was so mad at myself. I definitely learnt my lessons.

As a result, I only got to see this spot for 3 minutes because the sun was going down. Was it worthy? We still had 3 hours on the road to our final destination that day, including driving in the dark on dangerous, winding road. I got nothing but this photo and yes I was so mad at myself. I admit, I definitely learnt my lessons.

Other things you might be doing while traveling, like going to the zoo, museum, souvenirs shopping or going for a stroll on a beach don’t necessarily require concrete planning. Never ever venture out there not having any idea of what you are getting into. It might costs you your life.

2. Offending everyone by not respecting rules, customs and traditions

In the light of recent earthquake in Sabah, my home state that kills at least 16 climbers, just weeks after a group of tourist climbers posing naked on top of the mountain, also 2 tourists who got arrested and later deported for showing their rears at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, everyone of us here wants or at least thought of being THAT cool traveler, doing things differently than the others, competing to become trendsetters thus becoming popular without realizing that you are dragging unassuming people along with you. There’s nothing wrong in being different but what you do is a reflection of who you are. It is true that earthquakes in Sabah or Nepal weren’t caused by those irresponsible acts. No matter what the reasons are, locals in Sabah are angry because these supposed more-civilized nations & experienced travelers should’ve forehandedly studied cultures of the places they’re going to and that most definitely include thoroughly understanding traditions, respecting the differences in rules and not hesitating to follow the customs. Not a second you are allowed to think that the rules of one foreign place aren’t applied to you just because you’re just visiting. Just visiting is also not an excuse to misbehave. You may get naked in your own backyard because that’s your space, then what makes you think that you should get naked in other’s backyard? Oh, it’s just a mountain and that’s just another temple, no big deal, right? If you think it is okay to just get naked, showing parts of your body that you aren’t supposed to and offending millions of people, you are definitely on your way to become a NOT good traveler. You should see that coming, people do really get what they deserve, especially if they’ve done something offensive and punishable by law.

NAKED TOURISM IS NOT FOR ALL PLACES IN THE WORLD. -Photo courtesy of The Star

NAKED TOURISM IS NOT FOR ALL PLACES IN THE WORLD. What seems cool to you might be offensive to others.
-Photo courtesy of The Star

3. Relying too much on online resources

Not all itineraries made by others will suit you and your travel needs. That is why it is important to construct your own. One’s experience at one place might be different than another. This would actually leads to disappointment, when you didn’t get what you expected to get at first place. Before spending my summer 2 years ago in Venice, Italy, I’ve read lots of wonderful things about Venice and so I just went there, winging it, thinking I too will be having great times like others but in the end, I was disappointed. I didn’t get the experience that I wanted in Venice, because I was relying too much on whatever information I read online without further research. Laziness cannot be forgiven. If you put extra efforts into it, you’ll get more of good things, not only for you but also beneficial to others.

4. Being a complainer that you are

Bad habits are hard to break. Sometimes when you travel, you have to leave them at home, whether you like it or not. Home means all the comforts you can get. Outside home, you forgot that foreign places aren’t designed for you. Then you started complaining about non-existing restaurants that serve rice and why that city must have at least one restaurant that serves your favorite food otherwise you won’t survive. You complain about the sidewalks that aren’t comfortable enough to walk on but locals seem to be walking fine on those. These, and tonnes of other complaints that you sometimes listed for your own amusement, later passing it to friends, simply making your own conclusions of how bad that particular country is and why your friends too, shouldn’t go there. Next time you travel, try not to complain. The purpose of traveling to foreign places is to experience different kind of living situations of others. If you just want the comfort, stay at home. Don’t even bother discovering new places.

So what do you think you did wrong during your last travel?

“Yo, you gone for so long, you never miss home ah?”

Celebrated I turning perfect cube 23 weeks ago on the road in Texas, with beautiful cotton field. Can't get any cooler than this!

Celebrated I turning perfect cube 23 weeks ago on the road in Texas, with beautiful cotton field. Can’t get any cooler than this!

No. I don’t miss home. To be not fair, I only miss the foods and the warm water of pristine South East Asia’s beaches. Nowadays, friends and family back home are just one video call away. Sure you can always call or text them, but you can never text or call the foods! I just made perfect sense!

“But… why? And how come?”

You know, I treat every place I went to as my home. Therefore, I am at home everywhere. That explains the fact that I am selfishly don’t miss Malaysia. I am so comfortable living out here. You know it when you are also living a nomadic life. I was born a traveler, and confidently, when I was a kid, I grew up having my bags ready all the time. I sure had lived out of my backpack for months in Thailand and that was the most encouraging thing I’ve ever done for myself.

“How about Hari Raya? You also don’t go back?”

Yes, that one too. For so many years after the passings of my late grandpas+grandmas, my family celebrate Eid outside Malaysia. It is fun like that. You know, I once celebrated Raya in Germany, eating “nasi lemak sambal udang dan petai” and that was like the sweetest Raya ever? Exactly. I celebrated Raya overseas for so many years now, it is way funner than in Malaysia, to be honest.

I love being a traveler. Even now when I am permanently living in the USA, we are always on the move.

Life’s good.

Why not the macaques?

ImageNot amused.

I grew up with macaques and orang-utans being just in the jungle near my childhood’s little house. The macaques are never amusing to me because I know that they are diseased and should be avoided at any cost. But to most of you out there, you are still very delighted to get to see the macaques in the wild. I saw this macaque after my breakfast on day 3 in Koh Chang, Thailand. My friend immediately took out his phone to take this photo. I was dead sick seeing it walking through the cables looking for pieces of food. I wasn’t sure whether I should feel bad or happy. Koh Chang is beautiful but it is too populated on one side thus the environment gets dirtier and very welcoming especially for the macaques. When I was there for 5 days, I tried to look on the beautiful side, just. I managed to forget how disturbing to see monkeys all the way.

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This looks like Argentinian coastline. 

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I was jumping waves, I swear that was the greatest wave jumping.

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At the end of the stay, I thought I’ll never want to leave.

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 It was a perfect sunset at White Sand Beach.

A mini bus trip from Bangkok to Koh Chang will cost you around B300 ( USD 10 as in March 2014) and it will get you there in 5-6 hours. Bear in mind that the ride will be thrilling. Thai mini bus drivers are among the most reckless and notorious drivers in the world(I am not joking), ones who actually traveled Thailand this way knew exactly how it feels.

When I was on the island, I went on a quad trip with my friends through lush greens of Koh Chang. The trip was incredible, though I paid B2500(USD80) for supposedly 1 1/2 hour trip, we were on the wheels for 2 hours. That was to me, the greatest way to see Koh Chang on the quieter side.

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The ATV Salakphet Adventure team, they rock! That’s my German friend, Torsten.

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No mosquitoes nor malaria for me.

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Quite a happy ending, an isolated beach at Salak Phet.

It was a great escape. I’ve seen all of Thailand for more than 5 times.

Alone?

When I am not traveling wit JF, I will usually continue traveling alone. I had lived alone in Bangkok for 3 months and now I am back here alone too. Traveling alone is always a concern to some. I’ve talked to so many people who have dreams to travel but most of them prefer to travel with their partners. Safety-wise, I’ve been asked about how I survived being alone in Bangkok alone while Bangkok is dubbed as a dangerous city to be at on your own. It is true, it takes time to gather courage to travel alone.

Traveling solo has its pros and cons. After some time, it always more pros than cons to me. There are so many people you can meet while traveling alone, and yes you can also enjoy the fun of having temporary traveling partner while you are alone. You can always travel at your own pace, do whatever you want to do, eat wherever you want to eat and choose to stay wherever you want to stay. You don’t have to wait for your partner to get ready, you don’t have to wait for your partner to finish packing, and you never need to argue of which way to take when both of you are lost in the city. When you are on your own, you are so much more independent and in control.

Among reasons why many refused to travel alone is because they cannot take it having to eat alone. Yes, it is a sad imagination but it is not bad as it you think it would be. Single traveler is easier to be approached by other single traveler and the next thing you know is the two of you sitting at the same table, laughing for hours, beer after beer. But then, if you must eat alone, bring a book. Read, and maybe this is a good time to learn foreign language. Keep yourself busy. Own a journal and write.

Of course, traveling with your partner will benefits in terms of sharing the cost of hotel/hostel room, taxi ride, everything will become cheaper when you split the costs. This is definitely the downside of traveling alone.

It is so much easier to experience stranger’s kindness when you are alone. You are definitely more approachable. There is nothing scary about this too. See? You eventually are not really alone. How not to become lonely? Stop feeling alone. Think that you’ll always stumble upon other travelers, because you’ll always be. Choose to travel during peak season so you won’t feel as empty. Some of my friends use Couchsurfing and they know with that they’ll always have some company. Be bold and confident and ask if someone wants to go out and have dinner with you. Chances are they will always say yes. Meeting new people is always fun and this often happens when you are alone. I cannot help you if you are very shy but don’t complain!

I have made so many temporary traveling partners while I was alone in Bangkok for 3 months. It was all great and I’ve made wonderful memories with them. Even though it was just temporary fun, fun is always going to be FUN. Single travelers that I met while I travel alone were all very independent, sounded and acted very educated and they are the most fun partners that you could ever enjoy being with.

So go ahead, don’t be afraid. Alone? It won’t suck that much.

You have got the money, haven’t you?

You had been working your ass very hard, you work multiple jobs to make your dream trips come true. You booked the flight ticket probably a year before the trip and you have got everything planned. Now you got shitload of money and you think you can be on spending spree abroad and that you’ll be fine because everything else in Indonesia or Romania is cheap, that’s fine if you have a job waiting for you when you get back to home country or you plan to work wherever you are traveling to. I’m talking about how to save money while traveling. In my earlier post I’ve stated that I struggled — even having shitload of money can cause you troubles. Shopping is compulsive. Partying every night is equally compulsive. You don’t want to end up begging for money abroad or worse, ending up sleeping on the street. I’ve seen those, so many times, in every country that I’ve traveled to. Maybe this will help you.

1. Make a budget, write down your spending money and how much you’ve spent in a day

You may have started with loads on the first few days of the trip. Without writing it down, on 5th day you are wondering where have all your money gone. You overspent and freak out. This is why this is so important, especially if you are traveling for the first time. I overspent when I was in Paris with my boyfriend. We could’ve been seeing so many places but I was procrastinating while in Paris and because I was lazy. The thought of having so much money and you’ll be fine is not a good idea. Divide your money into days you planned to spend abroad and into categories; food+tips, transportation, souvenirs, accommodation, monuments/museum entrance passes and unexpected expenses (like getting fined or tickets). This will make you feel so much better, and by doing this, I did have the chances to be on spending spree and we ended up going to 3 other countries+skiing trip while it wasn’t planned in the beginning because I thought we are going to be short of money.

2. Be selective when it come to food and drinks

Unless you are in Asia, alcohol will cost you more than water. Unfortunately, I don’t drink but I’m very concern about alcohol consumers. Beer is addictive, you want to go drinking every day and night and at the end of the day you realized that you have spent way too much on alcohol that you have to also do rationing on food, meaning, eating ramen or unhealthy fast food throughout your trip. I’m not saying you cannot do that, but alcohol is always the biggest part of the spending. Being in foreign countries makes you want to try so new food too. It is okay to have 2 days or 2 night in a week dining in fancy restaurant on your trip, but rest of the days in the week you could save more money by embarking on gastronomical adventure by eating street food or you can simply cook in your apartment/hostel.

3. Carry your own prescribed medication 

It is very wise to carry your own medical supplies, also your own first aid kit. Food poisoning and flu can be easily treated with Imodium and Teraflu. This will cost you less than having to consult doctor, paying for the service and extra unnecessary medications and of course paying for a taxi to get you the hospital because you are cannot take the train or walk when you’re sick. This happened to me when I was in Trieste, Italy. My sinusitis was very severe and I should’ve brought my own medication from Malaysia, which I know was a lot cheaper and though the hospital service is free in Italy, we ended up paying loads for my sinusitis medication over the counter at the pharmacy in Trieste.

4. Take overnight sleeper train or bus

This will save you lots of money while you are actually traveling from one place to another, or from one country to another! Transportation nowadays are so much better. JF and I took the sleeper train from Budapest, Hungary to skiing town, Brasov, Romania. It was €320 for 2 return sleeper double couchette, across the countries for 14 hours. We saved a lot on hotel stay already, and also compensating on flying cost. But don’t fully take my words because it is different from country to country. In 2011, I suffered from high fever and severe back pain after an overnight bus trip from Phuket, Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but the overnight bus that I took from Melaka, Malaysia to the border of Malaysia and Thailand was really comfortable and cheap. The biggest part of spending while traveling is always the transportation part. If you can combine it with accommodation, you’ll be surprised of how much you actually can save.

5. Find alternative ways to avoid disappointment

I was so upset when I cannot get on the gondola ride in Venice, Italy. JF made it up to me by saying I can get to see snow and experience winter and so we did.  However, not all of this you can experience cheaply but certainly there are so many alternatives you can choose to avoid disappointment. My skiing trip in Romania was way cheaper than that 1/2 hour gondola ride. That was so much better and I never thought sacrificing some unnecessary expenses would feel that good and now I didn’t feel bad or missing out anymore for not having that kind of experience in Venice. Doesn’t mean that if you are on budget trip, you cannot travel well and do expensive thing, this is why step #1 is the most important.

ImageMy fancy escargot experience in Paris: Try new food, but don’t splurge on them everyday!

Ditch your guide book, make and be your own guide

Before I started traveling, I always imagined myself walking around a city, searching for a place to stay, with a guide book in my hand. But in reality, after my first trip to Thailand in 2011, I found out that guide is such a hassle. I thought I’d look cool, I looked stupid instead. Hidden agendas of a guide book : to make you feel like you are not doing enough as suggested, or to make you feel that you are restricted to only those suggestions. A guide book is heavy, hard to read and actually very confusing, because if you ever held a guide book and actually read it (from first page to last page,you’ll fall asleep at page 5), you’ll know. The writings are too small (I am already with 4 eyes, be 6 if I have to de dependent on guide book). When you travel, you’ll have your personal preferences of what you really will like. Write them down, take some pictures and write some notes about them. A guide book is based on, at least, the writer’s preferences. There are so many people in this world and simply there are too many suggestions to be followed. So, why do you travel anyways? It is for you to discover one place and all the things about that place by any kind of method you can think of, like asking locals for their suggestions instead. That is more fun, and that is the time when you can actually learn some foreign language. I always think that the writer of a guide book may have not done some of the things he or she had written. Many asked : But how do we know about things we must see, do and eat? Make your own research, like highlighting the major attraction, make a big circle and start from there.

The fact that I too, hate being told what to do makes me feel like I shouldn’t follow a guide book. It’s like that. Quoting my another favorite travel writer, Robert : “By balancing a travel schedule that incorporates sightseeing, cultural experiences and relaxation, you’ll return from your trip enriched, educated and rejuvenated. You’ll be ready to face whatever challenges come your way – but you’ll also be eager to travel again!” 

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I found my own “Maldives”, Karimunjawa, Central Java, Indonesia in May 2012

For 3 years of constant traveling, this never happened to me before

I was already touring Europe in the summer of 2013, I’ve been in and out of European countries, crossing borders without any hassle or being questioned. But it happened to me in the day I was flying on December 31st 2013 from Bangkok to Paris, with a very short transit in Delhi, India. It never occurred to me before that such transit could be so terrifying. The flight to Paris CDG was already delayed for about 1/2 hour, and the security measurement at Delhi Airport was the worst that I’ve been through. It was a madhouse, according to JF. We were standing in line for ridiculous body and luggage check while on a very short transit, competing not just with the passengers bound for Paris, but also 3 or 4 more international flights around same time of departure on that day. After such hassle for over 45 minutes, I was in big relief, thinking that we are ready to board the plane. The walk to the boarding hall was very long. Then I saw another security check at the end of the travelator (the horizontal escalator) to the boarding hall and I said “Here we go again.” They went through my passport then I realized that I am in trouble when they called the lady, some sort of an airport security manager. They were questioning about my face on my passport, I simply looked different because I was wearing headscarf in the photo. They asked me to take out any physical evidence to show that I am the person in the photo in my passport. I took out my expired driving license (no longer driving in Malaysia), my Uni I.D, my My-Kad (Malaysian I.D) and a photo of me and JF from last summer trip. They were being ridiculous when they said “Your driving license is expired. This is not you.” How could one travels with other’s this many I.Ds anyways? For that , I was denied boarding. I was mad, sad and disappointed. I too, like other passengers on that flight, were dreaming of being in Paris for New Year’s day. I felt like I was being harassed. I started swearing upon my religion and God’s name that I am the person in the picture and that I am the bearer of the passport, and the passport is valid for another 1 1/2 year. When I shout “God Almighty, I am Muslim!” They gave back all my I.Ds and my passport, putting their hands down, and gave up harassing me. It was clear they have some sort of prejudice, almost bigots, because they understand very little about a young Muslim woman from a developing country who just wants to travel. That was the day when I felt, even with so much freedom of travel, you must expect the unexpected. Obstacles in traveling are inevitable. It took more than courage. You need not to panic or cause panic, but at the same time, staying rational without having to break down is difficult.

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From my Instagram account: The day I boarded the plane, apparently, some travelers must board with hassles.

The view from my seat window of a Dreamliner flight to Paris from Delhi, so much for a dream

The view from my seat window of a Dreamliner flight to Paris from Delhi, so much for a dream.

Bangkok is not what you think it would be

September 2013.

Sawasdeeka.

Whenever I decided to take a break from traveling, I will park myself in Bangkok. My home country is Malaysia. Since I am no longer employed, I can no longer find good reasons to stay in Malaysia, but to go back once in a while to visit my family. People would say stuff about Bangkok; busy, crazy, notorious, and dangerous. Truth be told, it is none like the above. Contrary to popular belief or hearing from someone who only sees Bangkok for 3 days, serious cases almost mostly happened when you are TOO distracted or looking unconfident. Opportunists love taking advantages on travelers or tourist like this. I am sure we all have heard of tuk tuk drivers coming to tourists and ripping them off in this situation but this thing is totally avoidable. 

I had lived in Bangkok for good 5 months in autumn and after my winter trip to Europe. I feel safe and comfortable living among Thais. I am not a fan of big city, but Bangkok is exceptional. I’ve been to NYC and these cities share equal amount of excitements. 

While in Bangkok, one can actually afford to stay at a very nice, fully furnished apartment with just $300 a month, but I chose not to do that. I want to able to make friends and meet other travelers. Since I don’t like or not practicing going to clubs or even drinking, I stayed at a hostel that I think the best hostel in Bangkok, Boxpackers Hostel (should totally check this place out). Whether you are a shopping freak or not, this place is the best place to rest your head after a day out, venturing the busy streets of Bangkok. Also, I mentioned shopping freak because there is huge fashion mall across the street of this hostel that is ever alive and lively with people from all around Asia and the rest of the world! The hostel is also pretty close to train station, if you can count 10 minutes walking as close. In Bangkok, you don’t really have to worry about paying a lot for public transportation, I promise if you stay there for a week, you’ll get the hang of it, by all means, walking or riding tuk tuk or even the boat on Chao Phraya!

ImageThe dorm of 6 : That’s my backpack, and my Ripcurl lightpack

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 My pod or box, where I usually stay for months!

I have made so many incredible friends along my stay at this hostel. This is not like conventional hostels with bunk beds where people can see you even when you are picking your nose. There will no drunken people banging on the door at night. It is a place where you can actually feel “educated”. I love Khao San road too, but it is safe for me not to stay there. I had once stay there in year 2011, for 2 nights I cannot get to sleep and I heard stuff next door like an old man bargaining for a “company” and then ended up fighting and beating her. That and other things I am sure those who were also there know. The price of a hostel room at Khao San Road could be as low as 1 Euro, but I’d rather pay extra 10 Euro for extra extra comfort, and safety!

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 Rita from Taiwan: First friend I made the first time I stayed at Boxpackers Hostel, Bangkok. She is also traveling the world. Suddenly this place is not so strange anymore.

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 Roman & Jeremy from France and Germany: The last people at Boxpackers Hostel made bestfriends with before I left for Europe 2013 – 2014 winter trip

There are so many things you can do in Bangkok, not just visiting temples, in fact you’ll never run out things to do here as long as you are enjoying your time. I have no troubles being alone, I also have no troubles having great companies. I filled up my time learning Thai and making friends with locals. If you shall come to Bangkok, write to me, perhaps I can help with your itinerary. Songkran Festival for example, is a great time to be in Bangkok, the city has never been lovelier. And yes, while in Thailand, learn Muay Thai. It’s incredibly cheap and it’s incredibly great. After all, Thailand is the best place on Earth to learn this famous martial art.

ImageThis is me, doing muay thai (Thai boxing) in November 2013 at 13 Coins Gym. About USD 10 for a session of 5 rounds of intense punching and kicking, GREAT thing to do while in Bangkok.

Give it a chance. Bangkok is a great place to learn how to live a life by yourself. 

Till next time.

Amazing Istanbul

June 20, 2013

Shisha, cherries and olives.

I am traveling to the land where you can find cherries, olives and shisha in every nook and cranny. For two mornings I had new kind of breakfast where they served bread with hard boiled duck egg, two types of olives, sour cherry jam, cheese bar, with fresh cucumber and very succulent tomatoes. I found it strange somehow but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I discovered a very cosy cafe along the street of Gulhane in which they had served flavorful shisha and Turkish coffee. I’d say do not skip Turkish shisha while you are in here because it tastes different than ones I usually had in Malaysia. After breakfast yesterday I walked up the hill to huge market and had my very first fresh cherries, and found among the shiniest, most plump tomatoes, sold by the 2 friendly men who asked for their photo to be taken. Stumbled upon this very beautiful mosque just next to the market. The area is surrounded with parks with benches and yes,cat house. I met this lovely ginger tabby which I named Seymor. He literally made love with the cat food given instead of eating them;so weirdly cute and adorable.

Later in the afternoon I took the tram to the north, to Karakoy. I went up the tower, the Galata Tower and had enjoyed the breathtaking view of Bosphorus and surrounding area. It was worth 13TL (Turkish Lira).

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Lost in watermelons.

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I love the cool breeze blowing on my face, but not the sun having to set at 9pm!