31 May 2012

If I cannot have a cat, I want ice-cream earrings!

I just found the cutest earrings ever!
They are handmade by Rabozeta, and you can buy them from here.


They are maybe too small to be able to replace the cat I will never have, but I am sure that I will smile every time I wear them.

...plus, they are the perfect match for this dress I bought in Italy.


I have not yet found the occasion to wear it, it is still pretty cold up here.
I think I will take it to Spain this summer and hope that someone invites me to a romantic dinner. 

Any volunteers????

27 May 2012

Why you must go to Tioman Island

Well, there are many obvious reasons: the beach, the sun, the palm trees, etc. which I am not even bother to mention because you can find that in every post-card beach resort out there.
I want to focus on the little details, those things that make the difference between a nice place and a very special one.

Just give me a second to make a quick intro to the place, so you can locate yourself.
This small piece of paradise is called Juara Beach, situated on the eastern side of Tioman (check out the map from here).


In my opinion, Juara is the nicest part of the island, not only because the place itself is truly beautiful but also because it's so isolated and surrounded by jungle that most of the tourist do not even know about it (or are too lazy to try to get there).
Most likely you will find the beach as it looks in the picture above: empty!

We stayed in the Beach Shack, a small family owned "resort", the most laid back place ever.
It is owned by Tim, an Australian surfer, and his wife Izan. They are really cool.


The Beach Shack is a very special place, you can really chill out like it will be your own home. During the monsoon season this spot is huge on surfing, they even have a surf school. We were not so lucky with the waves, so we had no other choice than take it easy and do nothing for 10 days.



As you can see, the place is pretty rustic, so if you fancy luxurious beach resorts where you can take a cocktail by the swimming pool, then this is definitely not a place for you.

Now that you have a better idea about what kind of place it is, let's get down into business.
Why the hell you should go to Tioman Island?


1. Monkey pets

They got two monkeys (Endon and Cinta) at the Beach Shack, which were rescued from mainland Malaysia.




Endon became my best friend in the whole island.
She would come to you and start grooming your hair (yes, even your leg's hair).


Since I did not wanted to be rude, I politely groomed her back.


Later on, I was checking just for fun what is the reason behind this social grooming behavior. Wikipedia says: "an animal helping another animal to clean itself also is helping to form a social bond and trust between them". How cute is that!
But then I got to this point: "(grooming) is exchanged for other resources, such as food and sex"... and made me wonder whether she was a true friend or she just wanted to eat... or have sex.
(Damn you Wikipedia, why you always have to ruin friendships?)

2. Snakeless Jungle


We were told that there were many snakes out there, but somehow they got shy because we did not see any, not even a tiny one. I am so happy about that.

Another good thing about the jungle (asides from the shy snakes), was to experience how's like to feel small among all those huge trees and plants. It is difficult to explain, you just gotta try it out.


I loved the jungle even if we actually got pretty lost... the original plan of a 2h hike ended up in 6h of walking up and down a mountain several times. But it was "fun" (if I think about it now) and we eventually made it back to the "civilization". I am sure that Bear Grylls would have been very proud of us. 

This is me with the "where the hell are we?" face

3. Pineapples


I saw a pineapple plant for the first time, it must be one of the funniest plants ever.
It looks like if someone has walked by and left some pineapples on top of small palm trees.


4. (almost) Wire-less island


You will not find many wires and electronic stuff on that side of the island. Good way to disconnect from civilization! Actually, I think this is must be the only phone you can find in the village of Juara. 


5. No cars


I probably saw more lizards than cars making use of the village roads. 
Bikes, sidecars and motorcycles are the main mode of transportation in there.



6. Floating for free


In Barcelona, I pay 35€ to float for 1h in the Flotarium.
In Tioman, I was floating for around 4 hours every day during 10 days... which means that I saved 1400 € !!


7. Finding Nemo

from here
One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Nemo in person!
He is way cuter in real life than on the movie.


8. Tourist-free


There are not many times in your life when you get the chance to have a beach just for yourself.


9. Help the turtles

from here

Tioman is home to four of the world's seven known species of sea turtles, including critically endangered species. We had the nice opportunity to help them out at the Juara Turtle project.


10. Dragon princess


Tioman is made out of a dragon princess.
The legend says that a dragon princess was flying from China to Singapore to visit her boyfriend, the prince. While she was flying over the South China Sea she stopped to take a swim in the crystal-clear waters. It felt so good that the princess decided to stay and turned into an Island.
The prince is probably still waiting for her in Singapore, poor thing.


11. Leopard couch


You get to meditate on a leopard couch. Don't ask me why but it was cool.

12. Sunrise


It is enough to wake up a bit before 7:00 to see the sunrise. Totally worth it

13. Cats

Cats are always a good option to finish any post, specially a super long one.
So, here you have a selection of the Beach Shack cats. I think they probably got the funniest cats ever.


USEFUL INFO

Bus from Singapore - Mersing  
Five Stars Tours
5001 Beach Road (Golden Mile Complex)
+ 65 6392 7011 / + 65 6294 7011

Boat from Mersing - Tioman 
(Once in the boat, stop in Tekek and take a taxi to Juara)
+ 607 799 4811 / + 607 799 8518

+ 6012 696 1093 / + 609 419 3148 
izanhussain@yahoo.com

20 May 2012

Back from the paradise

I'm back from the most relaxing two weeks of my life.

I don't think I'm able to write any coherent stuff today, because the jet lag has hit me hard, but I just wanted to share a few pics that sum up the trip. (Mom, I'll write about all the details later this week, as soon as this tiredness goes away, I promise!)

Let's start with Singapore, where we spent few days. I could easily describe what we did just with 3 verbs: Eat, shop, sweat.

However, I would put special emphasis on the first one, the food in there is just amazing. 
It is one of those cities where you find yourself planning what you'll have for dinner while you are still having lunch. Thanks God I don't live there, otherwise I'll do nothing but eating the whole day. 


It is also one of the most colorful cities I have ever visited.
And it has such a mix of cultures and religions that every time you turn a corner you feel you are in another country.


After Singapore we took a boat to Juara beach in Tioman Island. The most beautiful place ever.


In there I realized what is the best therapy against stress: 10 days on a deserted beach, swimming, reading and walking around barefoot/braless.


At this point I'm just going to let the pictures talk for themselves, my little eyes are so tired that they don't see what I'm writing anymore.


More details to come, stay tuned!

3 May 2012

How to get over the post-Italy depression

I have been in Finland for a bit over one week now, it seems like a hell of a long time!
It's like I have never left Helsinki but at the same time it feels that it was yesterday when I was saying arrivederci to all my Italian colleagues.

I'm missing all the stuff I thought I will miss from Italy and even a bit more things I did not know I was going to miss (such as people shouting on the streets).

But in the other hand, I must say that it is super cool to get to see (and hug!) all my friends after such a long time. I realized that no matter how far away you go, real friends are always gonna be waiting for you with open arms.

I believe that sooner or later I'm going to get over this small post-Italy depression... but just in case I made a 10 day program that I have been following since I arrived, I think it is already helping me out.

DAY 1
Take a real shower (not like the Italian one)
Go fast to visit all the friends you have not seen in 7 months!!!

There are some girls missing in this picture but we look so pretty that I decided to put it anyway

DAY 2
Make a proper cappuccino at home with the Mini Gaggia.
Get some sushi at Hanko for lunch.

from here

DAY 3
Make homemade berry sorbet with the KitchenAid.
Eat lots of salmon soup. Soup always helps!

from here

DAY 4
Go to the swimming pool with Marju (my Finnish friend) and check out all the handsome/hairy men out there in their Speedos. Take a relaxing sauna afterwards.
Go out and dance like there is no tomorrow, do not forget to have a couple of mojitos.

in my 80's-flashdance-outfit from last year's Halloween (the only pic I found with a mojito)

DAY 5
Eat pulla.
from here
Take a deep breath and smile.
Visit your friends again!

here I'm with my friends at our very first Circus lesson together

DAY 6
Make a 5 Kg tiramisù and eat it all.


Watch the movie "La vita è bella" in Italian. So glad that I'm finally able to understand the original version.

DAY 7
Eat breakfast on the balcony while you hear the all the birds singing.
Have a picnic at Kaivopuisto Park for the First of May celebration (called Vappu).



DAY 8
Go to belly-dance class. I have missed oh so much Hosseny's dance lessons while I was in Italy!
Make homemade pasta with my lovely pasta machine.



DAY 9
Repeat DAY 5 program until you feel better.
If it still does not feel better, go and get a Nutella+pistachio crêpe at La Crêperie Tram Café.

from here
DAY 10
I have made it to the last day! Yaaay!
The last step couldn't be another than taking some days off and going for holidays!
If this does not help to get rid of the depression, I don't know what else I am going to do.

Check out where I will be relaxing for the next 2 weeks:

from here

Yes, I am taking a plane tomorrow to Malaysia for a well deserved holidays.
(Thanks to all our great friends who contributed to make this trip possible! I love you!)

First we are going to Singapore for a few days and then we will take a boat to Tioman Island where I will be doing nothing but swimming, eating seafood and diving - computers, iPhones and iPads are forbidden on the island -

I will come back all pretty, tan, relaxed and hopefully recovered from the post-Italy depression.

See you in a couple of weeks! Take care and be happy!