Happy Anniversary – 8 Years on WordPress

WordPress reminded me today that it has been eight years since I started blogging on this platform.

Eight, long years.

If you counted my time on Blogspot and Xanga (I started blogging in 2009), then it would be a whole decade.

8 years is a long time. I graduated from university and joined the work force eight years ago. Changed several jobs. Made new friends, dropped old ones. Battled depression and anxiety. Travelled. Loved. Lost. Had four relationships. (The funny thing is that none of them lasted as long as my blogging, lol).

I feel like I should be writing more since it’s a significant milestone and all (in my mind at least), but there really isn’t much to say. I’m not a person who writes super inspiring posts, nor am I a motivational writer of any kind. This blog is just me sharing my thoughts and things that interest me – it isn’t off the charts popular, I don’t earn money (I actually fork out money for it every year lol). I am continually surprised (and grateful) that some people actually read the stuff I write. I’ve made great friends through this platform, of which I’m very thankful for. And of course, it’s a nice reminder to know that I had the tenacity to keep at something for over a decade.

Of course, there will be days of shitty posts and uninspiring entries – but I think that if nothing else, I’m happy to know that I’ll always have a safe space for my writing, and that no one can take that away from me.

Unless, of course, I run out of money to fund the domain / hosting fees for this little hobby. lol.

Happy Anniversary!

The Blogger Recognition Award

Been awhile since I did one of these ! Many thanks to Marie from hopsskipsandjumps for the nomination. Marie writes about her travels around the globe, and I always enjoy reading her posts. Thanks again Marie!

The Blogger Recognition Award is an online award given by bloggers to other bloggers as a way of recognising the efforts they put into their site.

Rules for the Blogger Recognition Award

Thank the nominator, and publish a post on your blog about receiving the Blogger Recognition Award. Make sure to provide a link to the nominator’s blog in your post.

  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Nominate 11-15 other bloggers for this award, and inform them of their nomination.

How I Started Blogging

One of my biggest flaws is my low boredom threshold. I crave excitement and I get bored of things (and people) easily. Blogging, however, has been the only thing that I’ve managed to keep up for over a decade. It has helped me through numerous heartbreaks; accompanied me through many milestones and joyous moments. Sometimes, reading old posts is like peeking through a window and seeing how young and different I was, and how it has shaped me into the person I am today.

I started blogging when it was just becoming a trend, back in the mid to late 2000s. I was 18 or 19 then, and college afforded me full access to the wonders of the Internet. I often blogged at my university’s tech centre, because there was only one family computer at home (laptops weren’t a thing/ expensive) and my parents were very restrictive with how much my brother and I were allowed on the computer.

My first blog had a super cringey URL (I think it was tsez; like zest spelled backwards. lol). I used it mostly to update on my daily happenings; kind of like an online journal. Over the years, I migrated my site multiple times (URLs included tacokittens, thesunburntfingers and shortbrows – don’t ask why they’re all such weird names; it’ll take forever to explain :D) but in mid-2015, I finally settled for this blog address, and I’ve kept it since.

These days, I write mostly about my travels, food and experiences, with the occasional lifestyle news or two. It’s much more filtered – I remember back when I’d post about anything and everything, without a thought about online safety and privacy. Blogging is a great way to share my experiences with others, and as I get older, a way to record memories and thoughts. 2020 will mark my 12th year blogging – and I hope I can keep up this zest (or tsez? lol) in the future. 🙂

Okay, whatever happened to a ‘brief’ post?

Advice

I don’t think I’m qualified to give advice.

If you ask me for my thoughts, however, then I’d say purpose is important. What are you writing for? An online diary? To share thoughts and experiences? To express yourself? To be an influencer? To make money? If your passion project turns out to be lucrative, then more power to you – but if you’re really into it as a business venture, I think it should be treated as such.

This may sound cliche, but you have to have a measure of enjoyment for what you do. I wouldn’t be blogging for over a decade if I didn’t at least like it. Sure, there are off days, but the important thing is you always come back to it.

My Nominees

I’ve been out of touch with the WordPress community for awhile now – these days I only upload and schedule posts; I barely have time to read and comment on others – but I’ll try! Some of these nominees have been part of my blogging journey for a long time; others are new. Have fun!

https://theeclecticmiss.com/

https://themonchingsguide.wordpress.com/

https://theperpetualsaturday.home.blog/ 

https://amyrodzmanwackysadventure.com/ 

https://amehase.com/

https://happyfoodtrippers.wordpress.com/

https://sirlewisofclarke.wordpress.com/

https://thatmanilagirl.wordpress.com/

https://chasingpotatoes.com/

https://mooseymares.wordpress.com/

https://lifeofaworkingadult.wordpress.com/

https://barbariangentlemen.wordpress.com/

I Did A Vlog! New Haircut For The New Year, CNY Deco and Makeup Haul

A new thing for 2020? We’ll see how long it lasts.

sabotaging self before it even begins; gotta stop doing this to myself lmao

 

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

 

 

 

Driving The Great Ocean Road Of Australia: A 12-Hour Itinerary

Possibly one of the most scenic coastal driving routes on the planet, the Great Ocean Road is a 243-kilometre stretch on the southwest coast of Australia, passing through deserted beaches, craggy cliffs and lush rainforests. Built by Australian and New Zealand World War I soldiers who returned from the war between 1919 and 1932, it is also the world’s largest war memorial. The most well-known attraction along the route is the 12 Apostles – a collection of 12 (now only seven remain, because they crumbled into the sea from erosion) limestone stacks rising majestically out of the azure blue waters of the sea.

Ideally, three days is perfect to drive and visit the many quaint seaside towns along the route – but since our itinerary was super packed, we had to fit everything into one. If you’re pressed for time, this itinerary might be useful for a small but all-round taste of what the route has to offer.

8.40AM – SEAPORT FERRY

20190217_091511

Most travellers start their journey from Melbourne and make their way to Apollo Bay, but since we departed from the Mornington Peninsula, we took the Seaport Ferry from Sorrento, docking at Queenscliff. The check in + ride took approximately an hour and 15 minutes, and we went up to the rooftop deck for beautiful views of Port Philip Bay dotted by boats and yachts. The inside of the ferry was cosy as well, with a cafeteria selling refreshments.

From Queenscliff, we drove two hours to the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch. Along the way, we took in the gorgeous coastal sights of Australia’s southwest coast, dotted with beaches and natural cliffs lined by stunning blue waters.

11 AM – GREAT OCEAN ROAD MEMORIAL ARCH 

20190217_111007

The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch marks the ‘start’ of the road, and is one of its most photographed attractions. There are plenty of parking spots for a quick stopover, statues of the soldiers labouring on rocks, as well as information boards on the story of how the road was built. Visitors can also walk down to the nearby beach.

Constructed as a tribute to some 3,000 ANZAC soldiers who returned from fighting in World War I, the GORM arch is the third one to be erected after a truck and a fire caused damage to the previous ones, respectively. It is made from wood with sides of stone and cement, and the original wooden sign from 1939 still hangs above the archway.

12 PM – LORNE / TEDDY’s LOOKOUT

If you want an elevated view of part of the Great Ocean Road, Teddy’s Lookout at the small (but touristy) town of Lorne is a good place to stop by. The beach in town is popular with sunbathers, picnickers and surfers. Naturally, where there are tourists, there are also local scavenging wildlife, such as seagulls…

20190217_114127

…literally all over the green near the beach. They’re used to human presence, and are not afraid even if you walk very close to them.

20190217_115720

Thankfully we didn’t have to hike all the way up, as cars are able to access the hill where the lookout point is.

20190217_115911

The top of Teddy’s Lookout features a small viewing platform with sweeping views of the surf breaking at the mouth of the Saint George River, as well as gorgeous emerald green hills and the road snaking at their feet. Not sure how the place got its name but whomever Teddy was sure knew where to get the best views in town!

1.30PM : LUNCH AT LA BIMBA, APOLLO BAY 

20190217_133803

Like Lorne, Apollo Bay is a seaside town, popular among tourists as a base to explore the rest of Ocean Road. As such, you will find lots of restaurants, souvenir shops, hotels and accommodation here. Apollo Bay is big on natural beauty, so apart from its pristine, warm beaches that are great for surfing, angling and swimming, visitors will also find lush rainforest and magnificent waterfalls here. Being a coastal village, the seafood is fresh, but expect prices to reflect its tourist-centric industry.

A good place for lunch is La Bimba, which offers great views of the seafront as you dine on contemporary Australian cuisine with produce sourced locally. Will put a separate post on the food, so stay tuned!

4.15 PM : CALIFORNIAN REDWOODS @ OTWAY RANGES 

20190217_164058

One of my greatest regrets from my trip to San Francisco was the fact that I didn’t manage to see the giant Californian Redwoods. This trip was my second chance, and the experience did not disappoint.

20190217_162842

Located five minutes away from Beech Forest, the Redwoods of the Otway Ranges were planted by the local government some 85 years ago. Today, they tower over 60 metres high, forming a shady canopy with minimal sunlight hitting the forest floor. Staring up with mouth agape, I was struck by just how large and tall these trees are – despite being comparative ‘babies’ to older redwood trees that can live up to 2,000 years old. Redwoods are basically living fossils, and some have survived longer than many human civilisations. When you think of the sheer history and the things these trees have lived through, it’s just… overwhelming.

20190217_163200

The landscape, surrounded by ferns and shrubbery as well as small, flowing streams with crystal clear water, create an enchanting atmosphere.

6 PM: 12 APOSTLES HELICOPTER TOUR

20190217_175531

We finally arrived at the highlight of our trip at Port Campbell National Park – the 12 Apostles. And we had the best seats in the house to catch the most beautiful scenery in Australia – aboard a helicopter!

20190217_180705

20190217_181315

It was my first time flying in a heli and what an experience it was! Strapped into the backseat, the roar of the rotors was deafening even with headphones on, so it was difficult to hear what the pilot was saying. Even so, the views spoke for themselves, as we gently swerved over the majestic landscapes of foamy white waves crashing against the cliffs. At certain points, the heli banked sharply, blurring the line between the sky and the sea into an endless blue – it felt like floating in space, but also quite dizzying.

20190217_180735

It was a short ride lasting less than 20 minutes, and we were back on the ground in no time. After some more photos, we departed for our night’s accommodation in Port Campbell.

So there you have it – a 12-hour or so itinerary for those who want an all-round experience of the Great Ocean Road and its awesome sights. I hope this guide and the suggestions of places to visit has been helpful, and Happy Travels!

 

30-Day Writing Challenge – Day 11: An Adventure In The Kitchen

11. An Adventure In The Kitchen

First things first: I am not much of a cook.

When I was younger, my mother ruled the kitchen with an iron-fist, and would often shoo me out because I wasn’t cutting something right or wasn’t quick enough to take the pan off the heat, etc. Over the years, my interest waned, and while she did eventually try to get me to cook, I was completely disinterested by then. There’s also a complicated food dynamic in my household; they don’t eat what I eat, and I can’t feel bothered to cook something that I don’t like (because why the effort, then?). Living alone in the UK, I had more freedom to experiment, but my cooking was still basic – edible (occasionally tasty) but not exactly 5-star fare.

A couple of years ago when my ex came to visit me from the States, he thought of impressing my folks with what I couldn’t do – cook a nice meal. My ex is not a bad cook, and I was touched that he was expending such effort. On the menu was pork adobo, spaghetti and fruit salad. I was to assist.

Shopping for ingredients was an adventure in itself, because many of the items he was used to were not available in Malaysia, or were called by a different name so it was difficult to look for them. We couldn’t find bayleaf, so we had to leave that out of the adobo (although he insisted that it wasn’t true adobo if there wasn’t bayleaf), and for the spaghetti he requested ‘tomato sauce’.

Now this was the funniest part. To Malaysians (myself included), tomato sauce = ketchup and not the canned tomato sauce type Westerners use for pasta. Mistaking this (and me not realising), we ended up putting ketchup in our spaghetti! Of course it was super sweet and almost inedible, but all else considering, having 2/3 dishes right was not too bad.

While we might not have broken up on good terms, this kitchen adventure has stuck with me because they were some of the good moments in our relationship. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and if you aren’t able to look past the bitterness after a breakup, I think you’d carry a lot of resentment and hate in your heart. Which is why despite going our separate ways, I look back on this fondly.

30-Day Writing Challenge Day 9

9. Something That Happened In A Mall 

My neighbourhood mall, IOI Puchong, has been around since 1998. Puchong was not as large and as busy a city as it is today; back then most of the area was covered in palm oil estates and abandoned mining pools (you can still find a very large one behind the mall, although these days people call it a ‘lake view’ lmao).

Many things have happened for me in IOI; it almost feels like an old friend that has watched me grow. I have also watched it change, from its early days with the old wing up to the expansion of the new wing, new coat of paint, new facilities, etc.

When the mall opened, it was very grand as there were no other big shopping malls in the area. Their anchor tenant was JUSCO (Jusco doesn’t exist anymore; now it’s called AEON). What I remembered best was riding the carousel in the centre court as a kid. My parents would pay a few ringgit at the concessionaire, and my brother and I would excitedly clamber onto one of the ‘horses’ for a spin.

When I went to high school, it became a hangout spot for my friends and I. The LRT didn’t exist and Grab wasn’t a thing, so we’d take a good old-fashioned bus. We’d go to the arcades, watch a movie, go bowling, play snooker. I’ve even gotten trapped in the lift once!

I had dates there, usually at a fast food place or Sushi King (very fancy, back in the day).  When one of my best friends left to study in the States, we had our farewell party for him there (haven’t seen him for a decade. Wow.)

Today, I still go to the mall regularly. It’s good that they’ve managed to keep it updated with renovations and also new tenants, so the mall doesn’t go the way of those old, tired shopping malls that look like they’re going to crumble any second. In fact, I think it’s doing better these days, what with new restaurants and entertainment outlets.

IOI Mall holds a special place in the hearts of Puchong-ites. It’s not so much the outlet as it is the memories and experiences it has offered to locals, and I can’t imagine the city without it. Although there are many other places further away that are grander, this neighbourhood mall will always remain my go-to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge Day 8 : Your Worst Birthday

8. My Worst Birthday

Birthdays feel a little passe, now that I’m older.

On my birthday this year, I was working (it was a weekday) – although, I have to say that it was a fun assignment where I had to interview a street chef and try their food. Then my weekends were so taken up with part-time work and other stuff that I only managed to have a simple dinner with a close friend (and that was like a month later, so we could celebrate our birthdays together, lol).

My worst birthday was probably my 25th one. Apart from having a quarter-life crisis, I was also burning out from work, which required long (and odd) hours – working weekends, overtime, having very little time with family, etc. On my birthday, I was out early in the morning and only finished work at midnight. When I got home, my mom had waited up just to wish me, and she said “I hardly see you these days.” Which made me feel extremely guilty, so I quit my job, which caused a big row because it was a company with ‘good prospects’ (even though the reason I quit was because I wanted to spend more time with the fam).

Moving on to happier topics, my best birthday as I recall, was my 9th one which was also the only one I had which was a ‘proper’ party. It was held at the A&W in Taman Jaya, where I had a Sailormoon cake (was obsessed with the cartoons back then) and some classmates over. We played games with balloons and teased the A&W bear mascot by pulling its tail, and it got ‘angry’. I still have photos from that party somewhere!

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge : Day 7 – A Neighbour

7. A Neighbour

I’ve had terrible luck with neighbours, but my current ones are by far the worst. They’ve moved in for half a year now, and in that span of time have:

  1. Constantly thrown garbage into the drain, causing blockage
  2. Parked their vehicles in front of our home, blocking our driveway. Also did so with other neighbours, and when requested to remove their vehicles, retorted with “tak boleh kah?” (what, so I can’t?) in a rude manner
  3. have threatened to hit my mother with a brick after she told them to remove the bricks which they left in front of our house after a massive wedding party (their tents were expanded to the front of our house, and two adjoining houses, blocking the entire road for 3 nights.) Following the incident, we lodged a police report for safety.
  4. have blasted music from their ugly, souped up cars such that the entire neighbourhood hears it, late at night.

Last night after midnight, they were setting off fireworks to celebrate some one’s birthday. Now fireworks are banned in Malaysia, but people usually turn a blind eye when it comes to festivals like Deepavali, Chinese New Year or Hari Raya.

Deepavali is long over, and it disturbs the neighbourhood peace, especially since these aren’t small crackers but the large, booming ones. Of course they don’t care if there are babies or the elderly sleeping, because if they don’t sleep, no one else can apparently.  You will forgive me for wishing that one explodes in their hand while they’re setting them off.

Since the threatening-to-hit-my-mom incident, we’ve installed CCTVs. The bad behaviour is not limited to when people are around, but also amongst themselves. The adult men of the household pee on the front porch (why they do this I have no idea, do they not have toilets in the house?) and the children, following this stellar example, pee at the grass separating the front of our homes.

There’s only one word for these people: a public menace.

Do they own the house? No. They’re renting it, and from the neighbourhood gossip, have been owing the owners several months in rental. (But the owner is probably too scared to kick them out, since they seem to be gangsters). They also recently bought a large screen LCD TV.

What’s your neighbour from hell story?