Running My First Half Marathon

As I promised to my self earlier this year, finally I ran half marathon in June 2013.  Series and weeks of training paid off. I finished strong and I had so many fun and fabulous experience as it was my first half marathon race and it was in Bali, Baby!!

Two weeks before the race, I was down with nasty flu. Thank God it was when I entered tapering mode. So, while in recovery, I only did some minor exercises. I slowed down the pace and shaved the distance. I felt mentally and physically prepared. What I was worried about were the heat because of the sun exposure and ascending track. Yet, I was very ecstatic about my first half marathon run.

On Saturday morning, one day before race, I went to Bali with my husband who also ran half marathon in Bali Marathon. Cena, our son, stayed in Jogja with my in-laws. Some fellow runners from Indo Runners Yogya also participated in this event. There were ten of all!! Arriving in Denpasar, we were picked up by Tito, my fellow runner who now resides in Bali. We’re bound to hotel and checked in. As the rooms were not ready yet, we couldn’t get in to the room immediately. We’re told the room would be ready at 2 P.M.  For killing the time until 2 PM, we went ahead to Bali Beach Walk, where by coincidence I met my colleague mate in Gadjah Mada. Fortunately, the race packs were already collected one day before by my friends who arrived at Bali earlier so we didn’t have to rush on that day.

As we had to wake very early in the race day, what we needed is hitting the sheet earlier. I tried to make my self exhausted in the afternoon. After beach walk, back to hotel for check in, we went to Warong Miyabi in Kuta area to attend carbo loading with fellow runners from other city. It was arranged by Bang Francis, who was very kind inviting all members of Indo Runners from Jakarta, Bandung, Yogya, Surabaya, and Makassar. In the event I could finally meet fellow runners whom previously I met virtually. Happy!!

Back to hotel, I prepared clothes, hats, shoes and some equipments for the race. On 9 PM I thought I was already asleep and woken up by alarm on 1:30 AM. I woke up my husband and arranged everything for me and him. Tito picked up all of us at hotel at 2:30 AM and we’re directly bound to the pick up point at Water Boom. We departed to the race venue by bus. I slept along the trip to the venue and arrived there at 4 AM. Having arrived there, we saw many participants were already gathering. From my first impression, the race was well organized. The committee provided toilets and prayer tent. The signs were clear. All was neat and organized.

On 5 AM sharp the full marathon category was started. There were about 500 participants ran full marathon. As for half marathon, we started running 30 minutes later. The sky was still dark, yet the atmosphere was very lively. I never ran in race as big as Bali Marathon where more than thousands runners joined. Five minutes before 5:30 AM, the MC urged us to be ready. All of us yelled with a very loud “YEAH” when the MC cried “Runners, are your ready?”. Fantastic! Then we ran on 5:30 sharp!!

On the first five KM, the track was ascending slightly. I paced my speed on 7 minutes for every kilometer. I hold my impulse to run faster than my usual pace in order to finish strongly on the finish line. I had to keep my energy and use it effectively. Entering six kilometer, the path turned back to the north and as I anticipated the ascend was hard. The hill was quite steep and what made it hard actually the fact that it was just a start and we had to run on that hill! It turned out that the ascend was still there. The track kept up and up. That was really a battle for me! 45 minutes passed from the start, I needed to refuel my energy with the gel. However, I could not meet water station until 10 K. I passed the first water station before 5 K. Nearing the second water station, I slowed down and took the gel, tore it apart, slowly drank it and
rinsed it with the water I got from the station.

Passing half of the race, I was refueled not only by the gel and water but also with the cheer guards along the race. Children and people gathered on the side of track cheering and hand clapping for us. They yelled and supported us. Some children raised their hand and we tossed all of them. What an energy booster and I could keep my pace on 7 constantly until passing ten kilometers.

Unexpectedly but thankfully that the weather was very friendly. It was not hazy. The sun hid behind clouds, the wind breezed cool. And as we ran In Bali, the extra bonus was the beautiful scenery. I stopped and took some photos along the race. Then, I encountered water station again on 15 K and drank plain water instead of isotonic drink. Bad luck for me after taking water, the side stitch started to develop in my right stomach. I had to slow down otherwise it would hurt harder. To avoid worse side stitch, I didn’t stop and drink on the next water station. Besides, I still felt fit to run another kilos before finish.

Entering the last kilometers, the track was descending. The effort running on at least eight killing uphills paid off. We got reward on the last kilos. Yeayy!! I ran with a woman, whom I forgot her name and intended as a pacer for me. That was also her first half marathon. However, she could not keep the pace and ran behind me. Then, I met Yomy, my fellow runner from Indo Runners Jakarta. I pushed my self so hard so I could be as close as to him. I kept watching my wrist watch, expecting to fullfil my target finishing the race on two and half hours. After running 2 hours and 35 minutes, finally I could step on the finish line. On average, I ran with pace 7:24 per kilo. Satisfying!!

After completing the race was my legs felt like jell-o. I was exhausted but very happy. On the finish line, I met another fellow runners who finished earlier than me. I waited for my husband and brought him an isotonic drink. He was able to finish some minutes behind me. I was bloody proud of him. Although he was lacked of training, he could defeat the race.

After all of inevitable pains, do we want to run again? Another half marathon or even full marathon? We believe that we will not stop there and anticipate to participate another race. What we ran in Bali Marathon was a great lapse for both of us as it was unimaginable some years ago. And the medals we got are symbol of legacy to our children. We want them inherit sportiveness and competitiveness. And one thing that is ultimate is believing that nothing is impossible. Thing that imaginable is surely reachable. What we did is the proof and we want to run and push the limits!

 

 

My New Baby: Twizel

In 2009, when I wrote in facebook note that I was an aspiring restaurateur I didn’t imagine that it happens this fast. I love cooking, I love eating food but owning and running a restaurant? It seemed so faaaarr awaaaayyy. To tell you the truth that when you love cooking or eating it doesn’t mean that you are able to make a restaurant! Culinary and culinary business are two different things. Once it comes to culinary business, many things involved. Hospitality, human resources, logistic, location, promotion, marketing and many more. One thing for sure: it’ s a business!!

Here the story begins. The fetus of our restaurant was created before we off for 3-week holiday. My hubby and I came up with the idea of making restaurant in our veranda. There is a tiny room as well that can seat 5 people. So, why not? Starting with the small one is not bad at all. 3-week holiday passed and we ‘had’ to make our dream came true.

On the very first time we wanted to make a restaurant, we planned to sell baked rice. Why baked rice? It’s simply because we love it, I can cook it, and no one sells it seriously at Yogya. For about two months, I did experiment in kitchen to formulate a very fine recipe of rice and the topping. My hubby was bussy searching and looking for the ingredients and material suppliers. Both of us were also bussy of finding the essential utensils such as bowl, plate, fork, spoon, glass and many more. Excited. We set the launching deadline and we managed to be ready before it.

On 22 April we launched our restaurant. n the first day, we invited some friends and some followers of @makanjogja to try our menu for free. Besides, some people came to buy our baked rice. Yes they were our first buyers. Thanks to them. More people came the following days. The news of Twizel launching went viral via Twitter. All of sudden, people talked about it on Twitter. What a nice start!!

A nice start should be followed by well-planned executions. As the veranda and the tiny room were no longer able to seat customers, then we decided to shut down our clothing store in the second floor. To be honest, during the first six months, the store didn’t perform well. So we think it is the best moment for pivot. All clothes are sent to Jakarta to be sold in our online store. We revamp the second floor’s lay out, add some details here and there, and voila more space in second floor ready for more crowd.

Our restaurant’s name is Twizel. What is Twizel and why? Twizel is a small city in South Island of New Zealand. It is beautiful and surrounded by amazing lakes. We’re impressed by its beauty, its cleanliness, its tininess. We want to be back there and that’s why we name our restaurant after it.

We are new player in culinary business and we still learn. I find out that managing culinary business is very exhausting. Though, my hubby and I are very excited. We know that more problems will be coming to tackle. What we have now is a new-born “baby” and we are willing to nurture it on and on. We are hopeful about it.

 

Weaning the Boy

Weaning our little boy, Cena, is always an issue for our family. The attachment between Cena and us as parents is very tight. It is understandable because both my hubby and I are working at home. Therefore, it is ourselves who supervise Cena everyday, every time. We have no nanny. All Cena’s businesses are taken care by us as.

Since this January, Cena has been attending play group in Fastrack. He also went to this place before entering the play group stage. In this play group, all students are required to attend the class by themselves. No companion. Yet, for the first time, students might be accompanied either by their parents or nannies or relatives. Then, there’s weaning time. Each student has his/her own turn to be weaned.

Cena’s turn started last week. He got the last turn because he was absent for 3 weeks for vacation. My hubby and I were very curios. How Cena would react to the weaning. Would he cry? Or would he be just right? On first Monday, which was the first day of weaning, I took Cena to his class and accompanied him for about fifteen minutes. The teachers asked me to leave him with them and his friends. Cena, knowing that I had to leave him, cried. The class’ door closed and I left him.

Then, I watched him from the CCTV monitor. Cena cried and insisted to open the door. One of the teachers had to sit in front of the door so Cena couldn’t reach the door. He cried for about 30 minutes and after that he was calm yet still reluctantly joined class activity. He sat alone, accompanied by his teacher. When it came to snack time, he didn’t eat, saying that he was not hungry. Refusing a meal? Sounds not him at all. Yet I knew that it was because he wasn’t in good mood of eating.

2 hours passed and we were ready in front of the class’ door to greet him. When the door opened, he was smile, looked relieved that his parents were there waiting for him. I kissed him on cheeks and hugged him tightly. It turned out that I, too, was anxious leaving him and separating from him. Yet, I was so proud him. First day of weaning passed like what I anticipated before. Rough for the first time and ran smoothly in the rest.

And it came the second day of weaning in Wednesday. Just like on Monday, I took him to the class, playing with him several minutes and left him with the teacher. And….Cena cried. I rushed to the CCTV monitor to watch over him. He cried but not long. It was only 10 minutes. And after that he was happily playing around with his friends. I was so relieved. Everything also went smoothly on Friday and Monday in the week after. He was fine and mingled gladly with his friend.

And today was his fifth day. Unexpectedly, before going to school, he cried. Though he insisted to stay at home, I took him to the school. I don’t know why he behaves so after passing smooth days. I assume that the separation which he can barely stand. Once he is with his friends in class, he is so happy. It is likely that he never cries or be reluctant to go to school. I do hope in the next days he will be okay.

Wake Up and Run

Wake up and run! Wake up and run!

That spell I always repeat at the dawn, when sun hasn’t risen, when body is still glued to bed hard. Running has become my routine since last year. I find it very easy to do, effective fat burner and excellent cardio exercise. This year, related to my running activity, I set a goal. Instead of just running and running as a routine, I like to achieve a goal. This year, I plan to run half-marathon.

Yeah…as much as people think that it sounds so ambitious for a casual runner like me, firstly I doubted myself doing this. Can I?? Last year I ran 5 miles in my first race. Afterwards, I continued running in long distance. As for this goal, as long as I imagine it, then I can reach it. I am very sure that it is doable. That is why I perceive that I will be able to run 21 KM in 2013.

To support my ‘ambition’, I discuss with runner colleagues from The Urban Mama My friend, Thalia, shared her 21K exercise plan in running thread at The Urban Mama forum. For you who are interested planning the exercise, you can learn in here. Even tough I haven’t made any exercise (I intended to but laziness failed me), I run regularly 3-4 times in a week. In the weekend, I do long run as race simulation. The simulation is important to make us accustomed to race situation.

I did my first long run 24th November 2012. I ran for 10 KM non stop. The pace I made was 7.46″/KM. Every week I managed to increase either the pace or the distance. Once I ran similar distance like previous week, then I tried to increase my pace. The pace would be set slower when I accelerated my distance. A week after my first long run, I ran for another 10K in three  weekends consecutively. As planned, I successfully increased  my pace to 7.43″/KM,  7.21″/KM and 7.13″/KM. I could see the obvious progress every weekend and it made me satisfied. Yippiee…

After running 10 KM every weekend and achieved a quite satisfying pace, I added 2 km for my running distance. On 30 December 2012 and 6 January 2013, I ran 12 KM. The pace was 7.29″/KM and 7.16″/KM. The reasonable distance that we can increase every week is 30% of previous one. So after running 12 KM, I thought running 14 KM in the week after that was more than okay. Then, I ran 14 KM after the 12K session with pace 7.25″/KM. Not bad at all!! In the two weekends after running 14K, I went to 15K. My first 15K session was completed with pace of 7:30 and the second one (the last one before 3 weeks off) was achieved with 7.17″/KM.

The progress I achieved within 3 months was satisfying for me. I do believe with constant training, I can increase my pace and further my distance.  In June, I manage to attend Bali Marathon where I will run, firstly, half-marathon. And now, I should take a rest for three weeks for holiday. I wish and hope that I can resume my running smoothly and able to spell the “mantra Wake Up and Run, Wake Up and Run” .Wish me luck!!

What I Think about Running

I did my first running race! Yeayy…on 16th December, I participated in Alam Sutera Running Race. I joined the 5 miles race or 8 point something K race. Never in my life had I dreamed or imagined participating in running race. Once, I used to run in what I thought considerable distance which was more or less 5 KM. I did it when I joined Badminton Club at junior high school. Yeah and it was 18 years ago:)).

And now I am a mother of a child and I once assumed that I barely had enough time to do sport. I joined aerobic and yoga club when I was at my old office. After my resignation, the list of exercises were around going to club  for running on treadmill or static bicycle and swimming. Running in outdoor was something I rarely did. Usually I only ran on weekend, either saturday or sunday. That’s when the street was sane, no traffic, so we could go to city park to get some fresh air and supporting condition for running.

The thing changed when we moved to Jogja. The situation around our neighborhood is running-friendly. No..no! Dont imagine of shady trees or large pavement or even city park. Here in Jogja, I run in street. Somehow, when I run early in the morning, the traffic is not crowded, I still get fresh air and not-so-large rice fields a bonus.

Then the question pops us. Why I run? The answer is brief and clear. I want to stay healthy. Okay to be honest, at the first time I wanted to shed some pound I gained once moving to Jogja. I guess because the life here in Jogja is so peaceful, I easily gain weight. But then, I realize that what I should aim at is healthy life style. I want to stay healthy, fit and powerful once I age. Then the choice fell to running. Why? because it is easy and I can do it anytime anywhere. What I really need is a pair of shoes.

I started running for only 2 KM in pace around 8 minutes. It was not easy yet I was satisfied that I could conquer my will to stop in my running. I commit that I have to reach my set goal. Every time I want to run, I always set the distance I am going to achieve. Slowly but sure, I improved the distance as well as my pace. In July 2012, I initiated indo runners community in Jogja. At least, I have my fellow runners in Jogja and we run together once in a week.

Two years ago, I read an article of celebrity who was used to run several times in a week and she did at least 5K. I wondered how could she did it. How could she have such endurance. And I thought it was such craziness as she considered running as me time. Now, I know how she felt. Running for me now is kinda habitual. It is something that I do because I need it. It’s just like food that I eat or sleep that I take. I find no reason why I stop running. And going to a race is my personal achievements despite a very slim chance of winning the race. As for me, the victory is when I could grip my determination for running and beating myself.

Just like what I had in my first running race. I was very satisfied with the result. Three weeks prior the race, I exercised long running every weekend. I ran 10K every Saturday as race preparation. My personal best time for 10 K was in pace 7.20 minutes. In my first race, I could achieve 7.03 minute pace. I ran happily and excited as well. I felt my heartbeat pumped fast within my first kilometer. I left behind some fellow runners from Urban Mama, with whom I shared same start.  I must have followed participants with pace of 6 because for the six kilometers I was constantly in pace of 6. My speed slowed in kilometer 7 and 8 to only 7 minutes. About 50 meters before finish line, I sprinted competing with two other runners. Finally I could accomplish my mission and finished strongly. And now I keep running and running. As Mbak Pipin, my fellow runner, says: run happily and you’ll want more.

 

Bali Culinary Treasure

Bali is a word equivalent to holiday…sun…leisure and good food. I think I have visited Bali for about ten times however I never feel satiable of it. I want to go there again and again. Just like what I did last month. My hubby and I visited Bali once again. As we already visited almost all tourism sites in Bali, then we focused our last visit to enjoy the culinary treasures of The Island of Gods. Here I’d like to share some foods that you might try upon visiting this heavenly island.

Warung Sop Ikan Makbeng

Warung Sop Ikan Makbeng is one of “legendary” food in Bali. It’s located in Sanur Beach area. The look of the warung is simple. It’s small yet packed with tables and chairs. I think it can accomodate more than 50 seats at once. On the wall, we found out Indonesian artists on frame. Apparently, the warung has gained popularity among them.

                          sop ikan makbeng

Then I ordered two portion of the sop ikan. 10 minutes later the waitress came with two bowls of sop ikan, two plates of fried fish and two plates of steamed rice. Before my eyes was served the famous sop ikan Makbeng. It contained of big chunk of fish (I guess it’s snapper) and many chunks of cucumber. The broth was yellowish, neither too thick nor too light. Straightly I tasted the sop. Hmmm…savory and a hint of sour blended nicely. it reminded me of sayur asem banjar,  that my mom’s used to cook. Yet, this sop ikan makbeng doesn’t taste as sour as sayur asem banjar does. A big slice of friend fish was served as sop’s companion. The flesh of fish was still moist. I dipped the fried fish with the sambal (traditional chili sauce) and sweet soya sauce. It was heaven. Yummy. Warm steamed-rice, savory-sour sop and a big chunk of fried fish as well as the sambal were a deadly combination.  I ate a lot and suddenly didn’t care how much calorie I gained that day:)

Warung Ikan Bakar Mami

I should thank Pak Bondan, an Indonesia culinary enthusiast for reviewing this simple warung in his blog. Warung Ikan Bakar Mami is another must-visit warung in Bali. It is located in Jalan Uluwatu II/30 X. What warung mami serves is grilled sea fish which is mostly found and sold in touristic area of Jimbaran. The difference is what will you get here is the grilled fish with the same excellent quality as those served in Jimbaran but with a very reasonable price. Pak Bondan says “Harga Jujur”. No excessive mark-up. Customers happy, seller happy.

the grilled fish

I found no difficulty once looking for this warung. Faithfully following the direction written in Pak Bondan’s blog, we could spot this warung from the smoke of the griller. I ordered a portion of grilled fish and a portion of grilled shell directly to Pak Putu, the owner cum chef of warung mami. He opened a box of fresh fish. There were ikan kakap a.k.a snapper and ikan tresi.  I asked Pak Putu what was the difference of those fishes. “If you want the firm fish, choose kakap. Tresi has soft flesh”. As I ever ate kakap, then I decided to choose ikan tresi. Hhmmm….I couldnt wait the soft-fleshed fish served before me.

the grilled shell

We sat on the plastic chair. There was no essential ornament in this warung. Only a picture on Pak Putu and Pak Bondan on the wall. For beverage, there was a cool box with some selections of chilled-bottled drinks. After 20 minutes of waiting, the grilled fish and grilled shell were delivered with the hot steamed rice. Ahhh the grilled fish with reddish ingredients which I really loved. I tasted the fish first. Mmm…suddenly fell in love from the first bite. The flesh of fish was very moist covered with bumbu basep and red chili at its best.

 condiments

Besides the main dishes, condiments here were deserved another compliment. The condiments were plecing kangkung (boiled kangkoong with chili paste), two kinds of sambal (sweet soya sauce with chili and matah sambal), acar timun tomat (cucumber and tomato pickles) and the hittest one was fried garlic. I rarely found fried garlic served as condiment especially in sea food restaurant. It turned out that garlic fried was a deadly combination of grilled fish and steamed rice. I had to join Pak Bondan in agreement that all dishes served in Warung Mami deserved thumbs up.

 

 

New York Marathon

Another reason to go to New York is New York Marathon. May Universe hear the wish I whisper that someday I am going to make it. To visit the city that never sleeps (as Sinatra said) to enjoy the lights and run along 42 KM in New York.

Photo taken from here: http://elitedaily.com/elite/2012/outrage-generators-ny-marathon-tent-provide-electricity-400-homes/

Pempek Nyonya Kamto

Pempek Nyonya Kamto. One of many Pempek in Jogjakarta, yet it is the best one, in my opinion. I have eaten pempek in many places, including ones from its origin place, Palembang. And from my point of view, what pempek Nyonya Kamto offers is as delicious as those from Palembang or other places at South Sumatera.

Pempek is a fishcake made of Tenggiri fish. It is served with sweet, sour and spicy sauce. As topping, you may add cucumber or noodle. You can have it wet or fried. Both are delicious. Back to Pempek Nyonya Kamto, the menus served vary. They are pempek kapal selam, pempek bulat, lenggang, pempek lenjer, and pempek kulit. They also have tekwan. Tekwan technically is not a variation of pempek. It is actually a fish ball served with delicious broth. My favorites are always pempek kapal selam and pempek kulit. Pempek kapal selam is the biggest pempek of all (in size) and stuffed with duck egg. As for pempek kulit, it is made of kulit or fish skin, mixed with flour and the ingredients. The last time I went there, my hubby tried lenggang. Lenggang is fish cake fried with omelet.

Pempek Nyonya Kamto have several branches in Yogyakarta. I have been to its first outlet at Jalan Beskalan 3, Yogyakarta (close by Toko Ramai) and to another outlet at Lower Ground floor of Plaza Ambarukmo, Yogyakarta. The price is affordable. A pempek kapal selam costs only 10.000 rupiahs. Other menus like lenggang, kulit, lenjer, and bulat are priced 7500.

The 4-years of Sacred Union

Four years ago, we embarked from one point of a sacred union. The thick and thin. All ups and downs. Bitter and sweet. Through all of it….we always make it and are hopeful will always stay that way. Happy fourth anniversary, my other halves.

Pristine Island : South Island of New Zealand (part 2)

After a quick stay, yet memorable, at Queenstown, we went ahead to Milford Sound. We departed early in the morning to catch the afternoon cruise at Milford Sound. The distance between Queenstown and Milford sound is approximately 286 KM. It was estimated that we would be there by at least 5-hours drive by car. The scenery along from Queenstown to Milford Sound is very beautiful. Sturdy mountains and scattering lakes are the natural ornaments all along the route. In between the driving, we stopped by to the nearest city to the Milford Sound, Te Anau.

Te Anau was a small city where we booked a homestay for a night. We decided to stay at Te Anau because of limited accommodation choice at Milford Sound. Milford Sound is an option of a quick visit only and not for staying. Understandably, not many lodging options there. According to the Lonely Planet, there is only one available lodging. And surely it’s not an option for us. We had an issue once doing the check in at the homestay. I just knew when I arrived that the homestay did not accomodate children under 10. And it became a problem to us as we had to find another lodging.  Te Anau is a very small city and we were afraid that we couldn’t find any available hotel, homestay or room to stay. Therefore, we hopped from one hotel to other hotels, one homestay to other homestays. Good luck was on our side. There was a vacant room in a modest-beautiful homestay run by a carpenter. So, we paid the rent fee at advance before continuing our driving to Te Anau.

According to Lonely Planet the scenery along the route to Milford Sound is the wildest, most magnifique, the most natural of all spots in the South Island, and probably in all over New Zealand. Been warned like that, we became very enthusiastic. While driving to Milford Sound, we opened the car windows and let the wind blew in. Fresh!!  Once heading to Milford Sound from Te Anau, one by one, the wildest beauty that we’re told before were there before our eyes. Large havana, creeks,  sturdy trees, beautiful valley, river flew across the street that we passed, and the most magnificent one was the the scenery of waterfalls. Not only one but a lot of waterfall. They flow down from the cliff along the road to Milford Sound. It’s very beautiful. The source of waterfall is from the snow toppling over the cliff. The snow melts and plunges down as waterfall. We stopped in one of photo shoot points. The chilling wind caught us right away when we stepped down from car. Rain made the weather even colder and wet.

Our road path to Milford Sound got descending as it was a river heading to the sea. Once got there, we exchanged the tickets in the counter. Days before, we bought ticket online in an cruise operator. My suggestion: buy the cruise ticket online because you will get the discounted price. There are a lot of cruise operators in Milford Sound and almost all sell the ticket via web. Simply google them to compare the best price. After waiting for several minutes, our cruise came from the previous trip. We boarded in a quite big cruise which would take us to enjoy the river. Rain kept pouring down all day. Understandably, it said recorded  as one of the wettest area in the world. Sun was hardly seen. The scenery offered along the river was beautiful. Waterfalls fell down from the highest peak of the cliff. The fog made our journey mysterious. The chilling wind continued blowing and passengers who wanted to get warm can get into ship and make coffee and tea for free. The journey back and forth the river was approximately 90 minutes. Our camera shutter didn’t stop working as many breathtaking views to capture.

After enjoying Milford Sound, we stayed at Te Anau for a night. In the morning after that day we departed to Dunedin. It took about 4,5 hours drive to Dunedin from Te Anau. Dunedin is well know as City of Student where University of Otago located. It is one of the best universities in New Zealand. I knew why students prefer Dunedin to other cities. It is simply because it has a  well-known university and  friendly environment. It is a small city with complete supporting facilities. And everything is relatively cheap there. Our first destination at Dunedin was Cadbury Museum. Cadbury is undoubtedly known as popular chocolate brand. In Dunedin, they have established plant since 1800 and they have a long history. In the museum, we were accompanied by a very warm guide who comprehensively elaborated the history of Cadbury and its development since the very beginning to the current. Each of visitor got free chocolate and candy for free. Yumm!! Of course, we could also buy chocolate and Cadbury related merchandises there. Having been indulged by delicious chocolate in Cadbury, we headed to the Dunedin Railway Station. Still according to Lonely Planet, this is the most photographed railway station in the world.

Otago peninsula is another lovely site in Dunedin that has many views to offer. First is Larnach Castle. Larnach Castle has fantastic garden and a spot where you can see Otago Peninsula from top. The castle was surrounded by native rainforest plants. They have a small cafe where visitors can sit and enjoy the scenic view while sipping the tea.

If you are interested to watch Pinguin in their native habitat, then you have to go to  to Sandfly Bay in Otago Peninsula where Yellow-eyed Pinguin have their colonies. The best time to catch the Pinguin is before dusk. The local authority provides a shelter for visitor to view the Pinguin colony heading back to their nestle from the sea. By viewing them from behind the shelter, we can see them clearly without obvious interruption. Pinguin is a sensitive and shy animal. Human presence can make them uncomfortable.

It was already 8 PM once we finished watching the Pinguin. However the sun was still shining as in the summer sun usually sets in 9 PM. Feeling hungry we rushed in to Plato, a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Unfortunately, all main course are sold out and only dessert left. We chose Rhubab, a sweet delicacy from Turkey and a Coconut cake. All were nice. Once at hotel, we ate bread and everything we had.

In the next day, we went to Scribe  which is said as the largest second hand book in world by Lonely Planet. I could smell the old and vintage books once getting in. The tall shelves and tables were full of books. Amazing. Scribes has complete collections and I bought some books there with half of price surely. Baldwin Street is another interesting and as for me a must-visit site. It is recorded as the steepest street in the world by the Guinness World of Record. If you have a chance to visit the city center, please do come. Enjoy the museum and cafes around the octagon-shaped public space where wi-fi is free.

Our last day at New Zealand was spent at Christchurch. In a day before, we drove to Christchurch from Dunedin. The trip by car was approximately 5 hours. On the trip, we stopped by at the Mouraki Boulder. It is a collection of large spherical boulders in the beach. The boulders are scattered along the beach. We also bought some souvenirs there.

Christchurch. Our last day at New Zealand. It was memorable as we didn’t realize that the windshield of the GPS was missing. Once returning the car to the rent operator, they told us to find it otherwise we had to compensate the lost. And it was expensive. Hurriedly, we went back to hotel and found out the shield already dumped in the bin. Thank God the office boy was very helpful to assist us finding it. 8 day, 9 nights. We’re content and ready to fly to Melbourne.