Iceland Day 1 and 2

It didn’t dawn on us that we’re leaving home to travel for 10 months until we landed in Iceland on June 16.
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Daddy’s Lil Girl
I was holding back my tears as I handed over my precious Sophie to Pam.
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Our lifesavers and Sophie’s godparents
6 hours and 45 minutes later ….
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Picked up our car from Sixt Rental.
Cost : $550 CAD / 50,0000 KR
First stop, the famous Blue Lagoon. It is located about 10 minutes from the airport.  All excited and in awe of the sights driving out of the airport, we took the wrong turn and ended up in Reykyavik 45 minutes later.
 Luckily we managed to get in despite being an hour and half late for our spot. When you book your tickets for the blue lagoon, they give you an hour to get there before they give your spot away. So, make sure to give yourself ample time in case you make the wrong turn.
Welcome to the Blue Lagoon!
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The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland
 Source : Wikipedia
We got the Comfort package which includes a towel and a drink.
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Breakfast and a silica mask to start the day!

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I think I missed a spot
Cost : $130 Euros / $189 CAD for two pax

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It was totally worth it especially after an overnight flight from Edmonton. No better way to freshen up and start our road trip!
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Food was incredible expensive. I had a sushi box that cost about $21 CAD and Adam had a ham and cheese sandwich for $11 CAD.
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The sushi was surprisingly good for a cafe
We’re trying to watch our budget cause we tend to splurge on food. It was difficult as we love to eat and explore anything gastronomic.
Our plan for the day is to drive the Golden Circle. Instead of doing the usual route from Reykyavik, we decided to head south to follow the south coast east towards Selfoss.
We stopped at Grindavik which was the first town south of the Blue Lagoon.
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Lava field
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We had to stop every so often to take pictures of the sights along the way because they were incredibly beautiful.
And then we realized, we never going to get to our destination if we keep stopping to awe at sheep, horses and OMG SO MANY PRETTY PURPLE FLOWERS!!!
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Macro Game
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Random stop because so pretty
 Our first Hotdog for lunch. They’re pretty good I must say. Apparently there’s lamb in it to enhance the flavour.
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Cheapest food in Iceland – $3.50
First stop on the Golden Circle – Thingvellir National Park
The Þingvellir area is part of a fissure zone running through Iceland, being situated on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
 This park is famous for the continental tectonic drift
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Pictures does not do any justice to the beauty of this natural site.
Next, we made our way to Geysir to catch some geysers.
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Thirsty?

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Wait for it …
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Ka-BOOOOOM!
Watching a geyser erupt is a surreal experience. We managed to catch a few eruptions and that never gets old.
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We had a very expensive lamb soup at the cafe.
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$20 for soup and 2 buns but it was surprisingly tasty! Icelandic butter … OMG. It was so good that we bought a tub the next day for food on the road. More about that later.
We arrived in Selfoss at about 930 PM and realized our accommodation for the night is 30 minutes away from there.
Turned out that we were staying on a horse ranch! Adam found this place on AirBnB for $75 a night.

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Louise, the host is a very sweet Scottish lady who moved to Iceland 10 years ago. She told us to check out Reykjadalur.

Reykjadalur (‘Steam Valley’) is a highly scenic valley innermost of Hveragerdi town.As the name of the valley implies, this is a geothermal area.The hot water stream gushing down the mountain range is ideal for relaxing and the valley offers a rich variety of hot pools and geothermal springs. It is also possible to have a dip in the river.
Source

We were sold!
Day 2
It was tough to wake up as we were up for 24 hours the day before. But, we had a lot of ground to cover so we rolled out of bed and head to the grocery store to get some provisions. We figured, it’s cheaper and healthier  to live on sandwiches and fruit for the next couple of days than eating hotdogs every meal (even though they are delicious).
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$80 later ….. Pepperoni Cheese, Icelandic Herb cream cheese, smoked lamb, pepperoni, blueberries (they were soooo good !) strawberries, cherry tomatoes, bananas, seed buns, Icelandic donuts, butter (butter here is incredible), some Goji Berry juice, 2 yogurts, granola bars, chips, nuts and paper plates.
20 minutes later, we arrive at Reykjaladur which is located in a town called Hveragedi. The hike was beautiful and it was about an hour before we got to the hot river. Be careful of horse manure and sheep poop. They are everywhere !
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The views make it easier … and trust me, once you see the river, all pain magically disappears!
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Soaking in the Sun
The water was very clean even though you can see the algae and moss on the stones.

Super highly recommended and worth the visit !

Now that we’re all freshen up, we are ready for our stop which is the epic Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
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So gorgeous that I have no words to describe it
Kelly, our wedding photographer told us about this waterfall in a cave which was a little walk away from the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. He showed us some amazing pictures of being in a cave with a waterfall. We wanted to look for it and eagerly went down the path to search for it.
About 20 meters off Seljalandsfoss….
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This wasn’t it … where’s the cave?!
We actually attempted to climb that really steep slope and there were a lot of loose rocks. My legs literally went jelly. In the end, we gave up and were disappointed that we couldn’t find that waterfall …
Then, we decided to walked along the path and 100 meters later …..
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Totally worth the treacherous climb 😂
After getting get at the majestic Seljalandsfoss, we headed to the next waterfall at Skogafoss.
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One more picture for good measure
On our way to Skogafoss, we passed the famous Eyjafjallajokull. The ash from the volcano eruption in 2010 grounded many flights in Europe. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the video below.
We stayed at Hotel Edda in Skoga.
Cost : $120
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The Skogafoss waterfall is part of the Katla National Geopark and there’s a hike that you can do which takes you up the mountains. There are more than 20 beautiful waterfalls along the hike. Unfortunately we didn’t do the whole hike but we did a short hike further up the waterfall and saw some gorgeous views of the other waterfalls.
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Skogafoss – a true wonder indeed
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Oh yeah, the sun never really sets here and it gets moderately dark at 1230 AM. We were still hiking around at 1130 PM and we didn’t need any light cause it was still relatively bright. Kind of dusky I would say. One of the best part about sight seeing in Iceland  is that you can be out late and still see the sight.
After a much tiring hike and 99,999 stairs and across the sheep mine field, we retired for the night.
Next up, day 3 and 4!

Planning Iceland

Thanks to Adam, we’ve sorted the first leg of our travels!

Our intention is to drive the infamous Iceland Ring Road in 7 days.
Zoom in to check out the route

Adam has put together a very detailed itinerary (Bless his soul!)

Day 1June 16
Land in Reykjavik
Pick up vehicle, supplies.
The Blue Lagoon (spa)
The Golden Circle:
-Thingvellir National Park
– Geysers (Strokkur), Gullfoss waterfall
– Tectonic rift
Spend night in Arborg

Day 2June 17
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – sunrise!
Skogafoss Waterfall
Solheimasundur Beach (Plane Crash)
Spend night in Vik Villages – Hella and Hvolsvollur
Follow road to Fljotshlid (view Eyfjafjallajokull volcano)
Solheimajokull glacier,
Reynisfjara beach
From Vik, drive east over Myrdalssandur sand (view Katla volcano under Myrdalsjokull glacier).
Eldgjarhraun lava field
Eldhraun lava field
Stay in Kirkjubaejarklaustur village (view Kirkjugolf columnar formation) Pingvellir National Park
Hot springs of the Haukadalur geothermal area
Gullfoss waterfall
Implosion crater of Kerio
Seljalandsfoss waterfall (can walk behind)
Skogafoss waterfall
Spend night in Vik

Day 3 : June 18
Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon
Crystal Ice caves under Vatnajokull glacier (winter only)
Spend night in Hofn Drive to Foss a Sidu (a waterfall) and then to Dverghamrar and on to Skeidararsandur.
Glacial rivers, Vatnajokull glacier, Hvannadalshnukur (highest peak)
Hike in Skaftafell
Skaftafellsjokull and Svinafellsjokull glaciers.
Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon
Stay in Hofn in Hornafjordur area. Reynisfjara Black volcanic beach near Vik
Dyrholaey and Reynisdrangar rock formations
Skaftafell (Vatnajokull National Park)
Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon
Spend night in Hofn

Day 4 : June 19
Eastern coast (Fjords) Fishing villages
Egilsstadir area.
Villages of Djupivogur, Breiddalsvik, Stodvarfjordur, Faskrudsfjordur and/or Reydarfjordur.
Lake Lagarfljot
Stay in Egilsstadir. Krafla volcano
Namaskaro pass
Maze of Dimmuborgir
Craters at Skutustadir
Spend night in Lake Myvatn area

Day 5 : June 20
Faskrudsfjardargong Tunnel
Highlands of iceland
Dettifoss waterfall
Myvatn Geothermal Vents
Myvatn Lake
Namafjall Hverir (boiling blue mud pits, steaming fumaroles)
Spend night in Akureyri
Turn off onto the ring road to Dettifoss waterfall.
Before Myvatn, come to the hot spring area of Namaskard (Hverarond), and Krafla Geothermal Power Station.
Crater lake Viti
Sulfurous slopes of Namaskard and Krafla volcanic area.
Lake Myvatn (early evening)
Dimmuborgir and the pseudo craters at Skutustadir.
Stay in area surrounding Lake Myvatn.
Hverfjall (aka Hverfell) – tephra cone or tuff ring volcano (hike to rim of 1km crater)
Grjotagja – lava cave with thermal spring
Jardbodin – a geothermal spa (aka Myvatn Nature Baths).
Stay in Husavik area.
Stay in Skagafjordur area

Day 6 : June 21
Holuhraun Volcano flight (based out of Akureyri) Godafoss Waterfall
Town of Akureyri (capital of the North)
Horse-breeding valley of the Skagafjordur fjord.
Stay in the Skagafjordur fjord area.

Day 7 : June 22
Either drive straight to Reykjavik or drive around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Kirkjufellsfos waterfall (west of Grundarfjordur) South through Borgarfjordur (Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, Deildartunguhver hot spring).
Hvalfjordur fjord to Reykjavik.
Arrive in Reykjavik

Geez, I can’t pronouce any of the names of these places. I suspect we’ll have fun deciphering them with the locals.

We’re trying to stick to a budget of $300 a day but Iceland has proven to be a challenge for that. For accomodations, we’re spending between $80 – $120 a night and they’re a mix between hostels and AirBnB. As for gas, we’re expecting about $400 to cover the road trip.

After Iceland, we’ll be flying into London on June 23rd.  We’re thinking of spending about 10 days exploring England and Scotland. An old high school friend of mine has offered a place for us to stay in Edinburgh (thank our lucky stars!). I am looking forward to seeing her because it’s been 12 years since we saw each other! Speaking of which, I do have several friends from Malaysia who are currently living in the UK. No better time than the present to catch up with le olde amigas!

Around the World We Go

2016 is probably the most pivotal year of our lives. Getting married is a big deal but the one that takes the cake is our one year sabbatical!

This year, we are taking a year off to travel the world! Never in my life I thought I’ll be taking a sabbatical. I had never entertained the idea because I was too engrossed in progressing my career and making money. And the same goes for Adam. This is the biggest decision we’ve ever made in our entire lives and there is no turning back now!

So far, we’ve purchased tickets for our first leg of the journey.

First stop is Iceland. We found a good deal through Icelandair. The flight was from Edmonton to London with a 7 days stopover in Reykjavik.

The plan was drive around the country for 7 days and then hop over to the UK and wing it from there….

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We’ve been putting a list of places to go and I’ve geo-tagged them on Google Maps to keep track. It’ll be helpful to plan the route although we haven’t had much of an actual plan on where to go and what to do yet. But isn’t the best way to explore is to not have any restrictions? Well, except for money. Ugh sticking to a budget is probably going to be the most challenging part.

For now, we know we have to be in South Africa on August 27th for a friend’s wedding and Sept 9th for another friend’s relative’s wedding. Apparently it’s ok to crash Indian weddings because no one is going to notice 2 extra people amongst the 500+ guest. We are also invited to another Indian wedding in India around end of November …. and of course, we have no idea who the bride and groom are. LOL. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the weddings! I’ll be putting my Saree to good use considering I haven’t had a chance to wear it yet.

To be honest, planning such a trip like this is so daunting. It’s so hard to pick what to do and how to do it. Budget will dictate what we can do and where we can’t afford to stay. Of course, the first time I’ll be in France and Italy … I am not allowed to buy any handbags =(

Oh well, money can buy luxuries but also invaluable experiences. Those experiences will last a life time. Handbags, maybe 20 years.

Insomniacs

 

♥3 months left before we tie the knot! ♥

These past few days have been exceptionally tough on our bodies. Being on shift does have its perks as well as negatives. Having 6 days off is wonderful however,switching between day-shift and night-shift is awful. The first day off is always a write-off because we have to switch back to regular human hours and drive 5 hours to the city. We’ll try to split the drive between us so we’ll both get some rest. It’s a very uneventful, dreary and tedious ride with the occasional greetings from the RCMP. Doing this road trip every 6 days can take a toll on you. We got beaten up pretty bad this set off and we’ve been having a hard time falling asleep past couple nights. Even Melatonin was useless against our body clock.

4 am conversations.

A : Are you still awake?  

R :  Motha’ f*cker! We’re so fked tmr @!#!%#@$!@%#@^%##@$!@$!

Imagine a permanent hangover and djembe  drums playing in your head all day long …. for 3 days !

I wouldn’t wish it upon my second worst enemy. Adam was doing far better than me. The first morning after a sleepless night was awful. I never thought I’d ever experience fainting ’til that day. I got out of bed to pee and the next thing I know, I was on the floor staring at Adam. Apparently I toppled over before I even made it to the toilet bowl. Hit my head on the tub going down but was oblivious to that when it happened. Truthfully, I didn’t know where I was … All I could remember was the soft mat under my back and Adam’s panicked face staring at me. For that momentary feeling of a fleeting awareness, I decided that I wanted to stay where I was because I was feeling quite cozy and nothing else matters. It’s like hitting a “Pause” on busy highway and watch the cars stop while you figure a way to cross the road.

Eventually, we picked up some health supplements to speed things up and finally, on day 4, we’re back from Zombieland. I wanted to cry when Adam suggested that we do a set of Kayla to kick-start our system.

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Sophie giving some encouragement to Daddy. Mommy got none =(

It was hard keeping last night’s dinner from decorating the floor but we made it!

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Let it Go… Let it GOOOOOO!

Can’t hold it back anymoreeeeee!!

hopefully the people behind us don’t know it’s me …. *sniff*

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We checked out the Ice Castles with Pam and Paul. It was pretty … and bloody cold. Weather App said it was 2 Degrees …. Yeah right.

 

 

Keepsakes

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog again for a while. The last time I shared my personal life online was almost 10 years ago. I stopped because I realized I’ve been very candid with my thoughts and shameless self-promoting. Consequently, I developed a reasonable fear of my “not-so-secret” life jeopardizing my future (ie. Getting a job).

The reason I wanted to get back into blogging again was the “On this Day” app on Facebook. I was smart enough (back then) to link my blogposts to Facebook notes. So, every now and then, I’ll receive a reminder on memories that happened over the years. It’s almost like reading a diary, except that it was all over the Internet. No matter how embarrassing or silly the posts were, it was nostalgic to read my young self. I was so carefree with my writings and had no fear of being judged. With age, I gradually became conservative with expressing my thoughts and eventually stopped sharing them completely.

Enough of this resignation talk. First posts should be a little more exciting. Like How I Met Adam – the love of my life.

It all started on the last shift of my job, 4 years ago. Time flies. I wrote a farewell email to all the people I worked with in that department. I received a lot of a well wishes and of course, one email stood out more than the others.

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I read and re- read it probably 10 times before I sent my reply. A little backstory to this …. Adam and I had little to no social interactions when we were in the same area. We had an amicable working relationship but that was all. He was known as a very serious, quiet and very demanding person. Plus, almost all the girls in my area had crushes on him. I remember during my co-op, I’d hear girls gushing about him and I’m like who’s this Adam. He was the youngest manager and of course, cute to boot. I admit, I too thought he was attractive but I refuse to Erm, be part of that cult. Plus, he was also unavailable so it was a no-go zone for me. For a couple years at least. And that brings me back to the fateful email.

I wrote back and half anticipating that he probably won’t respond. I honestly thought he was just being polite. But of course !

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He replied and left me even more confused . I even consulted a close male friend – Myz – to analyze the emails … Yes, I was that clueless.

“He’s obviously interested in you. He’s asking questions and initiating conversation!”

When I heard that, I was giddy and nervous with excitement. Giddy because it’s been a while I’ve had any romantic encounters. Nervous because I’ve had so many dissapointing relationships that I was at the verge of giving up on finding love at all. Truthfully, I was at my lowest point in my dating history. I even entertained the idea of dating very wrong and incompatible men but I wasn’t that desperate yet.

“OMG What should I I say???!!” 

I wrote and re-wrote my reply multiple times because I didn’t want to come across too strong nor appear too interested ….. All the shitty online dating advice crossed my mind while I stared at my response. Ugh. I hit Send, went on my Yoga Ashram Cult retreat and not think about it anymore. After all, why dream so high when the sky is unattainable? (Such terrible self-confidence I had)

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Play it cool, Don’t be a fool …

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Be still my beating heart …

I consulted Myz again.

Should I add him on BBM? Would it be too aggressive? Will he think I’m desperate ?!!! What do I do ??!!!!

“Just do it.”

And so I did. Best decision I’ve ever made in my life.