My Time Capsule: December 2017


2017 In A Nutshell

I can't believe it's already the end of the year again! 

2017 is definitely a year of grief for me. Within less than a year, I've lost 5 friends who were young, talented and awesome. Gone too soon, indeed. Their sudden death shook me and also gave me a slap right on my face. I keep questioning myself whether I've been living my life whole heartedly? Or have I been procrastinating too much and wasting my valuable time? Nevertheless it made me realised that life is indeed a mystery and full of surprises, both in good and sad ways. I keep reminding myself to spend as much time possible with my loved ones. You know, in this modern world....people tend to prioritise their online life and taking granted their family and friends around them. Seems like it's more important to comment or gain likes on Instagram or Facebook than having a real conversation with people who really matters. Sometimes we forget that once they are gone...they are gone forever and tears won't bring them back for us to replace the missing precious moments. 

What do you say about getting a little break from wifi connection and having the real connection with people as a new year resolution? πŸ˜‰

Anyway I did travel to quite a bit of places in 2017, some new places and some revisits. I was invited by Tourism Authority of Thailand to explore Hua Hin and attended the big event where meet Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, the Tourism Authority of Thailand Deputy Governor and also the gorgeous Miss World Australia, Madeline Cowe. Very honoured to be able to experience it all. 

But for sure, I had one of the best Christmas holidays ever. A rare occasion when the Leksonos full team on a holiday together. Last time was 11 Christmas ago in New Zealand. Super grateful that despite our busy schedule we can get together and enjoyed a beautiful White Christmas in Japan. This is truly something I am grateful for. 😍

Without further ado here's the recap of my journey in photo essay:

February - Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Bangkok

a peaceful morning in the Golden Triangle 

I really crave some Thai food right now

April - Bangkok & Hua Hin with TAT

channelling my inner Picasso at Baan Silapin Artists Village

Hua Hin

May - Bali

home sweet home

June - Malang Night Festival

July - Penang, Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore

one of delicacies in Penang

the King of Fruit

Kek Lok Si temple

October - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia

how can I not love you, Tbilisi?


the Mother of Armenia

Noravank Monastery

December - Japan

just before sunset in Harajuku

a pretty city of Kobe

the Leksonos full team!


Christmas illumination in Tokyo

Happy New Year 2018, Y'all!
May this New Year brings you a peace filled life, warmth and togetherness in your family and much prosperity! If the previous year hasn’t given you something to be happy and proud of, hopefully this year is the breakthrough one and your dreams finally turn into reality πŸ’–πŸ’‹πŸ’ͺ

Recap of previous years:
*<  2011 >*<  2012  >*<  2013  >*<  2014  >*<  2015  >*<  2016  >*


Armenia: Noravank Monastery The Hidden Gem Of Amaghu

Armenia, October 2017

Armenia has a what it seems like an endless list of centuries old churches and monastery. For Armenian church and monastery has always been a crucial establishment. Not only for praying, they served as school or college as well. Needless to say in such a short span of time I've only managed to visit a few of them. Nevertheless I already have a hard time to decide which one is my most favourite. I seriously think Armenian are really advanced in choosing the most dramatic and extravagant location to build their churches. From atop of a beautiful lake, carved inside a rock mountain to hidden in the middle of dense forest. They believe it's the way to protect their church less vulnerable to attacks. It blew my mind when I imagine about how did they transport and construct all the materials to those hard to reach location. The first glimpse of each of the monasteries I've visited made my jaw drop. And Noravank Monastery is no exception.

just me and my silver 'horse' in this stunning narrow gorge 😁

Noravank monastery is located at the end of narrow and deep gorge, after driving through the small twisting road. It's perched halfway up the mountain, surrounded by high peaks full of brick-red colour cliffs, known as the home of hundreds caves. So the journey itself was a pleasant reward. Feels like I was in a scene from Indiana Jones' adventure. But instead of a horse, my ride was a sprinter limo πŸ˜›.
Previously I had a lunch inside one of the caves which is set into a simple restaurant. It was a unique experience indeed! I think it deserve a whole blog post itself, so stay tuned, okie! When I reached nearly the end of the gorge I looked up and my heart skipped a bit. The monastery looked striking in such an isolated area, like a hidden treasure.

brick-red cliffs

long winding road

Surb Astvatsatsin church

The complex consists of two churches and one chapel; each decorated in intricate designs and religious reliefs. The grandest structure is Surb Astvatsatsin or Holy Mother of God church, famous for its two-storey architecture. It was completed in 1339 by the talented sculptor and miniaturist Momik. Sadly this masterpiece was also his last work as he died no long after and was buried in this complex.

Here's another twist about Momik. He fell in love with the daughter of Syunik's governor. But the governor didn't like him and trying to get rid of him by challenging Momik with an impossible task. Momik was ordered to build a big church complex in such a short time. If the project is succeed then Momik could marry the governor's daughter. Never underestimate the power of love, because even though it seemed hard to accomplish apparently the church complex was coming to its end even before the due date. The governor was furious and sent someone to kill Momik. His servant climbed to the dome of the church where the architect was working and pushed him. Momik fell down and died before he could marry the love of his life 😭.

details on wall and khachkars

There's also a number of khachkars or Armenia cross-stone which is commonly used as tombstones or sometimes used as memorials. There are some category of khachkars depending on the carved details. From standard to the highly elaborated which is called "lacework" khachkars. They are all soooo pretty and I can't get enough of it! Every time I saw one, I would spend some time to admire the details. I wish I could read Armenian alphabets so I could understand the story behind each khachkars.

super narrow stairs at the church entrance

Nope! That's not me on the picture. I really wanted to reach the second floor but when I saw the narrow steps, my heart sank and my legs turned to jelly. Dang you, acrophobia! It's probably only 15 cm width so it's difficult to balance my once-petite-but-now-curvy body. Trying the lizard-crawling-on-the-wall moves with my face stuck to wall and did not make it either. Afraid of ruining the 13th century historic site, I decided to settle with the ground floor only. Apparently it's more difficult to climb down that going up. I saw some people were panicking because they couldn't figure out how to climb down that deadly stairs since there's no guardrail to hold on, only an unstable rope 😱

relief sculpture 

the eyes that saved Noravank Monastery. Thank God! (literally) 

Gayane, my pretty cicerone told me that this complex of churches almost didn't survive the Middle Ages. When the Mongols conquered Armenia in the 13th century they destroyed many of the historic temples in the country. And Noravank Monastery was just about to be demolished when they saw a relief of God with large almond-shaped eyes. This conciliation to the Mongol's physical Asiatic heritage seems to calm the army and left Noravank in peace.

Surb Karapet church

The second church is Surb Karapet where the dome was damaged twice during earthquakes in1340 and 1931. After the earthquake, the new roof that they made had a new the shape. They made the structure quite different from other Armenian monuments of the same kind. In this church, the ceiling has four rows of brackets and forms stalactite vaulting with a square lighting aperture at the top. As most visitors flocked around Surb Astvatsatsin (queueing to climb the stairs of death, that is), I found  Surb Karapet to be more serene. I had all the church by myself, admiring the interior and beautiful inscribed gravestones.


one of the inscribed gravestones

the altar

Noravank Monastery

My pictures can't do justice to the beauty of Noravank Monastery and the surrounding. I brag a lot in superlative words that I might sound like I'm being paid by Armenia tourism to promote their country. Believe me, it's not a sponsored post. Armenia maybe is not a big country but it has so much to offer. The more places I visit, the more I yearn to discover another. It's addictive! Perhaps because I have a thing about inscrutable remote areas as it tickled my curiosity. If you ask me whether Noravank Monastery worth the 2 hours drive from Yerevan (about 120 kilometres)? Yes, a big YES! It is a real gem to visit specially if you fond of historical buildings like I do. 


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