My Time Capsule: April 2014


Italy: The Striking Architecture Of Duomo Di Milano

Milan, August 2013

Duomo Di Milano
I was feeling giddy and exhausted from the sleepless 18 hours journey between Jakarta - Singapore - Milan. A hot sun glared down on main square of Milan where I decided to wander around to fight the jet lag. I'm pretty sure it was one of the hottest days in the city. I desperately needed a cool place just to sit down and rest so I walked toward the cathedral. Dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente, this Gothic cathedral is one of the largest in the world and took nearly six centuries to complete.

Hey! I've been here for couple times before but never explored the roof, I said to myself.

I went out and made my way to the right side of the cathedral where people were queueing. The ticket fee was € 7 for climbing the 200 something stairs to the roof and € 12 to have a lift taking you up and down. I wasn't in the mood for some exercise so I chose the latter.

looking up

one of the gargoyles
Phew! Glad that my euro was well spent because the view from the rooftop was simply breathtaking. The marble covered roof is about 70 metres high and I could get a closer look at the detailed spires and the gargoyles. One of the main features is Madonnina atop the main spire,  a baroque gilded bronze statue of the Virgin Mary. The breezy and quiet surrounding made me sleepy and I found a perfect spot to take a nap for a while.

Piazza del Duomo

Milan Duomo rooftop

Madonnina on top for the main spire

view from above

taking a nap for a bit :p

beautiful flying buttresses 

a fancy tiramisu

the ceiling of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 

Before heading to my hotel I managed to have a quick visit to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the famous shopping spot Milan. Nope, I'm not interested in those premium branded stuff. I just wanted to treat myself at one of the fancy cafes inside the mall. A woman should be spoiled once in awhile, right? :p


Taiwan: Roadblock On The Deadliest Route

Taiwan, December 2013

Tíng xà lái! Dao Lù fēngbì! (Stop! This road is closed!)

We were about to pass through Hehuanshan area when our van was stopped by some officers. Unlike me, my dad speaks Chinese fluently so he accompanied our driver to find out what was going on....

Taroko National Park

A few hours earlier...

After a night stay in Hualian area, that morning we planned to do the Hualian - Hehuanshan - Cingjing Farm route which normally takes about 4 hours. It's one of the deadliest route in Taiwan because the narrow winding roads up, sudden storm and landslide. There's only few drivers who has the courage to choose the route even though it's a shorter journey.

Our van ran slowly through the Taroko National Park or famously known as Taroko Gorge. The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago when the sediment on the bottom of the ocean collected and eventually hardened into limestone, after some tectonic compression it metamorphosed into marble. The view is undoubtedly breathtaking with one side of marble mountain and pristine river on the other side. I felt so tiny when I look at the steep cliffs towering up disappear into the clouds. I've been there many times before but it still amazes me.

steep cliffs and river

the rest area

It was already midday when my family decided to stop at the rest area. The temperature became chilly because it started raining and foggy. We had a quick lunch and continued the journey. The van ran slowly through the winding mountain road. The higher we went, the road became narrower and narrower. The path along the mountain ridge was flanked by rocky cliff and deep ravines on the other side. My heart skipped a beat and I held my breath every time our van passed a car from opposite direction. After more than an hour the fogs faded and I could see some blue skies when I noticed that I was actually above the clouds. Believe me, the view was so splendid that my pictures don't do justice.

an ancient tree

could barely see the road 
literally above the clouds

then came the roadblock part...

My Dad tried to talk with the officers and they insisted it was too dangerous for our van to climb the slippery road of Hehuanshan. They let some smaller cars passing through after fitted the snow chain to the tires. We were quite worried at that time since we have booked and paid our hotel in Cingjing Farm so there's no way to cancel it. After some discussion, my Dad and the officers came back with a conclusion. We had to hire snow chains plus 2 officer cars to tow our van just in case it would not able to drive up the steep and slippery slope. We had to fork TWD 5000 for their service since we didn't any find better options.

installing the snow chain for our van (please ignore the butt flashing)

getting darker + snowstorm

reaching the highest point
The van started to ascend the steep road with a revving sound from the engine. It sounded like the car was complaining because it was forced to climb. The snow chains also made the ride was rather bumpy. After some sharp bends we reached to the highest point of Hehuanshan which is over 3000 metres high.

"Stop! You must stop here now! The snowstorm is coming, stay inside the car!" The officers shouted and frantically waving their hands towards our van.

It was already pitch black outside then I heard the scary blizzard sound and our van began to shake. My family just anxiously sat in silence and I put my jacket on as it was getting really cold that my toes started to feel numb. Over 15 minutes later, one of the officers came back knocking our car and told my driver to start driving slowly as we were going down the mountain. It would be really dangerous for any sudden braking.

tired but happy to be "home"

After an hour drive which to me felt like forever, I was so relieved when we finally reach the warm and cosy Shangrila Hanging Garden Resort in Cingjing Farm. I couldn't wait to snuggle in my comfy bed and having a cuppa of hot chocolate to wind down after a thrilling journey.


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