Hello October

Is it just me, or time really does fly? I can’t believe it’s October already! 😀

Well my September was packed. I got busy with some projects at work (my first in-store activation since I moved to this new team!), got hospitalised, became a bridesmaid twice.. and also, waited anxiously for something. I thought I would get to hear a good news at the end of September, but God decided to let me wait a little bit longer. I was disappointed and got really sad for a while, but realised I had to keep my faith and keep praying. In the end it was not a rejection, only delayed decision 🙂

Image from: http://www.123october.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Hello-October-Hd-Wallpapers-3.jpg
Image from: http://www.123october.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Hello-October-Hd-Wallpapers-3.jpg

Now, in the midst of my disappointment and sadness, I spontaneously said yes to an invitation to travel during the upcoming long weekend. Ooops. Hehehehe. I immediately bought the plane ticket after I said yes, and had my name registered to the tour package. YAY! Read it somewhere that travel cure sadness (or maybe I’m just making it up :p), so I’m going to give it a try… 😉

Ok so where will I go? it will be a place that I’ve never been before.. and I won’t be needing my passport so it is still in Indonesia. It is an island, approximately 1,5hours flight away. The island is called… Lombok. YEP, I am going to visit Lombok! Yayy! I’ll stay there for 4 days in which it will be a mix of island hopping and trekking trip. In short it will be a nature trip, and since it’s been a while since the last time I bask myself in nature.. I am so looking forward for this trip! Let’s just hope everything will go as planned. I am excited for my October, and hopefully I will get the good news I’ve been anticipating this month. Fingers crossed!

What are you excited for this month? hope you’ll have a great month! 🙂

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Hotel Breakfast 

To me, hotel breakfast is mostly a luxury. As a budget traveler, when I travel on my own I either opt for hostel or hotel that provides no breakfast most of the time.

So whenever I got the chance to stay in a hotel that provides hotel breakfast, the inner child in me always jumps in excitement! Hehe. Not 100% sure why, but having breakfast in a hotel, especially buffet, always makes my day. I guess it’s true what they say, “eat breakfast like king”, and I feel like a queen whenever I eat hotel breakfast buffet.

Which is a bit weird actually, because I don’t normally eat much during breakfast. I can’t even have nasi + soto ayam or lontong sayur for breakfast, I think it’s too much for me. My daily breakfast is either bread, cereal, or just fruits.. all things light, nothing too fulfilling.

But it’s a complete different story when I happen to stay in a hotel that provides breakfast. Hohoho. The rest is history 😉

Breakfast Menu @ Grand Whiz Hotel Kelapa Gading

Last weekend I was one of the bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding. It was held in Kelapa Gading area, and her family booked us a room in Grand Whiz hotel. Lucky me, they serve breakfast buffet! I can’t even remember when was the last time I had one. So before I checked out on Monday morning, I managed to have a complete breakfast meal! YAY!

It was nothing fancy – just eggs, bread, cereal and fruits. It tasted alright too. But still, nothing beats the excitement 😀

What about you, do you like having hotel breakfast or do you opt for no breakfast when you travel? Which hotel has the best breakfast to you?

My stay at Teduh Hostel Kota Tua

Though I don’t consider myself as a pro backpacker, I have stayed at hostels several times. The first time was in Edinburgh, then in Ho Chi Minh, and Taipei. The latter gave me interesting experience, so I had this idea to stay at a hostel during my Jakarta trip last weekend.

My friend told me about this newly opened Hostel – Teduh Hostel Kota Tua. I googled it and it has 9.3 ratings on Booking.com and 96% on Hostelworld.com, sounds really promising, right? Plus, they offer pods instead of bunkbeds, and I figured it will be more convenient. So I gave it a try. Me and my friend each booked a pod for one night, and let me tell you my experience.

The hostel is located within walking distance from Kota Tua’s main attractions – Jakarta Kota station, Kota Tua, Museums, Pasar Asemka.. very convenient. It’s hidden inside a SOHO complex so it could get confusing but worry not, they have clear banners in front of the gate.

After I walked in, I instantly love the interior. It looks sooo comfy! We were greeted by the friendly staffs then had our bookings processed.

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Front Desk

While waiting, I had a look around and took some pictures. The common room and kitchen area is pretty small so there’s not much to see, but it’s really neat, clean, and looks very comfortable. Like many hostels, you are free to use the kitchen, basic utensils are available so you can cook as well.

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The Kitchen + Common Room

There’s also a TV equipped with Playstation and TV cable, which is located in front of a comfy sofa beds. It’s not La-Z-Boy, of course, but it’s pretty comfy for a hostel standard. In addition, the hostel also provides a separate smoking area, so the common room is smoke-free. Yay!

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TV + sofa in the common room (picture is taken after I finished checking in)
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Smoking area

To my surprise, after we checked in, we were each given a (what I like to call) “starter pack” before we were escorted to the room on second floor. I’ve never received this kind of perks when staying at a hostel before! It’s a blanket, reading light, and your keys. Interesting 🙂

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Starter Pack

Now, what about the room? and the pod?

My room – room number 2 is located in second floor. When I reached second floor, this is what I saw :

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Second Floor – Going to the room

Again I’ve never experienced this in the previous hostels that I’ve stayed at. Never before I had to take off my shoes before going inside the room, and sometimes it does get annoying when my room-mate has dirty shoes. This solves the problem!

And here’s what the room looks like :

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The room

Having pods instead of bunkbeds give you extra privacy. Plus, even though it’s a mixed dorm, you can be assured that you won’t ever have to feel awkward to wake up next to a stranger because each pods are covered with curtains!

And this is what my pod looks like .. comfortable, right? It was, indeed, the comfiest hostel bed I’ve ever slept in!

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The Pod
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The Pod

Moving on to the bathroom. Hehe this is a tricky one. One of the most important thing for me when choosing a hostel is the bathroom’s cleanliness. Because I like to take a shower twice a day and I got irritated when the bathroom’s not clean.. hehehe. Lucky me, Teduh Hostel’s bathroom passed my expectations. It’s very clean and the hot water works well so I could enjoy my hot shower, just like at home 😉

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Bathroom area
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The bathroom

The next day, we got free breakfast. By breakfast I mean bread, jam, butter, and cereals. They don’t serve milk though, but you can buy a carton for Rp.5000 or bring your own. Not a problem because convenient stores are located nearby. Anyway, my breakfast that day was toasted bread with cereal. And yes, I bought the milk there. Hehe.

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Free Toast, Jam and Cereal for breakfast!

After breakfast, we checked out, feeling happy. Not only because I enjoyed my stay, but I met some interesting people – fellow travelers and had a chance to have interesting conversation with them despite my short stay. Now you might wonder, how much did I pay for a night? Rp.120.000 only. Definitely worth the price! Be sure to check it out when you’re in town 🙂

Teduh Hostel Kota Tua
Jalan Pintu Besar Selatan No.82M
Jakarta 11110, Indonesia
Tel: +62 21 6900939

Being a tourist in… Jakarta!

Last weekend I did something out of the ordinary. With a friend of mine – Della, I became a tourist in Jakarta. Yep, we had a mini-holiday and ventured around town! 😀 So what did we do?

First, we took the train.

We started our journey not too early, around 10.30AM in Sudimara station close to our houses. Our destination was Jakarta Kota station in North of Jakarta. It was, indeed, a long train ride as we had to change 2 lines. First was Sudimara – Tanah Abang which was an approximately 35mins ride. Then at Tanah Abang we had to change to Manggarai line – took us another ~30mins.

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Manggarai St.

To our surprise, Manggarai station was interesting! It’s vintage, big, and clean. Plus, it has a Starbucks store. A vintage one! We stopped for awhile to have coffee and snacks, because it’s lunch time already.

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Vintage Starbucks

After resting for awhile, we continued our journey to Jakarta Kota station. We had interesting view on our way, such as this iconic landmark of Jakarta…

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Passing through Monas on our way to Stasiun Kota

With that kind of view, our train ride was very much enjoyable and we almost did not realise when we reached our destination, Jakarta Kota Station. It was around 1PM when we got there.

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Jakarta Kota St.

Second, we had lunch plus a little bit of sightseeing at Kota Tua Batavia.

Though we had some snacks on our way,  we felt hungry again so we rushed to Jakarta’s Kota Tua Batavia to find something to eat.

Kota Tua Batavia
Kota Tua Batavia

Since it was mid-day, the weather was soooo hot! We did not get to do a lot of sight seeing and went inside the first air – conditioned restaurant that we could find. It was Historia Food and Bar. The exterior looks very interesting, right?

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Historia Food and Bar

The restaurant, which has vintage interior, serves Indonesian food. The food was good, and the atmosphere was very cosy. I guess it’s either because we were very hungry or we enjoyed the atmosphere very much that we did not complain when each of us had to pay around IDR 75.000 for food and drink. Not so much a backpacker’s meal but we did not complain, hehehe.

Historia Food and Bar
Historia Food and Bar

Third, we travel through time at Museum Bank Indonesia.

After having our lunch, we went to our next destination – Museum Bank Indonesia. Both me and friend never been to this museum before. We did not have a lot of expectations when going in, but feeling very much excited when we left. The museum was really interesting! It was about Indonesia’s monetary activities and currency, started with a history of the nation’s trade, until the latest monetary crisis. I took Social Sciences major in High School but there were a lot of historical facts that I did not know before. Plus, the building was unique as it’s a vintage building.

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Museum Bank Indonesia

Fourth, we took the Transjakarta bus to Sarinah.

From Jakarta Kota Station, there’s a straight busway line to Sarinah, where we spent some time to wander around Jalan Sabang. We then decided to watch a movie because we had nothing else better to do in mind, hehe. We watched The Imitation Game at Djakarta XXI (Previously Djakarta Theatre), and I have to tell you… the movie is class!

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Sarinah Busway Shelter

After the movie, we went back to Jakarta Kota area (this time using a taxi because it was quite late) because we are going to spend the night in the area!

Fifth, we spent the night at Teduh Hostel Kota Tua.

Yep, since we are playing tourists, we already made some plans to stay at a local hostel. The name’s Teduh Hostel and I highly recommended this hostel for all the travelers out there. Since I’m very much satisfied, I’m going to write a separate blog post about this 🙂

Sixth, we wander the busy streets of Jakarta’s Chinatown in order to try one of the town’s oldest coffee shop.

The next morning, we checked out of the hostel and based on the hostel staff’s recommendation, we walked to Chinatown to find what was said to be one of the best and oldest coffee shops in Jakarta – Kopi Es Tak Kie.

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East meets West at Jakarta’s Chinatown

It is nestled in small and busy alley which is known as Gang Gloria, might be a bit hard to find if you’re not familiar with the area like us. But worry not,  it’s easy to ask for directions from people in the area because it’s famous.

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The busy alley

Serving you coffee since the 1920s, Kopi Es Tak Kie do not have sophisticated menu. When we sat down, the waiter only offered us iced or hot coffee, with or without milk. We both ordered Ice coffee with milk and boy… it tasted so gooood! Worth the walk and the confusion to find this shop.

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Kopi Es Tak Kie

Last but not least, we made another trip through time at Museum Nasional Indonesia.

Before we went home, we decided to stop by another museum – Museum Nasional Indonesia. The museum is huge! Again, I have never been there before so I had little expectation. But, I left feeling very much inspired.

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Museum Nasional Indonesia

So that’s how I spent my weekend! Definitely not a usual one, and very much enjoyable. Oh, if you would like to see more pictures, do search for #ThisJakartaTrip hashtag on Instagram by yours truly ;). Hope you had a good weekend as well! 🙂

Halo halo Bandung!

Hello! How’s your weekend?

I spent my weekend in Bandung with family. Though Bandung is a popular weekend destination for Jakartans, it has been two years since my last visit! That’s why I was very much excited to go.The main reason to visit Bandung was to attend my brother’s event. He’s a final year student at ITB’s art faculty and the event – a Japan fair which was held on Sunday – showcased his design.

Of course while we’re in town we did not forget to enjoy Bandung’s two obvious “attractions” i.e food and shopping. Hehehe. Despite having little time there, we were able to eat a lot! Hahaha.

Our first stop was Warung Lela. Located up north of Bandung, I think the homey restaurant serves the best Mie Ayam/Yamin. Going to this restaurant brings me memories from my high school and early college days as I always ate there whenever I visited Bandung with my friends, back in the days. Afterwards, we visited Rumah Mode, a famous factory outlet store in Setiabudi area. Lucky us, unlike usual, it’s not too crowded. Mum enjoyed her reflexology massage while me, my brother, and my cousin enjoyed a little bit of shopping spree 😉 If you happen to visit Rumah Mode, don’t forget to try Rumah Tahu, a snack vendor located in its food court which sells the best Tahu Mendoan!

Like I said before, Bandung has become a very popular weekend destination. Hotels are mushrooming in town, from budget ones until those with luxury. This makes finding a hotel in Bandung an easy task, especially when you’re searching for it online. But… I would suggest to avoid North Bandung area, especially around Jalan Dago, Cihampelas, or Setiabudi. The traffic there can get frustrating on weekends! Of course Bandung is not a big town so even though there’s traffic, it wouldn’t get as bad as Jakarta. But still, for me personally, I left Jakarta on the weekend to avoid traffic, so that’s the very least thing I would like to experience while in Bandung.

Our choice of hotel last weekend was Hotel California Bandung. Despite its rather-funny name, it met my expectation very well. We stayed in their Suite room for IDR.900.000 a night which accommodated the four of us conveniently. We got complimentary breakfast for two person, and the amenities in the room worked well. Perhaps there are many cheaper options since we only spent very little hours in the room (read: only came there to sleep and shower, left early the next morning), but I love the fact that the hotel is located in Jl.Wastukencana, which is still close to jl.Dago but not as crowded.

After we checked in to the hotel, we went out again to have afternoon tea, which followed by dinner. First, we went to Oza Tea House in Jl. Diponegoro.

Oza Tea House
Oza Tea House

This, ladies and gentlemen, is heaven for you tea lovers (like my mum)! Really, she was in awe the whole time we were there. They sell serious tea as in they really know the tea business.. not just selling ordinary “ice lemon tea” or “green tea with something something”.

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Exquisite Tea Selection!

Unlike my mum, I’m not that much of a tea fan but I have to admit their tea is good stuff. Here’s what I ordered.. genmaicha tea with strawberry.

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My order : Genmaicha with Strawberry

It has a unique blend of green tea taste, sweetness (from the sugar), and sour (from the strawberry). Overall, if you want to chill while enjoying high quality tea, this is the place!

For dinner, my brother recommended  Perky Pedro in Jalan Riau, so we went there. What is it? I’ll write a separate post on it!

After dinner, we went for coffee at Two Cents at Jalan Cimanuk, not far from Jalan Riau. The place does not only offer coffee but also a selection of delicious desserts and food.

Two Cents Brew Believer
Cosy place!
Two Cents Brew Believer
Scrumptious desserts and lite bites..

I ordered raspberry + White chocolate eclair, croissant bread butter pudding (both are very yummy but I forgot to take a picture), and… Bacon Piccolo Latte. Yep, you read it right! At first I was very much hesitant to order it, but then I remembered, life’s too short and I’m on holiday, so I did it! I ordered it.

Two Cents Brew Believer
Bacon Piccolo Latte (!!!)

It turns out to be very good! It’s basically a latte + a strip of beef bacon. The saltiness of bacon compliments the bitter taste of latte. Though it’s not gonna be my favorite kind of coffee, but I would surely order it again.

The next day, we started our day by having breakfast at Miss Bee Providore at Jl. Rancabentang, in Ciumbuleuit area. It was love at first sight. I love everything that is about this place, and I’m going to write about it in a separate post as well.

After breakfast, we went to my brother’s event, stayed there for a while and bought last minute snacks at Kartika Sari & Bawean before going home to Jakarta… It was a short visit, but I’m happy to be able to spend time with my family, it’s been a while since our last weekend getaway 🙂

22 hours in Padang!

Last weekend I went to Padang – West Sumatra for a friend’s wedding with some friends. It was my first time and albeit the short time (only 22 hours!), I really enjoyed it.

I was supposed to stay longer though (not that long, but at least passed the 24 hours mark), but I missed my flight at Saturday morning and then got transferred to a later flight on the afternoon. That flight then got delayed, so I arrived in Padang at 4PM on Saturday.

My friends and I went straight to Lamun Ombak – a local restaurant serving none other than the super delicious Padang Food!

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Padang food fiesta!

It’s a common destination for those just arrived in Padang as the location is nearby the airport. Such a perfect welcome after our delayed flight! The food was delicious but it was a bit disappointing that they don’t serve Soto Padang – my favorite kind of Padang Food.

After getting our stomach full, we had a bit of time to kill before we were scheduled to meet our friend the groom. Our driver took us to Air Manis Beach – a nearby beach, famous as a surfing spot and also the legend of Malin Kundang. There’s a rock formation on the beach which is told to be the him and the remains of his ship.

Malin Kundang
Malin Kundang Rocks

The beach is supposedly pretty – to get there you would have to drive pass a hill first, which also gives you a nice experience. It’s around 30 minutes from Padang’s city centre. BUT, it is VERY dirty. I was heartbroken to see the dirty beach. There were trash all over the place, and no facilities at all. The Malin Kundang rocks is also poorly maintained, which is such a shame. I really really really wish that the government would take action to restore Indonesia’s nature spots.

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Air Manis Beach, pretty but so dirty 😦

From there, we went to our hotel, checked in and had dinner with the groom and our friends. We had Martabak in Malabar Bofet & Restoran. It was one of the best Martabak I’ve had! Really satisfying. Then we went back to the hotel because the groom (obviously) needs to rest 🙂 The rest of us decided to hang out at a nearby cafe and ended up staying until 1AM, then had Soto Padang (finally!) at a nearby food stall before finally getting some rest…

The next day was the wedding day – we started the day early despite the lack of sleep, and had breakfast with the groom and his family, and his other friends in the hotel’s restaurant. Then we went to the convention centre where the ceremony was held to witness the wedding ceremony. The ceremony was finished at around 10 AM and there was an hour break before the wedding reception started at 11 AM. I stayed there until 12 PM and rushed to the airport to catch my 14.20 PM flight.

Minang Wedding
Minang Wedding!

So that’s how I spent 22 hours in Padang. Short but surely eventful 🙂 I’m happy that I was able to witness a traditional Minang wedding and had (a glimpse) of delicious Padang Food! Perhaps I’ll be back and stay longer some time.

Those Island Days

I’ve heard about Derawan Islands quite a lot before I finally paid a visit. The islands – located in North Kalimantan – has been frequently reviewed on magazines and travel blogs, but I kind of hesitated to go because I read that it’s still quite hard to reach – you’d have to change several methods of transportation to get to the islands. So the trip stayed in my plans almost forever, I kept talking about wanting to go, but never actually went… until last month.  Spoke to a couple of friends and gathered a group of 8 and then we registered ourselves to a travel group, called Kakaban Trip.

With Kakaban Trip, we had to pay IDR 5,600,000 for a 4 day trip, which I think is a pretty good deal considering that all expenses were covered – only exclude airport tax (IDR 40,000) and snorkeling gear rental (IDR 50,000 a day). Plus, they accept installment if you book in advance! (do check again though, price might differ since my visit..)

So we went on a Thursday morning, took the earliest flight from Jakarta to Tarakan. From Tarakan, we then had to take a speedboat for 3 hours (!!!) to finally reach Maratua Island, where our villa was located. Though it was realllly tiring but when we reached Maratua on the afternoon, I suddenly forgot that I was tired because of this view!

Maratua Paradise Resort
Maratua Paradise Resort
Maratua
Maratua Island
Maratua Paradise Resort
View from our beach cottage

Because it’s almost sunset when we arrived, there was not many things to do except settling in to our lovely beach cottages, catching sunset, had some dinner and went to the bed early… because a lot of things were waiting for us the next day.

One of the best sunsets that I've seen!
One of the best sunsets that I’ve seen!

The next day, we woke up at 4, went to catch sunrise on the other side of the island, went back to the villa for breakfast and then left for island hopping! You see, Derawan Islands has a lot of islands, some big ones including Maratua. The smaller ones don’t have villas/resorts, but have beautiful snorkeling/diving spots.

First stop was Derawan Island. As predicted, this is the main island – where there are more resorts (there’s only one resort in Maratua), a lot of homestays, small restaurants, bike rentals, etc. Basically, there’s life in Derawan island. BUT… when there’s life, there’s also… trash. Junk. So disappointing, because the snorkeling spots are not that clean anymore. I spotted a big turtle AND a manta ray while I was snorkeling, so that made me very happy though. Then we went to other smaller islands and did snorkeling again. The experience was waaay better than snorkeling in Derawan Islands, the sea was way more clearer, coral reef were a lot prettier, and the beach, AAAK i lost words. Here are some pictures for your eyes to see 🙂

Derawan Islands
Bluest blue!
Derawan Islands
My personal favorite – Gusung Island!
White sands, clear sea, blue sky!
White sands, clear sea, blue sky!

On our third day, we went island hopping to the smaller islands. I don’t remember all the names, but one that really caught my attention was Kakaban Island. I visited two parts of the island –  where there’s a big lake full of sting-less jelly fish (you can swim with them!), and another one to see a pretty lagoon. We swam with the jelly fish, and spent some time in the lagoon. Interesting fact, we had to do some caving to get out of the lagoon. Definitely once in a lifetime experience!

Kakaban Lake
On our way to Kakaban Lake
Jellyfish
I swam with the jellyfish!
Kakaban Lagoon
Kakaban Lagoon

After island hopping, snorkeling, and all the fun times in the islands, it was time to go home. We left the island the Sunday afternoon, went on another 3 hours speedboat ride (!!!), spent some time in Tarakan before finally going back to Jakarta. I really really looooove Derawan Islands, definitely worth the long journey and even the sunburn! :p oh, btw.. Do browse #thisisderawan on instagram to see more pics from me and my friends!

P.S: I would gladly recommend Kakaban Trip if you want to save the hassle in planning, because they will arrange everything for you. It may be a little bit more expensive, but saves you a lot of trouble. But, if you prefer to plan your own trip, i would say to take out Derawan Island from your itinerary and focus on the smaller islands like Maratua or Kakaban instead. Enjoy! 🙂