The Yard Sale

Featured Post

Married and homeless in Singapore

As someone who's waiting for her HDB BTO flat to be built, I can honestly tell you, the most frustrating question that I've gotten i...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

[RECIPE]: Ayam Buah Keluak

It's that time of the year again! I whip out all the ingredients for one of the best dishes in the world: Ayam Buah Keluak. 

You'll find plenty of recipes floating about the great interwebs, but they're not wrong. See, every Peranakan family adds its own special touch to the dish. Abel's family, for example, uses Babi (pork) but my family uses Ayam (chicken). His family pops in plenty of the nut's meat into the gravy, my family just allows it deep out slowly. My family fries the buah keluak meat, his family steams it. 

All different, all very delicious. 

Here's my recipe:


INGREDIENTS
Tools:
- A big plastic tub
- A brand-new clothes brush (strong bristles)
- A hammer with a flat, chisel-like edge
- Blender
- Frying pan
- Big pot

Seasoning:
- salt
- pepper
- five-spice powder

Buah Keluak:
- 1 bag of Buah Keluak nuts (usually comes with about 30-40 nuts)
For those who don't know where to get these:  
I buy them from this guy called Peter Wee at the Katong Antique House, $15 a bag every Chinese New Year.
According to a lot of people, including some of my in-laws, I can get nuts at Tekka Market and other places, but my grandmother used to buy from this dude, so I do that now too.

- 8 prawns, deshelled, deveined and minced

Rempah:



- 20 shallots, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, chopped
-  
8 lemongrass, chopped- 3 - 4 candlenuts (adjust according to how thick you want your rempah to be)
- 1 tsp belacan, fried
- a knob blue ginger, sliced
a knob of tumeric
- 2 - 3 candlenuts
- 10 dried chillis, soaked and deseeded
- 10 fresh chillis,
- 3-5 chilli padi (adjust according to your spicy manliness)

Other ingredients:
- oil for frying
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 assam skin - dried tamarind skin (adjust according to taste)
- 2 - 3 limau purut (lime leaves)
- rock sugar (adjust according to taste)
- 5 chicken thighs, chopped

STEPS
Prepare Buah Keluak



1. Dump all the Buah Keluak nuts into a tub of clean water. Scrub with a brush, hard. Once they're clean, soak in clean water. Change the water and scrub the nuts daily for the next 10 days. This has to be done to wash away any traces of cyanide (I hear its cyanide lah). (Yes, that's right. Dem nuts have trace amounts of poison.)
2. After 10 days of dumping out scummy brown water, scrub for a final time, pour out all the water and put aside.
3. Take out your hammer and start cracking open the top of the nut (that's the smooth opening of the nut). Toss away the broken bits of shell, dig out the meat and place the meat in another bowl. Scrap the buah keluak clean.
Notes about cleaning buah keluak: 
1. Buah Keluak should smell like... pungent sour plums, but some have no smell at all! If you notice a fishy, repulsive scent, toss the whole nut. It's bad. 
 2. Clear the shell from the opening completely. It makes it easier to stuff the meat back and to dig out when ready to eat. 
3. After you've cleaned it, prep the meat immediately. Empty shells left to dry grow fuzzy white mold within an hour. It's hell, cause you're gonna have to start the whole 10 day process AGAIN. 
4. Once you've emptied all the shells, take five-spice powder and salt. Sprinkle liberally over the meat. Add the minced prawn. Mix well.
5. Add oil to a hot pan, fry mixture till fragrant and dry (not too dry!). It should resemble a crumbly (but still moist) cookie dough.
6. Let the mixture cool for a while and go wash your empty Buah Keluak shells.
7. Stuff the cooked mixture back into the shells. Smooth the top to give it a nice shape.
8. Place into a plastic bag and into the freezer.

Prepare Rempah



1. In a blender (unfortunately I don't have time to tombok. - That means "pound" with mortar and pestle), blend the shallots, garlic and belacan. Set aside.
2. Blend the lemongrass, ginger, tumeric, 2 candlenuts. Dump in the shallots, garlic and belacan mixture. Blend again. It should form a paste. Add a candlenut if it's too watery. Set mixture aside.
3. Mix all the chillis together to form cili boh (chilli paste). Set half aside and leave half in the blender.
4. Add the first mixture into the cili boh. Add the remaining cili boh into the rempah according to how spicy you want it to be.
5. Dry fry the mixture (that means no oil) in a hot pan to allow access moisture to evaporate.
5. Once done, place into a container and store in the fridge for when you need it.

Finish Up



1. Take the chopped chicken thighs and marinade with rempah.
2. Add oil to a hot hot hot wok/pot. Fry the chicken thigh to crisp the edges a little. Set the chicken aside.
3. Add more oil and dump your rempah in. It should sizzle like your butt in denim shorts.
4. Fry till fragrant and till you notice the oil separating from the rempah. If your rempah gets too dry, just add more oil.
5. Toss the chicken back in there, then add the water and chicken stock. Cover and leave to boil merrily on medium heat.
6. After about 5 minutes, add in the limau purut and assam skin. Cover again and leave to simmer merrily.
7. Uncover and taste. Add more water or chicken stock if necessary. Add in rock sugar for sweetness. Adjust according to taste.
8. Once it hits the flavour you want, leave it to cool. Place mixture into fridge or leave it chilling on the stove.
9. Heat up again the next day. It will be perfect then.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Married and homeless in Singapore

As someone who's waiting for her HDB BTO flat to be built, I can honestly tell you, the most frustrating question that I've gotten is this:

"So... When will your house be ready?"


Never. Never is my answer.

Abel and I have played the waiting game for a good long time. Since Jan 2014 in fact. THAT'S THREE FLIPPING YEARS AND THE HOUSE STILL ISN'T READY YET.

Calm down Amanda. Okay. Okay. Yeah, Jesus. OKAY I'M CALM.

The process to own a home in Singapore, when dumbed down and made simple with an impressive array of acronyms, is something like this:

1) Apply for BTO / DBSS / EC
2) Apply for HLE
3) Pick a HDB unit
4) Apply for ROM
5) Pay with CPF before moving in

I've done you the kindness of linking each acronym to an article about its meaning.

But though it might seem like five simple steps, it really is a tedious wait of AT LEAST five years. See, steps 1 to 3 could take about half a year to settle, depending on your luck of the draw, but steps 4 to 5, the most crucial, can last many years.

Why?

Well see. Picture being ready to spend the rest of your life with someone. You've done the whole "travelled with him/her and am ready to settle down" bit. The logical thing to do would be to move in together right?

According to the bureaucratic laws of the average Singaporean, you can't. You have to apply first.

Our red-tape strewn housing system (due to the unfortunate population-to-land ratio) has determined that to move in together and get married you'll need to ballot. That's right. In Singapore, to move into our boxy-little public housing (much better than most of the world and the most affordable!) you have to queue, and you have to join a lucky draw to determine your position in the queue! That's not even counting the fact that it is highly likely that you might not even end up in the queue at all, which relinquishes all chances of even picking a home for that round of ballots.

Try saying that in one breath.

But let's say you do get a number to join the queue, that's not the end of it. You're basically queuing for an IDEA of something. The houses aren't built yet. So you pour over brochures and layouts of what the building could look like and determine the units that you might potentially pick. Then you play the waiting game. Perhaps you're number 666 (Number were picked to express my frustration at this devilish system) out of 1,500 potential owners and there are only nine hundred units available. Then you're going to have to hope that the first 665 don't pick the units that you want.

WHAT?!

Yes. All this could span between three months to a year.

Now let's be optimistic and say that you did get your unit and your housing loan came through (of which requires an ungodly amount of papers - payslips and what not, as proof of your ability to afford a housing loan). Then it's time to wait for your house to be built. From scratch. From a plot of dingy land.

Now my brain tells me very sensibly and honestly that I should stop complaining and be grateful. I mean, good public housing is unheard of in most parts of the world. Affordable QUALITY housing? Even less heard of! One has to be patient to enjoy good things.

But my heart. My poor, blessed heart is screaming NO.

See, you need to remember that this is a country where people can't afford to live away from their parents and buy/rent their own home. It's not just our Asian-family sensibilities that get in the way of that. Financially and practically, it makes no sense to live away from them unless your parents don't live here at all.

But that also means that a couple that wants to get married can't get their own home till after three to five years! No point getting married before getting your house right?

Longest, engagement, ever.

What many have dubbed as the "Singapore way of getting married", is really, to me, the death of romance. But it is also this utter practicality that makes Singaporeans so successful. Would you rather rich robots or penniless poets? The truth is, you can't live on love alone.

Punggol Bayview, the home upon which we await with bated breath. (TOP Q4 2018)
But we are not devoid of options. There are couples, like Abel and myself for example, and a few other friends we know, who have gotten married first then waited the five years out together. Without having a place to live.

Once again, you have options:

1) You can choose to rent, spend a senseless amount of money every month.
2) You can live with your in-laws, and risk potential problems - there's a reason why the bible says leave and cleave.
3) You can stay apart. (The stupidest option for a married couple in my opinion).
So now you can choose. Stay engaged for a really long time, or get married and feel sort of... lost.

Because that's how I feel now.

Being the impractical moron that I am and the emotional wreck that I am, I told Abel we can't lose the romance. Since he'd proposed, why wait? Why draw out a long engagement when we knew were wanted to be with each other? He agreed.

When we got married, Abel and I were pretty optimistic. But we had run through the options of renting (waste of money and no money), buying a resale first and selling it before our BTO comes (possible but pointless as it was predicted that the market will just get worse when we're looking to sell) and finally landing on staying with the in-laws.

My house, stuffed to the brim with a hormonal teenager and a grumpy young adult, was no space for a young married couple. Not to say the least my angry father who lost his temper at the slightest things. No. No. No. So it fell upon Abel's home. As the only child, his room boasted a queen-sized bed, I'd only be competing with his dad for the toilet. Why not? I agreed.

What a mistake.

My in-laws are great. They are welcoming people who have always been lovely to me, but let's be honest, a ton of problems arrive with living with your in-laws.

1) They're not used to your habits and you're not used to theirs
2) You can never argue with your husband in front of them, which leads to the next and the most important point
3) You can never really comfortable, because you can never be yourself 
It took a toll man.

While all that was bad, what I felt the most was this feeling of not belonging anywhere. I felt so lost most of the time. Nothing of real importance (putting aside clothes and other superficial things) was mine. The bed was Abel's old bed, the room, though painted, was Abel's. The wardrobe was his, the toilet, his dad's. (You have no idea how important a toilet is to me.) The kitchen, not mine! I couldn't be comfortable no matter the things I used to decorate the space or the kitchen tools I bought. Not even bringing Hachi could make me feel better.

I felt like a squatter in someone else's home. Forever indebted, forever useless.

It was then I realised that I was going to have to do this for the next few years. It made me even more miserable. I couldn't return home either because my parents had thrown out my bed and replaced it with a desk for my sister.


My motto in life became "boh bian lor." Loosely translated: "no choice."

It made me crazy. Abel and I quarrelled frequently. I spent a lot of time at the playground crying at night. I lost the will the to work out. I never went home first without him and I hardly left the room to do anything. It was awkward. It was strange. I was also going through a job transition during that period of time. Finally, I think Abel and I decided to try renting again.

We found a gorgeous apartment in Geylang. A condo studio apartment, $1,600. We counted. We could afford it, but barely. After a long, drawn-out quarrel, we decided that we wouldn't go for it. My ever-sensible husband made the wise choice of forgoing that splendid apartment. I bemoaned its loss and longed to have a place to call my own.

Then I became jobless (you can read about my experience here) and after working in SPH for so long, I felt a part of myself die. Something else that was mine, gone. Then my Macbook died. My one and only tool of trade. I was done. I had hit rock bottom. I swear. There was this profound sense of loss, not knowing where I was going and feeling as though life was meaningless. All the regrets I had came pouring out. 2016 was the year of STUPID decisions, STUPID people, STUPID problems and a hundred other stupid things. I really lost it I think.

But after that bout of depression, I had to move on right? I just sucked it up. Got freelance work, a cheaper computer (which I'm still using btw) and continued living as I did. Existing.

Then something happened. My grandfather passed away.

I loved him. He was a great grandfather. Not a perfect man, but there's no such thing right?  He passed away peacefully, and his funeral was carried out by people who loved him. Then my grandmother, Por Por, who had lost the man she loved, offered something that changed everything.

She offered her home.

My grandparents sleep slept in separate rooms, Por Por in the common room, Ah Kong in the master bedroom. She told my mum that she thought it would be a good idea for Abel and I to move in with her. Without hesitation, my wonderful husband agreed. He forgo living with his family to live with Por Por, someone he only saw for dinners on alternate Sundays.

For that, I'll always be grateful. For that, I know he is a wonderful husband. (But it also makes me feel guilty for a lot of other things sometimes heh.)

We aired out the room, repainted the space. Bought a $163 Ikea wardrobe, raided the As-Is department in Ikea (heaven for poor couples) and installed a new toilet bowl.

The process was cleansing. 

Not as big as it looks. But just as bright as it appears.

I felt as though it was mine. A proper space to call my own. We had repainted and redone it with our own hands! Sure everything else belonged to Por Por, but this room was ours. The TOILET was ours. I didn't have to wait for someone else to use it, I wasn't accountable to someone else aside from my husband! I could bomb it, fart it in and clean it without feeling like I'm cleaning someone else's shit (literally).

This huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Then I finally got a job, we went on our honeymoon to Sweden and Iceland (you can read about the trip here) and everything else fell into place. I'm not as stressed anymore. I see my parents once in a while, I see Abel's parents once in a while, things are good! My hair looks good, my skin is fantastic, I just need to work on my weight and finances.

I even made a terrarium!

So calming hor.

Thanks to a loving family and loving husband, I survived. There are a lot of fortunate ones. Those rich, those who can afford to buy private housing or resale. Those who don't have to wait because they managed to get a sale-of-balance flat.

But it made me think, what about all the other younger Singaporeans out there waiting to get married because their home isn't ready? Those already married but living with their in-laws or struggling to make ends meet because of rent?

If you're out there, I just want you to know that you're not alone. You're not alone in thinking that you're selfish for wanting more. You're not alone in thinking that things could have been done better. You're not alone in feeling guilty for not putting in more effort with your in-laws. But more importantly, I want you to know that you did not make the wrong choice getting married without a house.

Because what is humanity without love?

All my problems could have been solved if we had been patient and decided to get married later. But we didn't. We made the choice and we lived with the consequences. And I remember, no matter how bad it got, I was always reminded that at the end of the day I'll survive and I'll be happy again because I am married to my husband. I don't regret my choice, and I will never regret my choice.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 - My Year To Avoid Mediocracy

As I celebrated the end of 2016 with a game of poker and then promptly begin 2017 with my period, I realised how bumpy the year was before. The whole job fiasco, my grandfather passing away, moving to my in-laws then moving to my grandmother's place, working as a freelancer, chasing for money as a freelancer, putting on a massive amount of weight, our honeymoon to Iceland, I published a book, watched my plays come to life on stage and so so much more.

There were wonderful ups and horrible downs - but all memorable in their own right. I'm still thankful for them. What are shitty situations if not talking points at a party right? But I look at myself, and think about what I've accomplished as a person and I think... not much! I struggled so much this year that I forgot to give back, and I forgot to accomplish things.

So while I struggled, and eventually found my footing in 2016, I'm taking 2017 to avoid mediocracy.


Taking cue from one of the best books in the universe - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I shall believe in 6 impossible things a day and try to accomplish as many. Who am I kidding, I don't even have time to go buy contact lenses. hahahah

I'll try.

Okay that's it. I've nothing important to say today. Love to everyone.







Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Iceland 8 Day Honeymoon Roadtrip [DAY 8] We swim through Silfra and go to the Blue Lagoon

DAY 8

After an amazing rest in the Buubble, Abel and I were gearing up for our final day. We had two more activities before heading back to the airport. We were going to snorkel through Silfra and head to the Blue Lagoon.

Swim through Silfra

coordinates: 64.255297, -21.116805

We got in touch with Dive.is, a PADI certified group that conducted both diving and snorkelling trips through Silfra.


What, however, took the longest, was putting on the damn dry suit. So you don't have to worry, while you're swimming in 3 deg C water, you'll be more or less dry. I wore two layers of leggings, one undershirt and a regular t-shirt while they stuffed me like a sausage into a dry suit. Only your lips and hands get cold.



That's just the first part of the suit. 

If you love the water, you'll love this. It's almost terrifying, with all the rocks at the bottom forming deep caravans into the deep unknowns. I love also that the water is so clean that you can DRINK it.

In total, you'll take about 3 hours. The swim itself is about 1/2hour, it's putting on and taking off the clothes that takes up time. They warm you up after with hot chocolate and biscuits.

Take a relaxing dip in the Blue Lagoon

 add: 240, Grindavik 420-8800, Iceland, tel: +354 420 8800
coordinates: 63.879294, -22.445388

We heard a lot of negative things about the Blue Lagoon. It's too touristy, very crowded, water isn't that great, but Abel and I had a FABULOUS time. We went at night, which I suppose could be the reason we enjoyed it more. Entered from the indoor pool to the main area, and just floated around, looking for hot spots and watching people make fools of themselves.



The milky water was warm, salty and painful if it got into your eyes, but otherwise a complete delight. The bath was huge, almost as large as a football pitch, and twisting and meandering throughout the space. At one end you had the drinks store, the other, the booth to grab some free mud for your face.


Even though there were so many people, it was nicely spaced out so you had plenty of room for yourself. 




Notes:
1) You have to book in advance
2) Wear slippers out. The floor is really cold
3) NEVER dip your head in the water - as my husband found out
4) It's really drying so put conditioner before to protect your hair (don't wash it off!) and more after you leave.
5) No need to bring any shampoo etc, you pay shit tons of money just for entry so thankfully they have all the amenities you need - from shampoo and conditioner to a hair dryer and cotton buds.

After the lagoon, we rushed straight to the airport. It was time for us to leave. But we're happy to say the last Icelandic sunset we enjoyed was on the way to the Blue Lagoon. Such a wonderful way to end our trip.




<< Iceland 8 Day Honeymoon Roadtrip [DAY 7]                  Basics and Other Important Things >>


Iceland 8 Day Honeymoon Roadtrip [DAY 7] Staying in a Bubble Tent

DAY 7

Today was relatively more exciting. We were heading towards a fantastic stay: the Buubble. Also known as the 5 million star hotel. But check in time was only at 12pm, so we decided to just have a look see around the area before coming to a stop at the Buubble.

Visit Thingvellir Iceland's National Park

coordinates: 64.255862, -21.130255

Abel and I were very amused, but also full of admiration for the country. I mean in a country that IS basically a continent-sized national park, Thingviller seemed a little redundant. But it was beautiful, shades of red and yellow with pockets of moss popping out around a giant glacier lake. Most of it surrounded Silfra, that huge crack between the North American and Eurasian plates.

All the water in the glacier lake is so clean!
Visit Laugarvatn Fontana thermal baths

add: Hverabraut 1, Laugarbraut, 840 Laugarvatn, Iceland, tel: +354 486 1400
coordinates: 64.214720, -20.730172


We decided to stop for lunch at Fontana. This was a small thermal bath, powered by the nearby steam vents. It seemed like a health spa, all the employees dressed in a light blue. Next door to it is a local swimming pool, so if you're looking for a shower (those campers) head there, it's just 500ISK. We had lunch there, cause they provided a buffet. It was hearty, fruits, vegetables, some curries, soups and of course Plokurfiskur. 

Join the tourists at Geysir

coordinates: 64.310407, -20.302342

That... is NOT Geysir. That's it's smaller cousin, Strokkur. So in 2008, there was an earthquake that turn the active, and much larger, geysir into a pool of still water. But it shook Strokkur awake. So now, hordes of tourists gather around it, waiting to get the money shot. It's a beautiful thing to witness, and a really pleasant, short hike to do in the beautifully chilly weather. See:



Stay at the Buubble

add: They only reveal the address after you've booked to help maintain the privacy of the tents

I found the Buubble stay by chance online. So as you can see, it's a transparent bubble-shaped tent. Warm air is pumped into the tent, where there's a super-soft bed inside (all ikea stuff). The toilet is located AWAY from the tent, in a little box where there's a working kitchen, a table, coffee and tea facilities and shower facilities. Think of it as glamping. If you're concerned about privacy, you have nothing to worry about, there are about five bubble tents in total, all spaced far away from each other and surrounded by trees. Located on a remote farm (they give you the coordinates to the place about a month before your stay) there are no lights, so no one will be able to see you change. Each tent's equipped with a small torch and lamp, so that's good enough for light.



As the sun fades, a soft orange glow rises, apparently, it's the glow from the greenhouses close by. But come midnight, it fades away and you see actual stars (as long as its not a cloudy night).

No lie. It was magical, special, and we stayed from 3pm (check in time) till 12pm (check out time) the next day. It was so good to finally have a bed after sleeping on a thin mattress for so long.

<<Iceland 8 Day Honeymoon Roadtrip [DAY 6]     Iceland 8 Day Honeymoon Roadtrip [DAY 8]>>


Iceland 8 Day Honeymoon Roadtrip [DAY 6] The charms of Akureyri

DAY 6

We finally reached Akureyri, the captial of the North. Unlike ugly Reykjavik, Akureyri was exactly what I imagined of a beautiful European town. Quaint houses, quiet streets, and a shopping area of littler just abotu 150m only. It was picturesque and peaceful. 

We woke up late that day cause I had cooked curry the night before and... well.. had a bad stomachache lol. It was nice though, the campsite wardens were so pleasant.

Our goal today was to explore Akureyri and then head closer towards the golden circle.

Explore Akureyri's shopping district

You'll need to head to the bank to get a "clock". That's sort of like a parking coupon, but it's a complimentary adjustable paper clock to show the warden what time you'll be there from. From there you can have a gander around the whole area where you'll spot things like:


Have lunch at Akureyri Fish Restaurant

add: 12 600, Skipagata, 600 Akureyri, Iceland, tel: +354 414 6050
coordinates: 65.681981, -18.089389

Amazing fish and chips is to be had here. They have an excellent range of fish and chips dishes. You've got the common fish and chips, breaded fish with curly fries (I had that and I LOVED it)


As well as Plokurfisker: that's an Icelandic dish of mashed fish, mixed with potatoes, cream and butter baked in a cast iron pan. 


Grab some delicious cakes and baked goods

Baked goods in Akureyri is pretty delicious. The nearby bakery, Kristjans Bakari Bakery and Cafe is good for sandwiches and doughnuts, but a cool place to stop is Blaa Kannan Cafe which is a traditional cafe. Cosy, all covered in a natural wood and a display of beautiful cakes and pastries. Then stop by Kaffi Akureyri for their amazing Das Bomba:


This unhealthy confectionery of sunshine starts with a layer of toffee coated rice krispies as a base, topped with soft, whipped cream and giant chunks of meringues. I loooovveddd it!

Stop by Snorri's Pool

coordinates: 64.142430, -19.841877

This legendary pool was where historian Snorri (don't you dare laugh at his name!) would meet guests. So he'd come out that little door, chill in his pool and entertain guests. It was located in a little town that seemed very dead. Like, silent hill scary. So we skedaddled out of there after admiring the once warm and toasty pool. Now it was all mossy and cold cold cold. The pool's located in a town dedicated to Snorri, it's called Snorrastofa (the coordinates are to this town) and has a bunch of other landmarks dedicated to the guy. Honestly, the town isn't all that interesting, so only stop by here if it is on the way. You'll be passing through the Reykholt area.

Visit a steaming hot spring Deildartunguhver

coordinates: 64.664405, -21.411645

What was amazing about this steaming heap of mud and moss, surrounded by bubbling hot water, was the dog that accompanied it:

He let us pet him and everything!

What a majestic doggy
So a tour bus came after us, and the guide said that in the two to three years he's been coming there, this dog has been there to greet visitors. He didn't have a collar, was drinking from puddles, but seemed otherwise healthy and bright-eyed. We figured he belonged to the caretaker or something, cause someone left out fresh tomatoes on a cart daily for people to buy on the honor system. Take a bag, leave 300ISK. How nice right?! The dog was Iceland's very own breed of sheepdog. Immensely thick fur, big rolls of fat/muscle to keep them warm, and soft, soft fur.

Camp at Hverinn

add: Borgarfjarðarbraut, Kleppjárnsreykir, Iceland, web: hverinn.is, tel: +354 571 4433
coordinates: 64.655847, -21.407284
No pictures, but we much enjoyed this campsite. The shower was a communal one that could be shared by two people, and was in a little shed behind the restaurant. The owners of the restaurant served up delicious soup, and were such pleasant people. It felt so homely.

ICELAND 8 DAY HONEYMOON ROADTRIP [DAY 5] The fabulous Myvatn

DAY 5


After a really boring day of bad weather and driving, we wanted a win -  a day full of blue skies and plenty of things to see. Lucky, we were headed to the gorgeous Myvatn. We left Asbyrgi, a campsite in the middle of nowhere to head to the very happening Myvatn - volcano city surrounding a lake.

Stop by Myvatn's Visitor Centre

add: Hraunvegi 8, 660 Mývatni, tel:+354 464 4390
coordinates: 65.641535, -16.910958
It's great to stop here and speak to the service officer. There's a lot of things to do here, and she can help you decide what you ACTUALLY want to see. Abel and I stopped here to head to the supermarket that was just behind the centre, next door to look at some handicrafts, and just have a bit of down time from the whole travelling thing.

It was also here that we were told that using the F-roads (off-roads) to get back down to the Golden Circle would be a bigger  waste of time, as compared to taking the longer, but smoother, Ring Road. With that advice, we were give more time to explore gorgeous Myvatn

Visit Dimmuborgir

coordinates: 65.590989, -16.910509

A short drive around the lake and up a small hill, you'll find the entrance to Dimmuborgir, it's a maze of lava formations. The visitor's centre, which is also a cool cafe, at the top serves up a fantastic soup buffet, and from there, you get a great view of the entire lava maze.  They've marked out several paths too take along the maze, some shorter, some longer, depending on how far you want to walk. We took the shortest path hahahaha cause it was cold and we're lazy. It was a lovely walk, there were sheep just wandering amongst these contorted, majestic formations, the ground was covered in soft moss with small holes that look like gnome holes all over the place. Just look:

A wild sheep just chilling

The little holes in the rock really reminded me of gnome holes!
Just a short walk really opens your eyes to the magic of Iceland. Apparently, there are 13 gnome / goblin brothers around the lava formations that will trick you into following them hahaha.

Explore the boiling mud pools of Hverir

coordinates: 65.640910, -16.809290

You'll be able to smell Hverir a mile away. Actually, you'll be able to smell sulphur all over the place. The town and a few others are powered by steam from these amazing natural formations and other vents peppered around the region. Hverir is like a desert, albeit a cold one, peppered with boiling pots of mud and vents bursting with steam:


Head upwards to Viti Crater

coordinates: 65.047139, -16.725676

Viti, actually means "hell". See, it's a giant explosion crater on top of Krafla, but it looks nothing like hell. It's a deep shade of cloudy aquamarine that stretches at the bottom of the crater. Every time the wind blew (which was often), the surface of the water danced, and once again, it was exceptionally magical. 



Pop by Grjotagja to visit where Game of Thrones was filmed

coordinates: 65.615657, -16.853333

Like most of the attractions in Myvatn, you'll be able to spot this with the help of a huge number of cars gathered around a seemingly unimportant hole in a hill. But crawl down the hole, and you'll find a soothing pool of steaming water. It's the pool from Game of Thrones where Jon Snow and Ygritte got it on! You know, this scene:



But the pool is filled with clear, warm water at about 40-ish degrees, perfect for a dip in the cold weather. In the cave, you'll be sheltered, with just steam filling the cave. Unfortunately, the cave is off limits for a dip cause of the crumbling rocks. But you can climb in the take pictures!

Take a bath at the Myvatn Nature Baths

add: Jardbadsholar 660 Myvatn, Iceland, tel: +354 464 4411
coordinates: 65.631000, -16.847990

After a long day of tourist-ing we needed a LONG shower or... a hot bath! And the exciting thing was that the Myvatn Nature Baths were right by us. We stuffed our bags with swimming wear, towels, slippers and shampoo. Then there we went, past the SUPER cute guy at the reception and into the bath:


After you get past the communal showers (the number of naked bodies!) step out into the cold, you run into the somewhat warm waters of the immensely cool infinity bath. The milky waters had a current of warmth that spread throughout the bath, we moved around a lot trying to find that current of warmth. The bottom is sandy, sometimes pebbly, the sulphur smell permeates the area, but isn't completely unpleasant. There's a little stone bath just outside the pool that has hot water at a controlled temperature. Perfect!


I love it so much, but the only trouble was the people. Oh. My. God. What a tourist hole. The Americans really surprised me with their comments. There was a group of girls who crowded around the mossy stones where the water was warmer. Here are some choice quotes - cue very, very strong valleygirl accents:

"I feel like, you know, this year's my year." 
"I used to like, date, only hot guys. I mean, my ex, you should have seen this guy, he was hot. Like, seriously hot. So I told myself I needed a change, so I went for someone nice you know? Just... nice." 
"Like we were supposed to go out, but he said he had something special on that day, and it was like, he celebrates the anniversary of his new kidney, and like I had no idea! It's like a thing!" 
"Then he said, 'I fucking love you!' So I had to like say it back you know? But I like, I guess I just said it like, 'I fucking love you too!'"

Kill me.

We left after a soak in the tub, just in time to see the sun set over that beautiful place. 

Then, it was a quick drive to the capital of the north, Akureyri.

< Iceland 8 Day Honeymoon Roadtrip [DAY 6] >>