Monday, 15 January 2018

Half Day Trip to Medjugorje

The story of Medjugorje had intrigued me ever since I read Medjugorje: The Message by Wayne Weible as a teenager on a journey of discovering God's love and the Catholic faith.



So when I was in Bosnia & Herzegovina in September last year, I decided that I must visit Medjugorje to see and experience the little town.

Getting to Medjugorje

I visited Medjugorje on a half day trip from Mostar.

To get from Mostar to Medjugorje, you'll need to take the bus that runs from Mostar to Split in Croatia as it stops at Medjugorje along the way.



Mostar bus station:



The first bus to Split leaves Mostar bus station at 11.00am and takes about an hour to reach Medjugorje. The ticket price is 5 KM.

The last bus from Medjugorje to Mostar is at 2.00pm. Make sure you don't miss this bus or else you would have to take the taxi home and it's not cheap.

If you intend to attend the Sunday Mass in English at St James Church (click here for weekly programme) or spend time in prayer or even hike up Apparition Hill to recite the rosary, then perhaps getting your own transport to Medjugorje would be a wiser option so that you don't have to be at the mercy of the bus times.

The Church of St James

There is only one church in Medjugorje and it's called the Church of St James:



Make sure you adhere to the dress code before entering the church:



Inside the church:


I arrived at the church around 1.00pm and Mass had already ended by then. This was because I had mistakenly gotten off the bus at a town before Medjugorje, got lost and ended up taking a taxi to Medjugorje. So by the time I arrived at the Church of St James, the 12 noon English Mass had already ended. Nevertheless I still recited a prayer and sat in silence for a while.

On the right wing of the church is the Queen of Peace shrine:

Our Lady had identified herself as Queen of Peace when she appeared to the six children in 1981. Thus, the name of the shrine.


After praying, I came out from the church and started exploring. I saw this signboard about the major areas in the compound:



This is the legend in English:



The afternoon sun was hot and it was soon time for the last bus at 2.00pm from Medjugorje back to Mostar. So I decided not to walk around the church compound to look for the statues and stations of the cross. Instead, I went out from the church compound.

Outside the Church of St James

This is the road in front of the church:



The row of shops in front of the church sells rosaries, holy pictures, statues, scapulars and other religious items by the thousands, and all reasonably priced too. I bought two rosaries and two fridge magnets (of the Virgin Mary and Holy Family) for EUR10.00.

Shopping haven for religious articles. You'll be spoilt for choices.


Beside the Church of St James are hotels for those who wish to stay a night or two:



Getting Out of Medjugorje

The Medjugorje bus station is about 650m from the Church of St James:

Bus station looking so lonely.


There are also taxis to bring you to touristy places like Mostar, Split and Dubrovnik. If you're interested, here's the price list:



Conclusion

I was hoping to experience a surreal experience of Our Lady's message at Medjugorje, but no, I didn' experience anything like that. Maybe because I had spent only an hour in Medjugorje and didn't attend Mass, let alone do the other stuff that pilgrims do like recite the rosary or spend time in prayer. Perhaps my experience would have been different had I spent a longer time in Medjugorje.

At the end of the day, our faith is what we carry in our hearts. We don't need to make pilgrimages thousands of kilometres from home just to experience God's love. His love is found in our everyday lives, in our homes and in our hearts.


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Kerala Blog Express Season 5 - Please Vote for Me

I was having dinner on 1 January 2018 when I received an email from Kerala Tourism that my profile on the Kerala Blog Express website has been approved. A positive start to 2018, I must say.

The Kerala Blog Express is a bloggers meet where 30 travellers from around the world will be selected for a 2-week road trip through the state of Kerala in India. Kerala also has a cool nickname called God's Own Country.

Since it's a bloggers meet, participants are required to blog about their experiences in Kerala during the road trip and engage their followers through social media like Twitter and Instagram.

The event is organised by the Department of Tourism, Kerala.

Selection of the final 30 travellers is done by voting and judges decision. This is where I need your help to vote for me. Just go to the website here and vote for Julie Lim from Malaysia. Voting ends on 10 January 2018.

There are many participants from around the world, some already garnered hundreds of votes, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I haven't been to India but I've heard alot about Kerala from my Malaysian Indian friends who have relatives there or who have been to God's Own Country themselves. If I get selected I promise to share my experiences of Kerala through my blog.

Thank you so much in advance for your vote.  


Sunday, 31 December 2017

Highlights of 2017

1) Visited Japan in June

Covered Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in that order.

The highlights of the trip was the super expensive Shinkansen train ride from Kyoto to Tokyo and the eye opeing experience of bathing in an onsen completely nude with other women.

 Was happy to see a familiar face (look at the yellow flag) in Dotonbori, Osaka.


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2) Visited Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro in September

That trip was one of the best trips I've had in a long time.

The Balkans is certainly blessed with amazing landscapes, aquamarine waters and awesome weather. It was also relatively easy to travel through these 3 countries.

I think it's kinda cool that they built this basketball court inside the Old City of Dubrovnik in Croatia.


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3) Visited London in September

London was my entry into Europe where I stayed with friends.

It was my second time in London (first trip was in September 2009) and this time I observed the following:

a) The locals are more friendlier. My friend said it's because Great Britain is no longer great after it voted out from the EU. So the locals have been made humble.

b) There were tourists everywhere. Perhaps the weakening of the GBP have enabled more people to visit London.

c) There were many foreign workers from other parts of Europe working in London.

d) London has become dirtier. There were rubbish everywhere. I found food wrappers and paper cups stuffed between shrubs/plants in that little square in front of the Bank of England where the London Troops War Memorial is. I also found chewing gum stuck on the underside of railings.

e) The British Museum and St Paul's Cathedral certainly needs a new coat of paint. Both buildings look rundown from the outside.

Having said all that, I did have a marvellous time in London. Some of the things I did:

- Went to the Bank of England to change an old 50 pound note for a colleague.
- Had dinner at Jamie's Italian restaurant on Threadneedle street.
- Visited the Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum.
- Went to Bicester Village to get two TOD's bags and two Longchamp bags.

London is a great city and I'll never get tired of visiting it again.


The Natural History Museum in London.


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4) Started participating in runs

- 2017 is the year that I ran my first 10km at the MPI Generali Run on 8 January 2017 to be exact. I've been running 5km all these while, so I thought why not up the game. Fellow running enthusiasts have encouraged me to do a half marathon next, but let's see it goes.

- Emerged 10th place in the 5km Women's Open KL New Year's Day Run

- Emerged 8th place in the 10km Women's Veteran HSN21KM Run on 14 October 2017.

- Participated in 8 runs and 2 bandit runs

- Still trying to do a sub 1 for 10km, best time is 1:04:28



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5) Collected 12 Hard Rock Bottle Openers (City-T Guitar V+)

- Bali Cafe
- Bali Airport
- Hamburg
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Kota Kinabalu
- Lisbon
- London
- Munich
- Osaka
- Podgorica
- Sentosa Singapore
- Tokyo

Didn't expect such a haul but luck was on my side because friends were travelling and I requested them to get the magnets for me.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that Kuala Lumpur finally has changed its bottle opener after having the previous one for ages.

The latest Kuala Lumpur bottle opener.


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May 2018 bring good health, happiness and success to everyone!


Photo was taken at the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan.


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