adventure, Architecture, art, backpacking, Bagan, culture, Fatty Koh, friendship, Mandalay, Myanmar bus, Myanmar starticket, Myanmar Travel Budget Tips, Nikon, photography, pinoy, pinoytraveller, thoughts, tour in bagan, travel, travel budget tips, travel tips, travels, wanderlust, Yangon, Yangon to city center
adventure, Architecture, art, backpacking, Busan, culture, grunge photography, Jeju Island, lifestyle, lightroom, Mandalay, Myanmar, nature, Nikon, people photography, personal, photography, Seoul, South Korea, street photography, travel, travels, wanderlust
Overdue photos of people I took last year in South Korea – Jeju Island, Busan and Seoul. I finally have the time to post some of it. My two-months backpacking photos all over Europe were deleted when I reformatted my macbook. So, I decided to post my other photos in case something similar happens. My blog is a back-up copy of my memories.
By the way, we are backpacking Myanmar tomorrow (Friday) until Sunday (3 days). Do you know where to spend 4-5 hours (1am to 5am) while waiting for Ubein’s sunrise? We’re thinking of booking a hostel but I don’t think it’s worth it. We will arrive in Mandalay from Bagan at 1 am. Either we stay at the bus station (Is it safe?) or go somewhere. We are a group of five so just need a safe place to chill out.
adventure, Architecture, art, backpacking, budget airlines to Hong Kong, Budget travel tips, cityscape, culture, Hong kong, Hong Kong Budget Travel Tips, Macau, Nikon, photography, thoughts, travels, wanderlust
Hong Kong can be an expensive city to travel so knowing some budget tips would help you plan ahead. Here are some information that I hope could help you to get around.
1. Airport to the city. The cheapest means to reach the city center is via bus. From HK Airport Terminal 2 to City Center, take A21 flyer bus (approximately 40-50 mins) for 33HKD or 4USD. It’s easy to find the bus station, just follow the signs inside the airport. Buy the ticket on the left side of the bus station entrance. Do not board the bus unless you have the bus ticket. They will only accept cash in fixed amount and will not give you any change. They will let you go off the bus if you insist in asking for the change. The bus routes are flashed on the top and on the sides near the handle bars.
2. Free wifi. HK airport has complimentary wifi so does the buses. (A21 bus has free wifi).
adventure, art, backpacking, Budget Trip for Taiwan, Budget Trips, Chinese lanterns, culture, grunge photography, hualien, photography, street photography, Taipei, Taiwan, Taiwan travel tips, Taroko, travels, wanderlust
Taipei is nothing but a shopping district. A Japanese we met in China described it as a big night market and found out to be true. If you really wanted to experience Taiwan, go outside Taipei. There are too many places to visit. We were supposed to go to Taroko but instead stayed in Hualien.
There is no train directly from Taipei Airport to the City center so take the bus 1841 (83NTD, 50 minutes). We stayed in Ximen Duckstay Hostel for 2 nights and it’s one of the best hostel (awarded) in the city (cleanliness, price, activities like free music jam) however, its location is not that good. For one, it’s hard to find it from the MRT. Use maps.me offline map, it’s really useful.
From Taipei, we opted to go South. Hualien faces the Pacific Ocean on the east with the Central Mountains on the west. It offers natural sceneries perfect for biking and hiking. Take the Taroko Express from Taipei for 440NTD / $14 (2 hours) but if you plan for just a day trip, take a return ticket for a much cheaper price (780NTD actual vs 880NTD budget).
On the train station is an Information Center, few steps from the train tracks. It’s best to stop over, ask for a free map and advice. They’re friendly and can speak good English. Taiwanese people speak better English than those from Mainland but they have a stronger accent easily discernible.
Food and accommodation are higher priced than Thailand and China. I was expecting it to be cheap. We hang around convenience stores and street stalls but still, it costs more. Someone told me (unverified), Mainland China is putting pressures on Taiwan so cost of living is high.
In case, you plan to travel further to Taroko, you can book a cab from the Information Center or hire bikes. It’s just 25 kms away.
adventure, art, Atomic Bomb Dome, Budget travel, Budget travel Japan, Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims, culture, grunge photography, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Castle, Japan, Peace Dome Hiroshima, photography, street photography, thoughts, Torri gate, travels, wanderlust
Hiroshima is the first city to experience a nuclear attack. It’s worth visiting to connect yourself with the city and their experiences. There is a free bus around the city so you can just hop on and off. Further read my post Budget Tips when travelling around Japan to get tips and tricks. One day is enough, you can go to Miyajima Island to see the famous Itsukushima shrine after.
This is one of the few buildings that remain standing after the 1945 bombing. The bomb was codenamed ‘Little Boy’.
The shape is to shield the victims from the rain. Directly behind it is a Peace Flame lit until the day that all nuclear weapons are destroyed (53 years and still going).
The castle was used as a war headquarter. It was also destroyed during the bombing but a replica was built serving as a present museum of Hiroshima’s history.
Shinto shrines are gated with a Torii to symbolizes one’s step to sanctity.
The rightmost boy gave me a paper crane and I just found out that it is a popular gift to bestow a thousand years of happiness and prosperity.
As opposed to my unfriendly expectation, the people are actually nice (and helpful with directions).
adventure, Architecture, Australia, backpacking, booking.com, Budget travel tips, Budget Travel Tips for Sydney, Bus 400 Bondi Junction, Bus 400 Burwood, Bus 400 from Sydney Airport, culture, Luna Park, Nikon, Opera House, photography, pinoy, pinoy traveller, skyscanner, Sydney, Sydney Airport by bus, Sydney Opera House, Travel tips Sydney, travels, Victoria Building, wanderlust
Budget Travel Tips:
aborigines, adventure, Anangu, art, Australia, autumn, Ayers Rock, backpacking, Budget Travel Tips for Uluru or Ayers Rock (Outback Australia), camels, culture, happiness, nature, Outback Australia, photography, Red Center, Sacred Uluru, thoughts, Tips for Uluru, travel tips, Travel Tips for Uluru or Ayers Rock, travelling to Ayers Rock, travelling to Uluru, travels, Uluru, wanderlust, wildlife
The Uluru or Ayers Rock is the world’s largest monolith created over 600 million years ago. It is considered the “heart” of the Red Centre or the Southern Australian outback desert. It attained its World Heritage Site position on both cultural and geological categories, among few sites with two listings. (I have a habit of visiting World Heritage sites whenever I travel).
I was determined to visit the area because of the many stories about the place. I was so curious as to why it seems this arid desert resembles the red planet Mars. I’m fascinated with the mythical stories of the aborigines and on cosmic conspiracy theories (Uluru is cited as one of the places in the world with strongest energy fields). You see, too many stories to be immersed, too many interesting facts, myths or fictions to uncover. It’s a gold mine for stories whether cultural, historical or out of this world.
The rock is considered sacred by the Anangu (aboriginal tribe) because they believe that some of their ancients are living in the rock and some of them (during the creation) even became part of the rock. Thus, each boulder, crack or formation has a story. It has no plant growing on it unlike other rock formations. Its color changes from sunset to sunrise from luminous red to purplish maroon. These are just some of the fascinating facts to wonder! Some parts are forbidden to be photographed and out of respect, they ask tourists not to climb, litter or vandalize.
We opted for the 10.1 km full base walk with the sun on its full glory. It was hot (but windy) so bring lots of water and some food. The distances of the water stations are too far so always ensure to fill it up before proceeding. By the way, I don’t know what’s with the desert but there are too many flies! And they are very annoying.
When I first set foot on the National Park, I was already captivated but I became more enthralled as we walked nearer. I saw rock caves, small waterholes and ancient prints! We even met two Anangu ladies asking for water. Some of these tribe folks (dating back 10,000 years) are working in the Ayers Resort and you’ll meet/see them everywhere.
Some Tips for your Travels
Two photos must be credited to my travel companion Mary – the one with our faces and the IG shoes. haha
adventure, backpacking, Chengdu, China, happiness, Jiuzhaigou, Jiuzhaigou National Park, Jiuzhaiguo, lakes, Nourilang Waterfalls, Panda Waterfalls, photography, Sichuan, Spring Airlines, thoughts, travels, Tsingtao beer, UNESCO, wanderlust, winter, Xinnanmen Bus Station
Jiuzhaigou National Park is a testament to Mother Nature’s work of wonder. It gives you a serene feeling, that surge of happiness and the answer to why keep travelling. It is China’s beautiful surprise to travellers. I was surprised! Especially with all the negative travel publicities in my twitter news feed. I was awed that they’re able to maintain the unspoiled look of the landscapes.
The National Park transports you somewhere in countryside Europe. The bus ride reminds me of Isle of Skye, the glassy waters bring back Interlaken, Switzerland and the sceneries are cut-outs from Bavaria, Germany. It’s more than beautiful. More than amazing.
The Park is part of the Tibetan plains occupying 700 hectares. It became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1992 and home to some Tibetan Villages. Don’t be surprised if some of the names are in Tibetan language and not the standard Chinese. Tibet border is only 2 hours away.
They say winter is not the best time to visit but I disagree. The whiteness of the snowy winter was in contrast with the glorious loud colours of the blue mountains, mirror green lakes, cascading waterfalls and the autumn leftover colors of the trees. Some of the lakes and waterfalls were frozen and you can visibly see what was trapped inside.
Based on my research (I researched a lot before any travel!), there is only one route to Jiuzhaigou – the bus – and nope, it’s not a sleeper’s bus. You have to sit for seven to nine hours from Chengdu. The endless view, though, compensates for your aching ass and stiff back. I think they’re already constructing a train but no one knows when.
I have low expectations of our China backpacking leg. I was looking forward to Mongolia but China came as an amazing addition to my travel stories. We never encountered rude stories or unfortunate acts from the locals. We were safe and had really fun. We met a family from Hong Kong with their two little kids following us everywhere. The nine-year-old boy wanted to be in our EVERY photo! What’s best, he became our tour guide! He was part of a tour group and could speak English well. We nicknamed him the TNB (Tunay na Boss) or little boss.
On our way to the park, we met a Dutch couple and they told us to show any kind of ID to the inspector to avail of student discount. Sorry but we obliged. We saved from CNY180 to CNY120 that includes entrance fee and the bus (back and forth) to the top. No worries, the money went to a good cause – tasting their local beers. Tsingtao beer is totally recommended! We met the couple again in the restaurant for dinner with my friend feeling embarrassed to take out our left-overs (she got a little crush on him).
By the way, we recommend our hostel YHA! The owner-receptionist upgraded us from a dormitory to a double room. He doesn’t speak/understand English but he would always find/call someone from his guests to help translate for us. He was very accommodating considering that we paid $5 each (105CNY) only (3 girls). Great location with 10-mins walk to the park and a neighbor to restaurants and convenience stores. Great value for your money.
Cheers from us! if you have questions, ask away!
adventure, art, backpacking, culture, friendships, Gaya's Guesthouse, Genghis Khan, ger camp, happiness, Karakorum, Kharkhorin, Mongolia, Mongols, nature, New Year 2017, photography, reflections, thoughts, travels, Ulaan Baatar, wanderlust, winter
Five days in the Land of Genghis Khan and I’m already planning of visiting it again. Its capital, Ulaan Baatar, is the coldest city in the world so our winter travel itinerary is actually a box of insanity. We bravely embraced the negative 30C temperature (swings to -50 at night) with thermal suits and layered coats. Still, what’s better time than the winter time. Imagine white snow draped over endless landscapes of green or brown ridges with cloudless blue sky or moonless starry night. Picture wild horses and camels traversing along the Gobi sands. Think of a city full of solitude with friendly smiles and tomato cheeks! A country rich with history. Freezing but fascinating.
From Beijing, we took the cheapest but the hardest route of land border travel. We hopped on a sleeper’s bus in Muxiyuan Bus Station (180CNY) and arrived in Erlian (inner Mongolia) the next day. We then took a pick up to Zamyn Udd (75CNY) and crossed over the border (1hr). Here we got on the famous Trans-Mongolian train (22,850 MNT) to the capital for 14 hours. It looks simple but actually not.
Some tips for your future travel:
It was in this journey that we met some interesting people with overwhelming kindness to strangers – Tsuyoshi from Japan and the locals Tsengel, Altaa, Ugna (+boyfriend) and Gaya. Mongolia has one of the biggest black markets in the world so one has to be extra careful. Tsuyoshi who goes by his last name Abe never left us from Beijing to Mongolia and back to China even though we are 3 crazy girls with imposing attitudes. Tsengel, a Mongolian postgraduate student in Beijing, went home to his family only after he walked us to our hotel, exchange currency and settled to a local buffet. All through the night aboard the Trans-Mongolian train, he only slept after looking over us. Altaa, Ugna and boyfriend also helped us crossed the border and mind you, it’s not a friendly place for female travellers. This border is identified as a human trafficking hotspot. Many women disappeared and never resurfaced. So, I was really relieved and thankful that we made it smoothly.
From Ulaan Baatar, we moved to the 13th century capital of the Great Mongol Empire, Karakorum/Kharkhorin, to experience living in a traditional ger camp. The temperature was supposed to be a bit friendlier because it’s down south but we ended in a blistering cold (I was swearing at some point during the night even after chugging on some vodka). Still, the ger experience is one of kind. It offers a slice of the traditional lives of the Mongols. If you plan to visit it, pls contact Gaya and she will arrange everything for you. She has a magic wand to whip whatever you need! Her website is http://gayas-guesthouse.strikingly.com/ or send an email to email@example.com. She opened the Erdene Zuu Monastery for us!
On our last day, we had an unfortunate event. My friend’s wallet was stolen by a pickpocket in the bus station. Fortunately, her passport, phones and other valuables were not taken. Nevertheless, this incident can never eclipsed our amazing Mongolian experience. It was too short but fun – trekking the old silk road in Karakorum, seeing the Gobi desert, appreciating their culture and cuisine, walking on the paths previously walked on by the Great Mongol Empire and being at the receiving end of the local’s hospitality. It was actually an epic adventure, one for the books.
I think you’ll appreciate Mongolia if you have knowledge of its rich history (Genghis and Kublai Khans, Marco Polo, Manchurias, Yuan dynasty, Silk road etc.). Else, you’ll find it as just one exotic country. By far, this is my coldest travel experience.
[Unedited version] Written aboard the plane yesterday from Taipei to Bangkok. My 1st journal for 2017.
Every person has its own story. Every story has its own ending. Every ending leads to a new beginning. Cheers to 2017.
adventure, Asahikawa, backpacking, Chitose, culture, happiness, inspiration, Japan, JR pass, Kansai, Kansai thru' pass, Kobe, Lake Shikotsu, photography, thoughts, Tips and Tricks When Visiting Japan, Tokyo, Tokyo Tower, travels, wanderlust
This Samurai Country of Contrasts offers endless sceneries, adventures and stories. We backpacked 13 cities from urban to remote areas – from snowy-frosty places to summer-feel prefectures. Autumn is beautiful and so is the fall of snow. October is definitely the best time to visit.
I’m an introvert but when it comes to travel, you’ll see me pushing for things / experiences bordering to being an extrovert. Yes to exhaustion until you no longer feel your legs. Yes to meeting strangers and chatting with them until dawn. Yes to both quantity and quality of fun travel escapades!
I don’t pay for travel just to sit on a fine restaurant or chill on a park. I pay to learn about myself, people around me and the places I’ve never been to. I can always sit, sleep and chill back home. I want everything when I travel and this is what I got in Japan… Everything.
Here are few tips and tricks for those traveling for the first time.
I wasn’t a fan of Japan before. I thought it was overrated but after spending more than 2 weeks from north to south, I can say, it’s worth visiting it. Next time, I’d love to go back to Totori and Nagasaki! And maybe, Wakkanai (can you really see Russia from here???) That would be another great travel to add in my list.
This is a long overdue post. We visited Japan last October covering Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kobe, Himeji, Nara, Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone, Tokyo, Hakodate, Chitose, Sapporo, and Asahikawa).
I’ve been away from blogging for almost two months now. I got a bit busy with some personal things. Also, I only have 2% remaining space with this blog site and I’m still thinking whether to register it at $18/year or time to stop and move on.
Anyway, I just have to share you my travel photos of the so-called Thailand’s Grand Canyon and Snow Mountain. I don’t usually post photos with people’s faces (friends and travel companions) but I am making this an exception. This could be my last blog post so why not. [After this post, it’s 0% space! haha]
The so-called Grand Canyon in Chonburi, Thailand offers a good view of the surrounding mountains and of the man-made lake below the view-point. It’s actually a remnant of an excavation years ago then eventually shaped by nature to become what it is today. The place is not accessible by public transportation so you have to drive over or hire a cab.
The Snow Mountain is not really full of snow but of white rocks. It’s fascinating and offers a beautiful backdrop for a photo shoot. It’s great for a prenup concept!
Side note: I and Dessa will be flying to Japan for 2 weeks in October (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Miyaji Island, Sapporo & Hakodate in Hokkaido, Fuji, and Nara). Our budget is only $1,300 (hopefully, we can make it alive!). Can anyone recommend a budget hostel and/or some tips how to survive in Japan? I’ll gladly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
[Friends, if you want your photos to be deleted, send me a message.]
adventure, Architecture, art, culture, Emperor Hadrian, Great Eye, italy, Marcus Agrippa, Margarita Luti, Maria Bibbiena, oculus, photography, pinoy, Raphael's tomb, Rome, The Pantheon, travels, wanderlust
Rome’s Pantheon in Italy is one of the most beautiful and impressive structures that dominate the archaic Roman landscape. Its architectural brilliance will surely capture anyone’s interest. This ancient 2,000-year-old pagan temple by Emperor Hadrian was converted to a Christian church in the 7th century. Though, originally it was dedicated to the victims of the Battle of Actium, the last war forcing the defeated lovers Marc Anthony and Cleopatra to commit suicide. Currently, it is being used as a church and tomb to prominent figures like the first King of Italy. [Note: entrance is free!]
The first thing that you’ll notice is the building’s grand portico (entrance). It has eight massive Corinthian columns with elegant inscriptions bearing the name of Marcus Agrippa, the original builder. When you enter, look upward to the most spectacular sight of the Pantheon, the dome’s oculus or sometimes referred as the Great Eye. It’s the hole at the top of the ceiling supported by a series of arches. Its natural light beams straight on to the entrance at some precise moments. This led to some people’s belief that the Pantheon is a colossal sundial. It’s really beautiful when the sun rays create a white spotlight as if you are walking on hallowed grounds.
I guarantee that the structure’s grandeur will surely consume you with astonishment. The frescoes of saints above the ceiling are just too extravagantly illustrious but note that these are modern additions to the old Pantheon. The high altar adorned with beautiful pieces of chandeliers, gilded candle holders and other Catholic embellishments is beautifully spread out on the central chapel. In some of the niches, there are numerous striking paintings hanging behind brick walls like Madonna of Mercy and the Assumption. Surely, this is the best place for art junkies, architecture enthusiasts and history buffs.
The gilded and lavish sculptures inside the rooms are too imposing along side ostentatious marble interiors, granite columns and fancy bronze doors. This is a beautiful manifestation of Roman Empire prowess and wealth. I learned that some of the materials were imported from the Egyptian desert to the Nile River through the Mediterranean regions and finally to Rome. That would have cost a great deal to Rome’s coffers.
One of the engineering marvels of the Pantheon is the strength of the dome and how it stood centuries without toppling down into the ground. Much of the composition of the structure’s concrete still puzzle modern architects and builders. All of Pantheon’s construction and positioning techniques make it an architectural feat that could go down as one of the world’s bests.
By the way, did you know that the great artist Raphael is buried in the Pantheon with his fiancee? This is more than the motivation needed for me to push whatever is necessary to make it happen. I’ve seen most of his exceptional works in Vatican so it’s imperative to see him or his burial grounds. I guess, for me, it’s just fulfilling. Oh, and Raphael died in the hands of his lover/model Margarita Luti, a baker’s daughter, never got to marry his fiancee, Maria Bibbiena, the cardinal’s niece. One of those tragic love stories during their time. See, there’s too much historical information and graphic details inside the Pantheon that you should definitely uncover!
Thanks and until the next post.
adventure, Architecture, Chacheongsao restaurants, culture, food, gastronomy, nature, photography, recommended Thai Restaurant, restaurant review, Rom Mai Sai Than Restaurant, Thai cuisine, thai local dishes, Thai restaurant, thailand, travels, wanderlust
There are only few good restaurants around Chachoengsao, about 70 kms away from Bangkok, Thailand. But, its position along the widely stretched Bangpakong River makes some restaurants looking like romantic and serene destinations. Usually, their specialties and recommended dishes are fresh seafood. So, if you want a place with a relaxing ambience and good food, I recommend Rom Mai Sai Than Restaurant.
The Rom Mai Sai Than is a garden restaurant with a nature-inspired theme. It is a quiet space that provides tranquility far away from the hubbubs of crowds or urban settings. The melodramatic appeal at dusk when the lights are turned on and the stillness of the river make it more cozy, inviting and full of warmth. This is a perfect getaway if you just want to hang around and breathe peacefully.
I love the concept from the designs to the selection of wood items, nature elements and brick materials. Comfortable wooden furniture, roof, dividers and other items blend well with the natural texture and feel of the whole dining area. Some species of animals like peacocks and exquisite birds are hanging behind thriving trees. Flowering plants, canopied trees and beautifully-shaped shrubs promise a dining pleasure in a casual open- air way. It throws everything to create a rustic garden with fountains, bamboo trees and forest flora. It is simply cool with a fresh feeling.
This is a Thai restaurant so the selection of meals is mostly local dishes. The food is undeniably good for any occasion. Honestly, I am not into Thai cuisine so I am picky to appreciate good ones. Value for money and ambience are the best features of Rom Mai Sai Than. Try it and give me a shout out/comment after.
Address: Pak Khlong Tah Raj, Phra Satoop Jedi Road, Bang Khla Subdistrict, Bang Khla District, Chachoengsao, Thailand
Phone number: 0-3854-2794 or 0-86155-7111
Opening hours: 10:30 am to 11:00 pm
Quote for the day: