I considered myself as a countryside lover. After a few days of exploring Seoul city, I planned a last-minute trip to visit Suwon. Initially I was considering between Suwon and Nami Island, Chuncheon, Gangwon Province (since I saw many people took nice pictures at Nami Island, it is famous because it was the place where it filmed the classic drama <<Winter Sonata>> I didn’t even watch one episode. Opps..
After seeking my friend’s advice, I have chosen SUWON as my one-day trip.
What’s Special in SUWON?
SUWON is the largest city in Gyeonggi-do province, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hwaseong Fortress or Suwon Hwaseong is a late 18th-century historic fortress surrounding the centre of Suwon.
According to Wikipedia, King Jeongjo apparently built Hwaseong Fortress to prepare for a move of the capital from Seoul to Suwon.The king wanted to leave the factional strife of the court to carry out reforms and believed that Suwon had the potential to grow into a new and prosperous capital.
How to get to Suwon by Public Transport ?
I took a Subway line from Seoul station to Suwon Station which is also the most economical way to there. It took about 1 hour to arrive to Suwon.
Alternatively, you may go for another option by taking Nooriro train (arrive in 30 minutes), travel non stop from Seoul Station to Suwon Station.
If you plan to reach to Suwon in the fastest way, the most expensive way is by taking the KTX.
How to get to Hwaseong Fortress at the centre of Suwon?
Once you have arrived at Suwon station, first thing is to look for Suwon Tourism Center and get some information about Suwon and which bus number to take to Hwaseong Fortress. The staff at the tourism center are able to communicate well in English language.
The tourism center is located near exit #4 of Suwon station, it takes less than 3 minutes walking distance from exit #4. If you are not sure how to go there, try asking help at the counter of Suwon station.
Walking around the City Walls of Hwaseong Fortress
Before started walking up to the wall, let’s explore the downtown and morning market.
Hwaseong Fortress combines both traditional Eastern & Western architecture styles and it has in total of 4 gates: “Hwaseomun” (west gate), “Janganmun” (north), “Paldalmun,” (south) and Changnyongmun (east). And among the four gates, Janganmun and Paldalmun gates are the larger one.
It circles right around the city and it takes about 2-3 hours just to walk around. I stopped in the half way and checked out a few nice cafés:
Eventually I chose this artistic cafe:
Here came to the end of my Suwon 1-day tour. I was happy and enjoyed my ME time in Suwon. It was a worth to walk around the city and got to enjoy the beautiful scenes along the way.
Hope I will be back to South Korea soon ~ miss the skincare shopping though hahah. Next upcoming post: Continue my Seoul trip – Day 5 – Day 8
Labuan is known as the Pearl of Borneo, which is also a Federal Territory of Malaysia. Many people have the wrong perception that this state is part of Sabah. When everyone seems neglected about this place, I was curious about how this place looks like.
It consists of one large and six smaller islands in East Malaysia.
Because Labuan was proclaimed as a Federal Territory and it is also a duty-free island.
It is an island that you get to enjoy the beach and diving activities here.
It is best for a weekend getaway which only takes about 2 ½ hours flight from KL to Labuan.
The food is cheap especially the seafood and you get to explore the island by renting a car here.
Labuan is a peaceful place and everyone living in harmony.
Grab car service is convenient here. Furthermore, most of the grab drivers are driving the imported car (because of free tax) hence you get to experience to sit in different types of cars. The grab service was relatively cheap where some distance just cost us RM2 per ride only.
What to see in Labuan? First Day
As mentioned, Labuan is a place that you get to explore by car.
We rented a car which cost us RM60 per day to explore the town. There are many car rental services counters available in the airport. For our case, we rented the car at the hotel.
The Chimney Museum
Our first stop was the Chimney Museum, which takes 20 minutes to drive from downtown to there.
The famous “Chimney”, a 106 feet high red brick stack believed to be linked to the coal mining days of Labuan. The Chimney is still very much a mystery until today.
Opening Hours: Everyday from 8:00 am to 5:00 p.m.
Along the way, we stopped by at the Palm Beach Resort & Spa beachside (which just took 3 minutes’ drive from Chimney Museum) to enjoy the wind and wave.
Peace Park (locally known as Taman Damai)
The next stop was at Taman Damai ( Peace Park), located in Kg Layang – Layangan, near to the beach. This is the Park which built as a memorial to peace.
This place has a historical story about the surrender of the Japanese force at the end of WWII. This is another place for local people to get to relax and enjoy during the weekend or after work.
It is another memorial spot located in Peace Park. From the history, this is the place where Japanese forces officially surrendered their ruling on Labuan to the Australian in charge.
From here, you get to see a nice view of the South China Sea in front of the beachside.
During the evening time, it is good to have a tea break at Mortar café to avoid the high temperature outside. The contemporary design and relaxing music in the cafe make you wanted to stay longer in the café.
There are many varieties of food to try in Mortar.
For dinner time, we went to Mr. Crab Restaurant to try out the food.
The seafood here is relatively Fresh & CHEAP!
We have ordered 3 dishes for 2 people and guess how much the Crab costs? RM9.00 per crab!!!
On day 2, we started our trip by exploring the downtown in Labuan. Downtown
We randomly chose a local restaurant and tried out the “Kolo Mee” here and walked around the town.
Another place of attraction in Labuan. It is just 6 minutes drive from the town.
This is the water villages which are mostly lived in by the Brunei Malays.
Again, after taking some nice pictures we thought of going back to the walk the market at the town.
Most of the stalls were going to close when we arrive, however, we managed to check out more info about Pulau Papan tour at the tourism office.
Next, we continued our road trip to the war cemetery.
According to Wikipedia: “This is a Commonwealth World War II graveyard in Labuan, Malaysia. Many of the personnel buried in this cemetery, including Indian and Australian troops, were killed during the Japanese invasion of Borneo or the Borneo campaign of 1945”
The place was similar to the place where I have visited in Kanchanaburi Thailand.
八仙庙 Ba Xian Temple
It would be easier to search the temple by typing the Chinese name: 八仙庙 cause it was a struggle for us at first to find this place via google map.
Luckily enough the local people willing to guide us and they even showed us the temple by driving the car to there.
UTC & Labuan Central Market
Labuan International Sea Port Sports Complex
You get to visit the aqua world with FREE admission. If you compare the other aqua place this is a slightly smaller museum but it’s definitely no harm of paying a visit.
During evening time, you get to enjoy the relaxing time just right outside of the sports complex.
Here they are selling the local Ramli Burger, Cendol and Keropok.
While spending your time to enjoy the sunset there, having a chillaxing time in front of the beach is totally worth it.
Yumcha at the Hotel rooftop bar
As Malaysian, we always enjoy the night time to have a “drink” outdoor.
The types of drink we would choose mainly sweet drinks, for example, Milo, Horlicks, Teh Tarik, Air Limau, etc.
I love the design at this rooftop bar at our hotel.
The price of the drinks was cheap. The rooftop is opened to the public as well, you will get to have a meal or drink here even if you are not staying at this hotel.
Day 3: Pulau Papan
This is the last day of Labuan.
We have decided to book a short and quick tour to Pulau Papan @9am (for an hour visit) before rushing back to the airport to catch the flight at 12 pm.
From the town to Pulau Papan, it just took about 15 minutes speed boat ride.
It was a private tour for both of us along with a tour guide to introduce us about the island.
We get to know more about this island and took some nice pictures then heading back to the town and checked out of the hotel.
Our last mission was to try out the coconut pudding at Labuan.
After booking a grab car, the driver stopped us at the restaurant and take away the pudding then sending us to the airport for departure.
While on the way, she shared with us if we have known her earlier, she would have recommended us to try out another seafood restaurant in Labuan.
This is another island to explore but we did not get a chance to visit that time. If you love diving, I believe this would be another paradise to you.
Ferry to Brunei
I would definitely consider taking a ferry trip to Brunei from Labuan terminal for my next visit.
Where did we stay? Hotel Labuan Point
Despite it was not situated in the middle of the downtown, this hotel provides a quiet place to stay. As long as you are using Grab Car or renting a car at Labuan, it is not a big issue for you to go everywhere.
An affordable price for two persons. The rooftop bar design for nice to hang out with friends or for couple dating.
How did I feel about Labuan?
Overall I like about Labuan how everyone living in a peaceful and harmonious life together. The driving pace is in slow motion and it is a close community where everyone seems to know each other.
One of the highlights is the daytime temperature was super high as compare in KL. There was no joke and according to travel wiki, apparently, daytime temperatures may be slightly higher than other parts of Malaysia.
Despite the hot sun, there are many things you get to explore in Labuan. Furthermore, there are a lot of FREE things you could do here. Throughout the 3 days 2 nights trip, we did not even pay a single fee for parking or any museum admission.
The overall expenses here were cheap and affordable.
The whole trip we were just spending around RM500 inclusive flight tickets for 3 days 2 nights trip.
If there is a chance, I do not mind to visit Labuan again to visit Pulau Rusukan and taking a ferry trip to Brunei.
Rough expenses breakdown (per person):
Return Tickets: RM128 Food: RM100 Transport: RM100 Hotel: RM80 Boat fare to Pulau Papan: RM30-RM50 Total: Around RM400-RM500 for 3 Days 2 nights trip
After 2 days 1 night in Katoomba, I took another 2 hours train ride back to the central station.
It is always convenient to check the train arrival time (from google map) before heading to the train station to avoid waiting at the train station for an hour.
I took the 620pm train where it arrived central at 821pm. From the central station, change another train at Platform T4, then 5 stations to stop at Bondi Junction Station. From there, take another bus ride (No. 380, Stand B), 13 stops, 11 minutes to arrive at Bondi Beach, Stand C bus stop.
Good Tip: If you are unsure where to change the train or bus, it is always good to ask people around. Most of the time people are willing to help.
The bus arrived at 905pm and stopped right in front of the hostel: Noahs Bondi Backpackers
Good Tip: As a female traveller, I always search for the strategic location for accommodation which means easy to access and within walking distance from public transport.
Furthermore, the hostel is just right in front of Bondi beach. I walked around the beach area and enjoyed the night view here:
BONDI ICEBERGS CLUB:
“Located at the southern end of Bondi Beach, Bondi Icebergs Club is an international landmark, and no trip to Sydney is complete without a visit to our pool and clubhouse.
Bondi Icebergs has been the home of Winter swimming since 1929 and our famous pool is open to visitors all year round. Located above the pool, our fully licensed clubhouse is open to both members and guests, and all visitors are welcome to enjoy sweeping views over the pool and Bondi beach as they drink or dine on our sunny balcony.” – icebergs.com.au
night viewThe famous Bondi Baths have been a historical landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years.
POOL ADMISSION ENTRY FEES
Child (12 years & under) $5.50
Seniors Card Holders $5.50
Family (2 Adults & up to 3 Children): $24
Yoga Entry: $8
Locker Hire: $3
Towel Hire: $4
Learn to Swim Spectator: $4
For more information: https://icebergs.com.au/swimming-pool/pool-sauna/
DAY 5: BONDI BEACH
I spent most of my day in Bondi beach on day 4 and Intan decided to join me at Bondi beach. The hostel has a nice big balcony which allows the guests to chill at the area.
A coastal walk from the Bondi to Coogee is also another popular activity in Bondi. It is six kilometers long and takes about two hours to complete the whole trail and you will get to enjoy the beautiful coastline vistas and cozy beaches.
It is advisable to walk in the early morning to avoid sunburn. Or else remember to bring the hat and sunscreen.
We stopped at the Tamarama Beach Sydney and had some fun and a great time here:
During lunchtime, we have decided to try out the well-known Hurricane’s Grill in Sydney:
No doubt, it is the “Best pork ribs in Sydney!”
After lunch, we were back to the Bondi beach and enjoyed the sunbath.
It is time to leave the beach and heading back to the city area. For the next two days, I have reserved the 2 remaining stays at Redfern. This area is an inner-city suburb of Sydney and it is located 3 kilometers south of the Sydney central business district. I have been hearing different reviews about Redfern and I’ve searched the area that that would be interested to explore:
“I’ve been told that the Sydney suburb of Redfern, the long-time home to many Aboriginal people, has changed. I’ve been asked if Redfern is safe. It is a few years since I have been here and I have come to see for myself. As I leave Redfern Station, I silently acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and pay my respects to Elders past and present.”
As usual, it is always good to use common sense and guts feeling whenever you decided to adventure something.
It started to rain heavily during my last two days in Sydney. However, it did not stop me to explore around the city.
Day 6: REDFERN – UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY – OPERA HOUSE
When the heavy downpour stopped, I started to walk around Redfern area in the early morning.
Views from Redfern along the way to the University of Sydney:
UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
It is worth to pay a visit to the University of Sydney since it was:
-Established in 1850
-Australia’s first University
-One of the world’s leading, comprehensive research and teaching institutions.
-Ranked in the top 50 universities in the world
From the University of Sydney, I used the google map to find a way back to the central district:
The final stop was to see through the Sydney Opera House with closed eyes.
The weather was gloomy and drizzling during the evening time.
I gave a quick walk to The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney which was just right next to Sydney Opera House.
That pretty much summed up my trip to Sydney.
How did I feel about Sydney?
Sydney is a high living expenses city, however, there were many nice, cheap and free things you could do in Sydney. Do your own research and plan your trip nicely, you would not need to need to have a high budget to travel around the city. Aside from the town, it is recommended to spend a few days in the countryside. If you have noticed, most of my travel focus is on sightseeing, understanding the local cultures and take a chance to interact with the locals and meeting new people.
That is also one of the reasons why I enjoyed traveling alone.
EXPENSES (Conversion rate: AUS 1: MYR 3)
Hostel: AUD 166.78 Food: AUD 70 Transportation: AUD 60 Flights: Average RM1100 – RM1500 (return tickets)
RM422 (1 way from KL -Sydney, 20 kg check-in luggage) – Air Asia
RM270 (1 way from Sydney to Melbourne comes with 10 kg check-in luggage) -Tiger Air
RM 990 (1 way from Melbourne back to KL, 20 kg check-in luggage) – Air Asia
Total: RM890 + RM1500 = Approximately RM2300 (For 6 days 5 nights trip)
DAY 2: ROYAL NATIONAL PARK – WEDDING CAKE ROCK- NORTH CRONULLA BEACH
DAY 3: I’M FREE WALKING TOURS SYDNEY – MANLY BEACH – KATOOMBA
DAY 4: BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK- THREE SISTERS – BONDI JUNCTION – BONDI ICEBERGS CLUB:
DAY 5: BONDI BEACH – COASTAL WALK FROM BONDI TO COOGEE – TAMARAMA BEACH – REDFERN
DAY 6: REDFERN – SURRY HILLS – UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY – VICTORIA MARKET – OPERA HOUSE – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN
DAY 7: SYDNEY DOMESTIC AIRPORT – MELBOURNE
Sydney is situated on Australia’s east coast and it is the state capital of New South Wales.
Everyone said Sydney is an expensive city, no doubt the cost of living here is high. My Sydney trip was mainly focused on sightseeing and exploring free things to do here.
I started to track the flight ticket price since a half year ago before my trip starts:
My Flight ticket:
RM422 (1 way from KL -Sydney, 20 kg check-in luggage) – Air Asia
RM270 (1 way from Sydney to Melbourne comes with 10 kg check-in luggage) – Tiger Air
RM 990 (1 way from Melbourne back to KL, 20 kg check-in luggage) – Air Asia
Total Flight Fares = RM 1682
Since I was visiting both cities of Sydney and Melbourne, here is a brief history between Sydney – Melbourne rivalry:
“There has been a long-standing rivalry between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in Australia. The rivalry between the cities was the reason that neither Sydney (the oldest and now largest city) nor Melbourne (the largest city at the time) was chosen as the capital of Australia when the nation was federated in 1901. Because of this disagreement, section 125 of the Australian Constitution specified that Melbourne would initially serve as the seat of government on a temporary basis, while the permanent capital of the new Commonwealth must be located within the area of New South Wales but at least 100 miles from Sydney. This city became Canberra.” ~ Wikipedia
It is a useful and convenient card to be used for public transports access. You may get the card once you have arrived at the airport.
Tip: For Opal Card, apparently after you have used $15 a day it is free. So you can use ferries (check which ones) buses metro etc all day and that saves you an awful lot of money.
As mentioned previously, On every Sunday, the public fares only cost AUS 2.70 per trip for the whole day.
I took TELSTRA prepaid plan after comparing with other TELCO offer packages. You may compare all different packages at the airport.
DAY 1: CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT
From KL to Sydney it took 8 hours 25 mins on way. I arrived at Sydney airport at the local time around 820 pm. It’s rather a convenience from the airport to the city centre by taking public transport. I took the train (one-way costs $14.30) which only took 20 minutes to arrive at Sydney Central Business District aka CBD which is the main commercial centre of Sydney, the state capital of New South Wales.
Tip: For safety purpose, as a solo female traveller if you are arriving your destination at night/midnight time, it is always good to book the accommodation which is easy access by the public transport and it is within walking distance from the bus stop/ train station.
During my travel time, most of my accommodation was booked via www.booking.com
I chose Big Hostel at that time as the location was rather a convenience, furthermore, they provide complimentary breakfast and kitchen utensils in this hostel which able us to prepare our own meals during our travel time.
There was nothing much I have done on day 1 due to the long flight and it was already late night here. Most major shopping centres close at 5 pm every day, with the exception of one night a week with what is so named ‘late night shopping’.
DAY 2: Royal National Park -Wedding Cake Rock
Prior to Sydney, I have searched online and looked for group activities that I could join when I was there. I like using Couchsurfing and Meetup apps to get to meet new friends.
Finally, I managed to know a girl from Indonesia who will be coming to Sydney the same week as me. She invited me to join a group trip to Royal National Park together with other travellers.
I met the team in the morning and in total 5 of us drove all the way to the Royal National Park. Initially, the group wanted to explore both wedding cake rock and Figure 8 Pools at Royal National Park Sydney. However, the road to Figure 8 Pool was closed.
If you plan to reach the park via public transport, I read somewhere. It requires you to catch the ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena (25 minutes trip and another 30 minutes’ walk through the village of Bundeena to get to Beachcomber Avenue.)
Trekking to Wedding Cake Rock
It was an easy trail to walk into wedding cake rock and it’s a good exercise for all age group. Just remember to apply sunblock to prevent sunburn. Views along the way:
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have fenced off the actual rock for safety purpose.
North Cronulla Beach
We arrived at Cronulla which is a beachside of the suburb of Sydney :
After the dinner, while most us already feel tired but there were two of them still trying to persuade to explore the nightlife in Sydney. I decided to go back to the hostel early and join the Free city tour tomorrow morning instead.
DAY 3: I’m Free Walking Tours Sydney
Another traveller, Intan that I have met yesterday decided to go together with me for the free city tour.
1030am city tour and it took about 3 hours to walk around the city.
Tip: Remember to wear a comfortable shoe and prepare some money (as a tip) for the tour guide to appreciate his efforts and hard work of touring us around the city.
As mentioned previously, On every Sunday, the public fares only cost AUS 2.70 per trip for the whole day. Yes, it is only available every Sunday. We took this chance to take the ferry to Manly beach (where on a normal day it costs AUS $15 per trip).
It took 30 minutes ferry trip to reach the Manly town. Both of us were spontaneous enough to buy a set of bikini and took tons of pictures at the beach.
Thanks to Intan for the impromptu suggestion and it turned out a great memory for both of us.
Lastly, we took a Thai food since she missed Asian and spicy food a lot (she is currently a graduate student in Canberra)
Even though it was not a cheap meal here but we had a great time at Manly town.
Once I was back to the town, I went to the hostel and took my backpack and took a night train all the way to Katoomba for a 1-night stay at the mountain area. Again, it is worth to take the train to Katoomba since it only cost AUS 2.5 one way up to the mountain.
Tip: Remember to check the train schedule and departure time online (use google map), so that you know what time you should reach the train station. It will take 2 and 1/2 hours to arrive at the station and it was almost 1130pm when I arrived. The place was super quiet, to be honest, it was a bit scary at night and I had to walk for 5 minutes to arrive at the hostel.
However, once I have reached the hostel, I feel everything was worth and I wished I could stay there longer. I even checked online if I could extend one more night here and postpone my stay at Bondi tomorrow instead.
Anyway, it was another great day.
It was a quiet and refreshing early morning. The lovely host greets me nicely and mentioned if I would like to extend 1 more night at the hostel since I arrived late last night. Or else she mentioned I could stay at her place till late at night and catch the night train to Bondi beach instead.
The hostel provides a simple breakfast.
It was so nice till I tried to pour the second oats and made a mess where I dropped the whole muesli on the floor. I was shocked and screamed. Most of the other travellers were laughing.
The host was kind enough did not scold me and helped me to clean up my mess. What a wonderful way to start my day XD
Later, I tagged along other two travellers to walk up to Blue Mountain Park which takes about 20-30 minutes of walking from our hostel.
“The Three Sisters are an unusual rock formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, on the north escarpment of the Jamison Valley. They are close to the town of Katoomba and are one of the Blue Mountains’ best-known sites, towering above the Jamison Valley. Their names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m).”
After visiting the three sisters, I have decided to go back to the hostel and have some private time for reading and meditation.
I have decided to take the 630pm trip back to the central and transferred to Bondi Junction.
It was another great weekend that I decided to join the Top View Philippines 2 days 1-night tour to Baler trip.
Baler is a small town in Aurora province on the east coast of Luzon in the Philippines. Baler is situated in the northeast of Manila and distance is about 231km from Metro Manila and took about 6 hours driving distance to reach here.
We departed on Saturday midnight at 12 am and in total 11 of us in a van. The journey would be accessed via a mountain pass hence the roads were curved.
According to Baler history, there was a Tsunami “Tromba Marina” demolished the town on the 27th of December 1735. Many people have been killed by the disaster and there were only 7 families survived. The seven families who were survivors climbed to the top of a hill which today is called Ermita Hill.
This was the first stop of our trip to visit the biggest Balete tree in Asia. According to Wikipedia, “Balete tree is the several species of the trees in the Philippines from the genus Ficus that are broadly referred to as balete in the local language.”
Apparently, this is a 600-year-old Balete Tree and it is also known as The Millenium Tree.
2) Ditumabo Falls/Mother Falls
After taking numerous photos at the first stop, finally, the group decided to head to Ditumabo Falls a.k.a. Mother Falls.
It required 30 minutes trekking / casual walk to enjoy the waterfall. It is advisable to wear the waterproof sandal since you will across many small streams.
Entrance Fee: 30 PHP ( 0.50 USD) & 200 PHP (3.70 USD) for group tour guide
3) SABANG BEACH
It was a tired afternoon after a long journey to Baler and had fun at the mother waterfalls. We checked in our accommodation at Sabang Beach. There are many accommodation options you could choose on the beach side, you could search more on Agoda website etc.
People said:” A Baler trip would not be completed without giving a try on surfing.”
If you are a first timer for surfing, this is the best place for you to pick up the surfing skill. Furthermore, the price is rather cheap which costs 300PHP (5 USD) only for 1-hour class with the local surf coach + Surfboard
Had a great time with this group of people
When you were on the beach, all you need is to be laid back and also don’t forget to enjoy the sunrise view. Woke up at 5 am ++ if you do not want to miss this beautiful sunrise view.
4) Historical Walking Tour in Baler Town
Baler is a town full of historical story. When you are in the town, take a look and walk around :
Quezon memorial park
Museo de Baler *The opening hours only during weekdays. Saturday and Sunday are closed
Dona Aurora Quezon house
5) Hanging bridge
A hanging bridge that allows you take some nice photo shoots. The bridge was made of wood and if you are not afraid of height, have a try walking across it.
6) Ermita Hill
As mentioned earlier, it was only 7 families survived during the tsunami in 1735. They went up to the hill and managed to escape. Ermita Hill is one of the highest places in Baler.
Going up to the hill is not that difficult, you just need to walk up around 250-300 concrete stairs to reach the big cross.
You get to see a great view of the ocean and the mountains in Baler.
7) PAGASA Baler Radar Station
This is one of the weather stations which allowed PAGASA (The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) to collect the data used for weather forecasts and predictive purposes against natural disasters.
8) Diguisit Beach
Next stop was at the Diguisit beach which is only 15 minutes driving distance from Baler town. People come here not to surf or swim, but to explore around the rock formations in Aniao Islets, which was amazing!
No doubt, this is another good photography spot for Instagram posts.
Here came to the end of my Baler trip and if you like to join some outdoors activities, I would recommend Top View Philippines travel group which guide by a young team. Especially thanks to Maryse who organised this trip and thanks for the group who brought a lot of laughter and sweet memories during the trip. Hope to join other events in the near future. 😊
Below is the itinerary which organised by Top View Philippines Travel Group.
Event Fee: 1,800 PHP ( USD 33)
11:00 pm – Meetup@ McD Panay Avenue
12:00 am – ETD to BaLer
6:00 am – Breakfast on Pax Account
7:00 am – Start of tour
*Giant balete tree (oldest balete tree in Asia)
8:00 am – Ditumabo Falls/Mother falls
12:00 NN – Lunch on Pax Account
@famous seafood resto/Baler surfer grill/yolly’s seafood resto.
1:00 pm – Historical Tour
*Quezon memorial park
* Museo de Baler
* Baler Marker
* Baler Church
* Dona Aurora Quezon house
2:00pm – Hanging bridge
2:30pm – Ermita hill
3:30pm – Sabang beach Surfing
5:00pm – Check inn Accomodation
6:00am – Breakfast on pax Account
7:00 am- Eco strip tour
*Diguisit Rock formation
*Baler Radar station
11:30am -Lunch on pax account
12:30pm – Checkout Accomodation
1:00pm – Free time for own leisure
3:30pm – Souvenir shopping
4:00pm – Departure to Manila
* private Van RT (Manila- Baler- Manila)
( GL Grandia )
* Transient accomodation
All entrance fees
*Ditumabo falls PHP 30/head plus guide fee
*Surfing lesson with a surfing instructor
*Board rental 200-300/head
Things to Bring:
Tarak Ridge, which is part of the Mount Mariveles and it is a popular spot for hiking and camping activities. Besides this, there are another two peaks in Mount Mariveles which have been explored by the local mountaineering community, including Pantingan or Banayan Peak, and Mariveles Ridge.
I came to know about this place from a friend, Brian which I met in Baler surfing trip. Since he is an active hiker, I asked him if I could join him on his next hiking trip.
He suggested a hiking trip to Tarak Ridge, where he already been there for eight times. I was curious about this place and decided to join this adventurous trip on one of the weekends. And this would be 2 days 1-night trekking trip.
On the 27th of October 2018 @330am, we gathered at McDonald which was right next to Pasay MRT last station. We took the morning bus ( from there you could either take Genesis or Bataan Express bus) to Bataan and the whole bus journey took about 3 hours.
The bus stopped at Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles LLA which is the jump-off point to Tarak Ridge. It was 7 am in the early morning and we began trekking after having our breakfast and grocery shopping.
Each of us carrying a backpack which filled with tons of food and drinks.
Jump-Off PointThe first part of the trekking was not that difficult and mostly the road was flat and there was one part which required downclimbing.
We took 4 hours to arrive Papaya River Campsite, which allowed ourselves to have some free time, lunch and swimming activities. We rested at Papaya River for an hour before resuming our trek up to the summit campsite.
The second part to the summit was rather challenging as compared to the beginning part. Furthermore, we were carrying the backpack and tent thus it was not as easy as compared to the normal day trekking trip.
Brian left me behind since my pace was not as fast as his. XD… He managed to reach the summit campsite within 2 hours and it took me 3 hours to arrive at the summit campsite.
We have decided to choose a more quiet campsite and started to walk and explore around the area. Of course, taking many nice pictures too.
Since Brian used to hike and camping a lot, he was volunteered to prepare the dinner for us.
It has been many years since my last camping activities.
After dinner time, we started to enjoy the stars in the night sky and sharing life experiences. It was a wonderful night indeed. Not forget to mention we had a great social drinking session before fell asleep on the cozy mountain.
The next morning, we woke up at 545am to enjoy the sunrise view.
The view was amazing and since I refused to go up to another peak, we just stayed there and enjoyed the current view.
After taking tons of nice pictures, we headed back to the campsite and prepared for breakfast. Then, started to break camp.
We began to trek down to Papaya River at 9 am and it took us 1 hour to arrive at the riverside. I took a nap there and when I was awake, Brian had already started preparing lunch for us:
It was 1 pm when we started to trek again. I have fastened my speed this time since I could not wait to be back to the jump-off point and to enjoy a nice shower.
It’s only taken 2 hours to arrive at the starting point.
Brian bought the Red horse liquor drink to celebrate the completion of our trekking trip.
After taking the dinner, we took the bus heading back to Metro Manila. That’s the story of my 2 days 1-night adventurous trekking trip. Overall I enjoyed the trip very much. It is always good to be back to nature and enjoy the fresh air on top of the mountain. I enjoyed the time when there was no access to the internet and purely enjoying the nice scenery.
Normally after hiking, it refreshed my mind and I have more strength to overcome the obstacles in the real world. That is the reason why I like outdoor activities including hiking. And thanks to my friend, Brian who is a talented guy (check out his biography and his company website) who took care of me throughout the whole journey. Till next time.
If you are interested to hike Tarak Ridge, below is the itinerary planned by Brian for your reference:
0300 Assembly at Mc Donald Pasay MRT Station(last station of MRT)
0330 ETD Manila to Bataan (Genesis or Bataan Express bus)
0630 ETA Brgy. Alas-asin / Registration
0700 Begin Trek
1100 ETA Papaya River Campsite / Rest / Cook lunch
1200 Lunch / Free Time / Swimming
1330 Resume trek
1630 ETA Ridge Campsite / Set-up camp / Explore / Cook dinner
1630 Sunset viewing / Prepare dinner
1800 Dinner / Socials
2100 Lights out
0500 Wake-up call / sunrise view at Tarak Ridge
0700 Trek to summit
0900 ETA Summit
0900 Begin trek to campsite
0945 ETA campsite / break camp
1100 ETD campsite
1230 Papaya River / Lunch
1330 Resume trek
1630 ETA jump-off point / clean-up / log-out
1730 ETD Brgy. Alas-asin / Dinner
2100 ETA Manila
WHAT TO WEAR:
Leggings / Jogging pants / Compression Pants
Trekking Shoes or Sandals
Water at least 2 liters or good enough for 2 days
EXPENSES (In Peso):
Bus Manila to Alas asin – 200 – 400
Registration – 50
Food Allowance – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner/Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (200 to 300)
Shower Fee after hike: 50 (estimated fee only)
Total estimated cost = P800
The journey continues from the slow boat- Laos to North of Thailand When I’ve arrived in the border of Thailand, it was already evening time and the sky was dark. I have to make a quick decision either to take the mini-van by myself and to meet my workaway host in Golden Triangle. The second was to follow the other travellers to Chiang Rai for one overnight.
After getting the advice from them, I followed the group to Chiang Rai instead (since the cost to go alone to Golden Triangle was rather expensive).
The minivan arrived around the late evening time and it stopped right next to the night bazaar. We were checking out and walk in randomly to any hostel.Eventually, we managed to find a nice and affordable hostel: Sabaijai Hostel which I liked it a lot (clean, spacious and having own privacy) :
Luang Prabang was the former capital of Laos. As described by Travelfish:
“The charming city of Luang Prabang, once the capital of Laos and still considered to be its spiritual heart, breathes a rich meld of French Indochinese architecture, Theravada Buddhist temples and a magical atmosphere.”
I totally agreed with the above statement. A “magical kind atmosphere” is the key term to describe Luang Prabang.
This is the place where you could find peace of mind and stay calm.
The local people remains humble, laid back and enjoying their own way of lifestyle. This is how the Laotion works.
I fell in love with this country at the first sight. The feeling is hard to describe but you have to go there once to feel it yourself.
When to go?
November to February – this is the best season to go because it is the cool and dry season. I went during the month of December, it was lovely and chill weather. I liked it very much.
March to May – Hot season, temperature might up to 40℃
June to October – Wet season, good to do some water rafting /kayaking during this period of time.
What to see in Luang Prabang?
Kuang Si Waterfall
I would say this is one of the must-see waterfalls in whole South East Asia trip! The water is clear and the view was spectacular:
Tips and how to go: It requires transportation to arrive at the waterfalls destination. If you need a public transport, my advice is that do not shy to ask the other travellers in hostel whether they would want to share a “Tuk-tuk” transport fee together.
It will cost cheaper if compare you book a tour from the travel agency at the shop lots.
Tak Bat – The monks’ morning Alms
“In Luang Prabang, this tradition manifests as a morning ritual where monks silently line the streets while locals (and interested tourists) put gifts of food into the bowls carried by the monks.”
Every morning at 530am, the Buddhist Lao’s monks will start the ceremony of food collection in Luang Prabang.
The Korean monks waiting for the Lao’s monks.
Don’t be surprised to meet and see a lot of travellers (some tourists even came by bus or minivan) waiting in the centre of the town, and people start selling and buying the snacks/food on the street.
This came up to be one of the To-do and to see lists in Luang Prabang.
Mount Phousi for sunrise
After the alms session, you may choose to go and climb up to the mount Phousi which is in the centre of the town.
The height of the mountain is 150 meters by walking the staircase and it requires to pay an entrance fee to go up.
They provide traditional Lao body massages, steams, reflexology and aromatherapy.
I went to try out the full body massage, it was nice and the price is slightly cheaper than other places.
All the donations will go directly to improve the lives of the poorest villages in Laos.
Handicraft Night Market
You would not want to miss the night market. You can everything here. Food, fruits drink, silk scarves, t-shirt, bags, shoes, local clothing over here.
Do not miss out the vegetarian buffet at the night market. You may take as much food as possible in one bowl which costs around USD2 per bowl.
Yoga at Utophia
“Utopia’s zen-like garden restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy morning yoga, eat a healthy breakfast, and relax during the day. At night, Utopia becomes Luang Prabang’s most popular night venue… EVERY night!
Utopia’s attractions: yoga, tiki huts, beach volleyball, great menu, relaxing atmosphere, river view garden, great music, and community projects.”
Yes, it is a small country yet it is the top-ranked richest country in the world.According to FORTUNE:
“The small Middle Eastern country often ranks as one of the richest countries in the world per capita. Qatar’s population is approximately 2.27 million, giving it a total GDP of approximately $124,930 per person and making it the richest country in world as of 2017, according to the IMF. The country has grown despite facing lower prices for hydrocarbon, a major revenue source for Qatar, which is used for fuel. Qatar’s GDP growth is expected to continue through 2017.”
As you can see on the map, it is a small (but strong) country as compared to middle east countries.
I got the chance to transit and stopover at Doha, Qatar when I was travelling to Madrid, Spain.
It was a great flight deal from Qatar Airwayswith the 5 stars service where the flight ticket that time only costs me around MYR 2200 for return tickets from Malaysia.
And I have a half day to go out and explored the city.
Do you need Visa to enter Qatar?
If you are the citizen of these countries, you are now entitled to take advantage of visa-free entry into Qatar.
Qatar Waives Entry Visa Requirements for Citizens of 80 Countries ,09 August 2017 : click here to check
Where to visit in Qatar?
The Pearl – Qatar :
The man-made island, modern housing development.High rise buildings with nice shopping malls.Good landscaping.Mostly expat area.
A traditional Arabian market, where you will find garments, jewellery, spices and handicrafts.
Reviews from travellers:
Packed with all kind of restaurants, activities, shops, cafes, and there are also few hotels at the heart of this area.
As a Doha base, I recommend this place if it’s your first time in here .this is an Arabic traditional market. you’ll find everything here from cafe’s restaurants boutique hotels, selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts souvenirs and it is almost close to every landmark in the city.
Below are the pictures I took when I stopover at Doha back in the year 2011. I believed it has changed a lot?!
My Qatar True Story:
Back in 2011, I still remembered that was a national day of Qatar. And all the citizens were celebrating on the street.
Crowded with people and I was walking alone in a totally strange and new country for me. In fact, this was my first ever solo travel in overseas.
And because it was a national public holiday, the road was blocked for National Day celebration. I have no choice but to walk back to the hotel I’ve booked (which was closed to Doha old airport those time).
It was a bit scary for me as the sky became dark around 5 pm. It was not near at all to go back to the hotel because I was taking the cab to come to the town earlier. In the halfway, I saw a Qatar Airway centre. Hence, I went in to ask for some help as this is the only place I am familiar with (I booked my visa and hotel package with them).
Ended up, that was one of the Syed offered me to give me a ride back to the hotel. I know it’s dangerous to go a stranger car but I trusted my 6th sense that time, and I got into his car…
Luckily enough, the Syed was a nice old man and he really dropped me back at my hotel. Fuiyyy..nothing happened.. 🙂
I know sometimes I am a bit crazy and I don’t know where I got all those guts to do something insane even till now in year 2018. But yeah that’s just me. 🙂
Is this pearl still exist in Doha?
This is one of my favourite hotels which I have booked via Qatar Airways (inclusive the visa process fee, back in 2011). It was really a great deal and good service.
Having Transit to Qatar and want less hassle to visit the town?
Check out the website of Discover Qatar, which is the Destination Management Division of Qatar Airways, with a mission to advance the development of Qatar as a premium tourist destination.
Turn your transit at Hamad International Airport into an incredible experience in Qatar by signing up for one of our daily excursions.Discover Qatar, in association with Qatar Tourism Authority, hosts a tours desk in the transit zone for booking on arrival at the desk.If your transit is more than 5 hours, you can join a city tour or desert adventure, and enjoy a fantastic Doha excursion before connecting to your final destination.