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 start walking up to the city 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 halfway 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 worth walking around the city and got to enjoy the beautiful scenes along the way.
I hope I will be back in South Korea soon ~ miss the skincare shopping though hahaha. Next upcoming post: Continue my Seoul trip – Day 5 – Day 8
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
Thank you www.escapewriters.com came out with the topic of solo female travel. In fact, travelling alone is not as scary as you thought. Here is my solo travel experience that I would like to share with my readers:
My name is SuMei and I am from Malaysia. I started my solo travel blog when I’ve decided to quit my previous job and started to travel as a Solo female traveller since last year October 2017 and it was a 4 months trip where I have been to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Currently, I have started a new job and base in the Philippines for a few months.
How were others reaction when you declared about your decision of solo travelling?
Some were surprised and most of my close friends supported me to so. YOLO and thanks to my supportive parents where they trusted and allowed me to travel by myself.
How many places have you explored until now? Which one is your most favourite and why?
I have visited in the total of 20 countries as of the year 2018. I like Laos the most as the country is beautiful, laid back and people just know how to enjoy life over there.
What is on your bucket list? Your dream place to visit. Any travel destination you would suggest for a female solo traveller.
I would like to visit and explore South America in the near future and as a start, for a female solo traveller, I will suggest going to Japan which is a relatively safe country to travel alone. I had a great time over there.
How do you do planning and budgeting for any trip?
Before I go on a trip, I will do research about the particular country. The expenses and the current situation in the country. And of course will check out the accommodation from hostelworld, Airbnb etc. I found workaway website is meaningful and beneficial to the budget traveller like us. I got to know a lot of local people and stayed with them during my solo travel time which was another different/ great experience.
How do you beat loneliness while travelling? Tips to make local friends or get a group of company.
In life, we can’t avoid loneliness even when we are not travelling. I do enjoy the solo time which allows me to listen myself more, ignore others feedback. Try to enjoy the ME time. Meanwhile, of course, you could use various applications to meet up with other travellers including Couchsurfing, meet up and even staying at the hostel you will get the chance to meet a lot of mutual interest people. To be honest, I really enjoy travel alone where I got to know more new friends and new exposure by myself!
Do you remember any crazy thing that happened to you while travelling?
When I was travelling to Japan alone and met my US host which he sent me to Mt. Fuji in the midnight and I just tagged along with other Japanese to reach the peak of Mt.Fuji. The whole journey took me about 14 hours back and forth and it was indeed a crazy adventure with all the people I have met there!
There are many other stories during my solo trip and I just enjoy creating more stories during my travel time!
Your backpacking tips for other women. Just pick 5 must-have items you would love to have in your travel bag.
Well in order to avoid the bad experience, try to use common sense not to go out at night alone if you feel the place is not safe. Listen to your intuition and six sense, if you do not comfort to the particular things, dare to say NO!
Do you think male solo traveller are easily accepted?
In my opinion, the male solo traveller is still easier to travel compared to Female due to social perception. However, ignore the norm which had set by the society, just enjoy yourself! Do whatever you like!
Any advice or word of motivation you would like to give to other women who have a dream to be a solo traveller just like you?
Dare to go with your dream. When your mind wanted to do something and you keep thinking instead of taking action, it will forever be stuck in your mind. Just go ahead and dare to do it! Join the relevant female travel group and get more support from other girls! Remember, we are always there for you.
When I was planning my last trip to South East Asia, my intention was not only being a tourist. I was keen to experience and understand the local life and get to know more about each country cultures.
Besides that, I was interested to continue the martial arts of Brazilian Jujitsu which I have been practicing since the beginning of 2017. It is an addictive sport especially for petite girls like us, it is useful to know for self-defense purpose.
So…What is BJJ?
It is a martial art and combat sports system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves or another against a bigger person.
Gi and No Gi are the 2 forms of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Gi is the grappling which allows the practitioner to grab the clothing of the opponent. While No Gi is the grappling is wearing shorts and a rash guard which is not allowed to grab the opponent’s clothing. In order to be a complete BJJ player, it is good to train in both ways.
I got to know about this addictive sport when I signed up for a gym membership back in Malaysia. However, I was not (still not) an active practitioner even until today. I only attend the class once a week (due to work commitment and travel distance) but whenever I enroll in, I do learn new techniques from the coach. I am a slow learner but I do enjoy every single class.
My travel journey started in HCMC, Vietnam. Upon arrival, I have managed to contact Saigon Luta Livre that I would be joining the class if the time and location were allowed.
Saigon Luta-Livre was the first gym that I went to practice during my travel time. Erik Koehne is the main coach for Saigon Luta-Livre. He was a funny person with a good sense of humor. He was a patient person who willing to guide BJJ beginners like me and the techniques he taught in the class was useful and easy to learn.
I was delighted that I got the chance to practice at his gym place for the whole month of October 2017.
Congratulations to him and his wife, Bella who just tied the knot recently. I was happy to meet this lovely couple in Vietnam 🙂
Here is a brief link about coach Koehne and his BJJ story: click here
Other than that, I went to visit and dropped by a BJJ class at Star Fitness Bitexco HCMC. Saigon Jujitsu is using Star Fitness facility to facilitate BJJ classes. Having said that, once you have paid the membership fee (they have daily passes), you are entitled to enjoy and use other facilities in the gym for the whole day.
Saigon jujitsu is known as the oldest BJJ school in HCMC and you get to practice with many Japanese practitioners over here.
I stayed at HCMC for a month and continued on my journey to the northern part. Throughout the whole journey, I did not stop learning about BJJ and practice Yoga. If there was a chance, I would join and practice with the local community.
However, I was forced to stop practicing BJJ for about a month when I was heading to the central and northern regions of Vietnam. There were not many options at the area until I arrived at the Northern part of Thailand, Chiang Mai. I dropped by at Chiang Mai Jutjitsuand attended in a GI class once.
Again, it was another great experience and get to know other expats from all over the country.
From Chiang Mai, I headed down all the way to Bangkok which was my last stop for my backpacking trip. I chose to practice BJJ at EMAC Thailand which was recommended by the coach in Chiang Mai Jutjitsu and I stayed there for about 3 weeks for a voluntary service with a local hotel.
EMAC Thailand is an authentic martial arts school situating in Khet Bang Rak, Bangkok. There were many Thai BJJ Players and other foreign practitioners who came to practice every night here.
Everyone was dedicated to BJJ and it was great to meet a bunch of people who have a mutual interest in BJJ.
Once I came back to Malaysia, I resumed my practice at Muayfit Puchong and deeply appreciate my coach’s efforts, a person who has always been patient and coached us with his own professional way (despite the fact that I’m still a slow learner in BJJ )
If you are interested in BJJ and would like to learn more about this martial arts, feel free to check out more on this page which they have listed most of BJJ gyms in Asia: BJJ Asia
Thanks for reading. Till next time…Oss!
OSS. It is also known as “ossu”, means Oshi Shinobu, which conveys the idea of “persevering when pushed”. In other words, never give up, have determination, grit and withstand the most arduous of training.
Quy Nhon, a place which was not in my initial Vietnam plan. It was recommended by one of my local friends whom I met back in Dalat, Vietnam.
How To Get There?
Vietnam Airlines offers daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. There are buses from Dalat, Nha Trang, Danang and Hoi An.
I took a sleeper bus from Dalat to Quy Nhon, where it was a scary bus journey for me. The driver drove pretty fast and perhaps he got used to the road and he is confident with his driving skill but still, I couldn’t sleep well throughout the whole journey though. *The adventure journey has just begun*
I arrived at the bus terminal in the early morning, 3 am. Yes, I was sitting at the bus terminal alone and waiting for my hostel host to pick me up in the early morning at 6 am. Meanwhile, there was an old local man sitting alone at the bus terminal. As soon as he saw me, he started yelling things in Vietnamese, which I could not understand at all while walking towards my direction. I was absolutely shocked and frightened because I did not know what his intention was. The situation lasted for an hour before more people arriving slowly to the terminal.In fact the old man’s intention was trying to help me.Everyone was curious about where I came from and what had happened. Luckily, one of the staffs at the terminal knew how to speak some basic English so I asked him for his help to contact the hostel owner.
Eventually, my host arrived by his bike and my Quy Nhon trip has started.
WHERE IS QUY NHON
Quy Nhon is the capital of Binh Dinh province situated in Central Vietnam. Binh Dinh is critically known as the land of Martial Arts and has also acquired a very good reputation as the best stopover destination from Nha Trang to Danang/Hoi An and vice versa. However, Quy Nhon is still considered a hidden gem in Vietnam, and yet to be aware by many foreign travelers when visiting Vietnam.
My first impression about Quy Nhon was peaceful vibe. There were not many foreigners and the city seemed to be intact. People living in harmony and their lives are very simple. Although most of the locals did not speak English, they are very friendly and willing to assist you.
Q Inn Homestay
The owner is a very nice guy where he offered to free pick up for a solo traveler from the bus stop to his homestay. He is a generous person where guests are allowed to have the bicycle, laundry, coffee, and eggs without any charges! Furthermore, his place is clean and the living room is lovely! And if you would like to try out some famous local food, he is able to recommend it to you or even buy on behalf of you.
Best place to snap photos and enjoy the breathtaking sceneries of the whole city. It is accessible to travel to the top of Vung Chua mountain by motorbike which takes about 15 minutes from the city center.
Thi Nai Bridge – The longest cross-sea bridge of Vietnam
The bridge is nearly 2.5 km long and it was inaugurated in 2006. It connects the city of Quy Nhon to the Phuong Mai Peninsula with the goal to develop socio-economic programmes of this region.
Tháp Đôi Towers
Located in a park in the center of the city. A quiet place which takes about 10-15 minutes to walk around. Tháp Đôi Towers were built in 11th century by the Hindu Cham people, where was established to declared Vijaya as the emperor capital and Quy Nhon’s port city as its economic engine.
The Entrance fee is 8000 VND.
Queen Beach and Quy Hoa Leper Colony
It takes about 20 minutes from the town to arrive here. A relaxing area where local people enjoying laid back time here.
Bãi Kỳ Co on Phương Mai peninsula
Phuong Mai Peninsula is about 8 kilometers far from Quy Nhon city. It has an extraordinary ecosystem with various plants and beautiful landscapes.
Bai Xep Beach
13km away from south of Quy Nhon, top-ranked beach on TripAdvisor review. This is a fishing village. Recommended accommodation: Life’s a Beach
This coastal city is a paradise for seafood lovers. Enjoy the local food here:
The night market is located at the middle of the town. Many nice and cheap local stuffs you could find it here. Do not expect to find any touristic souvenirs 😂
Quy Nhon is.a special place for me. I did not plan to go there but ended up deciding to visit over ans made some good friends there. At first, I planned to stay for only 2 nights but eventually I extended my stay to 4 nights for the fact that I was in love with the city and needed more time to discover the full potential of the land.
Food was cheap and varied, people here are extremely friendly and helpful even though I struggled with the language barriers.Places were clean and peaceful. I will visit there again if I had another chance in the near future.
After Siem Reap trip, Sihanoukville was my last stop in Cambodia. Why I only chose to stay in Cambodia for one week? Cause the expenses here were too high for me. Despite Cambodia has their own currency, but most of the trading is done by USD currency.
A brief of Sihanoukville from Wikipedia:
Sihanoukville, also known as “Kampong Som”, is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital city of Sihanoukville Province, at the tip of an elevated peninsula in the country’s south-west on the Gulf of Thailand.
The bus arrived at Sihanoukville in the early morning around 6 am. As usual, many taxi/motor drivers were waiting for us at the bus stop. I took a moto taxi and heading to the travel agency who is selling the speedboat tickets.
It was still early when I arrived the shop hence I went to the next restaurant to have a quick breakfast and self-cleaned up.
I bought the speedboat ticket around 8 am and a minibus came and pick me up to the jetty. I got to know one couple from Spain from the bus who were heading to the same island as me, Clear Water Bay hence I tagged along with them.
The speedboat arrived and took us about one hour to reach to the island. Once arrived, it did not stop at our destination, Clear Water Bay. *Shocked* Instead it stopped at another island of Koh Rong Samloen. Three of us were upset but no choice to make a decision either to stay or to take another boat taxi to the clear water bay which costs at USD30.
We walked around in the island and asking each resort for the accommodation price. The cheapest was around USD12 *beyond my budget* furthermore it was a long public holiday week in Cambodia hence the accommodation price has been markup. 🙁
Finally, we managed to contact the manager of Driftwood Hostel at Clear Water Bay. He assisted and offered us a “private boat” to go into Clean Water Bay island, each of us had to pay for USD 5. Of course, we agreed with that since we could not find any cheap accommodation here plus the island was too commercialized for me.
Three of us taking the “private boat”:
I fell in love at the first sight when I arrived at Clear Water Bay. The water was so clean and it feels so peaceful here:
What is special in Clear Water Bay?
The main Hostel at Clear Water Bay.
Cost per night USD2 for a spacious dormitory room – shared with 12 persons (as per the year of 2017)
You may experience the natural lifestyle here: No heater, cold water shower, No air-conditioner, Electricity only starts from 6 pm onwards, No Wifi, Weak 3G connection.
What you can do here is to enjoy the beach, reading, yoga, hiking etc.
A Big Family and Friends Gathering
This is the place allows you to fully relax, get to know other fun travelers. People enjoy sitting at the “bar lounge” and the “living room” here.
We met new people and became friends here. We talked, laughed and had some fun activities together.
At some point, you may find your quiet zone to have some reading. No one stops you. 🙂
A lucky dog who is staying here 🙂
Every night most of the travelers gathered and have a reunion family dinner. *The cost is USD 4 per person, vegan food 🙂
*Tips: Pack some dry food, snacks to this bay. Because the meal cost starts from USD3 onwards
What can you do here?
Swim with the Planktons
I was there for 4 days 3 nights and one day I have decided to wake up at 430am, swam at the beach and looking for planktons. It was my great memory.
Trek to Mpay Bay
This is the bay which located behind Clear Water Bay. It takes one-hour jungle trekking to reach to the bay. Remember to wear a waterproof shoe/sandal to get into Mpay Bay. I was wearing Atlanta slipper which is strong enough to survive the whole journey.
With my favorite Austrian couple:
Collect Trash from the beach Every morning, the would be some trash leftover at the beach. Driftwood management encourages the traveler to save, protect the beach and the environment.
Once you are able to collect one full pack of trash, you will be entitled to get a cup of coffee or beer from Driftwood Hostel.
Catch the Sunrise and Sunset
This is not a mandatory thing to do here. Somehow when you met some fun and crazy people, you would do something similar. Yes, my first hair shaved in my lifetime. Don’t worry, my hair has grown longer now.
Snorkeling in the Sea
I tagged along with Kim (from France) and Lenzi (from Austria) to do snorkeling at the sea. It was my first time without using any lifejacket and just wearing a basic goggled to swim in the sea. *Bucket list ticked*
This is the best place to find your soul and heal yourself. Great to meet a lot Yogis here 🙂
I can’t deny that I have a lot of great memories on this island. I have spent time with the quality people and we did something together just like a big family. Clear Water Bay will always in my mind despite there were some difficulties to arrive at this bay.
How to reach here (In Correct Way)
There is only one speedboat company will drop you straight at Clear Water Bay: (YELLOW) Speed Ferry Cambodia Company. Cost is USD22 per way (as per the year of 2017). Please remember the company logo on below name card :
Special thanks to @Caroline who I have met in Siem Reap, she was the one who highly recommended this awesome place to me. And special thanks to the couple @Ousmane and @Anna where three of us have been through something special during this short trip. And to all my new friends who I have met in Clear Water Bay, miss you guys!
After 2 days 1 night in Phnom Penh, my journey continues to Siem Reap by sleeper bus. This was my first solo sleeping bus experience and the overall bus journey was considered quite comfy.
However, I did not sleep tight as I have read some of the other travelers’ blogs stated that we have to be aware and be alert when taking the night bus. Because some of the “pickpocket” / thieves would take advantage to steal your stuff when you asleep. Luckily, throughout the whole South East Asia trips (about 9 solo bus trips from one province/country cross over to another province/country ) I’ve only lost one of my favorite scarfs in Cambodia. 🙁
<Double-decker sleeper bus
To cut a long story short, it is possible to go to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh by a road trip and it takes about 8 hours to arrive (by overnight sleeper bus). The road was smooth and not as bumpy as from my journey Hanoi Vietnam to Vientiane, Laos (will share it next time)
The bus stopped at the bus terminal and if you arrived as early as me (around 6-7am), there are many tuk-tuks awaiting there to send you to your hostel.However, within a short distance (less than 10 minutes) to my hostel, it costs me USD3.
Where did I stay?
I chose The Hostel Mekong after comparing most of the accommodations in Siem Reap: the cost + the total people I need to share in a room. This was the most reasonable and affordable stay.
In overall, I gave 4 out of 5 Stars for this hostel. Here are the reasons:
A mini swimming pool is included
The hostel has a spacious area to chill and relax
Bar and breakfast are available
A pool table is available
The female dorm room with a private toilet is available
The check-in time was in the afternoon and I have arrived earlier. At least I could chill in the living room, using Wi-Fi and took a shower.
Everyone comes here for Angkor Wat. If you did not visit it, it seems it’s pointless that if you tell someone that you have been here before.
Entrance Ticket: 1 Day / 3 Days / 7 Days?
My answer is 1 Day. Unless if you are really interested in all temples’ architecture/ designs.
Because the weather was rather hot and to visit all the temples you have to take transport from one to another which considered quite exhausting. My Angkor Wat trip starts at 430am until 12 pm noontime which is more than enough for me.
Most of the hostel /hotel would provide the tour to visit Angkor Wat. I booked the transportation arrangement with Mekong Hostel.
Suggestion: Try to ask other travelers [in the same hostel] to visit Angkor Wat together in order to share the transportation cost.
In the early morning, a Tuk tuk driver will pick you up to buy the entrance ticket around 430am.
Entrance Fee (Year 2017):
1 Day: $37
3 Days: $62
7 Days: $72
What have I seen in Angkor Wat?
Sunrise. All the tourists gather in the early morning just to witness the sunrise. Yes, it was impressive. I took many of the sunrises pictures and found this is among this best (what to do you think?) 🙂
And many pictures from different Wats :
Since I came alone, most of the pictures I was asking strangers to take it for me. And some local people might “standby” at the temple and offered the service to take the photos for you (they only asked for tips after they took the pictures).
As you can see from the street name, it is the street full of clubs, bars, and restaurants.
Angkor What? Bar is the very first bar to open on Pub Street back in 1998
Temple Club & Temple Balcony – another favorite and popular club for tourists on Pub Street