【SUWON 】South Korea – 1 Day Trip

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.

Suwon Town View

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 ?

1st Option:

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.

2nd Option:

Alternatively, you may go for another option by taking Nooriro train (arrive in 30 minutes), travel non stop from Seoul Station to Suwon Station.

3rd Option:

If you plan to reach to Suwon in the fastest way, the most expensive way is by taking the KTX.

More fares details, click here

An Ajôsi (means an older man/ uncle) selling raincoat in the train, I wish his business going well.

 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.

Paldalmun Gate- surrounded by busy streets and shops in the middle of Suwon

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.

Hwaseong Fortress

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:

Hyowon’s Bell is located on the top of Paldalsan. Bell-tolling Experience (3 times per person):
1-2 people: 1,000 won / 3-4 people: 2,000 won

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

More pictures:

Instagram: @thetravellersu

Other Destinations: click here

 

 

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Things to see and do in Baler Aurora, Philippines

It was another great weekend that I decided to join the Top View Philippines 2 days 1-night tour to Baler trip.

LOCATION

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.

HISTORY

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.

These are the statues of the families who survived in the tragedy which you could find at the foot of the hill

Credit: here

1) Giant Balete Tree 

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 Fee30 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.

Surfing 

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

Sunrise

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

  •  Baler Marker
  •  Baler Church
  • 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.

We chose to stay at AMCO Digisit resort to relax for a few hours.

 

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)

Day 0
11:00 pm – Meetup@ McD Panay Avenue
12:00 am – ETD to BaLer

Day 1
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

Day 2
6:00am – Breakfast on pax Account
7:00 am- Eco strip tour
*Diguisit falls
*Diguisit Rock formation
*Baler Radar station
*Tromba Marina
*Aniao islets
*Diguisit beach
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

Tour inclusions:
* private Van RT (Manila- Baler- Manila)
( GL Grandia )
* Transient accomodation

Exclusions:
All entrance fees
*Ditumabo falls PHP 30/head plus guide fee
*Diguisit beach
*Meals

Optional Activities:
*Surfing lesson with a surfing instructor
*Board rental 200-300/head

Things to Bring:
*Swimwear
*camera
*Personal meds
*Slippers

More pictures: Instagram

Must-See Places in Palawan, Philippines: Click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hiking and Camping trip in Tarak Ridge(1130 m.a.s.l.)

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.

It was super yummy. The best meal I had on that day

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:

eggplants with soy sauce…Yummy

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 websitewho 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:

DAY 01
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

DAY 02
0500 Wake-up call / sunrise view at Tarak Ridge
0600 Breakfast
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:
Dri-Fit Shirts
Leggings / Jogging pants / Compression Pants
Socks
Trekking Shoes or Sandals
Cameras
Powerbank
Headlight
Water at least 2 liters or good enough for 2 days
Tent
Hygiene kit

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

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My Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ) Journey In South East Asia

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
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.

Saigon Jujitsu
Saigon Jujitsu

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 Jutjitsu and 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.

EMAC Thailand
Emac Thailand

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 )

Muayfit Puchong, Guess which one is my coach?

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.
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Quy Nhon Vietnam, Live like a local

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.

TRUE STORY

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.

Click here to book: click here

Where to Visit/ What Have I done?

Vung Chua Mountain

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.

http://www.baobinhdinh.com.vn/business/2006/12/36593/
Thi Nai Bridge-www.baobinhdinh.com.vn
Cycling all the way to Thi Nai bridge

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.

BEACHES

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.

Bãi Kỳ Co: http://english.vietnamnet.vn

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

Bai Xep: http://vietnamtravelinformation.net

FOOD

This coastal city is a paradise for seafood lovers. Enjoy the local food here:

NIGHT MARKET

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.

Other posts: click here

For more beaches in Vietnam, check out: Best Beaches in Vietnam

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Clear Water Bay Sihanoukville,the Hidden Gem in Cambodia

Sihanoukville

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.

Understand

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.

My Jouney

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?

Driftwood Hostel

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.

nice spot of Mpay Bay, no filter

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 

Shaved 

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*

Yoga

This is the best place to find your soul and heal yourself. Great to meet a lot Yogis here 🙂

morning yoga

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!

Next, a new destination in Vietnam. Stay Tuned!

More Travel Photos: INSTAGRAM

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Siem Reap, the famous tourist spot in Cambodia

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.

Book here: website

 What have I done here?

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.

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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).

PUB STREET 

As you can see from the street name,  it is the street full of clubs, bars, and restaurants.

Famous Bars:

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

Credit: 

Angkor Night Market 

Opened in 2007 and apparently, it was the FIRST night market in Cambodia and it is just next to Pub Street.

Siem Reap Art Center Night Market

Location: Right across the bridge from the old market (Psa Chas), 5 Minutes walking from pub street

It is one of the newer night markets in town and as you can see from the street name “Art Center”, you can find various and a range of souvenirs and handicrafts over here.

WAR MUSEUM CAMBODIA

It is the Biggest War Museum in Cambodia. What I liked here was they provide a free guide (a war veteran) and you can examine and hold the small arms.

Entrance Fee: USD 5  (Year 2017)

More info: check here

It was a short trip for me. I stayed there for 3 days 2 nights and heading next to Sihanoukville, which is a province in southwest Cambodia known for its beaches. Will share next post soon!

Cheers.

Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary: click here

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Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia

Phnom Penh, the busiest and biggest city in Cambodia. It is located at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap river.

From the local street food stalls, Royal Palace, local temples to the nightlife, pub, clubs, fine dining and five-star hotels. It covers both historical attractions and modern city lifestyle.

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How to go Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh City

From HCMC Vietnam,  it is possible to go to Cambodia by bus. The bus journey takes about 6 hours to arrive at Phnom Penh.

Alternatively, from Saigon, you may go to Chau Doc town in Mekong Delta (there is a daily direct bus of Futabus/Phuong Trang from Saigon and the bus journey is about 6-7 hours) then travel by boat/ferry to Phnom Penh (about 5 hours).

Cambodia Visa

The nationals of Malaysia, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar do not need a tourist visa and may stay in Cambodia for 21 and 30 days respectively.

For other national’s requirement:

Check out more about Cambodia visa

Recommended Bus Company

I took the bus company of Giant Ibis Transport

The bus provides complimentary WIFI, electrical outlets, and snacks for the whole bus journey. It is absolutely an affordable luxury.

The cost is $18 per trip and you can purchase the ticket online in advance.

HOSTEL in Phnom Penh

One Stop Hostel  It is just 5 minutes walking distance from Giant Ibis bus stop to the hostel and it is convenient to access to many tourist places.

What to see in Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum a.k.a S-21 Prison

…more than 35 years ago |3yrs 8months and 20days| the Genocide in Cambodia…

A former high school before it was turned into a killing and tortured place for over 17,000 Cambodians/ victims. It is a heartbreaking place where each of the classrooms was the place where the victims got tortured and killed.

Most prisoners were then brought to the Killing Fields which is just outside of Phnom Penh.

Highly recommend to pay a visit. Entrance fee: USD 5 (year 2017)

The Royal Palace of Cambodia

It is one of Phnom Penh’s most splendid architectural achievements. The palace was built in 1866 by His Majesty Preah Bat Norodom, great grandfather to Cambodia’s current King. This site was specially chosen by a Commission of Royal Ministers and Astrologers because it had great geographical significance in relation to the King, who was regarded as a direct descendant of the gods, whose role it was to live and govern on earth under the influence of heaven.” – source: tourismcambodia

Entrance Fee: USD 10 (year 2017)

*Remember to wear appropriate dress code – no sleeveless shirt/ short pants, otherwise you may need to purchase the t-shirt on the spot (USD 3) in order to enter

Central Market (Phsar Thmey)

In the Khmer Language, Phsar Thmey means “New Market”. From outside, you can see the unique colonial-style building of this market.

The building was built and constructed in 1937. It is also considered one of the landmarks in Phnom Penh.

Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 18:00 Address: Street 130, Phnom Penh

The Killing Fields of Cheung Ek

It is situated 15 km south-west of Phnom Penh. A place where more than 17,000 Cambodians been killed and buried in mass graves.

Many of the victims were brought to this place after been tortured in Toul Sleng.

PRICE: admission including audio tour US$6

OPENING HOURS :  7.30am-5.30pm

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Independence Monument aka Vimean Ekareach

It was built in 1958 to celebrate the independence from French in 1953. The independence monument is designed in Angkorian’s style and it now serves and known as the monument to Cambodia’s war heroes.

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National Museum of Cambodia

One of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art including sculptural, Khmer ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects

Opening hours: 8.00am until 5.00pm daily. Last admission tickets are sold at 4.30pm.

Admission costs :

  • $5 for foreigner ages from 10 to 17 years old
  • $10 foreigner ages from 18 years old and above
  • 500 riels for Cambodians. Children and school groups are free.

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Conclusion:

I stayed for 2 days 1 night in Phnom Penh which I think it’s more than enough to discover the tourist places in Phnom Penh.

From there, I took an overnight sleeper bus (Giant Ibis Transport) and heading to Siem Reap for the famous Angkor Wat.

Overall, the local’s English speaking level is high especially in the city and also at the tourist spots. It is no issue for foreigners like us who travel alone. Bear in mind that Cambodia is using USD currency and Cambodian riel.

It is still considered high expenses to travel here especially for us who are coming from a developing country. On average, one meal is around USD 2.

 
 Upcoming post: Siem Reap, Cambodia
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Chiang Rai Thailand, My itinerary

This post is sharing my itinerary to ChiangRai, the north of Thailand (I went to visit 3 places here: Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle, and Chiang Mai)

Photo credit: here

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).

Photo credit: Here

CHIANG RAI

What have I seen there?

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) :

The spacious dormitory room

Lovely breakfast and free herb teas!

Click here to book

CHIANG RAI NIGHT BAZAAR

It is rather easy to find the night market aka night bazaar. You can shop for food, souvenirs and the clothing item etc.

WHITE TEMPLE ~Wat Rong Khun

The next morning after we had our breakfast, five of us went to visit this beautiful temple.

It is a must see and to-do list in Chiang Rai. Wat Rong Khun was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, who known for his use of Buddhist imagery in his art.

The entrance fee is 50 Baht for foreigners and Thai citizens will still be able to access the contemporary temple for free.

During the time we went, it was crowded with people because it was a public holiday in Thailand.

White temple -crowded with people

I tried hard to get some nice pictures :

How to get to the white temple?

Just right next to the night bazaar, there is a bus station where you can take the public bus to the white temple which costs 20 Baht only. Below is the bus timetable to the temple:

After visiting the temple with the four gentlemen, it is the time to farewell with them and heading to Golden triangle to meet my localhost.

It was my pleasure to meet all of them and travelled together from Laos to Thailand. Wishing all the best to them and hope our paths cross again someday.

What else to see in Chiang Rai?

Black Temple a.k.a  Baan Dam Museum / Black House

It is near to White Temple, which takes about 30 minutes driving distance.

This is the major landmark in the city centre, where it also serves as a traffic roundabout.

It was designed by the same person, Chalermchai Kositpipat who created the city’s famous White temple.

You may sign up the one-day sightseeing package tour with the local travel agent (which will cover most of the tourist spots in Chiang Rai):

chiang rai tour package

Next post:  Chiang Saen, Golden Triangle Thailand where the 3 countries meet.

Related posts:

Dalat, the highlands of Vietnam

How I planned my 4 months solo SEA trip

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Slow boat from Laos to Thailand

In my previous post, I have shared my Luang Prabang, Laos trip and today I will write something about the slow boat border crossing from Luang Prabang to the border of North Thailand, Huay Xai.

Image Credit: here

There are many ways to go from Laos to Thailand including taking the bus (which takes shorter time). However, you will miss many parts of Mekong river scenery view.

Where to get the slow boat ticket?

It is definitely not hard to book and purchase a ticket. In the downtown centre, there are many travel agents who can arrange the boat ticket for you.

There are two options:

a) You can either buy the boat ticket until Pak Beng (which is the small village allowing travellers like us to rest for one night after 8 hours journey). From there, you may decide to either continue to buy another ticket to continue the slow boat journey or taking a bus to Thailand in the next morning.

b) Book the full ticket to the border of North Thailand. You will still stopover one night at Pak Beng village and the ticket is valid for the next day morning journey to Huay Xai.

Suggestion: I will recommend and suggest to go with the second option as the boat journey is definitely better than a bus trip.

What to prepare before getting on to the boat?

Food is the key!  I have to emphasize that you must shop and buy a lot of food at Luang Prabang Night Market before your next early morning boat journey.

Buy some banana, tomatoes, canned meat, cakes, sandwiches, packaged drinks, Maggi noodles, bread, butter, milk, chips and snacks (whichever food can be stored and last for 8 hours)

Because for the next 8 hours, you will only stay on the boat and everything will be done on the boat.

You may buy some food (cup noodles) and coffee on the boat, and of course, the price is slightly more costly. Since that was my first experience, I only managed to grab two banana and chocolate cakes during my travel time.

And I had to buy a Maggi Cup Noodles on the boat, which cost me around USD2 for just a noodles cup. So guys, just remember to prepare and get ready before getting on the boat!

What to do on the slow boat?

There is neither Wifi nor data signal on the boat. So yeah! It is the best time to get rid of the outside for a while!

Rest &Relax 

You can choose to take a nap on the boat (even though there was no bed there, but the seat is good enough to rest and relax). In fact, I slept a lot on the boat because of the relaxing journey.

Eat: Yah! You tend to get hungry easily and eat a lot of food and snacks!

Chat with other travellers

There are many travellers who will travel together to the same destination. You get to meet and share different stories with people from different countries.

Glad to meet the four gentlemen (another gentleman was sleeping) and we got travelled together to Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Got the chance to try out the mate tea from Argentina.

Reading books

It is also another good option to read some books on the boat.

Movie time

If you can’t get rid of modern life, you may watch some downloaded movies.

Enjoy the Mekong River view

It was great to get to enjoy the scenic view along the whole journey. The boat stopped at certain points and you may greet the local with smiles! 🙂

PAK BENG

After a long half day journey, you will arrive at Pak Beng. This is a village which allows travellers to rest for a night before continuing the next morning journey.

Once you have arrived there, you will get to approach by the local for the accommodation. On average, the cheapest one room per night is around 100,000 which is around USD 12. You may share with another person for one room.

When you arrive there, it is about evening time. You get to clean up yourself and have some dinner at the restaurant in Pak Beng.

For the next morning, you may get to walk around at the village in the early morning. And get yourself ready to buy some food (sandwich and banana etc) and go on the boat again!

The journey will take another 8 hours, that’s where you will arrive at the border of Laos-Thailand. It is almost evening time again.

You can either take the tuk tuk to Huay Xai and stay for another night. Or straight taking the tuk tuk to arrive at the border and taking the minivan to Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai, Thailand

By the time, when you arrive at the border it is already evening time. Hence there was no more public bus. Instead, you have to carpool (minivan)with other travellers who want to go to the same destination.

It was indeed a long long journey, however, I did enjoy myself and my time for the slow boat journey. It gets to relax my mind and away from the modern city life a while.

Hope you will try this journey yourself on next time!

Tips: Remember to change all your Laos Kip at Laos or at the Thai-Laos border. It is hard to exchange Laos Kip to Thai Baht in Thailand. Almost none of the foreign exchange shop accepted Lao Kip.

Alternatively, you may just use Thai Baht currency in Laos because it is accepted in almost everywhere in Laos: click here for proof

For the next post, I will share about Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai trip in Thailand. Stay tuned!

Related Post:

Kanchanaburi, close to Bangkok Thailand

Dalat, the highlands of Vietnam

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