Things to do in Labuan Malaysia

Where to visit in Labuan?

Labuan is known as the Pearl of Borneo, which is also a Federal Territory of Malaysia. Many people have the wrong perception that this state is part of Sabah. When everyone seems neglected about this place, I was curious about how this place looks like.

It consists of one large and six smaller islands in East Malaysia.

https://www.tempatmenarik.my/pulau-rusukan-kecil-di-sabah/

Why Labuan?

  • Because Labuan was proclaimed as a Federal Territory and it is also a duty-free island.
  • It is an island that you get to enjoy the beach and diving activities here.
  • It is best for a weekend getaway which only takes about 2 ½ hours flight from KL to Labuan.
  • The food is cheap especially the seafood and you get to explore the island by renting a car here.
  • Labuan is a peaceful place and everyone living in harmony.
  • Grab car service is convenient here. Furthermore, most of the grab drivers are driving the imported car (because of free tax) hence you get to experience to sit in different types of cars. The grab service was relatively cheap where some distance just cost us RM2 per ride only.

What to see in Labuan?
First Day
As mentioned,  Labuan is a place that you get to explore by car.
We rented a car which cost us RM60 per day to explore the town. There are many car rental services counters available in the airport. For our case, we rented the car at the hotel.

The Chimney Museum
Our first stop was the Chimney Museum, which takes 20 minutes to drive from downtown to there.
The famous “Chimney”, a 106 feet high red brick stack believed to be linked to the coal mining days of Labuan. The Chimney is still very much a mystery until today.

Opening Hours: Everyday from 8:00 am to  5:00 p.m.

Admission: Free

Along the way, we stopped by at the Palm Beach Resort & Spa beachside (which just took 3 minutes’ drive from Chimney Museum) to enjoy the wind and wave.

Peace Park (locally known as Taman Damai)
The next stop was at Taman Damai ( Peace Park), located in Kg Layang – Layangan, near to the beach. This is the Park which built as a memorial to peace.

This place has a historical story about the surrender of the Japanese force at the end of WWII. This is another place for local people to get to relax and enjoy during the weekend or after work.

Surrender Point

It is another memorial spot located in Peace Park. From the history, this is the place where Japanese forces officially surrendered their ruling on Labuan to the Australian in charge.

From here, you get to see a nice view of the South China Sea in front of the beachside.

Mortar Café
During the evening time, it is good to have a tea break at Mortar café to avoid the high temperature outside. The contemporary design and relaxing music in the cafe make you wanted to stay longer in the café.
There are many varieties of food to try in Mortar.

Mr. Crab
For dinner time, we went to Mr. Crab Restaurant to try out the food.
The seafood here is relatively Fresh & CHEAP!
We have ordered 3 dishes for 2 people and guess how much the Crab costs? RM9.00 per crab!!!

Mr Crab Seafood and Steamboat Restaurant

Day 2:
On day 2, we started our trip by exploring the downtown in Labuan.
Downtown
We randomly chose a local restaurant and tried out the “Kolo Mee” here and walked around the town.

Kg Patau-Patau
Another place of attraction in Labuan. It is just 6 minutes drive from the town.
This is the water villages which are mostly lived in by the Brunei Malays.

Again, after taking some nice pictures we thought of going back to the walk the market at the town.
Most of the stalls were going to close when we arrive, however, we managed to check out more info about Pulau Papan tour at the tourism office.

War Cemetery
Next, we continued our road trip to the war cemetery.
According to Wikipedia: “This is a Commonwealth World War II graveyard in Labuan, Malaysia. Many of the personnel buried in this cemetery, including Indian and Australian troops, were killed during the Japanese invasion of Borneo or the Borneo campaign of 1945” 
The place was similar to the place where I have visited in Kanchanaburi Thailand.

八仙庙 Ba Xian Temple
It would be easier to search the temple by typing the Chinese name: 八仙庙 cause it was a struggle for us at first to find this place via google map.

Luckily enough the local people willing to guide us and they even showed us the temple by driving the car to there.

UTC & Labuan Central Market

We went back to the town and had a view of the market in the UTC. 

Labuan International Sea Port Sports Complex
You get to visit the aqua world with FREE admission. If you compare the other aqua place this is a slightly smaller museum but it’s definitely no harm of paying a visit.

Ramsey Point
During evening time, you get to enjoy the relaxing time just right outside of the sports complex.
Here they are selling the local Ramli Burger, Cendol and Keropok.

While spending your time to enjoy the sunset there, having a chillaxing time in front of the beach is totally worth it.

Yumcha at the Hotel rooftop bar
As Malaysian, we always enjoy the night time to have a “drink” outdoor.
The types of drink we would choose mainly sweet drinks, for example, Milo, Horlicks, Teh Tarik, Air Limau, etc.
I love the design at this rooftop bar at our hotel.
The price of the drinks was cheap. The rooftop is opened to the public as well, you will get to have a meal or drink here even if you are not staying at this hotel.

Day 3:
Pulau Papan
This is the last day of Labuan.
We have decided to book a short and quick tour to Pulau Papan @9am (for an hour visit) before rushing back to the airport to catch the flight at 12 pm.

From the town to Pulau Papan, it just took about 15 minutes speed boat ride.
It was a private tour for both of us along with a tour guide to introduce us about the island.

We get to know more about this island and took some nice pictures then heading back to the town and checked out of the hotel.

Coconut Pudding
Our last mission was to try out the coconut pudding at Labuan.
After booking a grab car, the driver stopped us at the restaurant and take away the pudding then sending us to the airport for departure.
While on the way, she shared with us if we have known her earlier, she would have recommended us to try out another seafood restaurant in Labuan.

  1. Pulau Rusukan
    This is another island to explore but we did not get a chance to visit that time. If you love diving, I believe this would be another paradise to you.

Ferry to Brunei
I would definitely consider taking a ferry trip to Brunei from Labuan terminal for my next visit.

Where did we stay?
Hotel Labuan Point

Despite it was not situated in the middle of the downtown, this hotel provides a quiet place to stay. As long as you are using Grab Car or renting a car at Labuan, it is not a big issue for you to go everywhere.
An affordable price for two persons. The rooftop bar design for nice to hang out with friends or for couple dating.

How did I feel about Labuan?

Overall I like about Labuan how everyone living in a peaceful and harmonious life together. The driving pace is in slow motion and it is a close community where everyone seems to know each other.

One of the highlights is the daytime temperature was super high as compare in KL. There was no joke and according to travel wiki, apparently, daytime temperatures may be slightly higher than other parts of Malaysia.
Despite the hot sun, there are many things you get to explore in Labuan. Furthermore, there are a lot of FREE things you could do here. Throughout the 3 days 2 nights trip, we did not even pay a single fee for parking or any museum admission.

The overall expenses here were cheap and affordable.
The whole trip we were just spending around RM500 inclusive flight tickets for 3 days 2 nights trip.

If there is a chance, I do not mind to visit Labuan again to visit Pulau Rusukan and taking a ferry trip to Brunei.

Rough expenses breakdown (per person):

Return Tickets: RM128
Food: RM100
Transport: RM100
Hotel: RM80
Boat fare to Pulau Papan: RM30-RM50
Total: Around RM400-RM500 for 3 Days 2 nights trip

Check out more Labuan travel: click here

Labuan Tourism: click here

Sydney Itineraries: click here

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Sydney Australia Itinerary Part 1【MYR 2,500 / AUD 850 for 6 Days 5 Nights】

SYDNEY ITINERARY

opera house

DAY 1: AIRPORT TO HOSTEL

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

OPAL CARD

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.

Adult Opal Card
Child/Youth Opal card

SIM CARD

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

Royal National Park

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.)

Admission: Free

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 :

And enjoyed a nice dinner at Eat Burger https://eatburger.co/

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.

https://www.imfree.com.au/sydney/

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.

Day 4:

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.

more photos on instagram: @thetravellersu

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.[1] Their names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m).[2]”

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.

To be continued >>  Sydney Trip Part 2

More pictures: Instagram

Budget Cities in Australia: Our Top Picks: 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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Re post: Travelling alone is not as scary as you think

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.

Sunblock, comfortable sneakers, camera, selfie stick, phone.

Any bad experience you faced? Safety tips.

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.

 

 

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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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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.

Credit

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

Other Posts: Home Page

 

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Chiang Mai,Thailand-Why I Like You So Much

Chiang Mai apparently is the largest and mountainous city in the northern of Thailand.

The first time when I arrived at Chiang Mai, I fell in love with the place at the first sight. It is a city but the city not as crowded as Bangkok. It is energetic yet it can be quiet too. These are some of the reasons why I like here.

chiang mai city

It is not surprised why many expats and retirees chose to move and settle down here, because of the low-cost living yet you still could remain the good quality of life in Chiang Mai.

What to see and do in Chiang Mai?

Songthaew/ Red Pick Up Truck Taxi

In the total of 5 hours bus journey from Golden Triangle to Chiang Mai, the first transport I used was the local Songthaew where this is a  pickup and shared taxi/truck that commonly used in both Thailand and Laos.

Especially in Chiang Mai, Red Pick Up truck taxi is the shared taxi for the passengers who will travel roughly in the same direction. And of course, the price is cheaper.

sonthaewCredit

*You may read more about Songthaew on another blogger’s post, they explained it in details.

Me U2 Hostel

The Red taxi stopped me outside of my hostel and this is the place that I have stayed for two nights:

Book here

The hostel location is good where is accessible and convenient to many tourist spots within walking distance.

Chang Phuek market

Recommended by the owner of the hostel, the famous Sukiya at chang phuek market:

sukiya chiangmai

the food stall is just right in front of the Ford showroom. The business working hours starts from 6pm onwards.

Address: ฟอร์ด อเมริกัน มอเตอร์ส (เชียงใหม่) 234/19 ถ. มณีนพรัตน์ ต. ศรีภูมิ อ. เมือง, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Chiang mai sukiya food court

Morning Market

Visiting the morning market (next to the Ford showroom)  where you can find a lot of nice and fresh food there

food

Warorot Market/Kad Luang 

You can shop clothing, grocery items, foods & home goods etc. here.

Daily opening hours: 5am-11pm

Credit

Visiting Wat(s)/ Temples

There are many temples in Chiang Mai. Some of the temples are located in the city centre within walking distance.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

One of the most sacred temples where it is located on top of the mountain.

Entrance fee for the foreigner: 30 Baht per person

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

You could enjoy the peak view/ whole Chiang Mai view at the top of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Meet Up with friends

 

Food Hunting

The locals know the best! My local friends brought me to try out the famous Anchan noodles aka blue noodles:

Anchan which means Butterfly-pea flower, the color of the noodles and drinks were made by anchan. That’s why it is in blue color.

anchan noodles

Guu Fusion Roti & Tea

Many varieties of Roti here. We were greedy enough to order four plates for 3 persons. 😛

Guu Fusion Roti & Tea

Guu Fusion Roti & Tea

SUGOI BBQ

Dinner: Guess how much it costs?

SUGOI BBQ

It’s only 180 Baht for all- you- can- eat buffet!

Chiang Mai University

Do you know Chiang Mai University is also a tourist attraction?

chiang mai university

At Chiang Mai University lake -Ang Kaew reservoir

Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center

You can walk around and window shop at Maya shopping center area. The Think Park Chiang Mai is also nice to check out.

maya shopping center

chiang mai

chiang maichiang mai

Chiang Mai Brazilian Jutjitsu

If you want to practice BJJ while travel, there are many BJJ class in Chiang Mai.I went to Chiang Mai BJJ this time. Awesome people here 🙂

chiangmai bjj

chiangmai bjj

chiangmai bjj

chiangmai brazilian jujitsu

Local Night Pub in Chiang Mai

Tried out the new Thailand beer and exotic (crunchy) food here:

exotic foodUbeer thailand

I was in Chiang Mai only for 3 days 2 nights. I should have extended the stay longer.There are other many nice places in Chiang Mai such as the National Park, a trip to Pai and etc. etc. which I haven’t got a chance to visit.

In a nutshell, I like Chiang Mai very much.I will definitely  be back in one day soon.

Other Posts/ Itinerary/ Trips:  Home Page

Qatar, the richest country in the world

Chiang Rai, Thailand Itinerary

 

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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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