Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bali ‘s Day of Silence

Bali is very colourful as it is filled with various cultures and rituals. Nyepi is one of such festivals that has its importance in a very different way. It is the New Year for Balinese, and the Hindu families celebrate it in a massive way. Bali is known as one of the top-notch tourist stops in the world, and having Nyepi brings more colour for the island. However, this festival is not only for the Hindus or Balinese as this involves an island-wide purification, which means that all island’s inhabitants are into this together with no exception. They go into silence for a 24-hour straight while reflecting the ‘Four Nyepi Prohibitions’, which include ‘no fire, no travel, no entertainment, and no noise’. From 6AM to 6PM no lights are allowed, the airport won’t be operated, all the shops remain closed, machinery and vehicle usages are banned, no work is allowed, and people across the island are expected not to be seen in the public area as it is forbidden for them to leave their premises. The Pecalang (Balinese security person) is the authority who controls the process of Nyepi festival.

There are various phases of in which this famous New Year festival is being celebrated at Bali. Melasti, happens three days before Nyepi, is supposed to clean arca or pratima or pralingga with the help of symbols. These symbols help in concentrating the mind towards the gods. It aims to clean the entire nature and the belongings. Tawur Kesanga or well known as ‘ogoh-ogoh’ ceremony is performed exactly a day before the D-day. All villages of Bali hold an exorcism ceremony, which is generally performed at the main village across road. This ‘demons-meeting’ ceremony is definitely a wonderful thing to witness. A day after Nyepi, the festival will continue to Ngembak Geni. It is the real show of bonhomie amongst the Hindu societies, marking by the completion of the silence process and people visit each other’s houses to forgive each other. This is truly an affection show which is being liked by many ones and being adopted in some of the religions.

Some visitors tend to avoid traveling to Bali during Nyepi festival, and one of the reasons is because of the restrictions during the 24-hours of silence. However, the magic of Nyepi is so hauntingly blissful that it must be experienced at least once in a lifetime. And for those who are keen to spend Nyepi in Bali, there are more than enough hotel destinations that can cater guests during this important period.
 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Roving the great lakes of Bali

Bali is known for its achingly beautiful scenery and landscapes; an exploration into which is a spiritually awakening experience for many. Spending time in ‘natural Bali’ is filled with peace and tranquility, giving people the perfect environment to ponder life and widen their horizons as an individual. Besides the island’s beautiful underwater world, white sand beaches and unique culture, Bali hides a reservoir of beauty and charm that are often forgotten; these are the great lakes of Bali. These majestic lakes are well worth your time and effort, as they showcase the beauty of Bali that lies beyond the coast. Make sure your cameras are ready for what is truly a visual feast.

Lake Bratan
Let’s begin the adventure in central Bali with a visit to Lake Bratan. Situated in a crater of an inactive volcano, Mount Catur, Lake Bratan is the second largest lake in Bali and is back dropped by the majesty of Mount Bratan. Located in Bali’s central highlands of Bedugul, this lake is a favourite tourist attraction. Its high altitude allows visitors to enjoy respite from the hot and humid weather. The surrounding area is a natural spectacle offering splendid views of mountains and greenery. The lake is surprisingly shallow with a maximum depth of only 22 metres. Irises of numerous colours - yellow, fuchsia and magenta - dot the edge of the lake. The misty peak of dormant Mount Catur looms above.

Found around the lake are three 25-metre-deep caves excavated by the invading Japanese during World War II. There are also a few shrines worth exploring in the vicinity of Lake Bratan. Another popular sight is Bukit Mungsu Market (or Pasar Bukit Mungsu), located in Candi Kuning. Visitors can buy a variety of fresh spices, including nutmeg and turmeric, fruits and vegetables. Due to the cool weather there, you can also pick strawberries on the fields, a unique find considering Bali’s tropical climate.

There are so many activities you can do around the area. The surrounding mountains are popular destinations for hiking and trekking, offering routes of various levels of difficulty. Water sports lovers will rejoice with the abundance of water activities available. Rides on pedal boats, speedboats or traditional boats known as jukung are all available. Other types of water sports that you can enjoy include water-skiing, parasailing, jet skiing and paddle sports. Swimming is permitted, of course, only if you can stand the cold waters!

Lake Bratan is considered to be the most holy lake in Bali, as it is a home to one of the most famous temples, the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, which dates back to stories told in Balinese mythology. This beautiful 17th century temple of Ulun Danu, which appears to float on the water, is dedicated to worship Dewi Danu or the Lake Goddess. Offerings are made at the temple on special festive occasions, as it is believed this will bring economic prosperity to the area.

The lake is a very important source of irrigation for many farms and rice paddies in the Bedugul region. Because of its surrounding temperatures and irrigation system, the area around Lake Bratan is blessed with high fertility, and for that reason Lake Bratan is also known as the Lake of the Holy Mountain.

It takes around 2-hours to drive from Denpasar to Candi Kuning Village, Baturiti district, Tabanan, where the lake lies.

Lake Batur
Lake Batur is Bali’s largest and widest lake with an area of approximately 18 square kilometres. The large crescent shaped lake sits within the old caldera of Mount Batur and is surrounded by the high walls of the crater rim, with an active volcano of Mount Batur adjacent to it. Located in the mountainous area of the Bangli Regency on the southeastern side of the Batur caldera, the lake lies at the feet of two majestic surrounding mountains, Mount Batur and Mount Abang. The crater is situated approximately 500 meters above sea level, and a couple of hot springs can be seen surrounding the lake with one in the middle of the lake. The water is much cooler than the other lakes in Bali. Try to dip your fingers while boating in this lake to feel how amazingly cold (but fresh!) the water is.

On the journey to the lake via Bangli or Tampaksiring, the ashy residues and active hot springs reveal its volcanic history. As you get closer and continue over the last ridge, the massive outlining of the crater becomes visible; expect a large smile to peel across your face when you encounter this moment. You can continue along the road from Penelokan, it continues right around the rim towards Kintamani to circle around the crater. The majestic and spectacular view of Lake Batur can also be viewed from Kintamani.

The only boat access to the lake is through the Trunyan village, home to the Bali Aga people. These local indigenous inhabitants are true descendants of native Balinese and have been isolated from the other inhabitants on other parts of the island. They communicate in an ancient form of the Balinese language and to date still practice ancient traditional Balinese culture and religion. An interesting part of their culture is that when one of their tribesmen dies, they are neither cremated nor buried, but laid under a sacred tree, the Taru Menyan, inside their open air cemetery. The members of the tribe believe that roots and the branches of this sacred tree helps to mask and remove the odour of the rotting, decomposing bodies.

Lake Buyan
Lake Buyan is one of Bali’s unexposed and untouched attractions. Located in Pancasari Village, in Sukasada District, Buleleng Regency, the lake spans approximately 4.5 square kilometres just below the northern rim of the Bedugul caldera. Situated in a plateau region characterised by generally very wet and cool climates, Lake Buyan is surrounded by lush vegetation, featuring fog and cool air, which allows one to appreciate the authenticity of nature’s wonders. The sight of it alone has wonderfully soothing effects that help to temporarily take away the stress of daily life.

Getting to this lake is a bit tricky, involving a 3-hour drive from Denpasar and following the road winding up the hill, where you can see an increasing number of monkeys, before you arrive at the junction on the top of the hill. Turn left at this junction and continue to follow the quiet asphalt road which leads you to the lake.

A community pool, known as Telaga Aya, is connected to the lake via a narrow canal. Telaga Aya is located between the lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan, which are separated by a forest-covered hill. At the top of the hill, Asah Gobleg village is the primary vantage point with panoramic views of both lakes and the surrounding area. Make sure to get your perfect selfie with the lake in the background from the lookout at Asah Gobleg Village on the trek down to the lake.

Encircled by coffee and clove plantations, Lake Buyan has a camping site at its southern edge with the ground being flat there. However, the most common activities are boating or fishing. Hiking or trekking is doable, but best done with local guides, granting scenic views of the landscape. For those who are into mediation and yoga, Lake Buyan offers a perfectly peaceful, serene atmosphere, ideal for such activities. Nature lovers and eco-tourists should find the entire area as a whole an ideal getaway. With limited tourist activities and the absence of human intervention, Lake Buyan still maintains its natural, intact ecosystem through protection of its fragile environment and promoting eco-tourism.

Lake Tamblingan
Lake Buyan is closely related to Lake Tamblingan in terms of location and ecosystem, and therefore both lakes are generally referred to as Bali’s Twin Lakes. An interesting fact is that Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan used to be one whole lake until a landslide separated them in around the year 1800. Now they are separated by a ride almost 2 kilometres wide.

Lake Tamblingan exudes a mystical appeal and charm, with some regarding it as having the most unspoilt natural scenery in comparison to Lake Bratan or Lake Buyan. The lake is located in the heart of Bali’s farming area and the slopes are covered with coffee plantations, vegetable fields and rice paddies. Its official location is on the north slope of Mount Lesung, Munduk Village area, Buleleng Regency, about 3 hours from Denpasar. You will have the best experience just driving to this place with the cool wind blowing on your face and the feeling of pure, clean air all around you. It is advisable to pull over for a few photographs or have a small picnic by the road.

The entire lake area is protected land within the 4356- acre Batukaru Nature Reserve, which is a major reason that both Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan have become increasingly popular with mountain trekkers, adventure seekers, bird watchers and eco-tourists. And since the lake is located at such great heights, you will find that it is mostly covered in fog that casts a beautiful spell on tourists and locals alike. The depth of the lake and reflection of the surrounding trees creates gorgeous hues of blue, green and grey that shimmer across the water’s surface like a palette of paints.

Though motorized boating is not available on this lake, you can rent a rowing boat or bring along your kayaks to explore further. Fishing is also permitted. You can opt for a jungle tour, which involves crossing the sacred Tamblingan Lake by an old-style, hollow canoe. Near Lake Tamblingan, visitors can perform activities, like trekking in the tropical forest with a variety of distances, with trips ranging from 2 to 8 hours. The idea is to spend quality time in and around the lake, and absorb its breathtaking beauty.

There are a few sights worth visiting in the vicinity: numerous temples can be found on the outskirts of Lake Tamblingan, and the most popular one is Gubug Temple. This water temple, which uses the traditional ‘Subak’ irrigation system at the edge of the lake, is a must visit place if you are around the neighbourhood. It retains much of the architectural design, as Ulun Danu Temple, but is less crowded, offering you good photo-taking opportunities.

If you plan to explore ‘real Bali’ a bit more, these four lakes offer history, culture and nature in one experience. Nourish your soul in their stunning scenery, relax at the lakeside hot springs, stroll in the beautiful local villages, take a tour of the exotic plantations, or camp in the mountains and dense jungles. Very rightly said, that Bali is a true treasure trove of natural beauty. Why not see for yourself.
 
This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Monday, March 13, 2017

An epic experience at Universal Studio Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is a hot destination for families, group of friends, couples, or school-college trips. It is a destination for anyone who is looking forward to enter a whole new world and spend a day filled with adventure and excitement. The first and only Universal Studio theme park in Southeast Asia set up in the stunning Sentosa Island. It is meticulously designed to give you the best theme park experience in the world.

Universal Studios Singapore is categorically split into 7 major theme parks. Step onto “Hollywood Boulevard” framed by dynamic architecture, palm trees and the famous Walk of Fame, you will feel as if you have landed in the center of the entertainment universe. One inside “New York”, feel the spirit and energy of America's biggest and grandest city as you stroll along the sidewalks and enjoy all the classic landmarks. Soak in the impressive city skylines, neon lights, and facades that set the scenes for big city fun and real-time movie production. For the science-freaks, the city of the future has arrived. Walk into “Sci-Fi-City” and experience the ultimate intergalactic battle of Good versus Evil, and visit a vibrant metropolis with all the ultimate modern conveniences. If you have always wished to explore the mysteries and legends of Egypt, then “Ancient Egypt” is definitely the place to be explored. Ancient pyramids and obelisks stand fast against the sands of time as you are transported to 1930’s Egypt, the Golden Age of Egyptian Exploration. Travel to an era when entire Pharaohs tombs were discovered, and their terrible curses unleashed. If you are a big fan of Steven Spielberg and his Jurassic Park movies, then the “Lost World” is your place. Divided into two themed areas, “Jurassic Park” and “WaterWorld”, this zone is for fans of the two blockbuster movies, as they can experience a dense tropical forest where dinosaurs lurk, then watch death defying stunts filled with thrills and spills. Especially designed for children “Far Far Away” the kids are exported to a world of talking movie stars, donkeys and other fairy tale animals. “Madagascar” which is based on the hit DreamWorks Animation film, brings you to a dense tropical jungle, filled with strange and wonderful animals like lemurs and foosas. Junior Roller Coaster rides, Ferris Wheel, Live Donkey Shows, 4-D Shrek movies, Beach Party Carousel, Boat-Rides ensures your kids are thoroughly entertained.

You may also want to explore the world beyond the screen and Ride the Movies by experiencing cutting-edge rides, shows, and attractions based on your favourite blockbuster films and television series like Puss in Boots, Giant Journey, Battlestar Galactica, Transformers The Ride, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase, and much more.

On special events like Halloween, Christmas, or New Year, a lot of rides and movies are upgraded to match the festive season and get you into the mood. You can be a part of these fun parties and enjoy till you drop in the Universal Studios experience.

Ghostwriter - Copywriter - Scriptwriter

Sunday, March 5, 2017

True Beauty in the Eyes of North Bali Nature

“He who has stopped travelling, has stopped living.” I guess that quote really stands up when it comes to exploring Bali. It is almost impossible to get bored and feel monotonous living in Bali. For the true explorers who are on the continuous quest for new discoveries, this island is an ideal place to satiate that hunger. Waterfalls, beach, crater lakes, paddy fields, vineyards, North Bali gives you no chance to complaint. Being the greenest area of Bali, North Bali also provides a diverse set of tourist spots to explore.

Where to go

 
For all those who cannot resist of going to the ocean, Lovina Beach is the only destination in the North Bali. Characterised by calm waves and side-lined by coconut trees, it is visited by all those who crave for relaxation. Lovina is sun-drenched, with patches of shade from palm trees. The tourist area stretches over 8 kilometres, and consists of a string of coastal villages – Kaliasem, Kalibukbuk, Anturan and Tukad Mungga – collectively known as Lovina. A short drive from the black sand beach of Lovina, those who are keen into architecture can visit The Royal Palace of Singaraja, which depicting royal grandeur and majestic European buildings.

 
If you need to pacify your soul, Pura Ponjok Batu can be an alternative. Meaning Stone Cape, this ancient, spiritual place owes its uniqueness to a rock promontory, which from the crevices of rocks grows frangipani trees and shrubs that grows artistically. This Hindu temple is used for praying to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi. For Buddhist, praying at the Brahma Vihara Arama is a must. Located at Tegehe Village, this biggest Buddhist temple in Bali rises majestically overlooking Lovina Beach with lush green hill as a background. Painted with colorful decorations, this place is also a perfect place for relaxation while admiring the beautiful buildings and surroundings.

 
Soaking in the healing waters of a natural hot spring is the most effective way to relax in nature, and a quick visit to one of the island’s most popular hot springs can be a solution. Located in the Banjar Village, with lush, jungle-clad slopes surrounding the sacred area, Banjar Hot Spring consists of hot ponds filled with warm water. The sulphuric water, which believed to cure skin diseases, spills from the mouths of some stone-carved mythical dragon into three pools at a tempting temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. The presence of brimstones in the water lends the healing property for various skin diseases, which explain why the place is known as the “Magical waters of Bali”.

One of the most famous waterfalls of north Bali is Gitgit Waterfall. Located in the plateau area with the height about 35 metres, the waterfall is surrounded by tropical trees with some plantations protecting the rain forest around it.

 
The forest lovers will be treated well at the Lemukih village, which lies in the northern slope of the island at an altitude of 638 metres above sea level. It is dotted by gorgeous rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations, making it ideal for those who want to stroll around and explore deeper into Balinese lifestyle. Encircled by green forests and mountains, Lemukih provides a rather picturesque view. The dense tropical rain-forests are a perfect spot for trekking. It is characterised by 3 beautiful, gushing waterfalls which start at different heights. The water is cool and clean and pours out from the greenery above. The pounding sound of water falling and splashing creates a much desired tranquillity all around.

 
The wine lovers can enjoy the North Bali by visiting the vineyard of Hatten Wines. Situated between the towns of Seririt and Pemuteran, this place offers wine tasting and exploring experience. The Hatten Wines winery is a modern state of the art facility, bottling over 50000 bottles of wine each day. Like most places, Bali also has its own cultural drink called Tuak, universally known as palm wine. It is a milky fermented alcohol made from the sap of palm trees. It has a sour taste, and a strong burn as you swallow. It is available for purchase in some restaurants and shops and should be tried by every wine lover to know the rustic flavour of Bali.

What to do

 
Apart from the terrific sceneries to gape at, North Bali provides loads of activities to indulge in. The Kalimudah canyon is the next best thing for sporting Canyoning destination. In this activity, you will come across two different sections. The first section is a sequence of water slides, jumps and short rappels with glorious gorges made of volcanic rock, sulphurate water basin that come out from the underground. The second part is sportier, including swimming, floating, enchanting rappel descents along the waterfall and jumps up to 10 metres high.

Another rewarding activity is undoubtedly dolphin watching at Lovina. There is a certain ecstasy to waking up at sunrise, walking to the beach, finding a local boatman and embarking on an adventure. In no time the dolphins appear in pods of ten to literally hundreds. Some mornings, they even put on a full dolphin show with backflips, massive jumps and sometimes even tail-walking.


For trekking lovers, North Bali provides more than enough jungle treks. Trekking at Lemukih Village is a rare and unique opportunity to experience the traditional culture and the beautiful nature. You can trek all the way to temples, rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations. If you want to burn more energies, follow a track with stone steps that winds down for about 90 meters to the waterfalls of Leimukh through jungles and rivers. If that’s still not enough and you feel like experiencing more of the wild rainforest, the beautifully crafted nests of Bali's central highlands will make the trek to Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan memorable. Covered by fog most of the times, the two crater lakes are located within the caldera of extinct Bedugul volcano. You can also set a camp near the lakes.

Trekking along the vineyard can also be a part of your itinerary, and therefore a visit to Welcome Center & Observation Deck of Hatten Wines vineyards is an option. The Alphonse Lavallee grapes is grown locally in most Balinese vineyards, producing very tasty wine. Your trip will start with a quick walking tour of the vineyard. The tour will include a lesson in wine making, grape picking, and a visit at Hatten Wine’s laboratory. Finally, the activity you have been waiting for… wine tasting!

The magnificence of North Bali is just endless and gets even better with more exploration. With adrenaline pumping activities to lazing around in beach and strolling across paddy fields, this northern part of the island leaves no stone unturned to satisfy every ounce of your soul. A perfect region to distress one’s mind and body, North Bali truly captivates the heart and soul.
 
This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 
Ghostwriter - Copywriter - Scriptwriter

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Take Your Coming Vacation to Nairobi, Kenya

Derived from a native community (Maasai) language “Enkanye Nyorobi,” Nairobi means a place of cool waters. True to its name, the city indeed a cool place. With a cool set up, there are numerous places where someone can visit during holidays in this city. Be sure to enjoy the local cuisine in some of the best restaurants in the region. In terms of accommodation, guesthouses are all over, with different hotels offering bed spaces for visitors.

Nairobi national park is one of the destinations that everyone must stop at. Many wild animals in this park that have been left to naturally interact with nature. You can expect to be face to face with lions, zebras, antelopes, baboons, monkeys among other animals at the park. There are a number of formidable tour guide companies that will always be ready to take you round.



The Nairobi arboretum is yet another place worth paying a visit. If you are a naturalist, this stop is a must. The arboretum is preserving thousands of plant species. This is therefore where you can learn some of the plants you know physically but can’t match them with their names. The cool breeze and calm environment within the arboretum makes it a great place to spend a picnic.



If you want to know more about the history of Kenya, then The Nairobi National Museum should be your next stop. The national museum offers education and leisure tourists an opportunity to learn the rich heritage of Kenya. Opened all days of the year, let your visit not be complete without you making a stop at this site that is located on the western sides of Nairobi referred to as Westlands. The museum houses celebrated collections of Kenya’s contemporary Art, nature, culture as well as history.

 
Next to Nairobi, you can find the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. A visit to this game reserve would be very prudent indeed. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is one of the few homes of all the big five animals, namely the African elephant, Cape buffalo, Rhino, African leopard and African Lion. This is just a tip of an iceberg as there are other hundreds and hundreds of species. Almost any animal that can be found in Africa will be found at the Mara. If you visit in July, you will be able to appreciate the great Wildebeest Migration from Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara. In October, the Wildebeests migrate back to Serengeti. This is one of the great wonders of the world worth witnessing.

In Upper and Lower Hill regions of Nairobi are the spot where you can discover high rated hotels. These hotels have different ratings, hence different costs of accommodation to suit your pockets and class. Most of these guest houses have swimming pools, gyms for recreation, physical fitness, spas for body massage and general body wellness. Notwithstanding, there are other good hotels and guest rooms scattered all over the city.

And there is no Safari that can be complete without good food being served. In Nairobi, you have the opportunity of enjoying the Kenyan cuisine at its bests. Native vegetables, traditionally prepared are worth your taste. There is also the Ugali, a corn flour product that is the staple food of Kenya. Ugali can be served with any stew, mainly for lunch or dinner. Other foods include fish, beef, Irish potatoes and beans are prepared in different ways.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Backpacking to Singapore

The term backpacking is derived from the activity of using a backpack. A backpack can easily be carried for long periods of time and can be used for long distance travelling and hiking among other activities. Backpacking is majorly an activity that’s associated with people when they are using public transport, when one is going for longer trip duration as compared with vacations and when people go for hikes and local sightseeing visits.

Backpackers guide in Singapore
Pushing Singapore to my back has never been easy. Since I started using this guide, travelling has become even more interesting. This diamond shaped island has a lot to offer for backpackers who are on a budget. Though it is possible to get a jest of what this island is, taking a one-month vacation means a true exploration of the entire island. After spending a year in Singapore, it dawned on me that not only the rich can be able to come here for a vacation but almost everyone can afford being here.

To begin with, the island might seem like a rather strict place with the numerous rules and regulations. However, a quick learning of the dos and the don’ts enabled me learn that it is truly a friendly nation that has a blend of expats together with cultures from the entire globe. Their rules are what have made this city amongst the safest places one can ever visit. As a first time backpacker, it will be prudent for you to “Stuff your eyes with wonder in Singapore, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the Singapore. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

Moving Around Singapore
There are a number of ways a backpacker can move around Singapore. You obviously need a means to move from the airport to your place of residence as well as to move around the island exploring the beauty of the place. “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” The truth is that observation is only complete if you are moving around.

There are very affordable taxis in this city. With as little as $20, you will be able to move to or from the airport to your room. It is definitely the easiest option when you have a late night flight as well as when you are in groups of four. It has always been my preference since all the times I come to Singapore, my wife and daughter always accompany me.

The most popular and easiest way to move around the city is by the use of the Metro System commonly known as MRT. It is the most connected means to the airport as well as around the island. With the prices being averaging $3-$4, to get to the airport, I always have an affordable way to move around.  Although buses are also available in some routes, I rarely use them. Instead, I prefer walking around.

Nice Weekend away
Whenever I get more play time, I prefer to visit Singapore. A single weekend is enough for me to wonder, exploring some of the hidden gems being offered by the city. With a 24-hour plan, I am able to spend good time covering some corners of the city. The truth is, whether a take a month or a weekend in Singapore, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

Marina Bay: This is amongst the newest developments in Singapore, coming to us as a magical night time spot. There is no better place of appreciating the well-lit up sky scrapers together with the glimmering waters as from this spot. Checking out the breathtaking infinity pool, a water display, held a 20:00 daily as well as the Merlion is really therapeutic. An additional Garden by this Bay ensures that I am met with real tranquility of the city.

Chinatown: This offers a great opportunity for me to buy gifts from an area that has been decked with attractive shop fronts. At the Maxwell food court, I enjoy an array of foods from the local and international cuisines. I have been lucky to taste the Mooncake as last year; I was here during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festive.

Other places to visit include the Arab Street, the Botanic Gardens and the Little India among others. The Botanic Gardens offers a great park walk day especially during the summer. It is my place of preference when am recovering from a lazy jet lag day. The Little India on the other side offers a nice spot to do shopping as well as exploring the interesting smell of spices on sale.

Shopping
It is true that Singaporeans love to shop, a factor that has made it possible and easy for me to shop whenever I am in this island. In addition the Chinatown, other shopping spots include the Mustafa Center (found at the Little India), Sim Lim Center, Vivo shopping center (the largest indoor shopping center on the island) , Orchard Shopping road on the 5th avenue and Bugis among others.

When visiting Singapore, you don’t need to pack everything in your backpack while leaving home. Just pack what you need, and with just enough money for someone on a budget, you will enjoy your stay and shopping thus being able to come back home with a full bag of gifts and with little hassle. Make that bold step and visit Singapore as Charles Dudley Warner says that “there is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” Try and begin it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Therapeutic Trip to Jogjakarta

Travelling is therapeutic, and Jogyakarta in Indonesia seems the wisest decision to go to. With a wealth of attractions enriching this city, it ought to be your next healing journey. The array of attractions and the things to do here makes it intimidating to decide of how much time you should spend here. At least, to say, if you are going down to Jogjakarta without having an itinerary, you may come back without having explored the city, not because there is nothing good here, but because you will be spoilt of where to start from. There are a number of guides written by Online Editors which one can use. The below itinerary will make your efforts worthwhile.

Day 1:
Upon arrival to the city, one feels that unique sense of welcoming from the city’s environs. Your first day would best be used to settle with Jogjakarta’s vibe. Check in at a cozy guesthouse of choice and explore the delicious cuisines of Indonesia along Prawirotaman Road. Upon satisfaction, the adventurous can ask for direction to the Jamu stall to meet the medicine woman who prepares healing herbal elixir for the visitors.

Day 2:
The city is ruled by a Sultan, and this is a day for you to live like a sultan. The city is literally developed around the Sultan’s palace called Kraton – a Jogjakarta central attraction. On finishing exploring the palace, a short walk to Taman Sari water palace that was an 18th century Sultan’s holiday gateway will be prudent. This is a home to where the sultan had some sparkling baths with up to a hundred virgins at ago. The stairway to heaven and the 27-mike tunnel leading to the sea are can’t miss spots.

There are so many things to do and so many places to visit in Jogjakarta. Choose how many days you plan to be in Jogjakarta and then ask to the online editors. They can give you a step by step guide around this interesting city to visit.
 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cambodia with Backpack

“I would Gladly live out of a Backpack, if it Meant I could see the World.” If you want to get away from the daily monotonous life and head out to somewhere relaxing on your own, backpacking can be an option you should consider. It’s not a planned trip where everything gets decided beforehand, but an adventure where you uncover new things about a place on the move. Leaving your day to day life and associated comforts behind, head out to a trip alone or with other fellow backpackers to discover the wonders of nature or different places that you might not be able to visit on a regular planned trip. Carrying only the minimum life’s essentials on your back during the backpacking trip is not only physically challenging, but liberating for the mind as well as the soul. Backpacking is all about getting away from your normal life with a group of people to spend quality time discovering the best and worst of any place you travel to, and enjoy life as it happens.

Backpacking to Cambodia is a definite adventure that you cannot miss. Cambodia has its own pace to life and gives the backpacker an opportunity to get into photographer’s mode with its abundance of beautiful nature, culture, and way of life. The cost of adventure for a backpacker is cheaper in Cambodia as compared to other parts of Asia. Being in Cambodia is great fun with visit to the historic Angkor Wat, Yoga and Meditation retreats in Siem Reap, enjoying hippie living in Kampot, Dolphin watching, night markets, Cambodian food, Bamboo trains, and finally visit to Phnom Penh, and Cambodian Islands. Cambodia as a country offers a lot to the fun loving backpacker with cheap food, accommodation and adventure that is stress free and reliable. Phnom Penh as a city must be on your list of places to visit.

Phnom Penh is one of the difficult Asian cities to adjust to since it is extremely congested and hot. Its dusty streets reflecting the part of Asia that is trying to recover from a difficult past. For a backpacker who is new to this part of the world, Phnom Penh definitely provides a huge challenge.  However, in this challenge lies the beauty associated with this place. You can witness saffron robed monks, children playing in front of elegant colonial buildings having French architecture, and colorful market stalls all around that sell almost everything from fruits to worn out Levis jeans.  The best thing to do here is to hit the food markets either during the day or night. For a backpacker who enjoys the hustle bustle of daily life, this place definitely provides that through its markets. At the central night market, you can catch on to some of the good and inexpensive food that Cambodia has to offer. Phnom Penh is one place in Southeast Asia where you can enjoy the food sitting on a blanket in the market. This typically presents a picnic like atmosphere while you interact with the locals and have fun with your traveler friends.

There are a lot of marveling city attractions, and some of which are a must watch. The Royal Palace with its classic Khmer roofs and ornate gilding, is a striking structure near the riverfront. Visitors are allowed to visit the throne hall, a cluster of buildings surrounding it and the astonishing Silver Pagoda complex. Wat Ounalom is the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism. The main attraction here is a stupa containing an eyebrow hair of Buddha with an inscription in Pali (an ancient Indian language) over the entrance. The Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes is a depressing site to visit but still a famous tourist spot. Khmer Rouge leaders were meticulous in keeping records of their barbarism. Each prisoner who passed through S-21 was photographed, sometimes before and after torture. You can view the photographs on the wall and some instruments of torture. 35km south of Phnom Pehn, peaceful Tonle Bati is set on the banks of the Bati River in a well-tended grove of coconut and mango trees, where you can swim and picnic as well as seeing the two small but appealing temples.  A perfect, relaxing getaway after some serious sightseeing. If your backpacking stay allows you to stick around Phnom Penh for a while, then you can find charming cafes, French colonial buildings, beautiful tree lined boulevards, and at night buzzing pubs to enjoy the night life.  Also visit the Killing fields and S21 prison which is very much an important part of Cambodian history.

In terms of accommodation, there are numerous guest houses and hostels that provide cheap accommodation as you try and enjoy the buzz and atmosphere of this place. If you are on a tight budget, then plan a stay in the hostels to help cut down costs. The most well-known area in Phnom Penh for backpackers is Golden Street located on Street 278 and very close to the Independence monument. This area is filled with budget hostels and guesthouses, pubs, tours and activities that is extremely appealing to backpackers. If you want to stay a little away from this area, then look at budget hostels and guest houses near to riverside. Mid-range accommodations are located in the central part of Phnom Penh in the BKK1 district. This area provides maximum comfort accommodation with an active bar scene for the backpackers. The Boeung Kak Lake area is filled with rooms overlooking the lake having basic facilities.

Serendipity is synonymous to backpacking travel. The satisfaction and happiness associated with backpacking cannot be explained, only felt. Cambodia provides million such opportunities where you will create the most memorable moments of your life. So stop planning and get your backpack on. “Let your Memory be your Travel bag.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

An Educational Stop at Phillip Island Australia

Without having traveled to the Phillip Island, I would never have practically concurred with St. Augustine when he said that “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I am glad I have been able to open another valuable page of the world in the name of Phillip Island in Australia.

Without this travel, I would never have discovered the endless beauty a coastline can offer. Serene daytime seaside appearance and Azure Sea and sky at dawn and dusk have never been real as they were during my time in this Australian island. To practically emulate the words of Frank Bormann that "Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit," my time on the island was well spent, and trying to explore and visit all the places I could possible get to in three days.

Abundant was the wildlife, ecstatic was the international motorsport and adventurous it was to explore the seaside villages and Phillip Island’s family attractions. To conclude that Phillip Island Australia is the holiday haven that any person should consider is not an overstatement. If it were not for my experience with Phillip Island, I would not be writing about these magnificent places and experiences. As Ibn Batuta said, “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, and then turns you into a storyteller.” I tell my story.

Wildlife Viewing
There is endless wildlife in this spacious island that one can be able to appreciate. What made my tour more intrinsic is the fact that most of the animals here can rarely be found in other regions in the world.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm
This is a special piece of the Victorian heritage that I decided to visit. Everything here was simple, and I came to realize that this simplicity is what makes it interesting to be here. Taking long relaxing strolls along the coastal lines, and through the fragrance of the lawns and cottage gardens, for once I was able to appreciate the real beauty of nature.

The coastline walk was also educational as I was able to view and appreciate the restored cottages and farmhouse. The early Australian settlers together with their original practices were appreciated. Sitting down to enjoy the Australian cuisine in the Heritage farm’s licensed cafĂ© just after buying some lifetime quality gifts for my loved ones from the quality gift shop did much to complement Churchill’s ecstatic look and experience.

Koala Conservation Center
If you have seen the Koalas in the zoos before, then your experience is not complete. Unlike in the zoos where the animals have been confined, I strolled through this Phillip Island’s eucalyptus woodland, coming face-to-face with these animals in their natural habitat. Perfect viewing was made possible by the new koala boardwalk. It was a lifetime event for me to catch a glimpse of the koala joeys taking their first adventure from their mother’s pouch, finding food and ultimately learning to climb. Wow! What an experience worth remembrance. For better remembrance, Susan Sontag says that “Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.” My Nikon camera was always busy throughout this experience.

The spectacular woodland walks, the beautiful possums, enchiladas and wallabies in the natural bushes and the entire natural habitat as a whole made me conclude that your journey to Phillip Island is never complete if you don’t get to Koala Conservation center.

Things to do
There are unlimited things that people can do while visiting this island. To be biased, don’t miss out on walking and cycling. I say to be biased because I like cycling and I really liked cycling while on my exploration there. On the other side, as much as I am an anti-walking person, I would confess that the experience I had in the woodlands and the beaches would have never been worth recalling if I didn’t walk through. I really loved my walking experiences during all these days. 

Bird Watching
I managed to kill two birds using the same stone, in that as much as I was enjoying cycling, I ended up in the bird watching site thus appreciating nature the more.

In the main park of the Cape Woolamai, I was speechless when I came to witness the migration of a real flock of the short-tailed mutton birds as they returned in mass to their colony just before dusk. At first, I thought this was fun. Little did I know that real fun was yet to come the day after? Spotting all kinds of wading birds migrate from Rhyll inlet gave me the real experience of nature. Name the straw-necked ibis, the royal spoonbills and the rare hooded plover; I hadn’t imagined that there was real beauty outside here. I had underestimated the Phillip Island. I decided to just sit and enjoy. It is this experience that made me to fully agree with John Steinbeck when he said “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” An experience with the Penguin Parade, a night experience when the penguins returned ashore after their day out fishing was amazing.

Swimming & Surfing
I was lucky to be in Phillip at a time when they were holding their many surf clinics. Though an amateur in surfing, it didn’t seem to me a tall order after I registered for a beginner’s skills lesson. There was no swell from the day I got to this island to this third day hence reduced fear of any risks. At the end of it all, I was happy because though tired, I knew that my experience in the waters was truly therapeutic. 

My Dining Choice - The Cape Kitchen
Though there are numerous restaurants in Phillip Island, the setting at the Cape Kitchen inspired me to take most of my meals there. Natural setting, distinct and unique in town, I would enjoy the breathtaking views of the coastline and the Southern Ocean as I ate special meals, mostly seafood as that is what I preferred most.

I would have wanted to stay longer but my time to go back home came quite fast. My experience was just a tip of an iceberg of where I could have gone to or what I could have done. I thought that because I visited just a few places I had not achieved anything but this feeling left me once I was home. No wonder, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”- Attributed to Lin Yutan.