I think 2018 is a year that Singapore is feeling “shiok” for the massive publicity, there are many indirect benefits for a small city state.
First, we successfully held the trump-kim summit, an incredible event that the whole world is looking at.. We stood by the tv, together with the koreans and people around the world, hoping for a peaceful progress of the historic meeting. This event has help to market Singapore as an ideal location for meetings and businesses.
The movie, Crazy Rich Asian also set tongues wagging about Singapore, both mainstream and social media are talking about the disparities of the real and portrayed sides of the country, and most of us identify ourselves as “crazy rich asians” instead. But all in all, it is a fantastic movie that you should go for.
Putting these aside, i think Marina Bay is a really unique place worth talking about. Because where in the world can you revel in the remarkable views of the skyline, enjoy musical performances at the esplanade, watch a spectacular water show, feast on local hawker food and get your nature fix, all at a walkable distance? All the above mentioned is located around Marina Bay. That being said, being small has it advantageous too.
I think any Singaporean would be really proud of their skyline, it is always a nice feeling to sit at the CBD and watch the sun set or enjoy the breeze of the wind. I think the govt did a reasonably good job with urban planning and making our CBD attractive.
I am inspired by bloggers who takes pictures of their own city/town and post it up daily. I’ve been trying to learn how to see things in a different lens. Everyday life can get really dull, boring, rigid and stressful. Sometimes being stuck in the same environment and routine can drive people crazy. That is why i often take breaks and go out of town to broaden my horizons and get a mental break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Singapore. It is easier to get a break when you’re in a entirely different environment, i’m the kind that hardly gets stress up when i’m in a foreign land, i absolutely love the process of getting loss, finding directions, speaking to strangers and discovering surprises at every corner.
That said, i’m trying to incorporate this mindset into my daily life, distance myself from the usual thought and familiarity of the activities while enjoying the new experiences. This would require some practice of mindfulness (which is good!) to become a tourist at my own land. Alas, hope this effort would last!
This is a place that i never expected i would visit, not even known on most recommendations i see online. Prior to my Thai trip, i planed to explore some non-typical places to visit in Thailand, most of the travel blogs recommended the usual places, Chiang mai, Chiang rai, Tak, Issan. But none of which is within my reach… I came across a random blog that introduced to me this mystical town called Mon Village.
This village is situated at Sangkhlaburi District, next to Kachanaburi and 5 hours away from bangkok. Making the trip there is equally fascinating.
Going from Kachanaburi: There are two ways to go there, either by private van or public bus, depending on your budget and comfort. There is only one ticketing office for the private van, based in a shop house(dark translucent doors) opposite Kachanaburi bus terminal, asked around for direction, we couldn’t recognise the shop at all. At the office, one can immediately recognise the locals who is of Burmese descent as they have white face painting over their cheeks. I was surprise that there is only 2 tourists waiting for the bus, and 1 european guy who arrived late as the tickets are sold out fast.
We finally arrived after a long road trip, with a few stops along the way. It was a tough journey with some steep roads, lots of risky bends and a couple of police checks when nearing Sangkhlaburi (so get ready your identification/passport near you). But i enjoyed the long trip anyways, something that is impossible in Singapore.
One of the main activity at Sangkhlaburi is to observe/take part in the morning alms giving tradition. As early as 5 am, one will be able to see monks from the nearby monasteries walking along the street to receive alms. Here are some dos and don’ts for photographers who are not partaking in the ritual..
Always Keep a respectful distance, do not obstruct the laity or monks, use a long lens if you need.
Dress modestly: This is doubly important if you plan to participate in the almsgiving. Take off your shoes if you’re giving alms.
Never use your camera flash: It distracts the monks’ concentration from the spoils the solemnity of the ritual.
I really enjoyed this area and strongly recommend it to others looking for a Thai adventure just outside of Bangkok!
I always wonder if Nasi Pattaya has anything to do with this place.. Anyone care to enlighten me?
Pattaya is one of the best beaches outside of bangkok, only a few hours away from the capital, it is one of the most accessible cities. Several long-distance buses depart from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit), the other being Southern Terminal (Ekamai). Bus tickets in Thailand are relatively cheap and you’ll get to enjoy the scenery along the way.
Here are some pictures of my trip to Pattaya… Let the pictures do the talking.
Will i come back again? hmm probably yes for the cheap and worthy facial treatment at mike shopping centre. Not my kind of place (mainly caters to farangs who come for the sex industry), but i really enjoy the vibes and beautiful beaches.
The comfort when seeing this few words upon reaching the Thai airports…
I was so excited about visiting Ayuthaya, because that would mean that i will have completed 2/3 of the ancient ruin cities in Thailand. Prior this trip, I did pretty much homework to decide whether to take a train, cruise or minivan from Bangkok to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Transport is really convenient in Thailand, though there may not be sufficient information online for us to know how.
To begin with, my flight arrival time is midnight, so i had a night stay near Don Muang Airport, nevermind the location, because it was cheap, comfortable and within walkable distance of the terminals. All i need is a 711 and a couple of street vendors to deal with my midnight hunger pangs. *Tesco Express nearby was a bonus!
Getting to Ayutthaya via Mini Van from Don Muang, Future Park Rangsit
The van station taking you to Ayuthaya is located across the highway, one will need to cross the pedestrian bridge to reach the place. Do not be confused with the van terminal beside the shopping mall. The Van station looks like the picture above.
Cost: Less than 100baht/pax, you would have to wait for the van to be filled up before the driver is willing to leave.
Duration: Journey takes about 30 – 40mins
This hotel is recommended for no-frills stay, as the rooms are clean and inexpensive. It’s safe and beautifully quiet. The downside is that the lobby is huge & stuffy, not very conducive for tourist waiting to check in or coming back from their visits. This hotel is strategically located within walking distance from the minivan drop off point (municipal building), bicycle rental shop and many more.
Visiting the UNESCO sites of Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues is definitely a must when you are in Ayuthaya. But one should really spare some time to explore the other parts of this ancient city. Located diagonally across the minivan drop off point is the Chao Phrom Market. Here you can get your lunch or check in to the hotels nearby to freshen up before starting your temple visits.
Chao Phrom Market
Chao Phrom Market is Ayutthaya fresh market, opened 7am-5pm, daily. Its good to come here and experience the sight and smell. There is an abundance of cooked food, raw seafood and meats, more fruit and vegetables than you can imagine, and other captivating snacks.
Chao Phrom Market
Depending on your desired time to spend here, It is still good to rent some form of transport to explore all the sites. One may hire a tuktuk driver to bring you to all the Temples. But if you are like me who is only interested in one or two temple, a bicycle would be sufficient to bring you from Ayuthaya Municipal Building > Wat Mahathat Compound > Bang Lan rd (Night Market) > Naresuan rd. A proper visit will take entire day, while a visit to a couple of sites takes 3-4hrs.
Pack less, carry light
Wear comfortable clothing, sunblock and bring water
Carry a map around, keep the phone batt for your photographs 😉
Respect the rules e.g. Not climbing over the stupas
Admission Fees. There is a fee of 50 Baht (1.30 USD) to enter the grounds of Wat Ratchaburana. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every day. Monies collected are use to fund the maintenance and preservation of these sites.
The UNESCO historic site of Wat Ratchaburana aka Monastery of the Royal Repairs is situated on the corner of Chikun road and Naresuan Road, directly opposite Wat Mahathat in the vicinity.
There is a two level crypt inside the prang tower, you can reach there via a narrow (REALLY NARROW) and steep staircase. It is warm and stuffy inside, really not recommended for those who are claustrophobic.
Admission Fees: 50 Baht to enter the grounds of Wat Mahathat. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm everyday
Just next door of Wat Ratchaburana is Wat Mahatat, a must visit site of Ayutthaya. One of the most photographed Buddha around the world is the Renown for the stone Buddha head entwined within the roots base of a tree.
Besides the good food and shopping, Batu Caves is another must visit attraction when visiting Kuala Lumpur (13 kilometres north of the city).
The Batu Caves is the most widely known Hindu Temple in Malaysia (almost like a local icon), dedicated to Lord Murugan and at every Thaipusam (which falls in late January/early February), it will be crowded with Hindu devotees carrying Kavadi and milkpots to express their devotion.
The Batu Cave Temple is also known as 10th Caves or Hill for Lord Murugan as there are six important holy shrines in India and four more in Malaysia. The three others in Malaysia are Kallumalai Temple in Ipoh, Tanneermalai Temple in Penang and Sannasimalai Temple in Malacca.
The Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves ..
Temple Cave (Free to enter)
Dark Cave (Fee charge for Tour)
Art Gallery Cave (Fee charge for Entrance)
One of the most iconic feature of Batu Caves has to be the 42.7-metre high statue of Lord Murugan (tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world). The statue, which cost approximately 24 million rupees, is made of 1550 cubic metres of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint brought in from Thailand.
This area is a limestone hill comprising three major caves and a number of smaller ones. The limestone formations found in the caves are said to be around 400 million years old, the temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus.
There are many stalls there selling religious artifacts, food for feeding birds, drinks, indian vegetarian restaurants. So don’t worry if you’ll get thirsty or hungry there.
Be prepare to burn your leggy fats, pay extra caution as the steps are rather steep.
You are welcome to observe the worship session, just kindly remove your footwear before entering the temple sanctuary. Note: do not disturb the sanctity by taking photos with your flashlight on.
As you climb up the 272 steps towards the Temple Cave, you will find a path branches off to the Dark Cave. Follow the path and in no time you will feel the cool breeze coming out of the cave entrance.
There are registration tables where visitors can sign up for the tour. You will also find a mini-exhibition of the bats you can find the Dark Cave. You will most likely be able to only hear the bats flying around in the cave due to the darkness so this is the best time to see what those bats would look like upclose.
The Dark Cave is where visitors can explore the enthralling cave ecosystem with a guided educational tour. The Dark cave is at least 100 million years old and the limestone that surrounds it was originally formed from shells and coral, from when this entire area was underwater.
The cave is also home to millions of both fruit- and insect-eating bats where their droppings (also known as guano) supports an ecosystem within the cave, with cockroaches, spiders, crickets, snakes and other creepy crawlies living off either the guano, the bats themselves or each other.
For RM 35 (Adult), you can sign up for the Dark Cave Educational Tour – Just come in your comfortable shoes and clothing and keep yourself hydrated as the tour is about 45 minutes long and the cave can get quite hot at times (with temperature of 27º -29º Celsius and 85-90% humidity year round). Torchlight and helmet will be provided. Do note that the Dark Cave tour is not available on Mondays; the tour is available from Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm and on Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays 10.30am to 5.30pm.
Coming By Train. KTM Komuter train takes you to the caves on the Batu Caves – Port Klang line. An adult single fare is RM2.00 from KL Sentral to Batu Caves. The journey from KL Sentral to Batu Caves takes about 30 minutes and trains run on a frequency of 15 to 30 minutes.
Melaka is 3 hrs drive from Singapore!
Getting to Melaka from JB is simple, just head over to Larkin Bus Terminal and get your tickets. If you are traveling from JB to another state and are looking for a cheap hotel to stay for the night, there are a few Budget Hotels across Larkin Bus Terminal. And nearby are 711 convenience store, 24hrs mcd(at bus terminal) and mamak stalls that open till wee hours.
Here at Larkin Terminal, there are many options to other states, Singapore and even Thailand. Upon reaching the terminal, alot of touts will swamp to you like flies and you’d even hear them before you see them. It is always good to compare before buying, explore all options but take note, tickets do run out very quickly on weekends & holidays.
One of the many halal eateries in Larkin terminal, McDonald can be found around the corner.
You may shop and burn your time here at the shopping arcade, there are shops selling all kinds of merchandise. Purchase some light snacks and drinks or top-up your traveling phone cards here.
Rule No. 1 for Traveling When you are Not in Singapore: Always be punctual for your boarding time, no matter how terrible your experience has been with other transport operators & irregardless how unreliable their timings are. At Larkin, your ticket will state which berth to head to, so be nice and board at least before the departing time.
Getting to the The Stadthuys
Moving around in Malacca is a breeze, I find it pretty clean and organise, compared to the other states I’ve been to. For eg. The layout of Melaka Sentral is pretty simple, one side for interstate buses and the other for domestic buses. Just hop on to the other side once you arrive. Domestic bus refers to buses that travel within Malacca, berth 17 is where you can hop on the bus to the Stadthuys aka the Dutch Square.
1. Visit the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia
When you visit Christ Church and the Dutch Square, you are only exploring a small part of the heritage city! The Christ Church was built by the Dutch in the 18th century in the heart of their newly established town, the church is very picturesque from outside and is the main landmark of Melaka.
2. Those who work hard will be rewarded
Workout your heart(as if walking so much is still not enough) and climb up St Paul’s Hill. Explore the ruins of St Paul’s Church and find out the history of this historic complex.
3. Walk down St Paul’s Hill and check out the canons.
This is one of the many Portuguese ruins in Malacca and the Porta de Santiago is one of them that’s part of a fortress called A Formosa, This is the surviving gate for the fort.
4. Dont Mess with.. Melaka is not so SERIOUS.
Unlike the campaign slogan, Melaka is doing its best to create a relaxing vibe through its street art and culture.The best way to see street art is to stroll down melaka river, check out the back alley or simply by wandering around with no fixed direction. Here in Melaka, something will definitely catch your eye; a snapshot of daily life, the highly decorative religious buildings (even churches are painted in striking red) or a hippyish decorated hostel.
5. Find out what Satu Malaysia means..
When in Melaka, take a stroll down temple street and admire the harmony of various religious places of worship built beside each other. They are: Hinduism – Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple, Islam – Kampung Kling Mosque, Three Teachings – Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism) and Xiang Lin Si Temple (Buddhism).. It is a living testimony to future generations that racial and religious harmony is possible.
The Cheng hoon Teng temple is the oldest Chinese temple still functioning in Malaysia. The temple contains exquisite and extremely colourful decorations and sculptures brought from China in the 18th century. This temple is close to the Jonker street, next to the temple is another, more recent, Xiang Lin Si Buddhist temple which offers a good view of the Cheng Hoon temple from and the whole street from its 2nd lvl terrace. Overall a must see site for tourists.
6. H&M is here to provide free air conditioning when you cannot take the heat any longer.
It’s kind of interesting to see the contrast of a modern retail chain surrounded by old buildings. Will be a good place to take shelter from the heat/rain outside!
7. Rent a bike and explore
Simply download the Melaka Bike share app, follow the instructions and start riding. It cost only 10rm for a day!
8. Buy Local products and Artifacts
There are loads and loads of souvenirs everywhere in Melaka, you can even get them at the bus interchange. But this is the place where you everything is cluster in one building, you may compare prices and do some bargaining.
9. Take a ride on Menara Taming Sari, the only 360 degree viewing tower offering you a panoramic and spectacular view of Melaka City.
10. Visit Jonker Street Night Market
This Night Market only operates on the weekend! Be sure you plan your trip right~
Most of the bars and posh dining places are along Jalan Hang Jebat. Nice place to chill and mingle with tourists from all over the world. I don’t think i have seen that much angmohs in my life, not even in Singapore’s Clark Quay.
Locals were taking turns to go on stage and sing, mainly elderly people, but very entertaining. Awesome boost to the already very hype up atmosphere.
This is what i love about Melaka, bold, cultured and clean. Their “Dont mess with Melaka” Campaign originated as a campaign to promote higher standards of cleanliness in Melaka. I believe the slogan encourages the community to love and protect their state, maintaining the cleanliness, lowering crime levels, becoming responsible states citizen.