Monday, November 10, 2014

Breakfast truly like a local..

It is a Monday. And to start the busy week off.. I decided to go and hunt down a coffee shop (or in my local terms: kopitiam) for the infamous coffee with butter (kopi guyou). 

I don't really drink coffee at the local kopitiam simply because I don't like the taste of robusta coffee. The aftertaste on the tongue lingers too long for my liking. So what did I order instead? Tea (teh)!

A simple kopitiam under the void deck at 10 North Bridge Road. I walked a whole round before finding it and true to its words. Heap Seng Leong opens from 4am to 8pm daily and serves no fancy fare. Beware: for those like me who are used to our current state of kopitiams. The initial 'smell' of the place may turn you off. But that's what a genuine old place feels and smells like. =)

My teh.. See the amount of condensed milk beneath? =) 

And the only food they serve. Kaya butter toast. 

With the traditional generous slice of butter in between. 

No doubt a simple meal. But when you're surrounded by the usual suspects at a kopitiam (read: uncles) and you're the only female adult and in office wear. It does make you stand out.. No? =P

Here's to an awesome week ahead!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

To the diamond of the far east and back..

Although it started out as a work trip to Ho Chi Minh City. I had 3 free days after and decided to visit some of the more famous landmarks and dabble a little in the cafe scene and the local morning scene. =) 

Ho Chi Minh City. Also known as Saigon. Is named after the leader of Vietminh. Ho Chi Minh. What was once a small fishing village grew and became a metropolitan hub. A lot of historical sites are still around with a good mix of cityscapes. (read more at:

In the 3 free days I had. Besides the daily drinks I had. The cafe hopping I did. 2 things stood out among the rest: catching the AO show in the Saigon Opera House and having breakfast in the park with the locals amidst the chirping and songs of the birds. Photo blog to ensue. =)

First up. Saigon Opera House. 'One of Ho Chi Minh City's most prominent landmarks, the Saigon Opera House was custom built in 1897 by French architect Eugene Ferret. In 1955 it was transformed into South Vietnam's Assembly House and has undergone several refurbishments since. It is only open to the public during events.' (read:

The only way to see the interior of the House was to go for a show. Which was what I did with 3 other friends! =D

An old school chandelier.

The art student captured this shot of me 'coz I want the chandelier by the pillar..'

And here we are in a row: second row seats for USD$50!

The interior of the hall. I was telling the art friend that it would be simply awesome if it was a Shakespeare play instead. Old Victorian style of building with an old English play.. Le sigh.

Night view of the Opera House.

Before I went on this trip. I was planning to catch the birds in song at the local park: Tao Dan Park. It was something interesting that I picked up as I was reading my Lonely Planet guide. (read: So instead of sleeping in after late night out. I crawled out of bed and met a friend and off we went in search of the birds (and of course breakfast)!

The pushcart for drinks. Limited drinks.

And food. I only saw eggs. Bread. Vege.

This was the scene in the park. Retirees and people on the way to work grabbing a drink.

Actually I wanted hot tea. But it came as tea + ice + sugar + calamasi = iced lemon tea. But my friend got her iced coffee right. =)

A simple breakfast.

And the activities in the park.

A scene where bird owners were 'sunning' their birds in the morning sunshine. Only from 7am to 9am daily. After 9am. Most of the birds are brought away.

Finally my hot tea and friend's iced coffee (again). =)

Sometimes all I want during my travels is to indulge myself in what the locals do. That's how I learn and get to know their culture better. =)

Monday, October 20, 2014

My travel peeves..

There are many articles out there about what kind of travellers (or rather tourists..) there are. And they always ask the same things.. Asking you which category you fall in. Which type of traveller you are. So I was having dinner with a friend recently and it just struck me that wouldn't it be fun to share what kind of traveller I am? =)

Bathroom picker:
I am icky when it comes to picking accommodation that does not have attached bathrooms. And even more icky if the bathroom comes in olive green. =/ I recently tried a open dorm hostel in Siargao Philippines and after the initial shock. It really was not too bad! Coz it was clean and there was no foul smell. =) But the best (or rather more memorable one that I had was the one in Galle Sri Lanka. Where it was an open bathroom! Hahaha.. Imagine showering in the rain! =D

My bathroom in a hostel!

My outdoor bathroom in Galle! 

My outdoor bathroom in Galle! 

Cheap and good accommodations:
When I mean cheap I really mean cheap. Anything about USD$80 per night is too expensive for me. Especially if I travel alone. My cheapest stay was in the dorm (yes.. That dorm..) for USD$3.50 per night. And my most expensive was a stay in Maldives (well it was my birthday week and I wanted to pamper myself..) and it set be back about USD$150 per night. =D The best deal I had? A villa for USD$40 in Krabi Thailand! Hahaha..  I scourge for my deals by comparing (Agoda. Tripadvisor. Individual websites of the place I wanted to stay in..) and of course booking in advance. I am a solo backpacker but I do not like scrambling for accommodations at the very last minute so it has been a habit that I will always book in advance. =) the headaches it save me is tremendous.

My overwater villa in Maldives!

And the open dorm I had in Siargao!

Street food and cafes:
I am always intrigued by the street food in each place I visit. But thing is. I am very selective on the kind of street food I try. I love fried and grilled insects and so far have tried locusts. Crickets. Grasshoppers. Tarantulas (I know this doesn't count. It's not an insect.. But still.. =P). Scorpions. Tried balut in Philippines but I could not bring myself to swallow the ungrown chick. =/ Worms are not my kinda thing either. Even though I have seen people slurping up tamilok in Philippines too. *horroz*

We were trying grilled golden locusts in Beijing. 

Street food in the cold in Lhasa.

I looked damn happy for some oily/grilled/spicy food!

My favourite tempura when I'm back in Philippines.

And the tamilok that I will never ever ever try! *shudderz*

And I simply love cafes. The smell of the beans.. The aroma of freshly ground coffee. And the decor and atmosphere of most cafes. 

In Malacca!

And another also in Malacca!

Local beers:
And me being me. I love my alcohol. Mainly the beers and ciders. Best when they are served icy cold and either I am alone enjoying the place I am in. Or with my drinking kakis/travellers while we stone and catch up. =)

In Sri Lanka!

And in Phnom Penh.

A must try Cambodian beer!

Water activities:
Sometimes I wonder if I was a fish my in my last lifetime. I could never stay away from water activities for too long. And now that on my last trip 'home' (read: Philippines) I picked up scuba diving. Nothing can keep me away from it for too long. *grinz* Mainly dived in Philippines and Maldives so far. (I only clocked 19 dives since May when I got my license. And next month. I am going for more! Perhaps I can hit 25 before 2014 comes to an end!) I love white water rafting too since my first experience in Bali Indonesia. And went on to do it in Kitulgala Sri Lanka. Cagayan de Oro Philippines is famous for their waters too so I gave it a try too! 

In Maldives.

That's me! =D

In Cagayan de Oro Philippines.

Picky about who I travel with: 
And like everyone else. I have pet peeves too. I dislike travelling with people who cannot sit still and want to pack the whole day with activities. Sometimes when you are at a place where you are keen in. It is annoying when your friend is walking around you looking listless. That feeling sucks. I do not like to travel to places where most people have been. Coz after seeing/reading so much about it. It just takes the thrill out of everything. I like to go where the locals go. Do what the locals do. And I get an experience like none other.

I dislike travelling with people who are super connected to technology. Checking your phone once every hour is too much for me. Even when eating if you can't put down you phone. Then 'Thank you. (Never) see you again.' When I travel alone. I check my phone probably in the early morning when I wake up and after dinner. If not for my job. I would love to stay unconnected totally. (That's for another post.)

I love travelling with people who are super laid back and have no plans. Maybe coz I love to plan for trips. I would ask those friends I love to travel with what they want to see so I can incorporate it into my plans. Other than that. It is free flow for all. =) We wake up when we are ready. Not because we had to rush from place to place. I used to be packing my 7 days back to back with places. usually covering 3 places in a week. But after my trip to Philippines in May. I realized that probably age is catching up and staying put in the same place for 7 days isn't too bad. And that is what I am doing on my next trip 'home'. =)

I love travelling with friends who ain't sticky and enjoys doing and seeing the things I do.

So far me being the picky me. I only have 3 friends good for road trips and 2 friends for backpacking. Of course it can be 'mix and match' in a sense coz I haven't brought those 2 of those 3 road trips friends for backpacking. But we shall see. =)

What kinda traveller are you? =)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A growing list!

As a kid growing up in a family who doesn't really quite travel. I was encouraged to travel with friends and see the world once I start having some spending power. I always remember my first trip (excluding school trips) out with a friend was when I was 17 and we headed up to Cameron Highlands and Kuala Lumpur on a 4 nights 3 days trip. 

I was proud of myself then coz I earned the money to cover my own expenses and I had no need to ask my parents for money. I remembered feeling excitement pumping in my veins and I couldn't sleep well the night before. Hahaha. I remembered packing and repacking my luggage (yes - luggage!) coz I was fearful of leaving out anything. And when the trip came. I was blown away by the whole experience. Of travelling in a coach in the middle of the night up the winding highway to Cameron Highlands. Of feeling chilled by the weather up in the hills. And of seeing the BOH tea plantation rolling out in front of me like a panorama that never seems to end. Kuala Lumper was quite the city trip (though what marred the experience was me getting food poisoning). 

Since then. I've started to make it a point to travel once a year and I've never looked back since. I've been to countries with friends. From Indonesia. Malaysia. Cambodia. Thailand. Sri Lanka. Hong Kong. Macau. Maldives. Philippines. Japan and Taiwan (once bringing my mummy along). And South Korea and Australia for work. Solo travelling became me after I tried travelling to Laos for the first time and ever since I've been to China (mainly for Tibet). Indonesia. Malaysia and Philippines (yearly since 4 years back).

Do I regret spending my money on travelling? Definitely not. These are experiences that have made me who I am today. And today I am a much more seasoned traveller (and the luggage is lesser seen! =P).

Credits to:

So you may ask now. 'Why this post?' Well. Coz I'm starting my planning for my 2 months trip in a couple of years time (love my company for giving sabbatical leave of 2 months) and I do need ideas and suggestions of where to head to. =) 

I was thinking of covering South America or Europe or Africa in 2 months. But there are factors I'm worried about. Like it being a place I can only 'touch and go' without being in depth in the place. And along the way there are places that have been eliminated and here are the remaining (though ideas are truly welcomed =))



The Netherlands.
What I want to do? 
I wanna see the fields of tulips! Of the famous windmills of Holland! Of the canals in Amsterdam!

But on a more serious note. There's definitely more to Netherlands than just that. I want to visit the museums (especially Van Gogh). Anne Frank House. The Heineken brewery and red light district just to name a few. I wanna taste the stroopwafles and have a cup of koffie verkeerd. I want to have a piece of hollandse nieuwe haring and poffertjes. *grinz*



What I want to do?
Of course visit the hills where 'Song of Music' was filmed - Salzburg! Immerse myself in an opera in Vienna! And visit all those places where the famous music composers once reside - Mozart, Haydn and Strauss!

I do want to go to the Danube Island. Visit a palace. Do some wine tasting and visit some micro-breweries. Oh heaven!



What I want to do?
It's more than just taking the train. More than kayaking in the Rockies. More than seeing the Niagara Falls. It's more to visit my inaanak (godson in Tagalog) in British Columbia and his Dad. So if I could head over it's more for my emotional being than the scenery (though that's a bonus!) 





Scandinavian countries
What I want to do?
Denmark. Norway. Sweden and Finland. Iceland. There's so much to see and do. I want to see the Santa Claus village! See the Northern Lights! Sit on a fjord! And perhaps some skiing!

The Northern Lights have attracted me for as long as I can remember. And to be able to see Santa Claus village in real life would be awesome. Staying in an igloo sounds just about right too! Visiting the original Legoland would also be fun! Hahaha. I love Legos. *heartz*



What I want to do?
Tango in the streets! See the magnificent Iguazu Falls! Hike up the Andes if I can!

But the wine and the reserva faunistica peninisula valdes where I can see the wildlife along the coast would be out of this world. Being able to visit the capital - Beunos Aires - and soaking myself in the cultural city would be fascinating.


What I want to do?
Float down the canals of Venice! See the Colosseum! Stand next to the tower of Pisa! Drink an espresso!

Hahaha. Italy was never high on my list until I met 2 travellers on my last trip in Siargao and I guessed the pictures they painted of their home was too vivid for me to forget any time soon. Especially when not long ago a friend just came back and was raving about the country. I want to visit Florence and walk down the small winding roads through vineyards and countryside. 


What I want to do?
See the Sagrada Familia! Learn flamenco dancing! Enjoy tapas washed down with some local wine/beer!

I want to walk along the streets of Las Ramblas and party in Ibiza (though I'm not much of a party animal!) I want to be part of one of the biggest festival ever - La Tomatina! Hahaha. The movie 'Walking on Sunshine' made it looked so fun! I've already started planning my outfit! Looking for white tops (that can be discarded immediately) to bring! =D



What I want to do?
Be at the Christmas Market in the Old Town Square! Amble along the cobblestoned streets of Charles Bridge! Pay a visit to the Old Jewish Cemetery and get lost in Prague Castle!

My last inspiration for the 2 months has gotta be being there for Witches' Night. Catch a puppet show.  Have a gulas and a koblihy with some local craft beers. And of course visit a cathedral too! 

Definitely a long list.. 8 places I want to go. But which will be the best? Let's hear from you! =D