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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Maldives.. A much awaited destination for many. But..

Maldives. Whenever I spoke about it. It wasn't with enthusiasm or amazement. It was more of a 'Oh. Yeah. Been there. Done that.' Why that reaction many would ask. Isn't it one of the most sought after places to travel to. All the blue skies and clear blue sea. And of course the dives sites were supposedly one of the best in the world. I give a nonchalant shrug and move on.

Maldives is indeed well known around the globe for its many islands/atolls and how unbelievable the beaches are. (Read:

Now let me share what is good about the place first. I went during the first week of June with a friend. I booked this trip 7 months ahead and flew with TigerAir as they had a too-attractive offer of S$420 return as compared to SQ's S$1500. I booked my stay for 5 days at Gangehi Island Resort and it was also with a 10% discount for the overwater standard villas which amounted to close to S$200 per night. Which is still a great catch. 

So for the first time in my life heading over to Maldives. The sight I get is of atolls. Bits and pieces. And it was a sight to behold. Not all countries have this. Right? =) 

And to transit in order to reach the resort. We had to do a seaplane transfer. Which is USD$420 return.

My first seaplane ride and besides the initial humidity/stuffiness in the plane and the noise. It was fun! Hahaha.

There it is! Gangehi's Island Resort! Home for the next few days! =)

Finally setting foot onto the island! And yes. I brought a backpack along only. Well. It's only 5 days and it's an island. How much clothes would I need? =P

And the most awesome thing happened! We got a free upgrade to the overwater deluxe! Wheee!! 

I am such a sucker for sunshine and beautiful seas. =P

The dive shop.

Ok. Diving is really expensive in Maldives. Or at least that's what I encountered there. Per dive (including of equipment and tank - I didn't take Nitrox yet) was S$120. But since I'm there.. I couldn't just say no could I?

View from the lounge/bar. And there's free wifi.

From my balcony looking down. I could spot fishes! =D

Of course being an island resort there really isn't much one could do. Besides lying in the sun. Reading. Surfing the net. Snorkelling. Diving. So it isn't any surprise that we signed up for a snorkelling cum dolphin watching boat ride.

Dinner was in the other restaurant in the island. Veli restaurant. Which was actually nearer to our room than the buffet/lounge/bar.

There was also a sandbar reachable by walking during low tides.

A library within the grounds! Full of books!

So my verdict. Unless you really have money to splurge (all costs - besides the seaplane - was quoted in Euros and a simple ham and cheese toast can set you back easily by 8 Euros) and that you want to have the feeling of having the island all to yourself. You can have it. 

For me. I like being on an island. But I like the island to have a little more things for me to do/see. And comparing what I paid for Maldives (S$3k for 5 days inclusive of diving) and Philippines (S$3k for 17 days inclusive of getting 2 diving certifications) just to get the same blue skies and clear blue sea with sunsets. Philippines is really much worth it. And it's cheaper. 

It's still your choice. But once is enough for me. =)