Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Malaysia has many holidays. In fact, along with China and Egypt, they have the most number of public holidays in a year. As such, when i was doing my summer internship in KL,  i was lucky to have long weekend couple times and able to explore other touristic places nearby in South East Asia. Amongst that was Vietnam to reunite with my best-friends from previous work who now lives spread all over the place.  While there, i visited the following:

1. Hoi An 

Hoi An is located in south central coast of Vietnam. It is a well preserved trading port that raise to prominence in 15-19th century. An ancient town which its building and street plans reflect the mixing influences of many different settlement there (Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Indians and indigenous people of Champa kingdom), Hoi An is one of the world-heritage site recognized by UNESCO.

The best way to explore Hoi An is through cycling (around 15-20 minutes from the hotel by the beach – yeap, they also have beaches nearby). Some of the hotels were actually provide opportunity for its guest to borrow the bike from the hotel and use it the whole day, free of charge.  The only thing that we need to be careful of is the chaotic traffic. It was not full with car but rather motorcycle who honk at almost each time. The key is to relax, and ignore it. Just let them pass.

In Hoi An, we can visit numerous temple with striking colours and heavily influenced with Chinese architecture. We can also take a walk along the riverside and try the infamous Vietnam coffee. Here in Vietnam, drinking coffee is big habit, almost similar like the way the Turkish drink tea. Everywhere you go you will find coffee shop. It is mostly served cold and very tasty.

Hoi An riverside

One of the ancient temple in Hoi An

The bridge over the river is  decorated with colorful lanterns

The bridge over the river is decorated with colorful lanterns

The bridge that connect to the Japanese settlement

The bridge that connect to the Japanese settlement

The dragon statue in front of one temple

The dragon statue in front of one temple

The ancient town of Hoi An

The ancient town of Hoi An

Another famous thing from Hoi An is its lantern and crafts-making. The street in ancient town was dotted with many lantern-makers, crafts made from roots and paintings from rice. We can also bought ceramics with interesting designs.

While we are here, we also try the delicious beef rice noodle soup called “Pho”.  Other noodle dishes also worth-trying. In addition, you should also go for a massage. My friends and i experienced 1-hour massage and to be honest it was probably one of the best massage i had that year. Compared to Thai massage? They are better (sorryyyy….) !!

A woman making lantern

A woman making lantern

Colorful lanterns that is sold in Hoi An

Colorful lanterns that is sold in Hoi An

Handy-craft made from tree's roots

Handy-craft made from tree’s roots

Superbly delicious dry noodle 🙂

Scenery at Hoi An

Scenery at Hoi An

2. Mỹ Sơn 

Located quite close to Hoi-An (like 4 hours driving), Mỹ Sơn is a place worth visiting. Its a ruin of Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva that built between 4th – 14th century AD by the Champa kingdom. Its valley was used as a religious ceremonial site and also as burial to the Champa’s royalties and heroes.  Once, it was even consisted of 70 temples and numerous stele bearing historically critical sanskrit and Cham. Unfortunately, large proportion of its architecture was destroyed by US carpet bombing during the initial period of Vietnam war.

Mỹ Sơn - an UNESCO world heritage site

Mỹ Sơn – an UNESCO world heritage site

The ruins in My Son

The ruins in My Son

At certain hour, they conduct a show of traditional Champa’s dances and music exhibition. Its quite beautiful and fascinating performance. One of the dance required the performers to hold a vase on their head without losing balance and made the vase stays put.

Traditional Champa dance performed in My Son

Traditional Champa dance performed in My Son

Musicians performed the traditional Champa song

Musicians performed the traditional Champa song

3. Da Nang 

Da Nang is a famous beach resort (Non Nuoc beach) and entertainment center in Vietnam. Its proximity to numerous UNESCO world heritage site (the imperial city of Hue, ancient town of Hoi An and My Son ruins) make it a perfect hub to be visited. It is also the home of Marble Mountain, a rocky limestone outcrops situated out of the beach. In this mountain there are numerous pagodas built by Nguyen Dynasty among the caves. Its also dotted with many artisans producing marble and jade sculptures.

The temple's main gate at Marble Mountain

The temple’s main gate at Marble Mountain

The rooftop architecture is heavily influenced with China's culture

The rooftop architecture is heavily influenced with China’s culture

The front-altar in one of the pagoda at Marble mountain

The front-altar in one of the pagoda at Marble mountain

One of the many caves in Marble mountain

One of the many caves in Marble mountain

Non Nuoc beach as seen from the top of Marble Mountain

Non Nuoc beach as seen from the top of Marble Mountain

The God of Wealth sculpture made from marble

The God of Wealth sculpture made from marble

4. Ho-Chi Minh City

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh city is the largest city in Vietnam. Its derived its name from the Vietnamese communist leaders. The city is adorned with elegant boulevards and French-colonial buildings. As such, there are many historical buildings can be visited here. Amongst them are the city hall, reunification palace, opera house, and Notre dame cathedral.

Ho Chi Minh city hall

Ho Chi Minh city hall

Statue of one Vietnam hero

Statue of a Vietnam hero

French-colonial building in Ho Chi Minh

French-colonial building in Ho Chi Minh

Daily portrait of Ho Chi Minh's street

Daily portrait of Ho Chi Minh’s street

So, thats all my first trip to Vietnam. I am still missing some key places to be visited, such as the sand dunes Mui Ne (also a famous beach resort), Ha Long Bay, Thien Duong Cave (31 km long!!) and  imperial city of Hue.

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Of all seasons, i love winter the most. Its chill weather, wind breeze and pretty snow, which sometimes exhibit astonishing shape of flake, always make me feel at ease and happy. Unfortunately, although i am very much a winter person (in and out), i was not able to enjoy doing a winter sport. At least, until this year 🙂

Its all traced back to 6 years ago, when i was living in Japan. I went skiing for the first time, with my friends to Yamagata. A famous ski resort that often called “the snow monster”. The place was amazingly beautiful! But.. when i tried ski for the first time, my friends took me to the highest peak and of course, since both of them were pro, i was left behind.. Alone! I had to fall so many times, even hit a tree just to go down to the cable car point.  And just at the time when i felt so relieved that i able to reach a safe haven, i met my friend in the cable car who insisted to take me up again and tried one more time. I was horribly suck at this sport, that the resort guard had to take me in their snowmobile as its getting dark.

Since then, i have a mix feeling towards skiing which is really annoying as i love winter so much but not able to enjoy the winter sport. Its like, admitting that you are a Korean but allergic to kimchi. Sort of..  :p  As such, i was putting on my bucket list, one additional item: making peace with winter sport!

So, when i got a chance to try again skiing with my friends from the master program at Zell Am See (Austria), i took it albeit my fear of height or an uneasy feeling towards skiing.  Turn out, when i tried skiing again, i was still suck! I could not break, and i got scared as a cat when they are going to be put into bath tub.

However, my friends managed to convince me to try snowboarding instead. Boy, it was a great advise. Doing snowboarding, it was easier to brake and pace the speed as you like. If you felt that the slope was doing their own thing, and you kinda lose control with your board, you just need to lean backward and sit. It will break immediately. Although, your butt will be flattened and hurt after numerous fall :p

Although indeed it was very tiring to do (as to stand firmly in your snowboard you need to continuously balancing your weight and manage breaking), i am so glad that i gave it a try. And i was so lucky to have nice friends who were patience enough to teach me and accompany me to stand up once more every time i fell :p In the end, i fell in love with snowboarding and Zell Am See.  The place is strikingly beautiful, as can be seen in the picture below. I was so glad i finally make peace with winter sport 🙂

Image

One thing though.. Zell Am See has a blue track to go to the bottom of City Express start point where the path was very narrow and surrounded by pine trees or cliff at both side. It was very difficult to manage the snowboard as its speed up way more than i like to, and i got chickened out. Especially since i have a bit phobia towards height :p So, i was walking down the slope, borrowing the ski sticks of my friend. Guess it was a good decision as on the way we saw a girl having a ski accident, perhaps broke or twisted her arm.

Anyway, this trip is not going to be the only snowboard trip in my life, but its just the beginning of many snowboard experience ahead (finger crossed!!). Hopefully, next i will be more confident on my snowboard and move like Mike Jagger on it :p  And would be super cool if next, as crossing the other item on my bucket list, i will be able to make peace and face fear of height! Perhaps skydiving? or bungee jumping? 😉 As a wise man said, “when dying, your life flash before your eyes. Make sure it is worth watching. Live, like you are dying!”

Lately my weeks was not the best. Thousand meetings with different groups and characters to finish tons of tasks, coupled with other bunches of self-reflection, unexpected disappointment as well as confusion regarding what i really want to do in the future had made my days as gloomy as Glasgow’s weather. And.. it sucks!! as suck as Glasgow weather which is cloudy with a 99% kiss-goodbye chance to the sunny day.

Though i am suspecting that the hormonal activity graph may play parts in this soaking-blue situation, i guess the main reason of my unreasonable feeling was more because of the uncertainty of the future. So many things i want to try yet i am clueless as prioritizing what really matters for me.

Thankfully, an unexpected encounter with a portrait of poverty in Glasgow had gave me the slap in the face. A wake up call to stop worrying and get to the bottom of my utmost desire, which is to be useful for other.. (fingercrossed…). This encounter made me remembered one advise from my friend who (might) found my bitterness and gloominess last week as annoying as Sadako (from The Ring).  He said “happiness is depend on how you choose the way you look at life. You might be filthy rich but still feel sad or.. you might not have anything, but you are grateful to every second on your life”.

I found this video in Youtube which really sweet and captured exactly the essence of my friend’s advise..

So now..   though my days might be crappier, i will try to see it differently 🙂  Quoting the invictus poem, “I am the captain of my soul, i am the master of my fate”. Its all coming back to us to decide whether we will be happy.. or not..

In addition..  We have issues, but there are bigger issues than ours. We have problems, but yet.. there much bigger problems out there..

here is one video to raise our awareness of the poverty in the world.

 

We might be no-one, but we can be one to help others..

Ive been dying to find a time for writing my latest travel  experience visiting Lombok Island, because this destination is amazing!! .  A neighboring island to Bali, it shares similar cultural heritage with a spin-off.  Home to more than 3 million people, the island inhabitants are 85% of “Sasak” people, whose origins might had migrated from Java Island over thousands year ago. Though culturally and linguistically Lombok is quite close to Bali, the majority of its population is a moslem and the landscape are dotted with mosque and minarets, making it infamously called “Island of 1000 mosques”.

Once arrived at the airport, we were welcomed with mountainous view and breezing winds. Then, we went for a lunch at one of the famous local restaurant, which served amazing grilled squid and plecing kangkung – stir-fried vegetables with fish-based and peanuts sauce. The finishing touch itself was also superb. A fresh-sliced of mixed fruits, including star-fruit, papaya, and pineapple.

  Grilled squid and plecing kangkung – a traditional food of Lombok

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Abu Dhabi – Through the camera

Posted: July 10, 2011 in travel
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If you are visiting Balikpapan, and would like to test your bravery to deal with height, come across Bangkirai!  1 Hour by car from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Bangkirai offers visitors with its tropical rain forest track which will eventually led us to the “Canopy bridge”, connecting 3 old wooden trees at 30 m above the ground. The view of the surrounding is very calming and the wind breeze are just awesome. Though fear may come while u are crossing this bridge, the excellent nature beauty of the rain tropical forest as well as the warming sun rays just make it a very nice experience.


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I was stumbling over some of the pics that i have took last year and i came across one particular album : Kingdom animalia.  I took this pictures in a pet-market located in Jakarta. It was not a fancy pet shop, but rather a big domestic market where you can find a many types of birds, hamster, rabbits and often… snakes. However, there are also other picture that were taken from the crocodile farms in Balikpapan.  I was really enjoy watching those pics and i want to share it with you all, my friends 🙂

Please enjoy it :

A pair of love bird, which fall under genus “agapornis” . Lovebird is amongst the smallest parrot species.Not only social, but this species also famous for its affectionate character.

 

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