ANGKOR WAT

Angkor Wat is the number one attraction in Cambodia. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest religious monument. Originally built as a Hindu temple, Angkor Wat remains crammed with stone reliefs and statues of Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Ganesha and Hanuman.

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We took Airasia from Kuala Lumpur to Siam Reap, cost around $90 only. It is a 2 hours flight. Siam Reap airport is small, simple airport but fairly new terminal. Beautiful inside, marble floors, lots of counters with staff for both visa and immigration. Airport staff were efficient and friendly.  We bought mobile sim card in airport with data package which cost around USD$5 only. It is valid for 30 days and is preloaded with US$10. Can use it to make calls and surf the Internet. There are loads of hotel and budget hotel around Siem Reap. Hotels there are cheap. Our 3 star hotel costs only USD 20/night.

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We rent a tuk-tuk for 2 days, to take us around siam reap. It cost us USD$15/ per day. The average cost for one day tuk-tuk is USD$18. We had a very good driver and he also became our tour guide as well. At end of the tour we give him extra tips. Siam reap economy completely depends on tourism. Even though Riel is the official currency of Cambodia, US dollar is widely accepted. In fact the main currency for most of the transactions are in US dollar.

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We bought 3 day pass. It cost us USD$40. The entrance fees for a visit to the Angkor Park will change on 1.2.2017. The planned increases for the Angkor-Pass are quite substantial. New Price as of 01.02.2017 : 1 day pass is $37, 3 day pass $62 and 7 day pass $72.

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On the 2nd day of tour we woke up early at 4am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. We had packed breakfast, provided by the hotel. Unfortunately, we did not get the best view of the sunrise because of the season (too cloudy). But anyway, it was still priceless!

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Angkor Archaeological Park hosts the temples which include the Angkor Wat Temple, Bayon Temple, and majority of Ancient Temples in Siem Reap. The temples are actually grouped into two – The Big Circle, and the Small Circle. The Big Circle is composed chiefly of all the surrounding temples within the park, which are quite interesting and quite far from each other, while the Small Circle is where you get to see Angkor Wat and all the other temples near it.

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There are also other temples which are not part of these two primary groups which we manage visit by tuk-tuk. Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean. Gorgeous ride thru the countryside. Both temple located about 15km from each other.  

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Kbal Spean is a river and waterfall with thousands “Linga” in Kulen hills. We climb the hill to reach the temple itself, and the walk is absolutely stunning. It is in the jungle and the journey to climb up the hills took us around 45 minutes. The waterfall at the top is small but a great splash/swim opportunity. The lingas and the carvings at the top are only small but they are significant religious icons and, in conjunction with Phnom Kulen, form part of a pilgrimage trail for hindu visitors.

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Restaurants in Siam Reap are scattered across town, though many are concentrated in the Pub Street and Old Market areas. Pub Street is the most happening place in town. Here, there is many international cuisine restaurants. There are few good indian restaurants as well. Pub street is a good place for shopping and also for foot massage.

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Angkor Wat built by Descendant of Raja Raja Cholas and it is a largest Vishnu temple. Visiting Angkor really is one of those ‘journeys of a lifetime.’ 

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BALI

My recent travel was to Bali, Indonesia. We travel from Singapore to Bali with Malaysia Airline. Every aspect of the flights was good. The food served,attitude of the staff and the seats were all good. The staffs were courteous and nice.The plane was clean and tidy. Price was good deal, cheaper than budget airline.

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My daughter in MAS Airline.

One of the most important things about the trip was deciding on the accommodation. We wanted to stay in a nice villa with private pool. We booked villa through Airbnb. It was quaint rustic villa. We loved the settings, the clean room and the pool. Our breakfast was cooked every morning by Gadun, a warm, lovely man who couldn’t do enough for us, and cleaned our villa to 5* quality everyday.

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Our Private Villa with Swimming Pool.

Few days before our trip, we booked Toyota Avanza with driver from http://www.baliindahtourholiday.com . It cost around SGD45 per day including petrol and parking. Reservation was quite fast and through Whatsapp. No deposit was required. When we came out from the Bali International Airport, we saw a guy holding a board with my name on it. We were travelling all over the Bali with the driver for 4 days. The driver is very helpful and always punctual.

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At Dreamland Beach

Bali beach… to be honest aren’t that nice except for surfing. But there are few stunning beaches. Jimbaran bay, Dream beach and Uluwatu beach are some of the good beaches.

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At Kintamani Highland.

From Kuta it was almost a 2hrs drive to Kintamani. The view of the volcano, the lake and the mountain is amazing! We took lunch at this place, couldn’t move my eyes from panorama!

At the same day we had visited rice terrace, monkey forest, coffee plantations, couple temples, but Kintamani Highland was definitely the best place!.

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Rice Plantation.

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Luwak Coffee – Rs50,000

Visited luwak coffee plantation. The world famous Luwak coffee is made here. They brief and show the entire process of preparing the coffee. They have varieties of teas and coffees and they make us taste all of them free of cost but to taste the “Kopi Luwak” cost us Rp 50000.

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Free Coffee and Tea

The travelling from airport to our Airbnb took us past huge sculptures with scenes from the Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita on the street junctions. 90% of Balinese are hindu and there are estimated around 20,000 temples in Bali. We visited few important temples.

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Tanah Lot Temple.

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Beside Uluwatu Temple.

Bali is very mysterious, will travel again to this island. There’s something magical, ethereal and beautiful about Bali.

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NEW YORK

New York City is beautiful city, everything is so uniques; the yellow cabs, the subway, hotdog stalls, neon lights in Times Square, the skyscrapers and many more.

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We visited New York in February’13. We flew from Singapore to NYC with Qatar Airways, it’s a 26hours flight (including 6hours of transit in Doha). Why Qatar Airways? Because best airfare ($1,600) and Qatar airway is one of the youngest and most modern fleet of aircraft.

FotorCreatedThe in-flight entertainment are good but food are not nice. (SQ food still the best).

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View from flight before touchdown at JKF airport. Our plane landed in JKF airport at 4pm. It was a winter season, temperature was around -5°c. In New York City winter starts normally from December until late March/early April and during this time of year winter storm are very common.

We took yellow cab from JKF to our hotel located in Lower Manhattan, it cost us $50 flat rate. It is a reasonable price. Our driver was very courteous and it didn’t take long for us to realize why there was such an impressive quantity of taxis in NYC – they truly are a convenient way to get around!

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The next day we encounter snowfall. It was really cold outside. Every step I take feels like I’m crunching the snow below my boots. Everything was covered in white flakes, it was so beautiful.

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Heavy snowfall.

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After heavy snow, the next day we had a good weather.

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A view from Brooklyn bridge. This is Brooklyn neighbourhoods, the most populous county in New York.

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Beatiful place to visit. Manhattan Bridge. We walked to the other side and took a lot of pictures all the way.

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The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the iconic NYC landmark. The bridge is actually much bigger than it looks. My wife and I basically walked from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Seeing and crossing the bridge is a fantastic way to see the New York skyline.

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Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1883.

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View from Brooklyn Bridge.

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Manhattan Bridge.

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Times Square, NYC.

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EUROPEAN TRAIN TRIPS

Back in the spring of 2010, my mother, sister and myself travel from Frankfurt to Interlaken by train, it was my first journey by speed train in Europe. The whole experience was amazing and up to certain extend I was addicted to train travels. Since then, I always try to include train journeys in all my Europe trips. The following are some of the photos I took while travel on Europe trains.

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This is ICE train in Germany. We travel from Frankfurt to Interlaken. The train is clean, comfortable and there is also a dining cafe.

20130408-091039.jpg This is Thalys train, another high-speed train in Europe. We travel from Amsterdam to Paris. All the train tickets, I bought directly from respective train operators website, direct online purchase always give me good price compare with rail-passes and most of the websites offer good discount if we purchase in advance but the discounts always come with non-refundable and non-exchangeable conditions. I always do calculation and compare the online fare with rail passes and it is always challenging to buy the best discounted tickets, but anyway the extra hard work help me to save some cash.

Compare with rail pass, it always risk to buy point to point tickets, if we missed the train we need to purchase new ticket which is always double the original price. Anyway, I like to take some risk, it’s fun and adventures.

20130408-094501.jpg This is 1st class train in Switzerland and swiss trains are always the best train in Europe. Based on my experience, I have to say that trains are the most convenient ways to travel across Europe and with scenic route, comfortable interior, and hussle free environments always give me some sort of romantic feeling.

20130408-095214.jpg These are some other types of trains in Switzerland. Trains are one of the main transport in Switzerland and train ride are always expensive here compare with other part of Europe. Anyway, Swiss tourism offer Swiss passes for tourist to maximise train ride with cost-effectively. After careful calculation I bought Swiss pass, there are many type of passes and I bought Flexi-Pass due to buy one free one offer.

20130408-105902.jpg This is Trenitalia, an Italian train. We travel from Venice to Basel. When comparing about the cost of travelling in europe, once I was tempted to buy an airline ticket (Ryanair) which was cheaper than trains, however I choose train after realising most train rides leads directly to the heart of the city unlike airports where still have to travel some distance to go to the city centre.

20130408-112415.jpg This is double-decker train in Netherlands.

I realised, the journey itself become more important than the destination. Most of the journeys give me space and opportunity to be in meditative state, furthermore the whole environment is just perfect for siting silence. My next train journey probably will be around north Europe and Russia.

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GOLD COAST 1

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“Mrs Boss… Mrs Boss..” one of my favourite words in “Australia” movie. Nullah, the aborigines boy acted very well in this movie. The movie makes me understand the aborigines and history of Australia. It’s always my habit to understand more about the destination I plan to visit. Hence, this movie helped me.

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My wife and I flew from Singapore into Gold Coast just as spring was settling across Queensland, this no. 1 vacation destination for Aussies also one of the favourite destination for many asian like me.

After a 7 hour flight, we arrived around 7.30am, it is a very simple and convenient airport. There are a few car rental booths, tourist information counter and a few cafes. An airport is an airport, we can’t expect an airport to be like a shopping mall. I always love to see airport to be as simple as possible.

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We bought a travel card at tourist booth and depart to our apartment by bus. Gold Coast is a tourist friendly place, the bus we took at outside arrival hall are very reasonable price ($7) and the bus has luggage racks, and so, we don’t have any problems about our luggages.

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The view and the sound of ocean wave was incredible.

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We stayed in an apartment, which is just 2 minutes walking distance from the beach and about 10 minutes walking distance to the surfers paradise. We were on the 9th floor and our ocean view apartment was spacious with a balcony. The apartment is equipped with technically everything; kitchen, utensils, fridge, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, iron board and so on. Bus stop to the theme parks is also nearby. Although not like 4-5 star hotels, it is cozy and homely.

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Every day morning we were greeted by a wonderful sunrise.

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LANGKAWI 2

This was my first visit to Langkawi and was a short trip with my wife. We visited Langkawi on April, being one of the best month to explore the island. Anyway Langkawi is beautiful in all seasons, but the best time is during the months of November to June. It’s the time when skies are reliably blue and the seas good enough for snorkeling. People usually don’t prefer rainy season to visit the island, as water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving cannot be enjoyed at this point of time.

20130618-121946.jpg On the same day of arrival, we visited cable car. We had to wait for about 50 minutes in line before boarding the cable car. We bought the tickets for RM15 – (for Malaysian is RM15 and foreigner RM30). The cable car ride is scary, nearing the top, the car was swaying in the wind, anyway the ride is very fast – around 10 minutes. It is a good trip to take.

20130618-130658.jpg We stayed at Resort World Langkawi (formerly known as Awana Porto Malai). We was impressed with the beautiful seafront view which enabled us to catch the sunrise and the room looked tired with very basic amenities but comfortable enough for us.

20130719-114019.jpg This is Cenang Beach, one of the main beach in Langkawi. The location is nice and it is a long stretch of white sand beach but the sea water isn’t that clean and clear. My wife and my self didn’t swim here at all. I would strongly recommend to look for other options for swimming as there are too many restaurants / resorts / hotels / motels along the beach, hygienic concern. Anyway it is good to have a morning or evening walk here.

20130719-132258.jpg This was my first Parasailing, an awesome experience. It took my RM45 for this less than 10 minutes experience.

20130719-135205.jpg We went for half day island hoping from Porto Malai pier. The tour is an inexpensive way to discover the neighboring islands – Dayang Bunting island and Beras Basah island. It cost RM25 for each person.

20130719-140140.jpg Look at my photo, you can see the shape of the island exactly like a pregnant lady.

This is the island of pregnant maiden. In the center of the island, there is a fresh water lake. A beautiful and mysterious place.

20130719-141445.jpg This is Beras Basah island, best place to swim. The sea water is clean and clear.

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VENICE 2

We were there in October and had windy weather on all 4 days of our stay, except for 1/2 day of sudden heavy rain. Anyway, we’re lucky, there was no continuous rain and no flood at that time. Flooding has become a regular phenomena in recent days. Rising sea level, heavy rain and high tides, sinking Venice city day by day in the sea and environmentalist predict by the end of 2035 the entire city will be in the sea.

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Expert says, if global warming continuous to rise, this great city will remain as a museum in future days.

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Residential area near our B&B. According to recent research, the population is declining from 70,000 in 1996 to 58,000 in 2011. Many Venetians are migrating to mainland Italy, due to high cost of living and no opportunities for businesses and jobs.

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On the 2nd day of our trip we visited fish market.

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This fish market and product market, which combined make up the Rialto Market. have been located here since the 11th century. This is an exciting venue with which to mix with the local Venetians and bustle of daily Venetian life here is much more exciting to view than the hustle and bustle of the tourists crowding the nearby Rialto Bridge.

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Fruit and vegetable market.

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Shops around market areas.

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Toilets are expensive and there is toilet pass available for tourist. We didn’t buy the pass, it not worth.

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Unique…. Traffic light on sea.

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Here some of my tips for those who are on extreme budget:-

1). Don’t purchase travel-card, instead explore Venice on foot.

2). Don’t eat at restaurants, instead buy some ready made pizza and fast food from local supermarkets.

3). Don’t stay in the hotel, instead stay in B&B.

4). Don’t take gondola on sunny day, instead take gondola once the sky is darker. I mean before rain it’s cheaper. Check weather forecast.

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