Posted in Italy

Cheers to Adventure!

A couple of years ago since we embarked on our great European adventure and it was still one of the best decisions we made despite being a last-minute and spontaneous one . Surely, it left a big dent on our bank account but the memories we made and experiences we collected are definitely unparalleled and worth a lifetime of stories to tell.

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To be able to see world wonders such as The Colosseum, The Vatican, Eiffel Tower, The Pantheon, and Leaning Tower of Pisa that we thought we can only read about on textbooks;

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to wander around the dream-like cobble-stoned alleys of Rome and drink cups and cups of cappuccino and wolf down slices upon slices of pizza;

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to roam around Venice on a water taxi and eat pistachio gelato in spite of the autumn cold;

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to know how it feels like to be royals at Chateau de Versailles if only for a day;

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to push ourselves into a thick crowd of Mona Lisa hopefuls at the Louvre only to be underwhelmed at the end;

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to marvel at the magnificence of Baselica de Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and climbed up it’s bell tower which was a feat in itself;

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to take the stinky and dark Paris metro which felt like a surreal adventure on its own;

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to feel extremely blessed to be able to travel around Europe on our meager means,

and the list just goes on and on..

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We can opt to buy trendy gadgets with the money we spent on travelling, or fancy watches, designer handbags, top of the line electronics, or new stocks and mutual funds but eventually, the gadgets get obsolete, the watch might get stolen and the stocks can plummet, but the memories we made while conquering the world — they last for a very very long time. Almost until forever.

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So cheers to more adventures and being an awesome story-teller!

Posted in Malaysia

Legoland Malaysia: A Breath of Fresh Air

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Legoland Malaysia is the first of it’s kind in Asia. For most of us who’ve grown accustomed to theme park heavyweights like Disneyland or Universal Studios, this is a breath of fresh air. Though most of its rides are designed for kids, we enjoyed every bit of it nonetheless. I must admit I have a weak stomach for roller coasters and other adrenaline-pumping extravaganza so it all worked for me (he-he)!

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Suprisingly, the waiting time for each ride was only more or less 15 minutes (compared to 1-2 hours in Disney Sea) so we were able to try most of the attractions! Expect the weather to be very hot and humid on this part of the globe so arm yourselves with sun protections like brollies, wet towels, sunblock and lots and lots of water.

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We tried some of their indoor attractions like the laser-blasting dark ride and 4D movie during the peak of the heat and did the outdoor stuff especially Miniland when the weather got more comfortable and pleasant so we were able to enjoy it at  more leisurely
pace.

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We allocated 2 hours of our time to Miniland alone because we know that there’s just so much to see there and we didn’t want to miss anything and boy are we right! The attention to details, the craftsmanship, the pure passion in building these replicas of famous landmarks around Asia is totally amazing! 2 hours just went by very swiftly.

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All in all, Legoland Malaysia did not disappoint. We did some research before going so we had an idea of the age-group it caters and didn’t expect the rides to be at par with Universal Studios or even Disneyland so we didn’t get that feeling of being let down.

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Legoland Malaysia has a charm of its own and it will be a shame not to give it a go!

Posted in Malaysia

Malacca: A Gastronomic Adventure-land

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Christ Church, Malacca

If you have a flair for anything vintage, historical and gastronomic like yours truly, then you will definitely fall in love with Malacca. It was our second time here and we are still smitten by it’s old-world charm, laid-back feel and rich history. This quaint UNESCO World Heritage Site on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia just about 4 hours bus ride from Singapore will transport you back in time with its surreal fusion of Dutch/Portuguese/Malay/Chinese legacies evident on its well-preserved architectures, ruins from the colonial era and of course its mouth-watering Baba Nyonya/Peranakan cuisine.

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Dutch Square, Malacca

Everything in Malacca is just colorful, vivid, picturesque and most importantly it can be explored on foot (proximity is always a huge plus for us)! A visit on Dutch Square and you will be greeted by a sudden burst of colors – from the terracotta-red Christ Church and Stadthuys, trishaws filled with fake foliage and not a bit shy on flamboyance (complete with blaring pop or Malay music), side vendors selling all sorts of colorful souvenirs and tidbits, locals clad in their vibrant kebayas — it is truly a sight to behold!

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Vintage soda bottles @ Jonker Walk

Just a few minute’s walk from Dutch Square and you can easily reach Jonker Walk famed for serious antique-hunters hoping to score some really precious find. If antique-hunting is not really your thing like us, fret not since this street caters for vintage hunters, foodies, wanderers and low-key shoppers (like us).

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Dim Sum vendors @ Jonker Walk

On week nights, the whole street is close to traffic and transforms into a gastronomic adventure-land of some sort. Different hawker stalls and makeshift tents selling all kinds of delicacies, street foods, sundries, local fares, trinkets and cheap whatnot sprout the entire stretch like mushrooms.

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Fanta-flavored popsicles!

Here we had some shaved-ice cendol, fried ice cream, Fanta-flavored popsicles, dried squid, quail eggs on a stick and another helping of fried ice cream (it’s that good)! We also chanced upon a really cool art cafe where I had the best satay by far.

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This is indeed a happy place for us – I mean, different enticing smells wafting through the air while walking and taking snapshots of vintage items and kitschy pieces neatly sprawled alongside the alleys, nostalgic vibe of ancestral houses converted to artsy cafes and shops, cheap and yummy food you can munch to your heart’s content, a dose of retail therapy without hurting your wallet that much – this place is a candy store for grown-ups!

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deep-fried ice cream

Malacca with its rustic charms and unique offerings makes it no doubt a much-loved destination for travelers and those who fancy a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the metro. And who knows, you might even get lucky and find a truly precious artifact in one of Jonker Street’s antique shops! In fact, you didn’t have to since the whole Malacca experience is a gem in itself, that I assure you!

Posted in Korea

Seoul Searching…

This trip is all about our search for the best kimchi there is in Korea – all the majestic views, jaw-dropping landscapes, postcard-worthy scenery, interesting people and most importantly, K-Pop, are just icing on the cake (quite an extraordinary icing if I may say)! You see, kimchi is the national dish on this part of the world. For some who have been living a monkish existence and haven’t heard of kimchi, kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings.

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Nami Island, the location for the popular Korean dram – Winter Sonata

Everywhere we go in Korea, kimchi’s pungent smell greets us like the hearty “Annyeong Haseo” – from breakfast to lunch to dinner. Yes, you heard it right – breakfast. And not just kimchi as an unassuming side-dish for breakfast – they have kimchi soup, kimchi fried rice, and my favorite of them all – kimchi seaweed.

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Everland – South Korea’s most popular amusement park

We are not complaining you know. The energy we got from the highly nutritious kimchi sustained our draining 7am t 9pm tour everyday. We thought our already well-trained from miles of walking in Singapore but no, I deserve a bronze medal in walkathon for the amount of walking we endured in our Korean tour.

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Blue mountains and Korean architecture @ Seoraksan Park

So we walked and walked and walked. From the autumn-leaves filled tree lane at Nam-I Island, to life-sized teddy bears at Teddy Bear Farm, to the charming blue mountains and white sands of Seoraksan Park, to the quaint and foggy town of Alpensia, to the fairy-tale like pavements of Everland, to the bustling alleys of Myeongdong and historial palaces of Gyeongbok.

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Life-sized teddy bears @ Teddy Bear Farm
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Bustling alleys of Myeongdong
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Alpensia Ski Resort

And when we get tired and hungry, we eat and eat and eat – what else but kimchi! So you see, this trip is really a search for the best kimchi in Korea. And if you may want to ask where you can find the best kimchi in Korea..well, uhmm, I cannot exactly disclose the secret place to you. And what? Deprive you the joy of endless walking and searching? Where’s the fun in that? So in master Yoda’s words “On you own, you must seek.”

Posted in Thailand

Bangkok (Not) Dangerous

Whoever believes that cheesy Nicholas Cage remake movie “Bangkok Dangerous” has never been to Manila. Despite that one particular scum of a taxi driver who managed to rip us off, we felt a lot safer in Bangkok and have not encountered anything close to being dangerous. Bangkok may be quite a tourist trap to be honest and the prices of tour groups may sometimes go off the roof – but which tourist spot isn’t? We just try to always keep in mind that the money we paid helped put square meals on their table or send their kids to school and we feel a lot better afterwards. But all those money spent are absolutely worth it. The richness of experience and adventure you will gain in this colourful city is priceless!

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Wat Traimit Temple

Bangkok has so much to offer that you can never run out of things to see and discover. You may even find yourself wishing to stay longer in this exciting and interesting city. Here are some of the highlights of our little adventure in this city of smiles.

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Chao Praya River Cruise

1.) River Star Princess Cruise. A sight-seeing boat cruise around the famous Chao Praya River in Bangkok highlighting the historic landmarks and vibrant sights while the cool evening breeze helps you feel more relaxed and refreshed after a hot and humid day’s stroll. This tour includes buffet dinner inside the luxurious boat with live bands and cultural performances. The boat cruise gives a high-roller feel that we somehow felt a bit under-dressed for the occasion. The vocalist of the band is a Filipina who is a total crowd-pleaser and cheerily gave in to our song requests from time to time. You can also leave your inhibitions at home as their stage is open for dancing and karaoke-style singing. So much fun!

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Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

2.) Temple Visits. This is definitely a must and one’s travel to Bangkok is not complete unless you’ve seen the subtle yet intricate beauty of Thai temples. We managed to soak in the elegance of Wat Trimit (Solid Golden Buddha), Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) and Wat Benchamabopit (Marble Temple).

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3.) Siam Niramit Cultural Show. Another must-see in Bangkok! Siam Niramit is a state-of-the-art 2000-seat theatre and the largest stage production per Guiness Book of World Records. We had a buffet dinner before the show and a stroll through the authentic traditional Thai village just besides the theatre. The cultural show in itself will give you a brief insight on the colourful Thai history and its rich heritage which are presented through specially crafted dance and musical numbers. The stage’s lighting, visual effects, design, cirque-esque stunts and over-all production is such a grand spectacle that will leave you amazed for hours! There are hundreds of performers on stage, live animals, a small river and even rain showers and lightning. It doesn’t get much bigger that this. If you were not on this show, you haven’t seen anything special in Bangkok, I tell you.

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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

3.) Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. This maybe a tourist trap for some but for us it’s a once in a lifetime experience and didn’t mind paying a bit more. Floating market at Damnoen Saduak is the old traditional way of selling vegetables, fruits, etc. from a small boat. We hired a paddle boat to take us around the unique and bustling market situated in a river with wooden canoes filled with different produce, handicrafts, food specialties and whatnot. We didn’t buy much here except for some Thai spices and coconut ice cream as we know very well that their prices here are really very touristy.

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4.) Chatuchak Weekend Market. If you’re a bargain hunter and love to haggle to save your life, you’re in for a real treat! This is one of the most famous weekend markets in all of South East Asia and for good reasons — some 5000 to 6000 stall open selling pretty much anything. It seems to meet with mixed review — you either love the crowds, the hear, the noise and the bargains, or you don’t. We managed to bought two pairs of flat shoes, some souvenir items and shirts, Thai snacks and 5 kilograms of Thai jasmine rice despite the heavy crowd and scorching sun but we never regretted it since all are such a steal! One day is not enough if you main purpose of visit in Bangkok is to shop.

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Old temples in Ayutthaya

5.) Ayutthaya Historical Parks. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya Historical Park incorporates over a dozen ancient temple sites and ruins which makes you feel you’re inside that once famous Temple Run mobile app game of Lady Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider. Ayutthaya is the old capital of Siam and a must-see if you have any interest in ruins or ancient culture as the temples are well-preserved and very fascinating.

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Bangkok is a city that should be in everyone’s bucket list and for all good reasons. It’s a modern city by all means yet their traditions, cultures, architectural wonders and authentic Thai cuisine are still very much intact. Again, we can’t help but sigh in frustration at how the Philippines is being left out again by our Asian neighbour.