Myanmar

Mingalaba! I just came back and I’ll try to remember the important nitty gritty details. First up, money DOES matter. To credit myself, I did find out online that the Burmese are very particular with their cash – notes have to be clean and crisp, same goes for the usd notes. However, when I exchanged my 280 usd at the Yangon International Airport, I was shocked to be given two stacks of 100 notes each. Each note had a 1000 kyats denomination (about 1 usd). But I made one huge mistake. I. forgot.to.check.the.notes. So in this pile, I had torn/ dirty notes which couldn’t be used =(

Here’s my B&B at Yangon- Wai Wai’s Place (http://waiwaisplace.wordpress.com/about/)

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A very simple but clean room for 25 usd. Accommodation in Myanmar is pretty expensive for the standards so you have to have lower expectations!

I rushed off to the Bogyoke (bo-jio) Market since it closes at 5pm. There isnt really anything that interested me though. There’s plenty of longyis, gems, jewellery and food.

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This is an image that haunts me till now. My appetite has probably been reduced to half. Flies flying around seafood sold by the road and at the foot of the overhead bridge. Im not sure whether there ice somewhere to keep the seafood’s temperature low. But right beside this man, there was a little boy selling live birds in a cage.

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In general, I felt that the Burmese were friendly and helpful people though communication is quite abit of a challenge.

And here’s the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda. Magnificent massive pagoda. Foreigners have to pay 8500 kyats to enter. Tourists seem to outnumber the number of devotees and it’s quite irritating to see people standing between Buddha and a kneeling devotee and posing to take photos! Sigh..

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ImageAfter that, I took a cab to look for 999 Shan Noodle House ( As introduced by Lonely Planet) Verdict? Er.. Like maggie mee lo

And yes, I had two bowls of noodles =X

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The next day, Wai Wai prepared Mohinga for the guests… It’s something like mee siam but not spicy.. And the yellowish bits are fried chickpeas.

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The next day, Wai Wai wrote down “Hledan” station in Burmese on a post-it just in case I couldn’t find it. It was only a 5 min walk away! Here, you can get a circular train ticket for just 1 usd. The entire circuit would take about 3 hours but I was on it for perhaps 30 min?  I alighted at the main Yangon train station which is in Downtown.

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IMG_0965 IMG_0970After that, I searched for this famous nasi biryani place (again recommended by Lonely Planet) But I’m not really a biryani fan so.. it tasted pretty average to me. I think the boyfriend will love this though, since he’s mad about biryani. Haha. Together with a banana lasso, this meal cost about 3 sgd.

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Ended the day watching the sunset at Kandawgyi Lake.

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That night, I was to share a cab with two Aussies to get to the bus terminal for our over night bus. But there was a massive jam. And thank goodness for Samaritan no. 1, the taxi driver, I was able to tell him that we had a bus to catch in Mandarin. The entire time, I saw him trying his very best to overtake cars and he offered his handphone so that I could call the bus company to tell them that we were on our way. Thankfully, we reached 10 min before departure time.

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This company, Joyous Journey Express is pretty famous. It’s a VIP bus highly recommended online (18ooo kyats~ $18) Seats are wide. Snacks provided. But after taking other companies for the next few days, I realized that I no need VIP bus actually la. The ride to Bagan is 10 hours with about 3 stops in between for food and toilet breaks. The thing I hate about getting off the bus at the destination is the taxi drivers crowding at the door when you are getting off. Groggy, dry eyes, blur, can’t even walk straight, have not even gotten my bag and they just keep buggingggg you. ARGH. So anyway I made huge mistake here. I spent $12 to get to the wrong hotel -.-” The wrong hotel was in New Bagan and far away from the ruins and pagodas. Thankfully, I arrived at the right hotel in Old Bagan. And thankfully I could do an early check-in. Have not showered for ___ hours.

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This is Bagan Hotel River View. $144 per night. ZOMG. Totally overpriced but it’s just by the Ayeyarwady River and sooo close to the temples. And it has a nice bath tub with nice warm water. Aaaahhhh… Thankful for that after a blazing hot day temple hopping.

There are a few ways to get around Bagan. Private cars, horse carts, bicycles or e-bikes. I chose the COOLEST option of course! =D 8000 kyats ($8)and you get an e-bike for from sunrise to sunset.

IMG_1011I tombang-ed a few school-going kids along the way. At one point, 4 of them wanted to stack onto my passenger seat. But I had to shoo 2 of them off gently. Haha.. The smiles of exhilaration on their faces just by being on an e-bike for 10 seconds- priceless. Unfortunately, I thought an e-bike is invincible and that it could ride through sandy paths. So I fly off my bike a couple times because though I was pressing on the brakes, the  “engine” was still on and the accelerator was very sensitive. I ride really slowly though so I’m not seriously injured. Just scratches and ugly bruises on my leg. You know the idea of e-bike rental is to have an enjoyable and faster ride. But I ended up feeling so achy that night because I had been grasping on the handles for dear life the entire day. My body was continuously tense. Imagine teenage mutant ninja turtle. Yup, that was me on the e-bike.

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Good thing is that motorists and other locals will look out for noob tourists like me and honk when they are nearing.

I visited a few temples along the way. Some were planned while some I stumbled upon while getting lost. Here’s the famous Shwe San Daw Pagoda which gives you the awesome/typical view of Bagan. The steps are really steep. GULP. I stared at the stairs for a long time. Steeper than those in Siem Reap. I’m afraid of stairs. But I’ve come so far. So I made my way up slowly, heart racing as if I’m sprinting. No kidding. TIP: Climb from other steps like the East or West ones. The main steps facing the entrance look pretty eroded. Too tiny for my huge feet. It was noon and there were only probably 5 tourists? Some crappy selfies and shots taken by random tourist. I was ready to descend with such shots so I’m glad for my bro’s tripod. With it clasped around my bag, I managed to take one nice shot =)

IMG_1023 IMG_1026 IMG_1029 IMG_1032 IMG_1034Strangely, Shwe San Daw is packed with tourists just for sunset. Hoardes of tourists and their big buses were all around. So I found this website online which recommended a few less visited temples. And this is where I met the painter (I think he’s called Pochi) And he showed me the way to the temple. Even waited patiently for me as I struggled with the e-bike, trying to “siam” horse poo.

IMG_1043IMG_1064The key holder to the temple. Lighting up a lantern to lead us up the dark stairway.

IMG_1066IMG_1067 IMG_1068 IMG_1071 IMG_1084 IMG_1088I asked the man whether he wanted to be my guide the next day and I told him I didn’t want to ride any more bikes since my butt was aching and I was so afraid of falling again. However, he said it was not possible in Bagan for a female unrelated pillion on his motorbike but said it was fine with an e-bike. The next day however, he told me that it was not possible on the e-bike too. Since I really didnt want to ride anything I told him I’ll walk on my own and I was very terribly sorry that he made a wasted trip down. He was kind enough to offer being my guide while I walked but I suddenly felt uncomfortable so… I gave him some money for making the trip down and headed off on my own.

Clearly, walking took me nowhere far under those oven conditions. I saw locals taking the pick-up so I decided to try that too. Quite an experience! Really cheap! And fast! And sheltered! =)

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The Moon restaurant. This is how pancakes look like in Myanmar. The banana lasso was wayyyy too sweet. Pancake was okay.IMG_1115Arranged through the hotel. 15000 kyats. Quite good also!

I arrived at 2am at Inle and I didn’t inform my inn. However, they allowed me to sleep on the couch at the reception but it was freaking cold. Not exactly what you want after a 10 hour long ride and have not showered for ___ hours. The owner was really nice though, he helped cover me with a blanket. And in the morning, his wife gave me another blanket. And that’s the lovely Aquarius Inn =) Rooms were definitely not cheap but staff was very friendly, there was good wifi and there was rain shower in their bathroom. I fell sick here and nursed myself back to health.

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Austria

Germany was my main destination I had in mind last December. However, I decided that to make the air ticket worth, I had to include another neighboring country or so. And thus, Austria! Just a short 4 days in Vienna and Salzburg. And again, I regretted it the moment I reached Austria. There were so many other beautiful places to visit besides the touristy spots. And again, I did not read up as much as I hoped to.

 

Didn’t have a detailed itinerary plan either and decided to go solo and with the flow this time round. I’m usually careful in choosing tours and reading reviews before hand. But I had one terrible and expensive experience at Salzburg. Got on a tour for close to 70sgd just to be transported around for 2 hours, get lost from group, told by tour guide to read up information in German on my own and stare at fog. Sigh.

But best highlights in Vienna and Salzburg!

1) Being in the Staatsoper (opera house) watching an opera called Tosca. Was dressed in casuals and other people were dressed in ball gowns (no kidding) Was in there for 30 min with a standing ticket which cost 3 euros! =) Tie a scarf around the handrail to “chops” a place 40 min before the show! =)

2) The Sound of Music Tour!

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Pork chop with garlic butter..yumm

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Inside the sis palace

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Staatsoper

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Rathaus Salzburg

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Schnitzel

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Schloss Belvedere

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On the train to Salzburg! Love train rides!

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Salzach River

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Posted in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) | Leave a comment

Batam/Bintan

Okay, I’m combining these two places in one post just because W and I got deals that were not up to our expectations. I guess it was okay to some people since many people in our tour group who got online deal coupons looked happy! Hurhur… I guess we both love the massages, lazing in the resort and beach as compared to shopping because there really is nothing to shop in Batam or Bintan. I would really like to explore these two places again because I believe that I can get a better feel of both places without groupons or whatsoever…

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Yogyakarta

A long overdue post due to procrastination. Phoebe and I went for a short 3D2N or was it 4D2N to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. We had a guide for most parts of the tour and but I didn’t really have time to read up on Joja before going so I was kinda lost at the temples. But food, transport and basically everything is cheap there so yaye! Oh yea, cheap body massages!

Borobudor has got to be my favourite place! I felt at peace there. Haha! I’ll be back more prepared next time! =P

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Writing a postcard to W.

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Roadside satay! Not very clean though..hurhur

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Rendang sapi at a touristy restaurant. But still cheap and good!

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Siem Reap

Susedei! Soksebye dey? (Hello, how are you? – in khmer) These were the two phrases that I spammed throughout my 5 days spent in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Why Cambodia? Well, one reason was that the December holiday was really precious and I really wanted to get out of Singapore to explore the world as much as I can. And after my previous trip, I was left with close to a week before I had  to prepare for work so I thought of visiting a place nearby. Somehow I just kept putting off Thailand because I wanted to visit a country that was much much different from Singapore. Thus, Siem Reap! Initially I planned to travel solo, then after hearing horror stories from relatives, I got cold feet and managed to find two other ladies to travel with me. Unfortunately, I ended up going solo in the end.

Also, things were kind of rushed for just before the trip as I was still recovering from exhaustion from the previous trip. So I didnt get to pack the notebooks that I intended to give out to poor Cambodian kids (I didnt have enough cabin baggage anyway) I was still quite lost when I was onboard the plane. But the moment I saw Cambodian land, with its swamps, rice fields and villages from the plane, I could not stop SMILING TO MYSELF like a lunatic! OMG…I can’t comprehend why!

Anyway, I felt really safe in Siem Reap and I think I blended in pretty well with the locals while trying to speak Khmer.

IMG_2945According to web sources, December was a nice and “comfortable” time to visit. But the moment I got off the plane at 3pm, I felt baked while queuing for 5 min to get into the airport. It was probably 33-35 degrees. But I did not get more tan as I slathered on sunscreen everyday.

Siem Reap International Airport

Siem Reap International Airport

When I arrived, my tuk tuk driver from Motherhome Guesthouse was already waiting there for me. Yaye!

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True enough, according to Tripadvisor’s reviews, the manager took my bag before I even stepped into the reception of the guesthouse and offered a cool drink and a refreshing wet towel. However, I gulped down the drink and rejected the towel as I wanted to rush to visit the Landmine Museum which I didnt know was a 40 min drive away. And my guesthouse charged me 19 usd return for it! I only spent 20 min in the museum!

IMG_2980 IMG_2982 IMG_2986And before I forget, I must remember to mention that Cambodians are damn good-looking! They have such huge eyes! Haha… The kids here are all so sa-at! (pretty in khmer)

After the visit to the landmine museum, I checked into my great room and took a tuk tuk to the famous Pub Street. I had dinner at this random restaurant as the one that I read about on tripadvisor was closed and I was too hungry.

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Complimentary mineral water was sooo important

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Here’s chicken amok (khmer dish) that I had on the first night. I tried the 1 usd frozen margarita and fried banana chips. Not a very satisfying meal. But I appreciated the free wifi and cat’s company.

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Then later, I managed to find Lemongrass Garden Spa (which I heard good reviews on tripadvisor too). However, they do not accept credit card which was the start of my disastrous running out of cash situation. I felt that the receptionist wasn’t welcoming enough on both occasions that I was there (Yes I know, why did I go there twice when it wasnt good?!) I did an aromatherapeutic body massage for 25 usd for 60 min. The foot wash was less than 10 sec?!

Lemongrass Garden Spa Reviews

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The next day, I met my guide, Mr Sorm Son and his driver at 4.30a.m. to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. He speaks good English and is very informative about the temples, the significance of the carvings, statues and about Hindusim and Buddhism. I really tried my best to remember as much information as I could on the first day but on the second day, my mind was just too saturated to take in more details =X Anyway, the tour fees were pretty steep since I travelled solo. It was 192 USD for 3 days. And I skipped Tonle Sap as I ran out of cash to take the boat. Sigh.

Sorm Son’s Private Day Tour Reviews

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

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The moat around Angkor Thom that symbolizes the cosmic period (I hope i recalled this right!)

IMG_3055 IMG_3058That night, I tried cycling to Pub Street again for my massage and dinner. However, being timid and a bad cyclist, I wheeled  my bike 50% of the time. Also, my guesthouse ran out of maps so I had to make do with a self drawn map by the staff. But the end of the night, I realized that a map didnt really matter at all. There were so many tuk tuk drivers around and it was easy to just ask them along the way.

A boy's man-made fishing tool. He shot an arrow right through a fish. Smart.

A boy’s man-made fishing tool. He shot an arrow right through a fish. Smart.

I cycled past the river everyday. I was a ladnmark for navigation. Here's a man fishing.

I cycled past the river everyday. It was a landmark for navigation. Here’s a man fishing.

My 3 usd hairwash and massage. I know it's not cheap but I believe in spending and helping the poor earn some, especially in Kampuchea.

My 3 usd hairwash and massage. I know it’s not cheap but I believe in spending and helping the poor earn some, especially in Kampuchea.

Then I decided that I shall start to be more stringent with my spending and try the 1 usd roadside foot massage and try Angkor beer. The massage was slightly decent though uncomfy at certain points. It probably lasted around 20 min.

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Next,I headed to Lemongrass Garden Spa again! Service at reception was not up to my expectations again. This time, I opted for a body scrub polish and this was also when I realised that credit cards were not accepted and how I was in deep trouble! haha. Anyway, they tried to get a male to do it for me! Hello?! They did not even bother asking whether it was fine with me! But of course, I told the petite male that I wanted a “lay-dee!” instead. And the showering facilities weren’t adequate…

Hard scrub

Hard scrub

I had dinner at Viroth’s that night. I happened to cycle past it on my way back and I remembered it having good reviews on tripadvisor. Best meal ever in Cambodge! Great ambience and it didnt look like it was by the dusty street once you were inside! Its hotel is located about 10min away and I heard it’s good too. They are famous for their Khmer food and dessert however I had no room in my stomach for dessert. If only there were friends to share dessert with then! =)

Viroth’s Reviews on Tripadvisor

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Fried Rice with Chicken Kapi

Fried Rice with Chicken Kapi

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Delicious tom yum soup

Stay around the touristy area with lots of security and police. I felt safe.

Stay around the touristy area with lots of security and police. I felt safe.

It’s pretty safe cycling there. Traffic isn’t as heavy as that in Saigon. However, street lights are almost non- existent at night on some streets. So I had to depend on other motorcyclists, cars and tuk tuk to see clearly. Roads were slightly bumpy on few occasions though.

On the second day, we continued our tour of temples to Ta Phrom (where ‘Tomb Raider’ and ‘Two Brothers’ were filmed) Can’t remember the rest but I did catch the sunset at Phnom Bakeang.

Complimentary buffet breakfast at the guesthouse

Complimentary buffet breakfast at the guesthouse

Chicken congee

Chicken congee

Ta Phrom

Ta Phrom

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Some roasted nuts for 50 cents

Some roasted nuts for 50 cents

Dinner at Haven Training Restaurant. A place with classrooms created to provide opportunities to the poor and orphaned.

Dinner at Haven Training Restaurant. A place with classrooms created to provide opportunities to the poor and orphaned.

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Last day of the tour, we headed to Banteay Srei (Pink sandstone temple), a few other temples and the Killing Field.

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Palm sugar candy

IMG_3309 IMG_3314 IMG_3325 On the last day, I took a 2 hour horse ride with Happy Ranch. As a beginner, they gave me a super obedient horse that followed the guide’s horse everywhere. It did not listen to my controls at all, which wasnt what I looked for. The horses were really puny too… Probably due to its breed. However, I got to see the everyday life of people- ploughing the rice fields and families living in the villages. Do u know that Gangnam Style is also popular in the rural villages?! OMG. I was enjoying the sunrise and Buddhist chantings at about 7 a.m. on horseback when suddenly this irritating tune started echoing from a HUT! =O

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My guide, Sokong

My guide, Sokong

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The Happy Ranch’s Reviews

Siem Reap is a place I want to visit again. But next time, not as a tourist. Maybe a volunteer for a week or so in a school would be great! Somehow, I saw and learnt more in these 5 days in Siem Reap than in Australia…

And now, it’s time to enjoy the last few days of 2012 and prepare for a brand new 2013! =D

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Melbourne

After the short domestic flight from Sydney to Melbourne, I got the return Skybus ticket which cost 28 AUD. It included a free shuttle bus service to Southern Cross train station. From there, I got the Myki card which worked exactly like our Ezlink card. My hostel was a stop away at Flinders Street Station. I have to say that my hostel is really very centrally located again! It’s on Flinders Lane, just perpendicular to the famous Swanston Street. I got a 8 bed dorm for my 3 nights there and I was actually quite scared when I first stepped into it that morning.

The street outside Greenhouse Backpackers

The street outside Greenhouse Backpackers

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So I stepped into the room which was semi pitch dark. Seeing a brand new empty room with 8 beds in photos and being in an occupied one was crazy. It was soooo messy! I had to grope around in the dark and try to avoid tripping over opened suitcases. All the lockers were occupied. The power sockets were all used. I squinted in the dark to look for a bed that looked like it was for me. 3 min later, I stood at the reception like a noob and said, “I can’t seem to find my bed”..LOL.. So instead, I decided to check out the toilet and bathe since I spent an icky 6 hours sitting on the floor at the International Airport. So that meant the backpack had to go into the shower room too. O.O

But I’m so glad for free wifi! Managed to contact Regina just in time and I met her folks and her for breakfast in their rented car! =)

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We had a scrumptious brunch @Abbotsford. I had Eggs Benedict and my second cup of soy chai latte (the start of many more!)

Convent Bakery @ Abbotsford

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IMG_2692IMG_2691IMG_2693Then we headed to the Direct Factory Outlet. Things were from previous seasons and they weren’t exactly that much cheaper. I got a piece of apparel for my little niece (Anatolia!) Now I think it’s too small..sheesh!

Direct Factory Outlet

Direct Factory Outlet

After that, we headed back to Regina’s living quarters and I finally got to see Asher, her 1 and a half year old Golden Retriever! He was sucha tame and handsome boy! I got to walk him on the leash (though he doesn’t need it at all!) and I picked up dog poop for the first time in my life! =D Regina didnt bully me la! Haha… I used to envision having a dog when I was a kid…lol

Feeling tired...

Feeling tired…

It was entertaining playing fetch with him and getting him to chase u around..hurhur… After walking Asher at Fitzroy Park, Regina’s folks took us out for dinner at this famous Chinese restaurant in Chinatown I believe. I was so well- fed that day! Haha… Especially when Jia’s mum is very into Chinese tea, I had good quality Chinese tea for 2 meals!

IMG_2712After dinner, I headed back to my hostel, excited to locate my bed for the night. And here it is! My bunk bed was located behind a wall, away from the remaining 6 beds. I only met 2 of my dorm mates because they always slept in and returned after 3a.m. I did exchange 2 lines with the girl sleeping above me when her notebook fell off her bed and onto the floor..lol..I did not bother locking my stuff up for the next 3 nights though I carried my passport and cash everywhere. My Macbook was stuck in my backpack all along. Some staff at the hostel were great except for one who gave me a face when my card access had problems after the 2nd day. Well of course, I didn’t give him face for his sarcasm too. Haha

When u can't see what's on the floor

When u can’t see what’s on the floor

I jumped out of bed the next day as my alarm did not go off and managed to be downstairs in time at 7.15a.m for the Great Ocean Road tour with Escape Discovery. Good reviews on trip advisor! All of the tourists on this trip were Singaporeans. Three solo female travelers (including myself) and a family of 7 Burmese Singaporeans. The trip was from 7.15 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. Really exhausting but the views, wildlife and food were all worth it. And guess what?! The other two soloists are also teachers! Haha

Hello there, wild kangaroo!

Hello there, wild kangaroo!

Breakfast of tims tams, Anzac biscuits, vegemite with crackers and tea

Breakfast of tims tams, Anzac biscuits, vegemite with crackers and tea

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I was afraid of birds.

I was afraid of birds.

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Bell's Beach

Bell’s Beach

The start of Great Ocean Road

The start of Great Ocean Road

Awesome lunch of Fish and Chips! (Again)

Awesome lunch of Fish and Chips! (Again)

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Never adventurous in food, I tried kangaroo's meat. Tastes like tough beef and less tasty. Haha

Never adventurous in food, I tried kangaroo’s meat. Tastes like tough beef and less tasty. Haha

The next day, I headed to Brighton Beach randomly to see the colorful private little houses. Just slacked around on the beach and now I have this sickening sunglass tan. Sheesh! I can probably blend in better now in Cambodia… And I had Eggs Benedict and Soy chai latte again! Not as good as before though.

IMG_2911 IMG_2912 IMG_2913 IMG_2914 IMG_2918 IMG_2924I had soy chai latte AGAIN that evening at Starbucks before I met Regina at University of Melbourne for her graduation! =)) I’m so proud of her! She’s the first to get her Masters amongst the rest of us =)

=)

=)

Churros for dessert at Lygon Street (famous for Italian restaurants and bars)

Churros for dessert at Lygon Street (famous for Italian restaurants and bars)

Regina's bf took us to this underground/ hidden and pretty cool Japanese place for some sake.

Regina’s bf took us to this underground/ hidden and pretty cool Japanese place for some sake.

After drinks, Regina and I vowed to meet each other once more the next morning at 7a.m. I was so sure she wouldn’t make it.. And I was right! But I woke up at 8a.m. too… Then I rushed off to try the noodles at this Vietnamese restaurant at 10a.m. I heard the beef noodles here were very good! I miss the bun bo hue tai I had once in HCMC. It’s a spicy soup based noodle with thick laksa lookalike noodle strands. Slurp!!! I had to order the caphe sua da too! Unfortunately, I was rushing to take the Skybus to the airport… My flight home was split into 2 legs. First to Darwin and then to Singapore. On my flight to Darwin, I was surrounded by 3 crying babies/ toddlers! OMG. But they were sooooo cute =)

Caphe Sua Da

Caphe Sua Da

Bun bo hue tai

Bun bo hue tai

IMG_2943And that’s my short 4 days spent in Melbourne! I’m happy =)

Posted in Australia (Melbourne) | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sydney

Esther and I took a flight to Sydney on the 4th of December. She got her tickets pretty last minute (about 5 days before and got a pretty good deal!) 500+ AUD for return tickets! The leg room on Scoot felt pretty similar to the long haul flights from Jetstar and Airasia. No complaints. I succumbed to airplane food 3 hours into the 7 + hours flight… I tried their nasi briyani for S$10. It wasn’t that bad… But don’t take my word for it because I DO LOVE plane food. Haha!

We got a Mymulti3 card which cost 60 AUD for a week. It’s pretty worth it if you intend to travel plenty on ferries and the Blue Mountains. Single trip train tickets could be from $3-4 AUD so it’s really worth it!

We reached Sydney around 1pm and headed to Sydney Central YHA. It’s super-duper expensive for a hostel and it doesn’t have free wifi! Damn. However, it’s got an awesome location as it’s located right outside the central station and all the main touristy city sights are accessible by foot.

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The thing I like about Sydney or Australia for that matter, is its myriad of wildlife all around. There were so many breeds of birds that I’ve never seen before. Here’s one I saw on our way to Darling Harbour.

The Australian White Ibis

The Australian White Ibis

And how can we not have fish & chips when in Australia? We grabbed our take-away fish and chips for AUD$11.50 ($$!!) and had it by Darling Harbour under the scorching sun. I fed the seagulls some chips too…whoops!

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We continued walking on and finally saw the iconic Harbour Bridge. I’ve got tonnes of photos of it in every single angle…LOL!

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One thing we realized was that the Australians seemed to have very good work-life balance. We saw men playing table tennis in their long sleeved work wear under the blazing hot sun at a park near Darling Harbour! But then again, the weather wasn’t as humid and uncomfortable as compared to Singapore. And people there love to lie on grass to sun tan! Everywhere! Right outside pubs… At the Botanic Gardens…

And that evening, we took our first ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf. The ferries have free wifi! It’s a 30 min ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf. It’s a lovely place that I went twice but hadn’t had the time to truly take in all the sun and sand.

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The next day, we took a free city tour that started off from the town hall. It was good! They covered many places like the St Mary’s Cathedral, Hyde Park, Hyde Park Barracks, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Tower, The Rocks etc…

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Queen Victoria Building

After the tour, we headed to Pancakes on the Rocks to try their famous pancakes! Unfortunately, I emerged unmoved…lol

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral

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We headed to the Royal Botanic Garden for good views of the Sydney Opera House. Then in the evening, we took a ferry to Luna Park which is a theme park and then to Surry Hills which is a street home to many quirky, vintage, bohemian stuff. Too bad most shops were closed when we got there.

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The following day, on the 6th, which was my birthday, we took a really early train at 6+ a.m. to the Blue Mountains! Hurray! Our guesthouse was quaint, cosy and lovely. The people there, from owner to fellow travelers were all a respectful bunch.

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On our first day at Katoomba (a town in BM), we headed to the main tourist destination, Echopoint to take a look at the 3 Sisters (read the legend behind the three rock formations!) Initialy I wanted to take the challenge and climb down the steep Giant Stairway which consisted of 800 over steps. I’m glad I didn’t because merely 10 steps down made me all shivery. SO we just posed for photos! And my feet were aching a lot by then already.

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Waiting for bus no 2 to get to Echopoint. Covered by Mymulti3

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In the evening, we visited a quaint little town of the BM, Leura. We got a little lost and walked a lot. Did a little bushwalking there, to see the Leura Cascades. We were both very tired by then. Thanks for the birthday treat, Esther! (Chinese food!) It was the coldest day ever during my entire stay here in Australia.

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On the second day at the Blue Mountains, I was not able to book the horse riding in time and it was difficult to execute without a car. Ohwells… Esther continued with her shopping around the BM towns while I headed off on my own to Wentworth Falls and bush walked for around 2-3 hours. If not for fish and chips and chinese food, I would have burnt lots of fat! haha

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The next day, we returned to Sydney by train. However, train works intercepted our ride and we had to continue our journey by the shuttle bus provided. Met Shaun and we headed to Featherdale Wildlife Park. I had been looking forward to that day! Unfortunately, it was pretty far and we only managed to be there for an hour and was late in meeting Esther for dinner! Ooops!

Wallaroos

Wallaroos

IMG_2606That night, we had dinner at Darling Harbour’s Hard Rock Cafe and I had my most expensive meal in Aussie for 50 AUD! tsktsk

Fireworks every Saturday night till Christmas at Darling Harbour

Fireworks every Saturday night till Christmas at Darling Harbour

Salmon and srawberry daiquiri

Salmon and srawberry daiquiri @Hard Rock Cafe

On my last day in Sydney, I cramped all the things that I wanted to do but could not and ended up feeling damn exhausted. I went for the Sydney Opera House tour which was very worth it in my opinion. I got the concession ticket even though I was not eligible (buy it online). Then I rushed to Manly Beach with Shaun where we both moved on to look for our friend who was having a bbq. I couldn’t find mine, dont know about him though. Then after an extremely cold day at Manly Beach, I rushed to Bondi Beach to do the Bondi to Coogee walk which was about 2-3 hours. An old lady whom I approached to help told me that if I walked at the speed I was walking at, I would take a long time to reach there. True enough, with aching feet, shorts and blazer in superbly windy conditions by the beach, I had a difficult time getting to Coogee Beach. I had wanted to stop at the beaches in between but there was no bus back…In the end, I was late and I missed the dinner date with Esther and Shaun. After a miserable dinner of spaghetti bolognese at the hostel’s cafe, I left for the Domestic Airport and planted myself happily at the empty airport, prepping myself to stayover there. Then came a man who told me I had to get to the International Airport where there are some “chairs” to sit on. Lo and behold, I tried to hide my shock when I saw the 10+ miserable plastic chairs and people sleeping on the floor. Oh man! What did I get myself into?! So after sitting on the chair that I “chose” for close to 15 min, I got up and decided to do my laundry in the super duper spacious toilet. I think I killed an hour in there. Then later on, I started chit-chatting with a German who happened to be in a similar situation and time passed soo much faster =)

Sydney Opera House Washroom

Sydney Opera House Washroom

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Bondi to Coogee Beach walk

Bondi to Coogee Beach walk

So that pretty much sums up my 6 days in Sydney =D

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