Posts Tagged With: backpack life

Little Red Dot and a Night on the Town

On our third day in Singapore, we woke up to an unpleasant sound – rain!  It was a crap day outside, and we stayed in bed until it cleared up a bit.  We had some shopping errands to do, namely buying some gifts for our gracious hosts, so we ventured out to the market in the hot sticky damp weather and found some flowers and chocolate for the kids who had given up their room for us!  Then we packed up our stuff and headed downtown to our second stop on the journey, The Little Red Dot hostel, close to downtown and Little India, but very expensive for us at SG$20 per dorm bed.  We got there without too much trouble and checked in, the hostel is clean and nice with a good atmosphere, our beds were soft and the room had air-con so we were very satisfied!  After all this, we walked to the Golden Mile complex, a multi-use complex where many long distance buses left for other destinations in Malaysia.  We tried to figure out the cheapest way to get to our next destination, but the cheapest we found was SG$55. Yikes!! After weighing our options, we decided to try a few other places and quickly realized it was Sunday night and nothing else was open. 😦 boo.

Our lovely “family” had invited us to dinner that evening near Clarke Quay, so we walked over to the quay to meet them and enjoyed an amazing Indian buffet.  It was delicious!! We really enjoyed our time with the Dias family, thanks again guys for welcoming us into your home and showing us your Singapore!  After dinner I had made arrangements to meet a friend whom I had met in the Philipines, so we trekked over to the reverse bungy ( a kind of slingshot that shoots you up into the air instead of down) and met up with Magnus. The three of us had drinks on a boat in Clarke Quay, but after two beers my budget for the day was exhausted, so we walked back to our hostel.  You may think theses things are close together, but Micheline and I are excellent walkers!  It took us about an hour to get home, but since it was nice out and Singapore is an interesting place, it wasn’t a hassle.
Our next day was pretty chilled out, we decided to bite the bullet and buy the expensive bus tickets out of here, reasoning that since it was an overnight bus we wouldn’t have to pay for accommodations.  After that, it was shopping time! There was lots of bargaining to be had at the Bugis market, and it wasn’t quite so overwhelming this time, I came away with two reasonably priced shirts, a pair of sandals and some trinkets for friends.  Grand shopping total?? $40!! Eeps! Oh well 🙂 when will i ever be back in Singapore? Who knows!  After lunch at the hawker center nearby, we decided to check out Marina Bay Sands, the mega complex and casino on the bay that was topped by a giant ship on three towers, and a huge “Gardens by the Bay” as well.  The hotel itself was very impressive, we didn’t go up to the top of the ship as it was expensive, but we checked out the view of downtown from the quay, and gawped at the Singapore Flyer, a huge ferris wheel that takes a 1/2 hour to go around and gives awesome views of the city and surrounding area.  We walked through the malls and hotel complex to get to Gardens by the Bay, checking out the cool avatar trees and greenery until the sun got the better of us and we decided to go back and get ready for our epic night on the town.
We started out night at the Wine Connection, a reasonably priced place on Robertson Quay, where Magnus, Micheline and I were joined by fellow traveler Ame, Constantin, and my friend Linus, who I had met at full moon last year.  We had an awesome time trading travel stories and I finally had a glass of wine after missing it for a month, and headed out to the Playhouse, a club on Clarke Quay that was pretty much empty, due to it being Monday night.  We said screw it! Lets make our own party! We may have partied a little (wayyyy) too hard cause both me and Micheline woke up with massive hangovers and nixed our plans for the zoo the next day 😦 oh well.  Our day was spent recovering, packing and getting ready for the night bus.
We walked over in the evening to the Golden Mile and I had some pretty goof Pad Thai, as the complex is the “Thai” hub in Singapore, I got a little nostalgic for Thailand!  Our bus ended up being AWESOME, with fully reclining chairs, TV screens, video games and lots of little comforts.  The only bad thing was the bus Nazi, our driver who kept waking us up by screaming into the loudspeaker when we had to cross the border, shouting at us to hurry up, and generally being a surly dude. oh well.  I had an ok night of sleep on the bus, and was eager to get to the Pehrentians the next day!  Beach Paradise, baby!!
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Categories: Singapore | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Sweet Day in Melaka

Well, I’m glad I only planned on staying two nights here, because one and a half days was more than enough to see all that this little town had to offer.  I wanted to check it out since it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and since I love history I thought it would be a worthy stop.  I found it to be charming but super touristy, and although the food was good and it was worth a look around, there’s not much fun stuff to do besides take pics, check out museums, eat, and shop.

 
I left my hostel on a mission to find some good coffee and a big breakfast to fuel my day, and I found a riverside café with both of those things.  I chatted with my mom over breakfast (nighttime for her) and caught up on all the news from home 🙂 I had kind of a route planned out and first decided to check out the Museum Rakiyat, which had some good if slightly bland exhibits about Melaka, a kite museum and a really interesting exhibit about beauty practices all over the world, including scarifications, piercing, corsets, Chinese foot binding and more.  I found that really interesting, but not much else, and then while trying to follow my walking route I inevitably got lost, found, then lost again after finally getting my bearings at the extremely cute town square with outrageously decorated tricycles for hire, some with boomboxes attached, blaring 80’s tunes!!
 
 
My second museum stop was the Baba Nonya house, a Perenkian style house that showed how the rich Indochinese merchants lived when the area was a main shipping town in Malaysia. The women of the house were rarely seen, and lived their lives indoors and behind screens.  Fascinating!  I ate yummy Nonya food at the little café and did some shopping after that, there’s lots of kitschy little stores and antique shops, I sampled some baked goods (seriously there are SO MANY yummy things to eat here.  Oops.) and headed back to my hostel to hang out on the rooftop lounge and get to know some of my fellow travelers.
 
Today i sampled some Chinese goodies before leaving town, and may or may not have a box of pineapple tarts to snack on during the trip to Singapore!  My waistline cannot take the goodness that I found in Melaka!  Right now I am on a very bumpy bus to Singapore, where I will rendezvous with my travel companion Micheline and meet some family friends who are graciously putting us up!  Onwards!

 

Categories: Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mmmm, Melaka! – Foodie Paradise

I love Malaysia!!  It is extremely awesome here – I was not expecting such a clean, well-organized and developed country. I think im going to really like it here.  In between my first stop in Malaysia and the rest of my travels in this country, I’m going to check out Singapore, as well.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I got off the plane at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal, thank goodness I did some internet research as my lonely planet is two years out of date, and was totally directing me to the wrong bus station 😦 i caught wind of this before making this tragic mistake, and got on a sexy bus that cost me 8 ringgit ($2.50 CAD) for an hour and a half bus ride to the new, beautiful bus station.  All the buses ran on time, left on time, were clean and air-conditioned and in great shape!! OH MY GOD ITS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.  iT ACTUALLY IS. This type of service is pretty much unheard of in any other asian country I’ve been to, so needless to say I am already impressed.
My bus to Melaka was easy to find, super cheap (9 ringgits, or 3 dollars for a two-hour bus ride) and right on time.  I stared out at the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur from my bus window. it looked so orderly! No signs of poverty, no roadside shacks, just cheery looking row houses and palm plantations.  Woah.  Minus the palm trees, you could be in any developed country in the world and not know the difference.  The highways are also well maintained and well-marked.  If you know me personally, you will understand why I’m pointing this out, I have an organization fetish and this country’s got it going ON!! lol.
We got to Melaka in record time, and my cab from the bus station cost 20 confusing ringgits, I didn’t understand how I could have travelled for over three hours for less than twenty ringgits, and then my five-minute cab ride cost me just as much as that. HMMM. I got to my hostel, Ringos Foyer Guesthouse, and while it’s not much to look at, it was pretty comfortable and I met a bunch of interesting people there so points for that, even though it wasn’t the prettiest place I’ve stayed.  I was super tired from getting up at 4am, but decided to go for a little walk and check out the very charming town and grab some Nonya Laksa, a yummy curry soup that is a local specialty.  The cats found me, as they always do, and I shared some of the seafood in my soup with them.  I can’t help it!! I love kitties!! I walked around a bit more and oriented myself, and crashed hard that evening after chatting with some fellow travellers in the homey common area of my guesthouse.
xo
D
Categories: Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Solo Journey Begins

It’s day three of my solo adventure and things are going great!  I found a much more awesome guesthouse called Banwa Art House and settled in there for three more nights.  I thought about going to El Nido, but its a seven hour bus journey there and I leave again from Puerto Princesa for Manila – so a fourteen hour round trip just doesn’t sound worth it to me for one night in El Nido. Damn.  I decided to make the best of my time here, and the owner of my hostel has been so helpful and lovely in sorting everything out for me! What a nice change from the previous guesthouse I was at!  The owner lives most of her time in Ireland and has two very sweet daughters who are spending their summer here with her, the hostel is filled with other lovely travelers and I feel right at home, even though there is no aircon in the room and a few neighborly mosquitoes, gotta take the good with the bad I guess!

My first solo day was pretty uneventful as I settled into my new place and took a looooong walk around the little city, which is slowly growing on me. Slowly.  I caught up on my world news and chatted with friends from home that evening, hitting the hay early because i had a scooter rented for the next day and was excited for my journey!
I woke up the next morning and packed up my stuff, getting ready to scoot off on an adventure to find Emerald Beach.  I got directions from my lovely hostel owner and drove off down the streets of Puerto Princesa, loving every minute of my drive and finding the beach no problem after about twenty minutes on the road.  It was awesome!! Even though I was parked in front of a hotel, NOBODY was around save for the hotel staff, and I had the beach/pool to myself for pretty much the whole day.  I sunned myself and ate a lovely lunch by the pool, my friend Laura from the hostel showed up about halfway through my day and we chatted about backpack life.  I went to leave in the late afternoon and realized – uh oh, I had somehow lost the key to my scooter!! Yikes 😦
I pretty much had every maintenance guy, security officer and tourist police guy looking for that damn key, and finally one of them triumphantly pulled it out of the sand!! WHEW! I was so relieved that I didn’t have to pay a major fee for losing the key!! I scooted back to my hostel after that without any other bad things happening, and spent the evening relaxing, playing a very interesting game of chess with a five-year old and chatting with the other travellers in the place.
Today has been a quiet, relaxed, blogging kinda day, ive been to two coffee shops so far and have been typing away, trying to record the events of the past week (feels like so much longer!) and staying out of the rain.  Tomorrow I finally leave Puerto Princesa and move on to Manila and Malaysia awaits!  I’m sure there will be lots of new adventures waiting for me there 🙂
xo
D

 

Categories: Phillipines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Roundabout Trip to Boracay

Oh, travel days. How I DON’T love you. That’s right. I said it.

We boarded the plane for Singapore, and had a three-hour stopover there after an uneventful flight.  We figured out that between us we would be taking over thirty flights on our travels!! I think I will be happy to be grounded for a long while after this trip!!
The Singapore airport was UNREAL.  Even in the middle of the night, every store was open, the entire food court was open, and there was tons of stuff to see and do, including some weird Asian gardens (even an outdoor one), an entertainment center, many sweet lounges and lots of WiFi! there is even a rooftop pool but we didn’t see it so maybe it doesn’t exist?  We chilled with some life-size M+M’s though…
After our airport stop there was a supremely uncomfortable and full three-hour flight to Manila in the middle of the night (literally 12 to 3 am for us) and when we got to Manila, there was an overpriced taxi to the domestic terminal and no one for us to talk to about booking a flight to Kalibo and onwards to Boracay.  That’s right, the stupid tourists thought they could arrive at four in the morning and book a flight onwards without any trouble.  RIGHT??? WRONG.  The next flight was at 11am and we were S**T outta luck until then.  So we settle in for a nap on the tiled floor, hugging our bags and trying not to look like the greasy backpackers that we were by that point.
After finally checking in and finding some adequate breakfast in what has got to be the grossest domestic terminal I’ve ever seen (the roof is caving in…) we found, to our delight, that the flight was delayed!! woo!  So there was more waiting and waiting and waaaaiting to do.  Our flight finally boarded two hours late and we took the hour-long flight to Kalibo.  We were delirious by this point, and there was still a two-hour bus ride to go and a ferry trip AND a bus ride to our hotel, but this was actually made very easy for us by the lovely SouthWest Tours Boracay, which handled all our transport arrangements as we were in no shape to do so.  We just forked over about 500 Peso (12.50) and they herded us this way and that until we wound up at our guesthouse, Trafalgar Cottages, where the very lovely Julie awaited us and showed us some beds we could crash in. And crash we did!!
Thirteen hours later we woke up in Boracay, and to our delight discovered our trip was worth it, as it was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen!!
Note: Zest Air (affiliate of AirAsia in the Philippines) is officially the worst airline I’ve ever flown with – most of our flights have been delayed, on was outright cancelled, and they have added an extra layer of stress to our holiday.  I strongly suggest that if you can afford it to save yourself some hassle and book on another airline.  Their customer service is some kind of awful, as well.
Categories: In the Air | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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