Friday, August 29, 2014

See, Shop and Experience - Bosnia Herzegovina

This is about what I see, my observation, things I look for when shopping, basically my experience in Bosnia Herzegovina as a people surfer.

1. Markale Fruit and Vegetable Market.

I only have one word. CLEAN. Well, also impressed and excited. Fine! 3 words to describe this market, clean, impressive and exciting. (yah, I am flaking liddat).

Comei ok the way they package the items. Creative much?


This is only 1 Euro per bucket or 2KM or RM4.30, dirt cheap huh!

2. Book Flea Market

Wanted to get a few but all was in Bosnian language. Sigh... Having said that, it was an interesting walk nevertheless. Browsing and pretending I can read Bosnian. Hehheheheh....

3. Local Handicraft 

Rugs or carpets are aplenty here, and the motif is beautiful. If you like these designs, get the cushion covers as it is slightly cheaper and lighter to carry home too.

Bangles ares similar to those in Turkey, I gave it a pass since I have a few from Turkey at home.

Painted plates, also similar to those in Turkey and Morocco. Wanted to get one so badly but I have very limited luggage space. I was eyeing the bowl hehehheheh.....

4. Books on Sarajevo/Mostar/Bosnia

Grab a book on theor history, it is a pleasent read, trust me. I bought one on places of interest and accidentally left it on the plane. Rasa bangong jugak lah.

5. Cafe

A must must must do for all cafe crawlers, it is alot of fun to sit and chill while watching the crowd. I did it for about 2 hours while sipping a Bosnia coffee. Terasa diri ini hipster. #eh

Choose any cafe style you wish, a simple as this or as old school as the earlier pic.

Or hang-out at cafes as modern as this. All you need to do is just lepak and chillax.

This is an absolute must. try their Bosnian coffee. If you have not tried this, you have not been to Bosnia, katanya lah. So, try and it is not expensive at all, normal cafe is selling at about 2KM per glass *smile*.

6. Strolling their memory lane

Strolling their old town lane while checking-out souvenirs or chilling was fun for me. No hustle and bustle of city life.


7. Dessert

Jom beli badam. Like seriously, one can go absolutely "nuts" here, please. I did get myself a box of dessert similar to halva and it is super sweet (sampai ngilu).

 Choices. choices. choices.

8. Checkmate!

I think we should have this in Malaysia's parks, I did enjoy myself looking them playing, pondering and arguing. If I ever visit here again, I will bring a book and watch them play while reading and enjoying my coffee. (Drama gitew).

My suggestion is a 4 days 3 nights or 5 days 4 nights (best option), then you'll get to cover both Sarajevo and Mostar plus loadsa of time to chill and relax and laze around. An ideal trip to me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

#TravelTips | How to stay connected in Taipei, Taiwan

I am truly fascinated with Taiwan advance customer service.
(Apologise in advance for the bad photo quality, was using my phone to snap these photos on the go)

Some of the train station have a really cool (and cute) decor, elaborated decor are mostly in the bigger stations. Their train lines are pretty easy, pretty much like Singapore, I'll be impress if one get confuse or lost. Having said that, due to their naming, you can easily get down at the wrong station of which I did especially if you don't speak Mandarin. I guess you have to be alert or keep looking at the sign, other than that, it should quite easy peasy.

The train station can get be really big, there was a train station so big that I have to ask the security how to go about, and they are more than willing to help. If they fail to help or in this sense, unable to communicate well in English, they will page for their English speaking colleague to assist instead (happened to me). So, not to worry yah! The instruction and direction are in both English and Chinese.

My suggestion is that you get the Taiwan Easy Card or Taipei Pass; similar to our Malaysia Touch & Go. User is entitled to unlimited rides on Taipei Metro and on Taipei City and New Taipei City buses depending on the value they purchased. Click HERE to check it out.

How to stay connected in Taipei?

#TravelTips 1 : Visitor Information Centre is available at most major station or major mall around Taipei City. Not to worry as their customer service officers can speak English and plenty of pamphlet or brochures on tourism around Taipei and Taiwan that you can just take, FOC. Click HERE for more info on the branches.

#TravelTips 2 : All Visitor Information Centre provides FREE WiFi access (kid you not!) and power point to charge your smart phone.

#TravelTips 3 : You can get FREE access of WiFi by registering at the Visitor Information Centre, just make sure you bring your passport. ID and Password will be generated for you to activate your access. Usage? NO time limit *smile*.

#TravelTips 4 : As you can see (above), you can use the WiFi access at these hotspots.

#TravelTips 5 : Aside from brochures, WiFi, phone charging facilities, the Visitor Information Centre also provides FREE postcards for you to use/send. And every stations have different stamps/chop.

#TravelTips 6 : The customer service at the Visitor Information Centre is very helpful, just tell them your hobbies, passion or likes and they will guide you on where to go, see, train ride, cost and etc. I asked them on Hello Kitty Restaurant and they guided me on the where about as well other details.

#TravelTips 7 : Some bigger MRT stations provide WiFi hot spots and smartphone access.

I was truly impressed at the facilities provided for travelers convenience, maybe Malaysia should look into this as well? What do you think? Have you experienced other countries' with better or advance facilities for travelers?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

#TravelTips | Things To See In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Part 2)

Beyond River Miljacka.

Earlier post
Bosnia and Herzegovina for me...

#TravelTips | Markale Guesthouse - Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
#TravelTips | Things To Do In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Part 1)

River Miljacka.

A small ankle deep river divided both side, not may attraction across this river but taht few caught my eyes nevertheless. One of it being the Emperor's Mosque as mentioned in my previous blog entry (HERE).

#TravelTips 9 : You can cross the river from Latin Bridge and turn back at one of the bridges further down or vice versa depending on where you are. Don't worry, there are many bridges for both vehicles and pedestrian, one need not reverse his track.

Music Pavilion.

Being the only Music Pavilion that is standing still today, hence made it a popular place for the locals to hangout or meet-up. Used to be the home ground for Sarajevo hippodrome which was later converted into a square and then again transformed into a park; Franje Josipa Park. Due to the World War II, it was destroyed and rebuilt in 2004 maintaining the same original design from the period of Austro-Hungarian.

#TravelTips 10 : You can chillax here to have your brunch or lunch, or perhaps the cafe by the river to enjoy the view. There are also a small play ground for the kids for those with family.

Sarajevo Synagogue.

Constructed in 1902, Sarajevo Synagogue is located by the Miljacka River is the largest synagogue in Sarajevo. The earlier Sephardi Synagogue built in 1581 was burnt down and was rebuild a few times, the current synagogue also house a Jewish museum and an art gallery owned by the Jewish community here.

Lane heading towards the cemetery.

#TravelTips 11 : If you follow the road heading to Kovaci, look for a small lane on your left and walk up the slope (the street is not crowded with tourist hence some smart guessing is required). This small lane will take you to a cemetery (not to worry), from here, you can see the whole view of Sarajevo Old Town. If you want a better view, walk towards the higher round (of which I malas!). This tips was given by my kind guesthouse. 

Martyrs' Memorial Cemetery Kovaci.

Martyrs' Memorial Cemetery Kovaci is in honour of the soldiers who died during the Siege of Sarajevo throughout the 1992-1995 war, it is a sacred ground for the locals in memory of those that fought for the country.

#TravelTips 12 : Please wear good walking shoes as the climb is tiring but of course the view paid off *smile*. I did stop twice during the climb, memang tersangat azab sebab takut tergelincir kat slope dia. Tapi bebudak local main lari-lari jer. Tension ok.

Don't be surprise if you see kids playing bicycle, skateboarding or remote control cars at the cemetery, they are cool like that. Kat Malaysia memang tak lah, tobat orang ingat anak "apa-apa" sedang bermain. Lepas esok tuh, diarang start mintak nombor ekor. Hhehehehhehe....

Sarajevo Post Office.

Designed by the famous Josip Vancas, this beautiful Sarajevo Post Office building was erected way back in 1907, bearing the latest Art Nouveau design; the latest of its kind during that time. Its most impressive masterpiece was the glass roof; to help illuminate the concourse area. However, the building was badly damaged during the Siege of Sarajevo and later was restored in 2001.

National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Used to be Sarajevo City Hall, now the National and University Library has reopen to public since May this year. The then City Hall was built in 1892 and later in 1949 was handed and converted to the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina till current date. The building was seriously damaged by the war that destroyed hundreds of age old manuscripts, incunabula and other unique publications. UNESCO was given the mandate to assist in the restoration of the National and University Library as it is the symbol for the multicultural, multiethnic and multireligious character of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Please watch the UNESCO video HERE for more info.

Sarajevo's Sebilj.

A wooden fountain located in the centre of Baščaršija square was erected in 1753 by Mehmed-pasha Kukavica. The Sarajevo Sebilj is a famous landmark and meeting point in this ‘pigeon square’, one can find souvenir shops and cafes surrounding it.

Serb Orthodox Cathedral.

The Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos is the largest Serbian Orthodox church in Sarajevo and one of the largest in the Balkans. Located at the Sarajevo old town, it was constructed in 1863 and completed in 1874.

#TravelTips 13 : If you wish to cover these areas on foot (there's many more that can be added/covered), you would probably need 3-4 hours minimum, this is assuming that you will venture into some of the museums or take a look of its interior at least, stop by the cafes to relax and unwind, take some photos or people surfing etc. So plan well, my suggestion is to start early so that you have a whole full day to wander.

Penat gak buat 2 entry nih, I read and read and read, lepas ni kalau repeat trip leh naik tahap expert dah kot, jadi personal tour guide gitew. Hhehehehheh.....

My next entry will be souvenir shopping in Sarajevo *wink*.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#TravelTips | Things To Do In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Part 1)

This is the only country I was looking forward to in this whole trip.

Earlier post
Bosnia and Herzegovina for me...

#TravelTips | Markale Guesthouse - Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

It was a much needed trip with my bestie after 2 years of hiatus from any Europe trip (the longest trip I did recently was to India during Christmas & New Year time frame), we thought I needed a break from work and she needed a trip booster before she starts her new job. Well, this excuses fit us just fine. *smile*

We managed to spend 2 days in Bosnia of which I wish we had longer but with the train problem and mudslide (landslide) from Vienna enroute Ljubljana, multiplied by domino effect, we couldn't gain back the 1.5 days that we lost. Sigh. Oh well, it's part and parcel of traveling, nothing goes as planned.

#TravelTips 1 : If you don't fancy a rush trip (like me), 4 days 3 nights or 5 days 4 nights will be ideal. A 5 days trip can take you as far as Dubrovnik in Croatia, probably spend a night there and leave your huge luggage at Sarajevo or Mostar. [My plan for my next Bosnia trip]

I did most of my Sarajevo sightseeing on foot, one of the easiest Old Town that I have ever experienced. The trick is to stay in the Old Town itself, then you can walk almost anytime, everywhere and anywhere, except to the City Centre of course. *wink*

#TravelTips 2 : You can get a walking map of the Old Town from the Guesthouse, Hostel or Hotel that you are staying. It is FREE and comes with a few version, pick one that you are comfortable with. For me, I like those with graphic, it helps me visualize.

#TravelTips 3 : Most of the important attractions would have description or history background (above sample). Take sometime to read, embrace the history and obviously snap many photos here.

From Wikipedia :
The city is famous for its traditional cultural and religious diversity, with adherents of Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Catholicism coexisting there for centuries. Due to this long and rich history of religious and cultural variety, Sarajevo was sometimes called the "Jerusalem of Europe" or "Jerusalem of the Balkans". It was, until recently in the 20th century, the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue within the same neighborhood

The Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral or Sarajevo Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Bosnia. It is also the center of Catholic worship here in Sarajevo which is located in the city's Old Town district.

Ferhadija Mosque.

This was the first mosque I saw, thrilled as it have the architecture influence of Turkey's mosques (rasa macam Istanbul Aku Datang pulak, hehehhehehee). Ferhadija Mosque or Ferhat-Pasha Mosque has one dome above the prayer area (namaz) and three small domes at the cloister, it was built in the 16th century, bearing the best of Islamic architecture during Ottoman Empire. But one thing surprises me as I walked into its courtyard….

#TravelTips 4 : They are so many mosque around Sarajevo Old Town that I suggest you snap the name of the mosques before entering, after a few mosque, you bound to get confuse.

Cemetery at mosque courtyard. 

What I saw was this.... in the mosque's courtyard. It is very normal here in Sarajevo, if you look closely, you'll see cafes on the left side of the cemetery. Try having this concept in Malaysia, imagine 'kedai mamak' next to a 'kubur', not sure who will be 'serving' you teh tariks. Confirm bangkrap punya. Hahhahahhah.....

Gazi-Husrev Beg Bezistan.

Gazi-Husrev Beg's Bezistan, built in 1551 is a covered market selling haberdashery and craftsmanship, the architecture here resembles the design of the mosques.

 Bezistan interior.

#TravelTips 5 : There is a shop selling cheap magnets towards the end on the right hand side. 3 pieces for 5KM. Other places is selling 1 piece for 2-3KM or 2 for 5KM.

Gazi Husrev-Beg Madrasah.

The Gazi Husrev-Beg Madrasah  is the oldest educational institution here and it just celebrated its 476th birthday last year. To my amazement, it is still in operation since 1537 till to date. This madrasah specializes in the teachings of Islam – whilst retaining much of the traditional curriculum taught across other Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is located across Gazi Husrev-Beg Mosque.

Tower Clock (Sahat-kula).

Ottoman Empire has constructed a tower clock to remind the Muslim of 5 daily prayers time.  Tower Clock or sahat-kula is one of the highest structure in the Old Town, built in 17 century,  the clock was brought by Sarajevan traders from London during that period.

Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque.

The Gazi Husrev-bey is located in the Baščaršija neighborhood or Old Town and is the most popular mosque in the city being situated in the heart of the old town itself. I understood that during the Siege of Sarajevo, this mosque was the target of Serb’s army and was destroyed together with museums, libraries and other public main attractions.  Luckily with foreign help, restoration begin in 1996 and completed by year 2000, now it proudly standing strong in front of me.

Gazi Husrev-bey main door.

#TravelTips 6 : You can perform your solat at the patio of the mosque (carpet is provided), ablution room is located on the right side of the mosque.

Emperor's Mosque.

The Emperor's Mosque is the first mosque in Sarajevo, built in 1457 during the period when Ottoman Empire conquered of Bosnia. I was surprised to find out that originally the mosque was made of wood and that the cemetery  in the courtyard contains the graves of viziers, mullahs, muftis, sheikhs, the employees in the Emperor's Mosque, along with other prominent figures living in Sarajevo.

#TravelTips 7 : The Emporer's Mosque is located after the river bank, you will need to cross the famous Latin Bridge to get to this side.

Latin Bridge.

The famous assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Gavrilo Princip in 1914 is what made Latin Bridge is a historic site on the River Miljacka in Sarajevo. Franz Ferdinand is heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and it is said that this was the trigger point World War I.

 #TravelTips 8 : The Museum of the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand is located at the starting poinit of the  bridge on the Old Town side. It's located at the corner of the building (far right, partially hidden in my photo).

By the time sampai sini, memang penat giler dah, so I lepak sebelah mosque tuh makan eskrem. Tuh je nak cakap. Oh ya, air sungai clear and bersih, tetiba teringat Japan (weird dak?!?!).

Will be sharing on what lies on the other side of the river in my next entry. Till then.... 

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