Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaser | Reflection - Caring Mission (Kembara Prihatin)

This is 2nd time am following the same association on their mission, last year was tracing the Malay Heritage in Pekan Baru, Indonesia (click here for more detail). And this year I was fortunate enough to be asked to accompany them on their Caring Mission or 'Kembara Prihatin' in my local language.

The objective was to extend help to the orphanage and less fortunate Muslim in remote areas of Phnom Penh, the activities involve are :

1. Medical camp
2. Mosque restoration
3. Sewing classes
4. Solat classes
5. Building of water well and pipes
6. Others

The itinerary shared was packed from the brake of dawn till dust cast. I sincerely hope my 5 days in Phnom Penh would be able to help them in any littlest way possible. 

I will share the activities, the details and my experience there with you via this blog.

I seek forgiveness from family and friends before I start this humble self reflection journey.

Chiang Mai Outdoor Activities

Chiang Mai or in local word “New City” is known to be the most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. There are so many reasons for you to visit Chiang Mai, one of them being that it is at 24th placed in the 2012 list of "25 Best Destinations in the World" and it is also considering to apply for Creative City Status with UNESCO. All you need to do is get on any of the Thailand flights and just embrace yourself with its wondrous culture and serene nature; and experience it for yourself.

In my earlier entry, I have posted on Things To Do In Chiang Mai/Thailand which involved cultural activities. Chiang Mai are not popularly known for its outdoor activities to date, unless traveler and tourist search in depth; else they will stick to the same activities - shopping, eating, massage and cultural visit. Hence, this time around I will share my participation on outdoor activity that you can try during your trip here.

The venue where we assemble

The best way to embrace northern Thailand’s 1500 years old of lush green rainforest is by taking zipline canopy adventures. You will not only glide and fly through Chiang Mai’s pristine hills but you will also treetop walk and abseil (rappel) from them. Here, I would like to share my step-by-step experience gliding my way in the beautiful Thailand rainforest.

Gearing up by the sky rangers

Heading to the "fly/glide" point

Briefing by the sky rangers

Take/glide off

Gliding in the lush green rainforest

The highest and furthest of all treetop
The treetop canopy walk
Sky ranger waiting to receive "gliders"

The pristine Chiang Mai's hill, "glider's" view

Abseiling/rappelling down from last treetop

Group picture

There are many more great outdoor activities you can find here in Chiang Mai; bamboo rafting, elephant trekking, hiking, micro light flight, hot-air ballooning to name a few. One can never be truly bored with northern Thailand.

Now that you know where to plan your next holiday, get the fastest Thailand flights here and experience it yourself.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Latest Travel Gadgets & New Nikon Camera

My sis's birthday or what I normally call it as bird-day is coming up this coming week and I have ran out of ideas on what to get her ( #kakakmithali ). So what I have done or creative come up with; is getting her the character she likes ie Hello Kitty and combining it with her love for traveling; which resulted in..... tah dah...... Hello Kitty travel gadgets.

Well, I got 3 of the stuff and the last 2 was from my bestie, Anna.

Hello Kitty iPhone Charger

Hello Kitty Adapter

Hello Kitty iPhone Docking Bay

Hello Kitty USB Drive

Hello Kitty Key Chain

This is what she really wanted and I told her once she sold her old camera (to her own flesh and blood brother!) and pay half the balance; I will subsidize the other half. So, once I am back from my trip, we shall revisit the Low Yat Plaza for a sisterly camera hunting activity.

Price: RSP RM 1,998 (with 10-30mm kit)
RSP RM 2,258 (with 10mm kit)
RSP RM 2,458 (with 10mm, 10-30mm kit)
RSP RM 2,558 (with 10-30mm, 30-110mm kit)*
*RSP RM 2,658 for Pink kit set


Credit hyperlink : Nikon Malaysia

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Things To Do In Chiang Mai/Thailand (Part 3)

Bo-Sang Handicraft Village

There is always a soft spot for Thailand, Chiang Mai in particular. I believe those who have been to Chiang Mai would feel the same. For holiday maker, business traveler and adventure seeker looking for cheap holidays, this is the place to be.

Earlier I have shared on Things To Do In Bangkok/Thailand (Part 1) and Things To Do In Bangkok (Part 2), where by both entries have indicated briefly on what you can do in Chiang Mai, aside from Bangkok itself. This time around, I will like to share more on Chiang Mai’s cultural from my view.

Bo-Sang Umbrella Making Centre

Keeping in mind that Chiang Mai offers one of the best cheap holiday destinations. You can start your cultural journey by visiting Bo-Sang Handicraft Village where you will discover one of Thailand “Ancient Art” - Sa Paper Umbrella Making. Here you get to see step-by-step how the artisan create their umbrella; from composing the bamboo framework, drawing on the stems of the Mulberry paper, the sundry station, designing the motif and finally the finished umbrella. 

Artisan composing the bamboo framework

The ready bamboo framework

 The drawn Mulberry paper

Custom made ready umbrella

Artisan painting on a bag

For budget travelers looking for something unique and yet no wanting to spend their dollars, you can also request the artisan to paint your belongings such as caps, shirts, bags, pant and etc. Of course this will cost much lesser and it is more practical especially for light travelers.

Bo-Sang handicraft town

Not only that, here at Bo-Sang you can also purchase handicraft made by locals, from bags to lightings to sarongs to house d├ęcor stuff at a reasonable price (bargaining skill is highly required).

Carved soap flowers

Another handicraft activity that is unique here is carved soap flower and carved candle. This is easily seen at Anusarn Night Market, the popular flower design comes in all shape, size and colour placed in a carved wooden jewelry box or clay pot.

Carved candle flower

It is understood that this art started 700 years ago in Sukothai, the old kingdom of Thailand with just fruits and vegetables carving. It had evolved to present date into an art form in order to keep the once dying art alive. Now, it is also taught to children age 11 years and above (as optional subject) to ensure the skill is being preserved.

Carved candle flower stalk

Where else can you get good, educational and cheap holidays if not in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Great Singapore Sale | 25May – 22July 2012

All shopaholics - The Great Singapore Sale is back!

You heard it alright, The Great Singapore Sale is back for 8 weeks from 25 May to 22 July 2012. For bargain hunters, this is where you can snap up items discounted as much as 70%; items such as fashion, watches, jewellery, electronics, toys and more. For great Singapore shopping experience, just book flights to Singapore with Dial A Flight.

Shopaholics :Excuse to shop, shop and shop
Travelholics : Excuse to visit Singapore and buy those travel gadgets
Me : Excuse to travel and shop for Idul Fitri

Highway near Vivo City/Harbourfront

Few key places you can drop-by if you plan to shop big time in Singapore. For Singapore newbie, do take note that the places stated below are areas where malls and shopping arcades located, not the mall name itself.
  • Orchard Road
  • Marina Bay
  • Bugis
  • Chinatown
  • Little India
  • Kampong Glam
Marina Bay Sands Singapore

As for those who want to be more involve in Singapore's outdoor activities, below serves as guide to help you maneuver around this Lion City.
Of cause the list doesn't end here.

Universal Studios Singapore

Not to miss out the budget travelers out there; there are a lot of other free activities you can do in Singapore aside shopping and theme parks. Yes, for FREE.
  • The Waterfront Promenade
  • Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
  • Botanic Garden and Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
  • Patawan Beach
  • Henderson Waves and Mount Faber Park (Canopy Walk)
  • Singapore Art Museum (Free every Friday evenings, 6 – 9pm)
  • Chinatown
  • Little India
This list too is endless.
The famous Chinatown

So, regardless of your hobby, passion or addiction (those -holics out there), Singapore have everything for everyone. None spared.

Fridge magnets sold at Chinatown

Now that you know the date, the place, the promotion and the country! What else are you waiting for, just book flights to Singapore with Dial A Flight and shop till you drop!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 3 & 4 | Hanging Out With Pekan Baru Relatives

This is the second last day at Pekan Baru, we visited a few of our relatives here; hanging out and catching up with them. Pekan Baru is very small and not make attractions that they can offer us todate. So we ended up going for shopping of which I waited next to the car as I am not a big fan of shopping and obviously more shopping and I waited even longer next to the car. Sigh... I felt the day pass by very very slooooooooowly.

After waiting for 2 hours (seriously!), everyone gathered at the car and headed to Apotik (Pharmacy), while waiting for my aunt to get her orders; I captured a few pics of local scene of Pekan Baru

A balancing act is highly required.

Note the word "dengan baik dan benar", who is the tak benar person, please own up! Hhehehe..

This is their Mini bus...kid you not!

You can never find a peddler so smartly dress in Malaysia. They certainly took pride in the job.

How does his rear view mirror works?

Dinner time! Oh gosh! Everyone must eat at the please and take note that the jering is super jummeh!

The front view, it is just a cekai place that I insisted cause I love the jering.

Family and friends having dinner and chit chatting. After the dinner we head back to the hotel to rest and the next day we left Pekan Baru.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 3 | Jogjakarta 3D2N Costing & Duta Guesthouse Review

I did a 3D2N Jogjakarta trip with Anna & sis a couple of years back. My suggestion for a trip here would be 4-5 days Jogja alone comfortably, and if you were to include Mt Bromo and to use Jogja as a base; then perhaps 5-6 days. There are some travel blogger doing a trans Java trip which I think needs 7 days or so. That would be the alternative that you can take a look at.

My Indonesian relatives did a 10 days return trip Pekan Baru to Bali ie Sumatera to Jawa to Bali and back. Kid you not. OVERLAND. It requires driving both day and night time, relay drivers are highly required here. I don't encourage this unless you are with locals.

Lobby or registration area

We chose to stay at Duta Garden Hotel/Guesthouse which is pretty decent, reasonably priced and clean. Address below.

Timuran MG.III/103
Yogyakarta 55153
Phone: +62 274 373482, +62 274 388378
Fax: +62 274 372064

Location from Duta Garden site as below, for map; please click HERE :

Duta Garden Hotel is located in Timuran kampong of Prawirotaman area. You can reach this hotel in 20 minutes drive from Adisucipto International Airport; 10 minutes drive from Tugu railway station or Giwangan bus station.

Various places of interest can be reached fast. It only takes you 30 minutes to go to Prambanan temple as the biggest Hindu temple in South-East Asia and 1 hour drive to go to Borobudur temple as one of the world wonders. Yogyakarta Kingdom and Tamansari water castle are reachable within 10 minutes time.
Bare with me on the resolution here. 

What I like about this place is that they serves us tea time ie tea & some lcoal delicacies, they even asked us whether we wnat to have it in the room, patio or by the pool. WOW!!! That's personalize service. Loving it!

This hotel/guesthouse have 2 other sister hotels :

Delta Homestay Yogyakarta
It is located in Prawirotaman, where you can find andicraft trading centers and it is more an "international kampong" feel.

Jl. Prawirotaman MG.III/597-A
Yogyakarta 55153
Phone: +62 81 727 1047, +62 274 7477537
Fax: +62 274 372064

Duta Garden Hotel & Boutique Villa 
It is located in Timuran kampong of Prawirotaman area.

Timuran MG.III/103
Yogyakarta 55153
Phone: +62 274 373482, +62 274 388378
Fax: +62 274 372064

This was our room, we requested for lower floor, easier to carry our luggage
Very quaint, they even have a substantially big pool for the guest.

Staircase from the lobby to our room, you need to pass by the pool in order to get to our room. A lot of efforts were put in making this place as unique as possible.

This is how the street looks like outside, basically it's located in a housing area, the main road turning in have Nasi Padang restaurant, Roti Bandung seller (YES!) etc.

I didn't spend much here, barely shop too. In this costing I have also removed the Air Asia flight cost as it very dynamic and fluctuates by day (if not hour).

To lower down the cost, you can do a DIY either by renting a car or motorbike and manage your own itinerary. For me, since it is a very short trip, we decided to hire a tour guide aside the fact that Borobudur sunrise is tougher to do DIY (we need to depart out guesthouse at 5am in the morning).

What did the tour package covers (click the hyperlink)

Lingga's contact : +62 812 295 6349

Note :
  • Bakso is very very cheap there (and taste nicer too) so each of us took 2 helpings plus 2 teh bottles each hence the cost reflected in the table is higher.
  • Dunkin Donuts? Nicer there!!! Enough said. Psst!!! We packed home the donuts as souvenirs. Hhehehhe.... JCo wasn't available in Jogja back then.
  • The tour package is a tad expensive, to lower down the cost; suggest travelers to rent a car/motorbike (GPS is advisable)
  • Another way to catch sunrise package is to stay at the Manohara Resort itself (Twin bed - IDR 745.000 nett/room/night or Double bed - IDR 690.000 nett/room/night include), bare in mind that Jogja to Borobudur is 1 hour drive.
  • When I visited Jogja in 2007; there wasn't many blogs out there to guide me, even Jogyes website was simple & bare. The nearby Mt Bromo wasn't even in the vocab :)
  • Those days fridge magnets was almost NONE, now aplenty as shared by MasZuber -THANKS!! Good luck buying.
  • Do note that I am particular when it comes to historical sites, I like to engage tour guide as I want to know the history and story behind it (some not stated in travel books/website). It's personal satisfaction.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip.

Hyperlink credits : Duta Garden Hotel, Delta Homestay, Duta Boutique Villa

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