Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to get to Alleppey Houseboat?

Travelers have been asking me I tips on how to purchase a boathouse package in Alleppey.
So here goes.

Alleppey or Alappuzha is located in Kerala state, in southern India. My journey starts from Bangalore moving towards Mysore where I discover how Hindu ad Islam architecture culture intertwine, then we proceed to Alleppey to experience a boathouse stay. The standard and constant questions I have been receiving are (i) How to get to Alleppey (which is a bit hard to answer as it is highly depending on from where the person travels from) and (ii) How much did I pay for my boathouse or houseboat. So, for those who are dying to know about this 2 questions (not sure how much I can be of help), here goes…

(i) How to get to Alleppey?
This is a tough one, normally I choose to ignore as there is no exact answer to this question. How do I advise as I travel from Mysore and I travel as I please which is kinda hard for me to advice (I shall try nevertheless). I took a bus from Mysore and arrived superbly early in the morning in Alleppey Bus Station and waited for the Boathouse Agent office to open. Simple right? Yup! It is that simple.

#TravelTips 1 : Yes. The bus station is safe at least when I was there. We lepak-ed at the bus station while waiting for the Boathouse Agent office opens.

#TravelTips 2 : There are a few shops inside and outside the bus station selling waters, newspaper and titbits. Get yourself a bottle of two bottles of mineral water or juices before the boat trip.

(ii) How much did I pay for my boathouse or houseboat?
I paid RM200 per person for an overnight trip; full board, some says its cheap and some says it is expensive. Well, it is very much on how you see it, glass half full or half empty *wink*. This is what I learnt and gathered…

#TravelTips 3 : Most websites displayed RM300-400 per person / per overnight trip, am equally surprise. No comment on this.

#TravelTips 4 : There are a few type of boathouse, you can either charter the boat, then there are also 2 rooms boat, 3 rooms boat etc. Options are limitless, so are the sizes.

#TravelTips 5 : RM200+ is during peak season, and RM100+ for low season.

#TravelTips 6 : You can attempt a walk-in bargain at the agent office, that’s what we did. Just make sure you have a great back-up plan.

Just in case you are not spending any nights in the town, you can get postcards and souvenirs at the shops around the river banks near the bus station. The people there are very friendly.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Frankfurt Old Town : Touch & Go

Lie I will not.

So, the big question is “Can you cover Frankfurt in a day?”. 

Well, that depends, if you just wish to a touch a go kinda a trip then the answer is possible. You can do an 8 hours in Frankfurt too if you are kiasu on pinning on number of countries and cities but my sincere advice is to not to. During the 1 day I spent upon arriving in Europe (before departing for my Balkan countries), Anna and I decided to venture to a factory outlet located outskirt of Frankfurt and as the bus took us on an 1 hour journey to Wertheim Village, I must say, the journey was picturesque and the town were both quaint and charming. A place I wish to stay for at least a night. One of the best view which I hope to do is rent a bike and cycle at the country site. I feel the longing by just thinking about it while writing this entry. I guess I have reached a point where city dwelling is not in my wish list, not even the off beaten track, now am just looking for tranquility while traveling, doing what the locals do, take a bike ride and picnic by the river. Sounded over the top? This was the scene I saw during my trip to Wertheim and looks relaxing.

What did I do during that 1 day I spent in Frankfurt on my way to Malaysia?
Not much really, I visited the city prominent landmarks and attractions while at the same time did a little shopping. Jadilah kan…

The Römer is a medieval building in the Altstadt of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and one of the city's most important landmarks. The Römer is located opposite the Old St. Nicholas church and has been the city hall (Rathaus) of Frankfurt for over 600 years. Source : Wikipedia

This is basically the landmark for Frankfurt, kira kalau tak pergi tak sah lah. And this is where you get your souvenirs at a reasonable price. Everything is within walking distance from Römer so you can use this as a meeting point.

Seufzerbrücke or Bridge of Sighs
Part of the Römer, the residents of Frankfurt who paid their taxes in the North wing. So they needed to cross this bridge and aptly named this the Seufzerbrücke or Bridge of Sighs.

After googling, this is all I can find tapi prominent gak lah sebab google ada kan *wink*.

St. Catherine's Church (Katharinenkirche)
St. Catherine's Church is the largest Lutheran church in Frankfurt am Main, dedicated to the martyred early Christian saint, Catherine of Alexandria. It is located in the old city centre near one of the most famous plazas in the city, the Hauptwache (Main Guard). Source : Wikipedia

This is located just next to Hauptwache Building and this whole area is called the Hauptwache Plaza, apparently very famous around the old town. Dah balik Malaysia baru tau. Keh keh keh…

Hauptwache Building
The baroque building which gave the square its name was built in 1730. It was the headquarters of the city's Stadtwehr militia when Frankfurt was an independent city state (→ Free City of Frankfurt) and also contained a prison. Source : Wikipedia

Didn't even know this is a famous building, I thought it was a nice looking restaurant. Hehehhehee.... nasib baik tangkap gambo

Eschenheimer Turm
Eschenheim Tower was a city gate, part of the late-medieval fortifications of Frankfurt am Main, and is a landmark of the city. The tower, which was erected at the beginning of the fifteenth century, is at once the oldest and most unaltered building in the largely reconstructed Frankfurter Neustadt (new town), now better known as the Frankfurt-Innenstadt (city center). Source : Wikipedia

Since this was a touch and go trip, I only managed to walk pass it and take a few shots (well, 3 shots)

MyZeil is just a ashopping mall but I was so fascinated with the glass facade since forever that I make a point to visit this mall, it looks as it the glass been sucked in into the interior. Cool giler. It is located at a shopping street and on this street, Adidas shop bersepah. Sekian, gi shopping!

Frankfurt Cathedral
This Roman Catholic Gothic church is located in the centre of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The cathedral is the largest religious building in the city and a former collegiate church. As former election and coronation church of the Holy Roman Empire, the cathedral is one of the major buildings of the Empire history and was mainly in the 19th century a symbol of national unity. Source : Wikipedia

My landmark when I walk from the train station to Römer as it is the tallest building within the area. Takde apa nak cite kat sini sebab masa it was being restored so I was looking at scaffolding most of the time jer lah. 

Eiserner Steg
Eiserner Iron Bridge is a pedestrian bridge built in 1868 across the Main River in Frankfurt am Main, connecting the Römerberg to the Sachsenhausen district. It is a riveted steel truss bridge 170 m long. It has two pillars and attributed to the Gothic Revival style. At the time of it's construction the use of the term "iron" was common, and the bridge was so named. Source : Wikimapia

I did take a walk on this bridge and roam on the other side.

Like seriously, touch and go kinda trip is mainly walking pass somewhere take a few shots and move on. Nothing to write and nothing much to experience… the only different is arriving to a new city or countries and seeing everything for the first time. Hence, I always advice to not do a touch a go trip, 1 full one day in a city need to exclude night time (or sleeping time), transportation, meal time etc, at the end you probably have few hours to spare in 1 particular city.

So, can one do a day trip in Frankfurt? Yes, tapi cam yang I blog lah… seimbas lalu jer.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Paragliding (paralayang) at Puncak Lawang, Padang

As the cold breeze brushes my face, I ask Imam where are we heading.
The road was winding, that’s for sure.

Imam is very proud of Padang, an honest lad and trustworthy as my Pak Darul often said “In sha Allah, semua selamat sampai” and yes, Imam took care of us well, too well in fact as we grew fond of him almost immediately (tambah-tambah si narsis Ed Junaidi  *wink*). Told us everything we need to know, from Pekan Baru to Padang; suggesting authentic local delicacies, off the beaten road destination, while trying to fit our impossible wish-list into the 6 days trip. Not doable but we were happy. Mind you, we detoured a lot (like, really a. lot.). If you have Imam as your trusty guide, you are as good as to throw away the itinerary; he knows every nook and cranny of the road, nothing escape his sharp and alert eyes. All we did was exclaim and hold our breath and he’ll slam the car break asking whether we would want to stop or U-turn to… where ever (sumpah best hokkay). Before heading to the famous Kelok 44 and Danau Maninjau, he insisted to take us to Puncak Lawang which… was not in our itinerary. Not until he describe that Puncak Lawang is where you can view the whole town and of course the danau (crater lake) itself I realized this is the place famous for paragliding. OK, ternyata Imam cekap tapi Lily tidak sebabnya tak bawak duit yang cukup for paragliding ride *boo hoo*.

#TravelTips 1 : Preferably to use own transport as I did not notice any public transportation up here

#TravelTips 2 : Bring a jacket and raincoats, it is both chilly and rained when we were there. Come prepared.

Oh yah! There, they call it paralayang, I find this cute (tak tau kenapa *cheeky smile*).

#TravelTips 3 : Upon reaching Puncak Lawang, I realised that I should have brought extra cash to experience paragliding overlooking Danau Maninjau. How cool is that, right!

#TravelTips 4 : Prepare or remind to have your friend or supir to pick you up at the drop place. Going up to Puncak Lawang for your bike or bags is not a smart idea *wink*.

The view up here is breathtaking, you’ll see friends, couples and families enjoying picnic, sipping a cup of hot bandrek in this chilly weather. I would too if I knew how beautiful and whimsical this place is. Other than paragliding, there’s trekking and ziplining for outdoor freak (like moi), I guess there’s something for everyone here.

#TravelTips 5 : Picnic. Picnic. Picnic. Got the hint? *smile* 

#TravelTips 6 : GoPro dilupa jangan.

#TravelTips 7 : Surau is located on the leftside, just behind the cafe.

#TravelTips 8 : Space out your itinerary when traveling to Padang and remember to have fun! Lots of it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mystical Bako National Park, Sarawak

With mission set to help tourist and nature lovers to Sarawak’s beautiful Bako National Park, Koperasi Warisan Pelancongan Bako kick-starts its operation by managing the boats from Kampung Bako Jetty to Bako National Park in a more systematic manner which helped the koperasi members as well as the public. Traveling to Bako National Park is made easier now with koperasi involvement, and 20 minutes boat ride later I made my maiden pit stop there.

I have always heard of the Pinnacles in Mulu National Park, or the Niah Great Cave or even famous longhouse at Batang Ai National Park, but Bako National Park was definitely a first for me. Doing what I do best, I begin researching before heading to Sarawak. I found out that there are more than twenty (20) national parks in Sarawak alone and we probably only heard a handful of them (I guess I don’t feel so bad now *wink*). Bako National Park happens to be the oldest and also the smallest national park in Sarawak, it is famous for the sandstone formation shaped from millions of years of erosion. Rocky headlands, sea arches and seastacks with colored patterns formed by iron deposition are a common sight at Teluk Assam Beach, Tanjung Sapi, Tanjung Rhu among others.

For nature lovers, you will not be disappointed, our beautiful rainforest blessed us with majestic waterfalls, sandy beaches and abundant wildlife, here one will also get to see unique creatures such as colugo, pangolin, tarsier, slow loris and palm civet which can only mean one thing; I must visit this place again and trek for a bit *gleaming*. Open zoo!!! This is not all, there are accommodation available ranges dorm style room to 3-bedroom chalets, to 2-bedroom Lodges, and obviously camping ground too.

There is this one fact that I find it interesting, there are 2-3 wild ‘friendly’ boar that inhibited this island and at times, it'll ‘welcome’ visitors near the Park HQ, worry not dear friends, it will not chase you or run amok  *wink*. These 'tame' wild boars are so used to human that they tend to ‘tak heran’ already.

Upon arriving, visitors are required to register at the Park HQ and a nominal entrance fee will be charged, RM10 for locals, RM20 for internationals and RM7 for kids. There are trekking trails as short as 30 minutes (0.8 km) to up to 7 1/4 hours (10.5 km) for hardcore nature lovers and trekkers, else just laze by the beach and have a barbecue meal while enjoying the greenery.

Reservations & Enquiries
National Parks Booking Office, 
Visitors Information Centre,
Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg,
93000 Kuching Sarawak,
Tel: (+6) 082 248088 Fax: (+6) 082 248087 
Online booking:

* The Visitors Information Centre is located in the Old Courthouse Complex at the junction of Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, Jalan Gambier and Main Bazaar, opposite the Kuching Waterfront.


Bako National Park / Bako Terminal
Tel: 6082 478012

National Parks Booking Office
Monday-Friday : 8:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday, Sunday& Public Holidays : Close

Jom Jelajah Koperasi Sarawak Media Fam Trip is in collaboration with Surahanjaya Koperasi Malaysia (#SKM) with #GayaTravel as media coordinator

Monday, August 17, 2015

Kg. Mongkos Longhouse's wondrous heritage

Visited a longhouse. 
A real longhouse.

A Bidayuh Longhouse in Kg. Mongkos, Serian.

The great thing about following Jom Jelajah Koperasi is that it takes me to remote areas and homestays which allow me to mingle with the locals, learn more on their livelihood and also how they and Koperasi work together hand-in-hand for the betterment of their community. A survival skill that I truly admire and respect. This trip provides me with the insight of how a Koperasi works and it is not as easy I it seems; paperworks, roadmap projection and ROI must be aligned with the objectives and direction of the Surahanjaya Koperasi Malaysia (Malaysia Co-operative Societies Commission). The success of each Koperasi very much dependent on the leadership, support and members cooperation and this very much translate in the revenue and dividend being hand-out annually.

Kg. Mongkos Longhouse; a Bidayuh village situated in Serian, Sarawak, approximately 2.5 from the bordering village of Kalimantan, Indonesia. We were greeted by the household with a simple Mipis ceremony to appease spirit. Here, I learnt that the Mongkos community provides homestay experience whereby they recreate the day-to-day kampung-life activity for the guest to learn and try their hand at. Activities offered here aside from homestay are hiking to Silungkung Waterfall, basket weaving, fruit picking, cooking class, fishing, prawn digging, boating and etc. Aside from homestay business, the Bidayuh community here also do small scale trading by operating a sundry shop.

We were presented with few of the famous local dance by the kids.

Langgi Empunjon
This dance portray a legendary taboo marriage of Abang Dino and his younger sister Dayng Siti. The parents and villagers were against this “Masau Tiho”. They eloped to the jungle and became monkeys. This dance act as a reminder for the new generation. The music for this dance is called “Gawai Tutok”.

Langgi Pingadap
A Bidayuh dance to bless our guests. In the old days this music was used to welcome home a victorious headhunter. “Gawai Bujog” music is used during this dance routine.

Langgi Perang
Dancing to the tune of “Gawai Borabun”, this is one of the popular Bidayuh warrior dance of victory.

Langgi Aruh
“Gawai Bidumbak” is another music to show victory. The gong is beaten harder and louder to frighten away enemies and evil spirits.

Despite their location is very far from the town, this little village is very popular with the Europeans. Peak season for Kg. Mongkos is during Pesta Gawai or Harvest Festival, the homestay will be full booked through-out this period. One must make prior arrangement if Pesta Gawai is the highlight of one’s trip here.

Getting here
By Taxi
I was told that chartering a taxi cost RM150 per way, taxi can be pre-arrange with local tour guy or just hail for one at Electra House taxi stop.

By Van Sharing
Take a van at Electra House to Serian town and take another taxi from Serian town to Kg. Mongkos. This route is cheaper than chartering a taxi

By Bus
Take a bus to Serian town and take another taxi from Serian town to Kg. Mongkos.

Kg. Mongkos Homestay.

To view more photos, please click here.

Jom Jelajah Koperasi Sarawak Media Fam Trip is in collaboration with Surahanjaya Koperasi Malaysia (#SKM) with #GayaTravel as media coordinator

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Blue Hour in Zagreb, Croatia

Noticed it has become my new favourite.
Sunrise. Sunset. And now....
Blue Hour.

I come to realised, I took alot of blue hours photos during my Balkan trip and I thank Edgar for this. I used to be fixated and contemplated with sunrise and sunset but this new 'finding', I have more rooms to play, more options and more sense of appreciation. I also realised that not all countries are fortunate to have beautiful sunrise or mesmerizing sunset all year round, but as god is fair, these countries have been awarded with the tranquility of blue hour. Allah is great.

Entries on Blue Hours in Slovenia and Philippines as well as Croatia blog below.
Vigan at night | Philippines (#UNESCO)
Ljubljana at Blue Hour
#TravelTips | Lake Plitvice, Croatia
#TravelTips | Money-changers in Zagreb, Croatia

The blue hour looks stunning with the city in bright yellow light huh *smile*. So now you guys know what to do, stay near the city, take a stroll just before sunset and wait for the blue hour...

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