London, United Kingdom


Traveling to UK, first stop is London. London is a metropolitan area of more than 13 million inhabitants. This capital city of England possess the beautiful historical River Thames, Tower of London, Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Tate Modern, British Library, National Gallery, London Underground and of course Tower Bridge.

The best time to visit London is March which bears the first signs of spring. Great to be at the Kew Gardens or London's top gardens - just any one! You can visibly see the lawns covered in purple and white crocuses.



If you like this post, you might like: BUDAPEST, Hungary

Top 10 Essential Travel Apps 2015



Before your next travel, these are the apps that you should download before you set off:

www.tripadvisor.co.uk/apps

TripAdvisor


Some of their reviews might have been deemed fake from hotel competitors or accommodation providers. However, this is a one big place to find out which tourists spots to avoid. They do offer the best places to eat, and we use it like to make a better informed choice.


www.hostelworld.com/mobile-app

Hostelworld



The younger group who still qualifies to book a hostel and just backpack all the way, so this app is a must. Be pampered with more than 30 thousand hostels from 180+ countries, there is an easy interface to help you make a quick booking right away. Boast to have more than 3 million reviews, that's the value they offer!



www.skype.com
Skype


What you need is a wi-fi connection and the best part about Skype is it is FREE. Whether it is to report that you're safely landed into another part of the world, to your family or to contact new travel companions, this is a great app to also hunt for the nearest hotspot!


hyperlapse.instagram.com
Hyperlapse


Create amazing time lapse videos with Hyperlapse. Using Instagram’s in-house stabilization, Hyperlapse shoots polished time lapse videos that were previously impossible without bulky tripods and expensive equipment.
When you shoot a time lapse video with Hyperlapse, your footage will be instantly stabilized to smooth out the bumps from the road and give it a cinematic feeling. Capture an entire sunrise in 10 seconds—even from the back of a moving motorcycle. Walk through the crowds at an all-day music festival, then distill it into a 30 second spot. Capture your bumpy trail run and share your 5k in 5 seconds.

Features:* Shoot handheld time lapse videos in motion— while you're walking, running, jumping or falling.
* Smooth out your video for cinematic quality with automatic stabilization.
* Speed up your hyperlapse to be up to 12 times the speed.
* Share your videos seamlessly on Instagram and Facebook or save them to your camera roll to share anywhere, anytime.
* Start filming immediately with a simple design that gets out of the way of your creativity
* Download and start capturing. No sign up or account required.
Faster, easier navigation feature. The only issue is that not all features are available in all countries.
The Google Maps app for Android phones and tablets makes navigating your world faster and easier. Find the best spots in town and the information you need to get there.
• Voice-guided GPS navigation for driving, biking, and walking
• Transit directions and maps for over 15,000 towns and cities
• Live traffic conditions, incident reports, and automatic rerouting to find the best route
• Detailed information on more than 100 million places
• Street View and indoor imagery for restaurants, museums, and more
- Activities you plan on doing
- What you need for an international trip
- Warm weather clothes
- Cold weather clothes
- An umbrella if the forecast calls for rain


iOS / Android
Google Maps



• Comprehensive, accurate maps in 220 countries and territories


www.xe.com/apps
XE Currency


Some cities you will be visiting might not be using the same currency (like Euro), so to convert, XE can be an easy to use converter.


www.fodors.com/mobile-apps/travel-phrases
Travel Phrases


How many ways can you ensure your pronunciation is correct? This app provides essential tips for 22 languages with audio pronunciation, enough to help you kickstart a conversation with the locals.


www.packpnt.com
Packpoint


Pack well with this app:

- Business or Leisure travel


www.thecloud.net/free-wifi/get-the-app
WiFi FastConnect


Avoid expensive roaming charges. This app helps all holiday makers by locating Cloud hot-spots nearby. We do not have to tell you why you need faster connection, do we?


trover.com
Trover


Trover is the app for travelers. Satisfy your wanderlust with a stunning collection of geo-tagged traveler photos. Create visual bucket lists of where you want to go. Post photos of your own discoveries and join our global community.

The Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall on a Layover Tour

Great Wall

If you have a layover of about 7 hours in Beijing then you should make use of that time and book a layover tour to see the world's greatest attraction – the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China can be accessed from several points along its length where it has been made possible to climb up to the top of the Wall. Layover tours from Beijing Capital Airport to the Great Wall visit the Mutianyu section of the Wall which is not only one of the best places to visit along the Wall it is also the closest section of the Wall to the Beijing Airport. Mutianyu has been faithfully restores and there are easy walking conditions and fewer crowds than other parts of the Wall. The Mutianyu section is 2.2km long and has 23 guard towers evenly spaced along the top of the Wall.

The Mutianyu section of the Wall has a large parking lot not far from the Wall where cars and tour buses park. If it is possible your tour guide will take you as close as possible to the Wall otherwise you will park in the car park and take the shuttle bus up to the entrance of the Mutianyu section. There are two ways to reach the top of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. The easiest and fastest (and the way usually chosen by those on a layover tour) is by cable car. There are efficient cable cars which run up to the top of the Wall. Others choose to take a chair lift up to the top of the Wall.

Walking along the top of the Wall you will experience steep steps, slopes and straighter sections. You can enter the guard towers and even leave your mark on the wall as new graffiti boards have now been added for visitors. Although most of the Wall has been fully restored you can see sections which have been left untouched like that near Tower 1. Looking down from the Wall there are hills covered with trees and at several places along the Wall plants and shrubs have overgrown the Wall. Before arriving in Beijing you can talk to your tour guide and decide how long you want to spend at the Wall and what you would like to see depending on how much time you have.

To come down the Wall you could take the cable car, the chair lift or if you have time and are in good physical condition take an incredible 1580 meter toboggan ride all the way down! There are certain restrictions for those wanting to use the toboggan ride.  If you are on a layover tour the best option is the easier and faster cable car. If you are elderly, sick, pregnant or a child under 10 years old or 130cm you cannot take the toboggan ride.

At the end of your visit you can descend to the base of the Wall where there are rest rooms and several stalls selling souvenirs. Your driver will take you swiftly back to the airport at the end of your trip to the Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall.

To learn more about Beijing airport layover trip, TA review will be very helpful:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294212-d3922875-Reviews-Beijing_Airport_Layover_Tours_Mutianyu_Great_Wall_Private_One_day_Tour-Beijing.html

Australia, Sydney

Sydney

If you like beach lifestyle, Sydney is a great place to explore surf beaches, boating and sailing, kayaking, doing outdoor fitness, snorkeling and outdoor pools. Must do beaches include Bondi Beach, Cronulla Beach, Dee Why Beach, Manly Beach and Narrabeen Beach.

Sydney

Particularly in summer, Sydney has a vibrant beach culture – sunning in the sand, taking to the water, or simply chilling in a beachside bar or café. With family and friends, snorkel, build sandcastles, play beach volleyball, dive, take a scenic coastal walk, or even run along the sand.

Sydney

The Sydney Opera House has such a beautiful architectural design – inside out! It is not just iconic, it is a place that provides a great treat to the senses. Photography lovers will certainly love the sunrise and sunset locations from Sydney skyline, CBD (downtown), Kirribilli, panorama of Sydney Harbour, Mrs Macquarie’s Point from the Chair or walking path on the Farm Cove bay bank and Milson’s Point in the late afternoon.

Sydney

The other great spots are Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout, McMahons Point (Blues Point), Cremorne Wharf at dawn, Balls Head at Waverton, Larkin Street Lookout, Bennelong Point, Circular Quay at Sydney Passengers Terminal, Darling Harbour at Cockle Bay, and last but not least at Bradley’s Head.

Sydney

Most important part of your travel planning of course is traveling to Sydney Australia, you will need to have a visa.

Sydney




The Best Time to Visit Shanghai



Shanghai has distinct seasons: chilly winters, summers with intense heat and humidity and shoulder seasons in autumn and spring when the weather, prices and crowds can be ideal. It has a subtropical maritime monsoon climate. Being a business city you won't find summer hotel prices raise too much or attractions closing down in the winter as you might in a vacation city. In fact the best deals can often be found on the local tour companies over the weekend. October to November and April to May tend to be the best times to visit Shanghai but the city is a popular destination from May to October.

Spring – March-May (10.6C°-15.7C° average lows; 18.6C°-23.5C° average highs)

The gorgeous flowers bloom in Shanghai's parks as the weather remains warm enough to enjoy the outdoors but chilly at night. Spring has many festivals and this brings in the crowds and shoots the hotel rates up during these select peak periods although the rest of the season prices are reasonable. During the spring you can enjoy the Qingming Festival in April and the May Day celebrations on 1st May.

Summer – June-September (20.3C°-24.8C° average lows; 27.2C°-31.6C° average highs)

Despite being the peak travel season summer is not as ideal as it might seem. The combination of hot weather and the occasional down pour makes this a sticky time to be in Shanghai. The city fills up with vacationers, hotel rates are often jacked up and you may end up waiting in lines at attractions. July and August are the hottest months. An umbrella is a good idea to protect you from the sun and the potential rain. Towards the end of summer in late-August and September Shanghai has its highest rain fall of the year and the possibility of typhoons. If you are going to visit Shanghai in summer aim for June when you can enjoy the Dragon Boat Festival and International Children's Day. 

Autumn – October-late-November (8.6C°-14.7C° average lows; 16.7C°-22.3C° average highs)

When the summer rains, heat, high hotel rates and crowds have eased off you can enjoy one of the best seasons in Shanghai. Temperatures are cool but not cold. Although crowds and prices will intensify during the first week of October for the public holidays it is still a unique time to visit the city. The parks of Shanghai are a blaze with color as the leaves turn red, orange and yellow.

Winter – December-February (0.5C°-5.1C° average lows; 7.7C°-12.7C° average highs)

The weather in winter is cold with evening temperatures sometimes too cold to go out. Late January to Early February is the coldest period. There are fewer daylight hours and the city seems subdued. Although it may be cold the city does lack the humidity and rainfall that often plagues the rest of the year. Despite being winter December and January are Shanghai's driest months. This is also a great season for bargain hunters looking for cheap hotel deals. Don't miss the spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations towards the end of January and beginning of February.

48 Hours in Budapest

So the thing is, I had been writing a lot about our travels in different European cities and Asia and my husband said I forgot to cover one important city – that is the city we used to live in – Budapest. Today you will see not just beautiful panorama photo of Budapest like this, I will also bring you around to show you how you can maximize your trip, if you only have 48 hours in Budapest.

Pest panorama from Buda Hill (Budapest, Hungary) 
flickr/domingo leiva

Recently, there has been a lot of write up on CNN travel, on BBC and major online websites that Hungary/Budapest is really one of the most inexpensive city to visit. The value is so great (1 Euro is equivalent to 304 Hungarian Forints) plus Budapest is so beautiful. How exactly can you make your 48 hours so fun-filled? Where exactly are the places and sights to see? And since we used to be living in Budapest, this makes us one of the best people around to provide you an online Budapest guide to spend your 48 hours well. Let's start with the famous Hungarian snack, Langos.

1. Langos

Lángos 
Flickr/Anna Balint

So this is the much brag about Hungarian flat bread speciality called Langos. This is made of flour, yeast, salt and water. What is so special that you must try it is that, it is very crispy. The toppings gives it one of a kind, unique taste. In Hungary, you must try the sour cream. The other classic topping is cheese and some garlic juice sprinkled on top. Nothing more. After you've tried it, should you decide to make it at home, you may check out the recipe here. Do not underestimate this Langos. It is very heavy and the best places you can eat it on the spot is at the Central Market Hall or the market (piac) behind Mammut shopping mall. Then spend the next 2-3 hours walking around the free places to burn it all off. Here is a list of free places to walk and suggested sights to explore the beauty of Budapest.

2. New York Cafe Budapest

New York Cafe - Budapest 
Flickr/ Glenn and Lina

Walking on the Grand Boulevard is a must. Then, do not missed the opulent edifice architecture where the New York Cafe Budapest is. It is part of the Boscolo Hotel, a luxury 5-star hotel on the Erzebet korut 9. The reason why you must check it is because, it was famed the world's most wonderful cafe. In those days, the elite of Hungary's literary world hung around here often.

3. Confectionary (Lukacs Cukraszda)

Living It Up 
flickr/ Richard and Jo deMeester

If not, you can stopped for a freshly brewed coffee at Lukacs Cukraszda for some beautifully made confectionary. This confectionary (in Hungarian is 'Cukraszda') is located in the inner city and central pest area. Perfect after walking the Andrassy Avenue or if you are somewhere near the Heroes' Square or near the Vorosmarty street.


4. World Heritage: Andrassy Avenue

momo | Andrássy út 
flickr/zannnie

Lots of villas of the noble families lined the Andrassy Avenue which is an elegant World Heritage Site connected to the City Park (Varosliget). The eclectic neo-Renaissance houses, villas and palaces by distinguished architects can be found here. Try the first subway line in continental Europe, the yellow line or the Millennium Underground Railway M1. Some key places to check if you are around here are: Elizabeth Square, Oktogon, State Opera House, Liszt Ferenc square, Kodaly Korond, House of Terror Museum, Bajza utca (residential villas), Heroes' Square.

5. Cafe Gerbeaud

  Gerbeaud 
flickr/ Lisa

If you like these outdoor traditional coffeehouses setting, you may also check out Cafe Gerbeaud. The interior design of this confectionary has special stucco ceiling of Rokoko style of Louis XIV of France. There are also Maria Theresa of Austria inspired chandeliers.

6. Ruined Pubs and Gardens

  Szimpla Kert 
flickr/ Laura Aitchison

However, if you want to check out the currently famous ruined courtyard and gardens, you may check this Szimpla kert. Kazinczy area has a good list of ruined gardens and ask for a 'froccs'. In the spring, have a coffee and in summer, you're recommended to have a cold beer.

7. Goulash

Goulash Soup, hungarian food...yummy.... 
flickr/ ral
Must taste the authentic Hungarian goulash when in Budapest. Best is when they are served in pots like this.

8. Fresh Produce of Hungary

center market 
flickr/ scat blanc

Fresh vegetables, whole and mostly close to perfect are presented nicely. The thin skin TV paprika are mild even sweet, while the eros paprika (the light green ones) are hot, peppery hot. The large vine ripened tomatoes are ever so beautiful and delicious. In Spring, the strawberries and raspberries are in season and not to be missed! You can find them sold by kilos in markets and various fruits and green grocers stalls.

9. Gothic Revival Parliament

Parliament Building - Budapest 
flickr/ Zsolt Bugarszki

This Gothic Revival style, notable landmark of Hungary is the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest. It is one of Europe's oldest legislative buildings and one of the tallest building in Budapest. You can find it on the Lajos Kossuth square on the bank of the Danube where its main facade faces the River Danube.

10. Castle District

Chain Bridge & Fisherman's Bastion - Budapest. 
flickr/ Marius Roman


Buda Castle district and Chain Bridge (Lanchid) is the other amazing sight besides the innovative nightlife, culture and ruined gardens. These establishments using abandoned properties also give the creativity outlet for young startups, extending their businesses to the younger group, affording their beers and beverages at very little expense. If you touched down at the Budapest airport, take the airport shuttle (shuttle.hu) or taxi services (Fotaxi which is the more reliable taxi provider). Whether you are traveling to Budapest by flights (offered by Wizzair, BA, Easyjet or Jet2.com) or by trains, you can see this beautiful night scene crossing the Danube River. If you come by train and arriving at Nyugati Station, you can take tram no.4 or no. 6 to cross the Danube river. The Royal Castle and the Castle District (Neo-gothic Matthias Church) and Fishermen's Bastion (Halaszbastya) can be your day one program. See the seven turrets on this mock rampart which symbolises the seven Hungarian tribes who came to Europe at first.


11. Tram No. 2
Tram, Budapest
Flickr/Bronwen Lee
First, do take tram no. 2 for a sweeping view of Danube and Pest after you've purchase some BKV public transportation tickets. Be sure to validate your tickets before the ride and Tram No. 2 runs from Jaszai Mari ter by the Margaret Bridge (Margit hid). So it serves as an enjoyable introduction to the city down to the Pest side of the Danube river.

When you pass the neo-Gothic Parliament and Museum of Ethnography, you can see some Hungarian folk art, just be sure to avoid it on Mondays. From Kossuth ter is how you can get there. Then pass this Szechenyi Chain Bridge as it is historically the first bridge between Buda and Pest. Castle District is right on the Buda side. Other two worthwhile places to see is the Fovam Square (Fovam ter) and the Central Market Hall (Nagycsarnok). Today, the addition to this area to sight see is the multi-purpose Balna (formerly known as CET Building) which looks like a whale. This glass-roofed Balna Budapest is the latest state-of-the-art cultural and entertainment shopping center. For culture seekers, there are galleries, shops, cafes, exhibition, restaurants etc. So from Mondays to Thursday, it is opened from 8am til midnight, and weekends til 2am.

12. Palace of Arts

The Hungarian National Theatre and the Palace of Arts at night
Flickr/romeodesign

Classic attractions are Palace of Arts (mupa.hu) which is the finest concert halls in Europe. If you like to shop for some souvenirs, the best suggestions are paprika, fresh vegetables, salami. The thing to note is to avoid the stalls on the right hand side as they are targetting tourists mainly. Then in the afternoon for lunch, do check out the Hungarian styled tapas and fuller meals with a fresh duck salad.  Of course we want to mention the Hungarian wines.

13. Thermal Baths

Széchenyi Bath Budapest
Flickr/Zsolt Bugarszki

You can make the second part of the afternoon a cultural tour to the Applied Arts Museum (Corvin negyed station) and check out the Art Nouveau elements of Hungary - Odon Lechner that has a pure white interior. It encompasses the Hungarian and Turkic ornamentation on the outside and features permanent displays in particular the Art Nouveau wooden and gold clock.

For the health-conscious, try the Themal bath (szechenyibath.com). If you want to also have a swim, do *bring your swimming cap! It is optional to schedule some time to Szentharomsag utca 7, to see the Golden Eagle Pharmacy museum at Tarnok utca 18 (and again except Monday please). The other is the Semmelweis.Museum.hu where you can see those questionable medical tools and cures. 

For the artistic and soulful people, the Royal Palace and the Hungarian National Gallery (except Mondays) offers you works by Hungary’s finest artists: Tivadar Kosztka Csontvary who used to be the 19th century visionary whom Picasso admired. Other worthy to mention artist are Jozsef Rippl-Ronai who features Art Nouveau canvasses.

In spring or summer, you can access the Siklo Funicular to get down the river bank. Cross Lanchid to the Art Nouveau Gresham Palace on Szecheny ter is also a nice activity. Then proceed to the glass-roofed lobby of Four Seasons Hotel and enjoy yourself to a cuppa coffee.

14. Glorious Hungarian Cuisine

Squealer, The Pork Knuckle

Brunch places which are child/baby-friendly restaurant which we have personally tried is the Pest Vakvarju Restaurant at Pauley Ede street. In their menu is this pork knuckle dish called the Squealer that is cooked in "Joasszony style", and it is definitely worth a try. After the meal, have a nice stroll or walk in the park. Parks you can choose from the Hosok ter to Varosliget walk, the City Park, to museums to playgrounds.

15. Fairy-tale like Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad castle 
Flickr/evgenia kohan


If you are adventurous enough or being there as a couple, do try the Rowing Lake in the spring or summer. Of which, it turns to ice rink in winter for some ice-skating. One of my favourite place is the fairy-tale Vajdahunyad Castle.

Using Holiday Inn Coupons To Stay At A Really Great Hotel


Everybody all over the world is familiar with the Holiday Inn. Since staying at a comfortable hotel is very important for road weary travelers, finding a good deal that can save money is even better. Imagine yourself staying at the Holiday Inn hotel and saving money at the same time! All you need to do is get your hands on Holiday Inn coupons and you could be relaxing in comfort at your favorite hotel!

You are probably wondering where to find good Holiday Inn coupons, right? Well don't worry because there are plenty of places to look. But for most people today they find that the simplest place to locate Holiday Inn coupons is online. That's right, a simple internet search will reveal plenty of Holiday Inn coupons. Go to any search engine and type in Holiday Inn coupons and you will find many links to websites that offer these codes. Make sure you copy all of the coupon codes so you can plug them into the Holiday Inn reservation page and save money!

Everybody loves to save money, and if you can do it when travelling it is so much better. Travelling today has become very expensive, so if you can save a little bit of money on your hotel room, then think about how much extra you will have to go shopping and eat out. It is no wonder why so many believe that the Holiday Inn is the best hotel in the world!

What makes the Holiday Inn a fantastic place to stay is that they cater to all different types of travelers. If you are staying at the Holiday Inn for business purposes, you can find an office center within the hotel that has free WiFi, fax and printing services! There are conference rooms to hold business meetings, and most importantly you will get friendly smiles and service from the front desk staff.

Holiday Inn hotels are relaxing and leave you feeling refreshed after a good night of sleep. When you book a reservation using coupon codes at a Holiday Inn you can be sure that your stay will be a memorable one. Each day at Holiday Inn hotels all over the world dedicate themselves to providing the best possible service.

If you desire a place to stay that offers great discount-saving coupons, choose the best hotel ever, the Holiday Inn!

All About The Marriott Hotel


Are you looking for a good hotel to stay in while on your trip abroad? If you’re vacationing or on a business trip, Marriott hotels are the best in the world to stay in. The Marriott brand is well known and there are over 500 of these hotels located at top destinations. So, exactly why should you choose to stay at this hotel as oppose to the hundreds of other hotels begging for your business?

Well for one, Marriott hotels are full service hotels and most of them are also full resorts. This means as a guest, you will enjoy a much wider range of services, conveniences and luxuries than you would at most other hotels. Due to the large size of the hotel, you can almost always be assured to be able to book a room at the last moment which is particularly useful if you’re a frequent traveler.

Another great thing about the Marriott hotel is that they treat their workers exceptionally well. As a consumer, don’t you want to stay at a hotel that doesn’t take advantage of their staff and rewards them appropriately? Marriott makes sure that no one is underpaid and encourages guests to tip. As a result, staff are typically very dedicated to their jobs and make sure that you are always well taken care of. As you can see, Marriott’s policies ensure that their customer service is always top notch and their staff are always happy.

A third reason that you should stay at a Marriott hotel is convenience and low rates. Due to the fact that this is such a successful hotel chain, they are able to afford the most prime real estate in the cities and capitals of countries around the world. As a result, travelers that stay at these hotels never have to worry about being lost or having difficulty finding their hotel when exploring a new country. You get to stay in room in a prime location and best of all, you will pay much lower rates than you’d expect.
There are lots of places where you can even get Marriott discount codes such as on travel sites online. Be sure to check out websites like retailmenot.com, flyertalk.com and coupons.com to get specific discount codes before you make a booking.

In conclusion, the Marriott chain of hotels are widely known and loved worldwide. Once you experience staying in one, I’m positive you will always stay at a Marriott hotel.

Indonesia Bali As a Honeymoon Destination


Bali - Indonesia

Honeymoon in Bali
We flew from Singapore to Denpasar International Airport (DPS) non-stop, the flight was about 2.5hours. Arriving in Bali, we took a taxi to the hotel, it was about 15 minutes ride. We love the Kuta beach totally and we captured many evenings of wonderful sunset. It was really very romantic. Compared to Singapore, Kuta is much cooler because it has a long broad Indian Ocean beach-front.

Taking a Taxi in Bali
One tip we surely want to share about using taxi is: It is important to ensure the taxi driver understands where you want to go. And make sure he turns on the meter. You know you should not be paying extras or surcharges. If the driver is not agreeable to using the meter, it is better you get off and wait for a next taxi.

Discovery Shopping Mall
The Discovery Shopping Mall (Centro) across the Waterbom Park (Jl Kartika Plaza in Tuban) is one of the bigger malls where we did most of our shopping. Lots of international brand stores. The other place we regularly went was the restaurant and café. We bought wireless Internet cards at the hotel, but the speed was not the best. So we regular the restaurant near our hotel to access the Internet.

Bali, Indonesia

Bodyboarding in Bali
My husband had a great time doing this surface water sport called Boogieboarding. It is also called ‘Bodyboarding’. Bodyboard is a rectangular short hydrodynamic foam that you can rent. He went to rent it almost everyday out of the 14-day honeymoon trip. He is not really a pro, so he didn’t use those swim fins for extra propulsion and control. By the way, it is a good exercise and he enjoyed this activity very much.

Bali, Indonesia

Tips
Other safety tips other than swimming safety and noting the special flags for prohibited swimming areas, you need to watch your belongings. There are many touts hassling you to take up motorbikes transport. It can be rather annoying after too many offers and saying ‘no’. You just have to stay firm and calm. Outside bars, there are pickpockets. So be really careful when you are walking on the sidewalk. A very popular problem is the Foreign Currency Scams, go to a reliable source to exchange for rupiah if you ran out of cash.

Ubud
As we booked the taxi driver for the entire day, we also visited Central Bali, Ubud. Along the way, the taxi driver stopped for us to take some photos of the rice paddies that are gently rolling with lots of greenness and beauty.

Bali

Monkey Forest
I didn’t really like the Monkey Forest. The monkeys are known to be great at stealing your possessions or things in your handbag – glasses, cameras or even food. They are very playful and they could climb on your shoulders, tug on your shirt.
Bali

Jimbaran
On another day, we visited South Bali and really like what we saw in Jimbaran. Between Kuta and Bukit Peninsula is Jimbaran, we also went to the Uluwatu Temple to the southwest.

Bali sunset

The most memorable was the fire-grilled (bakar) seafood dinner on the beach. While waiting for our chosen seafood to be prepared, we watched the beautiful sunset as we were seated right infront of the Jimbaran Bay. The beach has fine white sand.

Bali

Barong and Kris Dance
Another must do is to watch the cultural performances in Bali. They are the Barong Dance which lasted for an hour. Quite a nice performance about the battle between good and evil.

Bali, Indonesia






Other romantic destinations for getaway/honeymoon

Xian Group Tours

On Xian group tours you can get to know not only the sites of Xian but also maybe make new friends from around the world. Traveling with a Xian group tour has several advantages one being that tour groups are usually ushered through the entrance of any site, without having to go through the time consuming process of buying tickets as your tour guide will take care of the tickets. Another advantage of traveling with Xian group tours is that you have the services of a professional and knowledgeable guide. Your guide can point out interesting and important things which you might otherwise have overlooked. If your tour includes lunch then you won't have to eat alone and you won't have to start looking for a good restaurant as one will be chosen for you. Your local guide will know the city and know which restaurants are geared towards tourists and which restaurants have good food and an authentic atmosphere. Taking one of the Xian group tours also takes the guess work out of transport arrangements. You will be taken from site to site and won't run the risk of getting lost, stuck in traffic or over charged by a taxi driver.

Terracotta Warriors, Xian, China
(photo: Emad Aljumah)

What you will see on a Xian Group Tour

On Xian group tours the main attraction is always the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, this site dates back to the Qin Dynasty (210-209BC) when thousands of terra cotta figures were made to be buried with Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The figures are of soldiers of the imperial guard as well as horses, chariots and weapons. The terra cotta army consists of about 8,000 warriors which are in three pits. Pit 1 is the most interesting and the one which has been fully excavated. In Pit 2 and 3 excavations are still ongoing. The remarkable thing about the terra cotta soldiers is that each one has been created as an individual, with different facial features, hair styles, clothing and posture. The entire site covers 16,300m² and is part of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Park. Also on the site are the Qin Shi Huang Museum and three other sites which are yet to be opened, the Museum of Stone Armor, the Terracotta Acrobatics and the Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials. There are shuttle buses which take visitors from site to site within the park.

After a visit to the "Eighth Wonder of the World" Xian group tours usually visit some of the other sites in Xian. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda stands in the Da Ci'en Temple Complex and was originally built in 652 (the Tang Dynasty) as a place to store Buddhist materials which were brought to Xian from India. The Xian ancient City Walls stand 12 meters high, run for 13.7km and are 12-14 meters wide on top so that visitors can walk along the top of the wall. The walls were built to protect the city and were renovated and rebuilt several times over the years.

Mount Ararat



Mount Ararat (Turkish: Ağrı Dağı) is a snow-capped, dormant volcanic cone in Turkey. It has two peaks: Greater Ararat (the highest peak in Turkey with an elevation of 5,137 m or 16,854 ft) and Lesser Ararat (with an elevation of 3,896 m or 12,782 ft).

The distance between peaks of Greater Ararat and Lesser Ararat is 11 km. The Greater Ararat is permanently covered by snow from the height of 4,250 m and higher. There are about 30 glaciers counted on Greater Ararat. The attitude of the mountain from top to the bottom is 4,385 m for Greater Ararat and 3,127m for Lesser Ararat.

The Ararat was named so by Europeans in XIX century. James Bryce in 1876 mentioned in his trip notes that "locals (Turks, Azerbaijanis, Persians and Armenians) Ararat is known by different name". According to Bryce, name Ararat was starting to become popular among the locals due to Russian influence.

According to Iranica, name Ararat was given to the mountain because of Judeo-Christian tradition which is associated with the "Mountains of Ararat" where, according to the book of Genesis, Noah's ark came to rest. As the mountain Ararat was the highest peak, Europeans decided that this mountain must be Ararat.

Generally word Ararat originates from Assyrian name of the state of Urartu.

Turkish and Azerbaijani name of the mountain is Ağrı Dağı (Mountain of Ağrı) which means 'heavy mountain'. Ağrı is also a province in the Eastern Anatolian Region of Turkey, which derived its name from the mountain in 1949.


Persian name is Kuh-e-Nuh (Noah's Mountain): (Persian: کوه نوح‎), also influenced by the flood story, this time via the Islamic view of Noah.

Kurdish name is Çiyayê Agirî (Fiery Mountain), Çiyayê Alavhat and Grîdax (Kurdish): This entire tree name referred a volcanic characteristic of Mount Ararat. It is the only name to have a clear, descriptive etymology while also indicating the preservation of folk memory.

Masis (Armenian: Մասիս) - is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural 'Masiq' (Armenian: Մասիք) may refer to both peaks. This name is originated form Iranian roots and means means greater or big. So in middle Persian language masist means the biggest.

 

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48 Hours in Singapore


View @ Singapore MBS Skypark_6899
flickr/woo siang boon

48 Hours in Singapore - today we will be featuring my home city - Singapore. We wouldn't really say Singapore is a country. It is rather a city state. First and foremost, Singapore is so so small with 710 km² land area that you can hardly see it on the world map. Perhaps the text 'Singapore' label on the map is way bigger than the dot-sized area of Singapore itself.

Contradictorily, this "small dot" is quite an impressive city being so advanced and progressive. Compared to the other Asian countries, cities or European capitals, the artistry of Singapore's tourism efforts also makes it deserving an online guide of how to optimise your stay. In case you are planning a 48 Hour trip to Singapore, we hope the following notes help. So let's cut to the chase and start with the Singaporean favourite breakfast item - Roti Prata!

7 A.M. Roti Prata

roti prata
flickr/rpslee

Some people might disagree with me that this is a snack. It is a common breakfast item with its recipe deriving from the original pancake recipes from India and Pakistan. People also eat it as a supper item. In case if you do not know yet, Singapore is a multi-racial society, pretty cosmopolitan place - and a melting pot of British (Eurasians), Indian, Malay and mainly Chinese cultures. 


Today, Singaporeans enjoy our diversity in particular the influences onto our meals from different cultures, be it Indian, or Malay, Chinese or Western. The places you can find Roti Prata upon touching down is the Changi Airport Departure Transit Lounges at Terminal 1 & 3. It is 24 hours, so proceed straight to Level 3 for your first crispy Roti Prata. 



8 A.M.  Marina Bay

Morning @ Singapore Marina Bay_2906
flickr/woo siang boon

Then have a morning walk in the Marina Bay area and then walk to the Central Business District, Tanjong Pagar, Club Street and Singapore River. Head to the Gillman's Centre for Contemporary Art if you want to see some exhibitions and artist-in-residence programs. From Gillman’s Centre for Contemporary Art, take a 30-minutes walk to reach the 274-metre steel ribs and local wood bridge called Henderson Waves.

Next to Chinatown area and smoke into its original charm. There several streets such as Smith Street and Pagoda Street, the oldest Hokkien temple, Thian Hock Keng Temple at Telok Ayer Street. Procced next to the URA Gallery at Maxwell Road then have a lunch at Maxwell Food Centre along South Bridge Road.

12 P.M. Char Kway Teow

Fried Noodles (Again)
flickr/Sanctu

One of the recommended national favourite dishes to try is Char Kway Teow. Kway Teow are flattened rice noodles and cut into strips. So 'Char' is a cooking style that means 'to stir-fry' over very high heat. This national favourite is a popular noodle dish. Mainly the ingredients are bean sprouts, prawns, deshelled cockles, small wallop of belachan, chilli, dark soy sauce that gives it a dark colouring, light soy sauce, chopped chives, stir-fried egg, fishcake, Chinese sausage, pork lard croutons.


2 P.M. Food Republic

Asian Food
flickr/Dr Norbert Heidenbluth


Go for a personable brunch or lunch experience with multi-cultural food offerings at the best of hawker fare and restaurant dining. Here at Food Republic, only food from highly rated and well sought-after food stalls are offered. Whether if you just want a coffee or some small snacks, you can find out the best local food all at one stop.

Or have a High-tea Dim Sum and Dim Sum places in Singapore:

  • Asia Grand Restaurant at Odeon Towers (North Bridge Road) #01-02
  • Bosses at VivoCity (Harbourfront Walk) #02-156
  • Cherry Garden Chinese Restaurant at Mandarin Oriental (Raffles Avenue) 5F
  • Crystal Jade Palace at Ngee Ann City (Orchard Road) #04-19
  • Din Tai Fung at Paragon (Orchard Road) #B1-03
  • Yum Cha at Chinatown (Trengganu Street) #02-01
  • Yum Cha Garden at Serangoon Garden Country Club (Kensington Park Road) 22            
6 P.M. Singapore River

The Singapore River @ Clarke Quay Singapore
flickr/William cho


Singapore River and the most beautiful part of this area is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Do explore the Chinatown Heritage Centre, visit the oldest mosque Jamae Mosque at South Bridge road, Pinnacle@Duxton Skybridge, Red Dot Design Museum, Singapore Coin and Notes Museum which features the local commemorative coins, history of coinage and local currency. The most important Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple. Peranakan culture and traditional Straits Chinese households furnishings at Neil Road's Baba House. For history buffs, do check out the Sir Stamford Raffles’ Landing Site, Boat Quay and Perankan Museum on Armenian Street.


7 P.M. Merlion Landmark

Blue Hour @ Merlion Park_8363
flickr/woo siang boon
Head on to the Merlion landmark at One Fullerton Merlion Park. Enjoy the breeze and experience the night view at the vantage point for the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade theatres and Marina Bay Sands. Grab an ice-cream wafer or ice-cream sandwich to recapture a retro experience next to the waterfront promenade.


8 P.M. Esplanade Theatres on the Bay

Singapore - Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
flickr/Leo-Wu


Esplanade is where you can experience a real lifestyle – shopping, dining and performing arts. The remarkable and unique architecture, what locally people called it the fruit ‘Durian’, there is a roof-top garden, library@esplanade, cafes as well as an outside food court offering the best Singaporean cuisines. Clean, well-maintained yet beautiful sights and well-lighted place. This is a good place for relaxation after a busy day and best to go after the Merlion Park.

9 P.M. Chilli Crab

Singaporean Chilli Crab
flickr/Joao tam


9PM might be considered late night eating (but it really depends on your culture) for some may not. If you are not used to having late night bites, you may want to skip this, but supper hot spots in Singapore is pretty common.

Some people eat Dim Sum like paper-wrapped curry chicken, phoenix prawn, stir-fried dishes from zi char establishments, Fried Brinjal with pork floss, Salted Egg and Butter Pork Ribs, the Roti Prata, Bee Hoon, Porridge, Chicken Pie, Frappe or 3-colour milk tea (of coconut sugar, fresh milk and tea), ice homemade barley drinks, Nasi Lemak, Mee Rebus, Nasi Padang, Grilled seafood, Korean Barbeque, Hong Kong style porridge and desserts such as sesame paste.

Bak Chor Mee, Sliced Fish Been Hoon, Ban Mian, Wanton Dumpling Noodles, Ampang Yong Tau Foo, the peppery Pork Ribs Soup (Bak Kut teh), Fish head steamboat, seafood like pomfret, red garouper,  Doubled-boiled brewed soup. Roasted spring chicken, Baked fresh prawns. Meatballs and fishballs. Kambing Soup, Mutton Cheese Murtabak, Teh Tarik, Teh halia, Ramen in chicken or pork broth. Singapore is a food paradise, so you can find these almost any part of the island.

10 P.M. Super Trees Grove

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
flickr/tommy ga-ken wan


Supertrees are vertical gardens with environmentally sustainable functions up as high as 50 metres high. There are photovoltaic cells embedded on these trees to harvest solar energy. Large canopies as high as 16 storeys high. Besides, there three other parts namely, the reinforcement concrete core, planting panels of the living skin and its trunk. 

At Supertree Grove and the Golden and Silver Gardens, there are altogether are 18 of these super trees. One recommendation is to stroll along the 128-metre OCBC Skyway at the height of 22-metres to take in the views of the Gardens. There are over 162,900 plants, ferns, orchids, tropical flowering climbers and many varieties of bromeliads (monocot flowering plants). In addition, there is a bistro for chilling and capturing panoramic views of the surrounding Marina Bay area.


11 P.M. Double Helix Bridge

[Explored] Marina Bay Sands
flickr/harpal padwal


This pedestrian only bridge itself offers a good photography opportunity when it is lighted at night in particular. It is not just an engineering and architecture marvel. It gives a very futuristic appeal too. You may observe from the viewing platforms for the Singapore skyline along the waterfront from the bridge that connects Ritz Hotel and the Shoppes at MBS. Walk four kilometers around the bay from the Helix Bridge and you can cover: Singapore Flyer ferris wheel, Flight Experience Flight Simulator, Marina Bay Sands Skypark, Makansutra Glutton’s Bay, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.


Day 2. Tropical Fruits Paradise

Banana Ceiling
flickr/Jon seigel


Finally, we also want to highlight to you that Singapore is tropical fruits paradise. It is possible to organize a tropical fruits tour, tasting out all the fruits – The full list of “Singapore's Must-Try Fruits” is available here.

Blue Cloudy Night @ Singapore Chinatown_3274
flickr/woo siang boon


If it is beautiful of any sights mentioned above, you need not do all of them within one day. Leave some for Day 2, or you can checkout the night version (or the day version vice versa) for more coverage.  Other interesting culture related sights includes: Arab Quarter, Haji Lane, Little India, Asian Civilisations Museums at Empress Place, Tiffin Room high tea at Raffles Hotel and Jumbo Seafood. Might be good to see those old shophouses at Ann Siang Hill and Club Street, Keong Saik Road, Yong Siak Street and try the highly recommended "Tim Ho Wan" Dim sum at Orchard Road. 

If you still have sometime in the evenings, chill with some drinks at Clarke Quay which is lined full with pubs and restaurants. Have a beautiful lookout over the glittery pulse of the area. 

Extending your trip a little later into the night? Then watch a light show at night from Ku De Ta - the finest entertainment destination in Southeast Asia. We hope you enjoy a great 48 Hours of rich cultural tapestry, vibrant arts scene, great food and amazing street life that we have in Singapore.