Places and people of Dhaka, Bangladesh

3 – 7 November 2018

This trip almost didn’t happen because 2x, my booking was changed drastically and canceled. I thought, going for it might be unlucky. Searched for more reliable options and still decided to go anyway.

3 Nov 2018

I flew with Thai Airways. I was so chill about the 50minutes lay-over in BKK only to realize that the queue to security was so long and the airport was so big. I literally zoomed to the boarding gate. Luckily, I still managed to reach on time and the flight was uneventful.

I reached Hotel 71 at around 2am.

4 Nov 2018

I half-heartedly booked this Old Capital Day tour via NIjoom.com. I hoped to go with a group but unfortunately, there was no group on that day. I  had to pay for the package all by myself at 107Usd.

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Dhaka Sunrise

The guide was there to pick me up at the hotel lobby at 8am. We drove outside Dhaka towards the old mosque called Goaldi. We walked around the village too. Children from the local primary school kept on following me and asking me for my name and where I am from while I was busy trying to eat a local street food called chotpoti. It was yummy. Deep into the village, I also had raw tea from a vendor who crashes the ginger with his mortar while coughing and washes the cups with just water.

We then drove to Folk Arts Museum, then the old Hindu merchants’ settlement, Panam Nagar. The temperature was getting higher as we approach lunchtime. We passed by a small village to check out their very cooling school made of bamboo. We then drove to the port and took a boat to Char Island via Meghna River. The village was really living simply. I was amazed by what they can do with their temporary lands. These lands are under water during the monsoon season.

The Old Capital

We headed back to the main island after about 30mins of walking around the village. We drove and got lunch and at about 3pm, I was back at the hotel. It was a good trip though seriously very pricey for one person.

Just went out one more time to buy some goodies after the tour. The city intimidates me a little. There are too many things happening at the same time and it’s too noisy. I am sure though that I’ll grow out of it. This is such a culturally rich place. I am excited to explore it further.

05 Nov 2018

I didn’t know where to go and what to do. I wanted to join a walking tour but the group didn’t reply to me immediately hence, I was forced to go around by myself. Took the rickshaw from the hotel to go to old Dhaka. Rickshaw experience was by itself very interesting and scary. I used it a couple of times within the day and it felt the same every time. Makes my heart drop.

Streets of Old Dhaka

My first stop was the Pink Palace. It was heavily renovated and is now a museum. I walked around the place and Mr. Ali, who’s working there, started to talk to me. He introduced me to some of the people who were working in the museum as well. They were very curious about where I was from. I was offered drinks and all. I was introduced to one artist, Mr. Khamal and he gave me one digitally printed copy of his art. I spent around 1.5hrs talking to all of them. (While still being alert as I wasn’t sure if I should trust or not. As a one-person traveler, I should be open yet still  cautious about my surroundings). He even helped me get a rickshaw to go to the Armenian church. He said, if I wanted to watch the sunset (of course), he could help me do it later in the afternoon. Just go back to the museum at around 5pm. (Wasn’t sure if I should cos I wasn’t sure what they were up to?).

I went to the Armenian church and there, I met the caretaker’s son, Sanjay. He talked to me about his travel adventures. He then volunteered to help take me to the Star Mosque and Lalbaht Fort. One interesting thing he told me was people start work here pretty late. Like 10am or later. He said 8am work shift is usually nonexistent.

 

So this boy took me around and helped me bargain with rickshaw drivers. I dropped him back to the church. I asked him if I owe him anything..he said: “I’ll help you go around tomorrow”. Left me soooo curious if these people are just genuinely nice or are they scamm-ish? What if I don’t meet up with him tomorrow? He paid for some of the things for me?

Because of curiosity, I decided to go back to the to the Pink Palace to check on what’s gonna happen next. Dang, I missed the sunset. Mr. Ali received me again with free drinks and he said he would take me around after work. And he did.

Together with his colleague, He brought me around the sooooo confusing yet interesting alleys of old Dhaka. I wouldn’t have reached these places without their help. He took me to places that make rickshaws, to the (right now) very festive, Hindu streets. Made me drink street tea again. (I was still wondering whhhhyyy were they so nice?)

Anyway, he even sent me back to my hotel. I had a similar experience in Fez and their kindness turned into an unexpected twist. So, I was very cautious. In the process, I kept on bringing up in the conversations that I am attached and that my father is a retired police officer. In my hotel lobby, I stopped, and asked, “do I owe you anything, Mr. Ali?” He shyly just said, no but “you may give me any amount” I gave him 500Taka. I could have given him less and he won’t care. These people are so nice they deserve more…..unlike the tour companies that charge 100+ USD for the tour around the old town. This day was amazing not much because of the places but more about people I met along the way.

I will still have to meet up with Sanjay tomorrow, see if I owe him anything

6 Nov 2018

I started the day late. Sanjay volunteered to take me out. We started the day at about 12pm. We first walked to the Dhaka University. I’ve seen Wikitravel advice and it says there to avoid getting close to people’s gathering or rallies. Well, I did but it wasn’t possible. They were everywhere. They looked peaceful though.

Then we rickshawed to go and walk along the Bharamondi lake. It was an area more peaceful than most of Dhaka. Not so clean but quiet.

We then walked to Star Kebab for lunch and talked endlessly at ChaWala while having tea. He kept on saying there was no sunset. I kept on saying there is. But, he thought its a waste of time to go to Buringanga because winter brings no pretty sunsets…. Fine…. Sad but I decided to just submit to it.

Then we went to the handicrafts place for my magnets then walked near the Independence tower because there’s Deepavali celebration there. It was beautiful.

I told Sanjay I wanted a pedicure and he brought me to a place called Persona. The final question of mine… “Do I owe you anything?” And he said NOoooooooo… I was like…this can’t be real.. I know he wanted to travel but he didn’t have much funds. So,  I gave him 3k Taka. He deserved it. People who aren’t expecting are the ones who deserve it more….. Bangladesh is ❤……

Donabhat Bangladesh.

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A Riddle

I linger longer.
I spread faster.
I can destroy anyone infected by me.
I elicit curiosity.
I am famous.
I am searchable despite minute.
I am very powerful.
When I infect you, you can’t see me.
When I infect others you can see a magnified version of me.
I am like a tattoo.
I stay.
I can label people.
I can crash people.
I can kill people.
Just a small dose of me can do all these.
Why settle for greatness and success when I can prevail longer and faster?
I
am
MISTAKE!

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Home for my Mum’s Birthday

13 -15 October 2018

I planned to surprise her for her birthday. As always, when my sister and papa are involved, surprises are never successful. My family loves to talk.

Anyway, despite the fact that my mom wasn’t at all surprised, we still managed to have a great time in Tagaytay. I booked two nights accommodation but we only stayed for a night. We had dinner and breakfast together. While the next day’s dinner was back in Manila, with my sis’ fiance.

We didn’t do much yet it’s still a great break for me. Wish I can stay with them for a bit more!

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A weekend trip to KL, Malaysia

5-7 Oct 2018

I was thinking of a creative birthday gift to T, and thought of something experiential. I decided to bring him somewhere he has not been to before. I thought of KL. I was looking for cheaper options to get there while I was studying for an exam and instead of booking the cheapest option, I accidentally booked the more expensive one. Hay

Anyway, he had a shock of his life when he knew he was flying to KL by himself as that was my press-release to him. Only after a few minutes, I admitted to him that I was coming too. We flew by Air Asia. We reached there at night and stayed for 2 nights at the Swiss Hotel.

The next day, we managed to visit Batu Cave, the National Mosque, Merdeka Square, Petronas Towers and we had a wonderful dinner and massage at Jalan Alor. He was acting weirdly the whole day. Only to realize he would ask me “the question” at midnight by the Sultan Abdul Samad Buiding, the classical building beside Merdeka Square. Of course, he got his answer….. “maybe” haha which to us, meant “hell, yeah”.

Batu Cave

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Day 2, we just decided to walk around KLCC again, for PDA shots by the iconic Petronas Towers and lunch. Then we wet to Chinatown for a bit of shopping. We headed to the airport afterward.

I love how much T is enjoying traveling with me now. I feel the same way. =)

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Flores, Indonesia: Birthday Getaway

19-23 Sept 2018

Flores has always been in my bucket list. Actually, it’s because of the tri-colored craters atop the volcano Kelimutu. With the said volcano in mind, but not researching much, I booked my 5days 4nights Labuan Bajo flights.

Planning time came and I was so disappointed to know that Flores is a huge island. Maps are really deceiving and that Kelimutu is lots of hours away from LBJ and that LBJ and nearby places alone are not enough to see in 5days. I decided I will have to forgo of Kelimutu first and focus of LBJ. I will return to Flores for it and the villages around it.

19 Sept 2018

I had to fly from Singapore to Jakarta to LBJ. It was my first time to fly with Garuda. Luckily, my flights were uneventful. The only event I could think of was the view as we land in Flores. It was spectacular. Also, the jealousy I felt when I got to explore Jakarta’s Airport. Why can’t my Philippines create something like that?

I booked my accommodation with Bajo Sunset Hostel which has free airport transfer so I didn’t have to worry about it. On my first day, my only assignment was to find a company to join within either one or 2 days boat tour. I researched online how much they cost. So I had an idea but going shopping, asking and haggling in the town center was a bit tiring hence, after inquiring with a few agencies, I agreed eventually though I knew it was a bit overpriced of maybe around 15-20SGD. I then went back to the hostel and rested while talking to my T. Tomorrow would be early.

first sunset at LBJ

Landing view

20 Sept 2018

My birthday and my gift to myself was a 2days-1night on a boat cruising around the islands of Labuan Bajo. I woke up early and went to the meeting point. I was told during booking that the boat would only carry 8-11 guest. I was surprised to see that there were 24 people on the boat, mostly Europeans, one Malaysian, C, who later on, became my friend and myself. Felt like I was in a backstage of a fashion show. If T was here, we both would have enjoyed such view.

Anyway, our first stop was a 2hour ride to Rinca Island. We had to pay the fees of 290K for entrances for the 3 islands (Rinca, Komodo and Pink beach) and rangers for Rinca. We didn’t really walk much to see most of the Komodo dragons. They were lazily resting by the rangers kitchen. They like cooler places and shades. They weren’t very intimidating until they make the sound and look at you eye-eye. We ascended a bit more to the beautiful viewpoint in Rinca. Flores has an endless number of awesome viewpoints…really.

View atop Rinca Island

Next stop was snorkeling by the Pink beach. From afar, it didn’t look very pink but when you get closer, yeah, it was pink. It was my first time to go on a snorkeling trip by myself. I can swim in pools but open water has always been intimidating for me. I know that there’s so much under it and those things are always unpredictable. But because it was my birthday, I decided I should give it a try despite I was alone. I was even tempted by my new found friend- C to take off the life jacket. I almost did but I said ah no… I do not want to die on the day I was borne. It was  a decision I would never regret. It was so beautiful. The variety of sea creatures underneath was innumerable. I enjoyed it.

Next stop was the Komodo Island. We arrived there quite late hence, we only managed to go for the easy trail which annoyed me a little bit. We also only managed to see 3 Komodo dragons there.

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Anyway, life goes on. We went back to the boat and proceeded to the island’s bay near Komodo town. To my surprise, the mattresses were already set up on the boat. And hey, I was on the last and noisiest part of the boat, near the boat’s motor.

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Now, that the mattresses were laid down, I could see the effect of the boat having 24 passengers inside. There were no spaces for walking, so as soon as I realized I was on the last bed, I apologized to everyone already because there’s a high chance of me, waking all of them up at night when I go to the toilet. They were all ok about it. Since I couldn’t sleep yet because of the noise, I kept on imagining how the refugees are when they’re in boats like this. It must be 100x less comfortable. I shouldn’t complain much.

Soon as the motor was switched off….zzzzzz.. I went to dreamland.

21 Sept 2018

A brand new day has arrived and so as my dreaded need to pee. Wakey wakey people, I talked to myself smiling. Luckily, they were all soundly asleep. No one got awakened. As I walked back to the sleeping area, I looked up the sky and to my surprise, it was much clearer than last night. I was in awe. There were lots of stars hence, I decided to stay outside and watch the stars. I did a few yogic breathing while I pray to God, thanking him for the ++years of existence and the blessings. Wishing that my parents, sister, and T be healthy so they could still enjoy such activities with me next time. I waited for the sunrise and of course, as always, I am never disappointed.

Breakfast was served and we headed off to the island I was looking forward to seeing, Padar Island. It was a small hike to the top. The view was ethereal. I didn’t want to descend anymore but I had to. I spent maybe 1hour on the island. I was among the first few people to go up and the last one to head back to the boat.

View atop Padar Island

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We then went to Manta Point, where the Manta Rays are usually visible. I was thrilled but I was uncertain if I should just follow the boat or swim together with everyone with my life jacket. I thought I would be too slow with my jacket on. But the first Manta Ray showed up while I was still on the boat. Everyone jumped out. I couldn’t resist it. I jumped too. I managed to see 2 other Manta Rays and one was really huge. Swam with it. Others saw more and I saw their videos. It was like the rays were performing for them. I missed those performing creatures because I was too slow.haha.. I enjoyed what I saw nonetheless. They were saying there were days that the creatures won’t even show up. We were considered lucky.

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Lunch was served and we headed to our next island. Kanawa Island. It was a beautiful Island to snorkel around especially for people like me. Haha just bring your head underneath the water while sitting by the beach and the starfishes, corals, and fishes were already within my reach. I loved it. I just hope, this natural beauty won’t be abused.

This was our last stop before heading back to the mainland. I had a great internetless birthday with the fishes, Komodo dragons and manta rays. Something I would never ever forget.

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C, gave me a seafood dinner treat for my birthday and it was sooooo yummy. We decided to do a bit more touring together the next day. Another day of waking up early.

Got to my hostel, and voilahhhhhh, I got an unexpected knock on my door. A little blonde girl. “Hi, please come up with us.” I was like, uhmm why? She shyly said, “we have a surprise for you, for your birthday.” Made me almost tear up. I just had a nice free meal and now I have a birthday cake too….from the management of Bajo Sunset Hostel. I thought I‘d be alone on my birthday. Noooo, circumstances just won’t allow it. This is one of the reasons why I love staying in smaller accommodations. People I’ve met from these places made me feel more home than when I am staying in bigger accommodations and of course, they’re heaps cheaper.

Birthday cake from Bajo Sunsets Hoste

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Again, Bajo Sunset Hostel for your next visit to LBJ. Now, it’s a bit dusty and noisy because there were a lot of constructions happening around and within the hostel premises. They are constructing a swimming pool and in front of the hostel, the government was constructing a huge marketplace as of the moment. Surely, this place will soon be even more AMAZING!

Also, just a reminder, I didn’t know until I was on my second day there, that fresh water is scarce in the area. They had to buy and wait for the water to be delivered and it isn’t cheap. If you happen to visit there, please do help to conserve water. It’s really precious.

22 Sept 2018

I knew LBJ has plenty of caves and waterfalls aside from the many beautiful islands and beaches. But after my birthday, I didn’t plan for anything anymore. Good thing, I met C, I didn’t have to plan and bargain anymore. She speaks Bahasa so she could bargain better. She planned to go to the caves and she asked me if I want to tag along. Of course, I’d say yes.

We took the motorbike and boat option to the first cave, Gua Rangko. We owned the cave for a while and the water inside it. Noone dared to swim except for the 2 other guides. I’ve never swum in a cave before. C was trying to challenge me to swim further. She was unsuccessful. Haha

After more than 1hour inside there, we went to the next cave, Gua Cermin. It was a huge cave. I was expecting for it to be crystal-like but it wasn’t when we went there. It was still beautiful though.

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After this, C had to go back to her hostel and prepare for her flight. My guide/motorbike driver took me atop Bukit Cinta. Another amazing viewpoint of LBJ. He asked me if I still wanted to go to other places but despite I wanted more, the heat was really killing me. I decided to say no and just head back to my accommodation for a shower. I asked him to take me to Bukit Sylvia for sunset though.

Since I was feeling drained and tired, after a shower, I looked for a place to get a cheap massage. As soon as I learned massages were cheaper here than in Singapore, I knew I would have more than one. I had an hour of traditional massage and headed back to my accommodation because A would be picking me up for the sunset at B. Sylvia.

And yeah, another amazing view for me. I then asked him to recommend a gift that I could bring back for my friends in Singapore, he said coffee and that he would take me to the only place that sells Kompiang. It was 15mins away from the hill. I tasted it and it was like the Philippines’ Pandesal but it looked a bit different. I still bought 10pcs for personal consumption. I liked it.

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After also buying coffee, I went to have my own seafood dinner. The same amount as we had last night only, I had to consume all by myself. A fish, and maybe half kilo of squids with veggies and rice and my avocado shake. I successfully emptied the table!

23 Sept 2018

My last day and I just wanted to sleep in. But things didn’t always go as planned. At 545am, the construction outside started. Someone was hammering the mixer truck. I couldn’t go back to sleep anymore. Stayed in bed still though and wasted about 3hours until I decided I should get myself going. Plan for today was just to head to church and have another massage.

Packed, showered, had breakfast and went out. Unfortunately, I was late for the mass and as I walked by the church, there was an event hence, I hesitated to go in. I just did my little prayer outside. Walked around and went to the same spa as yesterday’s to get an hour of foot massage and 30minutes of pedicure just for 25SGD.

Yup. That was my last activity for this trip. I flew out at 310pm. Back to reality soon….:(

Bye Bajo!

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The warmth of Townsville, Australia

22-26 Aug 2018

“What do we do on our Anniversary?” Suggestions came out and we finally decided, “Why not we visit your mum?” Yep. His mum. Remember the Perth incident when we wanted to surprise visit her? Well, we didn’t want to surprise her anymore because we might end up surprised instead of her.

I flew through Melbourne. T and I met at Tullamarine airport and flew together to Townsville. It was a 3hour flight. It’s almost the same duration as when I am flying back to the Philippines. The flight was luckily, uneventful.

His mum was waiting outside the airport. As soon as she saw us, she gave us her warmest hug. We dropped by T’s brother then we got to her home and spent the rest of the night and remaining few days with her. She’s indeed a tidy lady.

Next day, we woke up pretty late. The three of us decided to have lunch by the Strand. We then walked by the strip walkway along the beach. It was beautiful. The Strand had a variety of workout equipment and playgrounds along the way to which we enjoyed a lot.

We went back home to rest for a little while and wanted to do a small hike to the top of Castle Hill for the sunset but we procrastinated hence, unable to reach there on top while the sun was still visible. Sun wasn’t anymore there but the blend of fiery colors was still there. The view was, by itself, satisfying. We then bought fast food for dinner.

We planned to climb the hill again for sunrise but instead, we had a city center tour. We also planned to go to Magnetic Island, but no. It also didn’t materialize. Haha We procrastinated a lot. We just had a simple bonding day with T and his mum and a brief water play at home. It was great anyway. She gave me an early birthday present too. I was deeply touched. That night, we had dinner with T’s brother and friends and headed home.

Our last day was finally, an accomplished plan. We finally managed to cross the water and head to Magnetic Island. It’s a warm and beautiful island with 20+bays. Some bays were crowded some were quiet. We rented out a topless car to take us around the island. We had lunch there and just chilled. We didn’t expect that the water was warm because it would have been nice if we had our swimwears with us. We didn’t bring because we thought the water would be cold.

We went back home and we packed. We were flying back to Melbourne that night. T gave me a nice hotel accommodation because of our anniversary. I was set to fly back to Singapore the next day. Days were really fast. 4Days of exploration was over….365days of knowing such an angel had passed.

To end, I just would like to share how similar our Filipino family is to his family culture. I loved the way his family interacted as that’s the same way we interact with each other back home. I never expected that. We share the same orientation when it comes to family “family first”.

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A trip to watch him work

28-31 Jul 2018
Yep. Indeed, my travelling life has more or less been limited to Australia, the Philippines and a few new cities. Not as much variety as before. As I am trying to maintain long distance relationships between T (Aus) and my family (Phil). My own relationship with myself has changed drastically too. My drive and motivation to explore, alone or with others are still there, but somehow, a little bit supressed. Now, I am nurturing myself as a person and as a partner. I have to think and act less selfishly as I have more people to nurture my relationships with.

I haven’t been in this kind of loving and kind relationship for a very long time. The kind of person T is, (for now) is something I have never imagined possible. I feel like a princess with him. Scary, but I think I am bound to be a brat in the near future. Scary because I do not want to get used to the kind of comfort he is providing. I want to keep strong to stand on my own still though, to be honest, he has the ability to make me depend and be vulnerable and that is scary. I sometimes ask myself if I am worthy of his love? Sometimes, the way he is makes me feel like I am not good enough. That has never happened before. As a persistent pessimist, I know this may not last but I will enjoy it anyway.

I flew to Melbourne this time around because I want to know exactly what his work is about. I only know they manufacture blinds. I did not have any idea why he feels so tired every night. I didn’t have any idea why he keeps on forgetting things until I went to this factory. It was a bit messy, hence while there, I helped him tidy up a little and set up his brand new desktop. He bought a new one to make his life more comfortable with a bigger screen. I then realized how tough is work is. He runs around finishing jobs and invocing and talking to people, answering phone calls. It felt like he was a one man performer in a circus. I then only made a commitment to help out, despite being far away.

In between this busy schedule of his, we managed to squeeze in some nice dinners outside, cooked by him and by my friend J. We also managed to watch a footy game in a pub and climb Kokoda Memorial Trail again.

Still an exploration huh? A different kind…an exploration of how T is at work… I plan to get to know him more in my own litttle ways. He will fly here on Wed. And I will fly again to meet his mum and bro in Townsville a week after that. My flying life has never been this focused! Hahaha Not sure if it’s good but who decides what is good or bad anyway?

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3 July 2018

Enthusiasm.
Supposed to bridge the two ‘I’s
Apathy rusts it. 

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A Weekend in Bintan, Indonesia

7-8 July 2018

As mentioned in my earlier post. I am determined to make my parents’ holiday with me very happening despite I didn’t have much time during weekdays.

I decided to bring them somewhere I haven’t been to as well. I booked a not-so-cheap package to Bintan. At $440, it included Ferry, land transport, one-night hotel accommodation to the very nice Nirwana Resort Hotel, and breakfast for 3 people. I thought it wasn’t so bad and it was just once every blue moon that I’d spend such a huge amount for an over the weekend kind of holiday.

Everything went smoothly as per our boat and land rides. My mum and dad rarely stay in very nice hotels like this. I loved how happy their faces were when they entered this hotel with a huge lobby while we were greeted by a group of cultural dancers and welcome drinks. They were thrilled.

The resort was indeed very nice. There weren’t many people swimming on the beach. Maybe because of the abundance of “beware of jellyfishes” signages around the resort. Among the hotel’s facilities, I and my dad just loved the spa swimming pools. We could just sit there for hours and have our backs and legs massaged.

We decided to have dinner at Kelong Seafood Restaurant which was located within the premises of Nirwana Gardens. Four delicious dishes (Squid, shrimp, fried rice, and beancurd) for almost 100SGD.

We then went for a free movie night and went back to the room.

The next day, we went for the free breakfast. It was a huge spread. I just enjoyed watching my parents have a blast. We went for more swimming and headed back to the terminal and waited for our ferry back to Singapore.

Bintan was indeed a nice place but one must know that it is really pricier than what I imagined. I had a great time and so as my parents so it’s all worth it.=)

Bintan Beach

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A weekend in Malacca, Malaysia

30 Jun – 1 Jul 2018

My parents are in Singapore for the week but I couldn’t take any more leaves and so, I am making sure our weeknights and weekends are busy and fun. I decided to bring them to Malacca for our first weekend.


Malacca is only around 4hours away from Singapore. We took the afternoon 707 bus. Not a very ideal and practical option because we arrived there already late at night. However, it can also be considered the best because I was with my mum and dad. They had to rest fully the night before so they can comfortably walk around the next day.

And that was what they did. They were able to walk with me. I have been to Malacca a couple of times already but I never had a chance to really explore it because most of the visits were only day trips. This time around, I was able to see more.

New Discoveries:

1. How beautiful their river is especially at night.
2. Some alleys are so picture-worthy.
3. They have iguanas and monkeys walking along the river.
4. They have old and pretty small bridges along the river.
5. They have A LOT of small restaurants and cafes along the river. I’ve never imagined how vast the options are. A bit pricey though, but still, the ambiance is what you are paying for.No. we didn’t eat there.

Most of the amazing things I’ve newly discovered were from along the river. I’ve never had a chance to have a long stroll along it until this trip. We also went to a few museums which were well-maintained and the Melaka Strait Mosque which was also well-visited because of its picturesque sunsets.

Food was great but my mum had diarrhea from something we had eaten. I and my dad were ok though.

Unfortunately, we had to bid this city goodbye after 2nights and 1.5days in it.

Colourful Malacca

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