Archive for trip

Quick Architectural Tour in Singapore

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2018 by vincentloy

I was in Singapore the past few days in a sudden move. Besides than attending a job interview, I also take this opportunity to travel around in this gorgeous island and visit some architectural icons. Besides than facing the interview with huge anxiety, I was actually enjoying the rest of my brief 3 days 2 nights trip to Singapore. The total cost spent on this trip is less than RM900. This amount covers bus ride to and from Singapore, parking fee at bus terminal, stay at budget hotel (not hostel), meals, phone data, and public transport in Singapore.

Here are 7 architectural icons in Singapore that I have visited during the trip:

1 – DUO Towers (Architect: Ole Scheeren, Year completed: 2017)

I am very intrigued by the unique form, hexagonal patterns and the balance of rigid geometry with curving surfaces of this complex of twin towers. They gave the design an overwhelming presence.

2 – The Gateway (Architect: I.M. Pei, Year completed: 1990)

This twin towers are located just opposite the DUO Towers and the former are here much earlier. A very simple modernist approach but still leaves a striking impression due to its sharp edges and angle that contributes optical illusion.

3 – Marina Bay Sands (Architect: Moshe Safdie, Year completed: 2010)

A ship-like structure suspended above three towers is definitely one of the landmarks of Singapore.

4 – Parkroyal on Pickering (Architect: WOHA, Year completed: 2013)

Massive curvaceous sky gardens and undulating layers of precast concrete forming parts of the design that created similar image to eroded rock formations are the highlights of this hotel building.

5 – The Pinnacle @ Duxton (Architect: ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism, Year completed: 2009)

An upmarket public housing project in Singapore, The Pinnacle @ Duxton features 7 residential towers with 2 sky decks that connect all of them. The highest sky deck at the 50th floor is accessible to the public.

6 – The Hive, Nanyang Technological University (Architect: Heatherwick Studio, Year completed: 2015)

A very unique university building. The design goes beyond the stereotype classroom layout; all the learning spaces are in circular plan with no corners to encourage collaboration. The building has a naturally ventilated central atrium surrounded by shared circulation spaces and informal garden terraces. The outer appearance of this building really reminds me of stacked ‘dimsum baskets’.

7 – The Interlace (Architect: OMA + Ole Scheeren, Year completed: 2013)

Multiple residential blocks stacked in playful manner while creating picturesque voids, dramatic overhangs and numerous courtyards, pools and gardens for the residents.  ‘The Interlace’ won Best Building of the Year from World Architecture Festival in 2015.

I do enjoy this kind of trip whereby I can visit and experience some amazing architectural projects. I hope for more of such trips in near future to other places too. Singapore is certainly a city with luxurious and unorthodox architecture that one should explore if you are an architectural enthusiast like me.

(Copyrights reserved to all the images in this post)

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9 days 7 nights Chinese New Year 2018 trip to Zhangjiajie, China

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2018 by vincentloy

I’m back to Malaysia after a lengthy holiday trip to Zhangjiajie, China with my parents during this year’s Chinese New Year festival. Today is already the 7th day of lunar new year and the CNY mood is no longer here. We went to the airport on 14th February for the trip and have returned this morning on 22nd February. So, that’s equivalent to 9 days and 7 nights. I have a wonderful time during the trip (visiting all the beautiful attractions in Zhangjiajie but disappointed by heavy mist that makes it impossible for us to view them clearly and take pictures, not falling ill at all in the whole trip and that’s quite a miracle, meeting awesome people in the tour group).

My advice to the people who are interested to visit Zhangjiajie in the future; avoid visiting the place in winter (like what we did). The mountains are all covered with thick mist and you hardly see anything. Frequent rain also hinder an anticipating wonderful experience visiting these attractions. Also avoid travelling during the busy Chinese New Year period (like what we did) as the crowd is super huge and unbearable at these tourist destinations. We wasted a lot of time just by queuing (or more accurately; squeezing) and in long bus journeys. Nevertheless, we still managed to see some beautiful places and had great time over there. The attractions are all marvelous and interesting. This trip is mostly viewing the natural landmarks, and I have to admit that I’m a bit bored after seeing similar stuff (rocks, mountains, rivers and cliffs again and again) in the later days of the trip.

This is my 4th time visiting China (had been to Hong Kong & Shenzhen in 2006, Beijing & Tianjin in 2009, and Yunnan in 2014). The public toilets are still poorly maintained (very smelly and dirty) while the mainland Chinese are mostly still having some discipline issues (cutting queue, behaving inappropriately, spitting everywhere, etc). These are what you will still experience when visiting China despite the huge growth the country has been seeing in recent decades. And one more thing; when you are going to China in a tour group, it is compulsory to visit some shopping stops (we covered tea, silk, foot massage and body health, and latex mattress).

Here are some of the pictures I have taken during the trip. Besides visiting Zhangjiajie, we also visited Changsha and Fenghuang (all in Hunan province):

Changsha Poetry Wall

Phoenix Ancient Town – highlight: stilted wooden buildings along a river, some famous buildings around here include Xiong Xiling (first Prime Minister of China) and Shen Congwen (famous Chinese writer) Former Residences.

Tianmen Mountain National Park – highlight: world’s longest cableway to reach the mountains, has glass walkway hanging over by the cliff, Tianmen Cave with 999 steps (closed during winter due to slippery steps).

Yuanjiajie Scenic Area – highlight: ‘Avatar’-like mountains, ‘First Bridge in the World’ (natural formation) – cannot see it at all due to misty weather, Bailong elevator – world’s highest outdoor elevator.

Zhangjiajie National Park – highlight: Ten-Mile Natural Gallery (seeing rock formations again).

Baofeng Lake

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon – highlight: Glass bridge (once the world’s longest glass-floor bridge).

Xibu Street

Charm Xiang Xi Cultural Show

Hunan Embroidery Hall

Tujia Sand Painting Gallery

Jiandu Museum, Changsha – highlight: collection of historical bamboo slips and wooden tablets dating back more than a thousand years ago.

Huangxing Street, Changsha – highlight: main shopping and entertainment district in Changsha, the 452 metres tall Changsha IFS Tower (tallest in the city, construction almost completed and had topped out, same height with KL’s Petronas Twin Towers) is near here.

That’s it for the highlight of my trip. Time for a rest at home after this exhausting yet wonderful trip (totally had a different experience here – visiting the attractions in Zhangjiajie on busy season is like being in a state of a running refugee).

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this post)

Will be heading to Zhangjiajie on February next year during the CNY holiday. Can’t wait for it!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2017 by vincentloy

My parents went to the MATTA Fair today. I couldn’t join them these two years as I am currently in Australia for my study. It’s a fair (held twice a year) where most travel and tour companies set up their booths in Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) to promote their travel services and packages (usually comes with certain discounts too). That’s the time when my dad will usually choose which places to go for travel during the next Chinese New Year holiday every year and make reservation.

I will tag along normally for these annual Chinese New Year trips. My dad’s budget is very tight in these recent years as his business is not doing that well and that he spent huge sum of money on my current postgraduate education here in Australia. Hence, I couldn’t really voice out my dissatisfaction over the places he preferred to go. I understood that. But I’m very pleased that he still look out for my opinions. What a great dad he is! So, today he kept on updating me on the places he researched today during the fair through Whatsapp. There are not much choices since our budget is very low and every tour packages’ price shoot up a lot.

My dad’s first wish is Spain and Portugal. That is too far from reach as it costs more than 10k for a person. My wish is Egypt or Dubai but those places also costs around 6k for a person. We then narrowed it down to South East Asia and China region. We have covered some major parts of the South East Asia in the past and we don’t feel like visiting the remaining ones that we have not visited before such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Philippines (I think no tour for Laos and Brunei). So, … China. I have been to China several times too but China is huge. There are still many places worth exploring in China. The last time I went to China was in 2014 when we went to Yunnan. So, that would be a 4-years gap already when we visit the country again next year in 2018.

I would like to visit Shanghai but my dad visited it before. We like Xian (love to see the famous terracotta warriors) but there is no tour group going to Xian during the Chinese New Year holiday next year. Too bad. My dad saw this place called Shandong and Qingdao but after I did some quick research on that place, I’m not interested. We felt like going back to our motherland, Hainan Island but there’s not much to see over there and my dad complained that the package only gave us 4 days (too short). And then, we went to our final and confirmed selection; Zhangjiajie. Finally…after a long discussion this afternoon.

Have you heard of Zhangjiajie? It’s not as famous as Beijing or Shanghai but it is indeed a place known for its beautiful nature (especially its mountains and the recently popular glass bridges that made its news all over the world). It still costs over 3k for a person and the tour will be taking 8 days and 7 nights. I am still excited for this trip although this place is not top preferences as stated earlier. This trip will be my first planned trip after my graduation end of this year. My friends do plan for a vacation end of this year after we completed our study but till now, there isn’t any concrete planning on that yet. Zhangjiajie, see you in February 2018! It’s time for me to enjoy some breathtaking views of nature that Zhangjiajie offers! I did a quick research and the place is indeed very beautiful! I hope the scenery when I am there will be as picturesque as what I saw on the internet just now…and I can’t wait to walk on that scary glass-floor bridge!…it will be some wonderful opportunities for some great photography during this trip!

Countdown: 5 more months to go! Now, I have to get back to my thesis week although it is Sunday today (there’s no such thing as free weekend for architecture students!).

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

First time to the Premium Outlet in Genting Highlands.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2017 by vincentloy

The Genting Highlands Premium Outlet has opened its door for a month and yesterday is the first time I paid a visit to the outlet. With only about a month staying in Malaysia before flying back to Australia, I pick last weekend as the time for me to go up to Genting for at least once. I treat it as a short getaway to catch the colder air on the resort up on the hills.

The last time I went to Genting was in the past January. That was just 6 months ago. When I went up this time, I’m lost in direction. The whole First World Plaza is now closed and is replaced with the new Sky Avenue Mall. The mall is partially open when I visit in the last January. Some areas in the mall now are still empty and unfinished. The former casino in the First World Hotel’s building has also moved to a much more grand setting in the Sky Avenue Mall. It is now re-branded as ‘Sky Casino’.

That is the place where I lost RM500 on the roulette game on last Saturday’s evening. That was after a not-so-good meal in Madam Kwan’s Restaurant. The food served there are too sweet (the chef love to pour a lot of sugar into the dishes), the quantity are small and the price are unreasonable. Me and my parents moved to the other casino in the Genting Hotel on midnight to try our luck but we lost again. Another RM300 gone from my wallet. Hmm…I will take it as a charity donation to Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay to further develop the resort. View from the hotel room below:

So, we ended up not going into the casino anymore on Sunday on fear of losing more money. We instead had an awesome lunch at Din Tai Fung Restaurant. The food is delicious, the service is excellent, the price is reasonable, and the quality of every aspects are magnificent. Everything is great. Highly recommended place to have a nice meal. After the lunch, we took the new Awana Skyway (RM8 for a person) cable car ride down to the Premium Outlet as mentioned earlier. From there, we get to see some amazing views of the surrounding (the resort, the Chin Swee Temple, Awana Resorts, Gohtong Jaya, the Premium Outlet, and the hills).

From the ride, we also noticed that the construction of the 20th Century Fox World Outdoor Theme Park is super slow. There are still a lot to be done and I think it is highly likely that the opening for the theme park will be delayed again to possibly end of 2018.  Okay…back to the premium outlet. It is the second outlet of its kind in Malaysia (first one is in Johor). It is just an outdoor mall with famous branded stores selling slightly cheaper stuff. There are a lot of people there because it is still new. I won’t go there often if I have been there once.

On our way back home, we stopped by at the Chin Swee Temple for a short visit. The last time I visited the temple was way back many years ago when I was still a teenager. There are many new stuff (new plaza with Genting founder Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong’s statue, new sculptures depicting Chinese legends or beliefs, new vegetarian restaurant and observation tower building, etc) or things to visit and discover in the temple complex now. It also manages to attract a lot of foreign tourists. I’m tired during the visit and so I didn’t climb the pagoda tower. I always climb the tower every time I visit the temple in the past. Not this time.

That’s the end of our short trip up at Genting. Very ‘costly’ (due to gambling…haha) but rewarding in other sense that I got to visit new places this time. In the past, it is always the same for every corners in this mountain resort that has been here for like 50 years. It’s good news that the resort is now evolving to stay relevant and to continuously attract more visitors.

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this post.)

5 days 4 nights trip to Bangkok & Hua Hin, Thailand for the Raya 2017 holiday

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2017 by vincentloy

I’m back. I have just returned to Malaysia last night from Thailand with my parents. Good time passed very quickly. My 5 days 4 nights vacation to Bangkok and Hua Hin in Thailand ended, and the Raya holiday as well (except for school children that gets to enjoy one-week long break and adults who took annual leave). It was a great experience and fun in this trip, especially in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. It was also very tiring at the same time as we need to walk a lot and the extremely scorching sun made it worst. We followed guided tour (in a tour group) and the tight schedule (like approximately only an hour for every destinations, up to 6 or 7 destinations a day) really made us (especially the elders) very exhausting.

24th June 2017 (Saturday)

We took a 2-hours morning flight to Don Mueung Airport, the old airport in Bangkok. Once there, we wasted a lot of time in the airport to complete the immigration and waiting for the others in our group to get ready. Also wasted a lot of time on the road to the hotel for checking in due to the unusual traffic congestion (well, Bangkok is famous for traffic jams). Hence, we don’t have much time to walk around on our own in the afternoon. We just walked to the streets near the hotel (Eastin Makkasan Hotel, 4-stars). We had a nice dinner in Chocolate Ville (don’t be confused by the name, there isn’t any chocolate here), a huge themed restaurant built to imitate the romantic Western streets and environment with Western-styled traditional buildings, bridges, lake, gazebo, lighthouse, etc. The atmosphere is beautiful with the lighting at night.

At night, we went to the Erawan Shrine, a Hindu shrine of Lord Brahma. The place becomes famous after the bombing incident in 2015 near the shrine that killed 20 people.

25th June 2017 (Sunday)

We went to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in the morning. It is a Budhhist temple with its spires as distinctive feature (and colorful porcelain of its main spire/tower). It is one of the most famous landmarks in Bangkok and it is situated on the side of Chao Phraya River. The on-going renovation works to the main tower prevented us to take nice clean pictures of the temple.

Next, we went to Maeklong Railways Market. Not long ago, I have seen a video getting viral on social sites showing a market with stalls lining up along a railway and has to retract their stalls when the train passes. That is the place. Now, I’m there to witness it in my own eyes and it was unique and amazing. A lot of tourists crowded the place not to shop at the market but to check out this quick event.

Then, we leave Bangkok and go to Hua Hin. Our first destination there is Santorini Park, a themed attraction with an open mall concept that resembles the famous Santorini Island in Greece with its white buildings and brightly one-coloured windows (mostly blue). There are retail shops, and some activities or rides inside such as Haunted House, Ferris Wheel, Water Slide, Merry-Go-Round, etc.

After that, we went to Swiss Sheep Farm. I noticed that Hua Hin likes to create tourist destinations with foreign places as their themes. The town lacks its own identity in terms of its tourist destinations. This Swiss Sheep Farm is a farm (of course) for us to have the opportunity to feed the sheep (I skipped that) and to take pictures of the many decorations in that place such as a huge old windmill, some 3D painting, several miniatures of popular characters such as Transformers and the Avengers, etc.

In the evening, we head to the Hua Hin Night Market. Stalls selling local delicacies, souvenirs, bags, accessories, clothing, food, and offering Thai massage lined up the street. Then, we depart to Novotel for a two-nights stay in Hua Hin. It is a seaside resort with of course the amazing sea view.

26th June 2017 (Monday)

Hua Hin Royal Palace is the first destination of the day. It is a royal residence that serves as a seaside retreat for the past kings of Thailand. It is quite a modest complex with elevated timber structures. The lushness of its surrounding almost overwhelms the palace. Major parts of the complex is also currently under renovation and we are barred from entering those parts. Hence, we only stayed a short while here.

Then, we went to Hua Hin Railway Station, not to take any train but to view the beautiful train station (iconic for the structures with red and cream colours’ assembly) and an old steam locomotive for a short while.

Our next destination of the day is Pleanwarn Eco Vintage Village. It is Thailand’s first eco vintage village and is built to recapture the old classic charm of Hua Hin. It is an open lawn area with two-storeys buildings of retails and restaurants around. They are constructed of recycled or used items including its wonderful entrance of a void surrounded with huge cladding of reused wood and profiled metal sheets.

We then went to Wat Huay Mongkol. It is a Buddhist temple unique for a large statue of a legendary Thai monk on top of a huge podium.

Then, we went to theHua Hin Safari and Adventure Park. This is a place not recommended for anyone. The staff there are annoying and keep pushing us to purchase their packages (tiger show, cobra show, elephant ride, photos, etc). The prices are extremely high and it is just a small ordinary safari. We went there just to see their elephant show. The show is not bad (elephants performing like painting, playing some sports, etc) but I sympathized the suffering that those elephants have to endure to entertain us.

The last destination of the day before taking a dinner on a seaside restaurant is FN Outlet. It is a modern elevated mall with a forest containing pond, bridges and Dinosaurs sculptures on the ground level.

 

27th June 2017 (Tuesday)

Today, we went back to Bangkok (the original name for the city and still called by the Thais is Krung Thep). We visited the famous Damnersaduak Floating Market. The name is self-explanatory. There is a small river crowded with boats carrying tourists and boats with people selling stuff. We took a boat ride and view the lifestyle of the traditional floating houses on our way to the Floating Market. Once there, we just walked on the side of the market where there is also a huge place crowded with stalls selling the same things again. To buy from there or from any markets in Bangkok, you have to bargain up to 70% of the original price the sellers show to you.

Then, we were back to the city region and proceed to the Art in Paradise (3D Art Museum) in Esplanade Mall. There are a lot of cool arts inside that allow visitors to interact and take pictures with to get the realistic 3D feel. Even the elders in our tour group joined in the fun including my father. That was very unusual.

Next, we went to the Honey World, a place that promotes and sells honey products to the tourists. When you are going for a trip in a guided travel group, visiting these places is a norm. We are fortunate that we only get to visit one in this trip. The honey products on sale are being promoted with all the healthy benefits they offered, but in the end, my family end up buying nothing. We usually don’t get interested.

Our last destination of the day is Asiatique Riverfront. It is a new complex by the side of the Chao Phraya River. It’s a huge open-air mall with retails, restaurants, waterfront walk and rides. It is a very happening and vibrant area. Amazing atmosphere with clean environment. Thailand is exceptional in creating this kind of tourist attractions. It’s a huge success.

28th June 2017 (Wednesday)

There is no programme offered by our tour agency today and so we have free time in the morning before our flight back to Kuala Lumpur in late afternoon. We then go to the Grand Palace. It is considered to be the No.1 attraction in Bangkok and I couldn’t believe our tour agency didn’t cover it in their itinerary. Hence, we have to visit it on our own in the remaining time before flying back. It is a huge complex of palace that serves as the main official residence of the King of Thailand.

 

The former King. King Bhumibol who reigned for about 69 years and is very beloved by all Thais had passed away last year’s October. The country then observes one year of mourning for the late king and he will be cremated in this coming October. Many roads around the palace is blocked and heavy security is observed. Until now, there are still a lot of Thais dressed in full black visiting the palace to mourn for him. Their loyalty and love to the late king is unquestionable. Some areas in the palace are also blocked off from visitors due to the same reason but that doesn’t lower my excitement of seeing the palace. It was breathtaking with its towering structures and intricate details on the columns, walls, railings, ceilings and roofs. This place is certainly a must-see in Bangkok eventhough the entrance ticket is quite costly (500 Baht for a person). You also have to dress very decently to visit the palace (also applies to all temples and other palaces in Thailand).

Then, we walked to the nearby Wat Pho. It is a Budhhist temple known for a huge reclining Buddha’s sculpture and houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. The temple is quite huge with many areas within. If not for the hot weather, I would have spend a much longer time in both the Grand Palace and in Wat Pho.

And then, our trip ends. We went back to Don Mueung Airport to catch our flight back to Kuala Lumpur. It’s almost midnight by the time we arrived home. I bought a pair of shoes, some shirts and a short and a fridge magnet. We must buy a fridge magnet every time we visit a new place. It has becomes our family tradition. We had tom yam in almost every meals during the tour. I find that the food are very heavy in taste in Thailand (either too sweet, too spicy, or too sour). Generally, the trip is awesome and I had great time during the vacation. I particularly enjoy the days in Bangkok. Hua Hin is rather boring to me eventhough that place is more relaxing and has lesser tourists. On the other hand, I felt that the newer tourist attractions in Bangkok and Hua Hin (maybe applies to whole Thailand too) are too ‘artificial’. Most of them are constructed just to imitate foreign elements. I would rather visit the real places rather than see the imitations.

Bangkok’s city skyline pictures below. The tallest on the first picture below is Baiyoke Tower which is formerly the tallest building in Bangkok. The title is now taken by the new Mahanakhon Tower shown in the second picture.

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this post. Kindly request permission if you desire to use one or more images in this post.)

 

 

 

5 days 4 nights CNY 2017 trip to Hanoi, Vietnam

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by vincentloy

Hi…I’m back to my blog after disappearing for almost a week. My trip to Vietnam with my family has just ended. When I returned home yesterday, it’s already February and half of the Chinese New Year festival has already passed. Time flies, especially when it is enjoyable time. Here below is my highlight of the trip to Hanoi, Vietnam from 29th January 2017 to 2nd February 2017 (5 days 4 nights) with many lovely pictures to share.

29th January 2017 (Sunday)

The flight to Hanoi was at around 9am and so we have to be at the airport by 6am (3 hours earlier). Hence, we have to wake up at 4am (still middle of the night) and has to leave home by 5am. That’s so early and the consequence of it is that we had lack of sleep for that night. The flight to Hanoi took a little over 3 hours and the best thing this time during the flight is that I’m able to catch breathtaking aerial view of KL city as well as Genting Highlands.

We realised that the time in Vietnam is one hour earlier than in Malaysia. Our first destination in Hanoi is Ba Dinh Square. It is a plaza (main square of Hanoi) that has the President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (he was the first president of Vietnam) and the Parliament House. Next, we walked and visited the nearby President Ho Chi Minh’s Residence with exhibition of his office, presidential cars and the One-Pillar Pagoda.

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Then, we went to take a view of the West Lake and visited Zhen Guo Temple which is by that lake too. I don’t smell any air pollution but the sky there is cloudy and foggy all day long (same for everyday of the trip too). That is not good for taking pictures.

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30th January 2017 (Monday)

Today we took a 2 hours and 30 minutes bus ride to Ninh Binh province. There, we took ‘sampan’ (traditional boat) ride at Tam Coc, which is often referred to as the ‘Halong Bay on the land’. It is as though we have entered the lost world seeing the river and the hills around you over there. One interesting thing are that the people used their legs instead of their hands to drive the ‘sampan’ and we got to pass through several dark low-lying caves while on the ‘sampan’ on the river.

 

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Then, we went to the Bich Dong Temple and Pagoda that sits on the side of a hill. After that, there’s another 2 hours bus journey to reach Halong Bay and we immediately settled at hotel once we reached there. We stayed at villas of the hotel named Royal Halong Hotel. On the evening, we visited the casino in the hotel which is very small.

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31st January 2017 (Tuesday)

Perhaps the most exciting day of the trip as we head to the main attraction of Vietnam, Halong Bay. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We boarded a small cruise ship and toured around the vast region of the bay where thousands of islands with different forms rise from the sea. We then ride a thrilling speed boat to explore the bay further. We also visited Tien Cung caves where there are interesting rock formations beautifully illuminated in the caves by the bay, and climbed a hill to catch an aerial view of Halong Bay. That view is majestic from the pavilion on top of that hill and that means our tiring climb to the top is rewarding. Visit to the bay ended with a seafood lunch on the cruise itself.

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In the afternoon, we visited a Pearl and Mineral Geological Museum. It’s not a museum. It’s basically a place with many people persuading you to buy their stuff. This is one of the disadvantages of following tour group. Then, we visited a small indoor night market where the locals sell their products like woodworks, paintings, fake goodies, souvenirs and snacks but we are not interested on them. We also managed to watch a water puppet show (famous in Vietnam) in our hotel.

1st February 2017 (Wednesday)

Today we took a 4 hours bus ride back to Hanoi. Once reached Hanoi, we had a wonderful buffet lunch in a huge restaurant and it is super crowded with tourists. I could have taken a lot of plates of food but couldn’t do so because of the huge crowd queuing to get them, and the excessive tourists from China made it worst with their rude behaviour. After that, we visited the Hoan Kiem Lake with a Turtle Tower on a small island in the middle of the lake. There is also a temple besides the lake and a red bridge.

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We also took trishaw ride to explore the 36 Ancient Streets, a cluster of traditional streets in the busy capital of Vietnam. The tour guide gave us plenty of time to do shopping there but there is nothing we love to buy over there. Hence, time is like wasted. What’s more disappointing is that the rest of our tour group members decided to skip a tourist destination just to give them more time to shop at the 36 Ancient Streets. The place we skipped is the Temple of Literature (First University of Vietnam). What a waste…thanks to the ridiculously foolish tour group members.

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2nd February 2017 (Thursday)

There is no more tourist attractions for us to visit today. Just getting a bit more rest in the hotel room while enjoying the view of the city in the morning. After checking out from the hotel, we immediately went to the airport for flight back to Kuala Lumpur. Back to home at around 6pm.

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The tour group we participated here is by Golden Deluxe Travel company. The price for one person is RM2200 and that not includes additional RM150 for several additional arrangements during the trip (speed boat ride at Halong Bay and trishaw ride at 36 Ancient Streets). The tw0 hotels we stayed are very good and comfy and their breakfasts are excellent too. The food served outside is generally acceptable but we just couldn’t adapt to their tastes and styles. We do not dare to try the outside food that they served by the side of road due to poor hygiene. We only bought some snacks and a decorative magnet home. Generally, Hanoi is a great place to visit and the main attraction, Halong Bay is truly exceptional.

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this blog post. Kindly request permission if you wish to use them.)

 

16 days 15 nights trip to Taiwan for workshop and holiday.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2016 by vincentloy

This is the longest trip I ever had in my life so far. 16 days and 15 nights in total. This trip to Taiwan from 21st August 2016 to 4th September 2016 is certainly a memorable one. The main purpose for the realization of this trip is to attend an international workshop organized by National Yunlin University of Science and Technology. The workshop is a compulsory event to attend for one of my units in this semester of study. The workshop is themed ‘Resonance’ and it also saw participation of students from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan (of course), etc.

Two days of the trip were already spent on the flights. We took the cheapest flights possible and we had transfer back in Kuala Lumpur, giving us a chance to stay for a short while in our motherland to meet our family. A trip from Perth to KL took about 5 1/2 hours and a trip from KL to Taipei took about 4 1/2 hours. In total, it took me 10 hours to sit miserably in the aeroplanes for the flights to reach the last destination; Taipei. I felt very uncomfortable and I couldn’t sleep in plane. Same situation happened in this one too.

10 days of the whole trip was for the workshop. Our usual routine in these 10 days was waking up early, going to the campus, attending own classes, learning some new softwares, met and worked with new people, drawing stuff, and also creating prototype from various digital fabrication techniques and going back home late. The last few days of the workshop were particularly intensive. I only managed to sleep for about two hours every night back then. It was very tiring but the end result made us felt worth it. Eventhough my group’s prototype isn’t really very successful in the end, but the idea behind it was strong. We certainly had fun in this workshop which was held in Douliu, a small town about 2 1/2 hours drive from Taipei.

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The remaining days (4 days 3 nights) were then dedicated fully for vacation in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. I have been to Taiwan but that was like 8 years ago. Hence, it feels quite good to be back in Taiwan. However, I don’t really enjoy being in Taipei. The city is too busy and crowded. The streets are packed, messy signboards are everywhere, confusing traffic in every corners, and the buildings are very dense. It was already late on the first day when we arrived in Taipei from Douliu. Hence, we spent the evening only walking around the hotel we stayed in and not going far, since we were all drained of energy from the just concluded workshop.

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On the next day, we visited Taipei 101. It’s a must visit attraction in Taiwan especially for people who like to see landmark or skyscraper like me. Taipei 101 is a 508-metres tall building which was once the world’s tallest building. It is now the most important icon for Taiwan. We went up to the observatory levels of the skyscraper and I bought my favourite replica model of the building up there too (at a very expensive price…I still find it worthy since it is my interest to collect building replicas). Great aerial view from the top of the tower and we can also view the huge damper ball up there which is an engineering marvel used to balance the tower and reduces building’s vibration during strong wind or earthquake. We had a wonderful lunch at Din Tai Fung Restaurant at the base of the tower where a shopping mall is located (only luxury brands are there). Then, we proceeded to Tamsui Old Street and visited Fisherman Wharf and Love Bridge. Later in the evening, we went to Shilin Night Market.

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The following day, we went to Jiufen, a town situated on a hill with a majestic panoramic view over surrounding hills and the sea. There are shops and old buildings on slopes, and it gave a very interesting atmosphere to visitors walking in those lanes. We also visited the nearby Jinguashi, a tourist spot focusing on the gold mining history of the town. The natural setting of that place is beautiful. In late afternoon, we went to Shifen, a town popular for the setting off of sky lanterns, which is a practice particularly suitable for couples. In the evening after a downpour, we went to Keelung to visit its Night Market and Waterfront (Maritime Plaza).

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On the last day before we went to the airport for flight back to Australia, we had our last minute shopping at Ximending, the most popular shopping district in Taipei. We actually went to this place several times. It’s always crowded with people, very happening, and has a lot to offer from shops of various brands. That is certainly the best place for shoppers. We also pay a visit to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, a huge complex in honour of Taiwan’s first President.

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That is it. I think I spent over RM4000 on this trip. I bought two pairs of shoes (one normal shoes, one sport shoes from Adidas), a crystal replica model of Taipei 101 with light base, two boxes of pineapple cakes (Taiwan famous snacks), a key chain, a fridge magnet, and a bag.

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A lot of expense was on food which is expected since Taiwan is popular for its night markets everywhere that sell a lot of interesting snacks, food and beverages. I had a great time in this trip at Taiwan with my friends. It’s exhausting but it’s really fun! Now, the trip is over and I have to get back to reality…time to place my focus back on my design studio since there is a very important submission on this coming Friday!

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