Monday, June 18, 2018

Central Vietnam (2018): My Son Sanctuary, Marble Mountains & Hải Vân Pass

Hoi An is indeed one enchanting ancient town and we really enjoyed visiting it. As much as we don't feel like want to leave this town, we had too as we're pressed by the time. Before proceed to the next city which is Hue, we decided to do few sightseeing along the way from Hoi An to Hue. And once again, we engaged to hire private transfer with VM Travel Hoi An which previously did private transfer from the Da Nang Airport straight to our hotel in Hoi An. 

I can't deny that by taking private car, it would be more costly compare by taking public bus which only costs approximately US$9 per person but because my mom was tagged along for this trip, I want her to feel comfortable and at the same time, experience the enjoyment too. Another advantage of taking private car is flexibility, where we can stop at any place we want to. We decided to stop at three places - My Son Sanctuary, Marble Mountains and Hai Van Pass before reaching Hue.

My Son Sanctuary 
Our private tour began at 9am, where the driver picked us up from Homestay May Trang, our lodge in Hoi An. From there, it took almost an hour and 30 minutes to reach our first pit stop - My Son Sanctuary. Built by the Champa Kingdom, My Son is a cluster of ruined and abandoned Hindu temples. The temples are dedicated to worship God Shiva and it is regarded as one of the prominent Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia.

My Son Sanctuary 01

My first impression on My Son is that it looks almost similar to Angkor Wat of Cambodia but of course, the latter one is much more impressive and magnificent because largely of My Son complex was being destroyed by US carpet bombing during the Vietnam War. Not just that, My Son is also often compared with other historical Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia such as Bagan of Myanmar, Borobudur of Indonesia and Ayutthaya of Thailand. In 1999, My Son has been listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

My Son Sanctuary 02

My Son Sanctuary 03
Entrance Fee: VNM150,000 per person (approx. to RM27). Guide is not included.
Opening Hours: 6am to 5pm

Marble Mountains
Next, the driver drove us back to Da Nang for Marble Mountains. Marble Mountains are cluster of five hills made from limestone and marble. Before heading up to the mountains, we saw plenty of shops making and cutting stones and sculpture which they are well-known for. As for the price, we don't even bother to ask at all as we're not interested at all. But of course before heading up, we decided to satisfy our hungry tummy first by having lunch at the nearby restaurant, or else we don't have the enough energy to climb up the hundred flight of staircases.

2018 Vietnam Da Nang Marble Mountains 03

Dotted across the mountain, there are vast of caves, tunnels, religious sites and peaks waiting to be discovered. Hence, it is advisable to wear proper and comfortable walking shoe as I found there are numbers of uneven staircases.

2018 Vietnam Da Nang Marble Mountains

2018 Vietnam Da Nang Marble Mountains 02

A stairway of 156 steps leads us to the submit of Thuy Son, the only Marble Mountain accessible to the visitors. Here, we enjoy a wide and spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding area and the rest of the marble mountains.

2018 Vietnam Da Nang Marble Mountains 05

Entrance Fee: VNM40,000 per person (approx. to RM7)
Opening Hours: 7am to 5.30pm

Hai Van Pass
Before reaching Hue, our drive pass through Hai Van Pass. It claimed to be one of the most scenic coastal view in Vietnam but unfortunately, it was gloomy weather on the day we arrived and therefore our photo can't justify how impressive this place was.

2018 Vietnam Hai Van Pass

Our private tour also includes Lang Co Bay but we decided to skip this and continue to Hue instead. By the time we arrived Hue, it was almost 7pm. Our driver dropped us right in front of our hotel and he suggested us to write a positive review about him - which I forgot to do so until now. The driver was indeed friendly, kind and funny. However, the only thing we didn't enjoy throughout the tour is that all the places we visited are not impressive enough. It's kinda boring and not interesting to us. Probably I've seen too much things recently. Not sure it's a good or bad sign anyway.

2018 Vietnam Hue Beaulieu Boutique Hotel  01

This custom itinerary costs us US$99 which include:
- Pickup from our hotel in Hoi An
- Visit My Son Sanctuary and Marble Mountains
- Transfer via the Hai Van Pass
- Drop us right in front of our hotel in Hue
But excluding entrances fees and meals. So if divided among four of us, each of us pay roughly around US$25 (approx. to RM100) for a day tour.

Date of Visit: 16th January 2018

[Credit To: My Son Wikipedia]

Friday, June 15, 2018

Central Vietnam (2018): What I Ate In Hoi An

My previous post on How To Get From Da Nang Airport To Hoi An Old Town.

#nonhalalpost

Now, let me share with you of what I had when I was in Hoi An for two days. There are few of Hoi An specialty dishes which are particularly famous for and I think anyone who plan to visit here you should give them a try cause you won't able to find these food in any other parts of Vietnam. 

Cao lau 

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Cao lầu
This is the signature traditional food of Hoi An and only exclusively available within this ancient town. Cao lau comprises of thick rice noodles serve with slices of barbecue pork, pork cracking, lettuce and bean sprouts. And what make this dish to be so special? The tale behind this noodle is said to be made using water from an ancient well in Hoi An, namely Ba Le well. There are more I love to share about Cao lau but I think you can get more info from Google, right? 

We didn't purposely go and search for which restaurant or shop that serve the best cao lau but luck was on our side when we happened to stumble upon a restaurant nearby our homestay that serve cao lau.

Banh Bao Vac

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Banh Bao Vac (White Rose Dumplings)
Known as the white rose, it's a dumpling filled with either ground shrimp or pork wrapped in translucent white dough bunched up to resemble flower petals of the white rose shape. Arranged delicately on the plate, banh bao vac is topped with shallots and served with a dipping sauce. We got to try these in one of the restaurants located within Hoi An Old Town.

Bun Thit Nuong

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Bun Thit Nuong (Vermicelli Noodles With Grilled Pork)
A popular Vietnamese cold-rice vermicelli noodle topped with marinated grilled pork, peanuts, fresh greens and herbs and dipped in the fish sauce. This flavourful dish might not be originated from Hoi An, but it's one of the local delicacies you should try when visiting Hoi An. 

The next thing I would like to share is few shops and restaurants in Hoi An that serve delicious and scrumptious local delicacies which are really worth to pay visit. 

Madam Khanh - The Banh Mi Queen

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Banh Mi Queen 01

One of my friends loves this Vietnamese baguette sandwich so much and therefore, I decided to hunt for the shop that serve the best banh mi in Hoi An. After searching up and down, I finally came across Madam Khanh - The Banh Mi Queen which is highly recommended on the net. It's situated outside the old town and the walk from our homestay to here took 10-15 minutes walk. 

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Banh Mi Queen 02

Since there are tables and chairs within the shop, hence we opted for dine-in. We're given a menu written in English - this makes our life more easier when we saw it. We ordered two different banh mi to be shared among four of us; one filled with pork and ham whereas the other one filled with chicken. Our verdict? Both are equally delicious and my friend gave a huge "thumbs up" for this hearty baguette. For the price between 20,000 to 25,000 dong (approx. to RM3.50 to RM4.50), I bet you will going back for more. 

Address: 115 Tran Cao Van Street, Hoi An, Vietnam
Opening Hours: Daily from 7am to 7pm

Hoi An Roastery Espresso & Coffee House

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Roastery Espresso & Coffee House 01

A visit to Vietnam is incomplete without sipping a taste of authentic Vietnamese coffee. Among all the cafes within the ancient town, Hoi An Roastery Espresso & Coffee House is the one that caught our attention. Probably because there are three outlets situated right in the middle of the old town, hence we chosen to visit any of its outlet to have a rest before continue to roaming around.

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Roastery Espresso & Coffee House 02
The menu is diverse with wide selection of food and drinks ranging from local cuisine to western type. Not just that, they do serve tasty pastries and cakes as well. 

Bale Well Restaurant 

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Bale Well 01

Initially, we were thinking should we go ahead with this plan or not as all of us are small eaters. Blame our small tummy. After thinking for so long, finally we decided not to have heavy meal during the lunch time in order to wait for the dinner time. 

Bale Well Restaurant is literally a restaurant served all-you-can-eat Vietnamese street food like Banh Xeo (savory Vietnamese rice pancake), fried spring roll, rice paper wrappers combine with fresh greens and herbs to create your own fresh spring roll. And the main star of the dish is the barbecued pork served in satay-style which is the bomb of the night. Wrap all these food on the rice paper wrappers and dip into peanut dipping sauce, it's amazingly delicious experience. At the end of our meal, we were served with chocolate and mango moosse to complete the meal.  

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Bale Well 02

For the price of 120,000 dong per pax (approx. to RM21), I can conclude we made a wise choice to eat less during our lunch time and wait until dinner time to satisfy our hungry tummy. Not just it's dirt cheap, but this is one true place where you can experience almost all Vietnamese street food under one roof. Try to get to this place as early as you can especially during the dinner time before more crowd is coming in and once again, this place is really famous among the Korean tourists. 

Things to Eat in Hoi An - Bale Well 03

Address: 45, Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoi An
Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm

Monday, June 11, 2018

Central Vietnam (2018): From Da Nang to Hoi An Old Town

I'm quite dilemma actually; whether to continue to blog my old travel backlogs, or just to ignore them. Guess I defer it first, and will continue to blog about them later when I have nothing more to share with. 

So now, let me share my first ever trip for this year - a trip to Vietnam. Why Vietnam again?

I heard a lot about Hoi An and those who went before will eventually comment this place with one word, "Beautiful!". That's cause me so eagerly to scout for cheap fares and I glad I managed to secure the fares within my budget last year, which was not more than RM300 for a return ticket.

At this period, there is no direct flight to Hoi An from Kuala Lumpur, hence you need to fly in to Da Nang first. And so far, AirAsia is the only airlines that flying directly from Kuala Lumpur with 7 flights weekly.

2018 Vietnam Da Nang 00
#1: Flying with AirAsia to Da Nang

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Otaru, My Favourite Spot in Hokkaido

I've been to Hokkaido twice.
The first time I went was during end of winter and the second one, during the autumn a year later. 
Both seasons have their own distinctive sense of beauty and charm, therefore it's hard for me to justify which is the best season to visit Hokkaido.

Among few of the top destinations I went in Hokkaido, Otaru has always been my favourite spot.
Twice I went to Hokkaido, twice I went to Otaru as well. Hence I decided to combine and simplify my two visits into a single post instead.  



How To Get To Otaru From Sapporo
Otaru is situated on the northwest of Sapporo and it takes 30 minutes by rapid train or 45 minutes by local train along JR Hakodate Main Line. The first train leaves as early around 6am and the last train is at 10pm. Hence, it's possible just to do a day trip without considering to stay one more night, unless you feel like want to. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

2018 Istanbul, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia (Sneak Peek)

The longest holiday ever.

Began with the national election day on 9 May, and continued with 10 and 11 May declared as public holiday. Then, started my trip on 12 May and by the time I return back to Malaysia, I realised its public holiday in conjunction of Wesak Day and 30 and 31 May are the state holiday. Looks like throughout the month of May I had been working for 6 days only. 

Where I went in between? Istanbul, a ticket which I bought last year where once again, I stumbled upon a great deal from Singapore Airlines. And this ticket was bought like two days after I returned from my trip to Europe last year. Yes, I'm a proper sucker for bargain and how could I ever resist for a great deal especially from the world's top best airlines. I always want to experience Singapore Airlines but never got the chance to come across cheap fares until my friend from Mytravelmatez shared in his Facebook page. Now you know how I always managed to grab such a great deal. Fast fast follow his page! 

Initially I plan to cover few Balkan countries like Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania but at the end, I decided to narrow down my list and just visit both the first two only. 

2018 Day 2 Turkey Istanbul Hagia Sophia 1

Why don't just cover the whole Turkey only? Few people I met actually asked me the same question since I'm flying in into Istanbul, the capital city of Turkey. Well, I promised two of my friends that we will travel and visit Turkey together. Hence, I will wait for them to make this dream being realised someday. Hopefully they don't fong fei kei me (break this deal/promise in Cantonese).

After staying a night in Istanbul, I booked a ticket to Sarajevo, the largest and capital city of Bosnia & Herzegovina and stayed there for two-good nights. Unlike like what I did last year, this time around I decided not to make my trip so rush, or so called a "touch-and-go" trip but instead trying to spend at least for 2 sufficient nights in each city I'm going to visit. 

2018 Day 3 Bosnia 07 Sarajevo Bašcaršija 2

From Sarajevo, I took train to Mostar and in Mostar, one of the things anyone shouldn't miss is the Stari Most (literally the Old Bridge). This arch bridge was once being destroyed during the war time but sooner, it was rebuilt and reconstructed with the contribution established by UNESCO.

2018 Day 5 Bosnia 01 Mostar Stari Most

After spending 4 days in Bosnia & Herzegovina, I left to Croatia and met my travel blogger friend, Jeff Chuah who will be joining me for the 8 days trip around Croatia. We managed to cover and visit Dubrovnik, Split, Sibenik, Zadar, Plitvice Lakes National Park and Zagreb. 

2018 Day 8 Dubrovnik City Gate
Dubrovnik - The King's Landing. This place is well-known for Games of Thrones and Star Wars shooting place. 

2018 Day 9 Croatia Split
Split, a town on Dalmatian Cost of Croatia is popular for its beautiful beaches and the fortresslike complex at its center. 

2018 Day 11 Croatia Zadar
Zadar, European best destination in 2016.

2018 Day 12 Croatia Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park - This place is the main highlight of the trip. I was totally blown away by this place cause it looks alike heaven on earth. One word: Magnificent!

2018 Day 14 Croatia Zagreb
Ended our trip in Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia.

From Croatia, I flew back to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. Initially I have long list of places to see but at the end, I can't help myself...

2018 Day 16 Turkey Istanbul Grand Bazaar
By going to Grand Bazaar and bought quite number of these. They're are so pretty that it's hard for me to resist.

I spent my last day in Istanbul by doing shopping, shopping and shopping. Perhaps I had enough of the sightseeing activities and give myself an excuse to do last minute shopping. What a lame excuse!

Overall for my trip, the total damages I spent is less than RM6,500 which including airfares, hostels, transportation, food and drinks, admission fees and etc but of course, excluding my shopping spree. Eagerly to know more about this Balkan trip? Stay tune for my upcoming posts! I will try to update my blog frequently. 

All the above photos shot with Huawei P20. I'm so lazy to bring my Sony NEX-5N camera around lately.

P/S: This humble blog of mine hits 2 million pageviews. Thanks to the blog readers for making this happen. 😊😊

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Summary of My Solo Trip To Europe & Travel Expenses

A quite number of friends and blog readers of mine actually requested for my Europe trip itinerary. Let me be clear here. It's not that I'm not willing to share but because for this time around, I wrote it down instead of typing in the computer. Yes, a handwritten itinerary like the old-school time. 

2017 Europe Itinerary

Besides referring to the Lonely Planet and few travel books I got from the previous MATTA Fair which held in Kuala Lumpur, most of the times I was fully relied on the sim card I bought from Taobao (my friend helped me to purchase it cause I can't read Chinese. Yes, I'm a banana) 

Lonely Planet Europe

In case you unable to purchase from Taobao, don't worry cause I found Malaysia's online site that selling travel sim card - Hello1010 (check out their site here). Of course the price would be slightly higher comparing to Taobao but I can't find any better online store than this one. Why I don't use pocket WiFi? Let me do a simple calculation. The cheapest rental rate per day is RM28 and because I will be travelling for 18 days, the total I have to bear all by myself is RM504. One of the downside of travelling alone - no one to share the cost with. 

Hello1010 Travel Sim Card

Here is the summary of my trip to Europe covering 6 different countries and 9 cities:

Day 1: 8th September 2017 BKI → KUL
Initially I supposed to fly with Thai Airways with short transit in Bangkok but due to all the flights delayed caused by MAS, they compensated me by switching to fly with Emirates. Of course, flying with Emirates there would be short transit in Dubai.

Day 2: 9th September 2017 KUL → Dubai → Copenhagen, Denmark
Landed in Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport. Exchanged money in the airport and took train headed to Central Station. Didn't wander around the city much cause not in the mood due to missing luggage.
Stay: Copenhagen Backpacker Hostel

Day 3: 10th September 2017 Copenhagen → Budapest, Hungary
Flew with Norwegian from Copenhagen to Budapest. Took bus 100E from the airport to the city center. Shopping around Vaci street (one of the main shopping and restaurant street in Budapest) cause I don't have any extra clothes to wear. Visited St. Stephen's Basilica, Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion.
Stay: Essential Hostel

Day 4: 11th September 2017 Budapest, Hungary
Kicked off my day by visiting Great Market Hall. Then, proceed to Liberty Statue or Freedom Statue, Liberty Bridge, Shoe on the Danube Bank, Hungarian Parliament Building, Hősök Tere, Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Buda Castle. 
Stay: Essential Hostel

Day 5: 12th September 2017 Budapest → Vienna, Austria
Took train from Budapest-Keleti Railway Station to Wien Hauptbahnhof (Vienna Main Station). Bought Vienna Card (24 hours - €13.90, 48 hours - €21.90 or 72 hours - €24.90) for unlimited public transportation ride and discounts for the museums and art galleries. Visited Schonbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Graben Shopping Street, Imperial Hofburg, Wiener Rathaus and Vienna Opera House. I even visited Cafe Central for a cup of Viennese style coffee and cake.
Stay: Wombats City Hostel Vienna - The Lounge

Day 6: 13th September 2017 Vienna → Salzburg, Austria
Took OBB train from Vienna to Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (Salzburg Main Station). Upon reaching the hostel, I signed up with them for a Panorama Tours: Sound of Music. It offers two tours daily; leaving at 9:15am and 2pm and the duration takes about 4 hours covering Leopoldskron Palace, Hellbrunn Palace, Mondsee and Mirabell Garden. Once the tour completed, I went to Mozarts Geburtshaus (Mozart's birth house) but it was closed by the time arrived. 
Stay: International Youth Hostel Salzburg

Day 7: 14th September 2017 Salzburg → Hallstatt, Austria
Left Salzburg to the magical town of Hallstatt. Took bus #150 from the bus terminal outside of Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (Salzburg Main Station) to Bad Ischl. Once arrived Bad Ischl, board on the train to Hallstatt. Continue the journey by taking ferry to across the Hallstatt Old Town.
Stay: Gasthof Bergfried

Day 8: 15th September 2017 Hallstatt → Cesky Krumlov → Prague
From Hallstatt to Prague, I booked shuttle service from CK Shuttle with a brief stop at Cesky Krumlov before continue another second leg to Prague. If possible, do include this picturesque town of Cesky Krumlov besides visiting Prague. I was utterly regret for didn't plan my trip well.
Stay: Ritchie's Hotel & Hostel

Day 9: 16th September 2017 Prague 
Because my train to Krakow was expecting to depart at 11.09pm, I have almost a day to venture around Prague. Visited Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, Prague Dancing House and hiked up the hill for Petrin Lookout Tower. Then, continue to Lesser Town for St. Nicholas Church, Prague Castle and John Lennon Wall. Took overnight train to Krakow which takes about 8 hours train ride. 

Day 10: 17th September 2017 Krakow, Poland
Arrived in Krakow Glowny, the Central Train Station of Krakow. Check-in into my hostel for quick bath. Practically I didn't do nothing much when arrived Krakow cause I need to do my laundry. Right after I done with my laundry, I went to Galeria Krakowska, a shopping mall nearby my hostel because it rained whole day and I can't do any sightseeing. 
Stay: One World Hostel

Day 11: 18th September 2017 Krakow 
It's bright and sunny day on the second day in Krakow. Therefore, immediately I went to Old Town for Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) and St. Mary's Basilica in Main Square. Then, continue to picturesque street of Kanonicza for Saints Peter and Paul Church. Next, Wawel Hill for Wawel Castle, Wawel Cathedral and Dragon's Den. Ended my tour in Krakow by visiting Kazimierz, once a former Jewish quarter.
Stay: One World Hostel

Day 12: 19th September 2017 Krakow → Warsaw, Poland
From Krakow to Warsaw, I took PolskiBus which the journey took about 5 hours bus ride and arrived in Dworzec Autobusowy Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West Bus Station). To get to Central Station, board on the train heading to Centrum Metro Station. I was being penalised while taking bus from central station to my hostel. Another bad day again!
Stay: Dream Hostel

Day 13: 20th September 2017 Warsaw, Poland
Did sightseeing around Warsaw including Stare Miasto (Warsaw's Old Town), Wilanow Palace, Chopin Monument and Lazienki Palace in Lazienki Park, Warsaw Uprising Museum and Warsaw Uprising Monument. I bought a 24-hour ticket to get around Warsaw by using the extensive public transportation including bus and train.
Stay: Dream Hostel

Day 14: 21st September 2017 Warsaw → Helsinki, Finland
Flew with airBaltic from Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport to Helsinki with short transit at Riga, Latvia. From Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, I took airport train P or I to get to the city centre.
Stay: Hostel Diana Park

Day 15: 22nd September 2017 Helsinki, Finland
Started my day by taking bus to Sibelius Monument. Then, took bus to the market square (known as Kauppatori in Finnish) for Old Market Hall, Uspenski Cathedral and Helsinki Senate Square. I even took ferry to Suomelinna, a World Heritage Site. Bought a HSL Day Ticket which includes unlimited ride on bus and ferry.
Stay: Hostel Diana Park

Day 16: 23rd September 2017 Helsinki → Copenhagen, Denmark
Finally, back to Copenhagen again by flying with Norwegian, a low cost airline but it offers free WiFi to all passengers on its transatlantic flights. Done with check-in into the hostel, straightly took bus to Nyhavn, The Little Mermaid, Amalienborg Square, Amalienborg Palace and Frederick's Church. Before going back to the hostel, I stopby and wandered around the City Hall, Statue of Hans Christian Andersen, Tivoli Gardens and more. 
Stay: Danhostel Copenhagen City

Day 17: 24th September 2017 Copenhagen → Bangkok → Kota Kinabalu 
My flight leaving Copenhagen was expecting to depart at 2.25pm. Hence, I took the opportunity to visit Christianborg Palace before leaving the capital and largest city of Denmark. Home sweet home on the next day with Thai Airways. 

2017 Thai Airways
My virgin experience flying with Thai Airways. And guess what, they served pork as in-flight meal.

CURRENCY
Travelled across 6 different countries, four different currencies were involved. As some of the currencies are not easily found in Malaysia, hence I decided to change to Euro first and changed at the respective country upon arrival.
  • Countries like Austria and Finland are using Euro.
  • Denmark's national currency is Danish krone. The ideal place to exchange currency is at the Central Station. €1.00 = 6.90 Kr on average*
  • The official currency for Hungary is the Hungarian forint (HUF). I found out Great Market Hall offers the best rate. €1.00 = HUF295 on average*
  • The currency for Czech Republic is koruna. €1.00 = CZK24.80 on average*  
  • Poland's national currency is Polish zloty. €1.00 = PLN4.2350 on average*
*The rate I exchanged in September 2017

TOTAL TRAVEL EXPENSES 
I have shared majority of the breakdown of the total damages in the previous posts. Here, I simplify everything for easy reference - which including means of transportation, hostels, entrance fees, food, shopping and misc I spent throughout the 16 days in Europe.

PARTICULARS
AMOUNT
RM
Flight with Thai Airways

Cities
Budapest – 2 days
Vienna – 1 day
Salzburg – 1 day
Hallstatt – 1 day
Prague – 1 day
Krakow – 2 days
Warsaw – 2 days
Helsinki – 2 days
Copenhagen – 2 days

Transportation
CK Shuttle
Overnight train

Miscellaneous
Travel sim card (Bought from Taobao)
2,591


805
496
572
676
318
370
619
1,473
1,286


319
177


95
TOTAL:
9,795
Bear in mind by the time I exchanged to Euro last year, the rate was €1.00 = RM5.12 which consider very high cause currently the rate for Euro is RM4.76. Deng! Feel like want to cry now. 

As for my travel and shopping haul, most of the times I bought fridge magnets, postcards and stamps in each and every city I visited.

2017 Europe Travel Haul 01 Fridge Magnets

2017 Europe Travel Haul 02

And hereby I'm proud to conclude that this is my final post for my solo trip to Europe travelogues. Like finally! Now I'm thinking which travelogues should I blog next - New Zealand, Tokyo, Hokkaido, Sweden & Norway, Vietnam or even Nepal and Bhutan.

Previous Posts on my 2017 Solo Trip to Europe

Monday, May 7, 2018

Europe (2017): My Flight To Europe Wasn't Smooth-Sailing

Honestly to say, never in my life I would imagine that I will plan to do solo trip to Europe. Never ever, seriously. This is because I experienced travelling alone before and it's not my kind of thing. 

Somehow, something happened two years ago and I realised life is too short and you only live once (YOLO, like they always said). So when I came across a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark flying from Kota Kinabalu with Thai Airways was a great steal, immediately I bought without thinking any longer. I didn't even have the ample time to ask any of my friends to join along for this trip cause I know most of them have other travel plans. I never fly with Thai Airways before, therefore I was so eagerly want to experience it.

Because I was going alone, therefore I didn't do any research beforehand and just let everything go with the flow. The only things that I booked earlier are the accommodations and means of transport between two different cities/countries. 

And now here my never-ending stream of bad luck happened again. Two months right after I bought the ticket from Thai Airways, I received email stating the flight time is being retimed and I was given 6 hours hotel stay in Bangkok Airport transit area. Of course, I accepted the kind option given. Alright, that's fine.

Less than 10 days before my trip about to start, my friend told me that flight from Kota Kinabalu to Bangkok with Thai Smile will be suspended by 30 August 2017. Great, so what now? Imagine that I knew this news from my friend, and there's no any email or call receive from the airlines itself. It's really kinda disappointed. Instead of waiting for them, I myself decided to send an email to them to confirm whether the news of flight being suspended is trustworthy or not. Luckily they replied me immediately to confirm the news and given me two different options:

1) Instead of flying from Kota Kinabalu to Bangkok, now the first option is to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur with MAS and then to Bangkok with Thai Airways.
2) Full refund given for the tickets I bought earlier.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Europe (2017): Copenhagen, Denmark - Where I Started & Ended My Europe Trip

A reader actually email me and she would like to know which country I arrive first and then, return from which country for my solo trip to Europe last year. Well, here's the post specially dedicated for her. 

Copenhagen, the capital and most populous city of Denmark is my first pit stop after long hours journey with Emirates. From there, I travelled to Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Prague, Krakow, Warsaw, Helsinki and ended my trip back to Copenhagen once again. (Can you guess how many countries I managed to cover for this round? If correct, there would be token given.)

TAKING BUS FROM HELSINKI CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION TO AIRPORT
Now back to my previous post. Probably Helsinki is not my kind of thing, hence I think spending 2 days there is relatively adequate to cover several famous attractions and landmarks. So on the third day in Helsinki, once again I check-out earlier from Hostel Diana Park to get to Helsinki Central Railway Station cause my flight to Copenhagen is 7.25am. By the time I left the hostel, the day was still dark and walking alone was kinda creepy and scary but I try to remain calm and continuously walking until I reach the station. Surprisingly the railway station is closed and there is no way anyone can enter through it. Luckily I did my research a night before in case I couldn't make it to the train, so what's my next option - which is to take the HSL bus #615 right next to the railway station. From city to the airport, the first bus departure is at 5.10am and the journey takes 35-40 minutes, depending on the traffic. One trip cost 5.50.

2017 Europe Norwegian Helsinki to Copenhagen
Flew with Norwegian from Helsinki to Copenhagen for RM274 including 20kg baggage allowance. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Europe (2017): From Warsaw to Helsinki, the Capital City of Finland

If you ask me how many days should you spend to travel around Poland - I would say at least for a week so that not only you able to cover both Krakow and Warsaw, but Gdansk (one of the oldest cities in Poland) and Wroclaw. Unfortunately for me, I was pressed for time and therefore, only managed to spend four days in Krakow and Warsaw and yet, I found it's still insufficient enough.

HOW TO GET TO WARSAW FREDERIC CHOPIN AIRPORT 
My flight from Warsaw to Helsinki was estimated to depart at 9am. Therefore I decided to leave my hostel earlier. Luckily the bus stop is located just right in front of Dream Hostel and I don't have to  worry about catching up the bus. Took bus #175 heading to the airport using the 24-hour ticket I bought a day before. The trip took about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic and hence, it's advisable to plan your journey well. 

2017 Europe Warsaw Old Town Bus to Airport
#1: The bus stop in the Old Town "Plac Zamkowy" but then, this is not the bus heading to airport. (For illustration purposes only)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Europe (2017): Dream Hostel of Warsaw - The Best Hostel I Ever Stayed in Europe

Out of the 10 hostels I stayed throughout my almost three weeks trip in Europe, Dream Hostel in Warsaw is the one I love the most. Therefore I think it deserves to have it own post. Here are the reasons behind why you should choose this hostel if visiting Warsaw:


Location - Dream Hostel is smacked right in the center of Warsaw's Old Town (Stare Miasto). It's really convenient as there are abundant of restaurants, cozy cafes, souvenir shops, convenience stores and more within the vicinity. And the best part, bus stop to airport and city is located right in front of the hostel - which is super handy.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Europe (2017): Warsaw's Attractions & Sightseeing

Rise and shine, Warsaw! 
As usual, I woke up earlier than the rest for another adventures around the capital city of Poland. Normally, I got up from the bed before the sunrise but then not because I want to chase the sunrise but in order to capture photos without being photobombed - like they said, the early bird catches the worm. 

WARSAW'S ATTRACTIONS & SIGHTSEEING
As I only have one whole day in Warsaw before leaving, I just selected few best places of interest to visit. 

Warsaw's Old Town (Stare Miasto)
The oldest part of the capital city. It is one of the most prominent tourist hubs with cobblestone alley and medieval buildings reconstructed after the WWII such as the city walls, the Barbican and St. John's Cathedral. Right in the heart of the area is the Old Market Place which consists restaurants, cafes and shops. 

2017 Europe Warsaw Old Town 04
#1: Warsaw's Old Town, the finest and most picturesque part of the city.