Wednesday, February 28, 2018

AirAsia Is Now Flying Directly From Kuala Lumpur to Hua Hin For As Low As RM144

Still remember that I blog about my 3 Days 2 Nights to Hua Hin recently? Not sure why but out of so many of my backlog travelogues, I tend to blog about this instead. 

3D2N Hua Hin

To my surprise, today I came across the latest news regarding AirAsia is commencing direct flight to Hua Hin from Kuala Lumpur. The departure date is 18 May 2018 onwards with 4 flights weekly. The lowest return fare I spotted from the website is as low as RM143.90 with one way cost at least RM79 (not including luggage, meals, etc). 

AirAsia KUL to Hua Hin

KL to Hua Hin AirAsia

KL to Hua Hin AirAsia 02

If you haven't been to this stylish seaside resort town yet, hurry up and book your ticket from AirAsia website as the seats are limited. Now you can save up your time instead of taking three hours bus ride from Bangkok, like what my friends and I previously.

Here is an ideal 4 days 3 nights itinerary for those who are planning to go for the very first time: 
AirAsia KUL to Hua Hin 02

P/S: This is not an adv. It's for sharing purpose as I received quite number of messages from my friends as well as from blog readers asking how I always managed to buy cheap fares most of the times. Probably I should blog more about this in future.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hello Prague Again!

Somehow, somewhere I feel like I'm still dreaming. I can't believe after 9 years, I am back to Prague once again. I still vividly remember if I was given another chance to visit Europe again, definitely Prague would be top of my list (refer to my old post: I'm In Love With Prague). Honestly speaking, I can't explain why I adore Prague so much to the extend, I would love to return for the second time. Probably because it's rich with history and culture as well as for its remarkable and prestigious architecture. 

After few hours brief stop in Cesky Krumlov, my journey continued with CK Shuttle which I booked earlier. Something happened in the middle of the journey whereby a middle aged couple from Thailand just realised that the wife left behind her waist pack at the toilet of petrol station. She requested the driver to turn around and drive back to the petrol station but unfortunately the driver unable to do so due to company's rules and policies. However, that Thai lady managed to get her waist pack by end of the day. Imagine she left behind three handphones including the latest model of iPhone. Thanks to the honestly of the petrol station's staff who found it right after received the call from the driver. Therefore, bear in mind to always remember to check your valuables before leaving. 

As I didn't make early request to drop-off right in front of my hostel, the driver stopped somewhere nearby the metro station. Here's come the scary moment. By the time I reached Prague, it was quite late at night. I was literally clueless of how should I get to my hostel. Luckily, I bought sim card with mobile data plan and brought along the leftover Czech crown from my maiden visit; or else I definitely cry for help. 

Where I Stayed in Prague
My main consideration when selecting for hostel to stay in Prague is to be as close to Charles Bridge and Old Town Square. But because I did my planning quite last minute and with limited budget, the one and option I have is Ritchie's Hostel & Hotel. I can't deny that the location is nothing short of perfect as this hostel is surrounded by numerous of restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and etc. However the downside I approached was the whole place a bit worn and the staircase leads to the hostel are insanely narrow. I can't imagine those travel with huge luggage bags especially able to lift up to the hostel.

2017 Europe Prague Ritchie Hostel & Hotel

Date Stayed: 15 September 2017 (1 night)
Room Rate: €18 for a single bed in 8-bed female dormitory attached with bathroom (Booked via Agoda)

Things to Do & See in Prague
Apparently, there are various of things to do and see when visiting Prague and trust me, you would definitely refuse to leave as you will be amazed by this charming, colourful and beautiful city. Prague has become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe along with Vienna and Krakow with millions of tourists visit the city every year. I did blog about few of Prague's attractions and sightseeing which I experienced 9 years ago (refer my old post: 5 Things to See in Prague). As for this time around, some of the attractions I revisit for second time and for the rest, it's my first time to discover and experience.

2017 Europe Prague 02 Prague Nightview
#1: The sight and sound of Prague during night time

Right after I done with the hostel check-in and dumped my bags, I went out to look for dinner. What surprised me was even it's almost 10pm by the time I went out from the hostel, there are like hundreds, no, probably almost thousands of people still wandering around the town till almost midnight. Well, it's not a bad thing afterall because for someone who travel alone like me, I totally felt safe to walk around by my own. As usual, I woke up early like around 6-7am on the next morning for the sake of photo opportunity cause by the noon time, the whole city is overcrowded and it's hard to shoot without being photobombed. 

2017 Europe Prague 03 Prague Old Town Square
#2: The pure Gothic of Tyn Church in Old Town Square 

2017 Europe Prague 04
#3: Early bird get the perfect shot

2017 Europe Prague 19 Prague Astronomical Clock
#4: World's oldest operating Astronomical Clock - Currently undergoing general repair 

2017 Europe Prague 07
#5: Charles Bridge connects Old Town with Lesser Town. 

2017 Europe Prague 09
#6: It's old of Prague's most beautiful structures. 

2017 Europe Prague 10
#7: Old Town Bridge Tower - one of the most beautiful Gothic getaways in the world

2017 Europe Prague 11 Prague Dancing House
#8: Prague Dancing House - Finally I seen this! 

2017 Europe Prague 12 Prague Petřín Lookout Tower
#9: Walked up the hill which took roughly half an hour for Petrin Lookout Tower, the mini version of Paris's Eiffel Tower

2017 Europe Prague 13
#10: If you don't have the stamina to climb up the hill, then take Funicular Railway from Ujezd tram stop. 

2017 Europe Prague 14
#11: View over Prague while walking up Petrin Hill

2017 Europe Prague 15 Prague St. Nicholas Church
#12: St. Nicholas Church in Lesser Town

2017 Europe Prague 16 Prague Castle
#13: Prague Castle - I've been before, so not planning to visit again. 

Prague Castle 01
#14: My old photo on Prague Castle (refer my old post: 5 Things to See in Prague)

2017 Europe Prague 20 Prague Lennon Wall
#15: John Lennon Wall - Not an ordinary wall, it's filled with inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from the Beatles' songs. 

2017 Europe Prague 18 Prague Sex Machines Museum
#16: Sex Machines Museum located in Old Town Square 

2017 Europe Prague 20 Prague Hard Rock Cafe
#17: Any die-hard fan of Hard Rock Cafe? It situated right in the middle of Old Town Square

2017 Europe Prague 17 Prague Trdelnik
#18: Last but not least, don't forget to leave Prague without trying Trdelnik - sweet delicious pantry rolled in cinnamon sugar and with filling like ice-cream and chocolate sauce. 

Get Around Prague
In case you are wondering how do I get around Prague, oh well besides taking on the metro twice, all I did is by walking non-stop. Prague is renowned as a very "walkable city" and it is easily walk from one point to another. However as almost all the streets are cobbled, be prepared to wear a comfortable walking shoe. Seriously you can't imagine how far and how long I walked in a day - the highest record is almost 35,000 steps just in a day, almost equivalent to more than 20km. 

2017 Europe Prague 21
#19: Prague is renowned as a very "walkable city"

2017 Europe Prague 06
#20: Tram (streetcar)

How Much I Spent in Prague
Here are the breakdown:
Ritchie’s Hostel – 1 night
Add: Breakfast

Metro (subway) line - 2 trips

Food & Beverages

Souvenirs – magnets, postcards, stamps,
painting, tablespoon














Exchange Rate: €1.00 = RM5.12 as at September 2017
Exchange Rate: €1.00 = 24.80 CZK as at September 2017

Taking about currency and exchange rate in Prague, the official currency is Czech Crown (koruna). Not many shops and restaurants accept Euro, hence it is advisable to change Czech Crown. And when you intend to do so, please be aware that most of the exchange offices try to cheat customers with various tricks, especially those in tourist areas. I was almost being cheated for its flavourable and impression of good exchange rates which display on the board. I didn't notice the small fine print which stated below that the rate display only apply to those who exchange more than 100 EUR when I intended to exchange 20 EUR only. When I found out that the exchange rate is unfavourable and not the same as the display board, I told the exchange officer that I want to cancel the transaction but he refused as he had printed out the bill, implying it's too late. Damn! I told him it's not worth for me to exchange up to 100 EUR as I'm only staying for a day in Prague. But lucky me cause he agreed to give me at least with slightly rate, better than the rate given earlier on. At least I won't loss a lot of money. This is one of the scams and tricks that you must aware when exchange money in Prague. 

Despite my bad experience with the exchange rate, Prague is still relatively safe and sound for female traveller who wish to travel alone. In case you are going Prague for the very first time, do spend at least 3 days and 2 nights, or probably who know you might extend your stay by end of your visit in Prague.

My Old Posts on Prague:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Brief Stop in Ceský Krumlov, Czech Republic

Vienna, Salzburg & Hallstatt - Although I spent at least a day in each of these cities which might consider to be rush and short, but I glad that finally all these three had been ticked off my from bucket list. Will I be back again? Probably yes for both Salzburg and Hallstatt but nope for Vienna. 

So after spending three nights in Austria, I continued to the following country which is Czech Republic. It is a small landlocked country in Central Europe, located southeast of Germany and bordering Austria to the south, Poland to the north and Slovakia to the southeast. However, getting out from Hallstatt to the capital city of Czech Republic could be quite inconvenient as there is no direct transfer via public train or bus. At the end, my one and only last resort is by taking CK Shuttle.

CK Shuttle Hallstatt to Prague

Why I choose CK Shuttle?
  1. Convenient, easy and comfortable way to reach Prague from Hallstatt
  2. Affordable and reliable fully air-conditioned 8-seated van 
  3. Friendly and experienced English speaking driver
However for a transfer from Hallstatt to Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, there would be a few hours stop in Cesky Krumlov. I never bother to check out this town until I reach there. Frankly speaking, I was utterly regret for didn't plan my trip here cause I never knew this historical town is exceptionally beautiful and spectacular. Silly me! 

2017 Europe Ceský Krumlov 01

Cesky Krumlov, an old city in the south of Czech Republic is a little like Prague in miniature. It is the second most visited town after Prague and in 1992, it has been listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site. This picturesque town is surrounded by rolling hills and the Vltava River along with a stunning castle and charming old town square.

2017 Europe Ceský Krumlov 02

Cesky Krumlov is one pretty compact, dense and convenient to getting around the town by foot. As I only had less than three hours to kill, I didn't wander too far away, or else I will miss out my second shuttle van to Prague. Due to uneven cobblestones path, it is advisable to wear comfortable walking shoes.

2017 Europe Ceský Krumlov 03
The charming old town square where filled with numerous of restaurants, cafe and shops. 

2017 Europe Ceský Krumlov 04
The architecture of the town is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.

2017 Europe Ceský Krumlov 07

2017 Europe Ceský Krumlov 05
Magnets - one of the best momento besides postcards and keychains

2017 Europe Ceský Krumlov 06
Skechers - my favourite pair of comfortable walking shoe

Conclusion, in case you are planning your trip to Prague, don't forget to include Cesky Krumlov too for your Czech Republic visits - at least plan a day trip there. Don't end up like me, I'm absolutely regret for not planning wisely to visit here, which claim to be one of the Europe's most beautiful and marvelous cities to see.  

One way from Hallstatt to Cesky Krumlov via CK Shuttle cost CZK700 (approx. to RM140) and the journey takes almost 3 hours with a short stop for toilet break.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

London (2016): The Harry Potter Studio Tour London

"Miss Diana, can we go to Harry Potter Studio in London?"

This is what my two students requested when we went to London two years ago for International Girl Guides and Girl Scouts camp held in Leicestershire. Although I'm not big fan of this series of fantasy novels but I watched all the eight fantasy films instead. Plus, I thought it wasn't a bad idea after all to include this as one of my London itineraries since we had three days to explore and discover London before entering into the camp site. 

From what I research, the tickets are not available for sale on the spot, hence you need to purchase in advance and pre-book the desired time and date you intend to visit. For more details about the latest admission fee, availability of date and time, you can check out Warner Bros. Studio Tour website here. I would advise to book at least 2 months in advance because it's so popular that it might sold out quickly. 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 02
#1: Purchase your tickets in advance cause they are not available for sale on the spot

Once you receive your booking confirmation via email, don't forget to print it out and bring along for the trip in order to print out the actual tickets from the kiosk nearby the main entrance. 

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is situated quite distance away from London city. It takes at least 45 minutes to an hour from London itself to reach here via train. The Studio Tour's nearest railway station is Watford Junction which departing from London Euston. From Watford Junction, look for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour shuttle buses which located on the left side of the train station. 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London Shuttle Bus
#2: Shuttle bus from Watford Junction

Single trip for shuttle bus cost £2.00 while a return trip cost £2.50. Bear in mind that to ready your cash as credit and debit cards are not acceptable.  

Hence, it is advisable to plan your journey ahead due it's long journey to travel all the way from central London to Harry Potter Studio Tour. Even if you arrive the studio earlier, you are allowed to enter and you can utilise your time for more photo opportunity instead. But in the case you are late, there might be denied entry. 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 01
#3: After the long journey, finally we arrived.

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 03
#4: Since we arrived earlier, we took the opportunity for photoshooting here and there

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 04
#5: Now get ready to explore the wonders of the wizarding world

The studio tour started by queuing on the line before we're escorted into a room. Even while on the queue, be sure to check your left because you will spot....

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 05
#6: The cupboard under the stairs - Harry Potter's first bedroom 

Right after we were escorted into a room, there is a short introduction video right in  front of Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry's door. At first, we thought it's just merely part of the design for the studio tour but not until the door opened itself...

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 32
#7: Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry's door

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 10
#8: The Great Hall of Hogwarts - This is where professors and students gather for dine and congregate. 

Frankly speaking, my jaw was literally dropping when stepping into The Great Hall. I don't think it's just happened to me, probably my two students too. We felt like we're like somehow inside the movie itself. Features with all the original sets, costumes and props from the movie, the studio is completely stunning and amazing. The guided tour ended at The Great Hall and from there, we're allow to roam around at our own pace. 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 06
#9: Hufflepuff House 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 07
#10: Ravenclaw House 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 08
#11: Slytherin House

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 09
#12: Gryffindor House - Can you guess who are in this house? 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 11
#13: Rubeus Hagrid costume

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 12
#14: Professor Dumbledor along with Professor McGonagall and Professonal Snape

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 33
#15: Yule Ball Ice Sculpture from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 13
#16: The common room for Gryffindor

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 14
#17: The Hogwart's clock pendulum as featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 15
#18: Statue staircase

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 16
#19: Professor Dumbledor's office

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 17
#20: Professor Snape's costume and the portions classroom

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 18
#21: Hagrid's hut 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 19
#22: The entrance to the Chamber of Secrets

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 20
#23: The game of Quidditch costumes and props 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 21
#24: Ministry of Magic Atrium

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 22
#25: Umbridge's office - Decorated completely in pink with ornate furnishing and cat plates on the wall 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 23
#26: Shades of pink

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 24
#27: Platform 9 3/4 - One of the popular shooting spot

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 25
#28: Red Hogwarts Railways 

Right after we went through The Great Hall and The Big Room which houses variety of original sets, costumes and props, we came into The Backlot, home to several of outdoor exhibits such as the Knight Bus, Privet Drive Houses, Hogwarts Bridge and The Potter House from Godrick's Hollow. Here, visitors are allowed to enjoy their food and drinks at the cafeteria serving cakes, sandwiches and hot food. However, I found the choice of the food is relatively limited and when seeing the price, obviously be ready for the pricey price tag. Anyhow, don't forget to purchase a cup of Butterbeer, the drink that features in the Harry Potter books and films. 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 26
#29: The Knight bus, the triple decker bus that carry Harry to the Leaky Cauldron

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 27
#30: Hogwart's Bridge as seen in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 28
#31: Room of flying letters

We then proceeded into the second indoor studio houses creature effects and art department.

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 29
#32: A life-size model of Dobby

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 30
#33: Diagon Alley set

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 31
#34: Giant replica of Hogwart's Castle to end the tour

Just like any rest of the rides and attractions of theme parks, you will come across a gift shop when exiting. Harry Potter Studio Tour is part of that too. The struggle is real and trust me, it's not easy to control the shopaholic addiction inside of us. We spent like almost an hour inside the gift shop hunting for these souvenirs to bring back home until one of my students eventually said, "Shut up and just take all my money!". What to expect inside this gift shop; hoodie and T-shirt with the respective houses, wizard wands, books, cups, soft toys, keychains, magnets and more. We were totally spoiled by the choices but at the same time, we were dilemma with the exchange currency. 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London 34
#35: Gift shop that will make you go gaga! 

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour London Souvenirs
#36: A t-shirt cost me almost £23 (approx. to RM128) whereas for keychains and magnets cost around £7-10 each.

For almost four hours, my students and I were enirely immersed in this magical of witchcrafting and wizarding world of Harry Potter. Each and every details from all the 8 movies can be seen and experienced here. We really wish we could stay more longer but thinking of the long journey going back to central London, it's best for us to leave earlier. All-in-all, this studio tour is worth to visit and absolutely a memorable experience ever, especially for die-hard Potterhead fans. 

Date Visited: 28th July 2016