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Thank You 2018, Next!

Day after day. Time after time. In the blink of an eye, today is the last day of 2018 and tomorrow we're going to step into another brand new year of 2019. Sometimes I really wish I have the ability to freeze the time cause time flies when you're having fun. 2018 might not be the very best year but still, I'm grateful and cherish everything I've been through this year. Count more of my blessings, but not the problems I encountered - this is what I always remind myself.

Like I always did for the past years since 2011, now let's take a quick flashback on the past 12 months of where I went and visited in summary:

2018 DT Travel
  • January - Da Nang, Hoi An & Hue, Vietnam. Kicked off my year 2018 by sponsoring my mom another trip to Vietnam. Besides just the two of us, my very best travel buddy also tagged along for this trip together with her friend. A new friend who I never met before but she made us laugh non-stop throughout the trip. I'm glad that my mom really enjoy this trip and she even proposed for another trip with my friend and our new friend found. 
  • February - Kuching for Chinese New Year. The month of festive season where all family members reunite and gather together for a big and important celebration. Since my dad bought houses in Kuching, so he suggested this year we celebrated Chinese New Year in Kuching instead of Kota Kinabalu. I even drove a nearly 6 hours car-ride back to my maternal grandparents' kampung. 
  • March - Tokyo, Japan. Revisit Tokyo for the 5th time and for this round, it's for my birthday celebration. Besides Tokyo, my boyfriend and I visited less touristy and off the beaten path such as Kinugawa, Nikko, Gala Yuzawa and more. 
  • March - Singapore. This is one adhoc trip with my mom. Why? To welcoming the newest member of our family - my newborn baby nephew, my parents' firstborn grandchild. That's mean now I'm officially become an aunty to my sister's son. 
  • April - Iran. A birthday gift from the boyfriend and it's an impromptu trip before AirAsia X decided to cease this route permanently. It's my first visit to the Middle East country and I was truly amazed with how beautiful and stunning the country is. Iran is indeed an eye-opening trip to me and not like what many people expected it to be.  
  • May - Istanbul, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. Another of my solo trip to Europe, except for the Croatia part where I met and traveled with fellow Malaysian travel blogger, Jeff Chuah. I really love Balkans so much and now I'm planning for the next Balkans trip. 
  • July - Perlis for Girl Guides Conference and Annual General Meeting National Level
  • September - Taipei (Taiwan) & Kyushu Island (Japan). Two trips at a time. I took a flight to Taipei first, and then joined my friends for a self-drive trip around Fukuoka, Beppu, Kumamoto and Nagasaki.  
  • October - London, Portugal, Spain & Milan. Another trip with my mom and tagged my cousin along. We got aweseome deal from Oman Air where the all-in inclusive return fare for RM1,800 only. 
  • November - Wuhan and Wudang Mountain, China. A trip to celebrate the boyfriend's birthday. This is when both couples who love to travel, I bet airtickets and trips are the best birthday gift ever. 
  • December - Kuching & Singapore. Weekend getaway to spend quality time with my two younger brothers in Kuching and also celebrate Christmas with my sister and baby nephew in Singapore.  
Exploring 6 new countries (Iran, Turkey, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Portugal and Spain), wandering more than 20 new cities and experience 9 different airlines - that's pretty sum up my travel adventures throughout the year of 2018. 

Apart from my life in relation to travel, how about my own personal life? Oh well, I have been moving out for exactly a year now. Yes, I'm currently living and staying alone, no longer with my parents anymore. Of course I gained more in terms of freedom and become more independent, but on the other hand thinking of the monthly commitments especially the utilities bill, groceries and also the housecores, the cooking and etc, living alone is not as easy as I thought sometimes! This consider to be one of the biggest decision I made in my life but then, I never regret with my own choices. Luckily my parent's home is only 5-8 minutes drive away from where I'm staying now, hence I'm frequently going back to have dinner with them on weekday and breakfast on weekend. 

DT Home Sweet Home1
Every room inside is filled with things from far away (A Million Dreams lyric from The Greatest Showman)

I believe almost everyone's life is like one roller coaster ride - there will always be ups and downs. And so as mine too. Almost towards the end of the year, I lost one of the most important thing in my life - my beloved Guci, a pure Shih Tzu dog breed which had been with us for more than 10 years passed away. Oh boy, losing a dog is equally as painful and heartbreaking as losing a family member. For us, she's not just a dog but as part of our family member. I really do missing the welcome back greet where she wiggle her tail when I reach home, the patiently wait near the staircases when everytime she heard me opening of my bedroom door in the morning, the constantly request to rub her fat belly and etc. Until now I still miss her so much and sometimes I do cry at night when seeing her photos and videos. It's so hard to let go and move on especially when she always by my side, my best companion, cheering me up when I was down for more than a decade.

IMG_4925
Goodbye Guci! You are always and forever in my heart. (May 2008 to 3 October 2018)

I guess, these are the few things I like to highlight for the year 2018. Nothing much, nothing less. Sometimes it's best to expect less, so that you won't end up with higher disappointment. Like they said, the best thing comes when you're least expected. And because of that, I don't have any resolution for the year of 2019 and let my life goes on with the flow. Just let it come what may. At least the best I can do right now is to love myself more as I once battling with depression and anxiety before which causing me to lost my passion and interest in travelling dating back two years ago. Unexpected right? Like I said before, life ain't always sunshine and rainbow, there would be storm and thunder in between. But thankfully, I gradually recovered, bounced back and as you can see, I travel extensively and even updated my blog more often than I used to be (although sometimes I was being too lazy to blog).

Before I end this post, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to those who constantly read my blog and some even become my loyal blog readers. And also not forgetting to those who left countless of comments in my blog, sent messages with positive vibes in my other social media networks which giving me the motivation and encouragement to continue to write and update my blog. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for supporting this humble travel blog of mine. Good news to those who never stop leaving comments on my blog - I have a surprise for you guys as a token of appreciation. Here are the Top 5 Commentators for this year:

Top 5 Commentators for Year 2018
Top Commentators For The Year 2015
1) Twilight Man from Twilight Zone
2) J-Mei from Interesting Corner of Me 
3) Rose from Rose World
4) Mas Light from The Live of A Psychotic Weirdo
5) Small Kucing & Mamarazzi from Small Kucing

So for the five readers I mentioned as above, kindly please comment below as acknowledgement. Plus, remember to leave your name, mailing address and contact number to my email address: dianateodt@gmail.com within 14 days from the date of this blogpost posted.


With this, wishing each and everyone of you have a blissful, awesome, magnificent, cheerful and rocking year ahead. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Post-2
For your information, this is actually a scheduled post cause I'm currently away again to celebrate New Year Eve. Yes, it's my first time to celebrate New Year eve abroad. Guess where I'm heading to and you might get souvenirs from me (Contest end at 1pm)

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Relax & Laid-Back Trip in Kenting, Taiwan

After spending two nights in Kaohsiung, we then moved on to Kenting, the southern point of Taiwan. Since Kenting is conveniently accessible under HSR Zuoying, hence we decided to kill two birds with one stone by covering both Kaohsiung and Kenting. 

Taiwan Kenting 02
#1

HOW TO GET TO KENTING FROM KAOHSIUNG
If you are travelling from Taoyuan or Taipei, take a ride on Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) to Zuoying Station first. From there, take Kuo Kang or Kenting Express bus heading to Kenting. The journey takes approximately of 2 hours for the price of NT$407 for a single trip and NT$600 for roundtrip.

Another second option is by sharing cab, like what we did. If you are traveling in a group of 4, probably this option is cheaper than taking the bus. 

It is possible to do day trip to Kenting from Kaohsiung but for me, I prefer to stay for a night just to experience the night market there. 
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3D2N Itinerary in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Located in the southern island of Taiwan, Kaohsiung is the second largest city of the nation after Taipei. Despite being less popular and always overlook by most of the visitors, but its all year-round fine weather and the low cost of living making you no excuse to visit Kaohsiung. To date, I've been to Kaohsiung twice and hence, I would like to share information based on my personal experience and my handpicked list of Kaohsiung's attractions to see and do.

3D2N Itinerary Kaohsiung Taiwan

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Hotel Review: Sato Castle Motel, Taipei

The most typical things to do when comes to Taiwan are generally hitting the bustling and hustling night markets and stuffed with yummylicious street food. But then do you know Taiwan is also well-known for "minshu" - a type of accommodation equivalent to homestay, guesthouse, bed & breakfast and sometimes known as farmstay if there are animals within the property. The experiences of staying in minshu are completely different and unique comparing staying in a conventional hotel. So whenever I visit Taiwan, I will choose to book minshu instead of normal hotel. Mainly because I love the way how majority of these minshu are beautifully-decorated in interesting and fascinating layout. 

One of the unforgettable experiences for my Taiwan trip is staying in Sato Castle Motel of Taipei. By just looking the photos from the net, it immediately caught my attention and I booked without second thought. 

Taipei - Sato Castle Hotel
#1: Overview of Sato Castle Motel

Sato Castle is popular for offering different type of themed room and to date, there are more than 50 rooms with diversified style and unique theme. There are four categories of room to choose from; King, Queen, Castle and Knight. What distinguish four of them are obviously the size of the room and the room rate. The King is the largest one in term of size and so for its price too. 
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Thailand: 1 Day Chiang Rai and Golden Triangle Tour

*This is super long overdue post!*

Chiang Rai is a small city in the most northern province of Thailand situated approximately three hours away from the most popular sister city of Chiang Mai. Of course if I had the chance, I would love to stay at least for a night here rather than taking an excursion tour but unfortunately due to time constraint, that's my last resort. I booked this tour from the hostel I stayed in Chiang Mai - So Hostel a day before it start for the priced of  800 baht (approx. to RM84).

1 Day Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle Tour Cover

The tour began as early as 7 am in order for the driver to pick up each and every guest from their hotel/hostels...

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5 Reasons Why You Should Apply BigPay Card

*This is not a sponsored post, neither an advertorial.*

But since I received quite a number of queries regarding this, hence I decided to blog and share based on my own experience. 

BigPay Card Cover

I've been traveling for more than 10 years and throughout my travel record, the number of times using credit or debit card when travel abroad can be calculated using all my 10 fingers, or even lesser. Except for the part where I need to do all the bookings like hotel/hostels, transportation and even entrance tickets prior to my trip, I would try my best not to use both credit and debit cards due to its unflavourable exchange rates. Not until I was introduced with BigPay card.
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Summary of My 17D Balkans Travelogue (2018) Covering Istanbul, Bosnia & Herzegovina & Croatia

And here comes the end of another travelogue of mine - like, finally! This year I managed to complete at least 5 travelogues before year-end; Solo Trip To Europe (2017), 9D8N Australia Melbourne & Sydney (2017), 6D5N Central Vietnam (2018), 6D5N Kyushu Japan (2018) and now this one - 17D of my Balkans trip covering Turkey, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. Feeling accomplished cause my motivation for blogging is finally back on track! I almost lost my interest and passion not just in blogging, but in travelling too dating back 2 years ago.


SUMMARY OF MY 17D BALKANS TRIP COVERING ISTANBUL, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA AND CROATIA
Here is the compilation of my Balkans travelogue at a glance (obviously I'm lazy to summarise everything 😜):
2018 DT Balkans Itinerary
(Just click each of them and it will link you to the individual blogpost)

For this post also, I would like to share not comprehensive one but a brief and basic travel guide based my own first hand experience to Turkey (Istanbul), Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia.

VISA
For Malaysian, visa is NOT required to enter into these three countries. Therefore don't have to worry about applying any visa at all. That's show how powerful our Malaysian passport are, right? However if you are intended to stay more than 90 days for each respective country, then you have to go and apply for the visa. I don't have experience for this cause normally, I only stay one or two weeks for each country. 

CURRENCY EXCHANGE
Before embarking for this trip, I exchanged Euros and some Turkish lira (I changed in KL Nu Sentral). You can bring along US dollar, British Pound or even Singapore Dollar cause these currencies are also widely accepted in most of the European countries.
  • Turkey's national currency is Turkish lira. It can be found in Malaysia. But in case you don't have the time to change, no worries cause you can exchange in Istanbul. TRY100 = RM102
  • Convertible mark (KM/BAM) is the only legal tender in Bosnia & Herzegovina. I exchanged in Sarajevo International Airport - the first Bosnia's airport I landed. €1.00 = 1.95KM on average*. But because there is 1% commission being charged, hence I got €1.00 = 1.93KM
  • The official currency for Croatia is Croatian kuna. €1.00 = HRK7.13 on average*
*The rate I exchanged in May 2018
Huawei P2013
Top: Bosnia & Herzegovina's convertible mark
Bottom: Croatian kuna 

PURCHASING TRANSPORTATION TICKET
The most frequently asked travel questions - where to buy all these transportation tickets and when? Being "kiasu" in me, I always prefer to buy all my buses and trains ticket prior to my trip in order to secure the seats, especially when the bus and train schedules are quite limited. Except for my train ticket from Sarajevo to Mostar and a-return day trip between Split and Sibenik, I booked all my bus tickets from GetByBus (click here). It's a legit and reliable website, so don't have to worry cause it's really pretty save and secure buying bus tickets from this website. 

GetByBus Website

The only downside of this website is that you have to print out your tickets. They don't accept mobile ticket. And another thing you have to take note is that for all intercity buses, there is an extra fee of €1-2 charge for luggage fee. Remember to keep some small change.

SIM CARD
Because I was travelling alone, hence it's freaking costly to rent a pocket WiFi by my own. Besides that, for your information Bosnia & Herzegovina is actually doesn't consider to be part of European coverage even for both pocket WiFi and travel sim card. What I did is I bought my travel sim card from Hello1010 (click here) and purchased another one for Bosnia & Herzegovina in Sarajevo Airport. 

2018 Day 3 Bosnia 02 Sim Card

There you go! Hopefully I don't miss out any important travel tips and info relating my trip to these Balkans countries. In case you have any queries or doubt, feel free to leave a comment or email me. 

TOTAL SPENDING
As usual, I simplify everything for easy reference - which include means of transportation, hostels, entrance fees, food but excluding my shopping spending throughout my trip around 17 days. 
PARTICULARS
AMOUNT
€/KM/CZK
RM
Air Fares
Singapore Airlines (Return fare Kota Kinabalu to Istanbul)
Pegasus Airlines (One-way Istanbul to Sarajevo)
Turkish Airways (One-way Zagreb to Istanbul)

Cities
Sarajevo – 2 days
Mostar – 2 days
Dubrovnik – 2days
Split – 2 days
A Day Trip to Split
Zadar – 1 day
Plitvice Lakes National Park – 1 day
Zagreb – 2 days
Istanbul – 2 days

Ground Tour
Herzegovina Tour

Others
4GB Travel Prepaid Sim Card - Bought from Hello1010

-
-
-


-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-


60KM


-

2,190
293
955


301
188
782
419
149
289
300
363
250


150


103

TOTAL:
6,732
Exchange rate  €1.00 = RM4.84 as at May 2018

Curious about my souvenir travel haul? There are two items I die-die must buy whenever I visit different country or city which are the fridge magnet and postcard. Besides these two, another one would be the stamps. Sometimes I would spend up to RM100 by just buying these three things. As for this trip, my total spending for souvenir and shopping is RM1,026 including numerous of fridge magnets, postcards, stamps, a T-shirt, a skirt and a dress when I was in Croatia. 

2018 Travel Haul 4
A hardcore collector for fridge magnets.

2018 Travel Haul 3
Souvenirs from Croatia including tea towels, liquid soap dispense and a T-shirt for my nephew.

Istanbul Shopping Haul 1
Pouch and fridge magnets from Istanbul.

Istanbul Shopping Haul 2
Turkish ceramic bowls in various sizes.

AIRLINES EXPERIENCE & THEIR IN-FLIGHT MEALS
For this trip, I flew and experienced 4 different type of airlines:
1) Silk Air for my journey between Kota Kinabalu to Singapore. I even blogged about this airline before (click here).

2018 Silk Air BKI-SIN-BKI
In-flight meal for Silk Air. I like their fresh fruits but not their main meal. Feel like eating thick flour instead of fish meats.

2) Singapore Airlines for the trip from Singapore to Istanbul as well as for the return. Finally I got to fly with the World's Best Airline. However, I'm quite disappointed with the fleet for the flight to Istanbul cause it's one old aircraft being used. The in-flight entertainment wasn't fascinating and not many options were given. Even for the in-flight meals, I found out it's just so-so and nothing to shout. 

2018 Singapore Airlines In-Flight Meal
For the route Singapore to Istanbul, their meals are quite acceptable. 

2018 Singapore Airlines In-Flight Meal Istanbul to Singapore
But for the route from Istanbul to Singapore, the meals look kinda sad and unappetising. Luckily there's an ice-cream to cheer me up

3) Pegasus Airlines for one-way journey from Istanbul to Sarajevo. Pegasus Airlines is a Turkish low-cost airlines with no-frills, similar to AirAsia where the fare doesn't include free baggage allowance, in-flight meal and entertainment. 

2018 Pegasus Airlines Istanbul to Sarajevo

4) Turkish Airlines for a trip from Zagreb to Istanbul. Turkish Airlines is a national carrier airline of Turkey and it's full-fledged airlines. This is one of the most expensive fares I ever bought in my life just for a single trip. 

2018 Turkish Airlines Zagreb to Istanbul In-Flight Meal

Never thought this is going to be a lengthy post but I'm glad that finally this is the end. Now I'm going to have a cup of nice hot coffee and at same time, thinking which travelogue should I blog next.

DT Backpacking in Croatia
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Foodie Friday: Nakiryu - Tokyo's Second Michelin Starred Ramen Restaurant

#nonhalalpost

So for my trip to Tokyo this year, not just one but then, I managed to experience two distinctive ramen restaurants that are awarded with a prestigious Michelin Star. The first one is Tsuta (click here) and the second one is this one - Nakiryu, which I am going to elaborate further in this post. 

#1: Nakiryu - World's Second Michelin Starred Ramen Restaurant

Frankly speaking, I know nothing about Nakiryu until my travel partner brought me here. He does the planning, and I just follow cause I'm not the type of traveler that will roaming further just for the sake of food adventures, unless I happen to be in the nearby neighbourhood. And because of its location sat on the non-touristic area, no surprise I wasn't aware of this ramen restaurant at all.
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Balkans (2018): Istanbul, Turkey - My Starting & Ending Point of My Balkans Trip

Selam Istanbul!

2018 Turkey Istanbul 01

Frankly speaking, I never imagine that I will visit Turkey by my own someday. My friends and I have been discussed about our trip to Turkey for the past few years but then, we never materialise it to date. One of the main reasons is due to the airfares - most of the times the price of the airtickets to Istanbul from Kuala Lumpur were over our budget. Not until (again!) my friend who manages the Mytravelmatez FB Page shared with me about Singapore Airlines promo. All-in return fares from Kota Kinabalu to Istanbul for as low as RM2,100 which I personally think it's a great bargain. Informed my friends about this but because each of them are committed to their worklife, at the end I decided to go ahead to travel by my own. It's not like I had never experienced travel alone before, right? So without thinking any longer, instantly booked the ticket before the price increase. My motto, "Book first, think later"
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6D5N Self-Drive Itinerary in Kyushu, Japan (2018)



Ever heard of Fukuoka and wondering where it is? Fukuoka is a city in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu and it is the largest city on this southernmost island of Japan. Another interesting fact of Fukuoka is that it is more closer to Busan (South Korea) than Tokyo where you can take ferry to across . I bet another thing you never knew about Fukuoka too - it's the birthplace of Ichiran Ramen! 

Best Time To Visit Kyushu 
Any time at any season. It depends on what are you fancy with - whether spring, summer, autumn or winter. For me, definitely my pick would be on the autumn which falls between October and November where the temperature at a pleasant level and the weather is practically stable. If you are looking for something more happening, then you should go in the month of July for the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. However, try to avoid from mid-August to late September cause the island might experiencing the Pacific typhoon season.

2018 Fukuoka Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival
Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival running for 15 days from 1st July yearly.

Flying In Kyushu
Fukuoka Airport is the main international hub serving those international flights from Mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and more. Heading to the city centre from the airport is pretty easy cause the airport is so close to the city centre which takes approximately of 10 minutes by subway.

Travel Around Kyushu
There are 7 prefectures with over than 10 cities around Kyushu Island (as per the map attached below). Therefore, if you ask me how many days should be allocated to visit Kyushu - of course, the longer, the better cause Kyushu Island is so huge and there are many interesting cities worth for visit. But if you are pressed for time, then I would recommend you to focus on Fukuoka, Beppu, Kumamoto and Nagasaki - just like what my friends and I did recently where we managed to cover all these within 6 days and 5 nights trip.

Japan - Kyushu Map
Image source from Japan Guide

Get Around Kyushu
Generally, there are two ways to travel from one city to another within Kyushu Island; either by renting a car or relying on the trains. If you prefer the latter option, then you should consider of buying the JR Kyushu Rail Pass. Click on the link for more info about the validity, price and coverage.

JR Kyushu Rail Pass
All Kyushu
3 days
15,000 yen
5 days
18,000 yen
Northern Kyushu
3 days
8,500 yen
5 days
10,000 yen
Southern Kyushu
3 days
7,000 yen
Fukuoka Wide
2 days
3,000 yen
Reduced rates (50%) apply to children aged 6-11

However, my friends and I decided to rent a car and do self-drive trip cause we love of having another road adventures. We rented from Budget Car Rental with a free shuttle service from Fukuoka Airport to their office nearby.

2018 Fukuoka Airport Budget Car Rental

NOTE: For a Malaysian who intend to drive around Japan, applicants should apply for International Driving Permit (IDP) at any Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) offices. Do bring along your original identification card, valid driving license, two passport size colour photos and RM150 for the processing fee. Don't forget to fill in the application form at JPJ office too. Only those who apply IDP is allowed to drive in Japan.

6D5N Kyushu Itinerary
Day 1: Fukuoka Airport → Yufuin → Beppu
Day 2: Beppu → Kumamoto
Day 3: Kumamoto
Day 4: Kumamoto → Nagasaki → Fukuoka
Day 5: Fukuoka
Day 6: Sayonara Fukuoka

DAY 1
Right after we clear with all the car rental process, straight away we drove to Beppu, a home to more than 2,000 onsen (known as hot spring in Japanese). But before that, we did a stopby at a small town by the name of Yufuin for its colourful and vibrant Yufuin Floral Village.

2018 Japan Yufuin 01

Setting in the old English atmosphere, almost all the houses and stores here are painted in bright yellow colour and built in an average size where one can almost touch their roof, if you are tall enough. Despite its size, all the shops are beautifully manicured with multicoloured flowers, bushes and vintage lamps which causing this place a good photo opportunities if you are looking for Insta-worthy spots. Besides souvenir stores that selling all kind of stuff like soft toys, Japanese cartoons (Totoro, Kiki), owl-themed items and more, you can find cat's cafe and owl museum too. 

2018 Japan Yufuin 03

2018 Japan Yufuin 02

2018 Japan Yufuin 04

Yufuin Floral Village
How To Get Here: Less than 20 minutes walk from Yufuin Station on JR Kyudai Main Line
Tel: 0977-85-5132 (If you are renting car, you need to enter telephone code to get here)
Opening Hours: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm daily
Admission is free of charge.

From Yufuin, it takes approximately an hour drive to Beppu. Beppu is well-known for its hot springs and there are more than 100 hot springs there. Some hotels and even traditional inns have their own hot springs within their building and allowed their guests access for free. Even the one you book that doesn't have this special service, don't worry cause onsen (hot spring) can be found almost everywhere around Beppu and the cheapest one we found cost us 100 yen. That's like RM4. Freaking dirt cheap!

2018 Beppu Manhole Cover
Beppu - home to more than hundred of 100 hot springs #thetravellingnails

After soaking and relaxing in an onsen bath, it's time to fill our hungry tummy. And we had Icchome Ramen - a clear broth-based soup served with Charshu, boiled egg, green onion and kimchi. Yes, an unique combination and this is my virgin experience eating ramen with kimchi together. 

2018 Beppu Icchome Ramen

In Beppu, we stayed for a night in International Hostel Cabosu House Beppu Original where we got to experience sleeping in a tatami-styled room. It's a very simple and basic Japanese-styled room but very spacious which can accommodate up to 4 guests. We booked the one ensuite with a separate toilet and bathroom. As for the parking, we were requested to pay additional of 700 yen. 

2018 International Hostel Cabosu House Beppu Original

International Hostel Cabosu House Beppu Original
Type of Room: Economy Japanese-Style Room with Ensuite
Room Rate: RM342 per night

DAY 2
In Beppu, we only intended to stay for a night and therefore before leaving this city, we visited few places like Umi Jigoku and Jigokumushi Kobo Kannawa.

Umi Jigoku - Umi means "sea" and Jigoku indicates "hell". Why this place is known as sea hell is because of its colour - an unique cobalt blue coloured hot spring. Umi Jigoku is undoubtedly to be one of the most beautiful and sophisticated out of all seven hells. It's exceptionally hot and so don't ever bother to take a bath here. Besides the popular onsen eggs, don't leave this place without trying their Jigoku pudding which made by the steam of Jigoku. 

2018 Japan Beppu Umi Jigoku

2018 Japan Beppu Umi Jigoku 2

2018 Japan Beppu Umi Jigoku Pudding
#thetravellingnails

Umi Jigoku
How To Get Here: Bus #5, 7 and 9 from JR Beppu Station
Tel: 0977-66-0121. Free parking is provided at all the hells.
Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm daily
Admission Fee: 400 yen for visit Umi Jigoku only. If you are interested to visit all the seven hells, then it costs 2,000 yen. 

Jigokumushi Kobo Kannawa - This is where you can cook your food by steaming them using the natural heat of the hot spring water. Sounds interesting, right? Visitors can choose and purchase any variety of food which they like to cook/steam by their own such as seafood, chicken, pork, vegetables, sweet potatoes, dumplings and more for between 150 yen to 3,000 yen. Unfortunately for us, we didn't have the chance to experience this cause there are like more than 50 people queue before us. It's like almost two hours of waiting and therefore, we decided to skip this. It's wise to come as early as 9 am or choose to come during non-peak hour. 

2018 Beppu Jigokumushi Kobo Kannawa 1

2018 Beppu Jigokumushi Kobo Kannawa

Jigokumushi Kobo Kannawa
How To Get Here: Bus #5, 7 and 9 from JR Beppu Station
Tel: 0977-66-3775
Opening Hours: 9 am to 9 pm (8pm is the last cooking time). Closed on third Wednesday of each month.

From Beppu, we proceeded to Kumamoto which takes about three hours drive. As for Kumamoto, we stayed here for 2 nights and we booked Riverside Hotel Kumamoto. We enjoyed staying in this hotel due to its excellent and great location - very close to Shimotori Shopping Arcade and less than 10 minutes walk to Kumamoto Castle.

2018 Riverside Hotel Kumamoto

Riverson Hotel Kumamoto
Type of Room: Modern Japanese-Style Room Ensuite with private bathroom 
Room Rate: 10,800 yen with additional charge of 1,000 yen for parking fee (Approx. to RM464 per night and can accommodate up to 3 guests)

Right after we done with the check-in, we walked to Shimotori Shopping Arcade for Kokutei Ramen. If you are searching for authentic Tonkatsu Ramen in Kumamoto, then Kokutei Ramen is highly recommended for its milky and creamy pork bone broth-based ramen soup with a strong garlic flavour. We're lucky that we don't have to travel far to savour for this yummylicious bowl of ramen. We ordered Kokutei Recommended - Tamagoiri Ramen where instead of serving the hard boiled egg, they served two fresh egg yolks to make the broth more creamier and it costs 900 yen for normal size and 1,500 yen for the extra large size. 

2018 Beppu Kokutei Ramen
Kokutei Ramen
Opening Hours: 10.30 am to 8.30 pm

DAY 3
It's time to explore Kumamoto, the capital city of Kumamoto Prefecture. Kumamoto is recognised for its hilltop Kumamoto Castle. In Japan, there are "Three Premier Castles" amongst both Japanese and the foreigner - Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture which I've been with my mom 5 years ago (click here), Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture and Kumamoto Castle is one of them. Unfortunately due to devastating earthquakes in April 2016, the castle suffered a heavy damage and the inner grounds are closed to the public recently. However, visitors still able to witness the massive fortress from the outside.      

Before reaching to the castle, we visited Sakuranobaba Johsaien which is about less than 10 minutes walk from our hotel. This is a Japanese tourism facility where not just consists of tourism information centre but also filled with plenty of shops selling souvenirs, snacks, desserts and more. Here, we stumbled upon a buffet restaurant where we can enjoy both Japanese and Western cuisines under one roof at the price 1,500 yen for an adult which we think it's pretty reasonable and affordable. 

2018 Kumamoto Sakuranobaba Johsaien 1

2018 Kumamoto Sakuranobaba Johsaien Lunch Buffet

After the satisfying lunch, it's time to do some exercise by hiking up the hills to sight the majestic Kumamoto Castle. Like I mentioned earlier, although we're not allowed to enter due to earthquake, we still able to spot some part of the fortress from the outside. The main castle is scheduled to be reopened to the public in Spring 2021. Perhaps I should revisit Kumamoto for the second time merely for this premier castle once it's reopening soon (fingers crossed). 

2018 Kumamoto Castle

2018 Japan Kumamoto

Since we still have plenty of time, we went and visited Suizen-ji Joju-en. It is a photogenic Japanese style lakeside garden offering a scenic and spectacular view. This vast garden is well-maintained and definitely worth to visit though situated quite distance from the city centre. It's so peaceful and relaxing strolling along a circular path. I bet this garden would be ten times beautiful during the sakura (cherry blossom or spring) season. 

2018 Kumamoto Suizen-ji Joju-en 1

2018 Kumamoto Suizen-ji Joju-en 2

Suizen-ji Joju-en
How To Get Here: Take tram from JR Kumamoto Station
Opening Hours: 7.30 am to 6pm (March to October); 8.30 am to 5 pm (November to February)
Admission Fee: 400 yen

DAY 4
On the next morning, we woke up super early in order to catch the first ferry ride to across to Nagasaki. From our hotel, we drove all the way to Kumamoto Port which is about 30 minutes drive. Since it was too early, there's no traffic and we managed to catch the 7 am ferry ride instead of the 7.30 am ride we planned earlier. This is the main highlight of our trip cause I always love to take ferry while doing self-road trip. If you would like to know more about the schedule and fares, click here.

2018 Kumamoto-Shimabara Ferry

This so called "high-speed car ferry" takes approximately an hour ride from Kumamoto Port to Shimabara, the nearest port of Nagasaki. From my observation, only my friends and I were the only foreigners on the ferry cause majority of them are the local heading for work. Upon arriving Shimabara Port, it takes another two hours drive to Nagasaki city centre. Tired? No, cause two of us decided to apply for IDP though there were three of us to avoid from over-exhausted for driving the whole island. 

In Nagasaki, we parked our car in Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and from there, we decided to walk to the nearest attractions. One of my biggest regret for this trip is that we didn't intend to stay longer in Nagasaki cause there are so many things to see and do here.  

2018 Japan Nagasaki Attractions

Places of Interest In Nagasaki:
  • Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum - museum with photos and artifacts documenting the atomic bombing of Nagasaki dating back in 1945
  • Urakami Cathedral - Reassembled remains of this Catholic church destroyed in the atomic blast in WWII 
  • Nagasaki Peace Park - A park that commemorates the atomic bombing of Nagasaki City by displaying number of dramatic sculptures and statues to remind the visitors of the nuclear catastrophe and the need for a peaceful world and free from war. 
  • Hypocenter Park - Not far away from Nagasaki Peace Park, stands the Hypocenter Park marks the exact location and hypocenter of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
How To Get To Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Surrounding:
From JR Nagasaki Station
Streetcar: Take bound for Akasako, get off at Hamaguchi-machi and walk for 5 minutes.
Bus: Take Nagasaki bus #1, 2, or 9 and get off at Hamaguchi-machi. Walk for 5 minutes.

NOTE: From Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, it takes roughly around 10 minutes walk to Urakami Cathedral, Peace Park and Hypocenter Park. There is a tourist information centre located inside the museum and you can request for the map.

After recalling our history knowledge of the World War 2 in Nagasaki, we head back to Fukuoka - this is where we started and also where we ended our trip for this journey. In Fukuoka, we booked to stay in Montan Hakata Hostel. I admire the concept of this hostel especially the spacious lounge/common area. And the best part is that free breakfast provided to all the guests which we only found out about this on the second day. Silly us! 

2018 Fukuoka montan HAKATA Hostel 1

2018 Fukuoka montan HAKATA Hostel 2

Montan Hakata Hostel
Type of Room: Triple room with private bathroom 
Room Rate: RM375 per night for a single bed and a bunk bed and breakfast is included
Nearest Station: Higashi-Hie Station under Kuko Line

2018 Fukuoka JR Hakata City

Now, let's get to know some facts of Fukuoka. For your information, Fukuoka has two centres - Hakata and Tenjin. If you are into shopping activities, then you should consider staying in Tenjin cause it is the largest shopping district in Fukuoka. Several huge department stores such as Daimaru, Mitsukoshi is located at this area. Even the Japanese biggest discount store, Don Quijote is not far away. 

DAY 5
So, what to do and see in Fukuoka? Here, we decided to return the car we rented and get around Fukuoka by taking public transport, especially the subway. In case you are travel extensively, you can consider to buy an all day subway pass costs 620 yen on weekday and 520 yen on weekend. 

First thing to do in Fukuoka is to eat Ichiran Ramen. A trip to Fukuoka is incomplete without savouring this well-known ramen dedicated solely to perfecting classic tonkatsu. You can find Ichiran Ramen restaurant in both Hakata and Tenjin area but the one in Tenjin offers something special - serves in "Kamadare Style" with a specially rectangular shaped bowl and this is exclusively found in Fukouka only. 

2018 Japan Fukuoka Ichiran Ramen

2018 Japan Fukuoka Ichiran Ramen 2

2018 Japan Fukuoka Ichiran Ramen 3

Ichiran Tenjin Nishidori
How To Get There: 
Nishitetsu Omuta Line: 5 minute walk from Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station
Subway: 8 minute walk from Tenjin Station
Opening Hours: 10 am to 7 am daily (Yes, they open for 21 hours with 3 hours break only)


Yatai, the mobile food stalls are known to be Fukuoka's iconic. There are approximately 150 yatai scattered across the city of Fukuoka but the common place to look for them is particularly on the southern end of Nakasu. Yatai are normally open from 6 pm till midnight and typical Japanese dishes like yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), oden (hot pot) and ramen are among the food served there. 

2018 Japan Fukuoka Yatai

You will be surprise that one of the popular attractions of Fukuoka is Canal City, a uniquely designed mall houses variety of clothing stores, restaurants, cinema and remarkable character store like Studio Ghibli gift store which is popular for Totoro. Then on the 5th floor, there is a Ramen Stadium hosts 8 distinctive famous ramen shops from all over Japan. Somehow this place reminds me of Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum which I have yet to blog about it till now. 

2018 Fukuoka Canal City 1

2018 Fukuoka Canal City Ramen Stadium

Canal City
How To Get There: 
Canal City is located in the middle of Hakata and Tenjin Station. It takes about 15 minutes walk from Hakata Station or 20 minutes walk from Tenjin Station.
Opening Hours: 10 am to 9 pm daily


Kushida Shrine, a Shinto shrine is famous for the happening and grand festival of Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. It goes without saying then that this shrine is beloved by the citizens of Fukuoka. When you visit this shrine, don't forget to drink the water from well with three cranes which believes to bring longevity and eternal youth. 

2018 Fukuoka Kushida Shrine


2018 Fukuoka Kushida Shrine 1

Kushida Shrine
How To Get There: 
It takes about few minutes walk from Gion or Nakasu stations of the Fukuoka subway.
Opening Hours: 4 am to 10 pm daily
Admission is free and open to public.

Total Damage For 6D5N Trip Per Pax
PARTICULARS
AMOUNT
¥
RM
Accommodation
Cabosu House Beppu Original – 1 night
Riverside Hotel Kumamoto – 2 nights (+ parking fee)
Montan Hakata Hostel – 2 nights

Transportation
Car rental
Ferry ride
Toll
Gasoline
Parking fee
Tram & bus around Kumamoto
Subway around Fukuoka

Admission Fees
Beppu - Umi Jigoku
Kumamoto - Suizen Park
Nagasaki – Atomic Bomb Museum

Food and drinks

-
7,867
-


9,000
1,487
4,083
557
553
650
660


400
400
200

10,464

114
309
250


346
55
156
21
20
24
24


15
15
7

387
TOTAL (RM)
1,743
Exchange Rate ¥100 = RM3.70 as at September 2018

Is 6D5N Sufficient To Cover Fukuoka and The Surroundings
Absolutely no! I would suggest to spend at least 8 days or more (if possible and time permitted) when planning your trip to visit Fukuoka and other surrounding cities. Perhaps you can include Kitakyushu, Miyazaki or even planning a day trip to Hashima Island, commonly called as Gunkanjima where this island has appeared in several international films including the South Korean film "The Battleship Island".

Battle-Ship_Island_Nagasaki_Japan
Image source

AirAsia Is Flying To Fukuoka Soon?

air-asia-fuk-KL
Image Source

According to this news shared by Azra (Life of A Traveller), looks like AirAsia is going to launch another latest route between Kuala Lumpur to Fukuoka soon. The official announcement including the flight schedule is expected to be announced by AirAsia later by this month and the flight will probably begin between January to March 2019.

So, let's us wait and hope to see this great news soon. Hopefully this post of mine can you give a rough idea on planning your trip to Fukuoka and other cities of Kyushu Island.

UPDATED:
After a year later, I went Fukuoka for the second time. Thanks to AirAsia for the cheap fare that my boyfriend and I managed to grab. Here's my latest post on 8D7N Self-Drive Itinerary In Kyushu.
2019 8D7N Self Drive Trip Kyushu Itinerary-1
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