Travel Explorer

Where in the world to travel

Month: July 2011 (Page 1 of 4)

Rotorua, New Zealand

Photo of Rotorua in New Zealand

One of the public mud pools in Rotorua

Rotorua is located in the North Island of New Zealand. This place is very famous for its mud pools and thermal activity.

The town is quite popular. Tourists from all over the world visit Rotorua.

I was excited to get to Rotorua, and thought it would be nice to go to a body spa after our long journey and have a nice dinner.

This town is just amazing because everywhere you go, you see natural geysers spraying out of the ground.

But the smell…. the whole town has a really bad smell. Suddenly I gave up the idea of having a spa because I was’t sure if I could stand that smell. We went to bed and I still felt bad. During the night I wished the night to be short. I couldn’t breath, my negative feeling started.

Anyway, we drove out of town early the next morning. So I missed my body spa at Rotorua!

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Photo of Lake Tekapo in New Zealand

View of Lake Tekapo from our balcony at Peppers Bluewater Resort

Lake Tekapo is located in the South Island of New Zealand. It’s quite a popular place with the tourists. There are many hotel accommodations near the lake.

We stayed at Peppers Bluewater Resort which has a spectacular view over Lake Tekapo and the surrounding mountains. When the sun is shining, the lake is a beautiful turquoise colour and is stunning to look at.

In the morning we went for walk and went looking for an internet cafe. We couldn’t find an internet cafe, but we did find a cafe with a computer that was connected to the internet. The shops are situated in the same area, which is near the lake. Most of them sell local product such as woollen cardigans, scarves, lotions, and souvenirs.

The next day we drove up to the Mt John Observatory and looked over Lake Tekapo. Up there is a restaurant/coffee shop called Astro Cafe. The view makes this is a spectacular place to have with a cup of coffee. Even the Lonely Planet Guide describes it as “possibly the best place on the planet for a coffee”. From here, you can see the whole town of Tekapo from along the side of the lake.

Pancake Rocks in New Zealand

Photo of Pancake Rocks in New Zealand

Pancake Rocks look like giant pancakes beside the ocean

Pancake Rocks is located on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. They are located at Dolomite Point, near the small village of Punakaiki which is located in between Greymouth and Westport.

Not 100% sure why they’re called Pancake Rocks, but maybe it’s because they look like giant pancakes coming out of the ocean! This incredible effect to the rocks was made by the ocean, wind, and acidic rain.

Looking out to the large, wild ocean, I feel like I’m standing at the edge of the world. I feel so lucky to see this beautiful part of the earth.

Not far from the Pancake Rocks is the Punakaiki Resort. As far I can see, here is the best place to stay. Lucky we get the table for dinner, because everyone has to book early. We even saw someone being turned away not long after we booked, because they were fully booked. They had good food, good accommodation and good views.

I like the idea of the tunnel underneath the road for connections to some parts of the hotel (as the hotel is located on both sides of the highway). This accommodation was quite busy, maybe because the tour companies book it.

On the way to Pancake Rocks we drove past Greymouth, which is also beautiful. The spectacular beach was made by black and white rock, which is a change from the usual sand beaches.

Boracay Philippines

Photo of swimmers at White Beach at Boracay

At Boracay, the water is so tempting!

Boracay is a small island in the Philippines 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region.

The high season is between November to the end of May or the middle of June. The water is so  gorgeous clear and very still. Every thing is so nice. The temperature is around 30 degrees up. It’s very easy to hang around the beach all day.

This is the first time for me in Boracay, Philippines. Before I came, I had no idea what the place was going to look like. All I knew was from what friends had told me.

So now I’m here in Boracay Island. The place I can easily call paradise. I was so impressed when I arrived. I feel very comfortable with the place and I like it. It makes me feel so good and it’s very relaxing. I can’t wait to jump into the water again.

While I swim and relax in the water, the fish come and have a look and play with me. They try to nip my thumb, I feel like I’m in a fish spa! Some tourists are snorkelling. And the kids are enjoying building sand castles.

Photo of sunset at White Beach in Boracay

White Beach in Boracay, Philippines is a popular place to watch the sunset

 

Sailing around the island is great sight seeing. You can hire a sailing boat by the hour. You can also hire a scooter by the hour to take you sight seeing around the island.

Boracay Island is a very popular place for weekends, holidays, or even for honeymoons. Many couples choose Boracay for their wedding party. Therefore this place is has many hotels and accommodation options. For more information, here’s a link to help you decide where to stay in Boracay.

At night many bars are have a fire dancing show. It’s amazing to see. They even twirled their fire above my head once. It was a scary part of the show. But the result was great and everybody clapped their hands afterwards.

There are so many bars and restaurants all along at the front beach. So we don’t need to worry about where to eat. Many restaurants turn into a party bar at night. Also, some bars have live bands for those who just want to listen to the music.

If you like seafood, there is “D’talipapa”. This is the market for fresh seafood and other meats such as chicken. You can buy your fresh seafood from the market, then walk across to one of the restaurants that offer a “cooking service”. The restaurant will cook your seafood the way you want it. If you like cheap lobster, here is the place to be.

D'Talipapa Boracay,Philippines

Most filipino are of christian religion, and it’s normal to see many filipina wearing bikinis on the beach. Most of the locals speak tagalog and american english.

It was quite easy for us to get to Boracay from Malaysia. We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Clark airbase in Angeles City. Stayed at Angeles City for 2 nights, then flew to Caticlan airport. From Caticlan airport, we took the free connecting bus to the jetty and boarded the boat to Boracay.

Visa Extensions

When we arrived in the Philippines, we were issued with a tourist visa as we went through immigration. This allowed us to stay for 21 days. Immigration didn’t ask to see our outbound ticket, but we had already been asked for that at Kuala Lumpur.

If you’re an overseas tourist and you wish to stay longer in the Philippines, you can apply for a visa extension within the Philippines. It will cost around 3,000php for next 38 days. After that, you can extend for another 2 months, but at this point, you will need to pay an extra $50 US for an I-card – basically an ID card. After that 2 months is up, you can keep extending for at least 12 months. The fees tend to change a lot. Best that you check the official Philippines Immigration website for their visa extension fees. There is an immigration office in Boracay island. It’s currently located in the reception area of the Nirvana hotel, which is in between D’Talipapa and D’mall – the main shopping area.

Go to Malaysia

We visited Malaysia for a couple of weeks in between Thailand and Philippines. Our flight from Thailand to Philippines connected at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, so we thought, why not stay in Malaysia for a couple of weeks?

Malaysia has a lot of green energy around the country. Palm and rubber plantation is the local business. I was very surprised to see most of the countryside covered by palm and rubber plants. If one day the world runs out of petrol, Malaysia can stand out with their own green energy.

In Malaysia, most of people are of Muslim religion, some of them are chinese. So I was sometimes concerned about what to do and what to wear. I didn’t want to disrespect the place or the people. Even in Kuala Lumpur I felt this.

Foreigners from many countries can enter Malaysia without having to apply for a visa. Depending on your citizenship, you could be granted a 14, 30, or 90 day visa at the airport. As far as I can tell, US citizens can enter indefinitely, as long as it’s for social, academic, or business purposes. You can check the Malaysian Immigration website for Malaysia’s visa requirements by country.

During our two weeks in Malaysia, we stayed for one week at Kuala Lumpur and one week in Penang.

Kuala Lumpur

Twin tower Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia by population. During our week in Kuala Lumpur, we stayed in Chinatown, and also checked out the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). Here’s more about my first trip to Kuala Lumpur.

Penang

Nice resort right on the beach

Dinner and relaxing in Penang

Penang is an island off the west coast of Malaysia. We took a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang bus station, which took about four or five hours. We flew back by plane. Batu Ferringhi is the place that we stayed in Penang. In Batu Ferringhi you can relax and enjoy the most beautiful sunset in Malaysia. I loved the “satay” dishes and seafood plate from the local food court.

My First Trip to Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Multi cultured and “truly Asia”. Many international flights stop over here. If you find yourself on a flight to Kuala Lumpur airport, it’s a good opportunity to take a trip into Kuala Lumpur city centre.

This is my first trip to Kuala Lumpur, we catch the bus from the airport to the city. Our destination is Petaling Street, Chinatown. We book and stay in Chinatown for a week. The reason is that this place close to shopping, food and transportation.

Chinatown is the place for shopping. There is a massive amount of products such as handbags, watches, clothes, etc. And the cheap restaurants. We can sip beer and watch all the people shuffling past. Chinatown is also where we  found the “clay pot” restaurant, where they serve a delicious rice dish in a clay pot.

We walk to “central market” in the morning to have the famous Old Town White Coffee. With the special coffee beans roasted. It was a good taste.

During the daytime, we went explored the main city – Kuala Lumpur City Centre or KLCC. We wander around the world-famous “Petronas Towers” (also known as the Petronas Twin Towers). This area has good food.

We catch the MRT (train) to get there and walk all the way back to Chinatown because we want to explore the KLCC a bit more.

The Petronas Twin Towers is so beautiful and looks elegant and is surrounded by a park which is impressive to see. There is a sign in the building that reads “No Photos!!”  I only see that after I take a couple shots…

Then, we go for walk and take some pictures around the park. There is a human built lake and a swimming pool next to it.

I notice something strange – most of the kids are swimming in the pool with their clothes on (not swimwear).

We keep walking until we come to a bridge. That point is the most beautiful view of the Petronas Towers. Suddenly we hear a whistle from a distance. We look up and see security pointing at us and then to her feet, as though we are doing something wrong. We are very confused at the moment. We look down and see a sign that reads “No Shoes Allowed”. Now I get it.

Shopping in Thailand

When it comes to shopping, Thailand is the place to be. Especially if you’re female! Many girls in Thailand can’t stop shopping even through they have no room left in their wardrobe. Some men have the same problem!

So Thailand is the place for fun, relaxation, eating, and shopping! Many people visit Thailand just for the shopping. Especially clothes and gold.

Shopping for Gold

Thailand is famous for its gold shops. Most cities in Thailand have more than one gold shop. And you can buy gold necklaces and bracelets which are man made from pure and beautiful 18k – 24k gold.

The gold business is very expensive and risky. But people still like gold and want to own it. Some people like to collect gold for the future. Some people buy gold for investment purposes.  Some like to buy gold as a gift.

The gold shops in Thailand issue you with a certificate when you buy it, and it needs to be the same price as the other gold shops in Thailand. The price may change every day. The current price is usually shown at the front of the shop.

Markets in Thailand

Thailand has many different types of markets. I will talk about the local markets that they called “Talad Nad”. I’m not sure when this market first began. As far as I know, they’ve been going ever since I was born. Talad Nad doesn’t happen every day. Some places may have Talad Nad 2 or 3 days a week.

Every city has their own markets. Most of them sell the local product. They are very interesting. The markets are usually very busy but the result is good. The prices are usually very cheap as well. Some markets sell food as well as other things. Most markets open in the afternoon. This is because most people have a day time job. After work, they come to the market and sell stuff, it could be any thing.

I like to walk to the market because it helps me to relax from stress after work. Even though I don’t buy anything. Some times I go there to meet friends and we have dinner at the market.

Stir Fried Red Curry Paste Recipe

Photo of stir fried red curry

Stir fried red curry paste looks like this

This recipe is very easy and delicious. You can make it your self for a quick meal.

This recipe is different to many other red curry recipes, because it doesn’t have coconut milk. This stir fry doesn’t come out as a thick curry, it is more like a typical stir fry, but with a curry coating over everything.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp of red curry paste
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 200g of snake beans, cut into 3cm long pieces
  • 200g of chicken, chopped into 1cm slices
  • 4 chillies, chopped (optional – use chillies only if you like it spicy)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp of oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, sliced thin
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin

Introduction

  1. Steam rice in a rice cooker or pot until cooked, then rest in pot
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or fry pan
  3. Add curry paste and chicken meat, and stir until the chicken is cooked
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir fry for 2 minutes
  5. Stir in 1/2 cup of water so that the stir fry doesn’t become too dry

Serve the stir fry with the steamed rice. Guarantee this dish is delicious.

About Bangkok

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand, located along Chao Phraya River. It is the largest urban area in Thailand and has a population of over 9 million in the urban area (and about 12 million in the metro area).

Bangkok is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. This translates into “city of angels”. Therefore, you might occasionally hear people referring to Bangkok as the “city of angels”.

Actually, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is short for the full ceremonial name given by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, and later edited by King Mongkut. The full Thai name for Bangkok is:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

I think you’d agree that it’s probably easier just to call it “Bangkok”!

Bangkok by Boat

If you take a trip by boat you will see both sides of Bangkok from the Chao Phraya River. There are many options for getting to the touristy areas, as well as the less-touristy areas.

The taxi boats are a good option but you will need to deal with lots of people.

Another option is to take an organized cruise to wherever you want to visit. You would probably need to book this through a travel agency. Most travel agencies will be able to show you a list of the main tourist attractions, such as temples, the floating market, reptile show, and the boat museum, to name a few.

Temples

There are many great temples in Bangkok. Two that are close to the city are Wat Pha Keaw and Wat Arun.

  • Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the “Temple of the Emerald Buddha”, is in the middle of Bangkok and has amazing Thai architecture with uncountable value.
  • Wat Arun, also known locally as “Wat Chaeng” is located on the side of the Chao Phraya River.

These are just two of the many temples in Bangkok. To see more, see Bangkok Temples at Bangkok.com.

Shopping

If you like shopping there are so many places in Bangkok. These range from extremely low prices up to extremely high prices, and everything in between.

The best places for shopping that I would recommend is MBK shopping centre and Jatujak market.

MBK shopping centre consists of three main shopping centers, offering brand names from around the world, all at a reasonable price.

Jatujak market (known by the locals as “JJ”) covers approximately 35 acres of land, and includes shopping for both bargains and top-range designer items luring the masses as well. Jatujak market is well known for having a large range pet shops.

I wouldn’t recommend wearing high heels when you shop at Jatujak market, as you will almost certainly get sore feet.

Khaosan Road

Khaosan Road is famous among backpackers, and there are many things going on, such as art, boxing, budget accommodation, food, etc.

Here’s more information about Khaosan Road on Wikipedia.

Entertainment

If you’re tired from a big day in Bangkok, you may need to do some thing more relaxing, like sitting down to have a cold drink and a meal. There are many bars and restaurants in the middle of Bangkok.

At night time, entertainment is available in many corners of Bangkok, including places such as Srilom, NANA, Rajchada. Most of these places only open at night, but are some open 24 hours.

Education for Foreigners

There are many international language schools in Bangkok. Many foreigners come to Bangkok to learn the Thai language. Also, many foreigners from other asian countries (such as Korea and Japan), come to Bangkok to learn english.

There are many benefits for foreigners who choose to study in Thailand. First of all, the course is usually much cheaper than a similar course in their home country. Secondly, the cost of living is usually much cheaper than in their home country.

Studying in Thailand is also a very good option for those who want to stay in Thailand for longer time. This is because, foreigners who choose to study can apply for a long term study visa. Study visas can allow the foreigner to stay in Thailand for a year or until their studies are complete.

Bangkok Airports

If you’re flying into Bangkok, be aware that Bangkok has two airports:

  • Suvarnabhumi Airport is the new airport and opened in 2006.
  • Don Mueang International Airport is the old Bangkok airport, but it is still in use today.

These airports are in different parts of Bangkok so it pays to take note of which airport you’re flying into.

Accommodation

Bangkok has many options for accommodation. Prices can range between 300 baht and 10,000 baht or more. The price will depend on things such as condition, location, facilities, etc. For more information, see Accommodation Prices in Thailand.

Stir Fried Chicken and Basil Recipe (Pad Ka Pao Gai)

Photo of stir fried chicken and basil

Some people like to serve a fried egg on top of their stir fried chicken & basil

This recipe is for stir fried chicken and basil, which is a popular dish in Thailand. In Thailand, we call this “Pad Ka Pao Gai”, which translates into english as “stir fried chicken and basil”.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 onion, chopped small
  • 4 chillies, chopped small
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 300g of chicken breast, chopped small
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 100g of beans, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • 1 cup of rice

Cooking Instructions

  1. Steam the rice in a rice cooker or pot, and rest
  2. While the rice is resting, heat the oil in a wok or fry pan until hot
  3. Add garlic and chilli, and stir until garlic begins to turn yellow (about 1 minute or so)
  4. Add chicken and stir until chicken is 90% cooked.
  5. Add oyster sauce and continue to stir until chicken is cooked
  6. Then add the beans, basil, and onion, and stir fry for about 2 minutes

Serve the stir fry with the steamed rice.

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