I read something about BEG-packers. 

Before I catch up with my write-up for my previous trips, let me share my own insight regarding this ‘beg-packers’ culture happening now. No offense meant but, I find this topic a little disturbing as a Southeast Asian, and as a traveller too.

I stumbled on an article regarding backpackers begging/selling postcards/performing on the streets for money in SEAsia (Singapore to be exact) in order for them to ‘travel the world’. I don’t know what their stories are but, I don’t think it’s appropriate esp here in Singapore where we, foreigners (I am a Filipino), who are working here need to have intensive screening to get our working permits. And also, it is really illegal here to sell/perform on streets if you don’t have any working permit (that’s why they are not on the busy streets).

It intrigues me that travelers who, shall I say, quit their jobs and started travelling are now asking from locals to support their ‘travel around the world’ or for them to buy return tickets to their home country while neglecting the fact that most of the people from SEAsia, who ask or beg for help/money, are really those in dire need and just wanted to have food on their table for the day.

Hmm. For me, to travel is a privelege that comes from being hardworking. I can’t just quit my day job just to travel the world cos not all people have that luxury, money and bravery to quit and consequently, ‘might’ end up being broke (esp if you’re not resourceful, hmm, in legal way). I read stories about backpackers who quit their jobs and end up doing blogs, vlogs, learning yoga, massage and working as english tutors and all. Those type of travellers really inspired me cos they are so brave to quit and ended up being resourceful and successful. Now, they reap what they sow and their travels are being sponsored and in return they will give reviews on their blogs etc. They don’t just ‘beg’ from locals in order for them to travel or if they work, they actually work while abiding laws. I am not against on whatever people are doing in their lives but, let us be more sensitive on this matter (which also means respecting the laws of the country you’re in).

When people ask me who pays for my travel, or am I rich? Or How can I afford travelling everytime, this is my answer: I work, I save, I plan and I look for cheaper options without sacrificing the ‘experience’ that I will have in a place I’ve never been before.

I don’t think I am rich in terms of money, I just set aside for my travelling expenses. I am also grateful that I had the chance to work here in SG. In my case, I have a family to sustain and help with so I can’t just quit and travel. I am also not that courageous to work outside my field and I actually love what I am doing too so.. To have the means of setting aside a budget for my travel means prioritising my needs and wants at the same time. I don’t want to spoil my holiday just because I’m broke and I don’t want to burden other people just because I want to go elsewhere. If you want to travel, work for it, right? I respect all those backpackers who quit but, did everything they could, work their asses off doing edits, doing jobs they never thought of doing in their entire lives while following the laws of the countries they are in for them to travel the world and reach for their dreams.

Anyway,  just my two cents.

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Myanmar Travel Chronicles : Yangon-Bagan

If Kota Kinabalu was the YOLO trip of my 2016, Myanmar, on the otherhand, was the highlight of my 2016. Yey for Solo travelling! It was my first time travelling alone, equipped with my not-so-polished itinerary, backpack and a brave heart.

I will just separate my write-up into two parts, YANGON/BAGAN and NYAUNG SHWE/INLE LAKE. So here’s the first part (yes, I’m typing this all while in the bus going to work haha).

My itinerary was not very polished. Until now it amazes me how I managed to do it, with a limited time to see three cities (1week) and  or maybe I just got lucky with the people I met along the way. First off, this trip was not intentionally planned for a solo travel. My friend had some things she needed to take care of so she cancelled it. Anyway, I am still on the go since I am excited to see Bagan.

Here’s the overview of my trip: Yangon-Bagan-Inle Lake-Yangon

Day1: Arrive at Yangon from Sg 10:25 am

Go around the city. Book overnight bus to Bagan

Day 2: Arrive at Bagan, check in.

Tour around Bagan, see sunrise/sunset and temples

Day 3: continue sightseeing at Bagan, book overnight bus to Inle lake

Day4: arrive at Inle lake, check in. Day tour in inle lake

Day5: continue sightseeing at inle lake, book overnight bus to Yangon

Day6: spend one more day at Yangon, check in

Day 7: early check out, 10am fly back to Sg arrive 3pm

As seen from above, this solo trip was comprised of going to Yangon-Bagan-Nyaung Shwe/Inle Lake-Yangon, all by night bus. I can say that I really did not utilize my time in Yangon as I’ve only visited Shwedagon on my first day, and bought some souvenirs and cheap clothes in Bogyoke market, yet it was still okay.

The Shwedagon Pagoda is really majestic. I happened to meet a local tour guide (5000kyats, not bad) and she gave me a brief history of the place, as well as some facts about Buddhism in general.

Golden Pagoda or Great Dagon Pagoda is situated in Singuttara hill, on the west of Kandawgyi Lake. It is the most sacred pagoda in Myanmar as they believed that it contains the relics of the four Buddhas of the present Kalpa (Source: Tripadvisor).

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Shwedagon Pagoda

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Buddha Images

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Buddhism in Myanmar

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Buddha with golden prayer leaves all over it’s body

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market along the entrance/exit gates

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the intricacy of this structure is amazing

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Relaxing Buddha, different from the one in Wat Pho in Bangkok

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Buddha footprint

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2668 TiCal Gold for this Mini Golden Pagoda

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Temple Guardian

After exploring Shwedagon, I decided to drop by Kandawgyi lake and go to the Bogyoke Aung San market to buy some souvenirs and other stuff that I can find. I am fond of local art so I wanted to collect paintings as my own souvenir. I bought 3 watercolor paintings for 6000 kyats, but unfortunately, on my way to Bagan, I lost these three paintings (like what happened to the glass-blown pig souvenir I had in Taiwan, huhu)

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Kandawgyi Lake

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Boardwalk at Kandawgyi Lake

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at Bogyoke Aung San Market

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Walking in Yangon

Anyway, I hailed a taxi to JJ Express Terminal for my overnight trip in Bagan. I met a fellow solo traveler there and we decided to go together and roam around Bagan for the next two days.

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need to stay fresh for 8 hrs travel!

Bagan gave me a total bliss but, a little disappointment as well. I should have known, each city require a minimum entrance fee for foreigners. For Bagan, we paid 20000 Kyats and i think it was a little too much. And also, never ever go during October as there will be no sunrise nor sunset because it’s raining and cloudy!! Best time to go will be from December to February! Too bad 😦 By the way, some temples were still under construction due to the earthquake that struck last Aug 2016.

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Cos sunrise is too mainstream, haha

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At Shwesandaw, expecting a sunrise but it was a total failure. too cloudy!

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you don’t know how scary when this shot was taken^^

Fortunately, I am still up for adventure, and with my new found friend, we still enjoyed our trip and temple hopping. Oh you’ll never get tired roaming around in Bagan with your e-bike. It was the most unique experience I had while touring Bagan. Anyway, let my pictures tour you around Yangon and Bagan!

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Shwezigon Pagoda

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Bu Phaya Pagoda

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My e-bike ^^

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rough roads and stupas

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enjoying the view 🙂

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checking out Ayeyarwady river at Bu Phaya

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Rui and his e-bike 🙂

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That Bin Nyu Temple

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nostalgic scene of Shwesandaw pagoda

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temple visit before we reached New Bagan

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Gaw Daw Palin

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market place at Htilomino temple

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random stupas along the way

 

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smile before the rain comes!!

For more info about Yangon or Bagan, visit the travel blogs below! they helped me a lot and really guided me during my trip in Myanmar (and this is a free advertising haha, I just really love their write-ups) CHEERS! 😄

SUNRISE ODYSSEY click here

TRAVEL HAPPY click here

HUNGRY PARTIER click here

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YOLO PT.2 : when we did river water rafting at Padas 

We were informed that we will be 7 persons in one boat, that means, one person will seat in the middle doing nothing, no thrill, no fun, and I was definitely wrong.

We settled down in our Hotel (The Klagan Hotel) which is situated in the heart of the city. The location is good because it’s only walking distance to the weekend Market and Suriah Sabah Mall. I don’t know how I was able to get up early the next day for the trip after the tiring excursion we had in Mt. Kinabalu. Due to our exhaustion, we forgot to tell the hotel that we were going to have our breakfast packed and so we went to our destination, hungry.

It was a long ride from the city to Beaufort station which was around 2hrs. The ride was comfortable enough since the van was just nice for 7 people (we were with tall/big guys, so yeah it’s just nice for me, i don’t know for them:))

The train was a local one, never rode one before even if we have it in the Philippines. It’s not powered by electricity too so we were informed that sometimes, if the trains have problems, there will be delays or worst, no train will arrive going back to Beaufort station from Rayoh station. On our way to Rayoh station, we even had an interchange of trains in Halogilat station.

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hello padas! we travelled so far to enjoy you 😀

I missed my province in the Philippines. The unpolluted air and the smell of trees and grass. The laidback feeling and relax mood. Somehow the ride was memorable and worth the experience.

So let’s now begin with the rafting experience. First off, this was my second time doing a water rafting. I first did it in Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines when we had our Camiguin-CDO-Bukidnon last 2015. It was a tough experience and our only practice was from Kayaking!^^ Anyway, the Padas water rafting was guided by abang Nashteer (he has a Filipino blood so he can also speak Filipino, perks!). He began with the safety briefing, some picture taking on the side, and then they told us that we were odd-numbered, oh what are the odds! Haha, so I was really disappointed since I am the only girl, I will surely be at the middle. But, I quickly grabbed one paddle and situated myself on the side (haha evil plan worked!) but we also had our rotation. In the end, I just enjoyed being in the middle of all the fun, while all the guys do the paddling^^ (i was even thrown out of the boat, haha ofcourse I tagged my friend along with me!).

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in action!

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this was the time when we fell from the boat, haha

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my favorite pic!

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way too action-packed :))

We passed the river with a total of 8 rapids, and Mary go round was the best since we did body rafting^^ It was a good experience since we got to meet new people too!

We shared the pictures after the activity then headed back to the city. The next day, I flew out of Sabah, back to my reality. It was indeed a YOLO experience so thank you, AMAZING BORNEO it is!

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YOLO PT.1 : the great September Kinabalu climb!

What’s up with the title? For starters, I am not a mountain climber, and I rarely go up in the mountains. My only physical activity aside from walking back in forth in the laboratory is running and hitting up the gym or crossfit session every once in a while. SO I AM VERY BRAVE when I decided to climb this beautiful Mount Kinabalu. This mountain is situated in Sabah, Malaysia standing 4,095m (13,435 feet above sea level). It is said that Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. For more information about this majestic mountain, you can visit this site. They also offer packages for those interested to climb and explore Kota Kinabalu.

Okay, so how did it happen? I stumbled upon this blog: Sunrise Odyssey (read their stories here, super helpful as well as the other related links!) regarding Mount Kinabalu and since I am very intersted to visit Sabah, I asked my long time friend to join me in this quest. We booked our packages in Amazing Borneo tours, as recommended, for our 3 days climb plus one day Padas water rafting adventure (4990RM for 2 pax). See below for detailed infor of our package:

TOUR NAME: 4D3N MOUNT KINABALU CLIMB & KINABALU PARK STAY & WATER RAFTING (BEGINNER)

TOUR DATE: 11-14 SEP 2016

PRICE PER PERSON (INTERNATIONAL): RM 2160/-

UPGRADE TO PADAS WHITE WATER RAFTING: RM 85/- PER PERSON

TOTAL PRICE FOR 2 PAX (INCLUSIVE OF 6% GST): RM 4490/-

MEALS: 03 Breakfasts, 03 Lunches, 02 Dinners & 01 Supper

INCLUSION: Meals as Stated, 03 Nights Accommodation, Entrance Fees, Return Airport/Hotel Transfer (Seat-In-Coach), Return Transfer (Park HQ – Timpohon Gate – Park HQ), Mountain Guide, Climbing Insurance, Climbing Permit and Certificate, English Speaking Support Team, River Guides (01 Guide Per Raft Boat), Rafting Gears

ACCOMMODATION:

–          DAY 1: 01 Night Kinabalu Park Hostel – Grace/Rock (Dormitory)

–          DAY 2: 01 Night Laban Rata Rest House or Similar (Non-Heated Dormitory)

–          DAY 3: 01 Night 3* Kota Kinabalu City Hotel (Twin-Share)

For me, it was really a good deal and Amazing Borneo is a legit company which can make your stay in Sabah worry-free.We also bought souvenir T-shirts from them! Good quality, I still use it! For those with limited budget, you can also opt to choose DIY and maybe you can get it in a cheaper deal since you’re going to book your accommodations by yourselves. However, since we don’t have a lot of time to spare, the tour was just exactly as we wanted.

I cannot specify anymore details on this trip (since it’s been 7 mos have passed) so let the pictures tell you how amazing and tiring climbing Mt. Kinabalu.

We spend one whole day in Kota Kinabalu City before our transfer to Kinabalu Park fetched us the next day. We walked around the malls, ate our lunch, stayed in a coffeeshop (guess where? Starbucks, lol) and in the end, we realized that we wasted a lot of our time because we went to the wrong place. We discovered that we should have gone at Suriah Sabah Mall, haha, which was just walking distance from our hostel. That was still fun though because we had a good exchange of stories to catch up with each other. Take note, if you need climbing gears and you still don’t have any, fret not, Suriah Sabah Mall is a haven. I forgot the shop where we bought our raincoats and trekking pole but it’s way cheaper than in Singapore.

In the late afternoon, we decided to call our taxi driver and headed to Tanjung Aru or Aru Beach to get a glimpse of sunset (yes, we had our own driver cos we previously hailed him at the streets, and he wanted to show us around, without being ripped off!! and yey for the bonus, he can speak Filipino so no hassle to where we want to go!). It’s a little off the city, maybe around 45mins depending on the traffic, and unfortunately, we didn’t see any sunset cos it’s a little cloudy. During our dinner at the hawker center, it rained so hard. Not a good sign for our pending climb though.

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this is what platonic friendship looks like, lol, we need to clarify on that. haha love you bro!

Our transfer to Kinabalu Park came a little late in our hotel (HOTEL Five-O, via booking.com). By the way, hostel is just beside the night market/ weekend market so we had our spare time for the last minute shopping for things we need for the climb. We spent one night in Kinabalu Park to acclimatize, the weather was so cold. But before we arrived at the Park, we visited some good view points of the mountain.

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The rooms in Kinabalu Park are so spacious and since we’re at the 1000+masl, it’s so cold that you don’t need airconditioner nor electricfan. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the food and accomodations were included from the time that they fetched us. We had a buffet dinner, packed lunch for the climb and buffet again for late lunch when we were back from the climb. The Laban Rata, which was our accomodation for one night also served us food when we reached it and breakfast before descending.

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our accomodations (hotel five-o, kinabalu park, laban rata)

 Going back to the climb, it was really tough since it was rated as 6/9 difficulty. We started our ascent from Timpohon gate to Laban Rata Resthouse around 9am and I think we reached around 3pm. Note that Timpohon Gate (1,866m a.s.l) @ Kinabalu National Park is the starting and ending points for all climbers. It was already a good pace for me since I am not an experienced climber. Fortunately, it did not rain for the whole 6km ascent. We settled down in our room after we eat. The room was freezing and to be honest, I didn’t have a good sleep for the summit ascent the next day because it was too cold and I was too exhausted to the point that I felt like I’m a zombie. It was late when we realized that we can just book a room with heater. (so remember to bundle yourself up with layers of clothes if you cannot book a heated room)

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We did our very best to reach the summit. We started 2am for the summit ascent. The wind was blowing so hard that my face was as cold as ice. After passing the crucial 7km point, where I literally hold on for my life to the rocks and the white rope, we made our decision to continue climbing up. However, we didn’t manage to make it. At the middle of 7-8km, my friend decided to go down, it was really a tough call for him but, I cannot blame him since it was really dark, and steep and the only source of light that we have was from our headlamps. Other climbers were too far already from us, and my guide was not comfortable to let my friend descend alone, so in exchange I ascended to the summit alone, with the white rope as my guide. My gopro was packed in my bag but, I don’t have any shots from it. Neither a video! you may say it was wasted but, I really felt one with nature that time. Alone trekking, it gave me peace that my only goal was to reach the summit.

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me at KM 8.0!!!

However, the weather got bad. In my case, I was 200m away from the summit when a great cloud covered the whole place. It was insane as it was zero visibility that time, our guide, Veronika, was still catching up with me that time and when she finally reached me, she told me not to continue anymore. Other guides stopped me too. It was really saddening. Nevertheless, I am still satisfied with the outcome of my climb. Safety first as they say, and yes, I only live once! the last 200m leg is crucial and you really need to pull yourself up to get to the summit. It was definitely sad but, I never realized how strong I’ve become to be able to reach my highest point, alone with the white rope, in the middle of darkness.

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Mt. Kinabalu view from Kinabalu Heritage Park

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that’s the summit!!

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the view from above, during the descent

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finally! with Veronika and JM at Park HQ

There’s always a second chance to climb though. Last note, respect the mountain and love the nature, it always pays off! BEST YOLO I HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! no kidding 🙂

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HK Pt.2 with miLoves

I was bummed to see that my post, that after four months of being a draft, was finally published and then erased in a matter of seconds. I felt like a weirdo not knowing how to use a computer, who’s annoyed right now? phew. Enough of that sad and frustrating introduction, so let’s start again, from scratch and I might finish this off for one hour or less.

DISCLAIMER: it’s my 8th month hiatus on posting a write-up so this one is a little rush. but, i will change my ways so starting today I will really, really try to update as fast as I can to recall each trip I’ve made since HK. (so I still have HK>>KotaKinabalu>>Bagan,InleLake,Yangon MYANMAR>>Busan,Seoul SOUTH KOREA) hihi

As you all know Hongkong is a very easy destination for travelers even if you go with your whole family. They’ve got good food, easy walking tourist spots, Disneyland and Oceanpark, nature trails, cable cars, shopping malls for both clothes and electronics, name it, and a lot more picturesque and sometimes overcrowded places.

We picked up some good dates for our Disneyland and Ocean Park. Some of my friends said that they need to queue for hours for some rides and cable cars but, for us, we even had multiple rides in Hair raiser in Ocean Park.

My family came after two days of me being alone in the city. We had a good walk to Victoria Harbour passing the Clocktower and Hongkong Cultural Center since we stayed in Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s just 5-10 mins walking distance to these places. When they arrived, we ate breakfast at Coral Garden, then head on straight to Victoria’s Peak. It was a very cold day yet a good weather to walk around Hongkong. We didn’t have any difficult in finding the way since my mom also went there before a few times for business trip and for me I still remember even if it has been three years since I’ve been there.

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at the top of Victoria’s Peak

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Victoria Harbour Family Pic!

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cos we want to fly high! at Victoria’s Peak

After strolling in Hongkong, we went back to Kowloon to rest, eat and shop around Mongkok. My mom and sis were already happy with Innisfree store (Korean cosmetic brand) at Mongkok, how much more if they go to South KOREA! (I got crazy as shit on what to buy and what store to go in, haha shopaholic problems, lol).

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strolling around Mongkok

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too many signs but I can’t read them haha

Anyway, we booked our Disneyland thru our guesthouse and Oceanpark via Klook which was 10hkd less than the normal price as I’ve remembered. We had a great time visiting Disneyland as it was my dream to go overseas with my whole family and this place was always magical.

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HK DISNEYLAND

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OCEANPARK

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We skipped the Lantau Island since we don’t have much time but, if you have a lot of time to spare, try visiting it either by climbing it or have a more relax tour by riding their crystal cable cars. It’s one stop away from Sunnybay which will lead to Disney land. Hongkong MTR is fast and reliable and you won’t have any problem navigating to the places you want to see. For the Oceanpark, we alighted at Admiralty Station and rode the bus 629 which leads to park as the final stop.

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At Tarzan’s tree house

Oceanpark and Disneyland are too big that you really need one day at least for both places. My dad loved Oceanpark more since there’s a lot of animals to see and he doesn’t need to ride. My mom on the otherhand was a daredevil and tried riding Hair raiser with us, and it was really super fun. Overall, our stay in Hongkong was memorable and worth it. We ate at restaurants along the streets, we tried some streetfoods and shop around for the usual pasalubongs to our friends. HK is really a good place to visit for quick weekend getaways.

I don’t have budget IT for HK but I’ve listed down my own expenses. I think I will not post any budget plan now since I am not really a travel blogger (I just like to travel HAHA, and it’s been 8mos so I can’t give you details, but just tips!). Starting now, I will cut short my write-ups and I will just make this as a reference for all my travels. Hope you enjoyed reading!

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hair raiser! at Oceanpark

This is it for our very rush weekend escapade. My first family overseas trip! 🙂 YEY!

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