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Purchase Angkor Pass

Day 1 Highlights

Pre Rup Temple

Banteay Srei Temple

Angkor Wat Temple

Day 2 Highlights

Ta Prohm Temple

Bayon Temple

TIPS?!

Operating Hours: Most temples: 07 30 – 17 30 daily
Angkor Wat Temple & Srah Srang: 05 00 – 17 30 daily
Phnom Bakheng & Pre Rup: 05 00 – 19 00 daily
Entrance Fee: 1 Day Angkor Pass: USD $37
3 Days Angkor Pass: USD $62
7 Days Angkor Pass: USD $72
Children under 12 are not required to purchase a pass.
Passport needs to be presented for verification.
Recommended length of visit: ~ 2 Full Days
(depending on how intense you want to immerse yourself into the temple enigma)

My first time in Cambodia was never meant to be the main vacation destination per se. You see, we were travelling from Vietnam and were making our way to Thailand, and hence, we decided, alright… … why not just spend some time in Cambodia.

And so… … probably the shortest layover I had, we spend less than 48 hours in Siem Reap. We knew we had so much grounds to cover in such short time span. We really had to narrow down on our picks at the Angkor Archaeological Park. In hindsight, I reckoned we did make the best out of it! Though I wished I had more time to really immerse in the sunrise at certain temples. But oh well, there is always next time.

How to get around?

Our tuk tuk driver at the airport, whom we randomly picked out of a sea of other persistent taxi and tuk tuk drivers, turned out to be our main, well… … ONLY source of getting around during our less than 48 hours layover in Siem Reap.

After haggling hard over prices, we got ourselves a sweet private alfresco ride for USD $43; 2 days around anywhere within the Angkor Archaeological Park. We also got him to recommend a decent lunch spot for respite that was along the way to the sights. I would say, it was a pretty good deal.

The tuk tuk drivers near the Angkor region are pretty experienced. All we had to do was to tell our driver what were our narrowed down sights we were interested, and he would map out the best route for us!

Our driver, Mr Heang, was very patient as he waited for us at each temple site. And you do know, when girls snap photos, the wait can be long. REAL long. 😀 He was also accommodating when we wanted to stop over for lunch and wanted to do a little browsing at the shop nearby for clothes and souvenirs etc. Being very observant, we were always in awe by how he always manage to spot us amongst the horde of people. We would be at the entrance of the temple site, barely a few seconds in, scanning through the buzzing crowd, and he would already be waving at us or sometimes calling out to us.

So anyone who is going to embark on their temple exploration at the Angkor Archaeological Park, can hit Mr Heang up at (+855) 096 88 31034. This is in no way sponsored. I just thought he was a nice guy, his service was pretty much great and he gave good price! So yeah! 🙂

Purchase Angkor Pass

Before entering the park, the driver brought us to the official ticketing counters get our Angkor Pass. I know of some websites stating that you could purchase your Angkor Pass online, however, from my understanding, this online option has not be officially rolled out by Angkor Enterprise. Hence, if you do purchase your pass online, I guess it would be at your own risk.

My humble suggestion would be for you to just get your driver to take you to the official Angkor Park Pass Ticket Counters. The counter staff are really efficient. We were there at around 10 am, and did not take long at all to get our pass.

The 1 Day Angkor Pass was a slightly more popular option, so that queue was a little longer. That would be something to consider if you are going for this option.

Day 1 Highlights: Pre Rup Temple

Pre rup is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It was built in 961 AD. Being the first attraction of the day, we were imperatively mesmerised by the whole Indiana Jones vibe it was exhuming. From afar, we were greeted by 3 main towers. You could head up to the upper platform for a nice elevated angle via the long flight of stairs. The intricate details of the ruin pillars together with the brick walls made this whole walk through out of this world.

What I love about this site was that it was not as crowded as the other temples. We were there at about 10.30 am, it was quite peaceful. We spend about an 1 hour marvelling and snapping shots. 😀

Day 1 Highlights: Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei is also a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. This temple definitely has more complex stone carvings than Pre Rup. Because of the elaborate carvings, it was said that it was craved by the hands of women, as these were too fine for the hand of a man.

Compared to Pre Rup, I was even more enraptured with Banteay Srei. I guess it has to be the labyrinthine corridors and walkways through nicely carved doors and steps that made this whole experience magical. I felt like I could lose myself in this maze. Not literally, of course.

We spend about 1.5 hours here.

Day 1 Highlights: Angkor Wat Temple

And of course no one would ever miss Angkor Wat when here at the Angkor Archaeological Park; no matter how touristy this temple is! Most people would come for the sunrise. But it is just as amazing if you could look beyond the crowd and pay attention to the small details of the monument.

Take time to look at the ceiling and the pillars. Some of them have inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Khmer. This temple can be difficult to grasp because of the vastness and many pathways leading you to new findings. To really explore every corner of Angkor Wat, you most certainty need ample time. Alas, time was definitely something we did not have. For this, I would say this would be my first stop if I ever would to come back!

We spend about 2.5 hours here.

Day 2 Highlights: Ta Prohm Temple

Now this is by far, in my opinion, the most jaw-dropping sight here at the Angkor Archaeological Park. This temple saw a surge in popularity ever since it appeared in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, back in 2001. Build as a Buddhist monastery, Ta Prohm has traditional Khmer structures.

What makes this temple so out-of-this-world unique is how the Cambodian jungle managed to get itself intertwined with the structure of the temple. Silk-cotton and fig trees took root between the loosened stones that made the temple foundation, forming what we now see: a seamless merger of nature and man-made. It was indeed an overwhelming sight!

Though we felt we could and would love to spend more time here, we only took a mere 40 minutes. It was only slightly past 9 and not even 10, but the crowd was really starting to populate the compound and it was starting to get a little claustrophobic. We decided to take our leave.

Day 2 Highlights: Bayon Temple

Known as the ‘face temple’, for a very obvious reason. The iconic peaceful smiling looking visages you will espy from any and every angle as you amble around Bayon Temple can take you to another level, literally. At times you have stone carved heads glaring down at you, and at times, these head would be at your peripheral vision.

Make your way to the upper tier to have a better view, and soak in the serenity of the 200 faces from all angles, which are the emblem of inner peace.

I was not really sure what was the occasion, or this temple is really a popular tourist site, but the horde of crowd that flooded this temple was beyond words. We too only took a mere 40 minutes. It was roughly 10 odd in the morning. So FYI for your travel planning!

TIPS?!

1 If you are planning to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, then purchase your Angkor Pass the day before. Any Angkor Pass sold after 5 pm is valid for the next day. You do not want to be stuck in an insane queue just to get your pass and then rushing to Angkor Wat to catch the sunrise. It would be too much stress to handle in the morning ya?
2Apparently the dress code has become more stringent over the years, and the guards working do enforce this pretty strong now. Wearing tank tops, bare shoulders tops, shorts and skirts that show flesh above the knees are considered disrespectful. So probably don’t take the risk, and bring a shawl for cover up if needed. Or just don’t wear any of those.
3If you want avoid great loads of people wandering the temples alongside you, then I suggest you start your adventure early? I would say 7 would be a good time to start. Though to face facts, there is no way to avoid the crowd when you are at Angkor Wat any time of the day.

Even though we might have seen countless pictures of the Angkor temples, nothing ever comes close to the actual experience of seeing them and walking through the monument yourself. Every temple has a different story to tell, and to say which is the best, or the must see, is really subjective. All I could say is, I have no regrets narrowing down to these 5 temples.

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

Dee

How to get there? + TIPS?! (MUST READ) 

Best season to visit? 

Getting around Nami Island? 

What you might see/experience (during early winter)? 

TIPS?! 

Address:

1 Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Operating Hours:

07 30 – 21 45
Entrance/Ferry Fee:

W$ 8000/pax (one round trip)

Recommended length of visit:

Half day – 1 full day

Despite the wretched cold that caused me to have multiple brain freezes, numb fingers and toes, I might have left my warm heart turned frozen in Korea. Ah Korea oh Korea, what have you done to me? Many things apparently. I experienced so much in just 10 days. From the Korean culture, to the food and the sights, it was really a trip I won’t forget. To add on to that, it was my first time experiencing snowfall! It was a cold winter morning; we were on our merry way to church! So HALLELUJAH to that.

And I decided that of all the sights I have had the bliss to experience during my virgin trip to Korea with my Mama Dearest, I would like to start with Nami Island! The island is so huge (in my eyes) that there was really so much to see and be in complete awe about. Everywhere you turn, the peripheral view is just so breathtaking!

Nami Island is a half moon-shaped isle formed as a result of the inundated rising water from the North Han River due to the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam in 1944. In 2006, Nami Island declared its cultural independence and was called Naminara Republic. This island has its own national flag, an anthem, currency, passport and even certificate of citizenship. Like what what? Interesting huh…?

So if you were thinking if you need to bring your passport and have a different currency (other than the Korean Won) when on the island for transaction, the answer is no. You just need a ‘visa’ to enter Naminara Republic! So how do we get a ‘visa’ to Nami Island? Read ‘How to get there?’.

How to get there? + TIPS?! (MUST READ)

Nami Island is 63 km from Seoul in the North-Eastern direction towards Chuncheon. The easiest mode of transportation to the island is by the subway, then a quick bus/taxi ride and lastly a ferry ride. No cars are allowed on the island, so if you decide to drive, you would have to park your vehicle at the Namiseom Dock Parking Lot near the jetty and subsequently board the ferry. I obviously took public transportation. So here’s how it went:

1. From Seoul, take the subway to Gapyeong station (~1 hr 30 mins – 1 hr 50 mins train ride).

2. Upon alighting, take the exit on the right. You would see the Tourist Information centre outside of the subway station. Approach the staff to confirm the timing for the Gapyeong City Tour Bus that is heading to Nami Island. The bus stop is just in front of the Tourist Information centre. If you do not want to take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, then a value for money alternative would be taking a taxi.

Easy ways to get to Nami Island Ferry Terminal (Gapyeong Wharf) from Gapyeong station

Gapyeong City Tour Bus

W$6000/pax (payment to driver; CASH)
Taxi

~ W$4000 (taximeter; so the price may vary)

A maximum of 4 passengers

TIPS?! (MUST READ!)

To take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus OR Taxi?

The reason why the Gapyeong City Tour Bus is a little pricey as compared to the taxi is because this is a hop on and off tour bus! A one-time payment (in cash) to the driver would allow you to go to places of interest near the vicinity for that one day of purchase.

Popular places like the Petite France and Morning Calm Arboretum (a.k.a Garden of Morning Calm) are all accessible via this tour bus. It is super convenient, especially if you would like to cover other places and not just focus on Nami Island for the day.

So if you would like to visit Petite France and Morning Calm Arboretum, together with Nami Island, then I suggest you plan your time very accurately to ensure you have sufficient time spend at each attraction. See the tour bus timetable schedule (below) to aid you.

GRAB A HARDCOPY OF TOUR BUS BROCHURE FROM THE TOURIST INFORMATION COUNTER AS WELL! This will give you all the needed important information; like the bus schedule timings.

HOWEVER… …

If you are going to spend the entire day at Nami Island, or are just interested in Nami Island and not the other attractions, then the taxi is imperatively a better value alternative.

3. The Gapyeong City Tour Bus from Gapyeong station would take an approximately 10 minutes to Nami Island bus stop, where you would have to head towards the ferry terminal (Gapyeong Wharf) (less than 100 m) to purchase your ‘visa’/ferry ticket/entrance ticket at W$ 8000/pax.

4. The ferry ride from Gapyeong Wharf is about 5 minutes to Nami Island. And violà, YOU HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED ON NAMI ISLAND where you can have some awesome exploration!

Operating Hours (Ferry Schedule)

07 30 – 09 00

30 minute intervals
09 00 – 18 00

10 – 20 minute intervals

18 00 – 21 40

30 minute intervals

Best season to visit?

Now this question is very subjective. It really depends on what you would like to experience. Is it the lush green full grown trees that sprawl the island or the red-orange crisp of autumn leaves or even the pristine rows of bare trees rooted to the ground of white snow and beyond that fancies you?

In hindsight, I would say visit Nami Island in its full blown AUTUMN season.

I mean, Nami Island in its transitioning from autumn to winter, or even in full blown winter won’t be half bad at all. But I reckoned the fall colours that would hang off the rows of trees would be most breathtaking!

Of course, if you are into the whole winter wonderland and snowfall showers, then winter season would just be perfect for you. I had my fair share of cold in Korea that I can endure and I have concluded that the cold isn’t what I need if I wanted to really immerse into the environment. When I was on Nami Island, I was basically trying to keeping warm 80% of the time by either chilling out in cafes with hot lattes or in souvenir shops!

So yeah, thinking back, if given a chance to go to Nami Island again, I would opt for an autumn option! 😀

Getting around Nami Island?

1. Walking

My Dad once said, on a fine night in Bangkok, whilst we were along the streets, ‘Walking is the best way to explore and experience a new place. You get to see a lot more.’ And I agree with him completely. If my legs can take me places forever, and never feeling the ache and fatigue, I would walk to explore new places (provided time permits of course). There are just so many sights to see and snap photo of at your own pace! You just have to stroll! It can be very therapeutic.

2. Biking

Just like most parks, there would be an option for people who wants to move around on 2 wheels! The Bike Center is located in the middle of the island, near UNICEF Hall.

Type of Bike

Cost
One-person

W$ 4000 (30 minutes)

W$ 7000 (1 hour)

Tandem

W$ 8000 (30 minutes)

W$ 14000 (1 hour)

Quadruplet

W$ 15000 (30 minutes)

Electronic bicycle

W$ 10000 (30 minutes)

W$ 18000 (1 hour)

There are also other means of getting around the island: the UNICEF Train Ride, the Electronic car tour and via the Motor boat tour. For more details, click here.

What you might experience (during early winter)?

I was there in early December and it was in transition from autumn to winter. It wasn’t in full blown winter, but it already had aspects of winter sprouting. For instance, the cold was unbearable (for me), at -9 oC. The pavements and walkways were cover in ice and snow, some more slippery than others. Visitors had this huge pile of snow to play with and snow sculptures were seen all around.

However, the trees weren’t all bare. Some trees still insist on holding on tight to the orange autumn leaves or even its green ones too. A variety of colours from a tinge of red-orange and green in a sea of white icy ground really compliments each other; making the scene extra magical.

Nami Wharf

So when you have alighted at the wharf on Nami Island, you would be greeted by this ice fountain sculpture, which was an amazing sight if you have never visited Nami Island. Excited tourist would be hogging the vicinity to take a snap or two!

As we ventured further, we saw rows of trees to the right and left side. It was a pretty sight. On a normal summer’s day, we would probably continue to walk towards the east side of the island. But because it was freezing, so we decided to find a café to warm up. Based, on the map, we decide to walk towards the nearest café near the wharf; near The Song Museum, and landed ourselves in the Swing Café for the next few hours. Haha!

Swing Café

The view along Swing café was pretty amazing. Facing the river, the tranquil semi-frozen water and the hill opposite were just in perfect cosmos. Taking a stroll along the river could just be the perfect activity to do to find peace! The stretch just behind the café was a perfect autumn-winter scene. It was totally breath-taking. Speechless.

And because it was cold enough, you would find ice snowman sculptures everywhere! Just like this mini one; chilling on the bench! So adorable, don’t you think so? Haha! 😀

Central Korean Pine Tree Lane/Baekpungmilwon Maple Garden

We took a stroll down this lane and saw many people playing in a huge snow pile at the garden next to it! It was such a fun scene. Kids were having a blast, whilst mothers were busy trying to ensure their little ones were safe. Even adults were up on the snow pile!

Despite many people walking about, somehow the tree lane area seem pretty much peaceful. The evening sunset did set the mood for the perfect walk, with amazing views. What is there to really ask for, seriously? It was perfect.

The Song Garden

Along the Pine Tree Lane, was an enclosure where ostriches were kept. Bunnies were also roaming the area. It was so cute. The UNICEF Train track was just in front of the ostrich enclosure. It was definitely a nice picture worthy moment. Haha!

First Kiss Glass Sequoia Bridge/Eco Farm Yeonryeonji Pond

The pond was in its semi-frozen to frozen state. And because the bridges were pretty much covered with ice, we decided it wasn’t worth for us to risk slipping and decided to move on a little further to cover more ground as it was getting dark soon.

UNICEF Hall/Artshop Snowman May Café

Alas, we ended our exploration on Nami Island here. It was freezing, the sun was setting, and we had a long journey back to the city.

TIPS?!

(a) Squeezing other attractions (e.g. Petite France & Garden of Morning Calm) in 1 day?

Since the other attractions are conveniently reachable by the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, most online articles or people would recommend you to include Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm along with Nami Island.

Well, in hindsight, I say the best combination to work with and get maximum relaxation and exploration would be to visit Nami Island on its own (a half day to a full day; whichever you are comfortable with). And visit Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm together on a separate day. Why?

Though Nami Island is not a very big island, it really has so many picturesque sights that would leave you in deep awe. There would be many moments you cannot resist to stand at a particular spot longer than expected. A nice slow-paced stroll pass the trees and chilling at the café or restaurant could easily pass the time and making it an entire day’s visit! Trust me!

(b) Head to the ‘OTHER’ side of the Island

The cold really did hit us back hard, and we spend more time in the café than we would like to. Alas, we did miss a few key highlights that one should not miss when on Nami Island, but hey that was fine. The most important thing was that we enjoyed ourselves on the island at a comfortable pace.

Some key highlights I do hope to see given a second chance would be:

(i) Ginkgo Tree Lane

(ii) Metasequoia Lane

Most of the famous sights are on the right side of the island (based on the brochure map). So if you are pressed for time, then you might want to skip what is in between and dive straight to the other side of the island! 🙂

(c) Go on a Weekday and Go in the Morning

It would usually be more crowded on the weekends, so if possible try to head over to Nami Island on a weekday! Unless you do not mind the crowd getting into your pictures when you are at Metasequoia Lane than I guess any time and any day wouldn’t matter at all. Haha! 😀

(d) Staying a night on Nami Island

There are accommodations available on the island if you would like to spend a night. The boutique hotel offers room types with beds or Korean-style heated floors (ondol). There are also bungalows and cottages suitable for couple, family or group stays. Though I have not stayed on the island before, I reckon this would be a memorable experience. You could probably enjoy the serene vicinity at night, as you stargaze? Isn’t that perfect? Haha! I would like to think so! 😀

Hope this prods you to capture some beauty around you! ‘Cause the world is really perfect when you have a kind heart willing to see it!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route: Parking Lot –> Swing Bridge –> Series of Mini Waterfalls –> Elevated Track –> Lake Marian –> And Back
Total Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Average Walk Time:

~ 4 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots, light snacking & a quick swim)

Seasonal Restrictions: Do not walk around the edge of the lake during the snow/avalanche season (winter and spring)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there? 

Highlights and Views 

TIPS? 

Well, I reckoned New Zealand needs no prelude whatsoever. Everything about it just never stops to inspire me in a frivolous way. And it was probably the first time I jaunted through trails and treks every other day for a month until my feet got sore and blistered. I would imagine this to be otherwise for anyone else. So yes, a weakling I was?

But it was all worth every drop of sweat to climb. It was all worth every minor or major slipups along the way. And it was all definitely worth (at times) sacrificing sleep for the enthralling views that time sleeping will never give. Lake Marian is imperatively impeccable, and I would recommend this trek to anyone, that is without a doubt!

The closest town to Lake Marian would be Te Anau. It is also the closest town to the famous Milford Sound attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Anau is a quiet, humble little town, with quite a selection of restaurants and smaller eateries. A nice place to be away from the buzz of city life, and still be able to enjoy amenities of excellent food, accommodation and at the same time satisfying those basic grocery needs.

 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Lake Marian, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. A straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

Just remember to make a turn right soon after Pop’s View lookout, onto Hollyford Track when you see the signage ‘Lower Hollyford’, otherwise, you would be on your merry way to Milford Sound, which is also not a bad option. Haha!

Drive down about 1 km on the unsealed gravelled Hollyford Track a.k.a Hollyford Road and you would reach the Lake Marian carpark!

 

Highlights and Views

1. Swing Bridge

The start of the trek to Lake Marian requires the crossing of the swing bridge which hovered above the Hollyford River (Whakatapu Ka Tuku). The river was in its clear refreshing blue and the sounds of the waters crashing against the rocks as it rushed down with gravity was invigoratingly welcoming! What an excellent way to start a morning! 😀

I recalled I was so tempted to go down to douse my hands in the refreshing and presumably cold waters. But as I made my way down gingerly across large rocks and boulders to the edge of the river and I squatted down, I realised my hands were too short to reach into the waters. Haha! Yup, woes of having short hands.

Looking to both of my sides along the river, it seemed very unlikely I could reach down into the waters unless I sat down on the rocks or something like that. Hence, I decided to give it a miss and head back up, for the waters at Lake Marian would definitely be as refreshing too right? And definitely easier to reach in…

2. Series of Mini Waterfalls

About a short 10 minute stroll on the boardwalk past the swing bridge was the next highlight of the Lake Marian trek: the exhilarating rush of the waterfalls. It was quite thunderously deafening when we walked deeper into the track; closer to the top of the waterfall. With the morning sun beaming all so strongly, the waters that flowed down glistened crystal white. Which really was not a bad sight for a morning!

There were some people who visited this place just for the mini waterfalls. Because it was a relatively easy paved short walk, some would decide to have a nice easy morning stroll and would give the slightly more advance tramping track a miss. That could be an option, but if you are more able-bodied, then continue on the elevated track to Lake Marian ‘cause the reward at the end is just mind-blowing! Period!

3. Elevated Track (through the forest)

After the end of the series of mini waterfalls, where the initial road underfoot was still well-paved and easy to walk on, came the start of the elevated tracks to Lake Marian! Which by then, consists of gravel roads, steep inclined and at times, wet and muddy pathways. From here on, it was approximately 1.5 hours to the beautiful Lake Marian as stated on the signage.

So into the native forest we ascended, starting with steady inclines up on uneven rocky road. It was still relatively manageable at the start, with very obvious reasons. It was enjoyable and exciting to wander through the amazing forest. Even the sweat and the panting from climbing up against gravity were all part of the package of adventure! Totally enrapturing!

But the climb soon became a little relentless as time passed. However, thinking about it now just made me missed manoeuvring through the dense forest like some explorer on a mission; a mission to find the hidden gem of a lake that is! Haha! 😀

After trotting through the rocky, and at times narrow paths, feeling all sweltering, we arrived to an area of openness. There weren’t any shelter from the sun by the trees like before, and if one would just have a quick glance at the entire peripheral view on its own without being meticulous in the details, one would totally missed out the orange beacon (which we all know is there for the very reason to guide trekkers in the right direction)!

And we decided, of all places, to take respite in an unshaded open piece of area surrounded by trees and huge logs. Hhhmmm… And the idea of respite is to dance silly as if the trees were the compelled audiences there to stay. Haha… You can see the embarrassing footage in the video linked below.

Click for Lake Marian video!

Following the orange beacon prudently along, we were on our merry way back into the forest under the cool shelter from the sun. But from this section on, the path was definitely way more exciting to manoeuvre through. Much more narrower pave, and even at times having to balance on thick tree trunks and all. I imperatively enjoyed my climb for this particular trek during my whole stay in the South Island of New Zealand. I found the zeal and passion just moving through the forest. Yes, it was tiring, but I found the joy in it. I felt so alive and just plain satisfied. I really don’t know how else to explain this feeling but it was pure simple happiness! 😀

I recalled we did asked other trekkers who were descending back from the lake, how much more distance we had to cover. And the answers to that were always, “Oh yeah yeah, soon, very soon.” And after a while, we figured, “… soon, very soon.” was but a mere sentence. Totally inaccurate. Well in their defence, probably the distance was short, but maybe we were already quite worn out that “… soon, very soon.” seemed “… far, all so very far.” Haha!

We just had to ramble through and press forward!

So trust me when I say that these huge pieces of logs that you have to cross over, is a pretty good indicator that the end is near. The end to eternal ethereal beauty of Lake Marian was just so close within our reach. Honest!

4. Lake Marian

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glacial action. This lake lies above the bush line and is surrounded by the amazing Darren Mountains. The Lake Marian region probably provides the most enticing setting of a hidden gem in the Fiordland National Park region. Perfect for photographers!

Albeit jaded, the breeze from the lake just doused the tiredness and rekindled a whole new feeling of enthusiasm and glow! When we first saw the sight of Lake Marian, we were awestricken. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

I needed a moment to soak in the wondrous beauty of it all. The distant partially white snow-capped Darren Mountains as backdrop and the undisturbed clear waters were just in a perfect cosmos. It was really impressive how incredible Mother Nature was. And time and again, she never failed to amaze and blow me away. It was like a wallpaper that I would only imagined and dreamed about, but there it was, sprawled right in front of me in my peripheral vision, unimpeded!

The hours of climb through the forest and all the pushing through was all worth it. Worth it to be in the moment as such, and to have that memory to have at least seen and felt it just once was bliss enough.

We spend quite a long time by the alpine lake. Having our packed lunch of sandwiches, admiring the beauty, and of course taking loads of photos. Haha!

It was so beautiful, we were quite reluctant to leave. But we did have quite a journey back to the parking lot. Alas, we had to leave to make up for the time before it turned dark.

 

TIPS?

(a) Start the trek EARLY

Before embarking on this Lake Marian trek, I already knew we had to start the trek early. But because we were beat out from previous nights, we decided that we would still get up early, but… just not so much earlier.

Hence, we missed out on the magnificent reflections of the Darren Mountains on the lake waters; which could be seen when the weather was calm making the waters in Lake Marian very much still. And that usually happened at dawn when the air would be crisp and the breeze at its minimal. When we were heading towards the lake, we stopped to have a conversation with a couple from Israel. They headed to the lake extremely early in the wee morning, and were already on their way back. We saw some of the shots they took of Lake Marian early in the morning, they were GORGEOUS! Words cannot describe.

So if you want to have amazing reflection shots of the mountains imprinted on the lake waters, a good timing to arrive at Lake Marian would be around 8 – 9 am? That was according to the Israeli couple.

If not, Lake Marian is still a gorgeous sight in the late morning early afternoon; which was what we got to see. Still ain’t half bad you know. 😀

(b) Go for a SWIM

Minor regrets in life comes when you thought you were all packed for a trek, but didn’t occur to you that you could actually bring your swimming gear. I didn’t know swimming was allowed at Lake Marian, well… apparently so it seemed. If I had a do over, I would make sure I pack my swimming essentials that’s for sure. I am positively sure the waters would be so refreshing after a long arduous climb up. Totally energising!

But because we were not prepared for a swim, we only doused our hands in the waters, which was extremely chilly!

(c) Beacon of SAFETY

The start of the tramping track on this Lake Marian trek would be after the series of mini waterfalls. The pathway started to get more uneven underfoot and the route was not at all straightforward. Hence, it would definitely be advisable that one should be of moderate to good level of fitness and also have a certain level of navigation and survival skills.

Getting to Lake Marian was still somewhat manageable. We just had to find orange beacon arrows mounted on tree trunks, or any form of track markers or indicators. Of which, some were very obviously spotted, while others required a wee bit more eye for details. But either way, it was still alright, coming from someone who really do not have much jungle experience.

However, on the way back, we had probably missed a beacon and sort of side tracked a little. The pathway did not seemed at all crossable. Hence, in such situation it would definitely be wise to trust your gut, retract your steps and find the orange beacon or any indicator that you might have missed, sometimes it could be a red ribbon or something like that.

Always remember to be safe. If you don’t feel that it is right, even the slightest bit, to move forward… don’t. Trust yourself.

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawbai, a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, placed Lake Marian Track to be in the ‘Advanced: Tramping track’ category.

In New Zealand, tracks that are listed in this government agency website, are placed in one of six categories. And to be placed under ‘Advanced: Tramping track’, indicates that the Lake Marian Track is considered to be the second most demanding track, with ‘Expert: Route’ being the most challenging one.

Click for more information about the six walking track categories.

Hence, it is always wise to stay safe and be mindful of the surroundings!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money! And I do hope to conquer more treks in the future.

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Day 1 Highlights

Snorkelling at Bunaken Island + TIPS? 

Christ Blessing Statue 

Dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant 

Manado, capital city of North Sulawesi province of Indonesia. With majority of the locals being Christians, it is not uncommon to see so many churches just within walking distance from each other. Sitting in the van, passing through a village or city centre, the number of churches that zoomed us by was just endless, initially befuddling I have to add. A peaceful place to visit for a nice relaxing getaway with the entire family.

Blessed with weather that was perfect enough despite being close to wet/rainy season (November – April), was something I cannot complaint about. Surely it was not blazing shaft of sunlight piercing through the cloudless sky, such that the waters in the surrounding seas are crystal clear with no washed up debris. But at least, it was not raining or melancholic that water activities would have to be unfortunately cancelled.

It was a short family vacation of just a few days, and 2 of those days were imperatively well spent with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in Manado. So let’s jump right into Day 1 of it!

 

Day 1 Highlights: Snorkelling at Bunaken Island + TIPS

To me, snorkelling was the highlight activity during this entire Manado trip. I was very much excited for it. This was my first time snorkelling with my family as sidekicks. The most recent snorkelling was in the Philippines- whale shark watching (which I hardly feel it was snorkelling at all, considering the fact that I was trying to brave through my fear, haha!)

Click here if you are interested in my whale shark watching experience!

For those ardent scuba divers, Bunaken Island which is just a quick boat ride away from Manado, would definitely be a top diving spot. I am not a diver, but even just mere surface snorkelling and glass bottom boat viewing was quite enough to entice me. Could only imagine a whole new world if I would be able to dive into the sea at least 1000 metres down under to appreciate the walls of the magnificent coral gardens and the amazing biodiversity!

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The Safari Tours & Travel Co.’s van came to pick us from our resort at around 9.30 am to the jetty, and by 11 am (ish), we were engaged in the first mini activity of the day: glass bottom boat viewing of the corals and marine wildlife!

The boat ride to the viewing vicinity of corals was about a half hour or so. It was definitely a nice start to the morning with the sea breeze just howling and pressing against your skin as the boat advanced towards Bunaken Island!

The glass bottom boat viewing was pretty nice; we get to see some vivid colours of coral colonies, fishes, turtles, and even blue starfishes! It was pretty cool. And for members of the family not into snorkelling, at least they wouldn’t miss out on this aspect.

After glass bottom boat viewing, we disembarked on Bunaken Island for just a short while to get our entrance ticket/tag to the Bunaken National Marine Park. It was IDR $150k per person, and the validity of it is an entire calendar year. You will get a waterproof laminated entrance tag that you will need to bring along with you as proof when there would be any random checks by the park rangers on land or at sea. The laminated tag was also a nice souvenir to bring home! 😀

Then the main highlight of the day: snorkelling! YAY! 😀

We got geared up with life vests provided and into the ocean we went! While everyone was all busy fitting into their life vests, first into the waters was my elder brother- all so very eager to try out his new snorkelling gear in the ocean.

It was an enjoyable and definitely memorable snorkelling experience, for the fact that my father got drifted quite away from the main coral colony; and the boat man had to throw in a safety float to pull him in towards the boat.

It was close to wet season, thus the water current was a little strong. We all had an arduous swim just to remain in the same position and not being carried away by the current. I, myself, was inching away slowly despite swimming hard and looking at the corals. #multitasking

It was how calm my father was at that moment when he realised he physically wasn’t able to fight against nature’s current that he very much so casually called out for help. And because he did it so casually, my brother’s girlfriend, who was up on the front deck, thought that he was joking, and didn’t thought it was a crisis.

As a result, she did not really panic to get help from the boat man. My mother, who wasn’t out at the front deck, even thought that it was my younger brother who wanted the float instead. Basically, I could only imagine the whole scene on the boat to being very calm, while my father was out in the open sea drifting away, and away… …

It was hilarious, just thinking of it now- how dramatic!

It was only until much later when we all went up to take a breather for all the arduous swimming that we realised what had happened. It was hilarious because of how calm my father was; and not alarming the masses when he needed saving! Hah… …!

After all the swimming and fighting against the current, oh boy were we jaded and mad hungry. On Safari Tours & Travel Co., lunch was provided back on Bunaken Island. A nice simple meal of rice, fish and vegetables to share. It was a nice satisfying lunch, excluding the fact that stray dogs and cats were lurking around us for scraps of our food. 😀

TIPS?!

(a) Combat motion sickness?

The boat ride can be a little bumpy; so for those who are seasick prone; do get ready some small puke trash bags, and prior to the boat ride you could pop in a seasick pill if you need.

I am quite prone to motion sickness; and I recall the most recent encounter was en route to Phi Phi Island, back in Krabi, Thailand. I wasn’t prepared then; and neither was the guide on board. Haha! Luckily she managed to find a giant trash bag for me or I might had puked all over myself on board.

So this time, yes, even though I didn’t pop in any seasick pills, I decided to try a method I like to call: Getting on with the flow… … Though it wouldn’t work for all situations; so maybe popping seasick pills and trash bags are your next best friends.

So how this works is; when I feel like sitting on the boat was making me soon-to-be queasy, I stand right at the front deck of the boat. You know like in the movie: Titanic, when Jack opened Rose’s arms, and she thinks she was flying scene? Yeah, but not asking you to re-enact the scene with your lover, ‘cause that could be very dangerous considering the fact that you would by now be feeling dizzy and all. Haha!

Just stand near the front deck with no peripheral obstructions, grabbing on to any handgrips, and just look towards the sea horizon right in front of you. Look far and wide. Get on with the flow of boat; moving up and down, according to the waves as it crashes against the boat. And at the same time, just enjoy the unimpeded view! Going with the flow of the boat, and seeing the motion of the boat helps your body and mind adapt to it, and hence, voilà, no feeling of puking! What’s not to love about this method right? 😀

Of course this method works only if you are on a private tour; where all the passengers on board are basically people you know; and of course if you are not on a fast chase speed boat. I reckon this method would totally be disengaged when I was on the group tour on the way to Phi Phi Island in Krabi, Thailand. The guide would imperatively tell me to sit my arse down like everyone else, as we were on a speed boat and all.

(b) Do not panic, just call out for help

When it comes to you against nature; what I have learnt from this trip and seeing how many father handled it amazingly is to be calm. Panicking will make everyone panic along with you and getting those who can save you (probably) have a mental block; which doesn’t work in your favour. Of course, it is definitely easier said than done. And I wonder if I was the one in my father’s shoes how will I react.

Hhhmmm… … Maybe I will just scream for help; and drown my lungs with salt water; and yup… … the rest is history.

 

Day 1 Highlights: Christ Blessing Statue

We returned back to shore on Manado towards the late afternoon. Seeing that we still had some time before dinner, my father told our tour guide, Freddy, to drive us to the Christ Blessing statue located at the peak of the CitraLand residential estate.

This Christ Blessing statue stands at 98.4 ft which is fairly much comparable to the world most iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Built by a protestant property developer, this statue has now become a new icon of Manado city as of the recent years!

A very calming sight to see on top of a hill; where the local residential houses were sprawled all below your peripheral vision; and with what it seems like Bunaken Island as the backdrop? Though I am not too sure if it is really Bunaken Island or some other.

 

Day 1 Highlights: Dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant

Address

Bahu Mall Complex, Jl. Wolter Monginsidi 1, Kota Manado, Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia

Personal Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Total damage (per pax)

~ IDR $227241.66

Oh seafood oh seafood; glorious fresh seafood! Dining at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant was basically having dinner with a view and amazing sea breeze! It was so cooling that evening after a slight rain earlier, that everything was just perfect.

There was a variety of fresh seafood, from crab, to mantis shrimp, to lobsters for your choosing. We ordered 2 crabs cooked in different sauces, 2 grilled mantis shrimps cooked in butter garlic, grilled fish, a mixed vegetable dish and 1 hotplate bean curd. It was the a satisfying seafood dinner after a long day at sea. Really delicious!

With the amount of seafood we had ordered at such a reasonable pricing, and with a view so beautiful, there really isn’t much complaints at all. Just all in a perfect cosmos.

The epically dramatic snorkelling trip with the family, the nice mini city sightseeing to Christ Blessing statue, and amazing seafood dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant; all these just sums up our first day trip with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in Manado!

Oh boy, wait till we experienced what was installed for us the next day! That would be interesting!

Picture does speak a thousand words, but you need to be there to really believe it. Even for the not so avid divers, Manado is a nice place to chill, have relaxing snorkelling (on dry season; when the sea current is not strong) and have yummilicious seafood everday! Manado is imperatively a nice getaway for the whole family!

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

Dee

How to get there? 

En Route to Milford Sound via Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes & Homer Tunnel 

Milford Sound 

TIPS? 

And New Zealand… … Probably the place where I might have left a little part of me. Surrounded only by beauty, serenity and hope seeping through the snowcapped mountains, valleys and ridges, I have no qualms that any sombre mood would definitely be uplifted, for sure.

Well… … at least I know mine had. Looking back at the photos taken there, it does bring back the memories that had impinged on me when I was in New Zealand, South Island for close to a month.

 

How to get there?

It was a one day trip from Te Anau township where we resided at to Milford Sound. A very laidback drive with many quick respites that included mini sightseeing and camera shots along the way! ‘Cause why rush, when the en route’s views were just as impeccable!

A straightforward driving route on the Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 will basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 50 mins? And that does not include respites. So I would say a 2 hour (ish) drive or longer?

 

En Route to Milford Sound via Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes & Homer Tunnel

So if you are within the Te Anau vicinity, then you had better take a driving trip (preferably self-drive), and embark on an expedition on the Te Anau-Milford Highway 94. You don’t even have to hike, walk, or claw your way through the mud, bushes or forest to have views that are as marvellous as what you would feast your eyes upon on this drive en route to Milford Sound.

And I know it does sound crazily exaggerated here, but I am not kidding. It was THE MOST amazing vista I had ever seen from a viewpoint of a driver/passenger IN THE CAR. The entire stretch up Highway 94 was just BAM amazing! It was ridiculous endless marvelling on my end; I just can’t… …!

1. Eglinton Valley

Now picture Eglinton Valley as this gorgeous piece of open field of lustrous green patch sprawled across hectares, accompanied with the distant mountains stretched out into the far off land as backdrop. That was imperatively a scene not to forget! And with the endless quiet highway, anywhere was a good spot to park by the side of the road and gawked at the wonders of Mother Nature.

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Since we set off in the late morning, the strong afternoon sunlight beamed so generously on everything that the entire landscape just glistened in front of us. It was picture perfect.

Along the way, we paused to immerse in a stream with close to turquoise clear waters flowing with benign. So peaceful and calm, the icy cold waters streamed down without a care in the world. It was just beautiful.

2. Mirror Lakes

Don’t be fooled by the ‘Lakes’ in the naming of this. It is not really a huge patch of lake or any sort. It is more of a pond? Okay, maybe slightly larger than a pond. It is not hard to miss this pit stop as there would be cars parked along the side of the road, and a decent signage too!

A 2 minutes or less mini boardwalk would take you down to the viewing deck where you would be greeted by the still waters and mountains. And if you are lucky maybe a cute ducky or 2?!

You don’t have to spend too much time at Mirror Lakes, ‘cause the real action and mind-blowing views comes soon after.

3. Homer Tunnel

Anyone heading to Milford Sound has to go through Homer Tunnel. Since the tunnel can only fit in a stream of cars in a single file each time (each way), hence there would be a bit of a wait time if cars from the other side of the tunnel would be making their way over.

Which was no biggie at all, considering the majestic view in the vicinity just compensated for it all! Families actually parked their mini vans, and have lunch tables all set up just next to the entrance/exit of Homer Tunnel; facing the glacier. Having lunch without an impeding view of the glacier? HELLO, YES PLEASE, ANYTIME! 😀

Seeing that we had quite a bit of a wait time, we decided not to join in the car queue, but parked alongside the families having lunch! We had some time to immerse in the beauty of the mountains engulfing from the sides with trickling of waters down the ridges like mini waterfalls. Oh they were all so beautiful as the sparkle under the afternoon sunlight, like little streams of confetti!

The white glistening glacier was probably the highlight for everyone waiting at the entrance of Homer Tunnel. It was so up-close and personally, it was unbelievable that it was just there; so within your reach! It was crazy! And of course, we had to snap a hell load of photos! We did notice some people exploring deeper into the glacier area, but because we were tight on time, we decided to have that a miss.

 

Milford Sound

After an arduous but all so satisfactory and self-fulfilling drive from Te Anau township, we had finally arrived at Milford Sound! By then, taking into account all of our respites and photo-snapping, it was already late afternoon, and the sun was soon to set.

We had a quick lunch/tea at the Blue Duck Café. Cannot really recall exactly what I ordered, but probably a standard set of coffee and meat pastry puff? Or did I bring along my own sandwich? Okay, I think probably I did brought my own sandwich and bought a coffee from the café. 😀

Then the exploring begun! We embarked on the Milford Foreshore Walk, which was a pretty easy grade boardwalk with some gravels and slight forested area. So peaceful and serene considering it was already late afternoon, there was practically close to no one around anymore.

Just the sound of the cool crisp howling of the sea breeze and the occasional honks coming from the Milford Sound Cruise Tours. They were all probably already done with their magical cruise day tour around Milford Sound vicinity, and to think, we only just begun! Haha! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Bring a packed lunch/snack

Since the journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound can be a little long, it would be always nice to have a snack of some sort for when you decide to rest. And a great spot to fuel up and get those legs stretching and blood circulating would be near the entrance of Homer Tunnel! With the close-up view of the glacier being so perfectly in place and in a cosmos with the surroundings, having lunch there would make any nature lover jelly!

(b) Start journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound EARLY

Now I am not saying bright and early like 6 or 7 am even, but I would say a reasonable time between 9 and 10 am (ish) is a good period to set off. This will imperatively give you plenty of time to snap pictures of Eglinton Valley and the river streams, the Mirror Lakes, and definitely not forgetting, having able to explore the glacier just at the entrance of Homer Tunnel!

(c) Drive-Thru Homer Tunnel with CARE

Inside Homer Tunnel is pitch dark with NO side lights or beacon of any sorts within the tunnel. It is only towards the other side where there would be shafts of sunlight peering through and beacons to direct you along, other than that, your headlights, and of course, the headlights coming from other cars in front and behind you are all you have.

Entering the tunnel for the first time is like taking a ride on Disneyland’s Thunder Mountain. I mean, it was not any fast like a roller coaster in that sense, but we were entering a tunnel, which is drilled through a mountain so I guess it was kinda the same? Haha…!

Since, it was pitch black, manoeuvring slowly through the tunnel with care is fundamental. Just go slow, and follow the car in front!

(d) Staying over at Milford Sound?

To be honest, I don’t think there is a need to stay over at Milford Sound. Yes, the landscape is spectacularly immaculate and out of this world, but if you not coming to Milford Sound from a Fiordland’s multi-day trek or had been on the road for a while, then I reckoned that there is really no need to spend a night at Milford Sound.

There is really nothing else you could do there other than the 20 minutes Milford Foreshore Walk. Not to mention, in the middle of nowhere, there are no shops or restaurants to dine. Heading back to humble Te Anau township with so many amazing food options and necessities available would be a better option. The accommodation at Te Anau is also much reasonable.

Besides, remember the 2 hour (ish) drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound being so wickedly awesome, well… … you get to experience it for the second time in 1 day! WHY NOT?!

However, if you feel you might be too exhausted from the drive, and do feel like spending more time at Milford Sound, then I recommend ONE night. Just one night would be more than enough. 🙂

Click for more details on Milford Sound accommodation.

Milford Sound could be experienced differently giving you angular perspectives of it. Whether you are

(i) going on a Milford Sound cruise tour (day/overnight), or

(ii) embarking on one of Fiordland’s multi-day treks, or

(iii) simply a self-drive from Te Anau township

Milford Sound will still always be an amazing place in the South Island of New Zealand. I will not forget how in awed I was in the car on the way to Milford Sound. The route was just as sweet amazing as the finishing line.

Picture does speak a thousand words, but trust me when I say, you need to be there to really believe it. Believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world.

So get out there, and explore! Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

 

How to get there?

Dress appropriately?

What you might experience?

TIPS?!

Operating Hours:

Wat Rong Khun

Weekdays: 08 00 – 17 00

Weekends: 08 00 – 17 30

Art Gallery

Weekdays: 08 00 – 17 30

Weekends & National Holidays: 08 00 – 18 00

Entrance Fee:

FOC

Recommended length of visit:

1 – 2.5 hours

(depending on how intense you want to immerse yourself into the temple enigma)

A trip to a temple is definitely not something I would be intrigued by in the past; I am more of a cathedral kinda girl. I was, and still am, into spires that reach way up high into the sky, not to mention the vintage architecture and at times, not so salient but fascinating details engraved into the thick concrete pillars.

Well, all that changed when I saw how majestically unique Wat Rong Khun was on Google! The white structure that glistened under the sun was a win for me instantly!

 

How to get there?

Car

Since we had the car, getting there was pretty simple and so straightforward; with the help of Google Maps of course! We stayed at The Imperial River House Resort in Chiang Rai, quite centrally located I would say. But then again, with a car, anywhere is centrally located. Haha! 😀

From the resort, it was approximately a half-hour drive to Wat Rong Khun. The landmark to look out for would be the Central Plaza Chiang Rai; this mall was our beacon when travelling around Chiang Rai.

Tuk- Tuk

Not renting a car? Then the tuk-tuk is probably the next most convenient alternative! There are public buses to be taken from platforms 7 and 8 at the old bus station; which costs 20 baht each way. But in my opinion, that’s just a hassle, unless of course, you are on a budget.

But with the time spend walking and searching for the old bus station (there are two bus stations- new and old), it really does save time and effort by hopping on a tuk-tuk instead! I am sure you can haggle over the price with them too. Best of all, you could ask the tuk-tuk driver to wait for you. So it’s a two way package.

 

Dress appropriately?

To enter the main Wat Rong Khun temple building, visitors need to dress appropriately; meaning no shorts, no short skirts, no tank tops and definitely no spaghetti strap tops (applicable to both guys and ladies). They have staff stationed at the entrance and would call out to you if you are inappropriately/ indecently dressed.

Safe dressing would probably be those baggy pants that you would see being sold literally everywhere in Thailand, and literally almost every tourist was wearing it (both guys and ladies). I got mine from Siem Reap in Cambodia at USD $2.50. I regretted not getting more; they were so comfy like PJs! The ones sold in Thailand were definitely priced more than USD $2.50, just FYI.

For skirts, the staff present was pretty strict about the length of it. I saw her chasing a mother and daughter out because of their skirt length. They were wearing skirts with length to their knees, well… … I reckon that was considered inappropriate according to the staff. So to play on the safe side, if you really want to wear a skirt, keep it long to below the knee? Preferably near to the ankle area?

I wore a tank top during my trip there. I could enter and roam the vicinity of temple, which includes the temple gardens, the other smaller buildings and all that jazz. However, to enter the main Wat Rong Khun building, I had to put my outer layer on; which made me look like some hipster hobo. But oh well… …that works too!

 

What you might experience?

Wat Rong Khun

Obviously the highlight has to be the main Wat Rong Khun building. This white temple is just ethereal with a concinnate blend of white purity and dark impropriety. Upon arrival at the site of attraction, the Wat Rong Khun just shined like the leading star it was meant to be. Hordes of people from everywhere posing in front of and beside the building even before entering.

At the entrance, you would be greeted by morbid heads that hung from the trees with grassy mosses growing out of them; heads of humans, ghouls, demons, Gollum and Batman. Yup, you got that right… … Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and Batman, well… … from Gotham City!

I was honestly surprised when I saw Batman’s head hanging from the tree in the temple gardens. Gollum, I can (sort of) understand… … but Batman?!?! Haha! It was hilarious! I never expected to see a superhero within temple grounds. Because isn’t that worldly affairs? Hhhhhhmmmm… …

To get into the main temple hall at Wat Rong Khun, you would need to cross the bridge guarded by two demon guardian sculptures on each side; and passing a myriad of hands reaching for the surface. The ocean of hands, on both sides of the bridge, intensely reaching for the surface just gives me the shudders.

In my humble interpretation of what these all meant to me is that the hands represent the sea of the dead. Because they were trapped in their worldly affairs when alive, hence, even at death they couldn’t let them go that they were still unhappy. As a result, they are stuck in this plight and are trying to reach for someone to grab onto; to pull them out. Or if you think about it from another perspective; maybe they are trying to pull someone to join them? I don’t know about you, but that’s how I felt. It was quite a morbid few seconds of thought after I saw this.

Photography isn’t allowed within the temple hall, and footwear has to be removed before entering. The temple hall is a small space, with a monk sitting at the centre meditating, and people praying alongside. There was a painter busy beautifying the walls of the temple hall during the time I was there. The painter does have some extraordinary skills I have to say.

What caught my attention were SpongeBob SquarePants and Spiderman. Yup, I am not kidding… … Mr SquarePantsee and Spidey were painted (though not very prominent) onto the wall in the temple hall!

I recalled making a quick comment to J asking, ‘Wait, is that SpongeBob? What is he doing here?’ And J responded, obviously without thinking much, ‘Oh so now we know SpongeBob is a deity. Likewise for Spiderman.’

I was speechlessly puzzled! It was hilarious.

Golden toilet

Within the site of Wat Rong Khun, there exists one prominent golden building just beside the main temple. You couldn’t ever miss it. Alas, during my visit, it was codon off to the public. Probably you would have better luck on your visit!

Garden vicinity and surrounding buildings

With majority of tourists flooding the main Wat Rong Khun building with selfies and wefies, to achieve somewhat serenity (if even possible) would be to amble around the garden vicinity! There are actually quite a few things to do and see.

For instance, making a wish in the wishing well which has zodiacs characters engrave around its rims? 😀

If that isn’t to your fancy, then writing down your wishes and prayers on an aluminium key-looking ornament and then hanging it up for 30 baht?

As you wander through the temple garden, you would see hundreds of such ornament being hung up. Some under the sheltered walkway, and some made into a tree- like structures! It was pretty amazing.

The main Wat Rong Khun building is not the only white building within the site. Somewhere towards the back exists such a white building too. Not well patronise by tourists, this is a great spot to avoid the crowds and get a shot without being photobombed by people. Obviously this building is not like the leading star of Wat Rong Khun upfront, but this is good enough!

 

TIPS?!

Go EARLY!

Operating hours is between 8 am and 5 pm. I would suggest arriving at Wat Rong Khun between 7.30 am to 8 am if you want an unimpeded shot of the main white temple building, and to avoid the entourage of tourists flooding in in the late morning.

Take the shot NOW!

I was complacent in thinking that I would have a next time to get the shot I wanted.

Because of the hordes of people, I wanted to return back the next time to get a better shot with fewer people. But good lighting waits for no man; or woman. The next time we were there, the sky was melancholic; totally regretted my decision.

During this trip, I learnt one thing. Take the shot when there is good lighting! DO NOT wait! You might never have a second chance to!

My trip to Wat Rong Khun was not really complete as constructions and decorations are still ongoing. Many areas were codon off to the public too. So maybe you would have better luck than I had!

This article has been converted to a travel article app on GPSMyCity. For more information, click here.

So Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Parking Lot –> Elevated Track –> Summit –> And Back

Total Distance:

16 km (9.9 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 7 – 9 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Seasonal Restrictions:

Track closed for lambing between 1st October and 10th November each year.

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂 🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

The Wanaka region is still by far the most memorable part of my New Zealand trip. Weather in New Zealand can get pretty precarious; with moments of sunshine, and then moments of melancholy!

In hindsight, we were pretty much blessed during our visit to the Wanaka region with perfect skies, not too chilly temperature, and best of all, refreshingly cool breeze that fills every volume corner of our lungs as we inhaled in the best of nature!

 

How to get there?

The start of the Roys Peak Track is just a quick and simple approximately 5 km drive North West from Wanaka Township! Drive on Ardmore Street, which will lead you on Wanaka- Mount Aspiring Road.

Look out for the yellow signage (which is not as prominent) ‘Roys Peak Track’ on the right (if you are coming from Wanaka Township, that is). The car parking area is just there at the base of the peak!

 

Highlights and Views

There is a green donation box near the entrance of the Roys Peak Track. The donation is more for maintenance and upgrade of the walking track. It is not compulsory and you do not have to be compelled to donate if you do not want to.

The first section of the Roys Peak Track crosses private land, hence, it is sage to keep on the paved track, and respect landowner’s property! Since there would be approximately a month’s long of lambing between October and November, obviously we could get to see some, well… … many… … sheep and lambs up close and personal all throughout the track up!

And of course, you have to accept the animals in all their glory right?

By that, I meant the woolly fur balls’ poops and their glorious smell that accompanies with! Yup, poopies all over the track; especially the initial section! Here. There. EVERYWHERE! 😀 Glorious smell!

The view just keeps getting more amazing as you ascend. I couldn’t help but always take a glance back as I climbed up a few steps further!

First it was just the hills, the thin strip of Wanaka Township, and the partial view of Lake Wanaka, then slowly, the lake view just extents wider, and the town strip gets larger! Soon we could see the sprawling Wanaka Township on the right and the cerulean Lake Wanaka on the left- all within our peripheral vision; unimpeded!

The distant mountains and beyond were now visible as well! Partially shrouded by the clouds, some mountains were snow-capped. Hence, I kept my eyes peeled for the moment the mountains were less covered by the clouds to capture a shot or two or three!

I do know that the view is going to be even more awe-inspiring up at the summit of Roys Peak, but I just couldn’t help myself! I had to pause the trudge up (at intervals), snapped pictures and immersed in it all! It was just too beautiful, it was impeccable! Maybe that’s why when people say that they take a certain time to complete a trek; I probably take longer than what was mentioned! 🙂

Along the journey up Roys Peak Track, you will see an up sloping field of alpine tussocks, and from far it looks like fur balls of hair that sways so gently and in sync with the wind. The tussocks just remind me of the movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, where the colourful vibrant trees look like cotton candy and balls of hair!

There is a long narrow strip for respite just before you continue on the climb to the summit. You could stop here for a snack/lunch break and if you are really not up for it, you could slowly make your descend. Most people would stop here and have photos taken of them on the narrow strip with the blue hues of sky, lake and mountains as backdrop! Very Instagram-worthy! ;P

This is a nice spot to be ensorcelled by the beauty of the landscape in front of you. And by this time, you would be imperatively certain that the arduous trudge up earlier was definitely all worth it; every drop of sweat!

Comparing the long elevated way up from the base, to the climb from the respite area to the summit, the latter is really not that long a journey. You have reached the Roys Peak summit when you see the tall radio antenna tower!

So knowing this now, if you see it afar whilst climbing, maybe you would want to use this as your beacon of hope to spur you on? Haha!

I cannot explain how much satisfaction I had gain from conquering the Roys Peak Track. The amount of effort I vested in to get a view as gawkingly breath-taking as this was just very deserving in my opinion.

You know there are some treks where you don’t need to put much effort and still get awesome views? And there are some which make you cringe and grit your teeth, but yet you still press on, and are rewarded with the views to die for?

Well, though sometimes we all need treks which requires less effort in exchange for good view; ‘cause you know, we are all not made of steel; and we cannot always and every day be conquering challenging treks right?

But, in my opinion, it is good and healthy to challenge yourself every now and then to a trek that makes you work your ass for something deserving. I feel a greater sense of achievement as compared to a simpler and easier trek! Don’t you think so? 🙂

‘Cause the best memories will be deeply etched when you actually put an effort and work for it rather than just getting it on a silver platter! Though, I have to say, sometimes silver platters would be nice too! Haha! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Just keep swimming moving… … Just keep swimming moving… …

For someone who hasn’t done the Roys Peak Track before, you couldn’t really pinpoint where the final destination (a.k.a summit) really is. All you see is just a relentless elevated winding track to the heavens; which means against gravity! And well… … we all know, gravity ain’t exactly the best-est of friend sometimes right?

Definitely not the most benign track to be on, but you really need to rivet on the goal here; and that’s to reach the summit, because you presage that the view up there is going to be so swooning, and it’s just a pity if you were to miss it! Well… … at least that’s what I tell myself whilst on this track!

So don’t just stop at the narrow strip for respite! Have a break and continue to the summit! It’s really not that far! Honest!

(b) Start the trek EARLY

If you are someone who loves pausing to snap photos, or need multiple breaks to catch your breath (because, this is a massive elevated track), then you really need to start early. Take it from someone who had done this trek in the morning, and finished it close to evening.

(c) Sunscreen is a MUST; alongside windproof outer coat

Roys Peak Track gave me my first sunburn on my lower arms in over a decade! Usually I would use sunscreen and at most I would just tan up, but this time there was massive skin peeling. Why? ‘Cause I was lazy, that’s why.  And overly complacent! It was bad enough for me to get an aloe vera after sun lotion to soothe the burn.

This is an exposed track, with no trees to shelter you like most forest track. So do not be lazy like I was, and slap on sunscreen!

Windproof coat is much needed just in case the weather changes. You do not want to be freezing your ass at 1578 m above sea level, do you? Haha!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money!

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Round trip:Parking Lot –> Forest Walk –> Valley –> Glacier viewpoint–> And Back

Total Distance:

5.4 km (3.36 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 2 hours

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

What you might experience?

Fox Glacier Valley Walk OR Franz Josef Glacier Walk?

TIPS? Going on Douglas Walk & Peters Pool?

This trek wasn’t an impromptu one as it was for the Fox Glacier Valley walk; which I wrote about sometime in July this year. If you have not read that already, then here it is: Treks: Fox Glacier Valley Walk, Fox Glacier.

Just as Fox Glacier Valley walk is as easy, so is this Franz Josef Glacier walk- with minimal strain! I love valley walks as compared to forest walk because of the wider peripheral version of the landscapes around. Furthermore, you get the option to look up at the skies every once in awhile; which I love to do too!

 

How to get there?

Option 1: Drive

From Franz Josef Waiau township, head down South, and pass Franz Josef i-Site Visitor Information Centre. Cross the Waiho River bridge, and make a left turn onto Glacier Access Road. The signage for this is very obvious. A quick drive to the end of the road (start of the walk) would take probably 10 minutes at most?

Option 2: Walk/ Cycle

For those who would like to embark on this walk starting from Franz Josef Waiau township, there are tracks for you to walk or cycle to the end of the Glacier Access Road too.

That’s about 3.8 km (2.36 miles) and approximately 1 hour from the start of the Glacier Access Road to the end of the road (a.k.a. Glacier Carpark). However, if you are cycling, then the duration is reduced by half. The route is still the same as if you were driving there- you would also need to pass the Franz Josef i-Site Visitor Information Centre, and cross the Waiho River bridge.

 

What you might experience?

On a better day, from the parking lot, you could already get a major breath-taking partial peep at the majestic Franz Josef glacier!

This is quite a popular walk as it is fairly easy; great fun for the whole family. Plus, it was the weekend, so basically we were spending our morning literally in a playground; nature’s playground!

We started off with a short walk through the forest, with gentle streams flowing. The real awe-inspiring series of scenes started when the forest opened up to a wide angular view of the distant Franz Josef glacier and its moraines surrounding. It was imperatively rejuvenating. It was our first virgin trek through a valley, so it was a pretty amazing experience despite a melancholic morning!

Shaft of some sunlight were soon observed as we advanced closer towards the viewpoint at the end of the trek. Along the way, other than seeing moraines littered the ground, there were refreshing waterfalls that gushed from the cliff side. Quirky glacier formations were espied when closer to the viewpoint- with tints of grey, white and icy blue.

Things could get a wee bit challenging for the younger ones as the route gets a little steeper and less gripped underfoot due to the loose pebbles and rocks when closer to the viewpoint. So do be cautious!

There were throngs of people at the viewpoint. Some having late morning munchies, while majority were taking photos as mementos; including us! 😀

By right, the highlight of this walk had to be the view of the Franz Josef glacier right? This was the case back then. However, in retrospect, I feel the greatest memory to take away from this walk, and was fortunately caught on camera (though not as well focused), was the sighting of what it seemed to be a tahr? It’s a goat-like creature. I am really not certain about its official name.

If it was really a tahr, which is classified as a pest in New Zealand (read more about it here: Tahr; New Zealand’s pest?), I would still find this moment a treasure!

‘Cause, hey, it’s not during every trek or walk you get to see wild animals right? Though, I did encounter a close up session with a kea during my walk through the Fox Glacier Valley… … But that’s beside the point! Every wild animal spotted during a walk/trek is a memory worth treasuring, no? 😀

So it is always nice to keep your eyes peeled to the surroundings, you never know what treasure you might find!

 

Fox Glacier Valley Walk OR Franz Josef Glacier Walk?

Since I have been comparing these two walks, now the question is which one is worth a go at? Well here’s a checklist to ease us into the answer.

 

Fox Glacier Valley Walk Franz Josef Glacier Walk

(more) dramatic rivers/streams?

(more) dramatic waterfalls?

orange tainted rocks?

snow-capped mountains along the side cliffs?

views at viewpoint?

And the list can go on… …

Not to say Franz Josef Glacier Walk was horrible (it really wasn’t at all), but in comparison to Fox Glacier Valley Walk, I would definitely prefer the latter.

Maybe it was the gloomy weather, or maybe it was the thick fog that may have shrouded the snow-capped mountains that may be there (which I will never know, unless I return on this walk again on a much sunnier day), but in general, I felt the vista at Fox Glacier Valley Walk had much more character and personality.

So if it isn’t obvious enough, the answer is Fox Glacier Valley Walk!

But of course if you have time at hand, and you are at Franz Josef township, then it doesn’t hurt to just take 2 hours off to explore the area right? You may even see much more than I did during my time there!

 

TIPS? Going on Douglas Walk & Peters Pool?

1

Go For a Trek-athon

Embark on other walks/treks within the vicinity!

The best thing about this Franz Josef Glacier walk is its location! Just within the car park compound, there is another entrance that branches out to other simple walking/trekking options!

I recall it was the first day we arrived at Franz Josef township, and with a couple of hours of daylight left, we decided not to waste any time. We headed straight for a simple trek on the Douglas Walk and to Peters Pool to end off the day!

Since Franz Josef Glacier walk is only approximately 2 hours, you could continue on your trek-athon, if you please, and just pop by Peters Pool. On a clear day, the view by the little pond (Peters Pool) would give you unobstructed partial views of the massive Franz Josef glacier. I would definitely recommend this!

2

Morning Jog

Fancy a morning jog? Then take it to the glacier!

With route fairly easy, and just a 10 minutes drive from Franz Josef township, going on this jog is really doable! We saw a few couples doing this!

If we had more time, I would definitely suggest this! And MAYBE we would be going on this route a second time, and MAYBE the weather would be better, and MAYBE the landscape would have more personality then? And MAYBE Franz Josef Glacier walk MAY have more ticks on the checklist above?

Well… … Life always have a bucket load of MAYs, MAYBEs and IFs. 😀

3

Sunscreen

As this valley walk is an open area with no shade from the, at times, inexorable sunlight (if any), slather on sunscreen you must! Skin peeling as the corollary of your laziness to apply sunscreen can look very unsightly in photos, I know… … Been there. 🙁

4

Check For Track Closure

Another tip, which is the MOST important, is to check if the track is close for the day due to ice collapse, flooding or rock falls before you embark on the trek!

You can do so at the local Department of Conservation (DOC) office at Fox Glacier Township, or at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre at Franz Josef Township.

Click for more information on Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre

So remember to Travel Whenever, and have a good trek!

Dee

How to get there?

Place to stay: Lake Hawea Hotel

What you might experience?

I would say most roads on the South Island of New Zealand are just beyond words. The congenial surroundings includes long stretch of straight roads, with hectares of open grasslands, distant mountains, and occasional herds of cows and sheep. All these are in a great cosmos; all these are situated in a little region we call Middle Earth; where really, the magic of God’s creation happens.

 

How to get there?

We headed down from Fox Glacier Township towards the Wanaka region (approximately a 3 hours drive; nonstop), which will ultimately bypass the pristine Lake Hawea. So beautiful… …

And since we are passing Lake Hawea, why not have a respite at the Lake Hawea Hotel to soak in the cerulean crystal clear waters of Lake Hawea! A little pit stop before entering the main Wanaka Township! Sounds like the great plan! 😀

Taking a very straightforward cruise, drive on Haast Highway (a long drive of approximately 1.5 hours from Fox Glacier Township), towards Haast Township. Continue along Haast Pass-Makarora Road, and onto Makarora-Lake Hawea Road. Then make a left onto the filter lane on Capell Avenue. And voilà, Lake Hawea Hotel is on the right! From Haast Township to Lake Hawea Hotel, it is an approximately another 1.5 hours more.

If you continue on Makarora-Lake Hawea Road, you would be driving towards Albert Town, which will soon lead you to main Wanaka Township.

 

Place to stay: Lake Hawea Hotel

Because we will not be passing Lake Hawea again, we wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to just be sluggish for a day or two by the Lake, doing absolutely nothing. And when I mean nothing, I really do mean snapping photos of course. Haha! 😀

TIP?

Get some groceries done prior to Lake Hawea!

There’s really nothing much to buy at Lake Hawea, though there’s a humble grocery store within the Hawea community. Cafés and restaurants are also available as well. Heard Sailz Restaurant and Bar is worth a stop by, though we did not try that- we survived mostly on sandwiches, cookies and whatnot because we wanted to leave the binge-eating for when we enter Wanaka Township!

‘Cause you save some here, you indulge some there, right? 😀 Haha!

The best thing about Lake Hawea Hotel is that is situated close to the highway heading to main Wanaka Township; which allows for extreme easy access. We could practically see the highway from our balcony!

With a clean spacious room layout, clear glass slider door that allows maximum natural sun rays to shine in, huge counter to dump all our groceries, a simple armchair (which J is always fascinated about) and, of course… the view of the star attraction; Lake Hawea- just within our peripheral version, this respite is just heaven on Earth!

Just slide open the door, and the view of the Lake is there. Perfecto!

At SGD$86.25/night per room, I would say this hotel is reasonably priced. Though based on individual’s budget, preference, and travel style, this might be very much otherwise.

J and I are not into the super high-end accommodation, though who wouldn’t want it right? While (J always calls it) Princess Living, is not the deciding factor here, a decently well maintained, clean ambience is a MUST for us.

All I can say is that we each have found the travel partner to last. Having travelled together for so long now, we know each other’s standards; for cleanliness (me having the lowest of low threshold for it, which has now subtly rubbed off some onto J), budget, location, etc.

And yes, to some, this may already be regarded as Princess Living, but it’s all about the travel style. What you splurge, and what you stinge on, is really on what you have higher regard for. And when we splurge on something, we always make up for it in other areas. Because, obviously we are not made of money too. Haha! 😀

So yeah, Lake Hawea Hotel was definitely to our satisfaction!

 

What you might experience?

En Route To The Wanaka Region From Fox Glacier Township

The magic happens along the stretch of Makarora-Lake Hawea Road. Well, excellent weather too does enhance the magic!

And how do you know the magic has happened?

IMG_0822

You cannot ever miss it! It’s just too eye-catching because the entire vista is awash with the natural beauty of Lake Wanaka, along with the clear mountain hills as backdrop. Coming from Fox Glacier Township, you would first reach the tip North of Lake Wanaka on the right. And even then, it is already insanely swooning! Not being melodramatic at all.

I recall us having a conversation similar to this… …

‘OH MY GOSH! LOOK!’

‘Shall we stop?’

‘I think there more lookouts ahead, we can drive further.’

‘OH MY, IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!’

‘Take out the camera!’

‘Oh no, it’s at the back!’

‘Damn it. HANDPHONE!’

We did stop awhile to snap photos once we found an empty space for vehicles to safely park by the highway. And it was just even more gorgeous stepping out of the car, and viewing it through the lens. The natural sunlight was insanely good; perfect lighting, perfect landscape! At that moment, it was really the happiest day of our lives. Literally!

We noticed that road works were happening slightly up ahead to clear rock falls, and soon, cars were in tandem on the highway. After capturing the pictures I wanted, we joined in the queue, and admired the view from inside the car. Aaaa… … That’s the life…

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea is definitely the younger sister in this Wanaka region, as compared to Lake Wanaka. Wanting a more private time? Lake Hawea is the place to be. Away from the main Wanaka Town, this pristine Lake gives you solace within nature.

Picture does speak a thousand words, but trust me when I say, you need to be there to really believe it. Believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world.

So get out there, and explore! Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Car park –> Jetty Lookout –> View of Views Lookout –> Reflection Island Lookout –> Car park (Circuit Jaunt)
Total Distance:

4.4 km (2.7 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 1.5 hours (with plenty of time to take great shots and respites when necessary)
Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 (at that point of time)

How to get there?

Hiking Highlights and Views

TIPS? And overall experience?

 

How to get there?

A mere 5 minutes drive or so from Fox Glacier Township on Cook Flat Road, and turning right onto Lake Matheson Road will lead you straight to the parking space.

The Matheson Café is located within the vicinity if you want to settle breakfast before the walk. It opens at around 8 am. The prominent signage for this circuit jaunt near the café  marks the start of your odyssey!

Click here for more information about Lake Matheson Café


 

Hiking Highlights and Views

I was pretty much excited for this trek as there are many enrapturing images on Google that captured rad reflection of the mountains on the motionlessly tranquil Lake Matheson. The cerulean blue, alongside the strip of forest green trees just make the entire picture all in a cosmos.

Alas, that wasn’t the view for us to take home that day.

It was quite a cloudy morning to began with. With only a few minutes of intense shaft of sunlight at irregular intervals, those were my only precious opportunities to grasp when taking photos of the landscape.

Through the mini forest

From the starting point, we had to walk pass a bridge over the tannin stream and boulders. It was a much pleasant sight to take in on a morning walk. Calming and breezy, this was a moment that depicted life’s simple pleasures.

I like to take regular glances to the back when I walk. There were many times, when I got awestricken by the vista behind me; and was always glad I did not miss it. With weather that was adept at changing fast and relentless at times, it was quite possible to miss a good view with two snaps of the fingers!

Hence, I was happy to have caught the distant snow capped mountains amidst the fluffy melancholy clouds.

Into the forest we went, the road, though gravelled, was well paved. Kids of all ages could do this walk, easy.

Little information boards about the plant species were found along the way. Nice bite sized facts, made the walk intriguing. It’s really great to learn new things, especially if you are a botany lover!

Reflection Island Lookout

Because it was a circuit jaunt, going either direction would still lead you out the same way. Hence, we decided to take the way which would lead us straight to the Reflection Island Lookout first; and of course, fast- which at that time, we thought would give us the best view.

I reckoned it was the timing we went, the weather, and maybe other variables, the view was… … How should I put it? Hhhmmm… … Not as satisfying? I mean, it was nice, but not as nice as I thought it would be. (Google did set high standards for it, you know.)

It was quite a letdown for us, as we had expected the whole dandy experience. But, nevertheless, we made do with what was presented to us, learnt from it, and made the best out of it! I mean, some pictures were still really cool; having the whole lugubrious vibe and all.

This included the out- of- nowhere appointment of a fury, curled- looking fern to be the ‘face’ of my hair (courtesy of J of course). So yup, now my hair is like a walking mascot for the Ponga tree fern (or until it grows longer, and out of it)! Hhhmmm… Haha! 😀

Endless road

We decided to take a leisure stroll down the Lake Matheson Road. Cow gazing, car watching, breeze inhaling, whatever it was… …It was just imperatively nerve-calming.

The straight endless road with tranquil vista on the sides and ahead, is something we don’t get much of back home. So of course we had to spend time immersing in it all!

 

TIPS? And overall experience?

1. Best views at DAWN and DUSK!

Before we embarked on this Lake Matheson Circuit walk, we did know about the time period to get best views- at Dawn or Dusk. However, we were too shack to get our asses up early in the morning, so that was probably our corollary for being lazy bums. 🙁

Sometimes, a bit of sacrifice is really much needed in exchange for views that amazing- as seen on Google.

So hey, you win some, you lose some right? Win some hours of sleep, lose some nice photos?!

It’s all a learning experience! 😀

2. Breakfast before walk; YES please!

We did not have a meal at Lake Matheson Café, though we did pop by to have a look see at their menu board. The café does provide a peaceful vibe setting with clear distant snow capped mountain views on a good day; that I have to give it to them.

But I would say if you really want to settle breakfast outside your motel, Fox Glacier Township has great delectable varieties! Just my humble opinion anyway. I have never tried the food at the café to judge much, but food in the town could be just as good, and at a slightly cheaper price too. So… yeah…!

I would say the Hobnail Café’s breakfast at the Fox Glacier Guiding doesn’t fall shot either? A hearty breakfast of massive baked potato with stuffing and an American breakfast plate with staples of bread, eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns to share with your friend would totally fuel you both for a great trek ahead! ‘Cause we all know… …

Sharing food = More varieties = More experience to try new food = Life’s perfect

Furthermore, the view from the glass window at Hobnail Café does paint a flawless view of the majestic snow capped mountains in the near distance! What’s not to love about it all?!

Food at the Cook Saddle Café & Saloon is amazeballs! I can’t say much about its breakfast though, but… …for lunch and dinner, the barbeque pork spare ribs with fries on the side is just finger licking awesome! (Out of topic, but just a little FYI here. Haha!)

3. Moment to relieve oneself? Fret NOT!

The public toilets just further down from the café near the car park are clean. Odourless and all, you can safely have a nice dump before or after your trek! No worries! Haha! 😀

Though we did not get great reflection views as ‘promised’ by Google, due to our laziness, or rather, mine slothfulness, I would totally do this again! Obviously at a different timing, probably near sunrise?

The walk is fairly trivial, so I don’t see why not try this once more and be enraptured by the beauty of the serene Lake Matheson with the distant backdrop of the mountains! I am sure it is going to be jaw- droppingly amazing; as ‘promised’ by Google!

Hope this goads you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee