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Benefits of GPSMyCity Travel Article Apps? 

Travel Article App GIVEAWAY (Limited Period ONLY) 

GPSMyCity is a company that publishes iOS and Android travel related app which includes self-guided city walks and even travel articles of specific places of interest written by passionate travellers all around the world! Featuring over more than 1000 cities, this mobile app is imperatively useful on the go!

GPSMyCity is basically for a community of like-minded independent travel explorers who love to saunter through cities and explore new places of sights of interest, without the hassle of a time constraint that one would face, if in a tour group.

Hence, with GPSMyCity’s self-guided city walks apps and travel article apps all downloaded into your mobile device, you would be your very own personal tour guide. Because in GPSMyCity… … You could always “Lose Yourself Without Getting Lost”… … Well unless your mobile device battery decides to fail on you. 😛

 

Benefits of GPSMyCity Travel Article Apps?

So what are the benefits of downloading GPSMyCity’s self-guided city walks apps and travel article apps?

1. SAVE function (It’s FREE!)

So to be honest, a few years ago, when buying prepaid data SIM cards in foreign countries were really not an option for me, I did the most obvious way to save a travel article or important information I found online: PRINTING.

Yes, good old fashion hardcopy! Hey, hardcopies never fail you, unlike unstable data connection… … Right? The downside to this, other than wasting paper and destroying the Earth, would be that they added extra baggage weight to lug with you all around whilst exploring new places. Furthermore, it gets crumpled easily especially when your bag is not waterproof and you get caught in the rain. #beentheredonethat

Then came screenshots. Screenshots of sections of travel articles I deemed important etc., and at the same time, ultimately increasing so many images in my Camera Roll on my phone that on the day that I actually want to use it? I have a hard time finding it! Yes, I have poor organisation skills… But…

Now… … With GPSMyCity’s travel apps, we all can have the luxury of reading travel articles without having to carry along extra baggage or piling up on images in Camera Roll. And the best part, we can all read it OFFLINE. Yes, no need for mobile data at all! You could read the articles you want on the plane en route to your lovely vacation destination, or even in the forest during your hikes, if you would like to confirm certain details about the hiking routes etc. Because to be honest, we all know, even with mobile data, the connection in the middle of nowhere can be pretty unstable. Hence, the SAVE function really does put one at ease! 😀

All you have to do is to click on the SAVE button on the top right corner of the app, and you would have downloaded the travel article you want under “Downloads” to be read OFFLINE. It is really that simple, and FREE!

2. AUDIO function (It’s FREE!)

And there’s this cute AUDIO function in GPSMyCity travel article app that allows you to listen to the travel article whenever you want! It’s basically an audiobook, but TRAVEL related! That’s kinda cool don’t you think so? Haha!

3. MAP function (Upgrade)

If you go for the upgrade version of GPSMyCity travel article app, at a small fee per article, you would be converting the travel article to a GPS-guided version. You would be getting travel routes (either by foot, car and bicycle) to your attraction of interest. This upgrade really does give you a peace of mind with great convenience.

Basically, with the upgrade MAP function, the map will display all the attractions mentioned by the author in the travel article you were reading. There is no need for the hassle of going through an extra step of looking up the directions on Google Maps to get there!

In addition, with build in GPS function, the travel app gives you the exact route from your current location to your selected attraction of interest! How hassle-free is that?! You could literally “Lose Yourself Without Getting Lost”!

Just hit the bottom 2nd button from the right, and you will be on your merry way to data-free exploration at the palm of your hands! Perfecto!

4. WALK Function (Upgrade)

The bottom right WALK function is a useful tool for you to create personalised self-guided walk; solely featuring attractions of your choice! You are your own travel planner.

There are times when we may not want all the itinerary stated in the travel article due to lack of time or even differences in interest. Hence, with this WALK function, you have the option to select some or all the sights mentioned in the travel article.

Now, you would have your own personalised travel itinerary at your fingertips; really easily for you to work with and manoeuvre around! Hence, making your travels so much leisurelier!

 

Travel Article App GIVEAWAY (Limited Period ONLY)

With this, I am happy to announce that I am partnering with GPSMyCity to convert my travel article “Sights & Sounds: Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai” on TravelWhenever, to a GPSMyCity travel article app that can be viewed offline!

To add on to this, for a limited period only, GPSMyCity will be giving away FREE upgrade of my travel article app for an entire week (3 July 2017 – 10 July 2017). During this period, my travel article on GPSMyCity can be upgraded to a GPS-guided travel article version which includes the MAP function and the WALK function (mentioned above); FREE!

So if you have no data, or wifi, or even unstable internet connection? No worries! This upgrade would give you the confidence and convenience of self-travel OFFLINE!

With thousands of travel articles at your fingertips when you download the FREE GPSMyCity app, what are you waiting for? You can access the travel article apps by first downloading the GPSMyCity app on your mobile device.

Once you have downloaded the app, you can browse by city to see which articles are available. You can download any travel articles for free using the SAVE function for offline reading, or for an upgrade to get the GPS-guided travel article version.

To find my travel article “Sights & Sounds: Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai” and get the FREE UPGRADE (3 July 2017 – 10 July 2017), click here.

With GPSMyCity in your pocket and all times, hopefully this will drive your passion a little deeper to head out and explore places with confidence!

And always remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

 

 

Day 2 Highlights

Wooden Houses of Woloan Village 

Vegetable Fields in Rurukan Village 

Mount Mahawu 

Lunch at Astomi Restaurant on Lake Tondano 

Lake Linow, Sulfur Lake 

TIPS?! 

This is a continuation of the pervious article on engaging a private tour with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in North Sulawesi for the whole family!

Click here if you are interested in how we spend our Day 1 with Safari Tours & Travel Co. at Manado! 

So now, let’s just dive right into Day 2 experiences! Since Day 1 was all about getting wet at Bunaken Island, near Manado city, so the following day, it was all about soaking up the sun and all its concomitants in the more rural areas!

Honestly, I did not expect to be inundated by the marvellous beauty of the mountainous countryside of North Sulawesi. Near the city of Tomohon and Tondano, you get to experience quirky villages, lakes that are so serene and air so amazingly fresh as you travel up the hills passing lustrous greens of vegetable fields. It was such an enrapturing encounter, especially for nature enthusiasts, where you can get a little taste of what the local area has to offer! Just amazing!

 

Day 2 Highlights: Wooden Houses of Woloan Village

The journey was about an hour’s car ride from our Mercure Manado Tateli Beach Resort to our first highlight of the day- the quirky little village of Woloan just about 2 km away from Tomohon city centre!

The sky was in its perfect cerulean blue and placid white fluffy patches of clouds pasted randomly all over. It was a pretty amazing day for exploration in the countryside. Since Tomohon is located on the mountainous region of North Sulawesi, the vicinity around it, like the Woloan village, experienced much cooler temperatures ranging in its 20s oC!

When we got out of the Safari Tours & Travel Co. van to take a nice walk around, we experienced the perfect bucolic surroundings of Tomohon. With temperature at about 20 oC odd, definitely much cooler than at Manado city (which was sweltering), and accompanied by the slow paced vibe of the countryside; everything all seems to be in the perfect cosmos as we wandered off to look at the incomplete (yet accessible for viewing) humble wooden knocked down houses.

To me, Woloan village is described as quirky because it really wasn’t like the typical village we would normally have had in mind. It was basically a place where the making of wooden products happen. In Woloan village, you could see how the Minahasan style houses were being built by the carpenters. You get to see the knocked down parts of a wooden house that were ready to be shipped or delivered.

For someone who is intrigued by carpentry and wooden house craft, this is probable a nice pit stop! According to our tour guide, the humble houses that we saw, which were built along the roadside, were actually up for sale. If you were interested, you could buy it straightaway. The house you were interested to purchase would be knocked down, and shipped to your address, along with an assembler, so you need not worry about assembling the house yourself!

And of course, a quirky little village calls for a few quirky family shot initiated by the brother truly; and photographer: the girlfriend. Haha! 😀

Because these wooden houses are known for its quality and good workmanship by the skilled carpenters, Woloan village receive orders even from resorts at Bunaken Island. Interesting… …

 

Day 2 Highlights: Vegetable Fields in Rurukan Village

Next up, was to drive towards Mount Mahawu, but to get there we had to pass Rurukan village, which had the most beautiful vegetable fields I have ever seen. Located at the foot of Mount Mahawu, this is a must stop place en route up Mount Mahawu. Just a 20 minutes odd drive from Woloan village, this place just screamed perfection; where the blues meets lustrous greens.

I reckoned this wasn’t part of our itinerary pit stop, it was meant for a pass by to Mount Mahawu. But after looking at the beauty that passed us by whilst in the van, it was just such a pity not to ask the tour guide to let us out to see the view and fill our lungs with the amazing cool crisp air (which, I will not lie, has a tinge of fertiliser smell- if you know what I mean). Of course, it had to have that smell, we were, after all, in an agricultural vicinity right? 😀 #ecotourism?

Hectares of plant terraces and hills that stretched beyond, and overlooking the city sprawling beneath it, just sunk me into the whole agricultural scene that I don’t get much off back home. A really pleasant experience with a good change of scenery once in a while!

 

Day 2 Highlights: Mount Mahawu

An approximately 5 minutes’ drive upslope from Rurukan village and we finally made it to Mount Mahawu! Or at least 1 step closer to the vantage point at Mount Mahawu! Really excited I was! I mean, it was my first time up a volcano! 😀

Well saying it was ‘1 step closer’ really is just a figure of speech. ‘Cause looking at the entrance, it was a hell load of steps up up up to the viewing point! There was no rest benches for respites (if I did recall correctly), only hand railings were built in the middle of the steps all the way to the top (which is better than nothing huh?).

Elevated at 1324 metres above sea level, the crater of Mount Mahawu is 180 metres wide and 140 metres deep with a distant backdrop of Mount Lokon. Once up at the viewing deck, we all had an unimpeded view of the dry crater beneath us. Though the sun shone fiercely at us all with darting sunrays, but since we were at least a thousand metres above sea level, the weather wasn’t really warm and humid. Cool breeze and all… …

The tour guide informed us that we could take a walk around the volcano. It would probably take about ½ to 1 hour? We decided not to do so, since it was already past lunch time. Hence, to ensure we made the most of it, considering the fact that we had actually arduously climbed a bunch of steps up, we decided to just follow the trekked path slightly inwards to see what other angular views of the horizons we could be getting.

And boy, was it amazing. Though, the tall grass and all were hindering our views, but we could definitely see the city sprawled beneath us. It was pretty doped! It reminded me of when I was up on Mount Wellington when I was in Hobart, Tasmania.

Just the thought of overlooking upon everyone down below was, to me, just a very serene experience somehow. It made me feel that the world is so huge, and sometimes, our problems aren’t really that big a deal and we should just think positive and move on- one deep breath at a time. 😀

On a side note, I believe it is my duty to inform everyone that at the entrance of Mount Mahawu laid a toilet facility. Thank you to whoever decided it was a great idea to build one, seriously. Having been on the road for a few hours from Manado City and having a few respites and all, sometimes nature calls are really larger than us, you know? ;P

 

Day 2 Highlights: Lunch at Astomi Restaurant on Lake Tondano

Address

Jl. Peleloan, Maesa Unima, Tondano Sel., Kabupaten Minahasa, Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia

Personal Rating:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Total Damage  (per pax)

~ IDR $117500

We were definitely ravenous after all the climbing at Mount Mahawu, and it was time to have our late LUNCH! About a 30 – 40 minutes odd drive from Mount Mahawu down to Lake Tondano, Astomi Restaurant it was!

This restaurant stood on stilts on the waters located along the ever so tranquil Lake Tondano. We had to walk on a gangway made of wooden planks to cross over.

Never did I expect to be so impressed by the food that was served at this restaurant. I am not exaggerating at all when I say how prefect the food was. From the side dishes of stir-fried Kang Kong (Water Spinach), and some other vegetable (I have no idea the name of), to the corn and fish fritters and of course, the main star dish: mini lobsters, oh my goodness, they were all amazingly delish! For those who are allergic to prawns and lobsters, fret not. Another good option could be fried Tilapia fish. It was really good too!

We ordered a set each; 5 mini lobster sets and 1 fried Tilapia fish set. Each set came with a plate of vegetables, and 1 – 2 plate of fritters? I really do not know, ‘cause when the dishes came, they came in a swarm! I reckoned that because we ordered so much, they combined a few fritters into a single plate for us all to share. But what was definite, was that the mini lobsters was a plate for each person; which mean 1 person had about 5 – 6 mini lobsters! Oh man, that was mini lobsters heaven for me and my belly jelly!

Astomi Restaurant was so kind, they threw in 1 more extra plate of mini lobsters no charge at all. More lobster delights for all to share! Perfecto! With an amazing feast on the table, and the serene Lake Tondano as the backdrop, it was a lunch not to forget. I really wouldn’t mind heading back there again for a taste of the delish lobster at that reasonable price!

It was an impeccable late lunch experience by the lake, as we felt the cool lake breeze and enjoyed the calming waters and scrumptious meal prepared for us! My only issue was the pesky houseflies that kept hovering hungrily for our food and drinks. But for the delectable served with such a perfect backdrop, the houseflies aren’t even going to bother me. We just had to exercise some arms swiping whilst eating! 😀

 

Day 2 Highlights: Lake Linow, Sulfur Lake

It was already evening, with our bellies all well-fed after that incredible lunch. Even during lunch, we could already see the sun slowly creeping back into the horizon. If we had more time, our tour guide mentioned that we could go to the hot springs which was actually en route to Lake Linow. But since it was already quite late, we headed straight to Lake Linow, passing the hot springs.

Either because the sky was getting dark and most tourists had already visited Lake Linow earlier in the day, or the vicinity around Lake Linow was undergoing revamping hence most tourists wouldn’t want to visit this place for the time being, but either way, there wasn’t a soul there other than us.

It was quiet and melancholic. As compared to the afternoon at Rurukan village and up on Mount Mahawu, the scene at Lake Linow was a 180 o change. Gloomy and a little depressing. Lake Linow, when I visited, reminded me of those movies or dramas where the actor would take his row boat out into the lake in the thick fog, and just disappeared- no screams no body found, just vanished into the thick fog.

I was a little disappointed because I was pretty excited to see the change in the colour of the lake. The tour guide mentioned earlier in the day that waters in Lake Linow could change colour due to the sulfur content present in the water body. The sulfur present in the lake was said to be due to the Mahawu eruption that happened years years ago.

With the sunrays reflecting and refracting on the lake in the bright morning or afternoon, and accompanied with the sulfur content, that would explain why the waters in Lake Linow changed colour. Since sulfur is yellow, the water in Lake Linow would change between hues of yellow, amber, green and blue. But because, it was already close to dark, all we saw was a single shade of murky green. Haha! #maybenexttime

By right we should be able to smell the pungent odour of the sulfur from the lake. But when we were there, we didn’t really experience that. Probably if we had come earlier in the day, we might smell the rotten egg odour of the sulfur?

Alas, when we visited Lake Linow, the facilities were in renovating progress; the side roads and all. The café was also not in operation, and all lake activities also seized operation. We saw some Swan Leg-Paddle boats, which, if they were operating, could allow visitors have a go at wandering along the banks of the lake. That sounds intriguing… …

If you are wondering if swimming in the lake is allowed, then maybe we should all take a deep breath and think twice if we would want to soak our delicate bodies in high sulfur content? Haha! That should be your answer right there. 😛

 

TIPS?!

(a) Early morning at Lake Linow (reshuffling of itinerary sequence?)

As you would know, I wished we had the opportunity to see the changing colour of Lake Linow, but due to the timing of the day we were there, we experienced a melancholic sight. But hey, it was still all pretty cool and all.

Hence, I do suggest the best time to visit Lake Linow would be in the early morning when the air would still be crisp, the surroundings in serene and the temperature by the lake still being cool and chill. I bet the experience by the lake in the morning would bring about a pleasant and tranquil moment that would fill anyone up with wonderful memories and beyond!

Thus, probably putting Lake Linow as the first sight of the day to visit would be a better choice? Followed by Mount Mahawu before lunch? That could be a suggestion.

(b) Set off from Manado City earlier

It was literally a whole day affair, and we still missed out certain little aspects of the tour itinerary. Not that the whole trip wasn’t fun and all, but in hindsight, the timing can be adjusted a wee bit.

By the time we were up on Mount Mahawu, it was already slightly past lunch time, and had we set off slightly earlier, we would be right on track. I reckoned a comfortable timing to set off from Manado City would be around 8.30 am or even earlier if you would like to visit Lake Linow at an even much earlier timing in the morning.

(c) Proper footwear please?

Regrets in life happened at specific moments of the day when you thought to yourself how brazenly you felt you could survive climbing up and down a volcano with slippers on. What was I thinking at that morning? Hey, I have no idea… …

Climbing up a gazillion steps to the vantage point on Mount Mahawu was not at all easy with slippers. With poor gripping underfoot and walking on unlevelled ground, wearing slippers does make me feel that the strap was about to snap and give up on me. Oh imagine if that had happened… … Then I would have to walk around barefooted, and how enhancingly close to nature I would have been. Hhhhmmmm… …

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

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!

IMG_7554

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.

IMG_1897

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

How to get there? + TIPS?!

Getting around Bohol Island? + TIPS?!

Place to stay? Henann Resort Alona Beach

Sights & Sounds on Bohol Island? Bohol Countryside Tour!

Dumaluan Beach

Manmade Forest

Chocolate Hills

Hanging Bridge

Hinagdanan Cave

Bohol! A little island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region. Its capital? Tagbilaran City!

Since we were travelling around Cebu (which is another island province to the West of Bohol), we decided to spend a few days exploring this nearby area where the major geographic landmark attraction lies in Carmen, Bohol; the Chocolate Hills!

 

How to get there? + TIPS?!

Option #1: Cebu City to Bohol

If you are going straight to Bohol from Cebu city, then this is quite a hassle- free option!

Take a metered- taxi from your hotel stay in the city or from the airport and get the driver to take you to the ferry terminal. As there are a few ferry terminals in Cebu city, let the driver know you are heading to Bohol, so he could direct you to the right ferry terminal that actually has ferry services that operate from Cebu city to Bohol.

If I did recall correctly, the taxi ride costs about 60(ish) pesos from our hotel at Best Western Plus Lex Cebu to the ferry terminal. It was definitely less than 100 pesos for sure.

We were brought straight to the ferry ticketing booths. There were a few ferry companies to choose from, with a wide selection of timings (clearly pasted at the front booths), comfort levels (wider seats, etc.), and duration of the ferry journey.

We took OceanJet.

Since the ferry ride is at most 2 hours long, we weren’t particular about which ferry company to choose. As long as we could get to Bohol the quickest, we were pretty cool with any!

Option #2: Cebu City to Liloan (Santander) to Dumaguete to Bohol

So if you are already travelling around Cebu, and obviously deviating far from Cebu City, then this option is really feasible! I stand by this!

I usually do not like to retract my steps, and I would try to find all sort of ways not to do so, unless I really can’t find any viable option. But, fret not, in this case I have found it!

It really does save you a hell load of travelling time as compared to you heading back to Cebu City AGAIN (which, mind you, is an approximately 4 hours bus ride if you start from Santander- South end of Cebu island), and to take Option #1 when travelling to Bohol!

‘Cause is there a saying that goes something like this- if you are riding with the locals, then you ain’t doing it wrong?! Right? 😀

So here goes… …

If you are travelling from Cebu city to explore other parts of Cebu (countryside) along the way… …

Then, from your city accommodation, take a metered- taxi to the Cebu South Bus Terminal; located near Elizabeth Mall. Get the AIR-CON bus tickets as the price difference is really not that much anyway!

These bright yellow Ceres public buses are by far the cheapest mode of transportation around Cebu, and are really hard to miss! Get on the bus that is bound for Oslob-Liloan Terminal or Liloan Port (you can stop at small villages en route to Liloan). The place you should be looking to alight is at Liloan Port. This is a mini bus and ferry port a.k.a Puerto Del Sur Passenger Terminal, Lilo-an Santander Cebu. You do not need to be afraid as to where you should alight because this Liloan Port is the terminal end for the Ceres bus!

If you are travelling from anywhere else in Cebu, but not from Cebu city… …

Then, just make sure you take any Ceres bus that is bound for Liloan Port or hire a private driver if you really want to ensure you are heading the right way. Ask your accommodation staff or any locals for help on which bus to board, I am sure they would help.

Liloan Port where you can purchase your ferry tickets to Dumaguete! The ferry would disembark at Sibulan Terminal over at Dumaguete.

Click here for ferry schedule from Liloan Port to Sibulan Terminal (vice versa).

Do take advantage of the fact that you are already at Dumaguete, and spend a day exploring the city! Take the first (and probably the only) ferry out to Bohol the following day!

It’s a definite win-win situation! You get to explore more places, en route to Bohol, without even backtracking! Yay! 😀

To ensure you do not miss your limited ferry ride out to Bohol, check out the ferry departure timings and its prices for OceanJet here!

TIPS?!

1

Don’t buy ferry tickets in advance!

There may bound to have ferry cancellations for who knows what reasons; you never know right? Hence, I feel there is no need to purchase your ferry tickets much earlier, online or what not.

If you have the intent to leave for Bohol, then just purchase the tickets then and there.

2

Check ferry departure timings online first!

Ferry operating companies, just like any airline flight companies, usually have departure timing schedules and price quotations on their official websites, along with the dates you would like to board.

So double check the timings prior, and head down to the ferry terminal slightly earlier to purchase the tickets to avoid missing a ferry and having to wait a long while for the next one.

3

Bring loads of seasick candies!

If you are a person who is easily down with motion sickness like me, go get yourself a bag or two (or three even, you never know 🙁 ) of sour gummies- gummy bears, gummy worms, anything sour!

The ride may be only about 2 hours, but it could be the most antagonising 2 hours of hell if you are nausea throughout. What I like to do is force sleep if possible, and if it doesn’t work (which usually it does work), then sour candy stuffing is my next best alternative.

 

Getting around Bohol Island? + TIPS?!

Getting around Bohol is ain’t as cheap in my opinion as there ain’t many taxis available once away from the capital; Tagbilaran City.

Upon disembarking the ferry either coming from Cebu city or Dumaguete, you would be greeted very welcomingly by private tour representatives, private drivers, hotel transfer staff from various hotels around, etc. It was extremely overwhelming I would say.

We didn’t arrange any hotel transfer thinking we could definitely get a taxi somewhere near the wharf. Well, it turns out taxi drivers love quoting prices way over the roof, and they refuse to go by the metered pricing. And well, there ain’t that many taxis around either. So either you get into the overpriced taxi, engaged a private driver or get the hotel transfer which obviously ain’t cheap as you pay for security I guess.

So how to get a good cheap(er) deal?

TIPS?!- Getting CHEAP(ER) HOTEL TRANSFER!

The key lies in your observation skills! Look for OTHER hotel transfer drivers with signboard of their guest names. These are drivers on official work duty to pick their guests from the wharf and back to the hotel safely.

What you need to do is to speak with these drivers and tell them you are going to whichever hotel you have booked. They will then quote you a price, and obviously you will have to say a flat,’NO.’ Then, ‘walk over’ to another hotel transfer driver, and try again. Usually within the first try, the first driver you spoke to earlier would budge and deduce the price. And if you still find it too pricey, and you can reject. #actofhaggling

Usually you would not need to reject them at all, because what they quote the second time is usually quite reasonable. What they are doing now is earning a quick buck using the company car. So either way, it is a win-win for everyone! Plus, it’s a added win for you because you will obviously and definitely be the first to alight at your hotel/resort! I mean, the driver cannot possibly be seen with non-guests in the company car right?

So there you have it, cheap(er) rates for hotel transfer from the wharf. The driver wins with extra earned pocket money, and so do you!

1. Taxi/ Tricycle within the capital; Tagbilaran City ONLY

Whilst travelling through Tagbilaran City, we saw taxis and tricycles (motorbikes with an attached passenger seating) here and there. Though not a lot like what you would see in Bangkok, Thailand, but it was definitely more compared to the other parts on Bohol island.

Taxis here are not metered- taxis, so remember to haggle if you need to before getting into one. Usually they quote prices double the metered- pricing. Tricycles work the same way.

2. Rent a motorbike

If I knew how to ride one, I would gladly use this mode of transportation. It is so much cheaper, and it’s basically a road trip through Bohol on two wheels! Yes, please!

But, alas, I know nuts about riding one. Maybe I should really consider learning.

3. Engage a private van/car

This is by far the easiest, idiot proof way to go. Though pricey, it was the best and fastest mode of transportation, aside motorbiking of course.

How this works is that you engage a private car driver (or a van, if you have a group of people), tell him where you want to go, and he will take you there. Basically, you plan your own tour itinerary around Bohol countryside, with your own personal ‘chauffeur’.

The ‘chauffeur’ did tell us his recommended itinerary, however, we just eliminated those that we found not as appealing and replaced them with sights/spots we wanted. Hence, I find this very flexible. It’s like a road trip, just that you are not behind the wheels. Talk about having the ‘princess treatment’, which I clearly do not need, but oh well, blame it on me not being able to ride a motorbike! I guess there’s always a hefty price to pay for being a ‘princess’ with a personal ‘chauffeur’.

We jammed packed as much countryside seeing within the time frame we engaged the chauffer’, which is a whole day affair from 9 am – 5 pm.

More of the countryside tour is down below… …

4. Ride the public bus

Unless you have all the time in the world, I do not ever suggest this mode of transport. It would take you ages to travel from one attraction to the next. So really, don’t even bother.

Either you get yourself the ‘princess treatment’ and engage a private driver, or ride a motorbike! Or just go on one of those group tours, if you do not want to plan your own itinerary.

5. Walking burns calories

And if all else fails, then well, the cheapest mode of transportation is your legs. Haha! #workthosecalories

 

Place to stay? Henann Resort Alona Beach

Cleanliness of room

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Location of resort

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Facilities

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Service of staff

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Morning buffet spread

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Overall Rating

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This is by far the most lavish stay we had when in the Philippines. Which honestly, it is worth every penny we chipped in. Putting their staff service aside, this resort left us in awe, and still do. With a massive resort layout, and way too many swimming pools (not complaining here) that just awash the ground level, this resort just makes you believe you are living in celestial heaven. Just ethereal!

This is a new resort. During our stay, there was an entire block of rooms still under renovation. The best thing is all the facilities are well and running, so it really doesn’t affect the guests at current. I reckoned it was why the rates we got for the room ain’t as expensive as it would be, since the resort is still in the midst of rolling out.

Room type we stayed in

Superior Room
Rate/night (USD $)

114.96

The triumph card this resort has, I would say, is its location. Alona beach is very strategically located at the resort’s very own ‘backyard’! With limited transportation available on Bohol island, oh man, this is a definite plus point!

We got to waste the afternoon and night away by the beach, and not worry about transport back. Furthermore, there are many seaside restaurants just within minutes of sauntering along the beach. Indulge in a seafood feast, or enjoy a nice pizza, there are way too many food options here to satisfy your dinner cravings!

And if you are lucky, night street flame performers would get your adrenaline pumping and totally knock your socks off in admiration! To add on to the fun, and if you are a real daredevil, just volunteer yourself to be part of the flame throwing act! Now, that would be an experience you would remember for sure! 😀

Well, I guess this is a classic case of minimal service, and yet customers/guests would still return for all the other ‘perks’ the resort offers. And by ‘perks’, I really do mean the awesome location!

Sights & Sounds on Bohol Island? Bohol Countryside Tour!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0KDYDVJwMY[/youtube]

Rate (PHP $)

2900/ hired car (4 seater)
Duration

09  00 – 17 00

 

Dumaluan Beach

Dumaluan beach was definitely more happening than over at Alona beach. Crazy as this sounds, but it was true. Happening in the sense that more people are swimming in the water, more children are playing by the coast, and well, the sum it all; the day vibe was just much more upbeat! However, if you prefer a more night party scene, then Alona beach is more your groove.

Personally, I prefer Dumaluan beach. I am more of a day person. Haha!

 

Manmade Forest

The manmade mahogany forest stretches across 2 km. It is located between Loboc town and Bilar town, and it is the main road way en route to the long awaited Chocolate Hills at Carmen town! Basically, this was more of a pit stop!

The tall, similar height and densely planted mahogany trees were the corollary of the 1960s National Reforestation Program! So I guess, the people of the present are indeed reaping the benefits of the past!

Once in the canopy of the mahogany trees, the view was pretty much surreal when looking up! And with very few cars passing, snapping pictures in the middle of the road was really pretty much just a norm! Haha! 😀

 

Chocolate Hills

Entry fee/pax (PHP $)

50

And the long awaited Chocolate Hills at Carmen town! I saw this on Google whilst researching, and this definitely got my heart intertwined!

I loved pictures of them when they were all stained chocolaty during the dry season (late November to May), and when they were lush green on wetter season. Either way, it was just perfect to be looking at them under the bright illuminating natural sunlight when I was there!

So obviously we had to work for our views, and climbed a long flight of stairs; which would then open up to the viewing point of the Chocolate Hills! Magnificent!

TIPS?!

We each had to pay the entrance fee before the car could even advance further for us to alight. A receipt, together with orange stamp-looking coupons, would be presented to you.

Keep the receipt as the ticketing guy would have already noted your hired car license plate number on it. After you are done swooning over the Chocolate Hills, you could present the receipt to the booth near the area you alighted prior. They would then alert your hired driver to come get you!

The area is kind of small for all visitors’ cars to be parking there, so they use this system of relay!

 

Hanging Bridge

Entry fee/pax (PHP $)

20

According to some websites, this bridge at Sevilla town (which in my opinion, is hugely misleading and exaggerating) is said to be the ‘most dangerous’ bridge to cross. Well… … I embarrassingly believed those websites, and thought to myself, “Oh yes! A little adrenaline rush? Why not? Let’s do this!”

Well, if I had knew it was going to be like how I had experienced it, well… … Let’s just say, I would not go back for seconds. #justsaying

I mean it’s not that terrible. It’s just a… … Bridge. That. You. Cross… … -.-‘

There are some minor pit holes which your slipper could get caught in, and when you walk through the bamboo deck, the bridge would sway. With added people on it, the swaying gets rougher. Oh yeah… … But that was just about it. Nothing too adrenaline-rush-worthy.

Not to mention, every step you take, the bamboo deck might cave in a little under your weight (which is pretty normal, unless you are weightless that is). So I really don’t see the deal here. I don’t know, that’s probably just me. Maybe to others, it is quite scary. After all, I did hear screams.

There are two bridges, which allows you to move only in one direction (to and fro).

One for you to cross over to the other side of the Sipatan River, where there is a mini shop selling souvenirs and fresh coconut water, and the other bridge is for you to cross back. This really reduces the human traffic on the bridge, which makes it so much safer.

So no worries! Pretty much safe! That is… … Unless you are afraid of dogs like J. Haha! I recall there was a brown spotted white dog, just aimlessly crossing the bridge to and fro, and that totally got J’s legs to jelly mode on the bridge. It was hilarious.

To think that she could still help me snap some shots; kudos to her for being such a good sport! I wanted to snap some of her but I guess she just wanted to get the hell off the bridge with her jelly legs! Haha! 😀

 

Hinagdanan Cave

Entry fee/pax (PHP $)

25 (without swimming)
Car parking (PHP $)

15/car

If you have been to caves in Vietnam, then you would know Hinagdanan Cave is not even close. However, I would say this is a humble substitute? There is an option for swimming in the lagoon, and the entry fee to that would be slightly more than PHP $25.

There would be local guides loitering around the entrance of the cave offering to take you for a tour in the cave. If you do not want one, then remember to politely decline, or else they will tag alongside you into the cave, and oh hey, you just might have gotten yourself a guide in the cave. Haha!

The cave is small to not get lost in, hence, in my opinion, there is no need for a guide at all. If you are planning for a lagoon swim, be prepared to be photographed by other visitors who are in there. There is no such thing as a private swimming affair in the small cave, just for you information.

Overall, I would say this limestone cave on Panglao Island in Bohol is a refreshing start to a series of cave exploration around the world?

Carpe diem, you never know what the future would bring, so remember to Travel Whenever and start exploring!

Dee

How to get there?

What is the Bay of Fires?

St Helens Township

 

How to get there?

Close to a 3 hours drive by taking the Tasman Highway from Launceston city, led us to St Helens Township on Cecilia Street. Making a turn onto Quail Street, brought us straight on to Binalong Bay Road and The Gardens Road.

With the close- to- empty and fairly narrow costal driveway heading to the end of The Gardens Road, a glimpse of the “fires” of the bay can be spotted on the right, with the sea and cloudless sky as the backdrop.

There is a small area for parking right at the end of the road that faces the Bay.

 

What is the Bay of Fires?

Located at the North-Eastern coast of Tasmania, this bay is sprawl from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point.

When I first heard of Bay of Fires, I thought the name originated from the fact that the rocks have patches of stained orange on them. Hence, from afar, it looks like the Bay is indeed on fire- and the name “Bay of Fires”.

Well… … While I still believe my theory had some logical and literal aspects to it; it is not the case.

The Bay of Fires has its unusual name from a Captain in the 1700s after he noticed fire build-ups along the coast done by the indigenous people.

We were welcomed by the coastal sea breeze just as we opened the vehicle door. Calming and extravagant as can be when the close- to- evening breeze lightly brush against our skin.

With the orange stained rocks up ahead, we had to saunter through the partial grassy and sandy patch right at the front of the parking lot. The climate was impeccable- the wind howling strongly at us and I suddenly felt my spirits lifted. The afternoon sun slowly creeping into slumber, and the air turning cool and crisp, any normal person would feel the serenity of it all.

Enthralled by the stains on the rocks as we examined them up close, and taking a moment or two to soak in the sea beyond the horizon and the breeze that came with it. I can still recall we spend quite a bit of time (with legs stretched out towards the sea) keeping silent as we couldn’t tear our gaze from the beauty of Mother Nature. Just tranquil.

As it was close the evening, the already orange sunset further enhance the salient details of the rocks making it all the more a dramatic landscape. The stained granite of orange produced from lichen is definitely a place to be awed by.

Positively a place pop by when in Launceston.

 

St Helens Township

This very quiet town surprised me in so many different ways at so many levels.

An episode of The Walking Dead?

As a city girl, I have definitely a lack of experience when it comes to rambling through small towns.

I reckons the nature of a humble town reflects peace and calmness; where cars don’t just zoom by in a flash, and people take time to enjoy the nice walks on the streets with their family and pets. And these are the traits we saw when we were by at St Helens after a nice time over at Bay of Fires.

Knowing these traits at the corner of my head, I was still pretty much amazed by the peacefulness and placidity of it all. I have never felt so much calmness amongst neon lights and shop houses before- though most shops have already called it a day when we were there.

Not trying to be melodramatic here, and you may probably be thinking such small towns are so common- so why the big deal?

But, back home, there isn’t such thing as small towns away from the city, and even when darkness falls, cars still zoom by every now and then, people still roam the streets, staccato laughter and loud chattering can be heard from a distance somewhere. The buzz on the streets would die down only closer into the night.

Even before the sky was dark, the town was already in pin-drop silence. Very few people roamed the streets, and most cars were nowhere in sight. So as we walked towards a pizza parlour with a flashing neon sign, it did felt (for a moment) like we were in an episode of The Walking Dead- just saying. 😀

Trimboli’s Pizza

Address 1 Pendrigh Pl, St Helens TAS 7216, Australia
Operating Hours Evenings
Personal Rating 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

This pizza place is definitely to die for. I am not kidding! The staff are so friendly and the food is just superbly beyond words. If not for the small bellies that we have, we would have order more.

The orange sunset still shrouded the town when we entered the parlour. Choosing a seat that is close to the glass window, gave us a view of the empty street with a cross junction. Peaceful.

I definitely cannot remember the exact name of the dishes we ordered, but let me just try to describe them.

The first dish was a rich creamy carbonara base sauce with tortellini, and the next was a super spicy (to my taste buds) pizza with prawns and pepperoni (I think).

To be honest, the taste of the pizza is way too spicy for me. Hence, I could not remember much of it, really. But I reckon it should be good because J had no complaints whatsoever. All I remember was me sipping water as I had a mouth of pizza each time.

The star for the night is without said- the tortellini dish. This is the one to die for. The strong fragrant of melted cheese mixed in with the carbonara sauce is just heavenly. Rich, thick and creamy; Trimboli’s Pizza definitely did not stinge on the ingredients used in the dish. The sauce came with slices of ham all mixed in with it, so every mouthful is in a cosmos altogether.

A savoury and exquisite dinner was undoubtedly the way to end of the day at the Bay of Fires and St Helens town.

Dee

Travel Tips: Sorell Township

Tessellated Pavement State Reserve

Eaglehawk Neck Historic Site (The Dog Line)

So here’s a little background prelude of my virgin road trip from Hobart city to Port Arthur. Exhilarating, I must say. It was filled with perennial anticipation and inundated with zeal. Why all that exaggerated feelings and emotions?

Well, I was the one who planned this mini road trip! It was strictly a BFF affair. As the ‘event planner’ of the trip, I would (obviously) be the first one (between the both of us) to see all the sublime vistas and rich historical ruins on my laptop as I did my travel research weeks prior to the trip.

Oh boy, how I wished I had a magic portal at that instant to teleport me into the glorious pictures I saw. I guess it was all the arduous planning that made this road trip all the more hopeful and meaningful. It was the feeling of satisfaction, that at long last, I could get to see the landscapes and ruins in real life! I could actually touch it!

Well, not literally touch it ‘course, you know, historical ruins are not really for commoner tourists like me to touch. Haha… 😀

As I dredged deep into the research, I found out that Port Arthur is a place of rich history- once a convict settlement. It is always invigorating to go to places with deep richness in history and culture. I adore nature, but sometimes, an infused educational cultural endeavour is really healthy for the soul if you know what I mean.

I felt so connected with the people of the past as I walked down, into, and through the ruins. I know how sappy this sounds. Like, what…? Connect with the people of the past? Talking and seeing wraith?! That’s totally insane.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the vivid imagination that I have or I’m just plain weird, but I would imagine myself as a person living in that era, doing the things that they did as I toured through the ruins. It’s really magically I’m telling you. I would get lost in a limbo of space and be in that moment as I skimmed through the descriptions bolted to the walls.

I knew immediately it would be imperative that I could gain a lot of insights about Port Arthur’s history on this road trip! I was fervent and really looking forward to this educational adventure! (#TeamNerd- don’t judge :D)

So here’s our itinerary for this trip!

(FYI, we spend 6D5N on this trip. Yup… no typo there. 5 nights (and it was still not enough). Also, this itinerary is not exactly in the order of events.)

 

Travel Tips: Sorell Township

Our road trip began from the city and as usual, we made stops en route. We all got to use the bathroom and eat right? We pit stopped in Sorell, just approximately 30 minutes or less from the city.

Travel tip? Port Arthur has no major grocery store, so I suggest you stock up on food and drink supplies here. There’s Woolworths supermarket. We stopped by for lunch and bought 5 days worth of food and drink supplies.

Sounds like we were all ready for a trip into the isolated wilderness. Don’t get me wrong, there are small cafes, and provision stores there too.

After lunch and a trunk stuffed with supplies, you can also pop by Sorell Fruit Farm for a nice stroll or pick a punnet or two worth of fresh berries and other fruits!

 

Tessellated Pavement State Reserve

Driving towards Port Arthur, you would pass the Tessellated Pavement State Reserve. So why not check this out before heading to Port Arthur town?

By the time we got there, the sun was already in its slight orange colour getting ready to hit the hay. The sea breeze was just splendid, and a jacket would suffice.

A 10- minute walk from the parking lot would lead to a welcoming placid plot of nature’s creation. Small waves were crashing onto the shores and hitting on boulders, but from my view, it was like in all chaos, there is a cosmos. It was really surreal, and no description would replace the experience I felt at that point of time. The view was absolutely impeccable. Everything just seemed to work together- they all complemented each other in every way. The waves, the naturally “craved” pavement, the seashells, and even the algae. It was marvellous.

In a nutshell, the Tessellated pavement is formed from sedimentary rocks modified by sand and waves crashing on them. The fracture of these rocks led to a unique formation of repeated polygonal units throughout the pavement. Hence, the name “Tessellated Pavement”. Definitely a good outdoor site for the learning of Mathematics, huh?

 

Eaglehawk Neck Historic Site (The Dog Line)

This site, like all the other historic sites in Port Arthur really, had swirled my imagination greatly. Located within the vicinity, is the Officers’ Quarters- a little long cabin with rustic exhibits bringing you into the era of the convicts.

As I recalled, we were greeted by creaking floorboards, spider webs and rusted doorknobs that gave an eerie cracking sound as you turned it to open the entrance door into the mini museum. Maybe my imagination had taken the surroundings to a new level of exaggeration, but oh boy was it enticing in every way! 😀

Imagine. Just over a hundred years ago, this cabin was alive. Occupied by officers to ensure convicts did not escape! And not to mention the pack of feral dogs that roamed the paths just approximately 100-m or less outside the quarters. The Dog Line.

The Dog Line is located along the Arthur Highway heading to Port Arthur town. A statue of a beastly dog and a lamp to showcase and remind us of the great obstacle convicts needed to overcome in order to abscond. As I walked through and passed the Officers’ Quarters and The Dogline, stories came popping up in my head.

So here’s one of the little stories that was plotted inside my eventful brain… …

“Okay, the coast is clear.”“Wait! Are you sure about this? Things don’t end well for people like us who try to escape. We could be thrown into the Separate Prison! And who knows if we would come out alive then. Remember Marcus… He… …”“So?! Do you wanna’ stay here and die in a foreign land, you coward?” James snapped.

I was in a predicament. I did not want to be eaten by the infamous feral dogs, neither did I wanted to go back to the life as a prisoner. In the end, my inner paranoiac and coward were defeated by James’ constant blabbing and assurance about a better life after we escape this wretched place.

To stay hidden from both patrolling officers and the crazy man-eating dogs, we dived low in the meadows, inching step by step, as slowly and as soundlessly as possible. Too afraid to be picked up by the razor sharp ears of the hounds. And who knows what would become of us then.

Oh curse those dogs for being so good at their job… …

As we crept through the tall grass, I began to ponder on how did I even landed in this situation. Sure I was a perpetrator, a depraved criminal. But everyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves first. And here I was- send to a far away land to be punished! For a crime I can’t even remember committing!

We waited on the muddy soil tucked low on the ground for what seemed like hours. Waiting. Waiting for the officers to reduce on patrol. Bedraggled and unkempt. My legs were all numb from the minimal movement.

Then I felt something wet and warm dripping on my thigh.

“Shawn… …”

“Is it drizzling already? Maybe the officers will take shelter and we can make a dash for it… …” I whispered.

Suddenly I felt a glimpse for hope. Finally, we could have a better life away from this. The freedom was just so close I could feel the frivolity!

I added, “We should both run separate, and meet again after. Remember the big oak tree… …”

“Shawn… … SHAWN,” James interrupted adamantly. “DO NOT. DO NOT move a muscle.”

I knew then and there that all hopes were relinquished in a split second. We were a dead goner.

Hope this inspires you to go on a road trip to explore the history of an unknown! You never know what intriguing ideas the unknown may leech on you! 😀

So travel whenever!

Dee