Monday, October 13, 2014

Yolo in Yangshuo

The first time I learned about Yangshuo was from a photo in 500px. The photographer probably wanted to keep the place a secret and didn't mention where it was taken. Fortunately, with a little bit of digging and scouring, I found other photos. With captions, thank you very much. It's been on my radar ever since. There was just something about its quiet mystery that appealed to me.

Fast forward two years later, I finally made it. Contrary to my pre-conceived notions, the town itself was a lot bigger and crowded than i imagined. In fact, I didn't even think there would be a town proper. Uhmm, i guess i was  about 10 years too late. Luckily, the place we were staying at was a bit farther off town and on quiet roads. It was quite awesome actually, waking up to a view of the mountains. After Hongkong and Macau, it was good to be surrounded by nature. No more ostentatious hotels and grand skyscrapers!

It was springtime, and despite the scattered rainshowers, we managed to spend most of our time outdoors. Seriously, you would not be able to keep away from the magnificent views. The town was surrounded by karst formations and water. It was one of the most beautiful piece of nature I've ever seen. My only complaint was that the overcast weather did not make for good photographs :/

There were plenty of things to see and do, and the best way to go around was by bike and by raft. Biking in the town proper was such an adventure in itself! I did the 250 meter bungy jump in Macau, but I got more nervous riding my little fixie across town. My heart was racing a mile a minute. The good thing about it though is that the drivers are so used to the chaotic flow of traffic, they wouldn't be caught off guard if you just suddenly cross the street. Once we got past the town, it was exactly what you would expect on a bike ride to the countryside. Peaceful and quiet. Just what i wanted :)

Because there is no Google Maps of Yangshuo
It was refreshing to go on a place that's not on Google Maps yet. Makes for fun navigation, using this map :)

Li River from Xingping
Li River in Xing Ping

Rafting in Yulong River
Rafting in Yulong River

Super worth the scrambling on rocks and insect bites

Old Stone Village

We were too tired to ride back :)

Yangshuo West Street

I think we got a little bit carried away. We wanted to try everything, evens snails and bugs! Super yum!

The photo that inspired this trip was supposedly taken from this spot. The place was covered with fog. Oh well. It was all worth it.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hong Kong, 18 Years Later

The first and last time i was in Hong Kong was back in 1996. It was a family vacation, and all I could remember was shopping in the night markets and being hoisted at the back of a restaurant (almost in the kitchen) for my very first meal in the city. The city seemed big to me that time, and modern, and so foreign. It was my very first trip overseas.

Fast forward 18 years, I was back. I chose Sheung Wan as our base, relatively away from the tourist hotspots but close enough to Central to be convenient. The area seems a bit dodgy and dirty, like a typical China town in any other city (I know that sounds funny. I guess all towns in China are china town :P) but it's actually very safe. I kinda liked being away from the skyscrapers and shopping malls. It made it seem more authentic :) It's pretty close to Soho where most expats seem to be congregate. I like that area. It reminds of Paddington or Surry Hills in Sydney, and Soho in New York.

Wandering in Soho

Found San Miguel, popular beer in the Philippines

Hong Kong alleys

I thought 18 years has taken its toll in Hong Kong. Though still the financial capital in Asia, the city seems a bit dated and grey to me compared to the last time I was there. I was looking forward to shopping in Hong Kong, but surprisingly, prices of high street brands seem the same, or even more expensive than Sydney. Sydney! where people, including me, always complain about getting ripped off voluntarily. The number of shopping centres seemed to have doubled, and i surprisingly found myself complaining about having too many malls. Not to say I left empty handed. I could easily spend a month's salary in Tsim Sha Tsui alone within an hour if I had let myself. All the luxury and high street fashion brands were  nothing but a glass window away. The fact that Hong Kong was our first stop and i barely had room in my luggage prevented me from going crazy with the credit card.

Despite my initial disappointment, and knowing Hong Kong was merely a stopover, I was glad to see it again, this time with M who was there for the first time. Perhaps that busy-ness of it all wasn't what i needed after working almost non-stop for a year and a half but I guess that's the beauty of being in a new place. It gave me a sense of perspective of how I've changed in the past few years. Designer bags  and shopping for miles no longer excite me as much as it used to, and a little peace and quiet, away from the bustling world was what I wanted at this point.

More photos on my Flickr.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hello. I'm back. Sort of. This space has been a little quiet for a while. I haven't taken that many trips recently. And even so, I still have a bit of a backlog from my travels from before (I disappeared). I guess work, and life in general got in the way as they often do. But my recent escapade has sort of inspired me. It felt good to back in foreign soil. Wandering unfamiliar streets, getting lost, relying on instinct and sign language, soaking in a totally different culture and surrounding, and being amazed by how beautiful the world is and how kind people can be. I know it sounds totally corny, but I'm glad that I'm still that person who can wax poetic about certain things :) I've sort of forgotten how much I enjoy traveling for a while there. And photography! I guess I never really stopped taking pictures with my iPhone being a permanent fixture on my hand, but by god, the SLR has much better quality! :) I know I am not as into photography as I was before, and I've become quite rusty, but travelling reminded me that it's a gift.  I may not be a Pulitzer Prize winner, or a National Geographic correspondent, but my photos are good enough to hang on my wall :) and perhaps it's the holiday hangover talking, but today I am grateful, and happy to have rekindled old loves.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Spit to Manly Walk

This is definitely one of the most scenic walks in Sydney, and I couldn't help but fall in love with her all over again. So many beaches to discover, and such amazing views. Definitely pack your cossies.


Sculpture by the Sea 2012

Sculpture By The Sea 2012

Surf Rescue, Tamarama

Sculpture By The Sea 2012

Sculpture By The Sea 2012

Life is a Beach!

Sculpture By The Sea 2012

Sculpture By The Sea 2012

More photos here.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Showin Sydney Some Love

Often times i have to remind myself that living and being a tourist in a place are two completely different things. I always wonder what it feels like to live in the city i was visiting, and have more than once been tempted to uproot myself again and stay there forever. Who has never dreamed of living in a tropical island, on a nice secluded beach cottage, with white sand and warm blue water all year round (and the occasional typhoons)?  But if i really think about it, i know i will miss the cafes, and the green spaces, and the "urban-ness" of living in a city. Hmm...or will I? Anyway, my point is, I realise, at this moment, that I love living in Sydney. It might not be the most modern of cities, but i like its  sense of balance. And maybe for a person as fickle as me, who thinks about packing up her bags all the time, this is just i what i need. It can be cosmopolitan, or outdoorsy, or quaint and charming when I, or it wants to be. I love how i can be on the beach within minutes. I love the parks and the jogging paths. I love how i'm surrounded by water. I love the friendly folks. I love all the food choices. I love that it's family friendly. And yes, maybe i even love this love-hate relationship I have going on with this city. And perhaps I drank a little bit of its kool aid today, but if it keeps up this lovely weather and sunshine, I will happily take the kool-aid forever.

Photos are taken with iPhone and Instagram.

More about Sydney here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

NYC: East Village

With a population of 8 million from all walks of life, New York is definitely a city with cultural diversity. No other district in Manhattan demonstrates that more than the East Village. I love the eclectic variety of shops, and food! Chinese, Indian, Japanese, French, name it, and you'll probably find it there. After all the burgers, and pizzas, and milk shakes, I was looking forward to something new and exciting, and hopefully something healthy. We settled for Veselka, a popular cafe between St Marks Place and 9th Street, serving Ukrainian and Eastern European specialties. I've never tried Ukrainian food, so the further the similarity from American junk food, the better. I love their vareniki (dumplings) and iced tea. Just what I needed on a hot summer day.

Vareniki at Veselka, East Village

Veselka, East Village

We continued to explore after lunch, hoping to catch the colourful character of this district with our cameras. It reminded me a lot of Newtown in Sydney, with its funky crowd and small eateries. I loved it!

East Village

East Village

East Village

East Village

East Village Pizza

More New York photos here.



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