Archives for posts with tag: thoughts

Nepal is the home of the world’s most renouned mountain range, the Himalayas. As such it is a very popular destination for trekkers, both serious climbers and those not so serious.

But if you are planning a visit to Nepal there is one place you should definitely make time for- Chitwan National Park.

Chitwan National Park is located near the town of Bharatpur which has an airport that is only a 20 minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu, making Chitwan National Park fairly easy to get to.

There are a lot of animals to see at Chitwan including elephants, tigers, crocodiles, monkeys and even rhinos. That’s right, rhinos in Nepal (I was surprised).

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Activities at Chitwan include river cruising and safaris on elephant back- the best way to travel through a jungle.

The highlight of Chitwan for me was the elephant baths- if you make the trip this is not to be missed and I would suggest packing your bathers!

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I’m one of those people who is constantly planning their next holiday. I see photos of friends on holiday in amazing places and I think to myself “wow I want to go there” so I go look up flights to get there and read traveler’s reviews straight away. So I suppose I have a desire to see every place that I can which has inspired me. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited some beautiful destinations and i find myself quite regularly looking back over my photos from those holidays because I love reliving those experiences I’ve already had. You could say I get inspired by my own travels as much as anyone else’s. When I look back over photos it motivates me in life, to study and work more and put in extra effort so that sometime soon I’ll be in a position to travel again and experience more. Basically, travel inspires me to travel more. 

Here is a short review of my experience of flying with Air Asia X.

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Positives

Price. Being a low cost airline price is essentially the most important aspect of the service and Air Asia certainly delivered. A 7 hour flight cost me $180 and I was thrilled with that.

Service. Service has been great everytime I’ve flown with them, very friendly staff. Additionally, Air Asia flights always seems to be on time if not early in departing and arriving an airport.

Option town. Option town is a site you can visit before your flight and its here you can elect to pay a bit extra for a seat upgrade, extra leg room, inflight entertainment and food on your flight. Personally I really like paying for the extras instead of a full service meal because this way I can choose my own meals and I’m getting what I pay for and not things that I don’t want.

Negatives

Seats. Being a low cost airline the seat are a little smaller and you don’t get a lot of leg room. But hey, you get what you pay for right?

Extras. If you want to watch a movie on board you’ll need to bring your own device as Air Asia X don’t fit their planes with in flight entertainment. Or you can pay the airline to borrow an iPad on board which isn’t expensive.

Food. No meals are provided, if you want to eat on your flight you’ll need to book and pay for a meal when making your booking- the meals aren’t extravagant or anything and cost from memory about $7.

Recommendation
I would definitely recommend Air Asia X to anyone but specifically to those hoping to travel on a budget. Its a great airline doing an amazing job of making travel more affordable.

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When planning a trekking holiday one of the big questions is whether or not to hire a guide and porter to help make your trip a success. My personal experience on this matter comes from two treks in the Mt Everest region of the Himalayas, Nepal.

Reasons why people may be reluctant to hire help:
For a lot of people the expense of having a guide is a deterrent, this is fair enough for those who are on a very tight budget. It can also be difficult finding an appropriate guide, one who is experienced, speaks english well and who is not going to try and charge you too much above the norm. For some people they just want to go it alone and get that sense of achievement of not needing a guide. That’s understandable, some people like to be independent and might feel having a guide along could take away from the picturesque views, isolation and experience of the holiday.

Positives of hiring a guide and porter: if you hire a guide you are supporting the locals. Most guides cost about $30 a day and porters are $15 a day plus tip. The average daily income in Nepal is something close to $2 (AUD) so this is a decent income for the locals. I also believe that travelling with a Nepalese people will improve your trip significantly. My guide had reasonably good english and he taught me a few Nepalese words so I was able to interact with the locals who didn’t speak english and I loved being about to do that. The guides also know the names of all the big impressive mountains which can be interesting. Additionally, as not many of the locals speak good english having an english speaking guide along is a major help. The positive of hiring a porter is you don’t have to carry a heavy bag yourself! I know this sounds a bit mean paying someone $10 a day to carry your bag but its not as bad as it seems- the locals are very strong, whilst I was walking along carrying nothing but a camera and struggling up the hills the porter was flying up the hills and finishing most of the day’s walks at least an hour quicker than me without breaking a sweat.

My Advice
Personally I would hire a guide if going to Nepal and probably a porter as well. To make sure I got a good guide I would book through one of the larger trekking agencies in Nepal one which had lots of reviews so I know what I’m getting in to. That is the more expensive way of hiring a guide- it is also possible to hire a guide at the start of the trek, when you arrive in the region. This seems like a good option to me as you have the chance to meet the person face to face and determine if you want to share your trekking experience with them.

Happy travels!

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This post is dedicated to the new No.1 place I want to visit: Trolltunga. I only found out this place existed a few days ago, hard to believe its even real because its that amazingly awesome. Just have a look and be awed.

 

Found this stunning photo on Visit Norway http://www.visitnorway.com/uk/product/?pid=149585

 

Trolltunga or ‘Troll’s Tongue’ is in the west of Norway and sits 700 metres above lake Ringedalsvatnet in Skjeggedal. Does anyone else see Pride Rock when they look at it?

 

Unfortunately Trolltunga is not the easiest place to get to – its a 6 hour drive from Oslo the capital of Norway to the town Odda which is the nearest to Trolltunga. the hike itself to the top of Trolltunga takes between 8 and 10 hours round trip, so it isn’t for the unfit (oh no, I need to get in shape!).

 

Thank you Visit Norway for the beautiful photos! http://www.visitnorway.com/uk/product/?pid=149585

 

And so the plan is to visit Norway at some point over the next few years. I’m already in love with the country and its spectacular scenery and I promise to make the trip to Trolltunga where I will stick my head off the end of the ledge and take the customary jumping photo all whilst fearing a 700 metre fall to my death.

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My sister and I visited the Taj Mahal in February this year and as you can see we had a great time. It is a beautiful place as anyone who has be there will tell you. One awesome part of the Taj is the symmetry in all the buildings and walkways, if you have a slight case of OCD you will love the order and planning that so evidently went into building the Taj. Unluckily for us, the morning we were there it was quite overcast so we couldn’t get the best photos. It is still spectacular in gloomy weather I am happy to report.

Travelling through India is definitely a challenge, visiting the Taj Mahal is a great reward!

 

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If anyone has been to or planning on going to the Taj Mahal please share your stories and thoughts 🙂

Sometimes travelling isn’t as glamorous as its cracked up to be. Some county’s hygiene standards are way down on what tourists are used to at home. But this doesn’t have to be a problem as long as people are aware and prepared.

So here is my classy 3 item list of essentials to carry with you through third world countries-

  1. Hand sanitiser. Carry this in your purse or backpack because you’ll need to use it often. Before and after eating, when you touch things in stores, use it as often as possible. It is a good idea to sanitise your hands after touching foreign money. From my experience in Asia, sometimes the money feels so dirty that you will want to clean your hands often. There are germs everywhere that tourists aren’t used to. It is best to be on the safe side and avoid getting sick and ruining your holiday. Also, some bathrooms won’t have running water meaning you can’t wash your hands. You’ll definitely be happy to have your hand sanitiser in a situation like that, I sure was.
  2. Toilet paper. A lot of public toilets in not as well off countries don’t provide toilet paper so carry a small roll with you. Don’t worry about it seeming weird – all the tourists are doing the same thing!
  3. Diarrhoea pills. Yes, do not forget your diarrhoea pills. Going to a third world country your chances of getting sick are high and you do not want to be caught off guard. Before going to India and Nepal I  went and visited a travel doctor (which is recommended) and he gave me all the necessary injections such as polio, typhoid and the necessary hepatitis to keep me safe overseas. Visiting a travel doctor was also very good because I was able to purchase a medicine kit with most things I could need overseas. For me this included those diarrhoea pills and other useful sickness tablets including some medicine to help dehydrate your body and altitude sickness tablets as I was going to high altitude levels in Nepal. Important to remember is to pack your medicine in the bag you will have on you at all time and not in your suitcase. You don’t want to have left your tablets in your suitcase, headed to the airport, checked your bags in and then begin to feel sick with no medication and facing a 7 hour flight home. That is not a fun situation.
Don't delay, pack them today!

Don’t delay, pack them today!

Before going overseas I would recommend having a read through your country’s travel advice for your holiday destination. For Australians that can be found via the following link –

http://smartraveller.gov.au/tips/health.html

You may not need these things when overseas but definitely better to be safe than sorry! I hope you’ve found this helpful and remember to be prepared!

Trekking through the Himalayas has undoubtedly been a highlight of my life. The mountains and scenery are picturesque and the culture still relatively untouched by the western world. It is the type of holiday that afterwards when you come home, you have a sense of achievement for what you have accomplished. It isn’t just sightseeing and posing for photos; trekking is tough.

But one of my favourite parts of trekking through the Himalayas is that it allowed me to interact with the local Sherpa people and gave me an insight into their daily lives. The people are hospitable and when you pass them on the road they give you the common greeting “Namaste”. For me, the adorable Nepalese children were a highlight. The children seem to like trekkers a lot as most children my group saw waved and said hello as we passed through their villages.

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Some Nepalese children approaching our group

One charming moment I experienced was on the second day of my trek when my group stopped for a break in a village. These two little kids from the village came running up to our group and started chatting away in Nepalese to us. We had no idea what they were saying so my group tried to say hello to the little kids in both Nepalese and English but we received no response or reaction  from that. I was sitting on a rock and the kids came up to me and started hitting my backpack softly with some leaves they were carrying. None of my group knew what the kids were up to, we all just thought the little kids were cute.  I should mention at this point that along the trek most trekkers buy chocolate bars as snacks to eat during the day. So anyway, One of the kids was looking at me, talking away and then in the middle of a sentence of Nepalese I hear the kid say ‘chocolate’. My whole group started laughing, the kids didn’t know how to say hello but chocolate they had down packed. I had one Twix bar left in my bag so I pulled that out and broke it in half for the two kids to share. Didn’t need to offer the chocolate to the kids, they snatched the chocolate out of my hand the second I had split it and ran back to their house yelling out something in Nepalese. So I found out that cheeky kids are everywhere, even in extremely remote areas such as the Himalayas!

We spent a while laughing about the kids cheekiness after they ran off, they must try to get chocolate off every tourist that comes through their town. I’m sure the kids are successful more times than not, I instantly caved to their cuteness!

Please post your own stories below, I would love to read them! Particularly the stories that made you smile.

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The cheeky chocolate kids

There is no other place on this planet quite like Nepal

There is no place on this planet quite like Nepal.

Many Australian travelers never leave the airport when they visit Kuala Lumpur, for them it is just a stop on their way to another destination. But with low cost international Airlines now flying to Kuala Lumpur for cheap prices should we consider Kuala Lumpur for the next holiday destination? I’m from Adelaide and it’s common here for people to head over to Melbourne for a few days for a short trip. However, with the cheap airlines such as Air Asia X flying direct to KL you can get there for approximately $400 return. Accommodation is KL is also relatively cheap compared to Australian prices, I stayed at the Parkroyal for $130 for two nights and it was in a fantastic location, rated by Expedia as 4.5 stars. Once in KL, food, shopping and transport are all cheaper. What I’m saying is people should ditch the interstate trip and go to Malaysia instead. Prices work out  to be similar and if you go to Kuala Lumpur you get to visit a different country and experience a different culture, which to me is far more exciting.   Kuala Lumpur shopping

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Impressive entrance to Pavilion Mall

For me one of the best parts of Kuala Lumpur is the shopping. There are numerous large malls which boast all the big brand stores and fashion labels us Aussies usually miss out on. All the malls have excellent air-conditioning which is a big bonus for people like me (I can’t handle the heat).  There were 3 major shopping malls within a 5 minute walk from my hotel, it was amazing. The bank account took a bit of a battering as I purchased a lot of clothes over there. Its a great feeling buying clothes overseas that aren’t sold in Australia then getting to wear them back home. Quite often I have friends compliment me on things I’ve bought overseas, when they ask where I got it I get to answer with the name of a country instead of a store, takes me back to my holiday and makes me feel special! One of the best shopping malls I went to was Pavilion. There is another large mall which is actually underneath the Petronas Towers called Suria KLCC. You can find out more at http://www.pavilion-kl.com/content/ http://www.suriaklcc.com.my/shopping/

one section of a shopping mall, as you can see they mean business

one section of a shopping mall, as you can see they mean business

The Petronas TowersThe Petronas Towers are quite good looking from a distance as they dominate the skyline. At night when they are lit up the towers make quite a pretty site. Up close I found the Petronas Towers a bit underwhelming. On a previous holiday I had visited Dubai and seen the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building . Compared to that the Petronas Towers aren’t as good, however they are closer to home and therefore easier and cheaper to get to. The towers are worth seeing, I made a mistake when I went to KL, I didn’t book tickets ahead of time to go up into the towers. If you go to KL, definitely look into this.  Also, there is a fabulous shopping mall at the bottom of the towers as mentioned above.

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The Petronas Towers by day

The Batu Caves I only ventured out of the city centre of Kuala Lumpur to see the Batu Caves. I didn’t have high hopes for this attraction as a lot of the trip advisor reviews were negative. Unfortunately I visited the caves on a hot and humid day which made it difficult to enjoy. There are 272 stairs to climb at the Batu caves which may not seem like a big deal but when it’s ridiculously humid it is a challenge and I reached the top out of breath.

Batu Caves are an impressive site from the entrance

For the caves them self – I could see why there were a few bad TripAdvisor reviews, the caves smell bad and aren’t very clean. Also, not so much “caves” as it is “cave”. There are monkeys at the caves and whilst the little ones are cute, I saw one try to take a bottle from another tourist which wasn’t too good. But, you can get some good photos at the caves and the giant gold statue is particularly impressive. If you decide to visit the Batu caves try to do it on a coolish day. As someone who has been to the caves I would recommend them to people visiting Kuala Lumpur. Getting a cab once you are at the caves can be difficult, I ended up taking an average quailty taxi with no air conditioning because I got sick of looking for a decent one. The drive from KL city centre to the Batu Caves is around 30 minutes in length.

The interior of the Batu Caves as seen from the top of the stair case

Looking up from inside one part of the Batu Caves

In summary, Kuala Lumpur has excellent shopping opportunities and offers tourists a different culture. For not a lot of money Australians can go to Kuala Lumpur and in my opinion have a great holiday. For people who want to go overseas but have a limited budget Malaysia is a great choice. Important to keep in mind is that it takes almost 7 hours to fly to Kuala Lumpur, so it would be best to make your stay a few days long to make the travel time worth it. I have only been to Kuala Lumpur and seen built up areas, there is still the rest of Malaysia to explore which I have heard is beautiful. Thanks for reading and if you go to Kuala Lumpur at some point in the future I hope you have a great time!