Monday, 20 May 2019

A short note on my South Korean trip and other things

This blog has not been updated since January 2019 and I'm ashamed of it.

I got back from a 7-day trip to Seoul and Busan last week. It was a relaxing holiday with lots of shopping. Bought dresses, skincare products, etc. Also bought a pair of original Samsung earphone since I was in Samsung birthplace. Costs me 17,800 KRW.

I found Korean food too pungent spicy, the type that makes my eyes water each time I eat it. So after a few meals of Korean food, I started living on burgers, instant noodles and chips. It was an unhealthy trip, but now it's time to get back to healthy eating.

South Korea was my 30th country and with that, I've achieved one of my bucket list of visiting at least 30 countries. But I ain't gonna stop here. Maybe I should up the target to 50 countries.

I'm abit embrassed to admit that I didn't visit a single UNESCO World Heritage site in South Korea because I was too lazy to navigate myself there. But travelling is about going with the flow and my mojo didn't direct me to any of the UNESCO sites.

Apart from my trip to South Korea, I had been busy with my Chartered Banker modules. The assignments were time consuming and the exams were nerve wreaking. So much for being a heroine wanting to take up this course eventhough it's not compulsory for my career. But I'm a firm believer in lifelong learning and it's always good to learn new things. 

That's all for now. I'll blog soon when time permits. Many back logged posts waiting to be written.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

3 Tips for Climbing Dubrovnik's City Walls

"If you could see only one attraction in Dubrovnik, you must see the city walls because that's the main attraction here," said the lady at Kings Landing Hostel where I stayed for 4 nights in September 2017.

After hearing her waxing lyrical about the walls, I decided to climb it on my last day in Dubrovnik. Save the best for last, so to speak, and I was certainly not disappointed.

Dubrovnik's City Walls is one of the best preserved medieval walls I've ever seen. It's so well preserved that it looks like it was built recently.

Here are 3 tips to read before you climb the walls.

Tip #1: Be prepared to pay exhorbitant fees

The entrance fee for an adult is 150 Kuna when I was there in September 2017.

One of my friend commented that he had to pay a kidney to get onto the walls. Just kidding, but it's exhorbitant indeed. And to think that hundreds of people climb the walls daily, the authorities must be making millions a year from the wall fees alone.

Tip #2: There are many steep steps

Anyone without a considerable level of fitness may find the stairs challenging.

I saw many elderly visitors huffing and puffing as they climbed the stairs. And when they reached the top, they had to stop for a while to catch their breath before continuing.

Go slow if you start having difficulties climbing.

Tip #3: Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds

If you don't already know by now, the number of tourists in Dubrovnik is huge. They're everywhere and it's difficult to take any photos without anyone photobombing it.

The only way to beat the human traffic is to go early.

The ticket office opens at 8.00am ....

So be there early to get your tickets and start climbing those walls.


So what will you see whilst climbing the walls?

Expect to see Dubrovnik's famous orange coloured roof tops and Lokrum Island (top left hand corner) in the distance:

Expect to see Games of Thrones filming locations. Here's two of the locaions:

Minceta Tower was the location of the House of the Undying.

Fort Lovrijenac on the left is used as the location of the Red Keep in King's Landing.

Expect to see the Old Port:

Expect to see a top view of the Big Onofrio's fountain (the round structure) :

And you can also expect to peek down to the restaurants below ...

... or even at a basketball court right smack in the walls:

The photos I've shared with you are inexhaustable. Of course you'll see many more things from the walls and on the walls.

So if you're visiting Dubrovnik, make sure you climb its city walls. I hope you'll be as amazed as I was.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Highlights of 2018

Lo and behold ... I've not updated this blog since August, and that's a long period in the social media universe.

So what have I been up to lately? Let me share with you in a flashback post since it's already end of the year.

1) Visited Boracay in January

It was my first time in the Philippines and I was lucky I made the trip because not long after, the island was closed down in April 2018 so that environmental problems on the island could be fixed. Air Asia also terminated its Kuala Lumpur - Kalibo route not long after. Anyway, Boracay has since reopened early this month.

The most popular beach in Boracay is White Beach which had lovely soft, white sand, and the waters were crystal clear. The locals were also friendly. However each time I lay on the beach, there would be an endless stream of locals asking me to buy souvenirs and snacks. In the beginning it was ok, but then it started annoying me.

Sunset on White Beach in Boracay.


2) Visited Redang Island in April

Because my trip to Boracay was so-so, I compensated with a trip to Redang Island in the state of Terengganu in Malaysia.

It was a very relaxing trip. No locals bugged me to buy stuff and I could sleep for hours on the beach and hammock.

The crystal clear waters of Redang Island never fails to amaze me.


3) Visited Taiping in May

This was a road trip with my family. This was my first time to Taiping and I enjoyed the laidback town that Taiping is. In case you don't know, Taiping is a town in the state of Perak in Malaysia.

We visited the Taiping Zoo Night Safari, Taiping War Cemetery, Lake Gardens and Antong Coffee Mill.

I enjoyed the Night Safari the best. The highlight was seeing one of the elephants wash its food in the pond before consuming it. After the meal, the elephants gathered in a circle and emitted weird sounds as if though they were talking to each other. I could hear all this clearly because it was night time when the slightest sound is accentuated.

You can see how powder is prepared at the Antong Coffee Mill in Taiping.


4) East Europe & St Petersburg, Russia in September

I was away for 20 days when the weather was not too cold and the crowd manageable.

From Kuala Lumpur I flew to Helsinki (Finland) via London.

In Helsinki I visited the Suomenlinna fortress and ate salmon soup at the Kauppatori. The weather was chilly and becomes very cold when it rains which was quite frequent. I had come prepared with three jackets and was wondering whether I could survive a winter in Finland.

From Helsinki, I took the ferry to Tallinn to visit the holy trinity of the Baltics, i.e. Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia) and Vilnius (Lithuania). Amongst the three cities, I like Riga the most. Don't know why.

One of the squares in Old Town Riga.

The Three Sisters is a popular attraction in Riga.

Then I moved southwest into Poland into its capital city Warsaw and then to lovely Krakow where I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mines Salt Mines. Many people had told me not to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau because it's a sad place filled with restless souls. But it was an eye opening experience which I'll remember for a long time to com; from the lady who burst out crying after listening to how the Jews were murdered, to the lingering smell of the chemicals used to preserve the hair of the victims.

From Krakow, I flew back to Helsinki and took the overnight Princess Anastasia ferry to St Petersburg in Russia.

The Russians really know how to build grandeur and magnificence into their buildings. I was astounded. In that magnificent city, I watched a ballet performance called Le Corsaire at the legendary Marinsky Theatre.

I had so much fun during this trip that I didn't want to come home.


5) Chartered Banker qualification

I progressed to the third and final level of the Chartered Banker professional qualification.

There are three modules for this level. I sat for the first module (Professionalism, Ethics & Regulation) on 24 November 2018 and currently awaiting exam results which will be out in February 2019.

If everything goes according to plan and I don't have to resit any module, I would be able to obtain my Chartered Banker qualification by end of 2019.

Completing assignments and studying for exams has been the main reason why I didn't update this blog since August.


6) Tried volunteering for 14th Malaysian General Election

I registered as a volunteer PACA (Polling Agent Counting Agent) for the 14th Malaysian General Election on 9 May 2018.

However I was not assigned a polling centre due to a blunder on the organiser's side. What a bloody waste of time and effort to attend PACA trainings which were usually held in the evening after work.

Eventhough the candidate I volunteered with won her parliamentary seat, I don't think I'll volunteer again for future elections after this bad experience.


7) Knee problem

I gave up running for almost 6 months due to a knee problem.

Each time I hit 2km - 3km at a certain speed, my left knee would start having a discomfort which leads to pain.

After recuperating for almost 6 months I'm trying to start running again. I'm hoping that my knee won't let me down or else I would have to seek professional help.


8) Hard Rock Cafe bottle openers

Added six new bottle openers from Helsinki, Hong Kong (two different types), Houston, Krakow and Warsaw.

I could have collected more because Helsinki alone had like six different types of bottle openers. But I didn't want to spend so much on a single outlet.

The most disappointing was Hard Rock Cafe St Petersburg in Russia. I had walked almost 2km to the outlet only to find that the bottle openers were sold out. The sales assistant tried to convince me to purchase other stuff from the Rock Shop but my heart is with the bottle openers.


Looking forward to 2019

I've booked a trip to South Korea in May 2019. Tickets on Air Asia were bloody cheap to not book it. I'll be flying into Seoul and flying back from Busan. Gonna skip Jeju because I would need to drive around the island which is not economical since I'll be travelling alone. Ah some of the perils of solo travel.

A friend has mooted the idea of travelling to Morocco in September. So I hope that materialises. But you know when we plan so far ahead and depend on another person, most of the time it doesn't happen. That's why I prefer solo travel.

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