Day Trippin’ – Macau


During my trip to Hong Kong I made a one day sojourn to Macau which is located about 64 km / 40 miles east of Hong Kong on the Pearl River Delta. A bridge is currently being built that will link the two cities by road. Though presently the most direct route is via ferry. There are two ferry terminals:

  1. China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon
  2. Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal on Hong Kong Island

The second is the one I opted for. I was originally going to go via China Ferry Terminal as I was staying in TST, however, according to Google Maps there was not way to get there via foot or transit. Hmmm. I opted to take the MTR to the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal which was very easy to get to.  Later I learned you can get  to the terminal in TST  via foot through Harbour City Mall. Go figure.

Once I arrived at the ferry terminal it was easy to go and buy my (economy class) ticket. The next departure was with Turbo Jet so that is who I went with. The whole process was easy and smooth. I had remembered to bring my passport so I was good to go! The high speed ferry is only for foot passengers (they assign seats) and it motored on at quite a clip. At times it was a bit rocky but I managed. 50 minutes later I was in Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (the official name). From the ferry terminal I stopped at an ATM to get some Macau patacas then caught the public bus to the historic centre.

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St Dominic’s Church, Macau

Since Macau was a former Portuguese colony for centuries (until 1999) there is a number of colonial style buildings in area that have been maintained very well. It adds a European feel to that area of the city. Macau is also popular as a resort and gambling destination. Numerous casinos can be found that, with their sheer size and excess, gives Las Vegas hotels a run for its money. This also means that there are tourists galore! Especially as the day progressed. In fact there were too many people for my liking. Macau is the most densely populated area in the world (650,000+ residents in a 30.5 sq km / 11.8 sq mile area) and then add tourists – well it makes for a crowded place! This that left me not admiring Macau as much as I thought I would.  All the sights were jammed with people. I did find a few less crowed streets and a nice park for a short reprieve. In the end I left rather early (5:30pm ferry) as I was getting annoyed with the massive hustle and bustle. I did enjoy seeing Macau’s architecture, both colonial and modern (and the egg tarts) though the masses took its toll on my wanderings. I think Macau and I need a do-over. Include an overnight stay and wander in the mornings and evenings and then relax at a restaurant or cafe during the day. Yeah, Macau, let’s have a do-over one day.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

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The Ruins of St Paul / Ruinas Sao Paulo (before the crowds got really heavy)

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The Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino

 

 

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Sunday Special – Yangon, Myanmar


Today’s post takes us to Yangon, Myanmar. A city that I have actually visited. I have to say that the few days I spent in Myanmar made me fall in love with the country especially the area of Bagan. I did not see much more of the country so I do plan to return one day.  I can’t really explain it but it was, for me, a magical place. Which is why I was so horrified and saddened to learn after I returned about the genocide and conflict occurring there (which you would not know was going on in the areas that I was in). But this post is not a political one. It is simply to showcase the largest city in this Asian country.

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Yangon view from Sule Pagoda

Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is Myanmar’s largest city although it is not the capital (that title belongs to the city of Naypyidaw). It is however the commerce capital of the country. To be honest, Yangon is not my favourite city. Not even close though it does have some areas that I enjoyed seeing. Some of its sights are impressive and then other areas are less so. The state of wear of many of the buildings and failing infrastructure was a bit of a surprise to me especially coming from Malaysia where it was much more modern. Yet it still holds its own charm. I must admit that part of my time where was plagued by an uneasy tummy so at moments I wasn’t up to my usual wandering speed.  However, I did always encounter kind people. Yes, many wanted to sell me items, often assertively, but that is to be expected. Many were curious especially since I was a female travelling solo. Yet they were mostly polite (unlike the cab driver who overcharged me but I was desperate to get back to my hostel as I need a toilet so I only mildly argued with him). 

So what can you see in Yangon?  Let’s take a look (those marked with an * are places that I visited):

  • *Shwedagon Pagoda – The most significant of all pagodas in Myanmar this stunning sanctuary is a sight to see. It stands 110 m / 360 ft and is covered in gold plates and studded with diamonds. There are smaller temples, stupas, and statues surrounding the grounds. It truly is an incredible place.

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    Shwedagon Pagoda

  • *Chinatown – This is the neighbourhood that I stayed in. Plenty of markets and some Chinese temples in the area as well.  Known for night markets and street food  I did not actually visit these areas in the evening as I had some early mornings.
  • *Sule Pagoda – The first pagoda and sight I visited in Yangon as it was close walking distance from my hostel. It was where I prayed to Buddha to find me space for the sold-out hot air ballooning  in Bagan and he listened. Or it was luck. Either way I was happy.

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    Followers listening to a teacher at Sule Pagoda

  • *Bogyoke Aung San Market – Built in 1926 in a colonial building you can find many items and souvenirs here. T-shirts, textiles, jade, jewellery, antiques, paintings, handicrafts and food are the main wares found in over 2,000 stalls. This is one of my favourite markets that I have visited during my wanderings.
  • Kandawgyi Park – Get away from the bustle of the city and relax along the lake and take in views of the traditional barge, Myanmar architecture, and a view of the golden Shewdagon Pagoda.
  • Botataung Pagoda – This is another pagoda of importance to the Myanmar people. It is located by the Yangon River and claims to house a relic of Buddha himself (a sacred hair). During WW II this pagoda was completely destroyed and was rebuilt in 1948.
  • Rangoon Circular Railroad Ride – I did not go on this train even though I was aware of it. I am not certain why though I wish I had. Built by the British in 1954 this railway line does a 45.9 km / 28.5 mile circuit stopping at 39 stations. It is a way to see some of Yangon’s local life.
  • *Chaukhtatgyi Paya / The Reclining Buddha – This was my favourite sight in Yangon. I had not seen a Buddha quite so large and was quite fascinated by the experience of taking it all in. The Buddha is 66 m/ 217 feet long. Built in 1966, it is a replacement of the Reclining Buddha built in the same location in 1907.

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    The Reclining Buddha

  • *Visit a Teahouse – Tea is more than tea in Myanmar. Tea houses are common and a place for socializing for the locals and visitors alike. When I researched a tea house to visit, one popped up often: Rangoon Tea House. It did not disappoint. I enjoyed 2 cups of tea and curry lunch.

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    My tea and a book I bought from a seller on the street

  • *Drinks at The Strand Hotel – The Yangon climate can be a bit warm and humid for a northern gal like me. So when I had my fill of the warm afternoon sun I checked out Sarkies Bar at The Strand Hotel. The AC was welcome and the design was reminiscent of 1900s prestige and luxury that is still associated with the hotel. And the drinks were quite good too.

I’ll be back Myanmar. =)

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

 

Sunday Special – Siem Reap, Cambodia


If there was ever a town built around one tourist attraction it would be…Orlando, Florida. Because Disney World is huge. Things are built around it and cater to it. That is what I hear. And with that, what I say next may be considered sacrilege by many. Here goes:  I have no desire to visit Disney World. None whatsoever! There I said it (whew! that wasn’t so painful).  BUT…what does this have to do with today’s Sunday Special? Well Siem Reap in Cambodia is similar to Orlando in that it has one main draw – the grand Angkor Wat (Angkor Archaeological Site) And that IS a place I want to visit. Stretching out 400 square km / 155 sq miles it encompasses temples, old remains, and forested areas. I understand it takes several days to meander through it. I’m getting excited just knowing I’ll see it in the future! But I know nothing else of what there is to see and do in Siem Reap. Kinda like Orlando.

So let’s find out what else this northwestern Cambodian city has to offer.

  • Food: One of my favourite topics. Food tours and bountiful restaurants are plentiful. There are even some places where the adventurous foodies can taste  bugs, such as deep fried tarantulas.
  • Get Around: Rent a bicycle, moped, or e-bike (electric scooter) to see the area at your own pace. Alternately,  you can also rent tuk-tuks to get you from one place to another.
  • Markets: Siem Reap has a healthy selection of markets to peruse. Some of the popular ones are the Old Market, Angkor Night Market, and Central Market. If you would like to learn about buying ethical handicrafts, check out Angkor Handicraft Association.
  • Floating Villages: There are a few floating villages in the area that you can visit. Do your research as some are more authentic than others from what I have read online.
  • Angkor National Museum: Visit this museum to learn not only about the temples in the area but the history of the Khmer Empire and the relics and artifacts of Angkor.
  • Pub Street: A good place for restaurants and eateries during the day and the go-to place for pubs, street entertainment and bars at night. In fact after 5:00pm it is closed off to motorized vehicles. 
  • Cooking Classes: You’ve tried some of the food, why not learn how to recreate it at home. There are several cooking classes you can join up for in the area
  • Other Temples: Although Angkor Wat is the largest temple in Siem Reap it is by not means the only. There are plenty of others to see. Mainly Buddhist temples but there are a few Hindu ones as well.

Well, I am fairly certain I will enjoy Siem Reap once I make my way there in the future. I hope you do to should you decide to visit.

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Puok Market in Siem Reap, Cambodia – Photo credit: FREDPuok.MarketCC BY-SA 3.0

 

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Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia – Photo credit: Ziegler175ICAngkorWatH01CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – Gardens By The Bay, Singapore


During my short time in Singapore I was happy to be able to see some of the Gardens By The Bay. This huge 101 hectare / 250 acre park has much to offer and at night is pretty glow of lights when the Supertree Grove is lit up. Although I only saw it at night I found it spectacular. I can not wait to return to Singapore to see more of it.

The Gardens by the Bay  houses not only the Supertree Grove. There are three waterfront gardens, a children’s garden, flower dome, and a flower market and event space to name only a few features.  One could spend a number of hours there. When I return one day to Singapore I am certain I will.

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Early morning at The Gardens By The Bay – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by DChai21 

By DChai21. (Flickr: DSC_3179 (2).) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Dragon Bridge – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Allie Caulfield 

By Allie Caulfield. [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Super Tree Grove at night – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Marcin Konsek 

Photo: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons