All posts filed under: Asia

Hitching a ride on an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Okay, I’ll admit it. I am a total scaredy-cat. My cousin had to taunt me into riding the California Screamin’ roller coaster at Disneyland (her words, I believe, were, “Don’t be such a pussy”). My legs shook as I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge (they kept shaking even after I hit solid ground). And I nearly backed out of paragliding in Austria (only I had already coughed up the money for it and was halfway up the mountain). One of the funniest things I’ll admit to being scared of was mounting an elephant. Bareback. All by my lonesome. But more than three years ago, I did it. Here’s how it went down. My sister (“Ate”) and I stayed in Bangkok for a few days before flying to Chiang Mai to meet her friend there. Along with checking out its temples and cultural spots, Ate deemed that we couldn’t leave the city without visiting an elephant camp…and riding one of said elephants. I’d promised myself I would try something new every time I traveled, so I went along with the plan. An …

Banteay Srei, Cambodia

I just realized that I never got around to continuing my posts on Siem Reap—and what’s worse is that I didn’t cover my favorite temple of them all. Since it’s about time that I revive my Flashback Friday series, I decided to give this gem the spotlight it deserves. So without further ado, I present to you the beautiful Citadel of Women, Banteay Srei. Banteay Srei is located in the Angkor Archaeological Park, but since it’s a long ways out from the main cluster of temples that includes the Angkor Wat, it’s often passed up for its more popular counterparts. But if you’re staying in Siem Reap for more than a weekend, you should definitely add this to your itinerary. You don’t even need to worry about the admission, since it’s covered by the Angkor Pass. The trip from town takes about an hour via remork, and it’s a great way to see more of the fields and small settlements housed in the park. It’s best to go here bright and early in the morning, so you can get the farthest destination …

Art Trails SG 2014

Every time I visit Singapore, I try to check out at least one of their museums. Last October, I had the chance to visit two of them, plus an art gallery and a quasi-art gallery—and I got in for free at all places but one! Unfortunately, I was too lazy to bring my camera, so I had to make do with my iPhone. Check out some of my photos below! ArtScience Museum I’d visited this museum before for the Harry Potter exhibit, but since my sister told me that the special Annie Leibovitz feature was nice, I figured I might as well go back. You usually have to pay to get in, but since it was a public holiday, I didn’t have to pay a cent. I even got a free guided tour to the Leibovitz exhibit, thanks to my good timing. I enjoyed seeing some of her most famous photographs, along with others that were more personal to her. Safe to say, I’m now a fan of her work. Photography wasn’t allowed in that exhibit, but I got a few …

Cafe Hopping SG 2014 (Part I)

Most people don’t go to Singapore thinking ‘coffee,’ but that’s exactly one of the things I look forward to the most when I visit my sister there. For such a small country, Singapore’s got a really happening third-wave coffee scene. During my recent trip, I made it my mission to sample as much of it as I could. Unfortunately, due to limited time, funds, and my hyper-acidic stomach, I didn’t get to go all out. I did visit 7 coffee shops in 13 days, which isn’t too bad. And this is where I share my thoughts on each of them! Since I’m no coffee connoisseur—in fact, I regularly violate the ultimate no-no of taking my cuppa joe with sugar—I’m not going to compare the nitty-gritty of the beans and brewing and whatnot. Instead, I’m just going to talk about what I liked about each of the places I visited. As before, my pursuit of coffee led me to areas of Singapore I hadn’t yet discovered, which I think is a cool side benny. Some people follow the food; I …

Sights and insights in Saigon

One of my favorite things about traveling is how it shows me how different other cultures and countries are from my own, just as it reveals how similar they can be as well. I love how no two places are the same. How every experience brings me another level of appreciation, of understanding and misunderstanding of the world. How the most random people I come across impact me in the most unexpected ways. A few days ago, I came home from a short trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam–at least that’s how it’s properly called these days. I much prefer Saigon, if not because it reminds me of that beautiful musical I’ve yet to watch, then because it paints a picture more vivid and representative of the city than “Ho Chi Minh” or HCMC.   Many things about Saigon reminded me of other Asian countries I’ve been to, including my own–from the tangle of electrical lines criss-crossing along the streets to the busy markets where shoppers haggle their way to the best prices. But you know the …

Going hipster in SG’s Tiong Bahru

This post was supposed to be for yesterday, but since it took me forever to upload photos, I’ll just settle for a belated Happy Easter. And since I skipped a couple of days–whoops–I’ll make this an extra-special post…and that means PHOTOS. People are always surprised when I tell them that Singapore’s among one of my favorite places to visit. It might be small and–let’s face it–pretty hard on the wallet–but I find it far from boring. Aside from the super efficient public transportation system and the good security, one of the things I love about the Lion City is its interesting neighborhoods, among which is the über-hip Tiong Bahru. It’s a bit far from Singapore’s central area, but like every other place in the country, it’s accessible by bus or train. I took the bus, since I had time to kill, and I always like seeing the scenery pass me by. Just a quick primer about Tiong Bahru: it’s actually one of the oldest neighborhoods in Singapore. It was once called Mei Ren Wu (den of beauties), because this was where …