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Leaving Footprints: Bintan, ID

Who says Bintan, Indonesia is a crappy place?

Honestly, I have heard lots of people talking about Bintan like it is a very ugly place, or that it is one of the worst. Looking at the map, Bintan is quite a huge island so they are probably talking about the centre, right? The “city” or where the life of the island is. No, they are wrong. Sometimes, the “life” of the island is not where people flock, but where people find peace, one with the place, one with nature. 

Kenny and I do lots of research before we go to a trip. We find the best locations to be and the things we can do. Since we don’t want to experience the “crap” they were talking about, we looked for a nice place where we can do loads of things…
And we found De Bintan Villa.

 

It is a Villa situated outside the eco-tourism zone and inside the “jungle” as what I call it, remotely built on a hill, which they claim as a better location to be because the land and taxes are cheaper and they are the first to build, soon enough, investors and builders will come and invade the place as well, which I think is true enough.

We were picked up from the ferry terminal by their friendly staff, not that excellent in English but is learning and trying to speak the language, which is good. He discussed with us what we can do at the villa and where we can go.

We reached the place, and were entertained by their lovely receptionists, dinner was served and we were ushered up to our highly situated room. It was an awesome place to be! I will tell you why.

On our first day, we went out around the villa and see what they have in it and checked their Sky View Tower high enough to see what’s in Bintan. And guess what? We didn’t see anything! Anything but trees, mountains and the sea! Nothing else! So where is the “crap” when nature is the best place to be?

In the afternoon, we asked them to bring us to Lagoi beach.

Lagoi is beautiful! White, fine sand, resorts and food and shopping centres were well built quite far from the shore and well designed as well. The funny thing is, there are no tourists around. Prolly a few hiding somewhere in that wide expanse of beach, but I wasn’t able to see any, really. The only people there were locals, muslims on their little seaside picnic with their families so it is actually quite awkward to swim with only your two-piece on. ๐Ÿ˜… The properties near the beach were nicely landscaped like you were inside a resort but you weren’t. And we saw these wonderfully designed vehicles for touring around. 

We hung around the place a little bit longer and decided to move and do something else since we have different facilities in the villa that we can use for free.

At evening time after dinner, we went up the hill again to their billiard cottage with our beers and played all night long. We even saw a snake!

 

The next morning, we decided to use the cute pool that they have. We also thought that we will just stay in the villa rather than go to the city centre and be disappointed.

So we did Flying Fox Zipline and Rubber Tapping, wonderful experience of producing your rubber from a tree! We also went cycling around the whole villa, including the areas that are idle and under construction. It was a huge place!

 

At the end of the day, we were sent to the ferry terminal by their guy and we concluded that we both had a nice time in Bintan. And that Bintan is not a crappy place. You just have to learn to look deeper into the island and explore what people don’t normally explore. There are hidden treasures inside those jungles.
By the way, for S$115 dollars a night, we had all wonderful meals and most of the facilities for free, and of course a lovely room! Check out their website De Bintan Villa if you want to learn more. ๐Ÿ˜Š

– K

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Leaving Footprints: Final – Langkawi, MY

And…

We arrived in Langkawi, Malaysia!

Famished upon arriving at about noon, we set off for Arts Cafe which is quite far from the ferry terminal but we still decided to walk it to explore the place more and we first landed on Eagle Square under the heat of the sun and then Legenda Park, an interestingly landscaped park for photo op.

After lunch, we took a cab to Tubotel where we stayed for one night. It is a room, or I might have to describe it accurately, a bed with a headboard inside a concrete tube. Clever. Oh, and it also has aircon. Your door is also your window.. with a curtain.

Tadah! This is our room!

It was a nice place, with wonderful staff, great breakfast, amazing sunrise, and peaceful view of the waters. It was quite a long walk to the centre of Langkawi so we just relaxed on the first day because why not? We had a tiring adventure along the way. See below, this is the sunrise I am talking about. Nice, right?

On our second day, we set out for Pulau Payar Marine Park to snorkel and swim with sharks… yes, you read it right, SHARKS!! Some of the big ones are over a metre in length and the friendly little ones that swim in the shallow waters are more or less about half a metre long. It is a nice experience! It makes you see that not all sharks are bad and you don’t have to be afraid. 

At night, we walked the whole length of the centre just to look for food and we ended up in this queued out Orkid Ria Seafood Restaurant. We had big, meaty prawns for dinner! Ohlala!

And by the way, we checked in to our next hotel: Chenang Inn. We got a family room, which is the only available room they had at that time and it’s okay! We had like a double bed for each of us! Isn’t that great?! Anyway, I will continue with our adventures.
On our second day, since all scooters have been rented out, we went for a cab, which is also quite reasonably priced (lease for 4 hours + additional fee every hour), to take us anywhere we want to go in Langkawi.

First stop, Telaga Tujuh – Seven Wells Waterfalls!!! Warning: Before you can even reach the waterfalls, you have to hike a steep concrete path, so prepare your lungs and your feet! When we reached it… It was amazing! We went up to the pool up the rocks and had fun with other tourists there sliding on the smooth rocks and drowning in the waters!

Then we asked the cab driver to take us to the Black Sand Beach (well, not as black as I expected it to be but seeing it in black is already amazing). I would like to see the Pink Sand Beach too which is somewhere in the world. ๐Ÿ˜…

We were almost done with our four hours and we kinda don’t want to pay extra but who cares when you can rent a private jacuzzi in Ayer Hangat for an hour and enjoy the hot tub for yourselves? Much needed relaxation and treatment for stress! So, yes, we extended the cab for an hour because the travel back to the centre is also quite long. It was worth the travel, though!

We then checked in to our last hotel for the trip and the best so far, Fint Hus. It has a pool we never used and friendly and accomodating staff. The room is nice. You know why they are the best? They left us with Ferrero Rocher chocolates on the bed! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿซ

The best part of the trip is the last night. Because it was NEW YEAR’s EVE!! We went to the beach, bought paper lanterns, wrote lots of things on it and flew them up to the sky while fireworks are popping and everybody dancing and kissing and having fun! It was a very good, adventurous end of our year and hoping for more travels together!

I hope you enjoyed reading and I hope you got some cues when you travel to Langkawi! Bye for now!

– K

Leaving Footprints: 2nd Stop Northbound – Penang, MY

This is not really in the plan. It was included last minute because we wanted a cheap trip to Langkawi but we also wanted to have a little adventure first before relaxing. So here comes Penang!

Penang is know for it’s amazing streets, the information centre can even give you a map of their Fantastic-Street-Arts-and-Where-To-Find-Them. We didn’t find them all, though. We simply roamed around Georgetown and let the street arts find us. They are not ordinary by the way. They are history, which makes them more interesting.

Another sample for you along Love Lane.

I can play with all the arts all day long!

“Can you please open the door Mister? I’ve been knocking here since 6am!”

And we will be willing to queue no matter how long it might take us..

Can someone tell this kid to get off the bike? It’s dangerous!

Okay, enough. I have shown you quite a lot. You better go to Penang to see all of them! They’re so cool! Before I proceed, let’s first have a giant serving of CENDOL! My favorite dessert. ๐Ÿ˜‹ This is Wonderfood Museum where you can see the local delicacies in a bigger picture like…literally.

We also went into the beautiful Pinang Peranakan Mansion where you will be briefed about the lifestyle, customs, and traditions of a rich Baba during the old times. Just wow!

Look at this lovely chair.. Oh! I can sit here with my love all day long! This chair was used by couples so they can chat nicely and meet eye to eye while holding each other’s hands.

A mansion filled with antiques, with gold, with wealth, with characteristics carefully thought through, with stories from the past which they persevere to preserve and maintain for probably the coming hundred years or more because they are memories and treasures worth keeping forever.

There’s too many things to see in here, it is huge! You can spend one day just admiring every little detail they put in it and imagining every effort the people from yesteryears have alloted just to build and carry on conserving this expensive thing up.
Finally, we went to the beach in Batu Feringghi to end our successful adventure in Penang and chill for the night since we had a very, very productive day I must say, and then we had to leave early morning for the ferry to Langkawi. Aah! What a delightful trip it is! Thank you, Penang!

See you soon, Langkawi! ๐Ÿ˜˜

– K

Leaving Footprints: First Stop Northbound – Melaka, MYย 

A trip to Malaysia from Singapore is cheap and easy. Take a bus up north and you will already be in a different country. There are several bus terminals from the Little Red Dot that travels to different parts of MY, one of which is Malacca (Melaka).

It is about a 5-hour bus ride, so leave early because you can actually go around Malacca in one day and be able to see most of it, like what we did, though it was a big challenge for us because we were dropped off at a different terminal, not at the central terminal so we WALKED about 3km to get to the main city (because we were backpacking and backpackers don’t spend money on cabs). Silly of us not to check the drop off first before booking.

Malacca has stunning views and artistic buildings and streets. It is a simple city yet astonishingly marvellous where each step you make takes you to something surprisingly new and colorful.

I fell in love with this place to be honest. And I swear I will come back here to once again see the things that I haven’t taken enough time to look at, and I will surely spend more time staring at everything in glee!

Each corner is full of culture & history combined with modern scheme that calls tourists to visit it.

Such history where these lotus shoes for the lotus feet came from. A shop called Bound Feet in Jonker Street, Malacca will tell you more… the owner claimed that they are the last store making lotus shoes, the business was started by his great grandfather and was passed on from generation to generation. I cringe everytime I see the shoes because it reminds me of the story of a dark past for Chinese women who were made to believe that small feet defines beauty. You can read more about it here.

Malacca is full of beauty in every turn, full of life and wonder. Full of antiques, unique buildings, historical sites, colorful graffiti and good food as well!

It was indeed a very fruitful and exhilarating stop for our northbound journey! A few hours in it is enough to make me enjoy the things this little city has to offer.

Oh, and when you go for something to eat, try The Daily Fix Cafe and for dessert, Nadeje! They are awesome! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Here goes Malacca! Next stop: Penang, MY!


– K

Living Luxuriously in the Jungle of Palawan

This story has been long-overdue. And I am going to give you a glimpse of my El Nido experience now (which I should’ve done more than half a year ago ๐Ÿ˜…)!

So I told Kenny to surprise me. And he did!

From Spin where we spent our first night in El Nido, we were picked up by these young men at noon in front of the hostel (I may have forgotten their names, but not how they made us feel)!

All smiles, they took us to their wonderful, unique tricycle (which we were able to use whenever and wherever we wanted to go) and we flew, not literally though, to Aeta’s Glamping site while telling us about tour packages and El Nido itself, the spots we should visit and things we should do.

We arrived at their cutesy, little “lobby” where the owner, Elena Dunn, briefed us about what to expect during our stay. We were both awed by all the staff’s friendliness, jolliness, hospitality, warm welcome, and of course, their excellent service!

There are five huts with tribe names (actual tribes in Palawan), mountains and rice fields beside the location, wonderful people, delicious foods, the stay was absolutely amazing! We were served with welcome snacks in our Tribe Hut called Batak.

We were assisted to our hut with all prepared organic products, the short summary of where our tribe hut name came from, an awesome tent in a bamboo house with a comfortable double bed in it. Indeed glamorous. The room doesn’t have any aircon (there is no aircon in a camping site so don’t expect ๐Ÿ˜‚), but you can unzip the windows, and voila! You have natural cooler produced by the mountains and trees! (They do have an electric fan, don’t worry.)

Welcome to their incredible shower room! So unique!

We were served with sumptuous breakfasts and delectable snacks in the afternoon with little chit chats with whoever brought the food to our humble hut. We were ushered very well and we didn’t feel like we were guests or how they address us, glampers, we were treated as family. ๐Ÿ˜

Mouth-watering, right?

They have daily activities in the glamping site as recreational pastimes for the glampers and staff which we weren’t able to try. They have little shows and presentations for the guests to entertain them and thank them before they leave the site, little send off surprises. Plus they have an accomodating little man, Liam, who entertained us throughout our stay!

They connect. They communicate. They accept. I have been looking for the best place to stay and rates each hotel I have been to. Honestly, I have rated an accomodation with 10/10 already. Are you curious about Aeta’s Glamping El Nido‘s rate? It is an astounding 15/10! The whole stay exceeded my expectations! Amazing customer service, perfect team, lovely people and location. So far, I only have one place in mind that I will surely go back to… It was indeed the best surprise Kenny has ever prepared for me. And it always will be.. ๐Ÿ˜Š

P.S. They have always won the five stars of every guests. Check them out here: airbnb.comtripadvisor.com

Where to Stay in Phuket, TH

As promised, I will post about the place where we stayed in Phuket, Thailand for our first night (though it is actually in the southern part of Phuket, far from the airport to be honest.).

Vivi Bungalows Resort!

Located in Nai Harn Beach, this is a cheap place to stay in but when it comes to quality and service, this is outstanding! Receptionists are friendly and approachable even though they can’t speak English that well. Secure, comfortable… the central area might be small but don’t worry about the rooms… they ate all the space so you will live pretty satisfied in them.

Clean, spacious, simple and elegant.

With your own little kitchen…

And a spacious comfort room, too! (Which I wasn’t able to take a proper picture)

So why do I recommend it? Because it has made our trip as wonderful as it could be. Easy, and fast transactions, honest and kind staff members. ๐Ÿ˜Š

That’s Vivi. ๐Ÿ‘

– K

Leaving Footprints: Thailand Part 3

Last stop: Phuket Old Town, Thailand 

So after the dive and the ferry travel, we took a minibus to our hotel, The Memory at On On.

Vintage beauty! This hotel has a very nice lobby and entrance and the place was simply classy, cozy and attractive.

Do you see what I am talking about? ๐Ÿ˜

We actually did nothing much in Phuket Old Town but walked around and cafe hopped and tried to bar hop but there is not much “life” in there which is quite good for me because after all the noise and the activities we did for the past days, we badly needed some peace. ๐Ÿ˜Š 

So scroll down and take a look at the photos we took!

This one below is the beautiful street of Thalang Road with it’s buildings colorfully lit.


And this is one little street connected to Thalang Road which is so gorgeous, Soi Romanee!

More. Scroll down some more. ๐Ÿ˜Š

This bright building up here is just in front of our wonderful hotel. Amazing!
There are a lot more but then it is difficult to share everything.

So let me go to the stuff we did there. Just food. Nom!

1.) Kopitiam By Wilai

2.) Crafts & Co.

3.) Macchiato House and Cakebox

4.) Eleven Two & Co.

5.) Bookhemian Coffee Bar, Bookstore, Artspace

So those are the things we did in Phuket Old Town and that summarizes our trip to Thailand!

It was an awesome experience and I hope these things I posted would be of help to you when you travel to Thailand. Well, there is not much information I shared though but at least you get some ideas. ๐Ÿ˜‚
Going to post the next trip we had soon! ๐Ÿ˜Š
– K

Leaving Footprints: Thailand Part 1

Journey started in: Phuket, Thailand. 

Weather was warm and sunny, it was a fine day when I arrived. We bought tickets for a minibus that took us to our booked hotel in the Southern part of Phuket (well, the driver didn’t really dropped us to our hotel, there was a miscommunication that happened… or probably part of their scheme).

I will tell you what happened: The driver informed us, the passengers, that we will stop by a travel agency (which I think was somehow the minibus’s company) for our hotel details. So we went down from the bus, went in the agency, and gave our hotel locations. And suddenly they told us that our hotel location was too far from the end point of the trip and they can’t take us there. Kenny argued that it was the ticketing staff that instructed us where to go and what trip to ride so technically it wasn’t our fault why we were riding on the wrong minibus. They told us that it’s either they take us back to the airport or that we have to pay extra so the driver would drop us to our hotel. We didn’t agree so we just asked them to drop us at the end point and we will find our own way. The agent seemed disappointed while the rude driver looked fiercer and unapologetic. (This is one of the scams “normal” to Phuket which, as much as possible we don’t want to encounter, unfortunately, we did. So be careful and be alert if you are to travel there.) ๐Ÿ˜’

We alighted at Karon Beach, and instead of complaining about our misfortune, we chose to enjoy the beach that hypnotized us to stop by and feel the waters. ๐Ÿ˜ We had our lunch in a beachside restaurant. The view from where the restaurant stood was amazingly beautiful but I don’t know what’s wrong with the people we encounter. In the restaurant, the waitresses can’t seem to wait for our order. They come to us literally every minute to ask us for our order. Not long after, a big Thai man came to us (he could either be the manager or the boss) without smiling and asked for our order. We said we’re not ready to order yet. And here came another waitress just after him to ask us the same question and we told them we will call them if we are ready (considering we haven’t had our chairs heating up just yet). The big Thai man looked at us for a long time after we shooed the last waitress away. My opinion: Customer Service in Phuket is bad (you can’t blame me for experiencing such). And we ended up rushing to order just because of how they treated us. ๐Ÿ˜ก

Another problem we faced was that drivers seemed to push us to ride a “tuk-tuk” and drop us to our hotel (which we rejected a few times because they were expensive) and they got annoyed to the point that they shouted at us saying that it is the standard price (just because we don’t want to take them). Bad CS number three. It took us, I guess, more than an hour to finally get a metered taxi which cost 210 THB compared to the 400-500 THB the tuk-tuk drivers told us. ๐Ÿ˜ง

BUT… there are good things still. The taxi driver was kind enough to somehow relieve us from those headaches though he doesn’t speak good English so we took his calling card. And the hotel was just PERFECT! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ (I will blog about the hotel separately so as to shorten this post and give the hotel its own highlight for everyone to read.)

From the hotel, we rented a scooter (because it is the cheapest way to go) and chased this sunset in Phromthep Cape, the tip of Phuket.

Beautiful isn’t it? But after getting several pokes from mosquitoes (YES, please purchase a mosquito repellant when you travel to Thailand, you’re welcome) we looked for the best place to have dinner. 

Thailand got a lot of Westernized restaurants to cater tourists (maybe) in case they don’t know what to eat, or are not adventurous with Thai food, or want an easy option for a bite. We went into a pizza place called Da Vinci Italian Restaurant (and I won’t blog about it because it is so common) and soon after dinner, we hit the road (from Nai Harn to Karon to Kata) to find a good bar where we could chill. CS: very good! Crew: Thai ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

We saw this colorfully lit place, during our bar-hunt-evening-trip, called Palm Square where we saw a duo performing (mind you, they are Filipinos and they are good, really). We stayed there for a bottle of beer, listened to a few songs and went back on the track to find a lively one. CS: good, Crew: Filipina. ๐Ÿ‘

Then we found ourselves sitting in a bar called Two Chefs and encountered another bad customer service, crews are not smiling and definitely impatient.

We were supposed to go home after another beer there but we really wanted some life! So we hit the road yet again and tried every street. But we found none (it is low season by the way).

Midnight, we didn’t stop looking and we found ourselves in a ladyboy bar near our hotel called Slumber Inn in Nai Harn just because we wanted to try something new. Most ladyboy bars are dead, there were not much customers and the girls and ladyboys were looking bored and penniless for the night. After another beer, that was the time we went back to the hotel and rested, we had a tiring day.

Quite an experience for the first day. It was in a way fun, the place is awesome and I had a good time. ๐Ÿ˜Š Yes, I did.

Disclosure: Everytime we talked to a local, the very first thing I had to say was, “I am not Thai.” Yes, literally every Thai person we encountered thought I was one of them, talked to me in their language that made me take refuge in Kenny’s back. ๐Ÿ˜ง

– K

PH: A Little of Baguio City

The City of Pines… Baguio City, Philippines isn’t just an ordinary city. It is a city built in the middle of the forests, in between mountains, on top of the world (where the cold never bothered the people anyway 😂). But wait, let me set some expectations for you: First, you have to go through a long, zigzag road, and conquer all mountains hiding the beauty of it. Second, it would be a giddying, dizzying trip as long as six hours of left and right, up and down (depending on where you’re coming from), so make sure you take antiemetics or anticholinergics prior to your travel (and plastic bags too, just in case). And lastly, you must prepare yourself (your mind, your heart and your soul) for some freakin’ steep, frightening, not so wide city roads you’ve never encountered anywhere (but don’t worry, the drivers are experts… and the wheels too). 👍

I went there with my bestfriend Maye and my backpack for the reason that I only wanted to experience a cold city day which I never got to experience in Manila. So here, I’ll share a little bit of Baguio to you guys.

We greeted sunshine at the Pink Sisters’ Convent and Chapel. Visit here, take a few minutes to pray, write your petitions, and you prayers will be answered. One of the best places to have a heart-to-heart talk with God, so peaceful and solemn.

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Next stop was at Baguio Botanical Garden where you can try out some Ifugao native clothes for a small fee and you can take unlimited shots. Never miss the chance to be a native in a short period of time.

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Get lost in the length of pine trees just waiting to engulf you and bring you to the wilderness. Are we out of the woods?

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Cool green and blue in front of you, how relaxing is that? At Mines View, you are on top of the world. You can also buy  some plants and orchids at the entrance, take pictures while riding a horse or sitting beside a very large, kind dog for cheap prices.

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Swanboat at Burnham Park is one you can’t ignore. For a cheap amount you can either choose a de-pedal or a de-sagwan (pedal or paddle 😁) swanboat and roam around the lake for 30 minutes. Both kinds are tiring but too enjoyable, just be careful for you might end up like a bumpboat if you don’t know how to drive it along the waters. It was fun getting bumped by other boats, laugh together, and tease each other.

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One day isn’t enough. There are a lot more to see and experience in Baguio, unfortunately for me, I only alotted a day for it and now I am regretting. But of course, the day ends with a wonderful sunset… which closed my short travel to the City of Pines but I swear, I’ll come back and experience the rest of Baguio.

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I love the cool weather in a city hidden behind the mountains… I’m coming back for you Strawberry Capital.

– K

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