Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hong Kong

Many are no stranger to visiting Hong Kong. A small city/country which was formerly a British colony, now part of the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong is always the place that one must visit at least once in their lifetime. Been here over 35 years ago and now returned to see more of the city today.

Wasn't the greatest of trips but certainly a lovely place for the shopping and great deals! Shopping paradise, both branded and not.

Here is my pictorial view of some parts of Hong Kong.

1. Food is one of the highlights of visiting Hong Kong. Cha chan teng is a popular kind of restaurant for this and you can find in any corner around Hong Kong. Also, Wan Tan Mee is suppose to be popular Hong Kong dish but I found most outlets recommended by others to so-so.. the noodles filled with alkaline taste and not exactly the greatest, except for the huge prawn wan tan.

2. This is a unique curve escalator in one of the shopping mall. The name of the shopping mall escapes me now (do you know? Comment below!). Unique isn't it?

3. For those that seek for durian (especially Musang King) outside of Malaysia or Thailand (why would you even want to do that?!!!), you will be disappointed to find that the prices in Hong Kong is extremely expensive! So save it for another day.

4. When in Rome, do as the R...... You have to experience the Hong Kong Beer :)

5. This is an interesting Indonesian restaurant in Causeway Bay cause it has an interesting name... Say it with me... FOOK KIU! at 15 Ngan Mok Street, Tin Hau.

6. And the famous Hong Kong Disneyland. Been around for a long time. Very crowded and mainly populated with tourists from mainland China - you know what I mean.  Patience is a definitely a virtue here. Fantastic day out. (I like Tokyo Disneyland better!)

8. From Victoria Harbour, with the view of Hong Kong Island. Stay for the famous night music and building lights show, known as A Symphony of Lights. It was awarded the Guinness Book of Records for the world largest permanent light and sound show! Not to be missed and spectacular.

9. Occasionally, you may get to see peaceful street protests. Part of the Hong Kong life. This was some pro-democracy protest along the streets of Causeway Bay.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of shopping. Why would I be taking pictures when my hands are busy buying stuff?! Lol... You know the drill, branded stores (Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton etc) and the street stalls. It's everywhere in Hong Kong and very popular! Enjoy the bargains (note, mid year and year end sales).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Anyone that has been to Tokyo, Japan would agree to the beauty of Tokyo.

Here is is my pictorial story. They say pictures speaks a thousand words. Let the pictures speak to you.

1. Ikspiari Shopping Mall in Urayasu. A nice shopping mall next to the Tokyo Disneyland with lots of Disneyland inspired theme and fun. Must visit to complete the Disneyland experience.

2. Baked Cheese Tarts is the original cheese tarts that create the rave in the country and the region. Still arguable the best around. Note: Don't buy one to try. You'll regret you didn't at least get a box of this!

3. Personally, I liked the Tokyo Disneysea better. A lot more mature content (sort of) and definitely more romantic. The kids absolutely love it too. Which kid doesn't like water? :) 

4. The fireworks at Disneyland and Disneysea is a daily affair. What a show!

5. This toilet paper ensemble is brought to you by one of the world best Ramen noodles shop called Ichiran Ramen. This is in Shibuya. Never run out of  toilet paper again. 

6. Tokyo has many shrines and one of the oldest and most famous one is the Sensō-ji (Buddhist) Temple located in Asakusa neighborhood. Lots of souvenir to buy along the path leading to the temple. You can even rent Japanese traditional clothings for the authentic factor.

7. The Tokyo Skytree located at Oshiage offers 2080 feet tall tower with restaurant and observation deck at the top. It is the 2nd tallest freestanding structure in the world. The sight of the Tokyo Skytree is amazing. Wait till you get to the top. Don't waste time lining up. Go straight to the fast track counter and get to the top immediately. Go sometime around an hour or so before sunset.

8. The 360 view of Tokyo city is amazing. You get to see far. The interesting part is to see how elaborate the Tokyo city is.

9. The sunset very is what everyone come here for. You definitely want to capture this very moment as the sun sets and the city slowly goes dark by section.

 10. The Tokyo Tower is a communication tower. The observation deck is amazing and standing 1092 feet above the ground in Minato. The tower lights up very brightly in the night and can be seen from many spots around the city.

11. One must do at Tsukiji Market is the sushi restaurants. There are a couple of popular ones here. Worth lining up for. The sushi doesn't get any fresher than this. Not forgetting all the street side food too. Come with your stomach empty.

 12. Tokyo is famous for their coffee and one of the best I've ever tried is The Roastery by Nozy Coffee. It is along the Cat Street between Shibuya and Harajuku stations. One cup is not enough. Don't forget to try their desserts too.

13. After some coffee, how about crossing the famous Shibuya Crossing. Great view with another cup of coffee (no where near Roastery's but this will do) from Starbucks there.

14. And while you are in Shibuya, swing by Han No Daidokoro (焼肉バル 韓の台所) at Dogenzaka for some delicious BBQ kobe beef (yakiniku). Try everything. The more marble the beef the better.

15.And then, at the right season, Sakura trees is what you will see all around town.

Hope you enjoy some of the many photos of Tokyo! Certainly a place to visit. Not once, not twice but periodically in your travel plans!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Doha is like the other grand looking city besides Dubai in the Middle East but located in the country of Qatar. The moment I landed at the Hamad International Airport via Qatar Airways (fantastic airline by the way!), I was in awe. Big spacious and minimal queues. The view of the vast green and beautiful Mediterranean sea on the right as the plane comes to a halt on the runway as absolutely stunning.

As I got out of the plane, the temperature in Doha in March is very nice. I feel the cool air and nice breeze without the warnings of desert heat. Just before the heat of summer! The nights are cold, not so much from the temperature which was in the 20s Celsius, but more from the strong winds. And yes, did I mention the huge roads filled with nice fancy sport cars (mostly covered in sand dusts)?

Stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel West Bay Doha. West Bay is a nice area to stay. Beautiful view of the sea and with lots of nice surrounding hotels near by and did I mention the beach? About 20 minutes from the airport which is not too bad provided there was no traffic.

There is not much to do in Doha besides the usual sight-seeing buildings and structures, dessert activities, the museums and of course the market place. It was a short one nighter trip for me and I managed to only see the beach with the greenish blue Mediterranean sea and strong winds enough to blow me off the ground if I leap a little. Best view of this is from the Hilton hotel opposite Mövenpick.

And of course a trip to the huge shopping mall, City Centre Mall, which is a short walking distance from Mövenpick. Not bad but really, Doha is not a place for shopping. Too expensive. But can certainly grab a city tour bus from there.

I would return, mainly just for the sightseeing. Other than that, the rest from my first trip to Doha is just so so and dusty!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bandar Seri Begawan

We have talked a lot about a lot of exciting places to travel in this blog. But what about the not so exciting ones? Lately have made a couple of trips to Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei. As you know, Brunei is a very wealthy country but a religiously strict one.

Upon landing at the airport brings the plane quickly to a stop with minimal taxi-ing due to the small airport similarly to those in small towns of Malaysia. Very new and modern airport, you will quickly whisk your way out to the taxi waiting area.

Stayed at The Centrepoint Hotel Gadong, with a shopping mall beside it and quite a lot of food choices.The place is very quiet aside from travellers that come in for business, mainly in the Oil & Gas industry which has seen a major slowdown of late.

Anywhere around town is just 5-15 minutes away. Strangely, there are not many Starbucks around but tons of Coffee Bean in every other corner including the airport. Activities a limited here and most establishments closes early. Latest maybe Coffee Bean which closes at midnight. No commercial nightlife, period.

You get view of elaborate and nicely architectured mosques like the Jame 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. Worth the view and photo opportunities.

One thing that I found interesting is Fridays. Make sure you have eaten or have your food all packed before 11:30am. Most restaurants will close at 12 and reopen after 230pm or so due to the Muslim prayers time. 

And Singaporean Dollar is widely used in Brunei aside from the Brunei dollar due to the similar currency value.

Will I return? Only if I absolutely have to for business. For holidays, there would be a lot more exciting places to go to in Malaysia and nearby.

Monday, March 2, 2015


When you land at Toronto Pearson International Airport (XYZ), first thing you see around a lot of stations with Apple iPads. There are meant for ordering food while waiting for flights. Quite nifty, quick and convenient.

Mississauga, the town where the airport is located is a very dead town. You do not get much there except for say offices and some restaurants. Even the TownPlace Suites by Marriott in Mississauga where I stayed was pretty quite.

One have to explore into the downtown for more action. A city is pretty much a city but there is quite a lot to see in Toronto, Ontario and during the winter, it makes it more interesting and challenging. The view is beautiful with snow everywhere. Some as high as 6 feet with sludge and mud everywhere. Looks pretty on pictures but very messy on the roads.

And while you are there, you should check out the Toronto Raptors play an NBA game at the Air Canada Centre. They are doing pretty well this season in the basketball league. A midsection ticket should set you back about USD150. Get your tickets early, else you may need to buy them online for a little bit more money. And while you are there, have your meal at the Air Canada Club. Nice view of the court before the game and the Seafood Bucket and Warm Nova Scotia Crab Dip is to die for!

A day trip to the Niagara Falls in the winter was quite an adventure. Slow drives, early sunset. The falls over at the Toronto side was said to be nicer than the American side.

During the winter, you'll witness the falls frozen over. For the first time in 2015, a climber Will Gadd became the first person to climb the frozen Niagara Falls. Read all about it at in this article.

The frozen falls is an amazing sight. And the town is full of vibes too. You get casino, museums, food, and fun. Must stay at least for a night to fully enjoy the place and soak up the experience winter have to offer. Stay safe!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Winter time in Taiwan sounds like an excellent plan with temperatures at 13-16°C (55-61°F). Perfect for those who come from warmer countries and enough cool air to put on all those fancy jackets. Unfortunately, the 8 days I was there in December 2013, it rained every single day. Light rain but still rained and an umbrella may come in handy. Doesn’t dampen the spirits though as this country has lots of offer.

You’ll find plenty information of Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan on the internet, but let me note the key points of places I visited and wished the internet told me more before I went.

Stay anywhere within the train network. The train network is well routed and English labeled.Taipei Main Station surrounding hotels and apartments would be good. 

I stayed at a 4-star FX Hotel along Nangjing East Road Section 3 and was about 200m stroll to the train station. A very chic boutique hotel and certainly worth a stay. 

Night Markets
Taipei is famous for it’s street food – Night Markets like Shihlin, Ningxia, etc… and pretty much every other block within the city with a 7-Eleven offering delicious warm food too!! Night Market is a culture of the Taiwanese and aside from food, it has plenty of activities. Go with an empty stomach, a very empty one. 

Try everything you come into sign with especially those with a queue. If it did not taste nice, leave it and don't waste space. Go on and try the next stall. The Taiwanese are very passionate about their food and it will be very difficult to find a place that doesn't serve decently good food.

Yeh Liu
A bunch of rock formation created due to sea winds and the constant hammering of the waves and under current. Best to rent a day taxi driver (about NTD3,600 for 10 hours) to bring you to Yeh Lie, Keelung, Jiufun and Shifen including surrounding tourist spots. A good driver is critical for this experience as he will be able to introduce you to the places and show you the best spot and plan the route with you.. 

Another street of food here. Must try, the stall No. 5 Thick Crab Soup! If you have less than 2 bowls, I will be presently surprised. Supposedly the original thick crab soup in Taiwan (they all claim they are the original but this is by far the best one I've tried). You be the judge but we all had double portion crab per bowl!!

Streets of shops located here with all sorts of snacks, souvenirs to buy. Lots of steps and things to see. The shops are located on both sides of the street which is an uphill walk but have interesting scenery and things to buy. You will not go home empty handed from this visit.

The famous train which still passes through a small town every 15 minutes or so with shops located close beside it. This is where you can paint your good luck charm on this colorful Chinese lantern for NTD200. After which you set it off to fly off into the sky but it was thought to bring good luck based on what you wrote on it. Have you ever wonder where all these lanterns land at! But sure is a beautiful sight.

Plenty of shops and shopping here. Ladies boots for NTD360-720. Besides the plentiful of shopping and activities, there are the food and there is one store here famous for the strange duck parts! Try the deep friend duck tongue. Sorry Donald.

Taipei 101
Experienced the food at Shih Yeh restaurant on the 85th floor. Higher end Chinese cuisine with beautiful ambience and a splendid view of Taipei. The food was above average but does not justify the high price tag and the requirement for a minimum spend at the restaurant of NTD1,280 per person for lunch (easily achievable depending what you order)!

Ding Tai Fung
This famous restaurant for its Chinese dumplings. Long queue in every branch you go to. Certainly well worth the wait. The restaurant is available all over the world but the original restaurant is in Taipei. Must try!

Beitou Hotsprings
Nearby Taipei town is famous for their hot springs especially Beitou. You can take a train from down center and arrive as this town. There are the public hot springs or the private ones. Private ones are pretty much those you rent a room for X number of hours for your hot-spring session. You pick the size of your room and the facilities with it. Recommended to stay a night as besides the hot springs, you have the usual night markets and plenty of food and shopping.

The Top
This is a restaurant on top of a hill with fantastic view of Taipei. The food is not the greatest but the view is extraordinary. It is located in the Kaixuan Shihlin District and best way to get there is by car. There are bus system there too but that will require a bit of navigation. Book a private tent or outdoor bbq area. For the best view, a night trip would be best.

**Note that the names of the places listed here are close to the names of how it should be in English. Taiwan still predominantly speak in Mandarin and hence some of these places are recognizable in Mandarin only. Anyhow, most younger generation speak very good English. The train stations and most places have very good English directions and instructions as well.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Whenever I got a chance to go around and see some places in a European country, I always like to go for small towns with a charming old town centre, historic buildings and cobblestone streets. Szentendre became the obvious option for a day trip while I was visiting Budapest with a Sunday to spare. Even better, the journey took only about 40 minutes on the suburban rail (HÉV) from the capital city. Szentendre is small and easy to find places, the town centre with beautiful old houses and cobblestone streets is just a short walk from the train station. Take a slow walk while you admire the colourful old house along the way. Also, on your way to the town centre, try to get yourself a Lángos which is a Hungarian flatbread at one of the shops; this ought to be an item in your to-do list.

The main square area centred around Fő tér is where the discovery of Szentendre should start; it offers a very well-preserved 18th century colourful Baroque townscape. The Baroque Memorial Cross was dated back to 1763 to commemorate that the town had in fact avoided the plague. As one of the landmarks is the small but stunning Serbian Orthodox Blagoveštenska Church that was built in 1752; the church together with the cross and other 18th century Baroque style houses around the main square are what make Szentendre a pretty and charming little town. It was worth spending some time here enjoying the view of the townscape and browsing through the souvenirs displaying at many of the shops around.

I then continued on the narrow lane lead off from the Main Square in front Serbian Orthodox Blagoveštenska Church, heading for Church Hill (Castle Hill). At the top of the hill is the Parish Church of St. John that was last reconstructed in 1710. The church ground is where you get great views of the town and the Danube. Many tourists and professional photographers alike were busy framing picturesque views, making “souvenirs” and masterpieces. Nearby, not far to the north, the tall red tower of the Serbian Belgrade Cathedral dominates the view amongst century-old trees. This cathedral and surrounding walls were built in the 18th century.

Szentendre is compact and can be easily covered in a day; as a tourist town, there are also plenty of restaurants around the historic old town and shops offering local handicrafts making it the best bet for a day trip from Budapest.