Elephant Sanctuary, Chiang Mai | Thailand

I’m a huge animal lover, and Chiang Mai is definitely well-known for it’s many rescued elephants. Riding an elephant might seem like a pretty awesome bucket list, but supporting such act is cruel to these amazing animals. We opt for a day giving the elephants a much deserving spa, and get to know them up-close.

We were picked up by the driver, who whisk us and 6 others from different hotels and race on our way to the sanctuary. It was about an hour drive up north, and definitely was a pleasant ride. Nothing more.

The moment we arrived, we were greeted by some decent hot pad thai, fruits, a bottle of water, and some ‘uniforms’ for us to change into. If you don’t want to do that to look nice on picture, remember – your clothes(and shoes!) are possibly garbage after. I opt to look ugly ūüôā

My princess!

We were thought the way to sense the mood of the elephants, the way to feed and engage with them properly. We were all given a big bag of bananas, and are on our way to get to know them. Honestly, it was such a joy just feeding them, and I was told that you should talk to them as they do recognize your voice and that would be useful when we bring them for their walk into the jungle.

What happened after this, I could not capture – but it was such fun throwing mud onto the elephants, giving them the well deserving spa scrub in a heavy downpour. Did I say, this is not the best season to go to Chiang Mai? It rains almost the entire day!

After that, we lead them back to the pool, and jumped in with joy. Brush, brush, and brush here we go. The elephants are so much fun in water and the baby elephant, ‘Jackie Chan’ just goes in for a dive and around.

#Traveltips : Take less photo yourself and just enjoy the moment. High risk of drowning your phones and cameras unless it is waterproof, but I highly doubt it is elephant-proof. They literally weigh a ton(s)!

Love,
Alyphantslove

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Chiang Mai, the hidden gem in Thailand

Hello, I’m back!

It’s been a while since I have blogged, maybe I have very little to talk about, or perhaps just too lazy to ‘be in the moment’ and document things a little lesser. Either¬†WAY, I’m back – and fresh from a family vacation to Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai.

Traveling from anywhere in Asia, Chiang Mai is a great short weekend destination, and definitely have tons to offer. Here is a short guide on how you can spend 3 days in Chiang Mai at ease.

#Traveltips : Do go on a weekend, as I loveeee the Sunday Night Market. 1.5km of markets with very unique, different things to see, buy and eat.

There are tons of markets in¬† Chiang Mai, but most isn’t really worth the time (yes, I went to a few for a peek but to no satisfaction post going to the night market!).

Day 1 : Arrived in time for lunch or dinner, and fit in the night market! Wonderful place to eat, shop, and experience!

Day 2 : Start in the center – walk around the old town and you will be seeing temples after temples..but probably not all in 1 day! (You can, but it might be really tiring and you miss the little things that makes each unique!)

Day 3 : Take an excursion outside the city! We chose an Elephant sanctuary tour to get close to elephants without harming them in the making. Avoid riding them!!!! *check it out on Klook, or there are plenty of travel sites that offers them.

Day 4 :Back to temple time and go up the famous Doi Suthep! On a good day, you should be able to see the entire city pretty clearly. If you are into a good view, head up there!

I’ll be adding more details around each individual day and amazing food we have tried and tested, so check out my other posts on Chiang Mai!

Love,
Alyvds

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Matsusaka beef : Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M, Osaka

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big foodie, and visiting Japan definitely satisfy much of that!

Two years back, I have made a trip to Kobe to experience the hyped Kobe beef, and the hype was indeed true. This time around, we set our goals to try out Matsusaka – the Japanese black beef, to see if we need a pitstop to Kobe. Boy, we were not disappointed. In fact, it was so great, that we did it twice!

We picked Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M, and picked the platters to share.

We chose the platter for tasting with 6 different parts that comes with vegetables as well.

Firstly, to grill the wonderful meat and vegetables, we use the fats for Matsusaka beef.

Amazing food in the making.
The garlic rice was awesome. Really simple, and great.

To mix it a little, we ordered the Japanese Black pork as well. It’s pretty good but no match for our love of Matsusaka beef.

Japanese black pork.

The room (all dining are private) was really small, so unfortunately the moment we ask if there was any table – the waiter eye us from top to bottom. We were lucky we fit the bill.

The second time, we visited the branch Р .We ordered the same platter, but with a few different parts in it. Just as good, just as fatty(the right amount) and delicious.

Their Yuzu sherbet was also really delicious, and I completely forgot about my reservation note – to celebrate my Mum’s birthday. The waitress came in with an awesome birthday cake/dessert – and made that day a really special evening.

Top notch on the services, and food – amazing and memorable.

#Traveltips : Make reservation to avoid disappointment ; because despite having quite a few branches, each can accommodate perhaps not more than 10 groups of guest.

Check them out : http://www.matsusaka-projects.com/english/
Price :~ 15,000 -20,000 yen per person.
Ambience : Cosy 
Rating : 4.8/5.0

Cheers,
Alyvdseats

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Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

On the last day of our Japan trip this year, we have a good half day to kill. I have always been a huge fan of Aquarium, and Osaka’s Kaiyukan is something special.

We took a short boat ride from Universal Studio via the Captain Line, and the ticket was slightly reduced when purchasing it with the Kaiyukan’s entrance fee.

The moment we enter, we were greeted by a beautiful walkway; tunnel-shaped tank with amazing rays and fishes.

Next, we took a quick escalator, going all the way up to the top, and move your way down slowly. Firstly, we saw the Japanese forest and see some of the tiny small-clawed otters, salamanders and crabs- before moving down towards the jewel of the aquarium.

The beauty. Star of the Aquarium.

From sea otters, seals, sea lion, capybara, penguins, to whale sharks. WHALE SHARKS!!!! The aquarium is definitely amazing to walk around , and the interactive exhibits was great for kids and adults(yes, touching sharks and rays, seeing ringed seals so close – that was amazing!!).

It takes a good 2 hours around the aquarium on a weekday ; possibly a little more over the weekend. I’ll definitely come back again in the future!

Look at Patrick Star~~~

#Traveltips : There are tons of luggage storage locker ( cost 700 yen for a big one) so it is quite convenient to make this our last stop before flying! Bigger and easier storage would be the ones before entering the aquarium outside the souvenir store.

Check them out : http://www.kaiyukan.com 

Location : 1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato-ku, Osaka City 552-0022

Hours : 10.00am – 8.00 pm
Fee : 2,300 yen for adults, 1,200 for kids.
         2,700 yen with Captain Line ferry ride ,  one-way

Cheers,
Alyvds

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Wildlife spotting along Kinabatangan | Sandakan

Continuing our experience in Sabah with an amazingly easy and rewarding trip to Sandakan. (Check out Kota Kinabalu  too! )

I would say it is one of the best wildlife spotting experience I have ever had, thanks to an amazing group of guides( ours called Lat!) that went above and beyond to ensure we have the most memorable trip.

First and foremost, we start our trip at the conservatory for both Orang Utan, learnt a little about Sepilok’s¬†conservation efforts and Orang Utan’s characteristics, and move on to the Sun Bear Conservatory, which¬†was¬†right next door.

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Wonderful orang utan in action! @sepilok – before going to Kinabatangan
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Wonderful, tiny little sun bear!

It was a pleasant ride the whole way with active engagement and funny facts and encounters from the guides. Onward, to the real deal.

We stayed at a lodge along the Kinabatangan river. The stay, experience and meal are all inclusive, and we went out on boats 3 times a day.

We saw tons of proboscis monkey, macaws, hornbills, wild Orang Utan (believe it or not , it is not the easiest thing to spot in the wild !) , different species of birds, crocodiles and snakes hanging above our head during our boat tours, and more. Wild boars running around the lodge area, as well as tree frogs on our door frame.

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Wild boar alert ! found during lunch~

You can say the whole thing was pretty WILD, and we love it. (shame that we were a little too far from the pgymy elephants ūüôĀ but someday I might return! )

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Spotting reptiles and birds along the river
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Quick stop to enjoy birds flying around us with a cuppa and biscuits…7am in the morning~
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Dominant male Orang Utan spotted in the jungle. #raresight
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Proboscis monkey, Proboscis monkey everywhere!
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A lucky still of a speedy Kingfisher!
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Its brown, but its rich!
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A misty morning at the lodge.

#TravelTips : Mosquito repellent (obviously) and binocular is a must! Pack light, and forget about snacks – you will be well fed if you are on the tour!

It was an unforgettable, easy trip that went above my expectations, so long you aren’t bothered by wildlife, mosquitoes, and none-ACed room

#TravelTips : Sandakan have this really unique Seafood Bak Kut Teh, so I’ll definitely be back for that!

Price per adult : ~RM 1700 (3D2N itinerary)
For more adventures , check this out!

Cheers,
AdventureAlyvds

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Kota Kinabalu | Island hopping

My in-laws were in town for about 2 weeks. This time around, Stef and I would liked to show them the beauty of Malaysia. We have decided to do a trip to Kota Kinabalu for the islands, Sandakan for the wildlife, and Kuantan – my home sweet home for a quick stroll. #visitmalaysia

First stop: Singapore – Kota Kinabalu

It was easy to get around Kota Kinabalu, taxi was cheap – and getting to the islands are super convenient. We walk to the Jetty from our hotel ; and chose Sapi Island for day 1.

Sapi Island was beautiful. The boat ride was slightly disappointing looking at the amount of rubbish and plastic bottles along the way , but the island itself was beautiful with pristine water.

There wasn’t too many shades, and the bigger part of the island was closed off. However, the snorkeling experience was breath-taking.


Day 2 : We chose Manukan island, and the cost and time took to the island was similar ( #Traveltips : there are no set pricing for the boat rides, so prepare to negotiate slightly below ticket price if you wish )

Manukan island is slightly more touristy as there are resorts on the island with better facilities in general. The beaches are nice, and I personally preferred the private beach as it is more beautiful to snorkel in. (#Traveltips : Beware of sea urchins, they are big and everywhere)

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It was easy and relaxing if you are en route to something else like climbing the mount KK or wildlife spotting.

Boat ride : RM 25 per person
Snorkel set : RM 20 per set
Conservation fee : RM 30 (you can go multiple islands with it )

#TravelTips : Haggle! Costing of boat ride dependent on your negotiation skills, but it’s not too much anyway.

Love,
TrippinAlyvds

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A trip down under| Margaret River and around

Quick itinerary view : 3 days 2 nights out of Perth
Perth – Fremantle – Margaret River – Mandurah – Penguin Island – Airport

I personally am a beach bum, so our day trips to wrap up our vacation was without a doubt the easiest to plan. We drove from Perth towards Margaret River, passing through Fremantle market, and back to Mandurah the day after for ease of going back to the airport. We took our own pace, enjoying one beach after another, strolling through vineyards, and do practically nothing at all (the best kind of vacation).

On the way from Perth, we drove through Fremantle to the famous Fremantle market. Parking was easy to find around the Fremantle prison, and the market was very accessible. There are quite a number of eateries within the market, and we tried a number of them Рgood’ol Australian breakfast, Spanish, Korean, German, Turkish, and more.

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Paella
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Fried chicken, waffle and ice cream! (best breakfast combo)

On the shopping side, it was not as interesting as I’d imagine it to be (most of the items can be found anywhere around South East Asia at a cheaper price). Other than that, we enjoyed the food and fruits, strolling around and soaking in the busy market atmosphere, and head on to Margaret River.

The drive towards our hotel was great. It was scenic, and we could easily stop and look at the amazing coastline, and was extremely happy to arrive at our villa for the night. The beach is right outside our villa, and so secluded there’s almost no one at all except for some surfers in a distance.¬†

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Beach near our villa..
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Home for the night

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We wander around and found a gem! An amazing Thai restaurant called Chang Thai, fully ran by Thai staff, homey and delicious !

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Next day, we drove to some caves and a beach, and immerse ourselves in some fun before spending a night in Mandurah at Hamelin Bay. Apparently you are able to see Stingrays coming close to the beach, but can’t attest to that.

#TravelTips : Caution, drive slowly or cautiously!! We saw a kangaroo crossed the road and wow it was HUGE! 

For our final day, we drove over to Penguin Island to visit the wonderful penguins and sea lion. The boat trip was really pleasant, superbly calm that you can opt to walk across to the island ( yes, I meant WALK! ) if you want to.

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After seeing the penguins on the island, we got on the glass-bottomed boat to see the sea lions. Getting in touch with nature in close proximity was nice, it was superbly hot, and we manage to get through the whole boat tour in time for lunch and to the airport.

Perth, I’ll be back someday! =)

Cheers,
CrickeyAly

Check it out : http://penguinisland.com.au/
Cost of boat tour : $38.50 / adult ; $29.50 / child

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A trip down under | Sand-surfing, Lancelin

Remember when I said I have sand in my hair for the whole week? Here’s why!

There are quite a number of¬†sand dunes along our drive from lunch at Lobster Shack. It was definitely a great experience for us, even my parents enjoyed it! If you are sensible, it’s quite a safe sport for anyone (unless falling into soft sand hurts for you).

DSC00935It’s quite a sight, but the climb to the peak for a 10 -15 seconds slide down and lugging a slightly heavy board all the way up the hill is quite a task for someone who’s not as fit (I’m that someone).

DSC00965#FunTips : Rub the wax on the board vigorously for a smooth surf. You need it!

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#Traveltips 1 : The location is not super accurate on Google maps, so if you are lost, stop by at the entrance to the town – there will be a big signboard with a map that shows you where it is! (that’s how we did it)

#Traveltips 2 : You don’t have to rent the surfboard earlier in town. You can rent it from the guy at the entrance – same price, less hassle.

#Traveltips 3 : Please make sure you do not have anything in your pockets, jewelries, or anything you can easily loose. No way you can get in the sand like Uncle Scrooge with his mountain of coins.

 

Location :
Fee : AUD 10 per board for 2 hours ( more than enough time)

Sign off,
Sandy Alyvds

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A trip down under | Pinnacles Desert, Lake Thetis

Day 3: We drove up to the Pinnacles Desert, had some amazing lobsters, got sand in my hair for the next 7 days from the sand dunes, and checked out the wonder of stromatolites – all in a comfortable relaxing full day trip.

To start, the Pinnacles Desert was really a sight to behold within Nambung National Park. The drive towards it from the city was rather pleasant with impressive view of the white sand, sea, and Australian bushes (some burnt ones). We stopped at a few viewpoints, and stumble upon a wonderful empty beach as well. *Couldn’t resist the jump shot, mind me*

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The drive within Pinnacles was amazing. Thousands of limestone pillars of all shapes and sizes along the 4km drive. You may walk, and the official walking distance is 1.2km.  There is definitely tons of photo opportunities, and we can park your car at the side of the road wherever we feel like it ( pretty limited space but if you wait for a minute, people are usually done fairly quickly Рunless its a tour van! )

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IMAG5566 We went for a quick look at the Discovery Centre for a quick stop, and drove out to see the stromatolites at Lake Thetis before lunch.

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Straomatolites are layered rocks, created by single-celled microbes known as cyanobacteria over 3500 million years ago, in other words Рthe oldest living thing on earth. It is a wonderful view  but probably not worth going all the way for unless you are around the area.

All and all, we had a great half day here!

Sign off,
Alison

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A trip down under | Twilight Hawker’s market

In the evening, we visited the Twilight Hawker‚Äôs market. Twilight Hawkers‚Äô market features over 50 stalls (perhaps more?) that does every cuisine and dish imaginable. From Turkish to Thai, Greek to good ol’ burgers and desserts (honey cakes,gourmet marshmallows, gelato, and more!), this place was heavenly!

There was live music and the entire space smells incredible with a huge crawl of hungry people. It was definitely worth a visit looking that there is practically nothing to do besides eating out in Perth after 5pm, and we love food (obviously)!


 

Hotdog~
Hotdog~
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WassupDog stand
delicious Turkish Shaksuka ~
delicious Turkish Shaksuka ~
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Stef queuing at the Bratwurst Stand
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Vanilla Cr√®me br√Ľl√©e ~
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Marshmalloz stand~

 

#TravelTips : The only issue here is getting a decent place to sit – so be creative (get a mat or something)! Come via free intercity buses or train as parking might be slightly challenging too. Be hungry and bring lots of cash!

twilighthawkersmarket.com/

Location : Forrest Place, Perth WA 6000, Australia

Opens every Friday from 4.30pm – 9.30pm ( 16th October 2015 – 29th April 2016 only) *check their site for next year’s timing*

Sign off,
Alvds

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