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Wunmanang

Your manang's thoughts & sojourns spewed into words.

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The Beauty of Ayutthaya Ruins, Thailand

4/07/2017
Aside from the mouthwatering coconut ice cream that we've devoured under the scorching heat of the sun, it's the Buddha head burrowed in the tree roots of Wat Mahathat Temple that really fascinated me during my visit in Ayutthaya, Thailand. It was remarkable. The idea of how it got there was unimaginable.

This particular site in the Ayutthaya Historical Park is sacred. It cannot be touched and can only be photographed from a kneeling position. One must be in the same level of the Buddha head when taking photos of it. Literally, it cannot be looked down upon.

Wat MahaThat Ayutthaya Thailand

Ayutthaya is the stunning ancient capital of Thailand. Unfortunately, the Burmese army destroyed it in the 18th century. The historic city of Ayutthaya is considered one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Now, the ruins of the old city characterized by its impressive stonework and gigantic monasteries give visitors a sense of what Thailand was like in the past.

ayutthaya ruins Thailand
ayutthaya ruins Thailand
ayutthaya ruins Thailand
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park


HOW TO GET TO AYUTTHAYA HISTORICAL PARK?


The Ayutthaya Historical Park is located on an island surrounded by three rivers, including the popular Chao Phraya River. From Bangkok, one can get to Ayutthaya via train, bus, van or chartered taxi. But I must say that the most comfortable way to go there would be via boat! We've availed the Ayutthaya Grand Pearl River Cruise Tour to get there and didn't regret a thing.

Try it too! Visit the World Heritage City of Ayutthaya and sail back to Bangkok along famous Chao Phraya River on a Grand Pearl cruise ship.

[KLOOK REVIEW] The Most Reliable Travel Booking App

3/29/2017
Affordable.
Seamless & safe booking.
Skip long queues via mobile vouchers.

These are the reasons why I love the Klook App so much.

KLOOK is a one-stop shop for booking travel experiences online. It is a Hong Kong-based company that offers discounted travel activities across Asia and other countries. It connects DIY travelers to the most exciting activities in just a few taps or clicks on the computer or phone at the best possible rates.

Klook is my go-to app for booking attraction tickets and day trips abroad. Before commencing any trip, I always make sure to prepare the itinerary in advance and compare attraction prices from direct providers and Klook. And guess what? Klook always comes out to be the most affordable.

I've booked most of our day trips and attractions tickets trough Klook and I've never been happier with the amount of time and money saved by purchasing through Klook.

klook review
klook reviews

Here are just some of the activities we've booked trough Klook:


KLOOK Universal Studios Singapore


To celebrate mother's day last year, I treated mom for an SG trip. I've purchased Universal Studios Singapore tickets in advance through Klook for US$44 per person instead of  US$55 at the actual park. That's US$11 saved! I've paid through Paypal and got the e-tickets instantly (received via email). We've also saved time by going directly to the turnstile for entry (we have skipped the long queue at the ticket booth).


Klook review
Klook review singapore


KLOOK Gardens by the Bay - Singapore


Another Singapore attraction we've visited is the beautiful Gardens by the Bay. I've paid US$16 instead of US$20 to get access to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. That's US$4 saved through Klook!


Klook review singapore


KLOOK Ayutthaya Grand Pearl River Cruise Tour - Thailand


For this year's travel, we have booked the Ayutthaya Grand Pearl River Cruise Tour (Bang Pa-In, Summer Palace of King Rama V and Ayutthaya with a lunch buffet on Grand Pearl Cruise Liner) for US$58 instead of US$71 through Klook. That's US$13 savings!



Klook review thailand


KLOOK Hong Kong Disneyland


Last year, we've enjoyed Hong Kong Disneyland for HKD548 instead of  HKD589 by booking through Klook! We've saved HKD41! It's Klook's number one best seller! 



Klook review hong kong


KLOOK Hong Kong Ngong Ping 360


Also, we've tried the nerve-racking Hong Kong Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car ride for HKD229 instead of HKD255 through Klook. That's HKD26 in savings!

Klook review hong kong
Klook review hong kong



IS KLOOK RELIABLE?


Yes, it's the most affordable and reliable travel booking app that I've used so far. I've booked through Klook for so many times already and I haven't encountered any troubles. From choosing my desired attractions to purchasing the ticket, it's hassle free. I usually pay via Paypal, but they also accept major credit cards worldwide. Plus, we got to have extra discounts as Klook occasionally sends out Klook coupons. One of which is the Klook Visa Promo Code where you can get up to 75% OFF selected activities in Klook using your VISA card as a payment method. For Klook mobile app users, you can also enjoy US$1.3 OFF your first mobile app booking using Klook promo code MOBILE10. 

What more can a traveler ask for? Klook has provided us the convenience in booking our transport and travel needs in just a few taps. I highly recommend it. 


klook reviews

Chasing Doves and Monkeys at Batu Caves, Malaysia

3/19/2017
batu caves selangor malaysia

Serene.
Mystical.
Gigantic.

That's how I pictured Batu Caves in my head when we're on our way to Selangor, Malaysia.

It was the second day of our Southeast Asia backpacking trip and we've decided to have a quick stroll at Batu caves before heading to Myanmar.

Batu Caves is one of the most popular Hindu shrines located in the north of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. It features a large statue of Lord Murugan beside a steep stair and several Hindu temples. Every year, thousands of devotees visit this sacred site to celebrate Thaipusam, a Hindu festival.

Batu Caves can be reached through a 30-min train ride from KL Central. But for convenience, we've just decided to book an uber ride from our accommodation (Bintang Warisan Hotel) straight to Batu caves. And right after finishing a playlist of around 7-8 songs, we've finally arrived. It was a just quick ride. And a very relaxed one.


THE STATUE OF LORD MURUGAN


Batu Caves is best known for the giant golden statue of Lord Murugan that stands radiantly beside the 272-step concrete stairs of the cave. It is the tallest Hindu god statue in Malaysia and the second tallest Hindu god statue in the world.

A visual treat of this majestic statue welcomed us upon arrival. What we didn't know is that there's another welcoming committee waiting for us on the site.

batu caves lord murugan malaysia
batu caves malaysia


THE DOVES & MONKEYS OF BATU CAVES, MALAYSIA


Surprisingly, we were welcomed by flocks of doves and were ushered by monkeys on our way up the 272-step staircase of Batu Caves, Malaysia.

batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia


There are lots of doves flying around the site and they were actually nice to look at. You can easily bypass them by going directly to the spot where the large statue stands. What's impossible to ignore are the monkeys who seem to have been waiting for some action and snacks.

Batu caves is swarmed with monkeys. They are basically everywhere, on the foot of the cave, on the stairs, swinging on rails and playfully chasing each other around. They come up to people for food but thankfully they do not attack. They are only triggered to snatch if they see you carrying food in your hands. If they see none, then they'd leave you alone. So it's best to not feed those little ones.

batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia

Despite the chaotic vibe brought by the playful and quite troublesome monkeys, the journey to the cave was actually not that tough. There's a great view waiting on the top. Inside the cave, we've found several praying temples and another stairway up. There were some Indian pilgrims performing rituals, it was a beautiful act. We saw how religiously devoted they are to their faith.

Truly, Batu Caves is a majestic place of worship where nature and religion meet, a place definitely worth a trip.

batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia

Myanmar at a Glance

2/17/2017
Bagan Sunrise, Myanmar

Golden.
Hospitable.
Unassumingly beautiful.

These words barely describe our travel experience in Myanmar. One needs to physically go there to actually make sense of the place. We have allotted 5 days to explore its two cities, Yangon and Bagan, and it was definitely nothing short of awesome. From its temples, accommodation, food, clothing, to meeting its people, it was a totally different experience.


PEOPLE OF MYANMAR


Myanmar is golden. Not only because of its multitude golden pagodas but mainly because of its people. They are kind. We have not encountered even a single rude Burmese. They are not fluent in English but you can feel that they try their best to communicate and they are exceptionally helpful.

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar


DRESSING UP IN MYANMAR 


The majority of people, even men, wear Longyis in Myanmar. Longyi is a traditional piece of cloth that gets wrapped around the waist, like a sarong or malong. People visiting temples in Myanmar are required to cover up their knees so one needs to wear a longyi. I actually enjoyed wearing one! Pants and skirts are also allowed as long as they're below the knee.

Longyi Myanmar
Exploring Bagan Myanmar
Longyi Myanmar



EXPLORING TEMPLES IN BAGAN, MYANMAR


Bagan is home to thousands of temples in Myanmar. It has a remarkable array of pagodas in all forms and sizes.

Exploring Bagan can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many temples. There is so much to see but basically not enough time. But one doesn't need to see all. A visit to few interesting temples will get you satisfied.

Bagan temples Myanmar
Bagan temples Myanmar
Bagan temples Myanmar
Bagan temples Myanmar
Exploring Bagan temples in Myanmar
Exploring Bagan temples in Myanmar

There are lots of ways to explore Bagan. You can explore by car, horse cart, bicycle, e-bike or by foot. Riding an e-bike is the best way to go, IF AND ONLY IF you know how to use it properly. If not then don't take the risk. We saw some western tourists on e-bikes and they had difficulties navigating the road. We also saw someone drive out of control and crashed some parked e-bikes outside a temple, good thing no one got hurt. It's best to use an e-bike if you really know how to drive but if not, then don't risk it and just find another way to explore the area.

We requested Sky View to arranged our Bagan tour via car and didn't regret it. Our driver cum guide was informative and took us to the most interesting temples and places in Bagan. It was tiring but we had so much fun.

TIP: Bring plenty of sunscreen and water as it can get hot and dusty in Bagan. Also, wear slippers or sandals (easier to take on & off) because footwear is not allowed inside the temples of Bagan.


SUNRISE & SUNSET IN BAGAN


The most spectacular moments in Bagan happen when the sun rises and sets. Make sure you don't miss that.

I can't recommend a particular viewing point as I honestly don't remember the names of the temples we've gone to (they were so many). Even the view from our hotel rooftop was so good. What more if you're atop those beautiful pagodas?

Bagan Sunrise, Myanmar
Bagan Sunrise, Myanmar
Bagan Sunset, Myanmar


ACCOMMODATION IN MYANMAR 


We stayed in Winner Inn Yangon for a night & three wonderful nights in Sky View Hotel Bagan. These are budget accommodations but the amenities and services are great. Myanmar accommodations generally have lower prices than the hotels in PH and other Southeast Asian countries so staying in Myanmar won't break the bank.

One thing I didn't expect to see in Myanmar is its wide carpet flooring. I haven't seen carpets used so abundantly until I've set foot in Myanmar. Myanmar seems to be fond of carpet flooring. From the floors of Yangon International Airport to the floors of our room accommodations in Myanmar, they are all carpeted!

Aside from that, the reception in Myanmar is also great. They really provide impeccable service to their guests. From arranging custom tours, getting a ride, and to suggesting good dining places, they are all very keen on making sure that we have a comfortable stay.

Yangon International Airport


GETTING TO MYANMAR


There are no direct flights from the Philippines to Myanmar. One has to go to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Singapore and take another flight to get to Myanmar.

We availed AirAsia's ASEAN PASS and booked a flight to Myanmar via Kuala Lumpur. We also used it to book for flights to Bangkok & Singapore. A cheaper option for backpacking Southeast Asia.

BUS FROM YANGON TO BAGAN


Traveling by bus is the most common way to get around Myanmar, especially if your destination is Bagan. Travel time from Yangon to Bagan is approximately 8 hours.

Tickets are available at bus stations or arranged by your hotel reception, but it is recommended to book early for the major routes such as Yangon to Bagan, Mandalay or Inle Lake. I did an advance booking with JJ Express for a night trip to Bagan via their FB page. They were accommodating enough and reserved us 2 tickets from Yangon to Bagan. The travel from Yangon to Bagan was quite an adventure. Blankets, bottled water, and pastries were provided and a mini tv was available in each seat. It was a comfortable night journey.

jj express bus yangon to bagan
jj express bus yangon to bagan
yangon to bagan bus



MYANMAR VISA

Entry to Myanmar needs a travel visa. But there is an exemption for passports holders from the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Brunei. We can enter Myanmar without a visa and stay for up to 14 days. For Singaporeans, they can stay up to 30 days.


AFTERTHOUGHTS


Myanmar is a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern cities. It is unhurried. It exudes an innocent and unpolluted vibe. It is still developing and it isn't perfect. But it's refreshing to see a country with a culture so rich but remains so grounded at the same time. Witnessing a glimpse of Myanmar is surely an experience I will treasure for a lifetime.

Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan temples, Myanmar

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