My Own Travels
October 24, 2016

I’m so glad that we have finally settled down in our new home. The past couple of months were a bit crazy with all the constructions, shopping and home improvement stuff. Traveling has to take a back seat, too. This month, though, I am planning a trip to Tokyo for the whole family.

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It’s been more than 20 years since we last visited. I’m sure my twin granddaughters (aged 5) would be so excited to see Disneyland for the first time. They are all about princesses and they’d be so happy to see their favorite princesses, for sure. This is actually my treat for them for excelling in school.

This would also be my son’s first time to see Japan and he is super excited. We are planning to leave for the second week of November. I will definitely be posting a lot of photos.

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October 23, 2013

I have lived in Japan for about a year and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I love the food, the sites and the weather. The people are nice, honest and very disciplined. If you have plans of visiting The Land of The Rising Sun, here are the top places I would recommend you see.

Tokyo

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It’s the capital of Japan and this is where I lived for almost a year. Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world with more than 10 million people and one of the most expensive, too. What I love about Tokyo is you can find everything here. It’s like New York City in Asia where there is a little of everything. Try going to Ginza on a Sunday and it’s like you’re in Paris. The main road is closed and there are tables outside the shops where you can eat, have coffee or simply enjoy sitting and watching people. Roppongi, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku are the most popular places to visit in Tokyo.

Kyoto

Otani Mausoleum, Kyoto

It’s a shame that I have lived in Japan for almost a year but I have never visited this enchanting place. I have heard so much about the place and I really regret not going there. But if you’re really interested in knowing about Japan’s real culture it’s origin, visit Kyoto. They say you can still feel the old Japanese atmosphere when you are in the city and it’s here where you can find plenty of shrines, temples, and other historical monuments.

Osaka

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If great food is what you are after, go to Osaka. The second biggest city in Japan is well-known as a business city and Japanese cuisine. You will feel more relaxed here because of its downtown atmosphere. Tokyo is more sophisticated and fast-paced, Osaka has  slower life and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Okinawa

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A city that doesn’t look like Japan at all. The culture, custom, ideology and even the people are different because it used to be an independent kingdom. Plus, it was ruled by the US until 1972 so you can see a unique mix of cultures. Weather here is like in the tropics so you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and the natural parks any time of the year.

Fukuoka

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Never been to Fukuoka but among all the beautiful cities in Japan, they say this is the most relaxed cities to live in. It has a lot of shopping malls and if you love Ramen, Fukuoka has the best Ramen noodle in the country.

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July 25, 2013

While Bali may be well known for its partying, the island has plenty of spots that are perfect for chilling out and relaxing while the world goes by. Bali is home to plenty of spas and other low key alternatives that will leave you wishing you could never leave. With the island being relatively cheap, you can receive a pampering for as little as 20,000 rupiah.

The low cost of such a relaxing holiday only adds to how chilled out you will find yourself. If you are going on holiday here, book your flight to Bali at cheapflights.com.au.

Air Panas Banjar

These hot springs seep into a series of pools surrounded by some lush tropical plants and trees. Head up to the top set of pools where you can enjoy the views while soaking in waters. Alternatively, you can let the waters falling into the lower pools give you a pummelling massage then relax on the banks of the springs.

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Lovina

The polar opposite to the partying destination of Kuta, Lovina is relaxed, low key and low rise. The beaches here are blessed with calm seas and you can get a variety of Balinese or Ayvurveda treatments in the quaint, simple and soothing surroundings.

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Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan is still undiscovered by many of the tourists who come to Bali. The area is blessed with quiet, white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and plenty of simple but striking accommodation that sit right by the beach front.

Sitting in front of your beach bungalow and taking in the beautiful sun sets gives you the chance to find your inner peace amongst the serene settings.

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Jari Menari

Head over to the Seminyak area and search out arguably the best spa on the entire island. Decorated with numerous awards, the Jari Menari is always in popular demand during low and high season. The name of the spa means ‘dancing fingers’ and the all male staff utilise techniques that focus on rhythm to give you a soothing and relaxing experience.

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Jamu Spa

The Jamu Spa is part of the AlamKulKul Boutique Resort and is open to people who are not guests to the hotel. Once you are in the spa, you will be treated to some indoor massage rooms that open up to look over the pretty garden courtyard and there are plenty of packages on offer.

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The Jamu Spa is also unique in the fact that it offers you the chance to enjoy treatments involving the use of tropical nuts, coconuts and papayas that are usually part of a fragment bath that you can soak your skin in.

Mandara Spa

This spa is part of the Hotel Padma Bali and is often fully booked due to its great location and popularity. The Mandara Spa is decorated with some delightful water features and impressive stone sculptural reliefs that you can gaze at as you receive one their amazing massages.

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February 28, 2013

Often referred to as the “Venice of the East,” China’s ancient water towns are slowly becoming popular destinations among travelers. Life in these towns has not changed in centuries and their ancient buildings, bridges and canals reflect the traditions preserved among its population. They have retained a genuine sense of antiquity where time seems to have stood still and where visitors can still experience the folk culture of Southeastern China. It is easy to understand why these tours are so popular because life in these towns is still steeped in tradition and so laid-back. They are picturesque and not so crowded which makes them perfect getaways from the hustle and bustle of everyday living.

Zhouzhuang

One of the most famous of the water towns in the Yangtze River Delta is Zhouzhuang, a quaint town in Kunshan City, 30kms from Suzhou and 60kms from Shanghai in Jiangsu. It is a cluster of ancient towns that has been around since 1086 AD. Most of the town’s buildings were built during the Ming (1368-1911) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties and occupies an area of a little more than half a square kilometer. They town features flagstones that lead to quiet lanes and bridges that allow the inhabitants to traverse through the rivers that run through the town. All in all, there are 14 bridges across the town which is built in many different styles that allow a perfect view of the water town. The Twin Bridges is the most famous among them and is considered a symbol of the town itself. Ancient houses, fields and twisting lanes add to the charm of this unique water town.

image source: chineseculture.about.com

image source: chineseculture.about.com

The entrance to Zhouzhuang

image source: chineseculture.about.com

image source: chineseculture.about.com

The famous double bridge of Zhouzhuang built around 1573 – 1619

Wuzhen

Wushen is likely to be the most preserved among the ancient water towns of China. It is said that more than 81% of its architecture dates back to ancient times. Wushen translates to “Black Town,” which describes the decorated archways of the town which are all in black. Located south of the Yangtze, 17kms north of Tongxian City, it displays two thousand years of its cultural history in its stone bridges, polished stone pathways and antique buildings. The town is 2kms long and is divided into 6 districts, a feature that makes it unique among the ancient towns of China. The 6 districts are namely: Traditional Workshop District, Traditional Local Dwellings District, Traditional Culture District, Traditional Food District, Customs District, and the Traditional Shopping District. To preserve the traditional atmosphere of this antiquated town, all the houses beside the road are closed to tourists except for a few that are commercial establishments which cater to tourists in particular. The serenity afforded by lingering in its stone paths or boating around its water networks in addition to the subtle beauty of the town makes Wuzhen a popular tourist destination that is well worth the visit. It has also been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.

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The Yin Family bridge of Wuzhen

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A view of the water town of Wuzhen

Xitang

To the north of Jiashan County in the province of Zhejiang lies the ancient town of Xitang which dates back to the Warring States Period (476 BC to 221 BC). It is famous for its ancient covered corridors and numerous lanes and bridges. It has a lot of ancient buildings which date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Over a thousand meters long, the tile-covered corridors of Xitang protect the population from the scorching sun or the torrential rain. Tourists flock to this ancient town to watch the passing boats on the canal comfortably, protected from the sun or the rains that may be affecting the town. The 122 lanes in various sizes and lengths are also among the reasons why this antique town is popular to tourists. Among the lanes, Shipi is the most famous and most-visited. The antique buildings that are well-preserved also draw in tourists from all over the world.

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Xitang is home to about 500 button factories which is why the Button Museum, shown here, was built to showcase more than 1000 kinds of buttons from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 BC) to the present

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One of the covered corridors of Xitang

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One of the antique buildings of Xitang

Tongli

Occupying an area of 51 sq miles, Tongli is a town within Jiangsu Province. The city is separated into seven islets by 15 rivers which are connected by 49 bridges. Established during the Song Dynasty, the town has a history of over a thousand years. The houses, gardens and temples within the confines of the town were built during the Ming and Qing dynasty and foremost among its antique buildings is the Jiayin Hall built in 1922. Another antique building known as the Congben Hall was built in 1911. Both halls are famous for their well-preserved carvings of traditional figures from Chinese history. The symbol of the city is its three foremost bridges known as Taiping (peace), Jili (luck) and Changqing (celebration) bridges. Among its gardens, Tuisi Garden is the most traditional one which is said to have been built in 1885 to 1887 by Ren Langsheng, a former imperial scholar.

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Shown here is just one of the many rivers crisscrossing the town of Tongli which is a reason why the town is also called the “Water City”

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Two of the many bridges in Tongli

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February 10, 2013

Top travel magazine Travel + Leisure recently named Boracay as the 5th most romantic island in the world, topped only by Bora-Bora in Tahiti, Capri in Italy, Santorini in Greece and Kauai in Hawaii, all well-established tourist destinations. Amazingly, Boracay even topped the world-renowned islands of the Maldives. Since we are less than a week away from Valentine’s Day, it is a good idea to re-visit the beautiful island which is already a favorite tourist destination this side of the world.

image source: boracayonline.com

image source: boracayonline.com

image source: boracayitalianresort.com

image source: boracayitalianresort.com

Not too long ago, Boracay was the typical backpacker’s haven but it has become a favorite destination of both local and international tourists. Establishments now mushroom all over the bone-shaped island and has established itself as a cosmopolitan tourist spot. Despite its often congested shores, the romance of the island is not lost to couples and very recently, the Philippines’ Department of Tourism came out with an ad capitalizing on the romantic charm of Boracay by showing a couple on the powder-fine shores of the island where the male is obviously proposing to the female. Resorts around the island have set menus for couple, a testament to the fact that an endless string of lovers flock to the island at any given day because of the island’s reputation as a romantic paradise. Resorts even offer couples massages at their spas.

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Its famous white beach, which boasts of the softest sand in the world, is home to establishments which offer a sufficient variety of services for the entertainment of visitors to the island. Good food, music all around, cozy hotels and romantic stays are just some of the things visitors to the island keep on coming back to. Many couples have used the beautiful sunset of the island as a backdrop for their wedding. Check out the many photos you can find on the internet of couples posting their wedding pictures for posterity where the beaches of Boracay are the location for the all-important event. The pristine blue waters of the island are just more icing on the cake, so to speak. And to top it all, Boracay has also earned the reputation as being a top party destination this side of the planet. It certainly will be a great getaway this coming Valentine’s day.

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