Travelogue

Hiking Love Valley and Rose/Red Valley in Cappadocia

Hiking Love Valley and Rose/Red Valley in Cappadocia

Cappaddocia’s lunar landscape was such a haven for hiking enthusiasts like us! Due to time constraint, we had to choose which valley to hike and we settled on Love Valley and Rose/Red Valley. We had absolutely no regrets and both valleys were extremely gorgeous!

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We started off our hike with Love Valley which was very easily accessible from Goreme itself. The moment we entered the Love Valley, we understood how its name came about. Just look at this huge interesting rock structures that resembles…..an intimate part of the male. Haha. There were like 100 of these structures of different sizes and shapes! It was such an interesting experience hiking in Love Valley!

Tip: For beginner hikers or families with young children, Love Valley would be a great place!

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What a nice view of……cute mushroom rock structures!

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There is also a hut for you to rest mid way while hiking at the Love Valley.DCIM103GOPRO

From the Love Valley, you can continue on trekking towards the Red/Rose Valley. It took us around 6 hours to complete  both Love Valley and Rose Valley. It forms a nice loop back to Goreme.

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The famous 3 Sisters Rock

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The ever gorgeous Rose Valley, check out the beautiful varying colour tones of sedimentary rock!

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We really enjoyed hiking the Rose/Red Valley as there were so many interesting caves to explore! Some caves had a really nice carved interior, probably used to be a church in the past.

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Oh and fun fact of the day, we met this 70 years old man from China and his stamina was UH-MAZING! We met him when we were resting mid way at Love Valley and he decided to join us for Red/Rose Valley. The directional signs weren’t clear and all he had was his paper map! It was kinda embarrassing when he walked upslope faster than us and he did not even appear tired!

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Towards the evening, one if the best things ever happened to us! Suddenly we heard this loud airy sound and when we turned around, we were greeted by huge hot air balloons rising gracefully right in front of our eyes!

Tip: Start your trek around mid day from Love Valley and hike towards Rose Valley. Towards the end of Rose Valley, you will be able to see hot air balloons rising!

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No wonder people say that Turkey is one of the best places to take a hot air balloon ride. Unfortunately we weren’t blessed with good weather when it was our turn to take the ride 🙁

Tip: Taking the hot air balloon in Cappadocia is highly recommended!

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Ending our trek with a breathtaking view of the hot air balloons rising over Cappadocia

Overall, we really enjoyed hiking in the valleys of Cappadocia! We just wished we had more time to explore all of the other valleys as well. Furthermore, it’s free! 🙂 Definitely a must do if you’re thinking of heading to Cappadocia!

 

10 Reasons Why You Should Travel to Myanmar Now

10 Reasons Why You Should Travel to Myanmar Now

We’ve covered almost the whole of South East Asia and our favourite is still Myanmar. There’s just something so pure and pristine about this beautiful country that it’s hard to describe in words. You have to travel to Myanmar to understand what we’re talking about.

1. Enjoy the most amazing sunrise/sunset ever

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Sunset at Ubein Bridge in Mandalay. Where else can you enjoy a sunset as gorgeous as this?!

2. Burmese are the friendliest and most genuine people ever

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With the sweet burmese girls that we made friends with in Mandalay

3. The best place for a hot air balloon ride

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Yes it’s commercialised, but hey, look at the view! It’s unbeatable!

4. Experience the most authentic village trek and homestay

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Village trek and homestay in Hsipaw

5. Challenge yourself and ride the highest railway ever in SEA

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On board the Goteik Viaduct, the highest railway train in SEA. Most nerve wrecking 2 min ever!

6. Be awed by the splendid Burmese architecture

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Temple in Mandalay

7. Explore Yangon via the local 3 hr train ride for $1 only!

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Most value for money activity! Hop off any station and continue exploring!

8. It goes easy on your pocket

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There are so many things to do in Myanmar that don’t require a single cent

9. Immerse yourself in the local Burmese culture

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A traditional ceremony where the young boys become monks

10. So if not now, then when?!

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What are you waiting for? Hope this post managed to inspire you to travel to Myanmar next!

Why You Should Travel Off The Beaten Path In Turkey

Why You Should Travel Off The Beaten Path In Turkey

Turkey has always been a top travellers’ destination, but most have only been to the more popular places like Cappadocia, Esphesus, Pammukale, etc. Those places are beautiful too, but hey, the eastern side of Turkey is also extremely picturesque and maybe even more appealing due to the void of tourists. Here’s why you should travel the off beaten path in Turkey.

Here’s a map showing the places that people don’t usually travel to in Turkey. But to us, they’re places worth going if you can spare the time!

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The eerie ruins of Ani, the ancient capital of Armenia

Ani at Kars used to be the Capital of Armenia more than 1,000 years ago and it was also known as the “City of a Thousand Churches”! The vast history and significance of this place is incredible and profound. It was such an intense moment for us when we traipsed through the remnants of this once bustling city, imagining how it would have looked like during its heyday and glory.

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The grand Ishak Pasha Palace of Dogubayazit

This palace literally took our breath away the moment we caught sight of it. It was so beautiful! This palace is also a great example of exquisite Ottoman architecture.

Tip: Hitch a ride to the top and walk down after you’re done! 

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Celebrating Newroz in Van & Diyarbakir

Newroz is a traditional new year celebration of the Kurds which falls on the first day of Spring. We were walking towards the castle in Van when suddenly a colourful crowd of people decked mostly in the 3 primary colours, red, green and yellow, started running in the opposite direction from us. Thankfully a kind soul filled us in on what was happening and we could barely contain our excitement! It was our first time experiencing such a celebration and we decided to busk in the joy and fun with them!

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Explore the canyons of Hasankeyf before it gets flooded

This pretty town has quite a sad fate actually as it’s supposed to be entirely flooded by the Llisu Dam in 2016. Really pity the villagers living there as they would have to shift out and find themselves a new home. So visit this beautiful town while you still can before it vanishes!

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Marvel at the beehive houses of Harran

Harran is supposedly one of the oldest inhabited spots in the world and till date there are still people living here! The trademark of this place would be its beehive houses which are where the people live in. The conical shaped roofs led to its name and the reason behind it was that there used to be a shortage  of wood and hence they had to use mud to make bricks to form their roofs. Also because there were plenty of reusable bricks from the ruins nearby.

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Trek Mt Nemrut to witness the life size royal tomb statues

The summit of Nemrut that you see in the photo below was actually man made! It was believed that the pre Roman local king ordered his men to build this small hill above his tomb where he was buried and to surround his tomb with life size statues to protect his tomb. Click here to read our full experience on hiking Mt Nemrut in winter!

Tip: I suffered from snow glare after this trek (meaning my eye balls got sun burnt). Wear sunglasses when trekking on snow!

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The surreal view of the “suspended” castle at Kizkalesi

This place really felt like a dream, imagine walking out towards the sea and witness the “floating castle'” which looks like it’s suspended in the middle of the sea! Where else can you get a view like this? You could actually rent this dolphin-like boat where you sort of pedal yourself to the castle which is only about 300m away. Well, we didn’t have the time as it was getting late already. So we we’re not really sure how it looks like from inside, but the view from the shore is already a killer!

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The other highlight in Kizkalesi is the Cave of Heaven and Hell. The photo below was taken inside the Chasm of Heaven. The only reason why they linked it to “Heaven” was because of the Chapel of Virgin Mary that was constructed right outside the cave. This cave as huge and it was quite fun exploring it. When we first entered, the lights weren’t turned on and it was almost pitch dark! The entire cave was about 200m long, 900m wide and 70m deep!

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And here is the Cave of Hell which you can’t go down to. It’s basically this huge sinkhole that has been created over the years by a passing river.

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The ancient ruins of the once thriving Anemurium City

This ancient city in Anamur existed back in the Hellenistic period (more than 2,000 years ago) and one can only imagine how this place must have been like back in its hey day glory! Despite being hit by several earthquakes, this place is still quite well preserved. Till date you could still see remnants of bath houses, a Roman theatre and some other buildings.

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The whirling dervishes of Konya

One of our most unforgettable moments of Turkey was witnessing the whirling dervishes of Konya in action. This was part of the Mevlevi worship ceremomy (also known as the sema) which is a ritual dance where the devotees were connecting with God. Apparently the most authentic and original sema is at Konya and it is free of charge at Konya’s Mevlana Cultural centre, every Sat at 7pm. We know that places like Istanbul charge a pretty hefty fee for the sema performances.

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Hopefully the above post is enough to inspire you to want to explore the less beaten paths of eastern Turkey!

 

Manukan Island – the ‘Maldives’ of Southeast Asia

Manukan Island – the ‘Maldives’ of Southeast Asia

For those beach lovers looking for a weekend getaway, look no further than your neighbouring country! White soft sands, crystal clear azure waters, gorgeous villas, the perfect relaxation beach holiday for you!

Easy to get there

There’s a direct flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu City and it only takes a 10 minutes ferry ride from the city to get to Manukan Island! As compared to some other islands, you have to take a 8-10 hours bus ride just to get there!

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Short 10 minutes ferry ride from the city to the island!

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Upon arrival, get greeted by paradise!

Delicious food that satisfies your taste buds

You can have your lunch at the BBQ buffet which serves really good grilled lamb, satay and even crab!

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Dinner was really good too! We dined at the restaurant that was next to the place where we had our BBQ lunch. The beef rendang here was really tender and tasty!

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The beef rendang is highly recommended!

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Buffet breakfast with a wide variety of choices.

Enjoy the luxury of your double storey dream villa

We were super impressed the moment we entered the villa, it was much larger than we expected! Although we only stayed 1 night here, we felt rejuvenated and well-rested. All ready and revved up to carry on the rest of our adventure in Sabah 🙂

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View of our villa at night

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First up, the living room!

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The really spacious toilet which comes with a personal jacuzzi!

We honestly had one of our best sleeps here! Especially when we just finished climbing Mt. Trusmadi, this sleep was really well needed.

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Extremely soft and comfy bed with so many pillows!

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The beautiful sea view right straight from our room’s balcony

Feast your eyes on the gorgeous sunset at the island

You have to hike a short 30-45 minutes to get to the sunset viewing point. Definitely worth the walk! 🙂

Tip: It’s a must to bring insect repellent if you’re planning to do this hike! Mosquitoes are desperate here! Daniel got bitten like crazy!

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Enjoying the sunset view at Manukan Island!

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Pretty clouds pattern formation around the beautiful sunset

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If you’re more daring, you can even climb down the rocks to get a different view! We didn’t bother to, but well, this family here definitely seem to be enjoying themselves.

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Enjoy the peace and quiet at your villa’s private beach

For residents staying at the villa, you’ll get to enjoy your own private beach. Quite a delight actually, considering that there are plenty of day-trippers but they will be at the other side of the beach.

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Peace and quiet at our own private beach!

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Night view of the beach

Plenty of beach activities for everyone to enjoy

You can choose to snorkel, dive, helmet diving, island hop or simply just relax at the beach and enjoy the sea breeze!

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Overall, we highly recommend Manukan Island to anyone who’s looking for a nearby beach getaway that’s not too commercialised. This is also a great place to rejuvenate yourselves especially for those that have just completed an intensive climb like Mt Kinabalu or Mt Trusmadi.

Essential information

How to get here
Direct flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu and then take a ferry (10 mins only) from either Jesselton Point or Sutra Harbour.

Where we stayed at
Manukan Island Resort, we stayed in the Hill Side Villa.

However if you prefer a fuss free experience, you can consider booking your package with Amazing Borneo and they will be able to help you book everything from the ferry tickets, accommodation, meals to activities. 

Which is your favourite nearby beach getaway? Share with us in the comments below!

Exploring Pulau Tiga, the Survivor Island

Exploring Pulau Tiga, the Survivor Island

Some of you might find this place familiar, because this was the exact same place that was used to film the first series of the Survivor tv show! So anyway, this place was quite a good breakaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here are our recommended things to do in Pulau Tiga, the Survivor Island!

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Will we survive the night….?

Hunt for the deadliest and most venomous snakes (not kidding)

So when our guide told us that we’ll be searching for the most venomous snake ever, I really thought he was kidding! But, nope. He was for real.

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Apparently we were searching for the Banded Sea Krait snake and they love to hide amongst the rocks near the sea. So that was where we were heading to…

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And we found it! Hidden in between 2 huge rocks. But according to our guide, these snakes were deadly but not aggressive. As long as you do not provoke it, you will be safe. We were considered quite lucky as we saw not 1 but almost 5 snakes in total! All in different locations of course.

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Deadly and extremely venomous Banded Sea Krait snake spotted!

Island hop and snorkel amongst the colourful corals and fishes

After checking out the scary snakes, we proceeded to snorkel in the beautiful clear blue waters nearby and it was amazing! So many colourful fishes!

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few seconds free diving! heheh

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Pamper yourself with a natural volcanic mud ‘spa’

Okay, this was definitely the highlight of Pulau Tiga! Omg, now we really understand why elephants or buffalos love rolling in mud so much. haha. It was such great fun! Because the mud was of a much higher density, we could easily float in it and not having to worry about sinking! Well, some of the locals say that the mud is really good for your face! And so….we coated a layer of mud mask on our face. haha

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Au naturel volcanic mud SPA!

Once you’re done having fun with the mud, it’s time to rinse it off in the sea!

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Artistic shot of us heading to the sea to rinse off all the mud!

It takes around 20 minutes to walk from the volcanic mud place to the sea. So by then, the mud on your body would have dried up and it does feel slightly uncomfortable. But once you jump into the sea, it feels so good! And the mud rinses off easily!

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The before shot

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The after shot! Shiok! Mud free us! Clean and nice 🙂

Chill and enjoy the buffet meals

Lunch and dinner will be provided if you stay a night at the Pulau Tiga resort. And we must say, the food was really not bad at all! We were quite impressed with the spread and looked forward the the meals!

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Anyway, here are some pictures of our accommodation at Pulau Tiga. Pretty basic but decent. Very spacious in fact and it was quite funny watching the monkeys from our window.

Tip: Never leave your windows/door open when you leave your room! The mischievous monkeys will enter your room and you don’t know what they’ll do with your belongings! 

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Basic but decent accommodation at Pulau Tiga

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The interior of our room at Pulau Tiga

Essential Information

We booked our tour with Amazing Borneo where they helped us coordinate the land transfer, ferry ticket bookings, accommodation and activities. It’s quite hard to do this on your own as the ferry is around 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu city. From the ferry terminal, it takes only about 30 mins to reach Pulau Tiga island!

Have you been to Pulau Tiga before? What do you of this place as a nearby getaway destination for Singaporeans? Share with us your comments below!

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Our 1 Year Travel

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Our 1 Year Travel

After our return from our 1 year travel ‘Footprints Across Asia‘, we were bombarded by a slew of questions from our friends, family members and readers. So we decided to collate all the most commonly asked questions into this post for those that are curious 🙂

1. What was our most dangerous moment?

Our most risky situation was probably when we went on an unguided trek in Kyrgyzstan and it started to snow really heavily. We could hardly see clearly with the snow constantly hitting against our eyes and face! We really thought we wouldn’t be able to make it to our end point, but well, we were kinda of stuck in the middle and there was no turning back.

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Trekking unguided in a blizzard in Kyrgyzstan – Checked!

Actually the real danger was not the blizzard, but the part where we hitchhiked with a bunch of woodcutters. We didn’t think much at that point of time as we thought anything was better than trying to trek in this blizzard. But….after 5 mins, they stopped for a break at their lodge where we had tea and some bread. Just kinda scary now when we look at it in hindsight. Us alone in the middle of the mountains with a group of men in their lodge…hmmmm. Check out our full story on our most dangerous trek to Altyn Arashan and bumping into unexpected visitors.

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Hitchhiking with a bunch of woodcutters in a middle of a snow storm – checked!

2. What was the route that we took for our 1 year travel

We wanted to do an East to West trip where we will get to experience both spectrum of cultures, religion and history. That was how we decided to start in China and to travel towards the west to Turkey. Also, we wanted to do an overland trip where we skipped the planes and crossed borders instead to get from one country to another.

Overall we covered 12 countries in total, averaging about a month at each place. China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Greece. Check out our highlights of each country here!

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The eerie remains of the once thriving Aral Sea in Uzbekistan

3. Did we encounter any setbacks?

Of course we did! Aplenty in fact. But ultimately it’s really how you deal with it. Not just when you travel, but in life in general. We were less than 2 months in our journey when Daniel started experiencing excruciating pain in his left lower jaw. It caused him so much pain that it started giving him migraines. I felt so helpless looking at him in pain.

We were in Inner Mongolia then and thankfully it’s still part of China and the locals spoke Chinese. So in the end we visited the local dentist who eventually advised that Daniel should extract his infected wisdom tooth. So yes, Daniel had his wisdom tooth extracted in Inner Mongolia!

On a side note, it was really cheap! It only cost him $50 to remove 1 wisdom tooth which would have cost $900 in Singapore! But then again, Daniel said that the extraction was really painful! Compared to my experience in Singapore which was almost pain-free!

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Wisdom tooth extraction in Inner Mongolia – checked!

This is me in the photo below, bedridden for 2 days. I was blind for 2 days! It was horrible and scary! And all because I stupidly went trekking for 8 hours on snow without any sunglasses to protect my eyes from the snow glare! So yes, my eyeballs were kinda of fried from the rays that were reflected back into my eyes.

Especially at night when I slept, my eyes just kept tearing and the next morning, my eyes would have swelled up so badly that I couldn’t even open them for a second. Any slight glimmer of light would cause a searing pain in my eyes. I just basically slept for 2 whole days straight, waking up only to have my meals and to answer nature calls . Thankfully my eye sight was fully restored after the 3rd day. What a fright.

Tip: Always wear eye protection when trekking on snow for long hours! 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays get reflected back into the eyes which makes it much easier for your eyes to get burnt!

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Lesson learnt – never trek in snow without sunglasses!

4. How much did we spend in total?

We spent about S$10,000 each for the entire 10 months for 12 countries, averaging about less than S$40 per person per day. As you can see from the chart below, we spent the least on food. In fact, on most days we merely survived on bread. Check out our post on why travelling budget is not for everyone!

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5. Did we fight?

Which couple does not fight? But I guess we’re considered quite fortunate because we quarrel a lot less as compared to other couples. Throughout our entire 10 months of facing each other 24/7 while travelling, we didn’t have any major argument but of course we had our fair share of minor tiffs.

But that also doesn’t come easy. Both of us had to put in effort and to meet each other halfway. Especially when travelling, we have nowhere else to run to when we face any problem between us and we’re forced to settle whatever issue we have with each other face to face. We find that travelling helps build a much stronger relationship based on brutal trust and honesty between us and it definitely brought us much closer together. Read our post on 10 reasons why you should travel with your partner! 

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Enjoying the sunset at Pamukkale, the Cotton Candy Castle of Turkey

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Happiness is always better when it’s shared 🙂

6. How did we manage the language barrier?

In fact, the only country that we could understand the local language was when we were in China. For the rest of the countries, we were mostly communicating via elaborate pantomime. Also, you soon come to realise that you don’t need to speak each other’s language to feel the warmth and genuine compassion between both parties.

In the photo below, we were staying with a local family in Uzbekistan and the family members couldn’t speak English at all. Yet we felt a bond so strong that when we parted, the grandmother gave us such a warm hug that we felt like we knew them since forever!

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Breaking through the language barrier

When we were in Iran, we stayed with a local Iranian family and spent 5 days with them. Again, both sides couldn’t speak each other’s language (except for the father who could speak some basic English), but yet we felt so close to them. If you can look closer at the photo below, all 3 of us were holding hands while walking to the market.

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Love is a universal language

7. Which was our favourite country?

We both agreed that Iran left the strongest impression on us. Iran is a really interesting country, very different from whatever the media has portrayed it to be. The first city that we visited happened to be Mashhad, the holiest city in Iran. That really gave us a huge culture shock, but a pleasant one nonetheless.

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At the Mashhad, the holiest city of Iran

The people in Iran were extremely friendly, genuine and curious! We felt like celebrities when we were there! Every moment there will be someone asking us for a photo, or asking us what was our name, etc. We have never received such overwhelming attention in our lives before!

Iran felt very surreal too, a huge part of it was so pristine, untouched and void of tourists! The photo below was taken at Qeshm Island, which was in our opinion one of the most beautiful places that we’ve ever been at. Its natural geology formations were breathtaking!

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Blown away by this natural stunning beauty at Qeshm Island

8. What’s there to do at Central Asia?

To be honest, we also asked ourselves that question before we embarked on our Footprints Across Asia journey. We had no idea what’s there to do at Central Asia and we could hardly find any information about it online!

So us being the curious explorers, we just had to head there to find out for ourselves what exactly was there to do in Central Asia. And boy were we blown away. There are 5 “Stans” in total that make up Central Asia, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. There was just so much to do in each country and each “Stan” had its own characteristics and flavour. For example, Kyrgyzstan is really good for trekking and other outdoor activities such as skiing/snowboarding, while Uzbekistan is renowned for its awe-inspiring architecture. You have to visit each “Stan” to understand what we’re talking about!

Read our post here to find out more about the 5 “Stans”!

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Awe-inspiring architecture of Uzbekistan

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Standing right in front of the “Gates to Hell” – checked!

9. Is Iran safe?

It is definitely safe. Of course, there are perhaps certain areas in Iran that are still quite unstable and should be avoided. But generally most it is really safe and the locals were extremely helpful and friendly! We spent 30 days in Iran and it still ain’t enough! We wished we had more time to spare in Iran though. It’s very common to receive invites from locals to have tea with them or to even stay a night at their place! We had to turn down some of these offers due to time constraint.

Even as a female traveller, I felt that the Iranian men were generally very respectful towards females. Overall we didn’t encounter any “danger” in Iran and had only positive experiences! 🙂

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Iranians – the King of Hospitality

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All dressed up and ready to head out for a wedding party in Iran!

10. Were we used to the food? What was the strangest food that we’ve eaten?

Thankfully both Daniel and I aren’t very picky eaters and we do not have any dietary restrictions. Because due to language barrier, most of the time we do not understand what the menu says and we’ll just randomly point at something on the menu and order that. That’s also the fun part actually, you never know what they’ll end up serving you! You could just have ordered yourself a plate of sheep’s brain! haha!

The most exotic thing that we’ve ever tasted was probably sheep’s brain. It was served chopped up in bite size mixed with tomato based spaghetti. Actually, it tasted kind of nice, you wouldn’t even know you’re eating part of a brain if we didn’t tell you! It tasted similar to boiled egg white.

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Delicious fried sheep brain – checked!

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Erm, sheep’s head soup. Includes the eyes, ears, tongue and everything else in the head. Not yet checked.

Bread is also the staple food in Central Asia, Iran and Turkey. So it kinda became our staple too. Sometimes for lunch, we’ll both just share 1 piece of bread (they’re really huge!) and it’ll only cost us less than a dollar. Plus bread kept us really full! The bread in these countries tasted really good though, especially the freshly baked ones. It’s usually crispy on the outside, soft & fluffy on the inside. Yummy!

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The key food that fuelled our 1 year travel

So there you go, the answers to the most commonly asked questions about our 1 year travel! Did we miss out anything? Do you have a question that you wanna ask us too? Tell us your question in the comments below!

10 Things That You Must Do in Gold Coast & Beyond

10 Things That You Must Do in Gold Coast & Beyond

When you think of Gold Coast, how many of you think of it as a family destination with theme parks to go to only? We thought the same too, but boy were we so wrong! Here are 10 things that you must do in Gold Coast and beyond other than theme parks!

1. Drive your way around Aussie and have fun with the spontaneous detours!

Actually one of the things that we love most about road trips is the absolute freedom that comes along with it! Like a place? Drive to it. Have time to spare? Why not just drive randomly around and explore the outskirts of a city? Which was exactly what we did when we were at Hervey bay and guess what, we actually spotted wild kangaroos!

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Spotted wild kangaroos while driving around spontaneously

After we were done with gushing over the kangaroos, we noticed that the skies were really clear that day and the sunset was sublime. So we found a nice spot, parked our car and snapped a shot of us with the gorgeous sunset as the background 🙂

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Sublime shot of the sunset at Hervey Bay

2. Enjoy a great time with your new feathered friends at Maleny Botanical Garden

Being parrot lovers, we absolutely fell in love with the adorable precious feathered babies here at the Maleny Botanical Garden Aviary! The parrots here were extremely tame and friendly towards human! It was amazing! They’re allowed to fly freely and randomly land on anybody’s head or shoulder! It can be quite hilarious at times when you get caught off guard by a giant Macaw that suddenly landed on your head!

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A very unglam picture of me, but looked at my shocked face when the Macaw suddenly perched on my head without any warning!

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Say hi to Daniel’s new feathered pal 😉

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3. Snorkel with the adorable green turtles at Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island is definitely one of the highlights of our trip in Queensland! The waters there was crystal clear! We really enjoyed our snorkelling session with the green turtles 🙂 If you’d like more details on our Lady Elliot trip, check out our previous blog post on the ultimate road trip in Queensland!

Fun fact: Green turtles are not really green actually. They’re mainly brown! But they’re named green because of the fats underneath their shell.

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Can you spot the grumpy turtle?

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Bird eye’s view of Lady Elliot Island

4. Drink in the gorgeous sunset at Noosa Beach

According to the locals that we spoke to, Noosa Beach is one of the top favourite destination for the locals! It’s not so known to tourists yet, but you will see plenty of locals hanging out by the beach, sun tanning, sipping their cocktails, enjoying the freshest seafood ever!

Tip: If you’re an ice cream lover, you must try the famous Gelato ice cream at Massimo! It’s along Hastings Street. 

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5. Busk in the cheery atmosphere at the fresh local markets

Albeit it being a rushed morning, it was still a good experience traipsing around the Eumundi Market which stocks really fresh local organic produce! A fantastic place to pick up interesting souvenirs too!

Tip: Skip your hotel breakfast and head to Eumundi Market with an empty stomach! (We didn’t and regretted our decision when we arrived too full at the market)

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6. Come up close with the friendly humpback whales at Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay, also known as the whale watching capital of Australia and the home of the majestic Humpback whale! We had such a great time whale watching at Hervey Bay! We never experienced whales swimming that close to us before. This time we had both mummy whale and her baby swimming and playing really close to our boat!

Ps. Many tours offer guaranteed whale sighting and a full refund should you not be able to see one!

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7. Fraser island, the world’s largest sand island

Hendric and Amada drove around Fraser Island via a 4 wheel drive with Nomads Fraser Island Tours! We didn’t get to go on this route, but the adventures that they shared with us were amazing! Fraser island is one of the most beautiful and largest sand island in the world! The entire tour was a 3D2N 4 wheel drive on Fraser Island and both of them agreed that you need at least 3 days to get the full experience!

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Cruising along Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world!

8. Be blown away by the beauty of the Carlos Sand Blow

Yet again, another spontaneous detour that became one of the highlights of our trip 🙂 This place was gorgeous, it was unbelievable how this much sand got blown over and above the cliff, covering all of the vegetation in its way to form the Carlos Sand Blow!

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9.  Indulge in the freshest seafood ever

Foodies will definitely enjoy cruising along in Queensland as the drive is mostly along the coast and that also means, you get really fresh seafood! We had the sumptuous meal below at Surf’s Club at Noosa Beach. The oysters were so good!

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10. Make new furry friends at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

This has gotta be our favourite activity in Brisbane! The koalas were beyond adorable! And look at the grumpy looking koala in the photo below! Rare shot indeed as it’s hard to catch a koala awake as they spend most of their time sleeping to conserve their energy!

Fun fact: Koalas sleep up to 22 hours a day to conserve their energy as their diet consists of eucalyptus leaves that need a lot of energy to digest. 

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Don’t miss out on the wild lorikeet feeding at 4pm!

So now, you have a long list of exciting things to do in Gold Coast besides only the theme parks! If you too would like to plan a road trip in Queensland, we have good news for you!

Scoot is offering a 10% off selected FlyBag/ FlyBagEat/ ScootBiz Fares! 

Promo Code: ROADTRIP 

Sale Period: 1100hrs (GMT+8) 8 Oct 2015 (Thurs) – 2359hrs (GMT+8) 31 Oct 2015 (Wed)

Travel Period: 9 Oct 2015 – 26 Mar 2016

The Ultimate Road Trip in Queensland

The Ultimate Road Trip in Queensland

Recently we went on a road trip in Queensland and that trip really changed our perception towards this amazing place! It’s really so much more than just a family destination! Especially for those that prefer to take things at their own pace, Queensland is one of the best places to do so.

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1. The World Heritage Drive (Hervey Bay – Lady Elliot Island)

We had such a great time whale watching at Hervey Bay! We never experienced whales swimming that close to us before! This time we had both mummy whale and her baby swimming and playing really close to our boat! Check out the photos below where the baby whale did a backflip and gave all of us a good laugh!

Do you know, the whale watching season lasts for 6 months (May to Nov) in Gold Coast?

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On a boat in the middle of the vast blue ocean! Whales, where are you….

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Ah ha! And then we spotted a whale! It swam even closer to us after that!

Fun fact: A fully grown adult humpback whale can weight up to 7,000kg?! That’s heavier than 5 adult elephants! 

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And here we go…baby whale leaps midway out of the water

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and does a backflip! PLOPPPP…..baby whale crashes into the water

Tip: If you’re around at Hervey Bay and you have your own vehicle, go drive around and explore the area. We chanced upon this beautiful beach and witnessed one of the most gorgeous sunsets that we’ve ever seen in our lives 🙂

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Stumbled upon this hidden gem while exploring Hervey Bay

Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. This tiny eco island is less than half square kilometre and you can walk the entire island in 30 minutes! Because this island is a highly protected “Green Zone’, it is also a haven for more than 1,000 over coral species, colourful marine life which includes huge manta rays and really adorable green turtles! 🙂

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Amazing bird eye view of Lady Elliot Island from the plane!

Snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef has always been on our bucket list! Finally, we can tick snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef off our bucket list (but we still want to dive there though)!

Tip: If you want to dive, stay at least for a night at the resort! We only did a day trip and sadly we couldn’t dive as we had to catch the plane back to Hervey Bay on the same day 🙁

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Snorkelling with Mr. cute turtle at Lady Elliot!

2. The Great Beach Drive (Fraser Island)

For the other route which the other pair, Hendric and Amada, took, they drove up from Noosa Beach all the way to Fraser Island via a 4 wheel drive with Nomads Fraser Island Tours! We didn’t get to go on this route, but the adventures that they shared with us was amazing!

For a start, Fraser island is one of the most beautiful and largest sand island in the world! The entire tour was a 3D2N 4 wheel drive on Fraser Island and both Hendric and Amanda agreed that you need at least 3 days to get the full experience! One of the clearest waters that we’ve ever seen!

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One of the clearest waters that we’ve ever seen! Photo taken by @Pohtecktoes

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Here we go, 4 wheel drive at Fraser Beach! Photo credits: @Pohtecktoes

Overall, we were convinced that Fraser Island was a must go and we will definitely be back to Queensland to visit this gorgeous place! More details on their full experience at Fraser Island coming up soon on Pohtecktoes blog!

Essential Information

How to get to Lady Elliot Island:
We flew Scoot to Gold Coast, rented a car and drove all the way up north to Hervey Bay! From Hervey Bay, you have to catch a flight to Lady Elliot Island. We found it really easy to drive around in Australia. The people there seemed really friendly and road rage felt non-existent!

Good news for all of you! Scoot is offering a 10% off selected FlyBag/ FlyBagEat/ ScootBiz Fares! 

Promo Code: ROADTRIP 

Sale Period: 1100hrs (GMT+8) 8 Oct 2015 (Thurs) – 2359hrs (GMT+8) 31 Oct 2015 (Wed)

Travel Period: 9 Oct 2015 – 26 Mar 2016

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our road trip adventures in Queensland! Have you done a road trip in Australia before? Share with us your experience in the comments below!

Quan Zhou – The Haven for Food Lovers

Quan Zhou – The Haven for Food Lovers

Recently we went on a short trip to Quan Zhou and for us the highlight was really the food! Quan Zhou would be an ideal destination for the more matured generation, a great place to bring your parents or even grandparents for a holiday. Most conveniently, Tigerair now flies direct from Singapore to Quan Zhou.

Quan Zhou used to be the largest port in Asia about a 1,000 years ago! But fast forward to today, it’s a regular seaside city which still attracts tons of domestic tourists.

Delight your taste buds with a taste familiar to home

Quan Zhou is actually part of Fujian province and its cuisine is quite similar to our home cooked Chinese dishes back in Singapore. So this would be a great place to bring your older folks as they will have no problem adapting to the food here. You will notice that they will serve a soup dish, fish, vegetables, seafood (usually sotong) and a meat dish.

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A typical dinner served here in Quan Zhou

One of the local’s specialty would be the traditional Jiangmu Ya (Ginger Duck) which was one of our favourites! You have to dip the meat into a separate dish of ginger and vinegar which gives the dish a really interesting taste. The ginger taste is not that strong actually, in case you’re not a fan of ginger like us.

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Traditional Jiangmu Ya (Ginger Duck) – Quan Zhou’s specialty

This has gotta be our ultimate favourite – OYSTER EGG (right photo below)! We were shocked at the ratio of oysters to egg! In Singapore, you could possibly count the number of oysters with one hand but over here, it’s impossible! It almost felt like there was hardly any egg and all oysters only. But this dish is really awesome, wins hands down. We ate fried oyster egg for almost every meal!

Tip: All oyster egg lovers must try the oyster egg in Quan Zhou! It’s the BEST!

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Another familiar dish – Ngoh Hiang

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Muah Chee! Love the texture but wished there was more peanuts though

Okay, the next dish, frozen siphon worms, is kinda gross. BUT, it tastes delicious! No joke. In fact, it was Daniel’s favourite dish! The dish below is actually a bowl of sea worms. You have to add in the packet of vinegar into the bowl and eat it together. Its texture feels like mushroom and it tastes not too bad.

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Fat, juicy worms anyone?

Explore your cultural roots and go temple hopping

Quan Zhou is quite a religious city with numerous temples dedicated to the various deities. One of them is Kai Yuan temple, which is also one of the oldest and largest buddhist temple built during the Tang dynasty.

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Kai Yuan temple, one of the largest in Fujian province

One interesting factor about this temple would be the Hindu influence which can be seen in parts of its architecture like the pillar in the right photo below. The other amazing thing would be the pagoda (left photo below) that has been built more than 700 years ago. This pagoda has withstood countless typhoons and earthquakes and it’s still standing strong till date!

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The other temple that we visited was Nan Pu Tuo which is a famous temple that was founded during the Tang dynasty too. It was quite fun exploring the temple as it was much larger than we expected!

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Tip: If you have the time, buffer in around 2 hours to do a simple trek up to the top of Mt Putuo which is located right behind the temple.

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Rain or shine, devotees praying at the Nan Pu Tuo temple

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There were quite a few ‘caves’ at the temple with a lot of different buddha statues inside.

The next temple is Jin Jiang’s most famous temple, Cao’an Temple. It’s location is quite secluded and it was said to be built by the Chinese Manicheans during the Song Dynasty. But overtime, the locals viewed this place as a Buddhist temple.

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Cao’an temple in Jin Jiang

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Be entertained by their lively cultural performances

We really enjoyed watching the performances after our delicious local lunch! Apparently this restaurant only organise the performances when there’s a booking. And we were the only patrons in the restaurant that day! Which meant they performed for us only, we felt so honoured!

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Check out the Chinese captions at the top of the stage!

The 2 performances below were our favourites, especially the puppet guy on the right! He was really good! And the thing I loved most was the smile on his face throughout the entire performance. We could tell that he really enjoyed what he was doing 🙂 We later found out that some puppets have as many as 36 different strings! We really wonder sometimes how come the strings never ever get entangled….hmm..

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The “Nezha that was dancing to techno” performance was a little weird and ridiculous though. But we had quite a good laugh over it.

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Calm your soul and take a stroll at Qing Yuan National Park

There was just this overwhelming sense of calmness and peace as we took a nice morning stroll at the Qing Yuan Shan National park. The air was exceptionally crisp and fresh; we were totally surrounded by greenery. It was such a good retreat for our soul.

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The stone statue of Lao Zi in the photo below is one of the main reason why people visit the Qing Yuan Shan as well. It’s one of the iconic landmarks of Quan Zhou and apparently if you haven’t taken a photo with the Lao Zi statue, you haven’t been to Quan Zhou.

There’s a local saying that if you can touch the nose of Lao Zi, you can live up to 120 years. But if you can touch the ears, you can live up to 160 Years!

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So can I live up to 160 years? Heheh

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Unfortunately, no climbing in Wonderland.

Busk in the lively atmosphere of Gulangyu Island

We took a day trip to Gulangyu Island which is a popular holiday destination for the locals. It’s easy to get there via a ferry from Jin Jiang (where we were at in Quan Zhou).

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Gulangyu Island was quite a strange place, we didn’t know quite how to describe it. Somehow on one side, it felt like we were back in the past, with the coolies without shirt and a towel draped around their neck, pulling the carts piled up with goods on them.

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Yet on the other hand, you see a very different form of nice modern European architecture that was oddly out of place.

Tip: To fully experience this island at its best, stay for at least a night. That way you can get a more intimate and insightful experience of the locals’ way of living on this island.

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And then you have the streets lined up with rows of different local delights, with some of the stalls selling Taiwanese snacks. This was a scene that was similar to the Taiwanese street markets. The food here was quite expensive though, like all touristy destinations, pricing has obviously been marked up.

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A familiar scene in Taipei?

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Okay, this has gotta be one of the strangest and weirdest phenomenon that we ever saw! Just check out the series of photos below. This is apparently the latest trend in China! Everybody was sprouting from their head, both guys and females!

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You can also get your souvenirs from this place, a huge variety of dried local snacks. Some of our favourites were the locally dried long an as well as the dried cuttlefish which had no additional flavouring or preservatives added to it. Really yummy!

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Spoilt for choice with the huge variety of dried snacks to choose from!

Nearby the island, there’s a famous coastal drive where you can chill at the beach or even cycle along the coast. We didn’t have much time though, so we only went down to the beach for a quick look.

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I too can do an inverted headstand!

According to our local guide, the locals love coming here for a swim especially during summer! This beach would be flooded with people! It was really low tide when we were there though.

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So, that basically sums up our short time in Quan Zhou! For those of you who are keen to visiting this part of China, Tigerair now flies direct from Singapore, super convenient!

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On board the inaugural Tigerair flight from Singapore to Quan Zhou!

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Hope you all enjoyed reading about our short adventure in Quan Zhou! Do you have a favourite city in China? Share it with us in your comments below!

Trekking the Lycian Way in Turkey

Trekking the Lycian Way in Turkey

Every trekking enthusiast will definitely love the Lycian Way in Turkey. The Lycian Way is a 500km coastal route along Southern Turkey stretching from Fethiye all the way to Antalya. It’ll take around a month to complete the entire trek.

But not many of us have the luxury of time to do such a long trek and the good thing is that you can choose to do a sample of it just like what we did. We trekked from Oludeniz to Patara beach in 3 days.

Day 1: Oludeniz to Kabak Beach

We started our trek around 10.30am, feeling all revved up and excited for the journey ahead!

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At the start of the Lycian Way trek

The Lycian Way is a marked route and you will see these red and white stripes along the way. Although sometimes some of these markings have faded away and you must be careful not to miss it. There are different markings along the way, so don’t get mixed up!

Tip: Follow the red/white stripes for the Lycian Way route. Don’t get confused by the other coloured markings!

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Follow these red/white stripes for the Lycian Way route

And the trek begins…look at how gorgeous the view is! Most of the time you won’t even realise that you’re tired as you’ll be too distracted by the amazing views!

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Gorgeous coastal views during the trek

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Spotted some paragliders when we were at the highest point of the trek on day 1

There are several water points along the way and we met some trekkers who refilled their water using these water points. But our stomachs are too used to boiled water and we didn’t dare risk it. Hence we each carried 3 litres of water and our bags were sooo heavy. Not the best option, but no choice as we needed water for cooking at night too.

Tip: Save on some baggage weight if your stomach can handle spring water. 

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Save on baggage space by refilling your bottles here

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Perfect landscape for trekking 🙂

See the long row of white boxes in the photo below? They’re actually beehives! They were much larger in real life and I obviously did not dare to go any closer to them as I absolutely hate bees!

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Organic honey anyone?

This part got a little tricky, we were so distracted by the beehives and kept on walking down the path and didn’t realise that we were supposed to turn left! See the small faded sign that I was pointing to in the photo below? That was the sign that was supposed to tell us that we had to turn left.

Tip: Watch out for the small faded sign that’s suppose to guide you to turn left when you’re on your way to Kabak Beach!

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So yes, this was the tiny sign that was supposed to tell us to get off the main road

Finally, we reached Kabak Beach at about 5.30pm and decided to camp on the beach itself. There were guest lodges around but we kinda enjoy camping outdoors and we brought our tent and sleeping bags along too. So yeah, thankfully it was off peak as usually travellers are not allowed to camp on the beach!

Budget Tip: Choose to camp on Kabak beach for free if you’re trekking the Lycian Way during off peak season!

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Our million stars hotel

Day 2: Kabak Beach to Alinca Village

Despite our aching muscles, we woke up bright and early feeling very excited for the amazing views ahead! True enough, we were rewarded with breathtaking scenery as we hiked the Lycian Way.

Tip: There were hardly any shops opened along the route from Kabak Beach to Alinca Village. So better stock up on your food and water supplies for Day 2! (Could also be due to us trekking during off peak season)

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Picturesque scenery as we hiked the Lycian Way

Another fun part of the Lycian way is its varying terrains. We had to cross 2 rivers at the beginning and encountered this really rocky slope on our way to Alinca Village. It was much steeper than it looked in the photo. You have to trek with extreme caution as one mistake can cause you your ankle!

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Rocky terrain that makes things even more exciting

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Can’t get enough of this mesmerising view

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Stopping to have our lunch when a cow walked past. It looked stunned to see us and froze in its tracks. Haha.

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There were some ruins along the way and this was one of them . It was an ancient underground storage area for water which was no longer in use anymore.

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Came across ruins while hiking the Lycian Way

Finally after a long day of trekking, we saw signs for this GE shop and we were so grateful to be able to stock up on our food and water! We were running out of supplies already by then!

Tip: There are hardly any shops opened along the Lycian Way (or maybe cos we were there during off peak season). But you can pick up all the supplies that you need from the GE shop at Alinca Village!

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We were pleasantly surprised when we found out that it was free to camp at their premises! We could either choose to camp in their garden together with their sheep and dogs or at the second floor of their shop. We chose the second floor, but it was really super windy though! Felt like our tent was going to get blown away anytime!

Budget Tip: Camp for free at the premises of the GE shop at Alinca Village! 

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Day 3: Alinca Village to Patara Beach

For the last day, we chose the road route a the beginning over the forest route as we were pretty much exhausted by then and the forest route was a really undulating one!

Tip: To save on your energy for the rest of the trek, opt for the road route instead of the forest trek! It’s less undulating and tiring. 

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The last part was a downhill journey, a really steep one. We only descended for about 500m but it was still very challenging especially when you’re carrying a heavy load, after awhile we could feel the impact on our knees and ankles.

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It was actually much steeper in real life as compared to the photo!

Finally, we reached Patara Beach! We were actually quite surprised, we thought it was much farther.

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Crossing the bridge to Patara Beach

Guess what we spotted along the way! From afar it looked like shadows. But upon closer examination, we realised that they were actually tadpoles! And there were sooooo many of them! The entire roadside was filled with tadpoles!

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According to our guesthouse owner, he told us that the route we were taking will usually around 5-8 days to complete! We were a little stunned when we heard that, but decided to just go for it and see how it goes. Well, we were proud to say that we completed it in 3 days! Overall we had a really great time trekking the Lycian Way and we highly recommend this trek to all hiking enthusiasts if you’re heading to Turkey!

Essential Information

How we got to start of the Lycian Way

We took a dolmus from the bus stop behind the mosque at Fethiye (about 25 mins walk from the harbour) to Oludeniz and lighted at the start of the Lycian Way. Cost us around 3.5TL and the bus ride was only about 25mins. Fethiye is a very small city, ask around for the bus stop to Oludeniz and tell the bus driver that you want to go to Lycian Way. He will let you know when to alight.

How did we get off the Lycian Way

Our last stop was at Patara Beach. There’s a small dolmus station at Patara Beach. Walk along the road instead of on the beach, after about 20 minutes of walking, you will see a small bus station. We took the bus direct back to Fethiye at 3pm and the bus ride took about 2 hours.

Where we stayed at during the trek

We chose to camp and brought along our tent and sleeping bag. But actually there are plenty of guesthouses along the way and they aren’t too expensive too. We camped for free at Kabak Beach on the first night and the second floor of the GE shop at Alinca Village on the second night.

What to bring

Bring at least enough water to last you through the day. If your stomach can take it, there is natural spring water along the way where you can refill your bottles. But we weren’t daring enough as the last thing you want during a trek is an upset stomach.

Bring enough food as well. For our route, we didn’t see any shop opened at all till we arrived at Alinca Village on the second day where we restocked our supplies at the GE shop.

If you need any further information about trekking the Lycian Way, drop us a comment below and we will try our best to help you if we can!

Sunrise Odyssey