Travelogue

10 Interesting Facts about Davao That You Will Want To Know

10 Interesting Facts about Davao That You Will Want To Know

If you’re looking for an interesting and off the beaten path travel destination, this post is for you.

Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental

So first up, where in the world is Davao Oriental?

Davao is located south of Philippines, and also its largest city. Davao Oriental is located right in the Davao region in Mindanao. Most people will think of the more popular places when they think of Philippines (ie. Boracay, Cebu, Palawan). These places are unquestionably beautiful, but also at the same time overcrowded and commercialised. So let us introduce Davao Oriental to you, the next food/party/beach travel destination to visit in the Philippines!

1. Davao has one of the nicest beaches in Philippines.

Most beach lovers will flock over to Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, etc in a heart beat. But if you’re like us, who’d prefer the less commercialised beaches, you will love Dahikan Beach in Mati City. Aquamarine waters, void of tourists, cheap & fresh coconuts and fun water sport activities like skim boarding and snorkelling!

My amateur attempt at skim boarding, very fun (and challenging)!

Fun fact for the day

Do you know that Dahican beach is also known as the skim boarding capital of Philippines?! Time to get your skim board ready!

Don’t forget to check out the largest whale in Philippines at the Sabangan Museum when you’re in Mati City!

2. Durian is everywhere in Davao and is very very cheap!

Durian lovers? You will love Davao! Durian, the king of fruit, is synonymous with Davao because it’s so widely available everywhere in Davao! Durian is being paired with almost every single food/drink here, not kidding. You have durian candy, durian coffee (it’s super nice!), durian pastries, durian ice cream, durian curry, basically durian everything! Durian is also really cheap here, it costs just S$0.50 for 1 kg!! The rich fertile volcanic soil and tropical climate of Davao make it perfect to grow durians and they have about 20 different species of durian here.

Best time to visit Davao for durian feasting

For hardcore durian fans, head to Davao during Aug-Oct when it’s the perfect season for durians!

Durian halo-halo is absolutely DA BOMB DIGGITY!!

3. The president of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, lives here in Davao.

No wonder why Davao is often coined as one of the safest city in Philippines, their president resides here! Interestingly though, the security outside his house didn’t seem extravagant. In fact, if you hadn’t known, you probably wouldn’t even realise that you’ve just walked past Duterte’s house! Yes he still does live here! He’ll be in Manila during the weekdays but he’ll return here for the weekend!

Yes no joke, this is really the Philippines’s president’s house!

4. You can actually trek on top of a bonsai forest at Mount Hamiguitan (yes on top)!

This was one of the more interesting discoveries that we had during this trip. How cool is it to be able to trek on top of an entire bonsai forest which covered more than 6,000 hectares! With its immense collection of flora and fauna and unique landscape, it’s no wonder that this place has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The mountain is only about 1,620m and will require at least 8 hours to reach the summit.

Photo by dfjtees

Unfortunately due to a tight schedule, we only made it to the museum of Mt Hamiguitan 🙁 We will be back!

Getting wowed away by the short presentation of Mt Hamiguitan

5. Davao has one of the best artisan goat cheese ever.

Cheese lovers, just a heads up, do you know that Davao produces one of the best cheese in the country (and maybe even in the world?) Unfortunately you can only get their cheese in Davao itself as they do not export it.

Perfect souvenir for cheese lovers back home!

You can get artisanal handmade cheese from Malagos Food, perfect as souvenirs for your loved ones back home if they happen to be cheese lovers too!

6. Party your night away at the Summer Frolic EDM festival!

This was our first time attending an EDM party in Philippines and we had soooo much fun! Summer Frolic is held once a year in Davao Oriental, Mati City. Think loud music, soap suds, coloured powder/paint, free flow of alcohol, bubbles and international DJs, everything that make a fun party!

Wheeeee! So fun to play with soap and bubbles! 😀

With the party squad!

7. You can enjoy some of the best award winning chocolates here in Davao.

At Malagos Chocolate, they pride themselves with their tree to bar method of making chocolates. They farm and harvest their own cacao beans and produce chocolates that are on par with the best in the world. They won the best drinking chocolates in the world at the 2015 International Chocolate Awards World Drinking Chocolate Competition in Germany.

8. Get your adrenaline fixed by taking the first ever ultralight flight in Davao!

Yup, just you and the pilot on a small wall-less aircraft.  Imagine that! It’s practically a 360 degrees view throughout the entire ride! The entire ride will take only around 15-20minutes with a fee of PHP1,300. But the literally breathtaking view from above is definitely worth the money!

Image credit: Inakisievert

9. Coconut is used for almost everything here.

Majority of Philippines coconut trees can be found in Davao and boy do they produce the freshest coconuts ever! They use coconut for almost everything, ie. delicious coconut flavoured food/desserts/drinks, coconut oil, coconut shampoo/soap/moisturiser, basically coconut everything.

image by Johanna Alexis

10. Do you know that a dinosaur still resides in the Philippines?

Well, at least not a “live” one, but a sleeping dino :p This shot is almost becoming the iconic landmark of Davao Oriental. You can find it along Badas Point in Barangay Dawan in Davao Oriental. Anyone driving along the scenic coast will definitely stop for a photo with the sleeping dinosaur! With the beautiful blue skies, fluffy clouds and azure waters, I don’t see why not! 🙂

Can you make out the shape of the sleeping dino? 😉

So how can we get to Davao from Singapore?

Good news is that Cebu Pacific flies direct to Davao twice a week and it only takes 4 hours to get there! So what are you waiting for! 😀 Book your tickets here!

More about Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) is the largest airline in the Philippines, offering its low fares and seat sales on twice weekly flights between Singapore and Davao. It also flies direct to four other destinations from Singapore, including Manila (32 times weekly), Cebu (seven times weekly), Clark (seven times weekly) as well as Iloilo (up to three times weekly).

CEB also operates an extensive network across the Philippines with its 37 domestic destinations. Operating from six strategically placed hubs: Manila, Cebu, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo and Davao, CEB is the preferred airline to explore the Philippine archipelago.

You can book flights through here or their Singapore number +65-3158-0808. Don’t forget to check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!

A 3D2N Tioman Getaway That Every Singaporean Should Do

A 3D2N Tioman Getaway That Every Singaporean Should Do

If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway to revitalise your weary soul, read on to find out how we spent our weekend at Paya Beach resort in Tioman.

1. Climb a 300 year old mother willow tree

Not what you expect of a typical beach getaway, but hey, this was definitely worth the 30 minute forest trek! At the beginning we were skeptical as to whether it was going to be lame, but nope, definitely not lame at all.

On the contrary, it was so cool! Imagine chancing upon this humongous willow tree that’s at least more than 300 years old in the middle of a forest! And not only that, you also get to climb it! That was definitely the highlight for us monkeys! 😀

Can you spot me?!

An easy 30 mins forest trek suitable for all beginners. It was such a magical moment standing in front of this towering beauty, that we could almost imagine little fairies and sparkles flying amongst the hanging twisted vines!

Or if you rather not trek on foot, you can splurge on an ATV ride instead!

FOR THE LESS AGILE FOLKS, TAKE NOTE!

You can consider riding an ATV to the Mother Willow too! You will be able to ride almost all the way and park your ATV where it’s just 5 minutes away from the tree. It costs 150RM for a single rider or 180RM for a double seater for a 90mins ride!

2. Spot reef sharks while you snorkel or dive

Tioman has always been a popular spot for diving and it’s embarrassing to admit that till date, we’ve yet to dive here. But we’ve always felt that Tioman was probably overrated and that there’s nothing much to see. Well, we were so so wrong.

We didn’t dive this time and snorkelled instead and guess what we saw! We were so amazed to be able to spot a shark while snorkelling! Not once, but trice! The only other time that we saw a shark was when we dived in Sipadan! Apparently these sharks are residents here in Tioman and it’s not uncommon to see them.

Snorkelling in Tioman was much better than we expected. Visibility was perfect and fishes were in abundance. Though they’re probably here because of hoomans that kept feeding them bread. We don’t encourage such a practice though, hey you’re messing up the ecosystem!

Reef shark spotted while snorkelling in Tioman!

DIVERS TAKE NOTE

The good thing about diving in Tioman is that there’s no flight to catch if you’re travelling from Singapore. Hence you’ll be able to easily fit in 3-4 dives during this short getaway! You can add on the Diving Package when you book your accommodation directly with the resort.

3. Knead your stress away at the Paya Tropical Holistic Spa

This was exactly what we needed to soothe our tired legs and bodies after all the snorkelling and trekking! We did the Paya Classic Massage and highly recommend it! The ambience was really nice and the masseurs did a great job at kneading our tight knots.

4. Chill at the beach and enjoy the sunset

This was after all supposed to be a relaxing getaway, so put away your to do list, and simply just chill and do nothing at the beach! Listen to the hypnotic sounds of the crashing waves as you allow your eyes to feast on the gorgeous setting sun.

Essential information

WHERE WE STAYED AT IN TIOMAN

Paya Beach Spa & Dive Resort – we stayed in their superior beachfront room and it was directly facing the sea! The rooms were very spacious and we really loved waking up to the sounds of the waves. We booked a 3D2N full board package with them which included all meals and a snorkelling trip. Do note that this package is only available on their website!

HOW TO GET TO TIOMAN FROM SINGAPORE

You will need to book a coach from Singapore (we boarded at Singapore Flyer) to Mersing (~4hrs) and then take the ferry from Mersing and alight at the second stop (Kampong Paya ~1.5hrs).

Alternatively, for those coming from Singapore, you can add on the return coach and ferry tickets when you book your room/package directly with Paya Beach Resort and they will settle everything for you! 🙂 Ps. this is a much cheaper option than booking the transportation on your own separately!

 

Our Favourite Top 5 Must-Try Foods In Sandakan

Our Favourite Top 5 Must-Try Foods In Sandakan

All foodies will love it here at Sandakan; the local food is sooo good and cheap! Here’s our top 5 favourite foods in Sandakan!

Bak Ku Teh

Fans of bak ku teh, you will love it here! The local bak ku teh is so good! Singapore’s bak ku teh is a lot more peppery as compared to the one Sandakan. For those interested to know, we ate at Syn Lok. Located near the water village in Sandakan city centre.

Leong Fun Bing (Grass Jelly Milk Tea)

This is the bomb when the weather is scorching hot! The drink is a mixture of condense milk, water and grass jelly. Sounds so simple and unspecial right? But for some reason, it is DELICIOUS! It’s soooo good that 1 packet is not enough. Really.

Best drink ever especially on hot days!

At a small shop near the Pu Ji Shi temple. it’s quite hard to describe the exact location though :/

UFO tart

It’s so cute how the locals thought of UFO when they made this tart, hence its name. It’s a tad too sweet for our liking though. Almost like an egg tart, but with a dollop of whip cream and caramel on the top! Can imagine how sweet it tastes yeah?

Springy Noodles

Most locals usually have this spring noodles for breakfast! The noodles were handmade and turned out to be so springy! (probably that’s how its name was derived) This was definitely one of our top favourites!

Tip: Skip your hotel breakfast and have the spring noodles for breakfast instead! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

We had the noodles at this local restaurant near the water village in Sandakan

Cheap & Fresh Seafood

Sandakan is located right next to the sea, so you can imagine how fresh the seafood is! Any fresher, you will have to catch it on your own 😉

Huge succulent prawns! So juicy and good!

Any fans of crab out there? This was absolutely finger licking good!!

Straight from the sea! Cheap and fresh seafood is a must eat in Sabah!

Any other must-try food that we should add to the list above? Share it with us in the comments below! 🙂

FAQ Guide to Diving In Sipadan and Beyond

FAQ Guide to Diving In Sipadan and Beyond

For most divers, Sipadan has always been a constant on their bucket list. Likewise for us and we were so thrilled to be able to finally strike that off our list!

Very excited for our dive in Sipadan!

What you can expect to see during your dive in Sipadan

 

Diving in the middle of a Jackfish storm!

Shark spotted during our dive in Sipadan!

We had 2 dives at Sipadan and this was the first time that we saw so many sharks and turtles up close! Sipadan is renowned for their large schools of fishes, white tipped sharks, barracudas, turtles and more!

Tip: A wide angled camera like a GoPro would be perfect to capture the vast marine life in Sipadan

 

Where to stay when diving in Sipadan

 

As Sipadan is a protected area, tourists are not allowed to stay at Sipadan island. There are several accommodation options at the other nearby islands. We stayed at Scuba Tiger at Semporna and it turned out to be one of the best decisions!

Our spacious water bungalow which is right above the sea!

View from our balcony

From the map below, you can see that Semporna is in the middle between the north and south dive spots. Sipadan and Mabul Island are located in the south, while there are some really good dive spots in the north as well!

Not difficult to spot the Scuba Tiger’s boat!

The boat ride takes around 45 minutes from Semporna to Sipadan or to the dive spots in the north. So if you stay at Mabul island or near Sipadan, it would be too far to travel to Sibuan or other dive spots in the north!

Lunch on board the boat while we’re out for our dives!

Tip: If you’re heading to Sabah to dive, don’t just dive at Sipadan only. Do give yourself at least another 2 more days to explore the other nearby islands!

 

When is the best time to dive at Sipadan

 

Photo credit: http://www.dive-holidays.com/

You can dive all year round in Sipadan but the visibility is the best during the hottest & driest months in June/July. We were there during early March and it was still very good albeit visibility of only around 10m. The school of jackfishes as shown in the photo above can be seen all year round too!

Where else to dive at besides Sipadan

 

Diving at Mabul Island!

There are many other small islands such as Mabul, Sibuan, Mataking, Mantabuan, etc. For these islands, the focus is more on the macro marine life. We were so intrigued by the tiny creatures that we spotted during our dive. From the cute little frogfish, colourful nudibranchs to peacock shrimps, the macro marine life at Mabul never failed to amaze us.

Photo credit: Peacock Mantis Shrimp by Alexander Safono, Flickr

How to get the permit for Sipadan

 

To protect Sipadan, the government has imposed a regulation that only 120 divers are allowed to dive at Sipadan daily. There are 2 ways that you can get the permit.

  • For those who are short of time, you can purchase a permit on its own from the resort. It costs us 850RM per pax for the permit which includes 2 dives at Sipadan. We got our permit from Scuba Tiger.
  • Or you can book a minimum of 4 night stays at any of the dive resort and they will be able to issue you a 1 day permit to dive at Sipadan. If the dive resort ran out of permits, don’t give up, check with other resorts first!
Tip: To secure your permit for Sipadan, do plan your trip in advance especially during the peak season!

 

What else is there to do besides diving at Sipadan

 

Hiking at Bohey Dulang

Mesmerising view from the peak of Bohey Dulang

For those that have more than a few days to spare, you can try hiking at Bohey Dulang. It’s no doubt a short 600m hike, but still challenging! Because of the recent rain, the terrain was very muddy and slippery! The view at the top is extremely picturesque, definitely one of the best that we’ve ever seen in our lives!

Tip: For those planning on hiking Bohey Dulang, please wear proper hiking shoes as the terrain can be very slippery especially during the wetter season!

 

Snorkel and chill in the crystal clear aqua marine waters!

Indulge in the freshest seafood ever

This is definitely a must do for all food lovers! We had one of the best and freshest seafood ever in Semporna city (10mins drive from Scuba Tiger). You can pick your choice from crabs, fish, tiger prawns, squid, and more! There’s a whole stretch of seafood restaurants right next to the sea in Semporna. We ate at Fat Mama, which is apparently one of the cheapest and good places to dine at for seafood.

Straight from the sea! Cheap and fresh seafood is a must eat in Sabah!

How to book a diving trip in Sipadan/Semporna

For us, we booked it with Scuba Tiger which is a dive resort located in Semporna. We did 3 days of diving with them (which included 1 day of dives in Sipadan) and 1 day of snorkelling. Overall it was a really great experience, the staff were very friendly and helpful too! Free shuttle service is also provided to the city centre in Semporna (around 1o minutes drive). Do contact them for more info on the pricing and packages available! 🙂

Do you have any other questions with regards to diving in Sipadan? Ask us in the comments box below and we’ll try our best to answer them! 🙂

Things To Do In Sandakan

Things To Do In Sandakan

There’s a never ending list of things to do in Sabah. Located on the east of Sabah lies Sandakan, the heaven for all food and nature lovers. Here’s our recommendation on things to do in Sandakan!

Delight your tummy with delicious local food

All food lovers will definitely fall in love with this city filled with yummy food! From the local bak ku teh, homemade springy noodles to desserts like the UFO, you have to try them all when you’re here! See here for our favourite top 5 must-try foods in Sandakan!

A must try for all bak ku teh fans!

Get up close with the cute Orangutans & Sunbears

Being animal lovers, we absolutely enjoyed this day out to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation centre and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre! There are 2 parts to the visit, first we will get to see the juvenile orangutans in the outdoor nursery where they are still learning the basic survivor skills.

Young orangutan fooling around at the outdoor nursery in Sepilok

Next we were led to the feeding platform where at 10am sharp, the trainer will appear with a basket full of bananas, long beans and other fruits for the orangutans. We were so lucky to be able to witness mama orangutan and her baby climbing down to the feeding platform!

Aww, mama orangutan and her precious baby!

At the feeding platform of Sepilok

Tip: Go earlier at 9am to beat the crowd and to get a nice viewing spot of the cute juvenile

At the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)

Fun fact: do you know that the tongue of a sun bear can extend to 20-25cm when feeding? This long tongue is useful for them to extract insects (eg. ants) from deep holes and honey!

Marvel at the wonders of the beautiful Gomantong Cave

In full awe of the breathtaking Gomantong Cave in Sandakan

Being the largest cave of Sabah, it’s not only home to a million bats and swiftlets but also cockroaches and dung beetles! Before you go on about how disgusting that is, do you know how important the cockroaches are for the ecosystem within the cave? These cockroaches are responsible for feeding on the carcasses  of the bats and swiftlets and this helps prevent diseases from spreading.

Tip: Important to wear proper footwear when visiting Gomantong Cave. It can get very slippery from all the guano and not forgetting the cockroaches crawling all over the pathway!

Till today, locals are still using traditional methods (ie. bamboo poles, rattan ladders, ropes, etc) without any safety equipment to climb to the top of the cave to harvest bird nests. No wonder bird nest is so expensive!

Do you know, the rarer pure white bird nests can fetch up to $5,000 per kg?!

Beware of these poisonous centipede that can be commonly found in the cave!

Fun fact: Swiftlets are excellent flyers! They fly so well that they can actually mate during flight

Be at one with nature at the Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Especially for the city folks, this will resonate with you guys, it feels so good to be disconnected from the digital world and to escape to nature from time to time. We really enjoyed our stay at Bilit Rainforest Lodge where it’s nicely nestled in the forest. We had to cross a river to get here!

Our cozy abode at Bilit Rainforest Lodge

The rooms were really spacious!

Wildlife spotting while cruising along the Kinabatangan River

One of the activities here at Bilit Rainforest Lodge is the river cruise along the Kinabatangan River. It was quite fun trying to spot the different wildlife that might appear anywhere any time!

From hearing the hornbill call to actually spotting it, seeing the leaves rustling and realising that it was caused by a group of proboscis monkeys.

Do you know that the proboscis monkey’s bulbous nose is what attracts the female?

Spotted an oriental pied hornbill while cruising along the Kinabatangan River

For those game enough, you can even opt for a night river cruise to spot the nocturnal animals such as the owl or the sleeping animals. We spotted crocodiles, king fishers and an owl during our night river cruise!

Aww, this cute little blue eared kingfisher was smaller than my palm! 

Explore the quaint city of Sandakan

For those with some extra time, do check out some of the city’s highlights to better understand their culture and history. Our first stop was the Pu Ji Shi Temple located at the top of a hill.

Next we visited the water village of Sandakan where a large population is still living in houses built above the waters! In the past, majority of the locals were fishermen as Sandakan was located along the coast. This tradition has carried on till today where many of them are still fishing for a living.

Water village at Sandakan

Essential Info

How to book the above tour in Sandakan

We booked the tour with Amazing Borneo who arranged everything from the accommodation, transport, to attraction tickets for us in Sandakan. If you prefer a fuss free experience, we highly recommend Amazing Borneo! Do contact them directly for more info on the updated pricing 🙂

Overall we really enjoyed travelling off the beaten path in Sabah, exploring the interesting city Sandakan. Have you been there before? Did we miss out anything?

Our Experience On-Board the North Borneo Cruise in Sabah

Our Experience On-Board the North Borneo Cruise in Sabah

After hearing so much about the newly launched North Borneo Cruise in Sabah, we’re so excited to finally get to hop on and to experience it for ourselves!

Enjoy a delicious international buffet with a wide array of choices

Don’t miss out on the local Nonya kuehs on the other side of the buffet aisle 😉

We really enjoyed the variety of food served during the buffet, from local delights to fresh succulent prawns and Japanese sushi! This would be a great opportunity for those who have yet to taste local Malaysian cuisine. The satay especially is very tasty!

Looking very satisfied with my choices 😀 That was already my second helping 😡

Soak in the most gorgeous sunset as you sail along the waterfront

The sky was bursting with beautiful hues of glorious colours!

The sky looked ominous at the start and we were worried that we might not be able to see any sunset at all. But lo and behold, despite the cloudy sky, the sun rays managed to peek through and we were still able to witness a magnificent sunset!

The gloomy and dramatic cloudy sky at the start of our cruise

Groove to the beat of the entertaining live band

Midway through the cruise, after everyone has gotten their perfect shot of the beautiful sunset, it was time to partayyyy! The atmosphere became a lot livelier with the band playing upbeat tunes!

Everybody was dancing like no one was watching and having the time of their life!

Initially when we found out that it was the bamboo orchestra that was playing that night, to be honest, we were slightly disappointed. We thought that the band will end up playing some slow local cultural music. But to our surprise, they actually played quite upbeat songs, and even pop!

For weekday nights, it will usually be a regular live band who will play mostly R&B and pop songs, where you can dance till you drop. But only for weekends, you will get to be entertained by the bamboo orchestra.

The talented bamboo orchestra! Their instruments were all made of bamboo only!

Simply enjoy the picturesque views as you cruise along

The view before sunset

As you enjoy the food and music, don’t forget to head out once in while to get some fresh air as well as to enjoy the scenery!

Look at how brightly lit our boat was! 

And before we know it, it was time to depart. Time passed really quickly!

Essential Information

How to purchase tickets for the yacht
We got our tickets from Amazing Borneo. You can either book directly from their website or email their sales team (info@amazingborneo.com).

How much is the ticket?
Tickets costs around S$122/adult, but there’s a promo now on their website and it’s only $98!

What time to board and how long is the duration
We boarded around 4.30 and returned to shore around 7pm. Our only qualm is that the cruise time is too short, wished it was longer!

Where to stay in Kota Kinabalu
We stayed at Grandis Hotel which was located very near to the jetty where the cruise departed from. The rooms were very spacious and overall we had a very good night sleep here! The breakfast spread was good too!

Our spacious room at Grandis Hotel in Kota Kinabalu

Have you been on the North Borneo Cruise before? Share with us your experience too in the comments below! Would love to hear from all of you! 🙂

Miri Country Music Fest 2017 – More Than Just Cowboys

Miri Country Music Fest 2017 – More Than Just Cowboys

Recently we were invited to the fourth annual Miri Country Music Festival (MCMF) which took place at Sarawak in Malaysia. It turned out to be lots of fun and here’s how our experience went…

Miri Country Music Festival 2017!

Tip

Don’t forget to bring along a raincoat/umbrella! You’re in a tropical country, the weather is as unpredictable as life. Or, you can just heck that and dance your troubles away in the rain!.

Interactive workshops by the bands

Sharing session by The Casual Ceilidh Band based in Brunei

There were a total of 6 workshops held by the bands over 2 days. The workshops ranged from tips on composing your own song to a fun line dance session. What we liked about the workshops was that they were mostly an intimate and close up session with the artiste(s).

Yup that’s me, flaunting my newly acquired line dancing skills!

During the 45 minute sharing session, the artistes will also share with us how they first got started in the music industry and their journey thus far. This personal touch definitely enhanced our experience when watching them perform later at night.

Delicious local delights and beautiful ethic crafts

Delicious piping hot Penang char kway teow anyone?

For those that have never been to this part of the world, you MUST try the local cuisine here. The food that you can get here is a nice sample of the cuisine that Malaysia has to offer! Penang char kway teow, homemade lapis (cake), bbq chicken wings, satay, just to name a few!

Yummy homemade local delights :p

You can also pick up some unique local souvenirs like these handmade bags and support the local economy!

Interesting activities for the children

Huge favourite among the kids!

This event is great for families too! If you’ve got children, bring them along and have a great family bonding time here at MCMF. The bouncy castle is one of the kids’ favourite, followed by the dancing cartoon mascots that appear periodically throughout the night.

Dare take up the Rodeo challenge? 😉

Performances by international and local bands

Heartfelt performance by Smith and the Saints

There were a total of 8 bands performing at MCMF, 3 international bands and the rest were local. One of our favourites was definitely Shane Smith and the Saints who flew in all the way from Texas! Their performance was highly entertaining and energetic, and the crowd responded by dancing wildly at the front of the stage. Their songs were slightly more mainstream, kind of a mix between country and pop music.

Tip: Bring your own comfy chair for maximum comfort while you relax and enjoy the performances!

 

Amazingly talented local artiste, Russel Curtis from KL

James Thomson and the Strange Pilgrims, all the way from Australia!

James Thomson, singer and songwriter from Australia, was also invited to play at MCMF. His songs were full of soul and most were composed by himself. Very talented young chap!

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

 

Nothing can stop the crowd from having the time of their lives!

If you’ve missed this year’s MCMF, not to worry, you can look forward to MCMF 2018 which will be their 5th year anniversary as well! You can expect the event to be a whole lot bigger and even more exciting! 😀

Is It Worth it To Visit Chitwan National Park?

Is It Worth it To Visit Chitwan National Park?

Being wildlife enthusiasts, we were very excited when we found out about this National Park in Nepal. We read that it’s famous for their wildlife and beautiful landscape. So here’s how our experience went…

One of the most calming and beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen.

_DSC8182.jpg

Sublime sunset view at the river in Chitwan National Park

Take a stroll down the river during the evening and enjoy the sublime view of the sunset against the river.

_DSC8226.jpg

Very pretty colours in the sky!

If you’re lucky like us, you can even spot a rhino near the river! It was really close to us, say around 50m away? We were all in a ready-to-run-anytime mode in case the rhino suddenly charges at us.

Safety tip: Never stand in front of a rhino, always stand behind it. As once you’re in front of it, it might end up charging towards you! But it can’t turn its head, so if you’re at the back, you should be safe! 😀

_DSC8208.jpg

Spotted a rhino on our first day in Chitwan!

Where else can you find elephants and rhinos strolling down the streets?

Only in Chitwan National Park. The elephants were on their way home after a long day of hard work (we don’t support elephant riding though, see below).

_DSC8230.jpg

Watch out for the humongous elephant poops all over the roads!

This rhino situation was really funny though. We were casually walking down the streets when suddenly people ahead of us started to warn us to step onto the sidewalk as a rhino was coming!

True enough, shortly after a rhino trudged along! It was hilarious to see the huge crowd that formed behind the rhino, each attempting to take their prize shot. Apparently this happens quite often though, poor rhino, he must be feeling so lost in this foreign urbanscape!

_DSC8232.jpg

Just a rhino trudging along the streets on a random day

A much cheaper alternative to the safari in Africa.

We know that it can’t be compared to the safari in Africa but for now we will make do. At least we get to see one of the big 5s of the Africa’s safari – the rhino! 😀 There are several activities that you can do, we did both the canoe and jeep safari.

40 min canoe ride to scare the shi* out of you

_DSC8325.jpg

Basically it’s a slow 40min boat ride that brings you really close to the sleepy and seemingly immobile crocodiles in the river. Sometimes we wonder whether are they even real, maybe they were planted here?

_DSC8327.jpg

If only we can be like a crocodile, eat and sleep the whole day.

Then you also get to enjoy the view of these majestic creatures, but it’s also very saddening at the same time when you see the way these animals are being mistreated.

_DSC8336.jpg

Please stop taking these elephant rides!

_DSC8347.jpg

Can you spot the cute woodpecker?!

5hrs jeep safari to spot wildlife

_DSC8437.jpg

Jeep safari in Chitwan National Park!

It was our first time going on such a jeep safari tour, so we weren’t sure what to expect. But honestly, 4-5 hours sitting in a bumpy jeep, moving at less than 20km/h while trying to spot wildlife, isn’t the most exciting thing actually. In fact after like 2 hours, we got a little sleepy. Maybe it was because there wasn’t thatttt much wildlife. We did see 2 rhinos, monkeys, wild boars, deer and some cute birds.

_DSC8439.jpg

Monkey spotted!

_DSC8453.jpg

Rhino cooling himself off

Part of the safari tour will also include a visit to the crocodile farm but it wasn’t a very pleasant experience though. The crocodile enclosures were not well maintained and there was moss growing everywhere! The toilet there was also……one of the worst we’ve been to. And trust us, we’ve been to really terrible toilets during our past backpacking trips!

_DSC8461.jpg

Baby crocodiles, barely less than few weeks old!

So, we really do love Chitwan, but one thing that we didn’t support was the elephant rides in the park.

_DSC8364.jpg

A very painful and heartbreaking sight 🙁

Each of these trainers/caretakers was holding a metal rod with a curved sharp end which he will then use to prod and hurt the elephant in order to get it to follow his bidding.

Some people say that the elephant skin is very thick and that’s precisely why these trainers hit really hard with their metal rod till it hurts the elephant! 🙁

_DSC8375.jpg

Jumping non-stop on the elephant to get it to “bathe” itself.

Tourists can pay a small fee to bathe with the elephants, which is essentially just the tourist sitting on the elephant and getting splashed by it.

Please, the elephant don’t even bathe that way normally. We saw this elephant at the other side of the river happily bathing on its own and he was just soaking himself in the water entirely, rolling from side to side.

_DSC8404.jpg

Elephants are super adorable!

Our verdict:

If you’ve gotten bored of the Himalayan view and have time to spare, why not! It was quite refreshing to soak ourselves in a jungle atmosphere after 2 weeks of being in the mountains. But don’t get your hopes too high to spot any of the rare animals like tiger. Our guide did say though that chances are higher during spring (Feb/March) when the grass is less dense and shorter. We were there during October (autumn) and the grass was really thick! It was harder to spot the wildlife actually.

Essential Information

Where we stayed in Chitwan National Park

Jungle Safari Lodge, S$57 for a triple room.
Location was very good, walking distance to the river where we spotted the rhino.
The breakfast here is awesome! We also did the above safari tours with them.

Don’t get mixed up, there’s another hotel named Jungle Safari Resort. We stayed at the “Lodge”, not “Resort”.

_DSC8166.jpg

Our accommodation at Chitwan National Park

_DSC8168.jpg

Our triple room at Jungle Safari Lodge.

How we got here to Chitwan National Park from Kathmandu

Take a bus from Kathmandu’s  to Sauhara, ticket costs 600rupees per pax. The bus journey took around 7 hours.

Tip: If you’re planning on taking a local bus from Kathmandu, do inform the hotel in advance as they will be able to pick you up from the bus terminal.

Have you been to Chitwan National Park before? Would you recommend others to visit this place? Share with us your view in the comments below! 🙂

6 Awesome Ways To Get The Most Out Of Nepal

6 Awesome Ways To Get The Most Out Of Nepal

We’re so glad that we finally get to visit Nepal and so impressed to see how this country has bounced back to where she is today after the tragedy that struck them in 2015.

_DSC5624.jpg

1. Explore the labyrinths of dusty Kathmandu

_DSC5681.jpg

It’s hard to tell that just 1 year ago, this city was hit by the earthquake which killed thousands. The people were as cheerful, living their lives as usual. Also a great place to stock up on your last minute essentials before you head off for your trek! It’s almost like a shopping paradise for outdoor lovers.

2. Enjoy wildlife sighting at Chitwan National Park

_DSC8182.jpg

Gorgeous sunset at Chitwan National Park

We’ve always wanted to visit the safari in Africa but it’s really costly and we’re still saving up for it! For now we’ll have to make do with the safari here in Nepal, which turned out really good! We saw plenty of wildlife ranging from crocodiles, rhinos, deer, birds, elephants and more! Check out our post for our full experience at Chitwan National Park!

_DSC8336.jpg

Please don’t ride these elephants, see blog post link above for more info

2. Scream your lungs out at the 3rd highest bungy in the world

_DSC8144.jpg

Rule number 1: never look down

This has gotta be one of the most exciting experiences ever for us! This bungy is the 3rd highest in the world; imaging jumping off this platform at 160m above the river! It was exhilrating! Daniel did the bungy and we both did the canyon swing together. The canyon swing was a different kind of scary but also very fun. The adrenaline rush after doing it was sky high.

For adventure lovers, you will love Nepal – check out our post on Nepal, The Ultimate Adventure Destination.

3. Push yourself to your limits and trek to Everest Base Camp

photo_2016 12 06_14 56 57

Finally after 9 arduous days of trekking, we made it to EBC.

We really encourage everyone to attempt a multi-day trek at least once in their lives. The experience is vastly different from a short 2-3 days hike. The Himalayas is an excellent place for a multi-day hike and there’s a wide array of choices! Hiking for 2 weeks at a high altitude in sub zero temperatures is really not easy and mental strength is extremely important.

Check out our full experience on trekking to Everest Base Camp!

4. Witness the most beautiful sunrise at Nagarkot

_DSC8683.jpg

One of the mot beautiful sunrises that we’ve ever witnessed

For those who prefer travelling off the beaten path like us, do include Nagarkot in your itinerary! This place is sublime for watching sunset/sunrise! You will also get to enjoy the view of the entire range of the Himalayas here. Or if you prefer to do shorter treks, there are plenty of short treks here which still allow you to enjoy the full view of the Himalayan range.

Tip: for the best sunrise viewing spot, skip the viewing tower and instead take one of the exits earlier before reaching the tower. The tower was congested with too many people and it wasn’t the best place for a nice photo. Alternatively for a perfect view of the Himalayas, go for the 360 panorama trekking route instead.

5. Discover the hidden gems of Pokhara

_DSC5345.jpg

Enjoying our time together at Bejnas Lake where it’s less crowded

If you’re heading to Nepal, please put aside at least 3 days for Pokhara, it’s a must! We kind of prefer Pokhara to Kathmandu actually, maybe also because it’s less crowded and dusty here in Pokhara. There’s so much to explore in this beautiful city and you get to enjoy the view of the Himalayas from here! Usually people head to Pokhara as it’s the start point for their Anapurna trek, but even if you’re not trekking, there’s so many other fun things to do in Pokhara!

Tip: Take the local bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara and experience the REAL way of travelling in Nepal. Trust me, this bus ride will be one helluva experience 😉

6. Immerse yourself in the streets of Bhaktapur

_DSC8524.jpg

At Bhaktapur Durbar Square that was damaged quite badly by the earthquake

We visited Bhaktapur as we wanted to catch a bus to Nargakot. The atmosphere here was strangely unsettling and yet calming at the same time. The empty streets, dust-filled air, unfinished buildings and rambling sounds of construction trucks made this place quite unforgettable. Only shortfall is that there’s a hefty entrance fee of 1,500rupees. Would still recommend this place if you have time (and money) to spare!

Essential Information

Where we stayed at in Kathmandu:

Shree Tibet Family Guesthouse
$3-4/bed in a mixed dorm, shared bathroom
Excellent location, right in the middle of Thamel street. But it’s also very near the pubs and restaurants and it can get quite noisy at night till about 10pm.

How we got to Nepal from Singapore:

Malindo Air, $450/pax for return tickets (1 stopover at KL).

Tip: For cheaper flights, use Sky Scanner‘s price alert function to monitor the flight tickets and they will notify you when prices drop.

NEPAL-The Ultimate Adventure Destination

NEPAL-The Ultimate Adventure Destination

Seldom people will think of Nepal as a place for adventurers but we’re here to change that perception. Not only was it super exciting but also really affordable as compared to other countries!

Bungy & Canyon Swing

_DSC8125.jpg

3rd highest bungy (160m) in the world!

After learning that Nepal has one of the highest bungy in the world, Daniel was determined to give it a go. And it didn’t disappoint us, it was really super exciting! We also did the canyon swing together and the free fall was like WAHHHHH! The free fall time for the canyon swing was twice as long as compared to bungy!

Canyon swing at The Last Resort in Nepal

Who we booked with:
The Last Resort – a little pricey, but no choice as they’re the only tour operator in Kathmandu for Bungy

Cost:
245EUROS for 2 pax – We did the tandem swing package plus 1 pax bungy which included lunch and transport to and fro.

White Water Rafting

Best white water rafting experience ever!!

We’ve tried white water rafting before in New Zealand, but THIS, this wins hands down. It was absolutely thrilling and nerve wrecking from the start to the end! It was definitely a raging river with countless angry rapids! We were so close to being thrown off the raft several times! Thank god we were all young and nimble and made it out alive. Phew!

Who we booked with:
Can’t recall the agency name, but there are several tour agencies along Lakeside that can help you book your white rafting tour.

Cost:
They have 2 packages – half day (1.5 hours rafting time, 4,000rupees) and full day (3 hours rafting time, 4,500rupees). We only tried the half day package and it was definitely exciting, not so sure about the full day rafting.

Paragliding

Photo credits: http://nepalfemaleguide.com/

We didn’t have the time to give this a go, but look at the breathtaking view below! Quite an experience we can imagine to be able to paraglide that close to the Himalayas! We heard from some fellow travellers that Nepal is one of the best places to paraglide.

Ultra Light Flight

Photo credits: http://www.plantours.com.np/

Another opportunity to fly really closely to the mountain range would be to take the ultra light flight! It’s a very small aircraft which can only take 1 passenger. This activity is really costly though, around US$130 for a 15 minute flight? Hence we didn’t go for it D:

Multi-Day Trek In The Himalayas

_DSC6472.jpg

2 weeks trek to Everest Base Camp!

Definitely a must do if you’re heading to Nepal. Although 2 weeks might sound daunting, it’s actually a very manageable trek. You stay in comfortable lodges with hot water, proper warm cooked food, porters to carry your main bags, etc. You just need to take care of yourself and the agency will take care of everything else. Check out our post on what to expect when trekking to Everest Base Camp!

Who we booked with:
Mosaic Adventure – very reliable and trustworthy local agency. We also like that they specialise in organising small groups which was more flexible compared to large groups.

Cost:
1,500USD for 20 days, includes a 1 day city tour in kathmandu, all meals during the trek, 1 guide and 2 porters for the trek.

Canyoning

Photo credits: http://www.pokharacanyoning.com/

Due to time constraint, we gave this activity a miss. If we’re ever back here, we would definitely try this!

So adrenaline junkies, what are you waiting for! Book your tickets to Nepal NOWWW! 😀

Sunrise Odyssey