Travelogue

Up Up and Away! Hot Air Balloon over Bagan

Up Up and Away! Hot Air Balloon over Bagan

This is definitely another highlight of our Myanmar trip – on a hot air balloon over Bagan!FV7A0246

It was both our first time being in a hot air balloon and the experience was truly exhilarating! From the moment they started blasting fire into the balloon (we were so amazed at how the fire was almost touching the sides of the balloon but it didn’t of course), to the taking off of the balloon. It was just so indescribable! Random fact, the entire hot air balloon was really big and heavy! It required more than 10 guys to hold it up and to keep it stable. I was so amazed at how something sooo big and heavy can rise just using hot air!

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The view from above was really majestic. The timing was also perfect. After our balloon started rising, we were wondering if we’ve missed the sunrise as it was already 7am and the sky looked quite bright. But before we knew it, at the corner of our eyes, we saw a large glowing sphere rising slowly into the sky, casting sunbeams across the thousands of pagodas.

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Overall, as you can see from our happy faces, we were really pleased with the professionalism of Balloons Over Bagan. It’s actually a British operated company and we felt assured of our safety throughout the ride. Everything was well thought of and they even gave us a cap each to shade our eyes from the glaring sun. After the ride, we were presented with champagne/lime juice, croissants and banana cake! Awesome service! Only con is the price tag that came along with the awesome service. We paid $320 each. But for the awesome experience, i would say it’s worth every penny spent!

3D2N Trek in Hsipaw plus Homestay

3D2N Trek in Hsipaw plus Homestay

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One of the highlights of our Myanmar trip was really the 3d2n trek in Hsipaw. The scenery was simply breathtaking and stunningly beautiful, kinda of helped take the fatigue away from trekking. Also, it was really fun trekking in a big group, there were about 7 of us. We took turns talking to every person in the group and got to know each other better.

We booked our 3d2n trek at Mr Charles Guest House and our guide was “Kyaw Kyaw” (pronounced as Jo Jo). There are of course shorter and easier options for those who prefer a shorter trek. Just tell the trek agent what your preferred trek options are and he’ll recommend you accordingly. We paid 40,000 kyats (approx $40) each for the 3d2n trek, accommodation and food all inclusive, except for water. But anyway you’ll be able to get bottled water easily from the villages and it’s really cheap too. Both nights were spent at a different village.

Highly recommend our guide, Kyaw Kyaw (“Jo Jo”) to anyone who’s keen to take on this trek. Albeit being at a tender age of 22 years old, he’s really knowledgeable and never failed to keep us entertained with his never ending fun facts of the day. And to add on, he’s really funny and cracked all of us up with his jokes. In the picture below, he was telling us about the watermelon plantation and about how big the watermelons are here in Myanmar. As you can see, we were all still decked in our fleece jackets, scarves and all. It was around 8am in the morning and was still very chilly! But as the hours past, it got hotter and our layers of clothing got lesser.

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At one part of the trek, we had to cross an ankle deep stream and the water was really cold! It was quite refreshing actually after half a day of trekking under the scorching hot sun. By the way, i would really recommend to put on lots of sunscreen as the sky in Myanmar is almost void of clouds and you can feel your skin getting burnt by the minute.

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Finally after almost 6-7 hours of trekking, we reached the village that we were staying at for the first night! The first day trek was the most tiring compared to the remaining 2 days. It was mostly uphill on the first day and the weather was terribly hot! I was soooo happy after i caught a glimpse of the village from afar.

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Celebrating our first day with “Palaung Beer”. It’s actually green tea but our guide called it “Palaung Beer” because of its resemblance to actual beer. Palaung is the name of the village that we stayed at for the first night. In Myanmar, the locals grow their own tea leaves and drink green tea all the time. They hardly drink water actually. Every meal was served with hot green tea!

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A sumptuous meal awaited us! As the people in the villages were mostly Buddhists, our meals were vegetarian for all 3 days. It’s their culture to have a plate of crackers as part of their meal. We ate crackers at almost every meal until we got really sick of it. But the food was yummy!

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Another thing we enjoyed most about the homestay was the village kids. They’re the most adorable!

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We explored the village on our own and chanced upon this small convenient store. The guy in purple (owner of the store i think) at the corner was really talented! He could sing and play the guitar really well! We happily sat down and listened to him sing with lots of emotions while strumming the guitar at the same time. Shortly after, our guide and his friend dropped by and joined in the singing. It was really fun just sitting there watching them.

If you’ve watched our video, the soundtrack is actually an original song composed by the guy in the purple sweater. The song was about a girl that he loves and misses very much.

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After the sun has set, we returned back to our home and continued to chill with the rest while keeping ourselves warm by the fire. It was really cold at night! We were all freeeezing.

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Fortunately, the home provided us with 2 thick and warm blankets each and a mattress to sleep on. It was pretty comfortable actually and we were kept warm enough.

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While exploring the village on the second day, we passed by a school and a monastery.

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We spoke to a friendly monk who’s a novice leader and he invited us into the monastery. This is where the monks will gather twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) for their prayers. We initially requested to stay in the monastery on our second night, but they don’t serve dinner and didn’t have enough mattresses for our large group. However, if you’re in a small group or on your own, you might want to consider staying at the monastery. It’ll be quite an interesting experience i think !

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On the 3rd day, we were rewarded with a dip in the hot spring! Unfortunately we did not take any photos of the hot spring. It was actually more like a local bath rather than a touristy hot spring that you would have imagined it to be. Males and females were separated by a cement wall. It was quite cheap actually, around 200kyats/entry ($0.20). You could see plenty of locals there with their longyi wrapped around their bodies while holding a basket of toiletries. In the villages they do not have the luxury of  having hot water to shower with and hence this hot spring is really a blessing to them especially in the colder winter months.

And finally, we were on the last leg of the trek and our guide surprised us with a pickup truck to send us back to our guesthouse! The surprise also included cold icy refreshing beer for everyone!

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We would really recommend anyone traveling to Myanmar to go for this trek at Hsipaw. A great opportunity to soak in the local culture while homestaying at the village. I can’t compare with the “Kalaw to Inle” trek as we didn’t have enough time to do it, but based on other travelers’ reviews who have done both treks, they preferred the trek in Hsipaw as it’s a lot less touristy and commercialized. In fact, we hardly saw any other travellers besides ourselves while trekking! For those that missed our previous post, check out how we spent the rest of our days in Myanmar!

With that, i shall end my post with 2 photos of random cats that we saw during one of our coffee breaks.

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Detailed Overview of our 16 Days Backpacking Myanmar!

Detailed Overview of our 16 Days Backpacking Myanmar!

Below is a detailed overview of the route that we’ve taken, mode of transport used and our budget (we will be using US$ and the budget is meant for 2 pax) for the entire 16 days backpacking Myanmar.

Myanmar is really one of the most beautiful SEA countries that we’ve ever been to. Every scene is just so picturesque that even with an amateur iPhone camera, you’ll be able to capture really beautiful shots!

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Day 1-2: Yangon

We’re both not really big fans of cities, hence we only stayed a night in Yangon and traveled to Mandalay the very next day.  

How we got here:
Took the budget Jetstar airline from Singapore and arrived at Yangon International Airport. Paid around $220 each for our tickets.

Where we stayed:
We booked a room at  Yangon Regency Hotel,  127 Sin  Oh  Dan  Street,  Chinatown,  Downtown  Yangon via agoda.com. Better rates offered on agoda than walk ins.  Nice and clean hotel, great central location. Highly recommended by us if you don’t mind the slightly high cost.

What we did:
We took the highly recommended circle line train  that cost us only $1 each! The entire journey will take 3 hours, but we got bored after awhile and decided to alight at a random station. Do note that the train counter staff will scrutinise all of your $1 bills and reject any note with a slight fold or stain. It was quite ridiculous as some of the stains were really not visible and we didn’t even notice them at first. But i guess they’re really adamant about accepting only new and crisp dollar bills.

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How much we spent in total:  
Food – $51

Activities – $2 (circle line train)

Transport – $440 (airplane tickets for 2 pax)
$10 (taxi from Airport to Yangon Regency Hotel)
$7 ( taxi to bus station to head to Mandalay)
$0.20 (local bus)

Accommodation – $45 (1 night)

Others – $20 (local sim card)
$7.30 (we bought bought a traditional “longyi” each)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $582.50

Average expenditure/pax – $291.25

Day 3-4: Mandalay

How we got here:
We took a VIP bus from Yangon to Mandalay via the JJ Express VIP Bus. The friendly staff at Yangon Regency Hotel helped us with the booking of bus tickets. Each ticket cost around US$16 and the entire journey took around 7 hours. The bus will stop for a short break every 2 hours. We were pleasantly surprised at how good the bus service is! There was even a “bus stewardess” who will serve you food and drinks during the journey. The seats were really spacious and comfortable. Not to worry about the freezing air-con as a nice and warm fleece blanket will be provided for you on board the bus.

Where we stayed:
We were lucky to be able to stay at one of the most highly recommended Guesthouse in Mandalay – Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse. Just see all of the positive reviews on their facebook page. The host, Nan Bwe (or affectionately known as “ma ma”) is one of the most warm, hospitable and friendly locals that we’ve met in Myanmar. The staff there are all very friendly and helpful and they serve the best breakfast ever. Best part of all, her guesthouse is one of the cheapest amongst the other guesthouses in Mandalay. We paid only US$10/night for a single bed in a dorm room.

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What we did:
Do note that there’s an entrance fee of $10 for some of the attractions in Mandalay  such as the Royal Palace, Kuthodaw Pagoda and Shwe Nandaw Kyaung Temple. But of course, if you don’t wish to pay, you may still visit these places, but can only view from the outside of the attraction. For us, we bought the pass.  

For the first day, we explored Mandalay on a bicycle and visited the Royal Palace and  Atumashi Monastery. We also visited our Burmese friend, Sophia whom we befriended from Couch Surfing. Had a great conversation with her and her dad over coffee at their  Dreamland  Art Studio.  Quite an adventure itself cycling on the busy roads with crazy traffic from almost every direction. Especially after the sun has set, it was really quite a challenge cycling in the dark with no bicycle lights at all. Thank god we made it back in one piece.

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Royal Palace

On our second day in Mandalay, we shared a taxi with 3 other backpackers who also stayed at Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse. Our host was very helpful in coordinating this for us and for arranging a taxi driver guide to bring us around. It was really cost economical as the total cost was only around $36 and we shared it among the 4 of us! Our guide brought us to several pagodas, temples and the ever famous Ubein Bridge.

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Sunset at Ubein Bridge

How much we spent in total:  
Food – $25

Activities – $20 (Mandalay Zone Admission Fees)
– $18 (shared taxi with other tourists to visit the attractions in Mandalay)
– $6 (bicycle rental)

Transport – $8 (taxi to Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse from Bus Station)

Accommodation – $40 (dorm room fees for 2 nights)

Others – $2 (laundry done at Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $119

Average expenditure/pax – $59.50

Day 5-9: Hsipaw

How we got here:
Took a day bus from Mandalay to Hsipaw. The bus left at around 9am and reached Hsipaw around 7pm. This time we took a normal bus (non-VIP) and shared the bus with tons of other locals. Every space in the bus was fully maximised to fit as many passengers as possible. Plastic chairs were placed in the middle in between the seats to accommodate more passengers!

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Where we stayed:
Another backpacker recommended us Mr Charles Guesthouse and we decided to heed his advice. Rooms were cheap and the ambience was great! Very friendly staff, comfortable clean rooms. Rooms were at $14 per night.

What we did (read about our Hsipaw trek experience here!):
After much feedback from other travellers, we decided to go for the 3d2n trek at Hsipaw. We initially wanted to do the much raved about trek from Kalaw to Inle lake, but we were told that the trek in Hsipaw was less touristy and more authentic. Boy were we glad that we did it. Definitely one of the highlights of our Myanmar travel! Our trekking guide was arranged from our guesthouse and we managed to find 6 other backpackers to join us for this trek. You need a minimum of 4 pax for this 3d2n trek.

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How much we spent in total:  
Food – $18

Activities – $80 (3d2n Trek)
– $10 (Tips for our awesome guide)

 Transport – $10 (Bus from Mandalay to Hsipaw)

Accommodation – $28 (for 2 nights)

Others – $3 (Medicine for food poisoning)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $149

Average expenditure/pax  – $74.50

Day 10-12: Bagan

How we got here:
Took the train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin (940am to 4pm) and crossed the famous Goteik Viaduct (highest railway in Myanmar). It was indeed quite a nerve wrecking ride. After alighting, we took a shared pick up to Mandalay Train Station where we took an overnight train to Bagan. I must say, the overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan (9pm to 4am) was a really interesting experience. Throughout the entire ride, you’ll be thrown about in all directions and you’re literally airborne most of the time. Thankfully, we still managed to catch some sleep despite the turbulent ride.

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On board the Goteik Viaduct – highest railway train in Myanmar

Where we stayed:
We stayed at Winner Guesthouse and it was not too bad. Cheap and clean, central location. Though Bagan is quite small and you can easily explore one end to the other end in a day on a bike.

What we did:
Bagan is an ancient city with more than 2,000 shrines, pagodas and stupas, one of the world’s most beautiful temple cities. Also, Daniel’s favourite.

1. Explored Bagan on an electric bike and scoured the city in search of the perfect place for viewing sunrise.

2. Hot Air Balloon (check out our experience here!) – booked our hot air balloon flight with Eastern Safaris, a highly reputable and recommended operator. Albeit being costly, safety always comes first and with them, we felt assured of our safety. This was definitely another highlight of our trip! Very awesome experience!

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How much we spent in total:
Food – $69.60

Activities – $640 (Hot air balloon)
– $29 (Electric bike rental for 2.5 days)
– $30 (Admission pass)

Transport –  $8 (Taxi to Winner Guesthouse)
– $20 (Overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan)
– $4 (Bus to Mandalay train station from  Pyin Oo Lwin)
– $12 (Train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin)

Accommodation – $72.50 (3 nights)

Others – $5 (donation)
– $3 (Medicine and toothbrush)
– $2.6 (Laundry)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $895.70

Average expenditure/pax  – $447.85

 Day 13-14: Inle Lake
Hmm frankly speaking, Inle Lake is one of our least favourite amongst all of the other places that we’ve been to in Myanmar. It’s a little too commercialised for our liking. But still, it’s really scenic and still worth going if you have the luxury of time. Otherwise, we would say that it’s okay to give it a miss too.

How we got here:
Took the overnight bus from Bagan (7pm-6am). Cost us around $11 each.

Where we stayed:
As we didn’t book our accommodation in advance, most of the guesthouses were already full 🙁 Our pickup driver recommended to us “Blissful Hotel” which cost us $25 per night. Not too bad actually, very new and clean. Only thing is that it’s quite far from the main market and river. Also, the ambience is not as cozy as compared to guesthouses.

What we did:
There’s nothing much to do in Inle lake besides taking the commercialised boat trip out to Inle Lake. We paid around $15 for a half day boat trip. During this boat trip, you’ll get to see the famous fisherman and their one leg paddling, Jumping Cat Monastery, Cheroot Factory, Lotus Weaving Factories, etc. On our second day, we visited the market and took a nice stroll around the village.

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How much we spent in total:
Food – $73.70

Activities – $15 (Boat Trip in Inle Lake)
– $20 (Entrance Fee to Inle Lake)

Transport – $2 (Taxi to Blissful Hotel)
– $10 (taxi from Airport to Yangon Regency Hotel)

Accommodation – $60 (2 night)

Others – $1 (Pack of Cheroots)
– $10 (1 hour Massage each)

Total expenditure for 2 pax  $191.70

Average expenditure/pax –  $95.85

 Day 13-14: Yangon

How we got here:
Took the overnight VIP bus from Inle Lake (7pm-6am). Cost us around $22 each. Once again, very awesome experience, comfortable, lots of leg room space, snacks and water provided. There’s even a toilet in the bus.

Where we stayed:
We randomly searched online for a recommended guesthouse and came across “Chan Myae Guesthouse”. Despite the long flight of stairs you’ll have to climb before reaching their reception, we would highly recommend this guesthouse! Very homely, serves one of the best breakfast, and best part of all, their wifi connection is the strongest we’ve had in Myanmar! All the rooms were taken up and we were only left with the dormitory which we didn’t mind. Just that it’s still under construction and there were workers living on the same level too.

What we did:
1. Watched a local movie in their local theatre. Very very awesome, highly recommended! The movie we chose happened to have english subtitles. Tickets were very cheap too! Cost us $1.50 per ticket. The theatre was surprisingly really modern and well equipped with dolby surround sound! (allll aroundddd youuuuu)

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2. Visited the Shwedagon Pagoda which is one of the largest and most beautiful pagoda in Myanmar.

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How much we spent in total:
Food – $31.10

Activities – $2 (Yangon Circle Line Train)
– $3 (Movie tickets)

Transport – $1.50 (Taxi to Shwedagon Pagoda)
– $0.80 (trishaw ride)
– $8 (Taxi from Shwedagon Pagoda back to Guesthouse)
– $6 (Taxi to airport)

Accommodation – $20 (1 night)

Total expenditure for 2 pax  $72.40

Average expenditure/pax –  $36.20

Total expenditure/pax for the entire 16 days travel$1,005.15  

2 Day 1 Night Trek + Home Stay in Laos

2 Day 1 Night Trek + Home Stay in Laos

This 2D1N Trek + Home stay in Laos was definitely another highlight of our Laos trip.

We randomly came across this small stall that advertised for home stay at the village in Laos. Feeling spontaneous, we  booked our trek + home stay package with them there and then.

We started off with a trek up to the village. It was a relatively easy trek. We left our bags at the agency and carried only a day pack.

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Lunching the local style. The locals there eat with their hands. And our food was served on banana leaves. Everything was biodegradable. Once we were done, our guide wrapped up everything and simply threw it into the bushes. Convenient, easy and eco-friendly!

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Along the way we stopped at a school in the village. The kids there were adorable. They were so easily contented and they find joy in the simplest things in life.

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Soon we reached the village. It was beautiful. This village felt very untouched, and surreal. We heard from the village chief that we were the first travellers there at their village who were doing the home stay. It was all mud ground and the wooden houses were built on stilts. There were sewage canals dug into the ground and you can literally see human waste floating down the canal.

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The only toilet in this entire village

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Our home for the night! We got to stay at the village chief’s house. This was how their living room looked like and also where we slept. We ate dinner with the village chief and his family and tried their home made wine which was very potent!

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It was really a great experiencing the “village life” in Laos. The people there were so innocent and genuine. For once we were totally off the grid with no wifi connection or television to distract us. It was just us and nature. It was magical.

Surfing in Bali like a Pro

Surfing in Bali like a Pro

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We’ve heard that Bali has the best waters for surfing and we knew we had to head there! We’ve both always wanted to try surfing but never really had the chance to. Not many places have waters that are suitable for surfing in Bali, for the beginners at least.

We decided to head to Kuta Beach Bali for a short getaway to surf. After doing much research, we settled on Odyssey Surf School  . They were priced slightly more expensive than the others, but they are a lot more established and reputable. In such sports, safety comes first.

We really didn’t know what to expect as it was our first time surfing. But the receptionist claimed that usually by the first lesson, we will be able to at least stand on the surf board already. We could also just pay for 1 lesson first and if we decided to extend for 2 or 3 lessons, we can do so after the first lesson. In the end, we did 3 days of surfing, approximately 3 hours per lesson.

About 30 minutes of our first lesson was spent “surfing” on the sand. They’ll teach you the 3 important steps to surfing.

But first, you’ll have to learn the proper posture and positioning of standing on the board.

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Start paddling when you see the wave approaching! Take in nice long strides, and increase the speed and intensity as the wave approaches.

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Step 1. Prop yourself up on the board by straightening both arms.

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Step 2.  Place your right foot forward, putting yourself in a semi squatting position with your arms still holding onto the board

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Step 3.  Stand up on both feet, with your knees slightly bent, and your back straight. And try to BALANCE!

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Essential Information:

Odyssey Surf School
3 days lessons: US$95/pax
We chose the group package. But they had enough instructors and in the end, it’s 1 instructor to 2 of us although it was supposed to be in a group of 4.

We stayed at  Melasti  Beach Bungalows & Spa Hotel. We booked our accommodation online via Agoda.com and paid only US$140.58 for 3 nights for the 2 of us.    Decent place to stay at and relatively near to the beach, approximately 10 minutes walk.

 

The Gibbon Experience in Laos

The Gibbon Experience in Laos

One of the main highlights of our trip was really the Gibbon Experience in Laos where we slept overnight in a treehouse in the middle of the Bokeo Nature Reserve!

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The beautiful sunset that we witnessed from our treehouse

Before we reached the treehouse, we had to trek up to a certain altitude high enough for us to zip line across to a lower altitude within the forest. The trek was pretty short and manageable, just a couple of hours (around 4-5 hours i think). Terrain was quite easy for trekking too.

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And finally, after hours of trekking and a couple of zip lines, we could see our treehouse! This treehouse was built on one of the tallest and biggest tree overlooking the entire forest.

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The experience of living in a treehouse in the middle of the forest was so tranquil and amazing. The sound of nature was so peaceful to the soul. I cannot even emphasize enough. We all each get to sleep on a rather thick and comfy green mattress with a blanket draped over us like a canopy as shown in the photo above. So cozy and perfect to sleep in!

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One of the interesting things of the treehouse is the toilet. The toilet was built behind the thick trunk, with a curtain acting as a door. First time ever doing my business while facing nature directly. Also, not to mention the icy cold water that we had to shower in under the moonlight. But nonetheless, it was really an awesome experience.

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Lunch with the other trekkers at the treehouse

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Chilling at night with the other trekkers, getting to know one another over beer and some card games.

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Essential Information

There are 2 main types of packages:

1. The Gibbon Experience 3 days 2 nights program

(a) The Classic Gibbon Experience  

The Classic Gibbon experience is relaxing and peaceful, with only an hour of essential walking. You choose how you want to spend your time, there is no strict schedule; food will come when you are hungry though, and the guides will always be around at your service. This option uslally enables gibbon eencounters with little effort. Up to three groups of eight people depart on alternate days as of 8am for 2 nights in scattered tree houses within the Nam Kan National park.

(b) The Waterfall Gibbon Experience

The Waterfall  Gibbon  Experience  takes you deeper into the Park, trekking for two to three hours per day along the Nam Nga River and through a fresh-water swimming pool and a charming waterfall. One tree house overlooks the river while the other shows sunsets overlooking several valleys. To join this option you should be in a reasonably good shape. Two groups of 8 people depart on alternate days as of 8 am for two nights in Bokeo reserve, swapping tree houses on the second night.

Departure dates and fares (per person, individuals or groups alike):

Classic Gibbon Experience: 2 350 000 kips (advance online payment: approx. 290 USD or 220  Euros 
upon daily exchange rates)= odd days: 1st, 3rd, etc

Waterfall Gibbon Experience: 2 350 000 kips (advance online payment: approx. 290 USD or 220 Euros 
upon daily exchange rates )= even days: 2nd, 4th, etc

2. The Gibbon Express 2-day 1-night program (we chose this)

Road access is one hour only and initial walk takes one a half hour. A series of very long zip-lines then fly you from mountain to mountain to the heart of the Nam Kan National Park and to the most giant trees living now in the Lao PDR. However, only one gibbon family lives in that area so your chances to meet gibbons are low in this program. Departure dates and fare (per person, individuals or groups alike)

Price: 1 400 000 Kips (advance online payment: approx. 180 USD or 130 Euro upon daily exchange rates ) Departure every day.

Both packages include:
* Exclusive access to the Bokeo Nam Kan National Park
* Transportation to and from the National Park
* Accommodation in a canopy-level tree house complete with running water, semi-private comfortable bedrooms, and a spectacular view
* Fire-cooked meals
* Unlimited access to an extensive canopy cable-gliding network for exploring the treetops
* Local guides with a good knowledge of the forest and a basic English
* Harnesses (guests should have waist perimeter < 120 cm and thigh perimeter < 80cm)

For us, we chose the Gibbon Express 2 Days 1 Night programme as we felt that it was sufficient to get a taste of the Gibbon Experience. 3 days might be a little too long. It was also because of budget that we selected the cheaper package.

Fishing in New Zealand!

Fishing in New Zealand!

So, we decided to try fishing in New Zealand and went ahead to book a chartered fishing boat. Within the first hour, we caught countless of fishes, a baby shark and a giant octopus! (don’t worry, we released the shark and octopus back out into the sea) But honestly, this fishing trip was way too easy! Not challenging enough!

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Yup, that’s right, it’s really that easy. You release the reel and drop the line and once you’re done, reel it back in and you’ll see 3 fishes caught on your single fishing line!

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The baby shark was caught by Daniel and he had quite a lot of fun playing tug of war with the shark! It really did put up quite a strong fight!

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Also, meet our new friend on board, Mr Tako. A pity they don’t do sashimi there. If not………yum yum!

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Best part of this fishing trip?

Everybody on the boat gets a lobster each! It was the most palatable thing that we’ve ever tasted.  Straight from the sea and freshly boiled. While we were out fishing, our dear captain dropped pods (cages) along the way to catch some lobsters. Then after we were done fishing, we revisited the spots that the pods were dropped and reeled them back up. We were so excited to see so many lobsters caught!

Our captain placed all the caught lobsters in boiling hot water. As soon as we’ve reached the jetty, they gave all of us 1 lobster each. Never in my life have we ever seen such a humongous lobster before! And boy was it the best food that we’ve both ever tasted in our lives….The lobster flesh was just so fresh, sweet and springy! Salivating right now as i’m typing this….

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Lucky lobster got let off cos’ it’s too small303526_10151833290465564_1439659449_n285782_10151833294035564_1897660878_n545083_10151001091940560_156067578_n551198_10151001091695560_1564526960_n

Essential information
I can’t recall exactly which fishing charter we went with as we researched on quite a number of them. But we did it at South Island in NZ and paid around $100 each for a 3 hours fishing trip. It was really worth it in our opinion, caught gazillion number of fishes, plus 1 huge lobster each!

Just google fishing charter in New Zealand and you’ll find plenty of choices to choose from!

Otago Rail Trail – 2 Days Cycling Expedition in NZ

Otago Rail Trail – 2 Days Cycling Expedition in NZ

And so, we continued our entirely spontaneous journey by taking on the Otago Rail Trail, a 2 days cycling expedition.

We cycled through old gold mining towns, into long dark tunnels and across absolutely breathtaking Otago scenery. But of course, what’s life without some excitement and adventure. As always, we found ourselves in some unexpected crisis the second day. Read on to find out more about the crisis we faced!

Getting ready for our 2 day cycling expedition! And yes, chomp on a banana first for the energy that you’ll need later! As you can see, we were all decked up in our thick jackets and all…temperature was pretty low and we were the only crazy ones going for this rail trail at this time of the year.

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Cycling through the meadows, a sense of total tranquility. Just us and nature.

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We had to get water from the river for us to use later to cook our meals. We did bring our own drinking water though. Don’t think it’s advisable to drink straight from the river water. We only used it to cook our meals and for washing up.

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We had a good rest and we were all ready for the second leg of the journey. But before we knew it, the sky started to change…  

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And soon it started to hail on us! And to make matters worse, Dan’s bicycle had a flat tyre! And we still had quite a long way more to go! We had to reach our destination by 5pm as there will be someone there to pick us up. We really struggled through and alternated between walking and cycling! It was impossible for Dan to cycle all the way with a flat tyre. The winds got so strong that we could even hardly cycle straight. It really felt like a hurricane!

But thank god, we did it.

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Essential information
Otago Rail Trail
If i don’t recall wrongly, we paid about $100 each for the bikes for 2 days rental. We stayed in a tent, hence no need for accommodation.

Click  here  to find out more on bike rentals and the rates

White Water Rafting New Zealand – Grade 5

White Water Rafting New Zealand – Grade 5

We have always wanted to do white water rafting, and again, no where else better to do it than White Water Rafting New Zealand.

But so anyway, we decide to go for a 5 star (most challenging) white water rafting adventure at Kaitiaki Adventures.  Unfortunately we did not manage to capture any photos of the adventure in action. We didn’t buy the professional pictures taken by them as we thought it was kinda of too expensive. But on hindsight, maybe we should have. Oh well..

It was quite interesting how much efforts they paid in really respecting the river. Before we raft off, our guide made us stand by the edge of the river, with our heads bowed down, while he made a prayer of respect for the river.

So anyway, the main exciting part of this adventure was the 6m high waterfall that our raft had to go through! Our raft would be totally vertical as it goes down the waterfall! The picture below’s the exact same place that we did ours, just that it’s not us.

Getting ready to raft off!
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Photo credit:  www.cheapestwaytotravelhq.com
So our guide told us that there’ll be 2 scenarios for this.
1. Our boat goes down vertical, enters the water and returns back up to the surface in a normal upright position, with everyone intact in the boat.
2. Our boat goes down, enters the water and capsizes. And that was exactly what happened to our boat.

We were given some steps to follow as we approached the waterfall. Obviously there was not much time to think and before we know it, we were already plunging down and next thing we knew, we were already submerged underwater beneath the raft.  But thankfully, nobody from our raft got injured.

Another raft wasn’t as lucky though. In fact that raft consisted of more elderlies and when they went down the waterfall, we held our breath as we watched, and then up they come, their raft did not capsized and everybody cheered for them! But suddenly at the corner of our eyes, we saw someone floating! Apparently an elderly lost her footing as the boat went down and was swept away by the river! They brought her back up to the boat but her nose started to bleed real bad! Luckily the bleeding stopped after some time. Apparently she did not manage to tuck her head in time as they went down the waterfall and ended up hitting her nose on her husband’s helmet in front of her! Poor her! Must have hurt real bad :/

That said, this shouldn’t stop you from wanting to try white rafting! It’s really thrilling especially when the rapids  get  too fast.

Essential Info
Kaitiaki Adventures, based in Rotura, NZ.
Kaituna River  (Grade 5)
Approx $99/pax

 

Sunrise Odyssey