Saturday, February 15, 2014


I was in Laos in early February. Day 1 was in Vientienne the capital, traveled to Vang Vieng on the 2nd day and stayed the night to experience first hand tubing. Went back to Vientiene and stayed for the last night before heading home the next day.

Lovely country less touristy compared to Thailand.

The best part, it was a very cheap country. I spent USD100 for 4D/3N trip. 1 USD is equivalent to 8,010 kip. 

Here is the breakdown:

Category         USD       Kip      MYR
Transport 19.84 159,000 66.06
Dorm 12.48 100,000 41.56
Meal 36.41 292,000 121.26
Misc 5.98 48,000 19.9
Massage 13.09 105,000 43.59
Entertainment 6.87 55,000 22.88
Total 94.67 759,000 315.25

Taxi from airport to city is USD 7/ 50,000 kip. You can share with other people.
Vientiene to Vang Vieng - 50,000
Vang Vieng to Vientienne - 40,000 kip (plus 10,000 kip for tuk-tuk as the bus stop in the middle of no-where, well not exactly but not at your destination/ in town but southern bus stop to be precise)

Vientienne - Funky Monkey (40,000 kip per night including simple breakfast and tea or coffee. My breakfast was 2 slices of bread and 2 scrambled eggs. The upper bed was very high and one of the toilet/bathroon was not functioning well)
Vang Vieng - Central Backpackers (30,000 kip for a bed in a 4 beds dorm with own toilet/bathroom. Best deal ever)
Vientienne - Douang Deuane Backpacker (30,000 kip for a a bed in a room with 6 single-storey beds, toilet/bathrooms on every level)

You can go check out the dorm before deciding to stay in it.

Thai food, grilled chicken, pork and seafood, etc
Local bear Lao Beer usually 10,000-15,000 kip for big bottle
Mineral bottles from 3,000 kip

Adapter, toothbrush, bracelet, waterproof passport holder, entrance fees, toilet fee, unaccounted expenses

Average price from 40,000 - 60,000 for 1 hour traditional Lao massage. I gave the masseurs tips for their hard work. It was really good.

Tubing for 55,000 kip. You have to pay 60,000 kip deposit and will get it back once you return the tube. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fox Glacier Walk

I took the Nimble Fox: All Day Glacier Walk with Fox Guide. I signed up for a day before my walk online at NZD 165. The price also includes the use of jacket, gloves, stocking, crampons and hiking boots. Unfortunately lunch was not included and you have to bring your own lunch box. Nevertheless the experience was well worth the price. 

The company offers a variety of package including
  • Half Day Guided Glacier Walks - a suitable family activity
  • All Day Guided walks for the more adventurous
  • Thrilling helicopter flights to and from a more remote part of the glacier on Guided Heli-hikes
  • Gentle, informative Valley Guided Walks to the dynamic glacier face
  • Day Heli-Treks Overnight Alpine Trekking high above Fox Glacier with superb views of NZ's highest peaks
  • Ice climbing Adventures - expert instruction, small groups, Heli-ice climbing options

First we started hiking to the starting point, then when we reached we put on out crampons. 

First sight

What you will see


The valley

What you will see

What you will see

What you will see

What you will see

What you will see

What you will see

My hiking mates

My Guide Johnny took very good care of me.

My favourite blogger also wrote about glacier hiking but in Franz Josep. Click here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The ones that doesn't make the cut

I had a tough time selecting the pictures for capture the colours contest because there are other pictures i like such as the following;


This is taken @ Mt Sunday

On the way from Wanaka to Queenstown


Initially this was my first choice for quite some time. Taken in the heart of Christchurch, a temporary ATM that came to live after the quake.


Was my first choice as well, I kinda like how the flowers look like pixie/fairy with wings. Taken in the Domain in Auckland


Taken in Havelock North (between Hasting and Napier,North Island)

Taken in Rakaia Gorge, Canterbury

Taken in Rakaia Gorge, Canterbury

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Capture the Colour Contest 2013

The Capture the Colour photoblogging competition is back for 2013 (ends 9 Oct). For more info click here

As I've been on working holiday in New Zealand for the past year therefore all my photos were taken in this lovely country. 
It is a very scenic country with mountains, rivers, lakes, beaches, volcanoes and beautiful landscape which I will try to showcase in the pictures.


Mt Sunday / Canterbury / South Island

New Zealand is known as Aotearoa in Maori which is simply translated to "The land of the long white cloud". 


Queestown Hill Walkway / Queenstown / Otago / South Island

In the background you can see the famous mountains called "The Remarkable". For me this picture captures all the other colors but the yellow in the foreground is rather dominant as it covers half of the picture.


Rakaia Gorge / Canterbury / South island

This was taken along the 2 hours walkway to the Upper Gorge lookout. The view throughout the journey was simply stunning. 


Red Crater Summit / Tongariro National Park / North Island

Red Crater is one of several active craters on top of Mount Tongariro in The Tongariro National Park. Tongariro crossing is without a doubt the most famous one day hiking trail in New Zealand.


Lake Pukaki / Canterbury / South Island

Lake Pukaki is the 7th largest lake in NZ. In the background is Aoraki/Mt Cook the highest peak in NZ at 3754m.

And for this year I have nominated the same friends for the contest. They are



Friday, October 4, 2013

Two Weeks South Island Itinerary

During my working holiday in New Zealand I took 2 weeks off work to go on a short trip around South Island for 2 weeks.

The following was summary of my expenses:

Food & Drink

Route: Christchurch - Arthur's Pass (2) - Greymouth - Punaikaki - West Point (Cape Foulwind) - Greymouth (1) - Fox Glacier (1) - Franz Josep (1) - Wanaka (1) - Queenstown (3) - Arrowtown - Dunedin (1) - Oamaru - Timaru - Christchurch (1) - Akaroa - Queenstown (1) - Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown (2) - Cromwell - Ashburton

Accomodation: Stayed mostly in BBH (backpacker hostels). Price ranging from NZD 23-26 ( price after NZD3 deduction when using BBH card). Couch surfed with my Wellington CS host who moved to Queenstown.

Hitch-hike: Most of the time; altogether 16 rides. Longest ride: Cromwell to Ashburton; picked up by 3 French guys who were doing car relocation.

Car relocation: Twice. 
* Queenstown - Christchurch, relocating a Toyota Yaris with Budget car rental 
Queenstown - Arrowtown - Dunedin (1) - Otago Penisula - Oamaru - Timaru - Christchurch (1)
**Christchurch - Queenstown, relocation Dahaitsu Sirion which was manual with Jucy. Engine went dead 8 times.

Both cars were picked up from airports. We only paid for insurance. I traveled with my host Erika on both relocation.

Lakes Visited/Passed by: Lake Matheson, Lake Wanaka, Lake Wakatipu, Lake Tekapo, Lake Te Anau

Hiking Trail: Arthur's Pass - Avalanche Peak Track (Up), Scotts Track (down), Queenstown Hill Walkway

Interesting places visited: Punchbowl Waterfall, Punaikaki Rock, Fox Glacier, Moeraki Boulder, Milford Sound, Baldwin Street (World Steepest Street in Dunedin).

Activities: Fox Glacier Hike, Milford Sound Cruise (Jucy).

P/S: Contact me if you need more information, suggestions or have questions.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Melbourne : My point of view

This is a guest post from my best friend and constant travel buddy Desiree Lee. She is professionally a banker. She travels whenever she has the time. She had been to U.S.A where her grandmother lives, India, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. An island buff, sun worshiper and avid scuba diver, her other pastimes is reading books by Agatha Christie and Terry Pratchett to name a few.

In the past year, I've been on 2 trips with Angie . The first was to Australia. When it ended, I flew back to KL, and she went on to her working holiday to NZ. The second trip to Perhentian Island was just
when she got back from NZ. I mean, the girl didn't leave the airport before flying off to another destination - how awesome is that?!

Australia is a great country with lots to see (we only went to Sydney and Melbourne). but I'm going to write about the things that happened just as much as the places we went. 

1. Getting kicked out of a club (Spice Market, Melbourne)

It was late, and our friend fell asleep (maybe the bouncers thought she was drunk, or maybe they felt it killed the mood of the place). Whatever, the reason, it happened just as Angie was getting ready to dance on the podium. And there was the added bonus of being escorted out by the bouncers.

2. Renting a car 
We rented a car from an agency really near the backpacker's place we were staying at, and the guy who passed us the car keys (who was flying to Malaysia the next day) was super friendly. After
collecting the keys, we went to Queen Victoria's Market to get stuff for our road trip and he came running after us to show us where to go and what stuff was good there. Then after we left, we kept finding little notes hidden all over the car. Just random stuff, nothing sleazy, but it was
funny. Btw, the car was a really cute pink Nissan Micra. 

3. Philip Island

Of all the animals I wanted to see in Australia, these were last on my list. I have to say, though, the little fellows are really cute. They wait till the sun is setting to come in from sea, and they do it in groups. Then they hurry across the beach (also in groups) to their burrows a bit further inland. I've now got a new expression. Instead of saying someone is like a sheep for following the crowd, I say they're a penguin. Also, it turns out that in the penguin word, the males are responsible for making and keeping the burrow. When it's mating season, the female walks in to inspect the burrow and if she's not happy, she just walks right back out. (We upgraded our tickets so that we had front row seats and a guide giving us all these interesting bits of information about penguins as they were coming in). I got up around 5am the next morning, not having slept well because someone in
our dorm snored really loudly. Started talking to another early riser and learned that the pies in Melbourne are nothing compared to the ones sold at the railway stations in Perth. After a while, I started complaining about the loud snorer. Went back to my room to pack, and to my horror realized that early riser = loud snorer. 

4. Puffing Billy 
This is a train ride I really wanted to take! It's an old steam train that goes through the beautiful Dandenongs and you get some really fantastic views. Volunteers from the Puffing Billy Preservation Society are conductors, ticket collectors, guards, and perform a whole lot of other duties around the station. For part of our ride, a man drove ahead of the train and waited at several points to wave to someone inside the train. 

5. Great Ocean Road 
There are wild koala bears on the road heading towards the Cape Otway Lighthouse. One accommodating bear was on a branch low enough that people could take pictures with it. Right until the point it grabbed a woman's hair. Needless to say, no one went close after that. Those claws looked sharp! 
Further along, we walked down the Gibson Steps - 86 steep steps down to the beach, but it was worth it to look back at the cliff line  Not many people went down so it was also nice to be away from the crowd for a bit.
The Grotto is beautiful. The reflection of the limestone on the water looks like a somewhat eerie painting. For some reason, I felt completely calm there.

6. The Grampians

I am so glad we extended the Great Ocean Road drive to the Grampians. We stayed at Tim's Place in Halls Gap, and we got a room to the 3 of us. In the mornings, I would wake up early and sit outside on the back porch alone and just enjoy the stillness, just me and my coffee. In the evenings, kangaroos would come really close to the backpacker's place. In the day, we walked a couple of trails. Don't remember the first trail, but the second was the MacKenzie Falls Trail. It's another steep walk down the stairs, but the falls are amazing. The sprays of water made a rainbow right at the waterfall, and you can walk across the gushing river at the base to the other side. I must have spent a good hour just staring at the falls. Admittedly it was partly because I dreaded the walk back up.

The grotto
7. The trip back to Melbourne CBD

Definitely has the straightest roads I have ever been on.It's really hard to keep to the speed limit when the roads are so straight for so long. Around this time is when I found out how much of a city person Angie is. Driving though one of the small towns along the way, she made the comment that if she ever stayed there, she would install a disco ball in her house and invite the neighbours over every weekend.

8. Melbourne CBD 
One of the things I'd read about Melbourne is that there is a great cafe culture. There are lots of quirky little coffee places with obscure signage. We were literally in front of Brother Baba Budan and didn't realize it until we saw people walking out of a shop. Another morning, I took a walk to Seven Seeds and found it hidden in a warehouse area.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Highlights of my South Island Working Holiday

All Blacks vs France rugby match
The match was on 15 Jun 2013 at AMI Stadium Christchurch. The stadium was a sea of black with and some hint of red/blue/white, the colours of France. I got my face painted black and white for the occasion. The Haka performance was engaging. In the end All Black beat France by 30-0.


It was relatively safe and easy to hitch-hike in New Zealand. I've been taken in over 50 rides. Average waiting time is 15 minutes. Longest wait for a ride was 2 hours on a rainy day in Franz Josep. Guess who finally pick me up? A famous travel blogger in a luxury camper van ;)

Road trips

*2 weeks trip - Christchurch, Arthur's Pass, Punakaiki, Greymouth, Fox Glaciers, Franz Josep, Wanaka, Queenstown, Dunedin, Moeraki Boulders, Christchurch, Akaroa, Queenstown, Te Anou, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Christchurch
*Day trips to Mount Sunday, Rakaia Gorge, and peel Forest with my housemates.
*Queenstown for clubbing and skying
*Christchurch - Ashburton - Lake Tekapo - Twizel - Christchurch

Working in Rakaia
I've done grading job with onions (7 weeks), potatoes, yam and lily bulbs. The jobs were repetitive and boring but I can't really complain as it was my main source of income.

My stay in Ashburton
I stayed in a backpacker hostel called Rambler's Rest when I worked. It was actually more like staying in a house. My room mates were really cool gals from Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Uruguay and Czech. It was a lovely town.

Not much attractions but it has all the fast food chains (McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC), Countdown and New World supermarkets, Warehouse and even Kathmandu store. It has a decent Art Museum there. 

Every Wednesday we would be at Speight Ale house to take part in quiz night. We won on my last time at the quiz.

Couchsurfing in South Island
My host Peter and Craig who live in New Brighton were the most awesome host. They were my host when I first arrived in Christchurch. They welcome me with open arms and I had gone back there many times during weekend. My other host is Robert and gang (Pimmy, Myra, Grace) and Poorna a vet I met for coffee first. All my hosts were in Christchurch. When I was in Queenstown I stayed a few days with Erika and Erin whom hosted me before in Wellington. 

Dating a kiwi guy

I met him on my 2nd week in South Island. He gave me a ride when I was hitch-hiking and we had been together till I left. He was from Christchurch therefore I traveled there quite frequent to see him. He kept me grounded. When I was in Queenstown I thought of moving there but decided against because that would mean I won't be seeing him so frequent anymore and that I will miss him too. Before I leave New Zealand I was considering to travel to the North of South Island but somehow find it hard to stay far away from Christchurch. I still remember one of the message he sent to me, "I had the best time with you and the best memories of you" very touching. We did had a very good time together.

Glacier Walk in Fox Glacier and skying in the Remarkables, Queenstown

Both activities in the presence of ice. The glacier walk was a first one. As for skying  I tumbled on my first attempt. Towards the end I was in control. my guide just praised me. She said she like to watch me ski because I was so graceful ;)

Meeting the Dalai Lama
I volunteered at an event where Dalai Lama the Tibetan Monk was suppose to gave speech about Suffering and compassion. I got this rare, once in a lifetime opportunity thanks to my host Robert. 

The food
Endless chocolates, wines, beers. My housemates love to cook and we have numerous get together dinner session, most of the time with the same bunch of people. We had pizzas, sushi, Israeli dish, Chinese, desserts and cakes. I get to sampled some Czech dumplings courtesy of my next door neighbour. We had christmas party in Jun with lots of good food. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Highlights of my North Island Working Holiday

Zorbing in Rotorua

Jumping off Taranaki Wharf

Strip Club visit - Mermaids

Hitch - hiking in New Plymouth

Tangariro Crossing

Hiking the Pinacles in Coromandel

Camping in Coromandel

Hot Water Beach

Soaking in the hot pool near Huka Falls

The Light festival in New Plymouth

Having the most fun time staying with CSers in Wellington

Working in an office in Lampton Quay

To be updated,...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Diary of a Holiday Maker in New Zealand

This post detailed where I've been and what I've done throughout my working holiday trip. This is Part 1 just in North Island. Altogether 84 days. 

Week 1 (13-18 Nov)
I arrived in Auckland from Melbourne. The first person I met is my CS host Julie-Anne, another M'sian. I stayed at her place for 2 nights.
Visited the famous Queen Street, Domain. 

Wed- Attended the weekly CS gathering at Bungalow 8 at Custom East Street. The gathering was massive for such a small city. Close to 200 people attended and the whole place was filled to the brim with Csers. I met a guy Jason and eventually he became my host. 

Visited Mission Bay, One Three Hill, Helliers Bay, etc

Sunday - went to Tapapakanga National Park with CSers.

Week 2 (19-25 Nov)
Hiked Rangitoto
Met Prana while staying at Jason, together we embarked on a mini road-trip. We went to Coromandel, camped at the camp-site by the beach, hiked Pinnacles (the most physically demanding I've undertaken in NZ, even Tangoriro Alpine Crossing can't compare). Not forgetting spending some time at the Hot Water Beach ;). Then we went to Raglan the famous surfing town, Mata-Mata as Prana wanted to go to Hobbit Town, Rotorua and Taupo. We tried water rafting and zorbing in Rotorua.

Week 3 (26 Nov - 2 Dec)
Mon - Arrived in Napier. At night Went to the town centre to explore. Not a big place at all.
Tues - Moved to Andy's Backpacker. The manager there is super good looking. Watched Breaking Dawn 2 in local cinema. Made some friends with lots of Germans staying there. We hang out out, drink and played drinking games.
Climbed the lookout point there.

Week 4 (3-9 Dec)
Mon - Apple thinning in Hasting. 
Tues - Moved to home-stay.
Fri - Met with a CS (Nandy).
Sun - hang out with a German and French guys at the park. Discussed whether the end of the world will happened as predicted.

Week 5 (10-16 Dec)
Mon - Apple thinning work resumed
Fri - Met Nandy again, went to Blue Water Hotel for a drink and Thristy Whale and next door.
Sat - Off day. Went to Cape Kidnapper

Week 6 (17-23 Dec)
Mon - Last day of apple thinning job. 
Tues - Went to Havelock North on Tues. 
Wed - Went to Taupo (Huka falls and the hot spring nearby) and then Tangariro National Park. Thurs - Completed the Tangariro Crossing!! 
Fri - Went back to Napier, stopped at Taupo again.  Started my accommodation exchange at Blue Water Lodge. 

Week 7 (24-30 Dec)
Had dinner with my apple thinning colleagues at Thirsty Whale, stopped by at Shed 2. We expected countdown at mid-night to welcome Christmas but nothing happened.
Christmas at Blue Water Lodge with the residents there.
Sat - Took a bus to Wellington, stayed at the hostel. At night I met up with Erika at Cuba Street. She eventually hosted me for almost 10 days.
Sun - Went to Island Bay.

Week 8 (31 Dec - 6 Jan 2013)
Lived in Wellington the whole week. Hangout at Cuba Street, Tepapa Museum, Courtney Place, Embassy Theater all the time.
Mon - Went to Mount Victoria Look-out. Celebrated New Year eve in Wellington. Firework was cancelled because it was too windy. 
Tues - Met up with a CS along with Erika.
Wed - CS weekly gathering
Thurs - Did data entry work in an office in Lampton Quay
Fri- Spent 2 a few hours with data entry work. Jumped to the ocean from Taranaki Wraft. Went to a strip club called Mermaids and watched topless gals pole danced. What a day!
Sat - Went to Mount Victoria again
Sun -  took the cable car to Botanical Garden

Week 9 (7-13 Jan)
Tues - Palmerston North
Wed - New Plymouth -went to the park for the light festival
Thurs - Hitch-hiking to Straton??, Dawson Fall.
Fri - moved to Auckland
Sat - window shopping in Queen Street, hang out at the beach
Sun -  went to Art Museum, moved to Warkworth, waiting to start mandarin thinning work. met a bunch of cool kiwis who were attending some course in Warworth.

Week 10 (14-20 Jan)
Wed - Mandarin thinning job started. Working while hang over wasn't a good idea.
Sun - Went to Wellfords with Nandy who happened to be in Auckland for the weekend. Had awesome pork-roast.

Week 11 (21-27 Jan)
Mandarin thinning job resumed. Boredom resumed.
Sat/Sun - Went on a road trip to Cape Reinga, Paihia, Whangarei with my co-workers cum hostel mates. I tried hangi when I was Paihia and hang out with my co-workers' ex supervisor and families drinking and playing pool.

Week 12 (28 Jan - 3 Feb)
Mon - It was a public holiday
Tues - resumed mandarin thinning work
Wed - moved to Auckland, attended the CS weekly meeting
Thurs- Moved to another host CS Joanne. Just watched Hong Kong drama all the time.
Fri- Camping and party at Muriwai beach.
Sat - moved to CS Lin's house. 
Sun -  Walked around waterfront alone on my last night in New Zealand :(

Week 13 (4 Feb-5 Feb)
Tues - lunch at a M'sian restaurant before taking my flight leaving New Zealand.

One thing I regretted doing was taking this mandarin job because it's a contract position and I'm slow at it. I should've put more effort to find jobs in other factory/orchards or even waitressing job. I didn't do as much travelling and sight-seeing as I wish. 
To be revised,...