Half-Day in Hallstatt

After spending the morning in Salzburg’s Old Town, I spent the rest of the day in Hallstatt.

I can’t remember when I first learned about Hallstatt, but ever since I saw pictures of it, I knew I had to include it in my bucket list. It’s actually the main reason why I had to stop by Salzburg during my Eurotrip.

There’s no direct way of reaching Hallstatt. You’d have to take a train and/or bus, and ferry. If you have more time or on a tight budget, you can do that. But since I’m too lazy to commute, I just joined Panorama’s Hallstatt Tour for €55.

wolfgangsee austria
We made a quick stop overlooking Wolfgangsee. So beautiful! It’s a popular vacation spot in the summer time as it hosts various world-class water sports events.

Our bus departed the Mirabellplatz bus terminal around 1:00pm.

We passed by many picturesque villages in Salzkammergut (Lake Area) like the one pictured above. One of which is St. Gilgen, which is the birthplace of Mozart’s mother.

Our guide also pointed out the Red Bull headquarters in Fuschl am See.

hallstatt lake austria
Hallstatt is dubbed as the ‘Pearl of the Salzkammergut’ Region. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
hallstatt lake austria
Tourists arriving by ferry

I was so giddy when our bus pulled up at Hallstatt’s parking lot. I can’t take the smile off my face! Continue reading “Half-Day in Hallstatt”

Best Places to Visit for Street Art

Seeing masterpieces by Rembrandt, Monet, van Gogh, Picasso et al can be a once in a lifetime experience for many. But going to museums usually take a big chunk off a traveler’s budget.

Today, art is no longer confined in the four corners of a building. More and more formal and freestyle artists take their art to the streets so that more people can appreciate them.

With the help of my friends, I compiled a list of best places to visit for street art.

Penang, Malaysia

wrought iron art penang

This UNESCO World Heritage town have quirky yet functional wrought iron street markers. If you take the time to read the text on the caricatures, you’ll find that they’re both informative and entertaining.

Next, head on to Armenian Street to check out murals by Ernest Zacharevic. He often marries his murals with real-life objects, and the results are larger than life.

penang street art
“Litte Girl in Blue”

Photo credit: Echoserang Lakwatsera.

Continue reading “Best Places to Visit for Street Art”

Choosing Bali Tour Packages – A Solo Traveler’s Dilemma

Bali was the last stop of my solo backpacking trip around Southeast Asia, and my biggest dilemma when I arrived was choosing among the plethora of Bali tour packages offered. What made it more difficult was that I can’t find any group tours that a solo traveler can join, which means I need to go on a private tour.

With dwindling travel funds, I couldn’t afford to take multiple Bali tour packages and had to settle with just one. But which one? I figured I’d just get the one where I’d get to visit its famous landmarks.

north west bali tour package

The tour I got focused on Bali’s north west side covering sites like Taman Ayun, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, and Tanah Lot.

taman ayun bali 1

The driver picked me up from the hotel at 10:00am, and within an hour, we reached our first destination – Taman Ayun.

Taman Ayun

A few minutes walk from the parking lot, we entered a manicured garden. I then learned from my driver that Taman Ayun literally means ‘temple in a beautiful garden’.

taman ayun bali 2
Taman Ayun is considered a family temple where the ancestors of the Raja of the Mengwi Kingdom and other gods are honored.
taman ayun bali 3
Pura Luhuring Purnama

We walked further and entered an elevated split gate – a distinguishable Balinese doorway – to reach the Pura Luhuring Purnama which is the holiest courtyard in the temple complex.

***

It was already lunch time when we left Taman Ayun. And since I haven’t had pork for almost a couple of weeks (I came from Malaysia before coming Indonesia), I asked the driver if we can drop by one of the warungs along the way so I can eat babi guling.

I was expecting it to be similar to our (Philippine) version of lechon, but the spiciness caught me off guard. I’m not a fan of spicy food, so I wasn’t able to finish the meal. 🙁  

Also, I probably got ripped off because I paid IDR50,000. I later learned that babi guling usually only cost around IDR25,000-IDR30,000. -_-

***

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Moving on, about an hour and a half away from Taman Ayun is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Bali 2

Located 1,231 meters above sea level, it was the perfect respite from Bali’s humidity. It was even a bit foggy when we went.

There’s an expansive and well-maintained park, but I find it quite odd that it looks like a mini zoo (with bats and python you can take a picture with for a fee) within the temple grounds.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Bali
The iconic Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is set on the beautiful Beratan Lake.

On a clear day, the lake is mirror-like; beautifully reflecting the temple and the surrounding hills.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

jatiluwih rice terraces bali

When our car pulled up at a parking space in front of a restaurant overlooking the paddies, I thought to myself “Wait, this is it?” You see, I’m from The Philippines and rice terraces are not exactly a novelty in my country, so I found it quite underwhelming.

I was also kind of expecting that we’d go in the actual Jatiluwih, and not just admire it from afar. Needless to say, there was nothing much to do here, so I asked if we could go to Tanah Lot.

COFFEE TASTING at sari amerta luwak coffee (one bali agro)

Because it was still early, the driver suggested that we drop by a coffee farm first for coffee tasting. He said there was no pressure to purchase.

coffee tasting bali
I can’t exactly remember the correct order, but pictured are: Mangosteen Tea, Red Ginger Tea, Bali Cocoa, Lemongrass Tea, Ginseng Coffee, Coconut Coffee, Ginger Tea, Bali Coffee, Lemon Tea, Cocoa Spices, Rosel Tea, Vanilla Coffee, and Luwak Coffee.

We did a short tour of the coffee farm first before the coffee tasting. Then I was presented with a dozen sampler of their products.

I actually liked a couple from this bunch and was planning to bring home some, but got turned off by the price. I decided to just buy one from the supermarket close to my hotel. :p

tanah lot

Not too far from the coffee farm is Tanah Lot.

tanah lot bali

This Hindu shrine is perched atop an outcrop in the sea, but devotees doesn’t seem to mind the crashing waves and ‘guardian’ sea snakes (according to my driver).

We were supposed to wait for the sun to set, but there were too many people so I asked the driver if he has any suggestions. He said we could go to Seminyak Beach.

seminyak beach

seminyak beach bali

Seminyak Beach is lined with posh hotels and high-end restaurants, so it’s less crowded than the rest of the beaches this side of Bali.

seminyak beach bali 2

While Philippine beaches are far better than Bali’s (yes, I’m biased), there’s no denying that their spirituality, culture, and way of life is unlike any other in the world.

seminyak beach bali 3

I know I’ve barely scratched the surface, so I am aching to see more of what the Island of the Gods have to offer.

I’d probably bring a friend along when I return, so we can fully enjoy other Bali tour packages such as Kintamani Tour, Ubud and Goa Gajah, Uluwatu Temple Sunset and Kecak Fire Dance, and Bali’s East (Tirtagangga) tour.

Have you been to Bali? Which Bali tour packages did you like the most? Please leave a reply below.

Embark on a Happy Life Discovery in Asia

For many, happiness is something that you pursue in the knowledge that you may never taste it. Visitors of the Asian continent share a different opinion. They have experienced the perspective of a broader horizon; they have seen natural beauty that they didn’t know existed before; they have met amazing people who showed them a new taste of life.

vintage suitcase
Pack your luggage for a new adventure

Whether you are a backpack adept or a tour lover, visiting Asia is one of the best gifts that you can make to yourself in a lifetime.

With 48 countries in Asia, you have a lot of choices to start with, but you also have a lot of opportunities to discover new lifestyles and new life philosophies that will upset your view of the world for good. Many find a new life balance on their way back from Asia. They have discovered in themselves a peaceful strength that was never there before. Asia changes people for the best. Here are some of the reasons why you should go to Asia. Continue reading “Embark on a Happy Life Discovery in Asia”

Toronto’s Hippest Hangouts

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Taking a trip to Toronto? Want to ensure you don’t miss out on all the city has to offer? You’ll want to check out some of the best bars and hip hangouts that are dotted around the city and which are the best places to meet interesting new people and have fun new experiences.

After visiting official-canada-eta.com to secure your right to visit Canada, you’ll want to get right to the good stuff – planning your itinerary of bars and clubs that you’ll want to visit while in Toronto. To help you out, here is my list of Toronto’s hippest hangouts: Continue reading “Toronto’s Hippest Hangouts”