A Painful Boarder Crossing and First Stop In Egypt – Saint Catherine’s Monastery

My whole Middle East trip was safe, no gun shot, bomb scare or anything like that. Security check was very stringent in Israel but you can still travel solo freely without being harassed. So I really appreciated Israel and consider it was the most enjoyable part of my trip.

If you ask me what was the scariest incident during the trip, it has to be the boarder crossing into Egypt. The most practical way to travel between Israel and Egypt is overland via the Taba border crossing. According to Smartraveller website ( Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official travel advise site), Taba area is the red, “do not travel zone”. “Within 50kms of Egypt’s border with Libya and Governorate of North Sinai, including the Taba-Suez Road, do not travel”, it says. That really concerned me. But then again, the whole Egypt is orange, “reconsider your travel” zone. Does that mean Travel to Egypt is not an option at all? I really wanted to go to Egypt and the need to get Egypt travel out of my system was increasingly urgent. So after months (even years) of deliberation, I booked the trip any way.

“I will have a driver and a tour guide accompany me all the time. The tour company will organise my visa and send someone to pick me up at the boarder. ” I was assuring myself over and over again. It’s just that due to the security situation in northern Sinai, the government does not allow tourists to ride the bus from Taba to Cairo, and the route between the two cities can be dangerous even for private vehicles. So I was a little bit scared about the safety of travelling with a private tour vehicle.

Thanks God I didn’t see any riots, military bombing or gun held robbery during my entire trip. Only thing was, I was stopped at the boarder terminal and denied entering Egypt. It was past 10pm at night. As you could imagine, being stuck at the boarder between Israel and Egypt during that hour is a little… scary.

The boarder officer wouldn’t allow us pass because you’d need a guarantee letter to enter Egypt. Our travel agent didn’t prepare the letter, my visa wasn’t ready. I was not informed any potential problem. There wasn’t anyone to pick me up at the other side of the boarder!

Without a sim card to call anyone in Egypt I asked the boarder officer to call the travel agent. But it appeared the one who picked up the phone had no idea what’s what. Long story short, I finally got in Egypt just before midnight! After being persistent and kept calling different people, someone finally turned up and prepared my papers. It could be worse right? I could get stuck at the boarder like Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal and have slept on the hard bench right? So that was the most scary part of my trip.

We stayed at a charming resort right at the foot of Mt Sinai and went to visit Saint Catherine’s Monastery the early next morning.

Built between 548 and 565, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The site contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books. We were not allowed to take photos inside the buildings but here are some photos from outside.

It was quiet peaceful in the early morning then all of a sudden arrived bus and bus loads of tourists. You see, some people are not afraid of security warnings.

To the left of and below the altar is the monastery’s holiest area, the Chapel of the Burning Bush, which is off limits to the public.

The most popular spot has to be where what is thought to be a descendant of the original burning bush in the monastery compound. Due to visitors snipping cuttings of the bush to take home as blessings, the area surrounding it is now fenced off. Every tourist from those big tour buses wanted to take a picture there. So it took me about 30 minutes to finally take a picture of this hot spot without anyone in the frame.

Hot spot. Had to wait for nearly 30 minutes to take a photo of this particular corner without anyone in the frame.

At that point I was still in Asia, next we were going to cross continent along the Red Sea and continue my journey to North Africa. How exciting!

5 Great Destinations for a Fishing Trip that Will Surprise You

Have you been longing for a new place to fish? Maybe you’ve been coming back to the same old fishing hole for years, and you’re tired of it. You might be craving a change of scenery, and want to see if you can hook a new type of fish. If this sounds like you, then you need to keep reading, because I’ve got some great news for you!

In addition to traveling, I love to fish. I’ve been in love with spending time on the water since I was 4-years-old. Anytime I go somewhere new, I always see if there’s anywhere I can set my line. I’ve been very lucky to find some great fishing spots in some of the most unlikely places, and I want to share my discoveries with you!

Below are five great fishing destinations for travel enthusiasts that you probably haven’t heard of.

1.   Fontenelle Creek, Wy. (USA)

Not too far from the city of Kemmerer, on the western border of the state of Wyoming, there’s a creek. You wouldn’t think much of it at first glance. It’s only about eight feet deep in its deepest portions, and it isn’t much to look at. But if you love to fish, Fontenelle Creek is a hidden gem in the heart of the Big Sky Country that you don’t want to miss!

Why I Love It

I’ll admit I’m not all that great at fly fishing,but I love it just the same! Fontenelle Creek offers plenty of great spots for both fly fishing and angling. It’s in a very remote part of the state, meaning it can be a little tough to find, but also that it’s secluded and peaceful.

Trout is the staple species in the creek, and you can expect to fill your bucket full of cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout.

2.   Umba River, Kola Peninsula (Russia)

Like salmon? If so, I’ve got the perfect spot for you. Nestled in the northwestern edge of Russia, in one of the coldest parts of the country, you’ll find the Umba River. Starting at Lake Umbozero, about 62 miles to the northeast of Kandalaksha, the river snakes its way throughout the Kola, until it empties into the Kandalaksha Gulf, near the town of Umba.

Why I Love It

This is one of the toughest fishing trips I’ve ever taken. The cold was biting, the river wide and deep, and it turns out that bears love the salmon as much as the fishermen do.

Despite all that, it’s also one of the best trips I’ve ever had. If you can make it out in May, as I did, you’re almost guaranteed to land a bite as soon as you cast out. The salmon are migrating this time of year, and massive schools of them pack together as they follow the current. As long as you’ve packed the right gear, you’ll catch more salmon than you can fit in your bucket!

Bear in mind, the Umba allows for catch and release only, so ensure you respect the law as you fish.

3.   Piñas Bay (Panama)

If you travel along the southern coast of Panama, you’ll find Piñas Bay. Bordering on the Pacific Ocean, the bay is a beautiful spot, with expansive beaches, lush jungle, and plenty of sunshine. For those who love to fish, it’s not only one of the best spots in Panama, but in the entire world!

Why I Love It

Piñas Bay is great not only for its location but also the wide variety of fish you can catch. Common species you’ll find include:

  • Marlin
  • Sailfish
  • Tuna
  • Swordfish
  • Snapper
  • Dorado

There are also many sub-species you can find in addition to the ones on this list.

4.   The Eg River (Mongolia)

If you’ve ever watched fishing shows that focus on “monster fish,” and wondered if you could snare one of these gigantic species, the Eg River is the place to find out. Flowing out of the southern edge of Khuvsgul Lake, the Eg River is home to several different species of giant fish.

Why I Love It

I wanted to see if I could handle one of these oversized monsters, and the Eg River gave me plenty of opportunities. Taimen are the most common species to be found, and they can grow as long as seven feet and weigh as much as 230 pounds! Be ready to test your mettle as you try to land one of these monsters. Taimen are aggressive and will put up a fight the likes of which you’ve never seen before!

5.   Rio Colorado (Costa Rica)

A tributary of the San Juan River, the Rio Colorado spans over 60 miles long. Surrounded by the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Preserve, Rio Colorado is an amazing destination for animal lovers, scientists, nature lovers, and fishermen alike.

Why I Love It

The river is home to Costa Rica’s most famous species of fish, tarpon, and there’s a lot of them. While not as aggressive as taimen, these fish will still pose a challenge for you, as they can grow up to eight feet long and weigh as much as 300 pounds! I promise it’s a challenge worth accepting though, as nothing feels better than overcoming one of these monsters and hauling it up into your boat.

11 Tips For Staying Healthy When Visiting India

It’s not hard to see the appeal of visiting a country as exciting as India. It’s a land full of history, sights, sounds, smells, culture. It is a fascinating corner of the globe, a place that every traveler needs to visit at least once in their lifetime. But while there’s much to love about a trip to India, there’s an old truism that you’ll need to be aware of: people from Western countries frequently get ill there, which can put a (temporary) dampener on your adventuring! However, while it’s impossible to guarantee that you’ll be in tip-top condition throughout the duration of your trip, there are things you can do to make getting ill less likely. We take a look at eleven useful tips of Staying healthy visiting Indian below:

Insurance Coverage

Sometimes, it’s not whether you get ill or not that matters – it’s how fast you respond to it. Even a small disease can become problematic if it’s allowed to develop into something more sinister. Let’s not forget that there are hospitals in India. If you have a problem, then you’ll be able to get treatment. But for some people, the costs involved with treatment can be a barrier. As such, the smart approach is to take the problem out of the equation altogether. If you have travel insurance, then you’ll be able to receive treatment safe in the knowledge that the final cost isn’t coming out of your bank account. In some places insurance can feel like an unnecessary expense – not so in India.

Get Your Vaccinations

If you’re going to India for the first time, make sure you’re getting all the essential vaccinations! You’ll need to think ahead a little bit so that you have time to book yourself in for an appointment (no last minute trips!) to get all the vaccinations that you need. And what do they include? You’ll want to get hepatitis A, typhoid, and possibly rabies, if you’re planning on going through the mountains. None of these are legally required, but are strongly encouraged. If you’re intent on staying healthy, then it’s not worth it take risks. 

Bottled Water

Drink bottled water – that’s all we can say. The tap water is not going to be OK for you if you’re coming from the west. Your stomach is not going to be accustomed to it. In some areas, such as areas heavily frequented by tourists, you might be advised to only buy sparkling water. This is because some sellers refill empty bottles with water from the tap, and then “reseal” them. If you buy a bottle of sparkling water and it doesn’t fizz when you open it, then you’ll know that you’re not buying the real thing. Also, never accept ice cubes if you can’t be certain that they’re not from the tap, as they nearly always will be.

Where You’re Eating

One of the main draws of visiting India is trying out all that delicious food! And take it from us, you’ll want to go with an appetite. But remember that sometimes your eyes and stomach can overrule your head when it comes to the foods you should eat and which should be left to one side. The street food might look delicious, but it might not have been made in the most sanitary conditions. Actually, that’s putting it too mildly – there was probably no cleanliness conditions whatsoever. It’s a good rule of thumb to only eat in restaurants that are busy – if everyone else goes there, then it must be for a reason.

Lining the Stomach

It might be beneficial in the run-up to your trip to start taking some gut boosting probiotics. This will help fill your stomach with the good bacteria which helps keep everything running as it should. They can be very effective if they’re taken regularly. Actually, it’s usually a good practice just to take them anyway.

What’s in the Bag?

You can stave off a lot of the problems you could encounter when in India just be packing smart. You’re probably already aware that the biggest complaint people have while there are issues to do with their stomach. If this happens, then you can suffer through the ordeal, or take a Gastrostop capsule, and help to relieve the symptoms. Most people find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having a problem with their stomach only to then think “I should have visited a pharmacy”; by having something in your bag already, then you’ll be ready to tackle the issue head-on should it present itself.

Staying healthy visiting Indian

Opt for Vegetarian

The vast majority of the world’s vegetarians live in India, and that means that it’s probably the best place on the planet to have a meat-free diet. Now, you don’t have to just opt for the meatless option on the menu for ethical or environmental reasons: it’ll better for your health too. That’s because refrigeration isn’t always of the best quality in India, and is, in fact, non-existent all together in some areas, which makes it more likely that the meat is contaminated. But take our word for it – you won’t miss the meat in your dish when you’ve tasted some of the delicious meals that are available.

Wash Your Hands

The most simple tips are usually the most effective, and so it is with washing your hands. You’re going to come in contact with a lot of germs while you’re traveling, but they’re not going to automatically get you sick – but if they have time to linger around, then they will. So wash your hands well, with soap. If you’ve grown up in a Western country, it’s worthwhile researching how to wash your hands properly, as ridiculous as it sounds – a splash of water and a bit of soap on the tips of your fingers won’t cut it, we’re afraid!

Don’t Forget the Sun

It’s easy, when you’re so focused on the diseases that might be hanging all around you, to forget that, well, India is a pretty hot country too. And if you’re not used to spending too much time in the sunshine, then this could pose some big problems for you. When you’re out and about, always wear lotion to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, drink plenty of (bottled) water, and stay in the shade during the hottest parts of the day. It would be silly to spend so much time thinking about upsetting your stomach only to get taken down by the sun!

Rest Well

You’ll have a lot of things that you want to see and do when you’re in India, but it’s important that you get enough rest – for the simple reason that a well-rested person is much better able to withstand threats to their health. It’s highly advisable that you invest in a good pair of earplugs, because as you’ll soon come to understand, the noise in India can be quite intense.

Don’t Lose Your Mind

While it’s important to take precautions to stay healthy when you’re traveling to India, keeping your health in check shouldn’t become an obsession. Some people get sick when they’re there; others don’t. If you’re looking at the country through the lens of “how might this place harm me” then you’ve gone too far. The best approach is to just do what you can, and then put it to the back of your mind. India is a fascinating country that offers a lot to its visitors: go out there and explore all of its delights!

The Best Cherry Picking Farm Near Sydney

Where’s the best best cherry picking farm near Sydney? Certainly not in Orange (a town in NSW, 255kms from Sydney). My first experience of picking your own cherries at a cherry farm was many many years ago. I drove all the way to Orange with a small group of uni friends who picked that cherry farm for us to go. We were told “There isn’t any cherry tree left for you to pick your own” at the farm when we finally arrived. So that was that.

Don’t get me wrong. I still had a superb time in Orange. We bought lots cherries, had a feast of BBQ, swam in a lake, went out at night with fire crackers in hands. These happy old times. And how time flew! Later I heard the best cherry picking farm near Sydney is in Young (375kms from Sydney) but never tried “pick your own” again. Until this year.

J suggested to go visit Young, “the Cherry Capital of Australia” during the national cherry festival and do some sight seeing. Located in a valley surrounded by low hills, Young is famous for cherries, peaches, plums and other stone fruits. The cherry harvest runs throughout November and December and the fruit season ends in April. There are dozens of orchards around town which, in season, sell cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, apples, pears, grapes, strawberries and raspberries. Some of these orchards offer visitors “pick your own fruit” option. Where others only sell fruits readily picked or jams, pies made from fruits from their own farms.

“Pick your own fruit” at Young, NSW

As soon as you drive near Young on Olympic drive, you’ll see orchards after orchards with signs on the road side, inviting you to go in. So it wasn’t easy to decide which one is a good one to “pick your own”. We drove around that road twice, searched through google reviews and stopped by a few to check how they operated. Eventually we decided to go to Ballinaclash Fruit and Wine on Olympic Highway South of Young. Staff at the reception explained how it works and I was so glad to go on my own cherry picking for the first time! The good news is, they also has pick your own apricots for $4 a kilo. There’s no entry fee to go in. You can eat as much as you can inside the orchard and cherries you pick to take home is $8 per kilo. That sounded really good compared to some other orchards that charge $10 entry fees to go in on top of $10 per kilo for cherries you pick.

No wonder they had relatively more people inside and good reviews. Nevertheless, we had to test it ourselves.

Oh my, there were rows after rows of cherry trees full of cherries in the orchard. All I saw was big, plentiful of cherries everywhere ready for you to pick. I started to wonder how it was possible “there’s no tree left for you to pick your own” back then in Orange?

Anyways, I wasn’t complaining. 🙂 With so few people around because it was Friday, we ate, picked and took lots of pictures.

Walking pass by different types of cherries, we reached the apricot orchard. How cute are these apricots! Not to mention that they are delicious!

Will I come back again?

This cherry farm is full of cuteness. They also have a shop next to reception full of cherry wines, jams and pies.
cheery picking farm near Sydney

The next day when we drove pass it to the Young Cherry Festival Parade, it was crowded with people and cars. Glad we went in on a week day while it wasn’t so packed.

The Cherry Festival Parade in Young town centre was so fun. Want to check out what it looked like?  J posted lots of photos here. Go and check it out!

Will I go back to the cherry farm again? That’s for sure! It’s the first cheery picking farm near Sydney I’ve ever got in. It’s got to be the best! Haha. Finally I went into a cherry farm to pick my own fruits! With a little bit more research beforehand, we fully enjoyed the trip, feeling full and happy.

Climb Petra Monastery From The Secret Entrance

I nearly didn’t make it to see Petra Monastery on top of the mountains. Temperature in Elate Israel on the day I left was 43 degrees and the climb to Petra Monastery requires at least 6 hours to and from the main entrance of Petra tourist centre. It certainly wasn’t an easy walk in the park but I’m so glad I did it. It only took me a little over 3 hours from a secret entry on my second day in Petra.

I was with a tour guide the first day in the ancient city of Petra. We took the main road walking from Petra visitors centre,through the Siq all the way to the Byzantine church Petra. Of course the main attraction for the majority of visitors was the Treasury and most of them would stop there.

Weather inside the ancient Petra was surprisingly cooler compared to surrounding cities. I enjoyed the nice breeze and large areas of shades throughout the Siq.

There were a lot donkey owners approaching us to lure me to take a donkey ride but I didn’t really want to as I much preferred enjoying the journey on foot instead of worrying about falling off the donkey all the way. Yes, to see the Monastery is must. What’s the point of coming to a long way to Petra from Australia and not seeing the whole ancient city of Petra? Sure there are more than 800 steps to climb uphills after passing the museum. But when it comes to travel, I’m never lazy.There was enough time to climb all the way up to see the Petra Monastery on the first day but I felt the urge to take it a little slower. So it was decided to do it on the second day so we headed back.

Map Of The Ancient City Of Petra

Visit Petra - the map

More donkey owners came to persuade tourists to take a donkey ride. Some fellow travellers took the donkey ride to be taken back to the entrance but I walked back to the visitors’s centre on my own. Next time I met these travellers, they all complained that those bedouins were “lying” to them. They felt cheated because donkey owners dropped them off at the Treasury, not the entrance to the Siq as promised.

The Secret Entrance To The Ancient City Of Petra

I was planning to get up early and climb Monastery on the second day but didn’t want like pushing too hard waking up the next day. “If I can’t make it, so be it. Most people don’t make it any way.” I thought. “No big deal. You deserve a rest.”  So I had a warm bath and long buffet breakfast instead. It was 10:30am, looked like there was no time for me to do the Petra Monastery climb any more as I had to meet the tour guide at 2:30pm to go somewhere else. To go to Petra Monastery from visitors centre requires at least 6 hours. As I was walking back to my room, the hotel driver came up to me.

“You wanted to go to the Monastery right?”

“Yes, but it’s too late now. I might just go to the Treasury again then go to the market in Petra.”

“You can still go. There’s a quicker way. I can take you to the entrance that most tourists don’t know about.”

“Really?”

“Yes, it’ll take about 3 hours. I’ll pick you up from the entrance once back to the hotel once you finish. But you have to walk hard.”

So I rushed back to my room, quickly packed some water and snack and of I went. Fearing the driver won’t come to pick up in the end, I paid half of the $50 he charged and agreed to pay the remaining once I’m back to the hotel.

Looking out from the car window, we were in the only car on the road. The scenery was breathtaking – mountains, caves and desert, though it was becoming normal to me. 🙂

Drive to the “Secret” Entrance to climb Petra Monastery

Arriving At The Secret Entrance

After about 10 minutes drive, we arrived the “secret” entrance. There wasn’t anyone else there apart from a tiny office with lonely guard who checked my ticket to enter the ancient city of Petra. The driver promised to come back to pick me at 2pm. I started to get a little nervous as it’d be alone from there onwards.  There was a good 20 minutes walk all the way down the valley to the basin area where the foot path to Petra Mona started. What if I get lost? It didn’t look like there was anyone to ask directions. As you can see, it was a long empty road.

Will I make the return trip in 3 hours? I’m not fit. It was 42 degrees that day. It was 11am, which meant I had to climb Petra Monastery the hottest hours during the day. Oh dear.

I didn’t have a sim card to make phone calls in Petra, what if my driver doesn’t come to pick me up at 2pm?What if I missed my tour in the afternoon? It’d mess up the rest itinerary! I still had Egypt to go…

After went through all those doubts in my mind, I pushed head with my backpack. There wasn’t time to waste. Just march on!

A Surreal Journey

There wasn’t anyone, any car, any camel, horse or donkey on the road. Yes, the driver was right, that obviously was the secret entrance that nobody knows! A horrible thought came to my mind, if some came to kill me then, nobody would ever found my body. Then I quickly calmed down. There was no reason to kill me or rob me. I only had little money on me and dressed down as poor tourist.  March on!

There was only me walking all the way down to Petra Basin yard from the “secret” entrance

There were more caves and pretty flowers along the way. The road was super clean. No smelly animal poos. That was not a sound to obscure the deep serene. 

About 10 minutes on the way down, I walked passed another resting area with a gate , where they checked my ticket again. So it wasn’t far from the main traffic. Hurry!

Soon enough I saw the Theatre, the Royal tomb, the colonnaded street. Camels and people! Climb Petra Monastery

Climb Petra Monastery

You have to walk through the Basin yard where the torrents meet and to ascend to the Monastery. It was nice and cool under the shades of the Basin restaurant but I didn’t have time stay for a drink. March on!

Signage to the pathways to Monastery was damaged so it wasn’t clear which way to go. But I got on the right path eventually and started the first steps to the mountain top.

Climb Petra Monastery

Climbing up the path to Petra Monastery

There was a long climbing to do. The climb itself wasn’t hard. It was just super long. If I wasn’t pushed by time, it’d be easier but I was under pressure. And it was hot. All larger shady areas along the rocks were occupied by bedouin vendors. It seemed unavoidable to purchase something once you enter the shaded areas. I didn’t want to buy overpriced, useless souvenirs, nor have the time and energy to haggle. March on!

Climb Petra Monastery

More caves on the way and stunning views looking back down:

Climb Petra Monastery

Climb Petra Monastery Climb Petra MonasteryClimb Petra Monastery

But the top was nowhere near in sight. I kept climbing, climbing and climbing. After weeks of touring and hiking before visiting Petra, my body started to feel the pain. I started to doubt if I’d ever got to the top in such short period of time. “Don’t give up just yet.” I kept telling myself but my pace was slower and slower.

At last I sat down on the side of the road, sweating and panting with my tongue sticking out like a dog. “You’ll get there.” “Only another 15 minutes.” “It’s totally worth it.” People passing by on the way down encouraged me sympathetically.  “Be patient and calm down. There’s still time.” I too, tried to encourage myself though I was totally exhausted and wanted to give up. March on!

On Top Of The Mountains!

At last, I saw all the mountains behind me and there’s a cafe on top of the mountains near the Monastery.Climb Petra Monastery

Climb Petra Monastery

It was cool and breezing on the top. I breathed deeply feeling the joy filled my heart. It felt unreal. The views form nearby mountain tops are amazing. You can get a good view of the Treasury from the top.

The monastery looks similar to the Treasury but much bigger in size. V

Climb Petra Monastery

Can you see the little in green top behind me? That’s how small a person looks compared to the Monastery. I couldn’t help but wonder, how did they make it over a thousand years ago without any modern tools?Climb Petra Monastery

On The Way Back

It was time to rush downhills to meet my driver! Luckily it was so much easier walking downhills. It didn’t take me long to reach the Basil yard down the valley. And this time I wasn’t confused about which way to go. Obviously I was the only headed that direction and many people yelled at me “Turn back, Turn back! That way back to the visitors centre was on the other side!” But I carried on without turning because the secret entrance was the my destination, not the visitors centre. Some donkey owners chased me to offer me a donkey ride back to Treasury but I marked on without stopping.

Soon I was left alone on the road again. The long, steep journey climbing up to the secret entrance! I wished there was a donkey, horse, camel or something. It was 2pm, time to meet the driver at the entrance on top but the road ahead was so steep. I started to feel powerless and desperate.

All of a sudden, someone yelled at me from behind, “Do you want a ride?” A bedouin with a donkey! I was no longer alone!

“Not really. I’m scared of donkey ride.” I was telling the truth.

“It’s not a donkey. It’s a mule. I’ll take you to the gate.”

Looking at the animal I couldn’t tell what it was. It did look a little taller and stronger than a donkey. No matter a donkey or a mule, it was God sent. I only had strength left to climb up the donkey/mule. What a wonderful 15 minutes ride! I felt rested and slightly relieved.

Meet the Donkey/Mule?

Tell me, is it a donkey or a mule?

The bedouin dropped me off about 200 metres away from the gate. And I rushed up to find my driver. As I approached the gate, I saw the driver coming my way too. So everything worked out alright!

How to enjoy the climb to Petra Monastery

It was an enjoyable experience to climb up to Petra Monastery and totally worth the effort.

Be mentally prepared

Firstly be mindful that it’ll be a long climb up. Some people like me even felt a little bored in the middle of the journey. So just be patient, you get there eventually. In the mean time, admire the views!

Take your time to do it

Don’t rush it. I rushed and stressed because I only made the decision to go in the last minute. Take your time to climb and take a few stops to rest.

Rest well before trekking up Petra Monastery

The climb itself is not hard to do, even for a someone who’s not fit. But to enjoy the journey more, you must take care of your body before the climb.

Drink plenty of water

Make sure you drink plenty of water before and during the trip before feeling too hot and dehydrated.

Is it safe to do it alone?

The answer is Yes! I’ve seen lots of single travellers during my trip to Petra. Though there wasn’t anyone else trekking to the Monastery from the secret entrance that day, I was totally safe doing alone. There might be a lot people trying to make more money out of you but the chance of you getting killed in Petra Jordan is extremely slim. 🙂

 

Little India Singapore & A Few Best Places To Eat Street Food

There’s a world of difference between Little India Singapore and Marina Bay Sands area. One is an ethnic suburb with a reputation of being slightly dangerous. The other, needless to say has the most prestigious real estate in Singapore. Both areas are interesting and equality worth going even if you are just staying in Singapore for a couple of days.

With much curiosity, I went to Little Indian on my own to find out what it really looks like. A 48 hours hop on hop off bus tour ticket will take you everywhere in Singapore numerous times. The hop on hop off tour includes walking tours in Singapore Chinatown and Little India Singapore. But I didn’t have time to take either of them. The audio tour offered detailed explanation of the rich history of the area of Little India.

Little India Singapore once had a racecourse, cattle herders and brick kilns. Today it is one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts. Its rich colours, buzzing culture and endless food choices have left a deep impression on me.

The rich Colours!

Little India is nothing short of colours. The moment you reach the neighbourhood of Little Indian, you’ll notice a burst of colours every where.

There are big elephant sculptures decorated in colourful flowers standing cheerfully in the middle of the main road.

And you can’t miss the Little Indian Arcade in bright orange brown colour, even on a grey overcast day.

Don’t you love these colourful, 2 story buildings with traditional folding windows? They are just adorable and pop up every where!

Possible the most colourful building in Singapore, the House of Tan Teng Niah stands out in colourful Little India with its bright rainbow exterior. It is one of the last surviving Chinese villas in a largely Indian enclave. Its former owner Tan Teng Niah was a businessman who owned several sweet-making factories along Serangoon Road along with a rubber smokehouse, and it was said that he built this house for his wife. The house was originally white and green, its rainbow of colours have only added in more recent times. Today the building houses several commercial offices.

Haven’t seek enough colours yet? Check out those flower garlands stalls!

There is however, one white building stood out from the colourful crowd in Little Indian. Housed in a 1920’s building in Little India, Wanderlust is a unique boutique hotel showcasing a diverse range of fun themes.

Buzzing culture

Heritage sites

Little Indian hosts a mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches. There are many heritage sites around for you to explore.

To name a few:

Indian Heritage Center

This shiny modern building inspired by the Indian baoli stands out among the narrow streets and little old shops in Little India. This four-storey building hosts a significant collection of artefacts promoting the diverse Indian diaspora and heritage, including a permanent exhibition of the history of the Indian community in Singapore. It’s educational, never too jam packed with people, and a great spot to chill out and soak in some heritage culture in a humid day.

 Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple in the middle of Little Indian is one of the oldest hindu temples in Singapore ( the oldest hindu temple is in Chinatown). It’s dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, fierce embodiment of Shakti and the god Shiva’s wife, Parvati, built by Indian pioneers who came and work here.

Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple

The Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple is also called the Temple of a Thousand Lights, due to the 15-metre-tall, 300-ton statue surrounded by what seems to be thousands of little lights housed within its walls. This Buddhist temple in Little IndiaSingapore is a mix of Chinese, Thai and Indian styles dating back to 1927. First constructed by Thai monk Venerable Vutthisasara as a simple zinc roof shed, it was later built in to its current form through donations by Aw Boon Har and Aw Boon Par, the entrepreneurial brothers who created the medicinal ointment Tiger Balm and Haw Par Villa.

Church Of The True Light

Shops

There are abundant places to shop for different types of goodies in Little Indian Singapore.

 

Tekka Centre

Tekka Centre houses historically popular, Singapore’s largest indoor wet market, renowned for an incredible array of produce and hard-to-find ingredients.

It is also home to a whole lot of sundry stalls selling everything covering household goods, religious paraphernalia and even tailoring services. The name Tekka comes from a Hokkien name meaning ‘foot of the bamboos’, a reference to the many bamboo plants growing along Rochor Canal. If you want to experience a genuine local shopping experience then head upstairs. The higher floors sell everything from Bollywood music to silk for saris.

Mustafa Centre

Mustafa Centre in Little India is open for 24 hours a day, housing Mustafa department store, which caters mainly to the budget market. The department store consists of two shopping centres: one retailing jewellery and household appliances and functioning as a supermarket, and the other selling a variety of other products such as books, DVDs, watches, electronic goods, footwear, toys and clothing.

Little India Arcade

Little India Arcade is superb for picking up knick-knacks, costume jewellery and souvenirs at super cheap prices.

Market stalls and little shophouses

Needless to say, Little Indian is everything about Indian culture. It’ll be a shopper’s paradise for anything Indian browsing those market stalls and little shophouses.

Endless food choices

Feeling hungry? You won’t be starved in Singapore, especially in this part of town. There are big food centres, loads of restaurants all over the place ready to feed you.


Out of so many hawker markets in Singapore, Tekka Centre is probably one of my favourites. Tekka Centre is a landmark in the neighbourhood, serving up a variety of dishes of fresh food only steps away from the MRT at Little India. This brightly painted warehouse was renovated a couple of years ago and has quickly become a hub for those in search of decent food at honest prices. It stands out from the rest of the hawker centres in Singapore, serving predominantly Indian food, including a great number of Halal dishes.

Inside it is set up like any other hawker centre, with rows of individual stores and tables around them. There are plenty stalls cater for all palettes whether you are after rich curries or a simple dish of duck and rice. So follow the crowds and delicious smells.

It was very hard to decide what to eat when there are so many choices available. After a few minutes’ observation, I found a few stalls with people queuing in front during non rush hours.

Eventually I joined the queue of Ming Fa because among all food stalls, this stall seemed to be the most popular at the time and I always love a big bowl of hot noodle soup. There are different types of noodles available showing in the cute tubs pictured below.

People in front of me in the queue obviously are regulars of this stall. They were whispering that the service of one of the other stalls was always slow and Ming Fa was super fast. So they were right, a waitress took orders from customers in the queue and the guy behind the counter assembled different noodle soups in lightening fast speed according each individual orders.

I enjoyed my laksa so much and will certainly visit again next time I’m in Singapore.

Tekka Centre Opening Hours: Daily 06:30 – 21:00 MRT: Little India Address: 665 Buffalo & Serangoon Roads, Little India, Singapore

Of course, you can’t go to Singapore without having Singapore chilli crabs. There are plenty of places serving this tradition Singapore dish. But many food kiosks don’t service this dish unless it’s dinner time. There’s a restaurant right at the corner of Mackenzie and Selegie Rd in the Neighbourhood of Little India Singapore, serving up fresh seafood and many traditional Singapore, Malaysian dishes. They’ll cook Singapore chilli crab for you with live crabs fresh from the water tans, any time during the day.

Old Change Kee in Singapore is my favourite place to drop by for a quick bite to eat. I just can’t get enough of their curry puffs! If you are a Old Change Kee fan as me, you’ll be delighted that they opened their flagship store – Old Chang Kee Coffee House at the original location of the first stall. It’s opposite Rex Cinema opposite Rex Cinema, where homegrown brand Old Chang Kee started over three decades ago. What began as a tiny stall in the corner of the local coffee shop, is now a bigger and brighter 50-seater space that spans three shophouse units.

It offers tasty food, friendly & fast service and very pleasant atmosphere. You might pay less elsewhere in Little India but it is totally worth it! You will have the old Singapore experience with proper porcelin utensils and lovely ambience, just like the good old days.

Old Chang Kee Coffee House

19/21/23 Mackenzie Road, #01-01, Singapore 228678 – near MacKenzie Road and MRT Little India exit A.

Singapore Chinatown – The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple And Hainanese Chicken Rice

Singapore Chinatown is located right in the centre of Singapore and is very easy to get to. A trip to Chinatown is a must if the country I’m visiting has one.

I’m not interested in browsing Chinatown market stalls or having anything from Singapore Chinatown food street so the main focus on my visit to Chinatown Singapore was on Temples and trying the traditional Hainanese chicken rice from a hawker stall that has the best reviews. Yep, being a crazy hungry Asian, my focus is always somewhat on food.

You might know by now I have a thing for temples – old ruins, perfectly maintained or newish ones. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple turned out to be grander than I’d expected. It was raining by the time I got there so using mobile phone to take photos became a better option.

Here are a few photos from my visit to Singapore chinatown the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Can you see the rain drops?

Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic TempleSingapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic TempleSpeaking of temples, there’s another beautiful temple that is right on top of the list . Sri Mariamman Temple
is the oldest shrine in Singapore and one of the most prominent places of worship for Tamil Hindus in the country. It was built to honour Goddess Mariamman – the deity of disease and protection.

It’s smaller than the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in size but equality amazing.

I googled traditional Singapore dishes before and found out that the Hainanese chicken rice is actually originated from Singapore. There are so many restaurants in Sydney that offer this dish so I’m super curious to taste it in Singapore. Of course I googled again to see where’s the best Hainanese chicken rice served in Singapore. Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice came up numerous times. It seemed like an easy choice as it’s in the Maxwell Food Centre, just across the road from the Buddha Tooth Relic temple.

It turned out there was quite a bit construction work going on so it was not that straight forward to go in the Maxwell Food Centre that day. Still it was just a short walk from the temple and Tian Tian hawker stall is right at the entrance. Hainanese Chicken rice from Tian Tian was serviced in 2 sizes, one small, one large. The large size is not that large and small is indeed, quite small in portion.

As you can see, the presentation was extremely plain but it tasted really good. The price of Hainanese chicken rice dish from Tian Tian Hawker stall is noticeably higher than other hawker stalls in Singapore. Maybe because it’s gained good reviews on the internet over the years hence the premium being charged. Is it worth travelling all the way to have this dish from Tian Tian? In my opinion, it’s not worth it. The surrounding has a rather cheap feeling, there’s no tissue provided with the dish. Truth be told, we could easily get much bigger portion, equality tasty Hainanese chicken rice served with proper cutlery in Sydney for the same price, if not cheaper.  Sorry Tian Tian, maybe I’m just spoilt, haha.

Visit Petra: Highlights And Tiny Letdowns

It wasn’t a short journey to visit Petra travelling all the way from Australia. Ever since I saw a picture of the Treasury at Petra, my desire of seeing it in person started to grow stronger and stronger. That dream trip of mine finally came to fruition this year after years of fantasising and a lot research + planning. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely.

Going to Petra from Israel

I entered the the Kingdom of Jordan through Israel/Jourdan boarder after an overnight stay in Elate Israel. Security check to go in Jordan was very fast and straight forward compared to those stringent processes in Israel. A driver and tour guide met me on the other side of boarder and my trip to Petra started officially.

A stop over at the breathtaking Wadi Rum dessert on the way from Aquba to Petra is highly recommended though a lot visitors to Petra are here for the Treasury. It’s only a little over 100 kilo meters from Wadi Rum to the city of Petra so it’ll take less than a couple of hours travelling by car.

The Dead Sea stretches across Israel and all the way to the Jordanian border. I’ve ticked off my bucket list item floating in the Dead Sea while in Israel. However I wonder if it could have been a better experience if it was done in Jordan. My tour guide proudly told me that the first hotel on Dead Sea was actually built in Jordan. So if any of you have floated in the Dead Sea in Jordan, please do share your experience!

The City of Petra

Whenever Petra is mentioned, most people would immediately think of the movie Indiana Jones. For some reason, I can’t remember that particular Indiana Jones movie. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen it? Now that I’ve visited Petra, perhaps it’s the time to find that movie and watch it haha!

The city of Petra is nested in a dirt covered, secluded valley. There were a row of restaurants on the street leading to Petra visitor centre. Someone asked me if there were any KFC or Macca’s in Petra when I got back to Sydney. Well, I don’t record seeing any. The thing is, you won’t want to have fast food from KFC or McDanald’s in Petra any way. I had some amazing middle eastern feast there. So when you go, make sure to take time to enjoy the local cuisine.

What you need to know about visiting the ancient city of Petra

You don’t really need the local currency.

As long as you have sufficient US dollars on you, you don’t really to go through money exchange to get the local currency because US dollar is widely accepted in Petra.

You don need a lot of small bills on you though

The biggest inconvenience for me at the time was that I had quite a few $100 US dollar notes on me when I entered Petra and  I was having a VERY hard time to break it into smaller notes. You won’t be able to go far without smaller bills. You need them for tipping, buying drinking water and taxi fares etc. People won’t help you without being tipped and you can’t tip them with $100 notes.

Do you need a tour guide?

I booked a private tour guide before my Middle Eastern trip because I was travelling alone. But in reality, Petra is so straight forward to explore and the chance of getting lost there is really slim. Without a tour guide you’ll be able to stop whenever you wanted and take as much time to absorb everything. Many times I wished my guide could stop talking and singing like a crazy person but hey, that was just part of the experience. I was extremely glad that I had a full day all to myself without a guide so that I could really take my time to appreciate those sights without being interrupted or taken to a souvenir shop. So you’d better off without a tour guide, even if you are travelling solo.

Don’t get the single day ticket

It’s certainly not enough time to explore the best of Petra and enjoy it in just one day, so allow yourself at least a couple of days in the area. In stead of getting the single day tickets, buy a two day pass to save money and hassle.

Have plenty of water

You’ll hike a lot and weather is try. In order to keep yourself hydrated through out the day, make sure to drink plenty of water.

The horse riding

Though it’s said the horse ride is included in the entry ticket, I didn’t take the horse ride because I wanted to explore the ancient city by foot. If you opt to take a horse ride, make sure you have a US$5 note to tip the owner. If you hand over a $10 or $20 notes and expect your change back, you’ll be disappointed. Hence the importance to have plenty of small bills on you all the time.

Be aware of the hawkers

There will be a lot people trying to sell something to the tourists. Just be careful not to be the easy target. Don’t believe it that you’d buy authentic silver jewellery for $5. Don’t follow those little boys who promise to take you to places with the most amazing view. Don’t ride the horse, the camel or the donkey if you don’t want to…The best way is to stay firm and say “No” straight away without eye contact. People normally go away. That was a lot easier to deal with than what I’ve experienced in Egypt (where people would chase you all the way and force their service on you, then grab you for money).

The dress code?

Sure, 90% of the population in Jordan is Muslims. But Petra is occupied by tourists from all over the world. As long as you don’t dress offensively and overly expose yourself, people don’t really care what you wear.

The Siq

The Siq is a gorge, a 80 meter split in the rock. It’s the ancient entrance to the rose city. Walking through it wasn’t as long or boring as some people might have experienced. It was nice and cool under the gorge even in a hot Summer day. Not to mention, it’s so amazingly beautiful.

Watch out for the roaming horse carriages though while going through the narrow gorge though. Horses don’t really care about sharing the roads with the pedestrians, either do their owners. The smell of horse droppings through Siq could also be a little overwhelming.

Check out this blog post to see more photos of the beautiful Siq:

Jordan Photo Dairy – From Wadi Rum Jordan To The Siq, To The Treasury Petra

The Treasury:

The best time to see Treasury is in the afternoon, while the sun is shinning on that majestic ancient stone structure. The breathtaking moment to see the Treasury appearing at the end of Siq to me is simply unforgettable. There it was – all mighty, rose coloured and grand, just as beautiful and magnificent as I have imagined, even more stunning in real life.

visit Petravisit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petravisit PetraPetra at night

Petra at night happens 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night when candle lights will be lit in front of the Treasury. You might have seen some magical photos of Petra at night on the internet. The true is, Photoshop could have something to do with the beauty of those photos. A lot people got quite disappointed seeing the whole event in person. But the main thing is to just enjoy the moment and manage our expectations:).

Petra during the day however, doesn’t require any Photoshop’s help. Every single snap would turn out to be a post card worthy photo.
visit Petra visit Petravisit Petra

The hike to Monastery

Local people said if you haven’t been to Monastery, you haven’t really been to Petra. But the hike to Petra Monastery is no easy task. It takes at least 6 hours going up and down, from midway, you need to climb nearly 900 steps all the way uphill. But no matter, when it comes to travel, I’ve never been lazy! After days of hiking and touring, my body was feeling the pain, I kept pushing and made it all the way to the top, in 40C + degrees heat. 🙂 Oh mine. How grand is Monastery! The hike to the Monastery took the my trip to Petra to a whole new level. It looks similar to the Treasury but much bigger. See that lady in green top behind me? That’s how small a person looks next to the Monastery.

The Monastery

An the view on top? Mind – blowing. I’ll leave it to another post for more photos from the hike to Petra Monastery.

Spending Christmas Away from Home

Christmas tends to be a time of year that we strongly associate with home. It’s when we spend more time within our homes and visiting our nearest and dearest in their homes. But you don’t necessarily have to always spend every year seated around the dinner table eating sprouts and gravy. This is just as good a time of year to go away as any other if you have been struck by a sense of wanderlust, and it can be exciting to see how other countries around the world celebrate this occasion too! So, if you’re considering heading overseas this festive season, here are a few steps that you should incorporate into your planning process!

Choose Your Destination

The first step that you need to do when planning Christmas away from home is to choose your destination. This will cement your plans and help you to make further steps ahead when it comes to planning what you will be doing over the festive season. The location that you choose will fall entirely down to personal preference. Choosing somewhere hot can allow you to escape from cold winters back home and embrace sun, sea, and sand rather than shivering and having to wrap up in multiple layers just to leave the house. Heading somewhere even colder and with more prominent festive associations or ties can help to enhance the festive feel and send Christmas spirit levels skyrocketing through the roof.

Particularly Festive Friendly Destinations

There are, of course, various destinations that prove extremely popular during the festive season. They tend to have links to traditional Christmas folklore or have frosty weather conditions that make for the perfect winter wonderland. Here are a few to consider.

Lapland

Let’s start with the most obvious place that you might like to visit – Lapland. As legend goes, this is Santa’s home, and you can really get into the Christmas spirit by visiting from November right through till January. You can be greeted at the local airport by “Santa’s helpers”, will get to frolic and play in the snow, and can even visit the big man himself! Alongside this, you could incorporate trips to see the Northern Lights and even stay in an igloo.

Iceland

Iceland is another chilly destination that can offer some real winter time magic. Alongside seeing the Northern Lights and traversing the Golden Circle with its icy landscapes, you can check out Christmas markets and learn a little more about the rebellious Yule Lads. If you want a touch of luxury, you could slip in a trip to the Blue Lagoon – a geothermal spa.

Familiarise Yourself with Alternative Local Customs and Traditions

While Christmas isn’t necessarily a huge occasion around the entire world, many countries do have their own Christmas customs and traditions, and you might want to engage with these while you are away. Familiarising yourself with other culture’s way of celebrating is definitely an opportunity worth embracing when it comes to broadening your perspective and understanding of the world beyond your doorstep. Here are a few different traditions from countries around the world that you might be interested in testing out yourself while you are away.

Australia

Christmas falls in Australian summertime, so while other countries around the world will embrace cosy festivities indoors, Australians tend to spend more time outdoors and are topping up their sunscreen rather than throwing extra layers on and huddling up in blankets. You’ll find that many Australians will indulge in a beach BBQ on Christmas Day itself. You can learn more about the perfect way to spend Christmas down under at Bondi 38.

The Philippines

Every year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve, masses of individuals in the Philippines celebrate with the Giant Lantern Festival (otherwise referred to as “Ligligan Parul Sampernandu”). This is usually held in the city of San Fernando, which is renowned for being one of the most festive places in the region. There is competition to build the most attractive and eye catching lantern.

Sweden

Sweden’s best-known Christmas tradition is probably the Yule Goat. This is a goat that measures thirteen metres tall that has been built and placed in Gavle’s Castle Square on an annual basis since 1966. This may sound odd. But what’s more odd is another tradition that has come hand in hand with the presence of the goat – a tradition of trying to burn it down. While it is illegal to burn the goat down and there is now tight security surrounding the goat, it has been successfully burnt down a grand total of 29 times.

Pack Appropriately

Wherever you are heading, you need to make sure that you pack appropriately for the weather. Never just assume that what you are used to wearing at home will do. If you are heading to a hot destination, you will still need your swimwear and sun protection. If you are heading to a particularly cold destination, you will want to stock up on layers, waterproofs, and insulated jackets.

Sure, spending Christmas away from home isn’t going to be the most appealing idea for everyone out there. But it is a great option for those of us who fancy a bit of an escape over the festive period. What’s more? Your work are likely to offer you a little gratuitous holiday during this time too, so you don’t have to worry about booking quite so much time off work to head away!

 

Singapore Photo Diary

My 3 days short stay in Singapore before heading off to London and Middle East was quiet and peaceful. I got the opportunity to wander around and pig out whenever and whatever I wanted without any distraction.

Singapore is a small country in size though their shopping and food malls are huge. I obviously ate too much but being a crazy hungry Asian, over eating is probably what I do best.

I also tried to take a couple of selfies using my new selfie stick before quickly loosing patience. Nevertheless, I did manage to take lots of photos of places so here’s a snippet of it.

 

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Trying to take a selfie with a stick… Yes! finally got my head in the frame #suckatselfie #awkward

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7 Important Reasons Expats Choose Singapore

Singapore often tops the list of countries expats enjoy. It’s no accident either. The city-state has historically made efforts to attract talent from all over the world, and they aren’t shy about doing things very differently from the rest of the world to make it happen.

Singapore continues to attract expats despite facing many disadvantages compared to other countries that also rate highly among expats, such as New Zealand, Canada, and Germany. For one thing, it’s quite expensive to live in Singapore, and its cost of living is consistently among the highest in the world. For another, it’s also one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. It’s also by some measures, an authoritarian state, which often makes it the target of criticism in Western countries.

However, none of those details seem to dissuade most expats from choosing Singapore. Here are several reasons why the micronation continues to be a virtual giant when it comes to attracting the world’s top talents. For more ideas of what to expect in Singapore, check out Living in Singapore: A Complete Singapore Expat Guide.

1.) Low crime rates.

Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. That’s not to say it’s crime-free — it does have its share of pickpockets and occasional corruption scandals. But chances are your own hometown probably plays host to more crime in a month than Singapore does in a year. The famously draconian justice system is one of the pillars of Singaporean society, and most citizens and residents won’t trade it for anything else.

2.) A world-leading educational system

Singapore’s educational system has proven attractive to many expats who want their children to have access to an excellent, well-funded education. The country frequently tops lists of countries with excellent educational systems and it is also a regional mecca for advanced education in technical fields.

3.) An advanced healthcare system

Singapore has one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world, and certainly in the region. Technological investment in this area is among the highest in the world, with cutting-edge equipment and techniques readily available. It’s also incredibly inclusive. All Singaporean residents and those classified as Permanent Residents have access to state health insurance through MediShield Life, which covers basic treatments at public hospitals and other designated centers. You can even pay a little more so you have wider access to different hospitals and procedures.

However, despite the availability of state-backed insurance, medical care is still quite expensive in Singapore. Patients now have to pay at least part of their bill and expats without Permanent Resident status can expect to pay hefty fees out of pocket. In a country where even a 5-minute procedure can set you back over $100, it makes sense to get international health insurance from a specialized insurer such as Now Health International before making the move to Singapore.

4.) High salaries

Even with the high costs of healthcare are comparatively when compared to the high salaries provided within the city-state. This is the chief reason so many expats find their way in Singapore as it has some of the world’s highest wages even while having a reasonable (though not cheap) cost of living. This makes it easy to save up to start a new business back home, travel, and generally have a better quality of life.

To put things into perspective, annual surveys by different companies pegged the average expat salary worldwide at an already substantial $97,000. In Singapore, expats earn an average of $139,000, which is around 43% more than the world average. The city-state, while expensive to live in, isn’t typically as expensive as other world cities to live in, means earners still get to save more of what they get.

The other side benefit to these high salaries is that expats surveyed often note that getting a salary boost in Singapore also greatly boosts their ability to get high salaries even if they move out of Singapore. This makes the country highly attractive to young talents with fresh new ideas as well.

5.) A vibrant culture and arts scene

The country is a hotspot of international world culture. It has this place for the very same reason it attracts so many expats in other industries. The educational level, salaries, and the mix of different cultures of the different people that live in Singapore contribute to a very fertile ground for culture and the arts. People in Singapore generally have the means to spend money on the arts and good artists are more likely to be able to support themselves in the country, in contrast to the steeper uphill battle artists may face in other countries.

6.) Overall better quality of living

If you’re the type of person who likes a bit of poshness in their lives, Singapore gives you access to some of the best food, fashion, and tech items in the world, and often for a much lower price than you expect. Apartments might be expensive, comparatively, but they tend to also be quite luxurious than the norm in the rest of the world. Singapore also has much lower pollution levels than most other dense urban centers thanks to the government strictly regulating and discouraging the use of cars while encouraging the adoption of green technologies.

7.) What might be the best food in the world

Most expats agree that eating out in Singapore is an insanely good experience. You can get a Michelin star meal in Singapore for less than $4 US equivalent. Just let that sink in. And there are tons of comparable, if not arguably better, options for food at that price range or lower. Food is perhaps the only thing that has really bound the different ethnicities that have populated Singapore in its relatively short history, and it still continues to bind and strengthen the Singaporean identity today.

With the influx of high-earning, highly-educated expats, international cuisine is also quite well-represented in the city-state. New concoctions that combine the best of cuisines from all over the world are also being made in kitchens throughout this small country every single day, making it a vibrant melting pot of culinary expression no other country can quite compete with.

 

Thinking of Relocating?

Whilst the majority of people have their eyes set on Australia as a place to relocate to, there are many Australian people that relish the chance to live overseas for an extended period of time – whether that’s to somewhere exotic like SE Asia or somewhere more cultural such as Europe.

That said, the logistics of this can be pretty taxing to the point they are off-putting, in fact anything from transporting your life overseas (Jayde Transport are a good option to look into) or arranging visas, can feel daunting to the point we tend to put our plans to relocate overseas on the backburner of life.

Of course, there’s a lot to consider when relocating overseas, especially if you have children or pets, but where there’s a will there’s a way and this article highlights five of the key things you need to think about in preparing to take the plunge and relocate overseas.

Here’s a simple checklist of some of the things to think about (presuming you’ve worked out where it is you wish to relocate to):

  1. PAPERWORK

You’ll want to find out what paperwork you need well in advance, as there’s a good chance you’re going to need a specific visa which must be applied for in plenty of time.

If you have an existing business, life can be made a little simpler by applying for a business visa – though sometimes the easiest route is to have your visa sponsored by a company that is wanting to employ you in that country.  Of course, this is made much easier if you already work for a company and they are simply relocating your position from one office to another.

  1.  INJECTIONS

If you’re travelling to some faraway tropical land then you’ll want to ensure your vaccinations are up to date, and check out any specific health concerns within the area, as you might be required to take treatment against mosquito bites, prophylactically.

  1.  LANGUAGE

It pays to start learning the local language well in advance, as even though you will tend to find the immersive learning experience of being in the destination a much faster way to learn, your progress will be catalysed by mastering the fundamentals beforehand.  There are apps such as Duolingo that can greatly help with this.

  1.  FIND A NEW HOME

It might feel tempting to live out of a suitcase for a few weeks or months whilst you find your perfect home, but it pays to head out prior to departure and secure your new home so that when you move – you are moving straight into your home rather than being in a state of limbo for several weeks or months.

In summary, relocating overseas can be an incredible opportunity that provides personal growth for you and your family, but it needs to be planned well in advance and considered carefully – particularly in terms of the financial and family aspects such as education, pets and healthcare.

Sydney Chinese Garden of Friendship Photo Dairy – Part 2

I’ve finally located other photos of Sydney Chinese Garden of Friendship I took the other day.

There were saved in a different folder with no names so I couldn’t find them straight away. Yep, I’m still learning to be more organised. 🙂

So here are more photos of the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney. Can’t wait for Summer to come!

Jordan Photo Dairy – From Wadi Rum Jordan To The Siq, To The Treasury Petra

On the way from Wadi Rum to Petra..

The Entrance to Petra:

Going through the Siq:

 

Pathon - Latin Quarter Paris

Latin Quarter Paris – Why You’ll Love It & Keep Coming Back

My friend recommended Latin Quarter Paris before my first trip to Pair many years ago. I was curious to find out why it’s such a fascinating area. Conveniently, my hotel located in Saint Germain is only walking distance from Latin Quarter Paris. As you can image, I fully took the advantage of my perfect location and explored the neighbourhood quite throughly and couldn’t get enough of it. What’s so special about Latin Quarter Paris? Here’s why:

History

Since Roman times, the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter Pairs) has been Paris’s intellectual centre. For 700 years Latin was the language of it’s inhabitants. Hence the name Latin Quarter.

Latin Quarter Paris is where Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Joyce hung out in cafes drinking and engaging in earnest debate. One of the sure shot ways of engaging in a friendly debate about politics, history or just about anything, is to wander the streets of Latin Quarter Paris.

If you are a debate lover or simply bored and can speak a bit of French, you are good to go. The streets here are riddled with intellectuals, who are more than happy to spend hours talking to a complete stranger debating over a topic that is just waiting to be explored.

Famous places of interests of Latin Quarter Paris

If debate is not your thing, don’t worry. Latin Quarter has a nice blend of awesomeness and places of interests. Also known as 5th Arrondissement, Latin quarter is the central district of Paris, and saying it has good architecture is like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger used to lift a little. Monuments and buildings here are larger than life and are sure keep even the most seasoned travellers mesmerised for hours.

Here’s a list of a few must visit places in case you only have limited time to explore this area:

1. Place St-Michel

Napoleon III planned this place and it is famous for it’s fountain: Davioud’s 186o sculpture of St. Michel slaying the dragon. The place St-Michel has ben a centre of activity for hundreds of year. Traditionally, celebrating students from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts go for a swim in the fountain after their annual ball. Hmmm… who knew fountain can also be a bath tub.

2. Shakespeare & Company

This is a must for book lovers of course. Not Sylvia Beach’s original, this name sake is run by George Bates Whitman. Whitman purchase part of Sylvia Beach’s library, which is housed at the top of a treacherous flight of stairs. Notice the cots located in niches around the shop? They are kind of both for sitting and sleeping. People say Whitman once in a while allows poor writers to spend a little time here until they can secure enough money to get a room elsewhere. You’ll get the offical Shakespeare & Company inscription:”Shakespeare and Co. Kilometre Zero, Paris.” stamped on each book purchased here.

3. Musee de Cluny

At the beginning of the 3rd century a Gallo-Raman building, the Palas des Thermes stood there. Archaeologists presumed the site to be Roman baths. The baths date from between A.D. 161 and 181. Barbarians burned them down several times. About a thousand years later, Piere de Chalus, abbot of Cluny-en-Bourgogne, bought the ruins and the neighbouring land in order to build a residence for visiting abbots. The building we see today is the work of another Abbot, Jacques d’Amboise, who turned it into something of a palace. After the Revolution, the property changed hands several times, until it was finally purchase by Alexandre du Sommerard, a state official and medieval art collector. After his 1842 death, his house and its contents were sold to the state. The museum opened in 1844, with Alexandre’s son as a curator.

Today, thanks to both Sommerards, the museum houses one of the world’s greatest collections of medieval art and artifacts. You’ll find finely wrought jewellery, brilliant stained glass windows and some amazing tapestries in the museum. Most importantly, don’t miss the original Abbots’s Chapel, complete with an incredible vaulted ceiling.

4. La Sorbonne

It is the oldest University in France. In 1253, Robert De Sorbon, confessor of St. Louis founded the Sorbonne (with the help of the king). It was for poor students who wished to pursue theological studies. He wanted it to be a place where they could live and go to school without having to worry about money. Since then, it has seen famous teachers as St. Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon and such famous students as Dante, Calvin, and Longfellow.

In 1469 France’s fist printing press was set up here; during the Nazi Occupation the Sorbonne became the headquarters for the Resistance. The courtyard and galleries are open to the public. Statues of Victor Hugo and Louis Pasteur are in the Courd’Honneur.

5. Pantheon

One of Paris’s best known monuments. Built originally as a church, the Pantheon now acts as secular mausoleum the houses the remains of the most individuals in French history. The story about Pantheon’s foundation goes like this. In 1744 Louis XV fell seriously ill. He then vowed that if he recovered he’d rebuild the Ste-Genevieve abbey in the patron saint’s honour. Upon his recovering, he entrusted the job to the marquis de Marigny, who passed the responsibility to  architect Jacques-Gerain Soufflot. The original plan called for a church. But construction stopped due to financial difficulties and Soufflot’s death. After the death of an important Revolution-era, the French parliament decided the Ste-Genevieve church should be changed into a “Temple of Fame” to hold the remains of all the great men of France.

Pathon - Latin Quarter ParisIt’s not only great in its size and stature but also features amazingly beautiful and intricate Gothic architecture. Apart from housing the remains of people like Voltaire, Alexander Dumas and 2 time noble winner Marie Curie, its architecture alone draws in millions tourists from all across the globe. Before you pack your bags and head off to visit the place, be sure that your camera has enough juice and memory. Why? Because there’s going to be some serious clicking all day long

6. Jardin des Plantes

In 1626, Louis XIII began to execute a plan for a medicinal Botanical garden that Henri IV and his minister, Sully had conceived. When Louis XIV became king, his doctor traveled around the world collecting specimens an set the groundwork for the curator, Buffon. Buffon was later able to finish Henri IV’s plans. The original name was the Jardin du Roi (The King’s Garden). Some of Frances’s greatest naturalists have worked in the gardens. Today the gardens include greenhouses and a maze, cover 74 acres. From April to October, Jardin des Plantes is an amazing riot of colours and scents.

The zoo inside Jardin des Plantes is the oldest in France. The first inhabitants were just your average zebra, hartebeest and rhino. Elephants were brought here in 1795.

The park also contains the Museum of Natural History, which possesses a major collection of mineral and insects.

7. Mosquee de Paris and Institut Musulman

Constructed between 1922 and 1926. You can see the grand patio with its cedar woodwork, eucalyptus plants and gurgling fountain as you enter those buildings. On the walls of the mosque are some lovely mosaic friezes with quotations from the Koran. The prayer rooms house an incredible collection of hand woven carpets, some from the 17th century. The Institut Musulman teaches Arabic and Islamic culture.

8. Mouffetard Market

Head down to one of Paris most ancient street, Rue Mouffefetard where the famous fresh food market are.Another of Paris’s colourful outdoor food markets, it may become one of your fondest memories of the city. This narrow, winding cobblestone street is lined with ancient shopfronts. With award winning bakeries and some of the best cheese, sausages, olives and oysters, known to mankind, this is a place you might regret not visiting. You can always take a guided tour of the place, however to get an authentic experience, just walk in and act like you belong. By the time you get out, you stomach will thank you for the best food the French has to offer.

Cafe, bars, crepe stores and restaurants

Tired of exploring? There are plenty of cafe, bars and crepe stores in Latin Quarter Paris for you to take a short break. Feeling really hungry? There are restaurants and eateries of different cuisines. Take whatever you fancy: Italian, Vietnamese or Chinese. Wait a minute, what about French? There are lots of restaurants offering set French menus. So if you want to have more of those little slippery suckers, go for it!

Shopping

More shopping? You’ve got it. Latin Quarter Paris is filled with antique shops, late opening bookstores an fashion boutiques. You’ll be spoiled with choices among international luxurious labels as well as shops full of character.

latin quarter paris

A little bit tourist shopping, Latin Quarter Paris. Because, why not?

Latin Quarter Paris has historical sites, food, shops and architecture that screams out “Paris“. Visiting this part of the capital is an absolute must for all, be it hardcore food lovers,shopaholics, architecture geeks or plain old tourists like me.