17 March 2018

First Timer's Guide to India

Namaste! I've just gotten back from my 10-days trip to India and it was AMAZINGGGGG. In fact, it was possibly one of the best trips of my life and my wish is for everyone else to experience it like I did. The pity is that so little people talk about it so here I am, making sure my stories and experiences are jotted in hope to inspire some of you to visit this incredible country :) There's just so much to share and I thought I'll do it in a flow- By starting off this series with a Pre-trip Guide before I dive deep into each of the cities I've visited. But first, I just want to clarify that we did a budget backpacking trip so it may not be the best option for you but feel free to take bits and pieces of the itinerary to suit yours :)

Where to in India?
We wanted to visit Jaipur and Agra (for Taj Mahal) hence naturally, the Golden Triangle (the popular India starter route) which also includes Delhi, India's capital, came into mind. As we also had time for another city, we decided to look up for cities near Delhi/Jaipur/Agra and so many interesting cities came up! We were spoilt with choices, but in the end we decided to head further up north to Rishikesh. Termed as The Yoga Capital of the World and located in the foothills of Himalayas, we thought it'll be a good contrast to the rest of the cities by surrounding ourselves with Mother Nature. Frankly, Rishikesh was super out of the way for us (we took 14 hours to reach Rishikesh from Jaipur) but we were determined to make our way up. It was also the city that we stayed the longest in for India :)

But personally, now that I've come back from India, India is HUGEEEE and is a pity I skipped so many beautiful cities along the way. At work, I've always been told to treat India and China as a continent and that each city is a country and now that I've visited both India and China, I can personally validate that statement is a fact. If I could do it again, I would plan the trip based on the states as it would have saved us time from travelling leaving us more time to really immerse in the culture. If I didn't chance upon Rishikesh, my next route would actually be doing Rajasthan, the largest state in India which has rich culture and history, magnificent forts and beautiful palaces. It is the best place to go if you want to learn about the rich history of India :) Is definitely up on my list the next time I head to India!

Transport (Flight, Trains, Buses, Taxi and Rickshaw)
After you've decided the cities to head to, is time to get the transport settled! For us, we could either land in Delhi or Jaipur but what made the deciding factor was the train ride that will be bringing us from Jaipur/Delhi to Haridwar which will lead us to Rishikesh. Timings worked out the best for us if we were to fly in to Jaipur hence despite it being a longer ride of 12 hours, we're up for it!

For flight, we flew in with Scoot at SGD280/pax without baggage and seat selection and bought our tickets 6 months ahead. We didn't wait for any promos so I'm sure you might find better deals. AirAsia too has many flights heading to India but we found Scoot to be cheaper during our time of purchase.

For train, all bookings could be done online on India Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. The only tricky part is that you need to create an account of which there's a informative user guide which you can follow. Train timings will only be out 2 months before the date of departure so definitely set a reminder to purchase them. Even though we booked our tickets 1.5 months before departure, I was on the wait list and it was not pleasant at all but I'll leave that to another post. As the trains have 9 different types of classes, our curious minds got ahead of us and we decided to test out the different classes by starting with a 2AC (2 Beds with AC) and slowly moving down the grades to 3AC (3 Beds with AC) and Sleeper (3 Beds with no cooling fans). To be honest, there's no difference in the 3 options if you're just sitting. But if you're sleeping, the 2AC with Bed would be perfect- not too squeezy and cooling. Classes aside, our recommendation would be to choose the side berths/bed if you'll like to have some privacy as the beds in the middle will be facing other passengers.

Next up, buses are a great option if is 1-3 hours ride. We took buses for cities that were near by- we usually just head straight to the bus station and hop on to any of the buses that are heading to our destination. The timings of the buses are super frequent so there's nothing to be afraid! But the challenge will be that you'll have to go around asking everyone where the buses are leaving to. It may take awhile but eventually you'll find that bus! :) Alternatively, you can also purchase bus tickets online on Red Bus :)

Lastly, for the daily commute around the cities, Taxis and Rickshaws, Uber and Ola is the way to go! Ola is India's local version of Uber and includes Rickshaw of which you'll need a local number to create an account. We used Uber mostly as there's a higher chance of getting a English speaking driver but Olas are great for Rickshaws and there are plenty of them everywhere. A big tip that I've personally discovered is that whenever someone tries to quote you ridiculously for transport, just go to these apps and look the price and tell them I'll only pay you this. One of my absolute pet peeve in life is getting scam or cheated so I take huge pride in being a smart traveler and not fall into the tourist trap ugh.

Accommodation (Hostels, Airbnb, Hotels)

We stayed in hostels for the majority of the trip. I love hostels!! They are such a great place to stay in when you are in a foreign place. The people who work in hostels are the loveliest, they gave us so many tips and helped us with our sim cards and transport. My India trip wouldn't be as smooth sailing if not for them. We booked our hostel through Hostelworld and we would recommended Zostel- The largest hostel chain in India! We stayed in both their Rishikesh and Agra branches and it was the best stay ever. The staff were super friendly, there's a suite of exciting activities every single day (just look at the photo below of the activities at Zostel Rishikesh) and they serve the best food too!! Just amazing!!

We also stayed in Airbnb and Hostels to pamper ourselves along the way. I'll leave the Airbnb story to another post as it deserves a post on its own haha. As for hotel, apart from the Agoda and Expedia that we are familiar with, India has plenty of travel providers too such as HolidayIQ and goibibo. I personally booked mine through Agoda but there's no harm in using the local travel sites next time :)

And with that, this sums up my first timer pre-trip guide to India! Pre-trip planning is just always so nerve-wrecking as you'll have to do so many research but with our tried and proven methods, I hope it'll help you save some time!


28 November 2016

5D4N in Krabi, Thailand

I visited Krabi in Oct, went with no expectation and returned with a heart so full. I never thought I'll like coastal areas but I DID. It was the rainy season tho so it was quite a bummer as it rained almost every day. But I'm glad that the sun came out on one of the beach hopping days, allowing me to see the beauty of the seas in its truest shimmer and glam. The view was absolutely breathe-taking, I was so awestruck even as I write this.

The whole trip went super well! I met so many new friends that open my horizon and did so many things that went wayyyy beyond my comfort zone! Still quite amazed at how I climbed a cliff without a harness and snorkelled. I even returned back to Singapore, determined to refine my swimming skills.

I stayed at the Slumber Party Hostel, the Ao Nang branch, and it was the best decision ever! The hostel is super lively every night as the name suggests, it is a bar on the first floor. Every night, there were activities such as pub crawl and beer pong match. Yunqing and I LOVE BEER PONG, we even joined the competition as "The Singapore Fling" LOL Sadly, we didn't even make it through, we lost at our first match hahaha but all is good, we played well actually but the opponents were even better! The hostel really caters very well to its visitors, a traveller for traveller environment where activities are planned out for you to choose. Not normal tour activities but instead curated locations by the owner that are off the beaten track. The owner himself was the guide of the trip so I can guarantee you the tour is worth it!!!

I wanted to vlog but I was lazy hahaha. I can't exactly remember what are the places I visited too but I'll try my best :)

Day 1
We reached in the evening so there was nothing much left to do! We stayed in and joined the others instead.
This is the wall behind the hostel counter. Is filled with testimonials and the wifi is "gofuckyourself".
We had welcome bucket before the pub crawl!
Learnt new games too :)
 One of more happening bars at Ao Nang! Overall, the club prawl was meh as nightlife in Krabi is nothing exciting. 

Day Two
I slept at the top bunk!! Always wanted to sleep at the top bunk since young and I was so excited and happy!! Felt like a little kid again :P
 I love thai milk tea!!
Off to our first tour by the hostel! We visited Chicken Island and Ton Sai Beach, snorkelled and did cliff climbing!
 The view after the climb was so worth it! Could been better if it was sunny!!

Lucky us, the stall next to our hostel sells SUPER YUMMY AUTHENTIC THAI FOOD. It was so yummy!!! We went back for like twice or thrice, I can't remember. 

Third Day
On our second beach tour, we went ahead with group tours and the highlight was none other than Maya Bay! It was so so so so so so so so pretty!


 Went snorkelling again and I love Yun Qing's smile here! :)
We also went Phi Phi Island! 
 Also, visited the night market at Krabi Town. Is a very simple night market that is good for leisure stroll as it is not very crowded. It also has more food stalls, good way to fuel up!

Day Four
There's nothing much to do at Krabi hence on day four we just walked around and explore. Nothing much so lets let the photo do the talking.

As it was some Chinese festival, our night in Krabi ended with free fireworks. Like what in the world, my trip was already going so well and the firework is just!!!!!!!
Day 5
Home-bound and Happy 22nd to one of my best and closest friend!

Not a very detailed post but I just want to get it out as I'll be travelling for 3 weeks in Indonesia in Dec. Looking at the photos still make me smile. Will be sharing more next month as I'll be embarking on my first semi-solo trip (as is an exchange programme and my friend will be flying in to join me). Pretty excited and nervous at the same time but I'm glad I'm finally stepping out to do what my heart desires even if is just SEA.

Till the next post!


22 September 2016

Museum Dates

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I headed to the Art Science Museum as I wanted to visit the Future World Exhibition. I was attracted to the social posts on my feed and Explore that were all #instaworthy pictures that portrayed the place as one filled with very beautiful light installations. As it is not really a guy kind of thing (for the majority of the guys out there), luckily my boyfriend also found an exhibition that he'll prefer more, which is the Big Bang Data. We booked our tickets online for only $17 ($1 booking fee) for two exhibitions as they had special discounts for students :) Yay to never growing older!

Future World

Indeed, the Future World exhibition lived up to all the images that people took. The placed is fill with many light installations to educate and create awareness on some future issues such as the sinking of islands due to Global Warming. Just a thought though but isn't the usage of such a substantial amount of lights contributing to global warming too... Hmmmm maybe Panasonic, the sponsor, used some sustainable lights which I'm not sure. Anyways, moving on.

The exhibition also encouraged interaction beyond photography taking. They had a section where visitors could draw and see their drawing appear on the big screens around. I had lots of fun at this section and was feeling cheeky and hence declared that Alien exist :D There's also many other sections but I shall not reveal too much and let the photos do the talking instead :)

And, now we are at the most #instaworthy section of the whole exhibition, the fairy lights like light display!!! It felt like everyone came to the exhibition for this as it was crowded with people camping around to take their perfect photos. Of course, I joined them and took many nice photos too which was only possible as my boyfriend was an amazing photog ♥

The whole exhibition felt like a virtual world and it was an experience that I would recommend :)

Big Bang Data

Big Bang Data was like a documentation of how data had evolved over the years, how people like you and I had been contributing to the Internet of Things. I was taken aback when I walk through the exhibition as it had never occurred to me that such a process that we took it as normal could be recorded and presented. I actually preferred this exhibition more as it was more enriching and thought-provoking. I felt like I was like on a tour in the Internet space which was an interesting perspective as an outsider as all along I was inside and part of this change. They also raised questions such as how data should be used...

My favourite part of the exhibition will be the part on the Universe. I couldn't exactly remember what was it themed but I loved the whole experience. I was first greeted with a few globes that featured the continents in the world. As I walked further in, there was a sky filled with constellations (I believe) and there were bean bags for us to lie down and enjoy the view. It felt so surreal and I just sat on the bean bag and enjoyed the view above me. 

Building up on how the whole exhibition was on data, we were also encouraged to contribute more data to the exhibition which I thought was cute. It also injected a sense of realism on how we had created this whole world of data. We are talking about ONLY one space here. However, if you think about it, human are everywhere and the data that we have produced goes beyond what is shown in this image below.

'We Are Only So Small In A Big Big World'.

Overall, I really enjoyed myself at the ArtScience Museum. It made me felt small but in a good way :)

I love going museums as it brings me so much new perspectives and inspirations on how others view and think. I am someone who learns from experiences and hence I've always fancy museum as it a good place to get them :) 

I've come to the end of my post and I hope I've inspired you guys to start visiting museums! Apart from ArtScience Museum, there are many other museums out there such as Singapore Arts Museum (SAM) for Arts and Lifestyle lovers. In my opinion, I would say this is the best museum to start because it is more relatable to our daily lives. If you like history and culture, you can visit National Museum of Singapore and Peranakan Museum. If museums aren't your cup of tea, you can soak up some art and festival over at Gillman Barracks which have night events such as the annual Art After Dark

On the side note, I am extremely proud of my outfit and you know the secret, is all in courtesy of Taobao. This time, from head to toe, even the lace bra ;) 

Always remember to keep that fire inside you burning! I often visit the museum when I'm in need of some inspiration and I hope you'll find an activity that makes you happy :)

Take care and be happy, until next time!