Tag Archives: museum

Collaboration Travel Post- Things to do in Las Vegas and Taiwan

26 Mar

Hi there!

This week’s post is a really unique one. I had the opportunity to do a collaboration travel post with @Kendra Thornton from Chicago. The objective is really just to share both of our favorite travel places and the things we like to do there. I supposed you guys are able to guess the author of the article? (yes that’s right, Kendra on Las Vegas and yours truly on Taiwan).

Personally, I haven’t been to Las Vegas at all so looking at the article written by Kendra, I definitely want to visit the place some day!


 

Las Vegas- A Family-Friendly Sin City
Written by: Kendra Thornton

One of my favorite places for a family vacation is Las Vegas. Despite its nickname Sin City, this bustling desert oasis has plenty of kid-friendly activities that the whole family can enjoy. With spectacular shows, amusement parks and watery wonderlands, this city will entertain Mom, Dad and the kids.

Don’t Forget to Scream

The decibel levels in some parts of Las Vegas have risen due to the wild rides available. This is a roller coaster lover’s paradise. Adventuredome inside Circus Circus is home to many of the city’s most thrilling rides. The Canyon Blaster is the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster. Their record-breaking El Loco, just announced this past December will excite lovers of negative-G drops.

Learn a Little During Your Stay

I’m not a fan of musty museums, but Las Vegas has some fun, quirky places that make learning about history a lot of fun. The Neon Museum, located just off the downtown strip, shows off the city’s history in lights. The National Atomic Testing Museum features unique exhibits about the scientific history of the region. My kids love spending a day at Discovery Children’s Museum. It seems that everywhere you turn in Las Vegas there is a new learning opportunity.

Explore the Desert

I love that this booming metropolis lies in the heart of a desert. To see some truly magnificent scenery, take a Pink Jeep Tour. Pink Jeep Tours Las Vegas picks guests up at their hotels. The guided tours then travel to various scenic spots in the area. When my kids get old enough to enjoy the ride, I look forward to booking the day trip to the Grand Canyon.

Train the Dolphins

The magic of Las Vegas includes some amazing watery adventures. At Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, guests can become dolphin trainers for a day. You’ll work alongside marine animal experts and interact with the resident Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. I loved this outing at least as much as my kids did. By the end of the day, I felt almost like a marine biologist.

 

Regardless of your personal preferences in recreation, you’re sure to find something fun to do in Las Vegas. My family always enjoys the wide selection of activities, and we have fun planning our Las Vegas itinerary together. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to plan so you are more prepared once you visit. It allows you to read user reviews of various hotels and even restaurants. I’m sure you and your family will enjoy Sin City as much as we do.


 

Taiwan- One of my all-time favorite travelling place
Written by: Raine Ong

A 5-hour flight takes me from where I am in Singapore to my favorite travelling place- Taiwan.

Taiwan is a country where you can immerse yourself in its diversity in the different culture, people, and religion. At the same time, you can plan your itinerary based on outdoors, nature, shopping, sightseeing etc. There are just so many areas which you can explore in this country, making it suitable for backpackers, travelers whom are seeking for leisure trips, whom are looking to shop, to eat; as well as, big family that are looking for a family friendly place to travel to.

Personally, I have been to Taiwan twice and am heading again this May. Taiwan is a huge country which is divided into different cities. The capital of Taiwan is in Taipei. Let me share with you some of the places that I have been and hopefully this will be useful for you.

Night Markets
If you are a real foodie and would like to try some authentic Taiwanese street food cuisines, visiting one of the night markets is a must on your itinerary. Night markets is one of the icons of Taiwan. It’s a place where you can find really yummy street food together with good shopping buys. Interestingly, different night market has different characteristics altogether, and of course the different ‘must try food’ on the list varies too! Here are some of my recommended ‘must try dishes’ when you head to Taiwan

1. Potato cheese

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Baked potato filled with your choice of ingredients (I had corn & ham), filled up with nacho cheese. Not counting the amount of calories in (who cares anyway when you travel), this food is a must try when you head to the night market, especially if you are a cheese lover just like me.

2. Shaved Ice Mango

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It can get quite hot in summer, chill yourself down with a cold shaved mango ice. The mangoes, or rather all fruits in Taiwan are really sweet and yummy.

3.  Oyster/ Pork intestines Vermicelli

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One of my real favorites and a dish which I will have it every time when I am in Taiwan. This is a popular street food in Taiwan. This thick, rich soupy vermicelli comes with either pork intestines or oyster. You will usually top it up with chili, garlic sauce and vinegar based on individual preferences.

4.  Stinky Tofu

stinky tofu

If you are wondering if it literally means that the Tofu is smelly, then bingo you are right! The strong smell basically came from the tofu’s fermentation and can be quite hard to accept. If you are quite adventurous, just like me, you can give this a try.

Shopping
Taiwan will be one of the places you can really buy at an affordable price. Other than the night markets which was mentioned earlier, there are also many other places which you can consider visiting in your next trip. One of my favourite is the wholesale area, Wu Fen Pu. It has a large variety of items. However to be able to get the stuff at a better price, you got to buy more in a shop. So I supposed the trick here is to go shopping with more friends so you guys can bulk up your purchases as a whole and bargain the price. Of course, other than the street shops, there are shopping areas as well in the city mall and the department stores.

Nature
I really enjoying going away from the hustle and bustle of a city and just immerse myself in the greenery. Taiwan has heaps of nature places where you can go to. I personally had been to Hualien, which is a 2.5hours train ride away from the city. Hualien is also one of the least crowded city in Taiwan. There are the well-known Taroko National Park which is a must visit to Hualien. Of course, other than visiting places, you can also do nature activities such as surfing, river tracing, dolphin watching etc. in various part of Taiwan.

 

Here are just a very brief introduction of the things which you can enjoy in Taiwan. I believe it is a place that is suitable for anyone based on your travel objectives. Oh, and here are some of the website I like to check out on accommodation and places to visit, as well as reviews from people whom have been there. Some of it includes lonely planet, agoda, trip advisor etc. which is really helpful in planning your itinerary.


I hope you guys enjoyed this collaboration post! You can follow Kendra at her twitter @Kendra Thornton.
Do leave a comment below if there’s any feedback or questions regarding any of the place.

Till then, I’ll be back at writing my Vietnam post soon.

With love,
Raine.

Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 1 part 2 (Saigon)

4 Sep

Hello there!

Here’s the long-awaited part 2 post of my Vietnam Travelogue. I mentioned on my part 1 post that we arranged for a tour with Saigon hotpot. You might be thinking, what is Saigon hotpot right?

Saigon hotpot is a non-profit organisation where Vietnamese university students volunteer to be free tour guides for tourists like us. It provides the opportunity for the students to practise speaking english and as a form of cultural exchange. For the tour, the tourist will be required to pay for the meals & the entrance tickets for the guide. Even though it is free, tourist whom like to donate to the organisation can also do so. Do try to book earlier if you can as the schedule and availability of the dates depend on the guides themselves. You can find out more on the different tour sessions they offer here: http://saigonhotpot.vn/what-we-do/free-tour-guide/introduction.html

And so, we booked the tour a month before the trip. As we only have 2 days 1 night in Saigon, we have a very tight schedule. We planned and decided to book a short city tour with Saigon hotpot. As our flight only arrive on day 1 at 830am, we requested for the door to start at 11am instead of the usual 9am. And because of the lesser time we have, we only managed to cover a few places. As time is a key concern, we actually researched and checked out the places we wanted to go. I will probably give a brief introduction and my review for each of this places 🙂

Here’s our Itinerary with Saigon Hotpot from 11am to 5pm:
– Notre Dame Cathedral
– Central Post Office
– Reunification Palace
– War Museum
– Opera House

Our lovely guide, ruby, picked us up at our hostel before we walked to the central area.
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Started with Notre Dame Cathedral, it is located directly opposite the central post office. There are masses held on every Sunday where it is open. Sadly, we missed the mass timing and did not manage to enter. Just take note that general visiting hours into the cathedral is 8am to 9.30am and 3pm to 4pm. Sunday mass starts at 9.30am.

Side view of the cathedral
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Front shot of the cathedral
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Next, is the Saigon Post Office! Someone is having a wedding shot there
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The interior architecture was inspired during the French Colonial period. And while researching, I also found out that the building is actually designed by the artist whom designed the Paris Eiffel Tower.
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Written some postcards back to myself and my friends 🙂 You can buy the postcards and stamps at the shops in the post office for about  ₫120,500 (S$7) for 8 postcards including the stamps  .

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Saigon Central post Office

Address: Bến Nghé, Quận 1  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening hours: 7am to 8pm
Things to do: Post some love back home

After that, we headed to a nearby coffee bean to just chill and hide ourselves in the air-conditioned room. We had a snack earlier and wasn’t hungry so didn’t went for lunch. Bought our guide a drink too.

Next up is the reunification palace. Are you wondering why there are 4 tickets? It’s for me, my friend, another backpacker friend we met and our tour guide. It costs us  ₫45,000 (S$2.60) for 3 of us.
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And here’s a picture of our guide, Ruby and me 🙂

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A brief introduction of the reunification palace. The reunification palace is known by its name as it was the symbolic site of the liberation of Saigon where Vietnam was reunified. One of a really important place to Vietnamese history

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If you are not with a guide, they also have tour sessions for different languages that explains the different areas in the palace.
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There are many meeting rooms for different delegates in the palace.
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Even a movie theatre for themselves
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The kitchen was still intact and here’s a really old mixing machine

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Reunification Palace
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7.30am – 11am ; 1pm – 4pm
Entrance fee: ₫15,000 (S$1.80)

And on our way to the our last stop, the war remnants museum, our new friend stopped to take a shot with the drink seller. Please be aware that taking pictures with them comes with a price….. of buying a drink from them. The drink seller, without asking us, opened 3 coconuts and gave to us.

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It was a really hot weather, good time for a coconut drink!

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At the last stop, the war remnants museum. As our guide is a student, it was a free entrance for her.
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I would recommend coming to this museum before heading to the Cu Chi tunnel, where I’ll talk about it in my day 2 post. This museum displays photographs of Vietnam before, during and post-war graphics. It is a three-floor museum. Outside the museum, tanks, bombs and aircraft are displayed.

Coming to this museum gives you a better view of how and what Vietnam has gone through during the war. The chemical warfare was the most saddening as the traces and consequences of what happened in the past is still present currently.

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The displays outside the museum

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War Remnants Museum
Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7.30am – 12pm; 1.30pm – 5pm. Last admission at 4.30pm
Entrance Fee: ₫15,000 (S$1.80)

After that, Ruby suggested that since we still have some time left, we should go take a look at the opera house and the expensive area in Saigon. And we took a cab to here.

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Feels like I’m in Europe! The architectures are pretty French/ European style.

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The Opera House.

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And then we took a cab back to our hostel and bid Ruby good-bye. Before we say good-bye, she has a note-book that asks us to write a note for her. I did, on behalf of our group. It was an awesome time spent with a local bringing us around 🙂 If I didn’t remember wrongly, we were her 3rd or 4th group of guests that she brought.

And that’s it! The end of my Day 1 part 2 posts, I still have a part 3 coming up where we booked a paid tour with XO tour ladies on a Vespa. I try to finish that soon and post it up next week. Till then!

With love,
Raine.

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