Penang is a very unique place with it’s own culture and amazing views. The three main ethnicities here are the Chinese, Indians and Malays. Penang is also known as “Pearl of the Orient”.
Here are a few things to do in Penang –
Kek Lok Si – largest budhist temple of southeast asia – combines Chinese, Thai and Burmese architectural styles.
The Goddess of Mercy Temple, also known as Kuan Yin Teng is by far the most intricate temple I have ever been to. This historic temple was built in the 1700’s and is located in George Town. Add this one to your list of sight seeing in Penang!
Penang Hill Railway – Launched in 1923. Penang Hill – approximately 6500 ft in height. It’s quite steep and I was a bit anxious but it’s truly an exhilarating experience. The views from top of the hill are incredible. You will be able to see almost all of Penang. I highly recommend going there before sunset so you are able to see the view during daylight, along with the sunset and also the city lit up at night. You won’t be disappointed!
I really liked cruising through George Town and spotting pieces of art work everywhere.
As mentioned earlier, Penang is also Malaysia’s food capital so if you’re a foodie, you’re in for a treat!
For those of you who don’t know this place – let me introduce you!
The Phi Phi Islands is a tiny island located in the KRABI district of Thailand. This island has beautiful turquoise waters and is completely secluded from the modern world. The streets are so narrow that there are no vehicles there.
5 Reasons why you must go there –
1. If you want to disconnect from technology and the urban life – welcome to Phi Phi Islands! Internet is not the greatest here. You will find wifi in some areas but the connection is not the best. Just relax and enjoy the beach vibes.
2. The viewpoint is absolutely stunning! It’s a 40 min hike and really worth the view!
3. Explore Maya Bay and the bioluminescent (glow in the dark) planktons! Maya Bay is an island close to Phi Phi. You can take a island hopping trip that takes you there. I have been to Maya Bay, however, only during the day. Definitely want to check out the planktons while camping in Maya Bay at night.
4. Nightlife is great! If you like music, people and entertainment then I recommend checking out the main beach at night. There are many bars lined up along the beach and each have their own entertainment. It gets pretty lively there!
5. It is close to many other islands, including Langkawi in Malaysia! You can easily take the ferry and hop on to the next island, making overnight stops and finally arriving in Langkawi (click here for blog on Langkawi).
My first time in Langkawi was in 2011, when I first stepped into Malaysia. I instantly fell in LOVE. I think Langkawi is what made me fall hard for Malaysia. I can’t really describe the feeling but it felt something like magic.
I have been here twice and both the times I have done different things and these are memories that will truly be cherished forever. I will share some of them with you.
I stayed at this hotel by the beach and both the times I stayed at the same place as it was super convenient; near shops and restaurants and right by the Pantai Cenang beach!
Shop Duty Free
Langkawi is the only place in Malaysia where you can shop duty free. Everything is unbelievably cheap, including alcohol and cigarettes. Given that Malaysia is an Islamic country, it is the only place in Malaysia where you can drink alcohol freely. It is indeed their domestic holiday destination.
My first activity in Langkawi was the island hopping tour. This is something I did on my own and it was so refreshing. This is why I encourage everyone to explore at least one place on their own.
Learn to love your own company and you will need nothing more in life. You will never feel lonely.
This island hopping tour holds a significant amount of value to my life as it gave me the chance to really focus on an unknown place without knowing anyone or having any technology (for the first time – I’ve done it tons since!). It made me appreciate nature, Langkawi and just the Earth overall.
This tour takes you to a lake where they throw fish as eagles come and pick em from water within a split of a second. It’s pretty amazing. Langkawi is known to have many eagles.
Then we went to the “pregnant” lake. Yes, that’s exactly what they call it! Apparently this is a myth, that if a woman is infertile or having difficulty being pregnant then swimming in this lake will make them fertile. Not sure if this actually works. Let me know if it did for you!
Next stop is this beaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaautiful island where you will see nothing but blue water. You can also see fish from the bridge, without even having to snorkel.
If you rent a car for the day, the driver will actually take you on a tour around the big island. There are some secluded beaches which are very gorgeous. They will also take you to this park and from there you can go to the skybridge.
The cable car will take you 702 m above sea level. When you get to the top, you won’t believe your eyes. It feels like a painting when you look around. It’s indescribable.
The Seven Falls
The driver will also take you to the “seven falls” where you can go walk on a trail that leads to the waterfalls. Along the way you will see many monkeys. Those monkeys are everywhere in Asia, really. Very cheeky but very cute.
The last time I visited Langkawi, I went paragliding and this was the highlight of my trip. I must admit, I was so scared that I prayed the entire time I was up in the sky. BUT, it was THE most amazing and exhilarating feeling EVER. The boat was pulling me and the parachute kept going higher and higher. I was above the sun, looking over the sunset. It was beautiful. Feeling the breeze, flying above the sea, looking over the seashore and the sun on the other side. It was breathtaking. I would do it over and over again.
At night though, I loved being at the beach. Since there isn’t much traffic there at this time, you can hear the silence, the winds and the waves of the sea. To top it off, you can feel the lukewarm water touching your skin while you sit on the soft sand.
And there you have it!
Ohhh and a little tip if you are ever in Asia! There are ways of getting to Langkawi from the Thai islands. Koh Phi Phi is an amazing island and you can certainly take the ferry from there. I prefer getting to Langkawi from Thailand and then making your way to Kuala Lumpur, if you are planning on traveling that part of the world. It is much more preferable than going to Langkawi from KL and then back. Trust me, you will save yourself a journey and a half!
A beautiful sunset in Langkawi can be viewed here:
What can I say about this place? In 2011, I instantly fell in love with Malaysia when I first stepped in. I have been there thrice since, 2015 being the last time there.
Let’s start with the trains from the airport. What a nice and clean train with air conditioner in it. It only took forever long to get where we are today but a “developing” country such as Malaysia had already had this established. I was amazed. WiFi. Let’s talk about that. Malaysia has WiFi everywhere! Like literally. Everywhere! I love it.
Usually I’m not much of a shopper while I’m traveling but the malls in Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL, has many shopping centres which consist of a lot of pretty things. Shoes. OMG. Shoes! So many amazing shoes! I think every time I go there, I end up buying at least 2 pairs of shoes or sandals.
Cyberjaya is one of the outskirts of KL. I stayed there the first couple of times I visited, mainly because I had friends staying there. Cyberjaya is so beautiful. It is quite different than Kuala Lumpur. Personally, I really like Cyberjaya and Putrajaya because they are the prettier cities of Malaysia that have everything you need.
The very first thing that caught my attention there was the little trees which were nicely cut and shaped like mushrooms. I found that so cute!
They have a bridge in Putrajaya which lights up. It switches colours every few seconds. You can walk around on the sidewalk of the bridge and hangout. At night, there’s a nice breeze by the lake and you have a satisfying view of the city.
Kuala Lumpur is just like any other city. Their downtown is very commercial with all brand named stores with lots of people and lots of traffic. What excited me the most there was to see Sephora! I couldn’t believe it! Had a girl moment there.
The Pavilion is a very colourful place. It won’t feel like you’re in a developing country at all. Of course, like any downtown, KL’s is also not so clean. It’s very polluted. This is why I liked Cyberjaya. So neat and clean with less people.
The Petronas Towers
The Petronas Towers, or as they call it the “twin towers” are also downtown. I’ve actually never made an effort to go to the top but it looks beautiful from KLCC.
China Town in Bukit Bintang is a place you can go to for affordable shopping. You can even bargain. Most things are fake brand named products. If you are into that then it’s a great place to shop. Alternatively, you can also buy souvenirs from there. There is a place called Jalan Alor behind Bukit Bintang, where you can go for local food. This place has really good food! If you are looking for an authentic experience, I highly recommend this.
Batu Caves is a train commute away from KL. It’s not a bad journey as you can take the local trains. You can see the temples there and finally climb up the stairs to see the Batu caves. I haven’t seen any bats but mainly monkeys. They are quite amusing so you won’t be bored there! The climb is steep so you will get a workout but its nice to go up to the caves. You will also see many statues there.
Genting highlands is a bus ride away from KL. You will have to take the cable car to go up the hill (1865 m above ) where they built a casino and a theme park. I was a bit skeptical about going on those rides, so I just did some sight seeing and amateur gambling.
It’s almost been a month since I have been to the beautiful Bahamas islands. I arrived in Nassau, which is the capital. Nassau is quite established and tourism is the most popular in this city. The water is so blue it’s absolutely stunning! This was the first thing I noticed there. Thanks to my Bahamian friend who gave me an awesome tour of the entire island on the first day. She drove me around the whole island which was very nice of her!
The island life is obviously quite laid back. Although I had imagined for people to be relaxing on the beaches and drinking their coconut water, it didn’t really turn out to be so. People are on the grind there. They work hard to make a living. The beaches are almost empty, compared to the beaches I have seen around the world. I think they are so accustomed to it that they don’t get fascinated by it. I would love to live by a beach. I’d be super tanned but still!
Second day in the Bahamas I flew to Governor’s harbor in Eleuthera. It is a beautiful island which is quite long and narrow – surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean sea on the other. This was THE most gorgeous place in the Bahamas. There’s a bridge, called the Glass Window Bridge. It gives you the best view of the two water bodies which eventually meet. The difference is incredible; the deep blue ocean with it’s rough waves on one side and the calm light blue sea with barely any waves on the other side. It’s amazing and indescribable.
Accommodation in Eleuthera
My friends and I rented a villa, which was a 2 bedroom with 2 washrooms, laundry, kitchen and living room. The balcony was quite nice, where we sat and star gazed at night. The stars seem magical there. Sky full of stars, so clear to see. No street lights. Sound of the ocean and wind. Extremely windy.
During the day there are some nice seaside restaurants that you can go to – they are mainly local and it’s nice to just sit there, relax and enjoy the view. Especially by the seaside. I like it better than the ocean side. Something about that calmness that I’m drawn to. Also the colour of the sea – so beautifully blue. We went around most of Eleuthera and explored. Preacher’s Cave is a huge cave where the English settlers first arrived when they came to the Bahamas. It is an interesting spot to check out – there’s a path that leads to the ocean on the other side, which is very much abandoned. I think this entire island is very abandoned. There is a church every 300 m. That is A LOT of church!
They refer to their little suburbs as settlements. There are many of them. Below is a picture for you to check out. I think we explored most of these settlements, besides the ones up North. We did go to the pineapple farm where the farmer was nice enough to show us her farm. She was happy to explain to us how the pineapples grow. We also checked out her other plants and frankly, it was nice being on a farm again!
Eleuthera is very close to the Harbor Island. It is only a $5 ferry ride to there. We had a day trip there to visit Harbor Island and especially visit the Pink Sands beach. This beach is gorgeous as it is actually pink! The day we went there was very sunny so the pinkness wasn’t as bright. I wish we experienced the sunset there, it surely would have been a brighter pink close to sunset time. In any case, I had an amazing time there. One of my highlights.
Transportation; how to get around in the Bahamas
Nassau has public transportation as it obviously is a city and very established. However, I think driving would be your best bet. Harbor Island on the other hand – you have to rent a golf car. It’s a very small island. Driving a golf car, even for a little while, was fun. In Eleuthera, you have to absolutely rent a car. There’s no way you can go without a car. There’s too much to see and no public transportation. This island is not travel friendly like Harbor Island or Nassau.
I didn’t know that conch shells were a thing, especially in the Bahamas. They look so beautiful and I kept seeing them everywhere. Then I finally saw some under the blue water. I learnt that they were all tied to one another through strings, as the restaurant probably kept them for cooking. These conch shells are quite large and look super pretty.I was asking questions about conch shells to the man at the restaurant. He offered me one to take home. At first I thought it’d be too heavy but later I had to go back and tell him that I changed my mind. I am so glad that I did. I carried an entire conch shell home, all the way from the Bahamas to Canada. While in the Bahamas I also learnt that you can eat conch shells. The local restaurants sure have a lot of traffic for this. It was interesting to say the least.
We then headed back to Nassau from Governor’s Harbor. This was a 30 min flight. Super scary flight as it’s a 20 seater plane and might I add – a very old one! Alas, we made it alive! I finally tried that conch salad in Nassau – it was interesting, tasted a bit like squid. They put so many things in that salad though – I got the one with fruits. It was a lot but it was something new and I liked it.
On my last night, my friend took me to Atlantis and gave me a tour. We went to the aquarium and the casino. We had dinner at the restaurant in the casino. That area is definitely filled with tourists. It kind of reminded me of Niagara, but even busier.
I would say that the highlight of my trip was definitely Eleuthera. It is a breath taking beauty. I would love to go back and do snorkeling and kayaking and maybe spend a bit more time on the beach!
I started the year of 2015 by flying to Cairns early in the morning and what an amazing start! Cairns is very up north along the coast of Queensland. It has very hot temperature and this is usually a gateway to the great barrier reefs.
One thing I’ve learnt from this trip is to stay away from Flight Centre, because their deals will rip you off. It’s best to just do your own bookings because you save quite a lot. I went with a couple of friends and didn’t really look through this but you live and you learn, right?
I was there for 2-3 days. It was a short trip but fun! Cairns is really hot, especially in the summer time. The heat is actually exhausting there. It’s true that I would rather have hot than cold any day! Cairns is a small town. The downtown side of it is quite lively since many tourists go there. Unfortunately Cairns doesn’t have any beaches except for this man made pool area called the Esplanade. This is where most people go to cool off and there’s even a DJ that plays music. I would rather prefer a beach but sadly Cairns lacks this. What I noticed in town was that there are more flying foxes (bats) than people. Holy hell, they are just everywhere! I find them cute because their faces are like foxes, hence the name. They are quite noisy during the day, when they are hanging by the trees since this is their bed time. The ones in Cairns were much bigger than the ones in New South Wales. You can’t miss them, they have literally taken over the entire town! I miss flying foxes though… You can’t find them in Ontario.
The restaurants there are also quite expensive but the food is amazing. They have everything you want; lobster, kangaroos, crocodile… Yes crocodile! Very Australian. I have only tried kangaroo and it’s actually not as bad as the thought of it.
Cairns also has a nightlife which consists of a few clubs. It has a nice atmosphere. You can still hangout by the pool at the Esplanade. There are some bars along the street as well. It gets kind of crazy in the night time.
The nearest beach is Palm Cove beach. If you’re not driving, your best bet is to take the public bus which takes about an hour. I assure you this journey will be worth it. Palm Cove is such a nice beach with beautiful scenery. You will notice danger signs for crocodiles in water and so they recommend that you swim within this huge net that they put up. It is quite scary and I haven’t heard of any mishaps but I can imagine it won’t be a fun experience to be attacked by crocodiles. Many people also go fishing by Palm Cove.
Great Barrier Reef
I did a day trip to the great barrier reefs from Cairns. They took us to a pontoon which was in the middle of the ocean. This was not good for me since I get so much anxiety from big waves. The currents, I felt, were strong and there was no shore to go to. Since I fear drowning in water, this was not good!!! I always feel safer when I see the shore or a beach to go back to. This had just the pontoon and once you leave the pontoon, the water is quite deep and the currents are quite strong so you can feel the force. I tried to snorkel near the pontoon but sadly enough didn’t get to go far. I wish to overcome this fear one day, although it seems quite impossible at the moment. There was an underwater observatory also, where I spent most of time. The things you see underwater – it’s a whole another world down there and it’s so colourful and beautiful!
If you have this phobia as I do, I would recommend you stop over the “Green island” or there are a few islands within the great barrier reef where they take you to snorkel or dive. When they say “Great barrier reef” they mean the middle of the ocean. I prefer the islands because you can at least kind of walk around and explore, then also get to snorkel in shallow water. Well, this really depends on your preference but if you are anything like me then you would prefer the islands rather than the pontoon.