Tuesday, October 29, 2013

take me away, travelar & digi

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.
- Susan Sontag

It's probably no secret to anyone who knows me that I love traveling, so I was pretty excited to find out about this contest by Nuffnang, DiGi and Travelar where 2 lucky bloggers would win 3D2N hotel stays in either Yangon or Bali!



Since I've been lucky enough to cross Bali off my to-go list, this time around, I would love the opportunity to travel to Yangon with Travelar, so that I can add the list of things to do below to my travel experience archive:

1. Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda


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The Shwedagon Pagoda is Yangon's most iconic landmark, and it's not hard to see why. The magnificently gilded Golden Pagoda stands at 325 feet so it absolutely dominates the city skyline, and it's existed for 2,600 years (!!), making it the oldest pagoda in the world! It's a photographer's dream, and I'd be one happy cat if I had the chance to capture its beauty in person.


2. Practice my haggling skills at the Bogyoke Aung San Market


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With over 2,000 shops offering everything from antiques, to jewelry, to souvenirs, and even everyday toiletries, you could probably find anything you wanted in Yangon's largest market. I'm absolutely horrible at haggling ("Kurang sikit, tiga sepuluh? Tak boleh ah? Ok lor..." *pays*), so this would be a good chance to level up my game!


3. Get lost in downtown Yangon


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One of my favourite things to do when I'm in a new city is to go out and get lost, and Yangon looks like the perfect place to do that! With all the people, the colours and the colonial buildings that the city centre is famous for, a walk downtown would easily occupy me for hours :)


4. Stroll along the banks of the Kandawgyi and Inya lakes


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I like to balance out the frenzy of cities with some good ol' R&R close to nature when I travel, and the two biggest lakes in Yangon would be perfect for that. This is the Kandawgyi Lake, and that huge structure is the Karaweik, a replica of a royal barge with a restaurant inside. You can also enjoy song and dance shows, called pwe, on the Karaweik in the evenings!


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The Inya Lake is the bigger of the two lakes, and is apparently popular with the locals as well. Fun fact: the lake is best known for the house by the lakeside where Aung San Suu Kyi’s spent most of her time in house arrest, and also its popularity as a romance hotspot with young couples from the nearby Yangon University!


5. Hitch a ride on the Yangon Circle Line


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I'll admit, this is probably the item on the list that intrigues me the most after the Shwedagon Pagoda :) The Circle Line is a 45.9km long train route that passes through 39 stations, forming a loop around the capital connecting the rural areas and suburbs of Yangon. A ride through the whole loop will take about 3 hours (not exactly Usain Bolt standards), but costs all of 1 USD (perfect for budget travelers), and looks like an awesome way to see how the locals live!


So that's my list of top 5 things I'd like to to in Yangon! But never let it be said that I don't share the good stuff, so let me share a list of my top 5 favourite things to do in Bali, y'know, just in case you happened to have booked a trip there with Travelar or something :P

1. Go temple-hopping



Temples are to Bali like sheep are to New Zealand, so it's quite impossible to not visit at least 1 or 2 temples during your stay! The temple in the picture above is part of the 11th century Gunung Kawi temple complex, where the highlight is these massive candi carved into the cliffside rock. The temple below is part of Goa Gajah, which was built in the 9th century and served as a sanctuary.




2. Feast on bakso and babi guling



Sorry, non-halal alert! Hehe. But yes, babi guling (Balinese roast pork) should definitely be part of your must-eat list in Bali. The babi guling most popular with tourists is in Ibu Oka, but to get the real deal, just ask your cab driver to take you to his favourite babi guling spot (like we did), and enjoy this feast of rice, pork, crunchy pork lard, and goodness-knows-what-else-but-it's-delicious.



And bakso! Ohhh the bakso. It's a dish of meatballs, noodles, and other stuff served in soup, and the bakso from this particular stall just outside of the Legian beach in Seminyak just made my trip. It was drizzling slightly, and the seller had run out of the "other stuff" and only had the meatballs and soup left, but we took a bowl each anyway. I don't know what it was about that bakso because it sure looked just like ordinary, unassuming meatballs, but they were best meatballs I ever had.



We had bakso again later in the trip, and we got a different variant, this time with filling inside the huge meatballs, but it wasn't quite the same. So yes, try out the bakso everywhere and lemme know which one's your favourite!


3. Sip on the most expensive coffee in the world



Kopi luwak (civet coffee) is made from coffee beans that have been ingested by civet cats, and is one of Indonesia's most famous exports. You can try some kopi at farms you can find throughout Bali, though you might feel a little guilty at the caged civet cat pacing around just a few feet away from you :| But still, give it a try - it's not half bad (no shit), and has an interesting flavour! I can't remember how much the price was, but it's not too bad if you only have a cup.




4. Get a tan at the beach



Bali is an island, so not going to the beach would be like having nasi lemak without the sambal - you're missing the whole point (and why even bother, really). There are plenty of beaches for you to choose from - Kuta is the most well-known, but its popularity means it can get rather crowded and noisy with its nightlife as well, but if not, Legian and Seminyak are fine too. If you're looking for one with even less people, try this list maybe!




5. Catch the sunset at Tanah Lot



Tanah Lot is a pilgrimage temple on a rock formation, and is among Bali's most famous sights. It was one of my favourite parts of Bali, because it really is as pretty as it looks in the pictures!



As you can guess from the picture, hordes of tourists descend upon this (not so big) piece of rock every evening to catch the sunset, so you'll be in for a disappointment if you were expecting a peaceful, meditative experience there. But it's definitely still worth the trip, because this place really does look its best during sunsets, even in cloudy weather!




And that's the end of my 5 favourite things to do in Bali! If you want a shot at winning yourself a cool hotel stay at Yangon or Bali, give it a shot here. Otherwise, start planning your trip with fantastically low prices at Travelar, or check out my travel blog for some inspiration :D