All posts tagged: Travel

Maxwell Hill: Malaysia’s Oldest Charm

One minute, the clouds are descending upon you, transporting you to the heavens. The next minute, you’re running for shelter and watching the rain, intimidated by its intensity and the gusty wind. Just then, the rain and the mist both go into hiding, revealing an untouched blue sky. Most people think Cameron Highlands or Genting Highlands when choosing a hill station getaway in Malaysia. Their lesser known cousin, Maxwell Hill aka Bukit Larut, therefore still retains its quaint English ambiance and a mystic poetic isolation. A mere 4-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur takes you to the base of the hill. To get to the peak or midway up, you need to rent a 4-wheel drive or trek for 4-5 hours. Neither option is for the faint-hearted; the road is as steep as it is winding, and the jeeps appear to be from the era of the British rule in the region! In our impromptu trip, the tickets for the 4-wheel drive were sold out early on a Sunday, resulting in a great deal of negotiation and …

pangkor laut, singapore, malaysia, weekend getaway, offbeat, spa

5 Weekend Getaways From Singapore to Pamper You.

Close to each weekend, I desperately resort to Google to find offbeat ideas for weekend getaways from Singapore. In the midst of my travel research, I came across these 5 weekend getaways in Malaysia and Indonesia that will pamper your senses and indulge you. So ditch your weekend travel to Kuala Lumpur, and rejuvenate in lesser know Southeast Asian hideouts! 1) Tempat Senang, Indonesia An hour’s ferry-ride away from Singapore, in the neighborhood of Batam Island (Indonesia), lies this exotic little gem. It’s a boutique resort, with under 10 suites, each designed, decorated and modeled after an Asian country. Besides the likes of Bali room, Indian room and Japanese room, there’s a Tree Room with a bed suspended in mid air. It’s also home to a traditional Balinese spa with a wide range of rejuvenating massages, and a pampering staff. Also read: Tempat Senang: Rejuvenation 2) Nikoi Island, Indonesia Close your eyes and imagine you are sprawling on a beach chair on white sands, in the company of crystal blue waters, sipping a drink. Just across the …

Halong Bay: Misty. Mysterious. Magical.

You’ve seen calm seas and you’ve seen sprawling mountains. Put the two together, throw in some evasive mist, dig up some extravagant caves, and shake a magic wand. You might get something close to Halong Bay in Northeast Vietnam. Over 3000 limestone structures arise out of the waters, as though the heavens are really beneath the surface and gracing the earth, forming a spectacle of beauty, mystery and magic, like you’ve never witnessed before. I cruised along these waters of the Gulf of Tonkin (Halong Bay) on the Imperial Junk, one of the many mid-range options to be part of the land on water phenomenon. Imagine sitting on the deck of the cruise, gazing at scores of limestone structures, each with it’s own touch of perfection, looking as stunning at sunrise as at sunset. Each cruise provides food (quality is proportional to the price of the cruise), water activities like kayaking and limestone cave exploration. The limestone cave open for exploration is decked up in lights, and although the ambiance is artificial, the intricate stalactites and …

Where Will 2011 Take You?

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber There’s something liberating about scanning a world map and choosing where your next journey could take you. As we round off 2010, the time is just right to put together a travel list for 2011. Get inspired by Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries, cities and value destinations in 2011. Choose atleast one of your dream destinations and plan your other journeys around it. Remember, no time will be better to go than now. Be realistic about your budget and travel dates, but don’t be constrained by either. Granny always says, where there’s a will there’s a way 🙂 Leave room to be impulsive. You follow enough rules at school & at work. The beauty of travel is that there are no rules. What’s on your travel list for 2011? Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl …

Port Dickson: Living on Stilts!

Many people tend to diss Port Dickson as a disappointment on the shores of muddy seas. I was skeptical too, but my impulsive trip to this little town near Malacca turned out to be a pleasant surprise! Another weekend getaway from Singapore’s bustling city-life, Port Dickson’s real charm lies in the chalets built upon stilts rooted in the sea bed. The Legend Water Chalets and The Legend International Water Homes are modelled on an open-living concept and are both extremely affordable. The Water Chalets will charm you with their open-rooftop showers within the rooms – showering under the starry night sky is both chilling and beautiful, as is showering under the sunspots cast by the sun during the day. Each chalet has a private balcony that looks over the Straits of Malacca and is an endearing way to spend an afternoon. The day bed by the window overlooking the sea, and the marble bathtub in the living-room make you feel right at home in the chalets. The floor of each chalet has a small glass panel so …

Bunaken: Of Blue Seas & Anonymity.

My first memory of Bunaken is that of sitting on the roof of a speedboat, riding the waves of a turquoise blue sea, and gazing at the most beautiful sky I’ve ever seen. why Bunaken: We chose to travel to North Sulawesi in Indonesia to get past the touristy temptation of Bintan & Bali, and were pleasantly greeted by a world yet to be discovered and commercialized. Our base was Manado, a city-town in North Sulawesi, and the closest airport to Bunaken – which lay a boat journey away, untouched. getting there: The public boat from Manado, used mostly by locals and extremely cheap, dropped us at the jetty at Bunaken Island. We were immediately greeted by the locals, who we first thought to be touts but soon realized were genuinely helpful and extremely friendly. That warmth of the people saved us the disappointment of realizing that this part of the island was more of a wet swamp than a beach. Panorama Resort, where we intended to stay, was fortunately on the other side, and we managed to arrange …

Ben Lac, Mai Chau, North West Vietnam, Vietnam, mountains, mist

The Untouched Gems of Northwest Vietnam.

For many travelers, Vietnam is the cities of Ho Chi Minh & Hanoi, and the tours that take you around the area. While some of these are pretty and tourist-friendly, most of these are fabricated versions of Vietnam’s real beauty and people. We managed to ditch most of these must-tick boxes in our Vietnam itinerary to explore the less-treaded North Western highlands of the country. Mai Chau No Lonely Planet overview can prepare you for the gorgeous, mist-covered mountains that greet you as you enter the village of Ben Lac, nor for the hospitality of its White Thai folks. There are organized tours from Hanoi that take you there, but if you want to experience the untouched, go on your own. We took a local bus from Hanoi to Mai Chau via Hoa Binh, with locals who spoke no English beyond “Where are you from?” but who were friendly enough to call their friends in Ben Lac and arrange a village homestay for us! We stayed with a couple in a traditional stilt house, and …

Once Upon an Island

Sometimes I think we can measure our lives by the places we’ve seen. There’s so much beauty in the world, so many undiscovered gems, and yet so many of us will spend our days in a small little box, unable to escape the vicious work-money cycle. Without getting too philosophical, I want to introduce you to a heaven-on-earth-like beauty in Indonesia, called Nikoi Island. I created the video below, entirely based on my imagination and these Flickr pictures, for a competition in which I won a free trip to this dreamy island. My gut says Nikoi will be all this and so much more. I’ll write about my personal experience at Nikoi Island after I visit it in December  Till then, you can read reviews by other people on Nikoi! Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who travels! Check out my: First book || Travel-inspired clothing collection || Instagram

Poetry at its finest

While reading The Motorycle Diaries, I came across this hauntingly beautiful poem written by Otero Silva, a Venezuelan poet and novelist born in 1908: I heard splashing on the boat her bare feet And sensed in our faces the hungry dusk My heart swaying between her and the street, the road I don’t know where I found the strength to free myself from her eyes to slip from her arms She stayed, crying through rain and glass clouded with grief and tears She stayed, unable to cry Wait! I will come walking with you. Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who travels! Check out my: First book || Travel-inspired clothing collection || Instagram

Tagaytay City, Philippines

Somewhere among the clouds lie the highlands of Tagaytay, green and misty, 2 hours away from the busy city life of Manila, the capital. It is here that I spent the weekend, treated to a gorgeous view of the Taal lake, and among people so warm and friendly that it almost felt like home. The trip was sponsored by Accenture, for a 3-day Student Leadership Conference (SLC), during which all of Taal Vista was filled with what I believe to be some of the brightest minds in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me that despite our geographical remoteness, the journey we undertake as students tends to bind us in no time at all, like we were always in it together. The SLC was styled with seminars conducted by senior Accenture executives, and intersparsed with team activities that made me feel like a college freshie again! The highlight of the stay was the post-conference bonding with students from different parts of the Philippines, including Baguio, Cebu and Manila. It took me less than a …