From Santorini with Love

This is a trip to remember; our honeymoon trip. I planned this trip since last year, and it finally came true last month.  One hundred percent self-planned! I wanted to cover so many things until I became so stressed out trying to put together a ‘perfect’ two weeks itinerary. Santorini was extremely beautiful, there was no words I could describe just how amazing to be there <3.

An afternoon at Oia lookout point

Spring and Summer Europe Travel Tips for Malaysian Women

Hello! I just returned from a vacation in Greece & Italy two weeks ago. I went to Athens, Santorini, Milan, Como & Rome. Athens and Santorini are new places for me. Milan, Como and Rome are repeat destinations.

I would like to share checklist for spring/summer travels for Malaysian women:

1. Scarves- 2 are sufficient. One in basic color. Another could be with a pop of color.

2. Dress. Black dress will never go wrong.

3. Jeans

4. Slacks in basic colors- Black/ khaki/ white/ navy

5. Cardigan that matches with the rest of your outfit.

6. Light jacket- For early morning, late evening & night.

7. Walking shoe/ flats that has been broken into. Never ever wear new shoes no matter how comfortable you think they are the first time you tried them

8. Top- Basic colors. Top can be blouse/ plain t-shirt/ plain shirt/tank top that goes with everything you bring

9. Socks

10. Makeup- face powder, mascara, lip cum cheek tint ( I love multi-purpose makeup)

11. Toiletteries-  2 in1 shampoo, facial cleanser, toner, moisturiser, serum, sunblock, body & hand lotion

12. Some food, just in case- Maggi mee, Brahim’s instant ( the one that you just need to put in hot water to warm them), a small packet of milk (in powder form), a few packets of instant drinks (like Horlicks, nestum, etc).

13. Pajama

14. Travel-sized first-aid kit & meds which might be important for you.  Glad that my husband brought bandage- it used when I was in Rome

15. Sunglasses

16. Accessories to go with your outfit- May be a short or long necklace. A stud earrings, dangly earrings, up to you, and a ring. However I wouldn’t  wear my wedding ring… or expensive ring as I’m afraid that I might misplace them.

18. Flip flop slippers, just in case

19. Phone charger

20. Camera charger

21. Credit cards- just in case

22. Don’t forget your passport

23. Travel documents- Travel schedule. Documents on hotel information (map, address, price, do print the confirmation sheet), flight schedule, photocopy of your passport/IC/credit cards, insurance info. If possible, sort based on traveling dates..put document separators and all. This will not only makes it easier for you to refer to, but in case you are questioned by immigration officers,  you can use this document to brief them about your visit. If you have to bring any medications, make sure you bring official letter from your hospital/clinic- just in case.

24. Hair clip, hair band.

25. Zip-lock plastic bag. Bring a few. They were really handy during my previous travel.

26. Cable-tie: instead of using padlock, you could use cable-tie for your backpack!

27. For Muslim like me, eating out in foreign countries could be a bit tricky as Halal food are not always available. Even if they are available, we know Malaysian currency is not that strong against Euro, Pound, and Dollar (AUD, USD, SGD, NZD, HKD). Here are a few tips to save on your travels.

  1. The first thing after checking-in to your hotel is to look for supermarket or mini market. Get plenty of drinking water, fruits in season and locally grown (as they are cheap), bread or pita or wraps, breakfast cereal, eggs, energy bar, cheeses, chocolates and milk. Basically anything cheap yet healthy, filling, easy to prepare and easy to pack
  2. Rent an apartment that comes with kitchenette. If there’s a washing machine, even better!
  3. For Breakfast- if your choice of lodging doesn’t provide breakfast, make your own. If your choice of lodging provide buffet breakfast, do eat a hearty breakfast every morning when you are there
  4. For lunch… picnic style! You could pack fruits which you bought earlier, and sandwiches which you could prepare in the morning. I brought tuna in packets from Malaysia. Heheh. The packaging says gourmet tuna to be exact… all other tuna I found in our supermarket were in can. Try to avoid bringing can foods as they weigh more (though our total baggage allowance was 70kg, but we chose to travel light). Other quick sandwiches are cheese sandwich , egg sandwich, peanut butter, nutella, and etc. Of course I did eat out, just not everyday.
  5. For dinner- you could save by cooking a simple dish. I didn’t cook anyway. The nearest to cooking which I did was putting that Brahim’s packets into hot water. Had them with bread.  I was very surprised that their sambal ikan bilis was good! They have kurma la,  masak merah la, curry la. I accompanied our meal with locally grown & in-season veggies & fruits. If possible,go for ingredients that are expensive in your country, but cheap at the travel place. If still not enough, belasah je la Maggi mee & Nestum/ Horlicks/ Milo. If you had to have rice, then by all means have rice. I love rice but my husband doesn’t. So I did not cook any rice. If you opt for rice, bring a small packet of rice and bring a small rice cooker. I saw one before, super small! Looks like those toy rice cooker main masak-masak size… the price was less than RM100!
  6. Avoid shopping. Just don’t shop if possible. The moment you start shopping, you’ll waste time and money unless its a shopping trip. If you just gotta shop a bit, identify what you wish to buy prior to the trip. Then identify the shop location and the price. Is it worth to buy there? For luxury good, check with the shop if they have the items in stock. If no, check if they have it at other shops and if they can transfer it to the shop of your choice and tell them the exact date when you will be collecting the item. If the items  you wish to purchase are available at the airport (after immigration check-in) of your last destination, then buy them there. They are tax free and you could avoid long queue for tax claim.
  7. Use public transport. Public transport in Europe is efficient. Easy rule- if there are only 2 of you, its more economical to use public transport. Four to five person- ideal to rent a car. 3-4, probably you have to do the costing comparison.
  8. Bring a portable hot-plate cooker (the one that comes with a small pot). I did not bring it this time… our friend brought it during last 2 years trip. It was very small and compact. about 2.5 x 3inches.
  9. Coffee and croissant are super cheap in most cafe. Go there!

Okay, I think that’s all I could think of for now. I will add more later~

 

When in Rome…

This is a long overdue post in 2010. We stayed near the Roma Termini. What I love most about our room, was it’s bathroom. It was hu-geeeee, and the shower system has massage jets! oh.so.nice. I did not take a photo. The B&B reminded me of old apartments in movies- with old cage-elevator. Like in Bourne movies… hahahahaha.

And the tall winding staircase. *Gun fighting scene in head* dramatic again.  Just can’t help it.

We took a taxi from airport. Initially we wanted to take a bus.  Waited for almost an hour and there was no bus, plus the queue was very long (morning). We couldn’t waste our precious time waiting. Better to spend them to see Rome 🙂

Here are photos on the way to our B&B.

Til later, the first Rome attraction we went to was the Colosseum.

Mabul Island, Sabah

I took my PADI diving certificate almost 3 years ago in Mabul Island. The island is located in Sabah, Malaysia, and  mainly famous due to it’s location, near the Sipadan Island- the best diving site in the world.  There are no resort/ hotels/ B&B in Sipadan. Hence most divers coming to Sipadan stay in Mabul. Or alternatively Kapalai Island or Semporna. Hotels and resort in Kapalai are very expensive, while Semporna is a bit on the far side from Sipadan. Hence, Mabul is the ideal location. You can reach Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai via Semporna.

I went to Mabul with 4 friends. Our journey started with a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Semporna. Then we took an approximately 45 minutes boat ride to Mabul.

We stayed at Scuba Jeff Guest House. The place is suitable if you are going on a shoestring. Bear in mind that facilities there are very very basic.  I did not mind anyway. The food was delicious and hearty, I could sleep well, there were showers and toilet, friendly  host, many other friendly travelers and divers, the host even brought us around the island and provides recommendation- where to go, what to do, where to snorkel, where to shop and etc.  The package we took covered everything- 5 days 4 nights stay, boat transfer, airport transfer, meals for the entire stay, diving equipment and PADI dive course.

The course started on the second until forth day. On the day of arrival, we just went snorkeling and walked around the island.

Photo credit: Brother Azizul, my husband, and yours truly.

This is Scuba Jeff Guest House from the back. This was 3 years ago. I learnt that there has been A LOT of upgrades and changes.

That turtle photo was shoot right in front of our room balcony.

At guest house patio.

Night by the guest house.

Morning by Scuba Jeff GH.

View from patio.

Sunset by Scuba Jeff GH.

This is where you should stay if you want to splurge. At the Mabul Water Bungalow. If I’m not mistaken it cost as high as a few thousand MYR per night?

Mabul Resort. Heard its expensive too- a few thousand MYR. But not as nice as Water Bungalow.

Picturesque village by the beach.

At the village. Mini shop selling sundries. Liquid in small plastic bag, from left to right: vinegar, soy sauce, fabric softener and  clorox bleach. MYR 0.20 each.

The village.

Sunset by the beach village.

Sunset by Mabul jetty.

Boat making by the locals.

Random photos. Jumping into the sea. By the jetty and by the guest house (during high tide).

Jetty. Going back to Semporna, then KL.

Do note that if you want to go to Sipadan, you gotta apply for a permit. You should apply as early as a year ahead, as the number of visitors per day is very limited and access is very strict. Anyways, don’t worry too much. You could still enjoy Mabul and Kapalai. And you could come for second visit! If you are a first time diver (me too!), it is recommended to go diving at other locations prior to Sipadan, and only go to Sipadan after you have prior experience at other dive site. That way, you could gather diving experience, improve your diving skills and would be able to enjoy and appreciate Sipadan better.

Venice – Part 2

I watched travel channel recently, and I learnt that Venice comprises of more than 100 small lands, connected with over 117 bridges.  And there are more than 150 canals. So if you are in Venice, you’ll see bridges everywhere.

 

 

 

Image

 

And gondolas and gondolier. Price of one gondola could be as high as car price in Malaysia.

 

Was mesmerized with the picturesque view of canals with old building along it’s side. Its amazing how these structures can survive for so long with so much water around them.

 

 

And there were a lot of alleys. You better have a map with you! We lost twice. I recall we were saying, didn’t we passed this alley before? We eventually took out the map we got from our hotel.

 

Venice Part1 cont’ – Pizza San Marco

Piazza San Marco at night was beautiful, and during daytime, was even better! Let the photo explain by itself.

There was restoration work, so part of the Basilica was covered.

Theater posters. Wish to have more time in Venice so we could watch the theater. I’m a fan of theater. Next time…