2019 has been a huge year for me travelling. I didn’t go to many places but I did tick off some of my targets on my bucket list. 2019 is the year I finally saw the Northern lights which is a huge tick on my list. It is also a year I have visited 7 new countries and a handful of their regions. I also scuba dived again after a few year absent from the activity. However most importantly 2019 will always be remembered as the year I met many travellers which I could say are friends and travel partners for many years to come.
Short Circuit, Asean Trip I
Kuala Lumpur, Apr 19 – First trip of the year and it was a late one. I went for a mini Asian circuit trip and Malaysia was our first stop. To start things off we got straight to hostels, roamed the city on our own and also availed an elephant sanctuary tour. Siem Reap, Apr 19 –This was probably the main focus of this trip, inspired by lonely planet I wanted to see the majestic ancient temples myself. Surprisingly and unplanned I somehow ended up getting to Siem Reap in the middle of a huge celebration(their new year) which we ended up joining in a huge water gun battle with local villagers. Langkawi, Apr 19 –We then went to Langkawi a huge Malaysian island where we went jet skiing and visited a few of their attractions. This time round we were in a hotel to get a little bit of rest. Koh Lipe, Apr 19 – We then excursed to a smaller Thai island to do some scuba diving. The best experience here was the more than unusual immigration system as you line up on the sand where you will see just a desk under a hut. Kuala Lumpur, Apr 19 – Finally we end up in Kuala Lumpur again where we relax and do our final shopping.
Oslo, May 19 – A long weekend trip with friends which correct to reputation proved to be expensive. It was a lovely city with plenty of attractions.
Amsterdam, Sep 19 –Its unusual to travel to Amsterdam with your family with its reputation of being a place for adults. However the city wasn’t only for adults and there was plenty to do as a family. Rotterdam, Sep 19 –After the Amsterdam trip I excursed to Rotterdam by myself which was my first and only solo trip of the year. Rotterdam was small but is proving to be progressing to be a hit for tourism in the future.
Short Circuit, Asean Trip II
Bagan, Oct 19 –One of the best places ive been due to its openness and freedom this is also the place I met some of the greatest travellers there is. Yangon, Nov 19 –Just like Bagan Yangon was a beautiful place I have met some great people. The city sprung a few surprises. It was more modern than I thought it would be and it also had some of the friendliest people in any place I have travelled. Bangkok, Nov 19 –Long overdue visit to the Thai capital. It was meant to be a restful end to my holiday but it proved to be the opposite. The adventures were too great and I ended up visiting many attractions.
Reykjavik and southern coast, Dec 19 –A 5 day trip to one of the most exciting place I have visited. I finally got tosee the northern lights which is a big tick on my bucket list. Furthermore the country’s mountains, waterfalls and other natural landscapes were just out of this world.
Type : City break Best Date : May-Jul Expense: Cheap Things to do : Shopping, Dine, Cultural Points of Interest: KL menorah(tower), Petronas tower, Jalan Alor (food market), Bukit Bintang, Batu Caves, Central Market, Petalling Street and many more The Good: Cheap, Free tourist buses The Bad: Prepare for long walks or long waits for transport
Kuala Lumpur also known as KL is the capital city of Malaysia situated southwest of the country. It is the largest city in the country and is known to be the fastest growing in the ASEAN (Association of south-east Asian nations) region which include nations such as Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines and a few more. Kuala Lumpur only acquired its city status in 1972 which also means it is one of the newest in the region, only being founded by Chinese miners at 1857.
The city has influences from British, Chinese and Japanese occupation and has the architecture and cuisine to portray these. Furthermore KL is home to one of the tallest twin towers with the Petronas towers which was built within just 6 years. The city is one of the worlds leading visited for tourism and shopping a brilliant place for all.
Kuala Lumpur was the first stop and a central base in my latest South East Asian ventures. Malaysia is the first mainly muslim country I have travelled to and Kuala Lumpur my first city. It has been a place I have intended to travel for a long time with many positive feedback and recommendations.
When I visited the city was hot and very humid with an average of 30c-35c degrees. It was a very diverse city with many different influence in lifestyle, food and other aspects.
Because of potential flight problems I took an earlier flight, which resulted being in Kuala Lumpur a day early resulting on an extra day.
Firstly I came across Bukit Bintang which is home to various points of interest in the city itself and the preferred location to stay with hotels for any budget. The region has both luxurious and affordable establishments with the famed Pavilion mall, Times Square Mall and the cheaper Jalan Alor which is the popular food market. Firstly the focal purpose of Bukit Bintang is shopping and dining with the Pavilion mall being the main attraction. This mall has the upper class and luxurious labels such as Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and others alike. They also have the finer restaurants around but also the popular chains. The mall itself had a beautiful architecture and is a sight to see. Next to Pavilion is a cheaper mall called Fahrenheit which also attracts shopping travellers. Further down around the corner of Bukit Bintang about 10 minutes walk from Pavilion is another mall called Times Square Mall a trendy artsy mall with many of the popular affordable shops. Lastly another main place to visit within Bukit Bintang is Jalan Alor a popular food market with plenty of local cuisines. The market is amazing however can get very crowded and is not as cheap as you might think. Overall Bukit Bintang is mainly for shopping, it is a nice central location to start off your visit it also is a convenient area to stay with nearly everything like restaurants, supermarkets and shops nearby.
Just a 10 minute walk away via a conveniently built elevated airconditioned walkway behind the Pavilion Mall is a place called Kuala Lumpur City Centre better known as KLCC which is a place where the Aquaria, Petronas Tower, Suria Mall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and others are situated. It is a more touristic area with plenty of sightseeing hotspots. Firstly one of the more family friendly attraction in KLCC is Aquaria which is located below the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre I didn’t personally visit this as I deemed it for families or kids, however ive been told it is underrated. Next in the area is the main landmark of the whole city and in my opinion the country aswell.
The Petronas towers also known as the Petronas Twin Towers are two twin skyscrapers joined (midpoint called the skybridge) designed by an Argentine architect and built by two different companies, Japanese built tower one and a South Korean consortium built tower two. Known as the city’s crown jewel the 88 storey building is open to limited tourists per day (limited by day, limited by night) to go up and view KLs panoramic scenery. There are also high end restaurants inside the Petronas towers so those with a higher budget can dine in one of the highest points in the city. Below the towers is a popular mall called Suria Mall, this shopping area is somewhat similar to the Pavilion in terms of the shops and restaurants it accommodates. Another nearby area popular with tourists is the KLCC Park which is a nice place for tourists and locals alike to chill, there are many different trees and plants but most observed is the symphony lake which presents magical fountain shows at around 2000, 2100 and 2145 every night, it is nice to see but for me I have seen better. Overall KLCC is a nice area to visit the Petronas towers and its architectural surroundings are amazing and beautiful.
The Kuala Lumpur Menora or Kuala Lumpur Tower which is more known to tourists is another must see landmark whilst visiting Kuala Lumpur. The tower which is the seventh largest telecommunication tower in the world has an observation deck, a revolving restaurant, sky deck, sky box and a few others. I only managed to go on the revolving restaurant called atmosphere 360, it was a good experience that had marvellous views of the city. Surrounding the tower is Kuala Lumpur Eco Park which is an interesting visit in itself. Like a botanical garden this parks has plenty different plants and trees. What’s more enjoyable about this Eco Park is the canopy walk which takes people into a nice desired height to enjoy and observe the park from a panoramic view.
Other places popular to visit are the markets. I visited two of the city’s main markets, the Central Market and Petalling Street which is also known to be the city’s China town. Firstly the Central Market, which sells local handicrafts and eateries. Before visiting the place I thought it would be a local wet market selling produce but it was very focused selling to tourists. The Market was an interesting place to walk around which has had its own story to tell, you can appreciate the local Malaysian creativity. The market also offers delicious local delicacies such as durian, you would not be let down if you come here. Petalling Street which is a short 10min walk from the Central Market is another popular place for tourists. Known as KL’s china town this area has many different street foods and cheap products. Also roamed by locals these side streets can also be a shoppers haven, a place where your haggling skills can be tested.
Just outside of Kuala Lumpur in the region known as Selangor which circles around the capital is home to one of the most famous points of interest in the ‘Batu Caves’ which is a limestone hill that has a series of caves which consist of over 100 year old Hindu temples. Firstly on the front there is a large golden (painted) statue of Lord Muragan in whom the temples are dedicated to. This statue is significant to the country as it is also the largest at 43 metres high. Past the statue is 272 steps which lead up to the temple caves. These steps which have recently been coloured are somewhat obstacles for religious pilgrims. Whilst climbing these steps monkeys are ever present, they are very nice to take pictures with but be careful these monkeys are known to steal food and water, they will also bite if felt threatened. After the steps the cave is amazing and picturesque there are a lot of Hindu idols statues around and there temples are very active in prayers. The Batu cave is a must whilst visiting Malaysia it is free and there are no touts or vendors annoying tourists, the only thing you would need to think about is what you wear. It is a religious place and respectful attire are required, stricter for women than men.
A popular thing to do whilst staying in Kuala Lumpur is to do a day excursions. I visited Kuala Gandah which was just over an hour drive from the capital. Kuala Gandah is usually visited for the National Elephant Conservation Centre (NECC) which is a retreat for rescued elephants, so visiting this facility is helpful to the creatures whilst a brilliant experience and spectacle to those who visit. In the conservation you will watch a short 30min video about the rescued animals, feed, learn and watch a show about these majestic giants. You will also be able to bath with baby elephants which is a popular thing to do for many tourists.
Overall Kuala Lumpur was an eye opener, it is definitely one of my favourite capitals I have visited just because of its culture and the amount of things you can see and do. The city is cheap but can be a luxurious as you want it to be. There is also a lot that can be done whatever your age, interest and budget. My particular favourite is the Elephant conservation centre which highlighted the importance of protecting elephants but any creatures altogether, which is something special to learn especially for tourists from large cities that don’t know about these problems. Another place I loved about KL is the Petronas Towers which is just an architectural spectacle from any angle.
A visit to Kuala Lumpur is something any traveller must do, nice people, delicious food, eye opening culture and outstanding architecture, you cant go wrong.
The Finnish capital Helsinki has an integrated public transport system where tickets are valid on all mode of transports whether trams, metro and buses. It had the easiest transport system I have taken from the airport to a city as a tourist.
Walking – If you are fit enough and have the ability to walk around for long distances, then I believe walking around the city is the best way to get around. Take stops in a few places for rest and you should be fine for a whole day.
Trams – For those unable to walk then I’d say trams are the best mode of transport to use within the city. They come often and are easy to use but remember to purchase your ticket before getting on. One thing to remember is that like any public transport around the world you can expect busy periods where the trams get very full.
Trains – Better for longer distances like the airport, or other regions. Again very easy, just buy your ticket ahead of boarding. There are no barriers but ticket inspectors and for passenger comfort there are power outlets, small tables, bins and lots of luggage space.
Metro – I didn’t really have the chance to ride these as walking and trams were sufficient to get around the place. I did notice that the Metro doesn’t cover a lot of destinations. The Helsinki metro is the worlds northernmost metro system.
Bus – As trams were already a brilliant way to travel, I didn’t really have the chance to try their buses.
My last trip of 2018 and I have decided to fulfil a winter trip north of Europe into Finland and Estonia. Whilst in these two countries I have decided to visit three capitals, Helsinki the capital of Finland, Rovaniemi capital of Lapland in Finland and finishing the trip with Tallinn the capital of Estonia.
I had an open plan and didn’t cement the duration of each stay so my trip depended factors such as activities and whether or not there was much to visit. (click on the headers below to read more)
I used Helsinki as my base so really as there was no flights direct from Rovaniemi to Tallinn. But instead of directly transiting through I thought to stopover for a night to visit other areas I didn’t manage to visit.
A worthy relaxing end to the trip. Three days in the Estonian Capital, probably one of the most difficult public transport for tourists but once within the inner city a pleasure to get around by walking.
Type : City break Best Date : ? Expense: Expensive Things to do : Shopping, Dine, Cultural, Christmas market, Points of Interest: Senate square, market square, Temppeliaukio Church, Suomenlinna, Helsinki central station, Uspenski cathedral, Kamppi Chapel, Sibelius Monument. The Good: Friendly warm atmosphere, Artistic city The Bad: Not too much to do
Helsinki is the capital city of Finland and the country’s largest with around 600,00 in population. According to various sources Helsinki is one of the best places to live and has the better standard of living around the world. Although Helsinki’s population grows every year it is still considered one of the smallest.
Helsinki was the central point for me on my travels to Finland and Estonia. I stayed in the capital first then branched back and forth to Rovaniemi and Tallinn eventually ending and flying back home from the city.
Before the trip my research into the city showed that there was not plenty of attractions or points of interest within the city, it also doesn’t have a monument or building with the magnitude comparing to the Eiffel tower or statue of liberty. However my first impressions of the city was that it was very artistic or art conscious with plenty of the streets having its own decorative designs, even as simple as a street light had a modern imaginative design. As you start to roam the city in depth you will start to realise why the city is one of the best cities to live in (according to metropolis 2016), and not such a bad place to visit as a tourist.
Firstly a must visit for tourists is the Helsinki cathedral which is situated in the Senate square. Built around 1852 this Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral which is operational and performs mass services proves to be the main stage for tourism in the capital. The cathedral which has huge historical significance to the city proves to be an area where tourists flock to take pictures. Senate square marks the centre of old Helsinki and is a good example of neoclassical architecture, the square is surrounded by the government palace and the main building of Helsinki University and the Library of Finland all equally as picturesque within the square. Furthermore the city’s main Christmas market is placed here at the start of December each year. In my opinion the market was the cleanest and neatest of all Christmas markets ive been to its relaxing ambience and sauna was something new, but it was too quiet for my liking. Nonetheless their products were much better quality than that of other markets and food were outstanding. The Christmas market is worth a visit if your around the city at that time but I wouldn’t set up a trip solely for this market.
Other churches that are worth a visit are Temppeliaukio church, Uspenski cathedral and Kamppi Chapel. Firstly the Uspenski orthodox cathedral which was built around 1868 is advertised as one of the city’s main place to visit, with its red bricks and golden cupolas the building is and interesting place to visit. Although a great piece of architecture with a nice of history for me it wasn’t something spectacular and I see plenty places of worship on par with this one. A more modern religious structure which was only completed on 2012 is the Kamppi Chapel. Built with local Finnish wood in the centre of one of the city’s busiest street the chapel also takes the name of “Chapel of silence” as it is meant to be a place of calm a serenity within the city. Lastly in my opinion one of the most fascinating place to visit in Helsinki is the Temppeliaukio church which is unlike no other church I have ever seen from all my visits. The architecture is different in that the building is excavated straight under solid rock, its roof is a large copper dome like plate supported into the rock by beams and when the sun shines proves to be a spectacular sight to see. The church built by architect Tuomo Suomalainen on 1969 is the best spot I visited in the city and I highly recommend this place.
The Sibelius monument built in dedication for the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius located in Sibelius park is in my opinion the best piece of art work within the city. Built with 600 hollow steel organ pipes built in a wave to portray sound waves with the composers face protruding in front of the monument is a nice sight to see whilst walking around a admirable park.
Another popular place for tourists is a visit to Suomenlinna island . I did not particularly have time to visit this place as I ran out of time but am told this is another must go area to visit. Reached by boat included in the day passes or tickets in the ordinary machines around the city the island has enough to consume a full day. The UNESCO world heritage site use to be a fortress for the Fins, Swedes and Russians. The island has beautiful sights, museums , restaurants and cafes.
Helsinki central station is another place to see. You wouldn’t need to go out of your way to come across the central station as it will probably connect your hotel and any points of interests you visit. The station was voted the worlds most beautiful station in the world in 2013 (BBC) and has consistently been within the top batch each year in various lists. The station initially opened on 1862 but grew after a competition on 1904 where it was then designed by Finnish Eliel Saarinen and reopened 1919. The station has 4 large sentry statues which hold spherical globes illuminated oversee the masses of people go in and out of the station, this is the sight to see.
Other places to see is Market square and the city’s various shopping districts. The Market square which is in the eastern most part of the city nearby the senate square and adjacent to the presidential palace is another of the most recommended areas to visit by various tourism media. Why? I am not too sure why. I visited the area three occasions during my visit at various different times but I didn’t see the charm of it. However shopping in Helsinki in the many different districts or malls is a must. The many places such as Kamppi centre, Galleria Esplanade and Kluuvi shopping centre is just some of the places for a nice shopping atmosphere. Beware that items in Finland is a bit more expensive than others countries in Europe.
I don’t usually recommend particular restaurants or bars but the ‘Oluthuone Kaisla’ 10minutes from the Central station is one of the best craft beer in town, It was a brilliant atmosphere whilst visiting two friends that I met in a backpacking trip in Peru. There were a huge choice of beverages including Finnish and Estonian Beers. It was fairly relaxed and quiet when I went there but am told weekends is busy. One of the highlights of my visit.
Helsinki does not have any attractions that would compare with the magnitude of Paris’s Eiffel tower, New York’s time square or London’s Big Ben however the city’s beauty is with its lifestyle, arts and atmosphere. Within the city and from the airport Helsinki had one of the easiest public transport system from all the places I have been which is always a big plus for me and would be for tourist in general. Nonetheless once within the city all attractions are a walkable distance. However the city was expensive which wouldn’t be very attractive for the common traveller. Overall all I can say is Helsinki is a beautiful place to unwind get to know new cultures, try new beers and appreciate some history, you have to be open minded as the city isn’t as extravagant as other European capitals but it does have brilliant characteristics. A two to three day stint in the city is enough time to roam the city and enjoy its prestige.
This was my first trip to one of the richest and most powerful country in Asia, one which has rich history and best preserved tradition. I expected a very busy working country and also the most technologically advanced. My trip consisted of three of Japans most notable cities or prefectures (as its known) in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. I only had a total of 6 days and took the local trains to travel around except for a flight to Tokyo. I saw the most modern side of Japan but also its magical history and culture all whilst experiencing Japans world famous dishes.
Please click on the cities below to see how my journey went.