Slow down and See Singapore on a Kayak

Slow down and See Singapore on a Kayak

It is arguably true that shopping and eating seem to be every Singaporean’s pastime, and not forgetting – we are adept at queuing too. Perhaps, in my opinion, the size of this island-nation is why everything becomes a little too crowded. But hey – we’ve got to work with the geography we have, and we should consider ourselves fortunate that we are relatively safe from seismic activity in the region.

Perhaps the questions we should be asking ourselves are, why we feel the lack of space and why are we yearning to be someplace idyllic despite having plenty of cutting-edge, man-made marvels. 

I supposed it is a paradox of our time, the issues go deeper than surface-level. We have taller buildings but shorter tempers, we have more conveniences, but less time. 

And what happens when you have completed exploring every shopping mall in town?

It’s time for a change of scenery. 

You want to shed the week of sitting in front of a computer by feeling the motion of your arms and legs, feeling the wind in your hair, listening to the forest soundscape, basking in the sun. You wish you could once again feel that sense of unhurried living that descended upon you when you were travelling abroad or on a scenic cruise.

Obviously taking a stroll around HDB blocks and the labyrinthian maze of reflective office towers do not count.

Let’s get away from the concrete jungle for a while. Singapore is more than just a mega-shopping mall although she looks like that.

Kayaking in Singapore

KayakAsia is a Singapore-based eco-adventure travel company that organises kayak trips. These  trips will take you to some of Singapore’s best-kept secrets that are serene, uninhabited, completely free from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Photograph by truptid via Instagram

Usually these kayaking trips take about 5 hours, and they are suitable for beginners, including those who cannot swim. You can even bring your dogs along to enjoy the great outdoor which definitely beats your regular walk in the park! You’ll be surprised to learn that mangroves kayaking in Singapore is possible in Sungei Khatib Bongsu and Mandai, and discover the 7 unspoiled, rustic Southern islands of Singapore. 

It’s good to know that there are still adventures off-the-beaten track in this small and crowded city.

Just don’t forget to slather on sunscreen!

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3D2N in Langkawi: An Island Paradise Close to Home

3D2N in Langkawi: An Island Paradise Close to Home

Langkawi is easily Malaysia’s most famous beach getaway, just off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the Andaman Sea. Known as the “Jewel of Kedah”, in truth, the island of Langkawi is one of 99 islands that form the larger Langkawi archipelago. 

Photo by Jacky ling on Unsplash.

Among the abundance of island paradises in Southeast Asia – Boracay, Phi Phi, or even Siargao – Langkawi can be, and often is, overlooked.

And that’s a pity. Due to its proximity to Singapore, Langkawi makes for an easy weekend getaway that offers a top-notch island experience to savour.

This is helped in part by the fact that Langkawi isn’t completely awash with the typical trappings of a destination made over to entice tourists – yet.

Sure, there are the beach resorts and shopping malls that cater to the everyday tourist but there are also parts of the island that have, quite surprisingly, retained their unspoilt nature. To this day, villages still thrive, filled with farmers and fishermen who continue to toil each day for their livelihoods.

Awarded the UNESCO World Geopark status back in 2007, Langkawi is rooted in folklore and offers an abundance of natural beauty. 

Where to Stay

The accommodations on Langkawi are varied, catering to all tiers of budget. If you’re looking for cheap and budget hostels, Pantai Tengah is where you can find a host of budget accommodations. The area of Pantai Cenang offers a lot more variety in terms of lodging and food, so if you want more choices, that’s your best bet. These two areas are also where all the action happens so you’ll be sure to be in the heart of Langkawi.

For the upmarket travellers, Tanjong Rhu and Datai are the two areas where the luxury resorts are hidden away. While these resorts boast exclusivity, first class service, and serene peace, it is quite a bit of distance from the main hub of Langkawi. 

For a Luxurious Escape

For that ideal island paradise experience, no accommodation can give you a better one than the Four Seasons Resort. Religiously rated as one of the best resorts in Langkawi, the Four Seasons will make you wish you can make it your home. 

Eschewing your typical hotel rooms, the island resort offers private pavilions and residential-style villas that fit can the entire family, all of which providing sweeping views of the Andaman coast.

Address

Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

For a Mid-tier Holiday

If you’re looking for something more affordable, Temple Tree at Bon Ton, Langkawi is a great option. This boutique hotel has 8 antique and heritage buildings, each of them having a history on mainland Malaysia. 

The Chinese-style house was originally built by a Chinese family in Batu Pahat, Johor and was located close to Singapore before being deconstructed and rebuilt on the Island. The Malay-style Black and White house was built in the 1940s in the southern Malaysian state of Negri Sembilan, now featuring a large outdoor garden, coloured windows, and a wooden bathtub.  

Learn about the multicultural diversity in Malaysia’s history as you stay within the historic walls of Temple Tree.

Address

Jalan Pantai Cenang Lot 1047, Pantai Cenang, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

For a Budget Getaway

Pondok Keladi Guesthouse is there for all those who want to save every penny they can to splurge on everything else Langkawi has to offer.

The Guesthouse employs a very communal and relaxed environment, providing shared tables where guests can have their meals together while exchanging travel stories. Look out for the occasional monkeys and squirrels that are known to roam around. 

It’s a budget-friendly, fuss-free accommodation that will suit the solo traveller!

Address

Jalan Pantai Tengah, 07070 Langkawi

How to Get Around

As with most beach island paradises, there’s no developed, interconnected public train and bus service on the island. 

The best way to travel around the island is by getting your own private car or motorbike. At the same time, you can hire a driver and leave the driving with him or take it upon yourself to drive around. 

Grab Car is also available and is the most inexpensive option.

Day 1: The Town of Kuah, the Beaches of Langkawi, and the Eagle Square

Dedicate your first day to exploring what makes Langkawi tick, and the best place to start would be the town of Kuah. Although is it slowly becoming commercialised (bummer, but hey, duty-free shopping!), take the time to explore the town and you’ll catch glimpses of what life for the locals look like. 

The Eagle Square in Kuah remains one of the most popular pit stops and attractions in Langkawi. The choice of an eagle stems from “Langkawi” which was named after the word “helang” which means eagle in Malay. The large and iconic eagle statue unfurling its wings makes for a great photo backdrop. 

Address

Persiaran Putera Kuah, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

When visiting Kuah, be sure to make time for the famed beaches of Pantai Tengah and Pantai Cenang. Of the two, Pantai Cenang is undoubtedly the more famous. You can find many hotels, guesthouses, and a host of other accommodations stretching across both beaches. 

Perhaps it’s because of the larger crowd that Cenang receives, it is the hub of beach activities, bustling with many activities from beach volleyball to paragliding. In contrast, the quieter Pantai Tengah is where you recline back into a chair, whip out a book and soak in the peace and tranquility as the waves gently wash up the shoreline. 

Before you know it, the blue sky will change into hues of red and purple, signalling the time to dine in one of the many restaurants littered all over the beaches.

One place we’d recommend is Restoran Nasi Kandar Tomato, which serves up the Malaysian classic and popular Nasi Kandar (rice with toppings of your choice which usually includes a combination of curry, fish, egg, and okra). 

Address

Jalan Pantai Chenang, Pantai Cenang, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

Opening Hours

Daily 24 Hrs

Day 2: Ascend the Sky Bridge and Chase the Waterfalls

Start Day 2 with a visit to the Sky Bridge,  one of Langkawi’s leading attractions that offer panoramic views of the island. 

Located in the northwestern tip of the island, the Langkawi Sky Bridge is suspended some 2,300 ft above sea level, overlooking the Andaman Sea and several small islands. 

To ascend to the Sky Bridge, take the cable car up from Oriental Village, but it does not bring you all the way to the viewing platform. From here you can either take a tram to the observation deck or choose to hike up the nature trail. Regardless of your path, you’ll be greeted with some breathtaking views at the top, making it all worthwhile (especially if you chose to hike). 

Address

Jalan Telaga Tujuh Teluk Burau, Langkawi, Kedah 07000

Opening Hours

Daily 10 AM to 8 PM

Langkawi may be known for being a beach paradise, but it’s home to several gorgeous waterfalls as well, and you’d be remiss to overlook it!

The Seven Wells Waterfall remains the most popular amongst tourists, perhaps due to its proximity to the Langkawi Sky Bridge. Its name comes from the seven natural swimming pools that you can find at the top. Take the SkyCab cable car up to Gunung Machinchang, and you’ll be able to see the Seven Wells on your right. 

With the rushing waters over the years, the rocks are incredibly smooth, making natural slides which people are none too hesitant to slide down. With its popularity, be ready to mix with a sizeable crowd. 

Address
Mukim Padang Matsirat, Jalan Telaga Tujuh, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

Opening Hours

Daily 24 Hrs

If privacy is what you want, Temurun Waterfall would be the better bet. Not many know of this particular one, and when the volume of water gets higher, the rush of the waterfall can be even greater than the Seven Wells or the popular Durian Perangin Waterfall.

Address

Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia

Opening Hours

Daily 7 AM to 7 PM

It’s your last night in Langkawi and we see no better way than to spend it eating and drinking away at Langkawi’s night markets.

The night markets here are a little special — they don’t operate from a fixed location. Every single night from 7 PM to 10 PM, the night markets roam to various locations in Langkawi, so do your research and hit up the markets for a happy tummy night!

You can find out the timings and places here.

Day 3: Chase the “National” Bird of Langkawi

It’s one thing to take a photo with the huge eagle statue “flying” imposingly at the tip of Eagle Square in Kuah Town, it’s another to see these creatures, which are at the core of Langkawi’s legend, soaring through the air. For a chance to catch a glimpse of the eagles, it’s time to travel to the north and visit the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park.

The Kilim Geoforest Park, making up one-third of the Langkawi Geopark, is an area surrounded by limestone cliffs and winding rivers that make it a great escape to get immersed in nature. Whether it is walking along the Mangrove boardwalks or taking a boat tour through the meandering waters, keep your eyes peeled for eagles swooping in to nab fish swimming near the surface of the waters. 

It’s an eye-opening, National Geographic-like experience that you shouldn’t miss before leaving Langkawi. 

Address

Malaysia, Kampung Kilim, MY 07000 Kedah Langkawi Kilim Sungai Kilim

Opening Hours

Daily 8:30 AM to 5 PM

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Hong Kong Travel Advisory & Safety Checklist

Hong Kong Travel Advisory & Safety Checklist

Demonstrators in Hong Kong have announced a new wave of protests, this time targeting Hong Kong International Airport and Yuen Long district. The prolonged turmoil besieging the popular holiday destination has prompted growing worldwide concern. 

Singapore is among the latest to join a growing list of legislations to issue travel advisories regarding Hong Kong. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), travel to Hong Kong should be avoided at this time. 

“Although mostly peaceful and orderly, cases of localised clashes following these protests were reported. Protests which are meant to be peaceful may still have the potential to turn violent with little or no notice,” the Ministry noted. 

If you absolutely have to make a trip there, or are currently in Hong Kong, please heed the following safety tips. 

1. eRegister With the MFA

Singaporeans should register online with the MFA at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/. This is a free service that allows you to indicate your itinerary and contact details in Hong Kong, which will enable the Ministry to contact you when necessary.

In case you require assistance, take note of the following contact details:

Singapore Consulate-General in Hong Kong

  • Tel: +852-2527-2212 or +852-9466-1251 (after office hours)
  • Fax: +852-2861-3595
  • Email: [email protected]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24 hours)

Tanglin, Singapore 248163

2. Monitor Ongoing Developments

You should continually monitor Hong Kong local news for the latest updates. The Hong Kong Police Force keeps a detailed running tally of current developments, so it’s a good idea to follow their social media accounts:

Remember to ‘star’ or ‘favourite’ these accounts so their updates appear first on your feed.

3. Avoid Crowds, Protest Areas

As far as possible, avoid joining large crowds of people, lest you be mistaken for being a demonstrator. You should also stay away from announced protest locations and march routes.

4. Stay Vigilant About Personal Safety

Now more than ever, personal safety should be your number one concern. Be extra careful when out and about, do not engage with demonstrators or their detractors, and make sure to keep your accommodations secured.

Be tactful when expressing your opinions, as a stray comment may ignite an unwanted confrontation.

5. Do Not Wear Black

Because black is the chosen colour for the demonstrators, it is important to avoid wearing the colour during your stay in Hong Kong. Not dressing in black may help reduce the chances of being accosted, attacked or even arrested by the police.

6. Always Have Identification With You

Always keep your passport with you when in Hong Kong. Having proper identification will help the authorities clear you during spot checks.

If you have been mistakenly arrested, producing your passport can allow the police to quickly process your release.

Your passport will also help consulate authorities to quickly identify you and render needed assistance.

7. Band Together, and Keep in Touch

There is safety in numbers so seek out your fellow travellers and offer to look out for each other.

Don’t forget to stay in touch with your family, friends and colleagues to keep them updated of your whereabouts and situation.

Discoverist.sg stands with the people of Hong Kong during this difficult time.

May peace and cooler tempers prevail upon the Pearl of the Orient and a democratic, lasting resolution be soon achieved.

All images used in this post courtesy of Unsplash.

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A Quick Guide: From Haneda Airport / Narita Airport to Downtown Tokyo

A Quick Guide: From Haneda Airport / Narita Airport to Downtown Tokyo

All eyes will be on Tokyo next year as the Japanese capital will be hosting the biggest international multi-sport event – 2020 Summer Olympics a.k.a Tokyo 2020. It will be taking place from 24 July 2020 to 9 August 2020.

In the lead-up to the major event, there is news about how most of the accommodations like hotels and Airbnbs are filling up fast, so if you are planning to visit Tokyo next year, you got to act fast.

If you have secured your air tickets and accommodations, here’s a guide on the best and economical ways to get from Narita or Haneda Airports to downtown Tokyo.

Tokyo is served by two airports: Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND).

Arriving in Haneda Airport (HND)

Haneda Airport is the nearest airport to downtown Tokyo. It has two terminals and is more convenient to reach downtown Tokyo from Haneda Airport. Here are four ways to travel to downtown Tokyo from Haneda Airport.

By Tokyo Monorail

The Tokyo Monorail line is accessible at both Haneda Airport terminals and it will stop at Hamatsucho station, which is in the JR Yamanote line. It takes about 13minutes from Haneda Airport Station to Hamatsucho station if you board the express train.

All stations on the green JR Yamanote line can be reached in less than 30minutes from Hamatsucho. It is highly recommended to purchase a rechargeable transport card such as PASMO or SUICA to get around Tokyo.

By Keikyu Line

The Keikyu line is accessible at both Haneda Airport terminals. Do note that this line serves both Tokyo area and Yokohama so you need to pay attention to which direction the train is heading towards. For Tokyo area, the Keikyu line will stop at Shinagawa station (about 13 minutes), and the one heading to Yokohama will stop at Yokohama station (about 20-25 minutes ride).

By Limousine Bus

Taking a limousine bus from Haneda to central Tokyo will take about 45-75 minutes and it is cheaper compared to Narita. A trip to downtown Tokyo will cost about 1000 to 2000 yen. You can book your ticket and collect in the Haneda Airport here.

By Taxi

Depending on your budget and who you are travelling with, taxi is the least economical mode of transport in Tokyo, a taxi ride from Haneda Airport to downtown Tokyo area can cost you around 5,000 to 10,000 yen (SGD$60 to SGD$130). Unless you’re travelling with a large group, say more than 4 pax and with children then taxi is the most convenient and comfortable option. 

Arriving in Narita Airport (NRT)

Narita Airport is in the northeast of the city, which is the farthest airport in Tokyo when compared to Haneda Airport. However, most international flights will be arriving in Narita as this is Tokyo’s main international airport. It has three terminals. Terminal 1 and 2 each have a railway station at the basement to travel out to the city. Terminal 3 serves low-budget airlines and is connected to terminal 2 by a pedestrian walkway. Free shuttle buses operate between all three terminals. Here are the three best options to reach downtown Tokyo from Narita Airport. 

By JR Narita Express (NEX)

If you are using a Japan Rail Pass, JR Tokyo Wide Area Pass and some other JR Passes, taking the JR Narita Express is the best way to downtown Tokyo. The one-way journey takes about one hour and will stop at stations like Shinagawa and Shinjuku. But if you are not using any JR Passes, the one-way ticket for NEX cost about 3,000 yen. 

By Keisei Skyliner

If you’re heading to Ueno, Keisei Skyliner is the best bet. It takes you to Ueno station in less than an hour from Narita Airport station. Get your train ticket here.

Do note that JR Pass cannot be used here as it is operated by a different railway company. 

By Limousine Bus

Limousine bus is the preferred option if you are carrying a lot of luggage. It will take about 75-90 minutes from Narita to downtown Tokyo depending on the traffic condition. You can book your ticket and collect in the Narita Airport here

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26 July, Friday

26 July, Friday

26 July, Friday

CHINA, Zhangjiajie – Most famously known as the “Avatar” mountains for inspiring the cool action sequence in the 2009 film by James Cameron, the tall quartzite cliffs of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a jaw-dropping landscape.

The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is just one of the many segmented areas of the larger Zhangjiajie region which includes the beautiful Wulingyuan Scenic Area and Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve. This man-made structure that stretches the length of the cliff serves as a perfect vantage point to take in the majestic and precarious cliffs of Zhangjiajie.

Nothing quite beats the first impression as you lay your eyes upon the soaring and quite honestly, mystical cliffscape of Zhangjiajie.

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