Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand and Laos – Part 24: And the Cycling Continues

Previously: Part 23 – Pyongyang? No, it’s Vientiane!

*****

Still Day 6: Saturday, 31 August 2013

And so, the three of us cycled together towards… well we did not decide yet, actually. I accompanied them for lunch first before we cycled back towards the city centre. So far, Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane is the busiest road in Vientiane for me.

Kami bertiga pun terus mengayuh basikal ke destinasi seterusnya… ke… okay sebenarnya kami pun tak buat keputusan lagi nak pergi mana sebenarnya. Aku teman diorang berdua makan sebelum sambung mengayuh ke kawasan pusat bandar. Pada aku, memang Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane ni jalan yang paling sibuk di Vientiane.

Next stop – this museum.

We cycled and cycled whilst soaking ourselves in the sights and sound of Vientiane which is 100% different from Kuala Lumpur.  The city is dusty, the signboards are in foreign scripts and the smell, well, it was different.

Kami kayuh dan terus kayuh sambil menghayati suasana di Vientiane. Memang suasana kat sini 100% berbeza dari Kuala Lumpur. Dengan habuknya, tulisan yang sepatah haram aku tak fahamnya, baunya… Semuanya memang berbeza.

Typical view of museums/government buildings in Vientiane.

Martin and I, both are self-confessed history lovers, decided to check the Lao People’s Army Museum as it might show how the people fought for Laos’ independence. When we reached the museum and saw its golden fighters statue, we were excited to check it out.

Aku dan Martin, dua-dua suka sejarah, ingat nak tengok Muzium Tentera Rakyat Laos. Sesampainya kami kat muzium tu, kami nampak pulak patung emas tentara Laos, terus jadi teruja gila.

An old fighter jet being exhibited in the museum’s compound.

However, turned out it was close for the day (the same for other government’s establishment too – they close at 4.00 pm). We just snapped some photos before cycled to the Patuxai to catch some breath.

Malangnya, nasib tak menyebelahi kami. Jam dah pukul 4 petang dan macam pejabat kerajaan lain kat Laos, muzium ni dah tutup. Kami ambil gambar dari luar sebelum kayuh ke Patuxai untuk lepak-lepak ambil angin.

The golden statue.

As we reached Patuxai, we sat on the bench and had a wonderful chit chat in the evening. We also did people-watching and commented on the acts of the people who were at the Patuxai. It was fun and memorable.

Dekat Patuxai, kami bukan buat apa pun. Duduk-duduk sembang lepas tu usha orang ramai. Seronok usha orang tau sebab kami dapat tengok macam-macam gelagat orang kat sini.

People swarming the Patuxai.

There were so many people at Patuxai in the evening, mostly families with small kids. There were also people with cameras hanging on their neck, asking if one wants to have their photos taken. These photographers went to families and showed them a laminated sheet of paper containing samples of their works.

Ramai orang kat Patuxai waktu petang, kebanyakannya dengan keluarga yang ada anak kecil. Aku perasan, ada ramai jugak orang yang bawak kamera gantung kat leher, tanya pengunjung kat situ nak tak gambar diambil. Photographer ni akan pergi kat keluarga dan tunjuk sampel gambar-gambar yang diorang dah ambil.

Instant official photo? Anyone?

One surprise though: they brought together a portable printer and laminating machines! So, those who choose to have their photos taken will get their photos on the spot.

Satu benda yang aku terkejut lepas dok usha photographer ni, diorang siap bawak printer mudah alih dan mesin nak laminate! Jadi, boleh dapat gambar on the spot.

Perhaps they are negotiating the price of the photo.

Have you ever bought the photographs taken by the so-called official photographers at any attraction that you visited? 

+++++

To be continued – Part 25

+++++

Lao’s People Army Museum is located near Patuxai. As with other museums and government offices in Vientiane, it closes around 4.00 pm.

The entrance fee is  3,000 kip [as of August 2013].

About these ads

Visit Malaysia: Tioman Island, Pahang – A World Class Tropical Island Paradise

Malaysia is blessed with many beautiful islands dotting her coastline. However, when talking about the perfect island getaway, most of us tend to look at Maldives, Bali and Krabi as examples of island paradises instead of our own Perhentian, Tioman or Redang.

Speaking of myself, my island experience in Malaysia is limited to Penang, Langkawi and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. As such Tioman Island was, not surprisingly, a revelation for me considering the fact that I am an avid traveller, so to speak.

Click here to continue reading and for more awesome photos.

+++++

This article was first published by Virtual Malaysia.

Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand and Laos – Part 23: Pyongyang? No, it’s Vientiane!

Previously: Part 22 – Pha That Luang and Around

*****

Still Day 6: Saturday, 31 August 2013

Have you ever feel like travelling to Pyongyang in North Korea? To be honest, I really want to travel there, to really see how the place looks like. Thanks to the advent of technology, I have watched several travel videos on Pyongyang via You Tube and it made me feel like I was there.

Pernah tak korang terfikir nak mengembara ke Pyongyang kat Korea Utara? Aku ada. Haha. Kadang-kadang, aku tengok video orang lain travel ke Pyongyang semata-mata sebab nak tengok suasana kat sana.

So, what is the relationship between Pyongyang and my 23rd post of my travelogue on my solo journey to Laos? Well, there is a relationship actually; both countries are communist states.

Jadi, apa kaitan antara Pyongyang dan post aku yang ke-23 untuk travelog solo aku ke Laos ni? Kaitannya – kedua-dua negara adalah negara komunis.

After I left Pha That Luang complex, I got lost inside an unknown village and suddenly, I exited at a busy road (later determined as Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane). I cycled along the road until I found the National Convention Centre which looked deserted and add the gloomy weather in the city, it looked and felt awfully lonely.

Lepas aku tinggalkan kompleks Pha That Luang, aku sesat dalam satu kampung ni, lepas tu tahu-tahu aku keluar kat satu jalan yang sibuk sangat – Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane. Aku kayuh dan kayuh dan kayuh sampai aku jumpa National Convention Centre yang nampak sunyi, tambah lagi dengan cuaca yang mendung.

This statue is so huge, I couldn’t help but to stop and explore what this building is all about.

After snapping some photos, I continued cycling until I saw a huge statue from the outside of a building and it triggered me to enter into the building without knowing what building is that. In a matter of seconds, I parked and locked my bicycle and the designated area and walked towards the building.

Lepas ambil gambar sikit, aku sambung lagi mengayuh bila tiba-tiba, aku nampak satu patung besar kat dalam sebuah bangunan kat sebelah kiri aku. Terus rasa macam nak masuk. Aku letak basikal aku kat tempat yang disediakan sebelum jalan ke dalam bangunan tu.

Another statue inside the museum.

Ladies and gentlemen, I did mention earlier that there is a relationship between Pyongyang and this post right? Well, welcome to the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum (which is partially funded by Vietnam)!

Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan, ni lah antara persamaan antara Pyongyang dan Laos. Inilah Muzium Kaysone Phomvihane (turut ditaja oleh Vietnam)!

“Watch out folks, I will put my eyes on everyone of you”

Kaysone Phomvihane (the face in the Laos notes is his) was the leader of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party from 1955 and had served as the figurehead role to the party. He was also the Prime Minister for Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 1975 to 1991 after which he served as the President from 1991 until his death in 1992.

Kaysone Phomvihane (gambar dalam duit kertas Laos gambar dia) ialah ketua kepada Parti Revolusi Rakyat Vietnam dari 1955. Dia juga ialah Perdana Menteri Republik Demokratik Rakyat Laos dari 1975 sampai 1991, yang mana lepas tu dia jadi Presiden sampailah dia meninggal dunia masa tahun 1992.

The huge museum dedicated to the one and only – Kaysone Phomvihane.

As the name suggests, this Museum basically is dedicated to Kaysone Phomvihane and his legacy. It has exhibitions which tell the story of this man from his childhood days, his struggle and his journey as a leader. Old uniforms, set up of his hiding place, his office etc were exhibited here. Unfortunately, camera is only allowed until the staircase area, all other areas are not allowed to be photographed.

Muzium ni didekasikan kepada Kaysone Phomvihane dan legasinya. Bila aku masuk dalam muzium ni, memang cerita pasal dia je, dari zaman mudanya, zaman perjuangannya sampailah perjalanan dia jadi seorang pemimpin. Uniform lama, tempat dia bersembunyi, macam-macam lagilah, ada dipamerkan kat sini. Sayangnya, kamera cuma dibenarkan sampai kawasan tangga je. Kawasan lain tak boleh.

Fight together for the nation!

Walking around the museum and looking at the exhibitions couldn’t help me to think that this is so much a propaganda museum, a propaganda for communism. Although Laos is modernizing itself, communism is still deeply rooted within the society. And looking at the statues all around the museum, I couldn’t help but to compare them to the videos I watched on You Tube, showcasing Pyongyang.

Masa aku jalan-jalan kat kawasan muzium ni dan tengok pameran-pameran kat dalam ni, aku dok fikir, ni memang muzium propaganda untuk komunisme. Walaupun Laos dah semakin moden, tapi komunisme masih kekal utuh berakar dalam masyarakat. Bila aku tengok patung-patung Kaysone Phomvihane, teringat aku kat video-video Pyongyang yang aku tengok. Suasana yang lebih kurang sama.

Usual propaganda statue – to show that all citizens are the same, together we work hard for the benefit of the society – but the truth?

After touring the whole museum, I went out of the museum and at the compound, I met a couple from Germany – Martin and Emma. We engaged into conversations and under the cloudy weather, we exchanged our views on communism, history, democracy and other stuff, before decided to cycle together for the evening.

Lepas dan pusing keliling muzium – memang habis satu muzium aku pusing, aku keluar dari kawasan muzium dan terserempak dengan satu pasangan dari Jerman – Martin dan Emma. Sebelum ke basikal, kami borak-borak dulu dan di bawah cuaca yang mendung tu, kami bertukar pendapat tentang komunisme, sejarah, demokrasi dan macam-macam perkara lain, sebelum kami ambil keputusan untuk kayuh basikal sama-sama, menghabiskan petang ni.

What is your view of communism/socialism? Do you think it still has a place in today’s society?

+++++

To be continued – Part 24

+++++

Kaysone Phomvihane Museum is situated along Kaysone Phomvihane Avenue in Vientiane, Laos. It exhibits the history of Kaysone Phomvihane and his legacies in building Laos as a country. Photography is not allowed inside the museum.

The bicycle parking fee is 1,000 kip and the entrance fee is  3,000 kip [as of August 2013].

Hotel Review: Tune Hotel Waterfront Kuching (Malaysia) – Where to Stay

It was my first visit to Sarawak. When I knew that I would be staying at Tune Hotel Waterfront, Kuching, I Googled up to see where the hotel is situated at. Although there are a lot of Tune Hotels around, I have never stayed in one and of course, I was excited to see how the hotel looks like.

++++

PROS & AMENITIES

Upon reaching Kuching city together with other bloggers in conjunction with the International Bornean Frog Race 2014, we went to Tune Hotel Waterfront to check-in. The first thing that I love about the hotel is the prime location. It is located at the city centre, near to the famous waterfront, right next to Kuching Hilton.

Tune Hotel Waterfront, Kuching.

We were given the full package which include wifi for one device, air conditioner and TV. We were also given towels and toiletries which were put inside a nice tote bag. After taking the key and went to the lift, I entered the room by using the electronic room key.

The reception.

As this is a no-frill hotel, there are not so many amenities available inside the room. I was given a room with a double bed which was comfortable enough for me to sleep soundly for 2 nights. There were also some magazines and mineral water, courtesy of the hotel.

The corridor to my room.

In the bathroom, a hairdryer is provided together with a ‘rainforest’ shower, a power shower which water heater. A foldable table is fixed on the wall beside the flat screen LCD TV and it is big enough for me to do some work with my laptop and to put some of my stuff.

Access card is needed to access the room.

A safe is also available, though I couldn’t figure out how to use it. Yes, I have a problem with the electronic safe to the extent that I have never used any of the electronic safe when it is available in any hotel.

Put the card in the slot and…voila! You got the electricity.

As for the TV, there are many channels including satellite channels such as Fox Movies Premium, National Geography and other channels. However, as TV is available as add-ons, I think it is not necessary to have it if you plan to travel around and to come back to the hotel only to rest.

My crib for two nights.

Tune Hotel Waterfront does not have any wardrobe but they do provide clothes hanging facility in the room, which I think is good enough to hang my clothes rather than to put it everywhere.

The TV and the foldable table.

I have the tendency to put my belongings and walk around the hotel room to check its cleanliness and guess what, the room was spotless. Apart from that, as I was given a room with a window, it was nice to look at the river while changing.

Partial view of the river from my room.

The hotel also has a small cafe which serves local delicacies and other stuff but I did not go there since the hotel is actually situated beside a local food court and very close to 7-Eleven. In fact, on my second night at the hotel, I went to the food court and had laksa Sarawak for supper!

Nice to have mineral water!

Security is also not an issue since to enter a room, the access card is needed. The same goes when entering the hotel after midnight. The main door to the hotel will be locked and can only be accessed by the access card.

The bathroom with the power shower.

Finally, the people manning the reception area – they were friendly! Not only them, everyone working here including the security guards were friendly. They always smiled and attended to any problem or inquiry that we had.

CONS & SETBACKS

In my opinion, one of the setbacks of the hotel is the lift. Only one lift available and during peak period, maybe guests have to wait for their turn.

Another setback is the size of the room. It is actually quite small and it is not so easy to move around if 2 people are staying in the room. The same goes to the bathroom where the toilet is located at the corner of the bathroom. I found it quite narrow and I was not too comfortable using it.

The bathroom.

The fact that the hotel is situated on a slope might also pose a problem for old people to walk towards the hotel if they are going upwards. Besides, the hotel has no underground or multiple level parking, and as such, those driving might find it hard to find a spot.

Since this is a no-frill hotel, you get what you paid for. However, for wifi, only one device is allowed per password and I found this to be a setback because some people might want to use the wifi for more than one device. Apart from that, the speed of the wifi was not too stable. It took a long time for me even to access my Gmail and Facebook account.

Nevertheless, this is a very nice hotel to stay at and to sleep in. If I were to go to Kuching again, no doubt I will stay here again since it is very conducive to walk to all the interesting places in Kuching from here.

+++++

Tune Hotel Waterfront Kuching is a no-frill accommodation situated near the Kuching Waterfront in the centre of Kuching city.

For bookings and enquiries, do visit their website or contact them at:

Tune Hotel Waterfront Kuching
Jalan Borneo, Off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman
93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

T: +6 08-2238 221

Rating (Maximum 5 stars):

  • Value for money: 4 stars
  • Location: 5 stars
  • Customer service: 4 stars
  • Security: 3.5 stars
  • Cleanliness: 4 stars
  • Facilities: 4 stars
  • F&B: N/A

Overall: 4.08 stars [ 81.6%]

+++++

I would like to personally thank the Sarawak Tourism Board and Tune Hotels for making this trip possible and to Planet Borneo for the hospitality throughout the trip. This trip was held in conjunction with the International Bornean Frog Race 2014. Kindly be informed that all the contents/reviews are of my personal views.

+++++

Where To Stay‘ is the series for hotels/hostels/accommodations reviews by The Best Things In Life.

Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand and Laos – Part 22: Pha That Luang and Around

Previously: Part 21 – Cycling in Vientiane

*****

Still Day 6: Saturday, 31 August 2013

Everywhere I went to, I saw signboards with the golden stupa as the background. Turned out, it is the national monument of Laos. It is the Pha That Luang.

Ke mana-mana aku pergi dalam Vientiane ni, mesti dekat signboard ada gambar satu stupa keemasan. Rupa-rupanya, itu monumen kebangsaan Laos. Itulah Pha That Luang.

Pha That Luang from afar.

I was eager to have a look of Pha That Luang because this monument is not like any other stupa that I have seen throughout my travels. This monument, which was built in the 3rd century, has distinct features where it looks like a pyramid and the base is square in shape instead of the usual round.

Aku memang teruja sangat nak tengok Pha That Luang sebab monumen ni bukan macam stupa lain yang aku pernah tengok. Biasa stupa bulat dasar dia, tapi Pha That Luang yang dibina dalam abad ke-3 ni dasar dia segi empat dan bentuk dia lebih macam piramid.

The Statue of King Setthathirat in front of Pha That Luang.

Apart from that, it has an amazing history where it was reported that this monument had been plundered several times by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese. This amazing structure was only reconstructed after the World War II.

Selain tu, sejarah stupa ni pun menarik. Pha That Luang dah berkali-kali dimusnahkan oleh pihak Burma, Siam dan China sepanjang usia dia. Lepas Perang Dunia Kedua baru dibina semula.

One of the beautiful wats inside Pha That Luang complex.

As I cycled towards Pha That Luang, I saw many street vendors selling food and beverages. It was confusing to cycle around Pha That Luang since the whole compound is gated with a thick wall and I got lost several times trying to navigate myself inside the complex.

Masa aku mengayuh menghala ke Pha That Luang, aku nampak banyak orang jual makanan dengan air tepi jalan. Tadi mengayuh naik bukit sebelum sampai sini, memang rasa lapar sangat. Malangnya, hampir kesemua penjual makanan tu jual ‘Cadbury’. Lol. Aku pun pusing-pusing keliling cari pintu masuk sebab keseluruhan kawasan Pha That Luang ni dipagar dengan tembok tinggi.

Another wat inside Pha That Luang complex. This one was closed but the roof details made me awed.

I was so excited when I saw Pha That Luang in front of my eyes, but my excitement was cut short when I realized that the main entrance to the stupa was closed and I could only see the beauty from the outside.

Aku teruja sangat masa nampak Pha That Luang depan mata. Malangnya, pintu untuk masuk ke Pha That Luang tu ditutup. Sabar jelah. Tengok dari luar pun jadilah.

I exited Pha That Luang and entered into a small lane. Soon, I ended in this unknown village. As I cycled, villagers looked at me with a weird look but with a smile.

Soon, I cycled around the huge complex before decided to exit and continue my cycling tour around Vientiane.

Lepas tu, aku pun mengayuh basikal aku keliling kawasan kompleks ni, nak usha tengok apa lagi ada sebelum aku keluar dari kompleks ni untuk teruskan misi berbasikal keliling Vientiane. Cewah! Haha.

After cycling in the village, I ended up on this main road, which looked like one of the busiest roads in Vientiane.

If Laos considered Pha That Luang as their national monument, I would say the Petronas Twin Towers are the national monuments of Malaysia. What is the national monument of your country?

+++++

To be continued – Part 23

+++++

Pha That Luang is situated at Ban Nongbone which is at the centre of Vientiane, Laos. From Lane Xiang Avenue, head towards Patuxai and turn right at the roundabout before entering Nongbone Road. Proceed straight ahead and Pha That Luang is at the end of the road, situated near the National Assembly.

Pha That Luang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The entrance fee is  3,000 kip [as of August 2013].

%d bloggers like this: