Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ivan About Town turns nine!

Nine years ago, I was at the lobby of Trekkers Lodge in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Spur of the moment, I decided to start a blog and rented their computer to write my very first entry. Aren't we all surprised how time flies? I usually forget to celebrate the blog's anniversary. But since we're almost a decade old, we're definitely nearing another milestone!

My very first blog entry was written on April 19, 2005. It was during a solo trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Brunei. I had just purchased my first digital camera the year before. And all I had was a 28MB memory stick! Here's the story of the blog.

Thanks to my parents, I was introduced to travel quite young. In fact, I wrote my first travel journal when I was just six! Here are some highlights from that journal. And I've previously compiled photos from my early years of traveling, including my first road trip at one month old, my first plane ride when I was five on a Philippine Airlines BAC One Eleven Series 500, our first international trip in 1985, and my first long-haul flight in 1993.

I'll reserve the long post for next year! In the meantime, here are photos of the places I visited in 20102011, 2012 and 2013. I wonder what's next?! But today, all I can say is thank you for nine wonderful years! Thank you for joining me as I continue to explore!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Malaysia: Redang Island in Terengganu

Definitely one of the best beaches in Malaysia, Redang Island in Terengganu is a popular resort island that is part of the Redang Island Marine Park. The hot summer sun was up and about yesterday when we visited Pulau Redang and neighboring Pulau Pinang. But despite the heat, the blue water was cool and definitely enticing for a swim. It would be a crime if we did not take a dip!

There are many ways to get to Redang Island. You can take a ferry from Syahbandar Jetty in Kuala Terengganu (in front of the post office) or the Merang Jetty in Setiu. The ferry from Kuala Terengganu took about an hour and thirty minutes. Berjaya Air offers flights to Redang from Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur and a seasonal route from Seletar Airport in Singapore, but these are definitely not cheap.

Our first stop was Pulau Pinang which is popular for snorkeling. The Redang Island Marine Park is composed of four islands, Redang, Pinang, Lima and Ekor Tebu, and all waters two nautical miles from the lines that connect the four islands. Pinang was actually full of tourists but there was much room to snorkel. By late morning, all the groups had left and we had the island to our own.

For lunch, we proceeded to the Laguna Redang Island Resort on Redang Island where we spent the rest of the afternoon. We enjoyed the buffet spread at the resort, lots of choices. The beach in front of the resort was fantastic! The sand was soft and white, and the water was in beautiful hues of blue, I definitely had to jump in!

Next door was another beach where other resorts are located. The beach was lovely as well. Unfortunately, we were not staying overnight. We had proceed back to Kuala Terengganu that afternoon.

I hope I get a chance to stay a bit longer in Redang if I return to Terengganu. But I heard Redang has some competition in Terengganu. The Perhentian Islands also have fantastic white sand beaches. Now to those who've been to both, which is better?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Exploring Northern Thailand and Laos

For many, it’s quite difficult to travel and get away from work for more than a week. If we do get the chance, we always try to make the most out of it. Last November, I spent three weeks in Thailand and Laos.

From Bangkok we flew to Sukhothai to attend a cultural tourism workshop. The Historic Town of Sukhothai, the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam between the 13th and 15th centuries, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the first day, we got to tour the ruins of the royal palace and ancient temples in the Sukhothai Historical Park.


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