The world famous ‘Barracuda Tornado’
Sipadan’s Barracuda Point is said to be one of the world’s top dive sites (some might even argue that it’s the best!). While it is home to many different species of fishes, it is most famous for the giant schools of great barracudas that prowl the area. They make for a magnificent sight, forming a ‘tornado’ of a thousand gleaming swords as they swirl with the current above your head. Continue reading
A beautiful backdrop of mountains and padi fields in Amed
In the East of Bali, there lies a long stretch of coastal road which incorporates the 7 villages of Amed, Jemeluk, Buuntan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning and Aas. This stretch of road is more commonly known as Amed. Life here is slow and peaceful unlike the fast pace of Kuta, Ubud and Seminyak. There are also less tourists here, making it a good place to relax and unwind without disturbance from others.
Bali has some of the more beautiful dive sites in South-East Asia and Amed and Tulamben are one of the top spots for diving in Bali. The dives here are mostly shore dives and a diver might experience strong currents and low temperatures at times. The USAT Liberty Wreck dive at Tulamben is especially popular with divers all around the world.
THE MIGHTY LION ROCK
Sigiriya Rock aka Lion Rock
Sigiriya Rock, also known as Lion Rock, is an ancient palace located in the Matale District, Sri Lanka. According to ancient lore, King Kasyapa built his palace on the top of this rock (nearly 200m high). It derives it’s name from a gateway that was built in the shape of an enormous lion on the side of the rock. After the king died, the royal palace was abandoned. Sigiriya Rock is now a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and one of the most visited historic sites in Sri Lanka.
The Mountain Man
The Mountain Man up on Stok Kranji, 6123m, 2014
A student, Jeremy Tong Zhi Hao (25 years old) is currently in his last year of the Sports Science and Management Bachelor program in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. However, outside of school, Jeremy has a unique passion; he climbs mountains. He is a mountaineer, global expedition leader as well as an altitude coach. The founder of Jeremytongclimbs, Jeremy has been sharing his passion for climbing through leading and organizing mountaineering expeditions to various parts of the world. Currently, he has led over 16 expeditions. Also, Jeremy has scaled and trekked 31 mountains around the globe (many of them multiple times for a total of 51 trips!). These include Lenin Peak (7,134m – Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan), Stok Kranji (6,153m – India) Mount Kinabalu (4,095m – Malaysia), Mount Rinjani (3,726m – Indonesia).
The acidic tang of vomit still lingered at the back of my throat as I tried to find a normal breathing rhythm. Closing my eyes, I held the buoy and tried to relax. I bobbed up and down, being gently pushed by the waves. As I took my final deep breathe, images flashed through my head. Happy memories, of the beliefs that motivated me and of love. I then plunged down and everything turned to blue.
Into the blue
In the first part of this series, we toured Ho Chi Minh trying out the local street cuisine, rode through the Mekong witnessing the life of the river people and explored Hanoi’s Old Quarter’s with its authentic local vibes. This next article will bring you through my experience in Halong Bay and Sapa!
PLANNING THE ADVENTURES
Hanoi’s Old Quarter has a multitude of tour agencies from which you can book your trips from. They vary widely in terms of quality and price. There are also many tour agencies which purposefully put similar (or even exactly the same) names as certain popular agencies. This can make things very confusing for tourists. One of these is Sinh Tourist. I decided to go with them after reading pretty good reviews online. I searched for their (real) address online and then navigated through the many roads, alleys and ‘fake’ agencies of the Old Quarter to locate it. I booked the 2D1N Halong Bay liveaboard through them and it cost me USD 80. I booked the 3D4N Sapa tour through my hostel (Central Backpackers Hostel) and it cost me USD 135 inclusive of the train ride to Sapa, hotel and a 2 night homestay (I decided to do 1 night instead when I was there).
SAILING HALONG BAY
Halong Bay; Where the dragon descended into the sea
In the summer of 2015, I decided to take a chance and set off for my first backpacking trip to Vietnam. I spent 13 days exploring Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, a small part of Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. Join me in this 2 part series which will document my time in Vietnam in a photo journey!
Headed to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
GETTING TO SRI LANKA
There are a few budget airlines which flies to Sri Lanka (from Singapore), most with a stopover at Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. I opted to go with AirAsia. It took an hour to fly from Singapore to Kuala Lumpar with a stopover of about two hours. The flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka took about three and a half to four hours. The return flight cost me 290 SGD although there was a promotional offer earlier on which I missed. It had the flight at 230 SGD. The stopover at Kuala Lumpur was very comfortable and welcomed. They have a pretty slick food center with some fast food restaurants and it was good to have something to eat before boarding my flight to Sri Lanka.
*Read The Great Sri Lankan Adventure Part 1: An Overview here!
Colombo’s World Trade Center!