As one of the most populous city in Malaysia, the City of Kuching seemed provincial and laid back despite the city developments. I like those kind of cities where it doesn’t feel rushed yet has the infrastructure comfort of urban living. Sarawak River threading through the city, adding a steady flow of balance between tranquility and hustle. We had a chance to see more of Kuching when friends from Place Borneo gave us a little tour to compliment our own wanderings.
Prior to visiting Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is under my radar of places to visit. I had an initial impression it would be similar to other cities in Borneo like Kota Kinabalu. Surprisingly, the city along the meandering Sarawak River has a different vibe. With my usual practice of exploring new cities on foot, Kuching felt more like a counterpart of George Town in this side of Malaysia. The vibrant and artsy streets, affordable and tasty food and the easy going lifestyle of the people.
For those who had been reading this blog for quiet a while now knows that I love to walk around when I’m new to a place. It’s my way of orienting myself with a destination. Getting a feel and really going up close to the locals. George Town is such a pleasantly walkable city. Charming old streets adorned with street art against the beautifully aged walls. I was able to rest that afternoon when I got back from my Historical George Town tour. Revitalized after a few hours rest for my walk at this city’s Street of Harmony. I’m glad to be accompanied this time by Cebuano travel blogger Brennan of Weekend Dispatch who is now based in George Town for work. After his office duties he was glad enough to show me around.
After exploring adventure-filled destinations in the outskirts of the main capital, we’re excited to wander finally through Taipei, Taiwan’s metropolitan city. And what better place to start than Dadaocheng, where some of the country’s oldest streets are found. There are more than a 100 year old culture and businesses that still thrive until this day. We had a full afternoon to experience the dazzling array of sights, sounds and even taste as we walk through the lively and charming Dihua street.
It’s been a busy day at Taichung with so much activities packed in like the Chungshe Flower Market and Houfeng Bikeway. But the night is young and the city has one of the most lively night life in Taiwan. What better way to spend the evening? It’s strolling (or shopping) through Taiwan’s biggest and oldest night market, Fengjia Night Market in Taichung. Taiwanese loves their night markets for their great bargains and variety tasty and cheap street food. A trip to Taiwan is never complete without a visit to a night market.
I remember Yolanda so well. It was the onset of our Travel Mindanao tour three years ago (2013). I was at the airport and my flight to Butuan got cancelled. I got upset but found out sooner how petty my disposition was compared to what was happening to the people in Tacloban. As Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) was ravaging Tacloban and the rest of eastern Visayas, communications line were cut-off leaving the rest of the country to wonder what was happening. When we finally got a glimpse of what has transpired, it looks like a scene straight out of a dystopian series or movie. Dead bodies everywhere, infrastructure devastated and people are in shock, still in disbelief of what happened to them. No one can imagine this could happen. An unforgettable bleak moment in the country’s history.
I can’t help but feel nostalgic. Six years is quite a long time to return to a place. Hanoi was such a favorite destination of mine back then. Yes I’ve treaded the streets of the Old Quarter before, went to an overnight cruise at Ha Long Bay and even enjoyed the misty coolness of Sapa Valley during my first visit in Northern Vietnam. But I don’t mind going back to see what has changed that’s why I didn’t think twice when an invite for a familiarization tour of Hanoi, organized by Cebu Pacific Air and Stratworks came in the email. There’s the certain comfort of stepping back into the familiar and also a certain anxiety to see how things have transitioned from now to then.