I squint my eyes as I look towards the afternoon sun. A large imposing silhouette loomed before me hiding a visage of one of the worlds sacred and impressive monuments, the Borobudur Temple (Candi Borobudur). This huge Buddhist monument, which is also listed in UNESCO’s world heritage list, almost had the same awe-factor I had when I saw Angkor Wat for the first time. I walk towards this colossal stupa with excitement to discover closely this place which name has already enchanted me for some time.
The great glory of travel, to me, is not just what I see that’s new to me in countries visited, but that in almost every one of them I change from an outsider looking in to an insider looking out.
The gentle early morning chill accompanied us as we climbed the ancient stairs of this 8th century monument. Flash lights beam on our path as we made our way on the top of the largest single Buddhist monument in the world, the Borobudur. Like the other great monuments in Southeast Asia like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Luang Prabang in Laos or Bagan in Myanmar, Borobudur has also been one of my dream destinations. And here I am standing on its upper levels, marvelling at Borobudur under the dawn sky, waiting for the light to reveal your magnificence.
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When in Melaka, it’s not enough to admire the many shophouses lining up in Jonker Walk. There are several shophouses turned museums in Melaka that it’s worth walking inside one of them to get a deeper insight on Melaka’s history and culture. One that I would highly recommend visiting is the Cheng Ho Museum found near the tail end of Lorong Hang Jebat before the bridge. With a floor area spanning 55,000 square feet, occupying about 8 units of old shophouses dating back to 1786 and three floors of artefacts, it is considered as the largest museum in Melaka.
After our 2-day program in Melaka, we bid goodbye to our faithful eating companions. Some of us, like me, decided to stay longer in Melaka to explore. It was afternoon and I decided to walk. Walking gives me better grasp of a place’s layout and it is only now that I realised most of the attractions in Melaka are walkable. From the Jonker Walk, I crossed the east bridge and dodged the flow of traffic to reach the famous Melaka’s Dutch Square.
Oh I was ready to rub shoulders alright! But it was more than shoulders as at times I had to squirm my whole body way out of the crowd, moving and flowing in different directions at Jalan Hang Jebat Street in Melaka popularly known as the Jonker Walk. Last I was here, we only ventured this famed street boasting of well preserved Peranakan Houses dating back to 1800s during daylight. This was I was looking forward to my re-visit in this vibrant city, to experience the Jonker Walk Night Market.
It’s hard not to talk about the Shrine City of Dapitan without talking about its neighboring city of Dipolog. As the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, Dipolog is the main Gateway in Northwestern Mindanao. But even as an entry point, it doesn’t mean that it’s only a transit region. There are interesting areas worth exploring. Most of the places to stay in the peninsula are found in this city with options from the cheap (P400+/night) or the moderately luxurious (P2500+/night). In this urbanized corner of the peninsula where the streets are ruled by roaring tricycles, I continued following Rizal’s trail until down south to the municipality of Katipunan.
Pyin U Lwin is all about rest and relaxation. On my 6th day journey through Myanmar, I decided that it was the perfect day to turn-off the alarm clock and stay tucked under the sheets a bit longer than usual. Letting the cool climate dictate when I should be up and about. But that plan partly failed as I was already up by 7am. Good thing I was excited to explore Pyin U Lwin, a town which is still part of Mandalay Division is characterized by its strong British influence found almost 3500ft above sea level at the Shan State Highlands.