Tag Archives: travel

Monkey Beach: your perfect getaway from busier areas of Penang

Penang isn’t viewed as a hotspot for tropical resorts. Spending a few days in the Georgetown area will show you why – a densely populated place featuring urban development right up to the waterfront, you can only imagine what the water is like.

Up and down the east coast, residential, commercial, (and across the strait in Butterworth, industrial) development makes going in the ocean a less than appealing prospect.

The west coast, while much less developed, is also not a great place to go for a swim. This part of the island features mostly mangroves – great if you’re going kayaking, but not so wonderful if you are looking for a paradise beach.

The north coast is the best option for those seeking relaxation on Penang. Yet, peace and quiet is at a premium here as well, as resort areas like Batu Ferringhi are rife with mass tourism developments, and watersports (like jet skiing) is a very popular activity here.

Think you’ll have to board a ferry to Langkawi to find your beach? Hold up just a minute. There is a spot I need to tell you about.

Introducing Monkey Beach

 

I first became acquainted with this hidden gem during my first venture overseas in 2010-2011. After asking the owner of the homestay where I was staying about Penang’s best beaches, she expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for Monkey Beach.

Not everyone was convinced – a young Swedish woman decried the presence of trash on its shores. I wavered on whether or not to go before deciding to see it for myself.

After a few moments of doubt, I decided to go. I’m glad I listened to the locals over the subjective whims of a fellow foreigner – otherwise, I would have never discovered this underrated spot.

Getting to Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach is situated within the bounds of Penang National Park, which protects the flora and fauna found on Penang’s mostly unspoiled northwestern corner.

Whether you are in Georgetown or Batu Ferringhi, you’ll need to hop on Rapid Penang bus #101, as this route terminates at the front gates of the park.

After signing in (admission to the park is free), you’ll have two options.

The easy way

Take a speedboat to the beach. This will take about five minutes, and will cost about 20 RM ($4.90 USD/$6.30 CAD/£3.65GBP/€4.15EUR) each way, though prices may be negotiable.

The sweaty way

Hike through the jungle along the coast. The walk will take about 75 minutes each way, and will take you past a beach where Universiti Sains Malaysia has a dock and a marine biology research post. Keep on the trail past this point – this is not Monkey Beach.

The third way (what I do)

Hike in, cool off at the beach, and then take the boat back. You’ll save money over the easy way, and you’ll earn your swim on the way in!

Monkey Beach: one of the most special places in all of Penang

I’ll be honest: activity at Monkey Beach has picked up over years. There are vendors who never around before, and instead of being able to count other travellers on one hand, I had to use two hands on my most recent visit.

Despite this, Monkey Beach is easily one of the most chill places on Penang.

Go for a swing on a tire, or read a book while relaxing in a hammock. The choice is up to you!

There are plenty of excellent photo ops up and down the beach. Just don’t do I what I did on my first backpacking trip and put your camera in the pocket of your swim trunks. Despite a rice bath back at the homestay, its sea-soaked circuits were fried beyond repair.

As mentioned above, there are plenty of food/drink sellers here now. Don’t expect a deal – you’re paying for convenience here.

Ready to leave? Find a boat captain (who may be having a midday siesta – remember, this beach is quiet most of the time) and strike a deal for a return trip to the front gates of the national park. Do NOT pay more than 20 RM if you can help it.

Ever been to Monkey Beach on Penang? Tell us about it below!

5 Travel Tips for the Young & Broke

Go out and travel while you’re still young. You may not have a lot of money right now; You may even be broke. But travelling at this stage in your life provides a number of benefits.

For one, once you get back, you can choose to re-enter the workforce without any issues. Plus, as compared to older travellers, younger people are more willing to trade inconveniences for the experience. You can get by with staying in hostels and cheap food.

Also, the experience can make you realize that you can still have fun even with limited funds available at your disposal. Gathered here are a number of travel tips for the young and broke from visa consultants based in Dubai.

1. Consider the costs

Before you hop on a plane or make travel arrangements, you need to do your research. There are plenty of areas around the world where you can stay for cheap but you need to know where they are first.

Find out what the costs are for flights, food, accommodations, acquiring the necessary permits and visas and other major expenses. You will also need to consider having a separate fund for smaller expenses such as entertainment and souvenirs.

2. Stay flexible

Having an open itinerary can come to your advantage. Don’t be too rigid when it comes to your travel dates, where you should go and what you want to do during the trip.

Peak travel dates can vary depending on the location. When you choose to travel to Spain, for instance, the date may coincide with the annual running of the bulls. It would be a fun cultural event to watch and experience for yourself but it won’t do your wallet any favours.

Determine when the off-peak dates for travelling are before you book your tickets or accommodation. Airlines and accommodations are more willing to offer deals, discounts and promos to entice more people to travel during these low months.

3. Create a travel fund

After getting the gist of how much the trip will cost, you can use that amount as your goal. Allocate a small part of your paycheck to go into your travel fund. Do this on a regular basis. This way, you can pay for your trip using your money and not rely on credit.

4. Live like the locals do

You may not be staying long in the area but living like a local allows you to live even with limited funds. For instance, you can save more by staying in a person’s home, dormitory or hostel than in a hotel. There are websites that will allow you to get a short-term rental in a room or bed space. Check their distances to where you plan to go.

At times, lodges near a tourist spot may cost more per night but will help you save on transportation costs than staying in a room kilometres away from where you want to go.

When it comes to food, head to the nearest local market. There you can immerse your senses in the different sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. Local markets are great places to try out the local cuisine without draining your funds.

If you are covering large areas during your trip, use mass transit. Take the train, bus or whatever mode of public transport the locals use to get to your intended destination. By compromising on comfort and convenience, you can get to your destination at a fraction of the cost of a taxi ride.

5. Work overseas

If you plan to stay long in another country or region, you will need to find a way to support yourself financially. You may need to get advice from a consultant to see what types of visas or permits you will need to apply for work.

Depending on where you plan to travel, you can find a job as a farm worker, au pair, bartender or tour guide. The money you earn may not be enough to pay a mortgage but working can help you earn enough money to travel around.

With the number of options available, you don’t need to be rich to be able to travel around. Follow our advice and soon you could be off to a brand new adventure.

AUTHOR BIO

Bevan Berning is an Immigration professional and owner of Pathway Visas, an Immigration Agency dealing mostly with skilled immigration to Canada and Australia. Bevan’s enthusiasm for the industry has kept in the Immigration field for the past seven years. Bevan is South African by birth and has been residing in Dubai for the past eight years.

Traveling to Koh Samui for the first time? Here’s what you can expect…

The view from my ferry's bow while traveling to Koh Samui from Don Sak pier // photo: James Shannon

The view from my ferry’s bow while traveling to Koh Samui from Don Sak pier // photo: James Shannon

Thanks to my super-long break from blogging, the pictures that I have taken from my Asian and Latin American travels have been collecting dust on my hard drive.

However, now that I have gotten the hang of running the day-to-day aspects of my business, I am finally making a commitment to get back to documenting my never-ending pursuit of excitement!

Although the trip in this post occurred over three years ago, it makes sense to go back in time given how long I have been ignoring this site.

After flying to Thailand on a whim and securing the first client for my nascent business, I was already running out of time on my 30-day visa exemption. While I had to leave the country to secure a proper visa, I decided to see a part that I had not seen on prior backpacking trips.

Many have derided this island as being the Gulf of Thailand’s version of Phuket. As much as I had loathed Patong Beach when I was there, traveling to Koh Samui was necessary in order to know this place for myself.

Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand // photo: James Shannon

As it turned out, Chaweng Beach (the most popular resort area on the island) was quite the busy hub, but it wasn’t the in-your-face circus that Patong had been.

If you are looking for a place with all the restaurants, bars, and services you could ever want, paired together with a decent beach, you’ll want to base yourself here.

Chaweng Beach by day, Koh Samui, Thailand // photo: James Shannon
A spot like this wouldn’t be my first choice for some R&R (for me, that’s Koh Chang), but for many folks, it works well as a home base to enjoy one of Thailand’s finest islands.

While I stuck around this area more than I wanted to (bloody cold … I had bad luck that year with tropical islands and being ill!), I did eventually get around the island on a guided tour.

Koh Samui // photo: James Shannon
While many tours on Koh Samui are worth the cost, be sure that they leave out the monkey show.

This exploitative attraction nearly ruined the entire day, as its cruelty overshadowed the other worthwhile sights that the guide had shown us.
Wat Phra Yai, Koh Samui, Thailand // photo: James Shannon

However, there was one cultural highlight that had me walking away impressed: Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha Temple).

Wat Phra Yai, Koh Samui, Thailand // photo: James Shannon

Boasting several gigantic Buddha idols and other icons of Buddhism, it was a refreshingly Thai corner on one of Thailand’s most hyped islands.

Wat Phra Yai, Koh Samui, Thailand // photo: James Shannon

Have any questions about Koh Samui? Been there yourself lately? Share your queries/perspective in the comments below.

Best Destinations for a Memorable Honeymoon

Tropical destinations such as Bali or Palawan have everything you need for a Memorable Honeymoon

Honeymoon is always the best time in all the relationship. It is because of this fact that most of us try to choose the best destinations for honeymoon. If you are married and all set for a honeymoon, you should know what exactly you need to choose and where you should go so that the most beautiful time in your life become really something to be treasured. Here are the some of the destinations that every newlywed wishes to go.

1) Sintra, Portugal 


If your dream destination is Europe and you are so much into history then Sintra can be an amazing city to visit. It is rich in history alluring landscapes, stunning scenery, intoxicating greenery and above all the very charming residents. It is also a destination that is much affordable compared to France or Italy. The place offers you with great deal of historic monuments and museums to visit. You can also enjoy hiking as well as driving to the neighboring cascais. This place even can provide you chance to stay in an ancient palace where history is lingering all over and Oxygen Jungle Villas hold its name on the top. Tivoli palacio de seteais is the best place that you can choose for a luxurious stay. This place is very near to many of the historical places of Sintra. You get amazing views from this place.
 

2) Ubud, Bali

Ubud is the finest destination for foodies. This place is much specialized with organic food. The restaurants of this place are very much affordable and they even serve with juices that are fresh, healthy and very much tasty. This is the place that is located in the central part of the Bali and can get offers for so many day trips to the temples there. You can eat anything that you want and enjoy the food that is what this place has in hands for you. It has got boutique hotels with statues and Balinese pool among which Viceroy Bali and Komaneka at Monkey Forest are very much popular. 

3) Palawan Province, Philippines 


This is again a stunning destination but not the ones which are much visited by people and so one of the amazing place to enjoy without much crowd. You can say this place as one of the best islands of Philippines. This place allows you to enjoy tanning, relaxing on beach, boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling and kayaking. The
honeymoon destinations allow you to pick finest stay in this place in discount price. 

4) Venice, Italy 

Venice is the romantic city that has got all the charm to attract you. You can enjoy the best Italian food at this place. If you get a chance to be in this place make sure you enjoy gondola rides. You can get a ferry to some neighboring islands. There are so many amazing hotels to stay in this place like Corte Di Gabriela and Gritti Palace. 

5) Istanbul, Turkey 


It is one among the largest cities of Turkey which connects continents of Europe and Asia. Here you find a blend of culture and also many historical monuments. The culture of this place is something that should be explored and enjoyed.

How to Convert Travel Videos to Be Mobile-Friendly

Use software programs to convert Travel Videos to mobile friendly formats

For the most part people tend to watch their travel videos either on their computer screens or TV using a DVD player. However nowadays seeing as mobile devices screens that are capable of displaying crisp, sharp and detailed videos – watching travel videos on your tablet or smartphone is really not that unimaginable.

Assuming you’re constantly on the go or traveling, being able to watch videos on your mobile devices will let you enjoy them no matter where you are. However as much as it is extremely convenient, the one problem that you may run into is the fact that your travel videos will very quickly fill up the storage space on your mobile devices – and that can be a problem.

Optimize and Compress Travel Videos

Rather than wasting a good opportunity, the best way to work around the problem is by optimizing and compressing your travel videos so that they are much more mobile-friendly. While that may sound somewhat involved, using Movavi Video Converter will actually make it very straightforward.

With Movavi Video Converter you will be able to convert videos between various formats, and so to convert MP4 to AVI (for example) is as easy as adding the MP4 video, selecting AVI from the list of formats and clicking ‘Convert’. When it comes to optimizing travel videos for mobile devices you can simplify that even further and select a preset for the mobile device that you’re using.

Considering there are hundreds of presets available, you should have no problem finding one for your mobile device. Once you do, the software will automatically use the best possible format and settings for the device when it converts your travel video.

If you like you can even use Movavi Video Converter to compress your video further. All that you need to do is adjust the output file size until it falls into a range that you’re comfortable with. Be aware that compressing your travel videos in this way may result in a loss of quality – so be careful when you do so.

All said and done with Movavi Video Converter you’ll have countless ways in which you can edit, tweak and improve your videos. If you want you could cut and combine video segments, improve the video quality, add customizable text, create animated GIFs, extract audio tracks from videos, and crop or rotate the video frame and orientation.

Between all these options, converting your travel video to make it more mobile-friendly will definitely be a piece of cake. Matter of fact you may even find that you can go a step further and extract only the relevant bits from your travel video to save as individual clips for your mobile devices.

My First Blogger to Blogger Interview: Speaking with the Couple behind KarolinaPatryk.com

Karolina and Patryk have had the honor of being part of my first blogger interview ... check it out!

While I have struggled to update and post on PoE in recent months (for the most part due to attempting to balance running a business with traveling and other aspects of my personal life), I have started to right the ship in recent weeks.

One of the things that has come out of the increased free time that I have had as a result has been my first blogger interview. Karolina and Patryk from karolinapatryk.com are a Polish couple who has been exploring the world for the past 18 months or so, and have also succeeded in making an income from the internet in the process.

Click here to read my thoughts on travel, life and work … hopefully this blogger interview is the first of a series of guest posts and such that will increase my site’s profile across the travel blogosphere … enjoy!

Photo: Chiang Mai From Above

Chiang Mai, Thailand as viewed from Doi Suthep

Sweeping views of Thailand’s second city are hard to come by, as much of the place is kept low-rise by the fact that most business headquarters are located in Bangkok, and due to the presence of an international airport well within city limits.

Fortunately for those that love these lofty vantage points, there is a mountain that abuts the western part of the metropolis.  Doi Suthep towers above this part of Chiang Mai, with views from Wat Phra That being suspended thousands of feet above the streets and buildings below.

When you head up to get that marvelous shot, be sure to dress conservatively (long pants/no exposed shoulders), as you will be on sacred ground.

How to get here: Take a red songthaew to the Chiang Mai Zoo.  A short way up the street from here are the gates of Doi Suthep National Park, where there will be more songthaews that will take you up and down the mountain for 50-80 baht, depending how many attractions (Phuping Palace and a a hilltribe village also can be visited up here) you want to see (Wat Phra That is the closest one, so it should be no more than 50 baht).

Head up the stairs past countless trinket vendors to the Wat, then head towards the ridge once on the grounds of the temple.  Enjoy! 

A Late Spring Outing To Hoseo University In Asan District, South Korea

Cool street art in Baebang Korea

With my free time winding down to the end of yet another weekend, I wanted to do something with my time that was new and exciting, lest I feel that I wasted it.  Time to explore is at a premium when you’re a hagwon teacher in South Korea, so you need to use the time that you aren’t teaching, lesson planning, cooking, cleaning, and sleeping to the best uses possible.

As such, I decided to explore Hoseo, a university town at the end of a dead end road in a valley just south of my town, Baebang, as some colleagues of mine had said it was quite beautiful down that way.  To get there, a bus needed to be taken, which I hadn’t done in Korea yet, so I was a little bit intimidated, but not deterred 😛

Cool street art in Baebang Korea

To get to the bus stop I needed to wait at, though, I had to walk for about 10-15 minutes through my community, which was looking rather fine on this late spring day, as you can see from the murals in the pictures above.

Hoseo University, South Korea

After attempting to mime a conversation with a Korean ajumma (old woman) for about ten minutes, I was finally on the bus, and after getting scolded by the bus driver for unwittingly shortchanging him, I was at the end of the line, at Hoseo University.  Some sort of ceremony, was ongoing that day, maybe graduation day…?  The crowd seemed to be a bit thin for such a momentous occasion, though.

Grape Coconut drink in Korea

In search of some refreshment on this baking hot day, I opted to forego my usual Coke and get a drink that was truly Korean.  Have you ever had a grape coconut drink before?  Neither had I, but as weird as it was, I can happily report that it was quite enjoyable, and it quenched my thirst to boot!

Building at Hoseo University in South Korea

After wandering around the grounds of the university for awhile, searching for mountain trailheads, and generally trying to get a feel for Korean campus life, I headed back through the townsite to see what was on offer for the kids there.  As per most Korean entertainment districts, there were many restaurants, hofs (Korean pubs), and games rooms.  However, it was soon time to seek out the bus again, so I could return to town to begin my preparations again for the coming week (I so don’t miss Sunday evenings now that I’m working for myself now…!)

Farmer's field, Asan District, Korea

As I have mentioned before, no arable or buildable land is wasted in Korea.  There are always growing something on land that isn’t built upon, in a feverish and admirable attempt to be as food secure as possible (something that we in the West could learn from). On this plot that I happened upon on my way to the bus stop, we witness the starting point of the Korean obsession with kimchi, as rows of cabbage extend out almost as far as the eye can see.

Traffic safety mirror selfie, Baebang Korea

Overall, it was a rewarding day.  Even if you don’t know why exactly you’re going somewhere, exploring somewhere you haven’t been is ultimately rewarding in itself.  After all, it beats just randomly surfing the internet on a gorgeous Spring afternoon, with an ever-growing dread for the coming work week building with every passing second towards bedtime!

Ever explored an area for no reason, except for the fact that it was there? Tell us all about it below!

Infinity Pools Are Infinitely Cheap In Pai, Thailand

Infinity pool in Pai Thailand

When you look at things like infinity pools, it’s easy to assume that these things can be only can be enjoyed by the super-rich, who have the cash to burn at $300/night hotels.

But those are the rules of the developed world.  In Thailand, things are done just a little bit differently.

On the grounds of the Baan Krating Resort in Pai Thailand, there is an amazing infinity pool located just above the banks of the peaceful Pai River, with clear views out to the mountains that rise on the other side of the valley.  While it is definitely more affordable to enjoy a touch of luxury here than back in the West (room rates start at 1800 baht or $60 USD a night), the common people can also sample an afternoon beside this aqueous oasis for an entrance fee of (drum roll please) …

50 baht.  That’s about $1.65 USD for those of you doing the currency conversion at home.

To find this place:

Front of Baan Krating, Pai, Thailand

Rent a scooter in town if you don’t have one already, and follow the handy dandy map I constructed for you below (I love Microsoft Paint 🙂 )

Map to Infinity Pool in Pai Thailand

Have you ever been to Pai, Thailand?  Got secrets to share?  Divulge them to the travel community in the comments below!

A Walk Through The Forefield Of The Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, CanadaThe approach to the Saskatchewan Glacier at the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Lying almost on the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks alongside the highway that bears its name, the Columbia Icefields are the most visited attraction in Jasper National Park, and the second most trafficked destination in the Canadian Rockies, only bested by the more convenient Lake Louise.  Were it not for the distance involved in getting here, and the lack of a luxury hotel (though you can stay here in relatively basic but clean accommodations for upwards of $270/night in the high season and as little as $140/night in the low season), its visitation numbers might be higher.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Here you have access to the land above the trees, where you can pick over rocky scree slopes that were once previously glaciated, and feel the bone-chilling glacial water that populates the outlet rivers and lakes formed by the nearby Saskatchewan Glacier.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Walking along this relatively barren landscape, your mind shifts to the introspective aspects of its mission, evaluating one’s life to this point, and focusing on what one needs to do to advance to greater things in the future…

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Staring up at the ice that has accumulated over centuries and millennia of cold, snowy winters, one can’t help but be in awe of the chilled beauty that supplies that dry portions of the Canadian West with the water they need to survive from year to year, while providing them a legendary place to go and be at one with the wildness of nature.  All the more reasons to do what we can to reduce our impact on a warming climate to the lowest extent possible!

Ever been to the Columbia Icefield?  Have a humbling glacier in your backyard? Tell us about it in the comments below!