The old Capital of Myanmar, Yangon.

I arrived on the night bus into Yangon early in the morning, and like most buses in Asia it dropped me off on the outskirts of the City. You can then either take a taxi or get on one of the local buses for free, I was in no rush so chose the latter, this meant I could get a better feel for the City.

Yangon, or Rangoon, was the capital of Myanmar for a long time until the military moved the capital North to Naypyidaw. It’s still the central hub of the country however, and it’s a huge City located like many, on the banks of a river.

I arrived in central Yangon and found my little hostel with no problems. Unfortunately they didn’t have a room for me yet as it was still early. So I dropped my stuff, had a quick freshen up and went out to explore.

Myanmar was under British rule in the 1900s and I found a tour of some old colonial buildings that survived WW2. So I wandered around chatting to some locals and enjoying the sights and sounds of a big City again. Most of the colonial buildings are found around the downtown area. I think doing a tour would be great as you get to see inside some of these amazing old buildings.

Feeling hungry, I found a place selling these super tasty pancakes covered in sugar l, and continued my walk, not really knowing where I was headed. I passed the train station which I was going to get to later, then realised I was near a big park and lake called Bogyoke. As it was recommended in my lonely planet guide I thought I’d have a wander around it.

Unfortunately it wasn’t the nicest park, the lake was bright green from algae and there was a cool looking restaurant, but other than that there wasn’t much going on. I walked pretty much the whole way around the park before taking a taxi down to a little market area also called Bogyoke. This was your run of the mill market area, good if you want some souvenirs etc

I stopped off and had a pineapple shake, when the heavens opened up and it began to pour down. I finished my drink and took shelter at a nearby mall for a bit. It was the most modern place I had seen so far in Myanmar, but the rain wasn’t stopping so I jumped from shelter to shelter back towards my hostel, it was mid afternoon at this point and I was feeling pretty tired.

So I arrived back and had a little nap, went up to the rooftop to watch the sunset before heading back out for dinner. I’d read about a place called 999 Shan noodle and it was so worth it. Super cheap, super tasty, I couldn’t believe how good it was. After that I wandered around trying to find somewhere to watch the football, eventually finding a proper expat bar.

After a few beers and chatting to some fellow Arsenal fans I wandered back through the deserted streets of Yangon to my hotel. There wasn’t a great deal of sightseeing stuff that I could find to do but tomorrow I was going to hit up one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world!

Culture and Colonialism in Singapore.

Today we didn’t have any big plans, and instead decided to roam the City for interesting sights at random.

After an amazing breakfast again at the Park Royal we stepped out into the sunshine of Singapore once again. The only problem was that it almost immediately began to pour down with rain, after a quick check we were close to the national history museum, so decided to check out a bit of Singapore’s past.

The museum itself was fascinating and I really enjoyed learning more about Singapore’s history. Once we had made our way through how Singapore began, colonialism, the 2nd world war and modern Singapore we felt very knowledgeable. There were loads of cool installations to show you how Singapore has evolved too.

The best part of the museum was still to come though, an installation celebrating Singapore’s commitment to wildlife preservation. This involved a swirling light display that you walked through, it was completely magical and ended in a large room where you could lie back on bean bags and enjoy the forest around you.

Upon leaving the museum the rain had subsided and we found that Fort Canning Hill was nearby. Full of history and where locals believe the old kings of Singapore were buried, it’s believed to be haunted. However we didn’t spot any spooky goings on as we walked around and checked out the various sights.

Apparently Sir Stamford Raffles built his residence on the hill, and it was also the site of a fort built by the British. There were a couple of nice colonial buildings dotted around and it was pleasant to walk through the shade in the middle of the day.

From here we headed down towards the neo-classical old hill street police station, a historical building with interesting architecture. We quickly stopped for lunch and made a plan for our next stop, Chinatown. The Chinese and their culture is interwoven with Singapore’s and we had a great time wandering the streets and taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the busy district.

We checked out the Buddha tooth relic temple, where they unsurprisingly have a tooth which they claim is from Buddha himself. The actual building was amazing too, all red and gold. Then we walked around Thian Hock Keng, a gorgeous Chinese temple with towering skyscrapers looming above it.

Suddenly it started to rain again, so we found a little bar to stop for a couple of beers and waited for it to stop. We were now attempting to go full circle so took a route through the business district past huge buildings and back towards the hotel. Due to the F1 track being placed we missed out on a couple of colonial buildings, but did manage to see St Andrew’s cathedral and the war memorial park.

We walked through and you could get a real feel of what Singapore must have been like in colonial times, they even still have the old cricket pitch!


After taking a dip in the hotel pool and relaxing for a couple of hours we took advantage of the free drinks and food at the bar before heading to nearby Arab st, full of hawkers selling middle eastern goods and a beautiful mosque, from here we ended up on Haji Lane, a really cool little street filled with bars and restaurants. There was live music filling the place, prices were reasonable and it had some amazing street art.

Tomorrow we were up early to hit Singapore zoo and the night Safari, so we had an early-ish night back at the hotel.

Singapore slingin’ and supertree groovin’.Β 

We were up this morning for a quick and easy breakfast at the hotel in Kuala Lumpur ready to check out and take a taxi to the airport. It worked out just as cheap as taking the monorail and train and it’s much easier to travel this way sometimes.

Arriving at the airport it was an easy hour long flight to Singapore, I grabbed a quick 45 minute nap and awoke to what seemed like hundreds of ships surrounding the City. We landed and soon made our way through customs where we jumped in a taxi straight to our hotel for the next few days. Another Park Royal, this time on Beach road, so named because before land reclamation the beaches were found here.

We quickly checked in and freshened up, eager to get out and explore the City. It was hot and humid as we walked along beach road towards the famous Marina Bay. As we wandered along checking out the huge skyscrapers around us the heavens opened and it started to pour down with rain.

Taking shelter I took some Singapore dollars out and we hid in a little cafe having coffee and cake to perk us up. The rain soon subsided and we found ourselves a few minutes walk from the famous Raffles hotel. Raffles has existed here since Singapore was just an up and coming colonial outpost and is a Singaporean institution.

Unfortunately the exterior was being renovated, but one of the bars was still open, it was only lunch time but we were on holiday so thought we would treat ourselves to a Singapore Sling.

Supposedly invented at this hotel the Singapore Sling is a fruity gin concoction. I don’t think I’ll ever have a better one… it’s pretty pricey but worth every Singapore dollar. A bonus are the free monkey nuts, you even get to discard the shells onto the floor without even a raise of an eyebrow.

Once we had an early afternoon buzz from the gin the rain had stopped so we pointed ourselves in the direction of Marina Bay. Now this is the place that travel photographers will dream about, with the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel, the water lion statues, and the framing of the whole bay by skyscrapers, colonial buildings, and fancy architectural developments.

After enjoying seeing parts of the F1 tracks we diverged from out path to check out the Merlion fountain, the views over the bay from here are mesmerising and as good as I had imagined. It was exciting to think we would be on top of the huge ship-shaped hotel that looks over the bay.

After checking out the interestingly shaped theatre building we carried on along the promenade and across the cool Helix bridge to Marina Bay Sands. This was a little tease of what was to come as we stepped onto one of the walk ways above the reception area.

It was crazy to think we were staying there in a couple of nights! It was so cool, in more ways than one as we enjoyed the aircon. It was starting to get pretty humid outside and we enjoyed the change in temperature.

Emerging out onto the other side of the hotel we were hit with another incredible view, the whole reason we had planned the trip. Gardens by the Bay and the futuristic supertrees.

Everything had lived up to expectations so far and this was no exception. You could see for miles out to see past the tops of the trees and out to the Singapore Flyer across the bay.

The best part of the gardens is that it’s free! So we stopped and grabbed a refreshing drink and sat in the shade before wandering through lush vegetation and into the supertree grove.

The trees are actually living breathing factories, supplying the rest of the gardens with resources including water, electricity and cooling systems. They are around 16 storeys tall and you can take the lift up on to wander through the skywalk, taking in a different view from above and getting up close to the interesting plants found in the trees.

We were actually getting hungry at this point so taking a stroll along the waterfront we headed to Satay by the bay. This is a collection of food stalls where you can grab any number of things.

The food was pretty good and cheap, plus I got to try Cendol, a traditional shaved ice dessert made with mung bean and covered with various chewy sweets. It was so nice and refreshing in the heat, on our way back we did some otter hunting. The otters returned to Singapore in the 90s and have been flourishing ever since! Sadly we didn’t see any this time.

We headed to the two huge greenhouses that inhabit the gardens, these you do have to pay for and it’s around Β£15 for both of them. One is the cloud forest with a huge waterfall and plants all based around a central column you can climb up through and around. The second is the flower dome, full of different blooms all shapes and sizes.

We enjoyed this little guy, guarding all the pumpkins for autumn. They were nice to walk around and the amount of flowers and plant life was amazing.

I definitely enjoyed the cloud forest more, it was great seeing out over the supertree grove which was starting to light up ready for the evening show. Although I did enjoy the harvest showpiece in the flowerdome.

Every night there’s a show at the supertree grove, where the trees are lit up to different songs and music. It was an incredible moment and I loved every minute of it, once it was over we were pretty tired so headed back to the hotel for a night time swim in the pool and planning our second day in this amazing City.

Kuala Lumpur, 2 sides to the same coin.Β 

After an early morning swim, a bit of a lie in and some amazing breakfast in the orchid lounge we were ready to sightsee! 

The plan today was to visit the jungle top walkways, colonial district and Chinatown. Checking Google maps it looked like we could get to the TV tower and Eco park from a couple of monorail stops up. 

After walking for 15 minutes or turned out you couldn’t, but luckily we had been walking in the general direction of the colonial area, passing through a market street we came to a river with a mosque situated next to it, and could see the colonial buildings across from us. We jumped into a couple of shops on the way to get a quick aircon boost to cool down. 

After walking past a huge gold building we crossed a small bridge and made our way to Merdeka square, the centre of former British rule in this area. On 31st August 1957 the Malaysian flag was raised here and independence declared. 

The central area was unfortunately covered with seating….probably from the recent Asian games. We did a lap of the square, checking out St Mary’s cathedral and walking past the ultra exclusive selangor club. 

The history around KL is so cool, its definitely a melting pot of different cultures and styles. We sat in the square for a bit and I checked out a cool sounding walk in my lonely planet book, which would take us through Chinatown and towards the Eco forest. 

Setting off we walked back towards the river, taking a right and after walking through a couple of nice squares found ourselves at the entrance to Chinatown. 

There was a beautiful old building which housed a market, so we decided to wander through here and check out the trinkets and food. We stopped for a coffee and a rest and marvelled at the fabulous old building. 

Emerging back into the sunshine and heat our next destination, one of the oldest Chinese temples in KL was just a short walk away down an inconspicuous little side street. I think you could smell the incense before you could see the temple. Full of reds and golds it was beautiful as we wandered through and checked out the architecture and tradition. 

Carrying on our little tour we made it to the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple. Here we had to pop our shoes off before we could wander around the super colourful building and watch some of the rituals happening around us. It felt very sacred in here as we walked through in the cool shade. 

Our next stop was a street that was familiar to me from Bangkok. Basically filled with hawkers selling cut price designer goods, hotels and food places. I love the sights, scents and sounds that invade your senses in places like this. 

We took a little detour from here to check out some interesting bits of street art and finally arrived at the Eco forest. 

The Eco forest is basically a huge park in the middle of KL, full of jungle trees and animals. The best part is climbing up into the treetops and stepping across walkways to view the canopy. 

This was a really fun thing to do, so far in the day we had seen so much and spent less than a couple of Β£ each. Mainly on drinks to keep hydrated, the only downside is we didn’t see many creatures in the treetops until we got to the end, where a group of monkeys suddenly went flying through the trees. 

We were now at our planned destination, the KL TV tower, the highest point in Kuala Lumpur thanks to it’s location. Built on a hill it actually reaches further to the sky than the Petronas towers. Our plan was to head to the top for a drink and great views, little did we know there was a surprise up there for us. 

We paid to go right to the top and took the lift up to the outer balconies that run right the way round the tower. The views were absolutely amazing and it was a great feeling being this high up. 

There were even some angel’s wings to take a cool selfie with up here, and the best thing? Glass cubes sticking out over the edge that you could get pictures in, suspended 276m above the ground. Some people were too scared to do it, but I defied the growing vertigo inside me and stepped out onto the clear glass. 

We grabbed a pretty expensive drink and sat savouring the views over the City and planned our evening. We would head back to the hotel for a refreshing swim, before getting ready and taking advantage of free drinks and food in the orchid lounge. 

We managed to get a super cheap taxi back to the hotel and splashed around the pool for a bit. 

Utilising the free drinks we had a few glasses of red wine and gin and tonics before walking up to a well reviewed bar located on a helipad on the top of a building! Heli lounge is located in the Bukit bintang area of KL, once you go through the hotel you take the lift up to the bar, buy a drink here and take it up to the helipad. Now you can enjoy the 360 degree views with background dance music and pods to sit in. 

As we sipped our drinks we could hear thunder in the distance and dark clouds rolling in with shafts of lightning lashing through them. We made the wise choice to head back down to the bar now the sun had set. We sat here for a while enjoying a beer before heading to Pavilions to eat. 

Pavilion is another huge mall located in Bukit bintang, we wandered around the shops a little, I was enamoured with Japan St, where they sold so much stuff I loved in Japan I could’ve used all my spending money right there. We decided on a place called Ben’s which did some traditional Malaysian food along with Asian regulars like Thai. 

I had curry laksa and it was insanely good, I can only imagine how much better it must taste out on the streets. After dinner we did a little more browsing and wandering around Bukit bintang before heading back to the hotel ready for our next adventure….. Tomorrow we fly to  Singapore.