Day 10. (24th Oct) See box story below.
Day 11 (25th October) Checked into the Hiroshima Crowne Plaza Hotel, handed my bicycle to the concierge and enjoyed a day off.
Day 12 (26th October) 9.45 am start and I’m heading for Fukuyama, following Hwy # 2 most of the way. However, somewhere around Onomichi I found myself on the Expressway and there was nowhere to exit it, (high fences and barriers along the sides). After a very fast approximately 10 km cycling at an average speed of 34.9 kph for half of that 10 km distance, I found an exit onto a rural road and headed for the nearest 7-11 for a break.
As I’m exiting the shop a police car pulls up and out come two policemen to speak to me about my cycling on the motorway. With the assistance of Google Translate I explained what had happened and how once I realised my mistake I couldn’t find a way out of my predicament. They took details of my passport and said not to do it again.
Soon afterwards I’m back on the road and arrived in Fukuyama with 109 km covered and started to look for a hotel. After six hotels visited and no vacancies I’m on the booking app to find a hotel in the nearest town, and then it started to rain. In my new panic to find a hotel I tried another booking app that I’d not used before and in my rush to secure a room I found I’d made a non-refundable booking, not for a hotel in Fukuyama but in Fukushima. I’d just paid over double what I’d been paying for hotel rooms previously and the hotel I had booked was over 900 km away. Tried to cancel but to no avail, so moving on I found a room available in a bunkhouse, a mere 20 km cycle ride into the hills. At least I had a bed to look forward to and as it turns out a very warm welcome by the folks that own the place.
To read 'two wheels over japan (part 1) at https://www.thebigchilli.com/feature-stories/two-wheels-over-japan-part-1
After watching two games of rugby in Kyoto and Tokyo in last year’s Rugby World Cup, Bangkok expat Andrew Macpherson stayed on in Japan to explore the country’s deep south by bike.
Apart from tackling numerous grueling mountain rides, his epic 18-day journey also involved constant and sometimes fruitless searches for overnight accommodation.
Day 1. (15th Oct) 8.30 am start and I’m off on the coastal road to Ibusuki and on to Yamagawa, a 54 km ride from where I catch the ferry over to Nejime, which is a 50-minute crossing. On arrival, I decided to go to the most southerly point at Cape Sata, a 35 km ride from the ferry. Having watched the sun dropping in the sky, I figure it’s time to find a hotel. At 105 km and just as darkness is falling, my front tyre has a puncture. It’s quickly pitch black. This is where the roadside drink vending machines come into their own, by providing a much needed floodlit area to fix a puncture.
Puncture now fixed with a new inner tube, and with information from a local who stopped at the drink vending machine, who had advised me that the only place to find accommodation was by going 20 km back down the mountains I’d already climbed, or maybe about 40 km in the opposite direction.
Since I hadn’t spotted any accommodation in the previous 20 km, I opted for the road ahead and cycled off into the darkness, although I had lights on my bicycle at this point. A wrong turn at a junction found me on a track that petered out into a sandy beach, so a bit of backtracking was called for. Eventually with 153 km cycled that day I arrived in a town, where at about 11.30 pm the only sign of life was a lit window at a launderette. The bench in front of the window was to be my accommodation for my first night of the cycling trip, not quite what was planned. But with a rechargeable front light that had run out of power at least three hours earlier, I deemed it too dangerous to continue riding down more mountains without being able to see the roads.
School break in Thailand is approached this October and it’s time for FAM-cation.
Looking for an imaginative escape for family and youngsters this school break? And whenever you think of family trip, there are so many factors come to your mind such as a kid-friendly resort, kid activities, kid’s club, parents’ entertainment or any facilities dedicated for the family.
We have a perfect recommendation for you and family at SO Sofitel Hua Hin where a range of fun & inspired activities are provided for everyone in the family with kid-friendly facilities to keep your kids entertained, inspired and energized throughout the stay.
Let’s discover more on “10 Reasons to Bring Your Family to SO Sofitel Hua Hin this School Break.”
1. Beachside Resort with Private Beach Area, located in Cha-Am and only 2-hour Drive from Bangkok
SO Sofitel Hua Hin is the first luxury 5-star Beachside Resort, located in Cha-Am with the imaginative design and equipped with world-renowned luxury service managed by AccorHotels Group. One of highlight for travelling from Bangkok to SO Sofitel Hua Hin is that it takes only 2-hour drive.
2. Spacious Room with Distinctive Styles and Complimentary daily in-room private barDrawing your inspirations in stylish room of nature’s splendor ‘SO Nature’ and French elegance ‘SO Arty’.
Experience Imaginative Escape with 9 room categories which design the best for family trip, starting from ‘SO Comfy’ room with 4-meter high ceiling, a spacious atmosphere in the 60 square meters, enormous rain shower, separate bathtub, double wash basin and dedicated male and female toiletries. Complimentary in-room private bar is offered in every room at SO Sofitel Hua Hin with daily refill including local snacks, herbal drinks, juice, bottled water, illy coffee pods and variety of tea selection.
3. A Privatize and Kid Dedicated Area in SO Family Kids House
‘SO Family Kids House’ is one of the most highlighted and most wanted room for family travelers. With the spacious room at 68 square meters located on first floor, it is also equipped with a colorful child dedicated quarter called ‘Kids House’ situated adjacent to the master bedroom with the in-room connecting door. Inside the ‘Kids House’, there are bunk beds for kids, dedicated LED TV with cartoon channel opt-in and toy for children. Kids will love their precious time in their private quartier without the disturbance from the noises outside and parents also leave them on their own but still has an easy access.
*TIPS: The colorful Kids House exterior is the reflection of the colorful bedding used inside the Kids House.
4. Kids Tent and Playground
A dedicated and child-only kids club located near the new Signature Pool. It is also offer various type of activities such as inspirational craft activities, complimentary daily kids snack and other art-inspired activities. Inside the Kids Tent, it is decorated with safari-themed where all the cute little animals awaits for kids to discover. Not only activities, it also offers state-of-the-art video game consoles such as Sony PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and other party games. For energetic kids, there is also a rubber-based outdoor playground with trampoline floor and real-size kids chess board nearby.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to Turkey in luxurious style with Emirates.
Why Turkey? Turkey is the country which straddles over two continents, a monumental border which divides Europe and Asia. Truly a World Heritage country bursting with exceptional art, culture, and uniquely beautiful architectures. Situated in Turkey is one of the seven Wonders of the World, with magnificent nature that would capture your attention like no other places can. Additionally, don’t miss out the opportunity to cross out another one of your bucket list by enjoying a hot air balloon ride over the natural wonders of Cappadocia! Runaway to Turkey and gain a full Turkish holiday experience with the one and only, Emirates Airline.
If you want to travel to Turkey in luxury and in style, look no further than flying with Emirates. Put your trust in us and we will take you on an unforgettable and comfortable journey to your prime destination: Turkey. How? you ask. Let us show you the way.
Your journey in comfort starts from the moment you choose to fly with us! Let us save you the hassle of carrying heavy luggage and flight and hotel booking. Simply book a tour with ‘Tour Krub’ and you will be guaranteed a full and unique Turkish holiday experience like no other!
By Ken Barret
Bangkok-based architects The Beaumont Partnership are steering the renovation of this historic Yangon colonial club.
Rudyard Kipling never went to Mandalay. The rascal. Instead, like the self-respecting journalist he was, he had one of his best ideas in a bar. In his case it was the Pegu Club, where, on the only night he ever stayed in Rangoon, he spent the evening dining on mutton and listening to the tales of war from the British troops on their way to and from Mandalay.
The next day his ship sailed across the Gulf of Martaban to make an unscheduled stop at Moulmein. Stretching his legs for a couple of hours onshore, he visited the Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda, where rather than contemplating the splendour of the architecture he was smitten by the beauty of a Burmese girl he saw upon the steps.
There is nothing of Mandalay itself in Mandalay, only the yearnings of a veteran soldier, now back in the cold and wet of London, longing for the Burmese girl he had left behind at Moulmein. Yet even today the poem, one of the best known in the English language, evokes the image of a faraway exotic oriental kingdom. Kipling’s visit to the Pegu Club had been in March 1889, just a couple of years after the end of the Third Anglo-Burmese War. For many years after, the club was an unofficial seat of colonial government. When the Japanese took Rangoon in World War II, it became an officers’ club. After the war the RAF tried restoring the club to its former self, but Burma’s independence came in 1948, and the Tatmadaw officers moved in.
The Burmese socialist government in 1975 nationalised the club, but by that time it had long ceased to function. Quickly, the Pegu Club was forgotten, the name remaining only in the name of a bus stop, the waiting passengers lounging against a blank wall behind which was a compound overgrown by rank jungle. Adventurous sightseers could enter through a watchman’s gate, but the blackened teak structures were desolate and depressing, like the remains of a lost civilisation. A few years ago the sentry gate was locked, and no one could get into the compound. Was the club about to be levelled and the land redeveloped? Myanmar is not great on publicity, and no one knew.
Surrounded by national parks and the Mekhong River, the remote and beautiful province of UbonRatchathani has escaped the attention of major tour operators - but with so many natural attractions it‘s bound to become an important tourist destination in the near future.
By Colin Hastings
Christian Schulz and fellow adventurers tackle one of Africa's mightiest ranges.
Having already cycled the slopes of mountainous Lesotho and Tanzania together during earlier African excursions, a well-travelled group of friends who met in Taiwan in the 90’s agreed that the Atlas Mountains in the northwest of the continent were worth exploring on our next trip.
The geological development of the Atlas Mountain formation was marked by a massive continental collision between the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and the European plate, and it is not a continuous chain of mountains but a series of ranges separated by wide plateaus. The Atlas System extends some 2,500km across north-western Africa, spanning Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, creating a striking, sometimes harsh barrier between the arid Sahara and Morocco’s milder coastal climate. The middle and the most impressive of these ranges, with an average elevation of around 3000m, is called the High-Atlas. It begins close to the Atlantic in Agadir and runs in a jagged line northeast through the centre of the country encompassing some of the region’s most authentic pockets of culture as well as offering some of its best opportunities for cycling and hiking. Capped with snow throughout the winter months and cloaked with wildflowers through the summer, the rocky plateaus and lush valleys of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains provide a striking backdrop to outdoor adventures.
Marrakesh, the Moroccan Kingdom’s 4th largest City is the closest port of entry to the western part of the High-Atlas. This former imperial city in Western Morocco, is a major economic centre and home to mosques, palaces, and gardens. The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with maze-like alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery, and jewellery. A symbol of the city, and visible for miles, is the Moorish minaret of 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque.
By Christian Schulz
Beautiful and remote, Arunachal Pradesh on India’s far eastern border is home to the country’s greatest biodiversity, with as many as 600 species of orchids, one third of its plants of India, along with numerous mammals and over half of India’s 1,300 birds. But there’s a sense of urgency to explore the region as rapid development threatens its isolation
SURROUNDED by Bhutan to the west, China/Tibet to the north, Myanmar to the east, and the Indian state of Assam to the South, Arunachal Pradesh, is one of the most sparsely populated states of India and one of the world’s least-explored regions.
Being the easternmost state of India, Arunachal Pradesh is truly the place where the sun first rises. It is the largest of the northeastern states and much of it has hardly been explored or catalogued. Ethnic and linguistic diversity in the state may be the highest, not only in India, but perhaps in any comparablysized Asian region.
Top 5 tips to plan a frugal vacation and the ideal places to get started
Renowned travel blogger, Matthew Karsten once said, “Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” Simply put, travelling is one of the most enriching experiences one could have. It allows us to reconnect, re-energise, and re-inspire to be better citizens of the world.
We are all too familiar with the common saying that we should live with no excuses and travel with no regrets. But often times, reality hits and our dreams for the perfect getaway are easily dampened as the economy sways, exchange rates fluctuate, and prices skyrocket.
But with a little perspective and some handy tips to plan a budgeted trip, Southeast Asia’s leading Travel Tech Company, Traveloka is here to empower discovery without having to break the bank.
Here are Traveloka’s top five tips to get you started on planning a vacation on a budget without compromising your dreams:
#1: MIND YOUR MONEY
• Cash is king. Keep an eye on exchange rates prior to your trip and seize the opportunity to grab good rates to avoid having to face unnecessary transaction fees at foreign ATMs (not to mention skipping the anxiety of finding a credible ATM machine in a foreign land!).
• Additionally, setting up Price Alerts with credible travel companions such as Traveloka will enable you to receive first-hand discounts on your preferred (dream) destinations, airlines and accommodations that are tailored to your budget, allowing you to make quick economically informed decisions.
NOTE: If you haven’t already, do consider signing up with frequent flyer programmes to gain mileage points! As you accumulate your mileage with every “fly” you make, remember to check with your airline to see what you’re entitled too with the mileage earned. You may be entitled to a free flight on your next travel or perhaps a free upgrade!
#2: TIMING IS EVERYTHING
• While it may sometimes be a challenge to schedule, travelling off-season is always a worthwhile decision. Hot spots where tourists would typically flock to will be less in-demand, bringing prices down significantly!
• Worth a try: planning at the eleventh hour may sometimes unlock the door (and luck) to many last-minute promos and discounts. Rely on trusty sites to get good snags on Attractions and Activities such as those offered on Traveloka to save on what would otherwise be expensive treats for the family.
• Another valuable tip: familiarise yourself with the local community calendar to leverage on free events or festivals that may be happening during your visit. Not only is this easy on your wallet, you’ll be deeply immersed in the local culture, gaining priceless experiences direct from the locals themselves.
• When selecting flights, avoid the crowd by opting for:
❖ Flights that take-off midweek instead of weekends.
❖ Flights on major holidays (not during or after!).
❖ Overnight flights - it’s “two for the price of one” as you save on spending an extra night on a place to stay.
#3: BE TRAVEL SAVVY
Skip cabs and take public transit instead for a little taste of “a day in the life of a local”. If it is available, get a multi-pass to save you a good amount of moolah while having the opportunity to visit a multitude of locations. For a healthier option, rent a bike and find yourself coursing through the city (or village) life.
If you’re looking for a full-day tour around town, check with the hotel concierge for credible local driver recommendations who will offer you reasonable and comprehensive packages that would usually include several tourist spots and eating stops.
Recommendation: Download an app map or a transportation app such as Grab or Uber to get around. This is to prevent getting cheated by local taxis with exorbitant fees.
#4: DINE CONSIDERATELY
#5: REMEMBER: THE LITTLE THINGS DO ADD UP!
YOUR FRUGAL VACATION AWAITS
Now that you’re armed with the “know-hows”, it’s time to start considering the “where-tos”. Here are some destinations for thought when planning your next frugal vacation:
1. TAIPEI, TAIWAN
As the capital of Taiwan, Taipei is a culturally-rich destination that never fails to captivate travellers from near and far with its intriguing blend of old town districts and modern skyscrapers. Fuelled and filled with genuinely friendly people, Taipei has much to offer with its charming museums, cultural sites, shopping areas, delicious cuisines and many more.
Things to do:
✦ Hike up Elephant Mountain and admire the majestic views of Taipei 101
✦ Take a day trip to Jiufen - the traditionally stunning “Santorini” of Taiwan
✦ Drop by Ximending to experience the “happening” side of Taiwan with its bustling nightlife and exuberant food vendors across the city.
2. HANOI, VIETNAM
Budget travellers and food lovers shouldn’t miss out on the attractions of Hanoi – a booming city with a blend of both Asian and European influence. Hanoi has plenty to offer from its dramatic landscapes of French colonial buildings to fascinating history, and not to mention mouth-watering street food which will leave you craving for more!
Things to do:
✦ Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - Final resting place of Vietnam’s first Communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, also known as “Uncle Ho” by locals.
✦ Pop by a local cafe and sip on some ca phe (Vietnamese coffee).
✦ Enjoy the Thang Long Water Puppet Show – the visually stunning story of harvest that depicts the local Vietnamese’s day-to-day in the rural.
3. SHANGHAI, CHINA
As one of China’s burgeoning metropolis, Shanghai constantly exudes energy and excitement that permeates the world and is very much a favoured destination among tourists. This striking city - due to the unique blends of traditional Chinese architecture clad with European influenced buildings - sets up the perfect playground for photography lovers.
Things to do:
✦ Take a stroll through Tianzifang’s alleyways packed with street food and lively bars.
✦ Visit the 8th cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, Lao Zheng Xing.
✦ Experience a world where fantastical dreams come true at Shanghai’s Disneyland!
Sometimes, maybe a little change in perspective is needed: the world isn’t all that big and neither are your dreams! All it really takes is a little discernment, proper planning, and careful preparation. Don’t let the restraints of a tight budget hold you back from exploring the world and taking that dream vacation.
Mr. Halif Hamzah, Traveloka Country Manager for Malaysia and Singapore shared, “Everyone should - and must - travel at least once in their lifetime, whether it may be a short getaway or a long way away. It enriches one’s soul, creates a wealth of invaluable experiences, sparks and spurs creativity, and promotes personal growth. We should not be held back by the means of the world that hinders us from fulfilling our travel desires.”
“We are blessed to be living in a digital age where we are riding on the crest of the wave of new technology. As the leading Travel Tech company in the region, it is our duty to constantly strive to innovate and empower the people with tools to make travel not only possible, but convenient for all - to enable the people to go forth and live their dreams in discovering the world,” said Mr. Halif.
For more information on Traveloka, visit https://www.traveloka.com/en-my/.