The secret ingredient of the best Filipino pork and chicken

Northwest on Mindoro island is Puerto Galera, a scuba destination in the Philippines with picture-perfect blue skies, a soft sea breeze, spotless beaches, cheap drinks and friendly locals. Just a few of the many reasons why I love this place. However, there is one thing that bothers me in the Philippines. Its food. Before you start shouting at me, […]

A lazy day at Gili Meno

Gili Meno is boring. There is hardly anything to do. But that is exactly the reason why we decided to travel to this tiny sanctuary with a population of just 400 habitants. The island is so small that it takes less than 90 minutes to walk around the entire island at a very leisurely pace. […]

The unfortunate truth of Trawangan

Trawangan is one of the three Gili Islands next to Bali in Indonesia. After a two hour foetal position on an enclosed plastic boat without air conditioning, the sight of its crystal clear beach was a welcome relief. The local Trawangans were hospitable and our boutique hotel, Les Villas Ottallia, had everything we needed from […]

Kecak dancers

Kecak and the hundred swaying men

Kecak was something completely new to me until hotel staff of Maya Ubud explained it to me. At first I thought it was a local dish but soon discovered Kecak is a Indonesian performance accompanied by music and human voice (gamelan suara). Kecak is a choir of hundred men sitting in concentric circles, swaying, standing up and lying […]

Maya Ubud resort Bali

Maya Ubud spa resort

Maya Ubud is a Herculean resort compared with the modest Kenanga boutique hotel we just came from. I arrived on my rented Scoopy, a scooter brand in Bali, followed by the taxi with our luggage. Two smartly dressed security guards saluted and we entered the private kingdom of Maya Ubud, a land of plenty and perfection. The asphalt between the gate and the reception […]

Tegalalang rice terraces

The rice paddies of Tegalalang

What can I say about Tegalalang in Indonesia? It is very, very, very green with a many, many, many trees. I had seen photos of Tegalalang before and imagined it to be a place of indescribable beauty and lush tropical vegetation. The reviews were promising and we added this place to our Indonesia sightseeing list. […]

Blanco interior

Blanco 13-course dinner

I don’t know what happened at Christmas but my mind went Blanco. Seriously, why would anyone sensible finish a 13-course dinner? Well, I did. Blanco is not your typical local Balinese eatery. It has only eight seats and two time slots per evening. Blanco offered three options; 7, 9, and 13 courses. Not that we […]

Kenanga boutique hotel

Kenanga boutique hotel

Far away from the bustle of Bali beach is Kenanga, a sleepy boutique hotel with quacking ducks, slow moving snails, and the loudest geckos I have ever heard. The trip to Kenanga was a pleasant break from the agonising six hour taxi journey we endured the previous day to Bromo Tennger. It took just over a hour from Bali’s Denpasar […]

Tengger Caldera

Bromo Tennger National Park

Avoid Bromo Tennger if you are asthmatic or sensitive to altitude sickness. If you enjoy volcanic ash and Jurassic landscapes, visit it. Located in East Java, Bromo Tennger is a magnificent national park but be prepared for a long taxi ride. Bring books or something else to entertain yourself because it took us almost six hours from […]

Peta Borobudur

Peta Borobudur in Central Java

Built in the 9th century in Indonesia, Peta Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The monument was designed to show the Buddhist concept of achieving Nirvana. We started our journey at 5.45am from our hotel Ruman Boedi hoping to catch the sunrise. To my surprise it was already light outside when we got up. We took the tuk-tuk but […]

Pentai Timang gondola

Pentai Timang gondola

A flimsy hand-made wooden cage supposed to carry me across the ocean. The Pentai Timang crossing takes people from the rocky coastline to the remote island of Watu Panjang – that is the big ocean rock you see on the picture below. The nylon ropes were battered and worn out but our driver told us that local lobster […]

Rumah Boedi open air reception

Rumah Boedi in Borobudur

From Jogjakarta airport it is a two hour taxi drive to Rumah Boedi, a private residence villa in Borobudur hidden away in the ancient kingdom’s rainforest of Wanurejo in Central Java and surrounded by local farmers, craftsmen and artists. That is the nice part. The nasty one is that this area was infested with hungry blood-sucking mosquitos, and the […]

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo

I could tell you how awesome and amazing the Tsukiji Fish Market is but in all honestly I was an itsy bitsy underwhelmed by the experience. Despite getting up at 5am we miscalculated the travel time from our hotel to the market so we missed the morning tuna trade. That was really unfortunate because that seemed to have been the […]

Ryokan hot spring

What the bleep is a ryokan?! It is not something I visit every day and I can try to explain what a Ryokan is but Wikipedia explains it well so I am just going to quote them “Ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn that originated in the Edo period (1603–1868), serving travelers along Japan’s highways. They […]

recovering from the Ryokan dinner

The Hakone aftermath

Akinori Matsuki, our Hakone ryokan executive chef, had designed an eight-course evening menu that fitted exactly, from top to bottom, on an A4 sheet. I hear you thinking. Eight bite-size Japanese snacks, is that all? I heard a gentle knock. Not really sure where the sound came from I stumbled to the front door. An […]

Mutianyu Valley in China

Mutianyu valley in China

You may not be familiar with the mountains of Mutianyu (慕田峪). It is a about 70 kilometres from Beijing or about  1.5 hours by car. Mutianyu is popular with tourists visiting one of the world wonders called the Great Wall of China. The Mutianyu section is the longest and best restored part of the Great […]

National Centre for the Performance Arts is also knows as The Egg

The Egg in Beijing

Designed by French architect Paul Andreu the National Centre for the Performance Arts (NCPA) in Beijing is also locally knows at the Egg. The titanium-glass dome exterior looks like an egg floating on water, or a water drop, and is completely surrounded by a man-made lake. The dome measures 212 meters in east–west direction, 144 […]

Tiananmen square celebration

There is something new at Tiananmen Square

I always thought that the Tiananmen Square was the largest square in China but I just figured out it is the 6th largest in the world. The largest square is the Xinghai Square in Dairen, China. But who cares. The square is big and boring. I don’t find it a particularly exciting square because it […]

People resting at the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City in Beijing

The Forbidden City is right in the middle of Beijing city. It is not randomly somewhere in the city but exactly in the centre. The rest of today’s metropolis was carefully built around it. Other UNESCO world heritage sites I visited such as the Great Wall, Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, and Peta Borobudur are far away from the centre. Another fun fact […]

Groningen at sunrise

Why Groningen is so special

Here is a Dutch tongue twister. The Groninger Reitdiep water flows into the larger Vanstarkenborghkanaal that ends in the Wadden Sea and IJsselmeer. Besides the fact that Groningen was the place I spent most of childhood what makes it so special? Groningen is the capital city of the province of Groningen. The city has a population of 200,000 with […]

Amber Fort

The palace of Amber Fort in Amer

Amber Fort in Jaipur is another UNESCO World Heritage site in India’s Golden Triangle. The palace of the Rajput rulers is also known as Amer Fort and Amber Palace. Along with Jaigarh Fort the palace is located immediately above on the Hill of Eagles. The Amber Fort is a vast complex with so many rooms and areas that I forgot the names of […]

The central pillar of Diwan-i-khas at Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri in Agra

Fatehpur Sikri in the Agra district was once the capital city of the Mughal empire (1571 to 1585) in India. The imperial complex is one of the best preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture but after it was completed in 1585 the palace was abandoned because of the lack of water and the increased turmoil […]

Entrance Agra Fort

Agra Fort

Agra Fort is next to another UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal. When emperor Akbar arrived in Agra in 1558 he recognised the strategic importance of this fort but it was in a ruined condition. For eight years more than 4,000 builders worked daily to rebuilt and restore the fort with red sandstones from the Barauli […]

Alsisar Haveli Hotel

Alsisar Haveli Heritage Hotel

The Alsisar Haveli heritage hotel in the heart of the Pink City in Jaipur is grandiose. Alsisar is an exception to the boring corporate 5-star luxury hotels. Five star hotels are like Michelin stars in Hong Kong. Great for business but boring and uninteresting. Imagine waking up and not being able to tell where you are […]

Taj Mahal at sunrise

We have arrived at the Taj Mahal

The crown of palaces, or the Taj Mahal, is an extraordinary masterpiece of Persian and Mughal architecture. Describing a building of this grandeur is very difficult but I’ll give it a go. What I find most fascinating are the minarets on each corner. They aren’t very decorative and in fact very bland compared with the intricate […]

Tomb of Akbar the Great

Tomb of Akbar the Great

I didn’t realise the true significance of the tomb of Akbar the Great (1555–1605) until I visited Fatehpur Sikri in Agra. Akbar was the third Mughal emperor and according to Tartary tradition he planned his own tomb and selected this site in Jaipur. Unfortunately the Akbar was unable to finish it so his son Jahangir completed the […]

Olive tree at Episkopi Bay

The olive tree of Episkopi Bay

Episkopi Bay is a popular shore area southwest of Episkopi and west of Limassol. On top of this limestone promontory is the acropolis of Kourion, an ancient Greek city of considerable importance within Cyprus. If you do a quick online search there is an abundance of photos of the Kourion. What is less documented is the sea view next to the Kourion acropolis. When […]

The clearest blue sea water at Cape Greco in Cyprus

Cape Greco and the sea caves

According to local legend Cape Greco or Cavo Greco’s sea cave is the home of the Aiya Napa sea monster. Maybe, I did not see any monsters crawling around. One thing is certain. The sea has the clearest turquoise colour my eyes have ever seen. The Cape Greco area is a protected nature park at the southern end of Famagusta Bay near […]

Chapel of Ayia Thekla

Ayia Thekla chapel in Cyprus

A few kilometers west of Ayia Napa is Ayia Thekla or a 10min drive from Sotira, the village where my sister Nina lives. When I think of Cyprus this is the epitomy of the Mediterranean, the chapel at Ayia Thekla. I have seen this chapel many times and I admit it is not an architectural master piece. But what draws […]

Sotira sunrise in Cyprus

Sotira is waking up very slowly

Sotira wakes up to a beautiful array of soft gold and deep orange shades. The sunrise is an captivating sight, especially if you’re jet legged. I am visiting my sister Nina and her husband Tasos, owners of 4 weddings and a caricature, and their three kids Emilio, Julia, and Sofia. They live in a teeny municipal with a few houses on a […]

Kam Shan Country Park wild monkeys

The Three Monkeys at Kam Shan Country Park

Kam Shan Park, or Monkey Hill to most Hong Kong locals, is famous for its macaques. I have only seen these three in the wild but apparently there are about 1,800 macaques in the park. According to Wikipedia the macaques are likely to be descendants of monkeys released by pet owners in the 1920s. Wild macaques […]