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Hua Hin – a Magical Wonderland

There is a special place in my heart for this beautiful little beach town, actually its one of my favorite places in the world to hang out. It surprises me that allot of people travelling to Thailand have never heard of the city of Hua Hin. Perhaps thats what makes it so special, its a bit more exclusive than the touristy cities like Phuket. It is also a little harder to get to as its airport rarely operates, so you will need to catch a 3 hour bus from Bangkok but I promise the journey is well worth it.

Getting to know the locals at Hua Hin Viewpoint

So what makes Hua Hin a Magical Wonderland?
For me it’s the slow paced life, the not so crowded beaches, the abundance of fresh fruit, fresh ocean air, the friendly people, take a trip up to Monkey Mountain or escape to a Magical Waterfall, Hua Hin really does have allot to explore! 

Hua Hin is also a great destination to go and work on your mind, body and spirit because it has lots of fitness centres, swimming pools, yoga centres, affordable therapeutic services, golf courses and running trails.

And If you really want to dance the night away, you can find a busy town centre bustling with night life, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
Check out Panama Bar in the inner town centre for a bouncing nightclub experience!

 

Hua Hin Beach

Chiang Mai vs Hua Hin for Digital Nomad living?
Hua Hin could most certainly work as your home base in Thailand whilst working remotely. Finding a fast solid Internet connection is not a problem, there are some nice internet cafes and large shopping malls for all your modern tech gear.

It perhaps doesn’t offer the networking social groups that Chiang Mai is popular for but if you’re the type to work introvertedly then its not a problem. Living is as cheap as Chiang Mai with comfortable apartment rentals for as low as 4,000 baht per month.

It has one major thing over Chiang Mai, clear ocean air all year round and beautiful swimming beaches.

If your looking to stay 12 months or longer hooking up an ED visa is not a problem at one of the local language schools.

Lots of fresh local fruit at great prices

24 Merican rd Guesthouse – a home away from home

Sometimes on your travels you come across a bit of a gem, something that is truly worth sharing to anyone that might be on a similar journey to your own. Check out this little AirBnB delight that has left a warm fuzzy place in my heart, a home away from home.

Welcome to 24 Merican Rd and delightful hosts Peter & Mei. 
This lovely Malaysian couple have crafted a cozy colorful 5 bedroom guesthouse in the quiet reserved streets of Penang. Its perfect for budget travelers, digital nomads and anybody doing a Visa run to the Royal Thai Consulate of Penang. Its away from the hustle and bustle of Penang’s busy streets yet conveniently located just a short walk to Times Square, restaurants, street food stalls, a handy supermarket and the bus station that will take you just about anywhere on Penang Island. For those on a visa run its just a 5 ringgit Uber ride or a 20 minute walk to the Royal Thai Consulate to submit your visa application.

24 Merican rd has great security that is modern and well designed, the wifi connection within the entire house is solid,  there is excellent air conditioning throughout the building and a few different places to chill out and relax. It offers a large communal kitchen, 2 bathrooms (good hot water pressure), large screen cable TV and the cute kitty cat named Ally… Oh and did I mention the place is always super clean! 

Expect to feel refreshed and chilled while staying at 24 Merican rd!

To book just click this link to view their room listings:  https://www.airbnb.com/users/24346538/listings

For more on Penang Malaysia read my blog here: 
https://esquiresound.com/index.php/2017/10/31/penang-malaysia-travelers-tale/

Pattaya Thailand – Diamonds in the rough

Working as a travel agent in Thailand often leads me to Pattaya for a week or 2 of work throughout the year. Pattaya is well known for its busy nightlife, red light districts and the infamous walking street. 

A stroll out of your hotel to find some food at night and you will be confronted by many scantily clad ladies trying to lure you into there massage parlor or gogo bar.They have a slogan in this town “Good guys go to heaven, bad guys go to Pattaya” and this may be true but I was determine to discover some culture and hidden gems in this sleaze ridden town after all I was still in tropical asia, the land of the Buddha.

I had heard of a magical place before and seen photos of what looked like something from a Disney movie. I set out to discover “The Sanctuary of Truth” to see if the legends were true. And true they were, as I approached this megolithic structure towering above me, my breath was truly taken away. I had seen many temples in Thailand perhaps hundreds. But rarely does one have such an effect on me as did “The Sanctuary of Truth.” The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and it was the feeling of being in the presence of something truly magic. The Sanctuary of Truth is completely hand carved from wood, even the bolts and binders holding it together are all completely wood. The details were impeccable and faultless but also very organic. I believe it was the pure passion and detail that had been woven into this beast that gave it the power it possessed. In a digital world that often feels so disconnected from purity and in a place like Pattaya where perverted and sadistic minds run rampant. This was Art at its purest form and no unpure energy was going to touch it, it stood tall and strong on its own, perched up – overlooking the ocean. It was a haven of peace and magic. Inside and out. A place I will never forget.

My next discovery was the “Khao Chi Chan Buddha” also known as Buddha Mountain. This is a magnificent image of Buddha carved into a massive rock wall. This unique structure attracts many tourists and passers by as it can be seen from miles away. You can’t help but wonder as you stare at this perfect image of Buddha is… how did they do it? It is a feat of wonder and beauty, surrounded by a lush garden and forest its a great place to disconnect from Pattaya city, enjoy some fruits and snap a few photos with your loved ones.

Not far from Buddha Mountain is “Viharn Sien” a Chinese art Temple Museum. A home to the shrines of many ancient Warriors and Saints. A small 40baht entry fee gets you through the gates to wander the temple grounds graced by massive statues of towering figures accompanied by their description and story. You can take a walk through ancient history in this majestic palace. As I wondered the bottom floor I was determined and hoping to come across a Legend I had read so much about – “Bodhidarma.” It wasn’t until I reached the second floor outside level I came face to face with the man himself. The original master of Zen and Kung Fu. This was a great moment for me. 

 

So there I was in the presence of magic and greatness in Pattaya. Yes the stories are true, Pattaya has a dark side, take a stroll down the infamous walking street and you will see many sad and sorry faces. But follow your heart and you will find the magic in this place and your energy will be uplifted by pure art and history. 

Enjoy Pattaya! 

On my next journey in Pattaya I plan to visit the Islands and seek out some beautiful beaches. Stay tuned for that!

London Travel Tips

London! A complete contrast from my home base in Chiang Mai, Thailand. London is Fasted paced and F-F-Freezing cold! 

A shock to the system but I embraced every moment and open myself to new things! The result, great experiences and memories! 

Im working for an amazing travel company in Thailand and we promote our Thailand tours to people in the UK, so this London trip had some business mixed in with plenty of spare time to rome around and see the special sights of London and the England countryside.

This blog may help you if you are a traveling vegan or just wanting to learn a few things about the great city of London, I will also lend my tips on saving a few dollars during your stay.

Airline

If your travelling from SE Asia or the middle East Gulf Air is a great choice, an airline with reasonable prices and great service. One of the best vegan meals I have been served in the air. You will make a quick stop over in Bahrain if travelling from Asia 🙂

Transport around London

The train and bus service is extremely reliable, I was super impressed. At first it will look daunting looking at the multi-level system of subways and DLRs but it only took me one day out to get an understanding of it.
Download the free phone App called Citymapper. Its amazing! It uses your location and shows you exactly where to walk on the map to catch each form of transport, shows how far away the transport is from arriving. You just follow the blue dot and you will have no problems. An all day ticket cost me 12pounds. I suggest getting an “Oyster card” which you can re-use, you will save some money and as busses don’t take cash you will need it.

Cabs – Those old school looking cabs although look awesome are waaay too expensive. Download an App called “Uber” this links in with the other cheaper cabs, shows you where they are and allows you to msg them directly to arrange pickup. The cabbie that picked me up was super stylish and cool dude wearing a suit and cranking the tunes, It was like flying around London with 007 behind the wheel!

Phone

I got a sim card from Lebara mobile. I topped it up with 10 pounds and that gave me all the data I needed during my 9 days.

Food

England grows amazing vegetable! Rich juicy tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and kale. I picked these items up quite cheap at a little Tesco Express close by to where I was staying. Baked Beans were cheap as chips so these were the staple of my diet during my stay also found at Tesco Express. 
I found many vegan restaurants using Happy Cow 

 

Sightseeing

Take a stroll through old London town, its a great experience. Soho had all the big theatres, lots of sculptures and statues to see. Im not a fan of the Royals but I did cruise past Buckingham Palace for a sniff, lots of people crowded around some interesting statues to see. If you keep walking you will get to St James Park, this was the highlight of my day. Lots of nature and wildlife right in the middle of London. 
If you have the doe, you gotta go! – Too… Stonehenge!!
It exceeded all expectations, I booked my tour with Golden Tours, you join the coach from London city, there was a number of tours listed on their website. The one I chose was titled “Private viewing of Stonehenge (access stone circle) and the Roman Baths.” The tour took us to the town of Bath and some other small towns paved in cobble stone and looked like something from a Harry Potter movie. But it was entering the centre of Stonehenge that was indeed the highlight. You can view my video from that experience HERE

Stonehenge – A Feeling I will never forget

Stonehenge was nothing short of Amazing! It is a memory I will take with me forever. But what was it that was so Amazing?
This place had an indescribable energy, a feeling I can’t even put into words. I will forever be fascinated by this place and its history.
One only has to look at the facts to try understand how such an energy has been created in this circle of gigantic stones.

Stonehenge was estimated to have been constructed around 4200 BC in the Neolithic period.
It still remains a mystery as to how its circular formation of 160 massive stones was constructed, scientists estimate it would require over million man hours to build, over 4 times the man hours required to build the empire state building!
Some believe whomever created Stonehenge was not from this world.
Some scientists believe it is a prehistoric calculator dsigned to predict lunar exclpises and atrological phenomenon. Below is my video of my experience there and my sharing what I was feeling.

Golf in Northern Thailand

Golf enthusiast from all over the world are travelling to the great North of Thailand to experience what is some of the best golf Asia has to offer. Laid out around the capital of Chiang Mai, Thailands second largest city is approximately 11 excellent courses all within 30 – 60 minutes drive.

It was recently the Golf travel association focused its attention on Chiang Mai as many golf tour operators from around the world gathered for the 5th Annual Golf Tourism Convention. As a direct result of this event Golf travel is predicted to rise by an unprecedented 25% over the next two years in the North of Thailand.

Golf tour operators have played a big part in growing golf tourism in Thailand over the past few years and for travelling golfer, choosing the right company makes the experience much more enjoyable while golfing in Thailand. A large presence at this year’s convention was “CocoGolf” a well established Golf tour operator that have been hosting golfers in Thailand for over 20 years and from hotel to tee off provide a first class service and cater for all travel and leisure during your holiday.

One course many golfers travel to Chiang Mai to play is “Chiang Mai Highlands”, considered by some as the jewel of Chiang Mai’s golf courses. Its a course that has beautifully captured Chiang Mai surrounding’s hills and rolling landscapes and is perfectly capable to host world professional tournaments. Requiring some strategy navigating the bunkers and water hazards may test even the most skilled of golfers, the challenge will be worth it as each hole offers a new and interesting challenge. After your game enjoy the great facilities in the clubhouse and a drink and delicious meal in the restaurant. A perfect day golfing in Chiang Mai.

 

If we head further South an hour or so outside Chiang Mai in a tranquil, rural setting of orchards, canyons and woodland lies Lamphun’s Gassan Legacy a 72 par course with wide fairways and island greens set around a lush landscape and unique clubhouse towering high overlooking this beautiful course. A newly renovated course it has now been transformed into one of the best conditioned courses in the area.

After spending a few days golfing in Chiang Mai why not venture further north towards the Golden Triangle and the magnificent city of Chiang Rai, The journey from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai can be taken by road and arranged with your Golf Tour Operator. Stop for a buffet lunch along the way and even take the option of travelling down the breathtaking Thaton river by boat, here you will see villages of people and wildlife living harmoniously in their natural environment.

There are 2 main golf courses close to Chiang Rai and Santiburi Golf Course should be at the top of your list to play in Thailand. It is home to many championship events, yet very enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels. There are many natural features on this course including 2 large lakes and rolling hills, each hole cleverly designed into the contours of the valleys. Most greens are protected by bunkers and there are several good dogleg holes. Santiburi is in immaculate condition all year round and rated by many travelling golfers as “The best golf course they have ever played!”

So why not start planning your next golfing adventure to the magnificent North of Thailand, discover the many amazing courses in the area and create a memory you will treasure for years to come.

Baguio City – A mysterious secluded city in the Philippines

I went to Baguio in search of a peaceful place to rest on my journey through the Philippines.
I wanted to discover some of Phil’s more traditional sacred tribe cultures and mountain landscapes.

A six hour long bus ride from Manila took me through mountainous terrain and ghost like villages which had very little development, just few churches and children playing on the side of the road. As we got closer to Baguio the drop in temperature was very noticeable, a nice change from the constant heat you experience in most of the city’s in the Philippines. I arrived very late and caught a cab straight to the “Hotel Supreme Convention Plaza” where I had a room booked.
I was met with a warm reception in the hotel lobby and retired to my room for the night excited to start the new day in a place I knew very little about and was very excited to explore.

The next day I stepped out from the hotel lobby onto the street and was surprised to see I was not in a peaceful place. It was traffic chaos! Another overpopulated part of the Philippines filled with intense polluted air.

Baguio is a city originally designed for 100,00 but now has a population of 300,000 and seems the traffic system is failing.

I hopped in a cab and asked the cabby to take me to a nice market. Getting anywhere via taxi or Jeepney at times seemed like mission impossible. So I spent the first few days just walking around the city on foot exploring every nook and cranny.

Now when it came to food Baguio is place dominated by Fried chicken and Balut (egg with duck embreo! ? but I actually discovered the most amazing vegan restaurants I have ever been to in my life! See this blog HERE

My search for something peaceful first lead me to the outer parts of Baguio the first being Trinidad to a place called the Bell church. I walked down a small lane that led me up to a temple filled with Buddhist and Warrior statues and magical ponds filled with Lotus flowers. Children performing a ceremony with a Chinese dragon, running and jumping in formation. I sat and watched in a while in awe and then climbed the staircase past little huts and statues until I reached the top to view the entire city and temples below me.

I looked out over the city. Baguio is such a secluded city, its a far away place, like another world, so far from my home in Australia. I felt like a tiny spec in this place but sitting high above the Bell Church I felt a great peace and enjoyed the moment and what I was experiencing.

The following day I set out to my next destination to deepen my meditation. It was a place I had read about the Brahma Kumaris meditation centre.  A long taxi ride this time to the other end of the city to the peak of a mountain to a little white building.

I received a very warm greeting by a lovely Lady and man in white robes and they invited me in as if I was a son returning home from time away.

The Lady took me to a meditation room. At one end was a large painting of colours and in the centre was the point of light an image the resembles the point of which all beauty and peace emanate from. We sat in meditation together guided by some peaceful sounds where I found a deep feeling of love and gratitude for all the experiences the Philippines were showering me with. After that the lovely Lady sat and gave me her wisdom on life, meditation and the history of the city. They took me into there home and prepared a lovely vegan meal and cup of tea for me and we sat and ate together and shared stories. It was one of those magical moments I experienced while in Baguio.

Baguio city is surrounded by magnificent hills. Looking out from the chaotic centre of the city you could see the beauty of nature that was within reach. I had to get there somehow, I had made friends with a local taxi driver named Rimel and requested if I could hire his services to be my own private shoffer for the day and drive me out of the city and far up into the hills.

 

Rimel was a lovely guy and we had much to chat about and learn from each other coming from different worlds, he was happy to spend the day with me.
As we drove high into the mountains the beautiful clean air filled my lungs and being at such a high altitude was almost euphoric. The roads ended and we were now driving off-road, luckily Rimel had a 4×4. We eventually reached our highest point and pulled over to take in all the beautiful surroundings. It was Breathtaking as we were so high up the clouds were passing below us. I’d never experienced anything like it. The land was lush and green with traditional rice farming terraces carved out in the hills.

Id found what I was looking for.