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Toyota Tacomas Climbing Morrison Jeep Trail in Wyoming w/ Optima Batteries | 4K Video by Red Olive - YouTube
Red Olive – Toyota Tacomas Climbing Morrison Jeep Trail in Wyoming w/ Optima Batteries
In the late fall of 2016, Sean, Matt, Adam, Tyler, and I left Cody, Wyoming early in the morning. We were on our way to the Morrison Jeep Trail, a narrow, winding path that stretches from Wyoming river valleys to the mountains of Montana. We made our way along the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River, rolling out in two modified overland trucks. Sean, Matt, and Adam were in Sean’s lifted Toyota Tacoma with a winch, armor, lockers, and 35-inch tires. Tyler and I in his lifted Tacoma with 37-inch tires, a snorkel and rear locker.
Hours later, we were deep in the wilderness. To the west were the massive forests of Yellowstone National Park and the Shoshone National Forest, where Yellowstone relocates their problem grizzly bears. The trail is only open for a few months. Even during the summer, snow and mud are regular obstacles on the Morrison Jeep Trail. The first September snow storm was rolling in just a day behind us, and we were most likely the last travelers of the year. We were cutting it close — but where’s the fun in playing it safe?
I’d packed light, carrying only my Sony a7sII, a DJI Phantom drone, and some time-lapse equipment. When you’re faced with possible snow storms, grizzly encounters, or stuck trucks, run-and-gun is the way to shoot.
We climbed out of the river valley — past sagebrush and juniper — into the higher alpine environment. Halfway up the switchbacks, Tyler’s truck lost its air line, rendering his rear locker unusable. This meant he’d have to give it more throttle and less caution to make it up the steep, scrambling climbs. The trucks clawed their way up the rocky, muddy trail. I jumped out periodically to document the journey. We slowly made the 2000-foot climb, sometimes three-wheeling and other times using Maxtrax to free the trucks when they became stuck.
Finally on top, the view was breathtaking. The setting sun illuminated the gorgeous river valley below us as we geared up for the cold night ahead. We were still exposed, but we knew that a forest lay ahead — a shelter from the howling winds. As we pressed deep into the dark pine forest, we found a suitable campsite, safe from the wind but prime grizzly territory. We parked in a meadow, set up the rooftop tents, and fired up the grill.
As the ground crackled and froze underneath our feet, we talked around the campfire and got ready for bed. It had been an epic day —we were thankful to have seen a wilderness that few had ever seen.
I had been to the Grand Canyon before. It was a family vacation and that meant little time exploring this vast crevice. As my wife and our kids looked across the reds, yellows, tans, and browns of the Grand Canyon, I told myself I wanted to come back and do more than look. I wanted to hike.
Ten years later, that chance came when I connected with a high school friend named Cathy. She is a special person with a quiet personality and a love for the canyon like none other. Those who know her recognize her not only as a school teacher but also as a canyon teacher. Friends blurt out questions about the canyon – how deep is it, how far across is it, how much food do I need for a particular hike, and she always answers with a smile, sometimes answering the same question for the second or third time to the same person. She became my “go to” person. Could I make it? Was it realistic? Would you take me along on your next hike? She was always positive and upbeat and after nine months of planning, my dream on the rim ten years before was no longer a dream.
After politely being turned down by my wife, the hike was offered to our daughter Cherry, and she offered it to her friend Katie. Both are marathoners and have spent countless hours running and staying in shape. Cathy also put out the call to any possible hikers to which four accepted. One was Danny, now 74, who knows the Grand Canyon like most know their backyard. Kathy, in her 50’s, who is a close friend to Cathy, also walks a lot and had been on hikes before. Then there was the married couple, Jim and Cindy, both in their mid fifties, who also had gone on previous hikes with Cathy. Cathy said Cindy had muscular degeneration which had caused her eyesight to deteriorate but not enough to make hiking impossible.
I had all the information I needed to give me confidence that I not only could keep up with this crew, but I may also avoid dragging along last. I found no time for training due to farm work, and as the final day for the hike arrived, while I did break in my hiking shoes around the farm, I had not even put on the backpack other than on the day I bought it.
During the ride to the rim on the shuttle bus, the backpack distracted me. It was bungle some. It was awkward. It was heavy. What could I have left home that would have made it lighter? What about less food, water, the tent, T-shirts? My answer was no to all of them and I would simply have to brace myself for it and do my best to keep up with my hike mates for the next four days.
After the traditional picture, we started down the trail into the Canyon. The weight of the pack seemed to disappear, overcome by the absolute breathtaking cliffs and valleys we witnessed. The views seemed to pull on my eyes making me wonder if it was all real. Perspective and distance were a challenge as one could now see depths of thousands of feet when a normal cliff may only be fifty or one hundred back home. Our trail loomed out in the distance, zigzagging back and forth across the canyon wall until it would meander out of sight.
The further we descended from the rim, the quieter it became, and the reality sank in that we were some of the select few descending into the Canyon compared to the thousands and thousands who look across it from behind the safety of a railing on a paved trail on the rim. Their photos of it are all basically the same, changed only by the faces in the foreground or the angle of the sun. On the contrary, each step down gave us a new view and a new angle where one could take a new picture that would leave the viewer in awe.
As each descending hour went by, we saw the pack mules climbing dutifully toward us. One group of mules with their packs carried trash from Phantom Ranch and mail postmarked from the same. The other string of mules carried tourists who had paid a hefty sum to ride to the bottom of the Canyon and out again. We stepped to the side of the trail and waited for them to pass and I felt a strange sympathy for the people. Sure, they didn’t feel the weight of the backpack as we did on our shoulders or the sweat now dampening our shirts, but they were missing out on every step and sight and the quiet that we were taking in.
It took several hours of descending before I became aware of the intermittent yet constant low voice of Jim. “Cactus on the left, large step down, stay close to the wall on your right,” – all subtle directions to his wife Cindy following closely behind him. As she watched his steps with what vision that she had, she put it together with the verbal guidance. Using her hiking sticks as a spider would use his antennae, she was hiking. The more I took notice of this, the more I marveled. I had been so focused on my own unpreparedness, I had not been aware of this little team within a team making their way on a forty mile hike.
Later I would learn she had been legally blind since her twenties. She had only peripheral vision. When I asked her what she could see when she looked at me, she said that I didn’t have a head and that she would not know me if she saw me on the street but would recognize my voice or silhouette. She had become involved in hiking after she had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with a group of other hikers who had lost their eyesight. I knew Kilimanjaro was a mountain, somewhere, and once again I was amazed. I was amazed not only with her but also with Jim. He knew exactly how much to help her without smothering her with instruction.
By the afternoon of the first day, the Canyon seemed to slowly swallow us. The walls that we had begun the day looking into, now looked like giant skyscrapers around us. But we were far from the bottom. We would not see the river that day, and as the sun set, we slowly arrived at the first campsite.
We could all feel the effects of the first day of the hike, including the veteran, Danny. This was nothing new for Danny who had done his first hike when he was 48. Now retired from an engineering career, he was nearing 2,000 miles hiking in the Grand Canyon. He had hiked nearly every trail and many of them several times. His stories and experience were valuable for us, and I needed every suggestion he gave. He had planned every meal for himself every day and carried only enough water to match the distance of that day’s hike. While the rest of us brought along water purification of some sort, Danny would drink directly from the creeks and streams available. He decided to forgo a tent on this hike and slept under the stars. Danny was indeed a team player and was always concerned for the welfare and needs of others.
When the first hints of daylight started to silhouette the canyon walls around us, we were nearly ready to leave. This would be a huge day of hiking and we needed to take advantage of every minute of the short October days. The trail was once again hilly with views of the canyon walls and once in awhile we got a glimpse of the Colorado River, still a 1,000 feet or more deeper than the trail. It looked like a small creek but we knew that was only because of our distance from it.
The morning before we were all fresh and clean, but today was different. We could all physically feel the effects of the first day. There were no showers, but no one complained. The mood was positive and anxious.
I avoided taking the lead simply because I was often stopping to absorb everything and also because I didn’t know the trail. Sometimes after taking a break we would switch leaders. When the other Kathy led, she was unstoppable and persistent. She was a hiking machine. She carried a front pouch with two water bottles at her reach. She disliked the walking sticks and seemed perfectly balanced with the pack on her back. She would hold onto her shoulder straps to keep her hands from swelling at her sides. When we took a break, I asked her if she walked at home. Of course she did – eighteen miles a week. She had wanted to go on Cathy’s last hike but couldn’t because she had donated a kidney to her stepdaughter. She nonchalantly told her story of the process and that she didn’t need two of them anyway. She was a ball of fire, and I could tell she would do anything for anyone in need.
By late afternoon we had reached our second camp and we knew we were more secluded. We had seen only a handful of other hikers all day, and the trail was much smaller with no mules. The path into the campsite was nearly vertical, and I could picture myself somersaulting into it. It was a canyon within the Canyon with a running stream that led to the river. We dropped our packs and picked our spots for our tents. After fumbling through my first night camping, I was catching on. I was able to put the tent up, purify water, and become somewhat organized for the next day. We all emptied our packs and stored our food in separate “varmint proof” bags. This all had to be hung from the small trees in the camp. It wasn’t long though, and the tree climbing mice were checking out Cherry and Katie’s packs. The mice were no match for the two girls and after moving their packs by flashlight to new trees, they managed to fool the mice for the night.
We were all stirring before sunrise and after a quick cup of coffee and a bite to eat, we grabbed a water bottle, and set out down the stream to see the Colorado River. It was as if we were in a movie set with high walls on either side as we continued our way down the channel. There was no trail, only the vertical rock on each side to direct us to the river. While we climbed over rocks and zigzagged back and forth across the little stream, we could hear the roar become stronger, and when the walls around us fell away to the high granite walls above the Colorado, the air became cooler. What looked from above to be a small, lazy river was a cold and mighty powerful force racing by us. Though we couldn’t hear each other, we all had smiles as we shared the atmosphere. What a great feeling it was with no packs as we sat on rocks and took it all in. We had reached the bottom.
Our visit to the river was brief since we had another sizable day of hiking to get to our next camp. Cathy had promised that I would love that day’s hike. She did not disappoint. Climbing the rocky slope out of the other side of our camp, the views backward became more spectacular. The trail was tough at first and then flattened out and became easier. Mile after mile went by until we spotted our next campsite – a mere slit in the valley still miles away. As we approached it, the slit became wider until walking up on it, it became another canyon in the Canyon much like the one the night before. Once again we had clear creek water running next to our camp and we couldn’t resist the chance to at least cool our feet.
We knew this break was short and we were off once again without our packs to explore this creek down to where it entered the Colorado. As we started down the mile and a half trek, we witnessed the unbelievable power of water. The walls towered hundreds of feet above us and at the base were polished by the force of water rushing past. Massive rocks the size of a house lie in the middle of the channel after falling from the sheer cliff above forcing the small creek to go around. Some places a huge boulder might lie in the creek channel damming up smaller rocks and stones. This in turn would create a waterfall adding to the drama. We made our way towards the river crossing the little creek time after time trying to pick the easiest route.
As we neared the Colorado, once again we heard the roar. This time it was louder. The closer we came up to it, we could see why. The rapids were more violent and the boulders bigger. Some were as large as Volkswagens brought down the small creek by spring floods or rains. From above, the banks of the Colorado looked like soft dirt piled up on each side, but from our close vantage point it was plain to see they were granite. They were not smooth polished granite but jagged black and green granite which matched the strength and power of the river below it. I took it all in knowing I might never be back again.
When we returned to our camp I couldn’t help but notice how Cherry and Katie had adjusted. Sure they were the youngest and not known to be the complaining type, but weren’t they supposed to be dissatisfied with something? How about no phone service or no set meal times or the fact that we were now going on the fourth day with no showers? Isn’t that what young people normally do? Maybe it was the “grand” surroundings that were with us twenty-four hours a day or maybe it was just the fact that the others were always positive and always encouraging. At times you could hear the two of them laughing as if they were enjoying their best times ever. As a dad there are always the “someday I would like to” moments with their kids. I realized I was living a “someday I would like to” dream with a daughter.
When we crawled out of our sleeping bags the next morning, we were all used to our routine. Boil water for coffee, pull on your same dirty pants, start stuffing the sleeping bag, tent, pad, food, clothes and water back into the backpack. It wasn’t long before we were packed up and back on the trail. Today would be different as nearly every step would be an incline. Looking to the southeast I could see our goal nearly a mile vertical. It would be at least an eight mile hike by the time we reached the top.
The trail at first was a slow incline but it eventually became steeper and harder. At times small rock slides had completely covered it, and we climbed over them picking up the path on the other side. Some areas had switchbacks and some parts of the trail just forced you to stop and stare at the steep walls of the canyon and at the sheer beauty we were leaving behind. When we reached the last three miles, the trail widened and with each step I knew the hike would soon be over. After a few more switchbacks and a slow incline, it was. The trail meandered through the pines onto a gravel parking lot and we were back. We were tired, hot and in need of showers, but there were smiles all the way around.
As the sun was setting and the rest of the hikers enjoyed their traditional “after the hike” beer, I walked back over to the rim of this giant canyon for one more look. I realized I had witnessed something very special, and the Grand Canyon was only a part of it.
I was born and raised on a farm/ranch in Western South Dakota. I currently farm and ranch with my wife. We have 3 grown daughters and 6 grandchildren. Cherry, who joined me on the hike, is an attorney. I enjoy any outdoor activities but feel that anytime you have a backpack on and the quiet is deafening, it is a special time.
From seasoned travelers to first timers, the question of what to bring on a backpacking trip is always relevant. In the case that you just recently pick up backpacking, this issue has become extremely important. You must plan how to carry all the necessary stuff yet still remain generally mobile. Well if you feel overwhelmed with the planning, I have a few tips you can use. Below are instructions about the essentials items which a backpacking trip needs to have. Follow them and you can save yourself a headache.
Through trial and error, you may finally come to the conclusion that you need to keep your backpack as light as possible. You don’t want to drag yourself forward with a huge and heavy backpack. That will seriously ruin your trip experience. The rule of thumb here is to select items that are versatile and durable. That will simplify your checklist before and after a trip. With an efficient arrangement, you can avoid overloading the backpack. If that is done then you can enjoy every aspect of a backpacking trip. So let’s see what you need to do here.
Select a suitable backpack
The bigger the better, right? No, you need one that fit will your statue and your needs. When you consider a backpack, pick it up and put that on your shoulder. Move around a bit to see if it sticks close to your body or not. If you feel that the backpack already sways too much when unloaded, it will be a nightmare when it’s fully loaded. Of course, the duration of the trip is also important here. If the backpack is too small, it can’t be conveniently stored with necessary supplies. Consider all of these factors when you think about what backpack to use.
Backpack types all have their pros and cons. For example, backpack with frames offers an effective distribution of weight which makes it easier to carry. This means you can have a better stability and balance using such backpack. The frames also act as physical limits, you can only pack in that much, so no more room to squeeze in anything. It is very good for newcomers that have a hard time limiting what to bring. The opposite of this type would be the frameless backpack. The advantage and disadvantage of this type are in reverse to the frame one.
Additional features of the backpack can come in handy too. Mesh back panels will permit more ventilation in hot weather. Some padding on the strap can considerably reduce your fatigue. And if your about to head out in the raining season, a backpack with rainproof cover will be a good choice.
Organize your items efficiently
Keep shoving stuff in one after the other is unwise. You can’t put all of the backpack space to use in that manner. Lay everything out on the floor first. Now you need to decide what you truly need and their turn to go into the backpack. Focus on weight distribution as well. For the most part, light items such as clothes and sleeping bag will be at the bottom. Things that are heavy and you need to use frequently should be on the top portion or external pockets. These include food, water, raincoat and cooking utensils.
Prepare a toiletry bag
Personal hygiene and skin protection are vital in outdoor conditions. That is why it’s worth the effort to assemble a toiletry bag. Depend on the temperature and humidity of your trip, this bag may have anything from moisture cream to sunscreen. Pack them in a clear plastic bag to quickly judge what you need and where is it at moments notice. To prevent possible cracking and ease of handle, put this bag on the top of your backpack or outside pouch.
Determine the number of food supplies
Plan ahead how many meals you will have on the trip and pack your food accordingly. Remember to prioritize lightweight and long to expired foods. Energy bars, beef jerky and dehydrated products will do. Do not bring stuff that is complex to cook or hard to preserve. If your food needs to be processed first then matches or a lighter is good enough. You can start a fire to cook your food and keep yourself warm at the same time. About associated utensils, select those that are easy to use and clean.
A carry-on bag for your electronic
Nowadays, you can look up pretty much everything on your smartphone. You can even access the GPS service on it too. So obviously, you will need a way to pack your smartphone and electronic. That is why a carry-on bag would be needed. It should be waterproof so rain and humidity don’t damage its content.
Additional tools and hiking gear
The above should cover most of what you need but in certain situations, extra tools and gears will be helpful. Compass, good police flashlight, rope, knife or even a map of the area, these should be of use to you in the trip. Bringing extra batteries for the flashlight is also recommended. Get a waterproof bag to protect your delicate items is a good idea as well. If the trip passes through a forest or insect-infested section, a bug repellent can conveniently deal with the problem.
For emergencies, having a first aid kit can be the difference of life between death. If you don’t have one around, you should create one. A basic first aid kit should include bandages, gauze, disinfectant and painkiller. If you happen to be in a special condition, pack along your prescript medicine as well.
Backpacking is a fun and exciting activity. It really helps to refresh your mind and body, away from your daily habit. But you still need to learn how properly prepare for the trip. As long as you ensure your preparation is up to specs, you are guaranteed to have a satisfied backpacking experience. With a proper backpack and an organized inventory, now you can truly enjoy whatever benefit a backpacking trip may offer. And you have just that simply by putting into practice what you learn from this article.
I was having a weekend in a icy Warsaw, when my dorm mate started talking about travelling from Malta. I didn’t know much about Malta, so I asked around, other than the myth of it being a British expat paradise, not many people had been. However it met all of my criteria, cheap flights(Ryanair), hostel rich, heavy public transport and it was sunnier than home in Edinburgh. So off I went to discover this mysterious island. I was not disappointed, I found a unique blend of Arabic meets Italian culture which I have never came across in my life.
When to go to Malta?
Due to the cheap flights, I was persuaded to go in January, however on arriving, I was told by hostel staff, that this was the quiet month. The main season for activities and travel is obviously the peak months between May to August, however the weather is more than inviting in the early months, with its mid teen degree temperatures.
Where to stay in Malta?
I found this was the hardest decision of my trip, you really only have three options when it comes to hostels. However if you are not restricted to hostels, I would recommend looking at accommodation in the main city Valletta.
View From Hostel in Malta
Sliema, considered the most modern area with public transport good access, dotted around the rocky bay beaches with hotels, bars and restaurants. St Julians and Paceville, considered the nightlife capital of Malta populated with bars and clubs along with modern shops and food outlets however not very close to beaches. This was my choice, where I stayed at the new Marco Polo Hostel. Gozo Island, believe it or not Malta’s smaller sister Island has a hostel (Santa Martha).
What to do in Malta?
• Visit Valletta, Malta’s beautiful yet small capital. Now Valletta reminded me of Rome, the yellow sandstone buildings which has been influenced heavily by Catholicism. Simply walking around the streets and restaurants itself will immerse yourself in all things Maltese.
• Take a day trip to Gozo, I personally visited its largest town, Victoria and its magnificent citadel, however it is better to go in the earlier hours of the day as it does get busy believe it or not.
• Get the bus or drive to Mdina. This may have been the highlight of Malta for myself. Mdina is a walled medevil fortress which is simply breathtaking.
• Unfortunately due to the weather I was unable to get the ferry to Comino island, which hosts the famous Blue Lagoon, however many have since recommended this.
• Finally a tour of the Ħaġar Qim temples and Blue Grotto, which can be done in the same day, yet again the weather limited my visit but I was able to go.
As a student in International Politics, Gareth has researched many cultures and cities while traveling extensively in his spare time on budget and cheap breaks, reaching to around 50 odd countries with a particular interest in street photography and locals. Gareth’s photography and travels have allowed him to develop a greater understanding of countries with culture, his consistent and frequent backpacking trips have allowed him to explore amazing parts of the world in short real time constraints while learning the tips and tricks to city breaks and sightseeing musts.
I began taking photos about four years ago with my IPhone travelling around Vietnam. Looking back, it sounds pretty funny, but thankfully following that trip a good friend of mine encouraged me to invest in a Canon EOS600, which I still use today and I haven’t looked back. Back home in Australia I am actually a school teacher, so I am really fortunate to get overseas at least once, if not twice a year. Most of my friends are stuck working throughout the year, so I end up travelling by myself and wandering the streets, exploring and inadvertently taking photos. That’s how it all began.
What does travel photography mean to you?
For me photography and travel mesh perfectly. Photography encourages me to get up early or to go for that afternoon stroll, to get off the beaten track and to meet the locals in a unique manner. Over the last year I’ve done a bit of reading on Buddhism, and one of the main principles that I absolutely love, is to simply enjoy the moment.
In a Zen-type of way photography does exactly that, it forces you to live in the moment and not be distracted by the past, or the future, or the craziness of our thoughts. Walking the streets, I notice kids playing and laughing, old men sipping on cups of chai, women cooking at street stalls, the sunlight, the way the shadows fall across the street. All those beautiful but simple, everyday moments that we often neglect. It allows me to enter that flow state, just me and my camera.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
When it comes to advice for aspiring photographers I have three tips. First of all, don’t stress out about the technical side of things too much. Just head out and take photos, it’s all about the composition, developing ‘your eye’, the technical side will build naturally.
Taking photos is like playing sports in a way. It doesn’t matter if you have the best and most expensive gear, if you don’t have the basic technique right. Secondly, when doing street photography always do it with a smile and a friendly presence. I always have my camera out, so people know my intentions.
Often I’ll smile first or play games or give high fives to kids for example. This makes it much easier to get closer to the subject or to take portraits. For example, I recently took a portrait of a Sadhu along the Ganges river in Varanasi. This photo actually took a couple days in the making. I first befriended the Sadhu and one morning shared breakfast with him, as we chatted and got to know each other. As the comfort grew, I asked if he’d like to come on the boat with me where I could take his portrait, which he obliged. It was a cool experience and a step in the right direction for my own journey I believe.
Last of all, I would encourage people to digest the work of other great photographers. Don’t spend your money on guidebooks or courses, rather spend it on the amazing publications of top photographers. Some of my personal favourites, which I have at home, are Sabastiao Salgago, Steve McCurry and Vivan Mier.
I recently took a photo in Varanasi which reminded me of a photograph that Steve McCurry took in Jodhpur, India years ago. I had the exact photo in mind when I captured the shot because I had studied McCurry’s work.
Matt Powell is a travel photographer from Australia. Street photography enthusiast. Spreading good vibes one photo at a time. Matt started his love for travel photography whilst on a trip to Vietnam with a friend about four ago. Since then Matt skill and interest have just grown, enabling him to produce the interesting and beautiful photos we see today.
Once upon a time a Malay married a Chinese and thus began the Peranakan lineage. Most people in the world have never heard of the term Peranakan but those who have, they instantly conjure up images of grandeur, elegance and a unique amalgamation of two cultures.
Although there are other variants, the term normally refers to the Chinese immigrants who settled in different parts of South-East Asia and often married local Malays or Indonesians.
Who are the Peranakan people?
Hundreds of years ago, traders, merchants and sailors from China (and Hong Kong) sailed down the Malay Peninsula and eventually settled in what we call today Singapore, Malaysia (specifically Penang) and Indonesia.
Over time, they married local women and picked up local customs and traditions while holding on to their own roots. This led to the rise of a new culture which is the perfect blend of the Chinese culture and the local south-east Asian culture.
This intriguing blend is reflected on their food habits, costumes, language, traditions, and daily life. Just like many ancient cultures, the Peranakan families also had strict hierarchy in the family. The leader of the family was the family patriarch -the father (Baba), followed by his wife:“Bibik”. While the “Baba” was responsible for earning money and making final decisions, the “Bibik” was in-charge of running the household smoothly. Then came the sons and daughters and everyone else.
[In general, the term for a male Peranakan is “Baba” while its female counterpart is called “Nyonya” or “Bibik” if married]
The Peranakan people of Penang
Penang is famous for 3 reasons- food, culture and street art. Much of the cultural heritage is owed to the Peranakan families, who lived in great luxury and grandeur.
If you are in Penang to soak in the heritage and old town charm, then Georgetown is the perfect place to begin. Georgetown has been awarded the status of “UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site” and it has truly earned this status.
You might end up in a Peranakan restaurant and be savouring Otak-Otak or Garam Assam Fish without even realizing these recipes enjoy a Peranakan history.
Among many other places, to trace Penang’s Peranakan culture, a trip to the famous Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and the less popular Penang Peranakan Mansion is a must. Not only will you gasp at the beauty of these mansions, their fascinating stories will surely transport you into another world.
The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Georgetown- Penang)
The Blue mansion of Cheong Fatt Tze is the ultimate symbol of Penang’s rich cultural heritage. Cheong Fatt Tze’s story is a classic Rags-to-Riches story. Born into a poor Hakka family and transported to Malaysia from China, Cheong Fatt Tze used his wit and intelligence to quickly start multiple businesses and become an important figure in Penang’s society.
Along with a powerful businessman, he also became a strong political influence. He is often referred to as China’s 1st capitalist and “Rockefeller of the East”.
He lived lavishly in the Blue Mansion with multiple wives and never forgot to contribute to the society to help the under-privileged. Although he took care of all his wives, his seventh wife was his favourite and her portrait stands tall even today in the Blue Mansion.
Another very important figure in a Peranakan family is the “Amahs”- the household servant. She often played a very important part in bringing up the children and taking care of the family. These were women who refused to get married and boldly went to a foreign nation to work for rich families. Later in life, they formed sisterhoods and looked after one another.
Other than being an architectural wonder, the Blue mansion played the important role of serving as Cheong Fatt Tze’s office as well as his home. In 1916, after the demise of this Cheong Fatt Tze, this marvellous mansion fell into despair. Luckily, a group of conservationists took notice and spent years to restore it back to its glory.
The splendid mansion is now open to public for guided walking tours and a part of has been converted to a heritage hotel. The giggles and arguments over “Mahjong”, the delicious food and the old blue walls of the mansion are perfect for losing yourself into the Peranakan world.
Pro tip: The Mansion can be viewed only via guided walking tours. Tours are available daily at 11:00am, 2:00pm and 3.30pm, Duration: 45 minutes.
Ticket price: RM17.00 per adult (including GST), RM8.50 per child under 12 years (including GST). Tickets can be purchased on-site.
Address and contact: 14, Leith Street, 10200 Penang, Malaysia, T +604 262 0006,
A typical house of a rich Baba was recreated to build the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. Through thousands of pieces of antiques, decorated walls, jewelleries, and costumes, this mansion boldly displays the opulent lifestyle of the rich Peranakan people.
While most travellers miss out on this mansion, in my opinion, this mansion provides insights to the Peranakan world like none other. I myself spent more than 30 minutes to locate this mansion but then again, I was not using Google maps!
As you enter the mansion, your eyes will be dazzled by the gorgeous décor and the stunning display of wealth. The porcelain dinner sets, imported silverware, carved wood panels and designer windows scream elegance and wealth!
If you are lucky enough to catch the guided tours, you will be fascinated with the tales of Peranakan customs ranging from the weird wedding tales to the ideas behind a front hall.
Many of the wedding dresses are in fact on display and believe it or not, they are tiny-literally made for kids! Naturally, I asked the guide about this and he calmly replied: “Oh yes, many of them got married quite young!”. I wondered in my mind about the exact age but moved on to view the ornately decorated bed used for the first night after the wedding.
Everywhere I glanced, my heart marvelled at the stunning exhibition of items all around me and I could almost see myself standing in the middle of this dreamy house when its residents dwelled in it. I could perfectly imagine the beautiful Nyonyas and Bibiks moving around this beautiful house and dining under chandeliers in the European style dinner halls. I could visualise the Babas conducting their business and entertaining guests in one of the numerous rooms and increasing their wealth even more.
Words will never suffice to explain the feeling of standing there, visualizing and tracing back the roots of such a mysterious culture. With a heartful of joy and so many more questions in my mind, I found a Peranakan restaurant nearby and dived off to a chicken curry.
Visit a Peranakan restaurant
Turn left from the exit of the mansion and then the first right and you will land you in a Peranakan restaurant. It is said that the Peranakan recipes were often kept secret by the Nyonyas and Bibiks and only passed on their next of kin discreetly. As I took the first spoonful of the curry and tasted the rich flavour underneath it, I realized why they had kept such recipes secret.
A cultural immersion is never complete without its food and this culture is most definitely not. Close to the Peranakan mansion lies multiple Peranakan restaurants and a meal in of them is absolutely mandatory.
Get lost in the streets of Penang.
Not just these two mansions, but every street of Georgetown contains so much character. Follow your heart and get lost in the streets of Penang and discover beautiful temples, mosques, churches and murals, and most importantly, the remnants of a glorious culture.
Madhurima is a cultural purist at heart, for whom travelling has been a passion for as long as she can remember. She loves discovering off-the- beaten track places and delving into the unknown. She is never satisfied with visiting the top 10 attractions or just staying in fancy hotels. She believes in doing everything “the local way”. Eating local food, staying with the locals, understanding their culture, traditions and beliefs is her motto while travelling.
India. A destination so diverse and astounding it’s difficult to believe my entire 6 month journey was spent in a single country, which was by far best described by a fellow traveler as a place where ‘you can touch every emotion in a single day’.
From swapping between serene seasons of beach life in Southern Goa to Himalayan retreats in Dharam Sharla, navigating through bustling cities in the likes of Delhi and Mumbai to getting absorbed into the lavish history and vibrant culture of Rajasthan, India will without fail awaken your senses and trigger an intensified endeavor into an unpredictable yet terrifically alluring adventure.
Booking my flight a mere 3 days before my departure and having no set plan, the following are advantageous tips I would have greatly benefited from before embarking solo across the country, because the more wised up you are to your surroundings, the more time you’re able to spend enjoying them!
1. Download Ola Cabs
This app requires an Indian sim card which is relatively simple to attain and I would recommend getting even if traveling just for a few weeks. The app worked in almost every city and sets a fixed rate fare saving you from continually being swindled for higher prices while also providing your driver with precise pick up and drop off locations and avoiding hours of hopelessly trying to establish your destination. The app also has a great safety SOS feature which will send out your GPS location and driver information to an emergency contact if activated.
2. Start in the South
Kerala, Bangalore and Goa all have international airports. By starting in the south, you will ease yourself into the culture rather than throwing yourself in the deep end by going straight to cities in the North which are slightly more intimidating and overwhelming such as Mumbai or Delhi.
3. Learn a few local words
The language does change per region, but by simply learning a few basics like ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘thank you’ it will quickly demonstrate more comfort in your environment.
4. Dress Culturally and Cover Up
Again, this changes per region but especially when on public trains and buses I was always sure to wear an Indian tunic and leggings. When walking around, scarfs are a great way to cover up if wearing any V-neck or scoop neck T shirts. In my experience, the local men paid me more respect when I was wearing Indian attire as opposed to jeans and a T-shirt, even if both provided my body with the same coverage.
5. Precautions when travelling/Arriving at night
Traveling on a budget, I found I would often take an over-night train or bus to my next destination to save money on a night’s accommodation and not waste a day by traveling through it. However, be aware of arriving in early hours between 12am-5am and if it’s possible to leave your destination later and arrive nearer to 6am when its daylight, always take this option. Ask if your next hostel/hotel is able to send someone to pick you up or book a taxi to pick you up. Never tell anyone, especially men if they are bothering you, where you are getting off the train or bus to prevent them following you or having their friends waiting for you at your destination.
6. State a Husband, wear a wedding ring
As a 26 year old female, a lot of Indians I met would immediately ask me if I was married and of my husband’s whereabouts. I found it much easier and safer in passing conversation to state my husband was at the hotel/next destination waiting for me and wear a ring on my wedding finger. If you want to save yourself some hassle, never state to a man you don’t know that you are single.
7. Watch out for Selfies
Even on a good day, I hate Selfies. However throughout your adventure it is inevitable that you will be bombarded for selfies, which after some time become enduring and invasive. I was informed by various Indian friends that some of the groups of men would post a selfie taken with you on social media and state you were their girlfriend, or even more dismaying, last night’s conquest. Of course, if women and/or children requested a selfie I would usually oblige (especially at weddings!) But if a man or group of men asked I declined with a polite yet dismissive ‘no thank you’, or a more firm ‘stop taking photos of me’ when they didn’t ask yet proceed to take photos ever so unsubtly around me.
8. Stick with local women/families
Waiting on a train platform or sitting on a train or bus alone I would always look out for a group of women or a family to stand with. I wouldn’t necessarily talk to them, although many times they were friendly enough to talk to me and even often offer to share their food or chai, but when alone it was a simple way to feel the security of a group and prevent unwelcome bothering.
9. Do not agree to a driver bringing a friend in a tuktuk/taxi
Outright refuse for anyone but the driver to accompany you. If the driver still insists their friend come along or the friend jumps in as you leave, use another tuktuk/taxi.
10. Be FIRM!
India has its moments, and unfortunately at times it is not the country for smiling nicely and saying a polite no thank you. Men can persistently follow and harass you for a taxi, hotel room, to buy something from their shop, or simply because they want to talk to you. The most successful way I found to handle this was to hold myself with confidence, ignore them and keep walking. If they continue to persist, face them directly and tell them firmly ‘No- you are bothering me, leave me alone’. Only a handful of times did I have to be so outright but each time the men responded immediately to confrontation and would leave well alone. If you see someone behaving strangely around you, rather than try and hide in a shop or move away in vain as they continue to follow you, I found the most effective way to resolve the situation was to approach it directly and put the attention on them by calling them out on their actions.
My name is Louise, I am a 26 year old British photojournalist and after photographing for 2 years on the Campaign trail in New York for the 2016 US election, followed by the Ghanaian 2016 Presidential election in West Africa, I decided to take time out of political assignments to travel across Asia and explore India.
There are lots of places to explore in the world. Your travel doesn’t have to be limited to where you live or what you read in a book; there are lots of exciting places to experience in the real world. Travelling is worth every penny you will spend because memories last forever. With the world full of fascinating destinations, choosing the perfect vacation spot can present a challenge.
The following recommendations can help you craft your travel bucket list.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Annually 2 million visitors enjoy the exotic beauty of this place. With 2,900 coral reefs, 600 islands and more than 1,500 species of fish, it is the world’s largest coral reef system. It includes the smaller Murray Islands.
Whether mingling with the marine life through a scuba mask or letting the tropical breeze unfold your sail, there are limitless possibilities for exploration. Visiting Great Barrier Reef can be your once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Great Barrier Reef is ranked as:
#1 in World’s Best Places to Visit
#1 in Best Places to Visit in Australia and The Pacific
#1 in Best Adventure Vacations in Australia and the Pacific
Places to Visit
The Rainforest Village
The Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.
Cairns Reefs and the Ribbon Reefs for diving and swimming
Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Atherton Tablelands.
Whitehaven Beach, the most famous and photographed beach of Australia.
Best Times to Visit Great Barrier Reef
Ideal weather from June to October.
Clearer waters and best diving conditions as rainfall is uncommon during these months.
Paris the “the city of lights” is one of the most visited cities in the world, seeing upward of 30 million travelers yearly. This place has exotic beauty and unforgettable ambiance.
What Paris offers:
Blocks of Ornate- and Neoclassic-design architecture.
The biggest designers on the Champs Élysées or in Le Marais.
The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower and much more.
Paris is ranked as:
#2 in Best Places to Visit in Europe
#2 in World’s Best Places to Visit
#2 in Best Summer Vacations
Must to Visit Places
The Luxembourg Gardens
Best Times to Visit Paris
From June to August weather is perfect but during this period it is the most crowded and expensive.
From September to October weather gets cold but a visit during winter will cause fewer travel expenses.
3. Bora Bora French Polynesia
Known to be “the most beautiful island in the world.” This small island overflows with captivating eye beauty. Inactive volcanoes rise at its center and fan out into lush green jungle before spilling into an aquamarine lagoon.
British explorer James Cook even coined it as the “Pearl of the Pacific.”
The place blooms with luxurious resorts, sunny skies, warm waters and friendly locals. Turquoise lagoons, soft white sands, and beautiful sunsets create the scene for romance on the island. Mingle with the marine life as you flutter around Coral Gardens. At the Lagoonarium you can watch shark feedings and swim with turtles.
So swim, hike and explore the beautiful island for utter relaxation and joy.
Bora Bora is ranked as:
#1 in Best Honeymoon Destinations
#2 in Best Winter Vacations
#2 in Most Luxurious Honeymoon Destinations
Best Places in Bora Bora
Bora Bora Lagoonarium
Best Times to Visit Bora Bora
November and April are the best time to visit this place. The weather will be fine. High season runs from May to October when rain showers are isolated, and the number of tourists swells. But you can visit Bora Bora anytime since the weather is warm year-round.
4. Rio de Janeiro Brazil
With the beautiful beaches and dramatic mountains, one can easily fall in love with Rio de Janeiro. Christ the Redeem is the largest Art Deco statue in the world, that signals visitors to Corcovado Mountain.
The city is also known for its love of the sport. From Maracana Stadium to the volleyball courts of Flamengo Park, the city is alive with activity. Plan your trip for February to enjoy the carnival where you’ll witness Brazil’s vibrant Portuguese masquerade.
Rio de Janeiro is ranked as:
#2 in Best Places to Visit in Central and South America
#4 in Best Beaches in the World
#14 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Best Places to Visit
Christ the Redeemer
Tijuca National Park
Barra da Tijuca
Best Times to Visit Rio de Janeiro
You can visit in December and March. The weather is warm and sunny. February to experience Carnival which is a four- to a five-day festival that brings thousands of visitors and locals to the streets for celebrations.
Samuel Johnson said, “You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
One visit isn’t enough to experience everything this old city has to offer.
The historic Tower of London and the modern Tate Modern both considered a big must to see. This country tops in everything from politics and banking to fashion and music. London has something for everyone.
London is Ranked as:
#1 in Best Family Vacations in Europe
#3 in Best Places to Visit in Europe
#7 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Best Places to Visit
Tower of London
Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
West End theater district
Best Times to Visit London
The best time to visit London is in the spring and summer season when the temperatures are mild, and the city’s parks are green and blooming.
6. Bali Indonesia
Bali is known as “the heaven on earth.” It is the most picturesque landscape where you’ll find all volcanoes wrapped in a deep green cover of nature and sandy turquoise shores. You’ll be amazed at how many different types of visitors celebrate in this paradise. Bali is a dream come true, so wake up and book your ticket.
Bali is ranked as:
#1 in Best Places to Visit in Asia
#1 in Best Beaches in the World
#4 in Best Islands in the World
Best Places to Visit
Elephant Safari Park
Tanah Lot Temple
Tirta Empul Temple
Best Times to Visit Bali
The best time is between April and October when the weather is not rainy. Bali has only two seasons: the rainy season and the dry season
7. Argentine Patagonia Argentina
This boundless place stuns the tourists from its Blue Lakes, cobalt-tinted glaciers, emerald trees, and turquoise skies.
The beautiful villages of Argentina’s Lake District sweeping against snowy mountain peaks. Traveling to the east, you’ll find beautiful whales gliding through Peninsula Valdés’ marine wildlife reserve.
With Whale-watching and horseback riding you can get acquainted with this striking region. This place isn’t just for nature-lovers, this is a must to visit place for all the adventurous travelers and fearless hikers.
Argentine Patagonia is ranked as:
#5 in Best Places to Visit in Central and South America
#6 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America
#24 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Places to Visit
Perito Moreno Glacier
Cave of the Hands
Argentine Lake District
Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum
Cerro Catedral Ski Resort
Mount Fitz Roy
Punta Tombo wildlife reserve
Best Times to Visit Argentine Patagonia
The best times to visit Argentine Patagonia are October through November that is the spring time.
December through February, the summertime. During these months, the weather is mild, and spectators can view natural attractions in their full splendor.
8. Maui Hawaii
For many Hawaii vacationers, Maui is just the right place to spend the vacations. It offers a great taste of everything, from impressive wildlife to fascinating history and amazing culture. Here you can enjoy:
professional hula dancers
golf along coastal fairways
snorkel alongside five different types of sea turtles
simply lounge along some of Hawaii’s most notable beaches.
Molokai is yet another most attractive tourism spot. Maui is divided into five distinct regions:
South Maui, where the famous Wailea Beach is located.
West Maui, where the sands of Kaanapali Beach and the music from the Old Lahaina Luau are located.
East Maui’s has the scenic coastline and world’s largest dormant volcano, Central Maui’s Iao Valley State Park.
Maui is ranked as:
#1 in Best Relaxing Getaways in the USA
#1 in Best Romantic Getaways in the USA
#1 in Best Luxury Destinations in the USA
Best Places to Visit:
Road to Hana
Haleakala National Park
Best Times to Visit Maui
From April through May and September through November. The spring and autumn seasons provide the pleasant weather. If you’re traveling with kids, you can plan for a summer trip as that’s when the waters are calmest.
9. Rome Italy
Rome is the city of seven hills. Even a week isn’t long enough to experience everything Roma has to offer. Italy’s capital city, Rome is also known for the eras of Octavian, Julius Caesar, and Hadrian.
The historic gems of Rome include structures like the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and dozens of churches. Art enthusiasts will delight the trove of art at the Vatican Museums. Foodies will enjoy The splendid Italian fare and not to mention the gelato is the major attraction for foodies.
Rome is also a fast-paced, modern and relevant city, with lustrous designer boutiques, sleek hotels, and leading-edge restaurants.
Rome is ranked as:
#1 in Best Places to Visit in Europe
#8 in World’s Best Places to Visit
#10 in Best Family Vacations in Europe
Places to Visit
St. Peter’s Basilica
Best Times to Visit Rome
The best time is from October to April when most of the places are less crowded, and room rates are lower.
The world around you is amazing! Grab the opportunity to do whatever you desire. So plan a trip, hold your traveling bag and wear the most comfortable boots and head out for making the most beautiful memories of your life.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Backpacking through China is a wonderful thing that will provide you with incredible memories and life experiences. China is a country that is steeped in culture and tradition, which makes for a trip of a lifetime.
There’s always things to learn though before you travel to any destination. Especially, if you do not speak Mandarin and have never traveled to China before. Here are ten things to consider for your next trip!
The first order of business is to find ways to help you get through the thick language barrier. This will mostly have to be done through hand signals, but there are a few little tips and tricks you can enlist to communicate more easily. For instance, if you need to go to a specific location, write down the local address.
You’ll Be Noticed
If you’re not from an Asian country, you’re going to be noticed. Whether you’re in a big city or a rural village, people will be intrigued by you. You may never get used to it, but it’s not a bad thing. Just pretend you’re a celebrity!
While it’s true that you can find cheap flights in China, it’s worthwhile to travel by train if you have a lot of time to spend. Traveling by train is cheap and it’s a great way to see the Chinese countryside. Just be prepared for long rides, so pack extra food to keep the tummy rumbles away.
Stay Savvy With Your Wallet
Because you’re a traveler you will most definitely be ripped off if it’s your first time in China, so stay vigilant. Everyone gets ripped off and here and there it’s okay because it’s rarely a large sum of money, but stay cautious with your wallet. If you know something is overpriced, say so or don’t give the seller your money.
In the bigger cities there are plenty of restaurants that cater to the Westerner’s, but stick to local food as much as you can to get a more authentic experience. It’s okay to splurge on Western food if you’re missing home or your stomach is upset.
Living local is one of the best things you can do in China. See the markets and visit the local shops that the locals go to. You make the best memories when you’re outside of your comfort zone.
Head out into the country and disconnect from technology for awhile. The cities are full of light pollution and fancy technologies that even many US cities don’t have, but the countryside is far from technological. Take a few days to go without communication and enjoy your time.
It’s Okay To Use A Travel Company
China can be a wild place, so even though you may be a diehard backpacker, it’s okay to use a travel company to plan things. They’ll help you find great activities that fit your budget and will help you with all of the transportation and accommodation needs. A godsend when there’s a thick language barrier.
Relax and Go Slow
It’s a big country, there’s no seeing it all in one week, one month, or even one year. Take your time in the places you visit and breathe them in. There’s no rush to move on to the next village or the next city, you’ll never be able to see it all anyway.
If you’ve fallen in love with China during your visit, stay and teach. Teaching English in China is a great way to make money to support your travels and get to understand a culture more intimately. To teach English all you need to do is take a month-long class for your certification. From there it’s easy to find work as there is always demand.
Traveling China will be a life changing endeavor that will create countless memories, but it’s also not the easiest country to travel through easier. Follow these tips so you’re prepared to take on anything.
Hiking is great fun and a nice way of keeping fit for both you and your family. Though terrains are different, some common hiking injuries occur which may interrupt or ruin your hike. However, this is no reason not to enjoy the outdoors when out hiking. Follow a hiking camping guide and you will be prepared for a successful hike.
The following are some common hiking injuries hikers may experience. In addition, here are some useful tips on what you can do to avoid them.
Common Hiking Injuries
Blisters occur because of friction causing fluid buildup between irritated skins, which can be very uncomfortable. To prevent blisters:
Wear proper fitting shoes. Smaller fitting will pinch your skin whereas larger shoes will rub on your skin. Avoid brand news shoes by breaking them before the hike.
Wear fitting, absorbent, moisture wicking, and adequately padded socks. The padding provides a barrier between your skin and your shoes
Use some salve which plays the role of reducing friction
Always ensure that your feet are dry before wearing your gear
Joint, Hip, and Knee Pain
When looking to prevent joint, hip, and knee pain, you need to be well prepared for the hike. Your preparation plays a great role. To help guide you:
Stretch before the adventure to relax your muscles and joints while at the same time boost blood circulation
Support yourself from time to time using sticks or trekking poles
Do not choose a trail you have not trained for to avoid straining your body
The outdoors is full of insects and bugs that bite and sting for food or as a defense mechanism.
You can keep them away from your skin by wearing clothing that covers the majority of your skin. This solution can be difficult on a hot day when the heat can get a bit too much. You may opt to apply an insect repellent that will keep the insects away from you. In addition, do not disturb their habitat by sticking to the hike trails.
Cuts, Scrapes, and Sunburn
It is important that you are keenly observant about your surroundings when seeking to prevent these injures. Cuts and scrapes come from accidental falls or contact with twigs and other objects. Also, buy hiking gear that is protective such as adequate hiking boots and kneecaps.
Protect your skin from sunburn by regularly applying sunscreen with higher SPF. Cover other body parts of your body so the harsh UV rays do not directly come into contact with your skin.
Poisonous plants such as poison ivy or poison oak can ruin your hike with the scratching and irritation they cause. Educate yourself on how poisonous plants look like.
This way, you can avoid accidental contact with them. Do research on the trail you intend to hike to find out whether they have any poisonous plants. Also, cover your body with long pants and long sleeves so you do not expose yourself.
Dehydration and Exhaustion
When hiking, dehydration and exhaustion cannot be eliminated but you can slow down the side effects to help you go further.
Prevent dehydration by drinking water and other low sugar beverages that contain electrolytes on a regular interval before and during the hike. Do not hike on an empty stomach. It is recommended that you lean more towards nutrient rich snacks that will energies you. Take short breaks from time to time to control exhaustion.
The above guide will help you to get prepared for your hiking with the aim of boosting performance and safety. Though they are common hiking injuries, you can avoid them with better preparation and the right gear. Pack right, eat, and drink right, as well as rest to avoid the above common hiking injuries.