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The Rival Cities: Sydney vs. Melbourne

In this corner, we have Sydney, Australia, where the beaches and sunshine attract those looking for relaxing luxuries. Over in the other corner is Melbourne, the eccentric, artistic hub of Australia. When the two cities start competing your travel time, do you know which one would appeal to your senses more?

I have put together a comparison of Sydney and Melbourne for you to make the correct choice. Though, anywhere you go in Australia would be an awesome vacation, that much is certain.

Sightseeing
Sydney’s Finest:
The Beaches: Coogee, Bondi, Manly, Cronulla, Bronte, Tamarama, and Maroubra are just a few of those easily accessible from Sydney’s center. Others are within 30 minutes by ferry. Tourist Attractions: Sydney Harbor, Darling Harbor (and everything offered there), Sydney Opera House and Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, Murugan Hindu Temple, the Vat Khemarangsaram Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Bonnyrigg, and the Mingyue Lay Buddhist Temple in Bonnyrigg, The Rocks Historic Area, Sydney Tower and Skywalk. Green Space: The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Park, Putney Park, Wetherhill Park, and the Sydney Botanical Gardens (at the back of the NSW Conservatorium of Music), Chinese Garden of Friendship, and Hyde Park.

When you think about attractions, the Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens probably come to mind. Or, you find yourself daydreaming about lounging on Manly Beach, a haven for backpackers. In short, everything you want to see in Australia is probably located in Sydney. From magical scenery to picturesque
beaches, there is something to be found no matter where you go.

 

Melbourne’s Finest:
The Beaches: None – but you do have a Yarra River cruise. Tourist Attractions: The Shrine of Remembrance, The Block Arcade, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Federation Square, Eureka Tower and Skydeck, Captain Cook’s Cottage Green Space: Port Campbell National Park, Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne, Yarra Valley (Wine Country).

Compared to Sydney, Melbourne pales in comparison with things- to-do. That said, if you are not looking for an overabundance of tourist attractions, the quaint sights around Melbourne may please you more. Melbourne is more about sports and slightly more historical venues.

Education & Entertainment You may have noticed that I skipped museums and other entertainment sites in the “sightseeing” list. That is because, for the museum-goers and nightlife seekers, one city may trounce the other.

Sydney’s Finest:
● Sydney Opera House
● Rock’s Discovery Museum
● SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
● Australian National Maritime Museum
● George Street – where you can find designer boutiques through Strand
Arcade and the Queen Victoria Building
● Taronga Zoo
● Sydney Fish Market

Melbourne’s Finest:
● Southbank Promenade – cafes, restaurants, live entertainment
● The Arts Centre – made up of the Playhouse, Fairfax Theatre, Hamer Hall, and the State Theatre
● National Gallery of Victoria – Australia’s oldest art gallery
● The Royal Arcade – Melbourne’s oldest shopping arcade, full of architecture and character
● The Block Arcade – Another place for fashionistas and architecture nuts.
● Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building
● Queen Victoria Market
● State Library Victoria

So, while Sydney wins with glitz and glitter, Melbourne wins in terms of culture. You see, Melbourne has an international influence that is reflected throughout the city. The live entertainment on street corners and in Jazz bars, the cafes, the performing arts, and the prevalent food culture is mesmerizing. If you love food and engaging nightlife, Melbourne wins, hands down.

Melbourne | organicisbeautiful.com
Melbourne | organicisbeautiful.com

How will you ever choose between Sydney and Melbourne? The answer is in what you are looking to do. For those seeking nature and touristy adventures, head to Sydney. Others seeking shopping, nightlife, and an artsy-vibe should go to Melbourne. Either way, you are in for an amazing time, so why not go to both?

Street food | OrganicIsBeautiful

Tour Story in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, the Wicked City

Did you know that I lived 2 years in Kuala Lumpur before moving to Melbourne in 2016? I love every bits of it, food, people, sightseeing. This article is a quick screenshot of what you are missing!

Kuala Lumpur, the Wicked City
Kuala Lumpur, the Wicked City

My Kuala Lumpur tour has been long late as I planned it earlier this year to visit my friends there. But, never mind. The tropical city is one such place where you can travel all-round the year. It stands 7th amongst the top 10 magnificent cities of the world. And, if you are a foodie, you gonna love KL. The place is a foodie heaven, as you have ample of cafes, restaurants, eateries and street dining all around.

Dining

Get prepared to enjoy Durian. The food taste much better than it smells. Though it is forbidden in planes, hotels and taxis, but for all you Durian lovers, it is customary to enjoy a Durian Dinner. And, I personally love to enjoy this as my supper! The famous tropical fruit is just amazing.

Street food | OrganicIsBeautiful
Street food | OrganicIsBeautiful

Small dried fish curries when prepared with Nasi Lemak carry a yummy taste. I have tried this sumptuous national dish and I warmly recommend it for all. 

You cannot ignore the street food of Kuala Lumpur.

 Do not be scared to taste it. It is warm and there are no chances for you to get sick. The same goes for beverages. I have enjoyed it several times and never had an upset stomach. You certainly don’t have to compromise with your health.

Basically, in Kuala Lumpur, you say hello to spice in food 😉

Rice with Sambal | OrganicIsBeautiful
Rice with Sambal | OrganicIsBeautiful

Just like the food of KL, the etiquettes and local habits of this nature friendly city are amazing. Regardless of the openness to the global influence and urbanity of the city, KL is still conservative. Chiefly, any behavior which attracts attention to the people concerned is generally avoided.

OH yes, exposure is a big no-no. You cannot show off your flesh in the public. The dress code os quite conservative and you’re bound to follow the standards. Even at places like beach and while pursuing sports, there are minimum standards to be compiled with. And, yes, when I entered my friend’s house, I had to remove my footwear. Your body language counts a lot. Yes, while greeting someone, you got to use both your hands. And another thing, you cannot touch someone’s head.

The public display of affection is a big no-no! Holding hands is fine, but you kissing are literally prohibited in the public!

But, how can you ignore the beauty of the nature’s paradise. The places of attraction of KL are simply stunning. The major iconic attractions of the city which define its tourism are Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves and Colossal Buddha. Right from the organic Lake Gardens to i-City Shah Alam, you’ve places which are mesmerizing and eye-dazzling.

Petronas Twin Towers

Designed in 1998, the towers stand at 452m high. The design and look of the tower is inspired by Islamic art and architecture with a contemporary viewpoint, replicated by glass and steel façade.

Kuala Lumpur Wildlife | OrganicIsBeautiful
Kuala Lumpur Wildlife | OrganicIsBeautiful

Batu Caves

One of the best attractions of KL, this limestone hill comprises of three major caves and some smaller ones too. They are beautiful and exotic.

Menara KL Tower

The most known and famous landmark of KL, Menara KL Tower was made in 1994. This shimmering tower spindle apex is seen from almost all places of Kuala Lumpur.

Oh, alright… I personally had a great trip to the city and would love to recommend this tourist destination for all nature lovers.

Have you visit Brunei?

Lots of Love,

Amanda ;)OrganicIsBeautiful Signature

Religion is crucial in the Culture of Brunei - OrganicIsBeautiful

Never Miss to Visit Brunei!

To Go To Brunei or Not?

Brunei
Brunei

Visiting Asia as Brunei usually takes people to the bigger stops like Malaysia, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. The electric sounds and blazing neon of these metropolises can blind you to a tiny treasure nestled by Malaysia and the South China Sea. The Sultanate of Brunei is a nation often untouched by tourists, despite the wonders in store for them. Brunei is a stunning country that world travelers should take their time to savor, for the richness of Brunei is just not in gas and petroleum, it’s in the culture and the natural beauty of the land.

Here are some things to consider when pondering to go or not to go to Brunei:

Public Transport in Brunei and Lack Thereof

Probably the biggest thing that most travelers fret over is how they’re going to get from Point A to B.

In Brunei you are limited to a bus or taxi. There are a few tourist horror stories about not being able to find an adequate means of transport and having to walk for hours to get to their destination. Supposedly, taxis are around the capital and the airport but nowhere in between. If you do find one, prepare your wallet for annihilation. Prices for taxis are rather hefty (a 15 minute ride might cost you around 25 BND).

The public bus looks like they drove straight from the 1960s, albeit services are fairly cheap (1-3 BND) depending on where you’re headed. However, if you’re on a tight schedule, you might find yourself ripping up your itinerary into itty-bitty bits. The public buses have no inkling as to what “timetable” means. Therefore, most Bruneians won’t use these infamous purple buses. Six bus routes in daily operation around the area of Bandar Seri Begawan, and they’re supposedly color-coated as of 2013 (but as of 2016 a lot of purple buses remain):

  1. Northern Line – Green
  2. Southern Line – Silver gray
  3. Eastern Line – Royal blue
  4. Western Line – Magenta
  5. Central Line – Brown
  6. Circle Line – Cyan

The Brunei government is really trying to expand on the public transportation sector, but as of right now, there’s yet to be any true improvements. Brunei

“Budget” Accommodations

Since Brunei isn’t exactly a tourist hotspot, you can find some pretty decent deals on hotels right in Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB). For example, with 500-600 USD, you can stay in a 3-star hotel or hostel for about 8 days. Unfortunately, these vacancies get eaten up quickly. Kampong Jerudong, another location in Brunei, as decent rates, but with the public transportation conundrum, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the extra distance for a cheap place to sleep.

One note a fellow traveler made was that if you don’t arrange your room prior to arriving in Brunei, you might be the victim of price gouging. That is, what looks decent online might be raised to an exorbitant amount in person. Be smart. Book in advance.

Where Are Those Attractions Again?

Again, Brunei is by no means a resort town. There’s not much to do—and so you don’t have to deal with crowds. Fortunately, most attractions and museums are free. The golden mosques and hotels are stunning, but that’s about it.

Brunei isn’t very modern, so don’t expect miraculous examples of architecture and flashing lights. If you are imaginative and can make your own tours just by exploring, then Brunei might be for you. Consider this: A large portion of Brunei is built on a network of over-the-water stilt villages like Kampong Ayer. Not many people get the chance to experience something like that. It’s not exactly romantic like Venice, but a walk across the docks is humbling and eye-opening. Brunei is one of the richest countries in the world thanks to oil, yet the way of life is low-key and relaxed. You might even stumble upon an open market like Tamu Kianggeh. A rainbow of boats and umbrellas line the docks as people peddle their fruits and vegetables.

For those who love being outdoors, they won’t only find a unique journey in town, they can find it in the Bruneian rainforest, Ulu Temburong National Park. Tranquil rivers, boundless skies and excursions galore. Aside from resort hotels, there’s also a sustainable living village, where you can choose to stay in tents and eat jungle food that you harvest yourself. Plus, who can say no to getting up close to wild crocodiles, lizards, exotic birds and monkeys?

Wildlife OrganicIsBeautiful
Wildlife OrganicIsBeautiful

Another attraction similar to the rainforest experience is a cruise along the Tutong River that focuses on mangrove ecology and how to conserve natural resources. Brunei is also a great scuba diving location. Several shipwrecks can be found in the waters, as well as pristine coral reefs. Rental gear is cheap—about 35-50 BND.

What Do You Mean By “Dry”?

Because Brunei is an Islamic nation (the mosques should have clued you into that), don’t expect there to be any nightlife. If you’re the kind of person who likes slinging back drinks with the locals and hearing stories, you probably won’t be very fond of Brunei’s dryness. There are no bars, no clubs and overnight businesses are rare.

Religion is crucial in the Culture of Brunei - OrganicIsBeautiful
Religion is crucial in the Culture of Brunei – OrganicIsBeautiful

You are, however, allowed to bring a small amount of alcohol with you. An alcohol permit at the border of Brunei must be obtained before entering the country. Cigarettes are also a slight challenge to find.

During the month of Ramadan, when devotees of Islam take on fasting, you’ll find restaurants open. However, this doesn’t mean you’re open to woofing down food and drink in front of those who haven’t eaten in several days or weeks. You will be expected to ask permission to dine in front of those individuals. In 2014, the government passed a law that states it’s fine for non-fasting people and visitors to Brunei to order take-out during Ramadan to mitigate the offense. It’s a unique cultural exchange, but if that makes you nervous, plan your trip around Ramadan.

never miss to visit brunei

So should you go to Brunei? The answer is up to you. Brunei doesn’t have the glitter and glam of some other SEA locations like Indonesia or Malaysia, but that doesn’t mean it should be crossed off the list. People who love outdoor activities, fresh air and relaxation will find themselves perfectly satisfied by this happy little country.

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the mount Rinjani

Indonesia, 4 days to Reach the Top of the World, the Mount Rinjani

Indonesia, 4 days to reach the top of the world, the mount Rinjani - organicisbeautiful.com
Indonesia, 4 days to reach the top of the world, the mount Rinjani – organicisbeautiful.com

Rinjani, located in Indonesia, is the second highest volcano in the country. With beautiful views from the summit, it is no wonder than people make the four-day trip to the top! Of course, it isn’t just about the views once you get there, it is about the experience as you travel up there and, believe us, you are going to be in for a real treat!

Know Yourself to Be Happy.

This is an active volcano. While it is not as active as it was in the early 1990s, activity has started to ramp up in the past few years. As a result, many of the routes up the mountain are currently closed. However, if you work with a good guide, then you should have absolutely no issues traversing the area.

As with most active volcanoes, the landscape as you climb up is heavily forested and fertile. Well, at least during the lower and mid-levels of the volcano. As you start to climb the mountain, you will see that the area becomes more barren and volcanic rock peppers the landscape. It is actually a very gorgeous sight.

Along the way, you will plenty of birds taking to the skies. The main ones are cockatoos and green hanging parrots. However, it is worth noting that this isn’t the place to head if you are keen on bird spotting. As mentioned previously, the area is heavily forested which means that seeing anything is going to be notoriously difficult! The main animal to spot is the Bali Temple Monkey which can be seen up and down the slope, right the way up until you get the crater. However, if you are lucky, you may see the rare Ebony Leaf Monkey in the forest. If you do not see it, then you will certainly here it. It makes a distinctive ‘hooting’ sound which is strangely relaxing.

o9 copia
Indonesia, 4 days to reach the top of the world, the mount Rinjani – organicisbeautiful.com

While the climb is on the easy side in comparison to the hike up over mountains, you are going to need to be physically fit in order to reach the top. The majority of tours that you can book that will take you up the mountain (it is not recommended that you travel alone) will take 3-4 days. They will take it at a slower pace to ensure that everybody can keep up. However, if you are not in good physical condition, then this may not necessarily be the right climb for you.

You should make the climb up the mountain between April and November. During the rainy months, the trails will be closed which makes climbing impossible. It is close to freezing at the top of the mountain, so make sure you bring some cold weather clothing!

Kuala Lumpur, the Wicked city.

So, what can you see when you get to the top? Well, on a particularly clear day you will be able to see Bali to the west of the mountain and Sumbawa to the east. Honestly, the views that you are going to get over Indonesia will be more than worth it. If you can, get up here at sunrise and look at the crater lake. It is one of the most breath-taking views that you will ever enjoy in your life.

Would you be willing to climb up this mountain over the course of four days for those brilliant views?

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The Philippines Experience

philippines 2
The philippines – Organicisbeautiful.com

The Philippines is a famous island archipelago with more than 7,100 islands. People also know it as the “Pearl of the Orient”. It boasts wonderful beaches, diverse wildlife, good climate and incredibly hospitable people. I have stayed in the Philippines for only 10 days and I left with extraordinary experiences and happy memories.

EXPERIENCES: GOOD AND BAD

Being colonized by the Spanish, Americans, and Japanese, the country is a melting pot of many cultures. The East-West influences transcend to the people, their food, language, and belief.

I personally had no problem with conversing with the locals because the majority of them know how to speak English. This gave me an opportunity to have a proper conversation with them. Almost everything in the Philippines is also cheap. If you are looking for a decent place to stay, clean and affordable hotels can give you a competitive rate. Accommodation options such as AirBnB and some travel hostels are also available. Aside from lodging, the food is superb. I was able to choose from a lot of options. There are fresh seafood, organic vegetables and fruits and even Western cuisines if you are not into the local cookeries. The options are limitless.

The unpleasant experiences that I had are with transportation. The country is still developing. With that, transportation is not as expansive and efficient compared to Western standards. I experienced horrible traffic jams, particularly in EDSA. I saw extremely packed minivans – people sitting like sardines. For budget airlines, delays are a normal scenario. But the thing that bothered me the most is the drivers. I have never encountered drivers that are so rude and reckless. You have to be very mindful not to be run over by passing vehicles.

philippines
The philippines – Organicisbeautiful.com

CHALLENGES AND HOW I OVERCAME THEM

I have noticed in my travels that some locals will take advantage of tourists or foreigners. The Philippines is not an exception. Some locals will charge you double or triple the price for souvenirs or other merchandise. There are also a lot of taxi drivers trying to rip off foreigners to pay exaggerated amounts in fare. Of course, this is avoidable if you are vigilant. I personally did my research on the price range for certain products and services before my trip. With proper preparation and good planning, you will not be a victim of those who wants to take advantage.

4 years living overseas, feedback and tips.

Another thing I experience is the terrible diesel exhaust in the metro. Since transportation is mainly in the form of buses, cabs, and jeepneys, putrid smoke is unavoidable, especially in the cities. I personally think if you are going to the Philippines for a vacation, avoid urban areas. If not, wear a facemask to prevent inhaling all the fumes from the vehicles.

Petty crimes are rampant in the area. The number of security guards everywhere proves this. I had to blend in the crowd in order not to be a target of thieves aiming for valuables. The key is to be alert. Be mindful of your surroundings, avoid sketchy areas and people, finally, just be on guard.

CONCLUSION

The Philippines is such a great place to explore. You just have to find what suits you and your budget. Like many places, it has its pros and cons. Just make the most out of your trip and enjoy the moment. As they say, life is a journey, not a destination!

Did you enjoy my article? Have you already been in the philippines?:)

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