Posted Mar 8, 2017, 2:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2002
hkskyline's 2016 Year in Review
Malaysia is a great place to eat cheap and delicious food. It is cheaper than Bangkok, and not as many tourists to fill up the good restaurants. I had a good dose of cheap traditional restaurants like this one in Chinatown.
There is a significant Chinese population here, so the Chinese community is not only visible in Chinatown per se.
Plaza Rakyat was abandoned as the Asian financial crisis wrecked havoc in the region. Only some foundation works have been made and you can see the site just next to a working train station.
Public transport is a major issue in the city. Integration has taken place but many train lines were not designed to connect with each other. As a result, many residents drive.
Menara Telekom is one of my favourite skyscrapers with a unique twisting design, skygardens on many tiers, and a helipad on top. It has no tall friends nearby, which makes it stand out even more.
I paid visits to a few local markets to photograph the typical organized chaos. I knew I would get my shoes dirty but it was well worth it.
Chinese New Year is a great time to travel far, but Europe in the winter originally was not appetizing at all, with short days and cold temperatures. But airfares dropped and there were deals even at the last minute, so I tried my luck and found myself rather alone with few Asian tourists in the country.
Much of the city was razed during World War II. The Soviets came afterwards and built this massive monument which still is a landmark today.
The war left a very dark mark on the city, which is quite prominently showcased in several museums. Among the amazing rebuilding efforts was the Royal Castle.
The city didn't feel like Eastern Europe at all, with modern infrastructure and tidy streets.
A modern and clean train took me to Krakow in 2.5 hours, where a beautiful new station gave me a great first perception of the city. I wasted no time and ventured into the old town to enjoy the blue skies.
The atmosphere outside the old town changes dramatically. The Soviets built Nowa Huta to be a Communist paradise. There is a major steelworks nearby and this town was built for the workers.
The old town is quite interesting with a weirdly L-shaped central square fronted by Baroque and Renaissance architecture. I only budgeted a full day here, and was lucky to have the weather on my side.
Some interesting sights include this 24-hour flower market for the forgetful men getting an emergency birthday present.
On a cool winter day, it wasn't too painful to hike up the church's side to see the beautiful town.
Heading back indoors, this university has beautifully-sculpted rooms to enhance the learning experience.
After enjoying a relatively cleaner KL at bargain basement prices, I dont' find Bangkok a backpacker's paradise anymore. The city is over-touristed and has gone too high-end. I chose a cheap activity to ride the Skytrain above the streets. The persistent political instability and odd terrorist attack every now and then continues to overshadow the city's chaotic excitement.
The street markets are still bustling, although I wouldn't dine here just to be on the safe side.
Traffic is bad, although still better than my South Asia travels. There are lots of modern buses and trains running around but every now and then, I see a historic relic like this.
Star-attractions are getting costly throughout China. To photograph the city from above, I had to pay for the cable car, an admission fee, then another chair lift ticket. Although Kunming is a cheap place to live and eat, this total package seems way out of touch for the commoner.
Many Chinese cities have brand new museums showcasing the typical ancient Chinese works, such as bronzes and ceramics.
I have been to so many traditional Chinese temples but this one in the hillsides far from the city centre was odd for its huge assortment of statues that decorate 2 particular rooms.
I headed out of town to see the karst formations in the Stone Forest, which has been beautified with a hefty admission fee for the tour groups. Away from the noisy markets within the UNESCO World Heritage site, I found many places to admire these geological wonders.
There are a number of restaurants and bars with views. Up here, it wasn't so hot anymore and it was possible to enjoy a drink and sunset together.
You don't need to be rich to enjoy a million-dollar view. These were taken from public housing blocks.
From all my research sources, there was a unanimous response against venturing into Jakarta for sightseeing between flights. There was nothing to see. Traffic is bad and I would miss my flight. Jams can happen at any time and I could be stuck for hours. Don't even think of going into town with only 6 hours between flights. I ignored them all reluctantly and tried my luck.
Yes, there were chaotic and dirty street scenes as well. Walking along these stretches was quite unbearable.
The primary purpose of my Indonesia trip was this city. 2 temples give good reason why a trip to Yogyakarta is worth it. Borobudur is a Buddhist temple from the 8-9th centuries, which contrast against today's Muslim-dominated Indonesia. Many tourists come to watch sunrise, which requires setting off just after 3am. I opted for a more humane morning call. The temple still looked great under blue skies.
Prambanan has many temples and is in a less organized state after earthquakes, volcanoes, and politics ravaged over the centuries.
Korea's public markets are interesting with its street food featuring a unique, more innovative flavour.
Surrounded by ocean on 3 sides, there is plenty of fresh seafood and prices won't break your wallet either. Abalone is one of my favourites.
Sydney has a great quality of life, warm winters, but very expensive housing. In my continuous quest for querky attractions, I caught this vintage double decker bus for the city's newest museum. Dedicated to buses, I was quite impressed although disappointed it was only open every other Sunday.
Australia has quite a lot of natural sights worth seeing. Even in Sydney, La Perouse gives you a taste of what Mother Nature can do to the land.
However, I would be priced out from having my own seaview residence.
Sydney's farmers / weekend markets have a very different vibe from Seoul. They are less congested and feature many unique items you can't find in supermarkets. Gluten-free signs were everywhere, too.
The weather in Melbourne was expectedly much worse than Sydney. It was cold and wet. This city felt a lot different from Sydney - it seemed more cosmopolitan, yet not as busy.
New Zealand - South Island
Since I was around the southern hemisphere, I thought it'd be interesting to hop across the Tasman to see a bit of New Zealand while I'm in Australia. You ought to rent a car in this part of the world and explore the natural beauty by yourself. The roads are narrow but there is minimal traffic. I spaced out my driving as much as possible and took 3.5 days to go from Christchurch, down the West Coast, to Queenstown.
However, the mountains were quite spaced out so the drive wasn't as spectacular as through the Canadian Rockies.
After walking through dense vegetation in the morning, I saw the sun peek out along the coast as I examined these rock formations north of Greymouth.
I have visited glaciers in Canada before, but never experienced a glacier amidst a tropical rainforest. Franz Josef has a trail that offers a good 1.5-hour exercise opportunity and lovely views.
The infamous glacial blue shone as the sun peeked out once again. The helicopter tour company advised it was clear up at the top but low clouds kept their fleet grounded for the day.
I had much better luck the next morning. My helicopter tour took off successfully for the Fox Glacier.
When I researched my driving route, I came across a popular itinerary along mostly flat lands to Lake Tekapo, riding the helicopter from Mount Cook on the other side of these mountains, then continuing to Queenstown. I eventually picked the West Coast route, which was longer but seemed to offer more variety in scenery. I believe that's Tekapo on the other side?
After a 40-minute time of my life, I wasn't satisfied and went for a walk to the terminal face to see this beauty from the ground.
To be continued, or see the full set on my website : http://www.globalphotos.org/showcase.htm