If you have visited or planning your trip the Great Ocean Road, you might encountered with the ’12 Apostles Helicopters’ tour at the main apostles stop/ information centre/ car park. I have been studying in Melbourne for over a year now and have visited the landmark more than three times, at this point I have to experience the landmark in a different view. Thus, I gave this very expensive ride a go.
How does the rateslooks like? You have at least three options to choose that comes with various rates: 12 Apostles (1) London Bridge scenic flight or (2) London Bridge – Bay of Islands scenic flight or (3) London Bridge – Bay of Islands – Cape Otway Lighthouse, which would cost from $145 to $570 per head. Yikes 😧, I know it could get real pricey for some of us and probably not worth it. Hence, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experience and you’ll decide wether it should be part of your itinerary/ budget when you’re visiting 😉.
Of course I went with the first option, who am I kidding. So the ride set me back $145 for a 15 minutes scenic ride, flying over the 12 Apostles and London Bridge. Honestly, I’m a sucker for arial view so yes I did enjoy every second of the ride and the pilot was good looking too 😉. While in the air, I didn’t just sit around and enjoy the view because the pilot was guiding us with historical fact about the landmark throughout the journey.
On the way back, I get to see the apostles lined up perfectly and the whole town from above. The experience and view was refreshing, we traveled 45 km in 15 minutes but it sure doesn’t feel like it, it felt like everything moving in slow motion and seeing the waves crashing by the shore was satisfying😍. I could finally go back home with new memories of the landmark and of course show off on my insta 😜.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone because you could still have a great time without this luxuries service, unless you don’t mind spending such amount of money at all!
DATE10th November 2019AdmissionFrom $145Location 12 Apostels,Great Ocean Road Victoria.
So few weeks ago, I just finished my school semester and have the whole summer for myself. Normally we would get a summer job and do the usual stuff. But I figured, I haven’t been travelling for awhile now and I’m in need to see the world. So I got a quick free lancing job to get some cash for my travelling expenses, and started planning my trip to Beijing, China! Also because the airlines was having an offer at that time too.
Being a student with limited income, of course I had to go cheap. Hence, I spent appx $600 for the flight (return) and $250 for my stay. — I stayed at a shared Airbnb, and it wasn’t that bad honestly. Getting there was a little bit dodgy of course, it felt like straight up from a horror movie with lights flickering at the lobby and no lights at all on the ninth floor. Other than that, the host was nice, patient, prompt and provided all the essentials even though she barely speak English and I had to communicate with her through Wechat and translation app.
I know I said I planned my trip earlier, well… it wasn’t much of a plan really 🤣. Thanks to my friend though who lives in Beijing, she helped me out by sorting my tours for me locally and help me get started with some useful insights and showed how the subway works. I know, some people say its no brainer but I felt more confident with the insights I got from her.
The Forbidden City 故宫
Yess, The forbidden City or Gùgōng , a typical tourist destination. The place is massive and beautiful. I often seen it on movies and photos, but I never thought I would actually be there physically. It took me almost 2 hours to go through everything and there were a lot of people even though, some people say it could get way crazier on the weekends. I was curious with the histories behind this magnificent landmark, so I got myself one of those ‘Automatic Guide’ device for $8– its one of those electronic device that comes with earphones, guiding you through the landmark. I find it pretty insightful and probably cheaper than hiring a tour guide.
The Great Wall 萬里長城
The highlight of my trip, ‘The Great Wall of China or Wànlǐ Chángchéng’ 😍! Who would exclude this destination in their itinerary? No one! Getting there, I took the easy way– I paid for a tour bus called Mubus (all they did was drive you there [to and fro, 2 hours each trip] and purchasing your tickets. The bus ride cost me $26 including entrance ticket, excluding cable car ride and any other access that you might want such as ski lift and toboggan ride (more on this later) because there are few ways to get to the great wall as well as getting down too.
So there’s 3 ways that you could get to the wall that I know of:
Ski Lift [access to tower 6].
Cable car [access to tower 14]🚠.
Toboggan slide [only getting down, access from tower 6].
As I said before, there’s different ways you could use to get up and down from the great wall. I had a long conversation with Leo, the tour bus guy about my options, because I really want to get on the Toboggan slide too (who wouldn’t want to slide down through a mountain ) and since I came with the tour bus, of course theres time limit (10am- 2.30pm) and I need to be smart with it. I guess thats the down side of getting a round trip tour bus. To make it time efficient, I ended up strategising my experience without getting left behind. Bear in mind that the great wall is huge and have 20 towers in total. Hence, I purchased tickets for these access– Cable Car [to and fro], Ski Lift [one way] and Toboggan slide.
Basically, I started with getting up to tower 6 with Ski lift, took some pictures etc– then went back down 30 minutes later with the Toboggan slide (pretty cool and insane) and then finally went back up again with the cable car to tower 14. Now of course by now, you realise I skipped few towers, well… 14 towers in total. But, it only get interesting from tower 14 onwards, thats where you’ll get the best view and it gets better and better as you walk up to the top. I’m not a hiker myself, and walking from 14th to 20th tower took me almost 2 hours and it had my legs feeling like its falling apart haha. Ultimately, it was quick and fun! In total I spent $77 in total for the whole experience.
Temple of Heaven 天壇
I often get recommendations to visit the Temple of Heaven or Tiāntán, well I can see why now, cuz its massive and beautiful to experience. It took me roughly 2 hours to explore everything it has within the historical landmark and the admission fee was priced for only $6. I don’t see why one should miss it. The temple was opened to the public since 1918, you could see the locals would come with their families for a walk, jogs, or even play card games at the park. I can see why one would spend their morning or evening here at the park area, it could get peaceful and quiet that comes with a nice view.
The rest of my tip
I spent my remaining days and time exploring the locals such as Gulou East Street (Gulou Dong Daji), Houhai riverside, National Art Performance Centre, Tiananmen Square, Beijing Olympic Park and 798 Artzone. These destinations were brief and quick and didn’t require a lot of my time. Gulou East Street is where I got some vintage merchandise and some interesting food and traditional bites.
If you are a fan of arts, you’ll probably wanna do a quick visit at 798 Artzone and that exactly what I did. They have heaps of cafes, shows and exhibitions for us to visit. I didn’t attend any shows and purchase anything other than a cup a coffee, but its a nice a place for a quick a visit if you have extra time in your hand and snap some insta worthy pics.
and…just like that, I ended my quick trip to Beijing!
I’ll be listing down some tips based on my experience 🙂 If you are interested, keep on reading friends 💃🏻.
Get ALIPAY for hustle free transaction: The ‘cashless culture’ in Beijing or in China in general is bigger and much efficient than any other country I’ve been to. From massive retails store all the way to the street vendors are practicing cashless system, even ordering food too! I’m all about making my life easy, and ALIPAY solved my struggles in making a transaction with the locals and when I ran out of money, I didn’t have to look for ATM machine or currency exchange– I just load money to the app in seconds and done!
Why not WeChat pay you wonder? That was my first option, however you need to attach it to a Chinese credit card or some sort to make it work. While ALIPAY actually provide a ‘Tour Pass’ which you easily load money from your attached credit card.
Get a Translation App (iTranslate): If you know how to speak Chinese, don’t bother at all. If you don’t and often get anxious in communicating with the locals like me, you might wanna consider to download iTranslateapp on your phone or any similar ones. In a “non- touristy” place or area, the locals might have troubles understanding WTH you’re trying to say.
When I was all by myself, the app helped me to figure out the basic on how to request for something, or even play it out loud for them through the app.
Use the Subway: When your’e travelling within the city, the Subway could be your convenient option to commute and cheaper too. If you’re confident you’ll be using the public transport often while in Beijing, consider getting their e-card. During peak hour, the stations could get really busy and the queue for the ticketing machines could get really long. Doing so, it could make your commuting faster and easier.
Lastly, definitely enjoy your trip!
If you’re curious how did I ended up stranded in the Airport for a day, well… its quite dumb and this is what would happen if you got careless like me. My flight departs at 12:40 am, I arrived at the gate, around 11.30 pm or so, yeap I wasn’t late. Around 12 am, I got hungry and decided to get some bites and right after that I had to go to the toilet real bad. By the time I got back to the gate, I realised they have changed the gate, I wasn’t sure if they have announced it because I didn’t hear it, at least not in English.
I ran to the new assigned gate which took me 5 minutes, and by the time I got there they literally just closed the gate and didn’t wanna let me get on the bus. Just like that, I had to stay at the airport for another day till the next flight. The whole process of going back to the ticketing counter to sort out my flight and getting back my luggage was frustrating, because I didn’t speak the language and the instructions given by the staff was confusing and a lot of hand gestures and pointing.
I learned that being multilingual could have been beneficial in so many ways by now 😅.
From traditional map to google map and now to this! You may want to own this creative and playful maps to show off to your families and friends. Jenni Sparks Hand Drawn Maps is probably one of the most creative and interactive hand-drawn maps that I have come across to; with its feature pointing out the city’s hot spots and highlights.
You probably heard of Jenni sparks before but if you didn’t, well she’s one of the most inspirational illustrators worldwide based in London. Hand drawn maps are one of the well-known artwork by Jenni Sparks as she had drawn multiple cities maps and highlighting their hotspots, such as New York, Paris, Berlin, San Francisco and of course Melbourne!
Commissioned by Everamade, Jenni Sparks spent a thousand hours of research that she acquired to map the city by visiting, photographing, taking notes, and of course, the hours to draw the map itself (Jennisparks.com, 2018).
You can get yours now here with a price starts at $178. If you wanna find out more about Jenni’s work, you can explore at her platform- Jennisparks.com.
As Malaysian, everyone of us probably visit Melaka state at least once a year right? But how often do you discover such interesting and unique cafes for you to experience along with your favourite choice of coffee.
#WeTheQuerks was walking along the street and came across to a cafe that caught our eyes called The Stolen Cup, and hey why not grab a cup of iced coffee to cool ourself from the hot weather.
The first thing that attract us is this cute little sitting by the wall. As you can see the walls are full of interesting decoration with some vintage vibes going on. Not to forget how they utilise the usage of woods as part of their interior design which really warm and calming for our eyes to see.
Photo by @beckersyin
To give their menu a taste, we ordered a Ice Americano (RM 10) and a strawberry margarita (RM 12) and boy we did not regret it. Probably one of the best way to end our day with. While having our drinks, other than having a good companion and conversation we bought some card games to play with 😆 and you can do the same too if you ever decided to visit them and chill.
There are many other cafes that you can explore along the street but so far The Stolen Cup is one of our favourite ❤️ and would definitely visit again if ever get a chance to.
There are more sheeps than people, they say. Well, that’s true. Living in the city can be pretty tiring. Cars, buildings, coats and leather shoes are common things. Instead, you’d want to look at the green grass, misty mountains, crystal blue waterfalls and friendly smiles. New Zealand is known for its beauty. It’s 1070km from Cape Reinga to Wellington in the North Island which is about 13 hours long drive is what makes it all worth it.
Lake Taupo, New Zealand (Photo by Tobias)
“ If you travel far enough, you’ll meet yourself ”
So, why not? Stop what you’re doing right now. Book a flight to Auckland and start planning your trip.
Getting around the island is not hard. All you need to do is to rent a tiny car and you’re set to start on your road trip! But of course, what’s better then to grab a cuppa hot coffee on the go? Maybe a cone of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey at Ponsonby? Even breathing in the fresh air is good enough to get your adventure started.
Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey at Ponsonby.
A few pit-stops to be pinned on your roadmap is essential because you don’t wanna miss a thing. Engaging the road down to Matamata is where you’ll find yourself stopping by the Hobbiton (well, if you’re a fan of Lord Of The Rings!). Grab a pint of Girdley Fine Grain, Amber Ale while you’re at it too. Trust me, you’d want to have a taste of it. It’s something not to be missed!
Make your way down to Rotorua, another pit-stop on your road adventure. It is known for its’ geothermal and maori escapade for you to relax and unwind. Enjoy a pure, natural calcite-laden thermal water at Waikite Thermal Pool to get a pure experience in New Zealand! Not only thermal spa, the geysers is worth a thousand pictures and you get to watch it live, at the Wai-O-Tapu at exactly 10am! You don’t get to see an active volcano everyday. Well, probably in Indonesia but hey! It’s still exciting!
Geiser at Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua.
Continuing your crusade around the island, make another pit-stop to Lake Taupo!
The highlight of the entire trip. Why, you ask? Because it’s the largest lake in New Zealand AND it’s where you throw yourself down the clift to that inviting waters of Waikato River below with just a latex rubber cord tied around your legs as lifeline. Well, you only live once, right? All you need to do is take a leap of faith. Literally!
Taupo Bungy (It comes with a certificate!)
Oh, here’s another crazy idea! Try jumping off a plane instead! Do the Tandem Skydiving over Lake Taupo! The view is absolutely amazing! Well, at least there’s an instructor who’s gonna be wrapped behind you.
Taupo Tandem Skydive (@Pinterest)
Another pit-stop will be at Napier. It’s full of history that’s stuck in a time capsule. If you want to travel back in time, this is where you should visit. Bringing back 1930’s feel at the Hawke’s Bay with the music, performers and dancing on the street alongside with the architecture that’s preserved from that year. The Art Deco was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just walk around the town and enjoy the history. Make sure to take plenty of pictures that is instagramable!
The Art Deco, Hawke’s Bay at Napier (@Getty Image).
Drive all the way down to Wellington after Napier. The Çity of the Wind’ or better known as the Capital of New Zealand. Make sure to put on your scarf cause the icy, cold wind will definitely blow you away! But that should never stop you from enjoying the night with a cold brew and the city lights.
Wellington, the “City of the Wind’ (@Getty Image)
Since it’s pretty much near to the Kaitoke Regional Park, here’s a place to visit for you LOTR fans, that’s where they filmed Rivendell!
Rivendell film set in Kaitoke Regional Park
Rivendell film set in Kaitoke Regional Park
Rivendell film set in Kaitoke Regional Park
Wellington is also home to the Weta Workshop which is the empire of the LOTR franchise. Since you’re already here in middle earth, why don’t you explore it like how Frodo did?
Next stop, Wanganui! What’s that? Well, if you want see some white snow for a change, that’s where you should head to.
Mt Ruapehu, Wanganui
Then again, it depends on which season you’re visiting. It’s a really long drive up the mountain but the scenery is picturesque! When you reach the peak of the mountain, just relax and enjoy the cold with a hot coco in your hand. Yums!
Hot Cocoa at Tongariro National Park
Now, it’s time to head back to Auckland for the remaining 2 nights before ending your adventure.
It’s been fun, isn’t it? Now, just enjoy your remaining days in the city and browse through the shops and the busy roads. Take a stroll at Albert Park and enjoy the sun. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a few college students trying to film a scene from Macbeth by Shakespeare!