Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

8 Awesome Airbnb Stays You May Not Know About – Deborah Tan

When traveling, we all want to fly cheap and stay at affordable, fabulous places with oodles of personality and character. These places, listed on Airbnb, are what you’ll want to check out for that getaway coming right up after this F1 weekend.

Magical places don’t have to be located in Europe or Africa. Asia is home to lots of interesting apartments, villas and houses too. With over 40,000 visitors set to descend upon Singapore for the F1, perhaps you can consider a short getaway during or after the F1 season? Below, 8 awesome listings on Airbnb you cannot miss.

Penang
75 minutes by plane

1.The Shophouse studio in George Town
penang01Housed in a 100+ year townhouse, this ground floor suite is newly renovated and comes with ensuite bathroom, kitchen and dining area. You get a queen-sized  bed and a convertible sofa so this studio can comfortably house 3 people. A stone’s throw away from delicious Penang hawker food, the owner will provide a food map for your eating convenience too!

2. Heritage Zone Chinese Shop House
penang02Beautifully renovated Chinese shophouse, the ground floor is a designer jewellery shop currently used by the owner’s friend. Plenty of restaurants and bars around the area, the property is just round the corner from famed cafe China House The listing states that the room comes with a bathroom with rain shower, 600 DVDs, cookbooks for those who want to try their hands at whipping up a meal, books, board games and a Mac.

Kuala Lumpur
55 minutes by plane

1. Luxe 1 Bedroom Next To Twin Towers at KLCC
kl01
This stylish apartment is situated right next to the Petronas Twin Towers as well as the 50-acre KLCC Park. It’s a spacious 1-bedroom at 60sq ft and comes with a fully-equipped kitchen and separate living area. Staying at this apartment also gives you access to the gym, tennis court, BBQ pit, sauna, etc.

Bangkok
135 minutes by plane

1. Room Near MRT Pharam 9+Wifi Pocket
bangkok01Although the listing says “room”, you actually get the entire apartment to yourself. It’s a 1-bedroom with a queen-sized bed and 1 sofa bed. The apartment is tastefully decorated! The Phra Ram 9 station is just 8 minutes’ walk away and the apartment building has  a convenience store that opens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bali
150 minutes by plane

1. Villa Zaina 3-bedroom Seminyak-Bali
bali01
Located a minute’s walk from Legian, this villa has 3 bedrooms and houses up to 6 people (although you have to pay an extra $42/night after the 4th guest). It has its own private pool. All bedrooms come with their own ensuite bathrooms and queen-sized beds. The villa has its own kitchen with a gas cook top and has a dining area with an extendable table.

2. Private 2-bedroom villa in Sanur
bali02
Accommodates up to 4 guests with no extra charges for extra guest, Villa Sapa is located in Sanur, known for its sandy white beaches and for being a quiet, relaxed village. Each bathroom has an outdoor shower. The villa also has an outdoor shower where you can wash the sand away before entering the property. Guests are given a mobile phone so they can easily contact the manager to arrange for stuff like taxis and tours.

Jakarta
95 minutes by plane

1. The Bonty – Your Home in Jakarta
jakarta01Located within walking distance of Kemang (a trendy part of Jakarta), this listing is a room in a house for rent. The room has a king-sized bed and has its own bathroom. The house is part of a walled residential complex of about 20 houses and has a garden, pool, security and service. Dog-lovers will love this listing since the owner has 2 dogs – a golden retriever (loves!) and a Beagle mix.

Hong Kong
3 hours 42 minutes by plane

1. Tong Lau Tree House Old Hong Kong
hk01
A property located in a Chinese tenement buidling in Kowloon, this apartment presents a photo opportunity everywhere you turn. Comes with a queen-sized bed, the listing states that it is possible to house up to 6 people (extra charges for any guests after the first 2). The apartment also has a 1.4m 4-legged bathtub along with a whole range of organic bath products.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She can’t wait to go to Bali again! Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

8 Secrets Taipei Is Hiding From You – Deborah Tan

Chances are, you’ve been to Taipei and have your own list of favorite haunts to hit up for food and shopping. But the city is still worth discovering. Deborah Tan, a seven-time visitor, recently visited the city (again) and found some new surprises.

I love Taipei. I love the night markets because of the insane amount AND VARIETY of street food available. I love how the people there are always so friendly and, most importantly, I love how everyone makes such an effort in preserving the city’s heritage and keeping it clean and green.

Did you know that when it comes to recycling efforts in the world Taiwan tops the list?

Admittedly, I am not the most adventurous of travelers. Whenever I find myself back in a familiar city, I would stick to what I know and make very little effort to explore beyond my favorite haunts … that is unless someone else drags me around. So for my visit this time around, I’m glad I was placed in the good hands of EVA Air, Taiwan Visitors Association (TVA) and friendly fellow writers.

Here are some spots I strongly recommend you check out the next time you’re in the city … don’t say never share!

1. Check Inn
Super chic, uber cool boutique hostel

CHECKINN-118Inspired by the boutique hotels and loft apartments of New York, the owners of Check Inn wanted to create an affordable, yet stylish, stay for travelers who want to stay somewhere between an upmarket hotel and a back-to-basics backpackers hostel. Check Inn’s rooms, currently, are all twin-beds only. You’ll be impressed by the attention to detail despite the minimalist interior – the hostel uses its own Ecocert scent for its toiletries.

Check Inn is located at 253 Songjiang Road. www.checkinn.com.tw

2. Mandarin Oriental Taipei
If Paradise had a holiday address in Taiwan

MOTPE City Suite Bedroom 都會套房臥室If you’re looking to splash out, then be sure you book yourself a stay at Mandarin Oriental Taipei. Get ready to be blown away by grandeur and luxury the moment you step into the lobby. The hotel knows how to make an impression. Guests are greeted by a 1,400kg chandelier made from 50,000 pieces of crystal beads and crystal drops. The hotel is a veritable art museum as well, featuring some 1,700 pieces of art, antiques and sculptures by award-winning artists. Even the most basic suite is huge, complete with a walk-in closet and bathtub. Even if you can’t afford to stay here, be sure to at least have lunch, tea or dinner at one of Mandarin Oriental Taipei’s awesome restaurants and cake shop.

Mandarin Oriental Taipei is located at 158 Dunhua Road. www.mandarinoriental.com/taipei

3. Good Cho
Yummy bagels and awesome rusk ice cream

Good Cho Taipei Good Cho Taipei BagelsA lifestyle store cum cafe, Good Cho may seem like any upmarket hipster establishment. But hunting it down proved to be a lot of fun. Located on the former site of a military family village, Good Cho reputedly sells the best bagels in town. And it’s true. On our visit there, we tried a black pepper and cheese bagel and a brown sugar with sweet potato bagel – both had just the right amount of bite and flavor. Good Cho can also be found at Maji Square (see below) but this one located at Songqin Street is a much better hangout.

Good Cho is located at 54 Songqin Street.

4. Maji Square
Like Pasarbella … only bigger and with more food

majisquare (2)Nestled in the Taipei Expo Park’s Yuanshan Park Area, Maji Square is a project by well-known Taiwanese artiste Harlem Yu and designer Eugene Yeh. A lifestyle market featuring a street food fair, a creative bazaar, specialty shops and a performance space, the area is a hive of activity for both locals and tourists alike. I chanced upon a store selling beauty products made with organic ginger from Taichong and found myself falling in love with the scents and textures so much, I walked out with 3 hand creams.

Maji Square is located at 1 Yumen Street. www.facebook.com/majisquare

5. Fujin Street
Charming street filled with charming shops

fujintreecafe (2)A neighborhood reminiscent of New York’s Soho district, this 800m long street is home to numerous cafes, designer studios and home decor shops. The most popular cafe on this street has got to be Fujin Tree 353 Cafe. Known for its brown sugar latte, the cafe also features an in-store florist that, according to the staff, gets crazy-busy during special occasions like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

6. Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Every heritage project’s wet dream

huashan1914 (2)A former sake distillery, the area is now a heritage project that attracts art and literary giants to it. It aims to be a place where art and creativity can organically grow. Many of the activities and workshops hosted at Huashan 1914 are free to attend because the organization hopes to create a windowless classroom. At Huashan 1914, you can find cafes, restaurants, bars and shops by Taipei’s creative set.

Huashan 1914 Creative Park is located at 1 Bade Road. www.huashan1914.com

7. Taipei Fish Market
Seafood lovers, you’re in for a treat!

Taipei Fish MarketThere are many ways you can tuck into the fresh seafood here: at a restaurant, at the outdoor area or buy an attractively priced bento or sashimi set from the food market and dig in at any of the standing tables. Go hungry and be prepared for a crowd, though. No one can resist the lure of fresh, attractively priced gourmet-standard seafood.

Taipei Fish Market is located at 18 Minzu East Road.

8. Songshan Cultural Park
A fun place to explore whether you’re into art, food or shopping

Songshan Cultural ParkSimilar to Huashan 1914 Creative Park, the Songshan Cultural Park occupies the site of a former tobacco factory. The sprawling grounds include a Baroque Garden, an exhibition hall, and a shopping mall anchored by Taiwanese bookstore giant Eslite called Eslite Spectrum. On the weekend we were there, food trucks could be found on the grounds selling light bites and coffee. The area is also set to welcome the opening of a boutique hotel by Eslite at the end of 2014.

Songshan Cultural Park is located at 133 Guangfu South Road. www.songshanculturalpark.org

So if you want to take a break from checking out the night markets and Wufenpu (clothes wholesale market), these 8 recommendations are definitely worth your time and camera’s disk space!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She really likes smelly toufu. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

[Press Trip] Hello Kitty Themed Flights Are Coming To Singapore! – Deborah Tan

This is a story of Material World’s resident “I wear only black” girl Deborah Tan’s recent trip to Taipei to check out EVA Air’s Hello Kitty planes.

eva air hello kitty 1

There’s no doubting the immense popularity of Hello Kitty themed experiences and products. The famous kitty has graced several international brands with her face over the years, each one a goldmine every brand owner would love to tap into. Some of the brands that have worked with Hello Kitty are McDonald’s, M.A.C Cosmetics, Tokidoki, and homegrown bakery BreadTalk.

Great in small doses, definitely, but what about a Hello Kitty themed flight to countries like Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul or Guam? Imagine flying on a plane painted with Hello Kitty, where everything – from the headrest covers to barf bags, from the inflight meals to the amenities in the toilet – are decorated with motifs of the famous cat. Is that an experience of a lifetime every Kitty fan would pay to have?

Bored? Entertain yourself with these exclusive playing cards!

Bored? Entertain yourself with these exclusive playing cards!

Apparently, the folks at EVA Air think so. It’s not just a one-off limited-time-only experience we are talking about here. The airline has 6 specially commissioned jets for Kitty fans who have been known to plan their journey so they’d end up on one of these planes – yep, some travelers also unwittingly book themselves on Kitty flights, their classic reactions can be found on Instagram.

Found on Instagram! A traveler's reaction when he realizes he has been booked onto a Hello Kitty flight!

Found on Instagram! A traveler’s reaction when he realizes he has been booked onto a Hello Kitty flight!

How Much Hello Kitty Can You Take?
If you’re departing from Taipei, your EVA Air x Hello Kitty experience begins at a dedicated check-in counter that has been pimped out to the max with Hello Kitty motifs. In here, you can also get a sneak peek at the in-flight amenities exclusive to the Hello Kitty jets and the souvenirs you can buy. Passengers taking these Hello Kitty flights will also be given their very own Kitty boarding passes.

A dedicated check-in area for passengers flying on EVA Air's Hello Kitty planes.

A dedicated check-in area for passengers flying on EVA Air’s Hello Kitty planes.

This machine checks you in AND prints out a specially designed Hello Kitty boarding pass for you.

This machine checks you in AND prints out a specially designed Hello Kitty boarding pass for you.

Boarding pass and barf bag

Boarding pass and barf bag

Once you clear Immigration, a walk down the duty-free shopping area will present sights (and photo opportunities) such as a Hello Kitty nursing room, a Hello Kitty public payphone, and finally a Hello Kitty departure lounge.

Even a non-fan like me found myself squealing with delight whenever I spotted a Hello Kitty “thing”. “Aaaah! A Hello Kitty playground! How cuuuuute!

Destination: Kawaii!
Onboard the plane, the experience becomes absolutely mind-blowing. The attention to detail is spectacular. You know it’s a Hello Kitty themed flight but every time you see something that you didn’t think will have the cat and it does, you will go, “AAAAHHH!” I won’t be surprised if people start challenging each other to a Spot The Kitty contest to see how many Kitty-marked things they can find.

Even the safety videos star Hello Kitty!

Even the safety videos star Hello Kitty!

Besides the soap dispenser, the toilet paper is printed with Hello Kitty toooooo ... AAAHH!

Besides the soap dispenser, the toilet paper is printed with Hello Kitty toooooo … AAAHH!

There are Kitty-themed meals for both adults and kids. The meal for adults has subtler (although I’m not sure if that’s even possible) Hello Kitty themed dishes while the kids meal is more “full-on”, containing a rice dumpling shaped like Kitty’s head. You could, when booking your flight, put in a request to be served a kids’ meal.

Too cute to consume!

Too cute to consume!

Even non-Kitty fans will appreciate the attention to detail paid by EVA Air to make these flights an awesome experience!

Even non-Kitty fans will appreciate the attention to detail paid by EVA Air to make these flights an awesome experience!

Here's a shot of me with an attendant wearing a Hello Kitty apron. I feel a bit like Maleficent standing next to her.

Here’s a shot of me with an attendant wearing a Hello Kitty apron. I feel a bit like Maleficent standing next to her.

Coming To Singapore In December
Ready to sign up for a Hello Kitty flight? Normally, you can fly with EVA Air to destinations like Guam and Seoul, then do a transfer at Taipei to get onto one of these flights. But come this December, EVA Air will be bringing specially chartered Hello Kitty flights to Singapore for a limited period of time. These flights will be packaged as part of full board tour packages with selected tour agents. Package information and ticket sales are now available.

The dates for the Hello Kitty flights are:
1) 4 – 6 December 2014
2) 11 – 13 December 2014
3) 18 – 20 December 2014

And the agents to check in with are:
1) Chan Brothers Travel
2) CS Travel
3) CTC Travel
4) Dynasty Travel
5) Green Holidays
6) New Shan Travel

So start planning your getaways now, you Kitty fans!

There are 6 designs in all for these Hello Kitty flights.

There are 6 designs in all for these Hello Kitty flights.

Material World was invited by EVA Air to Taipei to check out its Hello Kitty themed jets. All opinions are the author’s own. For more on EVA Air’s Hello Kitty flights, you may also visit this website.

 

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

How To Make Travel Easier – Tan Lili

What do you do when you don’t have much time to pack your suitcase, let alone prepare an itinerary for your upcoming holiday? Tan Lili shares some tried-and-tested techniques.

Hands up, those of you who have a love-hate relationship with overseas vacations.

Usually a week before the fun starts, there’d be a whirlwind of activity at work. From new deadlines and long-drawn-out meetings to a hell lot of things that demand your immediate attention at once, it sure feels like the world is conspiring to ruin your holiday mood.

Which is why these tips you’re about to read are so awesome. These tried-and-tested techniques improve the travel experience; save us plenty of time (which could be better spent on responding to that urgent email request); and, more importantly, serve to remind us that in spite of all that pre-vacay chaos, WE ARE GOING ON A HOLIDAY, BABY!

pouchPouch Everything

I have two pre-packed beauty pouches lying in my closet, ready to be thrown into my luggage whenever needed. One is a toiletry bag. It consists of travel-sized toiletries (toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, cleanser, contact lens solution), a toothbrush, a contact lens case and a comb. The other, my makeup pouch, holds travel-sized skincare products, a pack of makeup remover wipes, a concealer and an eyeliner. At the risk of sounding pouch-obsessed, I also have a travel one that contains my passport, a lip balm and a mini tube of hand cream … and another pouch with my travel adapter already in it so I just have to throw in my phone charger before leaving. Hey, scoff all you want, but having these pre-packed pouches at my disposal has seriously cut my packing time in half!

Pack Like A Pro

When you don’t have the luxury of time for leisure packing, the last thing you want is to find out there isn’t enough space left in your suitcase for shoes. The trick? Follow these layers:

Layer 1: Shoes. Store them in plastic bags so they don’t dirty the rest of the items. To save space, pack your socks into the shoes.

Layer 2: Heavier clothing items, like jeans and sweaters. Roll them up as tightly as possible to save space and minimise wrinkling.

Layer 3: Light clothing items, like your singlets and T-shirts. Again, roll them up tightly.

Layer 4: Your makeup/toiletry/digital pouches

In-between: Fill up every nook and cranny with miscellaneous stuff, like your underwear.

Don’t forget to bring along a compression bag to store your dirty laundry. Those bags promise to suck the air out of every living organism on your clothes and leave plenty of luggage space for souvenirs.

pouch 3

Download These Useful Apps

With over a million apps available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, there are bound to be at least a few great ones that deliver what they claim to do, like these:

  • TripIt (free on App Store and Google Play): All you have to do is forward your travel confirmation emails to TripIt’s provided email address, and they will create a detailed daily itinerary for you. You’ll be able to manually add or edit the itineraries, and access them even when you’re offline. If you’re a frequent traveller, you might want to consider upgrading to TripIt Pro (US$49/year) to get real-time flight alerts, refund notifications and more.
  • The Entertainer (free on App Store and Google Play): The Entertainer is actually a book of coupons sold in bookshops in Dubai, but the brand has launched an app equivalent that features thousands of one-for-one deals at various merchants, from restaurants to spa parlours. The bad news: because it was only launched this year, it doesn’t cover too many destinations, though they recently added shopping haven Hong Kong to the list. The good news: Singapore is on it, so we can all enjoy some pretty cool deals!
  • City Maps 2Go Pro – Offline Map and Travel Guide ($3.98 on App Store, $2.99 on Google Play): Thank you, creators of this fab app. There is, of course, a free version, but it’s limited to just five destinations of your choice. This paid one gives you unlimited offline access to the maps of destinations around the world, up-to-date information and tips from fellow travellers, pin existing places to the map and search for nearby attractions. Did I mention it has offline GPS services? Mind = blown.

Got some travel tricks you swear by? Sharing is caring, so share your tips with us below!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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How To Travel With Friends – Denise Li

Denise likes travelling on her own. So what happened when she recently went on a week-long trip with the rest of the Material Girls?

Since I started travelling on my own in 2006, I’ve always been adamant that travelling solo is the way to go. You can wake up any time you want, do anything you want, and you don’t have to stand in a corner of a street debating for 15 minutes about “what the next plan is”.

I must admit that travelling with other people always fills me with a sense of dread. Just like moving in with a partner, you never know if there’re any unsavoury habits you’d unearth about them until you find yourself in the situation.

Returning to Singapore from Penang. Hangovers aside, we look happy together, don't we?

Returning to Singapore from Penang. Hangovers aside, we look happy together, don’t we?

And as much as I love my three business partners (we’re friends AND colleagues), it wasn’t without a sense of trepidation that I embarked on a week-long holiday with them for Debs’ wedding party in Penang just a couple of weeks ago. I’ve heard enough horror stories to know that even the smallest things you find out about each other when you travel together can destroy years of friendship. The last thing I wanted was to deal with any awkwardness … especially since we all still have to work closely together long after the trip was over.

Well I’m happy to report that we didn’t just survive living in the same apartment together and hanging out together 24/7 for close to a week, I think our relationships with one another were strengthened in the process. A lot of my fears about travelling together were unfounded. I think if you’re embarking on a trip with friends for first time, some level of mental preparation is in order to ensure the friendship (and your sanity) survives the vacay. Here are some tips:

1. Decide on the ideal group size

Depending on the type of holiday you’re going on, this number can differ. For this holiday, five (including Debs’ husband Simon) was a good size. We could comfortably share a three-bedroom apartment, and we could share cabs everywhere (semi-)comfortably. If you’re planning on backpacking for three months, do it yourself or with one just one person you know has a similar travelling style as you. That’s because, when you backpack, you have so many more decisions to make (Should you stay longer in a place you like, pushing back the rest of your travel itinerary in the process? Can you afford to take a detour?), and you want to make the process as pain-free as it can possibly be.

2. Determine the budget well in advance

Obviously, if one person’s idea of accommodation is a five-star hotel, while another person’s is a no-frills guesthouse, there’s going to be a problem. Have an honest discussion about how much each of you are willing to spend well in advance. Vanessa also suggested that for this trip, we pool some of our money in a common fund, which one person is in charge of. This money pays for things like meals we have together, cabs, and other shared expenses. This system worked really well for us – none of us felt like we were paying more than our fair share for group expenses. It also takes away a lot of hassle of keeping track of who’s paid for what.

3. Voice your opinions, but be flexible

I think this is the most important tip of all. One of the biggest reasons why friends fall out is because someone in the group is always insisting that everyone sticks together at all times, but this is just an unrealistic way of doing things. Some people are early risers, while others like to sleep in when they’re on holiday. Some might want to see as many attractions as humanly possible in a day, while others just want to go for a five-hour spa retreat. But it’s just so much easier to have everyone go their separate ways to do what they want, then regroup later in the day. On one of the afternoons, I told the rest that I needed some time to be on my own (that was my inner introvert speaking). I shopped and watched a movie on my own and was a happy camper for having done so. Remember: just because you’re on holiday together doesn’t mean you need to be joined at the hip at every minute of the day.

Have any tips to share about surviving a holiday with your friends? Any horror stories? Please share them in comments below!

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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[Press Trip] 3 Reasons To Visit Japan’s Yamaguchi Prefecture – Denise Li

Denise visited Japan for the first time this February and she’s in love. Check out what she ate, drank and saw at Yamaguchi prefecture!

It is a source for amusement for everyone that my first ever trip to Japan entailed visiting Yamaguchi, which is the westernmost prefecture of Honshu Island. I still haven’t been to Tokyo. The last day of our week-long trip to Japan was supposed to include a day in Tokyo, but that plan, however, was derailed by the fact that our flights were massively delayed due to a snow storm in Tokyo.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Material World was kindly invited by Media Japan – the publisher of Oishii magazine in Singapore – to cover the sights, sounds and food of Yamaguchi prefecture for a regional feature in Issue #1. The girls, knowing that I had never been to Japan prior to this trip, volunteered me to represent Material World for this trip.

I actually liked the fact that I was going somewhere off the beaten track. On my own, when I travel, I tend to spend as little time as possible in big cities. My rationale for this is that I travel to get away from the stresses of city living. I love visiting smaller cities or more rural areas where the pace of life is slower.

What I also appreciated about this trip was that I was able to fully immerse myself in the culture: At every stop of the trip, I got to speak to Japanese shop and business owners about their enterprises, hostesses of traditional ryokans, sake brewers … that definitely helped me gain a better understanding of this fascinating country and its people.

Here are the three highlights of my trip:

1. Amazing regional food

Shimonoseki is where most of Japan's puffer fish comes from.

Me enjoying my nth plate of puffer fish sushi at Kaiten Karato Ichiba Sushi in Shimonoseki. Shimonoseki is the place where the bulk of Japan’s puffer fish comes from.

I had my fill of amazingly fresh seafood when I was there, but one of my more memorable meals was having countless plates of puffer fish sushi at Karato Sea Market in Shimonoseki. There is a popular conveyor belt sushi restaurant located on the second floor of the market, Kaiten Karato Ichiba Sushi. If you go around lunchtime, do expect to wait at least 20 minutes before you are seated. The puffer fish sushi is topped with spicy chilli radish, and spring onions, and paired with a citrus-y ponzu sauce. It was a heavenly combination of delicate flavours I couldn’t get enough of. I swear I had at least five plates of these to myself!

2. Gorgeous sights

Ruriko-ji Temple in Yamaguchi City

Ruriko-ji Temple in Yamaguchi City

I had seen pictures of the Ruriko-ji  Temple in Yamaguchi City, but nothing could prepare me for seeing this awe-inspiring sight up close. This temple has its origins in the 16th century, when it was built by samurai Ouchi Yoshihiro to hold memorial services for his family, and was moved in 1690 to its current location. One of the oldest five-storied pagodas in Japan, it is flanked on both sides by lush greenery (during the spring months), making it the perfect place for a spot of quiet contemplation.

3. Exceptional service

With Keiko Kato, head hostess of Hagi no Yado Tomoe at Hagi City

With Keiko Kato, head hostess of Hagi no Yado Tomoe at Hagi City

The Japanese are so proud of their attentive service and hospitality that they even have a word for it: Omotenashi. We stayed for a night in the beautiful ryokan Hagi no Yado Tomoe in Hagi, and I had a chance to speak to the elegant head hostess Keiko Kato. The one thing that really struck me was her dedication to her job. She says, “We have served famous actors and actresses, as well as politicians and members of the royal family. But every guest is important to us, regardless of their status.” If you ever visit Hagi, do try to stay for one night in the ryokan: The rooms are super spacious and well-equipped, and there are Onsens within the compound, and there’s even a room within the ryokan featuring artwork and ancient artifacts from the region.

Needless to say, this trip to Yamaguchi has been inspiring in more ways than one. Not only am I already planning for my next trip back to Japan, I have also replaced my bed with a tatami mat, because I liked how my back pain miraculously went away when I slept on it during my time in Japan.

Have you explored Japan beyond Tokyo? Where did you go and what did you love about it? I’d love to read your recommendations in Comments below!

Besides the regional feature on Yamaguchi, the team at Material World worked hard on many articles in Issue #1 of Oishii magazine. Pick up your complimentary copy at selected restaurants and cafes.

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About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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[Press Trip] Best Cars For COE’s New Category A – Deborah Tan

Beginning February 2014, the definition of what makes a Category A car will change slightly. While the qualifying engine capacity will still remain at 1,600 cc, the engine power should not exceed 130 brake horsepower (bhp). This means that cars such as the Mazda RX 8, the Lotus Elise and the Mini Cooper S will qualify under Category B. Under Volkswagen, cars such as the Tiguan, the Touran Sport, the Polo 1.4 will also no longer qualify under Category A.

Now, how this will affect the prices of COE, it’s still too early to tell. But if you are thinking of buying a car later this year and are now worried if this new way of car-categorisation will affect the type of car you can afford, the folks of Volkswagen want you to know you won’t have to settle for “weak” cars with no power.

Over the weekend, Volkswagen invited some 16 journalists for a roadtrip to Kuantan, on the east coast of Malaysia. Using only Category A cars, we were invited to put these cars to the test. And boy did we pushed them to the limits!

Thanks to superb planning, the route we were to take had been meticulously plotted out and printed into a handy guidebook. We were to cover the drive up to Kuantan in 3 legs, each leg using a different Volkswagen car, and the drive back in 2 legs, again using a different VW car for each.

The Volkswagen Cat A Cars we took for this road-trip

The Volkswagen Cat A Cars we took for this road-trip

Which Volkswagen cars are “Cat A”?
You might think only toy cars would qualify under Category A. Well, at Volkswagen, a surprisingly long list of cars will fit the bill. From the Polo 1.2 TSI to the Passat 1.4 TSI, you will be spoilt for choice – just like I was. There are even 4 Golfs that will qualify under Cat A!

Photobomb Credit: Dionne from Volkswagen

Photobomb Credit: Dionne from Volkswagen

Leg 1: The CrossPolo 1.2 TSI (From Singapore to Yong Peng)
My driving partner, Jane Ngiam of Singapore Tatler, drove this leg and we headed to Yong Peng for breakfast. Although most of this leg took place on the highway, the CrossPolo – with its bhp of 105 – cruised along comfortably and capably. There was enough power to overtake and speed up when we needed to. The entire ride – from a passenger’s perspective – was comfortable.

Leg 2: The Passat 1.4 TSI (From Yong Peng to Mersing)
My turn to take the wheel and this time we picked the Passat (122bhp). Each leg had been rated according to difficulty and this one was a 5/5. It did not take me too long to see why. The narrow road was winding and filled with many sharp turns. Although I was going pretty fast, the male journalists in the other cars zoomed past me at even higher speeds! But I was glad that we took the Passat because on a bumpy, pot-hole filled road like this, the inside remained extremely silent. The car was stable and reassuring to drive. Jane fell asleep and didn’t even wake up when I was driving over a bumpy stretch! Over the 160km to Mersing, it certainly didn’t feel like the Passat was unable to take the strain of the journey.

Leg 3: The Golf 1.2 TSI (From Mersing to Kuantan)
After lunch, we swapped cars again. This time, we took the Golf 1.2 TSI (105bhp). A short ride compared to Leg 2, we simply had to find our way to Hyatt Regency Kuantan. I’ve test-driven the Golf several times, and it is THE car I tell all my friends they have to own at least once in their driving life. The drive into Kuantan was seamless and smooth. Jane commented she liked how the car seemed very responsive and its pick-up, very good.

With my favourite ride of the trip - the Volkswagen Jetta!

With my favourite ride of the trip – the Volkswagen Jetta!

The next day … Leg 4: The Jetta 1.4 TSI (Kuantan to Mersing)
I really wanted to try driving another sedan – since it is a popular car type for families – so I made a beeline for the Jetta (122bhp). Although this leg was rated a 3/5 in terms of difficulty, I think I had the most fun here. In the Jetta, overtaking was a breeze! To be honest, I had more fun driving it than I had with the Passat. The Jetta had it in her to behave like one of those annoying runners who just keep pace behind you and then unexpectedly speed up to overtake you. Whenever I pushed down hard on the accelerator, the engine roared to life in a joyful, rather than resentful, way! I took the car sometimes to a speed of 160km/h and the Jetta gamely zoomed on.

Leg 5: The Golf 1.4 TSI (Mersing to Singapore)
There wasn’t really another car we wanted to drive for the leg back so we took the Golf 1.4 TSI (122bhp). You know what? Thank god we did! This leg, rated 4/5 for difficulty, took us through the undulating terrain of a plantation! Jane took the wheel and tore through the countryside with all the “garang-ness” she could muster. Was it a heart-stopping drive? You bet! But the Golf was energetic and agile, and its suspension held up so well I actually managed to sneak in a 10-minute snooze!

This road-trip up to Kuantan proved that Volkswagen’s new line-up of Cat A cars have what it takes to give a driver speed, response and power. These cars happily zoomed down the highway, overtaking cars and trucks without so much as a shudder. On roads with rougher terrains, the cars’ suspension held up to the test and provided a very comfortable ride. One male journalist even took the Passat up to 205km/h!

So if you are worrying about what kind of options you’ll have when the new COE categorisation kicks into place, you can now set your mind at ease if you are thinking of getting a Volkswagen. For the Beetle fans, YES, the Beetle 1.2 TSI is also in the Cat A line-up. And over the course of the next few months, Volkswagen will also be introducing the Golf Cabriolet 1.4 TSI and the Touran 1.6 TDI so you can still have all the luxe touches without having to pay more in COE.

Roses among the thorns. Jane (from Tatler) and myself were the only 2 girls on this trip!

Roses among the thorns. Dionne (from Volkswagen; far right), Jane (from Tatler; in front) and myself were the only girls on this trip. So you can imagine how stressed it was trying to keep up with the manic speeds these men were driving at!!!

This road-trip to Kuantan was organised by Volkswagen Singapore. Material World was invited along on this trip to test-drive the cars in VW’s new Category A line-up and was not compensated in any way for this review. You may read our advertising policy here.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She is now planning to do a road-trip to Penang soon! Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.

This is not the end …
1. Test Drive: Volkswagen Golf 7
2. Test Drive: Volkswagen Sharan 2.0 TDI
3. [Material Moms] Car Review: Volkswagen Touareg R-Line 3.0 TDI

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

Book Your Stay On The Go – Tan Lili

If you enjoy surfing during your daily commute and are planning to travel to nearby countries within Asia Pacific, you may want to consider downloading the new travelmob iOS app onto your smartphone.

Search FunctionLaunched in 2012, travelmob is a vacation-rental marketplace that allows travellers around the world to book their accommodations in Asia and experience their holiday like a true local. The iOS app, created to meet the increasing demand of bookings made through smartphones, enables you to search from more than 20,000 properties across over 100 destinations in Asia Pacific. User-friendly and sporting a clean design, the app also lets you instantly connect with hosts for booking inquiries, book the accommodations securely, access itineraries, read user reviews, and more. For hosts, the launch of the iOS app also brings to them a wealth of benefits; they can instantly respond to quest inquiries using travelmob’s real-time messaging system, accept or decline reservations, and update listings and upload new photos while on the go.

Short-term vacation rental sites and apps are certainly not new. Besides Airbnb, another popular player in the industry is Singapore-based Roomorama. However, CEO and co-founder Turochas Fuad is confident the travelmob iOS app has plenty of features that set it apart from competitors. “At travelmob, we put a heavy emphasis on understanding our users – and it is no different for the app that we’ve built for them,” says Fuad. “We know that one-third of our users are already on a mobile device, and 60 percent of them are on iOS devices. As such, we made sure to port our features from the web to our iPhone app. We have built a truly engaging and optimised experience on the iPhone. The design is categorically cleaner and simplified to ensure that our users can easily navigate, communicate, manage and book their accommodations while on the move. We’ve also highlighted features like Last Minute Deals, which allows users to find great deals and even locate accommodations in nearby locations. Also, we believe our app is beautiful to look at, and is well-balanced in form and substance.”

ListingsAccording to Fuad, Asia will continue to be the fastest-growing travel market in the world in 2014. “This is driven by various factors such as the growing middle income group as well as the healthy supply of budget airlines,” says Fuad. “We also believe the adoption of the Internet and mobile will significantly shape and evolve travel behaviours. This will encourage travellers to move away from typical travel experiences and move towards more aspirational and enriching ones.”

Indeed, with the growing mobile uptake in the region – Asia has the fastest smartphone adoption worldwide – the travelmob iOS app has already become the top 10 travel apps on various iTunes Stores across Asia since its launch in early December. “Mobile will continue to be an integral factor, from pre-planning to post-booking,” says Fuad. “Come 2014, we will be releasing our Android and HTML5 mobile optimised experiences.”

The travelmob iOS app is free for download from the iTunes Store.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

[If you like this story, you will like]
1. Apps That Make You Go, “DAFUQ?!”
2. Three Memorable Must-Dos in Seminyak, Bali
3. Your Weekend Itinerary For Kuching, Sarawak 

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

How To Plan A Budget Holiday – Tan Lili

material-world-how-to-plan-budget-holiday

I don’t claim to be a very wise person. But if ever you need any tips on scrimping, you can totally count on yours truly – it takes years of being broke to master this art, so I’m (sad but) proud to say I’m exceptionally good at it.

Case in point: I don’t have a regular monthly income, and my savings account is pathetic at best. Yet, I’ll be going to Taiwan for a 10-day holiday at the end of this month. How in the world did I manage to find the money? Aah … smart planning, that’s how. Read on.

1. First of all, be reasonable. Countries that require you to travel out of the continent you’re in are, safe to say, out. For now, anyway.

2. Know roughly how much a two-way air ticket to and from your destination of choice is … then keep a lookout for ridiculously cheap ones. The moment you see a too-good-to-be-true promo, TAKE IT – even if you weren’t planning to go until months later.

3. “Like” budget airlines’ Facebook pages, like AirAsiaFlyScoot and JetStar Asia, and Tigerair. You’ll get some really good deals there. (Through this, I got my Taipei return air tickets at just $150!)

4. Do your research by trawling travel forums. There, you can find out stuff like whether certain places are worth a visit, straight from been-there-done-that travellers. TripAdvisor has always been my go-to forum for bullshit-free recommendations.

5. Set aside a daily budget for necessities like meals and transport – and try to stick to it.

6. Find out if there are any traveller’s perks that entitle you to discounts at popular places around the country you visit. For instance, if you’re between 15 and 30 years old, you can apply for the Youth Travel Card at various counters in Taiwan for dining, transport and entertainment discounts.

7. Ditch the taxi for public transport – really, it can easily cut your transport cost in half. Not to mention, you’ll get to experience more of the country as you take in the sights on the bus/train.

8. If you’re not very particular about eating three square meals a day, try this wallet-friendly dining method: eat smaller meals throughout the day as you explore the country. This way, you get to try more local delicacies (mmm … street food!) and save on large-meal bills.

9. Instead of spending three-quarter of your entire holiday budget on fancy-schmancy hotels, check out hostels, B&Bs or homestays. These days, you wouldn’t be hardpressed to find a pretty boutique hostel with room rates that cost a fraction of those of a three-star hotel.

10. Travel packages can cost a bomb and, very often, you end up wasting precious holiday time at places you don’t really want to visit. Why not be your own tour guide? Do your research then go free and easy – “free” being the operative word here.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

Stories That Could Happen To You

couple-kissing-sunshine-78319871Do you often wonder about romantic encounters overseas? Like … while you’re lazing by the pool, a handsome stranger that looks just like Jon Hamm takes the sunbed next to you … and next thing you know, you both are sharing an intimate dinner at his private villa in Ubud. Or, you are in a glamorous city like New York and while shopping at Bloomingdale’s you run into a dashing millionaire who falls hopelessly in love with you at first sight? Oh! How about falling right into the muscular arms of a Daniel Craig lookalike just as you discover you have been pick-pocketed in Paris?

Ahhhh … vacations and the fantasies that come with them. Don’t we all love a lil’ getaway that is so full of promise and hope? Don’t we all want to meet that tall, dark, handsome stranger and get married overseas and NEVER COME BACK!

Well, this super long weekend, allow us at Material World to entertain you with some fantasies … (cue naughty wink and a cheeky smile). These stories are strictly for those with super imaginative minds and definitely not for the … ummm … prudish?

To begin, pick the statement you most identify with:

“I love adventures! Nothing turns a girl on like a little danger.”

“You love beer and [insert English football club]? Next, please!”

“You’ve gotta try everything once! EVERYTHING.”

“My parents say I’m like a little flower and should just read about Hello Kitty.”

Note: Stories are written for humour and for the open-minded. If you’re easily offended, please kindly check out our other articles on this website.

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

Three Memorable Must-Dos In Seminyak, Bali – Deborah Tan

I know a great number of you have probably gone to Bali like 500 times. So if you know the place like the back of your hand, I’ll forgive you for skipping this article.

I had a bad first trip to Bali a few years back (my second was a press trip so that didn’t count) and because of that, Bali was never one of the places I’d think about going for a short vacation. But I decided it was time to let go of that bad experience and venture into Bali again.

Like most travellers, I wanted to do things most people have not done before. But one of the things I always seek advice on is FOOD. It’s not that I don’t have the stomach for new experiences, I just want to make sure I don’t waste time, money and calories putting away mediocre eats. So, of course I went to some of Bali’s most well-known institutions (that’ll be another article!).

But before I go there, let’s talk about some must-dos in Seminyak, Bali.

Stay at Seminyak Lagoon All Suites Hotel
Jalan Dewi Suraswati III No. 4

Screen shot 2013-07-24 at AM 09.50.28

“A new hotel on a new street,” was what the hotel receptionist told us when we wondered aloud why all the cab drivers seemed so unfamiliar with the location. Then a cabbie told us to just tell all the cabbies to turn in at Jalan Kunti along Sunset Road. From there, you’ll find a small, white rectangular signs pointing to “Seminyak Lagoon”. But since it’s a new hotel, everything was wonderfully clean and brand new. The hotel is small – there are only about 20 rooms and all of them look into the lap pool in the centre courtyard. The rooms on the lower floor have all their balconies directly leading to the lap pool. Overall, I found Seminyak Lagoon pleasant and quiet. It’s not a big hotel so don’t expect stuff like an in-house spa (they can call a therapist in for in-room massages, if you want) or restaurants and cafes (the breakfast service is basic and they have a lean room service menu).

The most memorable thing about the hotel is the staff – friendly, sincere, and always ready to help. And for that, I’ll always remember the hotel fondly.

Experience: 4.5/5 

 

Work out at Dee Muay Thai
Jalan Raya Kerobokan No. 289, Banja Campuan

Screen shot 2013-07-24 at AM 09.51.01

When you mention Bali, everyone automatically thinks of spas, relaxing by the beach, eating, padi fields … but no one actually go to Bali to do muay thai! Yes, that was exactly my point when the boyfriend insisted on checking out this muay thai school 15 minutes away by car from the hotel.

With my instructor Binbin Pardede

With my instructor Binbin Pardede

Don’t expect an air-conditioned place. Don’t expect gloves that are spritz down with disinfectant after each session. This muay thai school is for those ready to rough it out! Our two-hour session involved skipping, circuit training, basic moves, a bit of sparring, punching bags … it was FULL ON. I was drenched in sweat just 45 minutes into my session.

The trainers speak a bit of English, enough for you to understand what is going on in the class. Local kids would sit around looking in bemusement at these crazy people paying to sweat it out. When I proved to be useless at punching bags, I could see a couple of them giggling and laughing at me.

But the experience is authentic, fun, and I really enjoyed myself despite the super-tough workout!

Experience: 5/5

 

Indulge yourself at Sardine
Jalan Petitenget No. 21 Kerobokan

Screen shot 2013-07-24 at AM 09.49.02

Screen shot 2013-07-24 at AM 09.49.41We were so frazzled from the two-hour custom clearance at Denpasar airport that we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner at a beautiful restaurant. Even though I knew Sardine was a beautiful place overlooking its own padi field, I was still blown away by how gorgeous the entire place was. The cocktails were yummy, the food was great. Most importantly the service was fantastic. When the waitress noticed how I did not finish my pasta, she took the trouble to ask if everything was okay with the food. I was simply too stuffed, I assured her. Reservations are recommended and the place fills up fast come sundown. But I would recommend that you try to go to Sardine at about 6.15pm in the evening where there is still light for you to appreciate the scenery and you can kick back with a couple of cocktails before you get seated for dinner.

Experience: 4/5 

I’ll be writing up in greater details about the food later! Meanwhile, do give these places a shot if you are heading to Bali and staying in the Seminyak area. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

The author paid for her own trip, accomodation, food, and experiences in Bali. All opinions are her own.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and was really hoping to hold her wedding at Sardine (they don’t do weddings, unfortunately) … Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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4. Out and About In Chiang Mai 

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Adventures, Guest Writers, Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

[Guest Star] The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Earth – Juan Caldaroni and Daniela Elias

Juan Caldaroni, 26, and Daniela Elias, 24, broke their regular routines in 2008 to follow their dream: to travel the world. Born in Argentina, they are now world citizens and plan to explore every corner of the Asian continent in the most genuine and challenging way: hitchhiking.

One couple. 1641 days on the road. 24 countries visited (and counting), all with one goal: to show that hospitality exist in every country of the world. How? By crossing Asia from Philippines to Turkey overland, hitchhiking, camping and staying in the houses of hospitable locals along the way. This is the story of two young and energetic Argentinian travelers that left their comfort zones to see their dreams come true.

Juan and Daniela in Northland, New Zealand

Juan and Daniela in Northland, New Zealand

After graduating in tourism, back in 2008, we still remember the words of our lecturer: “If you want to travel the world, do not study tourism. Choose another career like law or engineering that will give you more money and longer holidays”. Well, we decided to break the rules. Our dream was to backpack around the world. I guess you could said we enrolled in our own version of “Tourism University”. In January 2009, we finally heeded the call that told us, “Fasten your seatbelts, your adventure is about to start …”

Change of Plans

Not even an encounter with a puking pig would put Juan and Daniela off hitchhiking!

Not even an encounter with a puking pig would put Juan and Daniela off hitchhiking!

The initial plan was to go to New Zealand for three months to study English, but traveling is an addiction (the healthiest one!) and once we started, we couldn’t stop. 1641 days have passed since then, and we are still on the road. After more than four years of travelling, we have already visited 24 countries. We camped with the nomads under the stars in Mongolia, learned how to eat with chopsticks in China, discovered remote towns in the Australian outback, coexisted with a constant diarrhoea while in India, and shared a ride with a vomiting pig while hitchhiking in Philippines. But above all, we learned to believe in ourselves and follow our dreams.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve had to date was traveling to Iran in 2010. Despite how it has been portrayed in the media, we found that this this enigmatic country had the most hospitable people of all our travels and decided that we wanted to share our experience. It took us two years, but  we finally launched our travel blog, Marcando el Polo (in Spanish), where we write about our travels and help other travelers plan their own.

Seeing the World In a Different Light 

In the Phillippines

In the Phillippines

For us, traveling is more than crossing countries off the bucket list. Traveling involves discovering more than monuments and tourist attractions. What we were most interested in are the people and their culture. For us, a fascinating, deep conversation with a local is more rewarding than beautiful scenery or an ancient site. That is why, last January, we launched a project called “Without Borders”, where we plan to travel from the Philippines to Turkey, going across Asia overland, hitchhiking and being hosted by locals in every country.

Why do we travel this way? The aim of this project is to put an end to prejudices about many of the countries that we would be visiting in Without Borders. These countries include Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other central Asian countries. We want to show that hospitality exists on every country of the world and that people from these countries suffer because of the negative image painted of them by sensationalist media.

Currently we are in Melaka, Malaysia. We have travelled 11.000 kilometers in 222 different vehicles since we started with this project last January. Except for ferries, all the trips have been done by  hitchhiking. Oh yes, we know what you are thinking right now… is it safe? Or are you guys on a suicide mission?  Now that we’ve done a fair bit of hitchhiking, we can say that hitchhiking can be even safer, faster and without any doubt, much more enjoyable that taking public transportation. But let’s be frank: hitchhiking is not for everyone. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself waiting for hours at the side of the road under the blistering sun, and that can be immensely frustrating. But when a beat-up old truck finally stops for you, and you get the precious ride you’re after, you will experience the what we call a “backpacker’s orgasm”! So far, in 222 vehicles (and that’s just the number of rides we’ve taken this year!), we felt a lot safer than taking bus rides. When we were taking buses (especially overnight buses), we always had to be on the lookout for our belongings. We were almost robbed more than once on buses!

I bet the second question you’re asking right now is, “Are you guys multimillionaires or is Oprah Winfrey paying for all your expenses?” The answer is none of the above. We are committed to the goal of this project, so money wasn’t too much of an issue. We have done seasonal jobs in Australia and New Zealand (from cleaning mussels to managing a resort) to support ourselves. And, we also write travel articles for  publications. But our favourite way to earn some cash is to sell handmade postcards of our pictures in public squares and touristy spots along the way! (Note from Material World: That was how we found ourselves acquainted with Juan and Daniela. They were selling beautiful postcards of pictures they had taken on their travels the weekend MW visited Malacca)

Today, we are enjoying Malaysia. In a month? Who knows? Maybe Thailand, Burma … perhaps we’ll linger awhile longer in Malaysia mulling over our next move over a teh tarik with a friendly local, and you know what? That’s the best part about our lives now, and the reason we wake up every day.Traveling is our passion, and a life full of it should be everyone’s goal!

Autostop en Malasia

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