Bangkok vs. Kuala Lumpur: Where to Travel for the Long Weekend?

In Singapore this year, we have some long weekends due to the holidays. Christmas is on Monday, which means we have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off as weekends. New Year is also on a Monday, which gives us the long Friday, Saturday and Sunday weekend.

In 2018 we still have some long weekends due to holidays, such as the Chinese New Year (which falls on a Friday and Saturday), and Good Friday (on a Friday). These holidays provide the perfect opportunity for some exotic travel to either Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, our exciting and fun-filled neighboring countries. But then, you know you can only pick one since it is a three-day holiday. There are arguments about which is better, and, since have traveled to both places for the holidays, I can be considered an expert of sorts.

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Bangkok vs. Kuala Lumpur: Food

While food is less expensive in Kuala Lumpur, if you are used to Malay cuisine, you won’t find anything new there. Food in Bangkok is much more exciting because of the many restaurants selling foreign cuisine. Also, the food is less spicy than Malayan food (unless you love spicy food, which I do).

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Bangkok vs. Kuala Lumpur: Shopping

Of course you would want to go shopping while you’re on holiday (I know I do). Kuala Lumpur has malls as big as those in Singapore, and so does Bangkok. Shopping is also cheaper in Kuala Lumpur. However, Bangkok has an edge over Kuala Lumpur because of the street markets. Bangkok is teeming with street markets that give you a variety of choices when shopping, and you can get great prices as well.

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Bangkok vs. Kuala Lumpur: Nightlife

Bangkok goes on long after most people’s bedtime. The city is also safe at night, so you don’t have to worry about staying out past midnight. Restaurants stay open late to cater to hungry people on any kind of budget. There are bars and night clubs for you to go and hangout and have fun, as well as a host of other entertainment choices for you and your family or friends.

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Bangkok vs. Kuala Lumpur: Culture

Bangkok is rich in Thai culture and history that is quite undiluted, because it is the only country in South-East Asia that never got colonized by foreigners. The capital has a lot to offer for you to experience and enjoy, from the dances to the temples to the heritage. Malayan culture is a blend of Malay, Indian, and Chinese, giving it a distinctive culture of its own. Kuala Lumpur displays Malaysian culture in all its splendor and beauty, but personally I prefer Thai culture in Bangkok.

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Bangkok vs. Kuala Lumpur: Nature

The beaches in Thailand are cluttered with civilization. You can go to the beach and see bus routes and food stands, with very little ‘nature’ next to the water. The national parks are no different. They are not secluded and quiet and free of man and his toys. You can enter a park hoping for peace and quiet, and you will see food stands, resorts, and hiking trails that are very easy and not far from civilization.

Malaysia is still untamed when it comes to nature. The beaches are still pristine and free of human intervention. The Borneo jungle is still alive, despite poaching and deforestation. The national parks are still nature-oriented, with very little presence of resorts and restaurants. Malaysia is still doing its best to establish oil palm plantations, displacing the wild life that exists in the country, but you can still enjoy nature better in Malaysia than in Thailand. However, if you aren’t so deep into nature, Thailand is the place for you.

Conclusion

Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have their pluses and minuses. Each has something different and unique to offer to visitors on your exotic travel. While I may prefer visiting Kuala Lumpur for the holidays, you may prefer going to Bangkok. With this list of what both cities have to offer, you can choose which city best fits your style and plan and exotic travel for your 3-day holiday. Or just askus@ladyredot.com!


 

Kally Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

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5 Reasons You Should Visit Almaty

Kazakhstan is a cosmopolitan place that borders the cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe. The vast country stretches from China to the Caspian Sea. It is one of Asia’s diverse cultures where Russians and Kazakhs border the Ukrainians, Tatars, Uzbeks, Germans, and scores of other cultures mix harmoniously.

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Almaty is the country’s financial and cultural center and custodian of the essence. It is also the biggest city falling short of being the capital city after the young flash rival, Astana. The town sits amazingly below the snow-capped peaks of Zailysky-Alatau Mountains. It is pleasantly green and very relaxed with fountains, fancy malls, black-windowed SUVs and busy and pretty busy boulevards. The town is modern and a sophisticated hub for booming petro-economy, one that has many surprises that make Almaty the focus of any tour around Kazakhstan.

  1. The wonderful ski spot fit for royalty

The ski resort of Shymbulak is about 30 minutes drive from the city. In 2014 the resort became famous in when Prince Harry and his then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas went skiing on the slopes. It is ritzy and the sunny, chilly winters guarantee varying good conditions and crispy cold snow well into the month of April. The ski lifts leopard-print cabins are painted so in honor of the snow leopards that are rarely seen roaming the mountains. The 4kmseries of ski lifts run up to 3180 meters Talgar pass.

  1. You get to enjoy yourself along the Silk Road

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The bustling green bazaar market halls, filled with traders from across far as Korea to central Asia gather to hawk are a fantastic way to get familiar with the multifaceted ethnic mix of Kazakhstan. The foothills near Almaty are said to be home to the apple fruit, and it is said to massive proportions. Almaty translates to “father of the apple”.

 

  1. The impressive socialist architecture and art

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Soviet War Memorial in Almaty looms vividly in front of the city’s former army command center. The city’s finest museum, Kasteyev State Arts Museum, was named after Abilkhan Kasteev-Kazakhs greatest painter. Along with the huge collection is the intriguing room dedicated to his depiction of life in the former Soviet era from portraits of the peasant life to the canvases of the fast developing landscape.

  1. The second tallest wooden building in the worldnki

Proudly standing in the leafy Panfilov Park is the Cathedral of the Holy Ascension; a mix of pastel-colored gables, a gilded dome and brightly painted tiles that rise 60m high. All built with no single nail.

  1. The Russian baths are the finest in Central Asia

The Arasan Bath’s complex in Almaty is the most highly styled bathhouse in this area. It was built in the early 1980s as a notable statement of the Soviet ambition. Pick your slippers, conical felt hat (shapka) and a towel and join fellow bathers in the fiercely hot Russian steam room (parilka). Bundles of birch or oak leaves (vyeniki) are used to thrash on each other. This wince-inducing practice is believed to improve circulation. From the parilka, you are to upturn over yourself a bucket of gasp-inducing cold water. To finish up a dip in cool plunge-pool under the domed atrium will leave you refreshed.

Want to go on an exotic tour with us? Drop us a note at askus@ladyredot.com


Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

Why You Must Visit Sarajevo In 2018

The recent traumatic history of the city is well documented but what is hardly know is the welcoming, warm and amazingly cool exotic travel destination the city is. Sarajevo is surrounded on three of its sides by mountains and it is where the twin strains of ottoman and Hapsburg architecture come together. Trains and buses rumble past bazaars and mosques, and minarets take their place on the skyline together with the Catholic spires and Orthodox domes.

Below are reasons to make Sarajevo your next destination for exotic travel

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The captivating Old Bazaar

Suspended on the steep Miljacka valley slopes, Baščaršija, the city’s old Bazaar is a smoky, hectic and noisy locality that is unlike any exotic travel place in the Balkans.

The narrow alleys burst with antique Ottoman monuments, the sweet-smelling ćevabdžinica and several street-corner cafés, and a varied assortment of stalls each selling all types of goods, from sandals and slippers to copperware and coffee sets.

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The one place with the best cevapcici in the Balkans

The legendary staple in the region can be found here. The high calorie spiced minced meat is typically served with kajmak-(a slightly sour and thick cheese) or ajvar (red pepper spread which is first roasted) and somun- a doughy delicious flatbread. Ćevabdžinica Petica is known amongst the locals as the one place with the best of these morsels.

The coffee

Bosanska kafa is served on a thin metallic tray; this bubbling coffee is served from an attractive džezva (copper vessel) into small fildžan (tumblers). Sugar lumps can be added – the regular practice is to dip the sugar lump into coffee then taking a tiny nibble to help customize the taste.

The two world-class summer festivals

During July, the old town streets rock big time throughout the Baščaršija Nights. This is a month-long music gathering from folk, rock and classical to the theatre, ballet, comedy, and opera and it is free.

Augusts’ Sarajevo Film Festival is more prestigious and bigger adding to your exotic travel experience. The festival has grown ever since its start during the 1995 siege to turn into the greatest movie gathering of Eastern Europe.

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The most captivating architecture in the Balkans

Numerous elegant monuments all though Sarajevo are proof of the 4 centuries of dominion from the east. The most exquisite is the Gazi Husref Beg Mosque and above it towers the Sahat-kula- the striking seventeen-century clock with hours of prayer marked in Arabic numeral. Also, check out the Sebilj fountain.

In contrast, the buildings down the Ferhadija Street have an Austro-Hungarian orientation – as are much more along Obala Kulina bana- an elegant riverside fare found further south.

The most symbolic building in Sarajevo is the National Library. It was obliterated in 1992, this noble neo-Moorish construction reopened in 2014. Its renovation is the most obvious proof of Sarajevo’s renaissance.

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The most important Bosnian War exhibitions

Inevitably, Sarajevo is full of sights attributed to the siege. However, the most significant exhibition is Galerija 11/7/95. It stands as a proper memorial to the traumatic events that widely spread at Srebrenica on this eponymous day. The show is presented in a potent way, courtesy of interviews, audio-visual documents and black and white imagery.


Kally
Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

Adventures in Hang Son Doong, the World’s Largest Cave

Considered as the largest cave world over, the three million-year-old cave is located in central Vietnam. The cave’s name translates as ‘Mountain River Cave’. The cave ceiling is spread 100 meters over our heads. Sun rays stream in through the serrated sides of the cliffs. The high-pitched calls of the macaque monkeys and the birds bounce off the limestone walls, resounding from the world past the skylight. The Hang Son Doong cave is situated in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province in the middle of the Phong Nha-Ke National park.

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In 1990, a local farmer, Ho Khanh, stumbled upon the cave. While in the jungle, he heard the gushing sounds of the underground river and saw clouds hanging above the large opening in the limestone. He reported his discovery to the British Caving Research Association but sadly, upon his return he got lost and could not find the cave. The cave remained lost for eighteen years, and in 2008 as he was hunting for food, Ho found the entrance to the cave again. A year later he returned with Howard and Deb Limbert both from the BCRA.

The Hang Son Doong covers an area of more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) and a height of two hundred meters. The main grotto is huge enough to accommodate a whole New York City housing block. The Hang Son Doong was for the first time opened to the public in 2013, with the Oxalis tour company offering limited 5-day expeditions. The use of only one Tour Company has helped protect the cave from huge developments. The tours run once a week from February to August yearly and only ten customers are allowed for each departure.

The Hang Son Doong has a unique eco-system with its own localized weather. Scattered in the dried pools are the unique limestone cave pearls and the biggest stalagmite ever stands eighty meters tall. The collapsed cave ceilings have formed openings called dolines, which allow plant life to grow in the cave.

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The journey into the Hang Son Doong involves a 2-day trek through thick jungle shrubbery and crossing rivers to arrive at the cave’s entrance. Night-time is spent camping within the cave and the close by Hang En cave. The Hang En has come to be recognized as the third largest cave world over. In order to get to the end of the cave, hikers climb, crawl, abseil and swim through the underground rivers, making this a remarkable adventure. Even with the physical strains, guests are well cared for; accompanied by 2 caving experts, two chefs, three local guides, 20 porters and two park rangers who ensure the expedition is exceptional and safe. Small tour groups ensure the cave is preserved as well.

The Quang Binh province has greatly benefited from the growing tourism after the discovery of the cave. Many locals turned to tourism after guests started arriving; this has contributed greatly to the provinces’ economic growth. Local entrepreneurs have established hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and eco-conservation companies to work together with the caving expeditions.

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In recent years, the Sun Group, a Vietnamese development firm has been forward with its intention to construct a cable car to the Hang Son Doong. In 2015, strong opposition from the UNESCO and other activist groups urged the Vietnamese government to briefly stop the construction permits. The cable car construction still looms and it remains unknown whether the approval will be allowed.

Some people are for the idea that tourism will keep benefiting the locals, while others express their concern regarding the destruction tourism will cause to the ecosystem due to the high numbers of guests it brings. Comparable projects like the Mount Fansipan and the Halong Bay have experienced major environmental due to tourism. It can only be anticipated that a responsible and sustainable decision is arrived at to help preserve the Hang Son Doong.


Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

How to Stay Safe as A Single Female Traveler In India

In India, attacks on tourists have recently been on the rise, leaving one question the level of safety of women touring alone in the country. This has led to women taking safety measures to avoid “Eve-teasing”; the name used in India referring to sexual harassment.

The problem has greatly been attributed to the easy access to illegal homebrews, an increase of porn on the internet and the increasing numbers of uneducated bachelors- who, having lost hope of settling down- relocate into towns and cities away from their families.

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I have put together a useful list of what to do and not do for women traveling alone in India. Women are further advised and reminded that they are not without help. Opportunists are always watching a woman’s behavior and not with the best of intentions. Please be reminded western women that they are not to carry themselves as they do back home. It was observed that both local and foreigner women are at risk of these horrific attacks. Most of the local educated women hardly go out after dark and are often brief when dealing with male strangers and even hotel staff who attempt to chat with them.

What to do or not do when traveling alone in India

To Do

  • Always make arrangements with your guesthouse or hotel for taxi transfers to rail and bus stations particularly after dark.
  • Make use of pre-paid cab counters at the airports and always take the smart and air-conditioned taxis.
  • Ensure your hotel room door has fast bolts on the inside. You can acquire rubber doorstop to help prevent intruders.
  • Avoid the streets after dark. Make use of a rickshaw or taxi to restaurants like the local women do.
  • When in Delhi, use the carriages for women only on the metro and only walk when you have to. This will keep you away from encountering the growing eve-teasing problem.
  • Even when you have not made a hotel reservation, act as though you do. As the taxi to drop you off a particular place then continue from there.

Not to Do

  • Wear any revealing or skimpy clothing. This can be anything from long see-through skirts, strappy tops, shorts or a cut-off pair of trousers. Putting a long tunic over a loose trouser is suggested.
  • Be too welcoming with hotel staff or men who engage you at tourist attraction sights. Instead, hold conversations with women only. While on trains, it is unusual to see any Indian woman chat with a strange man unless it is her husband.
  • Accept drinks from any stranger. The local women barely take drinks in public- even at the hotel bars- therefore be careful of men who invite you for drinks.
  • Facing staring Indian men. This is understood as an invitation. Therefore look away or turn your eyes down. This will indicate your lack of interest in any further interaction.
  • Take walks in the countryside alone. If you have to, have your mobile phone at hand with a speed-dial number ready to call for help. Use your mobile to make fake calls when you get an uncomfortable feeling.

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It pays to stay safe when you travel to another country especially when you are alone and this is your first time in a new destination. Bring back fond memories of your travels  by being cautious, alert and respectful.


Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

9 Things You Need To Know Before You Travel To Cuba

The Republic of Cuba is made up of; the island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud and several archipelagos. Spanish is the national language. Havana is the largest city as well as the capital city of Cuba.

Cuba is Caribbean’s largest island and the second-most populous after Hispaniola. The country has 16 provinces and is home to the world’s famous Che Guevara.

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Below is a list of what you need to know before you arrive in Cuba.

  1. Singaporeans do not need visa to Cuba unlike Americans

Unlike the American passport which has restrictions when visiting Cuba, the Singaporean passport passes the test and you can travel to Cuba without a visa for up to 30days.

All tourists require a tourist card, which goes for $20 and which you must purchase prior to your arrival in Cuba. This can be obtained in the country you are arriving in from.

  1. Avoid Hurricane Season – July to Nov

Cuban experiences stormy weather between the months of July and November. Hurricanes are mostly ranging in late August and early October. The other months of the year offer favorable weather for you to visit Cuba.

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  1. Print out your documents before leaving

It is advisable to have a print-out of your return ticket or even saved on your phone or laptop. During the check-in process, the airline checks to ensure that you possess a copy of your return ticket. Unfortunately, the airline isn’t in a position to have a print out done for you.

  1. Credit Card is useless there

All transactions in Cuba are done using cash. It is advisable to have ready cash on you. Foreign exchange counters are available at the airport for your access to Cuban currency.

American dollars are charged a 10% additional fee to the exchange rate when changing into Cuban money, so it is advisable to use other foreign currencies like the British pound, Mexican pesos, or Euro which do not attract such additional fee.

  1. Cuba’s 2 currencies

Cuba uses two currencies, the Cuban covertibles CUC, – which is mostly used tourists -and Cuban pesos CUP. Changing foreign currency to CUP you have to first change to CUC then to CUP. As a tourist, you can use CUP should you prefer.

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  1. Stay in Casas Particulares aka local Airbnb

Accommodation in Cuba is mostly what is referred to as Casas Particulares. Hotels are available but are few making Casas Particulares more common. Families with several rooms available in their homes offer the boarding services at a fee. You will have a shared common space with its members.

  1. Buses are the best transportation

Travel in Cuban is mostly by bus and they have good infrastructure connecting all the major cities. Few bus companies are available that offer bus services to tourist, but should you opt for bus tours ensure to be at the bus terminus earlier since no online booking services are available.

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  1. It is very safe in Havana

Havana is heavily guarded with security troops everywhere. This makes Havana very safe for you to even walk in the streets at night.

  1. The Internet is a scarcity

Internet access here is rather expensive and not easily available. The way for you to have access is to either check- in into one of the hotels that have Internet services, then pay for it, or buy local mobile provider (ETECSA) Sim-card then connect through one of the wifi hotspots available in the major cities.

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Havana city is a prime touristic site. I truly enjoyed the morning strolls along the El Malecon which has a fantastic view of the bay and runs alongside the main streets of Havana. The weather was warm and humid so an early stroll was more enjoyable, refreshing and scenic.

During my short stay, I could not pass up a quick stop at the Camara Obscura. It is situated in the old town and has a breathtaking 360-degrees view of the entire city.

Want to know more about Havana and Cuba? Just askus@ladyredot.com, we have all the tips and tricks for you.


Kally Hi, I’m Kally. A Singaporean who has been relocated twice, first to Shanghai, now based in Kuala Lumpur. I have always been the avid traveller since young. I had my passport made even before I went to primary school! I travel extensively during my free time, either on tour groups or backpacking around Europe and all within the recent years. I am exposed to many different cultures and places, which allow me, to have the ability to look at many things and situation from various angles. Having gained 20 years of corporate world, I decided it is time for me to hang up my briefcase and heels to indulge my passion: Writing and Traveling. The two passions that give me pure enjoyment and liberation. As much as I enjoy traveling and writing, I strive on assisting people in making their lives easier. This is evidently shown in MiddleMe.net where I am the founder and editor. Allow me @ kally@ladyredot.com to help you to pen down your next trip abroad!

My Adventures in Bhutan

Bhutan – which translates as “the Land of the Thunder Dragon”- is a small landlocked country, hidden in the eastern side of Himalayas between the sprawling enfold of China and India. The country’s single international airport is located in the hilly side of Paro valley. Most of the connections to Bhutan are via Bangkok and Delhi with limited access from northern side from India.

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Thimphu, the capital city, although in its growth stages, is growing rapidly. Even with a new domestic airport in the south, we mostly journeyed alongside single-lane roads which warped round valleys or plummeted down mountainsides.

Our team toured the Taktsang monastery – also called Tiger’s Nest- Bhutan’s main tourist attraction. The temple -dates back to the 15th century- is an out of this world accomplishment of engineering, white-walls and red-roof on top of an obdurate visage of stone, thrusting 1,000m into the sky. The temple has an easier access rebuilt and has greatly helped potential pilgrims.

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In addition to efforts of maintaining sustainable development and preserving Bhutan’s natural environment, cultural principles are upheld. Tourist numbers to Bhutan are dwindling due to the difficult access, and a “high-end” tourism policy supported by the Bhutanese Tourism Council. A seasonal daily tariff of between $200-250 is to be paid by each tourist.

Overlooking the paddy Paro-basin fields is the Uma Paro- an International Hotel and Resort, where we were staying. Using conventional Bhutanese plan and a set round courtyard, the central building houses the rooms. A lustrous spa area and a serene indoor pool are to be found in the basement.

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Dining in the Bukhari restaurant was the best part for me. The restaurant design extends from the belly of the central building and the plan encompasses a focus-point stone fireplace, amid a view from each table. Nonetheless, if you opt for some privacy, eight spacious one-bed roomed villas are available. The villas expand up the hill following the central building; room-service is offered and each has a spa room of its own.

“Tour of the Dragon” race , which was held here from 2010 to 2011 was aimed at promoting mountain biking. The race-course mapped out the mountainous path between Bumthang to the east and Thimphu, covering a distance of over 267km. I later came to learn that December is the most ideal time for this sport since there are no monsoon rains and the air is cooler.

Paro is the single-most heavily visited Bhutan city, and it is bordered by tactfully hidden luxury resorts, and yet it’s hardly bigger than a village in the Alps. We ventured the magnificent river-bank Rinpung Dzong castle, voyaging on its pretty suspension bridge, taking regular stops to savor the spectacular view down below of the cascading, jade-colored river.

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We finally arrived at the grand courtyards of Punakha Dzong, the temple at the confluence of two great rivers where the king had fêted his marriage. From here we could observe the Upper Valley, families doing their daily errands and above, the majestic Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten was glowing, as it towered above the Bhutan country.

Curious about my trip in Bhutan? Want to explore Bhutan? Why not askus@ladyredot.com?


Kally Hi, I’m Kally. A Singaporean who has been relocated twice, first to Shanghai, now based in Kuala Lumpur. I have always been the avid traveller since young. I had my passport made even before I went to primary school! I travel extensively during my free time, either on tour groups or backpacking around Europe and all within the recent years. I am exposed to many different cultures and places, which allow me, to have the ability to look at many things and situation from various angles. Having gained 20 years of corporate world, I decided it is time for me to hang up my briefcase and heels to indulge my passion: Writing and Traveling. The two passions that give me pure enjoyment and liberation. As much as I enjoy traveling and writing, I strive on assisting people in making their lives easier. This is evidently shown in MiddleMe.net where I am the founder and editor. Allow me @ kally@ladyredot.com to help you to pen down your next trip abroad!