Guam Island Tour – Visiting Best Viewpoint of the Island

I will start my story at Fort Santa Agueda since the first two places included in the Island Tour has been detailed in my previous post of Hagatna and Two Lovers Point.

But while I was drafting this post and when I looked into the whole story of my experience in the tour, I see a trend of the places that we had visited while driving around the island. The title of this post is a hint of what I meant on it. Most of the places we visited has historical significance and a viewpoint.

Fort Santa Agueda

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Fort Santa Agueda is still located in Hagatna, but I did not include this in Hagatna post as I wanted to include it as island tour activity. I made emphasis on Hagatna in my previous post, please see here. After we finished the visit of Latte Stone Park and Japanese Caves Latte Park, our guide drove us to Fort Santa Agueda. We took Hwy 33 and we turned right to Hwy 7. From Hwy 7, we turned right again at Fort Ct where we parked our vehicle again. Fort Santa Agueda is included in Hagatna Heritage Walk but I wasn’t able to see this during my first visit in the city because of its location requires me to walk towards the Apugan Hill.

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Fort Santa Agueda Raised Viewing Platform which is the only remains of the fort

When we reached the fort, it has great lookout to enjoy the scenery of Hagatna including Agana Bay, clifflines with Oka Point and Urunao Point including Tumon Bay and of course the far Philippines Sea.

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Cannons at the fort

For Santa Agueda is the only surviving Spanish fort in Hagatna and it served different purposes as the time passes by even though it was fully used as it was built few years (1800) before the Galleon Trade has been stopped (1815). When it was first built, it was used as fortification site to protect governor’s palace and Fort San Rafael. It was mentioned that it was useless when the Galleon Trade was off due to scarcity of supplies which means it doesn’t serve its purpose. During American administration, the fort became signaling station for ships. During Japanese invasion, the fort has been strategic to them and became guns emplacement.

Because the fort sits at the top of Apugan Hill, the fort is famous to visitors of Hagatna as it offers great scenery of western coast of the island.

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With Hagatna

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With Hagatna and Agana Bay

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With Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica

Ricardo J. Bordallo Complex

After leaving Fort Santa Agueda, we took Hwy 7 and ended at Hwy 6. While we were waiting on green light while at the crossing, since I was seating at the front of the car, I had a good look from a distance of Ricardo J. Bordallo Complex where the Governor’s office and Latte of Freedom are located. We crossed Marine Corps Drv towards the said complex. We drove inside it but we never went out of the car, I only had a glimpse of the surroundings from the vehicle.

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Ricardo J. Bordallo Complex

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Latte of Freedom

Asan Beach Park

We enjoyed the coastal view inside the car while our guide were driving along Marine Corps Drv. And then in few minutes from Ricardo J. Bordallo Complex we turned right and parked at Asan Beach Park. Here, I learned a great feat of one of the heroes of my country – Apolinario Mabini. At the park, I learned the place where Mabini has been staying in Guam while he was in exile. I felt proud because one of whom I recognized as hero back home have their statue standing outside the country, an important piece of reminder of my country’s history.

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Mabini Statue and some information of himself to be admired

Another historical importance of Asan Beach Park based on historical records that it is the landing of the American soldier for the Second Battle in Guam in 1944 to take over again the island from Japanese where the latter took it last 1941 from US.

Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

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We were back in the road again, and we were in a road longer than our previous road drive. We went to the pier but seems our guide can’t find what she is looking for. Therefore we went straight to Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, Our Lady of Solitude. The said fort was the last and fourth fortification for galleons between Acapulco, Mexico and Manila, Philippines which has been out of use since 1815.

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Magellan’s Landing

While we were enjoying the scenery at Fort Soledad, our guide also pointed out the location of Magellan’s Landing site when he arrived at Guam.

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Magellan’s Landing

Umatac Bay

While looking for the historical facts about Umatac Bay, I learned how important the bay is and how it was related to my country as well. The bay became supply station for ships or replenishment stop that cross Pacific Ocean during the Galleon Trade period which happened from 1565-1815. I also learned that one shipment from Cavite (the province that I currently live) in Philippines returned from Acapulco as significance of the end of the Galleon Trade in 1815.

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Umatac Bay with Magellan’s Landing and San Dionisio Church

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Umatac Bay from Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

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Fort Santo Angel, Fouha Rock, Facpi Island and Facpi Point

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Umatac Bay

Asan Bay Overlook at Nimitz Hill

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After spending time at Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad which located in the south, we drove back north. This time, we visited Asan Bay Overlook at Nimitz Hill. The hill offers the view of War in the Pacific Historical National Park which includes the hill itself down to Asan Bay. The historical artifacts that surrounds the park is to remember how Guam has been recovered back by US from Japanese in 1944. As I mentioned in Asan Bay in the first part of this post, the bay has been the landing of US soldier to defend back Guam from the hands of Japanese.  At the hill, there are photos that portrays how Japanese tried to drive American soldiers to the sea but they failed.

Apra Harbor and Cabras Island

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Below are version of plane view of the what I had seen while I was Asan Bay Overlook.

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Orote Peninsula

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Orote Peninsula with Apra Harbor

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Apra Harbor

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Apra Harbor with Sasa Bay

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Sasa Bay

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Asan Beach Park

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Fisheye Marine Park and Asan Beach Park

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Tepungan Beach Park and Fisheye Marine Park

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Tepungan Beach Park, Fisheye Marine Park and Asan Beach Park

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After leaving Asan Bay Overlook, we has a brief stop as our guide told us about the one of the tunnels that Japanese used when they stayed in the island.

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Fonte Plateau

Libugon Vista Point

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Our last stop for the island tour is Libugon Vista Point where we had a bird’s-eye view of Tumon Bay, Tamuning, island’s international airport and Barrigada which means we can’t get enough of the lookouts that Guam has to offer.

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Tumon Bay Area, Guam International Airport and  Barrigada Heights

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Tumon Bay

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US Navy Hospital

After the tour, I rested in few hours and decided to walked in the beach as my next adventure in the island. Until then.

Australian Parliament House – An Iconic Symbol of Australian Politics

When we reached Canberra, our tour guide drove us first to see the National Embassies located not far and also surrounds Parliament House. We drove between Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne Avenue to see different and fascinating buildings that unique on their own as cultural identity of the country they belong to.

Then, we drove up to Capital Hill where the current Parliament House stands which symbolizes Australian politics. For me the building is like White House because White House represents American Government while Parliament House represents Australian Government. Living in Australia comes with familiarity with the country. Every time I watched the news in the morning before I go to office, I used to see Parliament House in the TV where most of the time they feature and interview Prime Minister of the country regarding the current affairs of the nation and its politics.

From the moment that I saw Parliament House, I was excited. I never imagined before that there will be a chance that I will see it up close and personal. I had never even imagined that I will be able to do a building tour and see what’s inside of this so-called ‘National Meeting Place of Parliament of Australia’.

The building is immediately recognizable even from a distance with the help of its location which is at the top of the Capital Hill. It’s architectural design is based on two boomerangs, so if you look down to the building from the sky, it is two boomerangs where its rear are near each other or connected to each other.

Below is my Parliament House building tour story.

FORECOURT

We got off from the underground parking of the building. And from there we went up to reached the Forecourt. The rain fell at the time we visited Canberra, the clouds view outside the building was gloomy and the ground outside has been wet due to rain.

Raindrops in my bus window approaching Parliament House

The scenery was different because of heavy and dark sky, but even that was the case, I had been happy to be in that part of the world at that moment. While waiting for others in our group, I had a chance to witness from a far the Old Parliament House (Provisional Parliament House which used in 1927-1988). When the group has been re-assembled, we entered the building.

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Forecourt

Scenery From the Forecourt

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Old Parliament House (Provisional Parliament House)

MARBLE FOYER

The first thing that I saw when I entered the building are the semi-marble clad columns stands all over the ground on its lobby. Second thing to notice are the two grand marble staircases in both sides. My overall impression in the foyer, it showcases how grand the Australian Parliament House is.

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Marble Foyer

THE GREAT HALL

The Great Hall is part of the building that I saw from the 1st Floor since I immediately went up when I saw the grand marble staircase at the foyer. As a discovery in The Great Hall aside from being used for large national gatherings, receptions or events, is the art displayed in one of its space. The ‘Great Hall Tapestry’ which created by collaboration of finest artist when the building is being built.

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The Great Hall Tapestry
(One of the Five Treasures in Parliament House)

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The Great Hall

I strolled around the building and below are some of the displays to be found inside the building at the time of our visit. This means that these displays might not be available anymore aside from the arts that are permanent display in the building.

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Some of the exhibits found during my visit in Parliament House

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Opening of Parliament House by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 9 May 1988(1994),
by Marcus Beilby (1951)

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The picture on the right side is call “The Big Picture” By Tom Roberts
(One of the Five Treasures in Parliament House)

Some photos of 1st Floor

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The Parliament Idealism

MEMBERS’ HALL

While walking around inside the Parliament House and after enjoying some of the displays found in the first floor, next part of the building to be discovered is what they call Member’s Hall. It is a square-shaped located at the center of the building and directly under the huge flag mast.

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Members’ Hall

Surroundings of Members’ Hall

Another part of the building that excites me was at the time that I got a chance to see up close the chambers of the House of Representatives and Senate. Before, I only saw these chambers in TV but during my Canberra’s tour I got a chance to be inside of it. One significant thing that I observed inside of both chambers are the direct sunlight coming through its glass ceiling at its center. The color scheme on each chamber has been based on colors of British Parliament’s House of Commons for House of Representatives Chamber while British Parliament’s House of Lords for the Senate Chamber.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CHAMBER

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House of Representatives Chamber

SENATE CHAMBER

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Senate Chamber

THE ROOF

After enjoying what’s inside the Parliament House, another part of the building that excites me during the tour was at the time we went outside and walked at the grass roof of the building. First thing to enjoy  were the scenic views to see around Canberra. Because Parliament House stands at the top of Capital Hill, everyone can enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful surroundings where the building is almost at the center of the city.  Another thing to enjoy is the up close view of the world’s largest stainless steel structure and its 81-metre high flag mast with its own unique features. And last but not the least to enjoy  was anyone can just lie around and have a rest in the grass, enjoy the sky, the fresh air and feel like you are in a park, the only difference, you are at the rooftop of Parliament House.

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Scenic Views to enjoy while at the Parliament House Rooftop

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Parliament House Rooftop and its World’s Record Flag Mast

COURTYARD

I only got a chance to see the Courtyard which is the garden within the Parliament House through glass windows while I was roaming around the first floor of the building, these pictures also shows the recent rain that occurred in the city.

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Courtyard snapshots from inside the building

Interior : Canberra’s Parliament House – Marble Foyer

Interior (Post#10) : Canberra’s Parliament House – Marble Foyer

The Parliament House Marble Foyer is one of the lobby that I saw how grand it is in a different way.  The ceiling lights, pendant lights, hanging clocks in the middle are all in white colors. The walls with balustrades, the columns partially covered with marbles, the flooring designs with different shapes had complimented to each other. The grand staircase in both sides, by just looking at it and thinking if I started walking on it I felt I am a debutante, it’s so simple but so elegant.  Its design seems to be basic but its refreshing, comforting and relaxing. These photos are part of Canberra Day Tour June 2013 Collection.

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People : Who Wants to Sit with Us?

People (Post #1) : Who Wants to Sit with Us?

Walking in Melbourne was really entertaining. Everyone will find something interesting and others will witness cool musicians and artists along the streets. During Open House Melbourne event, I got my curiosity when some people flock at one point and I checked it out. Below is the snapshot that I got. How amazing these people act as if they have chairs on their butt? This photo is part of my Open House Melbourne Collection 2013.

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St Kilda Road – My Home Road in Melbourne – Melbourne Walking Tour – Part 5

I lived in Melbourne for more than 1.5 years, St Kilda Road became my home road. Wondering why? I used to pass this road back and forth in my daily travel while living in the city because the service apartment that I stayed-in is located along this road.

I remembered the first time I arrived in the hotel-service apartment, I was clueless which direction to and away from the city. On my first day at work I took a tram away from the city. I checked my mobile phone and realized I was in wrong direction. The tram I took already passed few stations and I ended at the last station that still in St Kilda Road before tram will take another street.

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St Kilda Road (towards the city)

The location of my accommodation in my first impressions seems quiet since its weekend when I arrived in the city and I thought that the road was infamous but I was wrong for both. The road is busy not only because of the tram tracks placed on it but because the road is location of many offices where people also flocks during business hours. The road is very strategic location to live and to work in Melbourne.

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St Kilda Road (away from the city)

St. Kilda Road is one of the major road and where 9 routes of tram passed on it which gives advantage to me because I can take at least 6 out of 9 routes as they passed the accommodation that I lived.  The road become advantageous to people who live along or nearby  the road, who doesn’t have a car like me and very dependent to public transportation.

The hotel-service apartment that I lived in Melbourne is part of Seasons Apartment Hotel Group. I specifically stayed in Seasons Heritage Melbourne. The lobby of the hotel is actually one of the old mansions that was part of old prestige of the road in its old times called Warwillah. Warwillah is one of the mansions that still survive at this time as many mansions had been fall down due to development that change the city. St Kilda Road is a road of fame and prestige during 19th century, one of the discovery that I learned while living in Melbourne.

Historically, the area of St Kilda become fashionable area where wealthy settlers starts to live here. St Kilda Road starts as a dirt track and become impassable after rain because of muds. While living in St Kilda, I can still feel its prestige every time I passed the road because old mansions that still existing that are evidence that St Kilda was once home of rich and wealthy people during its settlement years.

St Kilda Road starts from Flinders Street in CBD where more than 100 years old Flinders Street Station is located and Federation Square building at the other side of the road. The road ends in Carlisle Street where St Kilda Townhall is just around the corner. There are significant structures and parks to see and to enjoy along this road, they are the following (some has photos included):

Structures, Buildings, Sculptures and Parks

Flinders Street Station

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Federation Square

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Hamer Hall

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Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre, Playhouse Arts Centre and The Pavilion

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Royal Botanic Gardens

1. Alexandra Gardens

2. Queen Victoria Gardens

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Floral Clock

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Edward VII Monument

3. Kings Domain

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Boer War Monument

4. Shrine of Remembrance

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National Gallery of Victoria

VCA School of Music

Victorian College of the Arts (VCA)

Victoria Barracks, Melbourne

Tennis World Albert Reserve

Royce Hotel (previously an automobile showroom at 379 St Kilda Road)

Airlie Mansion (452 St Kilda Road)

Rathgael (Estella Mansion -462 St Kilda Road)

Majella Mansion (473 St Kilda Road)

New Charsfield (formerly Charsfield Mansion – 478 St Kilda Road)

Chevron Green Apartments (Chevron Hotel – 539 St Kilda Road)

Seasons Heritage Melbourne (formerly Warwillah – 572 St Kilda Road)

Royal College of Anaesthetist of Australia and New Zealand (formerly Ulimaroa – 630 St Kilda Road)

St Kilda Townhall

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Embassy Offices

  1. French Honorary Consulate General (Melbourne)
  2. Consulate General of India
  3. Consulate General of Chile in Melbourne
  4. Consulate General of Malaysia Melbourne
  5. Italian Consulate General
  6. Royal Thai Consulate General
  7. USA Consulate
  8. Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Melbourne

There are lots of hotel and accommodations that can be found along the road aside from offices because the road is not far from Albert Park where F1 Race in Australia being held every year and during my stay in the service hotel I got a chance to experience twice the sounds of F1 race as one of the tracks they used is not far from St Kilda Road.

Free Transit Tour in Singapore

It was my first time of long overlay in an airport. Most of my connecting flights just have 1 to 2 hours waiting period. When I chose my flight to Darwin at first, waiting time is less than 2 hours. But I changed my scheduled flight and the only options left for me was at least 8 hours overlay in Singapore before flying to Darwin in Northern Territory Australia.

Because of my long layover, I checked if Singapore Airport offers a transit tour and I am glad they do. When I arrived in Changi Airport, I went straight to Terminal 2 via Skytrain since I arrived in Terminal  1, my pace was faster than I normally do since I have few minutes left to register for free tour. I even asked three(3) information desks along the way to make sure I’m in the right direction.

I found the kiosk of free transit tour around 5 minutes walk from Skytrain of Terminal 2 towards Lounge F. The location is in between the two. I found the kiosk and there are tour personnel assisted me, she requested for my passport and my next flight boarding pass, then, she gave me an immigration card and I filled it up. When the time came, another tourism personnel assisted the group. She introduced herself and gave preparation advised. She gave stickers to all of us so she can easily identify whose going with her for the free tour. We took more than half an hour queuing in the immigration area and we passed the immigration same process for every visitors coming to Singapore.

Yes, I had been in Singapore for many times and I cannot even count how many times. But I preferred to go out in the tour so that I will not bore myself in waiting my next flight in the airport for the next 8 hours.

After passing immigration, we had been re-group and waited for other visitors. When we were completed, we followed our tour guide and went straight towards where the tour bus was parked. I felt so relaxed. I have with my hand carry backpack and my DSLR camera. We left Terminal 2 and drove towards the city. While on the road, our tour guide started telling information of the things that we are seeing like the new Terminal 4 that will be finished soon and probably in operation on 2017. Then she explained the residential buildings that  we passed and informing us that there were two types of residential building in Singapore. The two types are: the low-cost building they called HDB which are government housing projects and condominium buildings. She emphasized how to recognized the two by looking if the building is surrounded by fences. HDB buildings has no fences while condominiums has.

When we passed some Ferrari (F1) race tracks while on our way to the city center, our tour guide pointed it out and even the Pit building which serves as Pits stop during the race which recently concluded last September. Then, saw as well from the bus the Fountain of Wealth in Suntec City, a place where I used to work for half a year before and Marina Square,

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Fountain of Wealth in Suntec City

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Marina Square

The first stop we had in the city was in Esplanade Park along Connaught Drive where majority of known tourist attractions in Singapore are just nearby. From where the bus parked, we saw National Gallery (building with dome) and its behind is Supreme Court of Singapore. We had a glimpse of Singapore Cricket Club and Singapore Creation Club which stands each end of the vast open area of Padang.

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A glimpse of the city centre of Singapore

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Marina Bay Sands and ArtScience Museum

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Jubilee Bridge (towards Merlion Park)

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Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay Singapore

All of us in the group walked towards Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay Singapore. Esplanade is famous because of its unique architectural recognition. The guide asked all of us what else we can think of aside from Durian fruit when looking to the building. Someone said microphone which I cannot disagree because the roof of the structure of Esplanade does really looks like microphone, which is an interesting idea and discovery. Then, we walked and crossed the Jubilee walking bridge towards Merlion Park where the famous Merlion stands. Merlion personifies Singapore because of its meaning to the country. I got a chance to see again the following: the city’s skyscrapers where the CBD of Singapore is, Marina Bay, Art Science Museum, historical The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, The Float @Marina Bay, Youth Olympic Park and Singapore Flyer.

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The Fullerton Hotel Singapore

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Merlion Park

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The Float @Marina Bay, Youth Olympic Park and Singapore Flyer

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Singapore Flyer

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Flower Dome in Gardens By the Bay

We returned to the bus again for our next and last stop which is Kampong Glam. While inside the bus, I saw Singapore again. We passed Chinatown and Little India. Our tour guide are very knowledgeable and she’s happy  in sharing it.

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We visited Kampong Glam area which is a place that even I was in Singapore for couple of times for the past 10 years and even I lived for almost a year in the said country, I never got a chance to visit Kampong Glam which is cultural heritage attraction. I learned an interesting story from the guide about the place. There were two categories of people comes in Kampong Glam. First, are Muslim people who went to Masjid Sultan mosque for their prayers which happens in day time. This means that it’s a place for peace and solemnity  during day time. Second group of people comes to the place are the people who are having a good time during night-time as the area is surrounded by different shops, cafes, restaurants and entertainment establishments. It’s interesting because the place serves its different purposes on different times of the day to totally different types of people. I never thought that there’s a place like that in Singapore which a new discovery for me.

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Geduing Kuning (Mamanda Restaurant)

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As I walked in the area, first thing I saw is the yellow building called Mamanda wherein I checked that it’s a restaurant. But, the building is also a restored building since its was a historical building where some of the Sultan Hussein family lived like his grandson Tengku Mahmud as per writing display at the gate of the Yellow mansion.

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There is Istana Kampong Glam (Kampong Glam Palace) which built by Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor in Kampong Glam which given by him by British East India Company and the place now is part of Malay Heritage in Singapore. Then, one thing that I like is the restored shop houses around the area because I can feel what the place looks like before. It’s an interesting place to see.

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Masjid Sultan

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Restored Shophouses

Before it gets dark, we were able to return to the airport and that’s where the group separated. I myself had my dinner in one of the food chain before my next flight. And then, I went back to Terminal 1 and passed immigration. I still have 2 hours before my flight to Darwin and I just sat in one of the waiting area until I walked towards the designated gate of my flight. This is how I spent my more than 8 hours lay over in Singapore.

Name Of The Place : National Museum of Australia

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Name Of The Place (Post#14): National Museum of Australia

One part of the itinerary that we had during Canberra Day Tour was National Museum of Australia where most of the history of continent country down under are being showcase. My gateway to this tour was through Sydney airport as the flight to Sydney from Melbourne was comparably cheaper than flying to Canberra. Since there was available Canberra Day Tour, I chose this option than other. Photo captured last June 2013.

South Korea Adventure

One of the country that I dream to visit is South Korea. Main reason, I fall in love with their history through historical drama that I watched. I am not used to watch all Korean dramas, but if its historical, I definitely going to watch it. I can say that I am somewhat familiar with their history though I am aware that probably not all things shown in the dramas are all correct but at least some of the facts can be search online, especially people if they are real or imaginary character. These historical drama were aired as well in my country, and some seen online. I can sense that there is good relationship between my country and South Korea. One of the sign of this good relationship is the continuous visitation of the Korean actors/actress/artists in my country to either promote their albums or films.

When I came from Australia after my recent project assignment last May, there is at least two weeks left before our flight to South Korea. I booked the flight a year ago, without assurance that I will be able to visit this country. It was 1 peso sale in Cebu Pacific (one of the major budget airline in the Philippines), base fare is 3 pesos, but in reality the total airfare is not just that amount, it’s more than that.

I booked three tickets and I planned to go together with my mother and my youngest sister. And in less than two weeks, we don’t have yet the visa since I cannot apply it a bit earlier since I am not around in my country until I returned from Australia. I worked with all the paper requirements for the application of our visa and the three of us visited South Korea embassy, 5 days after I arrived in Manila. And we waited for a week for the result of our visa application. Our visa were approved released just two days before the scheduled flight which is very tight. Until we received our passport and visa, that’s the only time we were sure that we are really going to South Korea. I already accepted before, that the hotel and flight booking will be forfeited if our visa application was not approved. And we were lucky that everything went smoothly.

It was Friday (June 6, 2014), my mom, my sister and I were waiting at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), Terminal 3. At the time that we were boarding the plane, that made me realized that my dream will come true in a matter of few hours. I just thought about traveling South Korea, but never really planned it so well because of the concern regarding our visa. I am a citizen of the country with limited visa free entries to other countries. This is one of the main reason why my travel to other parts of the world are being limited.

After four hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, we finally arrived at Incheon International Airport. It was past 8 in the evening, we were not like other travelers that all things were arranged. The only thing we booked was our accommodation because we were not really sure if we will able to get a visa. After getting off the plane and passing the immigration area, I thought it still early, therefore, we tried to figure out how we were going to the hotel service apartment that I booked. After asking something at information center, we bought our transportation card called T-money card, this money card can only be topped up by cash (not sure if there is a way to top it online via credit card). We decided to take train to go to Seoul and the plan is to transfer to metro train in Seoul. After withdrawing some cash, we took the “All Stop Train” of AREX line (“Express Train” is the other type of train, which is non-stop, straight to Seoul but more expensive than the All Stop Train). We arrived at Seoul past 10:30 PM. Looking at the time, we hurriedly transferred to one of the Seoul Metro Subways which is Line 4 going to Oido. It’s past 11:30 PM, we got off at Chongshin University or Isu station, then we transferred to another line which is Line 7 going to Jangam. At this time, we never able to arrived at the right station where our hotel is just around because the train stopped its operation even before we reach the station we are intended to.

We stopped at Naebang station as the last stop which means the next train will be coming the next morning, 3 more stations to reached Non-hyeon where our hotel is almost near, we went out at Naebang station and tried to find a cab that will bring us in our accommodation for the next 9 days and it was past 12AM in the morning and we were still outside in a place that was foreign for us, quite adventure but risky as well. There are several cabs stopped but most of the driver rejected us, either they don’t understand the way I speak since I am asking them in English or they don’t really want us as their passenger. We waited until another cab stopped and agreed to drop us to the hotel. One disappointment on that situation was, the driver never helped us to fetch our luggage to put it in the trunk of the cab. While on our way to the hotel, the driver keep on checking and looking on the map and address that I have on my hand to make sure that he’s on the right track, I keep on talking to him in English but he usually smiled at me without other words to say, in that situation I understand that he does not really know how to speak English either.

At last we arrived at the hotel service apartment at Gangnam-gu and the name of the 4 star hotel is Inn the City Serviced Residence, Gangnam. The clerk at the lobby of the hotel accommodated us quickly, we went straight in our room after we got our key. My impression to our room is nice, it has two double bed and all the necessary appliances as expected were there. After few minutes of being familiar with the room, we knew it was really late like almost 2AM, we have  a big day ahead of us for adventure and because of that we crawled in our bed and fallen asleep shortly.

I will tell stories of our adventures of each places that we visited in South Korea, most of the places were in Seoul and around Gyeonggi-do province. I enjoyed all of these places in our 8 days tours in this country, though I am aware there are more tourist destination to see and I promised myself that I will go back in this country.

Here are the places that we visited in South Korea.

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)

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2. Insandong (Seoul)

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3. Bukchon Village (Seoul)

IMG_64054. Seoul City Hall (Seoul)

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5. Hwaseong Haenggung (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

Hwaseong Haenggung - Temporary Palace of King Jeongjo - Back to the Past Adventure (Part 3)

6. Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_68497. Everland (Yongin, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_83508. Nami Island (Chuncheon, Gangwon-do)

IMG_74359. Petite France (Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_794510. Changdeokgung Palace (Seoul)

IMG_706411. Changgyeonggung Palace (Seoul)

© HIDDEN PANORAMA 201412. DMZ – Demilitarized Zone (Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi-do)

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 13. Seoul and Beyond – Random Moments

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1st Winery Tour Adventure – Yarra Valley

On my 6th day in Melbourne Australia, I tried my best to plan to see some of Victorian atmosphere. Victoria is just one of the state of Australia where Melbourne can be found. It was Saturday and I am still on doubt what to do in my weekends. I haven’t search on anything yet. But when I’m checking some brochures from the hotel where I am staying, it gives me some idea about a day tour. Since I am in Australia for work and not really for leisure stuff, I have to maximize my weekend. But I was quite busy the whole day of Thursday and Friday. Went home late at Friday and slept late after talking to my family back home.

Enough of my sentiments and justifications. Using the brochures in my hand, I search related and similar offerings. Since I am a budget traveler, I looked for most affordable and yet seemed funny and comedy tour for the day. I found one, I joined the “The Wines Guys Winery Tour”, at first I thought it read as wise guys and then its wines guys. Based on their website, the tourist guides are mixed of wise guys, wine experts and comedian. Because of that description I got curious on the tour aside from the adventure it includes.I booked the tour and joined the next day schedule, meaning I booked Saturday and joined Sunday Tour (yeah that how I planned it).

It was Sunday, I am a bit earlier when I arrived at the meeting place at Federation Square (Flinder St and Russel St) specifically at the front of Ian Potter entrance. Since I arrived early I thought no one aside from me will go to the tour until I was surprised that other people around will go as well. And take note, all the tourist who signed up the tour at that time was all females, no guys except for our guide named Nick.

Let’s talk  about Nick, he looks good. He’s nice and  funny. He took cares of us during our trip from the city to Yarra Valley while inside the mini van. He  made the atmosphere amiable and happy. All of us while traveling seems having a great time.

While on board I tried my best to find out where we are while on our way to our destination. I used my iPhone 3GS to see the current location we are passing by. One thing I remembered that we took Maroondah Highway to go to Yarra Valley.

First stop, Coombe Farm.

Coombe Farm is the first winery I ever visited in my entire life, since I never been really to Winery tour before. Here I experienced to taste Australian made wines fresh from their wineries.  Here we tasted 8 kinds of Wines in a row. And even its my first time to drink wine (since I don’t drink), all the wines poured in my cup, I sipped them all. And this one considered another experience on my part. Here are listed that I tasted in Coombe Farm. Sparkling Wines, White Wines (2011 Pinot Gris, 2010 Arneis, 2011 Chardonnay) Rose Wines (2010 Rose), Red Wines (2011 Pinot Noir, 2010 Merlot, 2010 POLO Cabernet Merlot). My personal favorite is White Wine 2011 Pinot Gris which is a good combination for hot and spicy foods). After tasting, we bought our souvenirs then we took pictures.

DSC04663Wines from Coombe Farm

DSC04664My Tourist Group

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Around Coombe Farm

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Second Stop, St. Hubert

Coombe Farm and St. Huberts distance is insignificant, they are actually neighborhood. Like what we have experience in Coombe Farm there is facilitator from St. Huberts (I forgot her name) who also tackles some basic information of their wines. We tasted like 7 wines in St. Huberts. Here are the list of wines that I got, 2006 Pinot Nor Chardonnay (Sparkling), 2012 Rousanne, 2012 Chardonnay, 2011 The Stag Pinot Noir, 2011 Pinot Noir, 2010 Cabernet  Merlot and 2012 Late Harvest Viognier. And my favorite is the last one, 2012 Late Harvest Viognier.

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My Tourist Group at St. Huberts

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Thirst Stop, Kilara Estates

This winery is far from the two wineries that I mentioned above. We had our group lunch in this winery as well. It was a great one, it has great views of the whole farm and the nearby ranges. Before lunch, we tasted 3 wines but I can’t recall the two. My most favorite of all three wines is the Kilara Sparkling, it’s a sweet wine.

DSC04683Designated person explains their wines (forgot his name)

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P1060657Kilara Winery

P1060658Some cars found outside Kilara Estates (not sure what brand these cars is)

P1060659Lunch at Kilara Estates

P1060660Wine Glass (I fell in love with the glass, I think most of them are all nice and beautiful)

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P1060665Around Kilara Estates

Fourth and last Stop, Seville Hill.

Here at the winery, I also found their wine barrels. Like what I had seen in the movies. We tasted a lot of wines in Seville Hill. Here are the list: 2008 Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, 2012 Rose, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Reserve Chardonnay, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Pinot Noir, 2008 Reserve Shiraz, 2005 Vintage Port and 2010 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. And the winner for my taste, is the last one as well. The location of Seville Hill is really great. And here we passed a lot of wineries. There is a picnic place beside the wineries, and during our visit, there was a wedding happened a day before.

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P1060671Wine Barrels

P1060672Some wines from Seville Hill

P1060673Seville Hill

While on our way to the City, our guide named Nick (I found out that his profession aside from tour guiding, he was doing acting as well). He prepared a test for all of us (is it not nice taking quizzes after a the tour?) Well that was  fact, we took short test about the wines, and I answered them all as guesses.  Well we had a great time in this tour, I found some beauty in Yarra Valley, I like farms and they call it wineries. I learned stuff from the tour like,  every wine has a complementary food along with it. You will not just buy for the sake of buying it, but choose well according to the food you are preparing or you are eating.

Well this was just the beginning of my Down Under Adventure. Until then.

City Tour Around Kuala Lumpur


Like I promised from previous post.  Here’s the detailed Kuala Lumpur adventures we had for three (3) days. This is the continuation of my previous post entitled “A Not So Well Planned Adventure in Malaysia“.

Day 1 (December 25, 2012)

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur around 12:30 AM of December 25, 2012, since my airline was budget airline, we landed in budgeted airport (Singapore has one, Malaysia has one too), they call it LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). Like what I mentioned in my previous post entitled “A Not So Well Planned Adventure in Malaysia“, this travel was not really planned, its like an out of the blue travel engagement. But even that was the case, I still tried my best to get some basic information about public transportation and important tips while going around Malaysia.

I tried to check how we were able to go to hotel without taking a cab, since I learned from my searches in internet to beware in getting cab or taxi in Malaysia, because most of the driver waiting in queue asking for at least twice, trice or more for the taxi fare. Most of the traveler that I read, advised to book a cab instead of taking a taxi that are waiting in line. I made an advance booking for the cab that will take us to hotel from KL Sentral. Before, I thought that KL Sentral was a place they call like city center but in the end, I understand what does it mean. From LCCT, we took the Skybus (AirAsia) going to KL Sentral, which cost us 9 RM per person. The travel time from airport terminal to KL Sentral was at least an hour. There are other bus, going to other places in KL, but I chose to go to KL Sentral since the hotel we booked is in KL and probably just nearby from that station.

We arrived at KL Sentral terminal around 2:15 AM, because of that I called again the taxi booking I made to request for an earlier pick-up but due to some issues that we can’t see the cab and the driver can’t see us, we were able to met around 3:AM which was my original requested pick-up time. From KL Sentral to our hotel, it cost us around 13 RM (this already includes 50% charged after 12AM time). Around 3:30 AM, we were able to checked-in at Valenza Hotel and Cafe. That’s the only time we were able to rest, I was glad that we booked the hotel for that night, I anticipated that it will happened like that, and I preferred to be in the hotel, instead of being outside specially in a stranger places that still unknown to me.

We stayed in the hotel until morning, had breakfast and went out for our Day 1 tour in KL. Since its December 25 (Christmas Day), we don’t have specific plan yet, first our plan was to visit Malaysia’s tourist centre but we learned from the cab driver that we picked-up who is fortunately a tourist ambassador that it was closed during holiday. Because of that, we decided to go to shopping malls. And the driver led us to Suria  KLCC mall which just at the ground of Petronas Twin Tower.

We found inside the Suria KLCC a lot of signature stores that can probably seen in famous cities like New York, Paris and Tokyo. We walked around the malls, at least went-up to 3rd floors. By the way I see what kind of stores that I found in the mall, I have expectations that other floors have the same features. I am not shopaholic and I am not so much in love in clothing branded products.

After walking around inside the mall, we went outside to find out more. Until my sister and I decided to take pictures with Petronas Twin Towers in broad daylight of the afternoon. Outside Petronas Towers, we saw a lot of tourist like us, and observed that taking pictures of the towers will never end.

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Petronas Twin Tower

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Arts Display at the Entrance of Petronas Twin Tower

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Billboard near at Petronas Twin Tower

Then, we went to one of the shopping district of KL which is Bukit Bintang, where shopping areas can be found such as Starhill Gallery and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. We took LRT train in KLCC station, where we bought our Rapid cards that can be both used in LRT and Monoreil (Monorail) lines. From KLCC station, we went out in Dang Wang station, walk for few minutes to move to Bukit Nanas station, then went out again in Bukit Bintang station. We were kind of surprised in traffic rules in KL, when we are trying to cross the road going to Pavilion, people are just crossing the road even it’s not yet time for crossing, its kind of scary but most people does it, we actually did the same thing,  there were lots of people at that time probably due to holiday as well in Malaysia. We spent time inside the Pavilion mall. After walking around for hours and we felt that it’s a tiring day, we decided to go straight to the hotel.

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Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

In conclusion, Day 1 seems like Shopping Place Tour, aside from Petronas Twin Towers, most of the place we visited are malls and market place.

Day 2 (December 26, 2012)

Similar from Day 1, we had our breakfast at hotel, then left the hotel before lunch time. This time we pushed to come to the Malaysia Tourism Center (MATIC) located in Jalam Ampang. We started from Petronas Twin Tower, we walked around to find the tourist center.  We walked like 15 to 20 minutes until we find what we were looking for. At the center, we got a lot of brochures that will helped us to plan our tour in Malaysia for the next coming days. We got the information of the KL City Tour through hop-on hop-off bus, but instead of taking the said tour, we followed the trail mentioned in the brochures. Then from MATIC, we went to see the Kuala Lumpur Tower, as you can see, we just walked around, we never took a cab nor a bus and other transportation, we pretty much still excited what we can see while walking around KL.

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MATIC (Malaysia Torurism Center)

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Kuala Lumpur Tower

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Cultural Village at KL Tower

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Aquarium at KL Tower

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KL Tower ground

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KL Tower Animal Zone

At the entrance gate of KL Tower, there is a free shuttle going up to the Tower itself, just wait to the shuttle service that will pick-up and drop-off tourist from gate to the tower. We spent time taking pictures at the lobby of the tower, we never went up to the viewing deck as our decision because we were still thinking where to spend out time  for New Year’s Eve.

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KL City Walk

After KL Tower, we walked around P. Ramlee street until we found the KL City Walk. Here we found a walk way with a lot of tiny shopping store and restaurants. When we passed it in the afternoon, some stores are still closed which means that the place seems alive during night-time. After we were done a little shopping from open store in KL City Walk, we decided to continue walking and just followed the pathway until it led us in KLCC (Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre), one of the building with unique design around KLCC Park. Then we found ourselves queuing at the entrance of Aquaria KLCC, it’s like an ocean park where you will see lots of underwater creatures.

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Pathway leading to KLCC Building

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Some photos from Aquaria KLCC

We enjoyed the Aquaria KLCC because we discovered other underwater species that we haven’t found in other ocean park that we had visited. After Aquaria KLCC, we went out in KLCC Park until we reached again the Suria KLCC mall. But since we were already tired for the day, my sister and I decided to wrap up the adventure because we need to prepare for the next day adventure.

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KLCC Building

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Petronas Twin Tower from KLCC

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Suria KLCC Surroundings

Day 3 (December 27, 2012)

During our travel around Kuala Lumpur or should I say during our travel in Malaysia, we used to start the journey from KL Sentral. This is the central station in Kuala Lumpur of most public transportation which includes trains, monorail, inter city buses and taxis. KL Sentral recently excluded the bus terminal traveling  outside KL by separating its terminal from the said station.

Anyway, let’s get back to the third day of adventure in KL. From our hotel, we rode a bus to KL Sentral. From KL Sentral, since my sister and I were both adventurous, we decided to walk to Jalan Damansara (National Museum) which actually near in KL Sentral but due to a lots of constructions going on around the place, we had some difficulty to find the best path that will lead us to the museum, but in the end, we overcome it and were able to arrived to the building. In National Museum, we discovered the history of Malaysia by seeing different historical artifacts and exhibits displayed inside the museum. And like my own country, there are some aspects of similarity of history specially the prehistoric part before the colonization period.

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National Museum (Jalan Damansara)

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Photos (Inside of Museum)

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After visiting Jalan Damansara, we went to the new Istana Negara (National Palace) in Jalan Duta. At first we thought that Istana Negara is just one palace. When we took the cab going to that place, we realized that there were two structures called Istana Negara. Old one were located in Jalan Istana and new one in Jalan Duta, and the cab driver asked us where to go, we just mentioned the new one. Istana Negara is the official residence of Malaysian King and because of that we ended at the gate of the palace, we only had a glimpse of surrounding of the palace, but still the external structure of the palace still amazing.

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small_DSC03938Photos of New Istana Negara from one of the gate of the palace

We took the same cab we used to Istana Negara to go back to the city center where other tourist spot in KL located. First, we dropped off at Jalan Raja where Sultan Abdul Samad Building can be found. We passed by the Dataran Merdeka or Merdeka Square since there were some renovations or constructions going on around the place. Then we visited Kuala Lumpur City Gallery beside Merdaka Square. Here we found the huge ILoveKL sign.

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From City Gallery, we went to Masjid Negara or National Mosque. Here we experienced to wear the Muslim women veil and prayer outfit clothing before we were able to enter the building. Inside the mosque, we were able to see the main hall prayer. One of the Muslim approached us while looking inside the hall and she gave some orientation about Islam in brief and concise way. I really appreciated the information she gave us and it will be an awareness on my part. After Masjid Negara, we visited one more place called KL Railway Station just walking distance from National Mosque. This station combines unique structure of dome