What to Pack for a Hiking Vacation

Selecting the right hiking gear is vital if you want to have an enjoyable hiking trip. In order to have a safe and refreshing hike, you need to pack enough supplies and make sure you have suitable clothing for the trip. Thankfully, packing for a hacking trip doesn’t have to be a tricky task to tackle. These next three tips will help you prepare for your next adventure.


Pack Layers of Clothes

The best way to dress for a hiking trip is to wear layered clothes. If there’s one thing unpredictable about this type of adventure, it’s the weather. The weather in the mountains can shift from hot and sunny to absolutely freezing in a matter of minutes, especially when the sun sets or rises.

Wearing layers of clothes when hiking can help you adapt to changes in the weather condition quickly. You can add more to stay warm, or simply remove some layers if the day gets a bit warm. Be sure to consider these layers when packing your clothes.

The outmost layer is the most important. Even when you’re expecting a hot day during the trip, you must always pack a windbreaker or a waterproof jacket. A pair of waterproof trousers is a good idea too.

Hiking Boots

You’ll be walking most of the time, so choose a pair of hiking boots that fits you perfectly. Women’s walking boots are easy to find these days, so finding a pair that fits you like a glove – well, like a good pair of shoes – is very easy. Be sure to select hiking boots that are light and comfortable; comfort should be your priority.

Some hiking boots have more features. You can, for instance, choose a pair that’s waterproof and dirt-proof. These features will help make the entire trip so much better since you can keep your feet dry and protected.

A Backpack for the Job

Many hikers – especially beginners – focus most of their attention on accessories and hiking gear. These items are indeed essential, but you should never forget the backpack that will carry them throughout the trip. Never – and I do mean NEVER – settle for a cheap backpack, especially when you have a lot to carry or you’re going on a long hiking trip. The last thing you want to happen is for the bag to fail you in the middle of your adventure.

When it comes to backpacks for hiking trips, I usually suggest carrying two backpacks: a 45-litre one and an 18-litre daypack. The larger backpack is for storing clothes and all of the hiking essentials. The daypack, on the other hand, is useful for carrying items that you will use frequently during the trip, such as sunglasses and your medications.

Of course, these are just the basics. You can add more items to your packing list according your needs and personal preferences. Check your bags before you embark on the adventure and be sure to carry extras of essential items to ensure an enjoyable and truly satisfying hiking trip.

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Catching a train in Rome

When travelling, time management is very important. Every little detail has to be taken into account; the time you wake up, the time you take to bathe, the time to leave the hotel, transportation schedules and what not. Evi and I learned a precious lesson, we almost did not make it home last April. But we did; with lots of running and high determination to catch our train in time. Our train was scheduled to leave Rome for Bologna at 8.45am, and a few minutes before that we were still in a bus, caught in a traffic jam.

Evi and I left our accommodation, located some 40 minutes from Rome city centre by train, around 7.00am despite 6.45am as planned, because we had to actually take some time to return the key set which comprises of the keys to gate, building, apartment and our room. The automatic gate can only be opened with the key, so we figured out a way. After opening the gate, Evi ran back to the apartment at 1st floor to keep the key while I stand in the way of the gate to keep it open.

We then walked 10 minutes to the nearest Torrenova train station. We took the 7.15am train and journey from Torrenova Station to C Lodi Metro Station took about an hour as it stopped longer at every station during week days. We arrived at Piazza Lodi around 8.15am. From there we then had to take a bus before reaching Rome Main Station. We have 30 minutes to reach the station, but the bus was nowhere in sight. We tried to hail taxis, but no luck. The bus finally came around 8.30am. 15 minutes to catch our train. At this time, we were counting minutes and looking at the time as often as we could. We were panicking. To make matter worst, the traffic was at its peak; moving slowly as if time and speed had become distorted. We prayed hard in the bus. God knows we did.

You see, our train from Rome Main Station to Bologna was scheduled to leave at 8.45am. We have to catch that train as we bought a Smart ticket for two persons for 34,90€. It was a good deal. If we miss the train, we might have to buy new tickets at more expensive rate.

With my phone in hand, I searched for ticket from Rome to Bologna and found out that it cost about 60€ per person—with arrival time at Bologna at 3.00pm. Smart ticket was not available on that date. Taking the regional train was out of the option as it would reach later than 3.00pm. We knew then that by hook or by crook, we had to take our train because our flight to Kuala Lumpur was scheduled at 3.30pm. We had to be there on time, else we will get stuck in Rome with only 60€ in my pocket. Evi tried to withdraw some money a day earlier, but it was rejected. Something wrong with the withdrawal setting on the bank side, even though she had it activated for overseas withdrawal. Mine was good, but there was no money in it (haha!).

With the money in my pocket combined with Evi’s money in the bank (if we were at all successful at withdrawing it), it was still not enough to cover new flight tickets, plus train tickets from Rome to Bologna to Gugliemo Airport, not to mention money for food. It’s not cheap. Asking money from family members was the last thing on our minds.

Anyway, we reached the main station around 8.40am. We ran as fast as we could and were trembling as we reached the check-in gate, the platform and the train. 8.43am. Phew. That was close.

When inside the train we panicked once again as we had not validate our ticket. We asked around and a man told us that we do not have to validate as our ticket has confirmed seats. Phew again.

At 8.45am, the train made its way to Bologna with two women laughing their asses off (while still having trembling leftover), happy that they made it.




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Croatian Holiday Bookings Rise Following Return of Game of Thrones Series

New research has revealed that the return of the Game of Thrones series to UK televisions has led to more people searching for holidays to Croatia, where the series was filmed. Season 6 started airing on Monday, 25 April 2016, since when holiday bookings to Croatia have also seen a sharp rise. It was also revealed that specific areas, including Dubrovnik, were particularly popular holiday searches and that many people have booked a trip to these locations. The spike started some two weeks before the series became aired and has not yet slowed down.

dubrovnikDubrovnik, Croatia.

The popular HBO series Game of Thrones seems to have had an impressive positive impact on tourism in Croatia. The series is, in part, filmed in this country. According to UK based online travel agency Sunshine.co.uk, the number of searches and bookings for holidays in this Mediterranean country have increased significantly. The travel agency is conducting a piece of research into the travel behaviors of British holiday makers, and they are trying to uncover whether the fantastical television series and travel trends are correlated.

In the two weeks before the next series of Game of Thrones returned, which was due to air on Monday, 25 April 2016, Sunshine noticed that some 3,100 individual searches were registered for ‘King’s Landing’ holidays. This was interesting because King’s Landing is a fictional place that only exists in the series. Part of this series was actually filmed in the Croatian medieval city of Dubrovnik.

Not all interested holiday makers searched for King’s Landing, however. In fact, many seemed to be well aware of where the series was filmed, because searches for Dubrovnik in particular were also up. In fact, there was a 71% increase in the number of searches for this city compared to the month before. Additionally, there was a 26% rise in the number of bookings that were made.

When looking specifically at searches for Croatia, it was found that there had been an 85% increase compared to the previous month. Furthermore, all Croatian destinations and resorts saw an increase of 31% in bookings compared to the previous month. This was specifically for bookings and searches made through sunshine.co.uk.

There were a number of other searches that were noted on sunshine.co.uk that are likely to be related to the new series. These included ‘Game of Thrones tours’ and ‘Game of Thrones Filming locations’. It seems, therefore, that the series has actually made a significant impact on the minds of people.

Additionally, Croatia has welcomed the increase in tourism. The country prides itself on its ancient history and beautiful geography and is happy to see that more people will be able to enjoy it. Now that the series has been aired, it seems that searches and bookings continue to rise, so the overall impact could be even more significant.

Chris Clarkson, Managing Director of sunshine.co.uk, said the following:

“Croatia is a really beautiful destination which is within easy reach of the UK. I’d say it’s very much still an up and coming holiday location, because it still retains a somewhat undiscovered status. There are so many small islands to explore and so much culture and history to soak up, as well as the year-round sunshine, so it’s not difficult to see what the appeal is.

“With all of this to offer and the fact the country has been thrown in to the limelight somewhat thanks to Game of Thrones and the TV show’s cult following, it isn’t going to remain undiscovered for very long. People wanting to visit should do so now!”

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Macao: Arts and Culture

Think about Macao, you’ll probably imagine casinos, entertainment outlets, luxury hotels and Portuguese heritage. And yes, medieval churches, temples, and 459 year-old Portuguese governed city are testament to Macao’s industrial and historical past.

Yet right now massive city development projects are rapidly expanding Macao into a ‘Vegas of the East’. At the same time the city is old – evidence of human and culture dating back 4,000 to 6,000 years has been discovered on the Macau Peninsula and dating back 5,000 years on Coloane Island.

With the rapid development, the locals and officials realised that discovering its art and culture is probably next to impossible. Thus, Macao offer visitors a unique perspective on the territory’s chequered past by having exhibitions, annual festivals, and many more to highlight the diversity of arts and culture which nourishes Macao.

Below are some places and highlights of arts and culture in Macao that I chanced upon during my 4-day visit.

The Macao Arts Festival. The Macao Arts Festival dramatically lights up the city every early summer, bringing together theatre, dance, music, circus, multimedia and visual arts in an artistic panorama of events. A mix of local, regional and international performers from various regions and countries around the world present a diversity of programmes, including Cantonese Opera, Western classical and modern music, Chinese music and drama, Macanese drama, and a host of exciting artistic experiences enjoyed by enthusiastic multicultural audiences for an entire month. The icing on the cake is that several performances are hosted by some of Macao’s enchanting and atmospheric UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites. For this year, 27th Macao Arts Festival is happening from Apr 30 – May 29, 2016.Arts Festival


Macao World Heritage. Comprising over 20 ancient monuments and urban squares interwoven in the heart of the city, the historic district is collectively known as “The Historic Centre of Macao” and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005. It stands today as a living testimony to the integration and co-existence of eastern and western cultures over a unique chapter in history. Leisurely explore the Historic Centre of Macao – you will discover various magnificent heritages and unveil their wonderful stories!

AzulejosAzulejos ceramic art inside Leal Senado Building.


Museums and galleries. Visiting museums and exhibitions in Macao is an enjoyable, sure-fire way to make your visit more memorable and to gain more knowledge about this fascinating city and its history that include its culture of ‘East meets West’ over the past four and a half centuries.

One of the museums that I visited is Macao Museum of Art. The Macao Museum of Art is the only art museum in Macao and provides the largest space dedicated to visual arts. Current exhibitions include:

  • Paintings by Su Liupeng from the MAM Collection
    1 May 2016 – 29 May 2016
  • Macao Arts Window 2016 Encounter – Printmaking by Catherine, Cheong Cheng Wa
    22 April 2016 – 05 June 2016 
  • 10th Macau Design Biennial
    17 December 2015 – 26 June 2016
  • Ink Wash of the Forbidden City – Paintings by Charles Chauderlot
    08 October 2015 – 16 April 2017
  • Photographs of Old Temples in Macao
    10 July 2015 – 03 July 2016

Inkwash paintings by Charles ChauderlotLeft: Palace of Compassion and Tranquility (Cining Gong); Right: Pavilion of Flowing Music (Changyin Ge).


Edgar Degas – Figures in Motion. MGM kicks off its art exhibition by exhibiting a sculpture collection by legendary French artist Edgar Degas at MGM Art Space.A highlight program under Le French May, Edgar Degas –Figures in Motion presents 74 pieces of bronze sculpture never before been shown in Hong Kong and Macau, including the famous Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen.

Degas is known as one of the founders of Impressionism and is famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. Curated by Dalit L. Durst of M.T. Abraham Foundation for the Visual Arts, guests will rediscover the era of Degas’ most glorious years and the Paris that he knew, through his timeless art pieces, focusing on three subjects Degas is known for: Horses, Dancers, and Bathing Women. The exhibition is also paired with interactive elements including guides to walk guests through the story of the art and opportunities for fun photos.

Sculptures by Edgar Degas

The exhibition is co-presented by Le French May and M.T. Abraham Foundation for the Visual Arts, supported by the French Consulate General of France in Hong Kong & Macau, and exclusively sponsored by MGM. Exhibition will be from 29 April 2016 until  20 November 2016. Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm. Closed on Mondays (except public holidays).

Taipa Village
. Taipa Village is my favourite; it is a laid-back village where the original community of Taipa Island started from, and one of only two traditional villages that still exist in Macau. It’s a small cluster of narrow lanes and alleys, with old colonial houses along them. It was great peeping into small temples, shops and cafes.

Taipa VillageDireita Carlos Eugenio Street.

Blissful Carrot The Blissful Carrot Vegetarian Take-Away Restaurant, Direita Carlos Eugenio Street.

DoorGodDoor God art at Ka Sin Tong Temple, Direita Carlos Eugenio Street.

PleasantGardenGarden-themed screen, one of the exhibits at Historical Museum of Coloane and Taipa, Correia da Silva Street.

SilverBirdInteresting exhibit at Historical Museum of Coloane and Taipa; a brand label of Yick Loong Fireworks dating from between 1930 and 1950. Macao was the central location for most firecracker manufacturing. This label features a beautiful woman with a silver bird to catch a buyers attention. The slogan is “My face is pretty like the silver bird.”

craftsmanA craftsman working on Door God painting in front of Tin Hau Temple at Gov. Tamagnini Barbosa Street.

CunHa BazaarCunha Bazaar is where tradition meets creativity, borne of the cooperation between Choi Heong Yuen Bakery and Macau Creations.

Macau Creations is the first designer-brand in Macau to celebrate its culture and artists. Each item is a collaboration of real originality, creativity and passion. The Macau Creations has been working with many local artists and made use of the essence of their creative works and designs to produce cultural creative products they have all been under constant trials and development by local artists and designers. Every small item is a small piece of art of an intense thinking of life.

Cunha BazaarCunha Bazaar at Cunha Street.

So, there you go. Do check out Macao Government Tourism Office and find out more about art and culture places around Macao.

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Things Macao


These are some of the things that I found in Macao:

Egg Tarts: Although egg tarts can be found abundantly in Macao, the most famous one is Lord Stow’s Egg Tart. Englishman, Andrew Stow opened Lord Stow’s Bakery on Coloane Island, Macau on 15th September 1989. It was a modest affair, in a small village shop, in an area he loved. Local people quickly took to his European produce – a phenomenon in an area with no strong tradition of bread eating.

During a trip to Portugal in the late-80s, Andrew had become familiar with their popular Pasteis de Nata – a kind of egg tart, which had its origins in Belem, Lisbon in 1837. Andrew wanted to produce Pasteis de Nata for his customers, but had no recipe. His Pharmaceutical background made him no stranger to experimentation and Andrew set forth, experimenting with his own version. He dispensed with some conventional methods & ingredients, and introduced an English touch. By doing so, Andrew created his own specialty and introduced the “Portuguese” Egg Tart to Asia in the form they are now recognized and known.

Portuguese ceramic tiles (Azulejos): The influence of Portuguese art, architecture and craft still linger in the form of azulejos – the unique ceramic tiles characteristically used to decorate colonial-era buildings and public spaces. I noticed that one of the buildings in the Historic Center of Macao that still have Azulejos art is Leal Senado Building. Other building that I also noticed having Azulejos is Central plaza at MGM Macao.

Goddess of Mercy (Kun Iam)Goddess of Mercy is 20 meters high and weighs 50 tons. She is a deity embodying love, mercy and compassion, and a figure that represents this message of solidarity and rapprochement between people, worshipped even beyond the scope of the Buddhist religion.

Macao Tower: Macao Tower measures 338m (in height from ground level to the highest point. An observation deck with panoramic views, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim. It offers the best view of Macau and in recent years has been used for a variety of adventurous activities.

Giant Panda: Miles from the glitter and gold of Macau’s resorts, nestled against a hill in Coloane, you’ll find the real treasures of Macau. The feature attraction at Seac Pai Van Park, the Macao Giant Panda Pavilion is home to two rare giant pandas, Kai Kai and Xin Xin. They count amongst the 320 giant pandas living in breeding centers and zoos around the world and are part of an endangered species that has only 1600 left living in the wild.

Door god: I noticed that all temples that I visited have Door God. I am very intrigued by the artwork on some of the doors and took some photos for my drawing reference.  A door god is a Chinese decoration placed on each side of an entry to a temple, home, business, etc., which is believed to keep evil spirits from entering.

Lotus: Standing in Lotus Square next to the Forum, the large sculpture of “Lotus Flower In Full Bloom” presented by the State Council of China in 1999, marks the return of sovereignty of Macao. The sculpture stands at 6 meters high and the major part is composed of a stem, petals and pistil, with a total of 16 components. The base of the flower consists of 23 pieces of red granite.


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