Country #109 - Indonesia

The Rice Paddies

My time in Indonesia was absolutely wonderful! I landed in Bali well after midnight and had a car waiting to take me to my hotel, Sanur House. It was very late when I arrived but I received a very warm welcome and was really appreciated my lovely room to get a great night of sleep in. Thank you so much to Sanur House for sponsoring my time in Bali! I also can’t thank Sanur House enough for how much they went above and beyond during my stay.


The next day I woke up to meet Agata, the general manager of Sanur House, and go on a tour of Bali for the day. I was so excited and appreciative! We had a tasty breakfast to-go in the car and started our trip off by heading towards Tegenungan Waterfall. On the drive there I was introduced to Pak and Ibu, two locals who were helping to drive and guide us for the day. They were both so cool and I was very glad to get to know them and Agata as well. It was an enjoyable drive through the island and I was able to learn a lot even just starting our trip.


When we got to Tegenungan Waterfall Agata, Ibu, and I made our way to the bottom. It was a lot of stairs but was well worth it to get up close - the waterfall was amazing and the entire surrounding area was beautiful! I opted against swimming so I wouldn’t be wet for the rest of the day, but there were plenty of other people doing so. The walk back up was definitely exhausting and we were all excited to get back in the car and rest.


Our next stop was the Tirta Empul Temple. Before we entered we all had to tie a wrap around our waists and pull our hair up. It was definitely interesting to learn all of the regulations to entering! I’m glad we were able to go inside, though, because it was amazing. People were bathing in the pools and the actual structure itself was very intricate. The whole complex was quite impressive. I loved the giant koi pond and we were sure to look for the fabled blue fish, though we failed to see it. After learning about the Tirta Empul Temple and taking pictures we then headed back to the car to head to eat lunch. 


We ate at a place nearby where you literally sat above giant ponds while eating. It was so cool and my satay was very tasty! After a refreshing and unique lunch we headed back on our way, this time towards Tegalalang Rice Terrace. I have to say it was the most impressive rice terrace that I have ever seen! It was absolutely giant and we climbed all the way to the bottom. Not only was it deep but very wide as well. It was so interesting to see, especially up close, and to learn about the process as well.


Tegalalang Rice Terrace was, unfortunately, our last stop for the day. It was an amazing day driving around with Agata, Ibu, and Pak and I cannot thank them all enough for spending their day with me and truly showing me Bali. It was great to get to know them all and to learn more about Bali and Indonesia.


After arriving back at Sanur House and wishing them all goodbye I then walked around the fantastic property to take pictures before heading to Segara Ayu Beach. It was just a short walk down the road to get there and it is absolutely magnificent. You can see Mount Rinjani, an active volcano, off in the distance. I walked down the beach for a while before heading back into town and eating dinner at a nice pizza place. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day and I am so glad that I got to spend it exploring Bali. After dinner I made my way back to Sanur House to get a good night of sleep before my 8am departure tomorrow. I only wish that I didn’t have to leave so soon, but I can’t wait to visit Indonesia again soon!

109 countries down, 87 to go.

To learn more about Sanur House click here.

Country #108 - Malaysia

The Petronas Twin Towers

It was very early the next morning by the time that I finally arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I took an Uber into the city to my hotel for the night, PARKROYAL Serviced Suites Kuala Lumpur. My experience at check in was very welcome and I was blown away by my room - it was huge! It was a studio suite with a giant kitchen and had everything I could possibly need. It was so nice and I only wish that I had had more time to enjoy it. Thank you so much to PARKROYAL Serviced Suites Kuala Lumpur for sponsoring my stay in Malaysia!

I was not able to sleep for long as I had a meeting at 10am with Christy, who helped to arrange my stay. She was so nice and it was very enjoyable to talk with her about Kuala Lumpur (she had some great recommendations) and to learn more about the hotel. She gave me a tour of the different room types and all of the facilities. It was really cool to see the whole hotel! After our meeting I called an Uber to head to my first stop: the Petronas Twin Towers. The Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world and for a time were the tallest buildings. A mall, Suria KLCC, sits under the most iconic buildings in Malaysia and I took a quick walk through before heading outside to explore the KLCC Park outside. It has amazing views of the Petronas Twin Towers and the park itself was so cool! It had so many different ares, including a water activity area for kids and some unique trees.


It was so hot outside but I really enjoyed walking around and seeing it all. Afterwards I made my way to Merdeka Square, the old colonial square of the city. Malaysia had been British from the 18th to 20th century and there are still many reminders of that part of the country’s history. The buildings around Merdeka Square definitely feel colonial and it was very interesting to walk around and learn the history. Around back of the buildings it was like a mix of the old and the new - the buildings ran up against a modern walkway along the Gombak River that made for a very enjoyable walk.

From there I walked to the Central Market. It actually wasn’t too exciting and was a very quick walk to get to my final destination of the day, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple. It is a Hindu temple and, as a result, is the first of its kind that I have seen. It was very unique and I’m glad I was able to see it before grabbing my bags and heading back to the airport. I had a very chatty Uber driver on the way back to the PARKROYAL Serviced Suites Kuala Lumpur who talked about all different things about Malaysia with me. It’s a long ride out to the airport, but the train to and from the city is actually just as much as an Uber so it wasn’t worth figuring out the rail system. I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare for my next flight and found a nice Priority Pass lounge to grab some food from. My next stop is Indonesia and I’m very excited to explore Bali!


108 countries down, 88 to go.

To learn more about PARKROYAL Serviced Suites Kuala Lumpur click here.

Hong Kong

Day 1 – The Persistent Cold

I landed in Hong Kong around 10pm and was feeling sick all over again. I took the local bus, which is totally worth the cost savings, straight from the airport to the front door of my hotel, Mojo Nomad. Thanks so much to Mojo Nomad for sponsoring my stay in Hong Kong. I had a big room all to myself and went to sleep as soon as I got there.


When I got up I was still feeling bad and decided to call it a sick day. Yes, I cam to Hong Kong just to see it (because it doesn’t count as a country and really I don’t know exactly what to call it - Wikipedia says it is an autonomous territory so we will go with that, I guess). I wanted to see Hong Kong but I also really need to stay healthy on this trip. I have a whole day again tomorrow so I spent the day today sleeping and working on planning the rest of this trip. I didn’t even feel like eating, that’s how bad that I felt. I went to sleep pretty early to have a full day ahead of me tomorrow. I’m just hoping that I feel up to it!

Day 2 – The Gardens

Good news: I felt much better this morning! I had breakfast in the Mojo Nomad lobby before storing my luggage for the day and heading out to see the city. My first stop was to buy the very important Octopus card. Side note: I don’t know if they are all done by the same company or not, but way too many public transit systems have cards that start with the letter O. Octopus, Oyster, and Opal? Seems like a lot. But anyways, I had to get my Octopus card to be able to get around for the day. I headed to a convenience store down the street to buy a card and top it up before taking a bus to my first destination, Victoria Peak.


It was an enjoyable bus ride along the water into the heart of what felt like a major business district. I walked the last ten minutes to the Victoria Peak cable car station and immediately realized that was not going to happen: the line was out the door and around the block! Instead I visited a cool old church just down the street, St. John’s Cathedral, and from there walked through a few parks to catch the ferry. It was a about to depart right when I got to the Wan Chai Ferry Pier and getting on was simple enough. All I had to do was tap my Octopus card. The ride across Kowloon Bay was amazing! There were giant buildings on both sides and both skylines were impressive. The ride itself took under ten minutes before arriving at Star Ferry Pier on the other side. 


I really enjoyed walking around the area near the Star Ferry Pier. There was a really cool shopping area, Tsim Sha Tsui, and tons of other neat stores. I went in one mega-mall where I knew immediately what I had to have for lunch: I spotted another Din Tai Fung! It was in Taiwan (where I tried it for the first time) but I was so excited to see it again and ordered twice as many dumplings on this visit, trying both the chicken and pork. Pork was still the best but they were both tasty!


After a very fulfilling lunch I headed north to visit two places: the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden. I took the metro to go most of the way and took a bus the rest of the way. The two are right across the street (via a bridge) from each other and I decided to visit the Chi Lin Nunnery first. It was massive and so interesting. It featured many Buddhist figures and I really appreciated the explanations in English. It was a beautiful place and I really enjoyed walking through and learning about it. Afterwards I crossed the bridge to the Nan Lian Garden. It was amazing! Truly it is one of the coolest parks I have ever seen. There were so many unique aspects in it, from waterfalls and statues, to flowers and cultural buildings, there was so much to see. I took my time and visited the entire park and definitely recommend a walk through it all.

After finishing up a great visit around the city I took the bus back to the metro station where I decided to walk around a local mall. It was massive and I had one goal: I needed chapstick! While walking around I stumbled into a McDonalds, which by itself would be no big deal, but they were serving strawberry flavored soft serve ice cream. Now that’s a McDonalds food I could get behind! I got a cone to go and enjoyed it on my walk through the mall. I finally found a pharmacy and luckily they had just what I needed. I then took the metro back into the heart of the city where I caught a bus to take me back to Mojo Nomad. I picked up my luggage and, after a bit of a wait at the bus stop, caught the local bus back to the airport. The hour ride was enjoyable as I was able to see the outskirts of the city during the daytime this time. I really found the massive port area to be interesting and also attempted to see Hong Kong Disney as we passed the exit. I would love to go on my next visit to Hong Kong. I arrived at the airport in plenty of time for my flight which was, unfortunately, delayed. I finally boarded my flight for Kuala Lumpur after midnight, and really am looking forward to my time in Malaysia.

107 countries down, 89 to go.

To learn more about Mojo Nomad click here.

Country #107 - Palau

Day 1 – The Island Relaxation

I landed in Palau a little after 4am and very ready to go to sleep. I had transportation waiting for me at the airport to head to my hotel, Palau Carolines Resort. Once at the reception area I was driven by golf cart to my bungalow style room. It was pitch black outside so I couldn’t see much, but I could tell that I was up in the center of the island and should have a good view of the water in the morning. And boy, did I!


The view from my room looked out over the luscious island from up in the trees. It was amazing! A huge thank you to Palau Carolines Resort for sponsoring my stay in Palau - it was truly amazing. When I woke up I called to make my breakfast order and just a short while later I had breakfast on my patio with an amazing view. It was definitely a breakfast to remember. After getting very little sleep yet again I had, unfortunately, started to catch a cold. I have two days in Palau so I decided to spend my first one resting up and trying to fight the sickness so it hopefully doesn’t get worse.


I had great internet so I was able to get work done with a view, watch Netflix on the TV, and also take a few naps as well. For dinner I ordered a tasty pizza and, all around, it was a perfect restful day. I was able to go to sleep early before exploring more of Palau tomorrow.

Day 2 – The Island Museum

My second day in Palau was definitely a little more adventurous. I was feeling better, though not completely, and after another beautiful and delicious breakfast I headed down to the lobby to get a ride into town. At first I had planned to visit a local beach but on the drive learned from the driver that there were not many good local public options. We drove up to a few restaurants that had beach access but those options were all either closed or having a private event.

After no luck finding a beach I decided on plan B - a visit to a museum, the Belau National Museum! The museum itself was quite small but very comprehensive at the same time. It covered all of Palau’s history (and all of its colonial past, including Spanish, German, Japanese, and US occupation), its local traditions and lifestyle, art and early literature from the island, and much more. One of my favorite things that I learned is that Palau is a matriarchal society as women have been in charge on the island throughout its history. I spent a few hours reading as much as I could before visiting the gift shop and then enjoying the outdoor aspect of the museum. Outside there were many artifacts and even a local traditional building. It was very cool!


After the museum I headed to eat dinner at a restaurant near the hotel. Elilai Grill and Bar has another great view out over the island and I had some more tasty ribs. I was a bit annoyed that they wouldn’t let me sit by the edge since they had reservations even though they weren’t going to start until way after I left, but whatever. My food was still good and so was the view. After dinner I walked back the rest of the way to Palau Carolines Resort where I explored the property for a bit. The views are all over and they are building so many new villas. I cant wait to visit again someday!


That goes for Palau as a whole, actually. The main draw for tourists to Palau is diving and taking a boat out to see the Rock Islands. Unfortunately, I don’t have the funds to do either of those things right now, but I would love to come back and spend more time here someday! I had a great time and after my enjoyable second day I went to sleep around 6pm to get a few hours before having to head to the airport for my 2am flight to Guam.


107 countries down, 89 to go.

To learn more about Palau Carolines Resort click here.

Country #106 - Philippines

The Manila Madness

From the very start my time in Manila was hectic, but I had a very enjoyable stay as well. When I landed at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport it was one of the absolute worst immigration lines that I have seen. Actually, I take that back. It was much less a line than a giant bunch of people making their way towards the immigration booths in no discernible order. So, chaos, basically. After about an hour I finally made it through where my driver to my hotel, Amelie Hotel Manila, was waiting out front. The traffic was crazy because I think it is always crazy but eventually we made it to my hotel.

It was so late by the time that I finally arrived but I had a quick and welcoming check in and loved my large and comfortable room high up in the hotel. I loved the design of the room and felt very at home even after a crazy start to my time in Manila. I cannot thank Amelie Hotel Manila for sponsoring my stay in the Philippines! 


I ended up sleeping in much later than I had anticipated but still had time to get out and see Manila today. I took an Uber from Amelie Hotel Manila to the Intramuros area of the city, which is the historic Spanish area that was built during Spanish colonization starting all the way back in the 16th century. The ride over was quite interesting in itself. Manila is a crazy place and just driving through the streets was eye opening. Once I was in Intramuros I spent a bit just walking around and appreciating the architecture. My favorite site was the beautiful San Agustin Church, which actually had a wedding going on inside that you could see from the street since they left the doors wide open. It was so cool!


I had very spotty cell service in the city for some reason so it took a while to finally call an Uber to take me back to Amelie Hotel Manila. When I arrived back at the hotel I met with Pia, the resident manager of the hotel, along with other members of the hotel staff. We sat down for an absolutely lovely local meal at the hotel restaurant, Braska. I got to try so many new things and they were all quite tasty! I also really enjoyed spending time with Pia and asking her all about Manila and the Philippines. I learned so much and she was the absolute sweetest. She has promised to send me a video of her dancing with pom-poms when I finish breaking the record - I can’t wait!


While I had a very short stay in Manila I really enjoyed it. I would absolutely love to come back to the Philippines in the future and spend more time visiting the beautiful islands. I really enjoyed being able to at least see Intramuros and learning all about the Philippines with Pia. After our late lunch I took the long, traffic-filled ride back to the airport to catch my next plane. Immigration was not nearly as bad leaving the country, thank goodness. I was a bit early but finally boarded my plane around 9pm. I’m really looking forward to my next stop as it is my first Pacific Island and the only one that I will make it to for quite some time. I can’t wait to get to Palau soon!

106 countries down, 90 to go.

To learn more about Amelie Hotel Manila click here.