Monday, June 14, 2010

Taking photos while on holiday...

I am a photography fanatic. So when I go travel, I take lots of photos.  I really mean LOTS.  I took more than 11,000 photos on my Europe trip.

Whilst on a multi-city trip (eg. on a europe trip where you visit many countries/cities), there's some things you can do along the way other than ending up having the exact same photos as everyone else.  Especially if you are travelling in a tourgroup and everyone is standing around the same area, having same vantage point, looking at the same inevitably, most people end up having similar photos of the sights.

Just to share some of the things I did when I was on my Europe trip:
- Take photos from a different perspective.
Example, the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  After taking the usual shot of the Eiffel Tower from this angle...
The usual shot of Eiffel Tower
What I did was to take it from standing directly beneath the tower and point my camera straight up.  And I got this...
Taken while standing directly below the tower
Everyone knows how Eiffel Tower looks like...but how many people have seen Eiffel Tower from this angle?

- Other than scenary, also take photos of the usual everyday objects. (mailboxes, traffic lights, train tickets, food you eat...etc).  It's interesting to see how these differ from city to city.  It doesn't cost $$ to take a photo on a digital camera, so click away.  Memory cards these days are cheap too. I have photo of all the food I ate on my Europe trip. Yes, every single one.  Even the potato chips I bought along the way...and the little chocolate that the tourguide gave us.
Ticket for Eiffel Tower
Wiener Schnitzel (Breaded Veal) from Vienna
- Go up close to take the details.  
Can see the rivets on the Eiffel Tower
- Take photos of menus. Foreign menus are interesting.
a menu from a restaurant I dined at in Lyon, France

*And remember, if you are bringing a portable harddisk to backup your memory cards every night on your trip. Do double (triple) check that you have already backed it up on your portable harddisk before erasing the memory card.  I made the mistake of not checking and I lost 1 whole day's worth of photos taken in Lucerne (Switzerland).* 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Phuket, Thailand

It takes about 30mins to get from Airport to Patong Beach area.
Patong map download here.

dogs, dogs everywhere...

Bangla Road.

Jungceylon Shopping Mall
Stalls area just behind Jungceylon

From Patong area, we booked a ATV (All terrain vehicle) session.  The location is about 30mins away from Patong.  There's elephant ride just next to the ATV area.
Elephant ride


I was in Phuket: May 2009

Seafood dinner at Phuket, Thailand

The place where we ate Seafood dinner was a restaurant called "Number 1 Seafood".  It is located off the Bangla Road (see map below).  The food we had was pretty good and not too expensive, considering we had tiger prawns and lobsters.

We selected 5 huge prawns (1 for each of us).
Fried Calamari (Squid)
The 5 prawns we selected.
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Travelex Cash Passport

Since my Europe trip duration is 1 month, therefore I foresee we are going to have to bring with us quite a substantial amount of spending money.  But since I don't like to bring large quantity of cash (in case lost or robbed) nor do I want to use my credit card on the European got the Cash Passport from Travelex.

It's a card that works kind of like a Debit card where you can use the card to withdraw money from the ATMs in Europe.  However, the card is not linked to your bank account.  Instead, before the trip, you will decide how much you want to deposit into the card (it's like pre-paid) and during your trip, you just withdraw whichever amount you want from this pre-determined amount that's linked to your card.  You can also request to have and extra card thats linked to the same pool of money in case 1 card gets lost/robbed.

When you return to Singapore, you can cash out the remaining amount that's left in the card from Travelex Singapore branch.  Yes there's a service fee however, I think it's worth it for the extra peace of mind.

Maranello, Italy

On this day, we made a short stopover at the Galleria Ferrari (Ferrari Museum) at Maranello on our way between Rome to Venice.
Random scenic view taken from the moving bus in Italy.
Home of the Ferarris.  There's also a private track near here owned by Ferrari for their car testing.

I was at Maranello: 4th April 2007

Europe for Honeymoon with Contiki Tour.

In March 2007, we went to Europe for our honeymoon. We were there for 1 month and visited Western Europe.

Places we went were:
England (London), France (Paris, Fontainebleau, Lyon, Avignon, Nice), Monaco, Italy (Pisa, Florence, Rome, Maranello, Venice), Austria (Vienna), Germany (Munich, St Goar), Liechtenstein, Switzerland (Lucerne, Mt Pilatus), Netherlands (Amsterdam).
*see my other entry for the individual links to the blog entry for each day*

What we did was we booked a 22days land package from Contiki Tour (for ages 18 to 35yrs old) and extended our stay in London for 1 week.  We flew by British Airways from Singapore to London, stayed a few days, toured round Europe with Contiki, then back to London for a few days before flying back to Singapore.

Types of packages
There are a few types of Contiki packages.  There's Camping (where you stay at campsites and have to help out doing camp duties like washing up or cooking, this is the cheapest option), Concept (kinda halfway between Camping & Timeout tours), & Timeout (stay at hotels, this is the most expensive option but still pretty affordable).

There's about 40 people in the tour group and there's also a tour manager who will follow the group throughout the trip.  The bus has a toilet facilities (although they'd prefer if you don't use it since they make rest stops every 2 to 3 hrs of bus journey) and charging outlets for your electronic devices. They emphasis ALOT on punctuality and make everyone set our watch timing to the clock on the bus.  If tour manager says bus will set off at 8am, then it WILL set off at 8am sharp...with or without you.  This is so that everyone will make extra effort not to be late and thus we won't have to waste time waiting for people (like most group tours).
The bus on which i spent 22days
We change our seating arrangements every day so that we can mingle around and talk to different people in the group.  Me and my hubby were the only Singaporean.  The rest were from Australia, Ireland, U.S, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand.  A bus ride around Europe may sound like alot, however it turned out pretty fun.  They usually make short breaks at the smaller towns like Fontainbleau, Avignon, Pisa..etc..for 1 or 2 hours for you to explore in between long journeys from major city to city.  The Tour Manager also tells us interesting facts and historical info on the places we were about to visit, and also teaches us how to order food, buy train tickets, how to get from city back to hotel, what to watch out...etc...

A sample bus day would go something like this: (taken from my travel log) for the day where we have to travel from Nice (France) to Florence (Italy).
6:30am - Morning Call
7:15am - Breakfast
8:00am - Bus sets off
9:40am - Crossed over to Italian border
11:30am - Service rest stop
12:15noon - Set off
1:50pm - Reached Pisa (Leaning Tower of Pisa)
3:20pm - Set off from Pisa
4:50pm - Reached Hotel at Florence for a little rest
6pm - Meet at hotel lobby to set off for the city area
6:20pm - Free and Easy
10:15pm - Meet back at bus to go back to hotel
11:40pm - Back at Hotel.

1 of the daily schedules which the contiki tour manager put up for us at hotel lobby.  This one is for Switzerland.
1 thing I hate about the usual group tour packages is that everyone's kinda forced to have to travel together and usually travel agencies will bring us to places where we don't really want to visit (factories, shops..etc).  But for Contiki, the bus brings you from 1 city to the next, teach you how to make your own way back to hotel from the city area, then drops you at the city area for your own free and easy and you can choose whatever time you want to go back to hotel.  This helps takes out the logistics and planning of getting to hotels and travelling, and yet gives you the flexibility of free and easy trips.
My Contiki group photo taken at Florence, Italy.  European Vista 23/3/07 - 15/4/07, Contiki Staffs: Louis and Ricky.
Miss you guys!