General Catch-all

Tell us whatever you want.

For the real Prague ... look south

By: bluefrontier on October 19, 2006 - 12:25am

Hi TwinFers, glad to hear you're making your way to the Czech Republic ... after all, what vagabonding freewheeler could flit past a place called Bohemia? Prepare for the onslaught of that lard-rich hearty fare so popular in Central Europe (hearty? probably named such because of the main internal organ it'll attack); hire a bike and check out the streets and forests above the town centre (where the slick touro veneer hasn't yet been applied); enjoy $1 mugs of pilsner, if you pick your pub right; get sold tickets to an orchestral performance by a dude dressed as Mozart; gasp at the Scooby Doo-style Jewish cemetery, replete with bodies stacked nine-high and those eerie sinking tombstones; grab a photography exhibition (I think Jan Saudek and Yann Arthus Bertrand might still be showing); and test the limits of your soul -- and stomach lining -- with an evening's absinthe-fuelled revellery at the Marquis de Sade bar (no, calm yourselves, it ain't an S&M club).

HOWEVER! If you wanna see the real Czech idyll -- perhaps Prague as it was ten years ago -- get on down to Cesky Krumlov, a fun three-hour bus ride to the south. I'll leave the description to your imagination ... would hate to spoil a happy ending.


Netherlands tips - and Leipzig!

By: cwolz on October 10, 2006 - 11:13am

Lee and Sachi  -

Have not checked your site for a while- and enoyed seeing your adventures from Darjeeling to Lofoten Islands and more. Thanks for sharing! Some places I have enjoyed in my travels back in the day. 

We get to Holland very year or so as my wife Eugenie is Dutch, and so here are a few of our favorites -

-Groningen, relaxed and bohemian university town in the north of the country.  Let me know if you'd like the name of a friend there who'd enjoy being a guide. (i am at

-Friesland - province in the NW - small fishing villages amidst lakes and farms - wonderful place to rent a sailboat and explore.  Boat camping very easy there. Try town of Sneek.

-Biking! anywhere and everywhere! you can rent bikes at most train stations and return them to another station - so - for example - take train to Hoorn, have coffee and enjoye the stunning small town, then ride to Enkhuizen, explore the outdoor Zuiderzee Museum, and drop bikes at station and return. it is such a pleasure to bike out in the countryside. I'd recommend a train/bike trip to the Kruller-Muller Museum - great countryside, great art. Will take a whole day to/fro - -    

-Amsterdam? I'd visit - but not spend a lot of time there - I find it (especially tourist areas) too grungy, depressing. Boat ride tour is a worthwhile way to get a view of town. Also fun - if still open - Rembrandt exhibit at the "Buers", old stock exchange - wonderful pictures (reproductions) and stories.

- Medium sized market towns - Delft, Gouda, have sights aplenty, are quiet, pleasant for a day trip. If in Goude -  visit the "Wag" on the main square which is for tourist info and museum about Goude - worth visiting. Ask for Mr. or Mrs. Ballering - my in-laws - who work there two days aweek... email if if going!

- Rotterdam - very different feeling town - modern, stylish architecture and a thriving port - got a lot of life to it.


Speaking of costs - you will find the Netherlands a little pricey - probably 10% more than germany, and 20% more than E. germany. I'd recommend Leipzig in the east, if you have time - glorious historic city starting to recover.... and relatively economical. Let me know if going there  - have some american friends who are residents.




Chris Wolz



Traveling China

By: Steve on August 22, 2006 - 9:26am

Lee & Sachi,

It is great to read about your travels. My wife and I spent the month of July traveling China. We spent three weeks teaching English to Chinese English teachers and one week of just traveling China. Your blog inspired me to create one of my own to document our travels through China.

We spent two weeks teaching in Wenling (5 hours south of Shanghai on the coast) and one week in Linhai. Ingrid and I had an amazing time and met many wonderful people who even invited us into their home for an authentic "home cooked" Chinese dinner. It took us quite a while to get use to the food, especially since we use to be vegetarians (good luck being a vegetarian in China). We also got to experience typhoon Bilis and narrowly missing two other typhoons. When you get to Shanghai I would suggest that you make a special effort to ride the MagLev (super train), which travels at 430 km/hour. I could ramble on for hours about our travels and experiences but I wont because you can read our blog if you are interested or have time to kill. I hope your experiences are as wonderful as ours were in China.

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Exploring Yogyakarta (Indonesia) in 3 days

By: Nila Tanzil on August 16, 2006 - 1:57am
Nila Tanzil's picture
I managed to go to Yogyakarta with my classmate from The Netherlands, Danny. He's never been to Indonesia before and would love to see Candi Borobudur :D. So, we decided to go to Yogya for three days.

First Day

As soon as we arrived, we strolled down to Malioboro Street, where all the souvenirs and batik shops were located. We did some shopping there. Hehehe.. Danny was amazed by the cheap price of all the stuffs that were sold in that street. Malioboro Street is famous for that. It offers different kinds of stuffs for extremely cheap price! Oyeah, one has to bargain to get a good deal. ;) So, your bargaining skills are very useful here! I bought everything for not more than Rp 10thou. It wasn't even 1 euro, yet!

After the shopping, I decided to take him to Gadjah Wong Restaurant for dinner coz I read a lot of good things about it from some magazines. Apparently, it was a good decision as the place itself is very nice with an open air garden and different parts of rooms with different kind of live music – traditional Javanese music, jazz and country music. We chose to sit in a small garden, outdoor, where we could be entertain by the singers and gamelan players who were wearing traditional costumes.

When exploring the place, I was stunned to see the dungeon-like entrance to the underground room in which decorated with Wisnu statues and other ancient-like ornaments. Very artistic, I love it.

The food was delicious. Apart from Indonesian food, they also have Indian and some steaks. I ordered Indian vegetable curry, while Danny ordered Nasi Bebek, the restaurant’s specialty, .. and we were satisfied.

After a nice dinner, we went back to Malioboro Street, Danny bought more stuffs for his sisters, nephew, dad and friends. The art of bargaining started to kick back now... hahaha :D.

People in Yogyakarta are nice and friendly. When you walked along the Malioboro Street, you would get offer from the “becak

Southern Thailand

By: tanyamau on June 26, 2006 - 9:40pm
Southern Thailand (Phuket, Andaman Coast, Koh Samui, Koh Phang Nga, Koh Tao): pronounced "Gaw", 'Koh' means 'island'. * Skip Koh Samui – It’s like Bangkok with a beach. Very dirty and skanky. See if for a day, and then spend more time on the other islands. * Koh Tao : Go scubadiving at Buddha View Dive Resort (a PADI 5 star dive resort with really cool instructors and lots of fun, cool, laidback people, many Europeans, best buffet dinner, and fun bar with nearby free movies, nice restaurant out at the end of the walkway) - If you catch the speed boat back to Chumporn and then catch the overnight train back up towards Bangkok, that’s the best economical way to go. If you have to wait a bit, Chumporn has a cool little restaurant/internet café/guesthouse where you can rinse off in the bathroom, get some pizza, and check email before you get a ride back to the train station. There are also a lot of street stalls and 7-11s around the normal dinner hour. * Koh Phang Nga: Has the full moon parties (raves). * If you’re around Phuket/Surat Thani, head towards the jungle to KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK. My Seattle friends went and loved the jungle, wildlife, and flora/fauna. You can stay in treehouse-like bungalows or cheap camping style bungalows. A nice place (but I know they didn’t stay there) is Art’s Riverview Jungle Lodge (phone 0 7739 5009; rooms & bungalows 350 – 550 baht). Also check out Treetop River Huts ( or Khao Sok Rainforest Resort ( * I never went to the Andaman Coast as the tsunami had just hit, so you’re on your own for that, although I’ve heard that before the tsunami Koh Phi Phi and the other surrounding islands with their limestone cliffs were picturesque.

Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)

By: tanyamau on June 26, 2006 - 9:36pm
Siem Reap (Angkor Wat): The best way to go to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh is to ride the boat up the Mekong. But, it’s long and hot, so if you would rather do it the quicker, but expensive way, take a plane. Driver in Siem Reap - John arranged it for us, as Seiha had driven him and visiting family members before....Seiha is a nice young man in his 20's. He wrote me an email last year, and I know he has a different job now, but perhaps he might have a friend that may be able to drive you around...A few years ago, we paid him $50 for two people for two days of driving to and from guesthouse and to the temples. Lodging: The Red Piano Guesthouse (where Angelina Jolie and crew stayed) Many guesthouses surrounding the area * Eat at funky cool restaurant down the street that has crocodiles under the floor, different funky levels, internet, funky signs outside the restaurant….really cool. • Visit the Crocodile Farm ($2) • Ride the Angkor Balloon (hot air balloon ride) – located 1 km on the west side of the Angkor Wat entrance, get a bird’s eye view of the temples • If you can wake up early enough, visit Angkor Wat at Sunrise • Climb up and visit the famous temple at sunset • Ride bicycles around the Angkor Wat temple area • Visit the Bayon (54 faces temple) • Visit Ta Prohm (roots and trees in the ruins…where “Tomb Raider

Speaking Thai - Thai 101

By: tanyamau on June 26, 2006 - 9:28pm
If you haven't figured them out by now, here are some helpful Thai sayings/phrases: (* Remember that there are polite endings you must attach at the end of each sentence. Males say “khrap

Things to See and Do in Luang Prabang

By: tanyamau on June 26, 2006 - 9:06pm
Remember you can use your baht and kip here. Visit a cute cafe called Joma (all taxi drivers know where it is, near the end of the main drag) and get a cup of joe. Above it is a textile shop called Mulberry's where my friend Janelle and Kristy work. Check out the White Elephant Trekking company and sign up for a 2 or 3 day trek. I did a 2 day trek ($55 US), where we hiked for a total of 20 km from Luang Prabang to Baan Houay Nok, stayed overnight in a Khamu village and visited Hmong villages, and then kayaked down the Naam Khan River (12 km) for 3 hours until the new bridge. Our local guides were wonderful, the decline down was crazy, and the native villagers were so kind and wonderful. Go to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. (15,000 kip plus 40,000 kip taxi ride) - Try to get there early..We got there at 11:30 am and left at 2 pm, just in time to miss the rush of tourists. It might take a couple hours, but keep climbing all the way to the top! It's worth it!! You can swim in the cool, clean water, where it's not crowded with others, and look down below at all the other falls. When we were there, monks came up to enjoy the fresh water as well! Wake up early at 6 am and get your camera ready to watch the monks give morning alms along the main street. It is a very interesting tradition. Eat breakfast and watch free movies in the evening at Le Stranger, a cool bookhouse with a cafe upstairs (decorated with saa paper lanterns and National Geographic magazines). Rent bicycles and ride around town. Get a massage at the Lao Red Cross. Climb up to Wat Phousi. Visit the Royal Museum. Visit all the temples in the area. The wat with the white arched entryways have beautiful mosaics on the temple walls. Most wats cost 1000 kip to visit. Visit the Pak Ou Caves...I didn't and some say it's not that great, but for a ride along the river and photgraphy, it might be something to check out. Go to Pao Vhao resort...This is a beautiful 5 star resort with a breathtaking pool. If you're not a guest there, it costs $10 to go to the pool. You can see Wat Phousi across the way, and swim in the nice pool set on the hillside. Eat at Dao Fa Restaurant for pasta and crepes. Eat the local Lao noodle soup. Shop at the night market for handicrafts (I have my saa paper lanterns and my swirlie pillow cases adorning my room right now!).
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By: Vandy on June 21, 2006 - 11:50am

Hi there,

I happened to come to your site via a link to it from a blog. and feel its a great way for you to get info from other travellers.  Since you've already been to India and NewZealand, I wouldn't add entries for those. However, I do wish you would include Spain in your journeys.  

I went to Spain by chance - for a conference.  But decided to extend my trip and do some site seeing.  My husband joined me and we went to Barcelona (this is where the conference was), Seville, Madrid and Toledo.  Barcelona and Madrid are the usual big cities but each one has its own unique feature. Barcelona is loaded with Gaudi architecture while Madrid's museums just filled us with awe.  But the one city I liked the most was Seville.  Inspite of being a city, Seville has a small town feel.  We stayed in the center - Barrillo de Santa Cruz.  The biggest church of europe was pretty close by - walking distance and so was the Moorish palace - Alcazar.  What we liked the most was the relaxed atmosphere. Walking through the streets of Barrillo (with orange laden trees) or taking evening "paseo" at the river, we seemed to be the only people around.  Of course that could also means most localites and other tourists were taking siesta. Coz we saw a totally different scene at night.  Even on a weekday, the restaurants opened at 9:30 pm  (the tapas were yummy!!)  and the bars started filling up only after midnight (they opened at 11 pm!). Flamenco music played in most bars, and localites showed off their flamenco dancing talent. We learnt a few steps too from a local group!

Of course you cannot leave Seville without seeing a professional flamenco performance and if Sachi is interested, trying out a flamenco dress!! Oh and how can I forget Churros! These delicious fritters dipped in chocolate were our breakfast and snacks for many a days. 

I really fell in love with this city and would love to return there sometime in future. I hope you will add Seville to your itinerary.


PS: send me an email if you want a link to my Spain photos

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Templed Out?

By: kaibrown on May 23, 2006 - 12:47am
Are you two templed out yet?  I'm guessing from the recent photos and dispatches that you may be ready for something different.  I know I was after spending 10 days in the Japan Alps and only staying in Japanese style inns.  I was so ready for a nice hotel with a big bed!  So a few more suggestions before you guys have to leave.

I noticed that Kobe is on your list which I'm very excited about b/c I loved Kobe!  It has a bit of a western feel to it but is still distinctly Japanese.  The streets are wider, the sidewalks more pedestrian friendly and flowers on lightposts.  But there is still all the great Japanese shops and restaurants.  Sachi, if you haven't gone there already, you must go to this store called the Loft.  It's like a cross between an Ikea and Target.  You could spend HOURS in there!!  Such an awesome store and only a few blocks away from Kobe JR.  Another must see is the Earthquake museum, a quick subway ride from JR.  It's only a few years old and they did such an amazing job chronicling the experience of being in an earthquake.  Jason actually lived in a small town 15 minutes from Kobe during the great quake so it was an expecially personal exprience for him.  You may get information overload but it is still worth the stop.  And Lee, not to worry, the museum is VERY english friendly -- in fact the entire city is VERY english friendly.  Oh, and the little museum cafe is a pretty good stop for lunch too.

I know a lot of people skip Osaka to go to Kyoto but I actually really enjoyed Osaka.  A must see is the Floating Garden Observatory.  The view is absolutely amazing and the journey to get to the top is an experience in itself.  Try to go at sunset and you'll be in for a real treat -- lots of good, cheap restaurants to eat in the basement too.  Also look for the underpass from the train station -- we totally went the long way through an industrial part of town.  Try to avoid that if you can.  We also went to the aquarium where the main attraction is a huge whale shark and a sunfish (I had no idea they were so BIG!).  It was a nice break but it sure was crowded.  You could probably skip it unless you're into aquariums (which we are).  Last but not least, are you in the market for souvenirs?  We found this little shopping lane called "Sennichimae Doguya-suji" where they have more dishes and pottery than I have ever seen in my life!  It was very intimidating at first but we picked up a lot of dishes and cookware that you just can't find anywhere else.  Great prices and best selection I've ever seen.  It was a hassle to lug the stuff around (I'm assuming you'd mail it back home) but I've enjoyed everything that we bought.  The hard part is finding the place and sorry I can't help much with that.  All I can tell you is that it is near the Nankai Namba station and from there Sachi will have to ask questions.  I absolutely cannot remember how we found that place but it was worth the journey.

I must admit that Kyoto was not my favorite place.  It may have been because it the first 3 days of our trip and I was nursing a cold.  It may have been that I didn't expect such development in what I had imagined to be a traditional place.  And I got templed out real quick.  BUT, there were things I liked.  One of them being where we stayed -- Ryokan Shimuzu.  Inexpensive, convenient, a GREAT bath (that can be reserved for just the two of you) and a wonderful staff.  The rooms were japanese style but with an attached bathroom.  There was also internet access downstairs.  LOVED this place and would highly recommend it.  Another thing I liked was the Kyoto Station.  I think a lot of people don't realize the view you can get if you take the escalators up to the top floor.  I'm not afraid of heights but there is something a bit unnerving about taking an escalator at a 45 degree angle for 12 stories!!  Very very cool.  Oh and one last thing, if you stay at the Ryokan Shimizu or anywhere near Kyoto Station there is a wonderful Kyoto style restaurant.  It is served Kaiseki style and is known for it's vegetarian meals.  Although this was one of the first meals we had, I still remember it as the best meal on our entire trip.  It's called Izusen and is in a very nondescript building (really easy to miss) above a McDonalds right across the street from the Kintetsu Department Store (Surugaiya Building on Karasuma Shichijo Dori).

Yes, yes I know.  Not the type of things you think of when you think of Kyoto (I can hear Stacy now!) but that's what I liked!!

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