Bali is a good travel destination if you’re in search of tropical vacation and are already in Asia. The prices aren’t too expensive, food is good, and there are interesting cultural experiences. Beyond Bali there are many other destinations in Indonesia. For example, the Komodo islands are home to good diving and the komodo dragons.
Our plan was to visit Bali Indonesia and head over to the Komodo Islands to visit the mythic Komodo dragons.
We stationed ourselves in the proclaimed upscale area of seminyak, bali. My friend and I were happy with the the modern spacious loft from Clio . It is a great value and great location. I spent many hours and days researching accommodation in Seminyak so you can take my recommendation and save yourself the time if you like.
The area of Seminyak was not as luxurious as I had imagined in my mind. True there were upscale and trendy shops, but compared to Yaletown Vancouver Seminyak is still undeveloped. It is an experience dealing with the high figures like 100,000 rp for a massage, 20,000rp for Bintang bear, 80,000rp for sun beds by the beach for 2 people all day.
If you are in Seminyak the Seminyak square was the central landmark in town and where most of the restaurants, shops, and bars were. I recommend trying out a massage as they are a good value compare to North america.
The trendy Ku de Tah bar that I had heard so much about was not that much further away from Seminyak Square. First we decided to walk to the beachfront. We decided to detour in a hotel resort, which was pretty luxurious and gave us access to the beach. After we went to the Ku De Tah. It had no cover and it was surprisingly trendy, family friendly, and hip at the same time. A DJ played music in the background as my friend and I ordered an overpriced weak cocktail and sat by the beach.
To get around it is a good idea to hire a driver. Our car broke down after getting our sim car and had to get another taxi back to the hotel. Make sure you negotiate your cab fare first as we made the mistake of getting in and finding out we were overcharged once we arrived at the hotel. There was a huge argument between us, the driver, and the hotel who had organized the driver. In the end the hotel covered the fare, which I think is fare. Anyhow, lesson learned take only bluebird taxis and negotiate the fare before you get in. Getting a sim card for my unlocked phone was also super difficult, and almost not worth the trouble to get connected. The day after I got my sim card it ran out of data. The sim card vendors don’t speak english and we had to rely on our driver for translation. Even then something obviously got lost in translation.
We salvaged the day by checking out the Legian beach, which is between Seminyak and Kuta. The beach sand is not that great, but it is bearable and the waves were decent enough for surfing. There are some good choices for lunch near the beach and the sunset was spectacular.
Later that night we decided to sample the Kuta night life. We saw the memorial dedicated to the tourists who were killed during the terrorist bombing incident. This is the central part of the strip where you will be see rows of bars all down the street. We found all the bars pretty tacky with watered down drinks. The most interesting bar was the Reggae themed Apache Reggae bar which had live reggae music where the crowd could dance and have a seat.
The next day our driver picked us up. We asked to go to the cultural town of Ubud, see some rice terraces, and go to the Mother Temple of Besakih. This took up our entire day. The highlight for me was the a coffee tour we got to see the kopi luwak coffee. It is the boutique coffee that is made from the poop of a cat. We got to see how the coffee was made and sample it after. In the same area we got to see some rice terraces.
Many hours later we arrived at the mother temple. We had to purchase a sarong, which I later found out was a rental fee as they take it back. The sarongs were 300,000rp I believe so try bring your own. We got a good guide who took us right to the top. The weather wasn’t too great but we made it to the mother of all temples in Bali!
Next: I talk about our journey from Bali to the town of Labuan Bajo where I’ll do some scuba diving and we go in search of the Komodo dragons.
Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Before heading to Melbourne I had just left Auckland New Zealand with my suitcases, camera gear, and dreams to experience Melbourne.
My plan was to spend 14 days living like a local in Melbourne, filming, and asking whether Melbourne really is the most livable city in the world? First I would live with Airbnb locals getting a taste for the lifestyle in the South Bank area and then going on to explore sights, sounds, and tastes of downtown Melbourne. Exploring the grafitti alleys of Hosier lane, sampling pour over coffee at Market Lane, or enjoying a glass of wine at a local Jazz and wine bar.
I met a family friend Melissa and we would visit the colorful houses of Brighton beach and taste some of the best pies at Skyhigh Mount Dandenong. I visited Victoria market and the infamous Rod Laver stadium, home of the Australian Open.
A trip to Melbourne would be incomplete without exploring the coast on the Great ocean road tour for a day long road trip seeing koala’s and sights like the twelve apostles.
– My real personal story and experiences in Melbourne
– Travel tips like where to get the best pies or which is the best wine jazz bar in town
– A new feature I’m introducing with this book. Twitter posts I made during the actual trip that capture the detail and mood to precise detail
– Useful links or addresses of the places I visited at the end of the book
– A live google map with the places I visited
Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
22 days living like a local in Sydney: The journey begins
A several months of planning, anticipation and talking about Australia it was now actually going to happen.
The first order of business was to get set up on a cell phone sim card for a local number in Australia with internet access. I ended up selecting a sim card provided by Yes Optus for $30 for 30 days of high speed access on a 3G network, which is fast enough for youtube, google maps, facebook, and surfing the internet. Vodaphone is a familiar name, but even the employees said that their coverage would be poor in some of the other Australia cities I was going to.
As I have basically sold all my major possessions and savings to make this trip Ive been more frugal than I normally am. As such I’ve been avoiding some luxuries such as cabs and limiting expensive dining out. It takes discipline after having enjoyed these comforts already while working at a good full-time job.
Sydney public transport and helpful Australia
I hate transfers from airport to your place of accommodation in most destinations. If I had the resources I would make this experience better. You should be able to get off the plane and after customs walk directly to your transportation that will take you where you are staying. It’s not rocket science. Back to Sydney so I missed the Eastern shuttle from the airport to Bondi beach area, and now I had my first experience with the Sydney public transportation system. Compared to Singapore, Taipei, and Vancouver I found the system confusing. Many square grids and colored lines and many interconnecting trains with dangerous gaps between the train and the platform. I was surprised that the train itself wasn’t exactly in tip top condition.
On the bright side I had a working cell phone and an Airbnb host to guide me as well as some friendly Australian locals. I asked a local girl at Bondi junction which bus I needed to take and she escorted me right to my bus and helped me with my luggage. I can tell you 18 days into my trip that local Sydney Australians are probably among the most friendly and helpful people that I’ve met. As a Canadian I have taken this friendliness for granted.
The Bondi Crib
As I monitored the blue dot on my Google maps I arrived at the stop at Dorcas street. My host John introduced me to the apartment and the area. This was my first private apartment suite from Airbnb. The spot was an original with the custom sandstone and surf inspired theme. The apartment had everything I needed from wifi, full kitchen, condiments, couch, ping pong table, and washer and dryer. John even provided wetsuit, surf and snorkel gear, which is a value add in my books. This would be a perfect space for a couple of people to enjoy a Bondi surfing retreat for a week.
As soon as I unpacked I made a stop to the local owned Chinese grocery store. I picked up some pasta, some veggies, pasta sauce, milk, and a small bread and the bill came to almost $30. I use a small cup of coffee from Starbucks as a baseline between prices in Vancouver and Sydney. A small coffee in Vancouver goes for about $2. A small coffee at a Sydney Starbucks is $5!, but if you find a local spot (which most are better) the cheapest you will find is $3.50. Good cheap food will go for $10-13. Now I really appreciate the good prices we have in Vancouver. If I was going to survive 2 months Australia I was going to have to be in super frugal mode. This meant shopping for local groceries, taking public transport, and basically questioning every expenditure while still trying to have a decent time. Sounds challenging? Well I was still able to enjoy a local Australian Porterhouse steak dinner by getting two steak cuts for about $8-9 by picking it up from Woolworths (where the locals shop for good priced quality groceries).
The Bondi lifestyle
Bondi is well regarded by locals and from what I’ve read one of the most popular beaches in the world. I will vouch for that. I have seen some of the better beaches in the world from Turks and Caicos, Cancun, Maui and Honolulu. In my opinion Bondi is one of the best beaches because the sand is nice, it is large and spacious (unlike Honolulu), offers free Wifi, is clean, relatively clear water, and it has real waves. Big waves. There is a strong surfing culture. There were large groups of surfers in wetsuits riding waves and even chatted to a couple in the water. I bumped into several on my walk to the beach on their way out or on the way back. You don’t have to go that far out from the beach to catch some good waves. The north side of Bondi has tamer waves that are more beginner friendly while the side closer to Bondi Iceberg is closer to the rocks in the picture with rougher. The waves are very powerful and it’s hard to get far from the shore. I didn’t find this at Honolulu.
tip: use a longer board. 7 foot or longer if you are a beginner. wear a wetsuit as salt water will burn against your stomach and the board.
Bondi is among several other beaches along a seawall path that leads to other beaches such as Bronte, and Tamamara. Each beach has it’s own vibe and characteristics. The locals here come out to walk,tan or jog along this path and at Bondi beach as part of their daily lifestlyle.
There are plenty of shops in the town of Bondi to have a drink and eat. I walked into town on a weekend night in Bondi to get a feel for the nightlife. It felt like a different vibe during the day with a lot of wild young people spilling outside of bars and young people loitering on the street. I enjoy my nightlife, but for some reason this didn’t feel like my scene or that welcoming.
I read much about Bondi Iceberg and felt that I had to at least check it out while I was staying in the area. The camera operator that I hired told me that the Bondi Iceberg club was a bit snooty and I had to arrange a filming with them beforehand. Later during my stay I came there for a drink and found that it was not pretentious as I thought it would be. They just asked for my drivers license and you’re free to order a drink and enjoy it on the patio along with some of the views of Bondi beach. In fact the prices of their beer and wine are very good. I sampled some other spots in Bondi like the Bucketlist bar for a beer and the surf shop for a deep fried Mars Bar. The Bondi Iceberg pool is something I didn’t try. It is not heated and I think the appeal of it for the locals is the heritage and the branding associated with the club.
There are many well located waterfront properties along the beach. I would love to have a vacation home here with the proximity to a world class beach, good year round weather, and it’s just about 25 minutes away from the Sydney CBD. to top it off there are many great adjacent beaches if you walk along the beach path known as the coastal walk.
Celebrating my birthday in the Sydney CBD
I found an excellent and attractive masseuse at Bondi iceberg, and treated myself to one with her to start out my birthday in Sydney. My masseuse had suggested checking out Watsons Bay. I made a mental note. Sydney is a huge area. Good thing my next Airbnb host offered to pick me up from my place at Bondi. I based myself in the neighborhood of Surrey Hills using Airbnb, a good neighborhood located a short 10 minutes walk to the CBD area. I started by exploring on foot to get familiar with the streets and my surroundings. I started by doing some grocery shopping at the local IGA. I had never once experienced a birthday in a city where I knew just about no one. I felt that I had to at least have a drink and attempt to make some friends. I quickly search the meetup site and found an informal entrepreneur event where beers were allowed. I walked and navigated myself using Google maps and asking people directions. At the event I had a good chat, drank some beer, and exchanged some business cards. Like some meetups in Vancouver this one felt like a superficial crowd and didn’t feel like I made many genuine connections with exception with one couple from New Zealand. I reached a point where I was ready to leave and try to see Iron Man 3 by myself. I found the main movie theater on George street and was not allowed in the movie theater because I brought my SLR camera. I decided not to risk leaving it with their office and sadly headed home.
I walked down Elizabeth street checking out the various asian restaurants. The Mcdonalds cheeseburger meal wasn’t going to suffice as dinner after all it was my birthday. I was reading the menu of a Thai restaurant when I bumped into the New Zealand couple from the meetup that were doing their Avatar conference just up the road. They kindly offered to invite me for dinner at this restaurant. We had a good conversation and the couple suggested that I visit an area called New Town while in Sydney. Funny how things worked out that night. There are some good people in this world. I hope you’re reading this. Thank you.
Tip: It’s a good idea to get familiar with your local area on foot or on bike.
Surrey Hills & the Nightlife
Located just south of the main attractions Surrey Hills is a suburb lined with character homes with unique second floor terraces and cafe’s. It is a safe neighborhood during the day, but at night especially during the weekend I found much of the nightlife crowd makes their way through this area during the weekend. I did reserve a Friday night to sample some nightlife just a 4 minute walk away from my place. First stop was the H bar, which appeared to be a happening spot for a drink on a Friday. I snagged the only seat available on the outside bar for a sparking champagne. To figure out my next stop I asked the bar tender who suggested the wild rover and the Playbar just a minute away. Next stop was the Playbar. A bouncer guarded the door, but as I approached he greeted me and let me in. There was a good vibe in this place, with a live dj, and some benches to sit. I grabbed a quick drink and took some footage before moving onto the Wild Rover.
The Wild Rover looked intimidating from the outside. A darkly lit building with people coming in and out guarded by a bouncer. As I walked closer I mentioned I was referred here by H bar to come have drink and was let in. This place was a controlled chaos. Limited seating with some table and seats by the bar with the majority of the space standing room only. Bar tenders dressed in smart outfits and with the crowd appearing to have a good time socializing with their group. Not the most solo friendly space but an interesting spot to check out on both floors and have a good beer. I ended the night by walking 5 minutes down Campbell street where you’ll find many of the Asian restaurants. I enjoyed a good meal of Korean Jap Chae noodles at the Campbell food court
Tip: Ask local bar tenders for suggestions for bars and lounges if you are unsure. They are usually in the know.
3 Sisters & the making a good friend on the Meetup Coogee Coastal Walk Hike
I decided to take half the day to get out of the city and take the train to go see an attraction called the 3 sisters. You take the train to small town and catch the bus to get off and take pictures of 3 pointed rocks known as the 3 sisters. Sorry I’m not getting too excited about this one, but the attraction did attract bus loads of chinese tourists that I had to compete with to get some decent pictures. If you’ve got some time in Sydney and want to get out of town to see an attraction then this is one idea. Personally I would like recommend spending your time seeing the Sydney Opera, Harbour Bridge, or the Coogee Coastal walk before even thinking about the 3 sisters.
Speaking of the Coogee coastal walk I joined a meetup group called the Sydney Bushwalking Meetup to do this walk with a group. We would meet at the Circular Quay , the location where you would catch ferries and also see the Sydney Opera House, the Rocks, and the Harbour Bridge. We met our group and I immediately hit it off with an attractive UK expat. We got took the Ferry to Watson’s bay and snapped some shots of the Sydney skyline and along the coast. The walk is a great way to get some sunshine and exercise while enjoying the beautiful ocean and views along the coast. We walked past Bondi and Bronte beach and stopped at our destination at Coogee beach. During the walk I had a glimpse into expat life as one of the girls who had been living there told me that it was frustrating making friends with other expats because they would leave shortly after they met. Her solution and tip was to join associations that were more established like tennis clubs and make friends there. By the time we arrived at Coogee I found out my UK friend had a South African boyfriend, but we exchanged contacts to do dinner in Newtown before I left. Coogee was a nice family friendly beach to have a bbq or a picnic. Most of the group was too tired to BBQ after the hike so we picked up some kebabs and beer before I caught the bus back. A productive day where I got some exercise, some shots, and made a new friend.
Saving the best for Last: The Opera house & the Harbour Bridge
Before I traveled to Sydney the image of Opera house was the image I envisioned when I thought about Sydney. To me it was an iconic structure and I had to all type of shots of it before my trip was over. To get to the Opera house you go to the circular quay. You have to walk about 10 minutes from there until you get to it. The first sight of it will have you reaching for your camera. It is indeed amazing. I recommend taking pictures of it during the day and night time and from both sides of the Harbour Bridge to cover all the angles. I walked inside it to check it out and use the bathroom. If I had budget I would probably have seen a show, but instead I chose to enjoy an organic tap beer at the Opera Bar. This bar is happening and you can enjoy it sitting my a heat lamp at night or by an outside table as you enjoy prime seats of the Opera House and the Harbour bridge. One sunny day I decided to reward myself after I filmed and enjoyed a beer and a pizza at this Opera Bar. It was one of my highlights of the Sydney trip and I savored every minute of it.
The harbour bridge is also a significant structure and I recommend walking across it. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to walk on top of the bridge you can spend around $11 halfway through the bridge and climb to the top. At the top there is a viewpoint where you can enjoy amazing 360 degrees views of the Opera house, the bridge and the people climbing it, and more. I also recommend to continue walking to the other side of the bridge where you will be rewarded with views of the Sydney skyline and another angle of the Opera House. If you plan it well you can get to the other side by sunset to take evening shots. Just when you thought you got all the best pictures try taking the ferry back to circular quay instead of walking back across the bridge. You will get picture angles of the Opera house that a good percentage of the tourists had never thought of.
Tip: Try taking the ferry to Manley beach from circular quay. Its a worthwhile trip on its own and you’ll get good photo ops of the Opera house from the ferry.
Newtown & Brekkie
On my last evening I met with my UK friend at the Newtown train station for dinner (she is camera shy btw) Newtown was packed with restaurants on both sides of the street. We decided to try a vietnamese restaurant. The next morning I decided to sample some brekkie in Surrey Hills. I settled on a spot referred by locals called Reuben Hills. The portion was small, but good quality and I ended up tagging some good tracks on my Shazam so I was happy. Back at the Surrey Hills mansion I had my bags packed and was about to open the door for the shuttle when I saw it drive by and stop at the street. I chased it down in my socks and the Airbnb host got him to drive back in front of the house. We said our goodbyes. Next stop a return to Auckland.
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Produced by Greg Hung for Chicvoyage Productions 2013
The footage in this video is available for licensing
ChicVoyage offers high quality global travel content (videos, pictures, entertainment) available for licensing.
Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.
Get inspired for the Grand Canyon – Video, pics, geo-map, and itinerary – Chicvoyage Travel
The idea of going to the Grand Canyon came after a scheduled Las Vegas trip. This trip was scheduled for April and I was hopeful that there would be sunny weather. I decided to visit the Grand Canyon Southern Rim to take this amazing attraction off my bucket list. I booked a car rental from Las Vegas airport and proceeded to take the 5-6 hour drive from Las Vegas to Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon National Park. I had missed my first flight from Bellingham to Las Vegas and so I began this drive around 9pm. There are long stretches of this drive especially during the last hour where it is pitch black. Watch your speed on the highway as there are wild life that cross the roads and they are patrolled by police. I got freaked out when I saw a pair of glowing eyes in the dark that I think came from an elk that I almost knocked over. I actually got pulled over by an officer, and I was fortunate enough to get let off without a ticket for the first time. I arrived inside the park gate around 2am in the morning with the toll gates closed and checked into the Bright Angel Lodge for a night. The staff at the lodge were friendly and I looked forward to some sleep before waking up at 5am for sun rise.
Tip: Rent a GPS device if you are making the drive to the Grand Canyon
Tip: Drive under the posted speed limit for your safety and that of the wild life as well to avoid speeding tickets
Tip: The Bright Angel Lodge is an excellent choice for great value. Book well in advance to get rooms.
Tip: Get a map and guide to the park from your hotel. It will help you plan your visit
I woke up early in the morning for the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. One of the benefits of the Bright Angel lodge is the amazing proximity to the Grand Canyon view. You are literally a minute walk away or less depending on your room from the Grand Canyon views. It was cold in the morning, but I was happy it was dry. It was an amazing sun rise and when I saw my first view of the Canyon I was in awe. I have never seen anything like this and if you watch the Grand Canyon video I believe you will agree this is awe inspiring. I had a good breakfast at the Bright Angel lodge to provide some energy for the day. The plan was to film footage of the main view points along the desert view drive. I was told by the staff at Bright Angle lodge that you will get amazing views of the Canyon at most view points, but the Watch Tower is popular stop.
My first stop was the Moran point and after a series of stops I finished at the popular Desert View Watchtower stop. I got there late just before sunset and the tower was closed. You can expect a good walk from the parking lot to the Watchtower viewpoint and fresh spring water taps to fill your water. It definitely worth to check the sites along the desert view drive, but not necessary to go all the way to the Watch tower . I spent night two at the Yavapai lodge as there wasn’t room available at Bright Angel. The Yavapai doesn’t offer the prime location that Bright Angel does and expect to pay more, but your rooms are close to the market area.
Tip: Don’t settle for cafeteria food at the Yavapai. There are many options in the park that are a short drive away
On day 3 the plan was to do a quick hike. I went to the visitor center where you can park your car and take a bus shuttle to the hiking location. I picked the South Kalibab trail and took a quick hike down. Along the path I bumped into people that were doing mule rides, an interesting experience to try for next time. You can see different views from the hiking trails that descend down that are worth your time if you want some good pictures.
Tip: Come well prepared for the hike. Sun glasses, sun screen, water, appropriate hiking shoes are some suggestions.
I recommend watching the Grand Canyon video if you need some inspiration to visit!
Book car and GPS from Las Vegas Airport
Get something to eat at the airport or Las Vegas
5-6 hour drive to the Grand Canyon National park at Southern Rim
Check into hotel and settle in
Take pictures of the Grand Canyon sun-rise by the Bright Angel trail
Have a good breakfast at the Bright Angel Lodge
Follow the desert view trail for a day of picture taking
We are nearing another holiday season in Vancouver. The pace at office begins to slow down and become more social and relaxed. The Christmas trees and decorations at the office, retail stores, public spaces, and apartments lobbies signal the season has begun. In Vancouver cold weather, rain and sometimes the chance of snow are also part of the experience. You might be doing last minute Christmas shopping, going to parties for your work, going to parties for your friends, or you might be throwing a party of your own. On Christmas day most shops are closed except movie theaters and Chinese restaurants.
It was this time a year ago when I was filming and traveling through Shanghai and Singapore around the holiday season. I had escaped the holiday obligations for gifts with friends and family back in Vancouver. In Shanghai there were Christmas trees and decorations up at the hotels and malls.
I was fortunate to know my local friend Jeff who invited me to a local party in Shanghai. The entrance would be a respectable gift for a secret Santa and some booze. I purchased some quality tea from the Shanghai museum. The host of the party lived in a good sized apartment and offered us some beer and food. We looked at some photos on his television and then put on fights from the UFC. Later we would do secret Santa where I won a hot pot set, which I traded in for something I don’t remember. I was lucky to get a ride back to downtown Shanghai from the apartment which was about 30-40 minutes from the person I gave the hot pot set to. So it all worked out and felt very much like a Vancouver Christmas experience.
I arrived in Singapore several days before Christmas to spend time with my Grandmother, cousin, Aunt, and new nieces. I must admit that there is no replacement for spending the holidays with your family. We had a Christmas tree set up with some gifts already there. A signal that I was running out of time to get gifts for my family in Singapore. I had plenty of time to explore the central areas such as Little India, Orchard Road, and the Marina Bay. Marina bay had lights set up to recognize the season, Little India didn’t have much set up, and the Orchard area had a tree with bright lights. There were huge crowds out to take pictures of the lights and to publicly enjoy the occasion outdoors. My grandmother cooked us a Christmas dinner that we ate at home. After the dinner it was business as usual with the family winding down getting ready for bed. I went out in search of some action by going down to Marina Bay area. I was disappointed to see that it was very quiet, everything was closing early, and it started raining.
After spending Christmas in these 3 different cities I see that it is recognized and celebrated similarly. The chance of a white Christmas is most likely to happen in Vancouver, but the usage of lights, christmas trees, the spirit of giving, and time with family and friends are common elements. Wouldn’t it be interesting to a get a glimpse into how it is celebrate in other cities around the world?
ChicVoyage in Asia is a collection of modern travel adventure documentaries showcasing must-see attractions, food, culture, nightlife, and unique adventures with local friends in popular cities in Asia.
Originally invited to participate in his best friend’s wedding in Taiwan Greg took the opportunity to extend the trip and see more of Asia. In December 2011 Greg went on a journey to cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guangzhou, Xian, and Taiwan. After a month and a half in Asia he returned to Vancouver determined to produce a collection of 6 entertaining, inspiring, and informative travel adventure films to share Asia with the world.
I’ve lived in Vancouver since 1995 and have traveled to South Africa, New Zealand, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Taiwan, Peru, Mexico, Las Vegas, Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Xian, Turks and Caicos, Toronto, San Francisco and so on.
I enjoy keeping an active lifestyle, enjoy eating and trying a variety of experiences. With this in mind here are some top things Vancouver locals including myself enjoy doing:
1. Vancouver Seawall – I’ve yet to find a city in my travels that rivals our 22km seawall. The seawall is a paved path set aside for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy amazing natural views that Vancouver has to offer. It begins from Coal harbour wraps around Stanley Park, goes through False Creek, past the Science World, and finishes at Kitsilano Park. To sum it up it is long. My favorite area is along the False Creek and Athletes Village Seawall. At False creek you have separate lanes for walkers and cyclists and an amazing view. You can also catch the Aqua Bus at David Lam and cross the water to Granville Island to visit the market and get something delicious to eat.
2. Vancouver Asian Food – It is hard to find a friend or colleague in Vancouver that that does not enjoy the great options for food we have in Vancouver. However, I believe that Vancouver locals enjoy an excellent variety of Asian food that from Chinese (Sun Sui Wah) , Shanghai (Shanghai Wonderful, Shanghai River) , Taiwanese (Wang’s Beef Noodles, Huang’s Beef Noodles), Korean, Vietnamese (Au Petit Cafe, Thai Son), Malaysian, Cambodian (Phnom Penh), and East Indian. Other food experiences to try include Dim Sum, the snacks at the Summer night market in Richmond, food courts in Richmond (Richmond Public Market, Aberdeen, YaoHan), or Bubble tea cafes (Pearl Castle, Bubble World). Using Yelp on your smartphone is also a great idea. You can filter for restaurants that are in your location, fit your budget, well reviewed, type of food you want, and includes the contact information. What an awesome app.
In this entertaining and informative video Greg Hung and Catherine film a beginning to end of the Dim sum experience at one of the top Chinese restaurants Sun Sui Wah. Catherine is a locally born Vancouverite and will share some of her favorite dim sum dishes and even an education on tea etiquette.
3. Vancouver Coffeehouses – Walk into a starbucks or a JJ Bean during a weekday or weekend morning and you will see evidence of how popular coffee is with the locals. Vancouver has a strong coffee culture that supports a variety of coffee shops that provide different experiences. Some of my local favorites for the quality and strength of the coffee and ambiance include: Bean Around the World, JJ Bean, and Cafe Artigiano. There is strong support for Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and even internet friendly coffee shops like Waves, 49th Parallel, and Blenz.
4. Beach Volleyball – Vancouver active locals love to organize BBQ’s and beach volleyball games at the beach. You’ve got a beautiful backdrop of the mountains and downtown to enjoy while you play. Popular beaches to play include Kitsilano and Spanish banks beaches. It is free as long as you bring your own volleyball, net, and friends.
5. Hiking – Vancouver locals love to get outdoors especially during the summer. A popular weekend activity to is to organize a hike with some friends and bring your hiking gear (water, appropriate shoes, clothing, lunch) and take pictures. It’s a great way to get some exercise, social time, and adventure. Some popular trails are the Grouse Grind located at Grouse Mountain, but some locals prefer other trails due to its populatiry. Another option is the Stawamus Chief Hike, which rewards you with amazing views at the top of any of their 3 peaks.
Here is a video of the Stawamus Hike experience
Inspire and inform people to travel and discover the world by visiting every inspirational destination.
Entrepreneur Greg Hung sold his home and left his job in Vancouver BC, Canada to pursue his dream of building a global company ChicVoyage, dedicated to sharing travel experiences Chic style. In 2011 his journey took him to Montreal, Whistler, Turks and Caicos, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guangzhou, Xian, and Taiwan.
I never would have imagined the amount of time and passion it would take to complete a film project from beginning to end. Filming videos and putting together music videos for youtube is one thing, but taking video footage and producing it into a entertaining and professional show is a much larger undertaking.
I have a new level of respect for film-makers after going through the process of planning, filming, and post production. When I left for Asia I had an idea that I wanted to film video and eventually produce a travel show; however it wasn’t crystal clear what the format of the show was going to be.
When I got back to Vancouver I knew that I had captured some amazing footage and unique travel adventures in my month and a half. Originally I created a music video from my time in Asia, but it wasn’t the appropriate video to showcase the adventures I had. My friend introduced me to a travel adventure show called departures by two Canadians that inspired to begin working on the show.
To have the technology to be able to capture that experience in high definition quality and share it does satisfy something internal in me to build and share. Traveling and filming provide me an opportunity to pursue my passions and film provides the platform to document it. The actual process of producing a show provides additional opportunities to tell a story and invoke inspiration through visuals and music. I’ve always enjoyed music and I’ve hand picked tracks that are modern, fresh, and what I’ve felt are relevant for the particular country.
Here is a special personal recount of the experience in Beijing and Xian. If you like it please comment and I can write more about the other cities in Asia.
When I set foot in Beijing it was super exciting to be in the city to be able to film famous structures such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. What I didn’t expect in Beijing was the experience of going to the Centro Jazz bar in Beijing to experience the live jazz, the color ambiance, the smell, great drink, and company. This was one of my Beijing highlights and I manage to capture some of these elements on the film. Even though I’m no stranger to a the Chinese culture living in a dense Chinese population living in Vancouver BC Canada I did feel like an outsider not being able to speak Mandarin. I didn’t anticipate how little English would be spoken by the people I met throughout my trip in the hotels, bars, restaurants, and in the street. Catherine Lu and my good friend Linh were very helpful during my trip there and helped me find my way in Beijing and feel welcome. ChicVoyage in Beijing is a great introducing to Asia and great footage of the attractions such as Forbidden City are a given. What I believe is original about this adventure is including the experience of a night club in Beijing, riding through the Hutongs on a rickshaw bike, and getting a chance to experience some of the best Peking duck Beijing has to offer.
ChicVoyage in Beijing – Included in ChicVoyage in Asia
I had a short 2 day stay in Xian with the main goal to see the Terracotta warriors. I found Xian to be a city that is overcrowded with traffic and loose with the rules. You’ll find motor bikes riding on the sidewalk or taxi’s that only stop to pick you up if it’s convenient. I had a good first night filming at the City Wall, but spent over an hour trying to get a taxi back to my hotel. In the end I had to call the hotel to call a taxi to pick me up. The Terracotta experience more than made up for the first night. My tour guide Koko said I was extremely luck to get a chance to film all 3 pits at the museum as it is usually so overcrowded with people. For me seeing the Terracotta warriors was gratifying in the sense that I knew I had seen a unique worldwide attraction with a long history. I love the montage in ChicVoyage in Xian and I hope with the music I’ve picked you will enjoy it as well.
Trailers from some cities covered in ChicVoyage in Asia
ChicVoyage in Xian – Included in ChicVoyage in Asia
After Bejing, ChicVoyage will be visiting a city in China, famous for the Teracotta warriors . Xian is a 13 hour drive, 1100km south west from Beijing, in the Shaanxi Province. An economy flight from Beijing to Xian is 2 hours long and you can expect to pay $200 US in December. I must admit that I did not know much about Xian until two months ago prior to planning this trip. The primary reason for our visit to Xian is to see the Terracotta warriors known for their rich cultural history. After writing this article I’ve learned that there is more to this city of more than 8 million people.
information about the Terracotta warriors
Travel wiki claims the Terracotta Warriors are the most popular tourist attraction in Shaanxi and one of the most on the whole in China. According to Wikipedia, the collection of warriors and horse sculptures were made in 210-209 BC to represent the armies of Qin Shi huang, the first Emperor of China. The purpose of the sculptures was to protect the emperor in the afterlife, who was buried with 8000 lifelife warriors, 30000 weapons, and approximately 100 chariots with horses. The site was only discovered in 1974 , is known as an eighth “wonder of the world”, and was recognized as a world cultural heritage site by Unesco in 1987. Further information and pictures available on the unesco website.
thanks to naturalscience1 for this video
If you have an appreciation for culture and history and are interested in how the Terracotta warriors were made and the secrets that science has revealed I recommend this video from National Geographic.
Xian is more than 3000 years old and in ancient times was known as Chang’an. For 1000 years the city was the captial for 13 dynasties and a total of 73 emperors.According to Travel wiki , Xian is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization.
Interesting facts about Xian
It is known for its rock music, with underground music centres in China. It is home to contemporary Chinese sats Xu Wei, Zhang Chu, Zheng, Jun.
Xian is the home town of the Golden Bear (Berlin Film Festival) and is the only place in China to claim double, Golden Bear, award-winning Chinese directors.
Xian is China’s leading training centre for engineers. Many domestic and international telecommunication venros have set up R and D centre and factories in Xian.
Xian has one of the largest internet bars in the world with 3000 computers! Online gaming is very popular and has hosted worldwide game competitions such as ACON5, CEG2006, and WWCG2006.
Xian has the worlds largest city wall: 12m high 18m wide. Biking around this wall is recommended as a must do. It takes 2 hours. Bikes can be rented on the east and south gates.
Based on my internet research here are the variety of nightlife options.
1) Bell Tower – the tower is located at the center of the city and at night it is illuminated to provide a colorful backdrop for Chinese malls and restaurants. Here is an informative short video on the Bell Tower on a short travel show clip by Samantha Brown from the travel channel.
2) Movies – You can catch a move in Chinese at the Pang Gog Cinema close close to the Drum Tower at No. 61 Zhubashi Jie. There is another cinema at No.323 Dong Dajie northwest film city. Please check travel china guide for more details. In my opinion one of the benefits of watching a movie here are to catch the latest titles and treat it as an entertaining way of picking up some Chinese
3) KTV – I’m hearing about KTV as popular entertainment in Taiwan and according to travelchinaguide KTV is popular with students and working people in Xian and large cities in China.
4) Tang Dynasty diner and dancing show – Out of the 13 dynasty periods, Travelchinaguide claims that the Tang dynasty was the most popular and glorious one. This artistic show offers a modern interpretation of ancient china through the use of dancing, singing, musical instruments, and poetry. Check out this high quality video clip courtesy of dmjcosnard.