Friday, 26 July 2013

Handy tips for backpacking

Most of the time people come up to me, asking how I make do travelling around all the time. And since I'm still studying, my budget can be tight at times. In today's post, I'll be sharing a few tips and advices about travelling on a low budget. Many thanks to a friend of mine KC Owens for sharing his article about travelling on low budget.

Seeing the World on Very Little Money

People often say that college is the best time a person can ever have in their lifetime. The truth is that it is kind of hard to believe that when your best friends from high school are drifting away, you are working a new job while going to school full time and finals are breathing down your neck! With all these stresses, college can seem slightly less exciting. Personally, I take my summer breaks away from home and let loose. Seeing the world, as a college student, is more possible than you may have imagined, so think about what you can do to make it happen.

Funding Yourself

Unfortunately, no one is handing out free vacations to see Belgium or Russia. Travelling costs money and the more you think about it, the more likely you might be to get cold feet. The money that is required to fly overseas can be a little daunting, and it might get even worse when you think about things like hotel fares. However, take heart. Students have been travelling the world for a very long time, and as the latest in a long line of college-age explorers, I have to say that the key to moving forward lies in proper financial planning. My job does not give me the opportunity to fund my trips completely, so I always end up borrowing some money. Look into credit cards that have very forgiving rates. This is how you can get a plane ticket without having to wait until you have a lot of cash up front; just make sure you can pay it back later! Aside from getting you expensive tickets, a great travel credit card will allow you to exchange currencies (automatically) and track your purchases so your bank account is much safer. Carrying a stack of cash can be a dangerous risk some travellers take while in foreign countries; I would not recommend it.

Hostel Living

One thing that makes people shy away from international travel is the cost of living in that city. Hotels are incredibly pricey, and if you want to make sure that it is not pulling money out of your pocket, you need to find other accommodations. For example, if you’re looking to save some extra cash, you can also look into hostels outside the city limits of where you’re staying. Hostels are designed for travellers just like you and they can ease the pain in your wallet. Choose hostels that are rated well for cleanliness and safety and always make sure that they are open when you get to town (24/7 check-in). It does you no good to get into town and to find that the hostel you wanted to stay at closes its doors at eleven at night and refuses to make exceptions. In order to keep these long, sleepless nights to a minimum, I use Hostelworld to help compare hostels and book my overnights ahead of time. Doing this saves me time and money; who wouldn’t want that, right?

Choosing Clothing

When you go to pack your sleek, low profile bag, you may be wondering what kind of clothes that you need. For the most part, keep it simple and keep it light. There are many people who find that they over-pack and then end up lugging it all over the place without really using everything. The best thing to do is to make sure that your clothing rolls up nicely. Resist the urge to pack natural fibres (they will wrinkle and not dry well). Clothes with polyester in them do not wrinkle as quickly, and they shed water more effectively. You should also make sure the shoes that you are wearing are sturdy. You are not going to be renting a car wherever you are going; you are going to be taking a lot of public transportation and doing a lot of walking so you’ll want a good pair of shoes with you. One of the most important items on your list should be a traveler’s money belt. These are lifesavers while travelling in foreign countries because you can keep your passport, cash, credit cards and phone in there and safely under your shirt. A pickpocket would have to work real hard to steal something from that!

KC Owens has written and submitted this article. KC is a college student who loves travelling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about. 

To conclude it all, it is possible to travel around the world on a tight budget. Nothing gives me as much pleasure as travelling. I love getting on trains, buses, boats and planes. I guess I've already been afflicted with wanderlust. 


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Hey there! I'm back here in Kuching once again taking a break from the hectic training here in Terengganu. This time around, I headed for the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre which is a fourty five minute drive from Kuching. Together with a few of my friends, Faris and Xavier we started our journey early that morning.

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is home to the orang utans, which are only found in the rainforest of the Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah), Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) and North Sumatera. Orang utans is one of the world's largest primates and is considered to be the most intelligent primate species on earth. The word 'orang' in Malay is 'person' whilst 'utan' comes from 'hutan' meaning forest. Thus, orang utan is translated literally as 'person of the forest'. For those who are interested, there's a short clip below here just to give you an idea of how orang utans are. 

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the friendly forest rangers and were told to hurry up as we almost missed the feeding time of the orangutans. Feeding times are between 9am to 10am and between 3pm to 3.30pm. You shouldn't miss out on the feeding time as it is the only time which the orang utans are easy to spot as they come out to feed. A variety of fruits can be seen laid out on the platforms just directly in front of the visitors.  We all were just amazed at how close we got to see the orangutans as they made their way, swinging from tree to tree to the platform.

Feeding times

The orang utans making their way to the platform

Also present on that day was the forest ranger which was very informative. He briefed all of us on the behaviour of the orang utans and shared with us his previous experience with handling them. He also advised us to keep at least 5 to 6 feet away from the orangutans as a safety precaution. One of the wildlife centre rangers here had been attacked last year and lost his toe after being bitten by the orangutan. Upon hearing all these, we were a little bit worried and cautious. Still we were all taken in by the beauty of these creatures.

The wildlife ranger sharing his experience
Orang utan carrying its offspring
One of the frequently asked questions in the wildlife centre is how to differentiate between a male and an female orang utan. After asking one of the rangers here, it turns out that differentiating between a male and female orang utan is kind of hard. A full grown adult male orang utan has a slightly huge and large cheeks just like a Gorilla. And as for the full grown female orang utan, they have no such trademarks on their faces. I myself can't distinguish between a male or female orang utan despite knowing the difference between them. Take a closer look at the pictures below and see if you can tell !

One of the orang utan enjoying its meal on the platform

The orang utans family
Being one of Kuching's hotspot, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is Sarawak's biggest Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre covering 740 hectare forest reserve. Established in 1975 as a sanctuary for the injured and orphaned orangutans, the sanctuary aims to rehabilitate the orangutans that had been incapacitated and  to release them back to the forest eventually. The wildlife centre is open daily from 8am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 4pm. Entry fees are RM5.

Xavier and I standing next to the entrance
The oldest orang utan in the sanctuary, Seduku is 56 years old and was one of the first few pioneers to be taken into the sanctuary. Today, there are approximately 26 orangutans in the centre. Besides that, the wildlife centre is also host to a conservation program called Heart 2 Heart with Orang Utan. The volunteers are given a guided tour of the wildlife centre before being assigned duties which include cage cleaning, food preparations for orang utans, orang utan enrichment program and so on. At the end of the day, volunteers will each receive a certificate from the wildlife centre as an acknowledgement for their contributions to the centre's activities. In addition to that, the public can also play a further role through the Orang utan Adoption Program, where by the funds collected are used to support conservation works. Adopters will be given updates on the progress of the orang utans and will be presented with a adoption certificate.

Seduku enjoying its meal
Seduku and her offspring, Ruby seen here
In a nutshell, we had a great time taking pictures and learning more about orang utans. From what I can see,  Semenggoh Wildlife Centre has played a huge role in educating the public on orang utan conservation. The trip here was worth while and we definitely enjoyed ourselves here and look forward for the next trip here.

Its all smiles for Faris and I