Gunung kawi Temple _ Bali

Pura Gunung Kawi is a beautiful archeological site, and a sacred place for Hindus located in the island of Bali, in the heart of the village of Tampak Siring, roughly 15KM from Ubud.

Is a gorgeous place full of art history, stunning views, and the environment in Gunung Kawi still is very natural and untouched, this temple is also known as the ‘Valley of The Kings’.

The temple is built into a steep valley overlooking the Pakserian River, a river that also snakes its way past the sacred Pura Tirta Empul.

It’s best to visit the temple early in the morning if you want to have a relaxing and peaceful experience, although you will not miss all the vendors.

There are more than 100 stairs to the temple, with great views over rice fields, the river and, jungle. Once you reach the temple you will find 10 candi (shrines) that are memorials cut out of the rock face in imitation of actual statues and alters dating back to the 11th century. The shrines are carved into some eight-meter high sheer cliff faces.

This temple is quite a unique archaeological sites in Bali due to its impressive carved rock structures.


How to get there: the best way is the rent a scooter (~Rp.60,000 $4 day) the journey is very pleasant and beautiful through lush green rice fields and coconut trees.

Entrance Fee: Rp15,000/ adult ($1) and Rp.2,000 ($0.13) to park your scooter

Dress Code: Sarong is required to enter the temple as parts of the site are considered holy.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

🏍 find out more easy day trips from Ubud 🚌

The Central Mountains _ Gunung Batur area _ Bali

Bali it’s not only beaches and temples it’s also mountains and volcanoes. The Gunung Batur area is located in the center of the island of Bali, and since 2012 was added to the Unesco list of geologic wonders. Central Bali is the most mountainous area of Bali, and also the more isolated and thus more traditional.

Mount Batur has a height of 1717m above sea level the higher elevation also means that the temperatures are much cooler than in other parts of Bali. This region is perfect for trekkers and nature lovers.

Mount Batur is an active volcano, that has erupted several times over the time and has produced ‘black lava‘ which you can still see today. The most recent was eruption was in 2000. 

The crater has stunning views and there are a couple of villages around to explore. Kintamani is the main one.

Kintamani has a network of traditional mountain villages resting along the rim of the Mount Batur caldera. Kintamani is also home to Pura Ulun Danu Batur, one of the holiest of the nine directional temples of Bali.

To the west of Kintamani lies Bedugul, situated at the shores of mountain lake Beratan.

To get the best views, get up before the sun rises to climb Mount Batur, its a relatively easy 2-hour trek. The hike is mostly off-road trails and rocky terrain.

If you are looking for something more challenging the Mount Agung is the right one for you located in the east side of Bali. You can do a trekking to watch a breathtaking sunrise at Mount Agung, the highest mountain in Bali. This climbing is rather a challenge and requires physical fitness, so for serious mountain climbers

Central Mountains Highlights

Munduk area (mountain and waterfall)

Besakih Temple (the largest and holiest Hindu in Bali)

Pura Luhur Batukua (Temple)

Ulun Danu Bratan (Temple in Bedugul)

Danau Tamblingan (volcanic lake) 

Gunung Batur (active volcano)

villages around Danau Batur (scenic views up the surrounding peaks)

Antosari Road (rural drives through rice terraces)

Jatiluwih (Unesco recognized rice terraces)

Botanical gardens (close to Candi Kuning)

🏍 find out more easy day trips from Ubud 🚌

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Ubud a great hub to explore Bali

As I said in a previous post, you shouldn’t visit Bali thinking about the beaches, if you want great beaches, look at other Indonesian islands or even other countries in southern Asia. Said that what a better place to be than a city that doesn’t have a coastline, and is really well located to visit the best places around the island of Bali.

I’ve found that Ubud offers the best location, great and affordable accommodation and abundant vegan food options. Out of all the cities in Bali, Ubud is the best, not because is the most authentic one (far from that) but because it has good quality affordable touristic infrastructures in a perfect location to do days out to other places in the island. Within relatively short driving distances you have temples, museums, mountains, waterfalls, rice terraces, and many other natural sights.

The downside of Ubud is that feels a bit like the city is entirely set up to tourists, unfortunately, most places in Bali that offers good/affordable accommodation nowadays are like that. Although I still found that Ubud offered a good middle ground between touristic and local.

About Ubud

Ubud is located in the Gianyar region of Bali and is surrounded by lush rice paddies, and is one of the cultural centers of Bali. Ubud is extremely popular among tourists and a hub of yoga, spas and, vegan food.

Ubud like the rest of the island of Bali is a multi-religious place, but the predominant religion is Hinduism, called Agama Hindu Dharma, a blend of Shivaism and Buddhism. Their religion is a world apart from the Hindu religion in India. Ubud, like the rest of Bali, is home to countless temples, and their everyday life is inextricably intertwined with colorful and fascinating religious practices.


Bahasa is the language spoken and the currency used is the Rupiah ($1=Rp.14.800)

I have spent 10 days exploring the island of Bali, always based in Ubud, I had a motorbike to go to different places every day. Please be aware that I don’t advise in any way that you rent a motorbike there if you don’t have experience, Bali, its not the place to learn how to ride one. I never ever seen so many people with motorbike injuries during my travels like I saw in Bali. Road conditions are rough and traffic a nightmare, on top of that there are no rules…

Out of the 10 days only two were actually spent in Ubud, what I think is more than enough if you are not planning to do anything special like a yoga retreat or a course. So here are the top things to do in Ubud

At the end of the post check also what to avoid 🙂

What to do in Ubud
  • Campuhan Ridge Walk (8.5km, ~3h/4h)

This place is a serene and beautiful green path for an easy hike early morning, the path starts at the Campuhan Bridge and has an amazing view of the jungle, rice paddy fields, small villages, communities, temples, and passes over the lush river valley of Sungai Wos.

This is worth waking up early for, you can go any time during the day but it does get hot and crowded, at least the first part of the path.


  • The Puri Saren Agungis – Ubud Royal Palace 

It’s far for being a spectacular place but is the hub of all of Ubud’s cultural events. The entrance is free.

  • Saraswati Temple (Water Palace)

Its one of the most beautiful temple in central Ubud with a great little walkway in between lotus ponds leading up to the temple. The Saraswati Temple is a Hindu temple built in the 19th century to adore the Goddess Saraswati (The Goddess of Knowledge).

  • Jalan Goutama 

It’s a road packed with organic everything, from restaurants, bars, cafes, ice-cream shops, etc. and has lots of local warungs serving cheap and delicious food. Here you will find restaurants for all tastes, budgets and, diets.

  • Jl. Kajeng

A road with messages written into the street paving. It’s really nice to stroll up here and read the message of peace, love and ‘vegan propaganda’.


  • Ubud Market

The market is a great place to stroll around. If you go very early in the morning (what I recommend) you can visit the produce market in the far south-east corner, and this is as authentic as it gets (7h-10h). Later on, you only have souvenir stalls, with clothes, homewares, jewelry, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. Prices are always fully negotiable.

  • Watch a movie at Paradiso Ubud 

Paradiso Ubud is the world’s first organic vegan cinema and definitely worth a try! There are daily movie screenings and the food is delicious.

  • Food

Balinese food is delicious, and anywhere you go in Ubud there will be delicious vegan options on the menu.

Ubud is blessed with an abundance of great eateries, although menus are a little pricey compared to the rest of Indonesia if you don’t scuffle around backstreets. Local warungs or Padang rumah makan (eating house) are great options.

  • Massage

There is a tonne of little spas lining the roads in the center of Ubud with very reasonable prices. Why not treat yourself with a full body Balinese massage? You can find prices as lower as RP70.000 to 100.00 ($4.70 – $6.80) for one hour massage.

  • Wander around 

This is true for any place you visit, stroll around without a plan or a schedule, and lose yourself through narrow streets.. Because Bali is a predominantly Hindu island, there is always something to see, experience and smell.. for example, each morning you will find hundreds of little boxes called Canang Sari filled with flowers, offerings and burning incense.

Unfortunately, there is also a downside here, Ubud has Jammed traffic from vehicles and pedestrians, severely uneven, damaged and broken sidewalks, broken drainage holes with jagged metal bars, sidewalk vendors, shop displays and sometimes even motorbikes. So you are guessing correctly, walking can be a challenge that requires energy and art.

  • Motorbike around the Ubud countryside

Bali is a small island, so renting a motorbike gives you the freedom and access to explore the Balinese countryside. On your way to places is easy to stumble upon local festivals, cremation ceremonies,  pass by beautiful structures of intricately-carved stone, people flying kites in the fields, beautiful rice paddies, waterfalls, mountains, markets, temples…

⛔ what to Avoid in Ubud
  • Sacred Monkey Forest

This is considered a must-do for many, for me is a must not. You do not need to pay to go to a jungle and to see macaques in Southeast Asia, literally you can do it everywhere, for free and without the crowds.

Plus these monkeys are not as cute as they look in the pictures they can be scary aggressive. If you are still planning a visit don’t take anything with you that you aren’t prepared to lose, monkeys can open bags with ease and are professional thieves. They are well trained at efficiently robbing tourists.

I know I’m just telling you to avoid one of the most popular Ubud attractions, but trust me on this one.

  • Shopping

Well maybe I’m a bit suspect on this one because to be fair I don’t shop, I’m already carrying my small bag around with me, and the last thing I need is extra weight 🙂 plus Ubud is extremely expensive (for Indonesian standards) you will find the same things much much cheaper somewhere else.

If you are into shopping go to the market but be prepared to haggle. Even if you don’t want to do any shopping I still think that you should give the market a visit but early in the morning, because by afternoon it gets seriously crowded.

Don’t buy spices or coffee on the market, most of it is fake.

  • Sungai Ayung Valley (6.5km ~4h) 

This was sposed to be a great trekking through the lush, tropical river valley but sadly has become an extortion scheme.

When you arrive at the Sayan Terrace hotel, you take the path downhill, there you will find some locals that are blocking the passage with a gate and you can only pass through if you pay RP.150.000 ($10) per person. We refused to pay and they didn’t allow us to pass. So we headed up the hill and we did a different trekking around the same area but instead of the 6.5km took us 15km 🙂

Be aware that the locals carry large sickles or machetes (that they are not using as farming tools) but for the threatening effect.

how to get to Ubud

If you arrive by air, the best option is unfortunately to take a taxi. As you know is always hard to negotiate taxi fares so it’s probably best to have that arrangement done in advance. Most places in Ubud will offer that service, negotiate with them and skip the hassle at the airport in Denpasar.

In August 2018 the taxi fares from Denpasar to Ubud were around RP. 250.000 to RP. 350.000 ($17-$23)

Just get ready for a very slow ride from Denpasar to Ubud, the traffic is just unbelievable. Ubud is about the same distance and time from the nearest port, where boats go to Gili Islands and Lombok.

Where to Stay

My suggestion is to stay close to the center, in a place that includes breakfast, offers transfer and that rents motorbike, this will prevent that you get in one of those motorbikes scams. Ubud has plenty of options with a great relation between quality and price. Make some research and look at the reviews.

I stayed in a great central place, and still in a quiet street. The family was really nice and welcoming, the room was clean and comfortable, and the price excellent, $8 per night with breakfast (I’m happy to pass the name of the place if you want).

Extra notes  
  • To visit temples, you must be dressed appropriately which includes wearing a sarong, that is basically a long piece of cloth that you wear wrapped around the body and tucked at the waist. Just bring one from home so you don’t need to buy or rent one.
  • Small temples are all around the city and each temple is unique in its own way.
  • Don’t buy water bottles, Bali has a project for water refills. Download the app and find the closest location. Ubud has several places offering this service for free or for a small fee (
  • Indonesia is an affordable place to travel but especially in Bali, you need to be extra careful to not spend more than you budgeted.  Prices offered to tourists are always inflated and haggling is the only option to bring it within reason.
  • ATMs can be found easily throughout Ubud.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha


Bali, what about it? the GOOD and the BAD

First of all, I need to say that Southeast Asia is till now my favorite region on the planet. I’ve visited nearly all countries and some of them more than once. The last one I’ve visited was Indonesia, and here things were a bit different. For the first time, I’ve disliked several things about a country and probably would not choose to visit it again.

Bali for me is an overrated location, and other islands in Indonesia are way superior in many aspects and don’t receive as many tourists as Bali.

The first thought you have when you think about Bali it’s probably the paradisiac beaches, but you should think twice, Bali doesn’t really have the best beaches in Indonesia not even close. If you are not a surfer, the beaches will disappoint. Even for surfing, there are better waves elsewhere.


You can go to popular destinations like the Gili Islands, or Lombok, but for a more relaxing and less crowded experience, you have the island of Borneo, the Banyak Islands,  The Raja Ampat Islands,  East Sumatra, Sumbawa, and the province of East Nusa Tenggara.

Bali is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world but still has a few (not many) sites off the beaten path await to be discovered.

So what does Bali have to offer then?

Bali has a rich and diverse culture, incredible places and sights, exotic temples and palaces, stunning natural backdrops, towering mountains, pristine jungles, looming volcanoes and, lush man-made terrace rice fields that exude peace and serenity.

Bali can also enchant with its dramatic dances and colorful ceremonies, its arts, and crafts.


It’s also heaven for vegans, vegetarians and, anyone that likes to try new flavors. Be prepared for the grandiosity of the vegan food scene there.

Negatives about Bali

Comparing with other places, Bali has quite a lot of negative points in my opinion.

Although finding Vegan options around Bali is quite easy, on the other hand a new report by World Animal Protection (WAP) has criticised Bali,  for being among the worst destinations in the world when it comes to animal cruelty in captivity,  claiming the region is responsible for the most “horrendous” cruelty towards animals. If you care about animals avoid the parks and so-called “sanctuaries” altogether.

The obvious ones are the elephant rides, marine attractions, horses with carts, cockfights, and zoos with cage sedated animals that are used for photography purposes. The less known animal cruelty attraction is the  Luwak (Civet Cat) Coffee, where civet cats are caged in small enclosures and force-fed to respond to the high demand for coffee. Don’t visit any coffee plantations that offer this kind of coffee.

Make ethical choices when you visit Bali, and research if you want to see wildlife, because there are options for ethical tourism experiences where you have chances to see mammals, birds and, fish in their natural environment.

I think that is great when a country gets a boost through tourism but some regions in Bali are just too spoiled by that, where you are constantly accosted by locals trying to sell you all kinds of stuff all the time. It is exhausting and you lose the opportunity to create true and meaningful human contact because to them you are just a wallet walking around.

The constant hassle is definitely something very negative about the island that will drive tourists away eventually one day.

Traffic is another big problem, getting around Bali can be painful, the streets are completely overloaded, plus some of Bali’s infrastructure is at breaking point.

There is also no, or broken tiled sidewalks, rubbish EVERYWHERE, chaos, noise, and pollution.

Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest contributor to marine debris after China, and a colossal 1.29 million metric tons is estimated to be produced annually by Indonesia (Source: AFP).

The scale of the problem is huge, and you don’t see  locals or tourists to take responsible actions to minimize the island’s rubbish problem. The island is overwhelmed by garbage, little of which is recycled. Trash fires are also common, creating toxic pollutants.

Unfortunately, natural disasters are also quite common. Indonesia is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire (an area with frequent tectonic activity), so they have a high risk of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and, tsunamis.

During the time I was there, I felt three massive earthquakes and too many smaller ones to be able to count, and we also had to deal with a tsunami alert. The experience was pretty scary and stressful.

The first one came as a complete surprise, I was laying in bed and I didn’t understand what was happening straight away, because I had never felt something like that in my life, was such a surreal experience. The way the ground moves under your feet and the noise is very hard to explain and describe.

The earthquake had a magnitude-6.9 but didn’t damage the place we were in. For the following ones, I knew what an earthquake feels like and had a much quicker response. During the second one all the walls in my room cracked, and during the third one we run to the middle of the street and grabbed our motorbikes to drive as fast as we could while people were shouting “tsunami”.

Sadly these earthquakes were quite deadly, they killed hundreds of people and injured thousands, not to talk about the astonishing number of people that have been displaced, rendered homeless.

Get Around

There are not many good ways of transport to get you around in Bali.

Despite the abundant tour packages, taxis and private drivers/guides you are only left with the option of renting a motorbike or a car. There’s no public transport in Bali.


Do I recommend Bali?

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel much, I wouldn’t waste time visiting Bali, there are so many other great places over there to be explored, much nicer than Bali. But it all depends on what you like and what are you looking for. There is a big difference between a

There is a big difference between a holiday and traveling. If you are looking for some lazy days around the pool, in a stunning resort most likely Bali is a great destination.

I have visited almost all Southeast Asian countries and Indonesia (mostly Bali) is by far the one I enjoyed the least. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed my time in Bali, I saw great places and had amazing experiences. But on my list, Bali ranks as the most overrated destinations.

I know that what I have written here is quite controversial, some people will have the same feeling about Bali and others feel the opposite. It’s always a matter of personal taste and sensibilities.

I would love to hear your thoughts about Bali…

thanks for reading 💙 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Find out here Easy Day Trips from Ubud on a Scooter 💚🏍

Easy Day Trips from Ubud on a Scooter _ Bali

Easy Day Trips from Ubud on a Scooter

Bali without a doubt is a major touristy place, as well as Ubud. Nevertheless, has amazing places to be discovered.


Ubud for me really is the best place to use as a base for all kinds of exploring around the island. Taxis and private drivers are expensive and don’t allow you to be as flexible as you want, and public transports don’t exist. So the best option by far is to go for a scooter!

The beauty of taking your scooter is that no planning is needed. It’s easy to find a scooter from 40,000 – 70,000 Rp ($2.64 – 4.62USD).


Riding a scooter on the roads of Bali is dangerous, so make sure you have experience and insurance (check the fine print as some insurance companies won’t cover motorbike crashes).

Ubud’s location allows for easy access to the surrounding Balinese countryside where you can enjoy the impressive scenery. 

Have a look at the list below for some inspiration, on some easy Day Trips from Ubud on a Scooter:


  • Tegallalang (rice terraces) its a very popular destination, but I don’t recommend it. you can and will see rice terraces elsewhere without the crowds, touts, and souvenir shops.






  • Goa Gajah (temple)




  • Semarapura or Klungkun (city + Kerta Gosa complex)


  • Pura Tamah Lot (temple) not recommended


  • Cemagi (village + Pura Gede Luhur Batr Ngaus)


  • Pura Taman Ayun (Unesco temple)



  • Pantai klotek (black sand beach)


  • Pura watu Klotok  (village, temple, and beach )


  • GelGel (town and temple)


  • Manggis (village)


  • Candidasa (town and beach)


From Ubud you can reach lots of different places there is no shortage of day trips opportunities from Ubud. But keep in mind that the police in Bali is corrupt, and even if you follow all the rules you may have to pay a fine. Expect to be stopped and pulled over by the police especially around Ubud.

Always use a helmet even if the locals don’t, try to avoid the main roads and choose the smaller ones, have the registration of the rental motorbike, your passport with you, driving license and international license.

Theoretically, if you have all the documents, a helmet and you haven’t broken any road rules, you should not be subject to any fine.

If you get pulled over, and you can’t find a way out of it better have a second wallet with a small amount of money with you. The fines aren’t fixed, so the officer generally sees how much money you’re carrying and decides how much he will be charging you.

Have you been to any of the places I’ve mentioned? Do you have any other recommendations? leave your thoughts on the comments section, and thanks for reading 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Find out here what are the pros and cons of Bali in my personal opinion.


Singapore on a Budget

Singapore is a city-state in Southeast Asia, with a tropical climate, great food, busy vibe where its always something happening I stumble in many cultural activities like concerts, performances, multimedia and water projections, so try to be aware and look at all the billboards and posters that came across to you. As you know Singapore is not the cheapest place to visit when you have a tight budget, but it’s possible, and definitely worths a visit even if short. 


I travel by bus from Malacca to Singapore (24RM), took 4hours to the border, then we left the bus twice to show our passports. If you do the same be prepared to run… because the second time you leave the bus, they will give you 20 minutes, so take all your belongings with you and if you lose the bus don’t worry you just need to wait an hour for the next one.

Once in Singapore it’s easy to travel around, they have a good and easy public transport system and almost everyone speaks English 🙂 when using the bus just make sure you have always the correct amount because they don’t give change.

Here is a list of my favorite places, that you should visit and tips to save money:

Places to explore:

  • Marina Bay – very cosmopolitan, great views, includes The Merlion Square
  • Botanic gardens – is a Unesco World Heritage Site, It’s more natural than Gardens by the Bay which seems to be more man-made (although very beautiful in its way) – free entry – they have frequent concerts from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra come early and bring a picnic.
  • Gardens by the Bay –  this futuristic garden deserves a visit during the day-light and another visit during the night between 7.45pm and 8.45 pm, when the trees twinkle and glow with music – free entry
  • Marina Bay Sands – great views 
  • Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, great place near The Merlion Square. Has always lots going on (some are free). The shape on the outside was inspired on the famous durian fruit.
  • Baba House – (Peranakan home) located near Chinatown has a free hour-long tour but booking is required

  • Sri Mariamman Temple –  oldest Hindu temple –free entry

  • Thian Hock Keng  – Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple –free entry
  • Clark Quay – busy nightlife 

  • Southern Ridges trail – great walking trails through 10km of forest and canopy walks.

  • China town
  • Little India
  • Arab district (great walk early morning before the crowds arrive) don’t miss the Haji Lane – it’s  heaven for art and culture lovers. 
  • Orchard Road


  • Art Museum (free on Fridays after 6pm), incredible good
  • Peranakan Museum (1/2 price after 7pm – $5)
  • Asian Civilisation Museum (1/2 price after 7pm – $5)
  • National Museum ($10) – check the website for free guided tours – offered daily

If you have time:

  • Movie Mob –  free outdoor movie with drive-in concept and picnic events.  Happens around Singapore (check their page)
  • Haw Par Villa (founder of Tiger Balm) outdoor exhibitions of  Chinese mythology and legends. – free entry
  • East Coast Park – 15km stretch of beach (can get busy during the weekend)


Accommodation:  it will be your biggest expense in Singapore, so you must do your research with time and book before your arrival. Backpacking is by far the cheapest option you can get something for $20-30 p/night. If you want more privacy and be in contact with local people airbnb would be a good option.

Eating:  hawker centers are by far the cheapest and best option you have to taste Singapore’s multi-cultural food. I have tried many different ones and they were all a complete delight for every foodie,a main can cost from $3-7. Remember that in Singapore you can drink tap water it is safe and clean.

I hope you don’t miss Singapore from your travel list.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

🍜 More about vegan food in Singapore 🍜

The tranquil Pekan

We got a bus from Mersing to Pekan, a small town on the bank of the Pahang River, and far away from the touristic route, but still with a few things to do and visit, once is a popular destination between locals. Mostly because Pekan is the official residence of Pahang’s royal family.

We just spend 2 days here what was more than enough to visit the main attractions, markets, gardens, to try the local delicacies and to stroll around this small and tranquil town.

Pekan’s top attraction is for obvious reasons the Royal Palace of Pekan, that doesn’t allow visitors but still attracts lots of local tourists that stand outside the walls to look at the Polo ground and also the horses.

The other highlights are the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum also known as Pekan State Museum that has artefacts related to Pekan and Malay history and culture. The river front street with its old Chinese shophouses.

The Watercraft gallery was another stop, it’s a small open gallery that showcases different types of watercraft and fisherman’s houses. They have a nice display but the pieces are a bit deteriorate because of the lac of maintenance.

The mosques are quite impressive and very beautiful on the outside, and there’s also a few examples of non-Islamic houses of worship in town like the Chinese temple dedicated to the Chinese goddess of the sea.

Pekan has excellent Malaysian street food and extraordinary fresh fruit.

At the time we were the only westerners in town so we attracted a lot of attention 🙂 Making friends with the people is always a great way to know more about this little town and the Malays culture.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

Best of George Town, Penang Island, Malaysia

I arrived at Penang at 4:30 in the morning and was still dark, at this time there’s no public transports so I took a taxi to the city center (30RM), it was an awesome experience to walk around the Old town when the city was empty, calm and quite and the sun started to rise.

I could feel the city coming alive and starting to pulse, and I realised that there were more wonderful and interesting places to visit than I expected. To start with, Georgetown is an architectural gem and a fantastic mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay people. And despite the differences all these ethnic groups have found a way to live and grow together. This cultural pot makes George town a richer place with an incredible exotic melange of old and new.  

Georgetown  is located on Penang island in the north-west of Peninsular Malaysia and it’s listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site like Melaka.

When walking around  town you can explore Penang’s colonial architecture, and also seek for the street murals and wrought iron caricatures.


George Town is well know for the street art and I can’t recommend it enough. It is a great way to explore the city hunting for art across streets and alleys (more information and photos here đŸ“·)


The Blue Mansion built in the 1880s, is an impressive piece of architecture and was based on Feng Shui principles.


The bus 203 and 204 takes you to  Kek Lok Si Temple, a Buddhist temple outside the city centre.  This impressive temple is situated at Air Itam and its huge statue of Guan Yin can be seen from miles away in good weather conditions. The Temple is well maintained and a great place to visit, so reserve enough time to explore it properly, and climb its many levels, and you will be rewarded with a stunning view of Penang island.

The Kapitan Keling Mosque, it’s a monumental structure beautiful from the outside but quite simple inside.

Other temples are abundant around town, the oldest one is a Taoist and Buddhist temple the Kuan Yin Teng  (Goddess of Mercy).

The Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple, it’s an Hindu temple set beside the Penang Bird Park. Curiously the temple is located at the Street of Harmony, called that because it’s home to various temples, including Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, and Chinese.

Little India is colourful and vibrant and is filled with multi-coloured shop houses, and has great places to eat.

Bus 10 takes you to the botanic gardens, a beautiful, clean and well maintained place, more frequented by locals then tourists. Just bare in mind that the garden is packed with monkeys. This immense garden is filled with all sorts of plants from hundreds of species, we also found turtles, snakes, many bird species and lizards.

The Jetties, Weld Quay Clan,  found along Pengkalan Weld are home to many Chinese families, its nice to check out these humble, rickety wooden jetties to see how the houses along the jetties over the water are built.

George Town is probably my favourite place in Malaysia; Penang, is definitely worthy of a visit.. It’s colourful, quirky, multi-cultural and historic… you can’t really ask for more 🙂 I hope you have found this post useful, and let me know  if you have been to George Town! thank you for reading 🙏


photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Street Art – George Town, Penang

Street art is for sure one of the big highlights in George Town, and stroll through different streets hunting for art, can be actually pretty fun. George Town  is located in the North East of Penang, and along with Melaka is since 2008 a UNESCO World Heritage site.

George Town displays huge murals that adorne sides of buildings, interactive art installations that allows visitors to insert themselves into the scenes, and wrought iron structures, that tells the history of various streets, quality of life and historical facts about the city in a amusing way.  Basically the street art in Penang is an art lover’s dream! The street art makes the city more interesting and impossible to forget.

There are almost a dozen of murals done by the amazing Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic (, that was commissioned to do a series of public paintings in central George Town for the 2012 George Town Festival. Unfortunately some pieces are already fading and soon they might disappear.

All of this add to the city’s architecture, traditional crafts and food, are more than enough reasons to visit and fall in love by Penang. Most of the art is focused in the Old George town Streets.  If you’re serious about catching them all  here’s a map of where to find the murals and caricatures.

Bare in mind that walking around trying to find the street art in Georgetown is an amazing free activity. But renting a bike is also an option.

I will leave here some pictures of what I found around the city… Let me know if you have been to Penang and which is your favourite piece..

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Perhentian Island, the underwater paradise

Kuala Besut is a small seaside town on the east coast of Malaysia where you  pick up a speedboat to the perhentian islands. It’s a crowded touristic place that unfortunately you can’t avoid if you want to pop in to the Perhentian islands off the North East coast of Malaysia. But try not to spend much time around. To buy the boat tickets avoid the pier shops, we bought our ticket for 50RM.

Not everything is bad, there are many good eating places in Kuala Besut and better food than on the Perhentians! Just before you go take cash with you because there’s no ATMs on the islands and plenty of suncream, I learnt it the hard way :/

The Perhentians are divided by two different Islands called Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar. Kecil, the smaller islands is a walhalla for backpackers, and Perhentian Besar, the biggest one it’s calmer, very beautiful and perfect for to relax and enjoys what mother nature has to offer…  so better suited for me 🙂


The island is just a peace of paradise on earth, with powdery sand, white beaches, crystal-clear water, palm trees, no concrete or cars, great atmosphere, lovely sunsets, luxurious jungles
 it’s all too perfect, and kind of magical, that’s is hard to believe that is real.


There’s not much to do in the island, what is just perfect, so we spent our time, walking around, relaxing, enjoying  the beautiful beaches, sunsets,  hiking through the jungle, spotting wildlife like monkeys, birds, spiders, flying foxes and reptiles. And of course discover amazing deserted beaches and friendly locals.

Lizards are a real thing in the island, and being so close to them is kind f scary, so when you have a huge lizard that decides that your front door is good place to be, is kind of uncomfortable 🙂


On top of that,  you have an immense blue ocean full of life to be discovered. I did here the best snorkelling trip of my life, what a shame I didn’t have a waterproof camera, the visibility was extraordinary, and I was so lucky with all I saw.

In this trip I saw the most incredible fishes species, they were so so many all around me, with different vibrating colour, shapes and sizes, just extraordinary. After this trip I just bought a waterproof camera so I will not miss a shot of a place like this ever again.

Just don’t forget to do snorkelling with a t-shirt, I only put suncream and wasn’t enough at all, I mean I just got a biggg sunburn😳.

For the first time in my life I swam with giant turtles, black tip reef shark, clown fish, blue-spotted stingrays, titan trigger fish,  parrot fish, moray eel, and many other  brightly coloured fish that I don’t know the names.

I was lucky enough to be able to swim in waters where you can still see colourful reefs, which unfortunately are despairing because of pollution, climate change  and worrying  lack of environmental awareness and care for the state in which we will leave this Earth when we die.

Kayaking is also a must do, and a great way to explore by your own other parts of the island. We got a kayak for a day and we paddle around the island discovering  a couple of deserted beaches.

In the end of our amazing stay we left this paradisiac island behind and we got a boat back to Kuala Besut, and from there we walked to the bus station( around 10 minutes). Nearby there’s plenty of drink and food stalls and a market behind the station.

Be kind, have fun and protect the coral reefs 💚

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha