Angola.. cuia bué

Angola was my home for 2 years of my life, and I have great memories about that somehow magic and not yet well known county.

Here are few photographs from ¬†places I have been so many times, where I spent my days, went shopping, for a walk or to the beach… despite so different from my european reality after leaving there this place is part of my deepest being.

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photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha

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IPOH Old Town and New Town

We traveled from Kuala Perlis to Ipho (state capital of¬†Perak)¬†by bus (29RM) and arrived at the terminal Amanjaya at 22pm so¬†there wasn’t any transports (despite the taxi) to take us to Ipoh’s old town. So we stayed for the night at a nearby ‘hotel’. In the next morning we got a bus (2.5RM) and we were instantly surprised with this lovely town, that ¬†has definitely¬†some similarities to¬†George Town (in¬†Penang), one of my¬†favourite cities in¬†Malaysia.

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We stayed for 2 days what was enough to visit and feel the city but not enough to visit the surrounding areas.

Ipoh has a special vibe, great historic buildings, lots of street art and really great food. So, should be a mandatory stop for any itinerary in Malaysia.

Ipoh old town doesn’t look to have many tourists or even many¬†locals walking around, despite being laid back, it’s also creative, trendy and full of things to see and try, like the famous White Coffee.

 

Ipoh centre is split in two, the old town on the west and the new town on the east side of the Kinta River .

In the old town you can do¬†the Heritage Trail¬†(4 miles) and the¬†Street Art walk, for both you can grab a free map, and just lose yourself…¬†The street art ¬†makes it even more interesting to¬†explore the historical city, and it’s fairly easy to find it. Most of the murals belong to¬†the¬†famous street artist Ernest Zacharevic¬†and some other locals.

You can’t miss the Kong Heng square market, an old building¬†full of vine covered ruins occupied now by modern stalls.

Ipoh’s Little¬†India¬†with it’s¬†colourful shops,¬†spices, music¬†and¬†eateries, and the¬†new town on the¬†East side of the river.

The New Town has the best eateries and some more street art, so make sure you don’t miss the Mural Art Lane, that is completely covered in murals showing the Malaysian culture.

Ipoh it’s definitely a must.. have fun ūüėÄ

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha¬†

 

Don’t mess with Melaka

We landed in Kuala Lumpur and went straight away by bus to Melaka what takes approximately 2 hours, and we felt in love with this small appealing and pleasant town.

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Melaka was colonised by the the Dutch, Portuguese and British. The city has a rich history and to tells it proudly with it’s¬†14 museums ūüôā You can say that fusion is a good word to use when talking about Melaka, once¬†you can find in this charming city¬† Christian churches, chinese and hindu ¬†temples, mosques and red-brick buildings.

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Melaka is a UNESCO world heritage site and an exciting place to discover. You can easily walk to every point of interest, and if you want to go further you can always rent a bike. The city has great views, artistic buildings and streets. Although not to the extent of Penang there is a lot of street art to be found in the side street nearby the River.

The Dutch Square is the tourist centre, it’s buildings are painted red but more surprising than that are the colourful and noisy trishaws decorated with famous cartoon characters.

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The Jonker Street,  is the main tourist street which can be very crowded. The Ruins of St Paul’s Church are at the top of St Paul’s Hill.

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Melaka has a large and thriving Chinatown that deserves a visit. The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest functioning Chinese temple in Malaysia and a must see.

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Melaka is a¬†great place to seat¬†and watch the world go by, ¬†either by¬†the river, or at one of the great many eateries. Food was one of my favourite parts of Melaka ¬†so if you are interested¬†check out the link – ¬†¬†ūüć° ūüĆĪa vegan in Melaka ūüĆĪūüć°

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha

Self-driving in Africa – Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe

We landed in Windhoek,¬†Namibia’s capital, prepared for everything¬†knowing that we would have 5000 km in front of us and we would¬†cross 3 countries in Southern¬†Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

We hired a¬†¬†4X4 with roof top tents for our journey and despite all the trouble we get into with¬†the car, I don’t regret the option, because gives you an enormous independence, it’s very versatile, and allows you to¬†travel independently and discover with time¬†this spacious countries.

Visit these countries is not cheap but you can save¬†the money for the room by camping.¬†There are many campsites and lots of lodges also have campsites. The price of a 4×4 with roof top tents depends on the¬†time of the year you travel, and which borders you are going to cross.

Self driving throughout the wilderness in Africa was one of the¬†most exciting, adventurous and rewarding things I did so far¬†‚Äď you just disconnect entirely and emerge yourself into one of the most beautiful natural sceneries on earth.

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Now you are asking about what kind of troubles I got into.. some are obvious and you are probably guessing it right..¬†but just to give some excuses first ¬†.. ūüôā¬†we¬†did some¬†challenging routes and drove miles and miles through isolated areas ūüôā

So here it comes.. during our journey our 4×4¬†broke down and got stuck a couple of times (sand, mud, water),we got a window broke and some values stolen… ¬†ande there is more..¬†one of the tents broke…¬†we got fined and¬†towed once.. so was a hell of a journey.

To do a trip like this you need to have a sense of adventure, and be prepared to have busy days and to change  your planes constantly.

be safe ūüôā

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha¬†

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South Vietnam

My journey started at Ho Chi Minh City  (aka Saigon) and from there I explored the south of this diverse country. To visit Vietnam you need to apply to your Visa beforehand, there is no possibility to get a Visa once you are at the border or the airport.

Ho Chi Minh City has a¬†pulsate and chaotic energy. The traffic is something beyond explanation, but despite that,¬†it’s full of¬†life and the best way to explore the city is losing yourself in the street.

This is what I recommend to visit:

  • Jade Emperor Pagoda
  • Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda
  • Binh Tay Market
  • Ben Thanh Market
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Cho Lon area

Once in HCMC don’t miss the coffee, it’s a true delight.

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Mekong Delta has many places to explore, and it’s incredible beautiful and exotic with its¬†water floating world.¬†You need time to explore all its beauty and it’s¬†innumerable rivers, canals and, streams that cross the landscape.

I need to say that’s possible to visit the¬†Mekong Delta without a tour and is actually quite easy. You just need to ask around and combine different ways of transport, bus, ferry and¬†motorbikes.

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You have so many options to choose from, that taking a¬†decision is pretty¬†difficult mostly¬†when you don’t¬†have much time, so I will leave a small list of the best places I visit:

  • Ben Tre¬†it’s very picturesque and¬†less¬†tourist than¬†My Tho.¬†This¬†area is famous for its¬†keo dua¬†(coconut candy)
  • Ha Tien –¬†it’s beautiful,¬†has a nice riverside¬†market,¬†lots of¬†caves¬†to visit¬†some of which have been turned into temples. Thach dong cave pagoda deserves a visit.
  • Tra Vinh – for me is one of the¬†charming ¬†towns in the Mekong Delta
  • Minh Long – has the¬†Cai Be floating market that¬†is always busy, carrying all the characteristics of the locals‚Äô life.
  • Sam Mountain– has a strong Chinese influence and its full of¬†pagodas and temple the¬†Cavern Pagoda it’s a nice one to visit.
  • Can Tho – is the largest city in the region you can visit the floating markets,¬†Phong Dien,¬†Cai Rang¬† and take a¬†boat along the ¬†canals. ¬†Phung Hiep is the¬†biggest and busiest floating market in the Mekong Delta it¬†opens at 4.00 am closes at 11.00 am.

Asian Markets are always my first choice to eat, and Vietnam wasn’t an¬†exception, I¬†especially enjoyed the rice paper wrapped spring rolls, fruit and, smoothies.

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha

Benguela – Huambo -Bie (in the route of Angola’s up-country)

We drove from Benguela to Bi√© stopping in many remote villages and towns. Hope you enjoy the photos, and get to know more about this beautiful and unspoiled country still far away from the tourist routes. I remember to read somewhere that Angola is one of Africa‚Äôs last great travel mysteries ūüôā

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During our trip people where nice but always suspicious, what is perfectly understandable once the country still remains closed off for travellers. I need to say that being a portuguese speaker helped a lot.

Angola’s up-country, is still very unspoiled and rural, outside the big cities houses are made of natural materials like grasses and mud bricks, there is no electricity or sanitation.

Populations live from what the land gives, they lack in access to school and health care. They have big matriarchal families.
Angola’s up-country has an astonishing natural beauty, strong colour, smells and a great warm weather.

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ūüĆĪ Information and testimony about if it’s possible to have¬†a¬†plant-based diet in AngolaūüĆĪ

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha

Sarawak – island of Borneo

Sarawak Borneo will amaze you with its culture and natural beauty. The Island of Borneo has probably one of the most richest and diverse ecosystems I ever seen, but unfortunately many of its forests have been lost for oil palm, putting wildlife and people in danger.

I started my trip in the capital Kuching and I used bus, boat, motorbike, bicycle, and mini vans to travel, this are the places I visited :

ūüöĆ Kuching ¬†/ Santubong peninsula /¬†Bako National Park /¬†Semenggoh Nature Reserve/ Bau / Kubah National Park

Explore Kuching and it’s old colonial charm¬†by foot, loosing yourself in its magnificent streets from china town, indian neighbourhood and the river front.¬†I highly recommend you to visit the museums they are really good, look up for street art and¬†don’t miss¬†the sunset in the river front.

To visit the other side of the river, get one of the local boats (1RM each side), go for a walk,  enjoy the view and try a traditional Kek Lapis (layer cake).

In Kuching you can rent a motor bike in the city for 40RM a day to explore the the small villages around including Santubong Peninsula, a nice  quite town with great views and beaches.

I went to the Matang wildlife centre¬†but I don’t recommend it at all, they may do a good job at rescuing and helping the animals but they are all in small cages, I found it quite depressing.

We got the red bus n¬ļ1 stopped in front of the open market in Kuching to Bako National Park¬†(3.50RM) the park entry is 20 RM, and the¬†boat 40RM both ways (runs from 8 to 15h). You defenetly need to spend at least a day there and do a couple of trails. The park as beautiful¬†mangrove swamp, luxurious rainforest, streams, waterfalls, and if you’re lucky (like me ) you may¬†see¬†proboscis monkeys¬†in their native habitats.¬†This park has an¬†incredible biodiversity, which includes almost every vegetation type in¬†Borneo.

We went to Semenggoh Nature Reserve to see semi-wild orangutans in their natural habitat for that we got a bus from Kuching (4RM) at 7:20 from the open market stop. Once in the reserve you need to walk to the feeding point, the entry is 10RM. Be aware that you may not be lucky enough to see them.  They have 2 hour-long feedings, 9am to 10am and from 3pm to 4pm.

Next stop was Bau, the bus from Kuching  takes an hour,  the bus is an old one so expect a sweaty journey (4.5RM). Bau is a small clean and organised town, has a good market, food court and a Chinese temple that deserves a visit.

Once in Bau we realised that was difficult to find public transports to take us to the different caves so we started walking and hitch-hiked. Hitchhiking was safe and we meet really nice and interesting people. We visited the fairy cave (5RM), a really nice and impressive open mountain cave, no light needed. then we took another lift to the wind cave Nature reserve (5RM) for this one you need a torch, there is plenty to see and lots and lots of bats.

If you plan to come buck to Kuching by bus, the last one departs at 3:20, but never trust the bus schedules ūüôā they often leave early.

To go from Kuching to Kubah National Park, get the bus K21 (4RM) and its an hour ride.The entry is 20RM. The park is gorgeous with lots of hills, ups and downs, I personally found it quite tiering, so get your legs ready. The park offers several trails from one hour to several hours, you can’t buy food or water in the park, so bring something.¬†I did ¬†a couple of trails including the trail to the waterfall where you can get refreshed ¬†and visited the frog pond. The last bus the kuching is at 1:30 but if it doesn’t appear you will have mini bus passing and you can ask them to stop (5RM)

Sarawak is not known for its beaches, I went to Damai beach but I¬†don’t recommend it at all.

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha

ūüĆĪ¬†Information and testimony about being a vegan in Sarawak¬†‚Äď A vegan in Sarawak¬†

a Vegan in Sarawak – island of Borneo

Sarawak’s food¬†is just amazing, and the only problem you will have being a vegan is not to gain 10kg ūüôā

Kuching 

ūüĆĪSin Wei Tong cafe – has a vegetarian stall, great food around 5RM per dish.¬†some dishes have egg but can request without.

ūüĆĪShun son yen – vegetarian restaurant by kilo, with delicious food and fresh juices I paid around 15RM for my meal. Make sure you go early to have all the option still available because¬†the food goes quickly. You can try a bit of everything.

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ūüĆĪ¬†water front –¬† there are¬†food stalls and restaurants that have great vegan options.

ūüĆĪZhen Xiang Zhai,¬†delicious food and a good place to try the¬†Sarawak laksa,¬†they close at 3pm.¬†A meal with drinks will cost around¬†15RM ¬†you can choose from the¬†buffet or order off their menu.

ūüĆĪopen marker – lovelly local place to explore.

ūüĆĪFood fair, at the time you are visiting Kuching check if they have a food fair, they have all kinds of food, but be prepared for a¬†crowded place.

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ūüĆĪBau food court– One of the food stalls serves exclusively¬†great vegan food but other stall still have a few options, have a look and ask around.

Other food in the region

ūüíöSeri Muka – Malaysian sweet with rice with pandas leavesimg_1804

ūüíöSteamed Buns –¬†¬†easily find any food¬†markets and street stalls. They have vegetarian fillings like – sweet been past,¬†¬†Kaya, Pandan or¬†black sesame paste.

ūüíöKendal, dessert made¬†with¬†coconut milk, green jelly noodles (rice flour)

ūüíöABC,¬†made out of shaved ice and a variety of ingredients such as red beans, fruit, sweet corn, grass jelly, etc..

ūüíöOndeh-Ondeh, glutinous rice flour dumplings filled with ‚Äėgula Melaka‚Äô

ūüíöSticky coconut rice with palm sugar and mango

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ūüíöFruit and Vegetables,¬†don’t miss it …

ūüíöOther treats

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha