Green travelling in Ljubljana

By Darren Chan


Nowadays, “green Living” has become a prevalent style, which can be applied to entertainment, consumption, culinary habit, and even travelling. The core value of “green living” is to be more environmentally friendly. Welcome to Ljubljana. In this city, you can practise “green living” in your every move and have a taste of genuine green life.


Lying in the middle of the territory, Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. Besides, it is one of Europe's greenest and most livable capitals, holding the title “European green capital 2016”. In Hong Kong, fresh air has become a “scarce product” due to rapid urban development and heavy traffic. Yet, it is the opposite in Ljubljana. The city centre has been car-free for more than 10 years, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to travel around more relaxingly and enjoy fresh breeze blowing from the emerald River Ljubljanica that flows through the city's heart.


Cycling around is one of the best ways to experience Ljubljana.


I highly recommend you to spare a lazy afternoon chilling in this peaceful city. The best spot for doing this is one of the many cafés with outdoor seating along the poplar-lined riverbank. That’s where to enjoy the summer breeze and have a sip of coffee with plant-based milk. Another spot that impresses me much is Congress Square, which is just a street away from the central area of the old town. Everyone there is busy doing nothing but enjoying themselves the best green time of the day in the park. If you come during summertime, you will be right in time for a free screening at the open-air cinema where locals like to gather for.


For most tour agencies in Hong Kong, Ljubljana has always been a must-visit city on the Balkan tour itinerary, consisting of at least five to six countries on the Balkan Peninsula within a trip of ten days and even more. Among all those attractions in this capital city, the Ljubljana castle has to be the most iconic one. Castles in European countries usually offer the best vantage point for city view, and the Ljubljana Castle is no exception. Sitting on the top of the mountain, the castle can be seen almost from everywhere in the city. I was amazed by the exhibitions and the games they prepared for visitors to learn about Ljubljana. “Time Machine” activity was the one I had great fun with. I was led by six historical figures to six different historical periods to look into the old Ljubljana and Slovenia. What a wonderful time-travelling experience! After coming down from the castle, you can head for the old town of Ljubljana to be surrounded by the nostalgic vibe. The best way to experience the old town is by walking, and looking closely at everything that interests you.


Beautifully crafted fountain in the historical centre of the city.


In this bike-friendly capital, I had the best time cycling around, and experienced the city through the eyes of a local. There are a lot of organic and vegetarian restaurants I will come back for. After the trip to Ljubljana, I started to appreciate the idea of “green travel” more, which makes travelling more environmentally-friendly. Let’s do our part to make sustainability work!

By Darren Chan


Nowadays, “green Living” has become a prevalent style, which can be applied to entertainment, consumption, culinary habit, and even travelling. The core value of “green living” is to be more environmentally friendly. Welcome to Ljubljana. In this city, you can practise “green living” in your every move and have a taste of genuine green life.


Lying in the middle of the territory, Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. Besides, it is one of Europe's greenest and most livable capitals, holding the title “European green capital 2016”. In Hong Kong, fresh air has become a “scarce product” due to rapid urban development and heavy traffic. Yet, it is the opposite in Ljubljana. The city centre has been car-free for more than 10 years, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to travel around more relaxingly and enjoy fresh breeze blowing from the emerald River Ljubljanica that flows through the city's heart.


Cycling around is one of the best ways to experience Ljubljana.


I highly recommend you to spare a lazy afternoon chilling in this peaceful city. The best spot for doing this is one of the many cafés with outdoor seating along the poplar-lined riverbank. That’s where to enjoy the summer breeze and have a sip of coffee with plant-based milk. Another spot that impresses me much is Congress Square, which is just a street away from the central area of the old town. Everyone there is busy doing nothing but enjoying themselves the best green time of the day in the park. If you come during summertime, you will be right in time for a free screening at the open-air cinema where locals like to gather for.


For most tour agencies in Hong Kong, Ljubljana has always been a must-visit city on the Balkan tour itinerary, consisting of at least five to six countries on the Balkan Peninsula within a trip of ten days and even more. Among all those attractions in this capital city, the Ljubljana castle has to be the most iconic one. Castles in European countries usually offer the best vantage point for city view, and the Ljubljana Castle is no exception. Sitting on the top of the mountain, the castle can be seen almost from everywhere in the city. I was amazed by the exhibitions and the games they prepared for visitors to learn about Ljubljana. “Time Machine” activity was the one I had great fun with. I was led by six historical figures to six different historical periods to look into the old Ljubljana and Slovenia. What a wonderful time-travelling experience! After coming down from the castle, you can head for the old town of Ljubljana to be surrounded by the nostalgic vibe. The best way to experience the old town is by walking, and looking closely at everything that interests you.


Beautifully crafted fountain in the historical centre of the city.


In this bike-friendly capital, I had the best time cycling around, and experienced the city through the eyes of a local. There are a lot of organic and vegetarian restaurants I will come back for. After the trip to Ljubljana, I started to appreciate the idea of “green travel” more, which makes travelling more environmentally-friendly. Let’s do our part to make sustainability work!

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A petite city with enormous beauty

A petite city with enormous beauty

By Ann Yuen


If you are a history and landscape lover, Central Asia will then be one of your dream destinations. Travellers usually visit the five “stans”, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, in one trip, which may take up a month or more for a thorough and intriguing exploration. Mine was a relatively short one. After settling off from Xinjiang, China, we had our foot landed on Kazakhstan, the first stop of the ancient Silk Road beyond China.


It’s always advisable to study a bit of the historical background of the destination beforehand, so that you won’t get too overwhelmed for what you are going to see and learn. The ancient Silk Road is a vast network of trade routes between the East and West, carrying not only products the merchants were proud of, but also cultures, knowledge and beliefs facilitating the intellectual and cultural exchange among Eurasian nations. The fascinating history of this essential passage makes me more curious about the current development of those countries along the route. Therefore, our curiosity, together with the friendly visa policy, brought us to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, the sections of the Silk Road outside China.


After spending almost a week in Kazakhstan, we took a 4-hour bus ride from Almaty to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. It was not until 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved that the capital changed its name from Frunze to Bishkek. The capital is a petite one comparing to Nursultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Yet, as the saying goes, “small as it is, the sparrow has all the vital organs”, Bishkek has everything you want to see. Although taking buses and hopping on taxis are convenient in Bishkek, central Bishkek can be navigated by walking. It is an enjoyable to wander around this lovely city and have delightful conversations with locals, who are very friendly to share with you their life stories and curiosity about the country you are from.


We considered ourselves very blessed to witness a beautiful wedding on Victory Square. Built in 1984, the square was to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the victory against Nazi Germany in WWII. It features a statue of a mother waiting for her soldier son to come home from war, and an eternal fire filled the central area. The newly-weds, attired in western style, came with their families, bridesmaids and groomsmen to lay flowers for those sacrificed for the nation, and took terrific wedding photos with their beloved ones. We were so honoured to be invited to Taalay and Anara’s photo when they saw us standing there, looking at them smiling. The young couple told us that it is a tradition for newly-married couples to come to Victory Square to pray for happiness in their life.


The monument of Manas, a hero of the ancient Kyrgyz epic, on Ala-Too Square.


After giving them our blessings, and watching the Changing of the Guard Ceremony on the square, we spent the rest of the day visiting Ala-Too Square, Panfilov Park and the State Historical Museum. The museum is such an incredible history classroom, where you can learn much more about this country through their exhibitions on the national history and heritage they are proud of. If you are looking for something artistic, the Bishkek Kyrgyz Opera and Ballet Theatre will be a wonderful location for an impeccable night of the finest performing arts. For landscape lovers like I am, I will suggest a fantastic little trip to Issyk-Kul that never freezes. It takes a 4.5-hour ride from Bishkek to this world’s second-largest highland lake where you can admire the snow-capped peaks surrounding it. Meaning “warm lake” in the Kyrgyz language, the snow broth from Tianshan in Issyk-Kul is keeping a great variety of freshwater fish in it. The locals love to have them cured with salt and smoked. You can try them fresh in a restaurant nearby and brought home the dried ones. Excellent idea, right?


Bishkek is a paradise for trekkers.

An inspiring trip in Nepal

An inspiring trip in Nepal

By Ann Yuen


“The Himalayas” has been a household name since we were little. This legendary mountain range features a number of sky-high peaks, with Mount Everest, the highest peak, reaching 8,848 m. No wonder it attracts a ceaseless stream of climbers to come to conquer the height. It indeed is an enormous challenge to the conquerors, both physically and mentally.


I have always imagined how it would feel like standing on the top of Mount Everest. Not being quite physically capable of climbing on snow-capped mountains, my partner and I didn’t get the chance to make it to the top of the world. Instead, we did some lovely trekking at the Annapurna Circuit, a trek within the mountain ranges of central Nepal. I love how pristine the landscape was along the 200 km circuit, and got overwhelmed by the majestic view of the Annapurna Massif, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Manaslu, Gangapurna, Tilicho Peak, Pisang Peak, and Paungda Danda. We, like most of the other trekkers, hiked the route anti-clockwise, as it is safer and more comfortable to adapt to the growing altitude.


As wonderful as it sounds, the whole experience was somehow a life-changing one, as it was the time when you walked quietly amidst river valleys and mountain ranges that you get to think through everything. Consider yourself lucky if you could make new friends at the base camp and explore the rest of the circuit as trekking partners. Surrounded by the formidably enchanting landscape, it made us feel so tiny as a human. That reminded me of the famous quote made by Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”


Prayer wheels at Boudhanath. Spinning such a wheel will have a meritorious effect on the person.


We explored about 1/3 of the circuit before heading to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, for a short stay. There is hardly an adequate way to describe this city. It is a mixture of everything. Some may find the traffic, business and city order of Kathmandu are in a haphazard fashion. Yet, when you push through this first impression, and soon enough, you will find out how enticingly unique this South Asian city is. It is a fascinating melting pot of Buddhism and Hinduism, and where many people are eager to make pilgrimages to. We had our time well-spent in the beautifully structured Kathmandu Durbar Square, Boudhanath, the world’s largest spherical stupa, and the Pashupatinath Temple, the oldest Hindu Temple in this country. Religions find their way to coexist peacefully on this sacred land, and so as the people living here.


You may miss the fast and stable internet access at home, and are not going to enjoy the unexpected power outages on an almost daily basis when travelling in Kathmandu. Why not staying with it, and taking it in as part of the journey? This is the reason we leave home and travel around. We are there to collect experience we can’t have by sitting on the sofa phubbing at home. I found it an excellent opportunity to be slightly cut off from internet connection, and to really indulge in what are around me: the religious atmosphere in the capital, the wise talk by Sadhu (a holy person in Hinduism), the prayer flags flying with the breeze, smiles from vendors... They all deserve your full attention and friendly response. When you are attentive enough to the surroundings, you will find out Nepal has so much to offer. It is a country more than just religions. Pokhara, the second-largest city in the nation, offers you a totally different impression for Nepal. Its tranquility, seclusion and beauty fascinated us in the moment when we got on a wood canoe ride on Phewa Lake, where we captured the best sunset view with the reflection of the snow mountains of our lifetime. It was so stunning that we all went silent just to make sure we got this picturesque scenery well-imprinted in our memory. Nothing moves you as nature does.


Sadhu is a holy person in Hinduism. They are distinguished by their traditionally painted face. 

The wondrous Bali

The wondrous Bali

By Ann Yuen


To many, “Bali” is a synonym of “vacation”, which is immediately apparent in its beautiful beaches with limpid water, a collection of luxurious resorts, a wide range of cuisine choices and exciting nightlife. It seems to be a perfect respite for city dwellers to throw those mundane and humdrum routines at work behind their back, make the most out of the holiday and be their true selves for a good while. For me, there is hardly an adequate way to describe this magical island in Indonesia. It is a mixture of everything, like life itself. Visiting Bali is like going on an adventure that never ends. There is an activity to suit every soul. You can easily find your own place in this wonderland. With so much to offer, Bali never fails to surprise me no matter how many times I have come back for its lingering charm.


I visited Bali for the first time for a friend’s wedding, which was held at a starred hotel against the backdrop of the dazzling Indian Ocean a few years ago. Entranced by the sheer natural beauty and diverse culture of this island, I came back for more. Hotels and restaurants in Bali make excellent use of its enticing coastline that turns ordinary things into impressive experiences. There is a delightful bar sprawled across a rocky cliff facing the Indian Ocean in Jimbaran Bali. It’s a wonderful open-air bar where you should come to luxuriate in a relaxing drink, and feast your eyes with the fascinating sunset view of the ocean. When night falls, beachside restaurants welcome their biggest influx of guests of the day. After ordering your barbecued seafood, you can sit back under the starry sky, and laugh at your friends’ funny stories from their surfing class and yoga class today. I have always remembered how amazing it felt when the cool seawater running through my toes when I was devouring the sinfully delicious grilled dishes. Not a fan of seafood? Diners serving Indonesian cuisine (don’t miss the classic spicy sauce “Sambal” there!), vegan restaurants, lovely cafés offering western dishes are readily available. Bali will make sure you are well-fed for your adventures the next day.


The crystal Manta Bay on Nusa Penida Island is a paradise for snorkellers


Bali enchants with its spellbinding landscape. The photogenic Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Ubud, a tranquil area known as a centre for traditional crafts and dance, is unmissable. When you find the popular rice terrace swing not as challenging, why not experience the sky bike ride across the rice paddy terrace? The height unnerved me at the very beginning. Yet, the sweet Bali rural breeze “came to the rescue” and helped me relax. I just couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous scene of lush fields and endless swathes of towering palm trees from up in the mid-air!


The rice terrace swing at the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is a wonderful spot for great photos


Another height that you may like to conquer is Mount Batur, an active volcano. This awe-inspiring trekking adventure kicked off in the dark of the early morning. When reaching the highest peak, we were right in time to see one of the most spectacular sunrises and morning views in our lifetime! We got to explore craters, the most recent lava flows and other volcanic landscape, which turned out to be the most lively geography class I have ever had.


When they say “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”, and so is Bali. When you are here, be a kid, and unleash your enormous curiosity. Bali will treat you back with tones of wonders and fascinations that know no limits.