Four Things I Want to See in Malacca Malaysia!

This post is number 7 on West’s Bucket List. Enjoy!

This city in Malaysia is one of culture and colour! If you were to look at the pictures of its red and pink buildings, you might think they were in somewhere like Cuba, and for good reason. Like Cuba, Malacca is something of a time capsule, visually still trapped in the colonial era with architecturally traditions lent from Portuguese, Dutch, and British settlers. Here are just two reasons I’m desperate to visit the city!

  1. Jonker Street Market

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city is Jonker Street, the central promenade of china town.

Jonker Street supposedly has one of the best and most bustling night markets in all of Asia. Bargains and street foods of all types are available, virtually on tap, if you’re hungry or have an itchy finger when it comes to your wallet. That, coupled with the street party-style atmosphere of the gathering, makes Jonker Street unmissable if you’re spending a night in the city!

  1. The beautiful architecture

If, however, you want to take a more laid-back and slow-paced approach to exploring Malacca, perhaps the diverse range of buildings will take your fancy.

The creme de la creme is the 16th century A’Famosa Fort, constructed by Portuguese conquerors of Malacca. One gate stands, now alone, defending the city, flanked by two accompanying cannons. It is amongst the oldest European architecture still standing in Asia and reinforces the idea of Malaysia as an age-old cultural hub. That has to be worth seeing!

Beyond the Fort, Christ Church, with its giant white cross set against bright red walls, is the legacy of Dutch settlers who took the region from the Portuguese. It is well worth a look, whether you subscribe to the Christian faith or not, for its beautiful architecture and vibrant colouring.

Amongst the architecture there are homes for guns and gods alike! Explore both to your heart’s content!

  1. The Butterfly and Reptile sanctuary in Ayer Keroh.

If, however, you’d prefer to see a few of the animals native to Malaysia, you may perhaps choose to visit the butterfly and reptile sanctuary just 15 kilometers north of Malacca. It is the second largest zoo in the country and a very popular tourist attraction if you have the time! From delicate patterned butterflies to monstrous grey crocodiles, they have it all.

  1. The Sultanate Palace of the Mansur Shah of Malacca

This could come under architecture, but the Sultanate Palace is a reconstruction and it feels disingenuous to plug it in alongside the real historical remnants of A’Famosa Fort and Christ Church.

A wooden replica of the Sultan’s palace, the building was once an iconic symbol of the Malaccan Empire. This reconstruction is well worth a visit to see an important piece of Malaysian history!

Malacca isn’t widely or particularly well known; however, one of my best friends visited it and swore by the city. She commended Malacca for its laidback feel and beautiful aesthetics, although she said there wouldn’t be a lot to do if you find yourself there for a while. All in all, Malacca definitely sounds worth at least a stop off visit to me!

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Why You Should Visit Florence!

This thread of posts is on my bucket list, both the parts of it I have done and those I am yet to do. It has been written to provide consistent content for your perusal (particularly with lockdown at the moment). I hope West’s Bucket Lists will provide some inspiration, perhaps for your future travels, and even a little escapism in these uncertain times.

“To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of colour that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.”

Mark Twain

Florence is a place on my bucket list I have frequented, but never will there come a time where I have visited the city enough.

In architectural brilliance alone, Florence supersedes just about every other city I have visited, with the possible exception of Rome. Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, and Giotto’s accompanying bell tower, are just two magnificent reminders of this city’s former position at the heart of the renaissance. The Duomo, of which both of the previous architectural marvels are mere parts, stands regal over the city. It is, in itself, amongst the most beautiful of buildings the world over, and enough reason to visit the city alone.

If art of the architectural form is not enough in itself though, the Galleria degli Uffizi houses plenty of paintings and sculptures to sink your teeth into. Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, for example, is an enduring vision of the renaissance and a universal symbol of beauty. Riding on her seashell, nude and pale, Venus leans towards the reader in contrapposto form.

Italy is also a country renowned for its food, and Florence prepares good quality nosh with the rest of the country, as if part of some national agenda. Great gelato can be found all over the city and I recommend looking up and trying a variety because, why not? You are travelling after all! Pistachio is my favourite and, if you haven’t tried it, although it is not a desperately uncommon taste, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

A couple of other things you might try, two of my personal favourites, are cannoli from Café Rivoire and Biastecca alla Fiorentina, the local form of steak. Both should definitely be on your agenda.

Finally, a quick word on Tuscany. I have been to many wonderful campsites and attached restaurants across the world, but Tuscany holds my favourite of them all. I may very well write an entire article on my experiences at Azienda Agricola Montaioncino on another day; however, I must recommend the place now. Just outside Empoli, not far from Florence, this little campsite is an uncut diamond. Good, cheap, and simple food, supplemented with fantastic wine, views of vineyards for miles, and positively wonderful hosts, makes for an award-winning combination. If you are inclined to travel from the countryside and into Florence, then stay here for sure!

Why I Want to Visit Cairo!

This thread of posts is on my bucket list, both the parts of it I have done and those I am yet to do. It has been written to provide consistent content for your perusal (particularly with lockdown at the moment). I hope West’s Bucket Lists will provide some inspiration, perhaps for your future travels, and even a little escapism in these uncertain times. This post is number 4 on West’s Bucket List. Enjoy!

I am desperate to visit Cairo and the surrounding area.

As an ancient history enthusiast, as well as a former student of the subject, Cairo encapsulates one of my many visions of paradise. The Giza pyramid complex, the Saqqara Necropolis, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, all rank very high on my list of attractions worldwide that I desperately want to visit.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, to spare you the full history lesson, was built further away, temporally, from Augustus’ Ara Pacis than the Burj Khalifa was. If that architecture factoid doesn’t stun you then I don’t know what will! Thus, as the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this one of a kind pyramid has become that symbol which defines Egypt, at least in my eyes. To boot, the sphinx, right on it’s doorstep, is too good an opportunity to pass up if I’m ever in the region.

As the pyramids and the sphinx are practically rockstars of the ancient world, you probably don’t need me to explain why I want to see them. The necropolis at Saqqara though, might not have caught your eye before. The Pyramid of Djoser, at this site, is around 4,700 years old and is a legacy of a way of life so unimaginably different from our own that it is almost impossible to comprehend. It is so ancient that it claims to be the oldest still complete building known to exist in the entire world. An opportunity to see a building like that is something I just can’t possibly give up on.

Finally, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo houses one of the artefacts I must one day see. In the same personal pantheon in which I have placed marvels such as the Lewis Chessmen, the turquoise double headed serpent of the Aztecs, the golden ornate belt buckle of Sutton Hoo, and the Antikythera Mechanism, I have also set the golden mask of Tutankhamun. It is perhaps the singular most beautiful piece of art I have ever laid eyes upon and I desperately hope to come across it, at its home in Cairo, one day.

Of course, there are far more reasons to visit Cairo than just the history. Koshary, for example, is a spicy street food made of assorted vegetables, lentils, macaroni, and rice, and is supposed to be a delectable dish, and a local delicacy. So, if you’re after great food and interesting culture, I’m sure Cairo can give that to you as well, it’s just not the main reason I’m going there!

Let me know if you have any recommendations for what to do/try in Cairo. I am always welcome to some good ideas!

Why Iguazu Falls Should Be High on Your Bucket List!

To paraphrase my previous sentiment, this blog may seem to be something of a rat’s nest. I am therefore writing this thread of posts on my bucket list, the parts I have done and those I am yet to do, to provide consistent content for your perusal. I hope West’s Bucket Lists will provide some inspiration, perhaps for your future travels, and even a little escapism in these uncertain times. This post is number 2 on West’s Bucket List. Enjoy!

Next up on my list is Iguazu Falls. For many people’s money, these are the crème de le crème of waterfalls across the world. I’ve seen some beautiful ones. Plitvice in Croatia, Yosemite falls in the USA, and Gullfoss in Iceland, to name just a few. Iguazu is absolutely at the top of my list though. I’m yet to visit South America, and perhaps that partly plays into why I am desperate to see Iguazu; however, the pictures of it, as I look at them now, reaffirm my absolute desire to visit the falls.

Where Iguazu is located, at the convergence of Argentina’s Misiones Province and Brazil’s Parana State, a torrent of water cascades over basalt in an arc down into what is colloquially known as the devil’s throat canyon. White water, beneath blue sky, and surrounded by dense pockets of emerald canopy, sounds like paradise to me.

Your hard-earnt money, spent on all manner of touristy activities at the fall, will also go further to help protect the biodiversity and pristine habitat of the region. Like Bhutan, if you spend your money wisely and try to keep your footprints in the area as harmless as possible, there is no reason your visit can’t benefit Iguazu Falls.

As a perfect stop off when planning to travel between Brazil and Argentina, or vice versa, Iguazu is a must see and, when I eventually get down to South America, somewhere I dare not miss.

An Intro to West’s Bucket List and Bhutan!

This blog may seem to be something of a rat’s nest. There are a variety of types of post running in every which way and, unfortunately, that may not lend itself to complete clarity.

I therefore believe that a series of posts, linked thematically and regularly written, may help to bring about some semblance of order to my blog for you, the readers. Therefore, to go alongside my Lockdown Reads series, I am writing my West’s Bucket List series. The posts in West’s Bucket List will be grouped into former, things I have done that were on the list, and future, those things that I desperately wish to do and are therefore still on it. Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas as to what I should add to my bucket list and I may well do some reading up and add them!

So, that was a little intro to what I’m doing and now here’s my first entry.

Most of my list is made up of activities I wish to try, foods I wish to taste, or very specific cities, or regions, I wish to visit; however, Bhutan is an entire country that I’m desperate to see every inch of.

I first heard of the country when I watched the BBC documentary Lost Land of the Tiger as a kid. In it, a team of wildlife experts and film makers search the mountainous and heavily forested regions in Bhutan to identify a, then unidentified, tiger population. I was absolutely taken aback by the dramatic panoramic shots of the country and resolved to one day visit. High in the Himalayas, Bhutan boasts a magical combination of monasteries and mountains. The pictures of Taktsang, nestled abreast a sheer cliff face and atop a rocky outcrop in the upper Paro valley, should be iconic. Perhaps the temple would be if more new people knew of Bhutan and I believe that, one day very soon, they may well do.

Whether you visit to learn what you can of Buddhist culture, hike among the national parks, or seek out the elusive tiger, visiting Bhutan will unfortunately set you back a pretty penny. That is perhaps why I fear that visiting it will fall far down my list of priorities. The government has put a minimum of $200 per day, per person, to visit the country even in low season. This is with the noble aim of ensuring the country isn’t ravaged by the negative impacts of tourism, something I genuinely and wholeheartedly commend. Unfortunately though, that alone makes the trip unaffordable for some, myself included at present; however, I one day intend to go. I hope to see you there when I do!