Top 10 Travel Essentials

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When packing for a big trip, it’s tempting to include everything save for the kitchen sink. However, with so much time spent on the road–especially if you’ll be carrying all your gear on your back–you’ll soon realize that you really will need to pack light for a truly fun trip. (Plus, imagine the backache you’ll have!)

So when it comes to packing, heed these wise words:

“Pack everything that you think you need. Walk around the block to see how it feels. More often than not, you’ll be raring to remove half of the items in your backpack.”

So how do you travel comfortably and with ease, without skimping on the things that you really do need–or, at the very least, will help you with your journey?

The answer: Choosing and investing in smart travel gear.

While essentials like clothes and toiletries aside are a given, this list of essential travel gear will help you travel more efficiently with less bulk.

 

1. THE HOBO ROLL 

It may seem simpler to just roll your clothes and stuff it in your bag, but don’t count this cool travel item out just yet! The Hoboroll via Gobi Gear allows you to create even more space in your pack. This organizer helps you keep your foldable or rollable items in one container. And the container itself can be further compressed into a smaller, tighter roll–leaving you more room in your big backpack for your other gear. Plus, if you just need to take a short trip, you can use it on its own as well.

 

2. DRY-LITE TOWEL

Whether you’ll be staying in hostel or camping in the mountains, a quick-drying easy-to-pack towel will make it easy for you to keep clean without worrying about having to carry a heavy, soggy towel around. The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel also has anti-bacterial properties, keeping bacteria at bay–thus keeping it stink-free.

 

3. PEG-LESS CLOTHESLINE

Face it, if you’ll be on the road, you’re eventually going to need to do some laundry. And by “laundry”, we mean washing your clothes in the bathroom sink. And if you’re staying in a dorm or hostel, drying your delicates on top of random bunk beds might not be ideal. So an accessory like a peg-less clothesline makes it easy to dry your handwashed items overnight–without the need for clothes pins. Plus, it’s small, pocket-sized case makes it easy to tuck it away when not in use.

 

4.  SARDINE CAN SURVIVAL KIT

Wherever you go and whatever you do, always be prepared. And thanks to this tiny, compact, and virtually indestructible Sardine Can Survival kit, you won’t have any excuse not to carry it with you. This airtight, waterproof can comes with 25 essential survival items such as a hook and line (no food? go fish!), a compass, first aid supplies, matches, razor blades and more.

 

5. SIM CARD

Stay connected (nearly) anywhere in the world thanks to the GO-SIM CARD, which provides coverage in 195 countries all over the world. While it’s tempting to leave your phone behind, having a sim card will make it easier to make plans or reservations, as well as have a phone for emergency situations.

 

6. RUGGED HARD DRIVE

Whether you’re a photojournalist on a rough-and-tumble adventure or a professional traveling for an important business meeting, keeping your essential files safe is extremely important. And while a hard drive is the best way to store your files and photos, most hard drives are extremely vulnerable–dropping or getting your hard drive wet or dusty could result in major data loss. But thanks to this rugged hard drive, which is covered in a rubber material that keeps your data drop-proof (up to 78 inches / 2 meters), you can be as active and as rugged as you want without worrying about losing your most valuable data. Plus, it’s lightweight and has 1 TB storage capacity and features an AES 256-bit encryption system.

 

7. WATER RESISTANT CARABINER CLIP-ON WATCH 

Sure, carabiners are items that most people pack anyway but this Mountain Gear Series Water Resistant Carabiner Clip-On Watch with LED Micro Light takes it up a notch. More than a simple carabiner, this useful piece is also a water-resistant watch and has an LED night beam torch light.

 

8. SLOTFLOP SANDALS

There’s nothing better than heading to the beach or pool while on vacation, but carrying necessities–and having to find a place to put it in without fear that it’ll get stolen–can be a drag. But have no fear, the Reef Stash Sandals will keep your precious tootsies AND your gear protected. These comfy yet durable sandals have a secret slot where you can hide valuables like cash, credit cards, and keys so that you can jump into the water without constantly having to keep an eye out on your stuff.

 

9. KINDLE

Whether it’s used to bide time until your next flight connection, on the bus to  your destination, or just relaxing on the beach, reading is something that travelers all love–and need–to do. But carrying all those heavy books is no fun at all. However, an e-book reader will solve your storage woes and satisfy the bookworm in you. Thanks to Amazon’e Kindle E-book reader, you can bring a library of books–200 books, in fact–without worrying about space or baggage weight.

 

10. ALL-IN-ONE TRAVEL PLUG ADAPTER

Every traveler heading to a foreign country should make sure to bring an adapter. Not all hostels and hotels will have adapters, and if they do, you’ll most likely have to rent it for a fee. However, instead of having to bring several adapters, simple get an all-in-one adapter which can work for any trip that you take and can last a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explorer of the World Q&A Series – Kakay Oloroso and I AM HIP

What could be better than traveling the world? Well, traveling AND doing good infinitely increases the pleasures and joy of travel. Whether it’s building houses for a community, teaching English, or organizing fund drives, volunteering isn’t just fun, but is also a rewarding, fulfilling, and life-changing experience.

10615640_1470467046544201_2588193995759853385_nPhotograph courtesy of I Am HIP’s Facebook Page

For this installment of Hostelfy.me’s Explorer of the World Series, we are excited to feature 31-year-old Kareen “Kakay” Oloroso, a traveler who has not only journeyed to some of the most exciting places in the world, but through her organization I AM HIP (Helping Islets in the Philippines) has paved the way for people from all over the world to volunteer in the Philippines and share their skills and expertise to communities in need.

2013-11-30 10.06.52Photograph courtesy of Kareen Oloroso

 

Read on to learn more about what drives this inspired—and truly inspiring—traveler, what makes life as a volunteer worthwhile, and what YOU can do to help.

 

Where are you from? What place do you call ‘home’? Questions like “where are you from?” and “where is home?” are in some way confusing for me and for friends. I always say I am from the Philippines. However, at a very young age, I was [already] moving to and living in different places. I have [people I consider as] mom and dads from all-over [the globe]. I can say that my home is the world.

traveller-349963_1280Photograph via Pixabay

How many places have you traveled to? What do you love most about travel? What is your favorite travel destination and why? 

 

I have traveled to 15 countries; most of which have been in Southeast Asia and Europe. I have covered most of the Philippines since I have been—and am still—jumping to and from different islands. I love feeling the breeze on my face while crossing the seas, the sound of the waves, the smiles from children’s faces, the strange yet familiar food, the simplicity that is the islets, the kiss from the sun when you crawl out of your tent in the morning, the silence of the evenings and the blinking lights of the fireflies. My favorite destination is Negros Island. It has been home for almost half my life and most of my good friends are there. It’s so easy to go around the island. I can always find campsites along the coast and up the mountains. It is a one-stop station for adventure. And the food? Simply amazing.

 

Tell us about your organization. What is I Am HIP? And how did the idea come about?

 


HIP or Helping Islets in the Philippines is a private initiative that I started immediately after Typhoon Yolanda.

 

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(Ed’s note: Typhoon Yolanda, also known as ‘Haiyan’, occurred on November 8, 2013 and is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record. The typhoon killed over 6,300 people, left countless people homeless and injured. As of this writing, there are still bodies being found and people considered missing.)

10800156554_c166f9c692_zEffect of Typhoon Yolanda. Photograph by Arlynn Aquino and posted on ECHO Flickr page. Photograph via Flickr Creative Commons. 

 

Before Yolanda, I regularly organized outreach activities with friends and acquaintances. I do it once or twice a year and do them in remote areas (coastal and mountain communities). When the news about Yolanda broke, lots of my friends started calling and asking [me for advice on] what we could do to help. They were willing to share some money. It was a difficult time for me as I myself was in a bit of a shock. I just missed Yolanda by a day. I managed to take the first flight out of Tacloban a day before the typhoon hit land. I initially collected around 600 Euros from friends when I told them I would like to spend Christmas in a community affected by Yolonda. The main purpose was to keep Christmas going inspite of the disaster. With all the focus in Leyte, there was not much news about the other places. A friend of mine told me to check the situation of the local government of Bantayan. With lots of telephone exchanges and validation with the help of the locals and the municipal government, the first site for HIP was identified – the tiny island of Silagon with 300 residents.

1896871_1405679789689594_890337210_nPhotograph via I Am HIP’s Facebook Page

 

From Makati, I organized everything with the help of my friends in Bacolod who are my constant volunteers for all the outreach that I do. And for the slogan, it just came one night when I was brainstorming with another friend. I was so tired and just wrote her, “what do you think about I am HIP = I am Helping Islets in the Philippines? It is a bit kitschy but it is also simple and catchy.” And that was it. I worked on the blog t (www.help-islets.blogspot.com) all night and a designer from Germany volunteered to make the logo. It’s really is so hip, right?!

 

 

How does I am Hip work? Why do you think it stands apart from all the other volunteer organizations out there? HIP gets its funds from friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers. One hundred percent of all the funds go to the communities that we help. As for the overhead, I get it from selling shirts and bags… and my savings. HIP supports the local economy, too, so even in December, even when the markets in Bantayan are not yet back 100%, we managed to get almost 50% of all our needs for the Christmas Party there.

 

1012420_1405685499689023_2024312486_nPhotograph via I Am HIP’s Facebook Page

Volunteering with HIP is not complicated. I do the screening of the volunteers and the community have the final say if they want them. I only send volunteers to the area when there is work to be done.

 

How many volunteers do you usually have? What countries do they usually come from? What’s their age range?  

The biggest group was 20 during the Christmas break but I had volunteers who stayed by themselves on the islets. There are also now homestays where the volunteers live with the foster family, share meals with them and help with some household chores before they head to work. It makes things easier for me and for all and I am really happy that there were no complaints about the volunteers. In my estimate, 50% or more of the volunteers are Germans. Some are interns here in the country, some are doing volunteer work for other organizations, most are my acquaintances and friends. The youngest volunteer would be my 17-year-old nephew (better to start them off early, right?) and the eldest would be a woodwork expert from Germany (50+) who stayed for almost three weeks on Panitugan Islet and helped a lot with the repairs of the elementary school there. The average would be around 25 years old.

16084_1472579972999575_3075805952273209680_nPhotograph via I Am Hip’s Facebook page

Why do you think so many people have participated in your program? 

They believe in volunteerism and that they can do something to uplift the community’s spirit. The mere presence of volunteers in these remote areas sends a message that the people of the community have not been forgotten; having volunteers around reminds them that they are not alone. The volunteers, I believe, don’t feel intimidated since they are welcomed as they are. When I first called for volunteers, I asked them to write me about what they can possibly contribute to the community and they have lots of talents and skills to offer. The community accepted them with open arms—volunteers feel like a part of the family immediately upon setting foot on the islets.

10522154_925214427494388_5120150527368652308_nPhotograph by Yo Pastrana and courtesy of Kareen Oloroso

What areas / regions does I AM HIP cover?  At the moment, we are working with these three islets that belong to Bantayan Town in Cebu Province. We are now on the weaning out phase. We have help repair a daycare center (Silagon Islet), build one (Panitugan Islet) and also help in the repair of the elementary school in Moamboc Islet. The only projects there now are on building up the libraries. So, I am still collecting books.

There is a new site that I am working on at the moment, which is an indigenous people’s community in the south of Palawan.

11581_1405636889693884_1949915571_nPhotograph via I Am HIP’s Facebook page

How does your organization merge travel and volunteer work? Why did you decide to incorporate travel into your organization? 

It is more like the traveling off the beaten track. The experience the volunteers gain from it is extremely different from what other travelers experience. You live with the community, so you also have to deal with the same “limitations” or obstacles that the locals face: no electricity, no water source, and waiting for the tide each day so that you can move to the next islet or the main land. But this is something that can keep you in the present moment: there’s no internet, no phone service, and you also learn to become more patient as you wait for the tide to come. I guess this is one of the best ways to understand how living in an archipelago works and it is something most of our tourists won’t be able to experience. I am not saying, though, that I am necessarily promoting voluntourism. I am just more for volunteerism and the organization welcomes tourists who would like to help. 1524267_1409835839273989_59336933_oPhotograph via I Am HIP’s Facebook Page

 

All my free time and vacation leave from work since Yolanda has been devoted to HIP. However, even before Yolanda hit, I had already been devoting most of my free time to the communities. I don’t see it as work, rather as a homecoming. And I believe it was the same to the people in the barangay and the community who are continuing to assist me even during holidays or weekends.

 

Why do you think travel is so important? Do you think it has the power to change lives? How so?

 

Traveling is one way to be wise. As Jostien Gaarder puts it: “There are two ways of becoming wise. One is to travel out into the world and to see as much as possible of God’s creation. The other is to put down roots in one spot and to study everything that happens there in as much detail as you can. The trouble is that it’s impossible to do both at the same time.” 

 

 

1900080_1405638733027033_1645872382_nPhotograph via I Am HIP’s Facebook page

And I am still on the first way and I still am planning to see more of the world before putting down roots. Growing up, I never have thought that I would be able to explore the Philippines or even other countries. Looking back, it was the best thing that has happened to me. Traveling widened my understanding of the world and of people. And it made me gain so many friends and families all over the world. I always send postcards to my nephews and nieces and they are loving it. Every time I visit them, they would ask me about the things I saw and experience in the place that I’ve been and they would start planning their own trips. These are kids who around 6 to 11 year old, and I can’t wait to bring them on their first camping trip.

 

10448214_925213920827772_8064070367703364811_nPhotograph by Yo Pastrana and courtesy of Kareen Oloroso

Want to know more about Kakay and her organization I Am HIP? Check out the official I AM HIP blog or their Facebook page. Interested in becoming a volunteer? Contact Kakay through the I Am HIP Facebook page or send her an email at kareen.oloroso@gmail.com.

 

We’re scouring the globe in search of intrepid travelers to feature on the Hostelfy.me blog! If you love to travel, have a ton of stories, experiences, and advice to share just send us an email at lola@hostelfy.me with “Traveler Q&A” on the subject line. 

Spectacular Sunsets from Around the World

Welcome to Hostelfy.me’s Sunset Sessions.  This series will showcase the best spots to see and experience the most spectacular sunsets from all around the world. After all, is there anything more satisfying than watching the sun dip down the horizon and the sky explode into a palette of blue, red, yellow, orange, and purple? Better yet: the opportunity to catch a stunning sunset from a place other than home.

 

 

1st Manila Bay Manila, Philippines Watch as the sky breaks out into a virtual tangerine dream.2370656204_d36a002d2f_z

Photograph by Aaron Paggabao via Flickr Creative Commons

2 Village of Oia

Santorini, Greece

Oia’s white washed houses glow as dusk descends.

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Photograph by Pedro Szekely via Flickr Creative Commons

3 Bayon

Ankor, Cambodia

Watching the sun set behind the temple is truly a spiritual experience.

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Photograph by Ethan Crowley via Flickr Creative Commons

4 View from the  Montparnasse tower

Paris, France

Watch as the ‘city of lights’ literally lights up as night falls.

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Photograph by kluzniak mariusz via Flickr Creative Commons

5th Entrance of Charles Bridge

Prague, Czech Republic

Statues transform into silhouettes as dusk descends.

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6 Rooftop view of Manhattan

New York City, USA

See the Entire city in silhouetted against the sun’s golden-orange hue …

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Photograph by Shelly via Flickr Creative Commons

6 Maasai Mara

Kenya, Africa

Feel at one with the earth as you watch the sun set over this national game reserve.

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Photograph by The.Rohit via Flickr Creative Commons

7 Hawaii beach sunset

Pretty much from any vantage point in Hawaii

Whether you’re watching the sun dip below the horizon on a Waikiki beach or catching the day end from Mount Haleakala, Hawaii’s sunsets will surely take your breath away.

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Photograph by  Louish Pixel  via Flickr Creative Commons

8 Kruger National Park 

South Africa

Africa’s wild animals come alive at sunset. Plus, the pink and turquoise sky is a breathtaking sight.

2204785523_844857dccd_z Photograph by  jomilo75  via Flickr Creative Commons

9 Grundarfjordur

Iceland

Situated between a lava field and majestic mountains, this small town is one of the best places to catch Iceland’s spectacular sunsets. 9273551880_fd6240b486_z

Photograph by David Whelan via Flickr Creative Commons

10 City pier

Barcelona,  ​​Spain

Grave a bottle of Spanish wine, a few snacks, and join your fellow city dwellers and sunset revelers and watch the dusk descend on this lively city.

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Photograph by MorBCN via Flickr Creative Commons

 

11 Djeme el Faad

Marrakech, Morocco

The Djemaa el Faad night market Virtually cracks open and comes alive as the sun sets over the Atlas mountains.

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Photograph by  juanjolostium  via Flickr Creative Commons

12 Golden Gate Bridge 

San Francisco, California, USA

Watching hey sky change from bright blue to light pink to lilac behind the Golden Gate bridge is truly a sight to behold.

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 Photographer via Pixabay

13 City skyline

Berlin, Germany

Berlin’s famed TV Tower (Fernsehturm) Seems to light up like a disco ball as the rays from the setting sun bounces off its mirror-like surface.

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Photograph by  Nico drinking house  via Flickr Creative Commons

14 Port Melbourne Poles, Princess Pier

Melbourne, Australia

The pole’s artfully reconstructed site – Which is at its most stunning at sunset – is a testament to the skill of engineering and architecture.

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Photograph by Pixabay

1 5 Nagao Shrine,

Katsarugi, Japan 

Sunset at Shinto shrine this will make you feel at peace with the world.

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Photograph by Pixabay

 

Explorer of the World Q & A Series – Luna Rodriguez Natal

Welcome to Hostelfy.me’s  Explorer of the World Q & A series! This month’s featured explorer is Luna Rodriguez Natal, a 24-year-old traveler from the city of Móstoles in Madrid, Spain.

10576955_10154510089445604_183157750195996024_nPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

This intrepid journeywoman has voyaged to 11 countries in Europe. Her adventures have taken her to Spain, England, Italy, the Vatican City, Malta, Germany, Czech republic, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, and France. Read on as this soulful European explorer tells us all about what inspired her to hit the road, what’s next on her bucket list, and what makes living a life dedicated to  travel worthwhile.

Want to become an expert traveler like Luna? Get inspired and read her interview below!

How did you get started traveling? Why do you travel?

I’ve always taken excursions around my country when I was younger without thinking that traveling would eventually become the motor that would move my life.

The point of no return was the first time I went abroad in 2002. I was 12 and attended a college in England to improve my English.

architecture-2656_1920Photograph by Public Domain Pictures via Pixabay Commons

It was an experience changed my life. I met people from other countries. I encountered different cultures and languages for the first time. I was also able get a chance to travel and explore London, which is still one of my favorite cities.

The experience was so different from what I’ve always known that I immediately fell in love with everything. When I returned home, I kept dreaming about going back again. It was in that moment that I became curious about what it would be like to visit other cities, other countries. That was how my ‘need’ to travel started, and after having visited 11 countries, I know that this ‘need’ will never end.

10458441_10154500189925604_2853953900576996908_nPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What do you love most about travel?

There isn’t just one thing that I love about the act of traveling, rather it’s a combination of many reasons. I travel because I want to discover the world. I’ve always been a curious person and always loved learning and speaking different languages. There’s also a sense of feeling complete whenever I discover different types of architecture, tasting new cuisines, and meeting and getting to know people from different cultures.

What has been your most memorable and rewarding travel experience?

My most memorable experience was during my time in France as an Erasmus student. I lived in France for nearly five months to finish my studies. I managed to learn a totally new language (French) and meet people all over the world. More importantly, I was lucky to live with people who were also foreigners and get to know all about them and their countries. I also had a chance to travel a lot during those five months. Aside from traveling within France, I was also able to visit cities in Switzerland and Italy.

1518265_10153772893675604_1156882820_oPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What’s your favorite travel destination? Why?

That’s a tough one. I really don’t think that I can answer that question with one city and be satisfied with the answer. I would definitely say London is one of my favorite cities; it feels like home there. But Rome or Praga (Prague) are places that also totally got me due to their charming appearances and their incredible history and cultural heritage.

26519_10150174269410604_7041493_nPhotograph (Prague) courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What has been the biggest challenge about traveling? How do you overcome it?

The biggest challenge has always been managing to earn the money to actually travel. I’ve always solved this situation by finding inexpensive hostels, flights, and food. I am always encouraging people to travel. It is not necessary to have a bunch of money to do it!

How do you fund your travels? (i.e., save money for trips? work-related?)

Normally I’ve always tried to find a job to earn enough to fulfill my next trip.  Also, as I am still studying, I’ve always been lucky to have some study grants that have definitely helped to keep me traveling from one place or the other.

Do you stay in hostels when you travel? If so, how do you decide which hostel to stay in? What do you consider most important when choosing a hostel? (ex. Price, location, etc.)

Yes, I do. I normally sleep in hostels when the price is better than hotels, and the location is good. I am really not too picky about my accommodation as long as it fits in my budget and it is well-located.

(Editor’s note: Hostelfy.me is the booking site dedicated to helping travelers get great travel deals and find the perfect hostel for their needs!)

Do you have any funny / weird hostel experiences? If so, what?

Actually not yet. It wasn’t that long ago that I started staying in hostels, and so far everything has gone normally. What I’ve discovered is that I really like sleeping in hostels because there are more possibilities to get to know other people. Plus, hostels usually have a nice ambience.

10304966_10154456768375604_4794278376678751146_nPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

 What are the TOP 5 things that people should do when they travel ?

1) Visit all the cultural heritage sites, as well as admire the different architectonic styles;

2) Speak, or at least try to speak, the language of the new country;

3) Get involved in the culture;

4) Meet people from the place, share knowledge, and maybe try to become friends with these new and interesting people. Because you never know when will you be back again.

5) Try the local food

new-zealand-225540_1920Photograph (New Zealand) by Martin Str via Pixabay Commons

What’s on your bucket list?

1) Pursue doctorate studies in New Zealand, hopefully next year. That would be amazing. Since I could be there for three years, I could possibly visit some nearby countries like Australia, Japan, China, and maybe do a tour around Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and more.

2) Visit the USA. Maybe work for a while if there is not other option, then quit the job and have the summer off to discover the country.

3) Visit a Buddhist monastery

4) Backpack through India

5) Enroll in one of the “Tournado Tours” in the USA

6HPhotograph by Ryan McGuire of Bells and Design via Gratisography (Free to use collection)

 Any advice for aspiring travelers?

Be open minded, always look for totally new experiences, make friends, and try different ways of travelling. Choose the experiences which you love most and share them with other travellers! Carpe Diem!

1517640_10154163192710604_4296789547114011441_n Photograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What travel quotes do you live by? 

Los viajes son pequenas vidas” by Domenic Cieri

(Trips are like living little different lives)

No aceptes nunca como compañero de viaje a quien no conozcas como a tus manos” by Rómulo Gallegos

(Never accept a travel companion you don’t know as well as the palm of your hand)

Want to know more about Luna and her adventures? Check out her Trip Advisor profile here 

We’re scouring the globe in search of intrepid travelers to feature on the Hostelfy.me blog! If you love to travel, have a ton of stories, experiences, and advice to share just send us an email at lola@hostelfy.me with “Traveler Q&A” on the subject line. 

 

Festivals in Europe – September 2014

Pack your bags and get ready for a fun-filled September! Here’s a list of some of the coolest, hippest, and craziest events from all over Europe!

 

September 3, 2014

DNA Berlin, Germany

Magnet Club

Falckensteinstr. 48, 10997 Berlin, Germany

Facebook Event Page 

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 Image via DNA Berlin Facebook Event Page

Kick off the start of Berlin Music Week with DNA Berlin! This event is the ultimate mashup of art and music. Here, creative communities come together to showcase the best in art, music, and visual media content and promote creative collaborations. Plus, there will be hip DJs, food trucks, and more! Find out more by following the hashtag #DNABLN. And you can RSVP for  free entry until 11pm to rsvp@dnabln.com
(RSVP closes on September 1st)
September 5 – 7, 2014

BERLIN FESTIVAL, GERMANY

www.berlinfestival.de

Join the revelry during the first week of September as Berliners and travelers alike party the night away in the Tempelhof Airport. (Yes, you read that right—the Tempelhof Airport—evidence of how creative and kooky Berlin’s party scene can get!) The event usually draws big acts and this year is no exception, with bands like Bombay Bicycle Club and Warpaint scheduled to perform. There will also be an Art Village and a Silent Arena. What’s a Silent Arena, you say? It’s an area dedicated to “quiet” dancing time—everyone dances with their earphones on.

 

September 4 -14, 2014

THE AMSTERDAM FRINGE FESTIVAL,

THE NETHERLANDS

http://www.amsterdamfringefestival.nl/

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 Photograph by Shadowgate via Flickr Creative Commons

The Amsterdam Fringe Festival is a celebration of all that is quirky and avant-garde with over 80 productions of hip local and international acts and artists in over 25 locations across Amsterdam.

 

September 6, 2014

HIGHLAND GAMES, BREAMAR, ABERDEENSHIRE, SCOTLAND

Memorial Park, Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

http://www.visitscotland.com/about/arts-culture/uniquely-scottish/highland-games

 

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Photograph by Fouquier ॐ via Flickr Creative Commons

Check out or even participate in feats of physical strength and agility in Scotland’s rugged landscape. The event draws over kilt-wearing 20,000 people each year and includes activities like Caber-tossing, an uphill race, hammer-throwing and more.

 

September 24 – 28, 2014

BRANCHAGE FILM FESTIVAL, JERSEY
www.branchagefestival.com

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Photograph by Glenn Rice via Flickr Creative Commons

Love movies? Then you’ll enjoy the Branchage Film Festival in Jersey. This popular event features the best in the country of Jersey and often takes place in unique locations like forts, castles, barns, and even a tugbat in St. Helier Harbour.

September 20, 2014
THE GOOD LIFE EXPERIENCE, WALES

www.thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk

 

Want to experience the “Good Life”? Well, if you travel to Wales on September 20, you just might get your chance to get a taste of what it truly means to be living life to fullest! From Balkan beats to classical music, Welsh singer Cerys Matthews has created an array of diverse and lovely music that audiences from all walks of life will enjoy. But the good life isn’t just limited to music—it includes great food and culture, too. Plus, there will be a morning yoga class, axe-throwing demonstrations, and cool retro rides.

 

September 9 – October 5, 2014

 OKTOBERFEST, GERMANY

www.oktoberfest.de

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Photograph by xsnowdog via Flickr Creative Commons

No journey to Germany is complete without experiencing Oktoberfest. As one of the country’s biggest and most popular festivals, Oktoberfest is an unforgettable—not to mention, fun—experience. While the main artery of this historic folk festival takes place in Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest is celebrated not just all over the country—but in other parts of the globe, too. Here, people dress in traditional German garb (yup, we’re talking about lederhosen), and breweries offer up every kind of ale and traditional Bavarian treats. And the soundtrack of the festivities? Live brass bands playing Bavarian tunes and happy folks singing warbling beer songs.

 

 

City Profile: Barcelona, Spain

Want to experience the BEST of Barcelona? Check out this guide of must-see sights travel!

La Sagrada Familia – Gaudi

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Admission: Prices start at 19.90 Euros (with audio guide)

ADDRESS: Calle Mallorca 401

8034 Barcelona

OPEN: 9 am to 6 pm

TRANSPORTATION: Metro Line No. 5 station

http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/

If You Could only see one thing in Barcelona, ​​make it the La Sagrada Familia. The sight of this jaw-dropping (unfinished) cathedral will have you in a state of wonderment and awe. As Gaudi Had died in 1926, his master piece Which left unfinished and the continuation End of month Has the been the subject of many heated debates. HOWEVER, de four new towers of the Passion facade (south western wing) is nearly finished and the final date of completion Has yet to be deterministic mined.

Park Guell – Gaudi

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Photograph by fstifter via Flickr Creative Commons

Carrer D’Olot 

Barcelona

OPEN: opening: 10am, closing time DEPENDING on the season, mostly around 7pm

TRANSPORT: Green Line: Lesseps, Vallcarca

Commissioned by the rich industrialist Eusebi Güell as a recreation area for the Barcelonian aristocracy. The park’s twisting rock pillars, jaw-dropping view of the city, and sheer size will keep you occupied for most of the day.

Palau de la Música Catalana

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Photograph by John Picken Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

www.palaumusica.org

ADDRESS: Carrer Sant Francesc de Paula 2

08003 Barcelona

OPEN: box office 10 am-9pm Mon-Sat. guided tours daily 9.30am-3pm

TRANSPORT: metro: line 1 and 4 to “Urquinaona” bus no.17, no.19, no.40, no.45

The façade of Domènech i Montaner’s concert hall, with its bare brick, busts and mosaic friezes Representing the regions musical traditions and composers is one of the best examples of the Catalan Modernista movement ever built. The interior of this sight is equally, if not more impressive with its multicolored stained glass ceiling and half-relief figures of the musical Muses.

Parc de la Ciutadella

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Photograph “Ciutadella Park fountain” by Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons 

ADDRESS: Passeig Picasso 

Barcelona

OPEN: 10am – sunset daily

TRANSPORT: metro: “Arc the Triomf” or “Barceloneta”

The Parc de la Ciutadella leaves no room for boredom as its attractions include the Natural History Museum, a gorgeous lake, and more than 30 pieces statuary. The park contains artwork by Antoni Tapies, Josep Llimona, Carles Fontseré and many others.

Casa Amatller

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 Photograph by Ulf Liljankoski via Flickr Creative Commons

ADDRESS: Passeig de Gràcia 41

08007 Barcelona

TRANSPORT: Buses: 7, 16, 17, 22, 24, 28; Metro: L2, L3, L4 (Passeig de Gràcia) 

The Casa Amatller, Which is Adjacent to Gaudi’s Casa Batlló, Which designed by the artist Josep Puig i Cadafalch. A tile located at the floor of the entrance of the sights entrance marks the 0 km. of the European Route of Modernism. The goal behind creating this route to what extend the model of the Barcelona Route of Modernism to other cities on the continent thathave Comparable architectural styles in order to promote the artists and Their Work. Though closed to tourists, the main entrance is always open and there is an interesting chocolate shop offers a look into the history behind the building’s did construction.

Font Magica de Montjuïc

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Photograph by Amy Goodman via Flickr Creative Commons

ADDRESS: Plaça d’Espanya 

Barcelona

OPEN: MAY-SEPT 8-11.30pm Thur-Sun; music every 30mins 9.30pm-midnight. OCT-APR 7-9pm Fri, Sat; music every 30mins 7-9pm

TRANSPORTATION: Metro Espanya

The Font Magica de Montjuic is a spectacular display of color, light, motion, music and water acrobatics. It’s first performance Which falling on the Great Universal Exchibition on May 19, 1929 The designer Carles Buigas submitted his plans one year before the exhibition commissioning over 3000 workers for the project Which was completed in less than one year.

City Profile: Istanbul, Turkey – Part II

THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar)

The bazaar is walking distance to Beyazit and Sultanahmet square. Take the tram to Beyazit square and find “Carsikapi,” one of the main entrances of the Grand Bazaar.

Istanbul.GrandBazaar002Photograph by Georges Jansoone JoJan via Wikimedia Commons

Get lost in the Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar), the world’s oldest and largest shopping centre. A shopper’s paradise since the mid-15th century, this vibrant bazaar has everything you could ever hope for and more. With over 58 streets and 4,000 shops, there is a lot to explore. Make your way through the labyrinth of of spices, carpets, bangles, and gold-plated ‘eyes’ which are believed to ward of evil. Walking through the maze is a physical and mental feat, as one must resist the hundreds of carpet sellers eager to lure you in their store, where you may end up leaving with a life-savings worth of rugs.Trade funny banter with the shopkeepers offering bargain deals and children eager to be your guide as you navigate yourself through the web of precious gems, fur, hadicrafts, leather, antique coins, and jewelry.

Bosphorus Night Cruise

Eminönü waterfront-Ferryboat docks or Golden Horn (West Side of Galata Bridge) for the TurYol boats

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Photograph by  via Pixabay.com Commons

To truly experience Istanbul’s romantic splendor, take the Bosphorus night cruise with the Ferry or the TurYol Boat. Experience the Old City, as you watch the fishing boats gently rock to and fro on the waves. Let the twinkling city lights, and the curtain of stars above your head be your guide as you sail through this 32-km strait, joinng the Sea of Mamara and the Black Sea. From any direction you set out towards, the Southern or Northern Bosphorus, Rumeli Kavagi, or North of the Fatih Bridge, you are bound to pass through some breathtaking sites, samles of such are: the six Ottoman palaces, the Rumeli Hisari (Fortress of Europe on the Northern Bosphorus), Sariyer (Fish market on the North side of the Fatih Bridge), the Topkapi Palace (on the Southern Bosphorus). Revel in the myth and mystique of Istanbul as you listen to stories about the sunken cities under the Turkish coast, how the Bosphorus is believed to be the source of Noah’s flood, and how Hera made Zeus’ mistress into a cow.

Topkapı Palace

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Photograph by Mircea Ostoia from Focsani, Romania (Topkapi Palace Istanbul) via Wikimedia Commons

Hours: Wed-Mon 9:00am-5:00pm

Tel: 0212 512 0480 (info)

One of Istanbul’s many highlights is that its history is a dramatic one. The Topkapi Palace is evidence of this, as it was the former home of Selim the Sot, who drowned in the bath after too much champagne, as well as Ibrahim the Mad who was inprisoned in the palace kafes (cages).  The tragedies do not end here, as the Topkapi has enough historic tales to fill a national library.

The Topkapi Palace, when translated, means “Cannongate Palace” and was primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans, as well as the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire. Built by Mehmet the Conquerer after his conquest of Turkey in 1453, the palace underwent numerous renovations all based upon Mehmet’s original four-courtyard pattern. Enjoy the splendors of the past as you walk through the Harem, the Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III, the Audience chamber, and Conquerer’s Pavillion. The harmony of its austere layout and intricate details have made this “Palace of Felicity” a paradise on earth.

Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıçı)

YerebatanSarayı (1)

Photograph by Pnc net via Wikimedia Commons

Yerebatan Cad 13

Tel: 0212 522 1259 (info)

Hours: Oct-Mar 9:00am-5:30pm, Apr-Sep 9:00am-6:30pm

Web: http://www.yerebatansarnici.com

The Basilica Cistern, also known as the Yerebatan Sarnıçı, is an architects dream. As the largest of the hundreds of ancient cisterns beneath Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern has 336 columns, a grand ceiling, and a dramatic carvings, such as the upside down Medusa heads and teardrop designs. It was built in AD 532 by Emperor Justinian I with material from ruined buildings, as a place to store water for the Great Palace and surrounding buildings. In its sheer grandeur and composition, the Basilica Cistern is a breathtaking example of Byzantine sophistication.

GALATA TOWER

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Photograph by Penguin Cakes via Flickr Creative Commons

The Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi in Turkish) or better known as the Tower of Christ, is a sight as powerful as its name. As a former stronghold of the Genoese defense system of 1348 in Pera, this intimidating sight dominates the Istanbul skyline. Standing at 66.90  meters, the Galata Kulesi was once used as an observation tower for spotting fires during the Ottoman period. The view from the top is not to be missed, especially at sunset when the colors of the city come alive.

City Profile: Istanbul Food Trip

One of the most exciting aspects of traveling is trying out the local cuisine. Istanbul, for foodtrippers, taste-test junkies, and just plain old food lovers, is a 24-hour gastronomic feast. A fusion of Eastern and Western delights, the delicacies of Istanbul will invade the senses. From traditional Turkish and Mediterranean fare to international dishes, there is something to be found for every kind of palate.

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The gala of food can be found anywhere and everywhere in Istanbul, such as the Divan Yolu and Akbiyik Caddesi in the Sultanahmet, but for a true ‘taste’ of variety, head to the Beyoglu. Walking along the Istiklal Cadesi, you’ll find an array of restaurants and eateries. Ranging from doner kebap places to international style taverns, there’s little chance of leaving this area on an empty stomach.

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                                                                     Photograph by Damien Roue via Flickr Commons

Another prime area for food aficionados is the Kumkapi fish market. With rows and rows of fish restaurants, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered some strange “fish wonderland.” At nights, the area is ablaze with firelamps, fairylights, and glittery tambourines. It’s also a prime shopping location, with stalls and wandering sales people selling everything from rugs to rag dolls. Here you can get your fill of fillet kebaps, tamarind juice, arabic hummus, fish chowder soup, and ayva dolmasi (stuffed melon).

For those wanting to do a cook’s tour of the city, check out the local markets. If you still havent had enough of fish from the Kumkapi, check out the Eminou waterfront where you can literally, buy the ‘catch of the day’ from the fishermen who’ll even cook their catch for you for the all-inclusive price of 1 Euro. Another great area is the Egyptian market on wednesdays, where you’ll find a diverse selection of spices, dried fruit, sweets, and yes, fish.

Istanbul is a city for the senses and food is its most tangible delight. With specialty restaurants, historic markets, and mouth-watering street food, eating is not only a passion and a pleasure in Istanbul–it’s a way of life.

City Profile: Istanbul, Turkey – Part I

Want a chance to be in Europe AND Asia? Well, Turkey is one country where you’ll be able to explore these two continents. Learn more about this fascinating country by reading the first part of Hostelfy.me’s City Profile series!

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Photograph by Moyan Brenn via Flickr Commons

Turkey is culturally, historically, and geographically the cradle of civilization. It has been the fountainhead for the three most powerful societies in history: the Hitite, the Byzantine, and the Ottoman Empire. Situated between the continents of Europe and Asia, the country is a fusion of the East and West. It is considered as the link between cultures, as eight countries borders this transcontinental land: Greece on the west, Iran to the east, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the northeast, Bulgaria to the Northwest, and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. It is surrounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Aegean Sea to the West, and the Mediterranean Sea to the South.

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The Bosphorus Bridge by night, as seen from the Ortaköy mosque. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto via Wikimedia Commons

Although Ankara is the state’s capital, Istanbul, being the country’s most populous city, has steadily grown to be the financial and cultural center. This developing metropolis, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is one of Europe’s most exciting and alluring cities. Encompassing 25 districts, this vibrant city stretches towards the European (Thrace) and Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus Strait. Thus, making it the only city in the world whose home belongs to two continents. The sights, smells, and sounds will intoxicate the senses–with its inspiring architecture, savory selection of street food, and sound of prayer–makes this city a truly physical and spiritual experience.

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Photograph by Moyan Brenn via Flickr Commons

Istanbul is not only caught between two continents, but also by two world views–the traditional and the modern. Despite this, most of the population live in harmony with one another. It is one of the few cities in the Muslim World that embraces both the cosmopolitan way of life and religious conservatism.

The city’s biggest draws? Its plethora of cool events!

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Photograph of the Istanbul Jazz Festival by GriZine via Flickr Commons

The abundance of events in Istanbul lead to an exotic and exciting trip. The Holy Month of Ramadan would have most of the people fasting from sunrise to sunset (at the exact times), therefore be polite and save your feast for sunset when they break their fast. If you really cant help yourself, there are a few restaurants and cafes open for the rare individuals choosing not to participate and for the non-Muslims.  The end of Ramazan, the festival of  Şeker Bayramı, is the feast of all feast. It turns into a massive party full of food, dancing, and mingling. Its also a massive cavity-fest, wherein the most tempting and delicious sweets are distributed. This three-day national holiday is when the city is truly alive with businesses closing and public transport being heartily championed.

Turkey’s most important religious celebration is the Kurban Bayrami. This four-day event is the commemoration of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. The celebration results in the city sky being filled with fireworks and sheep being sacrificed and distributed to the poor. Thus, if you would like to participate in the festivities, early planning is essential, since hotels are often fully booked and public transport tends to be packed like sardines.

Turkey, being predominantly Muslim, follow the lunar year of Hejira which is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year. Thus, every year Muslim events occur 11 days earlier.

Another interesting times to visit this thriving city is in April for the Istanbul Film Festival, where the brightest stars of Turkey come to walk the red carpet. Other great events include the Conquest of Constantinople ceremony in May, the International Istanbul Music Festival and International Istanbul Jazz Festival in June and July, the International Istanbul Biennal in September and October.

City Profile: Kuala Lumpur Food Trip

www.stuckincustoms.com

Photograph by Trey Ratcliff via Flickr Commons

If there is anything more adventurous and satisfying in traveling through Southeast Asia, it’s testing out the diverse, unique and interesting selection of food. Kuala Lumpur is one of the hottest and most exciting locations for food lovers, taste bud adventurers and fans of cooking travel shows such as Anthony Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour.” The plethora of eateries and dishes will make you sweat­from the humid Malaysian weather, the full­bodied spices and most of all, from the excitement of having so many distinct and delicious options laid out before you.

With a cuisine that reflects the multi­cultural history and influences of Malaysia, there is more than one way to eat in KL. The country’s food options have been derived, fused and influenced by Indian, Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Arab and Portuguese cultures which makes it entirely possible not to eat the same thing twice.

So take this gastronomic adventure through the city where you’ll not only have your mouth watering for more, you’ll also learn more about the country’s rich history and culture as well as the most intriguing sections in the city.

Some helpful keywords to use on your adventure:

ayam ­ chicken
ikan ­ fish
garpu ­ fork
lembu ­ lamb
mee/mi ­ noodles takeaway ­ food to go roti ­ bread

Terima kasih ­ Thank you teh ­ tea
teko ­ teapot
teksi ­ taxi

Selamat datang ­ You’re welcome Selamat tinggal ­ goodbye

Here, a guide to everything you need to know about Malaysian cuisine.

Malaysian Indian 

Kuala_Lumpur_Little_India_0009Photograph of Little India by Stefan Fussan via Wikimedia Commons

The country was and is still highly influenced by the Indian culture. With a historical relationship dating back to the 3rd century B.C., wherein Indian traders and fishermen came to Malaysia to trade with the locals and the Chinese. For true Indian cuisine, Brickfield’s is the area to be. This section of Kuala Lumpur is also known as “Little India” and is where you’ll find the best banana leaf rice cantinas, chapati breads and thosai (South Indian pancake).

Mamak

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 Photograph by Krista via Flickr Commons

Mamak, which refers to Indian Muslims, have created their own distinctly Malaysian­Indian fusion of food. One of the most popular category of food is the “nasi kandar,” which originates from Penang.

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Photograph of Mamak Stall by Krista via Flickr Commons

Mamak stalls (a.k.a. mapley) are widespread throughout the city as well as the rest of Malaysia, wherein some are even open 24 hours a day and is considered as the local “watering hole” where people gather to eat, gossip and watch football games (its extra crazy during the World Cup). You’re bound to come across one of these tiny cantinas or stalls wherein you’ll feel fully satisfied by the freshly made roti canai (thin, flaky bread), Nasi Lemak (rice steamed with coconut milk), Teh tarik (literally, “pulled tea” with condensed milk). These stalls (some even illegal­which makes it more fun) can be found in streets and near parking lots all over the city, but a great spot to find a mass of these eateries is by the busy Jalan Imbi section of Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian Chinese

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Photograph by Pavithran via Wikimedia Commons

For those craving some good ol’ Chinese takeout, you’re bound to be delightfully surprised. Though still influenced by the cultural melting pot that is Malaysia, the food remains discernibly Chinese. Though Chinese food is often rife with pork (which is not allowed for Muslims), there are many vegetarian, chicken and halal (ingredients that are allowed in the Islamic religion) options. A good bet to find fabulous Chinese food is obviously, in KL’s Chinatown as well as in the grungy, red ­light district of Chow Kit (Jalan Chow Kit Road) which has an interesting wet market, an Indonesian community, an African community and a night market.

Malaysian Dessert

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Photograph by Jonathan Lin via Flickr Commons

For dessert lovers who’ve made a special pact with the tooth ­fairy, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory­–Malaysian style.

Kuih which is Bahasa (language in Malaysia) for sweets and pastries which are made fresh with natural ingredients, can be found in specialty shops all over the city.

Most of Malaysian desserts are made with coconut milk and local fruits. For health buffs and/or fruit lovers, you can find your fix in any local outdoor market and must try delights are: mango, mangosteen, pineapple, rambutan, star fruit, jackfruit, langsat, watermelon, papaya, banana and fresh coconut. For other traditional desserts, try: Cendol ­ Green rice noodles served in chilled coconut milk and gula melaka (coconut palm sugar). Ais Kacang/ Air Batu ­ Shaved ice with sweet corn, red beans, condensed milk and sweet syrups. Sago ­ Rice balls or cubes served in chilled coconut milk. Pengat ­ Tapioca and banana with thick, melted brown sugar mixed with coconut milk, traditional fruits Ondeh­ ondeh ­ Pandan flavored balls of glutinous rice flour which is filled with gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) and rolled in coconut shavings.