Travel Maps For Christmas

Put a Pin In It

We’ve Created Beautiful Pin Maps To Record Your Travels available through our Etsy store. VISIT NOW

A few years ago we printed, mounted and framed a world map and added pins to designate the places we had visited. As we continued to travel, we added more pins. Over time, we have had a number of friends and family members admire our map and ask for maps of their own, which we were glad to give as gifts. With much encouragement over the past couple of months, we have designed our own original maps and hope to make them available for sale.

Our Etsy store is now open. VISIT NOW

After you place your order we customize and print each map and ship in about five working days via the USPS. The map is printed on heavy cover stock and is ready for framing. Detailed instructions are included for installing in ready-made, inexpensive frames or you can have it custom mounted and framed.

The World Map

Proudly display and pin your world travels while keeping track of your adventures and future plans. Our gorgeous personalized maps are a beautiful addition to your home and are a great conversation piece.

World Map #W1 in Grays and Blues

This 13″ x 19″ exclusive original design  map is available in two color schemes and is printed on premium cover stock. Included are a number of custom options (see ordering information).

World Map #W2 in Earth Tones and Blues

Pick Your Map and Select Customizations Below

  • Select a banner .                           
  • Add a custom printed name .     
Put a pin in it and record all your travels

Ships promptly in a mailing tube and comes with a collection of 50 colored pins. Includes suggestions on saving money on framing with do-it-yourself instructions. Make use of included colored pins to indicate visits to Countries, Cities and National Parks. The design shows over 200 cities along with major national parks, seas and oceans.

Available soon, framed and ready to hang.

Example of map detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

The United States Map

Great to get your children interested in geography and tracking their adventures or remembering family vacation trips. Makes a beautiful personalized gift and is designed with children in mind as a fun, in-home, learning tool.

This 13″ x 19″original design map is printed on heavy premium cover stock and includes a number of customization options.

Select Customizations Below

  • Choose a banner                              
  • Add a custom printed name       
Put a pin in it to display your travels

Comes with a collection of 50 colored pins. Includes suggestions on saving money on framing along with do-it-yourself instructions. Select pin colors to indicate visits to National Parks, States and Cities.V

This map is designed over a topographic image with all 50 states outlined and their names in bright red. Printed with over 200 U.S. cities along with major National Parks.

 

Also available soon framed and ready to hang.

Visit Our Etsy Store NOW.

Still time for Cristmas – order maps and select customization options only at our Etsy store.

 

 

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A Wet Day In Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

This quant town is one of the more popular destinations for travelers to Vietnam with its nearness to the city of Da Nang and some new beach resort properties nearby. Hoi An was recognized as a  World Heritage Site in December 1999 because of its architecture and history as an ancient trading port.

 

Hoi An includes a number of dress shops
An artist works on a embroidery “painting”

The town is famous for its hand-made craft shops featuring lanterns, Vietnamese embroidery “paintings” and incredible clothing values.

 

 

 

To get a feel for this town take a moment and view our YouTube slideshow below.

 

 

Port of Call Manila

Welcome to Manila

The Port of Manila Philippines

The Port of Manila

Manila is the capital of the Philippines, an island country in Southeast Asia and a major city with a population of 1.7 million. It has been the country’s largest city for about 400 years. It sits on Manila Bay, on the island of Luzon. The Pasig River runs through the middle of the city.

Where You Dock

Cruise ships usually dock at the industrial piers and this can be at a number of locations. Most of the docks are along a half-mile stretch of waterfront only four to eight blocks away from Rizal Park, which is in the center of old Manila. Usually you will be allowed to walk out but be sure and carry an official photo ID.

Jeepneys in traffic
Jeepneys
Transportation

Taxis are readily available and fares are reasonable but you need to be very clear about where you are going and that the driver knows where it is and negotiate a fare before starting out. We had a full address for a restaurant in Pasay, which was less than two miles from where we started and the driver could not locate it.

Arriving in Manila

The Manila Metro Rail Transit System also known as the MRT is a rapid transit system of Metro Manila. Running on just 2 lines and serving 31 stations in total, the 33.4 km long network uses a single destination system (averaging 12 pesos per trip) or a loaded card. The main line runs in a circular north to south route following the alignment of the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). During rush hours the system is usually very full.

Manila is also famous for there unique vehicles. Jeepneys, sometimes called simply jeeps are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. The vehicles were originally created from abandoned WW II Army Jeeps but are now manufactured new in the Philipines. They are known for their crowded seating and fantastic decorations, which have become a symbol of Philippine culture and art. We have never figured out any route system regarding the Jeepneys however, so our recommendation is to use taxis.

Currency

The Philippine peso is the local money with ten pesos equal to about 1 US Dollar. Non-Philippine currency is not usually accepted. We would highly recommend carrying some pesos when you go ashore. There are a large number of exchange operations in Manila and the rate and fees vary widely. Most restaurants and stores will accept most major credit cards.

One time we were short on pesos and our taxi would not accept a credit card so he had to take us to an exchange to convert dollars for his fare.

A Cautionary Note

While we have no firsthand information about crime or how safe this city is, there were a number of indicators that made us question if we should have been walking were we did. Like a large number of security people with shotguns protecting businesses both large and small was one significant sign.

Attractions
Inside Rizal Park
Rizal Park

Rizal Park (Filipino: Liwasang Rizal, Spanish: Parque Rizal), also known as Luneta Park or simply Luneta, is a historical urban park in the Philippines. Located along Roxas Boulevard, Manila, adjacent to the old walled city of Intramuros, it is one of the largest urban parks in Asia. It has been a favorite leisure spot, and a botanical garden and orchid garden.

Popular Fast Food Outlet

Fort Santiago (Spanish: Fuerte de Santiago; Filipino: Moóg ng Santiago) is a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi for the new established city of Manila in the Philippines. The defense fortress is part of the structures of the walled city of Manila referred to as Intramuros. The fort is one of the most important historical sites in Manila.

Manila Ocean Park is the country’s first world-class marine theme park and a premiere educational facility. An integrated urban resort with marine life attractions and aqua-themed hotel, the park is geared towards an all-year, all-weather destination for locals and tourists.

inside the Mall of Asia
Mall of Asia

SM Mall of Asia, also abbreviated as SM MoA or MoA, is a shopping mall in Bay City, Pasay, Philippines, near the SM Central Business Park, the Manila Bay, and the southern end of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. The mall has a gross floor area of over 3.5 million square feet and if you are into shopping you need to allocate several hours here. A taxi ride back to the cruise pier will cost about twenty dollars but watch the time as Manila traffic can take almost forty five minutes at busy periods.

Finding food in Manila isn’t hard. There are a number of upscale hotels with good restaurants. McDonalds takes a back seat behind a Philippine fast food chain called Jollibee which features burgers, chicken, shakes and the usual fare and a good choice for a quick meal (it is now opening shops in the U.S.). Our favorite restaurant is Singing Cooks and Waiters with a review HERE.

Links to Additional Information

Things To Do

Mall of Asia

The Port of Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

 

General Information – Ho Chi Minh City, as it is officially called, is a sprawling city located on the delta of the Dong Nai River but even locals still call it by its original name, Saigon. With the rapid industrialization recently of Vietnam a number of port facilities have been built along the channels of the Dong Nai River and usually they are referred to by the name the name of the nearest town Phu My. Currently there are a number of locations where cruise ships can dock. These are all working industrial ports where cruise terminals are generally not available but Vietnam is planning expansion to meet this demand.

Ho Chi Minh Skyline
Ho Chi Minh Skyline

The SPCT Port is one of the locations where cruise ships have docked and is about fifteen to twenty miles from Saigon. More recently ships are using the SP-PSA Saigon International Terminal which, by road, is over thirty miles from Saigon.

In either case there is virtually little within five miles of the dock area to accommodate visitors and getting into Saigon will require either a tour or a taxi. Most cruise ships offer tours into Saigon as well as down to the Mekong River and more.

Transportation – Most cruise passengers take advantage of buses arranged by their ships. Usually taxis are available and a one-way trip into Ho Chi Minh will cost about 700,000 Dong or about US$30 (be sure and confirm the price before starting out). Additionally Uber is becoming popular in Vietnam so if you are inclined refer to your app. We have heard that Uber drivers are somewhat scarce near the port though but common in town.

Showroom on Dong Khoi St.
Showroom on Đồng Khởi St.

Currency – Currently the US Dollar is worth about 23,000 Vietnamese Dong but the good news is the Vietnamese gladly accept American Dollars.

Attractions – The primary destination is Saigon where you will find the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace and many cultural centers. Saigon is a shopper’s paradise with bargains at every turn. The city has a number of major markets with An Đông Market being the most popular for general merchandise. There is also Đồng Khởi Street and surrounds for upscale shopping and restaurants.

Be sure and see more at Visiting Saigon.

Hong Kong’s Nan Lian Gardens

You shouldn’t visit Hong Kong without taking an hour or two visiting Nan Lian Gardens. These beautiful gardens cover over eight and a half acres in central Hong Kong.

The best way to reach Nan Lian Gardens is to take the rapid transit (MTR MAP) to Diamond Hill station, leave through Exit C2 and follow the signs to the garden. The station is part of Plaza Hollywood complex, a large mall with exhibit space, a movie theatre and a couple hundred stores.

This park is an incredible classic style Chinese garden with formal planting designs, flowers, waterfalls, Koi ponds and pagodas and completely walled in by high rise buildings. Inside the gardens there is a souvenir shop, a vegetarian food restaurant and a Chinese tea house and admission is free.

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Nan Lian Garden is also adjacent to the Chi Lin Nunnery connected by a bridge. The Nunnery is a large Buddhist temple complex founded in 1934 for Buddhist nuns and was rebuilt in the 1990s in traditional Tang Dynasty architecture. The temple halls have statues of the Sakyamuni Buddha, the goddess of mercy Guanyin and other bodhisattvas.

Opening Hours: 7:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon

Phone: +852 2329 8811

 

The Singapore MRT (Metro Rapid Transit)

One of the worlds truly great subway systems is the Singapore MRT and it is a solid innovator. Many of their systems are recognized and implemented worldwide. If you are lucky enough to get to Singapore for a visit you must use the MRT to get around the city. From the time you arrive at the airport you can take advantage of this remarkable transportation system.

The Marina Towers and the Omni at night.

First thing you need to know is one of the official languages of Singapore is English and virtually all signage here is in English. So not understanding the language is not an excuse. Second, the MRT is spotless as is all of Singapore. Saying a place is so clean you can eat off the floor is a common expression but it might actually be true in the MRT.

MRT Station

The Singapore Tourist Pass is a special ez-link card that offers tourists unlimited travel on Singapore’s basic bus services, MRT and LRT trains for the duration of the days purchased. You can now take in the sights and sounds of Singapore in the comfort of the island’s extensive MRT system and public bus network. If you are going to be in Singapore for a day or three you need a Singapore Tourist Pass. You can purchase the Singapore Tourist Pass at “Changi Recommends” counters at all Changi Airport terminals, SMRT Passenger Service Counters, and TransitLink Ticket Offices at Changi Airport or HarbourFront and all 7-Eleven stores. Be sure and have your passport.

TOURIST 1-DAY PASS $10   2-DAY PASS $16   3-DAY PASS $20

The pass also requires a $10 rental deposit that is refunded when you turn in the card.

Gardens By The Bay

If you don’t have a chance to get your ez-Link card the system offers an all-day ticket from the vending outlets in the stations. They are easy to understand and accept major credit cards. Since we were in Singapore three different times in some cases we found it cheaper to purchase one-way or roundtrip fares to specific destinations but in any case the fare on the MRT is a truly great deal.

With the MRT, even if you haven’t planned where you are going it isn’t hard to figure out. The popular destinations are clearly named on the route map like Botanic Garden, Chinatown, Little India, Marina Bay, Bayfront, Promenade, HarbourFront and Downtown.

Chinatown

A final thought about the MRT and Singapore in general; the people are great. They are always trying to be helpful and friendly. While riding on the MRT young people kept insisting we take their seats (and I didn’t think I looked THAT old). Even the train kept telling us to “mind the gap and have a happy happy”…