Tag Archives: Europe

Beautiful Places around the World

Siem Reap, Cambodia
siem reap

Koh Kong & Sihanoukville, Cambodia
kohkong kps

Takeo, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Kratie, Cambodia


Other province, Cambodia

other provinces


Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
kuala lumpur



 Hong Kong








Dubai, the United Arab Emirates


Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates

Moscow, Russia


St. Petersberg, Russia

Istanbul, Turkey


Corum, Turkey

Athens, Greece

Malta, Malta

Victoria, Malta

Rome, Italy & Vatican City

Le Cinque Terre, Italy

Pisa, Italy

Florence, Italy


Padua, Italy


Venice, Italy


Vicenza, Italy

Verona, Italy


Milan, Italy

Trento, Italy

Feltre & Pedavena, Italy

Feltre and Pedavenaa

Ferrara, Italy
castello estense-ferrara

Cittadella & Marostica, Italy

Rhine Falls, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland

Heidelberg, Germany

Speyer, Germany

Munich, Germany

Bled, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Graz, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Paris, France

Belgrade, Serbia

Budapest, Hungary


The United States of America

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

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What to Expect When You Are Expecting….to go on an Erasmus Exchange

Erasmus Programmes by the European Commission allow international mobility of thousands and thousands of students and recent graduates every year. In 2009, I was fortunate enough to be one of the students from Cambodia to experience life, study, exchange and travelling in Italy and Europe. For those of you who are going to undertake your Erasmus journey, I wish you the time of life. 🙂

Cities & Places: Graz, Istanbul, Athens, Pisa, Ljubljana, Victoria, Rome, Rhine Falls, Speyer, Paris

And here you are, my personal list of what to expect when you are expecting to go on an Erasmus exchange, especially if you are from Cambodia or any developing country in Asia. Continue reading What to Expect When You Are Expecting….to go on an Erasmus Exchange

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Upon My Arrival in Malta

After only an hour or two we reached Malta. The time we were landing, it was already dark, so unfortunately we couldn’t enjoy the I-supposed amazing beauty of this small island country from the sky. It was glimmering with night lights, though.

From the airport, instead of paying a lot for taxi, we waited a little a while, of course many other passengers, for a bus that goes straight to Valetta (the capital city of Malta). I remembered we went some really small roads, with a lot of turns, and the journey took a while not because the airport was so far away; it was just that the bus couldn’t go that fast. When in Valetta, we need to catch another bus to another district (less than 15mn away) where the hotel we booked is. The main area with the reception was along the main street and once we checked in, we were led to another building (also owned by the hotel) around 5mn walk away. Anyhow, it was only around 9 euro per person per night. The room was actually really night, and considering the price offered, it’s muchhhh better than hostels in other European countries (which are of course more expensive). We had one room with 3 beds, a TV, and a kitchen, and it was pretty cold then, so we didn’t air-condition. Continue reading Upon My Arrival in Malta

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Italy to Malta

Time flies. Within something like just a blink of an eye, more than 2 years has already passed, since I last visited one of the smallest countries in the world, Malta. So, with nostalgia, let me tell about my unforgettable trip to Malta.

After quite a tiring trip around Christmas 2010 to a few countries in Europe, around mid-Jan I took off to a country I had known nothing about and hadn’t even heard of. Despite some class activities, I took a break and went on a trip of a lifetime, with a friend from China. Both of us flew to Malta from Venice with RyanAir on extremely, extremely cheap fares. The whole return flights cost us only 2 euros (something that people could easily dropped their jaw hearing; I also had a lot of fun always telling people about it.

I remember dragging my luggage from my residence and walked towards the train station. It was pretty long and tiring but I did it, arriving at the train station earlier than my friend. When he was here; we rushed to buy our tickets to Treviso to take our flight there. I was following Shangru, just going on whichever train he would take, without even bothering to check if it was the right train to catch. On the train, there was no free seat, so we just stood there by the doors, with a few other people.

As the train departed, things started to get really interesting. One man on the train was fined by the ticket controller for not having proper ticket; he was written a fine ticket or something. Standing right next to them, I was kind of worried that they were going to ask us to show our tickets (especially because we’re Asian), although I had nothing to worry about knowing that it was the right ticket that we bought. To cut down any suspicion, I held my ticket in a way that showed I had a ticket. I guess it worked no-one bother to check with us. However, we would surely be in hot water, if they would as we were on the WRONG train, not to Treviso but to Verona. We got off the train reconfirmed that we really were in Verona not Treviso. So we waited to take the train to Treviso from Verona to leave, without buying another ticket (it’s something we were supposed to do but didn’t, trying to get away with it). We went into the train compartment finding our comfortable seats. It was the first compartment after the head of the train, and the one responsible for checking the ticket was also sitting in that same compartment, only a few seats away from us. How lucky we were that we weren’t asked to show our ticket. Maybe the ticket controller thought we’d got balls to sit so closely to them and that we would never cheat sitting so closely to the controller. 😀

It was a relief when we finally got off the train arriving in Treviso finally. The problem didn’t end there; we, especially Shangru, were really concerned as we were only 45mn away before our flying time; he was insisting that we catch a taxi. I was like; it was fine. If we’d miss the flight, so what? It’s only 2 euro flight anyway, not knowing how much I would regret not making it in that Malta trip.

In panic, we met a Filipino lady with her daughter at the bus station and reconfirmed us that the airport was only less than 15 mn away and we were going to catch our flight just on time. We calmed down and enjoyed our brief bus ride to the airport.

At the airport we said goodbye to our new friends and ran to check in. At the check point, I was so worried that I’d be fine and/or asked to leave my hand luggage as it was pretty big, but it was all fine. I was allowed in. I just love the Italians; they are just so easier-going and understanding J, unlike the German airport staff that I met during my other trip in Germany (with that same hand luggage)…

So there we were ready to board the plane in the last minute, for an amazing journey in a very beautiful, little country, called Malta.

Follow the links to read more: www.julasa.com/malta1

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Bled, Slovenia

December 17, 2010 – So it has already been two years ago when I was in this trip that I’m going to describe. Time did fly so fast, so really fast that the past 2 years seems so short that I still remember vivid my beautiful times spent in Slovenia.

Taking the trains from Padua to visit this country, we had only 2 cities in mind, Bled and its capital city Ljubljana. After more than half a day of travelling, my travelling buddy, Shangru, and I were finally in Bled. It was my first touch of snow and really cold weather, and it all made things super exciting. It was getting dark and I couldn’t see much of the city at all, but I was still very excited.

With the guys that gave us a lift

Dropped off at our hostel by a couple of gentlemen (one of them wrote a book about some politics, whose title I don’t quite remember. He did encourage us to read the book when it’s out), we were at a hostel where we thought we booked our room. It turned out to be a different hostel, when we went in. Fortunately, though, the one that we were looking for was just within our walking distance. We just need to walk a bit of the hill, about 50mm away, and there we went, at a hostel whose owner couldn’t be found; it seemed like the owner was on holiday. We went in a pub nearby, asking if someone could help us check with the owner of that hostel. He couldn’t quite help us with that, but he had spare places in his own hostel to give us. Despite some hesitation, we decided to stay and take those 2 beds available.

Our places for the night

Having left our stuff in the room, we went out for dinner. We were walking for a while, trying to decide where we could buy for dinner. I remember going into one pizzeria but then deciding to walk out; I can’t quite remember the reason why though. Maybe the menu wasn’t very good or it was just expensive. So we walked on for a short while and found another restaurant. We checked it out and decided to settle with one big meal for the 2 of us. It cost us around 25 euros for a big plate of meat and potato, which we couldn’t even finish. It was a big reward for ourselves after such long hours of travelling. I gotta say it was good but it wasn’t very special, in a sense, I mean, the food. It was basically, fried meat with french fries. I still loved the meal though; after all, it was in a decent restaurant, like a real tourist. lol

The one where we had our first dinner in Slovenia

That’s how much we had for dinner 😀

After that big dinner, we went back to our hostel for a while, and then we went out for a stroll around that amazing lake in Bled. The whole city seemed to be sleeping. Since the time we arrived, we hardly saw any movement at all. It all just seems so quiet and mysterious, just like in one of those movies where the actors reached a quiet, somehow haunting city where no-one seemed to be around. Yeah, trying to picture it all, it felt just like that. However, I guess the excitement and everything just chase all these spookiness away. I was just having fun, touching snow and feeling the freezing weather.

We went off the road onto the park by the lake covered in snow. From then we took off on our errand around the lake. It wasn’t just some 20 to 30 mn stroll; the lake was actually pretty big and it did took a pretty long and tiring walk to arrive back to finish the circle and arrive back at where we started. It was kinda bold walking in the semi-dark air, and during the entire walk I only remember encountering a few passing by.

Looking back, how amazing it all was. The snow, the walk, the ice, the light, the trees, the duck and goose swimming around the lake, the quiet atmosphere where everyone seemed to be hibernating inside their home celebrating this near-Christmas time with their family! How beautiful! How nostalgic!

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Italy to Slovenia via Goriza & Nova Gorica

11:00 PM, December 16, 2009

With a bottle of champagne grabbed from Auchan, I went for a small house party with my Erasmus friends from France and Turkey. The party wasn’t that noisy and eventful, with only some 8 or 9 people drinking, having some homemade snack, and chit-chatting. The evening went quite slow until we went to the next place for some more partying, in Le Queen, one of the nightclubs in Padova. From my friends’ residence to the club, we walked and then stayed there dancing for a few hours, from around 2 am to 4.30 am. It was awesome.

5:00 AM, December 17, 2009

I was back at my residence, immediately starting to pack for very first trip out of Italy since my arrival in Europe. I went through all my clothes, collected all the dirty ones for laundry, and folded all that was needed into my suitcase. It was a total mess, and it took me hours to finish it all. At about 9:30, I was ready to drag the suitcase and walked out of my residence to the central train station.

10:30 AM: From Padova to Gorizia

With my travelling buddy Shangru, I, after an extremely eventful night and without any minutes of sleep, met and took the train up north from Padova to Gorizia, the city that Italy shares with Slovenia; our destination for the night and the next day was a very beautiful city of Slovenia, called Bled.

I was sleepy and I tried to get as much as nap I could on the train, although I didn’t manage to very much, but the travelling was quite beautiful. Looking out at the scenery through the train window, the views of the countryside with trees turning grey from the cold winter, and with the farmland and the hills, were quite amazing. Despite the sleepless night, it all was a rather exciting moment, anticipating quite an adventure ahead in this trip.

train station in Gorizia

After about 3 hours, costing us about 10 euro in the regional train, we were at Gorizia, rather unsure what to do and where to go next so as to reach Bled in the end; I depended it all on Shangru, to be honest. However, with our little Italian, we kept asking people and the responses were just all that we needed.

From 2:30 PM: From Gorizia (Italy) to Nova Gorica (Slovenia)

the train station in Nova Gorica

It wasn’t difficult at all to get from this part of Italy to Slovenia; in fact, Gorizia and Nova Gorica are basically the same city, one side of which belongs to Italy and another to Slovenia. Opposite the train station, on the other side of the road, there’s a bus stop where the bus runs every 15 mn to another train station on the Slovene part; the one-way ride costs only 1 euro and takes around 10 mn.

It all was really interesting. It was like a moment ago we were in Italy, and now, only a few minutes later we ended up in a very different place. For a while, I almost forgot I was not in Italy anymore. Then, it was like “Bam! I’m in Slovenia. Yoohoo!!” It was all different; it’s all no longer Italian. The people looked different and seemed to behave quite differently from normal Italians, and more people could speak English.Then we were dropped off at that other train station, which looked like a normal building, not like any other train station we ever went to; we didn’t even recognize it was the train station, as all was written in Slovene. Although uncertain, we went in, asked someone, and went through to the other side of the building where it felt more like a train station, with a few old trains in our sight and the railway.

In the cold, we were waiting for the train to Bled, not very sure, still, that we were in the right place and that the train to Bled was coming. We kept waiting anyway.

3:30 PM: From Nova Gorica to Bled

Half an hour later, the train was there and we went up. We didn’t have to buy any ticket in advance; we could just pay and get the ticket inside the train, which is actually one of the nice things about going by trains in Slovenia as we don’t have to buy tickets in advance and risk being punished if forgetting to validate our tickets before getting on the train like in Italy. 🙂

The trip was beautiful; for one thing, it was really cosy sitting in quite an empty train in some comfortable seats. Plus, the views along the way were just wonderful; they did take my breath away.  There were some small villages, with forest and little hills lying beside unusually blue, clear streams and lakes. Further into Slovenia, I got glimpses of pieces of land covered with such a white carpet of snow; it was the snow I got to see first-hand other than a few flakes of snow that was falling down while I was packing early that morning. It was truly an exciting and memorable experience.

As two different guys, with different skin color, smaller eyes and flatter face, from time to time I felt being looked at, but glancing at people around us none seemed to care. People on the train were just acting normal; although we would never know what they were talking about in Slovene. However, just before the train arrived in Bled, we finally got to have some friendly conversation with the local. He was a writer, spoke perfect English, and turned out to be one of the nicest guys we met during the trip. After a while of talking, at the end of his trip, in Bled, he offered us a ride.

5:10 PM: Bled

At around 5 PM, we were in Bled. As it was December, it was already pretty dark and we didn’t get to really notice and enjoy the look at the city other than the snow below our feet. Then with the kind offer of free ride to our hostel by the guys we met on the train, we accepted it and were taken in his friend’s car and were dropped at the hostel where we were going to spend the night. Had we not met these gentlemen, it would have been a horrible and freezing evening of heavy walking and trying to find the way in this rather-quiet city.

with the kind, friendly people

I felt so lucky and this Slovene trip started out fantastic, with an especially good impression of the people. I was happy.

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2 Days in Rome

A big city it is, Rome has a lot to offer, with many places of attraction and plenty of interesting things to explore, and the attempt to travel in such a metropolitan in just 2 days was definitely a challenge. It wasn’t impossible though; on a budget my friends and I did manage to make the most out of our 2 days in this Italian capital and went to most, if not all, the important places.

On October 3, 2009, after a few plans of going to Rome failed the weeks before, we finally made the decisions and took off to Rome – the third Italian city my Cambodian friends and I had visited after Padua and Venice.

00:20 am

After several hours of a big dinner together, of finalizing our plan, and of packing, we in a group of 5 Cambodians, left Residence Luzzatti at near mid-night and headed toward the train station to catch a 12.45 night train to Rome. The thought of this trip made me both excited and nervous, excited because Rome is really famous and was mentioned as the dream destination of the leading female character of a blockbuster, Jumper, and nervous because none of us is quite sure about the roads ahead, whether things were going to be fine, whether there’d be affordable hostels for us to spend the night, and whether I had made the right decision to come along.

one-way ticket for 5 persons

The air was around 18 degree, and at 12:45 the train arrived. We all went up, first going onto the wrong compartment and almost missing the train; it was great that we didn’t actually miss it and need to change the whole plan. This night train was average and it was pretty hard to find a suitable room for the 5 of us. Finally we managed to find one room, with only one person sleeping. We woke him up and only after a while of us joining him, he stood up and forever left the room, leaving us just by ourselves.

7:30 am

After about 7 hours on the train with hardly any sleep, we made it in Roma Termini, the city’s main train station. The first thing we did was to go find the tourist information office where we could grab a map and find any suitable hostel to spend the night.

After a while of walking around checking available hostels, with heavy bags, we finally cave in to the fact that Rome is big and expensive, so we resorted to choosing Mosiac, the youth hostel nearest to the train station, although 25 euro/night/person was shockingly expensive for us average Cambodians.

Places to visit with a little more than half a day left of DAY 1

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II: It was our first stop from the hostel. There are some interesting statues and nice gardens, although overall, this square is pretty normal to me, considering many other amazing sights in this beautiful city.

Basilica di San Giovanni: About 15 mn walk further south of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, there is a colossal church of San Giovanni. Compared to some other churches this one looks pretty modern and newly-built and it does have something really impressive inside. Walking inside, it’s simply amazing gazing at what’s in stores, the inside beautifully ornamented with colorful paintings, lightings, and, what amazed me the most, the elegantly and sophisticatedly carved sculptures. It really made up for the exhaustion from the crazy trip we had the night before.

Vatican City (Citta di Vaticano): There was about an afternoon left, which was just enough time for us to visit this smallest country in the world. The details of what have given this city such popularity can be found here.


The day couldn’t be started in a better way than going straight to visit one of the most well-known ancient moments in the world, the Colosseum, which was commissioned in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian to be completed in 80 BC by his son. From the hostel, we went on foot to find the Colosseum, along the way enjoying the Roman city views with people, common small-sized businesses, pubs, beautiful buildings and architectural structures, and interestingly-shaped, italianly-common pine trees.

Colosseum is just at the end of this street

Colosseum (originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre): I was in awe, and I couldn’t feel better about deciding to come visit this city. The feeling then was quite comparable to the one I experienced when I first had my eyes gazing at the Angkor Wat Temple. Many say pictures say a thousand words, but the thousands of words of all pictures I’ve taken can do no justice to this wonderful colosseum.

Seems like I was not the only one who would bear the pain of such a long queue

The entrance fee was then 11 euro, which also
included entrances into the museum inside
the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine.

If any tourist wants a pic with a dressed-up roman soldier

The Arch of Constantine, just beside the Colosseum


The Palatine Hill: A walk across this hill was really refreshing. From this busy Roman city, the Hill feels like a great place of nature, with flowery grasses and big trees accompanying traces of ancient civilizations.

This looks quite similar to a Cambodian design

The Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill: When we had walked across the Palatine Hill, there we arrived at the Roman Forum with just the Capitoline Hill behind. The remaining ruins of the Roman structures lie there elegantly, which couldn’t be any more interesting to me. As I went on visiting these places, I couldn’t help keep thinking how more fascinated I could have been if I were a student of archaeology or the like.

After we had made the most of the 11-euro ticket, we went on to places nearby, all which kept complementing the beauty of this wonderful city. We went to a few more piazza (squares), took photos, and after a while, took off from this area and headed for another place in my agenda.


The Pantheon: This one may not be as impressive and famous as the Pantheon on the Acropolis, Athens, I quite enjoyed visiting the place. Atmosphere around was cosy and relaxing, with pubs, gift shops, and many people, both tourists and locals, all around.

The Trevi Fountain (La Fontana di Trevi): The statues are beautiful and the water of the fountain seems cold and attractive in the summer, humid air. And as many believe, a wish made to come revisit Rome with a coin into the fountain will come true, and that’s exactly what I did.

The Spanish Steps: These steps, located in the Piazza di Spagna, are “one of the city’s iconic tourist attractions”. If I remember correctly, it’s written somewhere in one of the books I learned that every years there are a lot of patients coming to lay around the place hoping to be healed.

As it was getting dark, the Spanish Steps was the last attraction in Rome that we went to. For sure, there are still a lot more beautiful sights this Roman city has to offer, but what I have seen was enough to keep me forever impressed and in love with Rome. Plus, the rest that I haven’t seen is definitely the reason for me to go back.

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