WWOOF in Japan

What is WWOOF?

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF is basically homestay program, where you stay with the host for free and in return you work for them in their farm.

WWOOF is now all around the world and you can choose which country you want. This is a great opportunity to see how the host manage their organic farms, and how they live organically. You can also indulge in their culture since you live with the locals. It’s a great start to visit the country.

As for me, I choose Japan for my first time experience on WWOOF in Aug 2016, and it’s super lovely.

WWOOF in Japan

You have to apply for WWOOF permit before you looking for the hosts in the country you have chosen. For WWOOF Japan, the permit cost me 5,500 yen (~ RM202).After make payments, and you get the approval , then you can start to look for the host based on the criteria you like ( fruit farm, living-stock farm, vegetables farm, organic restaurants etc.), and also based on your requirements.

I chose host in Sugiyama prefectures, so upon arrival in Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, i bought tickets to Sugiyama (The bus counter is in the airport itself, you can ask the airport workers as most of them know how to speak English).

I stayed with Kobayashi’s family for a week for WWOOF. Kobayashi family have vegetables,herbs and blueberry farms. They also sell organic jams a side business. It is so amazing to learn that they are producing everything, from A to Z, so they don’t really have to go to supermarket for their needs.

Photos taken from the village and the farm itself:

Due to work and time constraint, I have only one week to try all those amazing experience with a great hosts. I will surely try WWOOF again, and bring my friend along 😄

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Taiwan Itinerary 5D4N

Flight KUL-TPE-KUL (Air Asia): RM 648

Day 1 Airport-Pingxi-Jiufen

Upon arrival in Taoyuan Airport, I straight away go to Unite Traveller counter to claim simcard I bought from Klook (5-day tourist simcard with unlimited internet data). After that, I went to the convenience store at LG to buy the Easy Card (work like Touch n Go in Malaysia).
I took train from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station, to catch a train to Ruifang Station. i took train towards Pingxi Station from Ruifang, to see people releasing chinese lantern, but the weather is quite bad (raining) and I arrived quite late, so all the shops along the station already closed. So, I head back to Ruifang to take taxi to Jiufen Old Street, and also where my hostel for the night is. I stayed at First Stop Backpackers (really recommend this, you get view of Pacific Ocean and they serve homemade breakfast as well).
After check-in i went out for a stroll around Jiufen Old Street. Please note the old streets (either in Pingxi, JIufen or Ruifang itself close quite early; around 5-6pm)

DAY 1 (NTD1,128= RM194.20)
Wifi RM 40

Easy card NTD100 (RM 13.67)

Airport to Taipei Main St. NTD160 (RM21.87)

Taipei St. to Ruifang St. NTD44 (RM6.01)

Ruifang St to Pingxi St (return) NTD54 (RM7.38)

Taxi Ruifang St. to First Stop backpackers NTD220 (RM30.07)

Hostel NTD550 (RM75.19)

Ruifang Station

Breakfast at glass house (Firststop Backpackers)
Jiufen Old Street

DAY 2: Jiufen-Taipei

From Jiufen Old street, I took a bus to go to Taipei (Stop at Zhongxiao Fuzhing Station, then take train to Taipei Main St). We had our lunch at Chang’s Beef Noodle, and bought the one-day pass for Taipei Metro. Some places we able to visit is Taipei 101, Daan Park, Taipei Grand Mosque, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and Shihlin Night Market.
We took late night bus from Taipei Bus Station (just beside Taipei Main Station) to Kaohsiung and arrived around 3am the next morning.

Day 2 Taipei (NTD1945 = RM265.88)

Souvenirs NTD280 (RM38.28)

Juifen to Taipei Main St NTD70 (RM9.57)

Bus taipei to Kaohsiung NTD530 (RM72.45)

Locker NTD200 (MYR27.34)

Lunch (Chang’s Beef Noodle-Halal)
NTD165 (RM22.56)

One day pass NTD150 (RM20.51)

Souvenirs NTD400 (RM54.68)

Dinner NTD150 (RM20.51)

Taipei 101
Taipei 101
Daan Park
Daan Park
Chiang Kai-sek Memorial Park
Taipei Grand Mosque
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market

DAY 3: Kaohsiung (NTD1068 = RM146)

Kaohsiung also has as good metro system as in Taipei. We check in hotel, and head out to Lotus pond after enough rest. You can take bus from Zuoying MRT Station to Lotus Pond. There are few attractions nearby each other like Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Temple Chihji Palace, and Spring and Autumn pavillion, and few other big temples surrounding Lotus Pond. Then, we stop at Formosa Boulevard to see the Dome of Light in the station, and head to Kaohsiung Mosque. To wrap up the night, we went to Liuhe Night Market for some light meal. Even though it’s quite small compared to night market in Taipei, but you still have varities of food to chose from escpecially seafood.

DAY 3 Kaohsiung (NTD1068 = RM146)
Taxi to hotel NTD50 (RM6.84)

RuiGu Hotel(2 nights) NTD550 (RM75.19)

Bubble tea NTD85 (RM11.62)

Buses+train NTD125 (RM17.09)

Food at Night market NTD80 (RM10.94)

7e Dinner and Others
NTD178 (RM24.34)

Dome of Light
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
Temple Chihji Palace
Spring and Autumn Pavillion

DAY 4: Taichung (NTD2170 = RM 297)

From Kaohsiung, we took early morning bus to Taichung (to go to Sun Moon Lake (SML) which is in Nantou district). We found two other tourist going to SML, so we share the taxi fares as the bus outside Kaohsiung Station to SML is not frequent and will take longer time to SML as they have a lot of stops.
We stroll around SML and enjoying the view from Taiwan biggest lake before head back to Kaohsiung bus station to go back to Taipei.
We arrived Taipei around 9pm, and check in hotel to put our back, and go to Ximending (just 5 mins walk from our hotel). Shops in Ximending close at around 11-11.30pm, so make sure to go before that.

Day 4 Taichung (NTD2170 = RM297)

Taxi to bus station NTD85 (RM11.62)

Bus Kaohsiung to Taichung NTD330 (RM45.11)

Family mart NTD30 (RM4.10)

Taxi (return) to Sun moon lake NTD400 (MYR54.68)

Lunch NTD100 (RM13.67)

Bus to Taipei NTD290 (RM39.64)

Dinner Indonesian food NTD120 (RM16.40)

Souvenirs NTD170 (RM23.24)

Bubble tea NTD45 (RM6.15)

Art Inn Hotel (Taipei) NTD600 (RM82.02)

Photos taken at Sun Moon Lake:

Ximending

Day 5: Taipei (NTD 489 = RM67)

Last day in Taipei, I took morning stroll towards Dadaocheng Wharf and to the infamous Red House in Ximending (still not yet open when I arrived).
Checkout from hotel and take train to airport.

Day 5 (NTD489 = RM67)

City to Airport NTD160 (RM21.87)

Convenience store NTD40 (RM5.47)

Others NTD289 (RM39.51)

Dadaocheng Wharf
Dadaocheng Wharf
Dadaocheng Wharf
The Red House

Overall, Taiwan is full of influence from Japan and China, but still maintain their own identity. Too bad I’m not able to visit the hotsprings while in Taiwan due to time constraint and the weather is pretty, bad, nevertheless I still have an amazing experience.

Summary of total spent in Taiwan for 5 days:

Flight KL-Taipei-KL: RM648.00

Day 1: RM194.20

Day 2: RM265.88

Day 3: RM146

Day 4: RM297

Day 5: RM67

Total All-In: RM1,617

6D5N Iran with RM 1,900 Budget in details

Breakdown from 6D5N Iran Trip as my previous post as below:

Explore Iran 6D5N with RM 1,900 (All-in)

No. Description Actual
IRR USD MYR (Shared cost) MYR (Per Person)
1 Flight
KL-Tehran-KL (include 2x meals and luggage) 841.00 841.00
Total flight 841.00 841.00
2 Transport (Land)
Airport transfer (IKA-Tehran City-IKA) 1,600,000.00 213.33 106.67
Buses:
Tehran City 95,000.00 12.67 12.67
Tehran-Shiraz 400,000.00 53.33 53.33
Shiraz City 25.00 110.00 110.00
Shiraz-Isfahan 270,000.00 36.00 36.00
Isfahan City 1,420,000.00 189.33 94.67
Isfahan-Tehran 330,000.00 44.00 44.00
Total transport(Land) 4,115,000.00 658.67 457.33
3 Accomodation
Tehran 2,500,000.00 333.33 166.67
Tehran 30.00 132.00 66.00
Shiraz
Isfahan (2 days) 50.00 220.00 110.00
Total Accom 685.33 342.67
4 Entrance fees
Tehran:
Golestan Palace 680,000.00 90.67 90.67
Shiraz:
Tomb of Saadi 200,000.00 26.67 26.67
Persepolis 200,000.00 26.67 26.67
Necropolis 200,000.00 26.67 26.67
Arg of Karim Khan 200,000.00 26.67 26.67
Isfahan:
Nagsh-e Jahan Mosque 200,000.00 26.67 26.67
Ali Qapu Palace 200,000.00 26.67 26.67
Vank Cathedral 200,000.00 26.67 26.67
Total Entrance fees 1,000,000.00 277.33 277.33
Grand Total 5,115,000.00 2,462.33 1,918.33

Exploring Iran for 6D5N with RM 1,900 (All-in)

My friend and I choose to go to Iran on May 2017 since Air Asia is offering cheap direct flight to Tehran at that moment, plus we were looking for place that offer something different (other than beaches and cities). We make a rough estimate for 5 days, and it’s within our budget, so why not?

At first I’m a bit worried as there are too many bad rumors about Iran, but we just decided to go for it. And yes, we make a very right decision.

Day 1: Arrival in Tehran

First thing you need to know about Iran is that most of their websites are blocked in other countries, so it’s very hard to reserve hotel beforehand. My advise is that before you go, you need to find few addresses of hotels for your potential stay. I made a mistake in which I’m so confident and just wrote down only one hotel address and that hotel was fully booked for the night. Since we arrived late at night in Imam Khomeini International Airport, we just took taxi and ask the driver to bring us to any hotel that he know, that cost us USD80 for one room which is very old and not very decent (consider very expensive).

P/S: Local sim card take around 5 hours to be activated before you can use, and the airport wifi is not very helpful as it keep disconnecting, so it’s advisable to print out or write down whatever you think necessary before you go.

Day 2: Tehran

We start the day with breakfast at Imam Khomeini Square, and visit the Golestan Palace (this place is magical!).

(this taste a bit weird 😅)
Khash, traditional Iranian breakfast
Golestan Palace
Golestan Palace
Golestan Palace

Since Golestan Palace is just nearby the Imam Khomeini Square, we decided to find our lunch from the nearby bazaar, and stroll around the bazaar. Late in the evening we take the train to Terminal-e-Jonoob to take sleeping bus to Shiraz, so that we can arrive Shiraz in the morning.

P/S: Don’t forget to try their freshly blended fruit juice (super yummy 👍)

Day 3: Shiraz

The bus ride to Shiraz took us 9-10 hours, but don’t worry, the bus is comfortable enough and they even provide you with free snacks. Everything is perfect, but not their punctuality, so do expect 30-40 minutes delays in departure.

Upon arrival in Shiraz, Mr. Meysam is waiting for us and bring us to his home for quick breakfast and rest (we booked local guide which include accomodation and transport from Couchsurfing in advance, trust me it’s very affordable and convenience).

We visited Persepolis (Takht-e- Jamshid), Necropolis (Naqsh-e Rustam), and Agr of Karim Khan. These are all historical places in Shiraz and have their own stories. It is fun to hear the explanation from Mr.Meysam about all these places. To conclude the day, we visit Shah Cheragh (too bad, no camera allowed inside) at night.

Persepolis (Takht-e-Jamshid)

Necropolis (Naqsh-e Rustam)
Arg of Karim Khan
Arg of Karim Khan
With Mr.Meysam

Day 4: Shiraz

Mr. Meysam offer to bring us to Maharloo Lake (Pink Lake) which is 40-minutes drive from city (of course we agreed right away🙊). You can see piles of salt here and do some activity. We also visit Tomb of Saadi, before we took the bus to Isfahan (7-8 hours bus ride).

Maharloo Lake (Pink Lake)

Maharloo Lake (Pink Lake)

Day 5: Isfahan (my favorite of all!❤)

You can find comfortable backpackers hotel ranging $15-$20 (breakfast included) in Isfahan, and most of the places are walkable. The taxi ride is quite cheap as well, but we prefer to walk.

Early morning we took minibus from city and head towards Varzaneh, the mud city (this is my wishlist!), bus depart at 7am. This bus will let you down at the Varzaneh bus stop (which don’t look like bus stop at all 😅) and you have to hitchhike to go to the deserts (we negotiate with the locals how much we can pay them if they can help to bring us to the deserts).

Photos from Varzaneh:

We took taxi from Varzaneh to our hostels in Isfahan as the minibus is not very frequent (we don’t have much time to waste), and rest for awhile before we went out for lunch and walk to the city.

Since almost all places have entrance fees, we decided to visit just fews instead of all since we are in tight budget.We choose Naghs-e-Jahan, Sheikh Lotfollah and Ali Qapu Palace (all of these are in one place). I really like the architecture, the carves and paintings on these buildings. Each of the paintings and carves have different stories and meanings.

Ali Qapu Palace

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

Nagsh-e-Jahan

Nagsh-e-Jahan

Just so you know, Isfahan bazaar is also located at one place. I swear to God, this is a shopping heaven! There are hundreds of shops at this bazaar ranging from desserts shop, cooking utensils shop, pashminas, tea shops, carpets and the list goes on (do bring extra money if you wanna go for shopping spree 😄).

Faloodeh (sweet sour and cold desserts)

After enough shopping, we went back to hostel for some rest, and head out again to Vank Cathedral (this place is quite big, they even has museum inside).

Last but not least, we walk towards Seh-o-seh pol for the super lovely night view.

Seh-o-seh pol

Day 6: Tehran

We wake up early and catch bus to Tehran as our flight is late in the evening. Upon arrival in Tehran, we took train to the city centre and check in hostel (as our bag is too heavy) and head out again for our final shopping. There are so many bazaar in Tehran, you can choose which one you want and mostly are connected by train. As for us, we choose Tajrish bazaar.

Look at those dry flower buds (to enhance your tea)

….and those nuts ❤

Back to hotel to rest, packing,checkout and head to the airport.

This trip changed my perspective towards Iran and their people, and it feels great to be able to learn more about Persian empire.

Note:

1. There are a lot of inter-city bus providers, so there is no issue of missing your bus (bus frequency 15-30 minutes).

2. Iranians are very friendly, but they stare at you too much (or maybe just us because we wear hijab quite different from them)

3. Distant between cities are quite far, so plan your time if you only come for limited number of days.

4. If you were to book guide from Couchsurfing, please read the reviews.

5. Always book your hostels one day in advance, as the hotels are high in demand (especially in Tehran).

Breakdown of expenses as below:

Iran 6D5N detailed budget