About Melissa Ruttanai

Melissa is a social media coordinator, pro-blogger, and certified teacher. Her travel obsessions have brought her to 33 countries and 25 US States. Her work has been published by at DINK Life, International Living Magazine, Escape From America Magazine, Trazzler and On Holiday Magazine. Connect with Melissa on Google+ Twitter: @WorldWinder and Facebook.com/WorldWinder

Slow Travel Through Hong Kong on the Electric Tram

 

 

Hong Kong is one of Asia’s fastest cities, a bustling metropolitan and a thriving economy with a population of 7 million people and a gross domestic product of 248.6 billion USD per year.

 

However, it’s still possible to slow down in this frenetic city that never sleeps. And one of the ways is to take a ride on the electric tram, one of Hong Kong’s oldest forms of public transport that stretches 30km along the northern coast of the island.

 

The electric tram, locally known as the ‘Ding Ding’ thanks to its ringing bell, began its operations in 1904 and is one of the world’s only double-decker tram systems remaining today. A ride on the vintage trams is a major tourist attraction for visitors, costing a flat fare of HKD2.30, making it one of the cheapest, cutest and slowest ways to sightsee in Hong Kong.

 

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The trams may be vintage, but they are decked out in modern advertising.

 

 

During my trip in July, I took the tram from Sheung Wan in the west all the way to Shau Kei Wan on the eastern side of the island. I went straight up to the top deck and secured my spot at the corner to ensure I had the best views of the city. I began my journey at about 7pm from Queens Road West and watched as the night fell and the lights came on, experiencing the city by night.

 

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On the top floor of the double-decker tram passing by Central

 

 

The route crosses the financial district, which is located around Central and Admiralty. The edifice with the big X is The Bank of China Building and it’s one of my favourite skyscrapers in Hong Kong. Many blockbusters have been filmed in Hong Kong thanks to its magnificent cityscape, such as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), Johnny English Reborn (2011) and the upcoming Transformers 4 to be released in 2014.

 

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The Bank of China Building at night in Admiralty

 

 

The electric tram also took a slow journey along Johnston Road in Wan Chai district. Here, the night markets come alive at about 8pm, with plenty of locals and tourists alike shopping for clothes, toys and electronics. Wan Chai is one of the older districts on the island, adding to the city’s character and authenticity.

 

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Busy night market off Johnston Road

 

 

Sights like these high rise residential buildings are common all across the city. I took this picture looking out of the tram window as we neared Tin Hau. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, and a factsheet by the Hong Kong government published in July 2013 stated that at mid-2012, there was an average of 6,620 persons per square kilometre in Hong Kong. Kwun Tong was the most densely populated district, with 56,200 persons per square kilometre.

 

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Densely-populated residential buildings in Tin Hau

 

 

Hong Kong epitomises a clash of Eastern and Western, modern and traditional. Alongside traditional Chinese food stores selling sliced barbeque pork are global retail chains like Forever21. This photo in Causeway Bay perfectly captures this unique fusion that makes Hong Kong so attractive.

 

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Forever 21 retail store in Causeway Bay

 

 

The tram journey ends in Shau Kei Wan, a residential suburb on the eastern coast of Hong Kong Island. Here it is almost 10pm and traditional businesses like pharmacies and opticians have closed, but the night has just begun for food proprietors as locals come out to eat with their families in restaurants and sidewalk canteens, also known as cha chan teng.

 

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Night time in Shau Kei Wan, a thriving residential area in the northeast of Hong Kong Island

 

 

About the author: Wan Phing is the Online Editor at AsiaRooms.com. Born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, she has lived in Beijing, London, Benevento, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester and currently resides in Singapore. She loves travel, photography and discovering new trends.  Connect with her via email wanphing.lim [at] asiarooms.com, Twitter, and G+.

Great Marketing and Blogging Advice from SES New York 2013

 

Over the three days of SES New York, schedules are jam packed with sessions and networking opportunities.  Coffee breaks are layered in and lunch seems to slingshot attendees from morning haze into an afternoon sprint of information and research presentations.

Chatting it up on the Expo Floor

Chatting it up on the Expo Floor

 

“Facts tell and stories sell” @LeeOdden

The room was packed for Lee Odden’s “Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets” and the theme revolved around the humanization of marketing.  Branding should come from a diversified portfolio of strategies that tap into the human experience across platforms.  Content can be “evergreen”, curated, co-created, and repurposed.  Don’t reinvent the wheel, just refine to fit your audience.  So what begins on Youtube can evolve for WordPress then Flickr and Scribd.  And the core questions should be: What do you want to be known for?

Content marketing is about discovery through social networks including blogs; engagement via Slideshare, images, and long form interviews; then conversions.  Companies should place themselves as a leader and share creatively.  They should think about what story will excite their audience by combining their leadership power with customer empathy.  Of course, this bodes well for bloggers who consistently reach their audience through personal point of view and focus on quality writingeclipsing even the basic blogger concerns for SEO.

Odden who says he is a “big fan of using blogs as a centerpiece” says to think like a control hub.

 

“Create a tribe” @dancristo

Dan Cristo explored the concept of build it and they will come by discussing social signals that Google may be considering in its search results.  The tribe as he calls it is comprises your friends, acquaintances, relatives, and personal connections in Google+ circles.  By turning personalization settings on, results from search queries will vary from when it is shut off.  The symbol of the little opaque man to the left of results are icon tags to let you know that a search result has skimmed to the top through social signals.  So for example, if you are looking for athletic socks, Nike may be at the top of your results with your personalizations turned off.  Conversely, Gold Toe may reign supreme with these settings switched on.

Taking the social network and its overlay effect into consideration, Cristo views Google as a way to build communities through the G+ system but also on its other properties such as Youtube and Blogger.

Since May 2010, Google has been tackling the issues of web content versus people content and even Eric Schmidt has said that “The true cost of anonymity is irrelevance.”   In terms of marketing and content generation, SEO is about that relevance and trust.  It’s about intimacy and relations–useful tips for even newbie bloggers.

Cristo even broke down one of his Facebook updates saying the first part is about knowing your customers and prompting your tribe with a statement of questions.  Next, layer in an image which will give a smile to your customer via meme.  Then engage in comments and conversation.  Build the tribe through likes, followers, and through interactions and Google will interpret these as social signals.

 

“Who here does sessions research?” @DuaneForrester

In an ah-ha moment at SES New York, Duane Forrester discussed the importance of keyword research.  It makes sense.  A content marketer should know audience and create campaigns designed for the client’s needs.  But as he pointed out, most researchers build their data research on singular keyword events when in fact people should be conducting sessions research.

Duane cited a keyword phrase “dog toys” and said that many people will head to the internet for an answer to a particular question.  However, our research can become more powerful and insightful if we consider the situation of the client not just the single query submitted.  So while some marketers may fixate on that one search for “dog toys”, others may want to consider how this person may be doing research on adopting a dog in general and will therefore conduct a string of related searches over a prolonged period of time.  So the “dog toys” query becomes an all out search for the best dog accessories, puppy shots, local veterinarians, pet shops, dog breeds, and more.  As Duane suggested, think about the implicit search.

 

Video Marketing Should Be “Powered to be Personal” @Judith David

Judith David, Account Executive from Google began her presentation by turning the marketing funnel upside down and recommending that people engage straightaway with the 5% which drive all their traffic and sales conversions.  She stated that video has the power to make marketing personalized, geographically and emotionally tailored to the viewer.

Her examples included TD Banks’ 92 videos that highlight each of their branches; employee how-to videos, client testimonials, and even Corning’s film called “A Day Made of Glass.”

“Nearby is a great Facebook feature” @Glenn Gabe

On January 15, 2013, Facebook rolled out its first formal attempt at a search engine.  While still a bit hamfisted and limited, Graph Search shows some promise especially for local marketers who can use the tools creatively.  Still in beta, Graph Search is only available to a limited number of accounts and utilizes an autocomplete funnel.  This type of query suggests popular searches to users as they input their keywords into the search field.

Gabe recommends that local businesses encourage clients to check-in to their stores and to rate places.  He says profile is imperative and that many Facebook Pages may not show up on Graph Search because of insufficient data.  Optimize your pages now, he suggests and reminded attendees at SES New York that as of now Graph Search will not be available on mobile.

 

“Go Home and Go into your Facebook Activity Logs” @Clayburn

Continuing the conversation on Graph Search, Clayburn Griffin stated that this feature would be a people-based search engine, favoring places and products slightly less but still prominently.  He stated the search engine allowed marketers to target audiences based on their other likes and also allows users to search themselves.  He recommends doing this immediately to see what is publicly displayed on personal profiles.  The results, he eluded might surprise you.  Similarly, Glenn Gabe added that the age when people get fired for Facebook is just the beginning.

 

The take away for bloggers?  Keep yourself centered firmly on your reader and what your brand, persona, or writer’s life can offer them.

 

Were these Made by Aliens?

 

While this ancient phenomenon was featured in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Nazca Lines are beyond anything Hollywood could concoct.  In the true heart of the desert, sand drifts create the illusion of running water.  Giant monoliths of stone poke out of the desert as if gasping for air and even the locals admit “Yes, it is very hot today.”  But crusading travelers will not be swayed.  We’re made of tougher metal than that.  In the early morning before the high winds kick into gear or the sun has a chance to do its worst, you can climb into a small aircraft and jettison into the sky for a premier glimpse over the UNESCO World Heritage site.  Fourteen sand-etched caricatures stare up at the blue sky.  Giant drawings resemble a whale, astronaut, monkey, dog, condor, spider, and hummingbird.  Many archaeologists surmise that the lines are a form of calendar.  Others believe they are magical incantations.  As you sweep across the landscape, see what hypothesis you can postulate.

fly over the nazca lines

Ready for our flight in Nazca

astronaut of the nazca lines

Can you see the space man?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the mysterious lines in Peru

A bird? A falcon? Right by the highway!

nazca and peru

The highway runs past the lines too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

animals in the nazca lines peru

The hummingbird!

flights are 45 minutes over the Nazca Lines

A Monkey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Treasures of the Mochico People of Peru

 

Less than 30 minutes outside of Trujillo, an impressive archaeological dig uncovered a massive metropolis buried in the sand.  Called Huaca del Sol y Luna, the ancient city housed two massive religious pyramids and several clusters of domestic dwellings.  Tighten your bootstraps and make sure you have a bottle of water.  The trail is a walking history of the Mochico people who built new temples upon the old.  For mystery loving travelers, the temples are a compound structure of sacrificial altars, royal thrones, and treasuries.  On a 25-foot wall, murals depict each step of selecting and executing humans in the temple.  Stick close to your friends.  The wind whips up to a howl during the afternoon, when the sun plays tricks on your eyes and the hole where conquistadors blasted into the Fifth Temple becomes a gaping mouth.

Also, this is the first time we met our Aussie friends Kate and Aidy!

huacas del sol y luna

Walking through the desert of Peru

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Murals are still in tact since the Mochico always built their temples right on top of the old ones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pyramides of peru by the mochico

The first temple, found when archaeologist dug below the newer ones

What is a huaca?

Narrow walkways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

places to visit ruins

This is the famous wall of the Huacas del Sol Y Luna where conquistadors blasted into the temple in search of gold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: From Chachapoyas to Kuelap Fortress

Rivaling Machu Picchu in beauty and grandeur, the stone fortress at Kuelap boasts mist enshrined turrets, sacrificial altars, and even sun-lazing llamas on the precipice.  Kuelap straddles both jungle and highlands, earning it the nickname: Eyebrow of the Amazon.  Built by the Chachapoyan people as a mountain top sanctuary, Kuelap is full of magic and mystery, beauty and history.  But unlike Machu Pichu, its more famous cousin in the south, there are no crowds or hordes of trekking backpackers jostling for their shot of the Inca’s great city. Let’s be honest.  Unless we’re in a nightclub, I don’t like mobs.  In Kuelap, you will actually hear birds in the trees and get close to livestock grazing on the grass.  You can sweep your hand across stonewalls, 20 feet high and over 600 years old.  While wandering the grounds, note the artistic craftsmanship of the granary and the chiseled designs in stone that are still employed on village houses below.  Lara Croft never had it so good.

Kuelap Fortress is the main northern attraction in Peru

Conical houses of Kuelap

Kuelap fortress walls

Fortress walls crown the high peak of the mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

best views in Kuelap

Steep steps!

 

 

 

hike to kuelap

The walk along the cliffside

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kuelap buildings in Peru

You can still walk right up to the old buildings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kuelap religious altar

Religious Altar close to a burial site

kuelap day tour is easy

Path through the forest