From New York, to Rome, Tokyo, Sydney, Hong Kong, Milan, Prague, and Venice; I went on 27 trips all over the world in the past 365 days. It has been a great year and I am extremely lucky on the travel end.
How about a recap of the places that I’ve been to in 2012?
Travelling is the best thing you can ever do for yourself.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
My first adventure this year was Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) – commonly known as Saigon – the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam.
Vietnam has that old-world charm where everything is untouched by civilisation. It was great to be there, and hopefully I will get to visit Hanoi soon. Read my travel guide to Ho Chi Minh City.
In February, I was in Hong Kong to attend Social Media Week as a speaker. My good friends from HarbourCity Shopping Centre invited me as a guest and I spent the three days catching up with friends, and going on an interview marathon with the Hong Kong media.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In the same month, I had the chance to drop by Kuala Lumpur to film a reality challenge for Toshiba and Intel. While it was just a short weekend trip, we had lots of fun filming.
New York, United States
One of the highlights this year was visiting New York City in March. The good people from Dean & Deluca and Kitchen Language sent me there to learn more about the brand, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Besides finding out more about Dean & Deluca, I also spent time exploring and eating around the city. Read my guide on where to eat in New York.
After coming back from New York, I visited Resorts World Genting – the most popular tourist destination in Malaysia – and it was an eye opening experience as I learned many new things about Genting that I never knew before.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
My good friend was in Kota Kinabalu for work in April, so I tagged along for an impromptu trip and spent the weekend at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa.
It is only two and a half hours away from Singapore, and once you reach the beautiful resort, you feel like you just opened the door to paradise. It is without a doubt – the perfect destination for a lazy beach getaway.
Taipei is one of my favourite cities in Asia. In May, I packed my bags and went on an eating adventure. I’ve written a guide on where to eat in Taipei, and I will be adding in new places after my trip next month.
My first solo adventure was in Sydney three years ago, so I was thrilled to get the chance to revisit the city as a guest of Scoot Airlines and Destination NSW. We climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, went skydiving in the beautiful coast of Wollongong, and had a fabulous time. Read more about what we did in Sydney.
The rest of June was spent travelling in Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo, and my wish finally came true. Tokyo is an amazing city, and I’d strongly urge you to go there for a holiday. I am already dreaming of another trip there next year. And maybe Osaka too?
In July, I went back to Genting again. This time, I had the pleasure of leading a food tour there and we had so much fun eating and making new friends.
Gold Coast, Australia
Towards the end of July, I scooted off to Gold Coast as a guest of Scoot Airlines and Tourism Queensland.
Besides the gorgeous beaches, Gold Coast has a lot to offer. From taking a day trip to the beautiful Hinterland, chasing after whales and dolphins on a cruise, to going on the hot air balloon – there are plenty to do in Gold Coast.
In August, I went Bangkok twice. I know it sounds crazy, but hey, I could not say no to cheap massages, good shopping, and yummy Thai food. I stayed at both Sofitel properties in Bangkok, and I particularly enjoyed the experience at Sofitel So Bangkok.
A week after my trip to The Land of Smiles, it was off to Phuket. We stayed in the Kata beach area, and it was a rejuvenating getaway. I can’t wait to visit Phuket again, definitely going back again next year.
Before flying to Europe, the kind folks from Bintan Lagoon invited us for a short stay. All I can say is it is a beautiful place and everyone should go there for a weekend getaway.
Another highlight this year was my journey to visiting Nestle’s headquarters in Switzerland. Not only did we visit the headquarters, we also explored Vevey (a quaint little town by the Lake Geneva), visited the cheese factory, took a tour in Nestle Cailler chocolate factory, tasted Swiss cuisine, and enjoyed the magnificent scenery.
After the Nestle media trip ended, I flew to Nice, a gorgeous city located in the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea. Needless to say, it was a great fun, and I enjoyed it as much as my stay in Lyon last year.
From Nice, I went for a day trip to Monaco. It is really fascinating to see how a small sovereign city state like Monaco – it is the second smallest country in the world, with an area of 1.98 km square and a population of 36,371 – can survive on its own.
It was relatively easy to explore Monaco and the famous Monte Carlo, and I also went to the Jardin Exotique – one of Monaco’s finest tourist attractions – and took a stroll through Monaco-Ville to see the Prince’s Palace.
Like what they always say, all roads lead to Rome. I am so glad that I chose to visit the eternal city. We spent our time wondering around the city, and it was amazing to be able to see the Colosseum. We also visited the other famous attractions such as the Pantheon, and the Roman Forum.
To quote my partner: “Rome was too beautiful, and nothing can articulate its beauty. Even pictures are just mere pictures that do not bring enough justice. I could start dreaming all over again, but it would never end…”
Vatican City, Italy
And of course, no one can leave Rome without going to the Vatican City – the smallest state in the world. We went there in the late afternoon and the queue was not as long as we thought it would be. I finally ticked off Vatican City from my bucket list.
Moving North, we took a train and arrived in Pisa. Of course, we were there for the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa that is known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. Another place off the bucket list!
Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region, and it is famous for its history, culture Renaissance art, architecture and monuments, and shopping. No one goes to Florence without checking out the factory outlet stores.
The Mall is an exclusive outlet destination for luxury goods at a fraction of its original prices. Situated at the outskirt of Florence and at an unassuming enclave in the green Tuscan hills, a day at The Mall is a promising experience. The air in the open is fresh and crisp, the boundless skies are blue and calming, the surrounding is a humble and quiet neighbourhood. We spent an entire afternoon there – shopping (well, needless to say), indulging in a mid-day snack, and to simply bask in the serenity of the countryside.
After our shopping trip in Florence, we went to Venice – the most beautiful and romantic place on Earth. Like Paris, Venice has this magical feel in the air that no words can describe. Strolling along the Grand Canal, feeding pigeons at Piazza San Marco, and wandering into the alleys without a map. Everyone should visit Venice at least once in their lives.
Milan, the fashion capital of the world, was also on our itinerary. Being a glutton, I wanted to try authentic Milanese cuisine, and I managed to track down La Trattoria Milanese (Via Santa Marta 11 Milan) where we sampled Risotto alla Milanese with Ossobucco, and Veal Cotoletta Milanese – two of the signature Milanese food. It was one of the best meals that I’ve had in 2012.
Prague, Czech Republic
Exploring Prague — the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic — in -5 degree Celsius was another experience that I will never forget. Prague is another city that I’ve always wanted to visit, and I am so happy that I finally went there. It was a fitting finale to my Europe adventure.
At the start of November, just a few days after my Europe tour, I flew to Hong Kong for a week. Besides shopping and catching up with friends, I was on a quest to eat at all the places on my to-go list. I checked out the locals’ favourite Cha Chaan Teng, hip and trendy cafes and coffee places, and Michelin Star Restaurants.
The last trip of the year was in Macau, where we spent a weekend eating Portuguese egg tarts, hopping from casino to casino, and visiting the famous Ruins of St Paul’s.
The past year has been nothing short of amazing, and I am really looking forward to 2013. I will be visiting Taiwan (Taipei, Tainan and Kaohsiung) next week, and Taichung in April. Also, I will most likely be making my annual trips to Bangkok, Bali, Phuket, and Hong Kong. Some of the places on my to-go list include Seoul, Shanghai, Melbourne, Maldives, London, Osaka, as well as beach getaways in Southeast Asia – but nothing has been firmed up as yet, so we will see how it goes.
I will continue to travel and introduce more places to you. Thank you for the support, and I just want to end off with this quote: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Travelling opens my eyes to the world out there and it allows me to understand more things so that I can better understand myself. I hope that you will make plans to travel more in the upcoming year. Life is short, there’s really no excuse not to travel and see the world.