Turning the (Passport) Page: my 2017 Travel Review and my 2018 Travel Plans

January 01, 2018

Before I turn the page to a New Year, here is a look at my show reel of 2017, followed by the upcoming attractions and my travel wishes of 2018. 

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE IRREPRESSIBLE (IF SHORT-LIVED) "CAN-DO" SPIRIT THAT SEEMS TO DO THE ROUNDS EVERY FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY AND INSPIRED BY THE FIRST #TRAVELLINKUP OF 2018


LAKE BLED, SLOVENIA'S MOST FAMOUS AND ROMANTIC BEAUTY SPOT.
2017. 12 months. 14 Countries. 34 Cities. 
A carbon footprint the size of Bigfoot.

You just can't keep a wanderluster down. You can take away her passport while dragging your feet about whether to grant her Indefinite Leave to Remain, but she will pull some strings to get her application approved in neck-breaking record speed even in the wake of all the post-Brexit immigration scramble. Not even a tangle of Home Office red tape couldn't hold me back, let alone recovering from cosmetic surgery. Less than a week after waking up from going under the knife, my year of travel kicked off. Seeing friends in Australia...conquering Hong Kong in 24 hours...a Mother's Day weekend in Prague...the failed detox program in Chiang Mai that we shall never speak of again...my epic 3 week road trip across the Balkans...Autumn in Japan...Winter in South Korea and Cambodia, and finally; ushering in the New Year in Singapore.

Oh, the places I've been (in 2017)...

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ  1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (several times in 2017)
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ  2. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (twice in 2017)
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ  3. Sydney, Australia 
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ  4. Melbourne, Australia (twice in 2017)
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ  5. Hong KongHong Kong 
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ  6. PragueCzechia 
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ  7. Chiang Mai, Thailand 
STARI MOST, THE ICONIC BRIDGE OF MOSTAR, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA.
CONTEMPLATING THE COLOURS OF CINQUE TERRE IN ITALY.
FEELING THE HAPSBURG YELLOW FANTASY IN ZAGREB, CROATIA
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น  8. ViennaAustria 
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ  9. MariborSlovenia 
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ  10. LjubljanaSlovenia  
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ  11. Bled, Slovenia 
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  12. Zagreb, Croatia 
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  13. Plitvice, Croatia 
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  14. Trogir, Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  15. Split, Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  16. Dubrovnik, Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ  17. Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina 
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ  18. Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ช  19. Kotor, Montenegro 
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  20. Florence, Italy  
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  21-25. Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, 
Monterosso, RiomaggioreCinque Terre, Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  26. Portofino, Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  27. Pisa, Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต  28. KyotoJapan 
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต  29. Tokyo, Japan
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท  30. Busan, South Korea 
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท  31. Seoul, South Korea
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ  32. Siem Reap, Cambodia 
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ  33. Phomh Penh, Cambodia 
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ  34. Singapore, Singapore

_____________
A SLICE OF WILDNERNESS ON LANTAU ISLAND, HONG KONG
LEAN IN - I'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SHOW YOU IN PISA, ITALY...
THROWING SHAPES IN YOYOGI PARK, TOKYO, JAPAN.

Upcoming travel stories...

I have a back catalog of travel photos and travel stories from Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, and Singapore that I really ought to get cracking on with. Expect in the New Year: a review of Japan's best new luxury hotel The Four Seasons Kyoto, as well as 24 Hour Guides to Kyoto, Tokyo, Busan, Seoul, Singapore, and Phnom Penh. Siem Reap's many beautiful temples gets their own series, including tips on how to beat the crowds at Angkor Wat for the perfect souvenir photo. 


Quality over Quantity

In this age of the competitive social media humblebrag, clocking 34 cities and 14 countries in a year of perpetual travel comes across as #GOALS but honestly, beneath the glossy facade the cracks are showing. Travelling all the time is exhausting, especially when you realise you've spent more nights in hotel rooms than you have in all of your homes combined. So, this year I choose quality over quantity. To give myself room to breathe, I'm going to limit myself to no more than 12 countries and 24 cities. 



SUNRISE IN BAGAN, BURMA (YES, I STILL CALL IT BURMA)
My New Year's Travel Resolution for 2018:
South East Asia & Malaysia.

Look, here's the tea - it is the height of bourgeoise to make your gap yah in South East Asia  a point on your resumรฉ, be it LinkedIn or Tinder. Nothing reeks of pretentiousness more than the multiple photos of wearing the same beads in your hair, dusty pair of flip flops, and elephant-print pyjama pants for months on end while you wax lyrical about how the locals helped you find your spiritual awakening ("They are sooo poor and have sooo little but they're sooo happy!"). Especially if you're a white person on a "poverty tourism" binge. For a Malaysian who grew up in the '90s whose sensible upbringing verges on pearl-clutching hysteria, the rest of South East Asia* are our less-prosperous neighbours whose only notable exports are cheap domestic help (yeah, nobody does casual classism like Malaysia). 

*all of SEA except for wealthy, modern Singapore - their best-known export is their bastardised, overly sweet version of Malaysian street food. Sorry 'bout it. 

For the affluent Asian back in the day, the travel destinations of choice were usually European countries - what we deemed to be exotic and faraway. Naturally, a lot of the beauty in our backyard went ignored, which is a bloody shame - one that I fully intend to rectify in 2018. 

THE GATEWAY TO HEAVEN IN BALI, INDONESIA
IN THE LAND OF GODS AND MONSTERS IN LAOS
BEING A ROYAL PAIN IN THE ANGKOR AT PHNOM PENH ROYAL PALACE

Of the 11 countries in South East Asia, I've already visited 5: Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia (my native country), Thailand, and Vietnam. This leaves me with 6 countries: Indonesia, Philippines, Burma, Laos, Brunei, and Timor-Leste (East-Timor); the capitals of which I hope to have traversed by the end of 2018. In keeping with the "closer to home" theme, I'm also hoping to get to know my own country outside of the metropolitan bubble that is Kuala Lumpur. I've visited (and blogged about) 9 of the 13 states in Malaysia, which I'm terribly chuffed about, but I'm still 4 states short. No matter, it's a new year, begging to be filled with fits, foibles, and passport stamps!

My 2018 Travel List

South East Asia:
1. Bali, Jakarta, and Yogyakarta; Indonesia
2. Manila, Cebu, and Boracay; Philippines
3. Nyapyidaw and Bagan, Burma
4. Vientiane, Laos
5. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
6. Dili and Atauro Island, Timor-Leste

...and in Malaysia:
7. Mulu Caves, Sarawak
8. Alor Setar, Perlis
9. Kota Bahru, Kelantan
10. Negeri Sembilan

Here's wishing you a bigger, better, brighter, and more well-travelled New Year. x

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