12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel

December 29, 2018
12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored


12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored


With 36 trips (excluding commutes between my homes in Malaysia and England*), 12 countries and over 30 cities visited (some of them 3 times this year), and my 43rd country under my belt; 2018 has been a rather good year for travel. With the clock hands inching ever closer to the new year, here is a look back at My Travels of 2018: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.


#YIPADVISOR
#PBBxTRAVEL


*because we all know that when I am in Kuala Lumpur and/or London, all I do is (in the paraphased words of my dear friend Sheena) “Sloth at home in pyjamas and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race”.

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
JANUARY
1. SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE
2 & 3. MUMBAI and JAIPUR, INDIA

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I kicked off 2018 in Singapore with family, watching the fireworks display over Marina Bay Sands. It would have been a glorious start to the year if I wasn’t convalescing from a cold, which I brought with me from Christmas in Cambodia.

Thankfully, I was back on form at the end of the month, although the drama didn’t end there. I meant to fly with mummy from Malaysia to India for a dear friend’s wedding, but a visa mix-up on her part meant that I was flying solo. I arrived in Mumbai and spent a night at the opulent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a place I could finally tick off my bucket list of hotels. The day before my friend’s wedding - a three day ‘Bigger than Bollywood’ extravaganza with a sangeet party in a historical fort - I had a day to explore Jaipur. The Pink City of India was as unreal, intense, and beautiful as I had always imagined.

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored




















FEBRUARY
4. TAIPEI, TAIWAN
5. OKINAWA, JAPAN
6. KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
7 & 8. KOTA KINABALU and SANDAKAN, MALAYSIA

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A world of chaos met me at Mumbai International Airport. My flight to Kuala Lumpur was delayed by 12 hours, and I very narrowly missed my flight to Taipei, Taiwan (and in turn, my flight to Okinawa, Japan) were it not for the intervention of some very influential people. Exhausted by the ordeal, I was in no mood to document my Taipei and Okinawa trips. Instead I made a mental note to return later in the year.

MONKEY BUSINESS AT SEPILOK ORANGUTAN REHABILITATION CENTRE

CONTEMPLATING THE 12 APOSTLES IN AUSTRALIA


It was with some relief when I landed in Kuala Lumpur, where I could control almost every variable to my exacting standards. And so, the military efficiency which I had so desperately missed in Mumbai was put to work. I hosted my dear friend Luxy with a whistle stop tour of my home city. Even with just 24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur, I daresay I encapsulated the diversity of the city: Hindu temples in limestone caves, colonial meets Islamic landmarks, and Taoist temples in the heart of Chinatown.

Luxy and I hopped on a flight to the main event in Kota Kinabalu, North Borneo: Chinese New Year celebrations with my maternal family and of course, to tick an experience off her bucket list. We took a day trip to Sandakan, hoping for a glimpse of the elusive orangutan. At Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, we ooh-ed and aah-ed at adorable baby orangutans in the nursery, held our breath when a wild adult orangutan made an appearance, then had a pinch-me moment when the orangutan stalked and came face-to-face to us. With Luxy’s childhood dream realised, I decided I had earned the right to hashtag my Instagram with #YipAdvisor.

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
MARCH
9. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
10 & 11. OKINAWA and KYOTO, JAPAN
12. KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIA

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In March, I moved to Melbourne for just under a month. Partly to decorate and flip a property, partly to test the waters and see if I could play house in “the most liveable city in the world”. I also squeezed in a day trip along the Great Ocean Road and appreciated the breathtaking ruggedness of one of the world’s greatest coastal roads.

Later that month, I redeemed my failed attempt at enjoying Okinawa. This time, I was at ease to explore the “Hawaii of Japan” and appreciate how vastly different it is from the rest of Japan; both in climate and culture. I moved on to the Imperial City and stayed at the luxurious and refined Four Seasons Kyoto for the 2nd time. Although I arrived in Kyoto before the peak of cherry blossom season, I was lucky enough to glimpse sakura in bloom. During a walk around the geisha district of Gion dressed in traditional kimono, no less. With this trip I had come full circle with last Autumn’s visit to Kyoto. I felt so blessed to complete my Kyoto experience.

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored


APRIL
13. BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, BRUNEI

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At the end of March I would visit Kota Kinabalu for the 2nd of 3 times in 2018. It was a fortuitous position to visit Brunei, a nearby, tiny oil-rich Muslim nation. I made a day trip to the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan to disprove Brunei’s nickname as “the most boring country in the world”. Verdict? Not entirely unjustifiable, but my opinion was certainly biased becase a) culturally, Brunei is similar to Malaysia, down to the shared language and b) of yet another airline-related mishap (and we’re just a quarter in the year, how promising!). The entire experience was so traumatising *shudders delicately* that it took me almost half a year to talk about it, although it did make for what is possibly the funniest travel story I’ve ever written. They do say that the greatest art is borne from pain...




12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
THE CHURCH OF ST ILDENFONSO, PORTO
12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
THE FAMOUS PENA PALACE OF SINTRA, PORTUGAL
AN UNEXPECTEDLY TRANQUIL CORNER IN PENA PALACE
MAY
14 - 17. PORTUGAL:
LISBON, FATIMA, SINTRA, and PORTO

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By May, I had deemed the climate in England to be mild enough to return. I headed back to London for a brief spell, mostly to make sure my houseplants hadn’t all fallen prey to the Beast from the East and died (Spoiler: some of them did). Mummy dearest nipped over to London for the Chelsea Flower Show, which did not meet her expectations. Just as well that we had a mini-tour of Portugal to cushion the disappointment. No stranger to Lisbon, I showed mummy how to spend a short spell in the capital city, which I condensed into my story 24 Hours in Lisbon. Lisbon was our springboard to other parts of the country. We made a day trip to the holiest city in Portugal, Fatima, where we witnessed a pilgrimage rivalled only by my visit to the Vatican City. Followed by another day trip to Sintra, where we hiked (fine, bus-sed) the length and breadth of its hills exploring its collections of castles, palaces, and stately homes including the technicolour trip that is Pena Palace. Duly knackered, we decompressed with a few lazy days in Porto, promenading along the banks of the Duoro.

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

JUNE
18. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
19. TAIPEI, TAIWAN

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From one home (London) to a potential one (Melbourne) via another (K.L). My 2nd trip to Melbourne in 2018 was eventful, although not always for the best reasons. At least brunch was good...?

My second visit this year to Taipei, was a trip of the heart. There, I confronted my family history; interwoven as it is with the founding of the Republic of China (not to be confused with the People’s Republic of China), the status of which is a hotly-contested topic. Is Taiwan a country or a rogue state destined for unification with the Mainland? What is the answer to the Taiwan Question and the One China policy? I learned more about modern-day Taiwan and of the Chinese Civil War in Taipei (where I stayed at one of my favourite hotel chains, the W Taipei) through the medium of history, food and art. I then took my mind off such heavy topics with a visit to New Taipei City; through a scenic coastal drive, a cat village, and a former colonial Japanese mining town rumoured to be the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved film Spirited Away.

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
MARVELLOUS MARRAKECH: THE SOUKS WERE ENLIGHTENING.
SEPTEMBER
20 - 29. MOROCCO: RABAT, MEKNES, FES, 
ERFOUD, HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS, 
MIDELT, OUARZAZATE, BOUMALNE DADES, MARRAKESH, ESSAOUIRA, and CASABLANCA

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I spent the rest of summer in London before embarking on what would be the travel highlight of my year: my virgin trip to Africa. I started ‘small’, choosing one of the great continent’s Northern-most countries: Morocco.

A ten-day road trip ensued. I started and ended my journey from/at Casablanca, making my way across Midelt and Ourzazate through the High Atlas Mountains to royal Rabat and dusty Meknes, to the craft capital of Fes, the sand dunes of the Sahara at the edge of Erfoud, Boumalne Dades, unexpectedly-European Essaouira, and of course; the ever-enchanting MarrakechMy visit to Morocco was the perfect introduction to the surprising diversity of the country. From the luscious rivers that run through its gorges and valleys to the tree-climbing goats of argan county; my 10-day and multi-city tour of Morocco challenged my perception of this country and surprised me in so many ways.

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
THE GORGEOUS GORGES OF BOUMALNE DADES
12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
THE HIGHEST ROAD OF THE HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS, TIZI N'TICHKA
COMING ATTRACTIONS: SAN SEBASTIAN

30 - 32. SPAIN: BARCELONA, 
BILBAO, and SAN SEBASTIAN

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I saw out the rest of September in a more languid fashion. From Morocco, I headed straight to Spain. The first port of call was Barcelona, a city that holds few mysteries for me; having visited many a time. However, I did finally get round to a culinary experience that had somehow evaded me - the degustation menu at 3 Michelin Star restaurant ABaC.

Afterward, I nipped over to Bilbao to check out the Guggenheim. Although I was not blown away (having had seen most of its exhibits either in its NYC counterpart or in other international museums), I had a pleasant day nonetheless. San Sebastian was more of a success for me on the art front - this charming coastal city was like a living museum, with modern sculptures cleverly juxtaposed against historical sites throughout this compact Old Quarter. The delicious pintxos (Basque country’s answer to tapas) too, qualified as works of art. 

Spain stories on Barcelona, Bilbao, and San Sebastian to come in the new year...

COMING ATTRACTIONS: ABaC RESTAURANT, BARCELONA
COMING ATTRACTIONS: THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, BILBAO
12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
COMING ATTRACTIONS: SINGAPORE
OCTOBER
33. KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIA
34. SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE
35. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA


NOVEMBER
36. BANGKOK, THAILAND

DECEMBER
...BACK TO OL' BLIGHTY, ENGLAND

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Another commute from London back to Kuala Lumpur, followed by the year’s 3rd visit to Kota Kinabalu, which I may have slightly miffed about: my family and I were meant to be in Bali celebrating my step-grandfather’s birthday, but my grandmother insisted we celebrated at home, so K.K it was. And then a volcano erupted in Bali, followed by my grandmother's knowing “I told you so”. In October I made my 2nd visit to Singapore, where I revisited childhood haunts as well as modern attractions. The contrast between the old and the new sums Singapore up wonderfully. The year’s 3rd visit to Melbourne which turned out to be extremely stressful but ultimately, freeing. I immediately headed to Bangkok, Thailand, to recuperate, leaving the sanctuary of the Siam Kempinski only to shop, eat, and take afternoon tea. More to come on Singapore, Melbourne, and Bangkok...


COMING ATTRACTIONS: THE SIAM KEMPINSKI HOTEL, BANGKOK...
...AND THEIR SURPRISINGLY AFFORDABLE AFTERNOON TEA.
12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored
AND FINALLY, BACK IN LONDON FOR CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR.

A YEAR OF TRAVEL, IN NUMBERS



          12  COUNTRIES 
          30  CITIES
          36  TRIPS*
          43rd  COUNTRY VISITED**


*excluding London and all but one spell in K.L

**that would be Morocco. Any guesses as to what my 44th country will be? Although, 44 being a very unlucky number for the Chinese, perhaps I best not have high expectations...

12 Countries, 30 Cities, and 36 Trips: 2018, A Year In Travel by Posh, Broke, & Bored

The saying is: "Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer". 
In that case, 2018 has been a year of great fortune for me. 
Thank you for joining me on my trip down memory lane. 
Here's wishing you an enriching New Year full of priceless treasures. x

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