Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Travel 2014: 5 Countries in a Year

Yes, it's that post. That last post of the year, the post that recaps the year. That post. 
Because, truth be told, 2014 has been a good year for me - wanderlust-wise. With everything that has been going on at posting time, it may seem insensitive but it has made me grateful that I got to travel safely and got to experience what I did in five different but distinctively beautiful countries.

Not as many as some people who have jetted to seven countries in a span of 12 months (I am looking at you, mom!) but still a feat for me who is used to traveling once or twice a year.

So here are the 5 countries (places) I have traveled to in 2014:  

The Bali countryside was gorgeous especially Ubud. Just strolling along the main road in Ubud and I saw so many beautiful things whether they are made by nature or by man. Their local food was delicious although I didn't get to eat that much of it as my travel companions preferred western cuisine. Sadly, the condition of the animals (monkeys, horses, civet cats) there are so bad that it nearly made me want to swear off going to Indonesia again. 

But the scenery and its culture will be missed. Oh well, we'll see. 

Bali Day 0 - Strings of Bad Luck
Bali Day 1 - Temple Tour, Ubud
Bali Day 2 (part 1) - Ubud by Foot 
Bali Day 2 (part 2) - Bali Mall Galleria, Kuta.
Bali Day 3 (part 1) - Lovina Dolphin Cruise
Bali Day 3 (part 2) - Waffle, Crepes and Pancakes at Flapjaks 
Bali Day 3 (part 3) -  Kuta on Foot 
Bali Day 3 (part 4) - Al Dente anyone?  

Singapore was more a weekend trip to take part in an obstacle race with a huge group of mad friends. While it had been a short trip and quite frankly the race sucked, the company I had made all the difference.

For more in-depth stories on Singapore's attractions, my visit in Dec 2013 would be better suited to aid with details. 

Singapore: Day 1 - Weekend Exploration
Singapore: Day 2 - River Safari Adventure 
Singapore: Men's Health Urbanathlon 2014

My 10 days trip to the Kansai area of Japan was my proudest achievement yet because the entire trip was a result of a lot of research, saving up and early bookings. Flights were booked almost a year in advance and about two weeks before we were to fly off (on MAS), MH370 went missing. While that raised some concerns, I knew living a life fearful of what could go wrong was no way to live.

Japan has always been on my bucket list since I was a kid (anime geek hello!) but when I actually set foot in the Osaka International Airport, it turned into complete obsession because the culture, the people, the buildings, the season, the food and its high tech everything (automated toilets WTF) was just amazing! Hence I have made it my personal mission to visit Japan every year until I have covered the whole of it. 

Admittedly, Japan is not an easy country to DIY in unless you are fluent in Japanese (I am working on that) but here's my travel log of the entire trip plus more. I hope it would help you in your planning to this amazing country. 
Osaka on a Budget
Kobe: Yume Nomad Guesthouse review
Kobe Day 1: Kitano Ijinkan & Harbourland 
Kobe Day 2: Rokkosan Pasture, Mount Rokko & Sannomiya
Kyoto: Hana Hostel Hybrid Inn review 
Kyoto Day 3:Fushimi Inari Shrine
Kyoto Day 4: Imperial Palace, Kitano Shrine, Kinkaku-ji & Gion
Kyoto Day 5: Arashiyama & Cat Cafe Nekokaigi
Osaka: Namba guesthouse ( House), Osaka Review
Osaka Day 6: Nara & Dotonbori 
The Artistic Manhole Covers of Japan
Osaka Day 7:  Pokemon Center & Cherry Blossoms, Osaka Castle Park
The Flavours of Haagen Dazs Japan  
Osaka Day 8: Tsutenkaku Tower, Den Den Town & Umeda Floating Garden Observatory 
Osaka Day 9:  Ramen Museum, Kyoto Hanami & Kiyomizudera Night Illumination
Osaka Day 10: Bye Japan :(
Kobe, Kyoto, Nara & Osaka Itinerary (10-days) 
Japan Kit Kat Flavours - That Yummy Weird Treat

Australia was never the type of country I would visit because I loved its food or culture. It was the type of place I traveled if I had a group of wacky friends willing to do or die in a Spartan obstacle race (held in the major western countries in the world) It was the getaway with friends I never had as a teen and it was even better now because I had my own spending money to splurge with. Being a working adult (with the mentality of a youth) is awesome....

I got to hold a koala for the first time at Currumbin wildlife sanctuary and selfie with an alpaca. I missed out on whale watching though. Oh, that makes for another activity to do when I go there again for Tough Mudder in the coming years. 

Accommodation: Grande Florida Resort Apartment, Gold Coast 
Gold Coast 2014: Spartan Beast Brisbane, QLD 
Gold Coast 2014: Day 3 - Alpaca Farm and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary 
Gold Coast 2014: Day 4 -  Wet & Wild and Warner Bros Movie World Theme Parks
Gold Coast 2014: Day 5 - Sea World and Surfer Paradise

And finally to wrap up my jetsetting 2014....

At one point in life, I was traveling to Bangkok almost four times a year (hence why I never went anywhere else) to visit my dad there. Now after a long period of a Bangkok hiatus, I decided out of the blue that it was time to revisit Bangkok. Flights were booked, a hostel was booked and off I went to my former second motherland. 

As always it was shopping and eating heaven and I was glad that nothing much has changed in Bangkok with the exemption of a Husky cafe. The food, the people and the bargain deals were AMAZING (pardon my lack of better words to describe Thailand but it's true!) 

Bangkok, Thailand was the perfect impromptu trip to end my travel year of 2014.

Bangkok 2014 - Lub D hostel, Siam Square
Bangkok 2014 - Som Tam Nua, Siam Square Soi 5
More blog posts coming soon. Stay tune.

So what will 2015 have in store for me? So far it's looking like this: 
June - Mount KK (first time ever!) 
August - Hawaii for Spartan race 
November - Tokyo, Japan. 

Cheers to a more awesome year ahead and to living a life without fear! See you next year, you sexy people! 


Diana Diane Teo said...

Cool blog you have! You went to three of my favourite places - Japan, Australia and Bangkok. I've been more than once but love to return back again. =)

As for me, I've been 8 countries last year (Myanmar, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Nepal, Bhutan & China).

Tania said...

Wow 8 countries is a lot! South Korea was on my list this year but due to MERS, the trip got cancelled :( Oh well. Better luck next year. Thanks for dropping by!