1 Year, 13 Trips: My 2018 Travel in Review

54 days. 13 trips. 8 countries. ONLY 6.5 leave days taken!

I started this blog with the principle that anyone can travel, even if you have a 9-to-5.

In many ways, 2018 was a hectic year. I was involved in a massive project in my company and ended up neglecting most of my personal life, my 2018 travel resolutions (fair to say I failed all except Resolution No. 8), only posted 6 blog posts in a year, and my longest holiday was a minuscule 5 days.

BUT travel is my passion. I made strategic use of public holidays, business trips and inadvertently realize that indeed, no matter how busy you are, it’s not an excuse to stop seeing the world. Here’s a quick run down of how I made use of leave days, public holidays and business trips in 2018.

  • 30 Dec-1 Jan: Macau (3D) – public holidays
  • 15-18 Feb: Central Java, Indonesia (4D) – 0.5 leave day
  • 7-11 Mar: London, United Kingdom (5D) – business trip
  • 30 Mar-1 Apr: Central Vietnam (3D) – public holidays
  • 28 Apr-1 May: Tioman, Malaysia (4D) – 1 leave day
  • 9-11 Jun: Okinawa, Japan (3D) – company trip
  • 15-17 Jun: Kinabalu, Malaysia (3D) – public holidays
  • 9-12 Aug: South Sulawesi, Indonesia (4D) – 1 leave day
  • 14-16 Sep: Bangkok, Thailand (3D) – weekend
  • 22-30 Sep: England, United Kingdom (9D) – business trip
  • 1-5 Nov: Oman (5D) – 3 leave days
  • 22-25 Dec: Langkawi, Malaysia (4D) – 0.5 leave day
  • 29 Dec-1 Jan: Northern Vietnam (4D) – 0.5 leave day

In many ways, 2018 had been all about filling the gaps of nearby destinations which I had overlooked in the past. Oman and United Kingdom are my only two new countries for the year, and the only ones which are not short-haul.

Macau: A Grandiose New Year

Fireworks in Macau

[Image Credit: pxhere]

Now I’m not much into gambling, but Macau was a surprisingly entertaining mix of Portuguese culture, delectable food and glamorous interior hotel designs. And what better way to kick off 2018 than with a bang with some of the most spectacular fireworks I have seen?

Read more posts about Macau.

Central Java: Cities, Temples & Coffee Plantation

Borobudur, Central Java, Indonesia

[Image Credit: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas]

For Chinese New Year, I flew in to Yogyakarta for a tour of Indonesia’s vibrant arts hub, making side trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, took a jeep safari to Mount Merapi, retreated to the coffee plantation MesaStila before finishing off in Semarang, the capital of Central Java with some beautiful colonial buildings.

Read more posts about Indonesia.

London: A First-Timer’s Look

Tower Bridge, London, United Kingdom

[Image Credit: Diliff]

While largely a business trip, I managed to spend a weekend seeing this bustling metropolis with its iconic sights for the first time, as well as another day with a nice brunch followed by an informative visits to some really impressive museums. I’ve been sleeping on London for so long, but it’s literally one of the best urban metropolises I have ever been.

Read more posts about United Kingdom.

Central Vietnam: Stepping Back in Time

Hoi An, Central Vietnam

[Image Credit: huy lê]

Truly charming, a journey to Central Vietnam takes you back through time. I began in Hue, which was once Vietnam’s Imperial Capital with ornately beautiful royal palaces and mausoleums. The next day, I drove through Hai Van Pass, en route to the archaeological remains of Mỹ Sơn temples and arrive in Hội An—compact and worthy of an extended pedestrian walk as you wind through the secret alleys. Finally, I hiked up the Marble Mountain before flying out via Da Nang.

Read more posts about Vietnam.

Tioman: Finally, a Lazy Break!

Tioman, Malaysia

[Image Credit: Glueball]

One of my rare lazy breaks where I literally did almost nothing. Though me being me, my almost nothing also means half-day snorkeling as I wish, visiting the waterfall and hiking between two villages. But for once, just basing myself in one place (Kampung Paya) did wonders to help me re-charge.

Read more posts about Malaysia

Okinawa: A Taste of Japanese Island Experience

Okinawa, Japan

[Image Credit: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas]

Okinawa feels like a world away from Mainland Japan, resembling more like Taiwan at times. My visit to Okinawa was largely part of a company bonding, but we still had an adventurous day exploring Nago, doing activities by Onna beach, and shopping at Kokusai Dori Street.

Read more posts about Japan

Kinabalu: Culture, Mountain, Beaches!

Mari Mari Cultural Village, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

[Image Credit: Scarlet Scribbles]

While most people are fixated with the goal to climb Mount Kinabalu, there are actually so much more to see and do for those who prefer to take it easy while staying in this coastal city. Other than visiting Kinabalu National Park, I also spent an afternoon at Mari Mari Cultural Village which is really insightful, as well as a day island hopping around Sapi and Manukan Islands!

Read more posts about Malaysia

South Sulawesi: Where Death is a Celebration…

Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Jac @ Trip in Asia]

Funerals, sacrifice, and… buffaloes — in the tribal land of Tana Toraja, life revolves around death. With sophisticated rituals for the deceased and characteristic boat-shaped houses called tongkonan set in a lush evergreen landscape, the highland of Toraja offers an authentic cultural experience rarely found elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Read more posts about Indonesia.

Bangkok: A Glimpse into Circuit Boy’s Life

Bangkok, Thailand

[Image Credit: Preecha.MJ]

I have always been more of a culture and nature sightseer, but that one crazy afternoon, me and my three colleagues decided to jump off a crazy impromptu plan to hop into Bangkok for a weekend. We hopped to probably six-seven-or-was-it-eight different clubs over two nights and they were all worth every single bahts.

Read more posts about Thailand

England: Of Shakespeare, Stonehenge and Roman Bath

Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, United Kingdom

[Image Credit: Firipu]

On another weekend of my second business trip to UK, I took a day out to the university town of Oxford, another day out to Bath which is vibrant in its own way, as well as Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and the small-but-lovely Lacock. Finally, me and my colleague walked down the beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon which is brimming in Shakespeare’s history.

Read more posts about United Kingdom.

Oman: Understatedly Spectacular

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Jebel Akhdar, Oman

[Image Credit: Scarlet Scribbles]

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Oman so special, especially when most pictures on the Internet doesn’t do it justice. But from the vibrant capital of Muscat down to the many beautiful secluded Wadis, the picturesque coastal Sur to adventurous dune bashing in Wahiba Sands with a night under the stars, the historical forts in Nizwa to the dramatic ringed mountain of Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams, it’s such a well-rounded destination which is equally steeped in history yet with a touch of luxury.

Read more posts about Oman

Langkawi: From Mangrove to Turquoise Beaches

Sky Bridge, Langkawi, Malaysia

[Image Credit: s13n1]

Another very even destination, I enjoy the diversity that Langkawi has to offer. My arrival day brings me to the top of Mat Cincang Mountain with bird’s eye view of the island followed by an entertaining day by the theme park. The next day sees me on an adventure to the mangrove with incredible wildlife sightings. The next two days sees me snorkeling in the crystal clear Payar Island, as well as the classic island hopping route with eagle sightings!

Read more posts about Malaysia

Northern Vietnam: Paradise of Karst Limestones

Halong Bay, Vietnam

[Image Credit: Jean-Marc Astesana]

Northern Vietnam is truly the master of breathtaking scenery. My arrival day starts mild but wonderful in the backstreets of Hanoi, sampling delicious local cuisines while paying respect to UNESCO sites with a night walk by the Hoan Kiem Lake. However, it’s the day trips of Halong Bay and Ninh Binh which impress me most and convince me that perhaps I should go back to Vietnam again. It is in this beautiful country that I counted down to 2019 and say hello to the new year! 🙂

Read more posts about Vietnam.

What’s in for 2019?

For the first time, I don’t have much planned yet for 2019. But I have a couple of thoughts in mind:

  • I’m jetting off to Egypt tomorrow. It’s a work trip, but still, being in a new country excites me!
  • Iceland is long overdue and I just so happen to have a voucher which I can utilize by March.
  • I actually booked a flight to Laos last Oct, but had to cancel it on the day itself due to some immigration matters which is luckily settled now. The airline has allowed me to re-book the trip within a year.
  • Probably somewhere in Eastern Indonesia for Chinese New Year?
  • With so much non-utilized leave days carried over from 2018, maybe it’s time to make those dream Latin America or Antarctica trips happen?

I hope to take a different turn this year, though. 2018 had been so hectic and I do get tired of planning so many different trips—so much I really want to go slow for 2019.

I also hope to let my workload settle down and finally able to spare time to take care of my personal life and finally posting more on this blog again. Nothing too ambitious for a travel resolution, but I just enjoy blogging and hoping I get to continue doing it. 🙂

What are your favorite travel memories of 2018?

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