My 2013: 12 Trips in 12 Months

It has been a very interesting year for me. New job, new responsibilities and a whole lot of adjustments. I’ve always wanted to write about the places I’ve been, people I met, and food that I tried but I always end up sleeping it off. Today, is the first day that I will start blogging again. Just to exercise my brain a bit coz I’ve been watching Breaking Bad non-stop for 2 days now (yeah I’m officially a Breaking Bad junkie).

New Year of 2013, one of my goals was to go to at least 1 destination per month which was hard as shit to do coz of my day job. So yeah, here’s my 12 destinations for 2013.

1. Kerala, India

Kerala, also known as ‘God’s Own Country’ is an amazing place. It is located around the south-west tip of India and said to be India’s most advanced society with 100% literacy rate. It’s a hot and not humid and it’s like I’m always on the brink of having heat stroke whenever I go around on a motorcycle in the middle of the afternoon. It’s a lovely place and the people are super nice. I was there for about 10 days which left me fat and super tanned and I love it.

House Boat in Alappuzha and Thekkady

We rented a house boat so we can cruise around the many canals within the backwaters of Alappuzha. The place is nice, but what amazed me was the picturesque view during sunset. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady is picture perfect. It was my first time to see elephants! 🙂

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Munnar

Munnar is one of my most favorite places so far. It’s like paradise. It’s so serene it’s crazy not to love this place. The hills of Munnar is fully covered by a tea plantation. The air is so fresh that all I did was breathe heavily. The hills will all be covered by mist around 5pm. The mist is so thick you won’t see the person in front of you so it’s not safe to walk around at night coz you might fall off the hill and die beneath the tea leaves. Another thing that I love about being in Munnar is drinking Cardamon tea and/or Masala tea when the mist is all over and it gets cold.

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Wonderla and others…

It’s not the best but definitely far better than Enchanted Kingdom in the Philippines. It’s fun and clean. I definitely enjoyed it there. Felt like a kid again. And yeah, I got henna tattoo when I went home from Wonderla.

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Food, Food, Food

I like Kerala food. It’s simple and flavorful. I don’t usually eat beans but I did when I was there, it was that good. I also love Dosai, Puri, Gobi Manchurian, Vadai, Chicken stuff and a lot more.

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2. Perth, Australia

Perth is the first country I visited outside of Asia. It’s refreshing to be in a place where it’s not crowded and the sky is in a different shade. Perth is a windy city which is quite cool because even if it’s super hot and dry outside during the afternoon the wind is still blowing cold air. Perth’s architecture beautiful especially the houses in the Perth area as well as the churches where St. Mary’s Cathedral is a stand-out.

I met Jess in Perth, he’s a fellow couchsurfer who was too kind to show me around Perth. We went to Yanchep National Park to see kangaroos and drunk koalas. They’re so cute! We also went to Lancelin Sand Dunes for sand-boarding and almost died, then headed to the Pinnacles which was amazing! The Pinnacles were so under-rated it should be included in travel commercials. After going to the Pinnacles and Sand Dunes, we went straight to the nearest beach to freshen up and cool down a bit. The view from the beach is magical, you can see the big area of white sand from the sand dunes on the right and the yellow area which is the Pinnacles on the left.

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One thing I like about Perth is that it has good food. I love the meat pies from Lancelin Silver Coast Bakery right after sand-boarding in Lancelin Sand Dunes. I also loved Cicerello’s near Fremantle. It has fresh, cheap and really good fish and chips. I also tried Hungry Jack’s for the first time which was just like Burger King. I also have to say that McDonald’s in Australia is probably the ‘healthiest’ McDonald’s I’ve tried. Merrywell in Crown Perth is also a good place to chill and enjoy gigantic burgers. 🙂

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3. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is the place to be if you’re a shopping junkie. I was flat broke when I came home from Bangkok coz of excessive shopping. MBK is a good place to start especially during weekdays. Siam malls are quite high-end so I didn’t really shop there but it’s a good place to search for good restaurants. Pratunam is always a good place to shop. It’s really a perfect place for ladies as they offer affordable and fashion forward clothing. If you’re lucky and you happen to be in Bangkok on a weekend with no planned tour, I highly recommend you to swing by Chatuchak market. It is one of the world’s largest weekend markets. It covers an area of almost 30 Acres with more than 15,000 booths selling goods from all over Thailand.

Bangkok is also a haven for foodies like me. Food here is cheap and good. Even restaurants are quite affordable. Bangkok has a very interesting street food scene. I tried the silk worms and it was uhhh ok. 🙂

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4. Bali, Indonesia

Bali was nice. I only went to Kuta so I didn’t really see much of Bali. I honestly think that Kuta Beach is not as advertised, it’s quite disappointing. I’d like to go back to Bali maybe this year to explore its Northern part coz my friends say it’s beautiful. I highly recommend everyone to go to Hardrock Cafe in the evening for the live band in Kuta. I forgot the band that played that night, they’re a local band and they are amazingly talented! I also tried the Luwak coffee aka the poop coffee. It’s nothing special. In fact, it has less of the coffee aroma and not too bitter (which maybe good but I’m not sure).

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5. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is a paradise. I totally love the Phi Phi Islands. It definitely lived up to my expectations. It’s like a mashup between Coron, Palawan and Calaguas Island of the Philippines. It’s totally bucketlist worthy and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s so beautiful, don’t take my word for it…see it for yourself. 🙂

Aside from the Phi Phi Islands, Phuket, in my opinion, has the prettiest transgender community in Asia. Seeing them in their beautiful costumes is super worthwhile.

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6. Hong Kong

This was my 2nd visit to Hong Kong. My first visit was not the best and i was in full tourist mode. This recent visit was special. I got to know Hong Kong a little more. Me and my friend went on a mission, that is to eat as much dimsum as we can in Hong Kong. And yes, we pigged-out during our 3-day weekend.

First thing I learned when we came was that dimsum are usually eaten in the morning until tea-time. So our first night was a fail. We ended up eating in a noodle shop where we ate flat rice noodles with all sort of meat in it which was quite nice. Then my friend ordered fried fish skin, and after I tasted it, I felt like I won’t ever eat fish crackers because that would be a disgrace to this heavenly fried fish skin. So yeah, I totally loved it.

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The next day we were determined to find some dimsum. We went to Lin Heung Tea House in Sheun Wan because Food Panda recommended it. Going there was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made 🙂 It was awesome there! Here’s how things work; get one order form in the cashier and then look for a chair and sit tight. A food cart will be pushed around by an old lady with different dumplings and other stuff in it. The interval of the ladies coming out with carts is about 5-8 minutes so if the place is jam-packed you’ll have to be aggressive and go to the cart even before it comes near you because most likely people will do the same so by the time the cart comes near you it’ll be empty. Once you have all the food you want, you can then enjoy. It was definitely a unique experience for me. 🙂

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Hong Kong’s street food scene is awesome. It’s definitely one of my favorite places now! Try the pancake burger, it’s dangerously yummy. I’ll definitely visit HK this year again.

7. Cambodia

Cambodia is amazing. It probably has some of the most beautiful temples ever. Angkor Wat is enchanting. It’s so grand and picturesque that it’s worthwhile to just sit and stare at it while having coffee during sunset. The Tomb Raider temple is also very pretty. I saw the spot where Angelina Jolie came in flying and stuff which was cool. Cambodia is a very lax country and I love it. Beer is about 50 cents, they have happy pizza *wink wink* and their Fish Amok (national food or something) is to-die-for!

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8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

My trip to KL was super short. Kuala Lumpur is ok. It’s like Jakarta and Manila but with better transportation system. The highlight of my trip was when I saw the Petronas Twin Towers up close. It’s majestic and very pretty! I have great respect for the people who designed the towers. I actually thought that the whole building is lighted but the truth is the towers have these metal railings all around each floors. The light is at the bottom which faces upward, this way, the light reflects on the metal railings giving the illusion that it is illuminated. It’s definitely a work of art and highly sustainable too! PS. The super awesome bellman from Majestic Hotel KL is the best!

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9. Tagaytay, Philippines

Tagaytay has always been a quick getaway for me and my family. But last December, we did some touristy stuff. We went to the Sky Ranch. The prices for the rides we’re sky high so we opted not to ride anything. :p I did enjoy Carlos Pizza, a must try!

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10. Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta is like Manila without the jeepneys and a little cleaner. Traffic is terrible, just like Manila. I love the food coz I’m addicted to Indonesian food especially Tempe and Telur!

11. Bintan, Indonesia

Bintan is ok. It’s a nice getaway for the weekend especially if you live in Singapore and you’re all stressed out with work. I think Bintan will be the next Bali in a few years or so.

12. Batam, Indonesia

Batam is like Bintan. It’s around 45mins boat-ride from Singapore so it’s just nice to go there, eat seafood and drink beer which is about half the price of those from Singapore.

My 2014 is looking good. I hope to visit more places this year and maybe visit places outside of Southeast Asia. 🙂

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