2010 has been one of the best years of my life to date – a year of dramatic changes, learning opportunities and of course, amazing travel experiences . 2010 has also seen my travel writing career take off and blossom – I’ve since been published in Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, Women Adventure Magazine, Wend and many more international publications. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel on assignments, explore more of my passion for writing and meet plenty of inspiring people. I have so many people to thank especially you, my readers, who have helped made my dream come true.
In 2010 alone, I traveled to over 20 countries on 13 different media trips. Life as a travel writer is definitely not easy – but I’m relishing every single minute of it and trying to learn as much as I can along the way. Let’s take a look back at 2010 and the places that have carved a mark in my memories.
At the start of 2010, we rang in the new year in Munich, Germany: one of my favorite cities in Western Europe. Alberto and I had spent Christmas in Dresden, East Germany with our best friend before deciding to travel to the west and on to Salzburg and Prague to get reacquainted with Europe. After being away for a year and a half, it was good to see what we’d missed.
Turkey has always been one of my favorite places in the world, so I was thrilled to have an excuse for a revisit thanks to the ASTA Expo in Istanbul. It was my first foray into commercial tourism, and I met many travel industry experts and learnt a lot from their perspectives. After the expo, I took the opportunity to explore Cappadocia in Central Turkey. Staying in a unusual cave boutique hotel there was one of the highlights of 2010.
From Turkey, I made my way overland to the Balkans: a part of Europe I’d always been intrigued by. From admiring the understated architecture of Bulgaria to lounging by the gorgeous Lake Ohrid in Macedonia to digging up history in Albania, I unraveled the air of mystery clouded around the Balkans and instantly fell in love with the region. I met some interesting artists and photographers and inspired by them, I wrote an article on Plovdiv’s thriving art scene for Today daily papers.
By May, I was back in Spain – it was a month packed with short trips to the countryside in the Alpujarras, and Seville (where I hung out with close friend/writer Abigail King). A sponsored trip to Mallorca came just in time: Alberto and I were ready to kick back and enjoy the heat. Along with some of my favorite Europe-based travel bloggers, I went on a blog trip to Valencia, jam-packed with some impressive experiences such lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant, a jeep safari through Benidorm and pit tickets to the F1 Gran Prix.
June was the start of my intensive travels. Alberto and I jetted off on a media trip around Ireland, road-tripping from Dublin to the lavish Ashford Castle in Cong (one of the most luxurious hotels I’ve stayed in) to the charming beach town of Ardmore, Waterford. We also managed to sneak a short meeting with my favorite travel blogger Andy from 501places.
Our month-long India sojourn was the highlight of the year, as well as the only leisure (self-funded) trip we’d planned for 2010. I’d dreamt about India for the longest time, so we squeezed out a month this summer to travel from the financial capital, Mumbai, to the northern region of Rajasthan – beautifully packed with colors, traditions and distinctive landscapes – before heading to the Indian Himalayas and back to Delhi.
Enroute back to Spain, we stopped over and spent a day in Moscow. 12 hours in Moscow in summer meant a mad dash in the Kremlin under the extreme heat. The quirky architecture in the Kremlin area far exceeded my expectations, but there was too little time. I definitely hope to return to Russia in the near future.
In September, we packed our beanies and winter coats for a 2-week trip in Norway. Alberto was there for work so I tagged along. Besides meeting fellow travel blogger Renny BA in Oslo, we road-tripped over to the western part of the country, exploring Briksdal Glacier in Stryn, weaving through winding mountain roads and visiting the famous fjrods in Geiranger.
By autumn, I had press trips scheduled back to back. My blogtrip to Wales, organized by Visit Britain, had a refreshing spin to it: In the form of a competition, the Welsh Showdown offered five different challenges in various corners of Wales – including making sheep poo paper and coasteering and cliff-jumping in Pembrokeshire. (Picture below shows me scaling a cliff).
One week after Wales, I flew over to the U.S. for an ‘un-cruise’ experience onboard American Safari Cruises’ Safari Quest vessel to get a taste of its brand new InnerSea Discoveries voyage. The voyage through Alaska’s Inside Passage included hiking through lush temperate rainforests, sea kayaking in salmon streams, walking on giant glaciers, flying over mountains onboard a floatplane and iceberg tours. This was definitely one of the coolest junkets I’d been on and I have American Safari Cruises to thank.
On assignment for Running In Heels, I visited Amber Spa along Latvia’s Baltic coastline and had the opportunity to fly there on AirBaltic’s Business Class. While exploring the medieval capital, Riga, I met up with blogger/internet marketing extraordinaire Hjortur Smarason and his wife.
Jeju Island, South Korea
Since I was planning to head back to Asia for the festive season, I was stoked when Jeju Olle Foundation offered me a chance to participate in the World Trail Conference 2010. Hiking on Jeju Island was quite an experience, even more so participating in the Jeju Walking Festival. Before hopping over to Jeju, I had a wild time hanging out with fellow travel blogger RunawayJuno in Seoul – pigging out on street food and the lethal firewater, soju.
It was an excellent way to end my year of travels: in the sunny tropics of Thailand. The private, gorgeous resort of Upni Duniya on Ko Samui was my base for the week, as I explored the island, indulged in good food and savored Thai culture in the company of fellow journalists. My second sojourn there was a Medical Tourism Blogtrip organized by Tourism Authority of Thailand, and my first night in Bangkok was already a blast as we participated in the annual Loy Krathong celebrations.
Just a week ago, I hopped over to Kuala Lumpur for a whirlwind trip, to visit fellow travel bloggers whom I’ve become close friends with: Keith from velvetescape, David of MalaysiaAsia fame and Mei, writer of Cumidanciki.
What better way to welcome in the new year than back at home with friends and family? I’m now back in Singapore for the festive season. Thrilled to see the changes that Singapore has undergone in the last two years, I’m taking my time to explore new parts of the city and get reacquainted with old and new friends and make the most of my time here!
For January, I already have a few travel plans in the pipeline: such as a Sarawak (Malaysia) trip for the official opening of the new Tune Hotel in Bintulu and a stay at the private Nikoi island in Indonesia.
I’ll be flying off to Europe come mid-January and I’ve got several trips planned right after: Nice, France in February, Manchester for Travel Bloggers Unite in March and a trip to Cologne for its carnival to hang out with Melvin from Traveldudes!
I’ll be writing more about my travels in the coming year, thank you so much for your support, hope to see you around in the new year!
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