2016 in Retrospect

January – Kick off a wanderful year in Seoul

seoul 

We had just kissed a 2-week trip to Saigon and Da Lat goodbye. Our plan to Boracay for New Year’s Eve was confounded because my passport was still at the Korea embassy at the time. We found out that I couldn’t apply for my Korean visa from Malaysia only 2 months before the trip, hence the last minute application in Vietnam. But anyhow, we managed to settle everything despite a little hiccup. I never thought that I would make it to Seoul this soon so I was extremely happy to be see the land of morning calm even during its harsh winter time. The year 2016 had begun in the best way possible!

February – Pre Lunar New Year trip to Koh Samui Island

 koh-samui

It was Lunar New Year month! For the third year in a row, I couldn’t go back to Sai Gon for our family reunion, partially because my husband couldn’t afford too many days off from work (neither could I). Although we already had our pre-holiday trip to Koh Samui (Thailand) at the beginning of the month, it didn’t help much with my homesickness. The month passed by so quickly and almost brutally boring. I promised myself to not feel guilty for splurging on the holiday flight tickets to go home next year.

March – Summer came early in Perhentian Island

perhentian 

As soon as the monsoon season was over, we hopped on a road trip to Perhentian Island for some extra vitamin sea (well because we technically spent only one day at the beach in Koh Samui). I fell in love with Perhentian right at the first sight! Its pristine water and vibrant tropical vibes were everything that a beachcation should be. We were in luck because there were no crowds pouring into the island just yet. The trip also marked my last island trip of the year, and I was already ready for bigger adventures to come!

April – The next career move

After 1 year and 2 months anniversary of my second job, I decided to move on to another startup, but with a different role. It was tough at first because I’ve made so many good friends there, what a tremendous experience that I’ve gained under a startup’s roof. Although I didn’t stay long with the next company, what really mattered was the fact that I have figured out the path that I was meant to take from that point onward, no more career doubts!

May – Taipei and a good ol’ friend

taipei 

Back in September or October last year, I was told that one of my best friends was going to study in Taiwan. In the back of my mind, travelling to Taiwan never sounded attempting until I knew that I would have a good companion to take on this adventure. So my trip to Taipei happened just like that. Little did I know how much I loved this old capital city that I later decided to pay a visit just by myself. Here’s a quick fact, after the Taiwanese Government enforced the visa waiver programme for those who hold a valid/expired visa to certain developed countries, Taiwan is now as accessible as any other Asean countries!

June – A quick getaway in Port Dickson

 pd

Did I say Perhentian was my last island trip this year? Well, Port Dickson is not entirely ‘beachy’. We travelled to this part of town only to make up for the Cambodia trip that we couldn’t board. My husband’s passport was not qualified to enter Cambodia (1 week short of the required validation period). 2016 is indeed a year of flight cancellation.

But guess what, a week after we came back from PD, I was granted a Schengen visa to Europe at last!

July – The European dream

europe 

This was the trip that I dreamt about for as long as I could remember. A year-long saving and planning to finally make it happen and even when I arrived in Paris, it still felt so surreal. I wanted to visit Europe especially at this time in order to experience the festive season of the Euro Cup. I spent the whole week in Paris to embrace the city of my deepest desire.

There are not many things that I am particularly proud of, but being able to make my European dream come true has got to be one.

Throughout the course of 3 weeks (I know, that’s incredibly short), I travelled from Paris to Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Bratislava (where I reunited with my dear Slovak friend and her family), Terchová, Vienna and Budapest. I would definitely go back to explore individual country one by one, primarily France and Germany.

In case you are wondering, the total cost of my trip was approximately RM 9000 (around $ 2250 at that time).

August – The journey through the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap

 siemreap

I guess it is impossible for me to not travel after all that amount of time spent on the road. So my husband agreed to re-book the tickets to Siem Reap to tick the world’s wonder Angkor temples off my bucket list. Even though Cambodia is only a bus away from my hometown, I couldn’t make it there sooner as I didn’t earn much money before moving to Malaysia. I realised that being able to afford travelling on my own brings the highest level of satisfaction, beyond any kind of success. It taught me so much about financial planning, self-discipline and determination when it comes to chasing my dreams.

September – I welcomed the life of a freelancer, quick trips to Singapore and Saigon

 singapore

This month, I took a leap of faith and quit my full-time job to pursue a freelance writing career. I had a lot of doubts, of course, but it’s been a great journey and I’d learned so much. For the first time after 3 years of blogging, I finally saw my name grandiosely appear in the author byline just like a professional writer. But I wouldn’t call myself a writer just yet, I often have a little distrust in my capability every now and then. Anyhow, I was proud that I’ve overcome my fear of instability to just have fun doing what I love.

During this first month of working from home, my inner nomad once again demanded to hit the road. We couldn’t afford to travel too far so off we went to Singapore! Our last visit to the Lion city was 2 years ago and surprisingly it felt so brand new all over again. We got to explore the different parts that we missed out on in previous trip. My husband suddenly loved the country so much that he thought about moving there! And the month ended with my short weekend trip to Saigon, our real homecoming was only 4 months away!

October – Back to Taipei on a solo adventure

taipei 2.JPG 

During Air Asia’s flash sale, I managed to grab a jaw-dropping deal to fly to Taipei. Unfortunately, I only found out that my friend had just gone back to Vietnam a few weeks before my departure schedule. The first night when I arrived in Taipei, while finding my way to the hostel in the middle of the night, I met my fellow country man! And I was not entirely alone as she’d asked her classmates to accompany me for a brief Taipei food trip. I spent most of the time sampling more Taiwanese street food and I remember drinking a lot of milk tea (I am in need of one now). When I returned, I told my husband that we have to travel to Taipei together at least once, soon enough, we booked the tickets for next year and I cannot wait!

November – Casino time in Genting Highlands and Saigon again!

 genting

For first-time visitors to Malaysia, Genting is perhaps one of the first destinations to consider. But having stayed here for 3 years long, I never felt the urge to go there. The beauty of Da Lat really set a high bar for any highland destination. But we couldn’t think of any reason not to go and also to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Although the anticipated Fox Studio Theme park was still underway, a weekend in Genting was enough to unwind our mind nonetheless. The husband won a few games in the casino, which covered almost the expenses for the entire trip (woohoo).

This month, I decided to start working full-time again. For one, it is super difficult for me to apply for any visa without an employment letter, hence freelancing is not possible at the moment. Secondly, being alone in my home office really bored the hell out of me. So yes, I will be back to a nine to five job in December.

December – Nippon bound, Christmas in Tokyo and Osaka

 tokyo

Here we go, another dream came true! This Japan trip was another total spontaneous plan, only because I found cheap flights for the Holidays. We flew to Saigon for a quick transit before heading to Tokyo. It was super exciting because we never experienced a cold Christmas before, let alone in one of the greatest metropolitans in the world! I grew up watching lots of anime so everything I knew about Japan was only limited to its kawaii/ Harajuku culture. We only managed to have a sneak peek of Tokyo before flying off to Osaka, seeing pretty much the main tourist spots during the 5-day trip. The BEST thing about Japan is definitely the Japanese. We received so much help and warm greetings from even the strangers on the street! Stay tuned for my blog on Japan!

There might not be a lot going on next year as we want to really save up for greater plans. Also, I have made another career move that warrants a major progression, which is going to be my ONLY focus in 2017. But I am overjoyed that I have fulfilled my resolutions for this year. I’ve achieved some of my biggest dreams, seeing the N Seoul Tower, Eiffel Tower and Tokyo Tower, experienced solo travelling across Europe, had my writing recognised, and most importantly, found my dream job!

In 2017, I challenge myself to read a book every month and blog about it as soon as possible.

Here’s to a brighter year ahead!

I wish you all the best for 2017  Happy

Cheers!

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