2016 in Retrospect

January – Kick off a wanderful year in Seoul


I’d just come back from Saigon and Da Lat. The original plan was to fly to Boracay for New Year’s Eve, but shit happened. But anyhow, what mattered most was the fact that I finally made it to Seoul! It was also the first Airbnb experience, the first time seeing melted snow, the first time getting frozen under the cold weather (was -18 Celcius).

February – Pre Lunar New Year trip to Koh Samui Island


It was Lunar New Year month. For the third year in a row, I was away from my family during the reunion time, a part of me still couldn’t push through. I booked a flight to Koh Samui (Thailand) instead. Although it didn’t help much with my homesickness, my soul was at rest. The month passed by so quickly and almost brutally boring.

March – Summer came early in Perhentian Island


As soon as the monsoon season was over, I made another beach-cation to Perhentian Island. And I fell in love with Perhentian at the first sight! Its pristine water and vibrant tropical vibes were everything that I had been longing for.

April – The next career move

I made my second career move this month. It was tough at first because I’ve made so many good friends where I left, what a tremendous experience I’ve gained under a startup’s roof. Thank God that I finally had my career passion figured out!

May – Taipei and a good ol’ friend


Back in September or October last year, I learned that one of my best friends was going to study in Taiwan. So without a plan, I immediately booked a flight to Taipei. I came to fall in love with the country as fast as I fell in love with travelling.

June – A quick getaway in Port Dickson


This was a spontaneous one. I was waiting for my Europe visa application results so why not chilling somewhere less stressful?

July – The European dream


Here we go, the trip that I dreamt about for as long as I could remember. A year-long saving and planning to finally make it happen! Even when I arrived in Paris, it still felt so surreal. I wanted to visit Europe, particularly at this time in order to experience the festive season of the Euro Cup. I spent the 7 days in Paris alone to embrace the city of my deepest desire.

It was indeed a dream come true.

Throughout the course of 3 weeks, 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.

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


I guess it is impossible for me to not travel after all that amount of time spent on the road. I realised that being able to afford travelling on my own brings the highest level of satisfaction, beyond any kind of success. It’s taught me so much about financial planning, self-discipline and determination.

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


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’d 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 mentioned within the media industry. Nothing can beat the feeling of being able to do what you love, right?

During this first month of working from home, I decided to re-visit Singapore! The last trip I had to the Lion city was 2 years ago and surprisingly it felt so brand new all over again.

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. So I ended up exploring the city by myself (which was awesome!).

November – Casino time in Genting Highlands and Saigon again!


Having stayed here for 3 years long, I never felt the urge to go to Genting.

This month, I came back to the 9-5 job. 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 at home all day long really bored the hell out of me.

December – Nippon bound, Christmas in Tokyo and Osaka


This Japan trip was another total spontaneous plan, just because I found cheap flights for the Holidays. I went back to Saigon for a quick transit before heading to Tokyo. It was super exciting because it was during Christmas (the best time of the year!) in one of the greatest metropolitans in the world!

There might not be a lot going on next year as we want to really save up. Nonetheless, 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 published, and most importantly, found my dream job!

Here’s to a brighter year ahead!

I wish you all the best for 2017  Happy



Travelogue: A sneak peek of Siem Reap, Cambodia

The sun started to coat everything in gold, and lay ahead of me was the enormous structure of the ancient Khmer Empire’s pride, Angkor Wat. A sudden gust of wind came sweeping a layer of dust off the surface, creating a mysterious scene to the monument as I strolled along its stone pavement.

Siem Reap Angkor Wat

There are just too many extraordinary things to discover in Angkor Wat, and the most glorious time when one can truly see the beauty of the temple is when the sun emerges from behind its iconic structure. Yes, photographers from everywhere in the world all dream of capturing the sunrise at Angkor Wat. I honestly thought that maybe only Vincent Van Gogh would be able to portray that surreal moment through his magical strokes, but even surreal is not enough to describe how it looks like. It is indeed worth the title, “Wonder of the World”.

Through the hallways to a maze of incredibly detailed interior of fine carvings, chambers, and statues that reflect the rich history of the Khmer Kingdom, I felt like the time has rewind itself. It was as if the immense amount of people surrounded me suddenly disappeared and I was left in my own serenity.

And that was only a small part of the cultural exploration that I managed to pack into a limited time in Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat Siem Reap

I met up with my tuk-tuk driver for the next journey to Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm. The skies suddenly turned grey, but the temple still had that gigantic silhouette printed on the gloomy backdrop. More and more people slowly pervaded my actual reality, but the holly moments remain unspoiled as soon as I stepped inside the temple.


Siem Reap

Bayon Temple

Siem Reap Bayon

Bayon Siem Reap

Bayon is a part of the archaeological site Angkor Thom, the second most visited temple after Angkor Wat. It is also home to the massive stone carved faces and the marvelous standing towers with steep stairs. I read that Bayon represents Mahayana Buddhism’s Bodhisattva, but it’s still a debatable tale. Inside of this densely carved structures are the bas-reliefs that reflect the Empire’s historical events as well as the Khmer’s ancient lives throughout the Hindu king Jayavarman VIII time.

Ta Prohm Siem Reap

Located only around 20 mins away from Bayon, Ta Prohm is another splendid site to see. Unlike any other ruins, Ta Prohm was uniquely built within the grandiose jungle, and the temple today is cloaked in the solemnness of giant roots defending their home. Seeing it with my own eyes was beyond any written experience in the travel books. And in between the ruined towers and corridors, trees are still rising through many centuries of life. I was actually in search of that magnificent root formation that was seen on Tomb Raider. It’s known by the nickname the “Crocodile Tree”.

Ta Prohm Crocodile tree

In a total contrast of the stillness of its UNESCO Heritage, Siem Reap’s nightlife is like a wild child. The hustle and bustle of the narrow pub street will surely leave you overwhelmed. Cheap beers and dynamic food scene are what make this tiny town a remarkable break from the suffocating office cubicle.It surely lived up the hypes and even more so when I experienced it in a typical tourist trail.

siem reap pub street

My 24 hours of Siem Reap were well-rounded with a sip of Vietnamese drip coffee (I was surprised to encounter so many Vietnamese in this town).

I still remember the old villages and its dwellers, the Cambodians who don’t have a lot of assets, but they have the thing that this whole world lacks of, generosity. If you ever visit Siem Reap, try not to be occupied by your camera. The moments that you miss between the camera shutters are those that make the whole picture of Siem Reap complete. Blend in more with the local ways of life and you will see greater wonders than just the temples of Angkor.

Till next time.




Paris, je t’aime! A journal from France

If I were to write down my desire to visit Paris, only plain words seem to be unjustified. I believe that we all have a special love for Paris, being here just makes the heart grow fonder.

Paris Eiffel Tower

Not in a million years that I would imagine myself gazing at La Tour Eiffel from just across the Seine River. Even the sight of the pedestrians along the scenic Pont d’Iena was glamorous. Endless crowds of people were pouring into the immense lattice structure of the French capital.

A day in Paris only started at noon and all the way into midnight. And every moment of it made up the most glorious summer in my life.


It didn’t feel like I was in Paris until the smell of freshly baked croissants pervaded my actual reality. So I kept chasing the scent of it till I found myself wandering on the Parisian cobbled boulevards, into many narrow alleys that are embellished with the neoclassical balcony, and I never felt so happy heading towards the unknown.

My hostel is located just a few blocks away from Gare du Nord, one of the main metro stations connecting to Central Europe and UK. I love the urban Parisian life, but its metro gave me a mixture of feelings.

paris metro sign

It was rather shocking when I stepped inside an overly packed train. Men in suits, women on high heels, couples in matching outfits, travelers with closet-sized backpacks, hipsters with their bicycles and skateboards leaning against the handrails, musicians performing with their saxophones, dogs taking their naps underneath the seats, all of them made up the most unique underground society that I’ve ever experienced.

The metro signs oddly got me thrilled, though. From one place to another, I traveled the distance of 20km from 8am till midnight everyday. And that was really not enough to see everything.

The weather was bitter cold and the skies were all gloomy, but even in the darkest days, Paris was still beautiful. As I caught a glimpse of Arc de Triomphe, I knew that I would never fall in love with any other city the same way.

Arc de Triomphe

I would imagine myself standing right in the middle of the two wide lanes, with the streetlights forming an endless road leading to the heart of Paris. I couldn’t help but smiled at the enormous view and watched  countless of visitors capturing the  monument from exactly where I stood.

Arc de Triomphe stairs

Paris from Arc de Triomphe

The aerial landscape of Paris from up high was particularly my most favorite. I stood there for a good one hour just to absorb the entire city vibes. And it was not just me, everyone else who had a chance to experience such a rewarding moment would never want to leave either.

I found contentment wherever I was in this gigantic city. It didn’t have to be about the must-sees, it was more about living the Parisian way of life. Hot coffee was never my thing but a cup of creamy cappuccino suddenly became a treasure during those chill summer days, and road side shops have never been such an indulgence the way they are in Paris.

Les Invalides

Once the sunlight hit the city, everything was coated in gold, especially along the Seine River. I woke up that day without any plan and all I wanted to do was to see a different side of Paris. The train would take me to any random destination, and I always ended up at the right place.

There was a French guy who I met in a local coffee shop suggested me to visit Jardin du Luxembourg, which I did. He was among those Parisians who were surprised that I was on a solo backpacking trip around Europe. The random conversations with the French were as memorable as the city itself. A single ‘bonjour’ could go a long way.

What I enjoyed most about traveling alone in Europe was that it allowed me to change plans, in fact, to go without a plan. I could just cancel my trip to Sacré-Coeur for a night out with strangers. It was those spontaneous moments when I joined a new friend for a walk that made this trip even more wonderful. I met a Finnish girl right at the doorstep of the hostel and we decided to have dinner together that night. We eventually joined a group of French at a small pub around Montmartre, and we continued to share our stories, our affection for Paris, and our desires to travel. And that was how I fell even more in love with the thought of being a solo traveler.


I had a chance to talk about the art scenes in France to an actual French artist. He shared with me how the Parisian vibes shaped an individual aesthetic approach and their perspective on everything, which somehow formed the very distinctive culture. How exciting it was to belong to such community.

On the third day, I headed to Musée du Louvre (at last). Every single step around this significant museum was like a walk into the past. It was impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the world’s greatest paintings displayed vividly right in front of my eyes. Countless of untold stories could only be unfolded through the relative explanation of each stroke of the brush, those that have been shared across the planet but one could only imagine how spectacular it could be.


The Lourve

That and the Musée d’Orsay both left me with an abundance of wonders. I could spend the rest of my life studying but to fully explore the momentousness of the European art movements would take me another lifetime. It was haunting to me how those sojourns came to reshape the history as I knew it from school, and changed my views on many aspects.


2 years ago, when I witnessed Germany raised their World Champion Cup in Brazil over the TV screen, I promised myself to make it to France for their next tournament. And I did.

My actual European dream was formed as I became a fan of the Germany Football team, which was exactly 12 years ago. And more so when I started traveling.

I worked my way to obtain that precious visa to Europe. But I wasn’t entirely alone during the whole journey, my friends were a part of my dream-come-true story. Thank you to those who have made this trip possible. It meant a lot to me.

7 days in Paris – 7 days with constant surprises and breathtaking views. The beauty of Paris is indeed indescribable, something that has to be felt rather than seen.

Many people think that the French are unfriendly to foreigners, I found them to be the opposite. They are just as kind and charming as Paris forever is.

If you have lost your faith in humanity, visit France. A country that has been suffering from many terrorist attacks is where everyone is most united. It could be just a random smile that made someone’s day, and I could really feel how passionate the French are about love.

Among the things that I’ve encountered, I would never forget that time when I saw a young man, about my age, approached a homeless man to give him a brand new pair of shoes. They shook hands, talked for a few minutes and even after the guy walked away, the homeless man was still smiling at the shoes on his hands as it was to him a pure happiness.

People would help me when I looked puzzled and lost. They would run after me just to return a five euro note that slipped out of my pocket. Or just simply asked if I needed help taking a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower.

There were many other things that I experienced beyond any travel stories that have been told before. And perhaps you will find mine in between that tangle when you are in France.


Random thoughts on Travel

So yesterday, I came across this Facebook post with many controversial comments regarding a girl backpacking around Europe on $40 a day for 1 month. According to the post, she is just a regular office worker who earns about $300 monthly and she had been saving up a small portion from her income for 6 years long to have a sum of approximately $11000! She decided to spend $3000 for an epic backpacking trip around Europe, and that is where people assume to be a mission impossible.
I have read countless of blogs about budget travels and trust me, those negative comments about the girl’s achievement were total nuts. If you think a month in Europe costs an arm and a leg (providing you have a stable job and decent income), you are probably incapable of saving money. 

A one-month backpacking trip around Europe can be done within $3000 or even less (in fact, that sum of money can help you get by almost anywhere in the world in a month). Budget travel tips can be found here:

There are a million ways to make it work for you. While the amount of money saved depends on how much you earn, I just don’t like it when people make travel out to be a luxury lifestyle, absolutely not.

I sure love to travel but the strongest motivation to do so is not about showing the world how awesome my journeys are but honestly, I travel because it’s my way of life. People can only see the grandiose side of travelling and forget about the true value of it, which causes the mind-set that travelling is luxury.

If I immediately had $3000 and all I needed to do was simply packing my suitcase and go, there is nothing worth sharing. What keeps my life purposeful is the commitment to a lifetime adventure, not a one time vacation. 

Travel shapes my life, encourages me to work to my heart’s content and be satisfied with what I have. So the next time when you see a person sharing their life stories on the road, don’t give some stupid comments on how rich they are, and don’t let your jealousy ruin the beauty of travel. 

Keep calm and Travel on!