I can’t believe the blog is now 3 years old! This online journal has accompanied me through many exciting travels and adventures; and allowed me to put my passion down in words and pictures. It has been a wonderful place for me to reminisce the memorable times — and in some way, I hope it has helped and guided my fellow wanderlusters out there too.
This annual post is written at the start of every year to list down my past year’s travel reflections. It is a place to express my gratitude for the travel opportunities I’ve been given, and for all the safe journeys during the year. In 2017, I visited 3 new countries, and revisited 5; I explored 10 new cities, and got to know 5 cities again. Within days, I traveled from the freezing cold to the scorching heat; and from the lap of luxury to the wild outdoors. For work or for play, it has indeed been another year of adventures.
So here is a countdown of my top 10 favorite travel moments of 2017 — all equally wonderful, and will forever be instilled in my memories (and I guess, on this post too).
10) Summer Holidays in the Balkans
I had one of the best summer holidays this year, and I got to spend it with my siblings in the beautiful countries of the Balkans. While planning the trip, I wanted to head to somewhere less traveled and explored, somewhere that is off the usual traveler’s wish list — and so I chose Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the best decision ever, as the country is absolutely gorgeous with so much history, so much beauty, so many lovely people, and so many wonderful surprises. And then we dropped by Dubrovnik too, and the city of “Game of Thrones” just took my breath away. Here’s wishing for another fantastic summer in 2018.
9) Catching Coldplay in Bangkok
It was so much fun singing and dancing along to Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams tour in Bangkok. The concert was my one and only one this year, and by my favorite band too. Securing the fast selling-out tickets wasn’t easy, and the stadium was packed to the brim — but that didn’t stop my siblings and I from enjoying ourselves to the fullest. And while we were in Bangkok, we went crazy on the food and shopping! I revisited all my favorite food joints and restaurants — and had pad thai, tom yam, and som tam; and spent an afternoon at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. I definitely want to return to Bangkok again.
A list of my favorite Bangkok food selections here:-
Mynn’s Top 10: A Food Tour in Bangkok
8) Exploring on a Bicycle
I’ve always loved leisure cycling, and this was the year where I got to explore many places on a bicycle! It was so much fun zipping across gorgeous scenery and taking in the views as they pass me like moving pictures. I cycled along miles of paddy fields in Vietnam’s Cu Chi Village in the scorching Southeast Asian heat; I got to enjoy the beauty of Warsaw as I rode all over the city in the summer; and I had the chance to be completely by myself in the winter cold as I explored the Kibiji Plains of Japan on a pink rented bicycle. More cycling in my 2018 travels would be great!
Mentions of my cycling trips here:-
Saigon, Vietnam: The Village of Cu Chi and its Tunnels
Okayama, Japan: 3 Days in Autumn
7) Having Fun at Theme Parks
I got to become a kid again and visited two huge theme parks this year — Shanghai Disneyland with my girlfriends, and Universal Studios Japan with my family. It was just incredibly fun walking around sporting big Mickey ears and pom pom skirts, and dressing up as if I were about to head to Hogwarts in Harry Potter’s world. I’m also a big fan of roller coasters and I sat on two incredible ones this year — the Tron Lightcycle Power Run in Shanghai Disneyland, and the Flying Dinosaur in USJ. The latter is my ultimate favorite roller coaster. Ever.
Will write more about my theme park adventures soon!
6) Being a Maiko for a Day
The beautiful and graceful Geisha of Japan has always been so captivating to me — and I have always wanted to experience being in their high-clog shoes. This year, I got to do just that! It was extremely exciting undergoing the entire process to transform me into a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) for a couple of hours — from the powdery makeup and the huge hairdo, to putting on the layers of kimono and learning how to walk. I now have a better understanding of the extreme care, technique and time spent in putting on a Geisha/Maiko outfit — and I have the photographs to remind me of the experience.
More pictures of Mynn the Maiko here:-
Kyoto, Japan: My Maiko/Geisha Apprentice Makeover
5) Adventure Holidays in Malaysia
It’s been a year of fun adventures in my very own home country! During the year, I have done as much adrenaline-pumping activities as I could — I went zip-lining across the Langkawi treetops at Umgawa Adventures, jungle trekking in the rainforests of Belum, wakeboarding on the Putrajaya River, diving in the waters of East Coast Malaysia, surfing the waves of Cherating, and even tried my hand at go-kart drifting. I’ve also took the time to admire the beauty of Malaysia — visiting old and new places like Genting Highlands, Langkawi Island, Kuala Kangsar and the Royal Belum Rainforest; and of course, the beach town of Cherating, which I haven’t visited in over 20 years. In 2018, I need to rediscover more.
More on my local adventures here:- My Malaysia
4) Reliving My Childhood in Edinburgh
When I was a child, I spent 2 years growing up in the city of Edinburgh. I was too young to recall much, but the old pictures and stories from my parents have always brought back fond memories of my time in Scotland. This year, after more than 30 years leaving our lives in Edinburgh, we finally returned. Mum and dad had a good time revisiting the places we used to frequent, and we even made a stop at our old apartment and dad’s old work place (which surprisingly are all still there)! It was lovely to finally put a proper picture to the tales of my childhood, and I’m glad we made this summer trip.
Will share more about my walk down memory lane soon!
3) More Mother-Daughter Vacays
Mum and I had our first mother-daughter vacation last year — and this year we did it again, not once, but twice! We made a week long trip to Kyoto, Japan, where we spent the tail-end of summer visiting temples, bamboo forests, mountainside towns, and river-dining restaurants. Later in the year we had another beachside getaway together, this time to Cherating, where we spent the weekend in our very own private pool at the Holiday Beach Villa Cherating. I will continue spending travel time with mum in 2018, and more in the coming years.
2) Media FAM Trips Overseas
2017 is the year that I first got invited to sponsored trips overseas. Who would have thought that my blog would bring me to this point? When I first started out 3 years ago it was mainly for my passion for travel. These invitations have given me a sense of acknowledgement and a little pride in my work too — and these feelings matter more to me than the free trips or money. So I want to say thank you to Okayama Tourism, Japan Travel Bureau, Actxplorer, as well as all my clients this year for believing in ‘She Walks the World’. I will continue working harder, traveling more, and writing better.
Posts about my exciting media FAM activities here:-
Saigon, Vietnam: A Street Food Tour on Wheels
Saigon, Vietnam: The Village of Cu Chi and its Tunnels
Mynn’s Top 10 Reasons to Visit Vietnam’s Mekong Delta
Mynn’s Top 10 Food Experiences in Okayama, Japan
Okayama, Japan: 3 Days in Autumn
1) My Brother’s Destination Wedding
The ultimate travel memory this year is one that will always be special. My brother got hitched. He got married in the most beautiful countryside estate in Cheshire, United Kingdom with rolling farm fields, tree-lined avenues, a gorgeous Tudor farmhouse, an 18th century barn and a 16th century mill house. The Holford Estate provided the perfect romantic setting for the wedding weekend — and I just loved that I got to wake up in the morning to breathtaking views of woodlands, gardens and streams. This destination wedding has got to be the most beautiful wedding I have ever witnessed; and I am not being a biased sister in any way.
At the beginning of the year, one of my hopes for 2017 was to do more adventurous activities, and I have made it an effort to go out and do as much as I could. However, I believe that I can do much more than that, so my resolution for 2018 is…
(The challenge to experience one exciting adventure every month)
… and we’ll check back at the end of the year again to see if I did all 12 months of it!
And to you who’s reading this, thank you for joining me on my travels and for supporting my humble blog the last 3 years. May we continue walking the world together!