A big fat ‘Happy 5th Year’ to the blog! Can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I’ve started this online journal that would take over my life in such a wonderful way. Every year I say the exact same thing — because every year I am thankful that I am still writing, and still sharing, and still traveling, and still possessing this passion inside me. Oh, the awesome places that I’ve been to, and those that I’ve yet to visit — I give credit to this blog.
So once again, for the 5th year running, I am writing down my travel reflections for the year. It is the spot and the time where I say thank you for all the travel opportunities that I’ve been given throughout 2019; and express my gratitude to those that made all my travel dreams come true. This year — I have stepped foot in 2 new countries and went back to 6; I visited 20 new cities, and rediscovered 4 cities again; and I managed to visit 7 cities in my beautiful Malaysia! It’s been a year of work (fantastic work, I might add) — as a large majority of my adventures has been due to opportunities brought forth by the blog. And this is also the year that I’ve finally found someone to travel with!
So here’s sharing with you my 2019 countdown of my top 10 favourite travel moments of the year.
10. Fulfilling a Promise in Bangkok
Back in 2018, I made a visit to Bangkok and the famous Erawan Shrine. While I was there, I was shown by a Buddhist friend of mine to make a prayer and wishes at the shrine. She told me that if any of my wishes come true, I should come back to the shrine the next year to say thank you. And it did come true! So in the same month this year — I purposely made a trip back to Bangkok to visit the shrine, and offered my gratitude. And while I was there, I explored Bangkok again too!
Will write about this special visit soon.
9. Attending Semporna’s Regatta Lepa Festival
One of the things I wanted to do in 2019 was to explore Malaysia, in anticipation of our ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2020’ campaign. Though I didn’t end up seeing more of the country like I initially intended, I did make a trip to Sabah with Tourism Malaysia — just to attend one of our most colorful festivals, the Regatta Lepa. It was my first time in the small seaside town of Semporna, and I had a wonderful time admiring the colorful and gaudily decorated Bajau Laut boats floating into the harbour; and getting to know the town.
Read more about the festival here:-
My Trip to Semporna for the Regatta Lepa Festival.
8. Seeing Khao Kho’s Sea of Clouds
Khao Kho’s Sea of Clouds was probably one of the most unexpected beauty I saw in 2019. I knew it was beautiful, but I never knew that I would be completely mesmerized with the view in front of me. We woke up at 5am for the early morning drive up the Phu Thap Buek Mountain — just in time to watch the sun rise above white fluffy marshmallows that swirl with the wind! And it wasn’t just the Sea of Clouds, we also stayed in one of the most breathtaking resorts up in the mountains — the Blue Sky Resort Khao Kho.
Find out more on Khao Kho here:-
Mynn’s Top 10 Things to do in Khao Kho
The Blue Sky Resort Khao Kho in Petchabun, Thailand
7. Road-Tripping in Hokkaido with Mum
I’m probably most proud of myself this year because I now know that I can be on the wheel of a road trip! I’ve always been known for falling asleep on moving vehicles — whether as a passenger or when driving; so this trip to Hokkaido in summer proved otherwise! I planned an entire road trip for my mum, her friends and I; and I drove them around the island to 6 cities over a course of 8 days. We visited flower farms, dropped by onsen towns, stayed beside a beautiful lake, and shopped till the car couldn’t fit any more of our stuff. It was a super fun ladies trip.
More on my road trip here:-
Mynn’s Top 10 Things to Do and Eat in Furano and Biei
In Search of Summer Flowers in Hokuryu, Biei and Furano for Three Days
A Day in Hell at the Onsen Town of Noboribetsu
Lake Toya in a Day
6. Holidaying with the Family in Llandudno
It’s not so easy to gather my entire family for a vacation anymore as some of us live on different continents. So when there is one, it is always special. This year, we visited my brother and his family (and met my new baby nephew) in the United Kingdom during summer — and we planned a short vacation to the Welsh seaside town of Llandudno. It was fun traveling as a family again, and being there to witness my nephew’s first holiday! We spent a pretty chill-out time by the sea, explored a cave, and sat on the ancient Great Orme Tramway up the mountain.
Read about my short holiday here:-
A Quick Getaway to Llandudno, Wales
5. Witnessing the Autumn Foliage in Naejangsan
Autumn is my favourite season! So imagine my excitement when I finally managed to catch the autumn foliage at its most beautiful at the Naejangsan National Park in South Korea. After finding out that one of the best places to see the colors of autumn in South Korea was at this park — I deliberately timed my visit to South Korea to coincide with the peak autumn period in this part of the country. And what a spectacular view of orange, red and yellow we were rewarded with! We spent an entire day at Naejangsan (hiking a little, and chilling the rest of the time), and only left because the sun was slowly disappearing into the horizon.
More about the autumn colors here:-
Autumn Foliage at the Naejangsan National Park, South Korea
4. Experiencing a Home-Stay in Hitoyoshi-Kuma
One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had on my travels (not only this year, but so far) has got to be the time I stayed in a local farm house on my trip to Japan’s Hitoyoshi-Kuma. I had such an amazing time as I got to know the city through the eyes of a local — we spent a night in her 200-year old farm house, dressed up in a kimono for tea, visited a local temple and did a prayer ritual, cooked dinner with a group of Japanese farmers, and dug out bamboo shoots on a local farm. Nobuko-san really made me feel at home in a foreign land, and it was a sad time when we all had to say goodbye.
Read more about my homestay experience here:-
Farm-Stay with a Local Family in Hitoyoshi-Kuma
3. Wearing a Couple Hanbok in Jeonju
I love dressing up — and during my stay at the Jeonju Hanok Village, I got to wear a hanbok and walk around the entire village. It was such a fun experience! The best part however, was that I not only convinced Fong to wear it with me (and walk hand-in-hand), but that we were joined by almost every visitor in the village as well! It didn’t matter if you were male or female, young or old, foreign or local — everyone in the village felt the need to blend into their surroundings, and it really made me feel as if I’ve just stepped back into the ancient Joseon era. A big thank you to the Korea Tourism Organisation of Malaysia and KKday for making this happen.
Find out more about my trip to Jeonju here:-
Mynn’s Top 10 Things to Do in Jeonju
2. Riding on a Hot-Air Balloon in Cappadocia
I will never forget the feeling of flying in a basket high above a landscape that doesn’t look like I’m still on earth. It was so exhilarating to be in a hot-air balloon in Turkey’s Cappadocia; and I couldn’t decide if I loved the view of the hundreds of bubbles in the sky with me, or the gorgeous hills and fairy chimneys that was below me. We spent that one hour taking pictures and getting excited over everything we saw — including witnessing the sun rise right next to us, and watching the shadows move across the brown rocky scenery. If you’re ever in Cappadocia, you cannot miss this experience no matter how expensive you think it is!
Read more about the beautiful Cappadocia here:-
Exploring Cappadocia from Above and Below
1. Traveling with Parlo Tours
And finally, the ultimate travel experience (or more accurately, experiences) I had in 2019 has got to be with Parlo Tours. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I’d get the opportunity to collaborate with a travel company that would see me visit three different countries this year. I got to head to China’s Hainan Island, Japan’s Kyushu and Turkey! Some of my best travel memories this year happened with Parlo Tours — the unique home-stay in Hitoyoshi-Kuma, and the hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia. I’m not usually one for group tours, but I’ll be honest and say that there are countries that require a little more planning and a lot more assistance. And when that need arises, there is Parlo Tours.
Find out more about my travels with Parlo Tours here:-
I had a wonderful 2019 filled with fun travels, crazy adventures and new experiences. And I am so grateful to be working with fantastic travel organisations and companies that have contributed to this opportunity of walking the world. Thank you to Parlo Tours, Tourism Malaysia, Korea Tourism Organisation, Tourism Thailand, Eva Air, New Taipei City, KKday, Roaming Man, and all the wonderful hotels and resorts that I have stayed with this year. May there be more collaborations and working opportunities in the coming year!
And to everyone who has been reading my posts and articles, and watching my vlogs; and of course, the friends and travel buddies who have been with me on my travels — thanks for being a part of my life and a part of “She Walks the World”. This blog wouldn’t be here for the last 5 years without you, and I am forever grateful.
And let’s continue walking the world together in 2020. And also, let’s make Malaysia a destination to visit and explore because it is “Visit Malaysia Year 2020”!