THE year was about flying around the neighborhood. It was all about revisiting spots that I fell in love with but haven’t seen for quite some time and finding something new to see. It was good to be back to these places, relive the memories and create new ones.
It was 1999 when I set foot on Bali and had my first shot at living a millionaire’s life. But I was just one of the many millionaires in the tropical island carrying cold cash in wallets. It’s an everyday thing in Indonesia.
|Sunset dancing in Canggu. Revisiting Bali after 16 years|
As easy as my US dollars were converted to millions of Rupias, it was quick to be spent. Price tags were in thousands to hundreds of thousands. The millions on the palm were fleeting with so many food to try and things to take home from Ubud.
|The Tegalalang Rice Terraces in Ubud.|
Bali’s beaches were already popular then. Surfers, mostly Australians, were the top tourist arrivals. Inland, foot and vehicle traffic was light during the day even more at night. Clubs were few and far apart.
Today, Bali is the total opposite. Busier it might be, the island is still a sweet destination. I’m glad I’ve seen both.
Bangkok is a favorite. Both work and leisure take me there. After years of visiting, I have only scraped an inch of the Big Mango’s surface. Buildings, malls, restaurants, clubs, it all sprouts like mushrooms. There is always something new to see and try with each visit, and I haven’t even gone around the islands yet. The farthest off Bangkok I went to this year was in HuaHin, said to be the Hamptons of Thailand.
|Catching the sun rising in Hua Hin, a new place visited off Bangkok in Thailand|
The most exciting trip this year was Japan during the Sakura. This one was in the bucket list and it took years before it finally happened—and it was worth the wait. Like a kid in a candy store, I savored the fleeting Cherry Blossom Season and chased the blooms in several cities of the Japanese prefectures— Tokyo, Machida, Yokohama, Odawara.
|One off the bucket list- the Sakura season in Tokyo|
Hanami, the local custom of admiring the transient beauty of flowers, was under the umbrella of flowers along the Meguro River and Ueno Park, where I had a blast and experienced how breathtaking the sight was at day and magical at night. The end of the season laid a carpet of pink Sakura petals for me to walk on as I departed the Land of the Rising Sun.
|Hanami 1 along Meguro River with this bunch.|
|Hanami 2 at Ueno Park with this bunch.|
Locally, the trips to Cebu and Cotabato were short but what made it sweet was the delicacy it had to offer. In Cebu, there was my all-time favorite danggit, the Ralfe Gourmet chocolates and the ice cream from Movenpick while in Cotabato there was the putrimandi served along with the Muslem cuisine during the Eid al-Fitr.
|First time at the Blue Lagoon in Maguindanao|
|Just like a boss, in Mactan this time. Sunset session at Ibiza Club in Movenpick Cebu|
Travel + friends make for a fun adventure. Thank you for the company. For continuously spoiling me in all my adventures, this year in Bangkok and Bali, thank you travel partner Agoda.com, Nico and Charisse.
|A boat ride to Olango Island in Cebu.|
Most of all, I thank you Universe for the infinite generosity. I am grateful for the gift of travel and looking forward to more places to visit in the coming year.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 01, 2016.