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Happy feet: the jeepneyjinggoy 2016 travel album

How do I describe 2016? It was generous, exciting and exhausting. The last may seem a surprising addition but it “came with the territory,” so to speak—and I’m not complaining.

Off the bucket list is Kyoto. The photo of geisha’s walking the streets of the city was on my vision board for years, so was the Jidai Matsuri festival and the autumn season in Japan. I got to tick off three items from my bucket list.

Geisha spotting at Gion, Kyoto. One off the bucket list

Five days in the city was too short with a heavy concentration of Unesco World Heritage Sites, but good enough to know that I should revisit the city.

In Kyoto, stay at the New Gingkaku Inn. It’s affordable and very conveniently located a few steps away from the Kyoto station. The train station is a depot for buses for the city’s tourist attractions.

The few remaining days in Japan allowed me to visit another new place, Karuizawa in Nagano, to chase the autumn leaves (I came too early in the season to catch the red and gold foliage).

Went chasing fall at Karuizawa in Nagano

In Tokyo, I was able to visit a few more sites I missed on my previous visit.

Caught Maman, the giant spider by Louise Bourgeois, in Roppogi Hills this time. Saw it first in Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Perhaps, the best lesson Japan has taught me was to maximize the Japan Rail Pass. It doesn’t come cheap so the more bullet train rides to faraway destinations you can do so. Short, quick visits to places are not just my kind of thing though. Do I compromise?

Taipei may not be on my list, but PAL’s seat sale was too hard to resist.

My first sunset in Taipei with the iconic tower, Taipei 101 jutting off from the city landscape.

Once under the Japanese rule, the Chinese city still has the vibe of Japan—clean, safe, commuter friendly and inexpensive. The city is vibrant and a foodie’s haunt. Taipei is worth a revisit.

In Taipei, stay at W Taipei and Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel. W is contemporary chic and Shangri-La is Oriental sophistication, each is an experience in itself.

Oriental luxe at Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei

While in these hotels, take time to dine under the Michelin stars. Yen, W’s Chinese resto, has a chef who earned a Michelin-starred culinary experience from Japan, and Shangri-La’s ibuki by Takagi Kazuo is Taiwan’s first Japanese restaurant to operate in concordance with Michelin standards.

Addictive little things- Steamed Abalone Siew Mai by a chef with a Michelin star restaurant expeirence

Only the freshest ingredients. Sushi at ibuki by Takagi Kazuo

Believe it or not, it’s been seven years since my most recent visit to Hong Kong. Its face hasn’t change much but it has become one of the most expensive cities to shop and dine at.

Hong Kong is transforming/repurposing its old quarters and turning it into new destination spots, a formula that can keep the city exciting.

Back in Hong Kong after 9 years. The view from my Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel room

In Hong Kong, enjoy the changing scenery of the iconic Victoria Harbour in comforts of your own room at the Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel or the Shangri-La Kowloon Hotel.

This view of Hon Kong's iconic harbour from my room at the Shangri-La Kowloon 

Spoil yourself. In these hotels, go for the continental club floor room and enjoy the club amenities.

Spoil yourself more and dine at Shang Palace, Shangri-La Kowloon’s Michelin starred restaurant, and Cucina, Marco Polo’s amazing Italian resto.

Cucina's bestseller- slow cooked Wagyu beef cheeks

First course the Michelin-starred restaurant, the Shang Palace

Another destination I haven’t seen in years was Baguio. The weekend visit with friends was for food tripping. It was worth every calorie ingested.

How long has it been since the last visit. Baguio this year for food tripping with friends

Breakfast fare at Cafe by the Ruins

Bangkok’s charm is unending. Twice a year, there’s always a new find and the most recent ones discovered were a three food places in three hotels are great at pampering its guests: Punjab, an Indian restaurant at Radisson Suites Sukhumvit 13; Eat Well Café, a healthy hub at Well Hotel Sukhumvit 20; and the afternoon tea nibbles at The House at Sathorn of W Bangkok.

Tandoori Jheenga at Punjab

Juice Therapy at Well Hotel Bangkok's resto

High tea at The House on Sathorn

Catching the Loi Krathong festival on the super moon phenomenon was magical, and I finally was able to visit the Jim Thompson Museum after many attempts on my countless visits to the city.

Loi Krathong 2016 at the Benjasiri Park

Girl & the silk fibers. After years of attempts to visit, I finally made it to the Jim Thompson Museum.

Like they say, it comes in three’s. Third on the B destination list is Boracay. I still consider it my island home no matter how busy it has turned to be. It’s a matter of locating your ideal lounging spots along the white stretches, and enjoy the sun, sand and surf.

To enjoy Boracay even on the busiest season, look for your spot

For a touch of Davao in Boracay, the home I stay may soon be on the B&B list and Hoy Panga! has risen quite quickly on the most popular restaurants list in the island.

Hoy Panga!'s Sizzling Tuna Sisig is a must try

I should say, along with the happy (and extremely tired) feet is a happy tummy, with all the new dining places I was able to try this 2016.

My gratitude is extended to Philippine Airlines, with special mention to the office of its president. The Business Class upgrades made the journey to and from Taipei and Japan very comfortable.

How to reach a destination in comfort. Get a business class seat aboard Philippine Airlines

What’s in 2017? There are a few more photos of destinations on my vision board. I’m keeping my calendar open and wait where the generous Universe is taking me.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit www.ofapplesandlemons.com & www.jeepneyjinggoy.com.

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.