I’m looking at my passport to remember the travels I have done this year. Not many compared to previous years it seems.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (March)
My first trip in 2011 happened to be for the Jay Chou concert in Kuala Lumpur. To be honest, KL is not really one of my fave cities in the world. I only go there for work-related meetings, and yes, for Jay Chou. Why don’t I like KL? The taxis always give me a headache. I thought Philippine taxis were the scums of the earth but KL taxis top that. To be fair though, I like Malaysian food. And I have friends who live there. But the food, I can survive without and the friends, I can always keep up with on Facebook. (Story on Jay’s KL concert leg here.)
Jakarta, Indonesia (April)
The annual meeting of our board is held in different cities every year and in 2011, it was held in Jakarta. I’m not so hot on Jakarta either, no offense meant to my Indonesian friends. It’s so polluted and the jam is horrendous. Plus of course there’s the taxi problem again. There is Bluebird and Bluebird Silver but once you’re out of the confines of your hotel, it’s a battle to look for them on the dangerous streets. I nearly got ran over by a rusty bus that looked like it was falling apart. As I stared in horror at the oncoming headlights, the headline flashed before my eyes: death by tetanus. I never dared ventured out of the hotel–the luxurious Dharmawangsa– again after that. (The pictures for this trip, not that there were many, were among the casualties in the hard drive mishap; and yes, our layout guy is still alive.)
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei (April)
This wasn’t in the plan. Brunei is not, say, South Korea that you’d be interested in seeing at least once in your life. Not even for the real gold in the dome of the Sultan Omar Saifuddin Mosque. But well, a reason cropped up–to interview Wu Chun right in his hometown–so why not? I didn’t have expectations of the place, I didn’t even get to see much of it because aside from the interview, I just planned to hang out with friends and surf the Internet. The capital BSB has many cafes with free WiFi. I’ve never spent that much time in Filipino fastfood Jollibee (halal Jollibee tastes so different though) that I ended up making friends with some of the staff. All in all, BSB is such a small kampung filled with rich people that when you see a Lamborghini (or Lambo, as GKC’s friend calls it) on the streets, you are not surprised. It can either belong to the royal family or to… Chunnie. (Story on Wu Chun here.)
Harbin, China (September)
I love China. Been there many times. But it’s so big I haven’t been everywhere. Because I go there for work, my travel is mainly confined either to Beijing or Shanghai (and once to Hangzhou). I love all these cities.They are diverse. This year, I got the chance to travel to Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province in the northeast. The city is more famous for its winter festival but since we went there in fall, there was no sight of the ice sculptures. It was still cold nevertheless. And Harbin is like no other Chinese city I have seen. Its Russian influence is so evident in the city’s architecture you’d think you’re in Russia or somewhere in Europe.
Taipei, Taiwan (November)
I suppose I was Taiwanese in my previous lifetime, the way I am so attached to the country, the culture and its people. Yes, all the Taiwanese stars especially 邱澤 why you so hot, aside. My friends worry that I always stay in Taipei whenever I’m there either for work or private visit and feel I should explore the countryside. But I haven’t explored enough of Taipei itself. I like walking along the small alleys and discovering little neighborhoods and shops. Taipei is so full of lovely quaint cafes. But the next time I visit, I plan to go from north to south, east to west. Soon.
I’ve been home to the Philippines twice this year. First, to start my multimedia journalism course at the Ateneo de Manila University. The second trip was unplanned and a traumatic lesson in Thailand’s immigration laws after I forgot to renew my visa. They didn’t haul me out of the country kicking and screaming but it was still scary. Never again.
I had to give up two trips because of that: to New Delhi with my college best friends and Hong Kong for another work-related trip. New Delhi would have made it my second time to South Asia and I really wanted to go because aside from work, I wouldn’t even go to that part of the world. Hong Kong, meanwhile, I haven’t been there in ages and I look forward to finally making that trip. Hopefully, this 2012. If the world doesn’t end.
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