I found myself scrolling through hundreds of pictures from my last few travels and had that lightning bolt inspiration moment strike me to write this. Here, I look back at five places I’ve travelled to (in no particular order) and my favourite memories surrounding them.
1. Hong Kong: The trip that showed me growth
My first trip to Hong Kong was when I was twelve and I was twenty the second time I visited. Needless to say, the change that the city had undergone within that eight year period is drastic. And in more ways than one, I’ve grown just as much.
I remember Disneyland; a place that to this day is still the most magical place on earth in my mind. I remember having amazing dim sum most mornings at this restaurant on the opposite street of our hotel. I remember Kowloon with its tall skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of locals getting to work in the mornings. I remember being on three hours of sleep then getting on a plane, taking the subway, then a local bus, and then a ferry all within my first six hours of landing in Hong Kong. I remember getting terrible motion sickness on my first trip there then completely overcoming that the second time around. My idea of Hong Kong is what I aspire to be ; always moving ahead and never looking back.
2. Macau: The trip that unlocked the independent woman in me
I’ve been to Macau for a total of three times now and if there is any chance I can get to go back, I would – over and over again. I knew I had fallen in love with Macau the minute I stepped foot on its land, even from within the airport. It was my first experience of seeing certain Portuguese words on signage that I realised I recognised and could comprehend the meaning of; yes, the Portuguese blood in me was finally showing. It made a foreign place feel a little bit more like home.
I’m a sucker for European architecture and places with history embedded in them. Macau is so rich in history, culture, lavishness and luxury – its beauty is captivating. I remember the gorgeous night lights and the buzz of malls feeling like its noon when it’s past midnight. I remember my favourite kind of chill weather and having the best supper reservation at this brick-walled, fancy Chinese restaurant at 3AM. I remember walking through casinos and trying out slot machines at four in the morning when I had a flight to catch at 9AM the next day. Macau is solely, truly my every wildest dream.
3. Bali, Indonesia: The trip that got me feeling comfortably uncomfortable in my own skin and with the person that I was becoming
Bali was my first adult travel experience. No family, no comfort zone, zero security blanket. I learnt what it meant to take care of myself and to be cautious and alert of my surroundings – something I wasn’t particularly used to. I learnt that I could have fun and enjoy myself even when I’m being stretched way out of my comfort zone. I realised I could make friends and build new bonds whenever and wherever. I realised that was the start of me growing into the person that I was meant to become.
I remember the clearest skies and the most beautiful starry nights my eyes have ever seen. I remember being in good company with the background music of loud, crashing waves, singing on the beach and being so detached from the concept of time that in those few moments, everything about life felt limitless. I remember being enthralled by the beauty and vastness of the Indian Ocean. I remember eating at Michelin star restaurants, night-walking through Kuta and getting massages every two days that we were there. The peacefulness, serenity and groundedness of Bali is what we could all use a little more of in this life.
4. Melbourne, Australia: The trip that showed me no dream is too big for this world
This travel opportunity came to me completely unexpectedly, and it was my first vacation abroad with industry peers. Amongst them were strangers at the time but people that I found very good friendships in after. Everything about Melbourne felt like a dream.
I LIVED for the culture of having wine alongside every meal. I loved the people, who were so courteous and gracious – holding doors open for you, giving you warm smiles while walking past you at busy crosswalks, offering to take photos of you and your friends while on their way to work, and even offering to share toilet paper in crowded restrooms! I remember the high of the night at Southbank Promenade, drinking champagne on a Broadway themed dinner cruise. I remember St. Paul’s Cathedral with hearts in my eyes as a spiritual, goosebumps inflicting moment that I will never forget. I remember walking through wineries and learning how to properly taste wine out of fancy glasses. I remember running through the rain to Chinatown to have piping hot ramen and feeling the warmth envelope my whole body on one of the rainiest and coolest days that I was there. Melbourne was a dream city, and I was living out my best life.
5. Taiwan: The trip that was all about family and making memories
Taiwan was a blessing, in all ways possible. I enjoyed the good food, the endless photo sessions, the heart-to-heart conversations, all the love. So many times throughout the trip I came to the realisation that my heart was made for big city dreams and night lights flashing.
I remember driving down the highway with Lauv playing in the car and the rain pattering outside the window. I remember the fun, buzzing, busy night markets and their incredible street food. I remember New Year’s and fireworks and Christmas lights glistening all around. I remember falling in love with Ximending, a place that gave off major Shibuya Crossing vibes, and spending so many days stopping by either for food or shopping or to take pictures. I remember the breathtaking night view of Taipei from the Maokong Gondola. I remember sunsets and cycling and good weather and freedom whilst a live saxophonist plays his song in the background. Thanks to the memories we made, Taiwan has a special hold on my heart; oftentimes only held by the people I love.