Where did 2014 go?

I can’t believe 2015 is already here! Before we jump into the new year and more travel, destinations and awesome experiences and trips in Asia, we wanted to take 5 minutes to look back at 2014. It actually took us a bit longer to recap our trips… but here it is. 12 months, 52 weeks and 19 trips around Singapore. Ready? Set? Go!

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The Tripinasia team

Here is a quick recap of where we’ve been in 2014 by chronological order before we try to select the top experiences (will you guess what are favorite destinations?)

Chiang Mai was where it all started. We kicked off 2014 in Thailand,  for a great family reunion in that nice town full of temples. I also remember a great trek outside of the city with scenic views. A good destination for an easy weekend a great way to kick off the year.

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Lake Toba. We went there with Valentine & Oscar for Chinese New Year but ending up with a gang of young and fun colleagues (who probably have tripinasia as their homepage). A pain to reach, and at the end of the day, we did not come back with amazing memories. Maybe the circumstances (logistics, itinerary, weather, etc) but still. Not anywhere close to Tana Toraja in terms of culture and average only in terms of scenery (in our humble opinion).

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Bali. A nice little 2 day weekend with some friends. Relax by the pool and share good moments. Classic but efficient. We did not move much during this weekend so no breathtaking pictures but nice walks in a quieter part of Bali in the middle of the rice fields. One of the many facets of Bali.

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The Maldives. Do we need to mention that this one was quite a trip. We were probably first people to rush to the Tigerair and book our tickets when they started the Singapore Male route. In one day, we had talked to our bosses, arranged 2 days off, and got my mother who would be visiting then to look after Oscar for 4 days. We then spent days reviewing and selecting our hotel. Great pick for an amazing trip (but definitely not something you would repeat frequently unless you win the lottery)

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Pulau Besar. Feeling guilty after having left Oscar alone with my mother alone in Singapore, the 4 of us were off to Pulau Besar for a nice little weekend on a quiet island. Simple and easy. Nice walks around the island and relaxing time by the beach.

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Bangkok. Valentine’s sister living there for an internship we could not miss the opportunity to go there and visit her and her parents and siblings. 2 days with the whole gang. We experienced a very different Bangkok. Military presence everywhere and pretty strictly enforced curfew. Not a problem since we did not plan to go visit the dodgy bars with Valentine’s parents (not that we would ever do so anyway – that’s just in case they are reading)

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Koh Yao Yai. Off to Thailand again to visit Valentine’s sister and a friend. Great little weekend on this quiet island not far from Phuket. A good surprise. Not that far despite a few different vehicles to use to get there.

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Cameron Highlands. We were a bit reluctant to go but actually liked it. We had a great time the 3 of us. Tea plantation and nice little treks in a cool atmosphere. Not all is great but you will have a great time if you pick the right places.

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Koh Yao Noi. Back to Thailand with another friend doing a long trip in Asia. Relaxing time in a nice resort away from pretty much everything. Excursions to the Phang Na Bay to say hi to few thousands Chinese and Russian tourists and do a bit of canoeing to burn that delicious Thai food.

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Shanghai. Off to China to visit friends who live there with there kids. Great time with them and discovery of the city.

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Yangshuo. We took the opportunity to go spend a few days to visit Yangshuo, close to Guillin. Scenic views of the rock formations and great cycling in the middle of nowhere. Quite a contrast with crazy busy Shanghai and not what we expected from China.

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Kawah Ijen. Amazing. 15 hours in a car on a weekend but definitely worth it. Great landscapes and amazing experience with the miners. We went there with 2 friends from Singapore who took an extra day off and went to visit Mount Bromo while we headed back to Singapore on Sunday. Oscar stayed in Singapore for that one.

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Batu Batu. A great weekend with 5 or 6 families with young children. Expensive but finally a great easy beach experience in Malaysia with great accommodation and food on a perfectly maintained little island. As always a painful border crossing to get there and come back. Apart from that, a great weekend.

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Back to France. An amazing country but a little far for a getaway from Singapore. Now you know why we are so tight on annual leaves. We use most of them to go back home in the summer. Hence our Kiasu approach to public holidays and flight times.

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Bali. Again. But for a good cause. Saying good bye to a friend moving back to France. To be honest, we did not see much of Bali and spent most of the day (and night!) having a good time by the pool. Great BBQ and party.

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Tokyo. We received an email from a very good friend who was going there on a business trip. He asked “wanna join?”. We said ‘yes’! Amazing city and culture. A great experience. Far and quite expensive but definitely something to experience. We also visited Kyoto for 2 days during that trip. Not as impressive we felt.

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Sydney. Again we had a good excuse. A close friend going there to meet another friend. “Wanna join?”. We said “yes’, again. Nice trip in the “western world”. Nice city with many sites to visit and a nice atmosphere. 

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Gunung Leuser Park. Valentine had to go to France for business purpose and took Oscar with her. I used the opportunity to go explore the jungle of Sumatra and meet 9 Orang Outans with some friends and colleagues. A great weekend.

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Phuket. But we could have been almost anywhere. We did not move from the resort. Nice but still looking for a good place to stay and visit Phuket. We had a few attempts at it but so far prefer the neighboring islands.

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Margaret River. We spent the last hours of 2014 in Perth, Australia before heading down to Margaret River. Scenic landscapes, amazing beaches, beautiful wineyards and bush for amazing walks. All that in a very preserved nature with great infrastructures for adults and children alike. Ideal for a little family vacation.

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How did you pick these destinations?

We were lucky to have many friends and family members visiting us in Singapore or traveling in Asia in 2014. This was a key driver in our planning.  On top of that, season is always the first criteria when picking up places. For the rest, we also ask a lot of questions to our friends about the places they visit and recommend. For most of the trips we traveled with Oscar so picked destinations that were doable with a 2 year old.

What are your favorite destinations?

So who are the winners? It’s a really tough choice. Seriously we enjoyed all our trips. But if we have to, I would pick 4 tops (I know I cheat).

  • Kawah Ijen for the adventurers looking for natural beauty and heroes (the miners).
  • The Maldives for the lovers looking for a luxury experience
  • Margaret River for the families looking for a great outdoor experience

Since all these are quite far from Singapore (we are expanding our scope every year but don’t worry we will continue to focus on trips from Singapore), I would add one destination in the category “easy to reach: probably Batu Batu for the luxury experience a few hours away from Singapore.

Our biggest disappointments probably are (but they are still decent destinations, just not our favorites):

  • Lake Toba. Is it really worth the journey? It’s not bad but after all it’s a (big) lake. If you are after the culture, go to Tana Toraja instead (the journey is much longer but the experience is much better and definitely worth the travel). People who come back from there are still probably under the influence of the mushrooms when they write their reviews 🙂
  • Phuket – while it’s very convenient and easy from Singapore we still don’t see a lot of value versus Sentosa or a condo with a nice pool but to be fair we did not explore the island enough. One benefit is that it’s the dry season there while Bali or the Eastern coast of Malaysia is under the rain. But we will keep trying until we find something nice (and then we will post an article on Phuket).

Hang on, some destinations are missing on tripinasia?!

Yes… And we are sorry about this. It’s hard to keep up! We are late updating new destinations but we continue working on it. Bear with us and like our Facebook page to get notified when we post a new one.

What about 2015?

2015 is going to be legendary (see our 2015 Kiasu Travel plan). The best part is that on top of new destinations, we keep adding  info to the website to take you one step closer to your next holiday destination. Stay tuned!