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2018 Round Up – a freelancer’s travel life

2018 is a year that surprised me. It’s hard to top the epic career break year that was 2016, and 2017 where I made it to South America and only got back home properly in the second half of the year. I honestly hadn’t quite figured out what 2018 would be like without a full-time job in hand, but it ended up being a look at what my travel life could be like as a freelancer, and also marked the year of some of my first major travel assignments and collaborations.

See all my past round ups dating back to 2011, covering my travels and even some of my favourite pieces of writing and blog activities.

Travel Stats 2018

Total number of days travelled in 2018: 73 (20%)

That’s definitely more than when I was working full time – you can see from my travel round ups from 2015 and earlier that I usually manage about 30-40 days of travel with full-time work. I’m not making as much as I used, but I’m earning enough and I’m loving the additional freedom I have for travel and other things. 

Countries visited: 8 Countries/Territories (1 new)

Other than my jaunt to London and Scotland, most of my travels were around the Asia region, with a concentration on Taiwan due to my collaboration work. I added just Myanmar to my total list of countries visited, bringing the total to 55 countries (if I’ve counted correctly) to date, but I got to explore lesser seen areas like Belitung, Khanom and random bits of Taiwan. So it’s still been quite a good year of exploration.

Here’s a recap of where I went:

UK: London + Scotland (15 days)

Scotland Caledonian Sleeper Window View
My favourite shot was this random shot of the highlands out the window. I lucked out because I didn’t have anyone in my bunk!

London is one of those places that you can always find something to do in even in winter, and I got to catch up with some friends and watch some musicals as well. I added a new country to my list and finally visited Scotland, taking an overnight train ride on the Caledonian Sleeper and making a very quick jaunt through Oban, Glasgow and somewhere I’d been dying to check out for forever: Edinburgh. Winter is perhaps not the most pleasant time to visit and I was pretty sick for a day when I hit Glasgow, so I hope to go back in warmer weather.

Read about my overnight train ride into the highlands of Scotland from London to Oban

Indonesia: Telunas (3 days)

Telunas Private Island Villas Row
Telunas Private Island is the posher of the 2 Telunas resorts

This was an assignment I’d undertaken for Culture Trip and they sent me off to an Indonesian resort island that’s not far from Singapore. First I had to take a ferry to Batam, and from there a smaller boat to transfer me to this idyllic, tranquil island resort. It’s really a spot to shut yourself off from the world from a bit, which is great for relaxing but not ideal if you were also trying to execute a social media campaign like I was – I had to park myself at the Spa reception one day because it had the best signal – but definitely worth going to if you want to escape the crowds of Bali.

Read about my stay at Telunas Resort and Telunas Private Island

Myanmar: Yangon + Bagan (8 days)

Bagan Ballooning Flying Selfie
Happy Birthday to me!

I’ve always wanted to see more of South East Asia and finally the opportunity arrived to see a new country when I was invited up to Yangon to check out the Pan Pacific Hotel. The trip was timed just before my birthday, so I extended my trip such that I would spend my birthday in Bagan and after much hemming and hawing, I made the decision to shell out the big bucks to take the iconic hot-air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan on the morning of my birthday. It was pricey but y’know what, it was a great birthday present to myself. I really enjoyed scootering around Bagan on my own as well.

Here’s a look at what you can do in Yangon over the weekend and a more detailed look at what it’s like to balloon over Bagan

Thailand: Krabi + Khanom (5 days)

Khanom Beach Sand
Endless empty beaches are my favourite

Krabi was one of those popular Singaporean tourist destinations that I had yet to make it to, so I was happy to check it out when the Thailand Tourism folk invited me up on a media trip. But what was more enticing to me was first getting to visit Khanom, a much lesser known area about 3 hours away from Krabi with beautiful white sand beaches and pink dolphin sightings. It was a pretty packed itinerary as media trips tend to be, but I loved exploring this different side of southern Thailand.

Here’s why you should make the effort to check out Khanom over Krabi

Taiwan 1: Taipei + Yilan (6 days)

XinTaipei Wanli Paragliding Looking Down
We took off from the beach!

This was my first major collaboration with Scoot Airlines to produce content about the lesser seen parts in and around Taipei, and I was stoked to finally return to one of my favourite countries and getting to dig out some of its more unusual attractions and activities. I spent this time in Taipei and Yilan and some highlights from this trip: paragliding in Wanli and exploring the UFO Houses and sailing through the underwater sulphur hot springs of Turtle Island. 

Read about those experience and more cool things to do in and around Taipei during the hot summer months

Hong Kong + Macao (6 days)

Hong Kong Street Art Travelodge Central Stern Rockwell
Can’t miss the Travelodge with this giant mural plastered down its side

I ended up on a short trip to Hong Kong thanks to the UnionPay folk and finally got to do some quintessentially touristy things like visit Lantau Island and Tsim Sha Tsui. I extended the trip on my own so I could update my Hong Kong Street Art post. 

Macao Street Art Taipa PIBG Clerigos
Ruas dos Clerigos has some pretty cool shops and this particular wall is on the side of an exhibition space

It also gave me the chance to see more of Macao and I got to map out street art around Macao on another assignment, which was a fun way to explore the territory!

Check out more about my time in Hong Kong with UnionPay, and also my street art posts for Macao and Hong Kong as well as my review of the Travelodge Central Hollywood Road.

Taiwan 2: Taipei + Yilan (6 days)

Yilan Dongshan Mr Brown Road Jumpshot
Yes I took this shot on my own!

Back to Taiwan for the second time, this time armed with new camera and mic gear as I found that my phone just wasn’t going to be enough for good videos and photos. It was still super hot at this time of the year, and I found myself back in Taipei and Yilan again. I found some pretty cool spots but I think the highlight for me were the places that I stayed – Play Design Hotel where I got to choose my own furniture was an amazing spot, while Yilan inspiration with its cute tents and the posh Taipei Star Hostel are both beautiful hostels I’d definitely recommend anyone to check out.

Reduce your stress level with these amazing spots in Taipei or take my Ultimate Weekend Warrior itinerary in Taipei

Taiwan 3: Kaohsiung to Taoyuan (7 days)

Kaohsiung JcoArt Ice Cream Dog Head

I took on a more intensive project so I was Singapore-bound for a bit, but the week after that project ended, I was back on a flight to Taipei again, but this time I ended up on a fun but hectic exploration of Taiwan’s west coast from Taoyuan to Kaohsiung. I was sleeping in a different place every single night! Also because of timings and schedules, I spent a lot of time riding the HSR to and fro instead of taking a leisurely trip down the coast. Bungee Jumping off this random bridge in the middle of Taoyuan’s mountains was definitely cool, though I’d love to go eat that famous ice cream dog again that had a lot of my IG feed screaming.

Here’s how you explore Taiwan from southern Kaohsiung to Taipei up in the north.

Indonesia: Belitung (5 days)

Belitung Andrea Hirata Museum Colourful Me
Indonesia’s most famous author Andrea Hirata has a lovely colourful museum right here in his hometown of Belitung

Beli-where? It’s always kinda cool when you get the opportunity to visit a place that few people have even heard of. Garuda Indonesia launched their first non-stop flight from Singapore to Belitung and I was one of the lucky people who got to be on that flight. They had to cancel the launch announcement in Singapore because it was the day of the Lion Air crash, but the trip was pretty fun and I got to hang out with some of my media friends and see a new destination alternative to busy Bali and Batam.

Read about why you should skip Bali and head to Belitung instead

Thailand: Phuket (5 days)

Karon Beach Sunset Jumpshot
Nice clean beaches and an awesome jumpshot as the sun sets. I like my lines in this shot

Yet another Singaporean go-to spot which I have visited a couple of times, but this time I headed up with a good friend J to go check out and chill out at the Novotel Resorts in the Surin and Karon districts. Great locations and I definitely like those beaches more than anything in the overcrowded and somewhat seedy Patong area.

Here’s a review of the Novotel Resorts in Surin and Karon districts.

Japan: Sapporo + Club Med Tomamu (8 days)

Hokkaido Tomamu Club Med Skiing Me
On top of the slope – the towers mark the bottom of the slope and I’m pretty sure I made that run more than 10 times on day 1 alone

Capping off the year with a rare family trip and the only trip in this year that was personal from start to end. I’m really thankful to the opportunities that travel blogging has opened up for me in the way of travel, but it is a nice break to go somewhere and not worry about whether I’ve taken enough photos of the place. I broke out the skiwear and was hoping to get some good slope time, but alas it’s still too early in the season and only 1 slope in the entire resort was open! I skied for one day and swapped to a snowboard the next day which was rather painful, but still it was a pretty fun trip :)

What’s next in 2019?

Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a full-time job, maybe I’ll keep freelancing, but I definitely still want to keep travelling but it can be a bit tricky planning ahead without any idea as to what happens on the income end of things. 

Despite the uncertainty, my first quarter is pretty full – I’ll make my last trip to Taiwan with Scoot in January, and in February I’m back in London again for more winter and I haven’t quite figured where else I want to see as well yet in my extended week. Also on the cards for my epic Birthday adventure – I’m FINALLY going scuba diving in Raja Ampat. You have no idea how excited I am for this! I also have my eye on the Setouchi Triennale in 2019 and am pondering if I want to go back to this cool arts festival.

I hope everyone got to travel where they wanted to in 2018! It’s always fun looking back at the year and getting a good look at everything that has happened so far, and I hope it’s inspiring you to think about your travel plans in 2019 as well. Share your epic travel plans with me – I’d love to hear your stories!


Monday 14th of January 2019

Club Med looks awesome in Japan! I would love to go there. It's been so long since I've been out on the slopes.

Also that dog dessert is horrifying.

Jaclynn Seah

Monday 14th of January 2019

I really wish we had more snow while I was there!

That dog ice cream was delicious though, no matter how lifelike it looked :P