2020 Round up – The longest i’ve been grounded

2020 is finally coming to an end, where did all that year go? It’s been a really weird year mostly because of COVID-19 which put travel in a literal standstill. As I write this, it’s been about 10 months since my last overseas trip and it has been the absolute longest time I’ve been in Singapore without taking a single overseas trip, possibly in my whole life. My dad was a pilot so growing up, annual trips were pretty commonplace even if it was just a drive up to Malaysia, so not actually being able to travel at all in 2020 has been weird to say the least.

Missing travel? Check out my old travel round ups posts to see where I’ve been in previous years.

Trips in 2020

I was lucky to manage some travel in early 2020 before the international borders started closing off – even added a brand new country to my list bringing it to 55 countries that I’ve visited in total. But some trips that were on the cards never even got the chance to happen like a jaunt to Taiwan in May, ah well.

London, UK

I talked a little bit about my trips and what travel was like in Feb 2020 as COVID started spreading in this post, but since I’ve been so starved of travel, I thought I’d share more pix and thoughts about this trip. Gosh I miss travel a whole lot. But I’m somewhat glad that I didn’t plan too much in advance so I didn’t have to worry about getting back refunds and stuff.

London in winter has been a recurring trip for me in the past few years because of the regular judging gig that I do. Who knows when that will happen again though? 2020 has not been a great year for the travel industry at all… Regardless, I only had about one afternoon and night to spend in London. It was pretty wet and cold that day so I didn’t really do much, though I did finally manage to:

  • Visit the Harry Potter store House of Minalima
  • go to Tate Britain (I’d mostly been to the Tate Modern previously) museum
  • Watched the excellent Come From Away musical in the evening
People looking at art in Tate Britain Gallery
The Tate Britain has more of the ‘classic’ art stuff which is less my cup of tea. I do prefer the stuff at the Tate Modern a lot more, but it was nice to finally see this museum after many years of procrastinating. Also it was pretty rainy so not a bad idea to hide out in the galleries then
Really cute stationery in the little shophouse of the House of Minalima store
I’d already seen a number of Harry Potter related spots in London but not this store – the Minalima team did a lot of the design for the movies, so very pretty stuff to look at.
Heading towards the Come From Away marquee on a cold wet evening
I usually spend my evenings in London at the theatre, and I’m glad I ended up at Come From Away which was about what happened to a little village when a whole bunch of planes were grounded because of 911. Very good show that I highly recommend watching.

Rome, Italy

Most of my week was spent in Rome visiting my sibling who was studying there. She lived in a suburb outside the main downtown of Rome, so I got to see a little more of everyday life beyond the tourist sights.

Oddly enough though I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Europe (especially during my Career Break), I hadn’t actually spent a lot of time in Italy before this, other than a trip to Milan and Venice many years back with my family, so I was quite keen to explore a little bit more.

Since it was my first time in Rome, I spent most of it on its main tourist sights like the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and more. Also had gelato practically every day… so good~

Interior of the Colosseum. Wonder what it must have been like in its heyday?
Finally getting to see the Colosseum in person was pretty epic because it’s one of those places I’ve read about as a kid and always wanted to see
The Roman Forum is lined with tons of wonderful old buildings
Next to the Colosseum is Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, which in layman speak is basically more old ruins
The Trevi Fountain seems much larger and more impressive in photos. Also like this photo, deceptively quiet (it was crowded!)
Did a walking tour of course – this is the famous Trevi Fountain, but what you can’t see are the hordes of people standing behind me in this shot

I also did a little bit of street art hunting in smaller neighbourhoods like Ostiense and Tor Marancia.

Veni Vidi Vinci, a mural by street artists Lek and Sowat on the side of a building in Tor Marancia
Tor Marancia has an entire cluster of flats each with their own mural from the Big City Life project. This one in the foreground is by Lek and Sowat
Italian street artist Blu's distinctive work in Ostiense
Ostiense is also another nice town for a little street art exploration. This here is by Italian artist Blu who you might have seen his works in my other post on street art in Lisbon

And I took a day trip out to nearby Tivoli to check out more ancient ruins. Seriously, these old bits of city are just all over the place in Italy.

Took a shot of hillside town Tivoli from the train as it approached
Tivoli as the train approached. It’s on the hill side and it was a marvellously clear day
Me looking up at old ruins in wonder at Villa Adriana
More ruins in Villa Adriana aka Hadrian’s Villa

Vatican City

I always forget that technically the Vatican City is considered its own country, making it the 55th country that I’ve visited. Of course I visited the tourist sights like the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and queued 1.5 hours to climb up St Peter’s Basilica for a panoramic view of the Square and surrounding Rome.

Right under the dome of St Peter's Basilica
halfway up – this is the view looking down from the balcony just under the dome of the chapel
View from the top of St Peter's Basilica
It was raining and pretty grey, but just before I was ready to call it a day, the sun came out for this pretty shot! That’s St Peter’ Square and most of what you see in the distance is basically Rome

Singapore

It might seem weird to have Singapore listed here, but I probably have explored Singapore more intensely than I have in all other years combined, partly because there is nowhere else to go, but also because I had a project on hand that required me to unearth unusual spots in Singapore.

Some of my favourite discoveries in Singapore include the neighbourhoods of Sembawang and Ang Mo Kio as well as finally seeing the quarries in Bukit Batok.

What was once a tap in the ground is now a small cascading pool and park
Sembawang Hot Spring Park is my top post of 2020. What was once a tap in the ground is now a small cascading pool and park
Eagle's Point on Sembawang Beach is nice and deserted on a weekday
Don’t miss out the rest of Sembawang as there are more things to do here, including a walk along Sembawang Beach
Birds on display at Kebun Baru BIrdsinging Corner
I did a post about Ang Mo Kio’s art, but I thought this active birdsinging corner (once popular in Singapore, now rarely seen) was pretty cool!
Seng Chew Quarry surrounded by forest
Of all the quarries in Bukit Batok that I visited, Seng Chew Quarry was the most unusual

What I hope for in 2021

Vaccines are coming out, and so far Singapore seems to be doing ok in managing the spread, but both the economy and travel industry look like they are slow to recover as new waves emerge in other countries again. I’m not actually hopeful that there will be travel in 2021 for at least the first half of the year.

I’m hoping for a Taiwan travel bubble since they are one of the countries that have managed to contain the virus quite effectively, and also because I’ve been aching to go back again. I kinda really want to go scuba diving in crystal clear waters again – Indonesia’s Komodo is one of the places I want to go back to but it’s hard to say whether it’ll be safe to by then.


Looking to see what my past travels were like? Check out some previous round ups here:

2 thoughts on “2020 Round up – The longest i’ve been grounded”

Tell me what you think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top