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2021 Round Up – The local traveller

So this is a little late given that it’s halfway through January 2022 as I post this, but well it’s been an odd year right? I had managed some travels in 2020 before all the COVID restrictions kicked in, but 2021 was an entire year that I never set foot out of the country. It would have been pretty unimaginable for me in the past, but yup it’s been a weird year.

The habit of Travel

One thing it’s made me realised is that travel is a habit. Despite being an occasional traveller travelling mostly on my annual leave, that process of planning trips and the logistics of going overseas had become fairly instinctive for me after all these years. With COVID and this abrupt break in routine, suddenly I’ve found it extremely hard to even consider taking on a new trip.

There was a short reprieve towards end 2021 where Vaccinated Travel Lanes opened up to several countries in Europe, South Korea and North America without the quarantine. One would imagine that I would be one of those eager beavers on the first flight out, but to my own surprise I found myself hesitating, waiting to see what would happen because of the ever-changing rules and situations. Too many stories of people getting caught in clampdowns, or just the pure hassle of having to test multiple times before, during and after the trip. 2021 passed by and I’m still here in Singapore, waiting and watching.

Is this what it feels like for people attempting their first trips of their lives? This inertia towards travel has never been so strong, and I’m a little sad that one of my favourite things in the world is actually putting me off. I suspect that once I finally make my first trip, those habits and instincts will come roaring back to life, but I need to get to that point of just doing it first.

A tortoiseshell cat sprawled out inside an otherwise empty polybag mailer
Is it safe to go out yet? One beneficiary of all my time at home is my lovely little cat who gets a bit bewildered and now misses me when I go out for too long

Virtual Tour Guide

A big part of what I was busy with in 2021 was giving virtual tours of Singapore. Thanks to my friend Jerome at Fourwinds, I’ve spent many an hour walking around Singapore’s tourist areas sharing with overseas folks about my home country on a virtual tour. In case you’re curious, the platform is on Amazon Explore which is currently in beta and only open to the US market for now (US readers go check it out!)

Some of the spots I cover listed below. If you ever want an actual physical experience, am happy to show you around myself!

Me holding a gimbal and mobile phone in front of a colourful mural in Kampong Gelam
This is basically what I look like giving tours (with the mask on of course, this is just for the pix) – walking around with a gimbal and talking to myself like a livestreamer influencer. Kampong Gelam is one of my favourite spots for street art, but learning about the Malay and Arab history in this area has been fascinating. See Kampong Gelam tour on Amazon Explore.
Sentosa's Fort Siloso Skywalk, a high bridge at the canopy level linking Siloso point to the barracks deeper in
This was probably the first time in eons I had been back to Fort Siloso, and this skywalk offers a great view of southern Singapore
Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Street YipYC Pano
This mural by Yip Yew Chong on the back wall of Thian Hock Keng is a really good way to talk about how the Chinese came to live in Telok Ayer and Chinatown. See Telok Ayer tour on Amazon Explore.
Little India Garland Making Workshop At Work
This Indian garland making workshop isn’t a part of the tour, but I attended this event organised by My Community Festival with renowned garland maker Mr Selvam to learn more about the significance of all the flower garland shops that I saw on my Little India walk. See Little India tour on Amazon Explore.

Taiwan in Singapore

Another big project that happened in 2021 was this collaboration with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau of Singapore. We had initially planned for Taiwan exploration in 2021 – my plan had been to head to Hualien and Taitung in May, but obviously that didn’t happen, so what we ended up doing was a project in Singapore where I researched and explored all things Taiwan in Singapore.

I spent a few solid weeks eating and hunting down Taiwanese food spots as well as any other Taiwanese connections like artwork by Taiwanese artists in Singapore for example so you could have a pretend-trip to Taiwan without pulling out your passport. It was a pretty fun experience overall!

Lees Taiwanese Signature Food
Lee’s Taiwanese is one of my cool discoveries in Faber Drive. Read the article for more Taiwanese eateries in Singapore to check out.
Kusu Island Statues Temple
Singapore’s Kusu Island may not have as impressive a landscape as Taiwan’s Guishan Island, but it’s still an interesting offshore island to check out. Read more about my Taiwan in Singapore ideas

In 2022

So what can we expect in 2022? I know I definitely want to get back into that travel habit again despite all the restrictions and hassle. The tentative plan for now is to go overseas for my birthday – I’d started doing birthday trips in the recent years and I want to get back to that again. Hopefully that kickstarts more travels down the road!

I’ll still be giving online virtual tours of Singapore – am looking to develop new routes and spots in Singapore to share with those who can’t physically be here. Any ideas on cool tour routes? Drop them in the comments.

I’m not going to dream too big right now and just get on with life, let’s see what happens next and I hope all of you have a better 2022 ahead.

Here’s a look at some of my past year round ups: