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2023 Round Up – New paths

2023 has been a year~ Lots of travel and new things happened, changes were afoot! Here’s my annual round up to prove that you can get a good amount of travel done even with limited days off with a full-time job, reflecting on the year that passed and looking forward to the new year ahead.

Total number of days travelled in 2023: 42

I had 18 days of leave and managed to stretch it to a whopping 42 days of travel, though to be fair about 7 of those days were not quite on the clock (more on that explained below), but in general from my past round ups, I usually manage about 30+ days of travel including weekends and public holidays.


My first trip of the year was courtesy of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to celebrate the Lantern Festival in Taipei. It was a tad wet and gloomy at the start of the year, but I did get to pop by places like Keelung and Yilan along the way, and spent a few days exploring Hualien on my own – enjoying its small towns and coastal attractions.

Taipei Lantern Festival 2023 Sign
First time in over 2 decades the Lantern Festival returned to Taipei
Hualien Yuli Yufu Bikeway Bridge Me
Chilling out after a day of cycling around Yuli

Cha am, Thailand

A short whirlwind girl’s trip to Thailand took me away from busy Bangkok and down the coast to Cha Am instead at the invitation of SO Sofitel Hua Hin, such an interesting district for those looking to escape the crowds.

SO Sofitel Hua Hin Beach Sunset Me
Sunset on the beach at SO Sofitel Hua Hin
Phetchaburi Tham Khao Luang Rays Group
This pic of us at Tham Khao Luang Cave looks like the cover of our next album lol

Taiwan (Offshore Islands)

Mid year I headed back to Taiwan, but this time to take my first Income collab trip and complete my Taiwan offshore island adventures, spending time in Xiaoliuqiu, Penghu and the Matsu Islands. There were some pretty epic moments, from checking out the famous Fireworks Festival in Penghu (not one of Penghu’s Hidden Gems) to witnessing some amazing Blue Tears action in Matsu.

Xiaoliuqiu Scuba Diving Turtle Me
Diving up close and personal with sea turtles in Xiaoliuqiu
Penghu Magong Guanyinting Fireworks Red
Watching the amazing fireworks at Penghu not once but twice
Matsu Beigan Qiaozai Blue Tears Beach Wave
I will never be able to stop gushing about the blue tears boat ride I took in Beigan, Matsu

Melaka, Malaysia

Melaka was a last minute jaunt for travel writing work and also just to get away for a bit – other than exploring the historical town centre, I ended up discovering some hidden gems like the very IG-able Malaysia Heritage Studios and finding my way to the little island of Pulau Besar, I made friends with a local couple and hung out with them and their family before heading back to Singapore the next day, how cool was that!

Melaka Masjid Cina Entrance
There’s a lot of architecture in Melaka with mixed influences, but can you believe this very Chinese style building is an Islamic mosque of all things?
Melaka Straits Mosque Sunset
I made friends with a Chinese couple and our grab driver brought us to a popular viewing spot that required a bit of wading when the tide got high, and even joined us to see the mosque from here herself

Nagano + Niigata, Japan

It’s been a long time since I returned to Japan, and this trip at the close of summer just as the weather cooled was pretty perfect. I travelled with a good friend Y and while it was a bit of a hectic road trip through the countrysides of Matsumoto, Sado Island and Niigata to put together content for Income like my Niigata Hidden Gems post, it was helluva lot of fun and we got to see a lot of cool art and eat a lot of cool food.

Matsumoto City Museum Art Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Me
One of the main reasons to visit Matsumoto was to see the birthplace of Yayoi Kusama and some of her less famous works. We were only allowed to photograph this famous pumpkin though (I saw it first at Naoshima)
Sado Yajima-Kojima Tarai Bune Ride Wide Me
Riding the Tarai Bune tub boat on a beautiful morning! The weather turned great right after this~
Tokamachi House of Light Night Hole Yellow Me
First time I’ve spent the night in an artwork – James Turrell’s House of Light was a really cool experience unlike any other way I’ve experienced art

Desaru, Malaysia

Literally a few hours after returning from Japan, I was off again on another road trip but this time with family on a quick trip to Malaysia’s Desaru on a much less crowded weekday. I hardly take pix or do stuff on family holidays where the main thing is to make sure the nieces and nephews are happy~

Desaru Mini Zoo Goat

New travel writing opportunities

2023 has been pretty exciting overall for me as a travel writer. I definitely spent less time than I would have liked writing my own blog posts, but that’s because I was working on some awesome pieces for other publications, like Singapore’s national broadsheet The Straits Times Life! where I wrote about Cha am, or a commissioned piece for Virtuoso about Taipei’s historic Wanhua district. More in my portfolio

Straits Times Cha-am: Weekend trip from Bangkok
Always exciting to see my content in print!

I even worked on my first travel guidebook assignment writing about Singapore for the inimitable Lonely Planet as they revamped their guidebooks! Such an exciting moment for me, I’m just waiting to see the final copy in print right now, though I have done a number of online articles for them as well.

What’s next in 2024

2023 has also been a rather eventful year on the work front – unfortunately in the second half of the year I got hit by layoffs from the full-time job I’d been in for awhile. But on the flip side I somehow found myself a new position and will be starting that in 2024. Besides a good pay raise, I now have 21 days of leave instead of the standard 18!

2024 is also going to be a milestone year for me so I definitely want to do something cool if possible. It might be a bit hard to time it for my actual birthday month since I’ll still be on work probation, but definitely am hoping to do something epic later on in the year. No real plans at this point, but diving with hammerhead sharks (something I experienced in the Galapagos) is very high up on the list.

Sado Rainbow Car Me
Always a chance for rainbows even when things don’t quite go your way, just like this moment on Sado Island where we tried to outrun the downpour

During the pandemic times, some of you might remember that I picked up virtual tour hosting where I showed people around Singapore via livestream.

I’d been pondering whether to finally go get my tourist guide license in Singapore so I can officially earn some money showing tourists around, but getting laid off set the wheels in motion as I decided to bite the bullet and get it done so I would have another avenue for freelance work in the year ahead.

If all goes well, you just might be able to officially employ me as a tourist guide in Singapore to show you some of my favourite hidden corners of the country and more, stay tuned! Drop me a note if you’re interested to learn more or you’re planning to visit Singapore, am happy to see how I can help.

The Phoenix by Boon (2022)
I kinda miss doing street art walking tours! It’s hard to keep up with the new works when you don’t walk by as often…

Hope you’ve had a great 2023 everyone, and here’s hoping to an epic 2024! Catch up on some of my old round ups here: