I have yet to sign a contract, but I can still dream about what I can do with my future earnings, right? Since we’re living in Asia – it’s like you have the world at your doorstep. The low-cost air carriers in this region are just as competitive as those in Europe and the prices can even be lower considering how big this continent is! And so, every year, D and I try to put together our hit list of travel destinations – with places we can hit up on a long weekend and other destinations that are meant to be long journeys on motorbikes through winding highways and diving into hidden valleys. I can’t wait for 2012! We might not make it to most of these destinations, but it’s still wonderful to dream. So without further delay…here are our wanderlust picks for 2012!
Yangon and Myanmar
With the release of of pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, after 15 years of house arrest and literally hundreds of millions of dollars of aid money planning to be poured into the “Land of the Golden Pagoda,” this previously boycotted country is now set to become the next hot spot for southeast Asia. Plus…my friend Tara lives there now and I just can’t wait to see her in Asia after a year of studies in London! The relaxation of visa officials will also be helpful too, since we’ve had friends who failed to go to Myanmar in previous years simply because they had been marked as NGO staff in their passports and that yielded an automatic visa denial. Oh and did I mention that Myanmar’s got pristine beaches too?!? And a direct flight from Phnom Penh?! I just can’t wait to go!
This would probably be one of the pricier trips we’d make (and as a result – probably a lower priority), but it’s still definitely on the must list! I’ve now been to most of the big behemoths of cities on this side of the continent (KL, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul), but Tokyo has always remained elusive! I’d have to check out Sukiyabashi Jiro’s master class sushi found in a subway station, stroll through Harajuku and Shibuya, go shopping like a mad woman and of course, check out the Tsukiji Fish Market! And did I mention there’s even a café where you can relax with kitties?!?
Kathmandu (Nepal) and Lhasa (Tibet)
Now this trip would make a grand journey. And do I have to justify any more? With amazing food (momos!) and sights to send my DSLR crazy! Now what would make this trip even more amazing would be a motorcycle journey on a classic Royal Enfield from Kathmandu to Lhasa – which is just what friends of ours did a couple of years ago! That would also mean that would have to learn how to drive one which might be a tad dicey. Nonetheless – I hope this one becomes a reality too!
The only French colony in India has a taste, architecture and way of its own of course! I was first drawn to it after reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, and then further when I saw these amazing photos from the NYTimes! It just seems like the perfect south Indian city where we could chillax, explore through amazingly beautiful strolls and just delight in over a few days.
Now this would be a foodie trip. Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage City, is a melting pot of a city – with a colonial history that has Portuguese, Dutch, British, Chinese and Indian influences. What more could I ask for? Well then there’s the Peranakan cuisine. Peranakans are the ethnic community formed from the mixing of native Malay (mostly women) and ethnic Chinese traders during the 15th-16th centuries. The culture continues to be strong today and they have an especially vibrant culinary scene too! You can read more about Peranakan cuinse here at EatingAsia. Chinese fusion cuisines have always been ridiculously interesting to me. Specifically how Chinese traders settled all over Asia – going as far as India, and intermixed with local populations in the most unique ways. Just can’t wait for this trip!
Beirut and Lebanon
In a split second, I would travel to Beirut! I’ve heard so many things about it over the years – from expats who have lived there to friends who call it home, I would definitely have to go see it for myself finally. And partake in some amazing shawarma, topped off by some shisha, before travelling through the rest of Mediterranean Lebanon, of course!
And finally – I would love to visit Shanghai. I know the World Expo is long gone by now, but the city is so much more than that for me. I just finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans – which flip flops between London and this majestic colonial city. Britain first landed in the 19th century and international trading forces shaped the city in unimaginable ways with areas like the International Settlement! It would just be wonderful to wander through the historic streets of this city that was once the first site of commerce between the east and the west. And the food! The most amazing Chinese dumplings come from Shanghai! Need I say more?
And of course…Bali Part 2
We love Bali and other Indonesia islands like the Gilis and Lombok in this region. The food is amazing here, the people are lovely and we’re dying to go back. Our favouite hotel, hands down, is the Alam Indah in Ubud. Our favourite dish is babi guling – a roasted suckling pig that’s been basted in coconut juice! We’ve gone fishing off the coast of Sanur, climbed the dead volcano, Mount Batur, and motorbiked all over the eastern side of Bali, but we feel like there’s so much more to see! So of course, a second trip to Bali is definitely on the list!