I took a gap year this year after completing my diploma in NP to pursue little dreams of mine. I wanted to take a year off school to focus on TJM, Juicesea, and not forgetting my wanderlust spirit. I love travelling, I love exploring new places be it cities, beach resorts or a poor village, I love learning and adapting to new cultures and traditions, I love meeting new and interesting people, I love admiring architectures and staying in hotels, I love eating food from all over the world. The only thing I dread about travelling is plane rides, which is mandatory to travelling haha. 

So now that 2012 has ended, which means my gap year is coming to an end and I'm going back to school, I've decided to let you girls into my wonderful year of travelling. 
#LEGGO

1. BANGKOK [FEB '12]

This trip happened right after my last poly exam. I remember I flew off the very next day after my paper and it was a much needed trip cos Daniel and I broke up for awhile during that period of time. It was a half play half work trip with Brenda.



Favorite roadside stall @ Pratunam.
Managed to meet up with a few of my poly friends there as well (:


Bangkok is always a city I love and will never stop going. So much history and memories in that place, and so much future gonna be spent there too (:
If you need a quick and affordable getaway, Bangkok is THE place to go!

2. PHUKET [MARCH '12]

This was somewhat a poly grad trip though it was just Ab, Jiajia and I. Nevertheless, it was a kickass trip! 
I LOVE PHUKET <3 Actually I just love Thailand, cos it's so bloody chill and non-pretentious. Not to mention, everything is cheap cheap cheap.


Surin beach, my favorite beach in Phuket.
Rented a car in Phuket for our 4 days trip, did groceries shopping together, sun-tanned together everything. Life was SOOOOOO good and happy~~~~





Naiharn beach, the far end of Phuket!


Kamala beach.

Phuket is on my #mustgoeveryyear list after the first time I went (: super huge lover of the sea!!!
I've also conquered cableskii during this trip! Hahah I might not look sporty but I super love watersports! Super garang whenever I go to beach resorts, everything also wanna do haha. Pussy spirit can stand one side. I'm still waiting for my skydiving chance to come!

3. TAIPEI & HUALIEN [MAY '12]

Went to Taiwan with my mum cos we have had enough of all the rave about Taiwan and just nice there was a sale on Jetstar so we decided to check out TW for ourselves, and it was a pretty big disappointment. It would be unfair for me to say Taiwan is a boring country cos it's subjective, but let's just say it's not my type of fun. I'm not fond of the food AT ALL, the shopping is way overrated and slightly expensive, and I felt Taipei was trying hard to be in between HK and Japan. The only thing I liked about Taiwan was that the people there were EXTREMELY nice and polite. That was something I respected a lot.

Anyhoos, I suggested to my mom that we visit Hualien which is a scenery kinda place instead of spending the whole week in Taipei and I'm glad we went.


It was our first time staying in Bed & Breakfast (I love first times!!! It always feels like first love, kinda) and I instantly fell in love with the concept. Bed & breakfast in Taiwan is usually owned and solely managed by families or couples which offers overnight lodging with HOMEMADE breakfast! The owners are usually very very kind and friendly and would offer to bring you around the city/town.

In our case, it was owned by a couple and they are the nicest people I've ever ever met overseas! They were so helpful from the start to the end, fetched us around everywhere and brought us to snacks factories out of their own freewill, and did a guided tour at Taroko Gorge! <3

You see, I'm the kinda person that I like things on a personal level. I love warmth and sincerity so staying in this B&B in Hualien was soooo damn pleasant though there wasn't much to the town.


Our cosy room which we paid only $70SGD a night!




Hiking during the guided tour. Totally not in hiking outfit at all -.-


I love landscape, mountains, rivers etc. I just love nature so I was very very happy to be there though my mum was grumbling a lot! It's like we switched roles, I'm the aunty who likes nature and she's the youngster who needs her shopping and food.




And this is Chi Sing beach if I remember correctly. Didn't stay there for long cos it was damn bloody windy and cold we weren't even prepared or dressed for it. For some odd reason, this place was 18 degrees (it was like 23 or 24 at all other places) and it was SUPER windy. I've never experienced that kinda wind before, not even during extreme winter in Korea/Austaralia when I was younger. The wind was insane it literally blew me away by a bit, I couldn't stand straight! But being the thrill seeker I am, I loved it and stayed out longer than the rest.

Then we moved onto to Taipei after 3 days via railway train. Probably my first time on a railway train too and it was sucha great experience. I didn't sleep throughout my 3 hours ride cos the view outside my window was just way too beautiful. Okay fine, now there's something I really like about Taiwan. The view!!! Throughout the 3 hours, it was non-stop mountains, seas and river mouths! I was just so awed by God's creation I penned down my emotions. Every now and then, I still whip it out to read to remind myself our problems are so tiny compared to this vast universe and the many many beautiful things out there.

TAIPEI - XIMENDING



Iconic Taipei 101! Not too bad but the view wasn't great but I love the observatory deck cos they explained certain historical and geographic facts. I love enriching trips like that!


And mummy bought me my 21st gifts there too <3


Hello Kitty cafe! I really think someone should franchise it over cos Singapore is lacking such themed cafes!


Dong Qu, my preferred part of Taipei cos it's more....indie?


View from Taipei 101.


4. TOKYO [JULY '12]

Tokyo's my favorite country so far, beats HK, BKK, Aussie, Korea etc etc
I've always wanted to go to Tokyo but y'know how it's damn expensive and seem out of your reach unless your parents pay for it. My parents stopped paying for my overseas trip ever since I was 16 years old so I never ever thought I could go to Japan with my own money so soon. Thank you TJM I love you hahaha.

This Tokyo trip was my birthday trip cum pre-enlistment for Daniel and I, and I enjoyed Tokyo soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much with him. Really, my favorite moments of 2012!

Isetan @ Shinjuku!


Lol, my unkempt hair before meeting my savior Salon Vim!


TONS of eateries in Shinjuku!!! Loving it.


And our favorite meal of the trip! <3 Shabu shabu rice with raw egg!! Super yummy!


Harajuku train station!
Tokyo is just so intriguing. Like, the people there are nice, weird, cool, and funky. Food there is crazy good but expensive, super a lot of train lines you can die, kids and animals there are uber cute, shopping there is relatively good but you gotta be loaded to fully enjoy it cos it's very expensive, and the place is so rich in history. I love visiting Meijijingu which explains the Meiji Empire etc. 

And Harajuku is just SUPER funky and indie <3 



And these girls? They are considered normal there. There are girls or even guys who dress up 20x more than them!! Did I mention that Jap guys are damn well dressed too? Street-style or forever in suits. It's like if I'm a single Jap girl, I won't know how to choose boyfriend cos they all can dress damn well and look damn stylo milo!!


And then you have tons of sex shops and here's a condom shop out of NOWHERE!! It's damn random, but that's Tokyo for you! 


And the quaint railway station!


Hachiko!
I nearly cried just by staring at it ok!!!! Did y'all watch the movie? GO WATCH IT PLEASE


Shibuya, where I fell in love all over again. Just look at the lights, buildings, and sky! This is the famous Shibuya scramble crossing by the way.


Our apartment for our stay in Tokyo <3


Disneysea on my birthday!


And my birthday dinner at Roppongi Hills!


Ginza clock tower. Ginza is like the atas area in Tokyo!


And our first Laduree experience which errrr....sucked balls? Paid SGD112 for the hightea set and it was SUPER mediocre. 


But still must act happy cos it's Laduree. HAHAH


Typical restaurant in Shinjuku!

As usual, I wanted to experience a more traditional side of Tokyo instead of spamming the city life so I suggested to Daniel prior the trip that we stay at Ueno for 2 nights! Booked a traditional inn (which works like a B&B too) called Ryokan Sawanoya!


First time staying in a jap inn and sleeping on a futon and I LOVED IT! Daniel didn't really dig it cos it wasn't big enough for him and he's damn city kinda guy but sorry, it's my birthday so I like can already hahaha


Virgin onsen experience! In my inn some more (: 


Another onsen <3 I LOVE IT LEH!!!



Here's me writing my wish down at Meji-Jinggu! The fact that it's still hanging there now as you're reading this just makes me feel so close to Tokyo, like I left something significant there.


And the bouquet of flowers bought by Daniel from the beautiful flower cart along Omotesando!


WA I JUST LOVE TOKYO TTM AND I REALLY WANT TO GO BACK SO BADLY!!!! 
Travel bucket list was : Japan, US, Europe, South Africa. Now one is down!!!
You can read about my Tokyo trip part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here if you haven't (:

5. BANGKOK [AUGUST '12]

Another half work half play trip to Bangkok with Myra! Virgin fish spa experience and it's the scariest thing I ever did in 2012, I'M SERIOUS. I almost cried, but I'm glad I can finally say I've tried. That was also the trip that I first tried eyelash extensions which got me hooked till now.




Damn cheap and nice pad thai at Khaosan!



During fishspa!


You can read about this trip here.

6. BALI [AUGUST '12]

Thanks to KLM for flying me and a few other bloggers to Bali, I had my first time of flying on business class and it was also my first time to Bali after years of wanting to visit that place. Also got to make really nice friends through this trip! Hahah I'm secretly hoping there's another sponsored trip this year cos it's damn shiok!!!!



Always hated taking planes but being on biz class made me wish the flight was A LOT longer hahah


Beautiful clean stretch of beach.







Being a beach lover, I like Bali and definitely want to go back again to explore other beaches and the water theme park. I like both Phuket and Bali, but both are pretty damn different. Phuket feels more homely and unpretentious, whereas Bali is more chill and "atas". Bali beaches are cleaner and less messy also!

You can read about my Bali post part 1 here and part 2 here.

7. BANGKOK LONE/WORK TRIPS 
[ SEP+OCT+NOV]

So towards the last quarter of the year, I've been flying a lot alone for work. To be honest, I LOVE it. I've always wanted to try travelling alone and I'm glad I finally did it though it's not for leisure purpose. Somehow, it feels liberating and it really does give me a lot of "me" time to reflect on some things, have a good hearty meal and shop without waiting or caring about someone else. I miss these lone trips already, so I might just be going on another one damn soon. My mind needs this liberation for now too.







8. HONG KONG [DEC '12]

I'm sure many of y'all have already read my recent HK posts so I shall not elaborate on it. It's my first ever most impromptu trip which turned out great as hell, and the first time I went overseas without a room to sleep in on one night but still, loving it too.




So that's about it. Perfect way to end my 2012. Flown out of Singapore 12 times this year so I'm glad to say my gap year is worth it! Though I didn't go to faraway countries this year, but I'm really contented that I managed to go to quite a number of new places, tried so many new things I've never tried before, and finally strike off Tokyo off my travel list.

Today is the first day of 2013, not a very great start for me but let's just hope things will only get better!
Happy new year to all of you, and have an amazing year ahead.

XX
Sophia

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