While I’ve always been obsessed with flying, I’ve also found myself more engaged during travel. It’s not that I’ve never liked visiting cities, but I tend to travel with my parents, who have a much different travel philosophy than I do. My parents are all about tourist spots, views, and attractions that they’re known for.
People going to Taipei never miss out on a trip to Shifen
Meanwhile, I’m more of a person that kind of “feels” my way around the city. I feel like a better way to experience local culture is to actually hang out in areas where locals live. Sure, sometimes my understanding is infinitely shallow to start with, as I don’t actually do much research before I immerse myself into a destination. My recent trip to Singapore was the first time I had time to myself to walk around and capture the city’s vibe, which may have contributed to why it’s my favourite city.
Watching a sunrise at Marina Bay is one of my most memorable travel moments
Speaking of that, it’s usual for me to pass through quite a few cities on my way to others, and some of these have really intrigued me. There are also some cities I’ve spent a few days in, but know that I haven’t visited enough, so am really compelled to know more about. Here are the cities that I’ve been to in recent years, though I really want to visit again.
Auckland, New Zealand
A big destination we neglected to visit in New Zealand in 2014 was Auckland, which I was left intrigued in. We had lunch there for an afternoon and passed through on the way to Rotorua and on the way back from the Bay of Islands, though we didn’t manage to spend any time there. While I’m not dying to return to either place I visited (though I would like to revisit Paihia under better weather circumstances if I can), I’m eager to explore more of New Zealand, and Auckland definitely left me intrigued after the visit.
I visited Bangkok in January 2016, and while I was just there for a convention event, Bangkok felt like a large community that I was very intrigued in. My family also has plans to visit, and I’ve been so interested in what there is to offer. I plan to be back to actually visit parts of the city in greater depth. For some reason I didn’t manage to get the same feeling from Kuala Lumpur, which I also visited, though I’d still eagerly visit if I had the chance.
While my “Kyushu Karnival” (cringe) from July 2014 allowed me to get a sense of what rural Japanese life was like, I was very intrigued by the city of Fukuoka, which seemed to have a vibe that 13-year-old me couldn’t quite capture. I would like to go back just to get a better “sense” of what Fukuoka as a city has to offer, as it seems to be a city rich in Japanese culture. It’s also time that I revisited with a functional camera.
Jakarta as a city struck as a city that I found very interesting. While I was only there for a mathematics convention and basically stuck to the programme offered, I was very struck by how friendly the people there were (as my friend from Indonesia pointed out, “it’s the Indo way”). We didn’t get to immerse in any sort of Indonesian culture there whatsoever, which I believe is rather unfortunate given what a culture-laden city Jakarta is known to be.
London, United Kingdom
My 2015 trip to London consisted of taking day trips out to adjacent towns, Harrod’s and having a (short) conflict with a supermarket staff member in Westminster. I returned to Westminster in 2016 as part of a day trip from Oxford and remember loving the crisp, cool vibe that the place offered. However, half a day isn’t enough to fully immerse in what the city has to offer.
Fortunately, I’m thinking of going to university in London and will be taking various day trips to London as part of my time in Imperial College this summer, so revisiting shouldn’t be that big of a deal (I’m also trying to find the best premium economy product between Hong Kong and London). So I’m not too worried about not getting to know the city more at a given point, as I’ll be passing through it a fair bit. 😉
In May 2014 I visited Tainan on a day trip from Kaohsiung, and was left pretty intrigued at the “vibe” of the city. Everyone there seemed friendly, and the entire place felt like a big, friendly, rural city. I can’t exactly remember why I loved the city so much – perhaps it was just the weather – but I’m definitely itching to return.
I’m also looking to reword this sentence that I wrote during the “Exploring Tainan” installment that I wrote in 2014:
I have the same things to say about Tainanese people and Kaohsiungese people (if those are words) – they are friendly and don’t beep their horns and kind of make the place feel like Denpasar.
During my trip to Whistler in February 2016, we spent the last night in an airport hotel in Vancouver, though I didn’t actually get to explore the city of Vancouver itself. I could tell that Vancouver was a culturally-rich city, and I was missing out by not hanging by the city for a couple of days. Perhaps I can return in Hong Kong Airlines’ business class, which seems like a solid (and potentially valuable) way to get between the two cities, at least in terms of the hard product.
While I briefly visited Xiamen as part of my journey to different tulous in Fujian, I left really wanting to experience more of the city. It seemed especially laid back for a fast-growing Chinese city, and I don’t think I’ve spent enough time in Xiamen to know what it’s like. While I enjoyed my stay in Yunshuiyao, I left with a solid impression of the area, whereas there’s probably a big part of Xiamen that I’ve yet to visit.
I briefly visited Yangon for a couple of days before and after my teaching adventure in Bagan, and the city excited me in a way that I haven’t felt from most other destinations. Yangon is a fast-growing destination instilled with apparent Burmese culture, which I’ve felt embraced within in a way that I haven’t felt from many other cities (for example, in Singapore, I do kind of feel like the white tourist that hangs around Marina Bay, whereas that’s not the case here). I’d like to revisit Yangon to solidify my thoughts on the city.
During my trip to Switzerland where I visited Zermatt, Interlaken and Zurich, I found myself with different impressions of each of the three cities. Zermatt was a charming little town that I was happy to spend time in, though I don’t think there’s anything I’ve missed out on. Interlaken felt like a big city that didn’t have much of a soul, though I’m guessing that feeling is just a function of where I stayed and what I visited – regardless, I’m not dying to return. Zurich struck me as a place that exuded a lot of charm. I’m not sure what Zurich offers that made me so compelled, though I’d like to return in the future, despite the prices being astronomical (which is true of Switzerland on the whole). Preferably I’d be points-rich by the time so I could stay at the Park Hyatt without losing half of my bank account (or doubling my debt, for what it’s worth), though I loved the city, and can’t wait to return.
I feel like each city is worth visiting at least once, though these are the ten cities I’ve visited in the past four years that I feel like I’m in need of spending more time in. I’m excited to tackle my travels in the future, and can’t wait to see what’s next (so far, it’s London, Munich, Lindau and Berchtesgaden, so I’m excited!).
Has anyone spent substantial time in these cities? What cities have you visited that are still on your bucket list?