As much as I wanted to discover a new place every time, I am also okay to revisit countries I have already been too. After all, spending a few days in one country is not enough to experience everything it has to offer. I’ve been living in Singapore for almost four years and though I’ve already grown quite familiar here, I still think that I haven’t seen it all!
The limited holidays we get from work also puts boundaries to how much we can only see, and most of the time, we resolve to the obligatory tourist sights. All the more reason to revisit and discover a new road less traveled by.
If time and money were not an issue (ehem!), I’d gladly return and explore more of these countries in a heartbeat!
Hong KongFrom where I came from, Hong Kong is almost every one’s first out-of-the-country destination. It’s only 2 hours away from the Philippines, close enough to experience someplace different than our own.
Since it’s our first time internationally, we spent a lot of time figuring out what to do – how to read a train map, follow directions and road rules, and communicate by body language as we learned that most of the population don’t speak English (at least for the locals there). We had unrealistic plans; we assumed that everything would just go by smoothly. It was a memorable experience and though we wasted a good amount of time trying to work things out (haha), it was fun and I loved it there.
MacauJust a ferry ride away from Hong Kong! We spent a day exploring around Macau with a Filipina guide we met at the harbour (Actually, we met a lot of Filipinos working and living in Macau. Mabuhay ang OFWs!).
Macau is very small and walkable. A day would have been enough if not for a whole bunch of tourists we have to compete with. We also have to finish early to catch our ferry back to Hong Kong. I definitely want to go back here; probably through another day trip from Hong Kong.
Saigon, VietnamThe number one reason I want to go back here is that I lost my camera memory card – three-days’ worth of photos with my favorite girls. Huhu. I think I dropped it at one of the temples in Angkor Wat when I switched the cards. And being a documentarian, having no tangible memory of this place feels like I missed it.
We’ve also had really bad experiences in Saigon – from tuktuk drivers who scammed us, to heavy rains, flood and getting stranded. We really hated being there at that point of time, but I wanted to give this country another try and create better memories with an open mind. After all, from all the Asian countries I’ve been to, Vietnam, especially Saigon is the most close to Philippines in terms of culture and appearance.
Bali, IndonesiaWe made a mistake to went to Bali during a Singapore holiday in August. We didn’t know that it was their peak season. Locals were flying back to their hometown in celebration of Hari Raya Puasa and westerns are taking advantage of the summer holidays. Every destination were flocked with people; costs are high; traffic is crazy and the famous water temple, Pura Bratan, is barely visible when we climbed up there. The weather was not good and it was really foggy.
Thankfully, we enjoyed the resorts we stayed in and Indonesian’s really tasty food. Next time we return, we’ll see more of the temples and Bali’s local culture.
Siem Reap, CambodiaI remember our tuktuk driver brought us to a floating village. It was not part of our itinerary but we have extra time so we agreed. He was deeply talking about this village, at the same time, sharing real life stories about their way of living. When we saw the village’s situation, we understood why. I think he purposely brings tourists there to help the locals. This small community reflects the poverty and distress that is in Cambodia.
Despite good tourism, the standard of living is really awful. The government goes violent in its own efforts; the local workers suffer from low wages; the children are undernourished; and there are disputes in land ownership. I think their bearings are much worst than the Philippines. It was an eye opener and it’s inevitable to want to learn more.
Bangkok, ThailandWe did an express backpacking trip across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for eight days, jumping from one tourist site to another. By the time we reached Thailand, we were already exhausted to even go out of our hotel. Ha! We were able to visit Ayutthaya and Damnoen Saduak floating market but mostly, we just opted to stroll around the shopping and nearby areas. I want to go back in Bangkok because I know that it’s more than just being a shopping district.
There are other parts of the country I hope to visit too, like Chiang Mai and Krabi.
Taiwan (featured image)Taiwan is a less popular country for travelers, maybe because a visa is required even for Asians like us. I had only planned to visit here because of the Sky Lantern Festival and I’m glad I did. They have clean streets; their public transport is convenient; their food is heaven! Whether it’s a fancy restaurant or a street food stall, their food taste good.
Again, most locals do not speak English. We’ve experienced being pointed to the wrong direction (hehe) but Taiwanese are nice folks. I want to go back and know them more.
It’s a long list and I could only yearn to return (for now!). Part of the reason why I want to revisit these countries/cities is that I know that I would come back and see the place in a different light and perspective. A little bit familiar maybe, but with an open mind and more appreciation this time around.