HOW do I describe 2016? It was generous, exciting and exhausting. The last may seem a surprising addition but it “came with the territory,” so to speak—and I’m not complaining.
Off the bucket list is Kyoto. The photo of geisha’s walking the streets of the city was on my vision board for years, so was the Jidai Matsuri festival and the autumn season in Japan. I got to tick off three items from my bucket list.
Five days in the city was too short with a heavy concentration of Unesco World Heritage Sites, but good enough to know that I should revisit the city.
In Kyoto, stay at the New Gingkaku Inn. It’s affordable and very conveniently located a few steps away from the Kyoto station. The train station is a depot for buses for the city’s tourist attractions.
The few remaining days in Japan allowed me to visit another new place, Karuizawa in Nagano, to chase the autumn leaves (I came too early in the season to catch the red and gold foliage).
In Tokyo, I was able to visit a few more sites I missed on my previous visit.
Perhaps, the best lesson Japan has taught me was to maximize the Japan Rail Pass. It doesn’t come cheap so the more bullet train rides to faraway destinations you can do so. Short, quick visits to places are not just my kind of thing though. Do I compromise?
Taipei may not be on my list but PAL’s seat sale was too hard to resist.
Once under the Japanese rule, the Chinese city still has the vibe of Japan—clean, safe, commuter friendly and inexpensive. The city is vibrant and a foodie’s haunt. Taipei is worth a revisit.
In Taipei, stay at W Taipei and Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel. W is contemporary chic and Shangri-La is Oriental sophistication, each is an experience in itself.
While in these hotels, take time to dine under the Michelin stars. Yen, W’s Chinese resto, has a chef who earned a Michelin-starred culinary experience from Japan, and Shangri-La’s ibuki by Takagi Kazuo is Taiwan’s first Japanese restaurant to operate in concordance with Michelin standards.
Believe it or not, it’s been seven years since my most recent visit to Hong Kong. Its face hasn’t change much but it has become one of the most expensive cities to shop and dine at.
Hong Kong is transforming/repurposing its old quarters and turning it into new destination spots, a formula that can keep the city exciting.
In Hong Kong, enjoy the changing scenery of the iconic Victoria Harbour in comforts of your own room at the Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel or the Shangri-La Kowloon Hotel.
Spoil yourself. In these hotels, go for the continental club floor room and enjoy the club amenities.
Spoil yourself more and dine at Shang Palace, Shangri-La Kowloon’s Michelin starred restaurant, and Cucina, Marco Polo’s amazing Italian resto.
Another destination I haven’t seen in years was Baguio. The weekend visit with friends was for food tripping. It was worth every calorie ingested.
Bangkok’s charm is unending. Twice a year, there’s always a new find and the most recent ones discovered were a three food places in three hotels are great at pampering its guests: Punjab, an Indian restaurant at Radisson Suites Sukhumvit 13; Eat Well Café, a healthy hub at Well Hotel Sukhumvit 20; and the afternoon tea nibbles at The House at Sathorn of W Bangkok.
Catching the Loi Krathong festival on the super moon phenomenon was magical, and I finally was able to visit the Jim Thompson Museum after many attempts on my countless visits to the city.
Like they say, it comes in three’s. Third on the B destination list is Boracay. I still consider it my island home no matter how busy it has turned to be. It’s a matter of locating your ideal lounging spots along the white stretches, and enjoy the sun, sand and surf.
For a touch of Davao in Boracay, the home I stay may soon be on the B&B list and Hoy Panga! has risen quite quickly on the most popular restaurants list in the island.
I should say, along with the happy (and extremely tired) feet is a happy tummy, with all the new dining places I was able to try this 2016.
My gratitude is extended to Philippine Airlines, with special mention to the office of its president. The Business Class upgrades made the journey to and from Taipei and Japan very comfortable.
What’s in 2017? There are a few more photos of destinations on my vision board. I’m keeping my calendar open and wait where the generous Universe is taking me.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 29, 2016.
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