Salvador: 2019 travel recap

Back in Singapore. Believe it or not, last time I was in this city Gardens by the Bay wasn’t open yet. (Photo by Jinggoy I. Salvador)
Back in Singapore. Believe it or not, last time I was in this city Gardens by the Bay wasn’t open yet. (Photo by Jinggoy I. Salvador)

A NEW place each year, I follow one great man’s advice. There’s so many destinations in the bucket list still waiting to be ticked off. In good time it will be, one at a time. The Universe is generous. All we have to do is ask.

The year 2019 was travel-filled. That’s one thing I am grateful for. From my list, one city was marked, I journeyed to one city farthest from my mind, went to two frequented cities, revisited one after nine years, and with regret, shook my head to several invitations to visit exciting places because it coincided with other travel plans.

Seoul. With two good friends, the trip finally happened. True enough, Seoul is easy to love. Clean, safe, easy to navigate with public transportation, amazing food, charming people and lots of exciting places to visit. It’s heaven for the telenovela-loving followers, K-Pop fans and face-mask (and other cosmetics) addicts.

It is also a foodie’s paradise. I am a big kimchi lover but not a fan of the cook-it-yourself food. I forgot the latter because of the tender beef and pork slices the BBQ served. Two delicacies landed on my favorite food list—the local “okoy” aka “pajeon” (Korean pancakes) and the Osulloc’s Green Tea O Fredo with Brown Sugar Bubble.

I will go back and explore more of the city!

Bangladesh. Yes, it’s not on my list but I made it there. It may not be on yours as well but the city can be crazy exciting. If public transportation can be more tourist friendly, then getting to the attractions will be no problem. The people are generally warm, and the most exciting part? Shopping. Locally made products are very affordable.

Is this my prelude to India, which is on my list? Maybe so.

Bangkok is my birthday destination. This year’s trip was made memorable by Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square. Normally, I would get treats in my room but this time I was surprised by a whole team singing the birthday song when I entered the hotel room. I was grinning for hours.

I love Bangkok for many reasons. It’s competitive as a destination that there is something new to look forward to. Food is as exciting and I can’t wait to dine in those highly-acclaimed restos.

Singapore. The most recent visit was in 2011. Gardens at Bay wasn’t open yet. With regular visits from 2009 to 2011, and finding the place a bit too expensive, it didn’t give me the itch to drop by even with a direct flight available from Davao.

This year’s visit was all about SG cuisine, especially traveling with foodies. Two places were on the list—Odette, the 18th on the list of the World’s Best Restaurants and one hawker food because it was the first visit for a couple of friends in the group. But no matter where we eat, it’s the company that counts. It’s always more fun dining with special people.

I would have loved to see Borobudur, a World Heritage Site in Indonesia, and JinJiang in China for the first time, and return to Bali again, but unfortunately, I had to say no to the invitations. It coincided with other travel plans. I hope the invitations come again next year.

Domestic travels took me to Baguio with a side trip to the Manaoag Church (that’s in the bucket list!), Cebu, Iloilo and Boracay.

Confession: my priorities have changed much. At my age, food and friends are on top of it. Or, I had my share of clubbing and late night partying. Can you picture a lolo among millennials in a crowded room? Awkward.

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