2016 was a year full of excitement & exploration especially this year we managed to travel 3 trips with different group of friends to 4D3N Ho Chi Minh, 10D8N Italy and 17D15N London, Iceland & Paris Trip.
Prior to the trips, most friends were surprised traveling in a big group especially 15 people for Iceland and were worried problems & conflicts are bound to happen. Surprisingly all of our friends were crazily fun to travel with, willing to tolerate and cooperate as much as possible. Each of the trips present us an unforgettable fond memories of traveling together. If any mistake from my side, I do apologized, but you guys were simply fantastic!
Apart from traveling with friends, we managed to travel with my siblings as well, Hokkaido self drive trip in March and Shanghai in October.
With 2016 coming to an end, below are some of our 20 best travel moments for the year 2016.
1. Awed by Northern Lights in Iceland
After our first Northern Lights in Finland few years ago, we decided to try our luck again hoping to see the aurora once again. We chose Iceland since apart from northern lights, there were many beautiful landscape & waterfall Iceland could offer.
If you are planning a Northern Light hunting trip, the season is from September to March. Personally I find September, October & March as the prefered month to hunt for the Northern Lights.
Hesitate no more as 2017 might be the last year for greater chance to hunt for Northern Lights before the solar storm subside & picking up again in 2024.
2. Flying Etihad Airways First Class Apartment
Never in our wildess dream did we ever thought to fly on First Class. With such exorbitant price, First Class flight used to be way far off from our reached. First Class ticket is 4X more expensive than Business Class, while Business Class is 4X more than Economy.
However after constant traveling this few years, I have learnt travel hacks & how to maximize my miles from credit card redemption. From my accumulated miles, I only paid less than RM900 per person for a RM52,000 First Class Flight ticket.
Since it is a once a lifetime experience (doubt so now, hoping 1 F flight in every 2 years) we chose Abu Dhabi to Sydney 16 hours flight on Etihad Airways A380 plane to maximize our time on sky. Why Etihad Airways? Apart from being our favourite airline, the first class apartment offers one of the spacious first class with personal bed, make up table, separate sofa and a common shower room & bar!
3. Blue Lagoon with Crazy Bunch of Friends
If Eiffel Tower is the must visit attraction in the past decade, this decade rightfully belongs to Blue Lagoon. With millions of people sharing videos & photos of blue lagoon on social media, you will understand why it gained famed when visiting.
Striking Turquoise blue geothermal pool greets thousand of visitors each day, you wont be able to buy ticket on the spot hence online booking is required. Pamper ourselves with the mud masks while sipping ice cold beer is definitely one of the best moment in Iceland.
4. Mesmerized by the beauty of Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto is a sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri. Sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and shine through the seawater which creates a blue reflection that illuminates the whole cave.
We will need to hop on a small boat and enter through the small entrance. Hence during high tide the cave is off limits as the water will cover the cave entrance. The boat rowers will sing while rowing the boat inside the cave making it very special.
5. Snow Boarding in Niseko, Hokkaido
We experienced our first ski in South Korea however this was our first time trying out snowboarding. Since in Hokkaido, Niseko which boasts to have the world finest powder snow was our choice to ski & snow board.
Since it was our first time, luckily our friend was there to give us guidance and taught us although basically I was rolling down the whole mountain instead.
6. Exquisite fine dine in Indigo at Blue Mansion, Penang
Despite Penang being renowned as one of the best street food places in the world. The gastronomy food wise is unfortunately lacking in quality & variety due to the cheap price of street food and lack of expatriates and economic activities in Penang.
There are not many restaurants that offers exquisite gourmet with exception few such as Indigo, El Faro, Chin’s so we do celebrate most of our events in those places.
Indigo headed by Weng Chia features a mix of French, Italian & Japanese while infusing local ingredients & culture into their food making it the best restaurant to indulge when in Penang
7. Rugged Iceland Self Drive Trip
Recent years, Iceland has gained reputation to be one of the must visit countries for everyone. We started our Iceland plan 3 years ago but failed due to lack of interest however this year was different. Within 2 weeks, 11 of our friends signed up after we post on Facebook.
We rented our car from Blue Car Rental as their price was very competitive and hearing many negative feedbacks on other car rentals, we were comfortable with the company. All insurance are bought to keep us safe and we are not required to wash the car before returning.
Before our trip, all attractions research were waterfalls & mountains which made me worries. My concern was it is worth visiting so many waterfalls? I struggled through travel planning since on paper Iceland doesnt seem facinating.
But I was proved wrong upon arriving, the natural beauty of its landscape was unimaginable, some terrain looks like we were outer space, on left it might looks like dessert while on our right icy mountain hills can be seen. There were many layers of cloud, you could see black clouds but behind the clouds perfect blue sky can also be seen.
We spend most of our time stopping by the road side as almost every place was a gem. Not to mention we were blessed with Northern Lights as well!
8. Viva Italia
We visited Italy in June as some of our friends were excited for the summer sales. For this trip we covered Venice, Burano, Rome, Naples, Positano, Capri Island, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre & Milan.
For this trip, we were glad to visit the smaller villages like Burano, Cinque Terre, Positano & Capri Island where most people tend to skip the smaller villages for bigger cities which is a big mistake.
You can always revisit London, Paris, Milan but missing out Cinque Terre or Colmar or Capri, you might not be able to visit them at all since specifically visiting them after missing out during your last trip will cost more and not worth paying.
9. Timeless Shanghai & Our 5th Disneyland
After our siblings trip to Hokkaido in March, we decided to travel again in conjunction with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland. For this trip, we visited Zhejiang Region covering Hangzhou, Wuzhen, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing & Shanghai.
Shanghai Disneyland wasnt so bad as reviewed, in fact the queue was much shorter than other Disneyland parks we visited. I think in China, it always pay off to travel on weekdays & during non holiday. In terms of attraction, it is quite pale compare to other Disneyland.
To date we have visited Disneyland in Hong Kong, Japan, Paris, Orlando & Shanghai. Hopefully can complete our last Disneyland in LA in 2017 or 2018.
10. Flew over Maharloo Pink Lake
This was an accidental surprise as we were on our flight to London when we saw this beautiful pink lake surrounded by harsh terrain. Our plane was flying just above the lake allowing us to take nice photos of it.
11. Pokemon Go – Gotta Catch them all!
This summer’s most dowloaded game, Pokemon Go caught the world off guarded with the first augmented game requiring players to get out of their comfort house & explore different places to catch Pokemon.
Since we grew up with Pokemon, naturally the Gotta Catch Them All gene has been embedded into our DNA. Within 1 month of the game released, we have captured all 141 Pokemon available in Malaysia. Then we flew off to London, Paris & Iceland to catch Mr. Mime, then flew to Hong Kong for Farfetch’d & Sydney for Kangaskhan.
Remaining from our collection is Taurus which is only available in North America, hopefully we can catch it by 2017.
12. First Songkran Festival by Dusit Thani Bangkok
Courtesy of Dusit Thani Bangkok’s invite, we flew to Bangkok for our first Songkran Festival. Songkran is Thailand’s new year which occurs in April. Traditionally the day started with temple visits for prayers & splashing water during this festival represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck.
The biggest Songkran party is annually held in Silom right in front of Dusit Thani Bangkok making it the best hotel for Songkran. After the Songkran Water Splashing, we can just walk back to the hotel without any problem.
13. Dancing Squid in Hakodate
Hakodate was our first stop during our self drive trip in Hokkaido and it is famous for squid. In one the restaurant, the chef uses fresh living squid and quickly slicing it. The squid itself is dead but the muscle are still moving hence the name of Dancing Squid.
Dont worry you are not suppose to eat it this way, it merely a representation from the chef to show customers that the squid is at it freshest before bringing it back to the kitchen to slice it before serving.
14. Relax in Koh Samui
After missing few times in previous years to Koh Samui, we finally secured our tickets to visit Koh Samui & the world’s biggest full moon party in Koh Phangan.
Since our main reason for this trip was to relax and destress, we decided to indulge in The Library Koh Samui, Kanda Residences & Anantara Lawana Koh Samui.
Unlike Phuket or Pattaya, Koh Samui is less crowded with tourists and much more serene, great for a relaxing getaway especially if you wanna avoid the crowds.
15. Cam On Saigon
Another unforgettable trip with my college schoolmates. 10 years has passed since we graduated and this was our first overseas trip together. We chose Ho Chi Minh as it was closer and Airasia flies direct from Penang to Saigon.
16. Hotel Jen Singapore 1st Birthday Bash!
Hotel Jen is one of the newest lifestyle hotel brand by Shangri La Hotels targeting the young & trendy who are always on the go and are constantly socially connected. The brand was launched in 2015 and within a blink of the eye, they are celebrating their 1st birthday!
Both Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore & Hotel Jen Orchardgateway invited us to be part of their proud achievement. Guests are allowed to dine in both hotels buffet with a dedicated party van shuttling guests to both hotels.
After the buffet, a party was held in Hotel Jen Orchardgateway with more canapes & free flow wines & beers. Lucky draw was held & I was one of the lucky winner for a stay in Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore.
It is always pleasant to hear them saying, Welcome Back Home again!
17. Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur 10th Anniversary
After 10 successful years, Traders Hotel KL is still standing strong and one of the most sought of hotel to stay due to its proximity to KLCC & Petronas Twin Towers. Half of its rooms offers a splendid view of the majestic Petronas Twin Towers thus it is always fully booked during New Year Eve.
We were honored to be invited to be part of the 10th anniversary celebration along with Kampung Boy City Girl and Cheng Yi from Fat Boy Bakes. It was a night of good food, chill champagne & good catch up.
18. Our 18th Visit to Paris
Our first Paris trip was during our 70 Days Europe Trip covering 30 countries. We booked our KL to Paris 2 ways return ticket for only RM1,200 from Airasia. Ever since then, we have been to Paris 18 times.
Paris was our first Europe destination and definitely one of our favourite place apart from the pickpocket. During 18 trips we were almost pickpocket 10 times, the worst was twice a day. Fortunately all items were retrieved back, if the police couldnt solve this issue, it certainly cause a dent on their tourism especially I will definitely recommend Japan over Paris nowadays.
In Paris, we enjoy eating Pierre Herme pastries, french bread from Eric Kayser and ad hoc charming cafe & restaurants apart from the Michelin Star. Lastly, Eiffel Tower is a must visit for us every time in Paris.
19. Vivid Sydney
Also Sydney is the place we caught Kangaskhan a regional exclusive pokemon
20. Will You Marry Me in Paris
Since Paris brought a lot of memories for both of us, I decided to propose to my 9 years girlfriend. With the help of our friends which some of them look like paparazzi in the video but in reality trying to get all possible shots of the proposal.
Appreciate all your efforts to make the proposal a successful one although the proposal looks more like comedy instead of a romantic one. >.<
Before signing off, I would like to Thank All Our Readers for supporting us. Without your support, we wont be able to achieve today’s position.
If you have yet to follow us on Instagram, do follow us Tommy Ooi & Cecilia Black. We will be organizing free hotel or flight giveaway soon, all followers will automatically stand a chance to win it! Every followings on social media allow us to maintain this website & publish new travel guide, promotions & tips. We appreciate it very much.
For 2017 we are hoping to update most of the travel articles, publish more travel tips and definitely visit new places. Our Travel Resolution for 2017 will be Japan, Tibet & Norway. If all goes well we might visit South Africa as well.
How bout you? What’s your travel resolution for 2017? Comment below & from responses we will use it reference to plan our 2017 articles & trips.
Happy New Year Everyone!