Last fall, I had the unique opportunity to travel to Armenia and explore a country I knew so little of. I spent three days driving through the Armenian countryside and wandering through Soviet-era towns. Between the lush mountains, beautiful architecture and rich history, I was most impressed by the hospitality and openness of Armenians. It was such a pleasure to learn about the culture and to meet friendly locals.
Tegallalang is one of the classic destinations when visiting Bali so I had to make a trip to see the rice patties myself. While you see plenty of rice patties when driving across Bali, Tegallalang is unique with the cascading terraces extending into the narrow valley. It feels more serene and mystical than other rice patties, especially with a layer of morning fog.
Carved into the side of a mountain and hidden from plain sight, Batu Caves is one of the most famous Hindu shrines outside of India. Locals come for religious ceremonies and tourists mainly come to see the colorful steps and beautiful architecture. If you’re lucky you can even witness a Hindu ceremony like I did.
Sekumpul is the tallest waterfall in Bali and has one of the clearest waters on the island. I hiked down to the base of the waterfall, navigated through shallow streams and got up close that I was completely soaked by the mist. It was a refreshing and thrilling experience and was one of the highlights of my 4 days on the island.
Singapore’s Changi Airport has been named the world’s best airport for the seventh straight year! When I flew through Changi last August, I spent about an hour roaming the terminals to see what the hype was all about. It did live up to the expectation with sunflower roof gardens and indoor koi ponds, but it was nothing compared to the Jewel that opened in April this year
The Taj Mahal is one of the seven Old Wonders of the World and represents a symbol of love from Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to his wife. Completed in 1632, the mausoleum is perfectly symmetrical and made entirely from white marble. There are detailed floral inlets engraved into the marble and inscriptions of Koran along the entranceways. It’s impressive the amount of patience and precision that were required to construct the Taj Mahal, something that would be impossible in today’s world.
Singapore is a city state country and seen as the business and technology hub of Asia. The city is like a melting pot in Asia with local Singaporeans, ex-pats, and ethnicities and cultures from all over the world. If you ever get a chance to stop by Singapore, make sure to check out these places, most of which are free or almost free to enter!
Singapore has been a top Asia travel destination for me for quite some time. I’ve heard about how much of a megacity it is and how it’s leading the other Asian cities in terms of business, finance and technology. Plus, the Garden by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands sounded pretty awesome and I wanted to see it in person.
Thailand is known for its local markets and Chiang Mai, especially, has one the most diverse and exciting markets. They are scattered within and around the Old City walls and there is bound to be one open any day of the week. Most of these are night markets that pop up in the evening. At the markets, locals and tourists can buy anything from elephant pants to handicrafts to groceries to street food.
The thing I looked forward to the most on my trip to Chiang Mai was spending a day with the elephants. I’ve visit Thailand when I was very young and the only thing I remembered was feeding bananas to the elephant. Except, I was too scared and dropped the bananas on the ground when their trunks got close. This time around I made sure to visit an elephant sanctuary to feed and bath the elephants. They are such friendly and playful animals!