Plenty of travel opportunities last year, thankfully, including regional stuff out of Singapore (three trips to Malaysia, three to Thailand, one to Indonesia), and a handful of journeys further afield. Here are some of the bits I enjoyed the most. (Click photos to zoom.)
1. Loubressac, France
Whereabouts: On a rural road between hamlets
Travel highlight of the year was a toss-up between a brilliant first-time trip to India, encompassing Delhi, Rajasthan and Agra, and an eight-day hike in the Dordogne Valley of France’s southwest. This photo was taken on day five of the latter, near the village of Loubressac. After a torridly wet start to the week (70km of squelching boots), the early morning fog signalled glorious weather ahead.
2. Pansea Beach, Thailand
Whereabouts: Surin Resort
I’m lucky enough to get to Thailand from time to time, but often it’s with an agenda – e.g., to enter a running event, to write a review of a place, or to meet up with family or friends passing through. This trip, though, was sheer R & R: breakfast, beach, books, beers, bed – repeat. Pansea is a private beach on Phuket’s west coast, and home to two resorts: the 25-year-old (but still amazing) Amanpuri and The Surin (the revamped Chedi), where Gill and I stayed.
3. Neemrana, India
Whereabouts: In a Rajasthani fort
Neemrana wasn’t the best thing we saw in India, but it was the first. Just hours earlier, we’d landed in Delhi at 3am, slept briefly in a hotel, then been collected for the drive to Jaipur. We were still half asleep when we tumbled out of the car at this hillside fort in the Rajasthan countryside. Bizarre place: a sprawling network of old passageways and colonnades. But completely fascinating. They do a pretty mean thali for lunch, too.
Whereabouts: Singapore Science Centre
I’ve loved exploring Singapore with our girls this year: jungle walks, pony rides at Pasir Ris, goat farms at Kranji, over the border to Legoland, a Sikh wedding, Universal Studios, beach sessions on Sentosa, water parks and, of course, hawker centres. This photo (“We’re going to put on a show, Daddy”) is taken outside the IMAX theatre at the Science Centre after watching To The Arctic.
5. Ipoh, Malaysia
Whereabouts: On a yoga platform beside a hot-spring lake
Mood: New Agey
I’m not much of a yoga bloke. In fact, this was only the second yoga class I’d attended in my whole life. (You can’t tell from the photo, but I’m in agony just sitting with my legs crossed, so you can imagine the pain I was in when we started doing the asanas. The only one I’m good at, for obvious reasons, is shavasana.) But what a setting! The Banjaran Hotsprings Resort is a quietly spoken gem of a health retreat in northern Malaysia.
More to come.