The Trips Our Editors Keep Looking Back On
We're missing travel just as much as you are. Here are the holidays that our editors are looking back on while international is travel still on hold
With international travel on hold for more than a year, the wanderlust in us can't help but look back on our past trips to cherish that feeling of travelling. As we wait for travel to resume, we're looking for travel inspiration and adding these new destinations to our bucket lists, whether it's beautiful bookstores, luxury hotels, real-life locations from TV shows such as Bridgerton or the top Airbnb properties in the world––there's so much to look forward when travel is allowed again.
To keep fueling your wanderlust and remedy your quarantine blues, our editors are sharing the trips that they keep looking back on––because we miss travel just as much as you.
Cheetah Outreach, South Africa
I long for the day when I return to my furry feline friends at Cheetah Outreach in Somerset, South Africa. The journey to the wide savannah plains, safari trips and sleeping under the stars when I took part in the Semester at Sea programme in 2016 were some of the best moments in my life. I remember learning about cheetah conservation from the sanctuary and making friends with the volunteers from all around the world who took care of the injured big cats. I hope to return soon as a volunteer and bring some change—however big or small—to African wildlife. That to me will be the dream trip.
—Zabrina Lo, Associate Features Editor
New York City
Thanks to the hundreds of romance movies that are set in New York City, I’ve romanticised the city for years, dreaming of the day I’ll finally be able to visit. When I finally saw Times Square for the first time two years ago, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I teared up at the sight of the flashing billboards. I’m a sucker for it all—the energy, the restaurants, the markets, the museums, the workout classes, the ice skating rinks during Christmas. I can’t wait to finally try all the restaurants I’ve been bookmarking since my last trip, sign up for a few trendy workout classes and treat myself to a night at the Equinox Hotel.
—Doris Lam, Digital Writer
Busan, South Korea
Cinque Terre, Italy
I've been dreaming of a return to the beautiful coastal city of South Korea, Busan, since my first visit four years ago. It was one of the most memorable trips I have had with my college friends so far, and one that I still reminisce about constantly. We explored the colourful Gamcheon Culture Village, enjoyed gorgeous sea views and the calming sound of waves at Haeundae beach, put on our best outfits and partying at a bar near the beach...everything was so perfect that I’d love to repeat that journey whenever it’s possible. We met some wonderful people along the way, too. I remember when we got lost in the middle of nowhere when searching the route to the Jalgalchi Market—the largest seafood market of Busan were brimming with a fresh catch—a kind policeman offered to help us and drove us to the market!
Another place I’m definitely returning to is Italy—I still think of that afternoon when I visited Cinque Terre with my family, enjoyed the nice weather and admired the rainbow-coloured buildings with a cool cup of gelato in my hand.
—Helen Yu, Assistant Editor
I try as best as possible to live my life through a lens of joy and one thing that always sparks joy for me is an overseas trip with my girl squad. For my best friend’s 30th birthday in 2019 she planned an incredible trip to Tokyo for us filled with delicious food and hilarious activities. One of the best memories of my life will always be when we did a go-kart city tour, where the five of us got to dress up in furry onesies and ride around the city. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life.
Can you imagine riding through Shibuya crossing—one of the world’s busiest and most iconic intersections—dressed as characters from Monsters, Inc.? I can’t recommend Tokyo Kart enough. From the pre-ride photoshoot session they did, to the mini sight-seeing tour they gave us along the winding streets— I will truly never forget it. When I was in Japan in 2014, I spent a day in Kyoto dressed as a Geisha and this time as a character from Pixar, so who knows what I’ll get up to next! Japan, you have my whole heart.
—Tara Sobti, Society Editor
Mount Fuji in Yamanashi
Watching the first sunrise of the year in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan
An Ama female diver in Toba, Mie Prefecture in Japan
Udo Island in Jeju, South Korea
Mangjanggul cave in Jeju
There are so much travel memories to look back to especially out of the 20 countries I’ve been to but Japan always holds a special place in my heart—so much so that I moved there and made my most memorable trips there. Having a goal of travelling to all its 47 prefectures is ambitious and out of the 15 I’ve been to, Yamanashi, Mie and Ibaraki take the spotlight.
I’ve been desperately trying to see Mount Fuji for years but it’s always been obscured due to the weather (rainy or cloudy) but in my fifth attempt in Yamanashi, I’ve finally seen it in all its glory and it's as breathtaking as I've always imagined. Over at Mie, a lesser-known prefecture, I went to see the Ama female divers—one of the last remaining free-divers who still doesn't use modern equipment. Most of them are in their late 60s–70s and are so dedicated to keeping the fading tradition alive. I also visited the holiest shrine in Japan in Ise just in time for the new era, Reiwa (a new emperor's reign marks a new era in Japan), which itself rarely happens, let alone to witness. I then travelled three hours without sleep from Tokyo to Oarai in Ibaraki to see the first sunrise of the year which is quite a significant practice in Japan. I remember being the only foreigner there since the place itself is pretty much off-the-beaten-path unless you're from the area.
I also look back to my trips over to neighbouring South Korea, particularly in Busan and Jeju—my solo trip and my graduation trip with my brother. Busan is really where I put my self-taught Korean to the test (and succeeded!) as well as went on my first K-drama pilgrimage. I met up with my friend from Canada and we went to Gwangalli beach and lighted up some fireworks. In Jeju, my brother and I went to see the Haenyo, South Korea’s female free divers who also still dive using traditional means and went island hopping in Udo where we rode a dual bike because I didn't know how to cycle then. The black pork belly in Jeju is the bomb—so is the majestic scenery particularly Seongsan Illchubong and Manjanggul cave which felt like seeing the time of the Earth's creation. I've always been a city girl but these trips that I keep looking back to are mostly close to nature—whether it's Mount Fuji, the sunrise, the beach, the cave, the islands and the coastal scenary. You can see more of my travel photos and stories on my Instagram where I document it using #jiannetraveldiaries.
—Jianne Soriano, Digital Writer
My most transformative travel experience was my four-day trip to Bhutan in 2019—a short visit by any measure, but nevertheless an eye-opening window into the singular, deeply Buddhist philosophy by which the Bhutanese people live their lives. It's a country of pristine nature, dramatic mountain landscapes, time-worn monasteries and distinct national dress, though it's the mindset of the Bhutanese has stuck with me the most: their reverence for the environment, deep respect for community ties, and love of their royal family and government, all of which seem like increasingly antiquated concepts in our post-pandemic world. To me, Bhutan is a little parcel of a bygone era that has inexplicably survived into the modern age, and will always hold a fond place in my heart.
—Gavin Yeung, Editor, Tatler Dining
In 2019, I had the chance to travel to Siargao, a small remote island in the Philippines. It’s known as a little surf town, and is visited by surfers from all around the world. Unpolluted and untouched, plastic is banned from the island and there are only a few main roads. The blue waters are crystal clear, there are coconut trees everywhere, and at night, the sky is lit up by thousands of stars.
—Kristy Or, Associate Editor
Trolltunga in Norway
Sunset in Herand, Hardanger Fjord, Norway
Hiking trip to incredible Norway in 2017
Hiking trip to incredible Norway in 2017
Hiking trip to incredible Norway in 2017
Eating everything in sight at Gwangjang Market, Seoul
Seoul, South Korea
In summer 2017 my younger––and very athletic––brother invited me on a fairly last-minute hiking trip to Trolltunga in Vestland county, Norway. He later revealed his reason for inviting me wasn't because he wanted a fun brother-sister trip, but because the person he’d asked before me had said no! Classic sibling behaviour! Knowing I would soon be leaving Europe behind for a while and having always wanted to visit Norway, I booked my flight and started some rather half-hearted training. The weekend ended up being one of the best trips I’ve ever taken and made me realise how much I love hiking––right in time to move to Hong Kong six months later! The scenery of the hike––which is Insta-famous for its bright blue glacier lakes and epic ‘tounge’ cliff edge––and the rest of the Norwegian fjords that we drove through on our journey from Bergen were like nothing I’d never seen––the photos really don’t do the area’s incredible natural beauty justice. Not only was it a trip I’ll never forget for the scenery, but it was also the first time my brother and I had done a trip together, and probably when I realised how much I like hanging out with him as a mate! I’ll never forget us singing along to The Beatles and the Shrek soundtrack as we whisked through the countryside in our rollerskate of an electric car and when we cracked open a very expensive beer at the midpoint of the hike while watching people hanging out on the “tongue” of the cliff.
In terms of a short trip, I can’t wait to do it again, it’s got to be a foodie trip to Seoul. 6 pm BBQ, 10 pm fried chicken, 12am karaoke, 4 am kimchi mandu––washed down with a healthy dose of Hite, and soju cocktails––need I say more?
—Sam Book, Social Media Director
On the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada
Just outside Las Vegas standing on a dry lake bed
Stopped by the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel, Nevada, for lunch on the way to Area 51
The thing I miss most about travel is the sense of discovery: seeking out the weird and the wild, looking for and finding surprise and delight. I also miss the feeling of freedom and near-infinite possibility—showing up at an airport to get on a flight to anywhere, waking up in a new city, heading out of town on a road trip to destinations TBD.
One of my favourite cities to land in with no plan in Las Vegas: a man-made entertainment destination steeped in urban legend and packed with every over-the-top materialistic creature comfort—shows, restaurants, spas, luxury hotels—yet only a short drive from some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the States, like the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.
Las Vegas is where my friends and I paid to see people in panda costumes perform in an aerial circus show with a plot that was eerily similar to Super Mario Bros 1. It's where I rang in one new year concert-hopping—and watched Celine Dion sing the Titanic song on a raised platform as it rained rainbows around her before racing over to the Cosmopolitan to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers play us through midnight. One morning, there on a last-minute weekend escape, I woke up and decided to drive out of town on an alien-seeking tour to Area 51; later that day I was lucky enough to score a coveted appointment at the secret James Turrell "Akhob" installation inside the Louis Vuitton store at Crystals, where, alone, in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, I was bathed in a silence and light that felt closer to infinity than I ever imagined I could. A few months later, I found myself landing in a helicopter in the Grand Canyon for a late-morning champagne brunch and drifting around a speedway with a pro racecar driver. On one trip, I wound up accidentally having seven spa treatments in the span of 48 hours (would not recommend).
I love the full-on-ness of Las Vegas, and its all-encompassing embodiment of the absurd and the profound. I love how there's always something new to see and something visceral and weird to experience. I also love its mainstays: places I make sure to go back to year after year (like Aloha Specialties), one of the best casual Hawaiian restaurants in the continental 48, at the California casino downtown—would highly recommend). But, above all, the best thing about Vegas, for me, is the people—Las Vegas is at the crossroads of America, and it's one of the only places in the US that attracts so many different people from all different pockets of the country. Every time I visit, it feels like an Id-driven choose-your-own-adventure immersive study of the human psyche and consumer behaviour—all wrapped up in a five-star resort hotel experience and triple dinners with good friends every night at some of the best restaurants in the country. I can't wait to go back.
—Danica Lo, International Editor-At-Large
Tokyo and Hakuba
My last trip out of Hong Kong was to Japan right before Covid-19 started––we actually arrived back in Hong Kong on Chinese New Year weekend 2020, shortly after the first cases had been recorded in the city––so I'm super thankful that we were able to squeeze in the holiday before unknowingly entering into a fourteen-month (and counting) travel hiatus. It's for this, and several other reasons, that I look back on this trip so fondly.
For one thing, it was the last time things seemed truly "normal", secondly, I was able to meet my baby niece, who for obvious reasons I haven't seen since. Aside from visiting my brother and his family in Tokyo––something I try to do at least once a year to both see family, and to have somewhere to stay in the city so that I can explore and eat all the food––my boyfriend and I also ventured up to Habuka for a few days skiing. While my boyfriend enjoys annual ski trips with friends, I have only skiied once in my life and it was over ten years ago. Needless to say, the trip was an experience. There were tantrums (from me), but what stands out in my memory is that unbeatable feeling of fresh icy air hitting your face as you sail down a mountain, followed swiftly by a soak in the onsen, before enjoying plenty of warming Japanese curry, ramen and beer.
—Annie Simpson, Digital Content Director