I am in my element the most– and feel most alive when I travel. It isn’t so much just about hopping onto a plane, checking into a hotel and then doing some shopping– well at least for me anyway. Rather, travel is all about opening doors to a wealth of experiences, cultures and people, wherein somehow and in some way, you get to know yourself a lot better, and likewise bask in God’s absolute perfection through the wonders of the world.
And honestly, the inspirations from traveling have led to books being written, designs being conceived, jewelry being crafted, restaurants being opened and art being made.
2014, I was so grateful to have been able to visit — 10 countries Singapore, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, China, Scotland, England, Thailand, Laos and Hong Kong –– 4x! This blog post is 42-photos-heavy as I share with you some of my beautiful memories. I hope you get inspired to see the world this 2015. <3
SINGAPORE | February 2014
What an honor to be part of this Four Hands Dinner by #2 Restaurant in the World, El Cellar de Can Roca’s Joan Roca and #37 in the World/ #1 in Singapore, Restaurant Andre’s Andre Chiang. An outstanding, absolutely memorable meal. The best part? They donated proceeds to the Philippines– to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Burnt Ends was my favorite (new) restaurant discovery during that trip, and it has since been cited by New York Times and Forbes as a place to visit in Singapore. This pulled pork sandwich is to die for. And you MUST make it here on your next visit to the Lion City.
I was in Singapore to attend the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards Ceremony at the Capella. But it’s always nice to see people at their most relaxed! David Thompson (Nahm, Thailand) had just been proclaimed the #1 Restaurant in Asia, and here we are celebrating at an after party hosted by celebrity chef Bobby Chinn at Movenpick Sentosa along with Gaggan Anand (#3 Best in Asia) and Charles Reed, whose great great great great great grandfather founded William Reed Business Media!
ZAMBIA | March 2014
Ahh, this is the life. Zambezi River sunset cruise.. packed glass of Tall Horse chardonnay on hand..
This photo of myself with one of my favorite travel buddies Christine Dayrit is absolutely precious because you can see the DOUBLE rainbow at Victoria Falls. You will be in complete awe of God’s marvelous-ness, and I always see rainbows as signs of good things to come– so double rainbows are incredible things to come :)
BOTSWANA | March 2014
A 6:30 AM sunrise from Abu Camp in Botswana. The rise of the sun always signifies a beautiful, new day. <3
We stayed in 3 camps in Botswana. Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta is my favorite. It’s owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and managed by Wilderness Safaris. It’s the only camp on Botswana with Wifi (thanks to Mr. Allen’s intervention!)
So happy to finally fulfill my dream of riding an elephant in Africa!!! <3 <3 <3
My first time to feed elephants, too! There are 2 ways to feed them: 1) You throw them into their mouth (top left photo) and 2) Through their snout (photo below). I could feed elephants all day :)
What a beauty! This gorgeous leopard was taken with a point-and-shoot, and with hardly any zoom at the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Another activity at Abu Camp is going on the makoro (canoe) on a channel on the Okavanga Delta. My guide Lenk plucked a daylily out from the water and turned it into a necklace for me! So creative!
This is Naledi, the cutest elephant I’ve ever seen! She was 4 months old at the time, and was very naughty! She actually head-butted me and it was very painful!
This is an absolute MASSIVE deal for me! I decided to face my fear and take the co-pilot seat from the Abu air strip to Maun International Airport! Anyone who knows me knows that I need to ingest a TON of wine before I can even board an aircraft or even while on air!! So this is a BIG deal! My friend Christine Dayrit was like, “Cheryl, are you sure? Cheryl, are you sure you can handle this?” And I’m really proud to say I did! Especially on a 12-seater bush plane, too! I say, face your fear!
SOUTH AFRICA (Capetown) | March- April 2014
Whoohoo, Table Mountain!!! (Did you know this is the most climbed mountain in the world?)
On top of Table Mountain with my tour guide Graham Dollman! He’s the sweetest ever and was also the tour guide of fellow Pinoys Vicki Belo, Atom Henares, Quark and Cristalle when they were here last time. Tip: Even if it’s warm and sunny, bring a jacket because the temperature drops when you’re on top of the mountain!
Stunning view of Capetown from on top of Table Mountain.
Sunday mass at South Africa’s first and oldest Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Cathedral was one of the most beautiful and solemn I have ever attended in my life. “The man who was bllind went off and washed himself and came back able to see.” -John 9
I LOVE ETHIOPIAN FOOD!!!! Celebrating dear Christine Dayrit’s birthday at Addis in Cape in Capetown! Ethiopian cuisine is traditionally served on a large, thin sourdough pancake called injera, made from a grain called teff, native to the country. Injera is fat and gluten-free and is used to scoop up the various sauces and stews called wot– you eat by hand. We had doro wot (chicken marinated with lime juice, onions, garlic, ginger & Berbere– dried chilies milled with herbs & spices), mushroom wot (in Berbere sauce), tibs in Berbere (cubed beef stir-fried in Berbere and kibe), and stir-fried fish (not in menu) & fresh green chili! Addis also makes their own Ethiopian honey wine, which is of course, very sweet, but did go quite well with the sauces. I’d choose eating Ethiopian food with my hands over any fancy dinner any day!!!
So so grateful to have called the incredibly gorgeous La Residence in Franschhoek my home. <3 <3 <3 Conde Nast named it the #1 hotel in the world for 2013 and my room (#11, my birthday!) is also Elton John’s favorite room! Jack Nicholson and Lilly Allen stayed in this room, too, and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner had their honeymoon here. But apart from the accolades, there’s alot of heart and warmth in this hotel, and there’s so much thoughtfulness, the staff is super.
China (Shanghai) | May 2014
Too cool for school. I have THE David Laris as my guide around Shanghai. (He’s super huge in China!) Here we are having crab roe xiao long baos at Jia Jia Tang Bao! Sooo yum, juicy and soupy!
You MUST have these Yang’s fried dumplings (Shenjianbao). CNN Travel also voted this as Shanghai’s best cheap eat! Thanks to my cousin Barbie Tiu for the reco!
With Estonian supermodel Karmen Pedaru, who is the face of Michael Kors.
What an honor to have met and interviewed THE Michael Kors, along with fellow Philippine journalists Raul Manzano and Suki Salvador, at the Peninsula Shanghai.
Scotland (Edinburgh) | July 2014
Just arrived in rainy Edinburgh with Marie Weckerle-Ona, Tiffany Yu and Jericson Co (not in photo)! Even on a Saturday night, most restaurants at the city center close by 9PM!
How can you not drink scotch when you’re in Scotland?! I must admit this trip was what made me appreciate whisky more. Here we are at The Scotch Whisky Experience with new journalist friends from Peru, Sol Marroquin, and Singapore, Desiree Koh. If you can’t go to the distilleries out of town, this is a good place to visit as they tour you through 3,500 unique bottles, and after the tour, you get to taste a variety of single malt on hand!
The sprawling Gleaneagles Hotel & Resort hosts the prestigious Ryder’s Cup every September. The resort is owned by Diageo, and when we were there, it was home to the 2014 Diageo World Class Global Finals. So freaking beautiful, I felt like I was in Downton Abbey!
A first. Rode the Orient Express train, Northern Belle, from Edinburgh to London. An eight hour journey made more pleasant with a four-course lunch and Mortlach tasting. (Photo by Alicia Thong)
England (London) | July-August 2014
At the Old Billingsgate for the 2014 Diageo World Class Finals with the Philippine Team: Diageo’s Marie Ona, and The Curator’s Jericson Co, Yoma Rivera and Tiffy Yu, representing the Philippines! You did us proud, Yoma!
Dutch media x Philippine media at Jason Atherton’s City Social for the Zacapa dinner! Toooo much fun with Joris Van Velzen and Joep School. “What?! We thought you were our age?!” Lol, thanks, I wish, but unfortunately, I’m not 22 😉 I’ll never forget coming down to breakfast to distribute Advil to both of you! Buahaha!
My most memorable meal in London was at an Afghan restaurant called Ariana at Mile End neighborhood. This is the Qabili Pulao or Kabuli Palaw, a traditional Afghan pilaf dish that’s usually a complete meal in itself. It’s steamed long-grained rice cooked in lamb-shank juices — that come from three hours of boiling — mixed with fried carrots, raisins, almonds and pistachios. When served, the lamb was buried in the middle of the dish, but unearthing it from the pile of rice revealed the most tender meat that fell gracefully.
There are other ways to see London. <3 Spent my last night cycling around East London’s canals, Olympic and Victoria Parks and Mile End neighborhood (including Slumdog Millionaire & Trainspotting director Danny Boyle’s home!) with my dear fried Charmaine Servado.
Hong Kong | September, October, November, December 2014
The Pinays behind the 1st Wallpaper* City Guide for Manila– 100++ cities later! Myself and Hong Kong-based editor Kissa Castaneda-McDermott with a fresh-off-the-press copy from London!
“God doesn’t give you what you want; He gives you what you need,” my friend Todd Darling advised me. Somehow the serenity of Victoria Peak is conducive to reflecting about life.
Another serene moment was taking in the quiet streets of Central and Sheung Wan on an easy like Sunday morning with my friend Kim Moelholm. Peace and calm you will NEVER see on any given night.
Launching our Wallpaper* City Guide for Manila in Hong Kong with a Fall Merienda Club along with Pinoy movers and shakers in the country at Chino in Kennedy Town!
The Wallpaper* City Guide Manila launch in Hong Kong was hosted by these Pinoys who are shaking up the city! Kissa Castaneda-McDermott is the editor of Home Journal under Edipresse Group; Teresa Liwanag heads the marketing of Puma; and JJ Acuna aka The Wanderlister is a noted architect, designer and blogger. Kudos guys!
Thailand (Bangkok) | November 2014
I felt so blessed and grateful to be in Thailand for Loi Krathong or “Festival of Lights.” With the November full moon, we went to the Chao Phraya River to launch a krathong (a small vessel made from banana leaf like what I’m holding). Loi means “to drift,” so Loi Krathong means to release our troubles, hatred, worries and anger.. Which is exactly what I did.. Leaving us with only the good things in life. <3 <3 <3
Turning a year older at Gaggan. Felt so blessed to celebrate my birthday salubong at the #3 Best Restaurant in Asia and #17 Best in the World, with Gaggan himself personally presenting me a mango bomb “birthday cake.” :)
Laos (Luang Prabang) | November 2014
Sabaidee from Luang Prabang!!! I’m at Wat Xieng Thong or “Temple of the Golden City,” one of the most important Lao monasteries.
Young Buddhist monks at a monastery that serves as their school. One of them found out I was from the Philippines, and he said “Kamusta.” So precious.
Boating on the Mekong from a boat on the Mekong.
A Japanese tourist asked me to take her photo at Tamting/ Pak Ou caves and then gave me this little bird. “This is an origami from Japan.” <3 <3 <3 Gestures like these remind you of how beautiful the world is. And in Japan, the crane symbolises good fortune and longevity.