I am always so grateful that I am able to see and experience the world– through travel. Sometimes, when people ask me where I’ve been on a particular year, I blank out. I know which countries I’ve been to, of course, but I tend to forget when, or which year I was there. To aid my memory, I’ve started a hashtag on Instagram called
so that I’m jolted back to where I was, how many times I was in a country in a particular year, where I ate, who I saw, where I stayed, etc. And on this blog, I’ve also decided to do a recap on my favorite travel memories every end of the year. (Click #cheryltiutravels HERE for my favorite travel moments in 2014.)
In 2015, I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled around
Asia (Singapore x3, Hong Kong x4, Vietnam, Guangzhou in China), to North America (Washington, USA), to Europe (Spain, the UK, Ireland), to Africa (Ethiopia). I’m so so so grateful for every single experience.
Here are some of my favorite memories, which I hope will inspire you to see the world this 2016! xx (*For a list of my favorite restaurants in these countries, with the exception of Vietnam as I traveled to Hanoi after the article was published– but will be blogging about it!–check out
my column in Philippine Star.)
SPAIN (Madrid)| February 2015
I met the legend behind Mugaritz– THE Andoni Aduriz– and was so starstruck at the first moment, I couldn’t speak! He was introduced onstage at Madrid Fusion Spain as “the man who needs no introduction…” And.. he ASKED ME to sign the Wallpaper* City Guide Manila I authored FOR HIM!!! Almost fainted!
Cocktail hour in Madrid… Soooo freaking beautiful. <3 <3 <3 This makes me so happy. No filter at all.
David Muñoz’s DiverXO became the most sought-after reservation in Madrid ever since it was awarded three Michelin stars in November 2013. (Prior to this, it had been nearly two decades since there had been a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Madrid.) If you can’t get a table there, his casual eatery StreetXO is the next best thing. Located on the top floor of department store Corte Ingles de Serrano, it features dishes that mix Spanish and Asian flavors in a loud, slightly chaotic-busy space. Churros and grilled bone marrow? Why not? Peking dumplings with crunchy pig’s ears and strawberry-hoisin sauce? Amazing. StreetXO is fusion, unorthodox, sometimes irreverent and absolutely memorable. PS Eventually met him at Madrid Fusion for a quick photo op a couple of days later!
SINGAPORE| March, May July 2015
At the Asia’s 50 Best 2015 awards ceremony in Capella, Singapore with Asia’s #1.. Gaggan Anand of Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand, whooohoo! Congratulations!! What an honor for us at Cross Cultures to bring him to Manila to cook, several months later, last October 2015!!!
The 1st time the PHILIPPINES is on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant!!! Whoohoo Antonio’s, Chef TonyBoy Escalante & team, we are sooo proud of you!!!
Haha.. hiding behind one of my fave reads this year, “China Rich Girlfriend” with one of my favorite chefs, Andre Chiang whose namesake Restaurant Andre is featured in the book, described as “a top restaurant” and “the elegant white colonial-era shophouse that has been converted into one of the island’s most acclaimed restaurants.” I had to explain to him that it was one of the hottest books of 2015.. well for girls, anyway!
Oh you know, just cruising through Singapore on a stretch limo with Singapore-based personalities Victoria Cheng, Jade Seah, Rosalyn Lee (aka Hey Rozz) and Karen Tan for Dom Perignon’s Gastronomy Journey :)
CHINA (Guangzhou)| May 2015
So absolutely stunning.. The Guangzhou Opera House was designed by no other than the legendary Zaha Hadid. ❤️❤️❤️ The perfect venue for the celebration of Hennessy’s 250 years in Asia.
Clubbing… Guangzhou-style at Hyper! I can’t believe their bar chow is FRUITS instead of the usual nuts or chips! And check out the bling bling champagne service! (Even their bathroom is bling!) With Moet Hennessy Philippines’ Olga Azarcon, Steve Bullock and Gio Robles; Audrey Carpio, Alexei Villaraza and Jon Herrera.
ENGLAND (LONDON) | June 2015
My first time to attend the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.. at the stunning Guildhall!
With my Asian brothaaaas! Asia represent at the 2015 World’s 50 Best Restaurants in London: Gaggan Anand of Gaggan (Bangkok) #10; Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre (Singapore) #46; Richard Ekkebus of Amber (Hong Kong) #38 and Julien Royer, formerly of JAAN (Singapore) #75 (now he’s just opened his Odette!).. In the whole wide world Congrats you guys!
OMFG.. Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert all in one go!!! Can you say starstruck?!?!?! (With World’s 50 Best chairwomen for Southeast Asia, Evelyn Chen and Susan Jung)
So freaking grateful and blessed to have stayed at Milestone Hotel’s newly refurbished Kensington Garden Suite. My bed’s headboard was custom-made by Roberto Cavalli, carpets are bespoke by Wilton– and this is just one of two floors.. let’s take a look at my “downstairs..”
.. so let’s go down the staircase to the..
..Living room of the second of my split-level Kensington Garden Suite! How amazing right? The sofa is specially designed by Zimmer + Rohde, and bespoke carpets by Wilton and antique furnishings with views of the Kensington Gardens and the Palace. It has won so many awards from Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, TripAdvisor, etc. over the years!
My last breakfast in London called for room service of eggs benedict, muesli, fruits & some bubbly! So blessed and grateful to have called the Milestone Hotel my home while I was there. I even get the British flag on my balcony overlooking Kensington Gardens. What a beautiful stay, thank you very much.
IRELAND (DUBLIN) | June 2015
My 1st time in Ireland and I am welcomed by such adorableness! Olivia Chow Snider was born in Manila when her parents were posted at the Embassy of the United States of America in the Philippines in 2008. She was literally a crawling infant when I last saw her. Now the prettiest 7-year-old, they were posted in Dublin when I came to visit and they so warmly welcomed me to their home. Her mom said she didn’t even tell her to draw this for me. Precious moments like these really warm my heart. <3 <3 <3
When in Dublin, a visit to the Guinness Store House at St. James’s Gate Brewery is a must! I’m not a beer drinker but that creamy, frothy ‘black stuff’– double-poured w/ an extra amount of nitrogen to make the head extra-effervescent– is delicious! As it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint, you know that good things come to those who wait. The same can be said about life. (With my dearest friend Ellen Chow, thank you so much for hosting me! <3)
Hello from the stunning Cliffs of Moher!!! I suck at selfies but when you’re traveling alone, no choice, right? My sister told me this is the one thing I shouldn’t miss.. Harry Potter, Westlife and Maroon 5 all filmed here. So I took the bus with Irish Day Tours.. 6:50AM depart Dublin, return 7:30 PM, with lots of scenic stops along the way. So lucky with the sun! It never comes out in Ireland!☀️☀️☀️
Ellen so kindly drove us to Powerscourt Estate Gardens in Wicklow County, which was voted the #3 most beautiful garden in the world by National Geographic.
My last night in Ireland.. at an Irish pub! Thank you so much to the Snider-Chow family for adopting me for the weekend <3 I had the best time with them!!! <3
ETHIOPIA (ADDIS ABABA, AXIUM, LALIBELA) | June 2015
Thank you Semegh, Zenash and Mazash for your innocence, warmth, kindness, hospitality and especially for a life-changing experience in Ethiopia (Lalibela). Stay away from bad apples. Love you guys,
My new friends wanted to see pictures of my family on my phone. Look at their faces.. so young and sooo beautiful already! Just wait til they grow up!
USA (SEATTLE, WASHINGTON) | September 2015
What an incredible honor to have been invited to “pick up” Cathay Pacific’s newest 777-30ER from the Boeing Factory/ Everett Center just outside of Seattle that’s not on the regular Cathay Pacific flight path. We didn’t fly out from an airport hence no immigration (done electronically); no waiting time, and no other passengers except for 50 of us (including the 4 pilots and 6 cabin crew) on this 777-30ER! What an honor for www.cheryltiu.com to have been invited to experience this journey!
In my 48 hours in the United States of America, I managed to see Seattle’s vibrant nightlife a little bit– from an upscale craft cocktail bar (Tavern Law) to a New York-style pizza place that moonlights as a dive bar with pizza bigger than my face (Big Mario’s). Thank you so much Liz Suman and Evan Delay!!! You girls are amazing!!!
HONG KONG | February, September, November, December 2015
Ushering Chinese New Year for the first time in Hong Kong.. and at Dragon-i with my dear good friends from the Philippines Eths and Marbee Go, Michelle del Rosario and Hong Kong-based Joerg Zobel
Welcoming the Year of the Sheep by walking around the streets of Hong Kong literally with a stuffed sheep! I know, I’m so weird sometimes, lol.
I was so sad when one of my closest girlfriends Sandra Miloda moved to Hong Kong this year.. hence I was so happy to reunite with her! We did the new Grassroots Pantry on Hollywood Road and loved it!
Wheeee, it’s Cross Cultures x Eat Ethio– Hong Kong edition!! So happy that my Ethiopian sister Helina Tesega is cooking for me at the Eat Ethio kitchen tonight.. And she’s making my favorite shiro (chickpea stew).. So excited!! (PS Notice the Don Papa Rum and Manille Liqueur de Calamsi from the Philippines!)
Dinners at “private kitchens” are the best and it was one of my perfect “last nights” Hong Kong… Ethiopian dinner cooked with love by my dear Helina Tesega at the Eat Ethio kitchen. 💝 Great food, great company, great space, great everything. Unfortunately, our cook was also our photographer for this one.
My first time on a Hong Kong junk boat! We sailed all the way to Po Toi, the southernmost island of Hong Kong, often referred to as “the south pole of Hong Kong,” for Kim’s birthday, and back.. around 4 hours one way. I’m still sunburnt to this day!
Serge et le Phoque with super Pinoys making waves in Hong Kong: architect & blogger JJ Acuna aka The Wanderlister, Home Journal editor in chief Kissa Castaneda, and PR stalwart Cathy Chon of her namesake CatchOn! Amazing food and company!
Hello from Kyrgyzstan! Well, okay, fine, a Kyrgyz home in New Territories! I am not sure if I’ll ever make it to Kyrgyzstan in my lifetime so the next best thing is to try their cuisine by beautiful young Kyrgz mom Lira Ashyralieva’s Chaihana Bishkek! Meet my new and first Kyrgz friends! Baby Andeline is soooo cute!! She’s 2 years old and has Central Asian features but is super duper blonde!
VIETNAM (HANOI) | December 2015
My favorite meal in Hanoi was at Madame Hien. <3 Set in a restored 19th century villa, it’s French chef Didier Corlu’s tribute to his wife’s Vietnamese grandmother. The space is so pretty and the set menus (I recommend 36 Streets Menu) have such flavorful dishes that are so delicately well-balanced.. It’s one of my favorite restaurant experiences to date. Thanks to Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi for the reco!
Exactly this time last Saturday, I was traversing the streets of Hanoi (Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hoa Lo Prison, Quan An Ngon) with HANOI KIDS. 👪👪👪 Hanoi Kids is a voluntary English club that has been conducting free tours since 2006 to give travelers an insight into Vietnamese culture. You aren’t obliged to pay them (it’s nice to give pasalubong from your country of origin though) but should you wish to, the money will go directly back to the organization and not the students themselves. This is another of my most precious experiences in Hanoi– just go to www.HanoiKids.org to book. Thank you @charanoid for the recommendation! PS They are TripAdvisor’s #1 most recommended activity to do in Hanoi, and I HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend.
I didn’t buy a single thing while I was in Hanoi but I came home with a wealth of experiences, lessons and memories. heart emoticon One of my most favorite was biking around Tay Ho or West Lake, Hanoi’s largest lake which spans 17km.. Being one with all the buzzing motorbikes and cars was both thrilling and sometimes scary (especially when we merged into the highways!), and I’ve also never gotten so many stares in my life.. overdressed for a bike ride, maybe? Lol. Many many thanks Donald Berger for arranging everything and lending your super cool Japanese retro bikes! His restaurant Don’s- A Chef’s Bistro Hanoi is an institution in Hanoi