From the imposing Great Wall of China to the undulating hills of New Zealand, discover an engaging world of colourfulc­ultu res and dazzling beauty!

When I was ten years old, I moved from the United States to Singapore with my family. Before coming to Singapore, most of my travels were limited to a few road trips and short flights along the east coast of the United States, where I was born.

After our move to Singapore, however, we began travelling a lot more. The whole region around Singapore was brand-new to us, so we spent our first few Christmase­s and year end holidays exploring the Asia Pacific. In our first year, we visited Beijing, China. There were many guided tours for viewing of all the major landmarks such as the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven – exotic places we only saw on the pages of books previously. I immersed myself in the Chinese culture through their delicious food and infectious music. Naturally, no trip to Beijing would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall of China. This enormous structure was so captivatin­g that we visited it twice! On our second visit, we hired a driver

to take us to a quieter section of the world wonder to witness the striking scenery at Huangayuan, in the northern region of the Great Wall. I still recall being pleasantly surprised when I could recognize some pieces of Chinese music the driver turned on in his car.

During Christmas, we took a trip to New Zealand. We did a tour of both the North and South Islands, and what I remember clearly was the spectacula­r scenery and the large flocks of sheep everywhere. In fact, there seemed to be more sheep than people in New Zealand! The days were bright and sunny, with majestic mountains, crystalcle­ar waters that reflected landscapes, undulating green hills and breathtaki­ng waterfalls. We enjoyed our trip so much that we went back to New Zealand the following Christmas.

This time we stayed on the South Island. My parents rented a car, and we had fun going back to familiar destinatio­ns and our favourite cafés. In our first few years living in Asia, the other places we visited include Sydney, Gold Coast of Australia, Bali in Indonesia, Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand.

Apart from travelling with my family, I also travelled with my schoolmate­s. When I was in secondary school, it was customary for the whole class to take a trip to Malacca, with teacher and parent chaperones. A few years later, I visited Kuala Lumpur for the first time on a choir exchange. Looking back on my school days in Singapore, I know I am very fortunate to have been enrolled in an internatio­nal high school. Every year, there would be an “outside the classroom” programme for students. These programmes ranged from learning Asian cooking, sailing or apprentice teaching in Singapore, but the coveted programmes were overseas trips. Some trips were linked to Habitat for Humanity, where groups of students and teachers pitched in to build a house for local families in need. Some trips were adventure-based, such as camping in Tasmania, trekking in the Annapurna region of Nepal and whitewater rafting in New Zealand. Other

trips were more culturally orientated, giving students the chance to learn about people and traditions that were very different from their own. Many of the trips had a charity or school exchange component, so we could give back to the communitie­s we were visiting and learn about the educationa­l environmen­ts of students in different countries.

Travelling is one of my favourite hobbies. With sufficient planning and savings, any destinatio­n in the world can be yours. Singapore is very well placed for travels around the region. Besides saving money to go on trips, the biggest dilemma I sometimes face now is whether to visit new destinatio­ns or go back to old favourites.

 ??  ?? Tasm ania iland Tha kok, Bang Phuk et,
Tha iland
Tasm ania iland Tha kok, Bang Phuk et, Tha iland
 ??  ?? al Nep na, apur
Ann of China Great Wall
al Nep na, apur Ann of China Great Wall

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