Happy feet

HOW do I describe 2016? It was generous, exciting and exhausting. The last may seem a surprising addition but it “came with the territory,” so to speak—and I’m not complaining.

Off the bucket list is Kyoto. The photo of geisha’s walking the streets of the city was on my vision board for years, so was the Jidai Matsuri festival and the autumn season in Japan. I got to tick off three items from my bucket list.


Five days in the city was too short with a heavy concentration of Unesco World Heritage Sites, but good enough to know that I should revisit the city.


In Kyoto, stay at the New Gingkaku Inn. It’s affordable and very conveniently located a few steps away from the Kyoto station. The train station is a depot for buses for the city’s tourist attractions.

The few remaining days in Japan allowed me to visit another new place, Karuizawa in Nagano, to chase the autumn leaves (I came too early in the season to catch the red and gold foliage).

In Tokyo, I was able to visit a few more sites I missed on my previous visit.

Perhaps, the best lesson Japan has taught me was to maximize the Japan Rail Pass. It doesn’t come cheap so the more bullet train rides to faraway destinations you can do so. Short, quick visits to places are not just my kind of thing though. Do I compromise?

Taipei may not be on my list but PAL’s seat sale was too hard to resist.

Once under the Japanese rule, the Chinese city still has the vibe of Japan—clean, safe, commuter friendly and inexpensive. The city is vibrant and a foodie’s haunt. Taipei is worth a revisit.MORE

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