With a new year on the horizon, it’s important to keep in mind that we all need to recharge our batteries at some stage – and there’s no better way to do so than by taking a holiday. We asked three team members to share where they went this year to inspire even the most avid of travellers.
Alison Pang | Strategic Account Associate | MetLife
Kumusta. An adventurer at heart, Alison went to the Philippines earlier this year to attend two weddings, and while there, went cliff diving – “the water was so clear and beautiful, I couldn’t resist!”.
If the thought of cliff diving has your heart racing and you prefer to have your feet safely planted on the ground, then sampling the local dishes is a must. The Philippines is a foodie’s delight and Alison’s favourite dish was chilli lechon with garlic rice, washed down with calamansi juice and topped off with a halo-halo for dessert.
And don’t just stick to the main island, the Philippines consists of about 7,641 islands (you read right, over 7,000 islands), so make sure you visit one of the beautiful surrounding islands, like Boracay – you won’t regret it.
Adrian Young | National Retail Underwriting Manager | MetLife Insurance Limited
Bonjour. When a friend’s family invited Adrian and his partner to celebrate her 40th at her vineyard in Domazan (near Avignon) in France, they jumped at the opportunity and turned it into a three-week adventure.
The trip also included Paris, Provence and a week in Cassis, a fishing port on the south coast, “we got to swim in crystal clear rock pools, which is not something we expected in France so it was great to see another side of the country.”
But, as far as memorable moments go, Adrian’s was sitting in a lavender field in Provence having an 8-course degustation. While for his partner, it was running into a University friend he hadn’t seen in 28 years on the streets of Paris, “they were jumping up and down and being very loud in their excitement which caused lots of raised eyebrows from the cool locals.”
For anyone thinking of visiting France, Adrian recommends getting around by train, “they’re very fast and reliable. You’ll see all the scenery and stations are always in the city centre so it’s easy to get to your next hotel.”
Stuart White | State Manager, QLD | MetLife
Sawasdee. Stuart prefaced this as the holiday from hell – not the location, but the series of events that took place on what was meant to be a relaxing family holiday. However, amidst it all is a beautiful country with friendly people, delicious food and lots to see and do.
Stuart and his family went to Khao Lak, Thailand, which is north of Phuket and one of the hardest hit areas in the 2004 tsunami. While there Stuart met up with a number of financial advisers who cycled across Thailand to raise money for Hands Across the Water, a charity that sets up orphanages for children who have lost their parents in the tsunami – “to hear the stories from the riders about their journey and what it meant to the kids in the orphanage was truly inspiring”.
While in Khao Lak, Stuart and his family went on a chartered tour of Phang Nga Bay, which included a canoe ride through some fantastic caves. However, an intense monsoon forced Stuart and his family to use the cave as refuge to ride out the storm, and over an hour later, with no sign of the monsoon easing, they were rescued by long boat operators – only to find out that a massive rescue mission was on to save another group trapped in a cave… the Thai soccer team!
Counting their lucky stars, Stuart and his family enjoyed dinner at Pam’s restaurant – the number one rated restaurant on Trip Adviser – and it did not disappoint. Though Stuart believes his family might be slightly biased as this was the last meal they enjoyed together as a family in Thailand. Stuart’s youngest son, Carter, fell incredibly ill and there were initial concerns he may have Denge Fever. It turned out Carter had extreme adenovirus and was bed-ridden for the remainder of the trip, resulting in MANY trips to the emergency ward, which is a challenge in itself in a non-English speaking country.
Despite all this, one of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre, “it was great to see the local community investing both time and money towards turtle conservation. Seeing the rescued turtles in their recovery, as well as literally thousands of turtles of all different ages getting prepared for release into the wild was amazing”.
“While it is definitely NOT a tourist made centre, and was off the beaten track somewhat, the kids recorded it as an absolute highlight for them”.
And, when not trapped in a cave or the local emergency ward, Stuart gave their resort, The Sands, a massive thumb up, “if you have young kids, the resort we stayed at was amazing. It had three different pools, a massive kids water play area, kids club and fantastic beaches. And, night-time entertainment in the middle of the resort means that we could sit on our balcony, listen to cheesy covers from the acoustic guitarist and sip on 90 cent beers while the kids slept inside.”