It’s been a bit quiet around here on the blog as I embark on the last bit of my career break travels – I’m spending winter in Korea and Vancouver before heading down south for adventures in South America! It’s kinda exciting to get back on the road again for another long stretch of adventures – I’m still trying to write regularly but you’re more likely to see up to date stuff on instagram than anywhere else.
How do you even begin to talk about an epic year of travel? It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, and it turned out to be everything and nothing like what i expected. I was pretty vague about what I had planned for 2016 in last year’s round up, but it’s definitely been an interesting 2016.
My yearly travel round up usually looks at where I’ve been for the year and how effectively I used my leave, but given that I quit my job, this year’s version is going to be different.
I took my cue from the theme song of one of my all time favourite musicals Rent:
525,600 moments so dear
How do you measure, measure a year?
Total number of countries visited
I visited 27 countries in total in 2016 – 14 were brand new to me! But even for a lot of the countries I’d visited previously, I was exploring new states or areas I hadn’t seen before. My total country count is 45 to date – still a long way to go before if i ever want to visit all the countries in the world!
- Malaysia – Penang
- Indonesia – South Sumatra*, Bali, Flores*
- Thailand – Bangkok, Amphawa*
- Laos* – Vientiane, Luang Prabang
- Philippines – Manila*, Anilao*
- Japan – Tokyo, Seto Inland Sea*, Hiroshima*, Fukuoka*, Okinawa*
- Taiwan – Taipei, Yilan*, Taitung*, Lyudao, Lanyu*, Kaohsiung*, Kenting, Tainan*, Taichung*
- South Korea – Seoul, Gwangju*
- United Kingdom – London, Manchester, Liverpool
- Switzerland – Zurich*
- Slovenia* – Ljubljana, Karst, Bled
- Croatia* – Rovinj, Porej, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Hvar, Vis, Dubrovnik
- Bosnia & Herzegovina* – Mostar, Sarajevo, Konjic
- Serbia* – Belgrade, Novi Sad
- Hungary* – Budapest
- Slovakia* – Bratislava
- Austria* – Vienna
- Czech Republic – Brno*
- Poland* – Krakow, Wroclaw, Lodz, Gdansk, Warsaw
- Lithuania* – Vilnius
- Latvia* – Riga
- Estonia* – Tallinn
- Netherlands* – Amsterdam, Edam
- Germany – Berlin*, Gottingen*
- Kenya* – Nairobi, Mombasa
- United States – San Francisco*
- Canada – Vancouver
*new places/countries I’ve never visited before
Picking a favourite country is nigh impossible though, out of the new countries I’ve visited perhaps Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Poland stand out. Flores in Indonesia was a bit of a discovery and somewhere i would love to revisit. But cliched as it may be, everywhere I’ve been has been quite an experience!
Those numbers look set to increase in 2017 as I make my way to Latin America, an area completely new to me – first up, Colombia!
Number of photos taken
This is a ridiculous amount – according to my hard drive, I’ve taken just under 36,000 photos and videos just on my trips in this year alone (35,686 to be exact but that’s not including some Canadian photos yet). You wonder why blogging takes me such a long time? I have THAT MUCH to sort through as well as write about!
My favourite shots generally make it to Instagram – 632 in 2016 to be exact which is less than 2% of my entire photo collection. My most popular shots can be seen here:
Number of nights on the road
I spent most of 2016 on the road – 208 out of 365 nights to be exact (that’s around 57%) were spent sleeping outside of my comfy bed. Most of those nights were spent in hostels though I did stay in some fancy hotels on media trips and bunked with friends on the road – shout out to everyone who hosted me!
I do miss my own bed when I’m on the road. It’s one of the things I’m happiest to do when I’m back home.
I think i lucked out in that most of the hostels I ended up in were pretty awesome either for their great design, great company or great stories, I highlighted some of my favourites in this earlier post, but seriously the list is pretty damn long so if you want a hostel recommendation for any of the cities I’ve been in, drop me a note!
In cups of coffee
Food and drink firsts
I’m not a coffee drinker so I probably drank a lot more beer than anything else, but hell if i could guesstimate how much i drank, especially in Europe! Beer is still my choice of poison because it’s less difficult to get wrong. Rakia, Awamori, Vodka – each country has its own liquor and while it isn’t always tasty, it’s definitely an experience to try.
Since I’ll generally try anything at least once, I have eaten some really weird things on the road as well. Ox testicles in Nairobi were icky, all the meat and potatoes in the Balkans (I love meat and potatoes but I really missed Chinese soup noodles in those 4 months!), chicken sashimi in Japan is still pretty good (not the first time I’ve eaten it, probably not the last time either). I now know for sure how much I miss Singaporean food when I’m away as well!
In inches, In miles
I’ve taken just about every mode of transportation available this year! This year alone:
- 30 flights in total. My longest flight was from Singapore to San Francisco nonstop via United Airlines at about 16 hours.
- 2 times I’ve had to really hustle to make my connection – remember for future that Heathrow is a HUGE airport and you need at least 3 hours to transit without too much of a rush. I recently had to run in Beijing as well because they were very insistent in scanning everything in my bag omg~
- So many coach rides I can’t count them – most of it in the Balkan region of Europe where the train system isn’t always the most advanced! I took coaches most of the time I was in Croatia, Poland and the Baltic States.
- Train is usually my preferred way to get around – I had 3 overnight train rides – 2 in Europe where I comfortably managed the 6-couchette sleeper (hurray for not being too tall) and another epic 19-hour train ride across the safari plains from Nairobi to Mombasa. The train was old but spacious enough and other than the last bit where you kinda went through a dump and the flies all came in, pretty cool as you could spot the occasional elephant or giraffe as we went through the national park!
My favourite ways of transport? By scooter for exploring short distances, sleeper trains for longer distances and a window seat on a plane.
First time for crazy things
I did some awesome things for the first time! I went:
- Tubing and ATVing in Bali
- Canyoning in Bled, Slovenia
- White water rafting in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Skydiving in Mombasa, Kenya
- Scuba diving – 16 dives in all new places – Taiwan, Japan, Mombasa, Flores and Anilao
- Cycling long and short distance in Japan, Taiwan
- Scootering around Taiwan and Vis
- Cliff jumping in Herzegovina, Croatia, Flores
- Caving in Budapest
- Went on a safari in Nairobi’s Maasai Mara national park
- Skiing 3 days in a row (and one extra night!) in Vancouver
It wasn’t all adventurous stuff though! Other cool things done in 2016 include:
- Witnessed my first solar eclipse from Palembang’s Amphera Bridge
- Saw the sakura blooming and attending a Hanami party in Japan
- Watched the Harry Potter Play live in London
- Went night kayaking for beavers in Riga
- Attended the late Thai King’s birthday commemoration ceremony in Bangkok
- Participated in South Korea protests against the President
So yeah it’s been a somewhat action packed 2016. Also, I apparently did 21 free walking tours in various cities mostly in Europe~ Definitely makes up for all that non-walking time when I’m busy blogging!
Number of times travel insurance came in handy
Travel isn’t always about the good things! Some of the less rosy things this year:
- Getting a gazillion sandfly bites in Taitung
- Getting my phone stolen in Budapest
- Losing my voice in Krakow
I’ve been pretty lucky not to get into any major issues so far, let’s hope it stays that way!
How about love, measure in love
New and old friends from the road
So many people I’ve met and befriended this year, whether they were temporary travel companions or old friends in foreign lands. I have an entire Facebook album dedicated to people I met on the road in 2016 – honestly besides reliving the good memories? It also helps me remember where I met these lovely folk!
The best part is reconnecting with these people again – I ended up visiting the hometowns of some of the friends I made in hostel, or they popped by Singapore while I was in town. It’s a lovely thing to see that friendship extend beyond that fleeting meeting! Again big ups to everyone who put up with me freeloading on their couches!
And also not forgetting friends and family back home – you know who you are – while I’ve been gallivanting the world, they’ve been holding the fort at home :)
So that’s another year down, here I come 2017!