It’s that time where I take a look back at what happened in 2017 and MAN it has been such an interesting year! In terms of travel, it can’t compare to 2016 of course, i.e. the year of the Epic Career Break where I quit my job in February and spent most of it travelling around Asia and Europe.
Days spent travelling in 2017: 174
When I was working a full-time job, My travel round ups usually included total amount of travel days and see just how well (or how poorly) I used my annual leave in that year. This year, I spent about 47% of it sleeping in an overseas bed, almost half of the year.
It’s probably no wonder now that I’m finally back home that I spend so much time in my room – I’ve definitely missed having my own space.
Countries visited in 2017: 15
I definitely travelled less in 2017 compared to 2016, but I started off 2017 on a very good note by setting foot in Bogota, Colombia on New Year’s Day, the first time I ever visited South America. 9 of these were new countries for me, but in every country I visited excluding Malaysia, I visited cities or areas that I had never visited before.
There are way too many awesome things for me to cover in this one post without it getting super boring for anyone who’s not me, so I picked a maximum of 3 major highlights per country that I visited, and I’m showing you some pix I’ve never posted up on this blog yet.
I will get around to writing about my individual experiences eventually, but here’s an overall impressions post that I wrote about Colombia.
- That time we visited La Chorerra Waterfall and I wished for someone to drive by with an empty car and offer us a lift when we were stuck watching 4 full buses zoom by us, and someone ACTUALLY DID. Score one for good karma.
- Playing paintball in Pablo Escobar’s summer house in the middle of a beautiful lake was a pretty fun experience and on hindsight, just kinda wild
- The 10-turned-16 hour bus ride from Cali to the southern border where I reached my destination at 2am with no hotel booked. Thankfully this seems to be a common thing and I got a room easily and spent the next morning checking out the beautiful Las Lajas Church before heading to Quito.
- Jumped screaming off a bridge in a span of 10 minutes in Baños because that’s how I roll
- Swam with hammerhead sharks, sealions, penguins and even some marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands
- Encountered the weirdness of an entire park filled with green lizards in Guayaquil, where I also discovered my favourite mosquito repellent Detar (you can actually see the mosquitos do an about-turn when you put it on)
- Getting to study Spanish and just slowing down to spend at least a week in 3 major cities was quite a nice break for the rapid pace
- White water rafting near Boquete was pretty damn exciting, especially because I was sitting in front and got super soaked
- The gang tour in Panama City was definitely super cool, and so bizarre to think that all this history and violence is just beneath the surface
- Meeting and travelling together with the backpacker friends I first met in Vilnius, Lithuania was definitely a blast (XOXO J+M). We did Lima, La Paz and Puno together!
- Spending my birthday morning flying over the historic Nazca lines was definitely an awesome way to grow older.
- Machu Picchu. What really can I say? I came, I saw and I loved it. And I had a super awesome Llama photobomb my picture for memories to boot.
- Reuniting with another lovely friend V who I met in Ecuador. I love that sometimes these travel friendships don’t just stop at the end of our time together.
- The Atacama Desert is one of the most amazing and diverse landscapes ever. It’s hard to describe but there is so much diversity and it’s almost unreal to behold
- Arica was meant to just be a place to sleep for the night, but I enjoyed this little seaside town – the Morro de Arica has a fabulous viewpoint
- Finally getting to the salt flats Salar de Uyuni, a long time dream of mine, only to find that there was no Singapore flag at the flag area, gah!
- Cycling the Death Road in La Paz was very cool and quite honestly, not super dangerous if you use your common sense
- Buying all the Alpaca stuff in Bolivia as souvenirs – my bag was SO FULL.
- Eating local tapas in Madrid with new Pinoy friends based in Singapore was definitely fun. Little bites and beer is a win for me
- I’d held out on visiting Valencia for a long time, always dismissing it as somewhere too ‘modern’, but I kinda loved it when I finally made my way there and ended up staying there 2x as long as I thought I was going to because of the great city vibe
- Cycling to the City of Arts & Sciences was so fun I had to do it twice
- Getting invited to Bucharest for the inaugural ExperienceBucharest was super cool, and I met so many fellow bloggers there
- Seeing forgotten spots like Vacaresti and ‘sneaking’ into Chimopar was quite the experience
- The Therme was an absolutely incredible spot. I really want to go back there as it’s an amalgamation of all my absolute favourite things – fun slides, hot springs and palm tree weather
- Sofia gets a mention as the only place that I’ve ever joined a free food tour. How awesome is that!
- I really liked the church at the Tsarverets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo. I ducked in there because it started to pour and was pleasantly surprised by the modern art happening in this tiny unassuming looking church
- I had higher hopes for Plovdiv, but I remember it being just a tad too rainy. I did find some cool street art here though
- Seeing the break fast and Ramadan being celebrated by so many people at the Blue Mosque was quite an eye-opener
- I loved being able to see an old friend J and her introducing me to an awesome neighbourhood Kadikoy where I found a ton of cool street art
- Going to my first Turkish hammam was quite the experience! I scrubbed off more than year’s worth of travelling skin and wore the most insignificant disposable thong ever
- Coron was a bit of a last minute decision and a new place for me to visit with my friend Lydia from Lydiascapes, and I loved Kayangan Lake and the Twin Lagoons and sorely wish I had time to scuba dive when I was there
- Finally climbing the Great Wall of China was a big thing for me. Missing lugeing down it was a major bummer though
- Seeing Xiamen in the Fujian province where my ancestors hailed from was eye opening, and the food really cemented my Fujian heritage – I know why I love soupy noodles so much now
- I ate some pretty weird stuff, which is also inherently true to Chinese culture – I had sandworms in Xiamen and some rather mushy silkworms (?) in Beijing. Been there, done that! Not the first time I’ve eaten insects though.
- Getting to visit my 3rd Taiwanese offshore island Kinmen – check!
- Renting a scooter and just exploring Kinmen on my own was a blast – it’s probably the most traffic I’ve had to navigate on scooter though, glad I got through that. I loved my little mini electric scooter even though I was often the slowest poke on the road
- I stayed in one of my favourite hostels ever – it’s located in a traditional heritage building, but the interior and facilities are new and clean and the hostel staff were really nice. Score one for Beishan Old Western House even if it’s a tad more out of the way! (affiliate link!)
- I was really happy to get to see a new area beside Bangkok, hello Hua Hin!
- Drinking local Thailand wine and seeing elephants in the vineyard in Hua Hin was pretty unusual
- Port Dickson was a road trip with the family – we don’t travel together very often these days so it’s nice to kinda kick back on a trip and not have to even think about blogging about it. Also, I didn’t have to do the driving so it was really an opportunity to kick back
- I don’t remember the last time I took a cruise (not counting the one in the Galapagos Islands) – I think it when I was a tiny child with the family. But my sister persuaded us to go on this one, and well… it’s not my thing.
- We visited Klang (I skipped this day) and Penang in Malaysia for a quick walk around Georgetown, as well as a day trip to Phuket in Thailand before heading back home. I’m not sure I’d call it travel exactly when he had just a few hours in each location!
What’s on in 2018
I haven’t made any big plans as of yet, but I know that a UK trip is on the cards at this stage, and I actually have a bit of a yearning to go back to some favourite spots, so we’ll see what happens. A lot of it is dependent on what happens on the job front as well, so unlike the last 2 years where I knew I was going to be on the road most of the time, I have absolutely no idea what lies ahead in 2018, but here’s to everyone having great travels!