HAPPY 2017 (:
Whirlwind insane seems just about right to describe 2016. Crazy unbelievable world news that seem to keep fronting the media aside, making each seem more incredulous than the next, I have a lot to be thankful for in 2016 and look forward to in 2017.
With every passing New Year’s eve/day of year’s past, it doesn’t change the fact that it is still the most overrated day of the year. Partying up the festivities and getting tipsy on $1 beers and $2 cocktails is all fun and games but sitting down and reflecting on the year that has past seem to be more up my alley these days.
Well aside from the fact that I’ve spent the entire of 2016 outside Singapore, my sunny island which I call home, I could consider this one of the most exciting year of my life thus far. Unless you consider getting a full time job in my ex-corporate life and working 12 hour days with 2 week vacations a year exciting, then you probably should stop reading here (;
My adventure didn’t start in January of 2016 to be exact but in September of 2015 but this is about 2016 hey?
Ready for a recap, some reflections, a few stories and some of my favourite pictures? Yup me too, let’s go
Going to split this into 2 parts, Jan-Jun and Jul-Dec because it’s just too darn long! Check back again tomorrow for Part 2.
In January, I rung in the new year in absolutely freezing conditions (-20 degrees) in Banff with a bunch of lovely people that I’d spent the past few days with exploring the Canadian Rockies. What can I say, Canada is amazing, even in winter, I need to find a way to get back there in the Summertime. Of course there was also the unforgettable time in Vancouver BC which I can say, is my favourite city in North America. From learning how to ski, albeit terribly, to eating all the sushi and drinking all the coffee, taking day trips out of the city, hanging with my aunt watching the news, experiencing a little earthquake, eating chinese food.
Then there was also Whistler and Victoria island both of which I love so much and look back on fondly all the time.
Left Vancouver feeling utterly bittersweet but also ready for my next adventure – Cuba.
3 weeks in the country was definitely an eye opening experience. From experiencing technology and wifi withdrawals firsthand, coupled with going from 2016 back to the 1950s with a single plane ride. Then there was the difficulty in getting around, handling money, or even getting a place to stay for the night in casa particulars, combined with the lack of Spanish in my life at that point.
But I did make it from Santa Clara, all the way east to Santiago de Cuba and back to Trinidad, Cienfuegos and finally to Havana, which I honestly – hated. Constantly getting catcalled and stared at was also a thing, ultimately getting increasingly frustrated with ‘Taxi Amiga??’.
Cuba was definitely the talking point of February, going down also as my least favourite place in my year of 2016 and the most challenging country to backpack as well. I have no regrets going there but I am going to say I won’t be going back any time soon.
With a parting gift of food poisoning from Cuba, I had the most anxiety filled flight and taxi ride to my Mexico City hostel. Where I met up with a dear friend from home and a friend from the internet. #teamsingapore
Explored Mexico City, saw the pope, ate all the food, and discovered Oaxaca after.
Oaxaca – my highlight of March.
Got down to learning some spanish properly, in school, with homework. I still hate homework! But Oaxaca helped that a little by giving me all these amazing cafes to discover and delicious food to inhale. Plus I also got my very own apartment combined with a snuggly kitty that would often watch youtube videos with me.
I loved my time in Oaxaca and would be so lucky to be able to go back there. From running up the amphitheatre steps in the morning to late night mezcal parties to chilling in front of Santo Domingo, I will be keeping those memories close to my heart for sure.
But of course after a month in Oaxaca I had to move on seeing my flight from Central America to South had been booked for 1 May. Tore myself unwillingly from the clutches of the little home I’ve made for myself and went about exploring the other parts of Mexico. From San Cristobal de las casas to the ruins and jungle adventure of Palenque, to partying it up unapologetically in Cancun, getting a first glimpse of the beautiful Carribean coast of Mexico, heading down south to Tulum and Bacalar thus ending my 2 months in my favourite Central American country – Mexico.
April was spent with a brief stop in Caye Caulker, Belize where I hoarded sand in places I didn’t know I could for months to come. Swimming with manatees and sharks was beyond cool but I just wasn’t feeling the island thanks to a few nights of sleeplessness from the heat and sand everywhere. Jumping up at 5am to take a cold shower and there after watching sunrise was the sign I needed to leave the island. Well, not before getting rum happy and also the worst hangover in my recent memory and one of the worst travel days of the year, but I did get to Flores, Guatemala in one piece.
Visited the ruins of Tikal, canoed my arms off and swung off a rope swing multiple times in preparation for Semuc Champey, climbed up a dingy mirador to look down on tiny Flores. Had a mini meltdown as well but having the best company with me in Flores made my time there incredible.
Headed off to Semuc Champey for the most fun day in Guatemala and also the shittiest bus ride there I thought it would never end. Spent 2 nights in Lanquin and sped off to Antigua, my last city in Central America.
Also where I celebrated my 27th birthday with the white rabbit, sat in the amazing Mcdonald’s courtyard many a morning staring at the volcano in the background.
And with that I said bye to Central America and started my insane ride through the beautiful South.
Met up with yet another #teamsingapore in May to explore the vastness that is Peru. Eating our way through Lima, then taking the PeruHop down south, visiting the Ballastas islands and sandboarding in Huacachina. Did a 3 day hike on the Lares pass from Cusco, and of course scaling the legendary Machu Picchu. Headed up to the north of Peru to the little town of Huaraz where we did more hiking than I’d have cared for but ended in ultimately changing my view on hiking completely and resulting in the most amazing experience of 2016. Would not trade it for the world.
June was spent half in the mountains, half hiding out in an airbnb in Lima evolving into a sealion with the amount of ceviche I was eating and experiencing the most difficult border crossing into Bolivia, where I subsequently spent 3 glorious weeks finding out how affordable Bolivia was even on a backpackers budget. Eating all the saltenas in La Paz, riding down the death road on a mountain bike, even visiting the infamous ruta 36. La Paz was also where I sadly parted ways with friends from the mountains and learnt how to travel by myself again after 2 months of company on the road
It was weird. But also necessary.
And if you think these mountain pictures are amazing, just wait till you see the ones in tomorrow’s continuation of this post, my favourite city in South America and my Patagonian adventures.
See you tomorrow! Because one post is not enough to recap my year apparently (;
You can catch Part 2 right here !