2017 is what I would describe quite simply as being the best year of my life yet. I embarked on my 4th year of travel which was my third year of going solo, I ended up visiting 24 countries in 11 months, caught 22 flights, nursed more hangovers than I can count and I have made mistakes that have made me a much better person than I was at the start of the year. I get an over whelming sense of warmth and pride when I look back over the last year and what I have achieved and I can only hope that 2018 brings just as much adventure and happiness as its predecessor!
Sunbathed on a pedalo, on a lake between The Himalayas
Then, somehow, I climbed The Himalayas!
After 8 months away from beautiful but crazy India, I couldn’t resist popping back when I was already so close by in Nepal….
Even though I had previously spent 6months here I had missed out on the yoga capital that is Rishikesh and I was not going to let myself make the same mistake twice (even if I don’t do yoga!)
I then went back to visit The Taj Mahal….. for the third time!
And visited my beautiful friend down in Goa
I was meant to visit Sri Lanka back in 2016 but due to a family emergency I ended up flying back to the UK instead, since then I was itching to get here, once I finally got here I fell so in love I changed my flight out to a later date!
I revisited Malaysia, a country I thought I had no taste for what-so-ever remembering back to a brief visit 4 years ago where really I didn’t see the real Malaysia at all! I was proved well and truly wrong and ended up having the time of my life here!
I visited some of the most surreal street art I’ve ever seen.
Visited the infamous Petronas Towers
And went to some of the whitest sandy beaches I have ever been too!
Thailand was where I started my trip over 4 years ago and as much as I knew some parts had become very if not too touristic, it is somewhere I had wanted to revisit for a while and I’m glad that I did.
Obviously being the big kid that I am visiting The Unicorn Cafe was right at the top of my list!
And poor Toby got dragged along for the ride!
Alongside The Unicorn Cafe, another reason I wanted to return to Thailand was to go to The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and then on to Chang Mai to celebrate Songkran festival to celebrate the Thai New Year and probably the worlds largest and craziest water fight!
When I had visited Thailand previously I only visited the party islands of the South and didn’t even think about heading to the North even though I had three weeks! Not sure where the time went but I’m pretty sure most of it was spent hungover on a beach somewhere! Anyway, after I left I heard more and more about how amazing the North is, especially Pai with its weird and wonderful quirkiness, of course I had to go and when I did I fell in love.
And had the best time with two of the best humans I have met…
And got another new tattoo
Whilst in Pai myself and the girls got told about a Reforestation Centre that had recently rescued two elephants, a mother and a daughter, from a riding camp. Conserve Natural Forests are a not for profit organisation who are focused on the reforestation of Thailand and India and have planted over 190,000 trees over the last year (statement 20/04/2017). The two beautiful elephants who get to roam here freely were actually HEAVILY pregnant at the time of my visit! Only one group per day visits the centre so that you can watch the elephants take their daily bath in the river and feed them pumpkin which they love! They even let me touch their swollen pregnant tummy and I could feel the baby moving! At the end of our day we got to plant our own tree, so we got to do our own little bit for the environment!
A bit different from the other more travelled parts of South East Asia and definitely ALOT hotter annd humid, but still very beautiful and somewhere that needs to be visited sooner rather than later due to more tourist demand here, it won’t stay as untouched as it is forever!
Sunsets are always my favourite time of day…….
The temples here aren’t like any other temples I’ve seen before…
My ride for the week
And then after a two day hike in the sweltering heat we made it to Inle Lake
After making it to Inle Lake, it didn’t take me long to find the winery and drink a few bottles of wine!
Laos was a weird one for me, it was somewhere I was super excited to get to and even though it was nice it ended up being my least favourite place to visit. There was nothing wrong with Laos itself, but myself and my friend who I had met in Sri Lanka both got badly spiked which sadly left a very sour taste about our time here (and left us feeling like shit!)
Because of our bad experience we only ended up staying here for 8 days (which could be enough anyway as it is so small anyway) but we did rush to move on to Cambodia. Although this happened we still enjoyed some parts…..
We visited Kuang Si Falls
And went for a little swim in the natural pools…
And fell over…. ALOT
Then we moved on to Vang Vieng to go tubing down the muddy river
After our spiking incident in Vang Vieng we wanted to move on to Cambodia quickly but we needed a few days away from cities and larger towns, so we went to 4000 islands for a few days where I tried my bike riding skills for the first time in ages and failed pretty miserably.
Known for its terribly sad (recent) history that is remembered through The Killing Fields and S21 prison, Cambodia was a place where I spent a fair amount of my time reflecting and also educating myself. Although I did sometimes take advantage of the 25 cent beers and the odd party this was a different experience for me as I did take a lot of time here to shut off and unwind.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Spent some time in a no WiFi zone and watched the bio-luminescent plankton wash up on the shore
And visited an old abandoned casino in Kampot, once run by the Khmer Rouge
By the time I had reached Vietnam I had gone from travelling solo to travelling in a group of 8. By chance we were all heading in the same direction and got on like a house on fire.
We visited the sand dunes of Mui Ne
The pretty lanterns of Hoi An
Biked from Hoi An to Hue
Then went to the abandoned water park in Hue
And then went kayaking through Halong Bay where I got a bit too drunk and fell flat on my back in front of everyone on our boat!
This is where I started my journey back on my own again after a lot of sad goodbyes, but it was time for me to get a move on from South East Asia. Unfortunately it rained a lot while I was here but I still managed to get a few sunny days, but because of The Philippines consisting of so many islands you would have to return many times to really see all of it!
Swimming in Kawasan Falls (has started to become too touristic with stalls and restaurants all around)
Out paddle boarding to the islands of El Nido
Kayaking in Blue Lagoons
And falling off the kayaks
After The Philippines I flew to Bali for the second time, where my really good friend James was flying out from home to meet me for a few weeks. When we was deciding on where to meet up Bali seemed like the perfect spot to have a mixture of partying, beach and down time.
During our time here I seemed to have developed a love for swings……
For lying in hammocks
And climbing trees
We stayed in some awesome off the beaten track Air Bnb’s
And went to have a lot of sunset cocktails
I can’t wait to head back for a third time and explore some more
Having lived here for two years before it was about time I popped back for a brief visit and although I didn’t have very long and the weather was shit, it was lovely to spend a few weeks in Perth with my Uncle.
Somewhere that for some reason I had never been before, even though I had spent so long living in the neighbouring country, so when my friend I had met in Nepal offered to have me come visit after Australia naturally I said yes! Yet again though the weather was crap when I was here, even colder than when I was in Perth so it was difficult to do much in the small amount of time I had here.
After spending some time in Wellington my friend and his friends drove me to Cape Palliser where we stayed for the night, it was sooooooo freezing! But the sunset was beautiful!
And we saw seals all along the shoreline!
I then headed to Lake Taupo
Where I found out that my beautiful little niece was born!
I then popped back to Fiji for a 16 hour stop over, so obviously I made my way to the beach to top up my tan before my long arse flight to LA
In my plan for the year I was never meant to stop in LA, but my flight from New Zealand to Panama would have been over £900, but stopping in Fiji then LA brought my flight down by masses and ended up costing me £400 instead!
I stayed here for 3 days and left wishing that I had longer!
My first week in Panama was a really tough one for me, I genuinely did not like it and had no idea why, I just felt really out of my comfort zone and very alone in my first week here. Looking back I think it was just a massive culture shock from everywhere else I had previously been, I soon settled in and enjoyed most of my time here.
San Blas Islands
And Bocas del Toro where I spent my birthday
Extremely beautiful and EXTREMELY expensive! Probably the greenest country I have been to and also a bit quieter on the backpacker front (or so I found) in comparison to the other Central American countries (probably because of how expensive it is!).
Biking round Puerto Viejo, the first bit of exercise I had done for a while!
Anddddddd more beaches
And lots of wildlife including rescued baby sloths!
Reaching Nicaragua proved a bit more difficult than originally planned, myself and my two friends I had met in Panama rented a car to make it to one of the closest points from Costa Rica to cross the boarder, but little did we know a hurricane was on its way which we got caught in. Eventually we made it to San Juan del Sur which had also been hit, sadly 22 people lost their lives in this storm across the Central American countries.
Quad biking around Ometepe Island
Where I climbed a 1400m volcano…
And then slid down another in Leon…
Sunday Funday Pool Party in San Juan del Sur
Went sight seeing in Granada
And spent 4 days relaxing on a volcanic lake
As said in my previous post THE BEST PLACE EVER!!!! Everything about this place captured my heart, volcanoes, beaches, ruins and amazing people.
The biggest highlight of my year by 1000%…… climbing Acatenango
Being inseparable from this one for 4 weeks
And these girls
The Ancient Ruins of Tikal
Beautiful, beautiful Belize! Crystal clear blue waters bustling with marine life, cloudless skies and my favourite thing as usual, sunsets! Even though my time here was a flying visit I made the most out of my 3/4 days here, spending all of my time either splashing around in the water or laying on the soft white sand.
Snorkelling with sharks, sting rays and eels
Wandering around Caye Caulker
Spent time cuddling this bunch
And yep, more sunsets! ❤
The last stop on my trip for the year was Mexico! Mexico was not what I had pictured in my head at all and even though I still enjoyed my time here, I wasn’t as blown away with it as I thought I would be. That being said I defo want to come back here and give it another go!
I started my trip with a treat to myself where I went glamping!
And spent a few days cycling around Tulum, 38km in one day!
And went to visit Chichen Itza (and the 1000’s of stalls in the grounds!)
Then needed more island time so headed off to Isla Holbox
And then another island, Isla Mujeres
And then finished my trip in Cancun with a massive drinking binge at Mandala (all you can drink bar!)followed by a all day shopping spree (supposedly for Christmas presents but everything was for meeeeeeeeeeee!)
Soooooo that was my favourite year so far, it will be hard to top and no two years are ever the same, but I certainly will strive to have another year like this one! Happy 2018!