Wait, what, it’s 2016 already?! Here I am still still trying to catch up with last year. This month also marks a year since I said goodbye to the UK to travel indefinitely… something I’m still trying to get my head around. What was 8 months of planned adventure has now turned into a fantastic 12, so in true New Year fashion I’ve put together a list of my top 10 travel moments of 2015.
Lately things have been on the busy side, which is why it’s been quiet here on the blog. Coming back to a westernised country and working full time 6 days a week can be a little uninspiring (also exhausting) after 8 months traveling around Asia. I’m so thankful to have been able to top up the travel fund but couldn’t be happier to be on the move again for a road trip down to Melbourne!
After finishing work Adam and I spent quality Christmas time with friends from home also in Australia. We couldn’t have rounded off the year in a better way with a surreal mix of English traditions and basking in the 30c sun.
Now it’s time to get stuck back in. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store but for now here are my top 10 travel moments from 2015:
If I had to choose a type of food to eat for the rest of my days it would be Indian food. During my 2 months in India I didn’t get bored of it at all and it still remains my favourite after traveling around Southeast Asia. The flavour, choice and diversity between north and south. Anyway, I could go on, but I’m here to talk about the cooking class we took in Udaipur.
We took Shashi’s Cooking Class based on her trip advisor reviews and were not left disappointed. For only 750 Rupees (£7.70) we got to learn how to cook a range of north Indian dishes. It was such a feast that we had to take some away for our train journey. Shashi’s warm personality, sense of humour and stories about her past made the experience extra special.
After getting over my fear of motorbikes since crashing one in India 6 years ago, Adam convinced me to do the Hai Van Pass from Hue to Hoi An in Vietnam. Whilst I wasn’t actually driving one but rather riding on the back, it was an absolutely breathtaking journey and must do if you’re travelling in between the two places. The view from the top is stunning and is a popular place to catch people getting married – great for photo opportunities! The ride back down is so much fun and beats any of the horrendous Vietnamese ‘sleeper’ buses.
A luxury stay at the Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Before we left the UK, Adam was working for a major financial company in their travel department. He was lucky enough to win a free stay at a hotel in Scotland at a suppliers event however had no plans to go in the near future. His work colleague very kindly swapped his win – a 3 night stay at the luxury Dhara Dhevi hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand – as he knew we were headed that way.
We stayed in a private traditional Thai villa with our own pool over looking rice paddy fields. As a budget traveller and after spending 2 months in India this stay was an absolute dream.
Taking a private boat trip down the holy River Ganges in Varanasi was a real pinch me moment. I hadn’t expected much from Varanasi based on what I’d heard from other travellers, however it became one of my favourite experiences in India. It was easier to explore and not as filthy as I’d anticipated, but I think staying at Assi Ghat had something to do with it. There’s something so serene and magical about the place and I would highly recommend a sunrise boat trip to anyone visiting.
Despite this being one of the most touristic sites in Southeast Asia, it just has to be done and the city of Siem Reap is pretty special too. You just need arrive super early if you want to get a shot a sunrise without hundreds of heads in the way.
Exploring the hill town of Da Lat, Vietnam
If there’s one thing I learnt during my travels in 2015, it’s that I’m not much of a fan of routine or settling in one place for too long. I much prefer to be on the road, out and about and discovering new places. After a mixed bag of experiences living and teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, exploring the hill town of Da Lat was a welcome authentic escape.
If you read my post you’ll know just how much of a backpacker’s paradise I found Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands to be. Still unspoilt from mass development, though I’m not sure for how long, these islands are the perfect spot for kicking back in cheap ramshackle huts with nothing but how many turtles you’re going to spot to worry about.
This was a big surprise for me. Surfing was never really on my radar as a thing to partake in. I love the sea but for some reason surfing was never my calling. Oh how things change. Learning to surf was so much fun I’d even head back to the unappealing town of Kuta to do it again, in fact, I did. Kuta is the perfect spot for beginners and I couldn’t fault the guys at Odyssey’s.
Having my parents come out to Vietnam and heading back to Hoi An
I was lucky enough to have my parents come out and meet us on holiday in Vietnam. It was so much fun showing them around Ho Chi Minh City. We then flew back up to Hoi An for a relaxing and more worthwhile visit as Adam and I had been pretty rushed previously. We got clothes tailor made, relaxed at the beach and ate at so many of the amazing restaurants Hoi An has to offer. It remains my favourite place in Vietnam.
Adam’s parents also came out to Thailand and we were lucky enough to meet up with for a fun time in Bangkok.
Seeing in the new year in Sydney
Last but certainly not least was celebrating New Year’s Eve in Sydney. This is one of the world’s top places to celebrate for a reason. New Year’s Eve always feels a bit pressured and for that reason I wasn’t too fussed about it but I’m so glad Adam was adamant we stayed in Sydney for it! It was the best view and firework display I’ve ever seen, paired with having my friends from home to share it with, it made for an incredible night. The view we got was worth the 12 hour wait in the blazing sun 😉
2015 might be hard to beat but here’s to another fantastic year of travel ahead. What were some of your best moments from 2015?