Inspired by a summary post of 2012 on one of my favourite travel blogs Mapping Words, I decided to do something rather similar myself. This year has been an extremely eventful one for me. I didn’t exactly achieve what I set out to do, but I did have an absolutely amazing time! For those of you planning your own long-term travel here are some fast facts about my trip:
Total money spent: 7,000 USD
Time spent working abroad: 4 months
Time spent purely traveling: 8 months
Countries visited: 5
January – South Korea
As the climate dropped below freezing and my time in Korea began to draw to a close, I decided to make the most out of the snow. I attended an ice festival to catch fresh mountain trout, went snowboarding at one of Korea’s best ski resorts, and joined the many brave men and women battling the cold each week to campaign for women’s rights in Seoul.
February – South Korea/Malaysia
After saying goodbye to everyone at my school in Korea, I put on my backpack and headed to Malaysia. I didn’t really like Malaysia that much, but it was an interesting start. Coming straight from -20 degree cold to 30+ was a very strange experience. I literally left my coat in a bin at the airport. I was only in Malaysia for a few weeks, but my fondest memories are of food, colour, and multiculturalism.
March - Sri Lanka
Arriving back in Sri Lanka, I decided to make a road trip across the country on bike with my Italian friend Luca. This was probably one of my favourite experiences of the year. We came across wild monkeys and elephants, got invited in for tea by a Sri Lankan family, and saw huge amounts of the country. I also tried to pick up some new skills and took surfing and traditional drum lessons. I wasn’t very good at either though!
April – Sri Lanka
Settling into life on the South Coast of Sri Lanka, I let my friends guide me through the road less traveled, and ending up getting up close and personal with a whole bunch of awesome wildlife. I even met a snake doctor and escaped a tsunami! April was also the month of celebrations. I spent Sinhalese New Year at a friend’s home eating traditional food and watching fire dancers. Only a few days after that, it was my birthday, and I had a party on the beach.
May - Sri Lanka
May was supposed to be my last month in Sri Lanka, so I traveled extensively, heading across to the East Coast to dive and try to catch lobsters in Trincomalee, before catching the train inland towards the vibrant green tea estates of the hill country. Eventually I made it back down to the South Coast to spot leopards with a luxury safari camping company. When they surprised me by offering me a job as their marketing manager for a few months, I couldn’t refuse and I decided to change my travel plans and stay in Sri Lanka.
June – Sri Lanka
Whilst keeping my head down and working hard at my new job in the rather boring town of Negombo, I became friends with the first man to travel to every country in the world without a plane, the lovely Graham Hughes. Not only did I spend a lot of time with him in Negombo’s pubs (his favourite spot whilst he tried desperately to escape from Sri Lanka and continue his trip), but he also managed to persuade me to go and see some cricket in Colombo, which I have never done before despite spending a lot of time in Sri Lanka. So thank you Graham for an amazing month of friendship in Negombo.
July – Sri Lanka
In July I really felt like I was living the high life. I was invited to go and do a review of a five star hotel by Hi Magazine and so I made my way to the East Coast again to enjoy scuba diving, fine dining, and champagne breakfasts for free! And I even got a five page spread in the magazine!
August – Sri Lanka
Even though I enjoyed my new job as marketing manager of a safari company, I decided that it was time to continue on with my travels, so I said a sad goodbye to Sri Lanka and spent my last few weeks staying with a friend in the South Coast and trying to learn how to cook the Sri Lankan dishes I knew I would miss when I left.
September – India
After a slightly shaky start spending a week in a Himalayan hospital after contracting typhoid fever, I made my way down to Rajasthan where I was amazed by the beauty of people’s clothing, the worrying gender gaps, and the stark and stunning landscape of the Thar desert. I met a fellow travel blogger Candace Rardon in the little fort town of Jaisalmer, and ended up getting to see the finale of the Rickshaw Run, which she was working on at the time. From there I trekked into the desert with a camel and a trusty guide where I saw sand dunes for the first time in my life. It was an intense and memorable start to my time in India.
October – India
Leaving Rajasthan, I made my way to Agra where I quite literally fell in love with the Taj Mahal. From there I took a two-day train ride down to the South and made my way toward Kerala on the hunt for India’s so-called spirituality. I spent two weeks in an ashram in Kerala and then gave up on spirituality and exchanged it for excellent food, spice gardens, houseboat tours, and beaches.
November – India
I spent most of November in Goa, making amazing friends and getting far too comfortable at the amazing Asterix Hostel. In between griming out on knarly beaches, partying too hard, and going for long motorbike rides, I tried to look for a calmer and more sophisticated side to Goa. And eventually I found it.
December – Sri Lanka/England
After my typhoid incident in India, my mum offered to loan me the money to come back to England for a bit. I decided to take my flights from Sri Lanka – because I already missed the country like crazy – and so I headed back there to soak up a little more sun on the beaches. I arrived in London on the 22nd of December, tired from two years of traveling. But spending Christmas with my family for the first time since 2009 more than made up for it!