This month involved time in Thailand, Hong Kong and Germany, a painful encounter with a sea urchin, a near-disaster with my upcoming travels (thanks to last month’s passport debacle) but luck was on my side and I am now en route to California! And today I reached a massive milestone: My Five Year Travelversary!
Happy anniversary to me!
Five years, HALF A DECADE! I still can’t believe it – I’ve been traveling the world longer than I’ve managed to do anything else in my adult life. I was contemplating writing an anniversary post but I felt like I said most of the things that I’ve come to realize over the past five years and what travel has taught me in my job-quit-versary post back in February (you can read it here: Looking Back: Five Years Ago I Quit My Job To Travel The World).
I have compiled my best and worst moments of the past five years of travel, and how travel has changed me (coming up in May). I am still amazed that I’ve been traveling for such a long time, (60 months!), and that I still don’t feel the urge to settle down again or that I’m tired of traveling, and I am curious to find out where this journey will lead me. The past twelve months have been a crazy roller coaster, with many emotional ups and downs, but also with some of the most amazing trips I’ve taken so far (Israel, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, to name just a few), and the most lucrative business opportunities. Year 6 is also shaping up to be a fantastic year, and I am looking forward to the next twelve months.
On to month 60 – April 2015. Where I’ve been, what went well and what didn’t, and a quick outlook on what’s coming up next…
Where I’ve been
I started April in Ao Nang, a destination I still have mixed feeling about. to be honest, I was underwhelmed by the entire Krabi coastline, which, despite being pretty, just didn’t do much for me. I did, however, spend two days on Koh Poda island while I was there, which made my entire time in the Krabi area worthwhile. My final return to Bangkok after that was fabulous, and from there I finally flew back to Hong Kong, something I’d been looking forward to for months, and which was easily my favorite destination this month. I knew I’d have a stressful time during my quick visit to Germany afterwards, and so I made sure to truly relish my time in Hong Kong, where I had a week to explore the city at a slow pace. As soon as I arrived in Germany, I started rushing around, dealing with bureaucracy, catching up with my nearest and dearest and lots of babysitting for my nephew and nieces, one of which I surprised for her 2nd birthday.
After three months, my Asia trip came to an end, but I’m already in the process of planning my next trip because I still haven’t been to Myanmar and Vietnam and both countries have been high on my travel wish list for years. I wasn’t ready to leave Asia AT ALL, and to get my jacket out which had been sitting on the bottom of my backpack for the past few months, but luckily I only had a few days in the chillier spring temperatures in Germany (and it was unseasonably warm – I even wore a dress and flip flops several times) and I knew I’d be leaving for hot weather again shortly – more on that below in ‘What’s next for me’.
What went well
Becoming ‘friendly’ with Bangkok
Once again, I had a fantastic time in Bangkok. The city and I have come along way from absolute dislike and the grudge I was holding against it after getting scammed in 2011, to now actually looking forward to my Bangkok stints. I will be back soon – for a travel blogger conference in October – and I am glad that I gave the city a second chance.
Finding a dream beach
Another thing that went well was finding the dream beach I’d been looking for in Thailand, but didn’t find anywhere. (Don’t get me wrong: I found countless pretty beaches, but when I say dream beach, I picture this:Koh Poda, a tiny island, small enough to be circled by foot in less than an hour, finally ticked all the boxes. I’ll be writing more about it soon.
I got a new passport!
This is the most important thing that went well this month, since I had booked a non-refundable flight to L.A., and another flight to Arizona, both of which I would have lost the money for had I not gotten my passport in time. My passport saga had caused me a nerve-wrecking six weeks since it ‘was damaged’ last month, and I only got it with one day to spare before I left town. To say that was a close call is an understatement.
Not failing at Hong Kong
After my kind-of-failed visit to Hong Kong in January, my second visit was nothing short of wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better time in Hong Kong and I think it worked its way up on my list of favorite cities in Asia, claiming the number one spot. I will write more about my visit shortly, but highlights include the PoHo neighborhood, a hike to the Peak, runs with scenic views and finding a fabulous speakeasy bar.
What went wrong
My friend stepped on a sea urchin
I was traveling with a friend at the beginning of the month and she stepped on a sea urchin when we were frolicking in the ocean together on Koh Poda. (Yes, even a dream beach can have downsides). If you do a google image search for ‘sea urchin sting’ you can see what an awful experience this is. Luckily we had hired a private boat that day which brought us back to the mainland straight away where we could deal with the injury and get rid of the spines. To give you an idea what these sea urchins look like – these are some that we had seen while snorkeling earlier that day:A slight concussion
I ran into a concrete wall at full speed. That’s all I want to say about it. It was painful and I learned this week that a concussion is no fun.
The squat toilet incident
I almost broke my foot in a roadside toilet and because this month is all about injuries, I feel like I should mentioned this incident which could’ve ended much worse than it did: in Thailand, I slipped off a squat toilet and almost broke my ankle. Luckily it was just bruised.
All of the above incidents were a good reminder of the importance of travel insurance and that I had to renew mine before heading to the States.
How NOT to treat your passport
I’ve already mentioned it last month but I am stressing it again: treat your passport with the utmost care. Also, since I just read that a fellow travel blogger couldn’t get on his flight because his passport had expired two weeks prior, unknown to him, I feel that I should point out that it’s not only important to take good care of it but also to double check if it’s still valid before a big trip.
I’ll have a giveaway in my upcoming anniversary newsletter which goes out on Sunday (3 May): you can win a 2-night stay at the Radisson Blu Royal in Helsinki, the hotel I stayed at during my visit to Finland and which I loved. If you aren’t subscribed to my bi-monthly newsletter yet, you can sign up here. You can read more about the Radisson Blu Royal in my detailed review here.
Best posts of the month
- On Lesbian Solo Travel
- My short love affair with Tel Aviv
- How much does it cost to travel in the Philippines
What’s next for me
Three months in the US!
As I’ve mentioned briefly, I am en route to California where I’ll be spending a week in the LA / Venice Beach / Santa Monica area, exactly five years after my first visit. I’ll be hanging out with friends, have a whole bunch of cultural things planned (LACMA, Getty museum, MOCA), hope to hunt down some street art in the Melrose District (thanks to Trover for the tip!), go for runs by the ocean, finally check out LA’s lesbian scene and give into a guilty pleasure (don’t judge!).From there, I’ll head to Arizona where I’ll be spending a month with one of my favorite dogs – I’ll be housesitting in Tucson for the fourth time. Anyone who’s been reading this site for a while knows how much I love the Sonoran Desert, and I am stoked to return and to revisit my favorite places in Southern Arizona.
I have to admit that while I’ve got July completely mapped out, my plans for June are still pretty much up in the air – I love the excitement of the unknown, that I don’t quite know yet where I’ll be, but I have a feeling it will involve some time in New York City 😉
If you have any tips for Los Angeles (great vegetarian food, good coffee shops, craft beer bars, running routes, street art spots, other off-the-beaten-path things I shouldn’t miss), please let me in know in the comments below!