10 Countries in 12 Months: Looking Back at 2014

This has been a pretty epic year of travel for me. Unlike any other for sure! As I sit in a condo in Mexico on New Year’s Eve, I’m reminded of last New Year’s Eve, where I stood on the Great Wall of China and think “How is this my life?!”

Since tomorrow brings the start of a brand new year, full of hope and possibilities, I thought I’d look back over some highlights in travel this past year.

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Obviously, spending last New Year’s in China was a serious highlight. There is no country on earth like China, I’m convinced. It’s culture is so specific and recognizable that even when traveling in other parts of Asia this year, I could see aspects of where Chinese culture had taken root. I could recognize a Chinese neighborhood without paper lanterns and dragons. Then a few week’s after we celebrated the start of 2014, we got to celebrate the Year of the Horse, or the beginning of the Chinese New Year. And I’ll say this, there ain’t no party like a Chinese New Year Party! From fireworks to food, I got my fill of it all! But seriously, the memories I’ll take with me for life. And more than just the memory of eating cat for the first (and hopefully only) time!

Another great holiday we celebrated was in Thailand in April. Songkran marks the start of the Thai New Year, and they celebrate completely different than the Chinese and the Americans…with huge water fights! I’m serious. For 5 days straight, anytime we left our apartment we were at risk of being soaked by a hose, a bucket, a water gun or all 3. Considering temperatures were over 100 that week, I had few complaints.

We survived a military coup in Thailand, watched the sunrise over the Angkor Wat temples, took a road trip to the border of Tibet, a boat ride through the most iconic mountains in China, observed a Balinese Hindu ceremony, rode elephants, drove motorbikes, swam in turquoise waters, got chased by monkeys, hung out with a monk in Myanmar, stumbled into multiple wedding photo shoots, hung out with surfers, drank coffee out of plastic bags, toured one of the richest countries in the world, and enjoyed drinks on top of a helipad. We took over 30 flights, including an inaugural flight from Bali to Brunei on Royal Brunei Airlines and enjoyed their first class lounge. We had 6 different SIM cards in our iPhones. We learned phrases and sentences in at least 4 new languages. All these memories are simply priceless.

In returning from traveling and spending some time in home sweet America, we have been able to expand my travel photography onto Etsy and a bigger online presence, and even see some sales! What a huge accomplishment.

Probably the most exciting thing we did this year….is decide to go back. Decide to make our home in Southeast Asia. To leave America, friends, family, and all that’s familiar behind for what we believe in most. Freedom. Justice. Hope. Grace. Love. I can’t begin to imagine what 2015 what will look like. Full of highs and lows, laughter and tears, photos and blogs for sure. I guess you’ll just to follow along to find out with me.

Happy New Year!

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