There wasn’t a “16for2016” (i.e., 16 countries in year 2016), which could have been the third following from my 14for2014 and 15for2015 projects in the last 2 years. Nonetheless, this year I managed to step on 4 continents (Phil did 5 though, because America!)—which is why I think 2016 is equally awesome as the previous years!
But I should probably say that 2016 wasn’t that easy all year round; behind the travels, was my hard work (and struggle cheret!) to get through the day job, and eventually save up for the trips. I would say there have been ups and downs, which I tried to be indifferent about (but stressed me just the same!). But then I guess with determination and will to surpass all of the challenges, I managed to make everything work out and end well. So hooray for that! :)
‘nuf said (and ‘nuf drama ’cause this post is supposed to be happy), these are the 16 (happy) highlights of my year, which are mostly well, travel-related (haha!):
- Started the year in my hometown in Zamboanga City, with Phil meeting my entire (immediate) family! (And overcoming that awkward phase! haha!). We went home during the last week of December 2015 until first week of January and spent the NYE with my family—I suppose December is the best time of coming home as everyone’s just in the festive mood (and I would have expected the temperature to be a little cooler than the other months—but then it was still so very hot and humid! Poor Phil! :p)
- Visited one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature: The Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. The thing is, Phil and I love visiting this type of places and see for ourselves why such a place is included in the list! Hence, visiting another one (see item #11)
- Finally set foot in Boracay Island, Philippines! I always thought the place is so cliché and so commercialised, hence I was a bit hesitant to take Phil to Bora. But then, I think I made the right decision to take him there, because we both had fun! Albeit crowded, I am so impressed with the paradise-like beach and also enjoyed the activities we did in Bora.
- Watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). It was one of Phil’s Christmas presents in 2015—but we travelled in early January whilst we were in the Philippines. We definitely had enough of temples whilst we were there! :D
- Registered ourselves as National Trust members and made the most of it! It started during Valentine’s Day when Phil took me on an outdoor date in Cliveden National Trust (isn’t he the sweetest?! :D). And then, whenever we feel like going out on weekends, we went to National Trust sites near Reading.
- Revisited Bath (my 3rd time!) and Stonehenge (my 2nd time!) during the Early May Bank Holiday. I think this trip was the most laid back among the trips that Phil and I had so far. No rush and we kind of just lazily wandered around Bath and did a side trip to Stonehenge (mainly because I wanted to have the picture below :p).
- Hiked on a very stormy day in Brecon Beacons, Southern Wales during Easter. Because we can’t stay still, we opted to go to Cardiff and then to Brecon Beacons during the long weekend. We were just a little unlucky of the weather, so we didn’t manage to reach the summit of the trail because of the very strong wind and rain during the hike, that we had to descend when it was almost impossible to see the path. Otherwise, it would have been very dangerous walking blindly!
- Completed my UK travel by visiting Belfast, Northern Ireland during Spring Bank Holiday. Well, I booked the trip as an anniversary (oh ha! We survived one year!) treat to Phil, but I guess, it was also a treat to myself as it completed my UK travel plan. Plus, we did the Game of Thrones tour around the film locations in Northern Ireland which I think was cool. :)
- Watched Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams Tour in Wembley with my friends in June! Now this is not travel-related, but nevertheless a highlight in 2016. Also, adding on to this, I lost weight because I wanted to be less chubby during our South American trip in July! Hahaha! It sounds so silly but South America was my motivation to lose weight and stay fit. I started reducing my calorie intake from mid-April and managed to reduce from roughly 119lbs to 100lbs until mid-July—so in 3 months! Hence, a highlight! :p
- My most favourite highlight: Visited Machu Picchu in Peru!!! I guess, this place is in every traveler’s list. No doubt, it is really a breathtaking spot on Earth, igniting my wanderlust even more. We didn’t do the 4day Inca trail, but hiked our way down anyway. The other sites (Incan ruins) in Peru such as the Sacred Valley in Pisac and Ollantaytambo Archaeological Ruins are equally amazing I must say. Cusco is definitely one of my favourite places now!
- Chased the majestic Iguazu Falls, Iguazu National Park in the border of Argentina and Brazil! Another one of the New7Wonders of Nature. If you don’t already know, I love waterfalls as I love the mountains. So this trip was really an amazing one for me. We did the Brazil and Argentina trails; both of which gave a different but equally impressive perspective of the waterfalls.
- Visited Rio de Janeiro and was present during some of the Olympics games! Yup, we did the trip to South America in time for the Olympics, because Phil has a little bit of obsession about Olympics (hehe!). We loved how the landscape and seascape and cityscape collide in Rio; and we loved the added festive vibe because of the Olympics! And yes, Christ the Redeemer, one of the New7WondersoftheWorld!
- Went on a birthday trip to another Nordic Country – Finland! The trip was one of Phil’s birthday presents for me and it was amazing. We had the chance to visit Father Christmas’ house in Lapland, floated in a lake in the Arctic Circle, chased after the Aurora (but Phil is such a jinx! Haha!), walked on snow at -12 degrees! Imagine the joy of a tropics girl like me—the snow is happiness!
- Explored Dubai whilst on a work-related training course. The training was a result of getting a promotion at work, so that was actually the highlight hehe. But then, I won’t be a hypocrite so I would say that I am more interested in exploring Dubai so did an extended stay after the training and went on a Desert Safari Tour with some of my college friends.
- Hiked on fresh snow in High Atlas, Morocco, Africa! And stepping on my 4th continent (Phil’s 5th) this year. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be hiking on snow (I was imagining a Banaue- or Cusco-kind-of-hike in the valleys of Morocco), but to my surprise, we arrived on a very snowy trail. I was both ecstatic of what looked like an awesome experience and worried that I wasn’t wearing proper pair of shoes (i.e., I was wearing a pair of light sneakers that are good for city tours haha!). But my love for the mountains and (my budding love for) snow are greater than my worries, and so the hike happened!
- Experienced my first (proper) British Christmas in the UK! 2016 is my fourth in the UK but during the previous years, I spent my Christmas either alone (2013), or with friends in another country (2014 in Istanbul, Turkey), or with Phil on a flight to the Philippines (2015). So I am glad that I got to spend the Christmas with Phil’s family (and extended family) over some traditional British meals and tradition. Bad news, did not have any photos. Haha! so I’ll stick to this post-Christmas photo with our matching mugs from the hosts.
So there you go! Worth to say that we visited 2 of the New7Wonders of Nature (i.e., Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in the Philippines and Iguazú / Iguaçu Falls (National Park) in Agentina/Brazil border) and 2 of the New7Wonders of the World (i.e., Machu Picchu in Peru and Christ the Redeemer in Brazil). Brill!
Anyway, 2016 was a memorable and great year indeed with loads of reasons to be thankful for—among those are my family and friends and my loved one who are my main support system; a stable job that pays the bills and finance my travels (and pay for my shopping); and of course good health that allows me to (still) work immensely hard and get through my every working day! I hope you (yes you who’s currently reading this post, if anyone is actually reading haha!) also had an amazing year 2016! And since this is a year-end post, allow me to greet you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year! And I trust that, like me, you will all work towards a better year 2017 not just for ourselves but for everyone else.❤