2013 flew by so fast, I hardly saw the months pass by. In terms of travel, this year was insane! I moved from Europe to Asia and wound up in a place that “forces” me to leave the country and travel at least every two months. Not the worst deal, right?
Here is part I of my 2013 travel summary:
I started 2013 in my favourite city of all times: Ghent, living and working in the city centre. It was an extremely busy month but an exciting one with lots quality time with friends and family.
I conquered one of my biggest (irrational) fears: driving. It was a real challenge for me especially since the lessons took place at night, in the snow! Learning to drive has been on the top of my resolutions list for years. I finally pulled through.
I took a short trip to Warsaw with one of my best friends. Poland during the winter is no joke, but the snow embellished the city. We had a great time learning all about the Polish vodka drinking etiquette. I had my first experience as a journalist at a Polish radio station and enjoyed a fab jazz concert.
Exactly 3 years earlier, a British girl hitchhiked from London to Berlin and stopped in Ghent on her way there. We met, we hit it off, we became friends and she continued her journey to Berlin. On her way back to London, she passed through Ghent again and stayed with me for a couple of days. Ever since, she has moved to Australia and we never saw each other again. Until… we bumped into each other on Warsaw’s main square. Magical! We spent the little time we had, catching up over food and coffee!
MARCH… Oman, UAE, Bankok
I exchanged the everlasting cold temperatures of Europe for the Eastern heat. My voyage started in Oman. A country I had been drawn to for years. When I finally set foot in it, I fell in love head over heels. Oman was everything I hoped it would be and more. I stayed with an awesome woman who introduced me to Omani culture. We partied, gossiped, walked around Muscat, bonded over huge plates of traditional Omani food. During my little road trip I discovered the country’s wonderful and hospitable people, the ancient culture and the stunning nature… I loved it all.
United Arab Emirates
After Oman, I made a stop in the United Arab Emirates. Mainly to visit a friend who had just emigrated there. She showed me around the glam of Dubai. I was expecting it to dislike it, but Dubai surprised me. I enjoyed the fancy cocktails and the high class lunches. I loved the sense of safety and the well dressed tourists. Even though I have strong reservations about energy wasting in he UAE and the whole “bigger is better” attitude, one can’t deny it is a unique place on earth, showcasing human ingenuity. If only they could use that ingenuity in an environmental friendly and fair trade kind of way…
When my time in Dubai was up, I made way to Bangkok. Again, just a brief encounter which was just long enough to allow me to get a feel of the city. I stayed in a fantastic boutique hostel that blew my mind. Refill Now! is probably the most stylish and clean hostel I’ve ever stayed in. I met some kick-ass ladies whom I explored the city with. I haven’t quite made up my mind about whether or not I like Bangkok. I guess I’ll have to go back to decide.
I spent three weeks in Myanmar discovering a country that only recently opened its doors to the rest of the world. It’s without a doubt a fascinating country, untouched in so many ways, but I didn’t LOVE the place. I don’t think it has anything to do with me getting a Buddha overdose, but there was just something that didn’t agree with me. Was it the fact that it was so hot you couldn’t move during the day? Or that the food wasn’t all that? Or was it the fact that I longed to stop traveling and settle down for a while? Or yet again, was I too bothered by the current regime? Either way Myanmar and I just didn’t click. I’m not sure why, I never really understood. All I know is; I won’t be going back any time soon.
In may, I finally got to store away my luggage for a while. Douglas and I settled down in Kuala Lumpur. The stability only lasted a short time as we moved from KL to Georgetown, Penang. Neither cities was the kind of environment we wanted to live in, so we decided to leave mainland Malaysia behind.
Later that month I revisited Singapore and just like during my first encounter 5 years ago, I loved the country/city. Yes, it’s freakishly clean, strict and (too?) organised, but it’s awesome! It’s an especially welcome break after the chaos of Kuala Lumpur. The food is amazing and I love how three very different ethnicities live together, side by side. If the rent in Singapore wasn’t so damn high, that’s where we’d be living right now.
Aaah, Bali… I found it just as beautiful as when I left it behind 5 years ago. It has changed a lot, but the essence is still present. The smells of frangipani and incense, the sounds of gamelan, the bright green rice fields… We found Ubud the perfect place to spend a few month living and working remotely. So we moved and started a new life on the islands of the gods.
Stay tuned for part II of the year!