Every travel blogger I know has written a post summarizing the trips they’d made in 2013. I would love to say to heck with it, and just greet the new year with not much ado. After all, I’m not known for caring about recent trends, in blogging and otherwise.
In this case, however, I do see the value of a year-end post. It will be a chance for me to look back, to assess my experiences in travel, and to hopefully extract “lessons” that I can use to live a better life next year.
I haven’t traveled as much in 2013 as in 2012. Internationally, I’ve been only to India and Thailand, and locally, I’ve gone to Batanes, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, La Union, Puerto Galera, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga. However, it was a rich year for me, rich in experiences and rich in memories (definitely not rich in money!). Here’s my year-end report, a mish mash of the best in my travels and my writing in 2013.
Hands down, Batanes belongs to my best travel experience this year. This small island province north of the Philippines has proven elusive to me for so many years that the time when I was finally able to go there was made even more special. I found (and wrote about) ways to travel cheaply there, helping not only my readers but friends I’ve made in the hospitality industry in Batanes.
Here are my must-read posts:
Early in 2013, Mabuhay Magazine, the in-flight publication of Philippine Airlines commissioned me to write a comprehensive guide to the sights of Bohol. Together with multi-award-winning photographer Hannah Reyes, the Mabuhay team went all over the island in almost a week, covering all possible tourist attractions. I was so glad to enjoy Bohol before its centuries-old churches were destroyed by the earthquake in October.
More than the sightseeing, however, my trip to Bohol was also quite memorable because of one thing: I conquered my fear of heights by doing the canyon swing in Danao.
My recommended posts:
India is incredible indeed, with its cacophony of sights, sounds, and colors. In the three weeks I spent there, I’ve couchsurfed in Kolkata, observed Holi with kids in Bodh Gaya, paid respect to Mother Ganga in Varanasi, got awed by the majesty of Taj Mahal in Agra, fell in love with Jaipur, and made good friends with locals in Delhi.
My trip to India was an eye-opener. I’ve learned how it feels to be so completely helpless, as well as what it’s like to be given support by hundreds of people you don’t even know. (Read: Of Eve Teasing and Solo Travel in India)
At the same time, I’ve also learned that it’s possible to separate the experience from the place, to eventually love instead of hate. Despite what happened, I enjoyed India, thanks mainly to Jaipur and all the locals I’ve met while traveling.
India’s not the most comfortable of places to travel to, but that only makes me want to go back there all the more. She challenges me as a solo traveler, and I really want to see her again!
I recommend these posts:
Backpacking India in 3 Weeks–This became viral, getting shared on social media over 23,000 times in just a few weeks!
India’s Tourist Visa on Arrival–all you need to know about VOA in India (if you’re Filipino)
Thailand has become my favorite country to travel. It has replaced Vietnam (Read: How My Favorite Country Betrayed Me) for a while; not only is it really easy to go around there, it’s cheap too. Whenever you need to interact with other travelers, you can find one anywhere.
More than that, however, Thailand is also the (present) home of someone special to me. When he asked me in October to join him there, I didn’t hesitate to book a ticket. For the first time (except for that trip to Europe), I didn’t look at the cost. I booked two days before my flight and never regretted it.
When I was in Bangkok for three weeks, I didn’t consider myself a traveler. I treated the hostel as my home, our roommates as our friends. In the next few months, when I go back there to join him, I expect to write more about Thailand not as a tourist, but as an expat who considers the country a second home.
I can’t believe I only wrote two posts about Thailand in the weeks that I’d been there, but here they are:
The year 2014 is but a few hours away, and I can’t wait! 2013 was good for me, travel-wise, but 2014 will definitely be better. To readers who continue to support Solitary Wanderer, thank you very much! I appreciate your support, and love the emails and comments I get from you.
Happy new year to all!