2013 was a banner year for me in terms of travel. I spent just under half of the year traveling abroad, what with my 5 months in Asia (aka the impetus behind this here blog), brief stint in London, and quick jaunt to Montreal. Even when I was “stuck” stateside, I took advantage of living in New York City and spent a lot of time revisiting my favorite spots and exploring new ones. That is why I live here, after all – because I genuinely enjoy this city and its variety in all things, and love participating in its very special brand of chaos.
3 continents, 9 countries, 365 days. Here are my location-centric highlights of 2013, broken down by month:
Most of January was spent getting ready for 5 months of backpacking in Asia and tying up loose ends at work before my last day. In short, it was cold, busy, and slightly stressful.
One highlight, though, was the ‘Cheesy Tourist Day’ I had with my team at work, where we hopped on one of those double decker buses and toured our own city. It was indeed predictably cheesy, but it was also a lot of fun getting an alternate view of New York. We rounded out the day with a trip to Top of the Rock which, despite having been multiple times, never loses its luster, in my eyes. This is where you’ll find the best view of New York City.
I turned 28 and had a big birthday/going away party, then trekked to Everest Base Camp in February. I probably could have hibernated for the next 10 months and still had a hell of a year.
India kicked my ass, but it was worth it to finally cross Holi off my bucket list. I also happened to take one of my favorite photos EVER while there, of my friends and I celebrating our survival of the day’s festivities.
One word: ISLANDS.
Koh Lanta, Koh Kradan, Ko Phi Phi, Phuket, and Railay, to be more specific. If I ever return to Thailand, it will be to revisit the Andaman coast.
Sure, I saw some pretty impressive temples at Angkor – but when I think back to the 2 weeks I spent in Cambodia, I automatically recall my week on Koh Rong. This unexpected Cambodian gem entered my life at just the right time, right after I found out that I’d have to endure several more weeks without my broken camera. What a stunner!
I’ll forever associate my time in Vietnam with the floating markets on the Mekong. Besides pho, nothing else quite screams *Vietnam* to me.
Exploring the hill tribe villages of Northern Laos was one of the highlights of my entire year. Cycling and kayaking through the lush, mountainous landscape was just unforgettable.
I’d all but run out of gas during my last stint in Thailand as my big trip was winding down, though I had enough left in the tank to manage a 3-day trek in the north. Bonding with the locals and witnessing our guides whip up an entire meal using nothing but bamboo was an amazing experience.
I spent the first half of July taking it easy in London. And by taking it easy, I mean alternating between ODing on coffee and galavanting around the city. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and MORE, thanks to the surprisingly glorious weather. London, I am a fan.
In August I got reacquainted with New York, unsure of how long I’d remain here. By the end, I wondered how I’d ever be able to pry myself away from this incredible city that I still loved, and resolved to start looking for jobs here rather than plan a big move.
This month was filled with all the wonderful summery things that tend to punctuate each year I spend in New York, including a now-annual Fire Island camping trip with some of my favorite friends. Next year, we won’t make the mistake of not bringing enough bug spray and not being sufficiently hydrated before the vodka comes out (yeah, let’s just say it was a rough night for some of us… *cough*).
September was a stressful month thanks to the job application process, but I tried to diffuse it with lots of bike rides and frolicking. I made it to Randall’s Island for the first time, revisited Coney Island on Labor Day, and explored the extended Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Because 5.5 months of international travel earlier this year just wasn’t enough, I went to Montreal for a week just before starting my new job. It was wonderful not having to worry about where I was going next or how to get from A to B; instead I leisurely explored a new city on foot/bike, without any agenda or time constraint.
With a distinctly European feel complemented by ubiquitous street art, a delightful waterfront, and mountain-top views, I was quick to love Montreal. Anyone want to go to Montreal and/or Quebec with me next year?!
Come November, I typically start to panic internally because it means winter is fast approaching, and winter makes me a sad kitty. I’m determined to plan lots of fun things this winter to make it a little more bearable, starting with a night at the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze. It was fun to escape the city for a night and see some festive art (yes, 5000 intricately-carved pumpkins is art!).
Christmas is my second-favorite time of the year in New York (after summer, of course). I think all of my traveling threw me off this holiday season as I never was able to fully get into it, but December had its seasonal highlights. I went to watch the Christmas tree lighting at South Street Seaport and the opening of its new ice skating rink, and also brushed arms (literally) with the crazies at SantaCon.