2013 Round Up – My Top 13 Moments

Over the next week or so in the run up to 2014 I am looking back over everything I have done this year. It has been my biggest year of travel, I have completed some incredible bucket list ticks and visited seven countries in total – that’s a record for one year! To enable myself to properly review this year I have put together a series of differnt types of posts. I hope you enjoy them! To view my infographic head here and my video here. Today I’m looking at my top 13 moments of the year…
IMG_9497 editCompleting 88 days of regional work
The year started in Waikerie where we were living on a boat and picking oranges everyday in the blistering heat. We were paid poorly but had some of the best times – celebrating Australia Day is probably the most memorable. When it all came to an end in February it was a mixture of excitement and nerves. We had finally completed our Australian regional work but we now had to go back to the real world, enter city life and get real jobs again. Still nothing beats the feeling I had the day we completed our orange picking and the night we left Waikerie.

Cursing Halong Bay on a Junk Boat
Halong bay is beautiful. I had seen it in countless magazines and adverts for Vietnam but nothing prepared me for the beauty of seeing it in real life. What made getting there even more rewarding was the fact that booking a trip from Hanoi is so stressful and worrying with all the different scams going on. We avoided any kind of scam luckily and had the best few days crusing around this amazing area, kayaking, cycling and sleeping in a sea bungalow.
Whale watching was something we had talked about up the East Coast but it wasn’t really the season. When we headed back to Sydney for our last few days in Oz we kept hearing people mention how many whales were around at the moment. On our last morning in the city we suddenly decided we wanted to go and what an amazing trip we had. We followed a mum and calf for the whole three hours and they put on quite a display for us, with a rare double breach being the highlight.
IMG_1037 EDIT 2Staying at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
This was on my bucket list from the day it was built. I really just wanted to visit the infinity pool but after learning it’s only open to guests I decided we would just have to stay in their oh so expensive rooms so I could get to swim in that amazing pool – luckily my boyfriend agreed. We spent just one night here and that set us back £300 but it was so worth the money. The room was lovely and the view even better; I can’t even begin to explain how amazing the pool and view deck was. This would probably have to be my highlight of the year – it’s not often you get to experience such luxury.
This was our first real adventure of the year; after leaving Wakerie we spent a week in Adelaide and then picked up our campervan which was ours for the next 4 days. We drove out of Adelaide thought Coorong National Park and then on to Victoria and the Great Ocean Road. We witnessed sunset at the 12 Apostles, walked down Gibson Steps, heard tales of the boats which crash landed along this coast and found the famous London bridge. We camped in our van and got looks everywhere we took it because of the ridiculous art work on the outside. The weather was glorious and it was so nice to be on the road again.

Wide angle view of the craterClimbing the Tongariro Crossing
This was something we debated about for ages; because of the wintry conditions this hike would cost us $150 for a guide, equipment and transfers. That seemed like a lot. Still we decided we would fork out the money and go for it and I’m so glad we did. The hike was hard and long at 18km but it was the most rewarding of all the  things we did in New Zealand. The views were incredible and seeing the place all covered in snow only seemed right.

DSC04204 EDIT 2
I had never been skiing or snowboarding, never been to a ski resort and it was only two weeks before when I first set foot upon snowy mountains. Needless to say the first time I tried snowboarding I was pretty exciting. Being a first timer I opted for lessons and had a brilliant time until… I lost my balance when stopping and fell funny on my tail bone, the rest of the day was spent with ice on my back in the medical centre. Still just that morning of snowboarding ranks as one of my highlights this year because I had longed to have a go for so long.

My Plane Ticket Home

Coming Home
This is a weird one: it was the biggest highlight but also the biggest lowlight. Coming home meant our year long trip was over, we were back in the UK and had to adjust to reality again. However coming home also meant seeing my family and friends who I hadn’t seen in a year, sleeping in my familiar bed and just realising that home isn’t such a bad place after all.

Koh Chang, Elephant Fun

Riding an Elephant
Again another moment which I had been looking forward to since I booked our flights to Thailand. Originally I thought I would get to do this in Chang Mai but we actually ended up doing so on Ko Chang. The elephant ride itself was great but the real highlight was when we took one of the young elephants down to the sea – he carried us bareback and dumped us in the sea. We then spent time playing in the sea while he splashed water over us with his trunk. It was magical to just see this adorable creature playing so gently with us.

Angkor Wat

Visiting Angkor Temples
I had always wanted to visit Angkor Wat but little did I realise how much I was going to enjoy the rest of the temples. We spent sunrise at Angkor Wat and true to the stories there were hundreds of people around the lake waiting for the magical moment. Problem was the day we went the skies were full of cloud and we never really witnessed the special moment. However I loved the Byron temple and the whole of Ta Phrom with the natural look of trees growing over the falling down temples. The temples had a powering feel I never expected and I found myself fascinated rather than bored by the whole day.

Arriving on Ko Chang
Ko Chang was the first place we got to after Bangkok; after missing the bus to Ko Samet we ended up in Trat with the clock ticking to the last ferry. Convinced we would be stuck in Trat for the night we jumped in the first tuk-tuk we saw and headed to the pier. The tuk- tuk wasn’t really a tuk-tuk but a flat bed truck with a canvas roof over the back. With the warm summer air we tore through the countryside to the pier. It was a huge sigh of relief when we saw the ferry was still there. We celebrated with a Chang Beer and then jumped in another truck taxi to drive down to long beach. It was a clear night with the stars in the sky and the wind running through my hair as we drove up and down and round the only road on the island. It really was the moment of the year when I left like I was living the life.
IMG_1749 EDIT 2Visiting Loch Lomond
We recently moved to Glasgow and I made a promise to myself I would actually see more of Scotland than last time round. Our first adventure was to Loch Lomond and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a freezing winter’s day but the scenery certainly didn’t disappoint: with a mirror reflection on the water and snowy mountains lining the landscape it really was picture perfect Scotland. I cannot wait to explore more of that area and the rest of Scotland.

Getting a place at Roehampton University to study Primary Education
I have spoken several times about my wish to become a primary school teacher and my fears about staying in the same place for three years. However despite these fears I sent my UCAS application off upon arriving home in the UK and had my first interview in December. I was offered a place at my first choice university less than a week later. So come September I will be a full time student again and back to living in London! The thought of staying in one place with barely any money for travels scares me but I am so excited and proud of myself for getting a place on the primary education course.

And that has been my top 13 moments of 2013, I feel so lucky to have had such a fun and action packed year of travel. 2014 is already shaping up to a good start as I won a trip to Australia in February and we have plans for a New Year trip away in Scotland, and that is just the first two months. And other suggestions for Europe or more specifically Scotland? I would love to hear them.

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