I know I said “see you next year” in my last post, but then I realized that I don’t actually have holiday plans and these days are pretty much just like any other normal days for me, so I got the motivation to put together a “look back on 2015” type post. So here was my year in superlatives! (You’ve probably already seen most of these pictures in previous posts but it’s still nice to have all my most memorable moments of the year all together!)
First, places visited in order:
Thailand: Bangkok (9 days)
Vietnam: Hanoi (13 days), Halong Bay (1 day), Ho Chi Minh (14 days)
Singapore (28 days)
Boracay (28 days)
Taipei (14 days)
China: Beijing (28 days), Shanghai (25 days), Wuhu (3 days), Shantou (2 days)
Hong Kong (9 days)
Poland: Warsaw (7 days), Wroclaw (7 days), Krakow (2 days)
France: Lyon (27 days), Annecy (day trip), Paris (1 day)
Switzerland: Geneva (day trip)
Italy: Bologna (3 days)
U.S: Los Angeles (50 days)
Japan: Osaka (23 days), Nara (day trip), Kyoto (day trip)
Taipei again (70 days)
*days = number of nights stayed
Best moments of 2015
Oh where to begin! It seems so hard to choose just a few best moments from dozens of memorable experiences. If I had to pick the top three (in no particular order), they would be:
Petting a giant panda in Beijing! – definitely a brag-worthy animal encounter moment! I totally get green with envy when I see pictures of people cuddling baby tigers in Thailand or hanging with owls in owl cafes (both of which are activities I don’t exactly condone). But then I remind myself that I got to PET A BABY PANDA (my mom’s friend’s son works at the panda house at the Beijing Zoo. Best job ever.)! And in case you’re wondering, no, they’re not all soft and fluffy. The fur is on the coarser side.
Re-bonding with my sister – going back home to Los Angeles because my sister was in a coma was the scariest thing I did this year. Scary not only because her life was hanging in the balance, but also because for the first time since I left the States, I had to come home to face those who do not support my choices (which included my sister. When I left to travel, we weren’t on the greatest terms.) But it ended up being one of the best things I did because I got to spend a lot of time with her during her recovery and re-bond. I’m so happy to have a sister who is one of my best friends now.
Meeting our families in China – this was a very special trip back to my birth city of Beijing because I got to bring D along and introduce him to my Beijing family (we also met up with my mom there, who visited from the States)! I was so happy that he could see my childhood home and taste my grandma’s cooking.
D also met up with his cousin + aunt in Beijing, whom he hasn’t seen in twenty years. And I was able to spend a lot of time with my cousin in Shanghai, whom I haven’t spoken with in nearly 10 years. Towards the end of our two months in China, we also went to visit my dad’s side of the family in Wuhu, where I hadn’t set foot in for a decade. All in all, our time in China was filled with lovely family reunions.
Worst moment on the road
Luckily, I would say that we survived 2015 without major mishaps (we’re pretty cautious travelers). But one incident stands out the most, and that is getting robbed in Boracay in the middle of the night while we were sleeping in the bedroom.
They took my nice camera, makeup, and D’s flip flops, all of which I didn’t care too much about… but I definitely did care when I later noticed that they also took my special St. Christopher pendant, which was gifted to me by a very special friend. I’m STILL mad thinking about it to this day (though I got a replacement and now it never leaves my neck).
Favorite destinations (most likely to return):
Looking back on the list of places we’ve traveled to this year, there are the ones that I loved and the ones that were special to me for more personal reasons. It’s hard to choose just three (for the sake of brevity), so in this list, I chose one that feels like home, one that enthralled me, and one that I’m dying to return to.
Taipei – This one is a no-brainier because we have visited and returned in this past year! Taipei is the city I could return to again and again whenever I need to settle down and not travel for a bit. It has really become our home away from home. We have a great little Airbnb with friendly hosts, we know where all our favorite vendors are, and we’re even starting to make local friends!
Hanoi – I LOVED Hanoi! Usually I find crowded, noisy cities stressful, but in the case of Hanoi, it’s utterly charming and exciting. There’s just so much life in the Old Quarter that I could never get tired of observing it. There’s literally something interesting to look at every foot. And the food was some of the best I’ve ever had, period.
Italy – Because I didn’t actually get to experience it! But just from the 3 days I was there, I fell in love with the Italian way of life (daily aperitivo hour was the best thing ever!) and how they really seemed to understand the meaning of enjoying it. I would love to return and see everything I missed and most importantly, eat all the food.
And ones I didn’t like so much:
I’d hate to single out any destinations to talk unfavorably about, but we all know that we can’t possible fall in love with every place we visit. I would have to say that my least favorite places this year were Singapore (mostly due to the horrible cockroach situation in our otherwise amazing rental) and Osaka (which I’ve just recently talked about at length).
And D would like to add that Boracay was his least favorite destination of 2015, though I quite enjoyed living the island life for a month. He thinks it’s overhyped, but I think he’s just much more of a city (and fast wifi) boy.
Best sunsets: Boracay
Even if D didn’t like Boracay too much, even he has to admit that the sunsets are simply gorgeous.
Favorite photos of 2015
Tulip field in Beijing – who doesn’t like a field of flowers? Especially when it’s a field of tulips and backdropped by an adorable windmill. (most photos here)
The Great Wall – also voted the most breathtaking place of 2015 (more photos here)
Chaozhou Bridge – also the coolest bridge EVER (more photos here)
These fat dogs – I couldn’t help but snap about a million pictures of these very cute, very chubby dogs when I saw them at Juifen, Taiwan. This picture just makes me smile. :)
Annecy – I know absolutely every single tourist visiting Annecy has this photo, but it’s just so pretty! Annecy is the perfect little French fairy tale town. Also voted the cutest place of 2015.
Most popular instagram photo:
On the blog:
My personal favorites:
- What’s in a name? (inspired by the book The Namesake)
- Lessons from a few scribbled characters (inspired by my grandfather and Alzheimer)
- When you spend every minute of every day together (what happens when D and I try to spend the nights apart?)
These are all from March or earlier… so I guess I need to step up my writing game again… :/
Most popular posts: Month after month, my top three most read posts are:
I swear, these three posts alone make up for over a quarter of my site traffic!
Okay, I can take a hint. People still like my food posts best of all. More of these coming in the new year, promise. (And does this mean I should try more seriously to be a food blogger??)
And speaking of food… if you’re wondering where it is… not to worry! I was going to include food too in this post, but it got waaaay too long, so look out for a separate post soon all dedicated to the food of 2015!
What were your highlight moments of 2015?