Usually I don’t publish posts over the weekend, but today is a special date and I will not break the tradition of an April 1 post every year. Today is exactly 3 years since I first boarded a flight out of the US to seek adventures and make dreams come true.
This 3rd year of travel has been a roller coaster. Though technically, it has been less travel and more staying in one place.
The first year was all about exploring as much as possible and learning to be full time travelers. The second year was about reconnecting and bonding with family. In a way, this third year has been the hardest and most rewarding at the same time. It has been about personal growth and creating a free life for myself. Three years from when I first left, I can finally say I’ve made my dreams of location-independence come true.
This year started with a breakup, which was the catalyst I needed to whip my butt into gear. The beginning of this year was truly a low point – I was basically jobless and homeless. I was afraid to continue on the journey alone. But I knew I didn’t want to go home.
So it was easy to decide to stay in KL. To just stay in a city I already loved and figure things out. Soon, I found some freelance work that allowed me to live in such an affordable place. And besides, by that point, I had already fallen hard for a local boy from KL.
It wasn’t easy transitioning into a new stationary life with new work and a new relationship. Even though I was so so happy with the new relationship, I felt restless from not traveling anymore, and I often felt depressed from feeling overworked and underpaid from all the random work I had. In short – it was hard. I guess eventually, it got too hard and the relationship fell apart, and with it – my heart.
When that happened, I was truly on my own for the first time since I had started this journey. And it was terrifying. But I learned one thing. I realized that I’ve been depending on someone else to make me feel safe and happy. So I silently vowed to improve myself. To give myself happiness and love and confidence. And to take myself to the places I want to go.
This third year ended with my first real solo trip to Dubai. It was a fantastic trip in many ways. Not only did I have so much fun, it gave me the confidence to continue this journey alone. It was exactly what I needed at that time.
And now I’m happy to enter the 4th year with new travel plans and a renewed excitement. I’m also at a good place with freelancing, where I’m earning a decent rate and have enough steady income to fully sustain myself. It’s been a hard journey getting to this point where I’m doing okay both financially and emotionally. There has been more tears than I want to admit. But I’m here. I’m proud of getting myself here, and I think the 4th year will only be better. :)
Anyway, enough blabbing. Here’s what my year looked like in travels.
- Most of the year in Kuala Lumpur
- 7 days in Taipei
- 3 days in Lombok
- 10 weeks in Beijing
- 4 days in Tokyo
- 13 days in Dubai
Pretty sparse compared to previous years. But this year was more about getting myself together, after all. And I really did love being able to get to know KL well. Of course by now it’s not a yearly recap without a huge mosaic, so I’ve put one together as usual. But instead of one picture of each week, I’ve just gathered my favorite photos of this past year to represent the memories and best moments.
As usual, click to enlarge and hover for the caption. :)
One thing that saddens me about this year’s mosaic is that there are so little pictures from the first 6 months. Even though I was happy in one aspect (a new romance), I still spent a lot of it confused and uninspired, and therefore not really going anywhere or taking any pictures. But even though this year hasn’t been all fabulous travels and sunshine, what’s important is that I’ve grown as a person. In that sense, I think this has been the best year yet. :)
On a side note: I’m really happy to have met so many good friends this year who have supported me through the tough times and helped me create new happy memories – from the new local friends in KL to long-term blog friends to even friends who just passed through.
So what’s coming up in Year 4? I’m starting it off with a month in Penang (I’m road-tripping there with CL tomorrow, actually!), where I’m hoping to eat really good food and have some beach time. After that, I’m not sure but maybe to the Philippines or Bali? My sister may come visit me in Malaysia later on, and then I’d love to meet Amanda in Chengdu (and cuddle some baby pandas!) as she does her study abroad month. I still have some places on my SEA bucketlist to tick off, so let’s see how well I do. Come fall, I’m planning a couple of months back in Los Angeles, where I’ll be a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding. And then – who knows? :)
As always, thank you so much for following along. I love all the friendships I’ve made from this blog. If you’re a silent reader, say hi :). Who knows, maybe our paths will cross sometime this year too!
And now, it’s giveaway time!
Are you planning on visiting Hanoi or Kuala Lumpur? If so, you’ll find this extremely helpful.
GPSMyCity (to which I’m a contributor) is once again giving away free GPS-guided maps. Quick introduction: GPSMyCity has guides and walking tours for over 700 cities around the world. The app makes it easy to plan your trips by storing tips and maps all in one place. All articles are free to download and available to use offline (so you don’t need a local SIM).
You also have the option of upgrading an article (for $1.99) to include a GPS-guided map. The map will include all the points of interest suggested in the article along with a walking path if you so wish to do a self-guided walking tour. See a more detailed description for GPSMyCity.
Here’s how to get them:
- Download the GPSmyCity app. It’s free. Then browse by city (such as Hanoi) to find the article and download it for free. For this limited time, the upgrade to get the GPS-guided map is free too!
- Or click on the links below, and you should be prompted to download the app. After it downloads, you’ll be directed to the article.
This giveaway is valid from April 2 – April 9. If you’re going to Hanoi or KL, snatch them up! I promise they’ll be helpful and save you a lot of travel-planning stress!