Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. With these minutes, how do we measure a year? Mine was measured in flights, sunburns, and new countries added to my ever expanding bucket list. How did you spend yours?
Every year, we become nostalgic about the laughs, smiles and experiences past. I was inspired by For the Love of Wanderlust’s 2016 Travel Roundup and I can’t help thinking how I’ve grown another year wiser and a little bit rounder. While many friends back home have been celebrating engagements, marriages, new jobs and children, I spent another year in the land of kimchi pondering where my next travel destination is and what strange food I will sink my teeth into.
A Year in Numbers
Miles Traveled: 22,074 (an approximation of all my trips this year)
Flights Taken: 12
Countries Visited: 5 (Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam)
A Year From A-Z
A – Ayutthaya
As much as I love the bustling city life in Seoul, sometimes I need a break even from Bangkok. To the north lies this historic town which took me on a journey into ancient Thailand.
B – Bumming around Bali
This beautiful island has been on my bucket list since I discovered Eat, Pray, Love. While it’s becoming a very popular destination, I had a fair share of palm tree sways and beach days.
C – Cultural Ambassador to Korea
I think this is one of my greatest achievements to date. I was made a private cultural ambassador to Korea for my work on YouTube by SAYUL who is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism.
Korea has some seriously gorgeous places and this cliff is one of them. Formed from a volcano that erupted the waters are crystal clear and emerald.
If you’ve ever lived in Asia, you’ll understand the affinity with Christmas lights and the beauty they bring to the holiday season from November to February. Everland does a spectacular display every year to help you get into the spirit.
My most favorite season of all set Korea on fire with its crimson. gold. and maroon leaves. I love Autumn fashion and there’s nothing like breathing cool air in the morning.
G – Getting down with culture in Gyeongju
Korea’s historical hub has a lot to offer in terms of how politics and culture were run during the time of the Shilla Kingdoms. My most favorite Instagram photo of all time was taken here.
H – Hotel Maui
Gina Bear hit some pretty big milestones this year. I’m at 9.5 k followers on Instagram and I hit 2 k on Youtube! I was so happy to have been given this opportunity for my first hotel sponsorship.
I – Intriguing Cherry Blossoms
I had the opportunity to chase loads of these blossoms this year. Spring is fleeting but I’ve seen some of the most beautiful ones in Gunpo and Gwangyang.
J – Lost in Translation in Japan
I can say a lot for myself since moving to Okinawa in 2012. I managed to speak Japanese quite well so while I no longer lose much to translation, I had the opportunity to return to one of my most favorite cities in the world, Osaka.
As a lover of temples, traditional wear and culture things, the Korean Folk Village in Yongin offered a peak into the Joseon Era of Korea’s history.
L – Luwak Coffee
One of the most expensive drinks in the world, Luwaks only eat the finest beans and the process to make it is quite extensive.
M – Making Makgeolli and Tasting at Bae Hae Jung Brewery
One of the coolest experiences I’ve had this year was learning how makgeolli is made. I learned most masters are women and that farmers started making it out of boredom.
N – Namsan Tower Lock of Love
I’ve finally gone and done the corniest of the corny. I put my lock of love on the Namsan Tower to forever commemorate my love with Aaron.
O – Overcoming Adversity
I had a lot of challenges this year like turning many negatives into positives like when I made my own Facebook group called Travel Bloggers of Asia and Oceania partnered by Linda from Linda Goes East and Soraya from Hello Raya.
P – Parting of the Sea in Jindo
When I first heard of this festival, I thought of Moses parting the sea, but what it really entails is an awesome opportunity to cross to the island across the sea at low tide.
My favorite quote of 2016 is, “I literally don’t have time for (insert bs here).” It has helped me become so calm and refocus on what’s really important in life.
Have you every dreamed of frolicking through a mountain completely covered in deep purples and rich pinks? I have and my dream certainly came true when I was able to prance like a happy Gryffindor lion. Yes, I totally went there.
S – Seoul’s Han River Cruise
Ever since I saw my favorite drama of all time, My Love From the Star, I had to go on this romantic cruise along the Han River.
T – Thailand
I should have done more research and gone to Chiang Mai, but Thailand was incredibly beautiful and the Thai were so friendly and welcoming.
U – Ubud
One of the highlights of my trip to Bali was the Tegalag Rice Paddies. They were gorgeous, scenic and my best photos have come from this place.
V – Vietnam
I never thought I would fall in love with this country, but I did. The food was amazing, everything was cheap and reasonable and I got to feast my eyes upon the beauty of Ha Long Bay.
W – Wanggwan House Parrot Cafe in Seoul
Korea is known for its quirky cafes and interesting spots. I couldn’t resist spending an afternoon with a sweet bird while sipping lemonade.
X – xoxo
I spent a lot of lovey dovey days (and not so lovey dovey ones) with Aaron. We’re two peas in a pod because we love to show some PDA and annoy each other.
Y- Yummy Food Porn
I’ve eaten some questionable things while living abroad and traveling, but eating local dishes in Vietnam was a delicious first.
Z – Zig Zagging up Hallasan
Unfortunately, five days on the jimjilbang floor left me like Frankenstein with severe back pain and I couldn’t make the difficult trek to see the crater at the top. We opted for the easy trail which was just as beautiful.
While the celebrity world has lost many greats such as Carrie Fisher and George Michael and America suffered its largest mishap by electing Trump, I had a pretty amazing 2016. Happy New Year and may you bring in 2017 with your loved ones and a glass of nice champagne.