Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

What a year you've been!

This year has gone by so quickly and so much has happened. As soon as I came back from the 2015 year-end trip in Malaysia and Indonesia, I started planning the next grand trip - a trip more than 10,000km on railway through the frosty forests of Siberia. With just a few days to spare, I had to choose to either go on this trip alone or walk away from it. I decided to see it through. Despite the fact that I missed up the train ticket pick up time and almost ended up in Moscow with none of my train tickets, I still made it somehow. It was an overwhelming emotion after travelling 2 weeks alone by train through Russia, Mongolia, and China. I arrived back in Hong Kong a new person. I learned the kindness of the Russian and Mongolian locals that lent me a helping hand on my trip, I saw the beauty of our Earth in miles and miles of changing landscape, and I realized what I was capable of.


Following the Trans Siberian journey, I seemed to have accidentally planned a lot of my trips around rail. In May, I visited my hometown – Taichung. From there, I trained to Chiayi railway station, then changed to the mountain railway up to Alishan. This railway is one of the oldest in Taiwan, built back when the Japanese colonized Taiwan, and was originally built to ship expensive wood from the 3,000m+ mountainous terrains of central Taiwan. Today it is a protected National Park where acres of sacred trees over 100 years old stand. 

In early June, I visited Hanoi, Vietnam for the first time. Shortly after landing in Hanoi, I boarded the Sapaly express, which is an overnight train, which headed Northwest of Vietnam until it reaches close to the boarders of Yun-nan province, China. Sapa is a town famous for it’s tiered rice paddies that form a breathtaking view like no other. 

I also made 3 consecutive trips to Japan: first a flight to Tokyo area to see Kamakura’s beautiful Hydrangea flowers and also Mt.Fuji via Lake Kawakuchi, second was a trip back to Hokkaido but this time to Otaru area and to attend the Bon Odori Festival, and third to Kyushu Region (Shinkansen enabled me to visit Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Nagasaki in just one weekend). All of these trips involved some form of railway. See? I’m addicted to rail travel now. 

And of course, as I write this blog, I'm somewhere in the South Pacific Islands. It's the grand trip I've been planning for since June and involves 5 different airlines to Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Samoa, and Auckland, New Zealand. The trip has been absolutely incredible, from landscape, to culture, the people, and beautiful stunning beaches. It's amazing how a lot of these people have so little, but they're so happy & nice to everyone who's visiting. All of the first world problems are not problems here. People simply just live

For the most part, people see the glorious outcome – my shiny social media photos on instagram and vlogs on Youtube. I admit, I am very fortunate to have an income that supports this lifestyle. But there’s also a lot of careful budgeting going into this. If you know me, I don’t own a single designer’s handbag, that’s just not my thing. The most expensive items I own are my laptop, phone, and Canon Camera. I almost never take taxis, in HK or while travelling. And I’m also in various hotel & airline loyalty programs that fund for a few free flights or hotels here and there. All in all, you have to be resourceful if you want to be flying to one new country every month for 12 months (well almost, I think I missed out on November). Not to mention, I live in a “box” as many of my friends call it - one of those tiny Hong Kong studio apartments that fit a hamster. 

Though I don’t talk much about my personal life on here, it’s still a year-end recap, so I thought I’d write a few lines about it. I started a new role at the beginning of the year at my company, so it was a challenge to adapt to all the new tasks I had. I tried stepping back from heading the “Culture Committee”, basically in charge of holding fun activities, lunches, office events etc, but I’m still very much so involved in it. And that lead to picking up some work on Comms. It’s a lot to have on my plate, but I really enjoy it (most of it). What makes it worthwhile is seeing the smile on people’s face. If I can just brighten up one person’s day, I consider that day a successful day. I mean, most of what I do everyday is servicing others, whether it’s internal or external clients. 

Relationship wise, there are ups and downs. I think I’m still in the process of learning about myself, and I’ve learned so much about myself this year. There are some weaknesses I’m trying to overcome, and some flaws I’m trying to correct. But moving forward in 2017, I think I will aim to just embrace each moment as it comes and try my best to enjoy it. Every relationship changes you somehow, you pick up pieces of that person with you and keep it even after you say goodbye. Hopefully all of their good traits rub off on you. 

On personal development, I was able to achieve a lot of things this year so I’m quite happy with the progress I made. I completed hiking all of Hong Kong Trail, Maclehose Trail, and 80% of Wilson Trail, but also Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak. I committed to weekly Muay Tai classes for about 6 months, so my physical condition is better than ever, much better than when I hiked Rinjani last winter. I also started learning German in January and fast tracked it all the way to passing A2. I can understand probably most of everyday conversations, but I would like to ultimately be able to get to level B2, which will be sufficient for studying and working. I’ve also been a bit more self-aware on my mental health this year. Everyday I try to journal something that I’m thankful about and something that makes me happy. It just reminds myself of how fortunate I am and to keep a positive mindset. 

Moving forward in 2017, I’ve set the usual 10 goals for myself, which includes a good mixture of acquiring new knowledge, staying fit, mental awareness, financial goals, creativity, and travelling. On the travelling side it is still not too set in stone yet and I’m still boiling on a few ideas, but Europe is definitely on the list of places to go back to. I also need to do a bit more traveling in the Indochina region. For now, I don’t want to set too many details so I don’t set myself for disappointment in case things don’t fall in place. I'm hoping to focus a lot more on designing and creating a life I want. You can get so caught up in the day to day tasks that you forget to stop, breathe, and do the things that make you most happy. 

It has truly been an incredible year, and there are countless people I need to thank. 2016 wouldn’t have been so fruitful without you. And if you’re reading this right now, I want you to know that it means the world to me that someone is appreciating the content I push out on this blog. Ultimately, I just want my blog to be somewhat useful for fellow travellers, but most importantly to inspire people to travel around the world and see how truly beautiful our planet is.

Happy 2017!


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