I promise this is not going to be a big philosophical wanky blog post about how 2012 changed my life, although in many ways it did.
But being the dawn of 2013, it seems wrong to not at least reflect a little on what an amazing year its predecessor was.
In fairness, how could it not have been – I blew my entire life savings on backpacking and, hands down, it was the best decision I ever made.
So because I love bulletpoints here’s my 10 best and 10 worst travel memories of 2012.
I’ll start with the worst, in no particular order:
1. Greece in general – from the numerous forms of public transport that never showed up, the pre-booked accommodation on a derelict island that turned out to be deep in winter hibernation, getting kicked out of the bus station in a dodgy port town in the middle of the night and left to fend for myself with some homeless guys, and my favourite – being sold an expensive backpackers’ tour of Delphi and Olympia, only to discover when boarding the bus (bar the newlyweds) I was pretty much the only person under 50.
2. As in the number of seriously strange massages I had – the first in Vietnam where the masseuses’ hands got dangerously close to my lady bits, and the second at a Turkish bath in Istanbul where the lady led me (basically butt naked) by the hand over to a group of Turkish woman, before pointing at me and exclaiming – ‘like a baby, my little baby’ – to which I’m still not entirely sure what she meant.
3. Getting mistaken for being pregnant at Thai boxing in Bangkok, at the beginning and I would deem skinny phase of my trip.
4. While I’m on the subject of pregnancies… Being by myself and a blubbering mess at a camp ground in Florence and feeling like a crap sister for not being in Wellington while my sister had an emergency c-section and hopelessly waiting for news while the internet and phone lines kept crashing.
6. Being locked in a token booth for 13 hour shifts and deprived of the human right to pee at Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park in London.
7. The worst hangover of my life in Cambodia, which was the product of drinking an entire pitcher of vodka and orange at dinner because it came with a free t-shirt, the novelty of drinking beer while getting a Dr Fish massage and then finishing the night drinking buckets and shots of absinthe and then having the delayed hangover kick in while visiting Siem Reap’s temples in 40 degree heat.
8. Getting food poisoning from an under-cooked burger in Barcelona and it rearing its ugly head eight hours into a nine hour bus trip, where I sat helplessly as spew began trickling down my legs from the sieve-like holes in the plastic bag and then arriving in Madrid to the brutal reality of checking into my non-refundable pre-booked 14 bed dorm in a party hostel.
9. The tomato coloured eye bogey incident at the Tomatina food fight in Spain.
As for my best 10 travel memories of 2012…
1. The food: the coconut milk curries of Thailand, the water buffalo of Laos, the ‘Fanny’ icecream of Vietnam, the everything of Turkey, the pizza and gelato of Italy, the fromage of France, the M&S salads of England, the free tapas of Spain, the frites of Belgium, the langos of Hungary, the burek of Bosnia, the schnitzel of Austria, the hard boiled egg soup of Poland and the fried tarantula of Cambodia.
2. Waking up on my 25th birthday on a Vietnamese junk boat in Halong Bay.
3. Hanging out with elephants in Thailand and Laos.
8. All the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, and in particular, those who helped make it possible for me to live out of a backpack for a year. I love you guys x
9. This blog, which without a word of a lie has kept me going and when things have gone wrong I’ve been able to rationalise it and say ‘oh well at least it will make a good blog post.’ This is the first time I’ve ever had an avenue to write not for a radio news network or for a politician but for me. The only issue now is getting it to start paying the bills… suggestions welcome. Although if you’re that pestering company trying to make me advertise online gambling on my blog, for the umpteenth time I am not interested.
10. Saying farewell to 2012 and farewell forever to The Castle Pub in London where I’ve been bar wenching for the past couple of months, which is sadly about to demolished to make way for an apartment block.
And finally about 2013.
I am coming home and arrive pretty much a year to the day I left.
There’s a few factors in that decision.
Firstly, I’ve run out of money.
Secondly, I have the chance to work with the New Zealand Olympic Committee for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney on the way home, which I am incredibly excited about.
And finally, I desperately want to spend some time with my friends and family and in particular meet my first ever and favourite nephew.
But that doesn’t mean this blog will end, it just means it may be about adventures a little closer to home – well for awhile at least.