First off, Happy 2016! =)
I’ve already started taking the year head-on but I think 2015 deserves a proper look-back simply because it was awesome. As excited as I am for things to come, there were some pretty amazing things that happened last year that I want to remember and go back to.
2015 has been very good to me. As many of my fans know, I am now in Australia – Melbourne to be specific. In a very unexpected twist of events, I found myself packing my luggage and moving here in the final quarter of last year. But before that, a lot of things have happened that I am very happy about.
As far as I can remember, I think 2015 was the year where I traveled most. 3 countries and 2 continents. That’s not much for the hard-core travel junkie but for me, that breaks my personal best.
I spent most of my year in the Philippines. Before I left for Australia, my first official wandering mission was off to Palaui Island in the northern region of the Philippines. For those who are not familiar with the place, this is Palaui Island:
Palaui Island in Sta. Ana, Cagayan
She’s a beauty, isn’t she?
What made the trip special for me was that, it kind of was a pilgrimage back to my roots. I was raised in Cagayan, albeit not in Palaui, but going back to the region was like going back home. There was a certain feeling of familiarity that made the travel more relaxing, so to speak. People were friendly and the food was great, what more can you ask for? And oh, I saw the very last kilometre post in the north of the Philippines:
The last one standing
Next stop was the surfing haven Baler in Aurora. It was also my first time going to Baler so I didn’t know what to expect but the place didn’t disappoint.
The town was quaint and that’s where it keeps its charm. It gets busy on some days when tourists flock to it, but in general, it was a quiet little town that offers respite for the weary city dwellers.
And it turns out Baler has a lot more to offer than just surfing
Clockwise from the top left: Baler shoreline, rock pool, Dicasalarin Cove, Mother Falls
Also in Baler is this awesome Balete Tree that is the largest that I’ve ever seen!
Dwarfed by a Balete tree
Baler surprised me and it was great. Sometimes a place is known for one thing but when you take a closer look, you get new experiences that are beyond the usual.
After Baler, I headed due south to one of my favourite destinations in the Philippines – Boracay Island.
Ah Boracay. This place never ceases to surprise me. Despite having visited it multiple times, it always has something new to offer each time I come back.
I am never, ever getting tired of going back to this place. =)
After this, it was time to go international. Destination: Melbourne.
Ok, this was a job assignment. However, it’s never just work when I get sent on business trips like these. All work and no play? Where’s the fun in that?
Being new to Melbourne, everything was exciting. Every street, every building, every park, the coffee shop around the corner, the train stations – everything! It’s like a whole new dimension was unlocked and it’s just waiting for me to explore it.
Clockwise from top left; Rod Laver Arena, Flinders Station, Tulip Farm, Royal Botanic Gardens, Twelve Apostles
I feel like I still have a lot to discover in Melbourne and I couldn’t be more excited.
From Melbourne I flew back to Asia for my next destination: Singapore.
This was my third time going to this country but with different people every time so the experience is never the same.
Despite being relatively small in terms of land area compared to others, there is always tonnes of things to do in Singapore.
I finally got to try the Battlestar Galactica ride where you sit down and your legs are dangling and you get catapulted at breakneck speed. I was seated right out front, too. It was scary as hell and awesome at the same time. Exhilarating, I think, is the proper term. Will I do it again? Most definitely.
When I got back to Australia, it was almost time for the holidays. There was a 2-week shutdown at work which meant 14 days of vacation for me. 14 glorious days! What to do? I headed down to Sydney.
At this point I have to pause and give a shout-out to my good friend Kath of kathmadula.com who inspired me to go out and travel, and who so graciously welcomed me to their home in Sydney. It was one of the best vacations I’ve had in a long time.
If Melbourne is exciting, Sydney, on the other hand, is lively. There’s so much to do within the city itself and you don’t really feel the need to go anywhere else. And if you ever venture outside the city, there are heaps of interesting places to visit like the Blue Mountains, Kiama, Manly and Bondi beaches.
Sydney was also where I spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve and I am so thankful to all the then-strangers-now-friends who welcomed me and made me feel so much like I was back in the Philippines.
Boodle fight dinner =)
For New Year’s Eve, it was off to Cockatoo Island for some camping and to watch the firework displays in the harbour area. This bit surprised me because people actually camped-out to watch the fireworks. Apparently, the harbour area was the only place in Sydney where fireworks are allowed so people gather in nearby areas and islands to watch.
New Year’s Eve 2016
There was food and drinks and dancing in the island so there was plenty of things to do while waiting for midnight. And, yeah, we danced to the DJ’s mix. That was an absolutely fantastic way to welcome the new year =)
So there you have it. My action-packed 2015 in a nutshell.
My key take-away? My selfie game is now on-point. Oh yeah! You can’t argue with the photos, right? Teehee. :p
But really, more than anything else, 2015 has taught me not to stand still. To keep moving, keep exploring, keep learning. That there is so much waiting for me and all I need to do is make a move. I’m really looking forward to making 2016 great.