This year has been one with big transitions and challenges, juggling my university’s crazy fun and frustrating final project, struggling with figuring life post-graduation, adjusting to life back home and every issue 22-year-olds think about. It’s an odd time to live in, you are just done partying through uni (although mine is a mild case of waking up at noon, midnight snack, setting off apartment’s alarm from my cooking, and good amount of traveling) and are immediately thrusted into the adult world with no manual, no break and no safety nets.

Even if I want to, traveling does not sit at the top of my priority but I travel when I can, with more intensity and mindfulness when I do. The result is revelations and perspective that comes with being outside your comfort zone. Some even comes in the preparation part of the trip, which could be as intense as the traveling part. These are some memorable wake-up-call from this year’s travels :

  1. After 3 exciting years, my travel journal finally runs out of pages. As a forgetful person, the 15 minutes I take every day or two to jot down the detail of my trip, no matter how tired I get, is always worth it.
  2. The best culinary adventure this year goes to a weekend trip to Malang, the self-proclaimed culinary capital of Java. It was surprising how much I enjoyed the city and I will definitely come back next year!
    Malang’s rawon nguling, the best rawon you’ll ever have.
  3. Traveling opens your palate to new taste, even the ones that doesn’t seem very adventurous. Last year’s culinary eureka moment were sashimi and tomato. This year’s were aubergine and crab. Every time I had a culinary eureka, I was like “It took me this long?!”

    The first aubergine (on the bottom) I fell in love with

  4. However, Asian food is a comfort to my soul. I went without Asian food for 2 weeks and the moment I got to Paris, I ate Chinese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m sooorry but I can’t go on for much longer without a real kick to my taste buds.
  5. The most mind-boggling meal I’ve had this year is to eat at lecturer hall on one of the campus at Cambridge University, where one of my sister’s good friend work at (thank you ci Trisna!) I had to remind myself not to gawk and overanalyse details of the dining hall, I felt like a student at Hogwarts and it was such a memorable experience!WhatsApp Image 2018-12-31 at 3.03.00 PM
  6. I wouldn’t have guessed what my hobby brings other than an enjoyment, but I had the chance to write for a nationally-circulated magazine. It felt surreal! Thank you to my friend, Randy, who encouraged me to do so!
  7. The most ironic wake-up-call of the year is losing my wallet with all my money (eat that advice you wrote, Mich) in Japan, on my birthday trip that I paid for. It suuuucked, I was so sad and heartbroken, but it reminds me not to be more aware and to not underestimate things.

    The day I lost my wallet

  8. Last year, I said that you can apply Schengen visa on your own. This year, I took it thousand steps further ; I applied and finished both Schengen and UK visa IN A MONTH. It’s one of the biggest risk in travel I took this year! My unpredictable schedule almost made me pull the plug and cancel my graduation trip. But then I decided to take the plunge, even if I had to prepare all the documents in 24 hours (which involved lots of panic and crying because I couldn’t find my passport for hours) since it’s the only slot left at the Embassy for the next 2 weeks. It was intense but I pulled through!
  9. Speaking of panicking… it was nothing compared to the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth panic attack of my life whilst climbing up a volcano in Italy on a sailing trip. I don’t have fear of heights but I am not used to climb mountains that steep. People were having fun, taking photos, chatting and laughing on the way up while I was literally crying, snots running down my nose, hoping I won’t fall off to the side, begging for the climb to be over. If you ask me whether the climb is worth it, well let’s just say the guide planned to go to Indonesia to explore the volcanoes…

    That was me panicking and pulling up the rear!

  10. Despite that, sailing Italy with Medsailors is hands down the best week of the year and puts it on top of Croatia and Greece. Plenty of activities with more than enough down time, delicious Italian food and wine, great shipmates, lovely weather, just truly the best time.      2018-12-31 04.15.54 1.jpg
  11. Sometimes when you want something, all you gotta do is to ask. My mother is a living legend with this matter. We were out grabbing breakfasts on a busy street in Seminyak with no parking spot. My sister, brother-in-law and I were puzzled on where we should park our car, when she calmly asked permission to park in front of a villa for a quick moment to grab our brekkie and they said yes. Just like that, we got ourselves a spot.
  12. Instagram has made certain destinations look more desirable than it is in real life. Case in point : Positano. The hilly town was beautiful, sure – but super crowded with congestion of both cars and people at every turn. We could not stand it more than 2 hours and left, preferring to see it on board a ferry from afar – or maybe, we just chose the wrong time to go.

    Congestion for days!

  13. It is a very good feeling to travel and still be at home. Bali becomes my second home. Whenever I go now, I find myself not rushing, I find myself skipping the trendiest spots in lieu of morning yoga, afternoon naps and the best cup of coffee.WhatsApp Image 2018-12-31 at 2.43.25 PM
  14. It is decided that the winner amongst the megacities (New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong – merely my observation) for me is… *drumroll* London. I will always have a soft spot for London, with its vast history, never-ending things to do, cool markets, amazing parks and museums, exciting plays to watch and I can never refuse a trip to London!
  15. Family trip is truly a headache to plan (extensive research with precise execution is essential when you are planning a trip to please both the toddlers and parents) but I do know by planning your own trip, you’d really get your money’s worth so the headaches were mine to bear. But in the end, it’s always worth it to see everyone having a good time and being well. It is truly priceless and always worth the headaches.

On a personal note, I hope this year has been kind to you and in turn, you have been kind to yourself (because #SelfLove always comes first). I hope you are always surrounded by positive force and big love from the people around you (if you’re not, then ditch them).  I hope you always find reasons to be excited about life, because if not then what is there to live for?

Happiest new year, to you.

Until next year,

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Read 2017 in Travel