2016: A Very Big Adventure

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

So suddenly the end of the year is here, here I was making a little plan of my blog posts over the end of the Christmas holidays and I suddenly realised that New Year was in the middle of them and I needed my end of year post.
Everyone talks about how awful 2016 has been and though in the world lots of terrible things have happened I have actually had a pretty wonderful year. That's not to say my heart doesn't hurt over events this year and events which will carry on into 2017, the politics of 2016 have been atrocious and I feel for all of those affected by terrorism and war this year. But I feel like I have reflected enough on these things and will go into 2017 trying harder to make a difference where I can.
On a personal standpoint thought 2016 has been an adventure and a pretty amazing one at that.
It's been a year of ridiculous growth, a mountains of growth which started in September 2015 and is just keeping on going. I've learnt and unlearnt so many things about myself and done more than I can even comprehend right now. Things I thought would be challenging I took in my stride and things that I thought would be easy I nearly didn't get through.
Right now, writing this post around Christmas my mind has been all over the place but I do know that I am grateful for thankful for everything 2016 had brought me; good or bad. And despite the last few months of this year being very challenging and me letting myself get back into old bad habits and create brand new ones I'm going into 2017 determined to enjoy it and to be the better person I know I can be.
gloomy day sunshine
The start of 2016 was a busy one, I started the year in bed, ill and then in work. Sounds pretty bad to start but I didn't really resent it. I was extremely busy working 3 different jobs one at a fast food place, one in a little portrait studio and I worked on the side tutoring piano. I worked with so many different people and the only thing I wanted was to be able to blog as well. But I knew I was saving money and learning and I was enjoying myself so like I said, no resentment.

February was a month of stress, excitement and more stress all rolled into one. I was getting my last minute preparations done for my first big trip. I was a little bit terrified and worrying about all the things that could possibly go wrong. I quit my job to get everything finally ready and spent a lot of time making lists and double checking everything. But beyond anything else I was ridiculously excited.
Sloths, sloths, sloths
Then March came and I was off, I thought it would be very scary and that I'd have trouble but once I was off everything felt so natural, getting my bus to the airport, catching my place it all felt just right.
I was in Costa Rica and I was in a Animal Rescue centre looking after sloths. Dreams do come true. Honestly I've never felt like I was meant to be anywhere more and I can happily say that if I could sustain a life just looking after animals I would give up everything. It wasn't plain sailing, lots of people came and went and spending 24/7 surrounded by people wasn't always the easiest for little introvert me but it taught me a lot and I met some pretty awesome people who made me realise a life of travel was one I could sustain.
Then before I knew it I was saying goodbye to the people I'd met and all the Animals, I was sat with a goat on my lap (Oscar is the cutest baby ever) crying about leaving before taking my first lone trip across Costa Rica. Three busses and 7 hours later and I was in Playa Negra and in a yoga retreat. Here I was on my own and it was a stark contrast. An emotional roller-coaster is one way I'd describe it but I was in a little piece of paradise.

And then here I was back in the UK. I spent an entire month almost entirely alone and it was really nice. I recuperated, edited and sorted out my plan for my blog. Got a lot of visas, double checked everything, got all my tablets and extras and then spend a week having the most stressful time of my life before it was time to leave again.
First was India and it was exactly what I expected it to be, except I didn't expect to like it quite as much as I did. An experience is one way to describe it and one I would definitely experience again. The food was beyond amazing. The scenery was beautiful. The places I went were awe inspiring. And there were some less pleasant experiences but ones I wouldn't change, like the sleeper train and trying to use a squat toilet on a moving train at 5am.
Treks in Nepal
Then came Nepal, a place I knew I would love but I was worried would disappoint me. It didn't disappoint, starting off with Buddha's Birthplace I was in a very happy place. Then with all the baby ducks I could ever imagine in Chitawan I was actually in my own little piece of heaven. Fast forward to my favourite city in the world and Paragliding, making one of my favourite foods ever, and finally onto Trekking in the mountains (which wasn't my favourite of anything but was an experience). Nepal was everything I'd dreamed of and more and I can't wait until I get a chance to go back, but I think I have a bit more of the world to explore first.
Next up was Thailand, a place I haven't written about on the blog but some of my most exciting travel posts are coming up. I got to discover another of my favourite cities in the world in Chang Mai where I wandered around a lot, exploring temples and eating a lot and then spend time volunteering with gentle giants. I fell in love with Elephants and made lots of cat friends who basically lived in my room with me. Here I met the owner of Elephant Nature park who is also one of the most inspiring people I've ever met and who helped make want to re direct the purpose of my blog.  I met a couple more friends for life here and some Elephants I'm never going to forget.
Cambodia was next on the cards after meeting my tour group in Bangkok. I didn't really know what to expect from Cambodia as I booked it as a tour that went from Thailand and through Vietnam. It was an experience to say the least, the border crossing was one of the worst parts and I have to say I didn't always feel safe there but it was beautiful.  We visited the killing fields where I don't think I've cried more uncontrollably before, I was just so confused as to how people could let these things happen but also realised that things like this still do happen and that I need to try and do something about it, it's happening in Syria, in North Korea and in many other places around the world and I'm going to try and make even a small change in future. We also visited a lot of Buddhist sites, like Angkor Wat where I met a wonderfully kind monk and I don't think I've felt more connected to the world than I did meditating in Bayon.
Of course that week in Cambodia flew by and net thing I know I was  at a tiny border crossing into Vietnam with 5 bags strapped to me and a lot of sunburn, looking like a complete hot mess. I had started to crack a little bit. The Malaria tablets were making me feel seriously ill, and I was starting to show signs of burning out just a little bit but the travelling wouldn't defeat me yet. Vietnam is truly beautiful and a place that I want to live in in future. I learnt so much here, almost as much as in Cambodia, mainly history I was never fully taught. I discovered the Vietnamese food is probably some of my favourite in the world, found nemo snorkelling, crawled through the Ho Chi tunnels, slept on a lot of trains, felt like I was in a Studio Ghibli Movie, rode on the back of a motorbike, and saw more ducks than I have ever seen before in my life. By the time we got to Halong bay I was completely burnt out but very very happy. While everyone else went kayaking and exploring cave I slept on the boat and when we got to Ho Chi Minh I was more exhausted that I think I ever have been. Vietnam had given me so much but it had taken the rest of my energy away from me.
Hong Kong was my last stop before home and it's safe to say I spend most of my time there asleep, I wandered around the block I was staying in a ridiculous amount of time and went into 7/11 more times than I can count (I wish they had them in the UK). Found one of the best little veggie food places and bought a lot of vintage Clothing. And apart from that the only place I managed to visit was the museum which was pretty wonderful, I mean I do like a good museum. I think the next time I go to Hong Kong it won't be at the end of a two month trip so I can spend time exploring more than asleep.

And that's just over half way through the year.
But I was only back in the UK for a week before it was time to go to Norway, where I also slept a lot. I was with my parents this time so there wasn't too much worrying about where I was going or how I was getting there because they knew. So I spent time asleep on boats on trains and on buses. Ok so i didn't spend all my time asleep I wouldn't want to miss out on all the rain. It rained and rained and rained, my poor little umbrella couldn't cope with all the rain and we spend a lot of time huddled in little alcoves dodging it. But then we got given free umbrellas, and ponchos, it's the way that you advertise in a very rainy Norway. But honestly it was beautiful, just as you'd expect.
Cat sitting (video)
Aand then it was back in the UK again, but I wasn't home. I stayed at my sister's and  for a week, planning to go out and explore and take lots of pictures when I actually just binged watched Netflix and played video games and attempted to edit.
That was until my Birthday which I spent with family, and with a few friends watching Troll Hunter and playing stardew valley (it was a very funny evening and I was very happy).
Freefalling
Oh and then Uni came. The dreaded, the place I wasn't sure I wanted to go. Put myself back into education, oh the horror. And honestly these last couple of months have been some of the hardest of 2016, ok they've been pretty great too, I've found friends I never thought I would, I enjoy and can actually do my course, I'm surviving on my own. But I've also lost a bit of myself in the past few months. I haven't been myself, I've been ridiculously paranoid and second guessing everything and it's been hard. But this last month I've had to just re evaluate and come back to myself and that's also been hard but I'm ready for 2017, I'm ready to make it my year and to enjoy whatever it throws at me.

Reflecting on this year has made me realised how much growth has happened, it's easy to just look back at a small snipped and say "I'm going backwards things are getting worse I'm not improving" but in reality you're just having a small blip. I've come a long way in this last year (it would'e been hard not to) and though the last few months I don't feel like I've been self I can definitely go into 2017 ready for more. I've had a blip and looking back has put together a lot of things that make me truly happy and truly grateful for being alive and having my life, which is why I always like making these post.
There was also so much more I could've talked about, stories to tell, more photos I wanted to re edit. But hey can't do everything at once this is only one post and I'm sure if the stories are meant to be told I'll find an opportunity to one day.

And to end the year, as while writing this I found out about Carrie Fisher and Vera Rubin's deaths, have some quotes. These two women who have been a huge inspiration through my life I will end on some quotes from them.
"Science is competitive, aggressive, demanding. It is also imaginative, inspiring, uplifting." - Vera Rubin. 
A quote that I feel definitely fits my first term at uni.
"I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I'm still surviving it, but bring it on" - Carrie Fisher. 
This just fits a lot of my year and I can quite honestly say I'm not ashamed of that any more and I'm not afraid to talk about it either.
I hope your 2016 has been wonderful. and if it hasn't I hope that in the very least you have learnt a lot, smiled a lot and met some great people. If it has been none of these things then I hope 2017 brings you more.
Thanks for reading!

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