I didn’t travel as much as I had wanted to over the last year. Part of that was because of work and an attempt at saving my vacation days so I could enjoy a longer holiday. Of course, that job didn’t work out and I ended up with a three-month paid holiday at the end of the year. It sounds great, but I had already planned a trip home for my birthday and Thanksgiving, which I extended by a week. Mixed in with searching for a new job and some freelance work, I didn’t have as much time as I had hoped to travel. But, I still managed to start and end the year with travel (and a new job).
There were some amazing adventures and some journeys that I’d prefer to forget. I also managed to spend a full 24 hours in the Bangkok airport spread over four layovers. It’s a very nice airport, but I hope to not see it again for at least a year.
I also had some visitors this year. My parents came to Taiwan for the first time and my friends from Hong Kong (we met in New York) came for a long weekend. I’m still waiting on others to visit, if that ever happens.
My first trip of 2016 was to Myanmar
It was a trip that I had wanted to take for a long time. And I screwed up on that trip. I made the best of my mistake and had a wonderful time getting “stuck” in Bagan. Missing out on Inle Lake, Mandalay, and other parts of the country gives me another reason to go back. I’m sure I would’ve had a great time had I had access to my bank accounts, but it was relaxing to ride a bike around the dirt roads of Bagan for a few days.
I took a long weekend in Tainan
I will never go back to Tainan unless my new job forces me to go there. I have no idea why people seem to love this city so much.
My parents visited Taipei
I showed my parents around Taipei, but they weren’t all that impressed. They did enjoy a few days at Sun Moon Lake, though. It was a relaxing place and a great way to end their trip. I also took them to Seoul for a week (I have not written about the new adventures I had there).
A last-minute trip home
I didn’t get to see friends on this trip. It was only a few days with family for a funeral. Not the best trip.
I found new adventures in Hong Kong
It had been a long time since I had been in Hong Kong. And I really never got to explore the city before this trip. Thanks to some friends, I found some new places for sightseeing and eating. This was probably the best time I’ve had in Hong Kong. I’ll definitely plan more trips there because a round-trip ticket from Taipei is only about $125.
A day-trip to Keelung
I needed a day out of Taipei and decided nearby Keelung would be a good choice. I hadn’t heard much about the city, but it was easy to get to. There wasn’t much to see or do there, but the weather was clear (and hot) for a long day of walking. Really, the only thing worth doing in the city is Zhongzheng Park–a small hill with a large statue of Guanyin, which you can go inside. There are great views of the port from the top of the hill. There’s probably more to see on the outskirts of town along the coast, but I really didn’t plan the day too well.
I took a last-minute trip to Tokyo
Another friend I met years ago in New York was taking a trip to Japan. He had originally planned to take a few days in Taipei, but couldn’t squeeze it in. Instead, he convinced me to head to Tokyo again. Our Airbnb plan fell through, but we ended up with a nice hostel stay. I got to see other friends in Tokyo as well. And we ate a lot on this trip.
There is still so much in Tokyo I haven’t seen. I feel like it’d take a lifetime to get through the city.
I visited my friend in Kaohsiung
My friend came back from a year in Canada (and promptly returned). I still got a couple days in her hometown though. It’s a pleasant city, but I had seen most of the highlights on my previous trip there. The only new adventure this time was a short stop at Shoushan, where visitors can see a lot of wild monkeys (Formosan rock macaque, to be exact). We also checked out the new national library, which is an impressive building inside and out–there are some really cool art exhibits there as well.
My birthday trip home
I decided I wanted to celebrate my birthday with family and friends this year. And as my birthday is right around Thanksgiving, I got to double up on celebrations. And I was able to extend my stay by a week for only $37 (I have no idea how, but it worked). It would’ve been a more exciting trip home, but my brother’s house was being renovated so I couldn’t stay in Jersey City. Instead I spent most of my three weeks at my parents’ house in the quiet suburbs with very little to do. At least I got to sleep a lot.
Final trip to Laos
I was offered a new job and accepted, so I decided to take a last-minute trip before I’d have to get back to an office. I booked my flight to Vientiane via Bangkok two days before I left. It was more expensive than other flights, but it didn’t include an overnight layover in Hanoi. (Note: there is a capsule hotel in Hanoi airport, but it is outside the transit area, which means you need a visa.) Overall, the trip was wonderful with a few minor problems. I do think the town of Luang Prabang is overrated, but it’s still worth visiting mainly for the sites that are nearby. Although there wasn’t that much to do, I preferred Vientiane–it’s a lot less touristy and there’s a greater opportunity to interact with locals, whom I found to be quite nice.
And that is it for 2016. I know I still have to write about more of the adventures I had throughout the year, and I will get to them as soon as I can. I hope everyone enjoyed reading about my travels this year.
I wish my readers a happy, healthy, and travel-filled 2017!