Happy New Year everyone!!
2014. Wow, what an incredible (and speedy!!) year! We started off the year watching the first sunrise of 2014 on our favourite beach in Korea after staying up all night on the streets of Haeundae. This was followed swiftly by a glorious nap on a bus bound for the mountains as we headed towards our first ever ski trip together! Back to school a few days later, those few days set the stage for the rest of our time in Korea, a perfectly busy blend of work and weekend getaways.
January also saw us head to destination number 30 for me and 38 for Oli, The Philippines! I finally discovered the underwater world and a seed was planted in our minds by a fellow travel lover to trek the Annapurna Circuit. After finishing our contracts in Korea and saying a sad farewell to everyone we loved there, we harvested that seed and went to Nepal, with a dash to South East Asia on the way.
It has been a year of epic proportions and as soon as I sat down to write this post I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.
To keep with the somewhat ambiguous name of this blog (should I change it?!) we are focusing on the top journeys from 2014, the epic and the especially horrible too!
Moving to Korea
We may have been living in Korea for a few months by the time January rolled around this year, but our journey there was still unfurling. As many expats will tell you, it takes a long time to adjust to living in a new country and some people never fully feel comfortable. For us though, once we had spent Christmas and the New Year in the country, made some life long friends both local and international, and finally got used to standing in front of a class full of goggle-eyed students, we really begun to feel like we’d made it. In 2014 Korea felt a lot like home to us.
In fact, we miss it a lot!
Surprise sunrise boat ride
Ok, technically this journey happened a couple of days before 2014 but there are no rules here! I had to put this journey on the list as it is a perfect example of one of those times when the journey itself counts just as much as the destination. Just before New Year 2013 Oli and I took ourselves all the way down South to Tongyeong in order to visit an island one of my coworkers had been raving about to me all year. We arrived just in time to book a boat for the following day and went straight to bed. 6am starts were not our strong point back then…
Visiting an island in the dead of winter is not everyone’s idea of a good time but it’s because it was winter that made that day so amazing. If it was summer we wouldn’t have gotten a place on that boat and if it was summer we would have been too late to see the sun rise out of the ocean as we made our way to the island. It was phenomenal; one of the best we’ve ever seen.
Sea voyage to Malapascua
Getting to Malapascua Island in the Philippines was definitely the most ridiculous journey of 2014 and will probably still be the craziest we’ve taken for years to come. The awful Typhoon that hit the Philippines in 2013 was followed by awful weather for a long time and when we got to the port intending to take the ferry to the island we found it empty. After a while a group of girls turned up and told us they’d been waiting three days without any boats leaving. It looked like our dreams of paradise weren’t to be, but before long we were being whisked away on the back of a few mopeds, bags and all, and then walking through the shallows, bags above our heads, towards a swerving vessel.
I’m not sure that boat should have gone that day but despite the colossal waves and getting utterly drenched, we somehow made it… It was so crazy I think we were too shocked to be scared at the time but since then I get thoroughly freaked out on rough seas!
The picture below does not do justice to the horrendous weather!
A 200km riverside cycle
20km into our cycle trip along Korea’s Nakdong River I wanted to give up. My bike was heavy, my legs already hurt and Oli and Will had ridden far off into the distance. I was not having fun. But I didn’t give up and I even ended up enjoying it. It was this trip that fuelled our obsession for epic journeys and it is one of our favourite memories from Korea. Personally, it also taught me that I can do
almost anything and that pushing yourself, especially when you feel like quitting, is important.
Trekking for 5 weeks straight in the Himalayas
Our time in the Annapurna range was without doubt the most amazing trip we’ve ever taken and changed so much about how we want to travel in the future. We want more stillness, more adventure and to make more connections with locals… We got all of this and so much more in Nepal. This is also without doubt the biggest physical journey we’ve ever taken. We trekked over 300km in 5 weeks and reached incredible heights of over 5000 metres above sea level.
The Himalayas are truly the most beautiful place we’ve ever seen and we know that the lure of the mountains will bring us back again someday! As they say in Nepal, once is not enough.
Cruising on a Royal Enfield
Oli’s dream of riding mountain roads on a Royal Enfield bullet finally came true in Nepal. For just $20 we took one of these stunning bikes out onto the winding roads out of Pokhara and road just to ride, with no plan or route. While I’m not exactly a bike fanatic, even as a passenger I have to say this is the most comfortable I’ve ever been in the saddle! The bikes are an absolute joy to ride and when Oli’s dad came out to visit us he most definitely agreed.
If you ever get the chance to ride one, take it!
2014 saw us take journeys on foot, on two wheels and a hundred plus buses in between. I hope that 2015 is full of plenty more.
Are you interested in taking your own amazing journeys in Korea? Our Korea Journey Handbook is now available on the Kindle Store for only £2.58!