A Year In Travel – How I Spent 2011 Traveling The World

This year has been one of the best years of my life. Why? It’s because I spent half of it traveling the world. This year, I went through a transformation that I could have never anticipated. Although I have done a lot of world exploration in the years previous, 2011 and some of 2010 was the longest I have hopscotched the globe and expanded my mind on an entire new level.

As 2011 comes to an end, and 2012 sneaks quickly upon us, Brooke VS the World inspired me to do a little 2011 travel re-cap. In case you need a little refresher, this is my year in travel:

Full Moon Festivities and Scuba Diving in Thailand

What’s a Full Moon Party without getting covered in glow-in-the-dark paint?

The year 2011 started off with a bang!  I spent 2010 New Years Eve at the world’s largest beach party covered in paint and dancing up a storm to the best of  trance, techno, drum and base, commercial dance and reggae. There were over 12 major sound systems and 30,000 people from all around the globe celebrating the New Year.  Thailand is a beautiful place and this was one of the funnest experiences of my life.  I can’t think of a better place to kick off the new year.

Another highlight was getting my PADI Certification on Koh Tao Island.  I have always wanted to scuba dive and this year I finally did it!  It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life.

Look at the world around you, here on the ocean floor.

Thaipusam – Hindu Festival At The Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I was lucky to be in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia for Thaipusam.   This three day Hindu festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a spear so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.

Mortification of flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with skewers is also common.

Many Hindus, both living in Malaysia as well as all over the world, gathered together to celebrate at the Batu Caves.  Before this experience, I had never been part of such a large religious celebration before.  It was both fascinating, shocking, and a unique experience I will never forget.

Hiking Through the Malaysian Jungle

Siya (my partner in crime), during our 6 hour hike through Taman Negara.

This was my first solo hike (without a guide) through the jungle. Siya and I hiked six hours through the Malaysian jungle to a hide (a cabin that stands two meters from the ground) where we spent the night. It was a very wet, muddy, and bloody experience, but I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. This was definitely the highlight of my 2.5 weeks in Malaysia.

Strolling along Clarke’s Quay in Singapore

Getting a blood transfusion, or should I say liquor transfusion, at a bar called “The Clinic.”

Singapore was a nice break after spending 3 months in India and sleeping in the Malaysian jungle.  This is a country unlike any other.  The laws that the country abides by is enough to make you ponder.  It is however, the cleanest country I have ever been to.  Honestly, it’s spotless!  Singapore also has an awesome nightlife.  I spent a few nights, and days, exploring Clarke’s Quay; which is the place to be for glittering lights, beautiful people, and buzzing nightclubs.

 Snorkelling and Shell Collecting on Gili Trawangan Island, Indonesia

There are no cars or motorbikes allowed on Gili Trawangan. Only bikes, walking, and horse and carriage is permitted.

Gili Trawangan in Indonesia, is definitely on the top of my list of favorite places I’ve traveled to.  There’s nothing like spending your days on a quiet, gas fume free island, since cars and motorbikes are forbidden.

Me, collecting shells.

I spent my morning collecting shells on the beach and the afternoons snorkelling the unbelievable coral reefs.  I even had an encounter with a shark!  Talk about my life flashing before my eyes.  The nights were spent drinking bottles of Bintang Beer on my ocean view patio with great friends.

Elephant Camp and Muay Thai in Chaing Mai

Oh, hello.

Since, I couldn’t get enough of Thailand, I ended up there three times this year.  Although the south of Thailand has beautiful beaches, the north has a lot to offer; and is far less touristy.

Don’t mess with me!

Two highlights from Northern Thailand was spending the night at an Elephant Camp and learning Muay Thai.  My favourite part about the experience was bathing the elephants and kicking the guy in the pictures a**!

Getting Engaged and Learning Sitar

Yes, I got a necklace instead of a ring. Yes, that is a mouth guard.

I traveled to India for three months at the end of 2010.  Since I love it so much, I had to go back in 2011.  This time I went I spent a month or so in India with my “fiancé.”  That’s right! This year I got engaged, and it just so happened to be in my favorite place in the whole world…Rishikesh, India!  If you want to know who the lucky man is or why there is a pictures of a necklace in a mouth guard case, check out a video my fiancé, Siya, and I made.

Besides doing more yoga, I also learned how to play sitar.  I am now a master of it…okay that’s not true, but I’m slowly learning.  I ended up buying a sitar and lugging it around through Africa and Europe before bringing it back home in ONE PIECE.

Learning sitar in Rishikesh, India (the same place Geroge Harrison from The Beatles learned).

Morocco with Intrepid Travel

Kids playing in the street.

The day before I left for my 10 month trip around the globe, I did a scavenger hunt in Toronto and won a trip to Morocco for two.   Not that I had many expectations, but Morocco really impressed me.  What memory stands out the most, was the children playing in the streets rather in then sitting in front of a television all day.  I also have to say how great traveling with Intrepid was.  I would definitely choose to travel with them again in the near future.

Hot Air Balooning in Cappadocia, Turkey

Up, up, and away!

Turkey is a beautiful place with a lot to see and explore.  But if you are ever planning a trip to Turkey, you MUST experience a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia.  The view of Cappadocia from high above is like nothing else.

Eating Myself into a Food Coma Greece

Two words: Mouth Watering.

I love food.  Whether it’s scorpion, bee larva, or pasta fazul, when I travel, I don’t hold back.  Although this is a very bold accusation to make, I have to say that Greece overall has the best food from any country I’ve been to (this is coming from an Italian who has been to Italy).  Oh, how I miss the baked goat cheese, multicoloured olives, and mouth watering olive oil.  Mmm, mmm.

This year was definitely full of great adventure and new experiences.  Now, on to 2012 and I can only imagine what it has in store.  I can promise you this, it’s going to be an exciting one.

Now it’s your turn, where did you go in 2011 and where will you be in 2012?

Kristen Sarah is a full-time traveller, tiny home owner and adventure junkie. She has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcha of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe.

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3 Comments

  1. March 29, 2012 / 7:01 pm

    The Clinic bar is interesting:p

  2. Mark
    December 30, 2011 / 1:20 pm

    Wow, what an awesome, incredible and life changing experience Kristen!!! Great recap…and didn’t realize you went back to India again…and yes, Rishikesh..reading your posts about it before I got there helped me enjoy that much more so, including the sitar lesson…thank you! onward to more travels!

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