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My 12 months in Pictures – Wild Junket Journey Journey Weblog

Final Up to date on January 12, 2024 by Nellie Huang

It’s that point of the 12 months once more, to mirror and look again at the place I’ve traveled and what I’ve completed this 12 months. 2023 has been an incredible 12 months for me in each sense of the phrase. I wrote one other guidebook for Lonely Planet, began monetizing my second web site, traveled to 5 new nations, introduced Kaleya to our favourite locations in South America, and reunited with household in each Spain and Singapore.

The most important change in my life this 12 months was leaving our laidback life in Playa del Carmen and transferring to San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico! Simply final week, we packed our stuff up and drove 5 days throughout Mexico to succeed in our new dwelling. I’ll be sharing extra on our new life under, right here’s a take a look at the place I traveled and what I obtained as much as in 2023. 

2023 year in review

2023: My 12 months in Pictures

January: Belize

On the primary day of 2023, we took off on a highway journey to Belize, which was only a 4-hour drive from us! Our first journey to Belize was greater than 13 years in the past and we have been desperate to revisit the locations we beloved. This time our associates joined us, and we had a good time chilling out on the laidback isle of Caye Caulker and snorkeling with nurse sharks in Hol-Chan Marine Reserve. We additionally drove inland to San Ignacio and have been so impressed by the large-scale Xunantunich and Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins. Belize stays considered one of our favourite spots in Central America. [Read our Belize itinerary.]

2023 year in photos - belize

February: Alberta, Canada

In February, it was lastly time for our winter journey in Alberta! Banff was certainly the winter wonderland I’d imagined, with the entire city and surrounding mountains coated in white. We did a lot exploring in and round Banff, however the spotlight for us was driving the Banff Gondola as much as the highest of the mountain and soaking within the scorching springs after. Ice skating on the frozen Lake Louise was one other main spotlight, and so was ingesting on the Ice Bar at Fairmont. In Jasper, we spent our days snowboarding and even noticed a herd of moose simply outdoors our lodge!

February: Isla Holbox, Mexico

After returning to Mexico, we scooted off to Isla Holbox on a weekend journey (simply 2 hours from Playa del Carmen). Holbox turned out to be my favourite spot within the Yucatan Peninsula! The dreamy island is gloriously car-free and largely undeveloped. Solely a small a part of the island is inhabited, and even then, it by no means feels overrun with guests. No paved roads, no vehicles, no hassling. Simply miles and miles of spearmint water and powder-puff white sand seashore. Regardless of being in a touristy area, Holbox has retained its sleepy, laidback island vibes and small-town really feel.

March: Bacalar, Mexico

In March, we revisited Bacalar with our associates. Bacalar Lagoon (or Laguna Bacalar) is understood for its crystal clear, spearmint blue waters, and swinging hammocks hanging from overwater palapa. Lately, Laguna Bacalar earned the nickname “the Maldives of Mexico” and is drawing vacationers in search of offbeat locations. The lagoon is completely beautiful and I extremely advocate a go to right here for those who’re ever in Cancun or Tulum.

April: Ecuador

To have a good time Kaleya’s birthday, we went on an epic journey to Ecuador and Galapagos Islands! We first backpacked round Ecuador 15 years in the past, and haven’t been again since then. We first spent a couple of days wandering the historic heart of Quito, then we drove to the Andean city of Otavalo and finally  the Cotopaxi Nationwide Park. Sadly we weren’t so fortunate with the climate and it was too foggy for us to hike as much as the refugio of Mount Cotopaxi. The clouds lastly cleared up on our final day there to see Ecuador’s second highest peak in its full glory. After that, we flew to the Galapagos Islands and met up with my sister and nephew, and had a tremendous time island-hopping and seeing the wildlife up shut and private.

2023 year in review -ecuador

Might: Florida

Simply two weeks later, we headed off to Florida on a highway journey that we’d deliberate since pre-covid days (however obtained canceled time and again through the pandemic). Orlando was a success with Kaleya in fact; the spotlight for me was swimming with manatees in Crystal River which turned out to be one of many coolest wildlife experiences I’ve had. We additionally obtained to spend a couple of days in Miami, revisiting many aged haunts that we used to hang around at and the college the place Alberto and I met. It was so good to take a stroll down reminiscence lane.

2023 year in review - miami

June: Suriname

In mid-June, it was time for a solo journey! I flew to Suriname (my nation #146) and met up with my pal Janet to discover the capital metropolis, Paramaribo, and the encompassing fort, plantations and reserves. Visiting the sloth sanctuary was the spotlight for me; we met a sloth who had been rehabilitated into the jungle however saved returning to the sanctuary for meals (and luxury!). 

June: Guyana 

From Suriname, we continued our journey to Guyana (nation #147) the place we have been joined by my outdated pal, Hannah. Sadly we solely obtained to discover Georgetown, the capital metropolis, as we needed to wait round for our flight to Kaieteur Falls to get stuffed. Fortunately we did handle to go to Kaieteur Falls and it turned out to one of many most spectacular waterfalls I’ve seen.  

2023 year in review - guyana

June: Trinidad

Then our journey continued on to Trinidad (nation #148), the place my pal Hannah is from. I’ve been wanting to go to Hannah in Trinidad since we met in 2008! It was wonderful to fulfill her household and get to know her nation and tradition. Trinidadian meals fully blew me away; I notably beloved the roti and curry goat! Trinidad was nothing like what I’d imagined and I beloved with the ability to expertise it by way of my native pal.

2023 year in review - trinidad

July: Singapore

In July, I used to be commissioned to write down Lonely Planet’s new Singapore guidebook, so I flew dwelling to Singapore to do some on-the-ground analysis for the e-book. I used to be born and raised in Singapore; I do know it higher than another nation. It was such a particular project for me, with the ability to share my dwelling nation with the world. On this journey, I obtained to take a look at a lot of new spots, revisit outdated haunts and dig deeper than typical. Hold a lookout for the e-book which shall be printed in April 2024!

2023 year in review - singapore

August: Spain

In summer season, we lastly went on our much-anticipated 6-week journey again to Europe! Spain is sort of a second dwelling for us (Alberto is from Spain and we lived in Spain collectively for 8+ years). We have been excited to spend summer season there, see household and discover the area. Our summer season journey began with per week in Madrid, a metropolis we used to name dwelling. The Spanish capital metropolis has modified a lot for the reason that final time we have been there and I completely beloved the lengthy summer season days and superb culinary scene there. Thereafter, we stayed for a few nights in a fortress lodge in Salamanca, and spent per week in Granada with Alberto’s household, having fun with tapas and bar-hopping within the lazy summer season evenings.

2023 year in review - madrid spain

August: Greece

Whereas Kaleya spent the remainder of summer season along with her grandparents in Spain, Alberto and I flew off to Corfu island to sail the Greek Islands with Yacht Getaways. It’d been years since we went on a visit with out Kaleya, and this was the right {couples} retreat for us. Our days onboard the catamaran concerned swimming in turquoise waters, napping below the sail with the wind in our face, mountain climbing as much as spectacular viewpoints, wandering round stunning little villages consuming the freshest seafood and sipping essentially the most scrumptious wine. We actually beloved each minute of our Greece crusing vacation. It confirmed us a aspect of Greece we didn’t know existed — secret coves, empty seashores and ridiculously charming fishing villages that solely Greeks go to.

2023 year in review - greece

August: Albania

From Greece, I continued onto Albania to journey solo for per week whereas Alberto went again to Spain. I’d truly been to Albania a very long time in the past, however Albania had modified a lot I may hardly recognise it. It’s grow to be very talked-about with younger backpackers (it’s no marvel, with the gorgeous sights and low value), and there’s much more tourism infrastructure in place now. I additionally made pal on the journey and had a blast along with her in Tirana. Then I traveled solo to Berat and Gjirokaster, two locations that I completely beloved and extremely advocate visiting!

2023 year in review - albania

September: Portugal

After Albania, I met up with Alberto and Kaleya in Madrid for the final leg of our journey. Alberto rented a Tesla for our highway journey to Portugal, and I’d booked a lovely Airbnb within the countryside of Porto. The French couple who owned the place, not solely made the place so beautiful, in addition they  made us really feel extraordinarily welcomed and ready a tremendous unfold of breakfast for us every morning. We loved the down time, but in addition did fairly a little bit of exploring: wandering across the antiquated streets of Porto, visiting vineyards within the beautiful Douro Valley, and cruising the waters of Aveiro. This area was so spectacular we wanna come again and dwell right here sometime!

2023 year in review - porto

September: Paraguay 

On the finish of September, I flew to Asuncion, Paraguay, to journey with considered one of my finest associates Melinda. Truthfully, I wasn’t blown away by Paraguay (my nation #149); we struggled to search out something attention-grabbing to see within the capital metropolis and the environment. Asuncion, not like most capital cities in South America, didn’t have a lot going for it. Granted, we didn’t spend sufficient time in Paraguay, however we have been keen to maneuver onto Uruguay.

September: Uruguay 

Montevideo was an enormous distinction to Asuncion; the energetic metropolis had an old-world aptitude, with a lot of colonial structure, historic monuments and wonderful eating places. We wandered the markets within the day, strolled the waterfront boulevard by sundown and indulged in good wine and steak every night time. From there, it was a simple 2-hour bus trip to Punta del Este, a small however charming seashore city additionally with vast, windswept seashores. My favourite spot was undoubtedly Colonia del Sacramento, one of many oldest cities in Uruguay with cobblestoned streets and restored whitewashed homes. Uruguay (nation #150) undoubtedly swept me off my ft.

2023 year in review -montevideo uruguay

October: Guadalajara, Mexico

On the finish of October, we flew to Guadalajara for essentially the most magical time of the 12 months in Mexico: Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Useless. It’s one of many greatest Mexican holidays and it’s celebrated in fervor everywhere in the nation. Elaborate ofrendas and altars are arrange at main squares, whereas folks dance on the streets in parades. In Guadalajara, we visited the Calaverandia (a Day of the Useless themed park), which was such a distinction to the standard celebrations that we’d seen in Oaxaca but it surely was nonetheless a enjoyable expertise.

November: Michoacan, Mexico

From Guadalajara, it was only a quick drive to Michoacan, the state recognized for its deeply-rooted Dia de Muertos traditions. On the night time of 1 November, a candlelit procession leads from the pueblo mágico of Pátzcuaro to the close by island of Janitzio. This occasion, often known as “Noche de Muertos,” options colourful canoes and boats adorned with candles and flowers. A whole bunch of flickering candle, the scent of burning copal incense, and the sound of music made it such a religious and transferring sight.

2023 year in review - michoacan day of the dead

November: Singapore

After we returned dwelling, I acquired information that my father wanted surgical procedure urgently. Within the midst of our transfer, I needed to drop the whole lot and fly again to Singapore to see my dad. It was in all probability one of the crucial traumatic journeys I’ve completed. It didn’t assist that Singapore was a 24-hour flight away from Mexico! Thank goodness the whole lot went properly and the surgical procedure was a hit. My father got here out of surgical procedure wanting nice and he’s now in restoration. 

December: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Simply two weeks after flying again to Mexico, it was time to maneuver! We beloved dwelling in Playa del Carmen, exploring the cenotes, seashores and Mayan ruins within the space. We made nice associates there and undoubtedly felt prefer it left a mark in our lives. However after 2.5 years in Playa del Carmen, it was time for a change. So we packed up our stuff, mentioned goodbye to all our associates, and drove 5 days throughout Mexico to lastly arrive at our new dwelling in San Miguel de Allende

Christmas in San Miguel is a magical time; the historic heart is clad in Christmas decorations and glowing below the gorgeous lights. We’ve been doing Christmassy issues like cooking and watching Christmas films. However we’re additionally exploring San Miguel and the encompassing nature. Can’t wait to see what the brand new 12 months has in retailer for us right here!

2023 year in review - san miguel de allende

 What’s Subsequent?

In 2024, we’re wanting ahead to exploring our yard in central Mexico. However we have already got a lot of journey plans, together with a weekend journey to see the Monarch Butterfly migration in January, ski journey to Colorado in February, Baja California in March for Kaleya’s birthday, and Tulum in April to get the keys for our funding property! For our six-week summer season journey, we’re considering of heading additional, maybe to South Africa and Namibia. Within the new 12 months, I additionally hope to journey to the previous few locations within the Americas that I haven’t been, together with Venezuela, Grenada and Dominica. 

Right here’s wishing that 2024 shall be a 12 months of journey for all of you! Don’t cease exploring!

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