2012 – Visiting 11 countries and making memories

Happy New Year!  I hope that this year is one of health, wealth and happiness for you and your families.

As always, around New Year, I sit back and reflect on my past year and 2012 was quite a year.

I was in South Africa this time last year.  I had flown out at the end of 2011 to be with my Mum who was quite ill (she’s all better now, thank goodness!)  During my time in South Africa, I bungee jumped, cycled along the beach front, spent time with friends, took loads of photos, was visited by not 1 but 2 friends from Germany, ate amazing food, enjoyed Christmas with my family and much, much more.  Here was the blog post with a summary of my highlights:
http://www.writearoundtheworld.me/my-4-months-in-south-africa/

My incredible bungee swing jump - Oribi Gorge, South Africa

My incredible bungee swing jump – Oribi Gorge, South Africa

In February, my blog celebrated its 1st birthday.  It was back in Feb 2011 that I first started it and since then, I have branched out and become a published writer, something which I VERY much enjoy.

In early March, I spent an incredible 10 days up in the VERY north west of Scotland with 3 photographers taking in the incredible landscape around Lochinver.  I learnt a lot from the 3 of them, all with their own distinct styles and methods.  Very much the ‘junior’, I tried to absorb as much info as I could from all of them.  It was a wonderful opportunity.

Enjoying the area around Lochinver, NW Scotland

Enjoying the area around Lochinver, NW Scotland

Scotland is one of my favourite places in the whole world and I loved the ‘stillness’ of being so remote.  We would often experience sunshine, rain, hail and fog all in once day.  Made for some challenging photography when you’re out with tripods.

Late March, I visited France and did a VERY quick tour of Paris, yes it IS possible to see Paris in 3 hours.  Read about it here:
http://www.writearoundtheworld.me/how-to-do-paris-in-under-3-hours/

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

After Paris was a tour of the stunning castles of the Loire Valley, some time on the south Brittany coast and finally, some quality time with a friend in Brittany where my poor body was pushed to the limits by helping to build a dry stone wall (I turned out to be allergic to the grouting powder)

Helping build a dry stone wall

Helping build a dry stone wall

In April, I celebrate the one year anniversary of quitting my job in Germany.

After weddings and concerts and general ‘admin’, at the end of April, I head to Ireland where I meet my friend, Anja, from Germany.  We enjoyed 10 days eating some incredible foods, seeing some amazing sights, staying in some lovely hostels and taking many, many photos.
How to see Dublin in just 2 days

The Cliffs of Moher

Then it is just one week of rest before I head to Canada and stay with an old friend.  I explore Toronto and I visit Niagara Falls which was absolutely breathtaking.
Visiting Toronto
Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls

What followed after that was 2 months in America and probably the best holiday I’ve ever had.  I visited old friends, colleagues and neighbours and saw some unforgettable things, I experienced so much and learnt so much that I came away forever changed by my time there.  Far too many blog posts to share so I’ll just list the highlights:

My week of unfortunate luck in Massachusetts
Wine tasting, geocaching and Segways in Richmond

My first ever Segway ride in Richmond.

My first ever Segway ride in Richmond.

Highlights from Indianapolis
Chicago

Me standing (with sweaty palms) in the Willis Tower's glass balcony.

Me standing (with sweaty palms) in the Willis Tower’s glass balcony.

Boogie boarding in Daytona Beach
Exploring St Louis Just a small selection, there were quite a few blog posts about a root beer factory tour, watching the major league baseball champions play at their home ground, experiencing some pretty funky museums and much more.

St Louis City Museum - Tubes, airplanes and metal platforms and paths.

St Louis City Museum – Tubes, airplanes and metal platforms and paths.

Exploring Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas

Exploring the historic replica ships

Exploring the historic replica ships

Getting the best out of Washington DC

The White House

The White House

Back from America via Iceland:
Experiencing the land of fire and ice – Iceland

The Icebergs of Jokusrarlon, Iceland

The Icebergs of Jokusrarlon, Iceland

Then it was a short holiday up in Newcastle where I was given 2 complimentary tickets for the London 2012 Olympics men’s quarter final football match between Brazil and Honduras.  I took my best friend and even though neither of us are really football fans, it was a fantastic afternoon and the atmosphere in the stadium was electric.

The teams line up for their national anthems.

The teams line up for their national anthems.

Then it was time to prepare to fly to Thailand but not before stopping 3 days in Dubai to visit from old friends.

Discovering Dubai

What an incredibly fascinating city.  My only suggestion is, make sure you don’t visit during Ramadan because all Muslims are fasting during this time so eating in public is frowned upon and all restaurants are closed from sunrise until sunset.

The Burj Al Arab (well me with the Burj Al Araj in the distance!)

The Burj Al Arab (well me with the Burj Al Araj in the distance!)

Then it was off to Thailand.  I spent a whole month on the tropical island of Koh Samui doing a TEFL course in order to become and English teacher.  I loved every minute of it.  The island, the people, the course and the people I met on the course.  It was truly an experience that changed my life.

I passed!

I passed!

My month in paradise.

Beaches of Koh Samui

Beaches of Koh Samui

Then it was down to Hat Yai to start my position as an English teacher in a private school.  I love the teaching and I love the kids.

Yay!  It's Christmas!!!

Yay! It’s Christmas!!!

A few days in Malaysia too because where I live in Thailand is only 1 hour from the Malaysian border.

Looking out over Georgetown on the island of Penang.

Looking out over Georgetown on the island of Penang.

I’ve also built a friendship with my lovely Thai teaching assistant, Chitti.

Chitti and I getting into the Christmas spirit.

Chitti and I getting into the Christmas spirit.

And finally, experiencing Christmas in a foreign country

Me playing Santa about to dish out sweeties to the school's director, affectionately known as 'Grandma'.

Me playing Santa about to dish out sweeties to the school’s director, affectionately known as ‘Grandma’.

The world is being taken over by little Santas

The world is being taken over by little Santas

All in all, it’s been a great year filled with many memorable experiences.  I often sit back and think about how fortunate I am to lead such a life.

I am looking forward to seeing what 2013 holds.

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2 Responses to 2012 – Visiting 11 countries and making memories

  1. Venessa says:

    Wow – what an incredible year Colleen!! You’re so blessed to have been able to travel to so many continents in 1 year!! It was great seeing you in the USA. MUch love!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Venessa :-) Thank you for being a part of it – loved my time with you guys! Hope to see you again soon. Lots of love x

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