2012: The Best Year of Our Lives

A year in pictures, a lifetime of memories. 2012, best year ever.

When we quit our jobs, never in my wildest dreams did I imagined we’d be spending the year the way we did – a year in travel. It’s been one helluva a year filled with more ups than down, both good times and bad, great adventures, fun memories and lifelong friendships. It’s been an incredible, life changing year.

In case you’ve been under a rock, here is a look back at the last twelve months.

January

New Zealand

We rang in the New Year in beautiful New Zealand. Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road was weird but fun. NZ was a land of firsts for us – we tried marmite (hated it) and ate meat pies (loved it). Our overnight cruise of the Bay of Islands rocked. We also went zorbing in Rotorua and, crazy enough, bungy jumped on my 29th birthday in Queenstown. I can’t think of a better place to jump start our round-the-world trip.

NZ

February

Australia

We headed for Melbourne, Australia on, appropriately, Australia Day! After a month long rain in New Zealand, Australia welcomed us with sunny skies and warm weather. We spent our month on the Greyhound Australia making our way up the East Coast – cruising the Whitsundays and even checked off a long overdue bucket list item - snorkeling The Great Barrier reef!

OZ-2

March

Singapore, Malaysia, India

Singapore was our gateway to spending the next six months in Asia. We split roughly 10 days between Singapore and Malaysia eating our way around hawker food.

Singapore

India was a challenge for us; we were definitely out of our comfort zones. It’s raw and unforgiving, and quite possibly the most rewarding travel experiences we’ve had. We explored Rajasthan by train, rode camels in the Thar desert and took a crack at bargain shopping. Gerard danced with boys when we crashed a wedding and I got groped while celebrating Holi. That’s India for you.

india

April

Thailand

By April we were more than ready to change up our diet from daal curry and chapati to pad thai and sticky rice. In Thailand, we snorkeled Koh Phi Phi and celebrated the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. Chasing one festival to the next, we headed north to Chiang Mai to take care of elephants and ring in the Thai New Year, Songkran.

Thailand

May

Hong Kong, China, Japan

Our week in Hong Kong was filling. We did nothing but eat in Hong Kong. China was overwhelming and not in a good way. There’s just too much going on, and we finally hit a wall, no pun intended. The constant traveling was making us lazy, bitter. But then we found Shanghai dumplings, the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall of China and travel fatigue quickly dissipated. Thank goodness.

hk-china-japan

From the chaos of China, we arrived to the serenity of Japan. A breath of fresh air, Japan was everything we expected and deliciously more. We slept in a traditional ryokan, spent the afternoon geisha hunting, ate our way through Kyoto and indulged in more sushi than you could consume in a lifetime. For the first time in months we felt like we were on vacation again and it felt great!

June

South Korea, Vietnam

Seoul was a blessing thanks to our friend who graciously let us crash at his place for over a week to do absolutely nothing. We had no agenda, nothing touristy on our radar for once. Instead, we did the “normal” things you’d do at home – ate Taco Bell, went grocery shopping, bar hopping and even saw a movie at the theaters. And eat tons of kim chee.. that kind of normal.

Vietnam

June brought us back to Vietnam to explore our roots. It’s nice to finally hear and speak a language we know other than English. We made our way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, visiting Sapa, Halong Bay and Nha Trang along the way. We ate snails on the streets and oodles of noodles at every stall. Gerard even traced his lineage in Hue. Apparently he is a descendant of royalty!

July

Cambodia, Indonesia

In July we crossed the border. Cambodia is one of the few places where you could stay at five star hotels for the price of two.. so we did. We splurged on luxury hotels, woke up at the butt crack of dawn to see Angkor Wat, and visited S21 and the Killing Fields, both remarkably moving. Cambodia was one of those places I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the kindness in people, the history and trials and tribulations the country has gone through made it such a wonderful experience for us.

Cambodia

After 10 days in Cambodia, we flew down to Indonesia. We took yoga class for the first time in Ubud, ate banana pancakes for breakfast and chased dolphins at sunrise in Lombok. In the Gilis, we took our first discover dive and it was life changing. Diving is such a surreal experience everyone should try.

August

Hawaii 

August came faster than we had hope. Our Asia jaunt was over but we were excited to be heading home soon. Gerard’s friend was getting married, hence our extended layover in Hawaii. We spent the next three weeks lounging on the beach taking surf lessons, paddle boarding and getting a gnarly tan. We even encountered sharks on the North Shore!

hawaii

September

Peru

Our South America jaunt kicked off in early September. South America was never on the original plan but we were presented with an opportunity we couldn’t resist, so we had six weeks split between Peru and Bolivia. Machu Picchu has always been high on Gerard’s bucket list and we were not disappointed. Nor were we let down with the food either, especially the ceviche.

peru

October

Bolivia

After Peru, we traveled by bus to Bolivia and soon after, I realized how much I hate to travel by bus. It’s brutal, especially in South America. If Machu Picchu was high on Gerard’s list, then the Uyuni Salt Flats is beyond high on his list, so you can imagine how ecstatic he was. And I have to admit, I did not realize how naturally stunning Bolivia is until we got there. Definitely an underrated country. We chilled out in Sucre, took Spanish lessons and ate a lot of fruit salads.

bolivia

November

Prague, Ljubljana, Vienna, Budapest

Eastern Europe was a last minute decision. We were too tempted not to finish off the year in travel – we didn’t want to go home, yet. Plus, as weird as it sounds, I’ve never experienced Europe in the cold so I was tempted to bundle up and experience the Christmas markets for the first time. If you follow us on social media, y’all already know, we got engaged in Prague! Over the month, we relaxed in Ljubljana and Lake Bled, visited Christmas markets in Vienna and soaked up in the thermal baths in Budapest.

europe

December

New York

We wrapped up our year with a visit to New York City. We didn’t do much sightseeing, we’ve been here plenty times before. Instead, we came to visit our friends Steph and Fran whom we met on a bus in Vietnam in June and again in Cambodia. Five days of great food, wine and company in an awesome city was exactly the way we wanted to experience New York City.

NYC

Finally, after being on the road for twelve months straight, we made our way home. I can’t believe how quickly the year has flown by. To cap it off, over a hundred of our closest friends and family surprised us with an amazing engagement party!

Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever top the past twelve months. 2012 has been, without a doubt, the best year of our lives.

If you want to see our year wrapped up in a 3-minute video, here it is.

Thank you for following our journey and for letting us share our year with you.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/noplacelikeoz Heather

    Congrats again on the engagement! I love our shared love of food and though I haven’t commented often, I had a blast hearing about your adventures. Happy 2013!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Thanks Heather! Glad to see other food lovers out there. =)

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad

    Congratulations on your engagement and your incredible travel experiences! I loved reading about them and will continue to enjoy your stories going forward :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Thanks Ashley. We’re definitely not done yet!

  • http://www.donteverlookback.com Amy & Kieron

    What a year! So glad that we could spend one day of it with you guys and all the best for 2013. :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      All the best to you too! Pretty sure your year will have heaps more travel than ours. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.figueroa.56 Ian Figueroa

    Yeah that was definitely a great year for both of you :). So what’s next for 2013? any long term travel plans again like in 2012?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      For right now no long term travel planned. But you never know what may pop up!

  • http://harindabama.com/ Bama

    What a wonderful year for both of you! Definitely something to envy..ahem..be inspired of. :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thank you! Go out and get ‘em.. 2013 awaits! :D

  • http://twitter.com/SavorOakland Savor Oakland

    Best year ever!!! Congrats! Quite epic :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks guys.. you too!

  • http://www.walkflypinoy.com paul | walkflypinoy

    such an awesome year for you guys! your stories and photos are so inspiring. great things in 2013!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks for reading.. definitely great things from here on out! What’s instore for you? ;)

  • http://www.ourbigfattraveladventure.com/ amy&andrew

    Love this post guys – what an amazing year you’ve had! If our year of travel (starting only 8 weeks from now!) is even half as good as yours has been I’ll be happy!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      8 weeks… Eeeeek! This is YOUR year. I look forward to following your adventure.

  • SaraM

    My girlfriend and I road tripped around the US for 5 weeks this past year, and it was potentially the best 5 weeks of my life. I can’t imagine getting to do it for a year and seeing so much of the world. I know that feeling of being addicted to going from place to place and forgetting what life was like before you started traveling. I can’t wait until I can do it again…hopefully some day i’ll be in a position (financially and otherwise) to do what you did. Congratulations!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Oh road tripping the States is something I’ve wanted to do.. I’m think this will be the year. You’re so right; it’s an addiction, but luckily, one that cures itself with more travel, so yay for us! LOL

  • BeyondBlighty

    Wow! That’s quite a year! I loved looking at your Peru and Bolivia photos as I was there just a couple of months ago. I recognised Huacachina. Nice sandboarding pic!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Were you there in September? We might have crossed path. LOL. Sandboarding was pretty awesome except for the sand down my pants. Haha

      • BeyondBlighty

        I was there in October. Wouldn’t have been far away though! Yeah, I had sand in my ears for days!

  • http://www.loveantoinette.com/ Antoinette B.

    Possibly the best things in life leading up to your engagement. Your children will be thrilled to hear your endless travel stories and memories!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Eeeek… one step at a time with the children talk, A. LOL

  • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

    Good lord, even after reading your blog during your entire rtw I didn’t realize you had done SO much in a year — and all of it ridiculously amazing stuff too. Thanks for sharing it with us and I’m so glad we connected this year!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      I know right! I’m glad too. Hopefully we can connect in the ‘real world’ in the future!

  • http://www.facebook.com/coolman2 Jeremy Ng

    what a year! I feel like we just had coffee in the Bay like a month ago. Who knows more than a year had past and you had just traveled the world! Time does fly by so quickly, huh :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      It really does. And congrats on the new little one!

  • https://aweinclusive.com Michaela

    Wow! You took some amazingly cool pictures and it looks like your year has been a blast! I’m looking forward to what 2013 holds in store for you. Happy Travels!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Michaela! Cheers to 2013 for you too!

  • Jill

    Amazing year, guys!! Hopefully 2013 will be equally if not more exciting for you two. (belated) Happy New Year!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Aww, thanks Jill – same to you!

  • http://twitter.com/piggybackrideAZ Backpack ME

    Such incredible variety of places in one year, guys. Simply AMAZING!
    Will be difficult to top 2012… but let’s try, right?! ;)
    Cheers!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      No doubt, it was an incredible year. We’ll do our best in 2013. :)

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