2012 is just about over, and it’s been a year of very high ups and pretty low downs. Last year, I chose one photo per month to round up the year. But since I then did a sort of overlapping year in Korea post, I didn’t want to do that this year. Instead, I’m bringing you one photo per country visited. Enjoy!
South Korea was where we spent most of 2012, from January right up to the last day of August (minus 2 weeks spent in the 2 following countries). We enjoyed Korea a lot. This is a picture of the landscape surrounding Haeinsa Temple near Daegu, which is pretty nice.
We escaped the cold Korean winter in February to visit Malaysia for a little under 2 weeks. We were enamored with the food and the vibrancy of the country. This is a picture of the excellent Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
We were only in Singapore for 3 days, but they were enjoyable days. We stayed in Little India for 2 nights and at the fancy Conrad Centennial for the third. This photo is from the visually interesting Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown.
Our stay in North Korea was rather fleeting. We visited for a brief moment on our tour of the DMZ.
*The inclusion of North Korea is very dubious, since we were there for perhaps 4 minutes, plus it could be said that the whole DMZ is neutral territory and therefore doesn’t count. It’s just sort of fun to say I’ve been there.
We spent one week in Mongolia at the start of our round-the-world trip. We had planned on 3 weeks there, but found we couldn’t afford such a long excursion out of Ulaanbaatar, which we didn’t like at all. So we instead did a 3-day horse trek with Stepperiders, which took us by the ruins of Manzushir Monastery, pictured above.
We did a lot of great things in China, which we are still working on writing about. But the definite highlight of our time there was standing on top of the Great Wall!
Our two and a half weeks in Hong Kong were fun and relaxing. We stayed on a boat in Aberdeen Harbor and on Lamma Island. We played board games and ate a lot of good food. In addition, we went way over our budget because Hong Kong is not cheap! This picture is the statue of Bruce Lee on the Avenue of the Stars at Victoria Harbour.
*Officially, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China and therefore not a separate country. However, due to the huge cultural differences and the fact that there’s even a separate currency, we think of it as though it was truly a different country.
Macau is rather small and an easy day trip from Hong Kong, which is what we did. We ate some great food, played a bit in the casinos, and walked around the UNESCO listed historic downtown, of which Senado Square, pictured above, is a part.
*Macau is also a Special Administrative Region of China, but we are counting it separately for the same reasons as Hong Kong.
We only spent two weeks in Vietnam, when we were planning on a full month. And those two weeks were spent solely in Hanoi. This was an example of what happens when travel goes bad. My bag was stolen in Hanoi, leaving us stranded there until we could get a new bank card. It took me a long time to come to terms with the theft, and I couldn’t do it while still in Vietnam, so we flew out as soon as we had a money source. This photo is from the Temple of Literature, which we visited before the fiasco happened, but after my two terrible days of food poisoning.
After Hanoi, we flew to Bangkok for two weeks, where I came down with the flu. We then went to Cambodia, and then back to Bangkok for 3 days. After that, we were in Laos for a week and then returned to Thailand to live in Chiang Mai. This is a picture of Wat Arun in Bangkok from the Chao Phraya Express Boat.
The week we spent in Siem Reap was fantastic. We saw some incredible things, like the Angkor temple ruins. Cambodia is worth more time, and at some point I’d like to go see much more of the country. Above is one of the giant faces of Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom.
The last in our list of countries visited this year is Laos. We spent a week in Vientiane, which many people have said is not worth your time, but we enjoyed it a lot, especially for the great sandwiches and croissants. The sunsets over the Mekong River didn’t hurt either!
Coincidentally, we saw 12 countries this year. It has been a great, memorable year for certain. Next year should bring a similar number of countries as we wrap up our round-the-world trip. The current plan is to spend until mid-February in Chiang Mai, then make our way south to Kuala Lumpur over a month. After that we will fly to Turkey, and make our way west to Spain. It should be an adventure!
Where did you go this year?