Travelling in 2012: A Photographic Roundup

It’s been an odd twelve months.

I knew this year would involve a lot of travel, but I didn’t count on quite so much. This time last year, I was mainly blogging for my friends and family; now, I feel like I’m writing for a much bigger audience. And three continents and ten countries later, I’m planning my extensive trip to South America in February next year, and viewing it in a totally different light to my six months in Asia.

Thinking back to January feels so long ago that I decided to revisit where I’ve been over the last year, in preparation for the next one. Here goes…

January – watching the snow in London, England

January - snow in London

In amongst the chills of a true London winter, I made the final arrangements for my travels to Asia. After six months of interning, I finally faced up to the fact that being in an office was making me unhappy, and I needed to chase the two things I was most passionate about: travelling, and writing.

So I spent some quality time with my cat, packed my backpack, dutifully put up with the snow postponing my flight out of Heathrow, and eventually headed off to Asia.

February – bathing with elephants in Chitwan, Nepal

February - elephant riding in Chitwan, Nepal

My month in Nepal was an eye opener like no other. Within a few weeks I completed a bucket list dream and rode an elephant through the jungle, became a female Pied Piper while leading a group of Kathmandu orphans to their school each day, and perfected my skills at washing my hair in freezing water with nothing but a bucket.

I also began my intimate four week long hate-hate relationship with what’s known as Delhi Belly, and became a leading contributor to never ending conversations about it. (Seriously – ask me anything. I’ve seen and endured all there is to see and endure, and much more besides…)

March – eating birthday cake in Mandu, India

March - my birthday in Mandu, India

I left Nepal, still downing sachets of Dioralyte powder in bottled water, flew to Mumbai, and began to discover the wonderfully unique joys of everything Indian, from throwing paint at locals as part of the infamous Holi festival, to being propositioned by priests and chopping all my hair off on a whim. As you do.

One of the craziest days? My birthday in Mandu, which involved half my friends being struck down by Delhi Belly, a luminous pink cake that travelled 50km on its own private minibus, a tribal wedding fair complete with drums, crazy drunk locals and a photo for the local paper where we posed holding water pistols.

April – befriending babies at Mysore market, India

April - Mysore market, India

Heading to the south of India was like going to a different country altogether. The landscape changed, as did the language, the food and the attitude of the people around us.

In amongst the dosas, the beaches, the fruit markets, and the adorable babies I was often gifted with for large amounts of time on various trains, I discovered what I looked like in a sari and managed to get my legs threaded on the beach. And yes, it is exactly as painful as it sounds.

May – working in music events in Chandigarh, India

May - newspaper article in Chandigarh, India

In probably one of the more surreal months I’ve spent during my travels, I somehow found myself working in the Indian events sector for six weeks in the heart of Punjab.

Apart from other more normal experiences, I had a photoshoot in a local park, numerous interviews with local Indian papers, became a social media consultant and lived in a four star hotel for a few days. Oh, there was also the week I spent living with a Bollywood celebrity on his island, complete with pet camels. No biggie.

June – dancing at a friend’s village wedding in the Himalayas

July - wedding in the Himalayas

After a few relaxing weeks spent in Dharamsala, practicing yoga and drinking numerous cups of chai and ginger, lemon & honey, I made the trek up into the mountains to the village of an Indian friend I made at my job in Chandigarh.

Neelam’s wedding was an incredible contrast of all night partying, wild dancing and a huge emphasis on religion and tradition, and I’m so thankful I was able to be a part of it. Not least because the distinct lack of any other Westerners in the area made me appear like a total celebrity, which was an adventure in itself!

July – teaching English in Nong Weang, Thailand

July - teaching English in Nong Weang, Thailand

I finally ended my love affair with India and flew off to Thailand, eager to discover what South East Asia was all about. Within moments of landing I was amazed by the cleanliness and friendliness of the place; sadly I also realised just how touristy it is, too – at least in comparison to India.

I travelled through the north of the country and explored some , but the time I spent volunteering at a permaculture farm and teaching the village children English for a few weeks was definitely the highlight of my Thailand time.

August – drinking with friends in Brescia, Italy

August - Brescia, Italy

Getting back to England after six months away was a huge shock to my system – so much so, in fact, that I immediately booked a flight to Italy and went to stay with a friend I’d met in India, who lives in a beautiful old Italian villa.

Our Swedish partner in crime also flew out to join us, and we joyfully ate a ridiculous amount of food, practically inhaled various tubs of gelato, and reminisced about our adventures in Rajasthan while drinking a lot of wine, and subsequently got hangovers and brain freezes. It was wonderful, and the perfect antidote to the fear I felt at returning to Europe.

September – attending the blog house in Besalu, Spain

September - bloghouse in Besalu, Spain

The month of the conferences. Or, the time when I couldn’t remember not having had travel bloggers in my life. In September, I managed to attend two travel blogging conferences – TBU in Porto, Portugal, and TBEX in Girona, Spain – as well as taking part in the first ever Blog House in Besalu, with a group of the most amazing people.

I learnt so much about blogging, social media, the importance of interacting with your audience and your fellow bloggers, and above all, the possibility that travel blogging could actually be something more than just a hobby. I had my first experience of heading out on blog trips, where I ate seven course meals, rode in beautiful boats and got splashed in kayaks, sampled local beers, Portuguese blood rice and way too much port, and fell slightly in love with a multi-lingual Catalan chef.

After the conferences were over, I took ten days respite and went to Malta with my dad. We explored the island and neighbouring Gozo, as well as searching for his old army base, when he served on Malta fifty years ago (the post on this is still to come!).

October – live music at Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik

October - Iceland Airwaves in KEX, Reykjavik

No sooner had I got back from the conferences than I was off again – to Iceland, and a music festival called Iceland Airwaves. I volunteered behind the scenes last year, so this time I decided to simply enjoy it, relax and have fun without the need to put in serious hours guarding a backstage fire door.

Because of all the lessons I learned at the conferences, I also successfully managed to sort out my first two sponsored trips while in Iceland; first heading out into the Icelandic countryside to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, and then snorkelling the ice cold waters of the Silfra Rift.

November – wandering the souks in Marrakech, Morocco

November - souks of Marrakech, Morocco

Fresh off the plane from Iceland and with a head full of cold, I made my way to Excel for World Travel Market’s final few days. I was also on antibiotics so I couldn’t drink, meaning I had the interesting challenge of socialising with my dear fellow bloggers as the one sober person in a sea of inebriation.

With a turnaround of just a few days I left for Morocco – Marrakech specifically – on a press trip with Club Med, writing for the travel site TravMonkey. I loved the souks so much that I hung back from our group at every turn, desperate to capture just one more perfectly glorious photo of leather shoes, spices, silver jewellery and the incredible faces of the Moroccan people. Sadly, my three days in Morocco were nowhere near long enough so I’ll be making moves in the near future to get back and explore the country properly.

December – celebrating a very English Christmas in London

December - Winter Wonderland, London

Back in England again, I decided to lay low – finally! – and caught up on a lot of work in my cosy bedroom, with a warm cat for company who constantly required affection, thus providing me with the requisite amount of work breaks.

I settled back into something resembling my old lifestyle in December. I started work on my fifth tattoo at a famous parlour in London, volunteered with the homeless at Crisis at Christmas for a fourth year, and hung out with old friends, drinking coffee, eating cake and wandering through London’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

But the travel bug has lain dormant for a few weeks too long, and it’s time to get started again. So here’s what’s happening in my life next.

Future travels for 2013

Hogmanay in Edinburgh

 

After such a good year, it’s prime time to capitalise on all the trips I’ve completed over the past twelve months – which means that next year is going to be even more full of travelling adventures!

And it starts right now. I’ve been invited to spend New Year in Scotland, celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh with a group of bloggers from around the world. With torchlit parades, dog shows, ceilidh dances, whisky tastings, and music concerts continuing long into the night, #Blogmanay promises to be one of the most exciting New Year’s celebrations I’ve ever experienced!

About Flora

Flora Baker is the founder and editor of Flora the Explorer, where she writes about her travels around the world, her volunteering exploits and her ongoing attempt to become fluent in Spanish by talking to anyone who'll listen. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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33 Responses to Travelling in 2012: A Photographic Roundup

  1. Steph December 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Looks like a great year- glad it lead to our paths crossing!

    • Flora January 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      The bloghouse and meeting everyone was definitely one of the best parts of my year 🙂

  2. Marco Fiori December 31, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    Flora, it sounds like an incredible year full of varied adventures, experiences and fulfilling stories. It’s so Inspiring to read someone meeting life head on. Hopefully my 2013 will be as good as your 2012, minus the sickness.

    • Flora January 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      Sorry to hear your year was about being sick! I sincerely hope 2013 is better for you 🙂

  3. Caroline Eubanks December 31, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    Lovely to meet you this year and hope you have a terrific 2013! Maybe we will run into each other again one of these days.

    • Flora January 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      I guarantee it! Fancy heading to South America sometime this year..?!

  4. Will Jackson - The Bearded Wanderer January 1, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Sounds like you had a big year in 2012. You’re really going places girl. Best wishes for an even bigger one in 2013.

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      Cheers Will, I appreciate it! Here’s to an amazing 2013 for us both 🙂

  5. Salva January 2, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    It looks like you had an amazing year! We also spent the last 6 months in Asia and now heading to Africa. We look forward to your travel stories in Latin America!

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Wonderful, I loved Asia so much! You’ll have to give me some tips on Africa, I’ve only visited Kenya and Morocco so far so am itching to do some more exploring there 🙂

  6. Susan @ Travel Junkette January 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Looks like a great year! All the best for 2013!

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Thanks Susan, same to you!

  7. Nici @ Traveling And That January 5, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    Wow! What an inspiring year you’ve had! I hope that our 2013 is as exciting as your 2012 was. Happy New Year!

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      I think 2013 is going to be a pretty good year for a lot of people 🙂 I’m sure yours will be incredible!

  8. Britany January 6, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Congrats on following your dream and a successful year of travel! Looks like it was amazing.

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      Thanks so much Britany, I’ve really had such an amazing 2012 now I look back on it 🙂

  9. Ryan January 6, 2013 at 4:19 am #

    Wow Flora, what an amazing year 2012 was for you, however unexpected. Can’t wait to see how 2013 unfolds! I may be attending TBEX in June before heading to SE Asia. The Delhi Belly and other ailments in such countries scare the hell out of me since I have a screwed up stomach already. Any favorite place you would pick from the whole year? I’m simply itching to go to Italy! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      Haha cheers Ryan – often unexpected turns out to be the best thing! I seriously hope you make it to TBEX, meeting up with the blogger crew is not to be missed.. And when you get to SE Asia, maybe hop over a little further and go to India?! I would recommend it so highly as I fell in love with the place, however manic and sickness-inducing it may be 🙂 Then again I absolutely adore Italy (don’t miss out Florence!!) so you’ve got my vote wherever you end up 🙂 Happy New Year to you too my dear!

  10. Red Hunt January 8, 2013 at 2:38 am #

    Great list of travel places from 2012, sounds like one fantastic year!
    The birthday cake photo is hilarious…..and Iceland, so jealous! I can’t wit to get there some time soon…..

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      Thanks Red, Iceland is a seriously awesome country if you ever get the chance to make a visit! And my birthday in Mandu was definitely one of the more memorable ones..!

  11. Fon January 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Such an incredible year!! I love traveling, but i don’t have much time to do it. Now, i am starting traveling first in Asia. Your blog inspires me to make further!! Thank you so much 🙂

    • Flora January 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Good luck on your Asian travels Fon! It’s a wonderful part of the world to start your adventures 🙂 which countries will you be heading to? If you’re in Nepal, India or Thailand I can give you some tips 🙂

  12. Cailin January 10, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    That sounds like a wonderful year of travel! I would love to explore India someday like you have and other parts of Asia too! I might be afraid to do it solo though, not sure.

    • Flora January 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

      I highly doubt you’d have any trouble with facing India by yourself Cailin! But I’m actually planning an article about solo female travel in India that should go live soon – maybe it’ll give you some inspiration?

    • frutta fresca August 31, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

      Nice site web Raina

  13. Ally January 11, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like you had a great year, and so much traveling you lucky thing! The bathing with the elephants sounds amazing, although I think I’d be a bit scared I’d fall off ha ha. Hope you have a great 2013

    • Flora January 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      Thanks Ally, it’s definitely been a year to remember! I was actually more worried I wouldn’t get onto my elephant, seeing as he lifted me up by his trunk and I had to clamber across his face! I’ve got an embarrassing video of the event somewhere that I really should upload…

  14. Wil January 22, 2013 at 6:03 am #

    Looks like you had an amazing year. I’m planning on taking a big trip this year (I haven’t left the country in almost 5 years because of school) and I hope my 2013 looks like your 2012

    • Flora January 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

      Cheers Wil, I’ve had an awesome year! I’m sure your 2013 will be similarly incredible, particularly with five years of travelling to pack in 🙂 If you need any help planning out where you’d like to go, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

  15. vira February 1, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    very interesting events and activities you’ve been to last year! 😀
    any plan to hit Asia again in 2013?

  16. Ceri February 19, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    What an absolutely incredible year, hun. <3 I know that 2013 is going to be just as amazing as the one that's just passed for you. I can't wait to keep reading all about it.

  17. Volvo Bus October 9, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    2012 is a great year for you. You have covered lot of places in one year its a great thing.

    http://www.travelyaari.com/

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