It’s that day of the year when I do my countdown and reflection. If 2013 was for “startup“, 2014 would be for “backpacking“. I wanted to use the word “travel” but it doesn’t aptly describe my budget travels.

It all started with my long trip in Myanmar followed by my journey in Laos. My adventures in Koh Pangan, Kota kinabalu, Labuan, Brunei, Ipoh, Boracay, Melaka and Yogyakarta though short are equally memorable. Almost every month, I gave in to the temptation of going out of Singapore and wander to the neighbouring countries. Discovering cheaper accommodations, eating authentic local food and meeting people outside my circle are the perks and excitement of backpacking.

It’s through travelling that I discovered my interest in photography. And through pictures, I’ll narrate my 2014.

KLIA

Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Eventhough I’m living in Singapore, I don’t frequently depart from Changi airport. The cheap fares from KLIA have always enticed me to start my journey there. Although, I still do take that overnight bus from Larkin to KL.

Mandalay Bridge

Mandalay Bridge

Before the start of 2014, I wrote in my blog the countries and the events that I wanted to visit for the year. I read it once a month. It worked. Those clear goals helped me push myself to do what it takes to accomplish them.

Boatman Inle Lake

Boatman at U Bein Bridge

During my trip in Mandalay, I was terribly sick. I had flu, my stomach was churning and my head was aching. I had a choice to stay in bed and rest or to go out and seize the day. I did the latter. I am my own boatman. I steer my own ship. I make my own decisions.

Outside the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul

Outside the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul

In all my travels, I always encounter (unexpectedly!) a church. It’s not normally in my itinerary to visit a church but for some reasons, I’m always drawn to it. If there’s one thing that I always remind myself in my trips, it’s to stick to my faith. Someone out there is always looking and listening to me.

My running jumpshot

My running jumpshot

It’s not easy to do a jumpshot if I’m not fit. Sports and fitness are still in my priorities (and healthy diet is quickly moving up).

Anna and Carlo posing in Ipoh Train station

Anna and Carlo posing in Ipoh Train station

Malaysia has been our instant out-of-Singapore getaway. It’s good to have a friend who rents one single-bedroom condo unit at the heart of the city; and a lot better to have friends whom I can easily tag along for a weekend trip.

Bike trail in Vang Vieng, Laos

Bike trail in Vang Vieng, Laos

There’s no straight path. No matter how well-prepared I am for a trip, things still change. That’s the fun of it.

Fire dancer in Koh Pangan during the Full Moon party

Fire dancer in Koh Pangan during the Full Moon party

It’s ok to play with fire as long as you don’t burn yourself with it. But when my friend insistently asked me to hop into the burning rope in Koh Pangan, I told her to lead the way and I’ll follow.

Life after the Full Moon Party in Koh Pangan...lifeless.

Life after the Full Moon Party in Koh Pangan…lifeless.

The day after the full moon party in Koh Pangan, the place was a total reversal of the crazy things that happened. The shore was barren. There’s no loud music, only whistles from the breeze and the slapping of the waves. It was a relief. No matter how chaotic life is, I’ll always remember that there’s peace after. Let’s just hope it doesn’t start with R.I.

Bus accident in Laos

Bus accident in Laos

Speaking of R.I., this is the first time I almost encountered death. It was raining and our bus was going downhill. The bus driver wasn’t in the mood because he lost his golden wedding ring. There’s ravine. The bus skidded, the brake didn’t work. I felt like a stuntman in one of those action movies. I wasn’t scared of dying. I was enjoying the feeling. Although it did occur to me that I forgot to buy a travel insurance. Luckily, nothing bad happened and the bus driver found his ring after. All went well.

The magical Mt. Kinabalu

The magical Mt. Kinabalu

I just wanted to prove that I can climb a mountain. With no experience nor any preparations, I managed to complete the trek to the peak of the highest mountain in Southeast asia. Did I regret it? I was complaining to myself 70% of the time during the climb. Now when I look back, I give myself a tap on the shoulder…I did well. There’s no bad thing in exploring uncharted waters, only regret if you decide not to do so.

Got stuck in Labuan and stayed in the cheapest hotel available.

Got stuck in Labuan and stayed in the cheapest hotel available.

After my Kota Kinabalu adventure, my friend and I went to Brunei. We got stuck in Labuan island because we missed the ferry. We were carrying wet clothes. Our shoes were also wet and smelly. We didn’t want to spend more than RM30 (individually) for a hotel room because we are “backpackers”. We found a staff room with no toilet, an air-con that blows warm air, walls are dilapidated and ceilings that could fall anytime. It became one of the highlights of my trip because laughter was all over the room. Laughter is indeed the best medicine.

Boracay

Boracay!

It was my first time to be in Boracay. I always hear that it’s a paradise. I wasn’t disappointed. This photo reminds me that no matter how big the world is, I can still stand out and be unique in a lot of ways.

Tania is one of those whom you can drag along anytime anywhere for a trip.

Tania is one of those whom you can drag along anytime anywhere to a trip.

If you need someone who can accompany you to go for food, attend a party, join an event, meet another backpacker or travel to another country, you should put Tania on top of the list. We had this photo when we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand while waiting for the Kantoke dinner. It’s also self-fulfilling when I get to influence other people of the joy of travelling alone.

I homestay-ed in Ika's house and received a warm accommodation from his family.

I homestay-ed in Ika’s house and received a warm accommodation from his family.

After my first homestay experience in Ika’s abode, it became one of the things I look forward to when I travel. To be part of another family, even for a short while, is a priceless gift. It made me realize how much I value my family and how important my mom and siblings are to me.

 

Quadruple Birthday celebration of friends

Quadruple Birthday celebration of friends

No matter how small Singapore is, life will never be boring when you have these crazy friends around you. Our food blogger Katkat is undeniably in the honor roll.

The Library at Orchard

The Library at Orchard

Aside from being mesmerized by this newly-opened public library in Orchard, I included this photo because I’ve always been fascinated by people, their behaviour, and their diversity. When I’m alone traveling or drinking coffee in a cafe, I have the tendency to look around and just observe the people. I don’t feel like I’m wasting time when I do that.

Kat is wishing under the big Christmas tree in Orchard

Kat is wishing under the big Christmas tree in Orchard

Just before the year ends, there’s still Christmas. There’s still that little kid who is wishing upon a Christmas tree and thanking Him for the blessings.

2015 is going to be awesome, I’m sure! Time to write my New Year’s resolutions…