Yep. It’s another of those year in review things.
At the risk of blabbing on about how “2015 was incredible, but 2016 will be even better!”, I’ll just get on with it.
Hover over the pictures for informative captions.
In January, I received the news that I’d got a job in Beijing, China, commencing in April. I’d just got back from China and had mixed feelings about returning, but I figured I had nothing better to do. After a cosy New Years in Somerset, I headed back to London and then onto Ireland to set up camp at my Mum’s. Because I’m cool.
The month ended well too, as I took a little holiday to Lanzarote with my mate Nathan. I got the whole thing – return flights from London, 4 star hotel, breakfast and dinner inclusive, for about £250 each. Love a bargain.
A slow month. A couple of trips up to Belfast in an effort to see less green, and a solemn Valentines Day spent getting slowly drunk. February finished with a quick trip to London to see one of my favourite musical duos, Public Service Broadcasting, and getting much less slowly drunk.
Stressful, crazy, and not bad at all. I had a bit of money left over from my teaching job at the end of 2014, so I saved it up for 3 weeks of re-Beijing travel with my travel-buddy Danni. The trip was almost cut short by Chinese visa complications (TOP TIP: never, ever, ever apply to the London office for your Chinese visa. Always go to Edinburgh. The Scottish are much more forgiving) but I managed to get my passport back a couple of days before my flight to Bangkok.
After a few nights at Khao San Road, we were ready to begin the travel proper and cross overland into Cambodia for our trips to Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Phomh Penh and Koh Rong.
It was upwards to Beijing after a brief stop in Bangkok, where I settled into my new home and my new job.
The three weeks travelling and moving to a brand new city took a heavy toll on my bank account. I lay fairly low for the month of May, mainly spent Tindering, playing Pokemon and attending half price pool parties. Around mid-May, I realised it was warm enough that I didn’t really need to wear a jacket on my walk to work. I didn’t put it on again for another five months.
By June, I had found myself dating a guy called Sam, a guy who had visa issues that required him to leave the country every 60 days. That was fine by me, as it meant I had an excuse to go and explore somewhere new. We chose Hong Kong as the first stop, which just happened to coincide with my birthday. Weird that. I spent my 26th on a beautiful secluded beach slowly subjecting my Irish skin to the relentless UV rays and 33 degree heat. Bliss.
Beijing had reached the height of summer by July, with temperatures rocketing to 40 degrees in the day time. I often find myself longing for these days, as I write this in chilly mid January in what feels like Siberia. Cheap flights to Taipei had popped up on my radar, and we headed there at the end of the month. It was a short but sweet trip, and I don’t feel resentful to China Eastern at all for their 9 hour delay. You can read all about it in my completely non sarcastic review of China Eastern.
Seeing a familiar face in Beijing when my friend came to visit from London was a refreshing change, though Beijing was wracked with odd events. A samurai stabbing here, a huge chemical explosion there, a mass suicide attempt conveniently covered up etc etc, I could go on. Due to what I’m assuming was an administrative error, I had managed to secure three weeks off from work in October, but meanwhile I did a spot of sightseeing around Beijing.
Another visitor this month, when my Mum came to see me. This prompted yet another trip to the Great Wall.
Meanwhile, I had made plans for my time off at the end of my contract – two weeks in Japan, and one week in Australia. At the end of September, I said farewell to Beijing for almost a month and jetted off to Tokyo.
Australia isn’t so bad either, and after Japan I spent almost a week in Sydney, most days beginning with failed attempts to go whale watching. A road trip to the Blue Mountains was obscured in a grey fog which gave me faintly nostalgic pangs for Beijing. It wasn’t long before I was back there and the cold hit me right away. One day near the end of October, I realised it was too cold to not wear a jacket on my walk to work. I haven’t taken it off since.
November was a grey polluted ice cube of a month. I was officially back to work and getting symptoms of SAD, the idea of having SAD making me even for sad. Towards the end of November, I received an email from work – ”Manila office is in need of volunteers, please let me know if you would be interested.” I replied right away, and by the end of the day my flights were booked. I was going to the Philippines.
I spent two weeks in Manila, on expenses. Countless people had told me how awful it was, but when you’re staying in the richest area, in a 5* hotel, with all your food paid for and free booze from the hotel lounge, I guess it’s kind of hard to be negative.
As a way to combat my despondence with Beijing, me and Sam had booked a pre-Christmas holiday to Langkawi, Malaysia. So after two weeks in the Philippines, it was back to Beijing for four days, on to island paradise in Malaysia and back to Blighty (Great Britain) for Christmas and New Year.
2015 was incredible, but 2016 will be even better.