Seriously guys, how have we already reached the end of 2016? It seems as though the older we get, the more life is intent on pushing the fast-forward button, ensuring that life passes us by at a dizzying pace.
Travel-wise, I haven’t been able to make the most of my being location-independent (how’s that for a buzzword?) as I would have liked, which is something I’m looking to rectify next year. However, this year has certainly been eventful (I got married!), challenging (starting a freelance business is hard work!) and rewarding (freelancing is the best thing I’ve ever done!), and I think it’s fair to say that 2017 will have some big shoes to fill.
So, in the name of reflection and round-ups, here is another 2016 list to add to the reading pile.
2016: A year in travel
1. The wedding trip(s): Melbourne
Places visited: Melbourne, Yarra Valley
I travelled back to Melbourne a total of 5 times this year: 3 of those times were wedding-related, and 2 of those times were specifically for my own wedding and hens night. Travelling for weddings is a win-win situation because you’re essentially guaranteed fun times with all of your favourite people in the same room—unless you get a little messy way too early on in the night thereby cutting the proceedings short, which may or may not have happened on my hens night. It seems that the wedding train will continue for another year with at least 3 weddings locked in for 2017!
Credit: Dijana Risteska Photography
2. The honeymoon trip: Peru
Places visited: Iquitos, Amazon Rainforest, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lima (with an unexpected stopover in Miami)
Speaking of weddings, what usually follows is the honeymoon—isn’t this the whole reason people get married? The hubby and I weren’t sure if we could laze around on a tropical island for an extended period of time, so we chose Peru as our honeymoon destination as neither of us had been to South America before. Peru also seemed like just the right balance of adventure and romance. (Argentina was also high on the list but there was no way we could have realistically done both countries in a mere 3 weeks.)
It was clear from the get-go that we made the right choice. Peru’s landscapes are as layered as its history, and the scenery we encountered was a feast for the eyes from the remote, lush jungle of the Amazon Rainforest to the undulating terraces and valleys of the Colca Canyon. I’m not sure what I appreciated more: the spectacular scenery, vibrant and colourful culture, affable locals, or the rose petal–covered hotel beds…
3. The international weekend trip: Ubud, Bali
Places visited: Ubud
It goes without saying: you don’t move to Perth and NOT go to Bali for the weekend. It’s a rite of passage, and when it only takes you 3 hours to fly there, combined with the fact that it’s usually a lot cheaper than flying interstate, it’s pretty darn difficult to find a reason not to click the ‘book ticket’ button.
During our long weekend in Bali, we stayed in Ubud, the cultural centre and hippy hub of Bali, most famous for being the place where Elizabeth Gilbert spent her ‘love’ component of her well-documented and possibly over-referenced ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ sojourn. The weekend was a welcomed respite from what was gearing up to be a busy year, and we spent a lovely couple of days relaxing at the delightful Kajane Yangloni villa and exploring the verdant countryside of Bali.
4. The ‘when your sibling moves to another country’ trip: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Places visited: Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kep (with a stopover in Singapore)
My brother relocated to Phnom Penh 6 months ago, so I organised my first visit to align with my birthday and my brother’s birthday (our birthdays are a week apart). Phnom Penh was a surprise for me, and I didn’t expect to be so taken with the city; after spending 10 days there, I quickly fell for its chaotic charm, dirt-cheap massages, pulsating nightlife and cosmopolitan dining scene. I couldn’t have asked for a better city in which to welcome in the next decade of my life, and I’m already plotting my return.
5. The backyard trip: WA
Places visited: Margaret River, Geraldton, Kalbarri, Lancelin and the Pinnacles, Pemberton, Denmark, Avon Valley
It’s been close to 18 months since we’ve moved out west, and in case you didn’t realise, Western Australia is MASSIVE. Despite our best efforts, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of this vast state.
We have, however, managed to squeeze in a couple of delightful road trips down to the beautiful Margaret River region. I’m not much of a ‘wine’ person, but I could easily spend my days indulging in wine, charcuterie boards and fine dining in the abundance of wineries down there. We also explored the Southern forests of Pemberton, made our way through the Great Southern region to Denmark, and headed out along the Wheatbelt region to the historic townships in the Avon Valley. Up north, we visited Lancelin (the sand dunes are incredible) and the Pinnacles, and explored the towns of Geraldton and Kalbarri.
Best and worst of 2016
Favourite travel experience of 2016: Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu
While most people do the iconic Inca trail, we decided on the longer and more scenic 6-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu through the Mountain Lodges of Peru, in large part due to the fact that they have dedicated lodges along the route. I’m all for active holidaying, but there’s nothing quite like active holidaying in style—and it was fantastic to be able to end a gruelling day of hiking with a massage and a soak in a hot tub.
Favourite travel moment of 2016: Climbing Huayna Picchu
Although, we were exhausted by the time we had reached Machu Picchu, that didn’t stop us from climbing Huayna Picchu, the mountain that towers over the Incan ruins. It was a physical struggle, and slightly terrifying at times, but once at the top, the views of Machu Picchu from above and the sheer exhilaration from conquering the mountain were well worth it.
Worst travel moment of 2016: Airline/airport woes
I suffered from a lot of bad airport juju in 2016. It was the first time I had ever missed a connecting flight, the first time I had a flight cancelled due to a hurricane, and the first time I had left my passport at home. Bad things come in threes, so I have my fingers crossed that I’ve exhausted myself of the bad juju and that it won’t follow me into 2017.
Biggest surprise (in a good way) of 2016: Phnom Penh
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I did not expect to enjoy Phnom Penh so much. I have only passed through Cambodia once before to visit the temples of Siem Reap, but this was my first time visiting the lively capital city. Perhaps it was having my brother there to act as my local guide (thanks bro!), or whiling away the days working out of cute cafes, but Phnom Penh was a place where I could imagine myself being based—although I do tend to say this about every city that I visit.
Biggest surprise (in a not-so-good way) of 2016: Floating islands of Uros
While I enjoyed visiting Lake Titicaca and doing a homestay with a local family on the island of Amantaní, which involved donning the local costume and joining in on the town fiesta, I was a little disappointed by the commercialisation of the nearby famous floating islands of Uros. The Uros islands are made entirely out of reeds and inhabited by the Uru people, who were conquered by the Incan Empire, so there is a huge amount of history and culture attached to these islands. I’m not sure what I had pictured in my mind, but I wasn’t expecting to see a show catering and pandering to the hordes of tourists. This is a familiar conundrum: seeking authentic experiences and forgetting that there are millions of others looking for the exact same experience.
Best accommodation of 2016: Hotel Lindrum, Melbourne
I stayed in some unique places in 2016, but my favourite accommodation of the bunch has to do with the fact that it was my first hotel stay organised specifically for Curated by Cammi, right in my hometown of Melbourne at the Hotel Lindrum. A hotel stay is such a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but I never ever thought in a million years that I would be able to do such a thing on the back of a blog I started!
What’s in store for 2017?
Locally, I’m hoping to explore more of this huge state, starting with a weekend trip to Rottnest Island to hang out with the famous smiling quokkas—you can bet I’ll be posting up heaps of quokka selfies.
At the end of February, I’ll be celebrating a bestie’s 30th birthday in Las Vegas (as you do) and Los Angeles, and then travelling to Vietnam in April to visit my extended family in Hoi An (long overdue), as well as exploring more of North Vietnam.
As aforementioned, I plan on taking better advantage of not having an ‘office’ and being able to work anywhere with a decent Wi-Fi connection. There are plans currently in the works, so stay tuned!
While you’re here, why not check out my 10 most popular Instagram posts of 2016.