2013 has been a year of great change, of new beginnings and long awaited dreams coming true. The year I finally packed my backpack and got on a plane to the other side of the world, alone. A year of pain and joy and realisation. On the last day of 2012, I was at my parents house with my then boyfriend, putting up lanterns in the biting cold and helping my Mum prepare New Years Eve dinner, making resolutions that this was the year I would go travelling . On the last day of 2013, I am writing this from a hammock chair in Goa. I am alone, no boyfriend, my family hundreds of miles away. The sea breeze rustles the palm branches above me and although the day has only just begun the sun is already hot.
Many of my best moments of this year inevitably have to do with the amazing places I’ve seen and people I’ve met, but not all. There has been adventure and new places, but also friends, family and the joy of being home – all things for which I am incredibly thankful. So, on the last day of the year, here’s the best 13 things that happened in 2013, a year of new beginnings.
I flew solo to Bali
After months of working, saving, planning and packing, on September 12th 2013 I stood in the departures terminal at Manchester airport with my backpack, said goodbye to my parents and got on a plane to Bali. I remember looking out of the window as the rolling green and grey of England turned to bright blue ocean below me, and feeling free and exhilarated and terrified, all at the same time. The best feeling in the world.
I ticked the Yi Peng lantern release in Chiang Mai off my bucket list
In November I got to put a big tick on my bucket list when I released a wish lantern at the Yi Peng festival in Thailand. The beauty of the moment a thousand wishes rose into the sky, filling it with twinkling light, is something I’ll never forget.
I went to Coachella
Speaking of bucket lists, 2013 was the year I got to go to the Coachella festival in California – undoubtably the best festival I’ve been to so far and incredible from start to finish.
I took my favourite photographs of the year at Angkor Wat
It wasn’t my first time there, but wandering about the breathtaking ruins of Angkor in Cambodia gave me the opportunity to take some of the best pictures I’ve taken this year, and compile them into a photo diary.
I spent an inordinate amount of time in the sea
I love that this year has involved so much time by the sea; paddle boarding, kayaking and deep sea fishing; diving with sea turtles, bouncing through the waves on the prow of a fishing boat, and snorkelling through crystalline shallows.
I became an honorary Auntie, twice
Two of my best friends had babies this year, which meant lots of cuddles with gorgeous Jude and Ava Belle, otherwise known as the cutest babies in the world.
I got to watch this sunset…
This sunset happened one night as we were making our way home along Palolem beach in Goa. It was one of those moments that is so beautiful all you can do is stop and stare at the riot of colour filling the sky. I’ve seen a hundred sunsets this year, but this one topped them all.
… and this sunrise
Getting up at 2am is not my favourite, but seeing the spectacular sunrise from the summit of Mount Batur in Bali was definitely worth it.
I lived with my parents
I moved back in with my parents whilst I saved money to go travelling, which actually turned out to be a lot of fun as well as a challenging learning curve! I’m really lucky to have been able to spend that time with them as an adult.
I ate a lot of really awesome food
From fresh seafood on the edge of the ocean to authentic Indian curries and Bangkok street food, camper van cooking in California and cheese boards and wine with friends in England, 2013 has involved a lot of eating. Which I’m totally fine with.
I bathed elephants on my birthday
My birthday in Chiang Mai this year involved chocolate cake, gin and a whole day spent riding and bathing elephants.
I hung out in an infinity pool on the 57th floor
Swimming out to the edge and looking over at the Singapore skyline from the infinity pool on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands hotel was probably my favourite moment ever involving a swimming pool.
I had the opportunity to change
This is the big one I guess. If I had to sum up 2013, that would be the word – change. Everything in my life has changed, everything that was grounded has shifted and my reality each day is different. I have changed too, this year has given me the chance to stand alone, the opportunity to meet and grow from amazing new people, and the space to learn how to just be. 2013 is the year that I made real my mantra – there’s always a beginning.