Merry Christmas and happy holidays. With 2017 almost over, I am reflecting on my year of travel. It was another exciting year, although total distance flown is down (not a bad thing in my mind). Picked up a few new favorites along the way. Here are some highlights.
I loved every minute in Chiang Mai. It’s very very touristy, and usually that turns me off, but I loved the energy here, from the excellent live music to the bustling night markets. Importantly, I felt the soul of the city apart from the tourist stuff. I felt it when I had Wat Chedi Luang all to myself at night, with total peace and serenity, just me and the majestic remnant of history (and the occasional monk that walked by). There are many other temples in the city with practicing monks. It’s very cool to see this part of the city. The food was amazing, too.
The icing on the cake was staying at Le Meridien Chiang Mai for 3-4k SPG points per night (booked while it was category 2). It’s a bona fide 5-star hotel, in one of the best locations conceivable. The room and bathroom are super spacious, and I believe I had just a basic room, albeit with a view.
Simply put, Sri Lanka blew my mind. Nothing could have prepared me for the friendliness and open heart I experienced from the people. I thought it only existed in fairy tales. From the moment I landed and the immigration officer welcomed me with a warm smile, I experienced nothing but kindness from the great people of Sri Lanka. I took a 9-hour train to the hill country and back, where it was jam packed with no AC and I stood for a good 4-5 hours each way. It sounds brutal, but it’s one of my favorite travel memories of all time, owing to the benevolent spirit of the people who offered me their seat and food for no reason. Everyone was just happy. Plus, it was fun to ride a colonial-era slow train through the hilly countryside with tea plantations and bridges.
The food was equally mind blowing – just about the best food I’ve had anywhere in the world (outside my hometown). Every meal, mostly at simple shacks, just bursts with complex aroma of spices that send my taste buds to heaven.
At the foothill of Little Adam’s Peak, I ran into a traditional Tamil village celebration (of Thai Pongal, I believe). It was loud and colorful, full of festivity and joy.
The view won’t disappoint you either:
Rio de Janeiro
Rio is magnificent – if there’s a more beautiful city, I’ve not seen it. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous, as are the perfectly shaped bodies inhabiting them, and you can access it all in the city.
Killer views like this abound. Pick your favorite hill to climb 🙂
San Pedro de Atacama
Atacama reaffirmed Chile as one of my favorite countries. The scenery is out of this world. I think Piedras Rojas (pictured below) might be the most majestic place I’ve ever seen.
In a Nutshell
Travel reminiscing is one of my favorite pastimes – maybe a little too much 😀 Stay tuned for more highlights from 2017!