A 2012 Travel Review

Greetings from Belgrade. It’s the end of December and time for another Travel Review. This is where I look back at the previous year’s travel experiences. In last year’s review, I had multiple short trips out of Singapore, and visited a total of 4 new countries.

This year however, has been a blast. But first, let’s take a look at last year’s travel resolutions and see how much of that I managed to accomplish. Out of 10 items on the list, I managed to complete a mere 3 items: North Korea, Petra in Jordan and the Karakoram Highway. No big deal. But when we look at the things I instead DID manage to do this year, I can only be thankful.

Of course, being on an extended trip allows me to do so much more. So here is a summary, for everyone who has not been following the blog posts regularly.

  • Mar: China – Travelled for 2 months within inner and coastal China, cavorting with giant pandas, almost getting kicked by a horse off the cliff edge of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, dancing with tribes in Guangxi, awed by the bright lights of Shanghai, experiencing cultural Beijing and the serene gardens of Suzhou, ogling at the pretty ladies of Dalian and admiring the Great Wall.
  • Apr: North Korea – A short but memorable trip during Juche 101, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the eternal leader of the North Koreans, Kim Il Sung.
  • Apr: Mongolia – Homeland to Genghis Khan, and where I had my first taste of the Cyrillic alphabet. Horse riding in the steppes. Well worth the butt-ache.
  • Sep: India – Up the Malabar coast, from Kerala to Goa, from Mumbai to Aurangabad. And the Rajasthan Loop, including the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
  • Oct: Pakistan – Experienced the natural beauty of mountainous North Pakistan, in the Karakoram Mountains, and the unrivalled hospitality of the Sindh region, in the south.
  • Nov: Oman – Just a few days in the country, but what friendly people. The fortresses and sea views are spectacular.
  • Nov: UAE – A second visit to the Emirates of Sharjah and Dubai, this time with more depth. Sharjah has some amazing museums and is a cultural gem.
  • Nov: Jordan – Jordan is a tourist’s paradise. Small but with so many attractions packed in. Travelled through Roman ruins, Petra, Wadi Rum, swum in the Dead Sea and dived in the Red Sea.
  • Nov: Israel – The confluence of 3 of the world’s major religions, Israel has even more to offer. I read through stacks of Wikipedia info to familiarise myself with the history, which spanned thousands of centuries.
  • Dec: Italy – A decision to detour into Eastern Europe first took me to Italy, where I lived my Assassin’s Creed fantasies in the cities of Florence and Venice.
  • Dec: Slovenia – My first country in the Balkan region, Slovenia is friendly, compact with much to offer, especially since the winter celebrations were ongoing in Ljubljana.
  • Dec: Croatia – I didn’t expect to stay so long in Croatia: I ended up staying nights in the cities of Zagreb, and city hopping along the Dalmation coast cities of Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik.
  • Dec: Montenegro – The rainy weather made the trip short, but it was enough to see the beautiful Bay of Kotor.
  • Dec: Bosnia & Herzegovina – One of the countries I eagerly wanted to visit, Bosnia did not disappoint. The food was fantastic. Mostar’s old bridge evoked a wistful sense of wonder and Sarejevo’s museums and post-war buildings made me sit down and reflect.
  • Dec: Serbia – Belgrade is a vibrant capital which contributed even further to my burgeoning knowledge of the countries in the region.

And here were some highlights.

Experiencing my first major snowfall.