Well 2016, you have certainly kept us all on our toes! I’m sure lots of people are looking forward to ringing you out…. but I have a feeling that we won’t be forgetting you anytime soon.
For me, 2016 has been a huge learning curve. You may or may not know this, but it was at the end of December 2015 that I decided to start Wee Gypsy Girl and throw this old blog together. A year and 65k page views later, I can’t actually imagine having a life that isn’t documented on the internet!
Wee Gypsy Girl
In all seriousness, though, this blog has given me an enormous focus throughout the year. As sad as it sounds, I’ve never really had a serious hobby before and I’ve always felt like I was missing out! Every spare minute that I’ve had has been spent on google, trying to become an expert in social media marketing, branding, writing, graphic design, search engine optimisation, affiliate marketing and photography.
I don’t think I realised how much work having a travel blog would take but I’m so grateful to have found something that I’m so passionate about working on. Here’s to another year of Wee Gypsy Girl!
In terms of travel, my biggest memory of this year was, of course, my 2 month trip to India! Apart from a couple of weekend long stints in Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka, this was my first ever solo trip. It’s also the longest trip that I’ve ever taken (excluding this 3-year long “trip” to South Korea!)
India is a country that I never really thought I would ever visit. However, I feel a huge draw to it and see myself continuing to return there throughout my life. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about India, but nothing seems to phase me when I’m there- even the traffic, honking, dogs, cows and plastic everywhere. Now that I’ve left, I feel strangely homesick for it. It’s hard to describe but I felt so content while I was there. A level of contentedness that I’ve never really felt in Korea.
Continuing the theme of learning, I spent 1 month of my trip in India doing a yoga teacher training course. I did my course at Suddha Anand Yogshala in Kerala and would recommend them to anyone thinking of doing a YTT in India. Shara and Sachin are 2 of the kindest and most inspiring human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. A full review of my experience will be live on the blog very soon!)
This year, I visited one new country and that was The Philippines! The Philippines was actually my first trip of the year. We met up with my bestie from Scotland, Eva, and her boyfriend Michael for a few days of sipping San Miguels on the white sands of Boracay.
Veeran and I then ventured onto Bohol and El Nido. We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed Bohol. Even though our days were just spent cruising around on the scooter going to random tourist sites, we loved the laid back atmosphere and jungle vibes.
El Nido, on the other hand, is a destination that’s been hyped up a lot by travellers recently. Everyone said that it’s the one place that you need to visit in The Philippines and I was especially intrigued by the photos I’d seen plastered all over Instagram.
Although we loved the natural beauty we saw when we were out island hopping, we didn’t feel the same way about the town itself. Mass tourism is obviously taking its toll on the area and the whole place felt like a huge building site to me with very little atmosphere. Still, the islands that we visited were like nowhere else on Earth and we are both glad that we had the opportunity to visit.
This year, Veeran and I made a huge effort to travel in Korea. We even decided to stay put for our Summer holidays rather than venturing elsewhere in Asia.
Stamp collecting was the name of the game this year, and we managed to collect stamps a plenty in our bike passports. In May, we cycled Seomjingang and Yeonsanggang– 244kms of cycling over 3 days, then in August we spent a week cycling the circumference of Jeju Island!
2016 was definitely an active year. We managed to fit in a lot of hiking this year, too! I also hiked Hallasan (the tallest mountain in South Korea) and Jirisan (the tallest mountain on the mainland of South Korea), both for the first time.
I can’t talk about this year and only mention the high points. After our cycling trip in May, I received a phone call from my dad. My Nanny had fallen seriously unwell. A few days later, I was on the plane back to Glasgow to attend her funeral and pay my last respects. I never mentioned this on my blog or on social media at all as it didn’t feel right talking about it on the internet. However, it doesn’t seem right to reflect back on 2016 without including this.
Although I could only spend 5 days at home, I was so grateful to be able to spend the time with my family. Remarkably, it didn’t rain once in the whole time that I was there. Must be a new record for Scotland!
What Does 2017 have in store for Wee Gypsy Girl?
On the blog front, Wee Gypsy Girl is headed in a bit of a new direction. This year I’ve mainly blogged about budget travel, working abroad and travelling in South Korea.
Since I’m leaving Korea in March there will obviously be much less Korea content on the blog. As well as this, I plan to start writing more about eco-travel and living sustainably as a traveller. This is something that I’ve been becoming more and more interested in personally this year and I want to take Wee Gypsy Girl in that direction. Of course, I want to know exactly how my readers feel about this so please leave me a comment and let me know!
Veeran and I are finally leaving our jobs teaching English. (Actually, I’ve already left mine!) As much as we’ve enjoyed teaching English, it’s not what either of us are wanting to do with our lives. I’m going to be concentrating on freelance writing and Veeran will be working on freelance graphic design work.
We can’t wait to share more about the location independent lifestyle that we hope to pursue next year. I recently read Leah from The Sweetest Way’s new Ebook and would recommend it to anyone hoping to transition to this kind of career path. It’s full of so many tips and inspiring stories that will make you wonder why on earth people still work in offices!
As for travel, we’ll be spending our winter holidays in January revisiting Japan and then visiting Taiwan for the first time. This will be our last Asia trip for a while and I’m looking forward to soaking up all the quirkiness of big Asian cities- as well as all the ramen, sake and stinky tofu!
In March, we will be leaving Korea forever! Although this country has made me want to pull my hair out at times, I’m still thankful for the opportunities that it’s given me. Hello having a savings account for the first time in my life. Oh, and hello having a pretty nice boyfriend, too!
Our trip will start in The UK. We’ll be spending a bit of time in London since that’s the city that stole most of my pals. After that, we’ll head North to the motherland. I’m excited to show Veeran Loch Lomond, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Veeran is excited to try a munchie box and a haggis supper. It’s gonna be a good trip.
South Africa is next on the cards. I finally get to meet Veeran’s family and see Johannesburg. (Not sure whether I should be scared or excited about this.) Veeran’s excited to take me to Kruger National Park and Durban. I’m pretty excited about the wine and the bunny chows!
From there, we’ll be making another stop in Europe. This time to visit my Dad in Amsterdam and Veeran’s family in Switzerland. After we’ve finally seen everyone, we’re off to Mexico and the Latin American adventure really begins! I’ve got a feeling we’ll probably be feeling the need to take it slow as soon as we get there after spanning so many continents in a fairly short time.
We’re planning to travel throughout Central America overland. We’ve got our sights set on doing a few Workaway projects and maybe getting involved in some house sitting. Of course, we also plan on doing freelancing work along the way so that we don’t need to tap into our savings too much.
One thing that we have the luxury of is time. We have no deadlines and no work to get back to. We have no return flight to catch. If we like a country, we can stay for a little bit longer. If we don’t we can skip it and head somewhere that suits us better. Who knows, we might find a country that we really love and never want to leave!
It’s an adventure we’ve been planning and looking forward to for quite some time now and, honestly, it feel quite surreal now that it’s actually on the horizon. Of course, we’re having a bit of last minute jitters and anxieties about finally leaving Korea but we’re excited all the same.
I’ve got a funny feeling that next year’s post is going to be quite different to this years! It’s going to be a huge year for us- our biggest year of travel yet and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unravels. Thanks again to everyone who has followed along this year. I honestly didn’t think many people would read my blog, apart from my mum, dad and Veeran! I hope that 2017 is good to you all- leave me a comment and let me know what this year is set to have in store for you! Much love xxx