2015 in retrospect

stairway to heaven

2015…what a WILD and EPIC ride.

It was so full of ups and downs that I’m not sure why I haven’t heaved over the side of the railing yet. I reread my 2014 in retrospect post as well as my Welcome 2015 post and oh…so much to share!

Places I’ve lived or visited in 2015:
+ Thailand
+ Hawaii
+ Milwaukee, WI
+ California
+ Ecuador (including Galapagos Islands)
+ Taiwan
+ Denmark
+ Oregon
+ The Netherlands
+ Dubai
+ Morocco

for a total of 11 different places…I really should have squeezed in one more place to make it a perfect 12. 🙂

There were some definite highs and some definite low points – that I could not have endured without the love and support from my family and close friends. Obstacles always seem to come when you’re not looking and I’m thankful for having them as my support system.

Highlights

+ My second time in Thailand was dope as dope could get. This time, I met the most amazing fellow nomads, who I still keep in touch with today in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The hours spent swimming & splashing around the Veranda, visiting cat cafes , eating amazing Thai food (missing Khao Soi so much), and the Burmese stand next to my apartment. Partying at Zoes and working at all the different co-working spaces was how I wanted to open 2015.

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+ Bryan from Washington DC paid me a visit and we went to get my first magical Sak Yant together as well as Phuket and Bangkok.

Getting a magical Sak Yant by a Monk in Chiang Mai

Playing with cats at Catmosphere Cat Cafe in Chiang Mai

+ Scaling the infamous ghost tower of 50 stories in Bangkok with Arthur, Axel, and Chloe. Such a memorable (and hot) day. This was seriously a highlight of my year.

Exploring the abandoned skyscraper in Bangkok: The Sathorn Unique Tower Building

+ Hiking the Moanlua Ridge and Stairway to Heaven with Carlo who came down for a weekend from LA. The Moanlua Ridge is a pretty difficult hike with steep ridges on either side, heavy winds, and lots of “death defying rope climbs” (ok maybe I’m exaggerating). I’m so glad Carlo is an avid hiker and let’s not forget the stairs are closed (hence going up the back way) due to being damaged in heavy storms.  I don’t really recommend doing it (we’re crazy), it’s actually trespassing and if you get caught (which you most likely will), there’s possible arrest and some heavy fines. After the hike, we were greeted (read: trapped) by a barbed wire fence but climbed over it with our extra hoodies wrapped around our hands – thank the lord for small favors and adventures.

stairway to heaven

+ Shark cage diving with fellow nomad – Joel. Not only did we swim around sharks (safely in a cage) but we saw whales! It was especially epic when we saw a mama whale with her baby whale. Smiles abound for the whole day.

shark cage diving with hawaii shark adventures

+ Hiking the Lanikai pill boxes was epic because Will and I were able to do it at sunrise. The only reason to get up at sunrise in my opinion.

Hiking to The Lanikai Pillboxes at sunrise

+ My cousin’s wedding! It was a lovely wedding and so happy for my cousin Daniel and his new wifey who are a stone’s throw away in Berkeley!

+ PUPPIES. My parent’s dog gave birth to two of the most adorable puppies. Named Beemer and Snickers (I didn’t do the names) so now when I visit home, I get to romp around with not one, or two, but FOUR furry little monsters. It’s pure joy how much being around dogs can be.

+ Bloghouse 2015: meeting other fellow bloggers & spending some time in Milwaukee. Who knew I loved cheese and beer together so much? Secret: My family lived in Wisconsin for 8 years and I rarely went to Milwaukee.

bloghouse milwaukee

+ Galapagos Islands with Linda. Camping + giant tortoises and seals = epic. Check out the photo diary here.

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+ San Francisco for my 29th Birthday! It was my first time doing Daybreaker and celebrating it on May Day (my birthday is May 1)  by sailing around the bay and dancing to deep house beats? EPIC. It was also the first time I’ve celebrated my birthday with my family in 11 years. <3

may day birthday celebration

+ Left my previous job at a DJ music software company & started my new job at GitHub! A cooler than cool tech start up with amazing benefits, the most awesome people to work with and our goal is to empower people to do amazing things for the world! Rock. On.

+ Hiking in Taiwan was one of my favorite hikes. There’s no safety protocol and you’re dangling on ropes a lot.

Travel to Taiwan...101 things to do and see

+ Having dinner with a local Danish family in Copenhagen. It was great being able to connect with others from around the world and this is one of the reasons why I’ll never get bored of travel.

Why I won't get bored of travel

+ I started my #The100dayproject where I decided to write one true or honest sentence a day for a hundred days via Instagram. I finished it and oh – what a hundred days it was. I am currently analyzing my 100 days to see what it says about me, my current obsessions, worries, loves, and just…what was on Amy’s mind & heart for 100 days.

+ One of my closest friends – Grace came to visit after a lengthy fall out that really shouldn’t have happened but…past is past and I’m so glad she came to visit San Francisco. We ate, drank, hiked, danced, and explored a lot of street art.

+ Portland..the land of beer, bridges, and the weird. Exploring why the northwest is best with Will was definitely one of the highlights due to our love for nature, hiking, and waterfalls.

Explore Portland's Food Carts with EAT ADVENTURES

+ My first time glamping (glamorous camping) was at this African Safari reservation an hour from Sonoma. While it was freezing in the mornings and getting out of bed was horrible, being able to drink beers & watch wild animals roam was relaxing and allowed for mega team bonding.

+ Being featured in VICE magazine for living my life as a digital nomad. With this interview came a slew of other interviews including NPR, Wired magazine, a few other radio stations as well as blogs. Woo for PR!

+ Visiting Amsterdam offered me a visit to my first ever coffeeshop. I don’t smoke but it was interesting to finally pay the place a visit and report to fellow Californians how it was.

Buying weed and getting blazed at a coffeeshop in Amsterdam

+ Dubai: DUNE BASHING. I love the desert. There’s something so magical, powerful, and mystical about just sitting in the sand and then sun with the wind occasionally blowing to get you to appreciate life.

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+ Morocco: Chasing waterfalls in Morocco was also a great adventure – including a boat ride under them. I had a super relaxing chill time staying at Sun Desk. With nothing to do but work or be at the beach, I picked up motivation to start a NEW project! I can’t say anything yet but it has to do with travel. Stay tuned 🙂

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Challenges:

+ Being nomadic has not been good for matters of the heart. I haven’t been in a serious relationship in a few years and while I think I’m ready for one, my lifestyle doesn’t bode well for one…or maybe it’s the guys I tend to meet – the wrong type of guys. Alas, time heals broken hearts. ♥

+ Keeping in good physical shape while constantly on the road is sooooo hard. I had a gym membership in Thailand and while hiking and swimming in Hawaii was great, I would quickly fall into the whole, “I’m in a place too short of a time to get into a fitness routine,” which ended up with me gaining more weight, feeling depressed and unhealthy for the rest of the year.

+ Being a strange person in a strange land, it definitely felt lonely at times but like everything else in life, it’s fleeting. My only option was to deal with it as it came and then let it go. Embrace it or let it go.

+ I quickly learned that I prefer to travel alone unless it’s with people I love or  if you’re just somehow the most perfect travel companion for me. I was traveling with my friend Rob (bless him) in Taiwan and after like a day, I started to get super cranky & bitchy to him and we eventually separated for the rest of the trip and he still talks to me to this day. Sorry Rob. I’m horrible.

+ Learned the importance of checking if you have at least two debit cards with you when packing. I somehow managed to forget my main debit card after arriving in Copenhagen. No worries, I thought. I have my back up debit card to use. Turns out, my back up card bank’s system was down and I resorted to pulling out cash from one of my credit cards (high rates but what are you going to do in an emergency?)

Lowlights & Lessons:

+ My mother (who my loyal readers know that she has early onset dementia/Alzheimer’s) has been getting worse.

+ My friend Bryan got sick and fainted while we were in Bangkok because he was fighting a stomach bug & not drinking enough water. It was scary times and I am so glad that Bangkok hospitals are clean and modern with exceptional nurses & doctors. After an overnight stay and some fluids, he was good to go. Travelers: stay hydrated!

+ Getting bit about 20 times by mosquitoes on a hike in Hawaii is not fun – at least it involved waterfalls and a cute guy who didn’t entirely laugh in horror at my face and body.

hiking hamama falls in hawaii

+ Injured my already injury-prone knee in Amsterdam after looking to see if a bicyclist was coming down the road just as one zoomed across and I had to get out of the way. It’s been a plague ever since and hiking (descending specifically) has been painful. I’m a little happy it’s winter thus the cold will keep me more indoors and give the knee a chance to rest.

+ Losing my quite expensive Prada shades in Dubai did not make me a happy gal. I don’t think I’ll be buying expensive sunglasses again since I’ve lost too many pairs in my past.

+ Experiencing some sexism and racism during my travels as I’ve written about before. As much as I travel, I don’t expect every place to be all about equality and diversity of course but that doesn’t mean I can’t gripe about it. I spent a lot of time ignoring greetings like, “Ni Hao” or “Arigato” as well as regular cat calls and a ridiculous amount of inappropriate staring & leering (gross).

Some areas were worse than others but there were times I wanted to shout, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST TAKE A PICTURE?!” I am not sure if it’s because I’m a woman or because I’m an Asian woman (which made me stand out even more in some places) but it got on my nerves. I’ve gotten the whole “resting bitch face” expression down to a T and Pro Life Tip: if you just simply look back at a guy in certain areas, they’ll take it as a sign of interest so make sure if you look at them, it’s a scowl.

+ A few days before Christmas, my parents and I got rear ended in my car on the way to San Francisco. Luckily, nobody was injured and hopefully insurance will take care of everything but what a bummer since it’s around the holidays and getting estimates and waiting for it to be fixed is such a hassle.

Resolution Wrap Up & Summary

Looking back at my 2015 resolutions, I can clearly state that I did:
+ NOT write as much as I wanted. I journaled almost everyday for half the year before I dropped the ball and even my blog posts have been around once a month at most.
+ not meet the whole let’s stay fit part…fail.
+ drink a ton of water, so staying hydrated was a piece of cake
+ went on an epic amount of adventures (big and small) despite not writing about them
+ continuously had moments of gratitude of how lucky I am to live the life I want.

2016 will hopefully have more kept resolutions but it was still a crazy year that I’ll never forget. This year was as amazing as I wanted it to be – and more so I’m just grateful for it all.

2015, You’ve come and gone WAY too quickly for my taste. It’s been a memorable year and I honestly have no idea what to expect for 2016. I have nothing really planned except to get my next project off the ground and continue to see the world. Live wild and free… and all that cheesy stuff. ^_^