Grab a pot of coffee, yes a pot of coffee, and hold on tight, this is going to be a long one. Much longer than last years, but I was maybe just getting the hang of things then. This one will be better. Ill start with general counts of things then break them down by country and all that good detailed stuff a little further down.
Countries visited (including the US): 4
States Visited in the US: 16
Cities Visited (US and abroad): 65
National Parks, forests, monuments, and state parks visited: 25
Beds slept in: 62
Flights taken: 19
Modes of transportation taken: 23
Not too shabby for only being out of the country for two and a half months. I explored the US a lot more this year since I was working in Utah all summer, and now I’m working in Wyoming for the winter so hopefully I’ll get to see more up here over the next few months.
So, let’s start this off with Taiwan, my first stop in 2016.
I spent a month in Taiwan, then went back two more days between Japan and the Philippines and on my way home. It started out at as more of a hate relationship, but after a couple of weeks that changed and I quickly fell in love with it. The first two weeks were in Taipei and going around the island as part of a tour, the rest of the time was spent in Taipei. I visited 13 cities in Taiwan some of my favorites being Jiufen, Taipei, Hualien, and Taitung.
My favorite thing about Taiwan is probably the night markets and the cities. I loved the cities and never felt nervous walking around by myself at all. I loved trying all of the food and watching it all be made. That was pretty cool.
My least favorite thing was the language barrier. I feel like that’s a terrible thing to have as my least favorite, but it was tough. I didn’t know any Mandarin and if I did try saying city names or food things, no one understood me anyways. I avoided eating as much as possible the first two weeks because I couldn’t read menus or restaurant signs. That’s why I love night markets so much, you can just see everything.
Some of the things I did while I was there was go to the Pingxi Lantern Festival, visit a cat village, eat at a toilet themed restaurant, not quite explore Lanyu, climb a pagoda and all kinds of other stuff.
If (when) I go back I would do a few things differently. I would spend more time outside of Taipei, like in Kenting and probably Hualien again. I would try even more food, and see more night markets. I would wander around more back streets. And I would eat at that hot pot restaurant across from my hostel more.
Next up, Japan!
I spent nine days in Japan, four in Kyoto and five in Tokyo. I also made day trips to Nara and Arashiyama. I loved Japan and feel a strong urge to return sooner than later. There was a lot there that I didn’t get to see or do because of time or money.
My favorite thing about Japan was not really a thing, but everyday saying to myself “today is weird.” In the span of one morning I met a sumo wrestler, accidentally went into a sex shop, and tried playing pachinko on a fairly inappropriate machine surrounded by business men. I saw people dressed like the Mario Kart characters driving around Shibuya in go karts. You never know what a day in Japan will bring you.
My least favorite thing was the amount of change I always had to carry around and the Yaesaguchi Mae Bus Stop 2. Any money under 1000 Yen was change and I felt like I was carrying around a small baby’s weight in change all the time. It is cool with the holes and all, but I wanted less of it. And the bust stop. Oh Yaesaguchi Mae Bus Stop 2. Wandering around for 45 minutes, we couldn’t find you. It took one last hope ten minutes after the bus was suppose to leave before we found you and the bus still waiting for us. Thank you, bus driver, we greatly appreciate it.
If (when) I go back I would like to go to Kawaguchiko to see the Aokigahara Forest and Mt. Fuji, eat my way through Osaka, visit a Rabbit Cafe, go to the prison-hospital themed restaurant, buy crazy clothes in Harajuku, soak with snow monkeys, visit more temples, bike around Kyoto, and explore more small towns and villages.
Finally the Philippines.
Ok, so it’s not finally, the US is next, but it sounded good like that. I spent a month in the Philippines between four islands: Bantayan, Malapascua, Luzon, and Palawan. I visited 10 cities and enjoyed most of it. The first two weeks I enjoyed the most on Bantayan and Malapascua, with the last two being allover Palawan and a few days in Manila.
My favorite thing was the beaches and mango juice. There were times on Bantayan where I felt like the only person on the main beach. I don’t think too many people go there, but it’s definitely worth a visit and I love it so much. Malapascua has some pretty blindingly white beaches around it’s shores and if you venture off of the main Bounty Beach, you’re a lot more likely to have it to yourself. And the mango juice is heavenly. I would have two or three a day sometimes. The Philippines are the home to the sweetest mangos in the world.
My least favorite thing was getting between places. It always took forever and was very difficult to find reliable information on how to do that. For example, getting between Malapascua and Bantayan consisted of a small boat to a bigger boat, a bus to another bus to a ferry, then a scooter or tricycle to your accommodation. Getting from Bantayan to Palawan was even worse.
Some of the things I did there were and island hopping tour in El Nido, a trip through the underground river in Sabang exploring mangroves, beach exploring in El Nido, reading and relaxing in Port Barton, and trying to find a lighthouse on Malapascua.
If I go back, which I’m not in as much of a rush to do, there are more things I would like to do and see, like, explore the rice terraces in North Luzon, see the hanging coffins, hang out in Siargao, maybe see whale sharks in Oslob, visit Davao, and actually go snorkeling (maybe).
Last, but not least, the US.
This will probably have the most in it as I’ve been here for nine months, going through 16 states, spending most of my time in Utah, visiting Florida for the first time, and exploring tons of National Parks.
The National parks I visited are the Badlands, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, The Tetons, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Hot Springs, and Rocky Mountain. That doesn’t even include state parks, national monuments, or national forests.
My favorite things have been seeing the colors of the Badlands, Little Wild Horse Canyon, taking a houseboat out on Lake Powell, seeing mountain lion tracks, even though they terrify me, exploring Utah’s desert, seeing rattlesnakes (at least 5!), finally seeing Yellowstone, meeting up with friends from home in Vegas, seeing another side of Zion, and all the moss in Florida.
My least favorite things have been spending too much time in the car and not really saving any money, but I did see a lot of stuff so I’m not that upset about it.
Some things I did were explore Salt Lake City, climb allover Goblin Valley, go alien hunting, get acquainted with Burr Trail, rattle my brains on countless dirt roads, see all kinds of wildlife, finally see Antelope Canyon, and explore Lake Powell.
Over the next year or so I would like to see a bear, moose, and wolves, explore more of Arizona, explore a lot more of Utah, see the East Coast, and go snowshoeing.
That’s about it. There’s tons more to come from all my adventures this summer and hopefully all of the ones this winter. My goals for next year will be coming up soon, with a recap of how I did on the ones for this year, and lots of changes ahead, hopefully, like better organization and easier navigation, which we all know I’m not good at.
What is your favorite thing I’ve written about this year so far? What was your 2016 like? What would you like to see more of?