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18 Jan 2017

Thank you 2016!

...and just like that 2016 was over.

Ok, so it wasn't just like that. It was over in 12 months. The usual amount of time in a year.
From a personal point of view, 2016 was not too shabby. I was lucky enough to travel to a few places, as well as sneak in a few extra trips to the Philippines to visit family.

I would say I clocked up more air miles this year than any other year of my adult life.

To make sure I remember how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel, I made a little video of my travel memories in 2016.

If you want more details about each trip/place, then keep reading...

The year began with a trip in February to a freezing New York. Growing up in the UK, I thought I was familiar with the cold, but the cold I felt in NYC was something I had never experienced before. The wind felt like repeated slaps to the face and the sub-zero temps threatened to kill off my fingers and toes one by one.
Who I flew with: Cathay Pacific
Where I stayed: Ace Hotel

March was a busy month. First, we went to Melbourne and Sydney. Our first time in Australia! We were heading to Sydney for a wedding, but then followed everyone's advice of also visiting Melbourne since "it's so close".  My fave memory from this trip was ALL OF THE FOOD! I did not know Australia's food game was so strong. Seriously, some of the tastiest food I ate in 2016.
Who I flew with: Qantas
Where I stayed: Various. We moved around a lot. Stayed in a few hotels and Roomaramas.

Next up in March was a long weekend in Tokyo. We (the Husband and I) had timed our trip to coincide with beautiful cherry blossom season. However, due to unexpected cold weather and rain, we did not see any. It was too cold for the sakura to blossom, and those that did were washed away when in rained.
If you plan to ever go and see the cherry blossom, try and book waaaaay in advance as flights and hotels around this time are crazy expensive - and full! We ended up staying in an APA hotel - mainly because it was one of the few that had availability for our dates and didn't cost a billion yen.  APA (Always Pleasant Amenities) is a budget hotel chain. Very small but clean rooms and the location of our one was great.
Who I flew with: Cathay Pacific (this may be one of the most expensive flights I have ever booked!)
Where I stayed: APA Hotel Shintomicho-Ekimae

APRIL saw us make our annual trip home to London.  It's always nice to go home.
I  took the plunge and used a lot of the airmiles we had racked up to fly Business. What a treat!  That flat bed makes all the difference.
Who I flew with: British Airways
Where I stayed: Home

In JUNE a group of us ventured to the other-worldly mountains of Zhangjiajie in China. You may not recognise the place name, but you may have seen these mountains in the movie Avatar. The first place we stayed at in Zhangjiajie town was lovely (I've linked it below). We only stayed there one night before moving to a second hotel in the national park and up in the mountains. Be warned, accommodation on the mountain is BASIC. No frills. It was even too hardcore for our group and we only stayed there one night before finding another hotel back in town for our final night. Overall, the sights are great and if you can deal with basic lodgings and lots and lots of domestic tourists. It's worth going.
Who I flew with: Cathay Dragon and China Eastern
Where I stayed: Zhangjiajie Maosao Inn

AUGUST was a quick trip home to the Philippines. I mainly went to have a short reunion with some cousins I had not seen in years.
Who I flew with: Cebu Pacific

Dubai was our next destination in OCTOBER. The last time we were in Dubai was 7 years ago! So much had changed. We did the usual touristy things like going to the malls and heading to the top of the Burj Khalifah, but one thing that we did splash out on was a hot air balloon ride at sunrise - highly recommend. I thought I would be 'poop my pants' levels of scared, but it was actually really calm and not scary at all. We also took a day trip to Abu Dhabi since it took just under two hours to drive there to visit my cousin and the breathtakingly beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Who I flew with: Emirates
Where I stayed: The Rove Downtown. I would give this place two giant thumbs up!

NOVEMBER took me back to the Philippines to visit my parents.
Who I flew with: Cathay Dragon. (Less stressful than Cebu Pacific)

We rounded out the year with two trips in DECEMBER. First was a trip to Abu Dhabi.
Based on a photograph Edward took on our day trip back in October, the tourism board got in touch and invited him back to explore more of Abu Dhabi. I got to go as his plus one. Bonus. We visited Ferrari World and rode around in a Ferrari at top speed, fed giraffes at Al Ain Safari, and experienced the Arabian Nights village. We saw and did so much in just 3 days!
Who I flew with: Etihad  - Kindly flown in Business class.
Where I stayed: Hyatt Capital Gate  - Claim to fame = more lean-y than the Leaning tower of Pisa.

Lastly, we ended our travel for the year on the clear-water white-sand paradise of Coron, Palawan in the Philippines. This is where we spent Christmas. Island hopping tours and snorkeling aplenty, this was a lovely place to wind down for the year.
Who I flew with: Cebu Pacific - Be prepared for delays.
Where I stayed: Sophia's Garden Resort. Loved it here! Truly relaxing.

That's it. That was my travel in 2016.

I can't wait for 2017. A whole new year to explore new places or revisit favourites.

Where do you want to go in 2017?

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