Lately I’ve been thinking about all the places that I’m going to travel to and explore in 2016 and it feels super exciting. But before I move on to new travel dreams for 2016, I want to take time to reflect on the trips, large and small, of 2015. In chronological order, here’s how it looked for me in 2015.
Ko Lanta, Thailand – Ko Lanta is a beautiful and peaceful island in the Krabi province of Southern Thailand. My trip to Ko Lanta was all about spending quality time with incredible friends. 2 weeks of sunshine, smiles and ice cream with my Swedish family. There is very little that can top time spent with my darling friend Lisa and these 2 weeks were 2 of my favourite for 2015.
Melbourne, Australia – 2015 was an amazing year for me and one of the greatest moments of the year was becoming a Beautiful You Life Coach. This involved a trip to Melbourne in the beginning of the year for our graduation. This was one of the most emotional and fulfilling days of the year and I’ve never been more sure that I was born to coach.
Hunter Valley, Australia – Last year 2 of my wonderful friends were married in the Hunter Valley and this year, a group of us were lucky enough to be invited back to celebrate their first wedding anniversary in style. Of course we toured the local wineries, but the highlight was a delicious meal that was prepared for us by a private chef in the home where we were all staying. Another evening among great friends that I will treasure.
Paris, France – A trip to the Northern Hemisphere for me never seems complete without visiting my home away from home, Paris. Having been lucky enough to call Paris home for 4 years, this city will always hold a special place in my heart. My trip to Paris in 2015 was all about catching up with old friends, visiting my old neighbourhood and favourite restaurants and discovering new places and all the ways that Paris has changed in the past couple of years since I last visited. Paris never disappoints and this year was no different.
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – I must admit that prior to 2014 and meeting my fabulous friend Penelope Price I had never even heard of Kyrgyzstan and I didn’t realise it was a country (sorry Kyrgyzstan). But after meeting Penelope on a surf and yoga retreat and hearing all about her arts and crafts tours to Central Asia, I just knew I had to go. Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan was the first stop on our tour and it was a wonderful introduction to the incredible Kyrgyz people and the talent of the local artisans. We visited the workshop of Aidai Asangulova, an internationally renowned artist who fuses felt and silk together to make the most incredible scarves.
Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan – Issyk Kul, the world’s 2nd largest mountain lake was our next stop and it was breathtaking. Despite the weather being a little cool, a couple of us decided that a morning swim in the lake before breakfast would be a great way to start the day. After all, how often do you find yourself in Kyrgyzstan staring into the waters of an epic lake, surrounded by the Tian Shan mountains?
Karakol, Kyrgyzstan – After spending the morning swimming in Issyk Kul, I was entirely surprised to find that it was snowing the very next day just outside of Karakol in the Altyn-Arashan Valley. This was the most unique day of 2015 for me and one that I’ll never forget. To reach this valley we had to travel by a Russian military mountain truck through narrow, winding and incredibly bumpy roads. And the reward at the end was a Soviet era thermal spa. As we sat in the spa, warmed by the water but surrounded by snow, I couldn’t help but pinch myself. Was this really happening?
Tamga, Kyrgyzstan – The following day, en-route to Tamga we stopped at a famous yurt maker’s home in Barskoon village. Mekenbek showed us his workshop where he builds these impressive yurts and we spent an afternoon together assembling one of them. Again, it’s not everyday you find yourself building a yurt in Kyrgyzstan…a very special day indeed.
Chon Kemin Valley, Kyrgyzstan – The last stop on our tour was the beautiful Chon Kemin Valley. Surrounded by mountains covered with green fir trees, this place had such a peaceful and calming energy and I can definitely see myself returning there. An early morning hike through the valley with new friends was a wonderful way to start the day. Kyrgyzstan is such a beautiful country, virtually untouched by tourists, and I’m so grateful to Penelope for introducing me to such a special place. For me, the best part about my trip to Kyrgyzstan, other than meeting the incredible artisans and being welcomed into the locals’ homes for magnificent meals, was our tour guide Lilya Kas’yanova. Lilya is such a wonderful woman and an outstanding guide – her knowledge of the country is phenomenal and it felt like we were travelling with a human google. Anything we asked, Lilya could answer.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan – Again, prior to 2014, Uzbekistan was not a country that I had given much thought to and it was certainly not a place that I would have pictured myself travelling to had you asked me a few years ago. But it’s funny how the universe works and the people that we meet along the way that inspire us to discover new and extraordinary places. There are so many wonderful things to say about Tashkent, but for me it was the first time that I’d seen such exquisite suzani and ikat fabrics and this will always stand out in my mind.
Samarkand, Uzbekistan – It’s hard to express the beauty of Samarkand in words. Of all the places I’ve travelled in the world, there are few more spectacular than the Registan in Samarkand. Every inch of space is covered in magical mosaics and it’s hard to get your head around the epic amount of work and artistry that has gone into making the buildings of Samarkand look so majestic.
Bukhara, Uzbekistan – Bukhara is probably my favourite city in Uzbekistan. There’s something about the spirit of this place that captured my heart. Strolling the streets of Bukhara is a visual feast Another city full of mosques and madrassahs with breathtaking architecture. Bukhara used to be a key trading point on the Silk Road and it’s still a city full of small shops and stalls where you can buy beautiful carpets, woodcarvings, fabrics, embroidery and jewellery. I bought some amazing ikat fabric that I had made into a top whilst I was there and a chunky turquoise and silver necklace that I absolutely love and can’t stop wearing.
Khiva, Uzbekistan – Khiva is a little gem and I will always love the last few days that we spent in this ancient, walled city. The old town is so tiny and it’s encased by baked mud walls, which you can walk around for an epic view of the city. Khiva has the most intricate wood carvings on the doors and columns throughout the old town as well as stunning wool and silk carpets. Other than the extraordinary people I met on this trip and the new friendships that were formed, the best part about it was again our local tour guide Mirza. Mirza is an incredibly generous and kind man who can always make you smile with his jokes. His knowledge of Uzbekistan is outstanding and Mirza went out of his way on every occasion to make this the best tour imaginable for everyone.
Nelson’s Bay, Australia – Whilst a trip to Nelson’s Bay isn’t out of the ordinary for me since my mum lives there, this particular trip was a special one as mum was turning 60. This was a birthday extravanganza weekend full of eating, drinking, dancing, laughing, stand-up paddle boarding, camel riding and dinner cruising. It was a chance to catch up with old friends and family and celebrate the most incredible woman I know, my mum.
Phuket, Thailand – Phuket for me has been one of the most enriching experiences of 2015. I moved here for a 3 month job as a life coach at Phuket Cleanse and it was the best decision I could have made. November and December were a dream and I can’t believe I only have a little over a month left. Phuket has definitely been about the people I’ve met. The friends I’ve made here are like soul sisters and I know that they will be part of my life for years to come. There’s also something about Thailand and the Thai people that is so warm and inviting. There’s such a lovely energy in the air and everyday when I wake up I’m grateful that I’m here.