Looking back on a year of travel around the world.

A visual recap of the incredible places we’ve visited the last year.


We’ve been travel blogging for a whole year, and while Tumblr is great for updates, I’m inspired by this post to do a photo recap on Medium of our journey across 16 countries in the last year.

Countries we’ve visited (in chronological order) include Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Nepal, China, Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam.

I’ve tried my best to make the the post more readable by making descriptions short and only picking the best pictures — hopefully you will enjoy reading it.

The background

In mid 2013, while sitting down at our favourite chill-out spot in Singapore, we started talking about travelling long-term for a year.

We’d read a couple of RTW (Round-the-World) blogs and thought to ourselves, wouldn’t it be a dream come true if we did the same someday? We indulged in the fantasy and wrote down a list of places we would go.

Here’s a picture of us, Reuben and Joyce, by our friend Bruce Wang

The following day, we started researching and found the Round-the-World air ticket.

“If we really decide to go, I’d like to do this before I turn 30,” Reuben texted me.

He was 29 in 2013.

We bought our tickets and said goodbye to our jobs, family and friends in early 2014.

Argentina

Our first stop. It is home to the world’s best steaks, wines, glaciers and the hearty-est people I’ll ever known.

Congreso de la Nación Argentina (Congress Building in Buenos Aires)

Buenos Aires

Our home for the first month. It’s been described as the “Paris of South America”. Rightly so. Despite it’s recent economic woes, the city retains it’s fusion of classic European charms and carefree South American vibes.

El Ateneo, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores set in a 100 year old theatre, in the heart of Buenos Aires.
Puerto Madero. Our favourite place to jog around. It was built as a port but they later realised that it couldn’t fit as many boats as they originally intended. Today it’s a commercial area with many expensive restaurants.
Inside Teatro Colón, the main opera house in Buenos Aires. The acoustics are considered to be so good that Pavarotti said that it’s only flaw is that every mistake could be heard.
La Recoleta Cemetery, where Eva Peron is buried. This isn’t the grave, but we were fascinate by their huge mausoleums. One of our Argentinian friends says it’s a pretty popular place for teenagers to make out. Hmm.

El Calafate

Hiking on the Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park and visiting El Chaltén was the beginning of our Patagonian adventure.

Dawn on the Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Argentina

Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier is 250 km², or about 1/3 the size of Singapore. Hiking on this monster of an ice field was one of the most sublime experiences of our lives.

Nothing but ice, ice and more ice. We had to wear gloves and cramp-ons to protect ourselves and navigate through the ice.
This is the ice cave we hiked through. This is a random dude. Our guides told us that ice caves are pretty rare and usually disappear quickly.
A view of another ice cave from the outset.

El Chaltén, a small village with great trekking sites is another Argentine Patagonia gem. We took a 7 hour trek around Laguna Torre and were delighted by the views.

An ‘easy’ trek, but so beautiful. We were there in late autumn, possibly the best time to be there!
After 3 hours, we got to rest at Laguna Torre and have our packed lunch.
We were surprised to find that there weren’t many trekkers, possibly because of lack of camping facilities within the park itself.

Chile

The Chilean side of Patagonia and the Atacama desert skies took our breath away. The people’s story of coming out strong in South America after a period of fascism under Pinochet touched us.

The French Valley in Torres Del Paine, Chile.

Torres Del Paine

Hands down, the nicest national park we were in this year was Torres Del Paine. We took a 5 day hike to complete the challenging Torres Del Paine ‘W’ Trek.

Most people rush through the trek, we just sit down and take it all in.
Laguna Platos (Ducks) in Torres Del Paine.
Unfortunately things were a lot more expensive in Chile, so we camped 2 / 5 times in the 0 degree nights.
Atop the French Valley after it had rained for a couple of hours, can you spot the rainbow?

Santiago and Valparaiso

In Chile’s cities, we were surprised to find a country similar to Singapore. Mis-labelled as “boring”, this country proved to be brave, innovative and as spirited as it’s famous poet Pablo Neruda.

Santiago City is nestled in between the Andes mountains.
Street art can be found everywhere. This is one of my favourites.

San Pedro de Atacama

Our last stop in Chile was the the Atacama desert, filled with geysers, lagunas and an incredible night sky.

In the middle of the Atacama landscape, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

We took a 26 hour bus ride from Santiago to reach San Pedro de Atacama. There, we saw with our naked eyes the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the milky way at an observatory. We spent the rest of the days exploring it’s intriguing landscapes.

Waking up at 4am to make our way to the El Tatio geysers.
Alpacas and llamas everywhere!
The Chilean Salt Flats. Not as big as the Bolivian side, but equally pretty.

Bolivia

Of Salar de Uyuni, La Paz and Copacabana. We had some serious National Geographic moments here.

Mini salt pyramids at Salar de Uyuni, Boliva.

Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia wasn’t even on our go-to-list when we first started. Since we were so close to the border, we decided to cross over and see what the fuss was all about. We spent 4 days in a 4x4 jeep and toured the world’s largest salt flats.

Up close and personal with flamingoes feeding on krill in the Uyuni national park.
Sunrise over the Salt Flats.
Flags of countries that tourists came from. Unfortunately no Singapore!

La Paz

With an altitude of over 4000m high and nestled in the Andes mountains, La Paz is the world’s highest city. We enjoyed the messy, sprawling city, its interesting personalities and great views.

Plaza Murillo is the central plaza of La Paz.

A common sight in La Paz are it’s Quechua women dressed in colorful clothes and with matching personalities.

Image of a Quechua worker woman, who was taking a break from doing back-breaking construction work. Instead of her usual top hat, she opted for something more practical.
La Paz is built in a basin. The lower and more central you get into the city, the more expensive it gets.

Copacabana

In La Paz, we met a fellow Singaporean in the hostel who told us that Isla del Sol and Copacabana are must-visit spots in Bolivia. We took a bus to Copacabana, the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America.

The view of Lake Titicaca from our room in Copacabana.

From Copacabana, we took a day trip out into Isla del Sol, is an island in the southern part of Lake Titicaca. Geographically, the terrain is harsh; it is a rocky, hilly island with many eucalyptus trees.

An enchanting little island in Lake Titicaca.
Donkeys are the main mode of transport around Isla del Sol.

Peru

We spent our third month in the beautiful country of Peru to see the world famous Machu Picchu and rest in the colorful, Incan city of Cusco.

Machu Picchu

The trip to Machu Picchu took us on a 3 day hike consisting of zip-lining, and biking along the way before we reached our destination.

The Incas built Machu Picchu around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. While it was known to locals, it was made popular after a visit by a Yale university professor.

The misty view as we biked down towards Machu Picchu. Amazing scenery.
The Temple of the Sun.

Cusco

Cusco was a treat for our tired hiking selves. We took a month to enjoy the slower pace of life in Cusco, meeting entrepreneurs from all around the world who had settled down in the upcoming city to set up businesses in tourism and hospitality.

Cusco was the capital for the Incan Empire. The beautiful city of Cusco is filled with relics from the Inca period. Sadly, churches were erected directly above the Sun-temples during the Spanish conquest. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of history.

Plaza de Armas; the square has churches, shops, restaurants and bars backing on to it and is a great place to spend an afternoon, people watching or reading a book.
Quechua culture is preserved by festivals around Cusco. This was in May 2014.
Just a short walk around from the city and areas that promise serenity and a moment of peace.

Germany

Germany has a special place in my heart. The country is currently the unwilling leader of the Europe — which is strange because they did try to take over Europe twice.

View of the Fernsehturm, built by the Russians during the Cold War.

Berlin

Present day Berlin is creative, innovative and very interesting because of it’s history and open culture. We spent most amount of our time in Germany there, visiting co-working spaces, watching the World Cup with Germans.

Berlin is the leading gay city in Europe, and this picture was taken at Christopher Street Day.
The Berlin wall used to be a sign of distress and separation between the German people, but today it is filled with many inspirational works.
At the Fan Mile in Berlin. It was raining but that didn’t stop people from crowding the streets to watch the finals of the World Cup.

Bavaria

Bavarians are super proud of their culture and heritage. And they have the right to be! Home to crazy kings, beautiful castles and IMO some of the world’s best beer, it’s not hard to see why people love Bavaria.

The castle that inspired Disney’s fairytales, Neuschwanstein Schloss.

Roadtripping around Bavaria was very enjoyable and easy. It’s was a romantic drive around the German alps.. and interesting because we went to a Mount Wank (for real, that’s its name).

A wedding with groomsmen wearing traditional Bavarian clothes.
Eibsee, a little lake near in the German alps.
View of Garmish-Partenkirchen, a small village that was supposed to host the Olympics, from Mount Wank.

Italy

Veni, vidi, vici. A trip to Europe without Italy is incomplete. We took this chance to visit Rome, Venice, Pisa and Florence.

The Vatican City — which is actually a country by itself.

Rome

The Eternal City. We were awed by the history and culture of the city. Oh, and the food too.

View of the Roman Coliseum from the side. It shows the basements and seating arrangement.
The Piazza Repubblica, one of the main streets of Rome.

Venice

Summer in Venice was amazing. We loved the city that inspires so many with it’s beauty.

According to historians, present-day Venice looks almost like it was six hundred years ago, which adds to the fascinating character. Venice has lots of tourists, with 56000 residents and 20 million tourists per year, but its romantic charm remains.

Buildings along the waterways of Venice.
At St. Mark’s Square, pigeons flock to get fed.
Venice is filled with little plazas like these.
Beautiful sunsets.

Pisa

Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower. We took a day trip out of Florence to reach the cathedral grounds of Pisa.

At the cathedral grounds of Pisa. Home to the leaning tower!
The famous leaning tower, which serves as a bell tower for the city’s cathedral.

Florence

Under the Tuscan sky, I left my heart in Florence. We felt instantly under-dressed upon reaching this sleek, artistic city with it’s incredible duomos and non-stop partying.

View of Florence from Michelangelo Plaza.

Florence, or Firenze, is the cradle of the Renaissance. It is magnetic, romantic and busy. Many fashion labels like Gucci and Roberto Cavalli were born here. We found the best way to enjoy the city was just to walk around it and discover it’s many pockets of art and history.

Florence Cathedral. Beautiful.

Hungary

Hungarians tell us that their language sounds like a crazy mix of alien language. We agree. Nope. Not slavic, not Russian. Give up guessing.

Hungarian Parliament Building

Budapest

We stayed in the Hungarian capital, Budapest for 3 weeks. The city is split into two parts, Buda and Pest (thus the name Budapest). Buda is the former capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and the western part of the current Hungarian capital Budapest on the west bank of the Danube. Pest is the eastern, mostly flat part of the city, comprising about two thirds of the city’s territory.

The Danube river separates Buda and Pest.
We had a good time soaking in the thermal baths of Budapest.

Greece

Greece has an active tourism industry, thanks to the historical veins that flow through Athens (named after Zeus’ daughter Athena) and the romantic atmospheres of it’s famous islands like Mykonos and Santorini.

Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens — built around 2,500–2,600 years ago (6th Century BC).

Athens

Athens is the capital of Greece and is one of the oldest cities of the world. Greek mythology comes alive here. We were enthralled by the stories of power, love, determination and hope of the Athenians. Our Airbnb host, young and energetic, also gave us an insight into the current economic situation of the Greek economy and how it affects the younger generation of Greeks.

View of Athens from the Acropolis
When it’s too hot in Summer, the best thing to do in Athens is visit it’s incredible museums that share the history of the amazing city.
Leaving the port for Santorini, we find many other islands that surround Athens.

Santorini

About 6 hours from Athens by boat, we cruised along the Aegean sea to reach Santorini, the volcanic island with stunning views and amazing sunsets.

The gorgeous Red Beach in Santorini

Santorini

Santorini is exactly like how I imagined it — except with a lot more people. The sunsets in Oia draw the most amount of tourists, but other than that it’s truly a gorgeous island.

Alleyways like these make Santorini seem serene and pure.
The main attraction in Oia is its sunset. Tourists flock here to see the yolk go down.
Santorini is a great place to just sit down and people watch.

Turkey

A country we fell in love with. In between Europe and Asia, the capital of Istanbul is a great representation of this country’s position in the world. Young Turks tell us that they wish to be closer to Europe, but their President’s policies are drawing them further away from this.

Turkish coffee, a must-drink in Turkey.

Istanbul

I’m not quite sure when it happened, but it must have been in between the hamams, the amazing Turkish breakfasts, it’s beautiful mosques and super hospitable people that I fell in love with Turkey’s capital.

The Galata Tower.
Our favourite activity in Istanbul, drink a cup of cay while watching the sun go down.
At Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar you can find many pretty lamps like these.
Seagulls flock near the water buses that take you from Europe to Asia across the Bosphorus.

Pamukkale

Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. It is a natural site in Denizli, that contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water.

View from the travertine pools.

The best thing to do in Pamukkale’s travertine pools is just to let the warm water run over your feet and enjoy the amazing views that nature has bestowed upon this city.

Amazing. It looks like snow but it’s actually salt!
Clear waters.
Sunset on Pamukkale.

Cappadocia

Cappadocia lies in the center of Turkey and is a magical city. Filled with hot air balloons, fairy chimneys and cave churches, we had a great time exploring this moon-like landscape.

Floating on a hot air balloon in Cappadocia and exploring the city — the most magical part of our journey.

Cappadocia’s most extraordinary phase was during the medieval era, when the valleys were a refuge for Byzantine Christians — who created churches in the caves that were formed by volcanic eruptions.

The most magical of rides, on a hot air balloon to see Cappadocia from above.
You wake up at 5am to see this.

Georgia

An unexpected destination with a lot of Orthodox Christians. Georgia was occupied by the Soviet Union and a majority of the population speak fluent Russian.

Night view of Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi

Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia. Walk around the city center and you’ll probably smell sulfur from the baths. Head into a restaurant and order a Georgian Khinkali “Xiao Long Bao” and definitely try their stews!

Tbilisi
We went into this hipster Victorian looking cafe in Tbilisi
Khachapuri, otherwise known as Georgian Cheese Boat!

Nepal

Energy is bursting in the capital of Kathmandu, a stark contrast to the peace and serenity found in the Himalayan mountains in the Annapurna region.

View of the mountains in the Annapurna region

Kathmandu

All mountain adventures start from the crazy capital that is Kathmandu. Messy, noisy and bursting at the seams, we found ourselves in a love-hate relationship with this adventurous city.

Nepalese people are the friendliest and happiest people we’ve met, always ready with a smile for us!
The Garden of Dreams, a place in Thamel to catch a quiet moment from the hustle and bustle from the city.
Kathmandu has many UNESCO World Heritage sites and temples.

Pokhara and Poon Hill Trek

Pokhara is the second biggest city in Nepal and is where most treks into the famed Annapurna region begin. We spent a total of 5 days on the Poon Hill trek, where we got beautiful views of the Annapurna mountain range.

Sunrise on the Annapurna Mountain Range. Just layers and layers of mountains.
The Sherpas that carry the daily necessities of the village people in the Annapurna Range are amazing. From stoves to fridges to gas, they’re fast hikers and strong!
The hike might be tough, but the views more than make up for it.
Beautiful sunny days in October, one of the peak seasons for hiking in Nepal.
The famous mirror lake in Pokhara is great for a slow day of rowing and resting your tired legs.

China

From cultural artefacts to nature, to big city life, China has something for everyone.

Land of giant pandas and giant everythings.

Chengdu

We began our journey in Chengdu, the main city of the Sichuan province. There we found amazing (spicy) food, pandas, gorgrous natural scenary, giant buddhas.

Baby pandas taking a nap.. like every other minute.
Chinese Opera, a slice of culture that is slowly being eroded in the modern era.
The 70 metre high Le Shan Buddha. That’s about 30 stories high.

Jiuzhaigou National Park

Jiuzhaigou Valley is a nature reserve and national park in Sichuan. It’s pristine lakes and well-preserved landscapes, coupled by the Tibetan influences enthrals visitors everywhere.

Morning in Jiuzhaigou, pure magic.
Waters are crystal clear and a mix of blue and green.
Nuoerliang Waterfalls.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Jiuzhaigou.

Huang Long

Another national park, with stunning views of temples set to the background of snowy mountains.

The ancient Huanglong Temple was constructed in the Ming Dynasty.
The start of the hike down to reach the Huang Long Temple.
Beautiful temples and mountains.

Beijing

Like a confused teenager, Beijing is trying to find it’s new identity between modernity and retaining the cultural relics left behind by thousands of years of history.

A pavilion inside the Forbidden City.

Beijing is a must-visit for anyone going to China. We sank into the best peking duck we’d eaten in our lives, ooh-ed and ahh-ed at size of the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China and tried out best to get out of the pollution after President Obama left the city, bringing the blue skies with him.

At the Summer Palace, where Empress Cixi used to stay.
Inside the Summer Palace.
The long and winding Great Wall of China.

The Yangtze River & Three Gorges Dam

The Yangtze River, known in China as the Chang Jiang, is the longest river in Asia. We cruised down the river to the Three Gorges for 3 nights and woke up in the last in the famed Three Gorges Dam itself.

Cruise ships all along the River.
At the entrance of the Three Gorges Dam. The flooding caused water levels to be a lot higher than before.
Each cruise makes a stop along the way for passengers to go for quick tours along the islands of the Yangtze River.
What the exterior of the Three Gorges Dam looks like from the outside. An incredible feat of engineering.

Taiwan

Oh how we miss Taiwan. It’s lovely views of the Pacific Ocean, the friendly people and delicious snacks from it’s famous night markets.

Typical Taiwanese night market, filled with delicious food stands and crazy amounts of people!

Taipei

The ultra modern Taipei, with it’s skyscrapers and famed restaurants like Din Tai Fung. The best parts of Taipei are where locals hang out, like bookstores, night markets and KTVs!

Taiwanese people are voracious readers.. and it reflects in the number of bookstores that they have!
It’s a tradition to set off these lanterns in Shifen, Taiwan.

Road Trip around Taiwan

Taiwan is the perfect country to cover by a quick road trip.We toured around the country in 10 days, driving to cities like Kaoshiung, Taitung, Taichung, Yeliu Geopark and other National Parks in between.

Fishing for some daily catch in the Pacific Ocean.
At the Gaomei Wetlands.
The Yehliu Geopark, with weird shaped rocks.
Taiwanese cities have little pockets of art exhibits like these. Hitching a ride with the God of Strategy, Guan Yu.

Japan

Japan is a mix of old and new. There are some things only the Japanese can pull off, like Hello Kitty, a great bowl of charashi rice and Pachinko. We had a great time exploring Okinawa, Osaka and Kobe.

A traditional dance performance in Okinawa, Japan.

Okinawa

Okinawa is an island off mainland Japan with the longest living people in the world. It’s not hard to see why though, the older generation of Okinawans have access to clean, fresh air, impeccable views of the Pacific Ocean and know how to cook a mean tofu.

Shuri Castle was the palace of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.
Smack in the Pacific Ocean, Okinawa’s sea views show a range of blues.
The Aquarium in Okinawa, which houses 3 whale sharks in it’s ginormous tank.
Okinawa houses several US military bases. There’s even an American village!

Osaka

Spa World and Universal Studios. ’Nuff said.

Like I said, there are some things only the Japanese can pull off, like a real life Hello Kitty!
At the entrance to the Hogwarts Castle in Universal Studios Osaka.
Dusk falls on Osaka’s Dotonburi district.
We dropped by Kobe to explore for a day!

Vietnam

We stopped by Hanoi for our very last stop before heading back home to Singapore. It was a welcome treat to just sit by the roadsides and people watch while sipping on a divine cup of Vietnamese coffee.

A must-do in Hanoi, sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee and hit up conversations with locals sitting next to you.
The church nearby Ho Kiem Lake is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. The perfect place to chill out and sit down.
A vietnamese invention — egg coffee!
Ho Kiem lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.

Our journey

It’s been surreal to travel to such amazing places and have met some of the coolest people in the past 330 days. While we might be tired and have aching shoulders from carrying our 15kg backpacks around, there’s no doubt that it’s been the best year of our lives.

You can check out the rest of our travel stories or use the photos we’ve put under cc0.

Taking a final picture before we head home with our backpacks.

Joyce and Reuben, over and out!

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