Today I am happy. I am glad that 2016 is finally over because it was a very difficult year for me, but on the other hand I appreciate many things that happened during last 12 months, things I learnt lessons from. If I had to define 2016 in just one epithet, it would be a life experience.
Before I write my summary, I always read the summary of the previous year. It reminds me what I hoped for, what came out and what expectations were a complete misunderstanding.
I finished my 2015 depressed and with a lack of energy. I was in a difficult moment in my life, I was closing some private chapters, which have dragged on for years and turned out to be quite lousy choices in my life.
Last year in December I wrote: 2016 will bring huge changes. I look forward to them but also with a little consternation, because a lot of things will turn upside down. But I am also full of hope because every end is the beginning of something new. These changes were necessary in order to achieve my own happiness. Fortunately, it hurt less than I expected.
I knew that 2016 will be more diligent, because of my dream trip planned for August, so I had to prepare for it. Although I had no idea how it will exactly look like, and that, however, it will start differently than I expected.
Last year’s summary was miserable because I closed my year as a very sad person. But I hoped that 2016 will be great. It will be important. I promised myself also, that the next summary will be long and full of kick-ass experiences. 😉
So what happened in 2016? Read!
January / February / March
At the beginning of the year I focused on my work – trips for women that I organize and travel writing. However, I had the impression that my actions do not bring any results, and I had no plan B back then. As a result, in February, in just 2-3 weeks I lost 10 kilos due to stress, because when I get stressed, I cannot sleep and eat (honestly I can tell that I haven’t seen myself in such a bad state before).
To improve my financial situation a bit and collect some extra money for my dream trip, I took up some extra job as night shifts in supermarkets. I hated it and I was wondering what am I doing with my life. I decided that I will focus more on my own company, so I will not have to have this kind of job never again. Let’s agree, I’m just created for a higher purpose. 😉
In January at last I closed one of the prolonging commitments that kept me in Poland – after 8 years of torment and changing my field of study from law (sense) to tourism (voice of my heart), I have finally defended my thesis and I’m a proud owner of a degree that literally means nothing if you don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer. I struggled, wasted money and energy too long for something that I will not need.
Finally came the moment when I had to break away from all this stress. Quite spontaneously one March day I bought tickets to Lyon. I was desperate to leave even for a few days (exactly two and half 😛 ) and because I was saving almost every penny for the upcoming big trip, I had to find the cheapest tickets. And it HAD TO BE Lyon. So… I took a bus. 😀 27 hours one way and 36 hours the return way. There were some adventures along the way, but at least I charged batteries and came back with the feeling that I can move mountains!
What was positive about the beginning of the year is that I started to be more active when it comes to travel presentation and promotion. In January my female trips were mentioned in AFAR, besides I was telling about my beloved Jordan in Programme 4 of Polish Radio, as well as in cafes in Warsaw and Wroclaw. I love talking to people (such perversion of a professional tour leader), so for me it was very uplifting!
This month was very travelous, although I did not move a step out from Poland. 😉 First I went to Torun to Extreme Travel Festival, where I was talking again about Jordan, and I liked the Festival so much that I stayed one day longer than planned.
Just two weeks later (in the meantime I had another presentation in Warsaw) I went on the 4th Meeting of Polish Travel Bloggers in Cieszyn, where I could again recharge the batteries through meeting the amazing and inspiring people who understand the need to travel. 😉 Since spontaneity appealed to me more than I thought, I hitchhiked to the Meeting and returned home a bit around because just two days later I had a presentation about Jordan in… Szczecin on the other side of Poland!
So I went by train to Poznan with Kinga (check her blog Floating My Boat) and stayed there 2 days. After that I hitched further north. SOLO. For the first time in my life I tried that, and I admit that it not only worked great (I waited usually no longer than 5 minutes for the car 😀 ). What is more, I fulfilled another dream (hitchhiking solo) and I visited another region (called Pomerania) of my beloved beautiful Poland. And above all, I crossed another milestone and overcame the fear. I liked it so much that I will surely repeat it in the future!
May / June / July
In May and June I was working as a tour leader of school trips and could save the money for the trip. Also I closed another private chapter and realized that now nothing holds me in Poland.
But it turned out that I have to change plans of my dream trip because my companions resigned. Although I doubted whether I should go or not, I reckoned it would be a good idea to break away from what has happened in my life. Besides I had been postponing this dream way too long (10 YEARS!!!!) and now I was too close to realize it to give up. So I decided to go solo.
At the end of June I went back to visit travel bloggers in Wroclaw before leaving Poland. Afterwards I spent the weekend in Polish mountains with Kinga from Floating My Boat, again. 😉
This mean in 2016 I was able to add to the Polish part of my Bucket List Challenge such new places like Szczecin, several monuments in Pomerania, some other visited while leading school trips as well as I hiked 3 peaks of the Crown of Polish Mountains. I think it’s a nice farewell to Poland before going away for longer. 😉
In early July I hitchhiked to Berlin to see there my sister (on the way stopped in Poznan with Kinga, again! 😀 ). In the middle of the month I was working for 2 weeks as an enterntainer at the camp for Polish youth from Belarus and Ukraine in the Beskidy Mountains. I had a really great time there and it was also the best farewell to Poland!
In the meantime, I prepared everything for our next female trip to Sri Lanka, which began a week after my return from the camp. Just before leaving, I visited my grandparents and on 6th August I boarded a plane to Sri Lanka.
August / September
Our next female trip lasted until 17th August, and later I was in Sri Lanka on my own working in a hostel in Colombo. In late August I went for a few days to Arugam Bay, and in the last 10 days of September was planning to visit other places that have not had a chance to see yet. Among them was UNESCO-listed Sinharaja rainforest.
But in the middle of the month I scratched something on my leg and had a nasty infection. My wound got open and I had to stay in the city. For almost two weeks I took antibiotics and got upset that I was stuck in Colombo. I was sick of Sri Lanka and impatiently counted the days when I finally go to the Philippines. However, when I write it now I miss a bit this island. 😉
I chose the Philippines because of TBEX – Travel Blog Exchange. It was the biggest international event for travel bloggers I’ve ever took part in. I had a great opportunity to listen to lectures, meet amazing people and attend a press trip to Cagayan de Oro on Mindanao in the south of the country. I liked TBEX so much that I’m already planning to join the next one!
In Manila I was working for a month in Z Hostel in Makati. I wrote posts on their blog, so I also had plenty of time to get to know the city a little better. I admit I really liked Manila, although it is very difficult and tiring, and really ugly. Maybe because it is not easy city to live (still I have no idea how to use jeepneys).
Besides, bad lack haunted me constantly. First, my purse was stolen. And that one day when I had to take all the bank cards and Polish SIM card with me. So for some time I could not withdraw any money and transfer them between my accounts and my parents had to send me them through Western Union. Just a week later I had a strange blisters on my skin and the doctor said it was a staphylococcus infection and prescribed more antibiotics. It was quite depressing period. I do not even count colds I kept catching from aircon…
In November, I had to recharge my batteries. I went (actually took a ferry) for 3 weeks to Palawan. I was snorkeling, discovering lagoons, eating seafood and in general almost doing nothing (because the Internet there almost doesn’t exist). Okay, I arranged an itinerary for another female trip. 😉 I spent a wonderful time, I took some time out and was very happy with it. I needed that for myself.
In Manila I left some of my stuff because I’m planning to go back there in the spring. I moved to Kuala Lumpur to work a bit. I admit that although it was hard to fall in love with this noisy city (I took a break from it in Georgetown in Penang), it was probably my destiny to come here. My friend Oliwia (she blogs in English at The Ollie) brought me new bank cards and SIM card as well as some Polish sweets. 😉
What’s more, I got new contracts for writing articles and travel guides, and a pretty good proposition of a permanent remote work. At the beginning I was a bit scared of losing my freedom but this work can be challenging, full of experiences and not boring and all. And besides, I make it from anywhere in the world. AND it is associated with travel! What more could you want? I guess if I don’t take it, I’d be the dumbest person in the world.
This is how I finished my 2016. It started horribly, but ended wonderfully. It was a year of changes, just as I predicted. I did not expect, however, that when you actually start to listen to the voice of your heart – just as I had promised myself – the universe will send me amazing opportunities and people. 2016 was a crucial year. I cannot wait for 2017!
Plans for 2017
It will be a year of success, I just know it. First I’ll explore Malaysia and in the meantime I will write my articles and guide. I’m going to improve also my blog in English, because I see great potential in it, and after TBEX I already know what I’m doing wrong. I will also work more on my female trips, because I just love this job.
I’m in Asia, so I’m going to travel here a bit. In 2016 I visited only two new countries – the Philippines and Malaysia. Next year I want to visit at least 12 new. For sure in February I’m going to Laos. Other plans? I do not want to plan. No plan is the best plan!
In 2016 I started to listen to the voice of the heart. In 2017 I will do more, I’ll take more risk. If I don’t act, I’m wasting my potential and I feel bad about it. I know this year may be full of chances and opportunities of action. It can be full of challenges, work, self-discovery and moving the horizon.
2017 will be a year of improvement. It will be my year. 🙂