What an unusual year it has been, one that I look back on with confusion. According to the internet and many popular social media accounts, 2016 has been dubbed as the worst year ever. The Friend Dog Studio team even made a horror film trailer based on all the terrible events that occurred throughout the year. While this might be a bit dramatic, it was definitely a year of many ups and downs, where the highs were phenomenal and memorable and the lows were rather defeating, and I think many would agree that there is a lot of pressure for 2017 to be a better year overall. We will see how this pans out!
Personally, the highlight of 2016 was the amount of traveling I was able to do. I traveled to six new countries across two new continents along with visiting a few of my favorite cities in the US. I feel so fortunate that several places I visited throughout the year I was able to cross of my bucket list!! I warn you, this is a long post but it’s mostly photos from all my adventures.
Thailand & Taiwan
The year began with a jam-packed two-week work trip to Thailand & Taiwan, where my team and I visited our overseas partners and toured vendor facilities in search of new fabric innovations. Thailand was extremely hot and the city of Bangkok was enormous and impressive, yet very dirty, loud and crowded, but the scenery outside the city was spectacular and luscious. The food was delicious (as long as you don’t order fried fish eyes), the locals drive erratically (I thought I was going to die multiple times), I hugged a beautiful elephant named Nond Yao and got lost in one of the world’s largest outdoor markets, the Chatuchuk Market. Taipei was equally as busy, but much colder, cleaner and more posh. Unfortunately it rained for the majority of the week, but we did wander to Yingge Old Street to buy some traditional Taiwanese pottery (one of the managers bought a ceramic sink!), and the hotel bar, where we spent most of our evenings & celebrated my one-year anniversary with the team, had an awesome view of Taipei 101.
New York City
In early March, I took a much-anticipated trip to the Big Apple, where I stayed with friends in Hell’s Kitchen for the first part of the trip and family in Times Square for the second. I feel incredibly inspired and energetic in New York City, and loved exploring with locals so I felt less like a tourist. Although every moment of this trip was memorable, highlights included day-drinking at a rooftop bar with a front-row view of the Empire State Building, wandering around the Chelsea Market, biking through Central Park & the Upper West Side, taking the subway all the way to Coney Island & back, stopping to explore parts of Brooklyn, taking a day-trip to Philly, seeing the Broadway musical “School of Rock,” following rich, pompous business men around Wall Street, touring Ground Zero & the World Trade Center (which was heartbreaking and extremely emotional), shopping on 5th Avenue and spending an evening in Little Italy.
Olympic National Park
My Memorial Day weekend was spent camping up in beautiful Olympic National Park in Washington, where we hiked along the beautiful coastline and visited the most northwest corner of the United States. Olympic National Park spreads across various ecosystems, from high alpine terrain to temperate rain forests to the rocky coastline, and has some of the most spectacular scenery in the Pacific Northwest. Although it was quite rainy most of the weekend, we did catch quite an impressive sunset at dusk over the ocean! If you’re ever looking for a place to go camping for a weekend, I highly recommend heading to the Olympics.
L.A. & Joshua Tree National Park
In early summer, I took an impromptu girl’s trip down to Los Angeles for the weekend. We spent an entire day exploring Joshua Tree National Park, where we danced around on the enormous rocks, spotted lizards and climbed trees. During our busy weekend, we also hiked up to the Hollywood sign at sunset (where we almost got locked in the park because we were hiking after dark), relaxed for a day at Venice Beach, watching meat heads lift weights at the outdoor gym, wandered around Beverly Hills pretending to be famous and explored the Getty museum. Besides the smog & the traffic, I absolutely love Los Angeles. It’s vibrant, busy, diverse and I always come home with the best stories.
Singapore & Thailand (again)
Early July, I took another work trip to Asia, this time spending two days in Singapore & three in Thailand. Singapore is a stunning city, incredibly clean but very, very humid, as it’s only a few degrees north of the Equator. We had very little time to do much exploring during this trip, but spent one evening on the tallest building in Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands, enjoying some of the most expensive cocktails ever (everything in Singapore was ridiculously expensive, especially compared to Thailand where everything is really affordable). During our few days in Thailand, we made time to explore one of Thailand’s most famous night markets, Asiatique. Although getting there was quite a challenge (you have to take a boat to get to the market and it’s a very difficult boat to find), it was well worth the trek as the market has some incredible food, clothing and souvenir vendors crammed into it’s maze-like aisles. We also got stuck in a crazy monsoon and got drinks on top of Sky Bar, which was where several scenes from the Hangover 2 was filmed!
California Road Trip
In late July, I went on a very adventurous seven-day road trip down to Southern California. The main purpose of the trip was to attend the music festival Hard Summer, but the other five days were spent exploring all over California. We drove all the way to The Bay the first day, stopped in Malibu mid-afternoon the following day before reaching Hermosa Beach where we stayed in a funky house right on the beach boardwalk. The weekend was spent at Hard Summer in Fontana, CA, which was deathly hot but also one of the most exhilarating, stress-free weekends I’ve ever experienced (see my Sweet Summer Sixteen post for more details about the festival). The next day I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams by going to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, where I obviously bought a wand, was sorted into Slytherin House (duh) and enjoyed some butter beer. I’m not exaggerating when I say I cried a little bit standing before the Hogwarts castle. The last two days, making our way back up to Oregon, we stopped in Napa for some wine tasting, drove through Wildlife Safari, a 600-acre zoo, and skinny-dipped somewhere in the Umpqua National Forest. In total, we put over 2,500 miles on my car… pretty impressive for seven days.
Europe – Ireland, Paris & London
The most rewarding trip of the year was my two-week trip to Europe in late fall. Written in much detail in previous blog posts (Ireland, Paris, London), it warmed my heart to be able to visit a few of my best friends in both Ireland and in Paris, while also taking a very fruitful solo weekend trip to London! See my other posts for tons of great pics, but here are a few of my favorites:
If you’re reading this far, you’re awesome. I’d love to hear your thoughts on 2016, highlights or struggles, whatever it might be. I welcome 2017 eagerly, hoping for more travel opportunities and memorable experiences that will enrich my mind and introduce me to like-minded individuals. Here’s to the new year!!!!!!!