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A Year in Review: 2019

If I had to sum up 2019 for me, I would say it was a lot of me feeling like well, what now?? At the start of the year, I had been freelancing for 2 years and living on a tropical island for 1; I was ready for something new but genuinely unsure what that new thing would be. So I feel like I kinda wishy washed around Asia, too afraid and too unsure to make a big move. The whole damn year.

So what happened for Mishvo in Motion this year?

January saw me leaving Thailand behind for two months in Sri Lanka with some digital nomad friends I had met. I didn’t particularly enjoy my time in Sri Lanka for a variety of reasons. I was glad to escape to the comfort and ease of Bali by March of 2019.

Girl in tea plantations in Sri Lanka
January 2019: In a tea plantation in Sri Lanka

Canggu (in Bali) was a dream after Sri Lanka. Western food and comforts galore. I traveled with Sarah a bit, saw my favorite waterfall I’ve ever seen to date, went to Amed…

Then I went back to Thailand in April and traveled around with my parents for a few weeks on what is becoming an annual family holiday tradition. My first Songkran in Chiang Mai was hilarious and fun.

Man getting splashed by water in Chiang Mai on Songkran
April: My dad having a blast in Chiang Mai during Songkran

Rainy season brought cooler temps but was tough: the city emptied out and the nonstop rain felt oppressive. I escaped to Bali again (a last-minute decision – I never expected to visit Bali twice in one year!) for my visa run in July and was relieved to find sea and sunshine in Nusa Lembongan and Canggu.

Bonfire on the beach in Bali
July: Bonfire on the beach in Bali

When I got back to Chiang Mai, rainy season was still in full force. I was on my new education visa by this point and thus required to attend Thai language classes. It was all fine really but I found the weather depressing and the city and coworking spaces where I had previously found a sense of community were dead.

I made plans to escape Chiang Mai again and head down south to Koh Tao for the month of September with DN friends. It was great to be back on the island for a bit. It was a completely different experience being on Tao with other people who work online too.

Sunset from private villa the place koh tao
September: Staying in a luxury private villa for a night in Koh Tao

I went back to Chiang Mai in October for a couple of weeks then headed out on a trip I had been dreaming about for ages: Japan! Christie and I explored, marveled, ate, and sang for the full two weeks. Japan was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. When I got back to Thailand I was pooped. The travel fatigue was real. But I was also so grateful to have had this bucket list experience in Japan.

Girls in colorful Halloween costumes
October: Halloween in Japan with Christie!

By this point, things had become “more serious” (for lack of a better term) with a guy I had been seeing for a few months. Luke and I made plans to continue to travel together, and in December I left Thailand for good and headed to Vietnam with Luke.

Couple at temple in Da Nang
December: Sightseeing in Da Nang, Vietnam on Christmas Day

I closed out the year in Hoi An, where we were invited to have a home-cooked Vietnamese meal with our hotel hosts on New Year’s Eve, followed by us enduring the music blasting at the NYE party next door for a few hours.

My favorite posts of 2019

What I’ve Learned About Sex & Romance from Travel – This post took me ages and ages to publish. I kept writing and rewriting it, trying to both say what I wanted to say about sex and also not “reveal too much”. At the end of the day, I realized I just needed to hit the publish button and get it out there into the world because it’s a topic I genuinely love learning and writing about.

Just me writing about the past 6 months: From Chiang Mai to Sri Lanka to Bali and back  – This felt like a nod to the way blogging used to be: just recounting my travels without worrying about SEO or providing value to others. I think because of this, this post resonated, at least with friends and family.

My Experience Using Spironolactone to Treat Cystic Back Acne – I’ve struggled with painful cystic acne on my body for the past decade; in this post, I share this lesser-known treatment option with others who may be desperately Google-searching for answers. For me, this post was special because it commemorated me re-learning to love my body after many emotionally and physically painful months.

My favorite books I read this year

I read 21 books in 2019 thanks to a new Kindle and being able to borrow books from my local library through it. Here were my favorites:

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

An amateur athlete trains for an ultra marathon alongside the mysterious Tarahumara tribe who run ultra-marathons on the reg while wearing rubber sandals. McDougall argues why humans are ‘born to run’ and how this form of locomotion fits into our evolutionary history.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The story of a few generations of a Korean family from the early 1900’s to the 1980’s as they are displaced during Japanese colonization, emigrate to Japan but are forever treated as outsiders, and eventually go to America. I loved how this book provided insight into a part of history I had never thought about before and helped me to see life from an immigrant’s perspective.

Contact by Carl Sagan

A female astrophysicist receives a message from space. I’m a longtime lover of the movie but had never read the book until now. Zipped through it in like 3 days, it was excellent and different from the movie by a decade (read it and you’ll know what I mean).

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

A reporter returns to her small hometown to investigate a murder. Not a literary treasure but more of an indulgent read. Completely thrilling and hard to put down.

Did I hit the goals I set last year?

Learn and practice different styles of writing, namely journalism, fiction, and poetry.

For a couple of months at the start of this year I toyed with the idea of moving into journalism completely. I had a few paid stories published that I am still really proud of (The Enchanting Underwater Sculptures Saving Our Reefs, How Your Sunscreen Is Harming the Environment — And Possibly You, Too, Do we really need organic tampons? Here’s what the science says) but realized I just didn’t want to go in that direction in the end.

I have a little collection of poems in a Word document I might do something with someday. Or maybe not but I’ll continue to grow it if I feel so inspired.

Maintain a portable fitness routine and eat foods that make me feel great. 

Shout out to my resistance bands! They have been a gamechanger. And I even have a yoga mat now I bring with me. Both have been massive upgrades and allowed me to exercise wherever, whenever. My lifestyle isn’t as active as it was while living on Koh Tao and I would like to regain some of that.

Food was really a mindset thing: I’ve stopped trying to save money by only eating local foods (which so often consist of rice/noodles, oil, sugar, and low-quality meat) and eat Western food whenever I want, even if it’s more expensive.

Sunday roast at Archers in Chiang Mai
Salivating just looking at this — English Sunday roast dinner is everything

Get a part-time job in the real (not virtual) world

I changed my mind about wanting this at some point, and it just doesn’t make sense with my lifestyle.

Sing more.

2019 was the year of LOTS of karaoke and group singalongs!

Girl singing karaoke in Chiang Mai
Karaoke in Chiang Mai

Travel to new countries. 

I set my sights on Japan for 2019 – even if I went nowhere else, I wanted to make it to Japan – and I did it!!! And it was so magical! I also traveled to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Vietnam for the first time this year.

Save a bunch more money.

Yeah…Simply didn’t happen.

Goals for next year

Start a business IRL serving the travel community – I mean if this were the *only* thing I do in 2020 that would be incredible.

Get a camera and learn photography – I am a broken record. I’ve been wanting to do this for like…a decade?

Make $1k/month from my blog – without selling out! I *will* find a way.

Go to Mexico – I feel ready to give Asia a break for a while and Mexico has been calling my name.


Read my year-end reviews from years past:

2016

2017

2018

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