World

2015 may just have been the year of the gaffe..or was it?

Any rookie travel blogger looking to spread their tentacles and earn some quid doing what they love, knows how important it is to keep traveling. Travel keeps the country-count up, it ensures that experiences remain fresh, it keeps the literary juices flowing, the scenic pictures rolling and traffic to the site moving.

It gets pretty nightmarish when you book trips then find yourself following up with a lot of cancellations and ‘no-can-dos.’ Part-time travel blogging is alot like playing a game of chess, or piling up a stack of dominoes..trips have to be just right in the short periods they are taken…one wrong move and everything comes tumbling down. When things grind to a halt, you may be reduced to penning down thoughts of your never-ending staycations occasioned by neighboring cityscapades, travel advice and the “10 things to do when you are in…” kinda posts.

A view of the stunning sunset from my apartment.

A view of the stunning sunset from my apartment in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

I begun 2014 strong. I attended the TBEX conference in Athens, Greece; covered a little bit more of South East Asia when I visited Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand; and spent summer in the Balkans; specifically Croatia and Bosnia. Apart from a couple of missed flights, everything went better than I had anticipated; typical of any start-up where beginnings are full of excitement because you have just birthed ‘the baby.’

The supertrees and Marina Bay sands hotel, Singapore.

The supertrees and Marina Bay sands hotel, Singapore.

Posing beside huge roots at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Posing beside huge roots at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

A monk and a tiger, Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

With a monk and a tiger, Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

2015 was a whole new ball game. Though I had promised to continue strong, I struggled with getting off the ground. This baby begun to have teething problems.

My first trip was to the Baltics: Latvia. While I’m all for experiencing winter in all it’s glory; if that experience doesn’t include reindeer, huskies, northern lights, snow fights, skating rinks, short days and all that jazz; it means we’ve been short changed a wee bit and it’s not worth freezing our bums for. The mind-numbing cold we felt in Latvia and the ensuing flu I had, made us prisoners in our hotel room for a couple of days..and we lounged about, noshing on the continental breakfast buffet offered by Islande Hotel and overdid a common winter-time passion in the Baltics; saunas and spas. I went on a tour on my way out, but didn’t get to see as much of Riga as I wanted to. The train trip to the nearby town of Jurmala gave me a wild wild west feel made better by the solicitousness of the hotel staff at Baltic Beach hotel and the mud-spa. A return trip is something I should do, to properly see Riga and probably get to sample Latvian cuisine.

The Baltic Beach hotel, Jurmala, Latvia.

The Baltic Beach hotel. Jurmala, Latvia.

Riga Central Market

Riga Central Market

The next trip was to Kenya, for a working holiday in the summer. Right after landing, I tottered about, awash with waves of nausea, aches and pains as I battled with the change of altitude, but didn’t let that stop my weekender to Maasai Mara as it was part-complimentary and had taken months to prepare. The dusty windy roads we took in pursuit of wildlife, and the change in weather meant that I got back to Nairobi with a horrible flu and high fever.

A pride of lions relaxing on a rock, Maasai Mara, Narok, Kenya.

A lioness relaxing on a rock, Maasai Mara, Kenya.

I came close to canceling my Mogadishu trip which was to follow the next day, but decided to down paracetamols and rough it. It was a wise decision. Mogadishu‘s pleasantly hot weather, the coastal breeze, fresh food and drinks served by the uniformed waiters at Hotel Makkah al-Mukaramah made me feel much better. Mogadishu was a bucket-list experience and I came away triumphant, for having done a trip that I had dreamt about for a good part of my life.

Posing with Somali ladies at Jazeera beach, Somalia.

With Somali ladies at Jazeera beach in Mogadishu, Somalia.

The rest of the year found me booking trips; even managing to snag sponsorships but quickly following up with cancellations. Not one, not two but a flood of them including a trip to the down-under.

I canceled my one-week trip to Prague, Czech Republic when my daughter came down with waterpokken (chicken-pox). The Bohemian rhapsody would have to take a back-bencher.

I canceled my trip to Warsaw, Poland because a friend wasn’t available to care for my child during the time I would be away. The pub crawls and communism days tour would have to wait.

I canceled Milan, Italy for pretty much the same reasons, and missed the Milan EXPO, and a complementary walking tour by Bella Milano tours.

I had planned to move to Asia at the end of the year but canceled last minute because there were too many things to be sorted out; handing over the apartment, sorting out my insurances, payment for damages, change of address and shutting down everything that involves relocating from one country to another. It was more difficult than I expected and I felt I had to take more time and plan better. I had gotten rid of ‘my stuff’; loads of clothing, books, cutlery and furniture so my apartment looks a little bit empty but I realize I love it this way. It’s easier to clean.

I canceled Singapore and lost the paid-for hotel stays, the Marina Bay Sands tours and the chance to feature in a clip with Insider TV Singapore As I have been to Singapore twice before; this time I had reached out to locals and expatriates based there, asking them to hold my hand so that I can view Singapore differently…through their eyes. I was surprised at the warm-hearted responses, and will take up their offers later on this year.

Bali, Indonesia was to follow suit, and naturally it came down. The Komodo dragons, great food, culture and pristine beaches would have to wait.

Melbourne for Christmas, camping out in Canberra, and New Year’s Day in Sydney didn’t happen; big gaffe especially since I would be hosted, and wouldn’t have to pay a dime for the hotel stays, beach homes, camping trips, Christmas with an Australian family etc.

Hongkong went down the drain..Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam followed suit.

Let’s just say that if this travel blog was a corporation, the annual performance was dismal..there were more losses than profits..it was a struggle to keep things afloat and many times there was the temptation to sink ship and walk away.
But it’s hard to drop off a baby you’ve created and nurtured. So I will try hard this year to plan really well so that I don’t have to cancel any trips. I hope to do more of the Netherlands, I will visit nearby Germany and Luxembourg. I will be off to Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic early this year. I hope that later on in the year I can head to East Africa, and probably return to South East Asia. If I am able, I will try to venture out to the Americas. I have a feeling that this baby will grow..fast.

How was your year? Was it profitable or did you experience losses? Did you visit as many countries as you had planned to?

 

3 replies »

  1. Happy New Year Africanahgirl! ‘Sorry to hear about your mishaps in 2015 however you still did very well and that’s something to be proud of. After all, your most important goal is the happpiness and importance of your daughter. 🙂 For 2016, why not travel with her too as children are enormously flexible, tolerant, easy-travellers (as long as there’s WIFI, a good bed and plenty of food), and great ice-breakers lol!

    I’ve been travelling with my boy since he was 5 months old. I merely strapped him onto my front, packed everything into the car, and breast-fed and now, it’s no problem to take a 12-hour tiny East European train, in the middle of no-where or to climb a live volcano in Bali! With or without my husband in tow!
    Cheers! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you British Berliner! Happy New Year to you too. Yeah, that’s good advice..I will travel with her this year, so that I don’t have the need to ask someone to babysit. We already have some time planned out in February.
      Well done for your 2015 accomplishments!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s