2016!! My Year In Review!

I started doing annual recaps when I started blogging last year (see: Looking back at 2015).  I particularly loved it for one reason: it makes me happy to reminisce and see where the year has taken me, literally. With many places and cities visited, the end of December is a great opportunity to reflect upon my blogging journey, travels during the last 12 months and accomplishments along the way.  It was an exciting time, and even more rewarding to see my blog stats and traffic reflect it, with monthly hits and unique users going through the roof.

2016 has been one of my busiest years – one that been filled with beautiful memories and all kinds of experiences. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Bike Ride to Hampi – 320 kms. 2 bullets. 1 sore backside. The year started out with an impromptu interstate bike ride to Hampi, a heritage city and hippie land. A couple of college friends and me, the official map holder, rode through the Western Ghats and rural India, encountering so many smiling faces along the way. Our three days were spent walking through the lost city, admiring ruins. At night, we headed back to our guesthouse, Whispering Rocks for much needed R&R. I’m glad I went on that trip, for it was the start of many random travel plans to follow.

Eating in Udvada – A Trip to Parsi town, Udvada was yet another epic, spontaneous road trip! This tiny holy city is home to a sacred fire brought all the way from Iran over a thousand years ago. If you’ve ever eaten Parsi food, you’ll know why its worth travelling miles to get some! Seriously though, this squeaky clean town could definitely give Singapore a run for its money.

Four Hours in Delhi – I don’t know what I’m happiest about – the fact that I got tick Delhi of my bucket list or the opportunity to experience my first sponsored flight review! I got to ride through the capital and finally saw the India Gate, Chandni Chowk and have some delish street food. The trip was over in the blink of an eye, but that was enough to get a taste of Delhi and make me want to plan a much longer trip.

FOUR Newspaper features! – Whaaat!! I still don’t know how it happened. All I can say is that looking at these printed newspaper cuttings that have probably been seen by millions of people bring me so much more joy than my report card did. Ah! One day of fame!

Met one of my food idols, Gary Mehigan – You probably know him as MasterChef Australia’s Mr. Nice Guy. Personally, I have an unhealthy obsession with MasterChef, remaining glued to the TV watching the judges and contestants in episode after episode. So when I finally got the chance to meet the man himself, I was over the moon! Gary is just like what you see on MasterChef. Charming, funny, honest and quite a clown. Too bad the pictures we took came out so bad because the lighting was not ideal at all. (God, my hair!!)

First Resort Review – Until the mid of 2016, I reviewed resorts I stayed at on vacations. But in August, I visited Ratapani Range Retreat for my first press trip! Located in the buffer zone of a wildlife sanctuary in Bhopal, it was not only my first time in the state of Madhya Pradesh, but my first time in a home-stay as well. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting a monk, Guruji, who showed us around his favourite, lesser known spots that were absolutely beautiful!

…. and more Hotel Reviews – I love staying at hotels – everyone does! And I’m not even talking high end ones. They’re such an escape from reality! I stayed at quite a few this year, and blogged about the best of the lot! Della Adventure (Lonavala), UTropicana (Alibagh) and Phoebe’s Farm were a couple of resorts I told you about.

Ambassador for IDFC – I’m rubbish at anything maths or finance related, and would never have seen this coming in a million years. IDFC picked a few youth who were pursuing a passion and turning a hobby into a revenue stream. In a bid to encourage youth to invest money at a young age, I was among a few IDFC Ambassadors chosen to speak to youth. Public speaking, check!

Visited Aurangabad – I’d have never dreamed of going to Aurangabad if it wasn’t yet another random plan! But yes, I visited in December and still haven’t gotten around to blogging about it, with all the Christmas celebrations and everything. Stay tuned for that!

… and Ahmedabad – Another whirlwind weekend getaway (so many this year!) I explored the old city, ate at the famous Manek chowk and told you all about my food finds in the main city. Ahmedabad isn’t one of those exotic Indian destinations, but it was a welcome change of scenery at a time when things were getting a bit too monotonous.

Winning an Fbai Award for Culinary Travel – The cherry on the cake was That Goan Girl winning a legit professional award from a national organization, the Food Bloggers Association of India. To be selected among thousands of blogs was surreal and though I wasn’t present for the ceremony, I was flabbergasted when the congratulatory tweets poured in from the event as it happened live. This was a big deal for me.

After such an epic year, I have no clue how I’m going to top it in 2017! (But, admittedly, I do have plenty of ideas…) I hope to visit Rann of Kutch, Pondicherry, explore a lot of North India and visit a couple of countries I’ve been dying to go too. Big plans, I know – but you know what they say about the universe conspiring when you want something badly enough…

Thank you for following along on this strange, beautiful journey! Can’t wait to take you along on the ride next year!

What has the year been like for you and what do you hope to accomplish next year? I’d love to know all about it!

Go kick some ASS in 2017!

Happy New Year!! <3

Blast from the future – Read all about my year recap of 2018!

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