2015 has been a very special year for me as a professional tourist. I made four trips including two round the world journeys. By the end of the year, I only spent 71 nights at home and 294 nights out of Hong Kong. I decide to name 2015 as a Record Year for good reasons. 4 Trips in 2015
- Bangkok January 7-10
- Island-hopping round-the-world January 18 – June 26 (Hong Kong – Tonga – New Zealand – Antarctic Odyssey on board MV Ortelius (30 nights February 11-March 13, 6,000nm) – Argentina – Atlantic Odyssey on board MV Ortelius (35 nights March 24 – April 28, 7,500nm) – Cabo Verde – Canary Islands – Italy – Switzerland – Italy – Hong Kong)
- Greenland, Denmark and Finland July 31 – September 14 (with 26 nights in West Greenland on board SV Rembrandt, 2,518nm)
- Round-the-world October 9, 2015 – January 10, 2016 (84 nights in 2015 Japan – USA – Mexico – USA – Turks and Caicos – Spain – Italy – UK – Norway (7 nights on board SV Nooderlich, 300-350nm) – Sweden – UK- Lebanon). I had two more stops in Qatar and Maldives before returning to Hong Kong.
A Record Year
I have been travelling a lot since retirement in late 2010. But in 2015, I travelled extensively by sea and visited many awesome and wonderful off-beat destinations that were not on my radar screen at the beginning of the year.
First, I joined five expeditions with Oceanwide-Expeditions (98 nights on three of its four vessels) and a 7-night Hawaii cruise spending a total of 106 nights at sea. In addition, I took an overnight ferry to Sardinia, Italy. I estimate that I travelled over 17,000 nautical miles by sea. The crossing of the Equator on board MV Ortelius on April 24 was a fun experience.
Second, it is a coincidence that I reached both 78º S and 78º N in 2015. I had a freezing boat ride (-20 to 30ºC) to the Bay of Whales at the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica (78º 33’S/164º 24’W) on February 24 and a totally unexpected sunny pleasant cruise (around 0ºC) among pack ice in Smith Sound (78º 05′N/ about 71ºW) between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and West Greenland on August 16.
Third, I revisited Antarctica and 15 countries (namely Thailand, New Zealand, Argentina, Spain (twice), Italy (thrice), Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Japan, USA, Mexico, UK (twice) and British Overseas Territory, Norway, Sweden, and Maldives). I do not mind going back to the same country as there are always plenty of interesting places and things to do.
- Mesmerising Antarctica– I never get tired of the Earth’s last unspoilt continent and have written my remarks and epilogue in Island-hopping RTW 2015 (8) and (27).
- Bewitching Northern Lights in Abisko, Sweden.
- Orca and Humpback Whales watching in Senja, Norway
- Leisure hiking in New Zealand, Argentina, Cabo Verde, Canary Islands, Greenland and national parks in USA.
- Discovering new places –72 nights in Scandinavia (32 in Greenland, 14 in Sweden, 13 in Norway, 7 in Denmark and 6 in Finland) enabling me to appreciate its natural beauty, landscape, history and culture. I love my first Arctic winter experience: a snow white world without sunrise and dark sky with dancing Northern lights are beautiful, colourful and most enchanting. – 25 nights in Italy visiting a dozen of cities, Italian Riveria and Sardinia that I had never been before. Genoa, Cinque Terre, Assisi, Ravenne, Trieste and Sardinia all exceed my expectations.
Fourth, of the four new countries (namely Tonga, Cabo Verde, Lebanon and Qatar)I visited, I like Lebanon most: my feelings and thoughts about this small troubled country can be found in the entry on Lebanon.
Finally, I love islands and 2015 is my island hopping year. I sailed and reached over 50 islandsincluding Tonga, North, South and Campbell Island in New Zealand, Ross Island, Peter I Island, Fish Island, Petermann Island andGoudier Islandin Antarctica, King George Island, Laurie Island, South Thule Island and Bouvet Island*in Sub-Antarctica, Gough Island*, Nightingale Island*, Middle Island andTristan da Cunha*, St Helena, Ascension Island, Cabo Verde (Santiago, Fogo, Brava, São Vicente, St Antão Island and Sal) and Canary Islands (Gran Canaria, Tenerife,La Gomera, Lanzarote and La Graciosa) in Atlantic Ocean, Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea, many islands in Greenland which is itself the world’s largest island, Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kauai in Pacific Ocean, Caicos in the Caribbean Sea, Senja and Lofoten Archipelago in Norway and Hulhulé, Male, Villingili and Maafushi Island in Maldives in Indian Ocean. (Note: * denotes islands upon which I had not set foot owing to various reasons)
I normally put a ‘Remarks‘ section at the end of a visit to a country or write an ‘Epilogue‘ following an extensive travel. I have written an epilogue after my first round-the-world trip but have not done so for the last two trips. My biggest discoveries in 2015 are Greenland, Scandinavia and Lebanon. I believe I have already written enough on them and my trips to these countries and there is no need for an epilogue.
This review serves to wrap my wonderful travel and memories of 2015. As always, it is the People, History, Culture, Landscape, Sense of Place and Experience that make travel interesting and fulfilling. I am alive learning new things and having new experiences that are essential for life-long learning and self-development.
Sarah Wu in Hong Kong, March 1, 2016