2015 was a tougher year than usual. Throughout I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with the people that love me for who I am, not who they want me to be. To allow them to help, instead of my usual refrain of refusing any assistance. To stay still when my body tells me that I can’t continue as I had planned. And to work on patience with myself, as well as others.
I’ve long dealt with anxiety and insomnia and both of those horsemen reared themselves mightily in 2015, at times in crippling ways. As I’ve mentioned, I will write more about each of them in the future. When I look at the photos of 2015 I think of the juxtaposition of beautiful scenery with private pain. Emerging from this exacting year, I am grateful for the suffering because of how much it taught me, and how it made me even more compassionate to others. The kind of tumult I was in was purely an internal one, and it doesn’t detract from my gratitude that I am able to live a life involving new places, delightful sights and meals like the ones below. It was always possible to find wonder in the world despite things being tough, because the world is full of wonderful things. It’s as simple as that. These fleeting moments of awe, strung together with acts of kindness, kept me afloat.
The photos below are a testament to the bright spots in a difficult year. Who knows what 2016 will bring, but as 2015 winds to a close I have learned more, dug deeper, and happily shared those lessons when friends have leaned on me.
2015 in photos, from January on
I started the year on the streets of Saigon, eating steamed clams with chili and lemongrass alongside friends. My appetizer? One of my favourite Saigon dishes, banh hoi.
I only spent a month in Vietnam in 2014 and it wasn’t nearly enough. I miss the chaos, the mismatched pyjamas, and the food daily.
From Saigon, I flew to New Zealand. I spent some time in New Zealand the year prior when I attended a wedding of one of my best friends. This time, I wanted to maximize my time in the country and see more than just the North Island.
I was welcomed in by Kiwi families around the country and able to sample their delicious fresh seafood, learn about cricket, take a sailing course, and loop around the coast on a stunning train ride from Picton to Wellington.
It may be far away from my family, but damn is New Zealand beautiful.
I was invited to speak at the World Food Travel Summit outside of Lisbon in April, and it was an exciting opportunity as I had never before visited Portugal. It was love at first sight. From the many winding alleys to the obsession with food, to Madeira’s dizzying heights and cloud-soaked viewpoints, Portugal amazed me. I can’t wait to return for more.
USA and Canada
During the summer months, I came back to North America as is the norm for me. A family wedding, a few weeks in New York, and then time in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
And back to Asia: Thailand in the fall
And, at year end, Florida
What’s in store for 2016?
For now I’m spending holidays with part of my family in Florida. It turns out many of the people I ate with in Asia also have family here so I’ve been happy to reunite on North American soil. I’ll be here until mid-January and then I will be heading to Oaxaca, Mexico for a few months. It will be my first time exploring Mexico for more than a few days, and I am very much looking forward to the food.
More on 2016 as I plan, but expect many tacos and tamales in my Instagram photos.
Happy New Year and here’s to a balanced, healthy, and wonderful 2016 for each of you.