It’s that time of the year when my shorts don’t fit quite as well as before and when the word ‘detox’ morphs from a noun to a verb.
Christmas Eve is done. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are dusted.
And I’m sprawled on the couch rubbing my belly, watching the cricket test match between Australia and the West Indies, swollen as the vacuum cleaner’s bag after cleaning up all of the mess.
The game is going a bit slow, and the room is warm, so my eyes are feeling heavy. I yawn and lay back. The room melts. And the hot months of 2015 flow back back as a food coma dream…
Oh the places you’ll go…
Our year started with a bang in Tasmania’s capital of Hobart where we watched the New Years Eve fireworks light up the docks around Salamanca Place with Carmen’s parents – glasses of sparkling wine in one hand and freshly shucked oysters in the other.
For two glorious weeks we toured around one of Australia’s most beautiful destinations with delicious food, stunning scenery and top tier wines thick on the ground.
We then flew back to our home city of Perth and packed our bags, bound for the sleepy town of Ubud in Bali. For two and a bit months we lived in a two-storey villa overlooking rice paddies and used it as a base to explore the island of the gods with trips to Java, the Gili islands, Nusa Lembongan and Lombok.
Next on the itinerary was a long weekend in Hong Kong, to visit our good mate who works for a hedge fund there. He was the perfect guide – squiring us around this vibrant city from the top class restaurants in the Mid Levels to the botanic beauty of the Peak and then on down to some squalid betting at the Sha Tin racetrack.
Hong Kong dented our wallets quite a bit though, so we high tailed it over to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City if you insist) in Vietnam where we rented a great little apartment for two months and settled in to a great routine of wake, gym, Vietnamese coffee, work, work, work and go to our local Pho soup joint for the cheapest yet most delicious lunch on the planet.
After Saigon it was a beautiful three week stay in Hoi An at Charming Homestay where Nhi and her mother showed us the best of everything and the best of friendship. Our final week in Vietnam was spent in the hustle of Hanoi where the buildings buffet together like books in a library and the streets are alive and kicking at all hours.
Thailand was next on the list with a quick stay in Bangkok to attend the very first TBEX Asia conference and then take a press trip up to the north of the country to see traditional crafts. We stayed north afterward, living and working in Chiang Mai for a few weeks and exploring the beautiful high country there.
Our final stop for the year was Singapore, where we spent five quick but glorious days exploring this jewel of a city, eating the food, walking the walks and taking some time for ourselves before we flew to Perth for a summer of birthdays, holidays and relaxing.
Work… Yes, we do that too!
I know it may seem as though our lives are all beer and skittles, but this year was actually one of the busiest we’ve ever had. On top of all the blogging we’ve been doing, our copywriting business Red Platypus has been keeping us on our toes and handcuffed to our desks (we bought some to use while we were in Saigon!).
We lost one of our largest clients mid-way through the year after they decided to bring their work in house rather than use freelancers like us. So for the final half of the year it was hustle, hustle, hustle and we managed to get more work to make up for the shortfall.
We also overhauled the way we blog on Double-Barrelled Travel, deciding to go with more in-depth travel writing mixed with more creative travel sketches and photo essays. So it’s been quite busy, and 2016 promises to be even busier….
Bylines and books
Carmen and I had a number of big successes this year for publishing.
We had our very first newspaper travel article published by The Australian – a story all about the start up scene in Saigon. Carmen had another feature on Lombok in Indonesia published by the magazine Oi Vietnam while I had a feature on Hong Kong’s secret restaurants put up by Business Insider Australia.
On a personal note, Carmen published her vey first e-book Make Your Travels Appy: 50 Travel Apps To Save You Time and Money, which is available at Amazon by the way…
After spending five years writing my first novel, I managed to write another book this year as well as several short stories and radio play – never say travel is unproductive! I’m now researching for a new novel and plan to use 2016 to write the first draft, so onwards and upwards eh. I may even self-publish some this year…
Standing on the other side of the camera
The final couple of months of 2015 have seen Carmen and I become minor celebrities in Australia with a flurry of articles and even a TV programme being produced about our work and lives.
It’s funny to have a mirror held up to your life, especially when we are usually the ones holding the mirror and having a sticky beak into the lives of others! It was nice to get some recognition and hopefully it’s inspired a few people to hit the road and chase their dreams too.
The forecast for 2016
I think it’s going to be hard to top 2015, but we’ll give it a red-hot go. Looking back, I reckon the past year was the first where we really did exactly what we wanted to do. Our first few years of travel were an experiment, but 2015 was proof of concept. We worked and travelled, had fun and earned money, created and shared.
2016 will see more of the same – but taken to the next level. So far, our travel plans are two months in Thailand, two months in Bali, two months in California and three months in Europe. Then, who knows?
A good friend of ours remarked to me the other day that life is a wave and you’ve just got to relax and surf it. If you try to force the wave it will throw you off. If you get slack on your board you’ll go the wrong way. So live in the moment and ride the wave.
I’ve enjoyed the ride this year. I can truly say that those were some of the happiest days of my life and I feel nothing but humble gratitude for all of it – even the week where my arm nearly fell off because of an infected spider bite!
Finally, a big thank you, dear reader, for your continued support of our little life experiment. We hope that 2016 brings you an abundance of good fortune, good health and good living. Cheers!