Highlights of My 2017 Travels

Can you believe it’s almost 2018? Wow, 2017 went by super fast! Looking back, I realized that I hit a new continent this year! South America marks my 5th continent (Just missing Australia and Antarctica now). Contrary to what you may think, I don’t travel full time. It’s rather challenging to balance a full time job with occasional traveling but I think I utilized my limited vacation time quite well this year. Now a recap of my travel highlights this year: I hit 3 continents this year outside of the US and added a few new countries to my list!

South America – 1st Time Ever

South America has always been a dream for me to visit and I can’t believe I’ve only started visiting this amazing continent this year. I took 2 separate trips to South America this year and both were amazing and full of natural wonders and amazing food.

Peru

Machu Picchu had always been on my bucket list and finally I made a decision to do the Inca Trail this year. After 8 months of planning (mostly because we had to book the hiking permit 7 months in advance) we finally set foot in Peru, the first country in South America for me. I wrote extensively about my Peru trip, but some of the highlights included the 4 Day 3 Night Inca Trail, day trekking to Rainbow Mountain, visiting some cool Inca archaeological sites and trying the No.33 restaurant in the world. It was also great to meet up with some good friends from business school in Lima. Since everyone scattered around the globe after graduation, it’s always nice to meet up with people you can rarely see in a foreign destination.

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Inca trail day 1

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On top of Dead Woman’s Pass at 4251m. Surprised I didn’t die from lack of oxygen

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Amazing Landscape Day 3 on the Inca Trail

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Bucket list item checked off

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Gaston y Astrid in Lima

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Moray

Hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Highest hike (altitude) of my life at 5200m

Peru Rainbow Mountain

Amazing landscape on the Rainbow Mountain hike

Bolivia

Bolivia was the second country in South America we visited. I thought nothing could beat Machu Picchu but I was wrong. La Paz was an interesting and vibrant city and the Uyuni Salt Flat was out of this world. We only had a short layover in La Paz but it def gave us a preview of what Bolivia is like. Did you know that La Paz is also the highest capital in the world? We definitely had to slow down to catch our breaths while touring La Paz.

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La Paz Cable Car

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Vibrant city

We took a 3 day tour of the Salt Flat in Uyuni. Even though it was not rainy season and we couldn’t see the reflection of the sky, it was still breathtaking and the landscape never ceased to amaze me. We not only visited the salt flat, but also various islands (on land), caves, desert, geyers, and hot spring under the star. All of these places were at really high altitudes.

Uyuni Salt Flat Salar Sunset

Sunset on the salt flat

Bolivia cave Salt Flat

Random cave on the Salt Flat

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Red Lagoon and our tour group

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Hot spring at sunset

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Incredible landscape

Uyuni Salt Flat Night Milky Way

Milky way at night

Patagonia (Chile & Argentina)

I don’t even know where to start with this place. The landscape was unreal, the food we had was amazing, and something very special happened in Patagonia that just made this trip perhaps the most memorable trip in my life. The hikes themselves were amazing and ranged from easy to challenging, but the biggest challenge we had there was the crazy hurricane speed wind in Chile. That was an adventure in itself! I could barely walk 10 feet before getting knocked down to the ground by the wind.

We did a couple of hikes in Chile and a few more in Argentina. I had the opportunity to hike on glacier with crampons! It was not nearly as cold as I had imagined. To finish the trip in style, we had some amazing steak in Buenos Aires. I made a mental note that I’ll have to go back to Argentina and Chile to explore more amazing landscapes and food.

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Cerro Torre Hike

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Glacier Trekking

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Las Torres – The Most Amazing Place in Patagonia

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Lago Grey

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Perito Moreno

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Asia – China

China is my home country and I seriously don’t visit it enough. This year I finally got around to visit different parts of China near Shanghai (Xitang, Yellow Mountain, Hong Cun). Although it was insanely hot and humid in the summer, I still got to see my cousin and all my business school friends yay. Hopefully I can get to explore more parts of China soon. If you are interested in visiting China but don’t know where to start, here is a helpful post to get you started!

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Admiring the Shanghai Skyline

China Xitang Sunset

Sunset in Xitang (Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Filmed)

China Hong Cun Village

Morning in Hong Cun (Where Flying Tiger and Hidden Dragon Was Filmed)

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Hiking in China is unlike anywhere else in the world, at least in the most well known mountains. All the trails have already been constructed for you and regularly maintained by workers. So it’s really a walk in the park (with stairs). Although some people may disagree, but I find it interesting how everything is set up for you and you are not really hiking in nature on a dirt path. I find it more like a tourist attraction than actually being alone in nature.

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“Hiking” in Yellow Mountain

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Yellow Mountain Cable Car

Europe

I pretty much go to Europe every year for one reason or another. This year I went to attend my good friend Brenda’s wedding in the UK at a castle! Since I was flying over anyway, I went to Paris and London on my way there and got to explore different areas of Paris and London. I’ll get to go back to Paris and London again in a few weeks! So excited 🙂

Paris

This was my 4th trip to Paris. But all my trips to Paris are insanely short so I had to utilize my time efficiently to see different parts of Paris. I told myself that every time I go to Paris, I need to visit a different area or 2. Excited to see new places in Paris in a few weeks.

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Merci, the cutest shop + cafe ever

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Eiffel Tower at Night

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My fav thing to do in Paris is to visit the Louvre at night and listen to this guy play music

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Top floor of the Orsay Museum

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Exploring Montmartre

London & Beyond

London has a special meaning to me since it was home for me for almost 2 years, always happy to go back to see both old and new places.

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Big Ben Sightseeing

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So happy for this babe

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Beautiful Notting Hill

United States

I’ve been accused a lot by my friends to not have explored US enough. Every time I get time off, I tend to fly out of the country. But I did manage to visit some family and friends in the US this year as well as a few other places!

California

Despite our flights being cancelled and having a cold which turned into sinus infection, I still was glad that we made it to California to see family and friends. Can’t wait to go back to California a few times in 2018 for Chinese New Year as well as a few weddings.

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Silverlake

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SF ❤

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Coit Tower

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Full house houses

New York

Living in New York made me realize that there are A LOT more to New York than just New York City. This past winter I made a point to get out of Manhattan to explore more surrounding area. I also got into hiking, which is huge for me since I was never really an outdoor person. If you are ever interested in visiting the East Coast, definitely check out cool places like Cold Spring!

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Winter hikes near Cold Spring

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The Cloister

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Gertrude’s Nose

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I continued to try to explore more places to shoot and ways to edit my photos. Hopefully my photography skill will improve as the years go by.

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Maine – Acadia National Park

Hiking on the east coast is significantly different from hiking on the west coast. However, Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful and perhaps the most visited National Parks in the entire United States. This was not my first time visiting, but I am so glad I went back for the second time and got to see more things (and eat more lobster rolls and blueberry pancakes).

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Washington DC

Last but not least of my trips this year was DC for a good friend’s wedding (yeah I go to weddings a lot). It was my first time in DC since 2018 so needless to say, I was super excited despite being sick (Yeah I get sick a lot too).

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In terms of traveling, 2017 was great because I got to explore one new continent and 4 more countries. In terms of personal life, I can’t say there was any better year. I physically challenged myself a lot this year by doing almost all hiking trips, some at high altitudes and others against strong wind. I started working out a lot to maintain good physical health and also tried to focus on my mental health. I am so excited to see what 2018 will bring in terms of traveling and major milestones in life. I already know that I will be traveling to Paris, London, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and some new destinations and perhaps continent!

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