This year certainly was the year of island travels with the start of the year in Bora Bora and now the end in the Philippines. From small islands like Apo Island to large ones like Madagascar, each one was amazing and distinct in their own way. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired visiting islands and seeing how they culturally and ecologically evolved independently from mainland territories.
Also this year I took up scuba diving and even got my Advanced Open Water Certification. Having finally tried it out, I can’t figure out what took me so long. Only now have a realized I have been missing out on a large part of things to see at all these destinations I’ve been to.
I was planning on 2020 being about travels to Central Asia, but this whole scuba thing has me reconsidering exploring the South Pacific and the Red Sea instead.
2019 Travel Stats
Countries Visited: 20
Number of Flights: 48
Miles Flown: 70,223
Number of Hotels: 37
Nights Stayed: 81
16) Wreck Diving – Coron, Philippines
Even though most of my trip to Coron, Philippines got interrupted by a typhoon, I was still able to do a couple WW2 wreck dives along with a dive in Barracuda Lake. Seeing a 75 year old sunken ship covered in coral was spectacular and unbelievable.
15) Going on Safari – Sri Lanka
While not as impressive as the Masai Mara, Sri Lanka has several Safari destinations in various National Parks. It was interesting the see herds of Asian Elephants in their natural habitat.
14) Swimming with Manta Rays – Maldives
Luckily during an excursion in the Maldives, I was approached by a massive Manta Ray. Seeing this massive creature elegantly glide in the sea was breathtaking.
13) Hiking in Davos – Switzerland
Every year I drive down to either the Swiss or Austrian alps to get some fresh air and take in the epic mountain sights. This year I checked out Davos and Pickles was happy since we were able to bring her along on this trip.
12) Monastery Hopping – Armenia
Armenia has a long and interesting history with many Monasteries and beautiful scenery to experience.
11) Train Ride from Kandy to Ella – Sri Lanka
The famous train ride from Kandy to Ella certainly lived up to the hype of being one of the most scenic train rides in the world. It was fun riding in the antique looking train while hanging out of the doorway.
10) Autumn in Vilnius – Lithuania
With my trip to Lithuania, I finally have now visited all three Baltic countries. Good food, people, and plenty of trees.
9) Touring North Macedonia and Kosovo
While not exactly on the top of European travel destinations, Macedonia and Kosovo were still great places to travel to. The people were friendly, scenery dramatic, and food delicious. Three more countries to go and then I’ll have all the countries in the Balkans visited.
8) Day Trip to Bratislava – Slovakia
During a 15 hour layover in Vienna, I took a quick 30 minute bus ride right from the airport to Bratislava. My mind was blown how beautiful and clean the city was along with the added benefit of being way cheaper to tour than Vienna.
7) First Time Scuba Diving – Mauritius
During my trip in Mauritius I did the “Discovery Scuba Diving Certification”. It’s pretty much a quick tutorial with about a 30 minute dive in shallow water. Compared to Palau, it was lame, but it was enough to get me hooked on the Scuba Diving hobby.
6) Climbing Lion Rock – Sri Lanka
Climbing the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka was fun and had wonderful views.
5) Scuba Diving in Apo Island – Philippines
Apo Island is well known for its pristine coral and sea turtles. So, when I went scuba diving here, it did not disappoint. I saw several large turtles and coral I didn’t even known existed.
4) Wine Tour of Kakheti – Georgia
Aside from the soaring Caucasus mountains and amazing capital city of Tbilisi, Georgia also has a wonderful wine growing region. The wine in Georgia is grown in a very unique way in buried clay pots which creates a distinct flavor.
3) Swimming in Jelly Fish Lake – Palau
When I saw a documentary about Jelly Fish lake and it’s millions of stingless jellyfish, I just had to check it out. Swimming amongst thousands of delicate elegant jelly fish was surreal and wonderful.
2) Meeting Lemurs – Madagascar
I absolutely loved coming up close and personal with over a dozen different species of Lemurs in Madagascar. Such wonderful animals that sadly are endangered.
1) Scuba Diving at Blue Hole – Palau
For my favorite experience on 2019, diving the “Blue Hole” in Palau was the most mind blowing. Essentially, you dive about 25 meters down a wall and swim into an entrance into a huge cavernous cylinder with 100 foot walls. It reminded me of the first time I entered a huge European cathedral, except this one under the sea!
7) Sri Lanka
5) Sardinia, Italy
3) Conrad Maldives
2) Any Random Beach in Palau
8) Air Seychelles Business Class
7) Sea Plane Ride in the Maldives
6) Sri Lankan Airlines Business Class
5) Turkish Airlines Business Class
4) Air China Business Class
3) Lufthansa Business Class
2) Etihad Airways Business Class
1) Qatar Airways Business Class
8) Hilton Mauritius
8) Acquadive – Philippines
7) Intercontinental Davos – Switzerland
6) Palmarium Hotel – Madagascar
5) Westin Turtle Bay Resort – Mauritius
4) Palau Carolines Resort – Palau
3) Flameback EcoLodge – Sri Lanka
2) Conrad Maldives
1) Hilton Seychelles Northolme
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