31.12.2016, as midnight struck, I sent a lantern towards the Kyrgyz sky. We started the year by tracking it all the way up. And then we took a bath in a frozen river, visited the Avatar land, Piotrek became a Chinese TV star, we did not get eaten by Komodo dragons, we had silk worms for dinner, I learned how to open coconuts with a machete and Piotrek – how to plant pineapples and banana trees. We crossed over 23 000 km, most of which hitchhiking. We’ve eaten with a knife and fork, chopsticks, spoon and fork, hands, bread. We’ve survived together almost every day and night in the past year and we still want to keep surviving!
We’ll be celebrating the end of this year in Timor-Leste, on the very edge of Asia.
What else happened?
So which were the most incredible and ground-breaking places, situations and meetings? What did I manage to achieve this year? Take a look at the Best of 2017.
1. Breaking the fear.
Last week I revealed to you that I’m terrified of bridges. But you know what? This year I have proved to myself that I can tame my phobias. From the girl who jumped from one unstable rock to another only to avoid a few meter long bridge over the smallest of Katowice rivers; who got stressed enough to cry each time she was crossing the most stable overpass in southern Poland; who “practiced” every difficult bridge for as long as I could walk on it without squeaking and breaking someone’s hand bones, I have evolved into her:
Nature reserve in the Tibetan part of the Yunnan province. The highest point that we have reached so far. It was where I almost breathed my last while climbing the 4 700 m high pass and it was where I shivered the whole night in our tent at -10°C.
3. This was also where I realized I preferred mountains to the sea.
4. Tibet, generally. The people of Tibet, the language, the views, the non-Chinese. Seeing what propaganda, deprivation of freedom and suppression of culture and religion look like.
5. Nature amazes me. I’m rarely awestruck by something man-made. And I’m definitely very rarely overjoyed when wandering in a 40°C heat together with a pack of Chinese tourists. Piotrek is even more picky in that matter. Not only did Angkor Wat meet our highest expectations, but also set the bar for all future tourist attractions at the level of Himalayan passes.
6. Becoming open water divers.
Travelling has just become better, richer, fuller. Whatever’s above the water surface is now predictable and repetitive. Having learned how to breather under water I realized that I preferred the sea to the mountains.
7. Attention. Full exposure coming. You are about to see the side of me that almost nobody has seen before. This is the picture that defined a significant part of this year.
8. It’s not cool to get fractured away from home. My collarbone did thwart our plans: we could have reached East Timor at the beginning of November when the sailing season was in its prime and the odds of hitching a yacht to Australia were not bad either. But you know what? I was lucky. My accident a) was not too severe, b) took place in a very linger-friendly town while we were staying with fantastic people. Monika and Banana made our (over)stay in Melaka charming, got me hooked on Game of Thrones when I needed it most and provided with a massive dose of inspiration and motivation.
9. I’m still extatic. Becoming a finalist in the National Geographic competition for an article and photos and giving a speech at the World Travel Show – the biggest travel fair in Poland! Gathering a full audience! Sharing the stage with travel blogging veterans: Pojechana and Szpilki w Plecaku. On top of everything, listening to the crème de la crème of the Polish conquerors of mountains and oceans, including the amazing kayaker, Aleksander Doba, whom I have been following and cheering since forever like a crazy stalker, so let me shut up before I say to much.
10. Diving and snorkelling in Komodo.
This year has belonged to pisces and aquarius. I never thought I could feel so free while not breathing independently and the manta rays proved to me that your ass can be four meters wide and you can still be full of grace. But that only works when you’re a manta, I guess…
I’m no photographer and neither is Piotrek. I could have got way better pictures out of all these incredible places and extraordinary situations. But this is not at all a compilation of the best photos. They are the most important, game-changing and favourite ones. my personal Top 2017. How do you like it?