Best of 2013 - Experiences

We met some amazing people, went to wonderful new places and learned new things in 2013. Here are some of the highlights!

Meeting James Nachtwey. If you haven't heard of the photojournalist and war photographer, you've still probably seen some of his famous photographs. C and I attended a talk by Mr Nachtwey at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. It was very difficult to watch the reels of his photographs, even though I'd seen them before. The stories behind them were often heartbreaking, and it is difficult to imagine from our comfortable place in the word, the hardships that others endure on a daily basis.
"I have been a witness, and these pictures are
my testimony. The events I have recorded should
not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

-James Nachtwey-
If you ever have the chance to see him speak, I highly recommend it. He spoke so well about the strength of the human spirit, and it was amazing to see him discuss so eloquently the complex issues surrounding the various conflicts, famines and social issues that he has covered, with a stoic and ultimately positive face. He was so humble about his talents and achievements and would not indulge any audience questions that sought to glamorise his job or the events he had witnessed. After the talk, we managed to have a brief chat, shake hands and have our copy of "Inferno" signed.

Witnessing the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Kyoto. I already blogged about our perfect day :) You can probably preface everything in this post with "If you ever have the chance, you should totally do this" I know travel isn't for everyone and often seems financially daunting. We managed to go to Japan twice this year, and I received a few side-eyes from people who probably thought that we were perhaps spoiled a little from mommy and daddy (neither of us have well-off families, and we've both supported ourselves since we were still in high school). Truth is, we worked really hard and saved our pennies. Once you pay for the big things (transport, accommodation), everything else is just what you'd normally spend on day to day living anyway, give or take a few dollars. For me as well, the cost of living in Japan is cheaper than Sydney, yes, even in Tokyo. So eating out and shopping is way more affordable. If you're interested, I'd be happy to share some budgeting tips in the new year on how to travel without millions (or thousands) of dollars... Let me know!

Anyway, the cherry blossoms.  Riding our bikes along the banks of the Kamo River, wandering along the canals in the Geisha district under a gentle rain of pink and white petals, eating okonomiyaki and drinking plum wine. Meeting new friends, seeing new places. In the midst of the constant drizzle over Japan, the clouds broke and we managed to squeeze in an absolutely magical, petal-filled day. I'll definitely remember that trip forever :)

Quitting my day job. Probably the hardest thing that happened to me this year (thank goodness, since many harder things can happen to someone) but also the most rewarding and definitely the best thing that happened as well. My gut reaction was 'uh-oh, what have I done?'. To be honest, that was also the reaction of many people around me (I had full encouragement and support from C though!) I suppose I grew up (like many) being taught that you finish school, get a job, work hard in an office until you are 65 and then retire. I knew that wasn't for me and I think, 6 months into my self-employment, I'm certain that I've made the right decision and now have so much more freedom to pursue a life more tailored to my expectations (i.e. enjoyable, adventurous and meaningful!)

I'd love to know your top experiences of 2013. Looking back, I think it's been the best year yet!


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