10 Fun Facts of 2017: Year in Review

dragon boat race
Dragon boat race, Abu Dhabi

During 2017, I developed diarrhea on three continents. Vomited in two countries. Got lost in nine cities. Missed the bus in one village. Fell down hard in the dark and spilled blood on the floor in paradise. Flew LOT Airlines on a one-way ticket that cost more than a round-trip. And I realized three life goals: ate moose and reindeer steak, watched dragon boats race, visited the country where the Christmas tree was invented. This year for my annual Year in Review, rather than recap the year’s journey, I’m going to share a number of fun facts I learned along the way in various countries throughout the year.

Although perhaps not politically correct in some circles, I’m going to admit I rather like the idea of adding a country to my list of “been there, done thats”; however, bagging countries has never been one of my goals when I travel. Actually, I never even kept a tally until not long ago when I read about a young woman who was the “first blonde” to visit every country in the world. Turns out she wasn’t, but that’s another story. I’m generally more of a long-term traveler, staying a month or two or six in one place, and sometimes returning to places I’ve stayed numerous times before; however on some trips, I may visit a number of countries if they’re close together as I did this year in the Baltic States.

Bali rice field dancing lady
Dancing in a Bali rice field

During 2017, I spent over two months in Bali, a place I have visited half-a-gazillion times since 1987. I don’t travel to tick countries off a list; I travel to have fun, I travel to learn, I travel to embrace other cultures and people and cuisine. I travel to discover who I am and how far out the edge might be. And I travel because I feel way more like “me” when I’m vagabonding the world. I like the ‘traveling me’ better than the ‘stay-at-home me’—the traveling me is much cooler. He wears berets, neck scarves, rudraksha-beads. And he does yoga. He sits outside his comfort zone for hours. And smiles. And he’s a much safer driver. So, maybe grab a cup of coffee, or afternoon tea, or pomegranate juice, sit back and let me offer you a few fun facts I gleaned this year in foreign lands while wearing my nomad beret.

Penestanan Kaja, Ubud, Bali

Bali tle rooftop & rain
Rain during dry season in Bali

The fun fact I learned in Bali was not as wonderful as one might desire. Like they say, there is good and bad in everything. Because it was the dry season, I decided to leave my de rigueur rain poncho at home; it rained every day—a lot. Lesson relearned and fun fact number one: always pack the poncho for Bali, no matter the season, no matter what your weather app is predicting.

The interesting fact is this: Bali has a new visa rule for 140 countries. If you’re from one of those countries and plan on staying 30 days or less, you get a Free Visa—no muss, no fuss, no fee; they stamp your passport, and you walk to a taxi or trishaw. Another fun fact about your Bali visa: if you’re planning to stay more than 30 days (or you’re from Djibouti), you need to pay for a “Visa on Arrival” which can later be extended for another 30 days.

Here’s the not-so-fun fact: the average-tourist stay in Bali is like 8 days. If you arrive and are unaware of the new visa rule, and the customs guy waves you on and informs you that you no longer need to pay for a visa on arrival—because the customs guy probably thinks you are one of those average-short-term-8-day tourists, so he doesn’t bother to ask how long you’re staying, then what happens is—wait for it—you CANNOT EXTEND YOUR FREE VISA, and you must fly out of the country to Singapore and then back in again to get a new visa or pay 300,000 rupiah per day (US$21). I learned this the fly-to-Singapore-hard way.

Singapore

Butterfly Garden Changi Airport
Butterfly Garden w/iPhone 7+

Some travelers say the best airport in the world is London Heathrow. Other travelers claim it’s Central Japan International just outside Nagoya. Still others say it’s the newly-constructed Hamad International in Qatar, which cost US$16 billion to build. My personal favorite is Schiphol in Amsterdam, which in stark comparison to Hamad was built in 1916, but harbors a library and also a branch of the Rijksmuseum that is free to the public 24/7.

Although Amsterdam is my favorite (partly because I harbor Dutch blood and partly because Schiphol fosters people-watching from my favorite café near the arrivals exit), I would have to say that Changi Airport in Singapore is perhaps the nicest: it has great architecture; it’s so clean, you could eat lunch off the floor; it has free massage and sleeping chairs; movie theaters; spas; a wild, super-fast corkscrew slide, the tallest in Singapore. But get this: Changi’s Terminal 3 houses a Butterfly Garden that flaunts a waterfall, lush tropical greenery, a profusion of flowers, and something like 1000 butterflies.

Another upside to the Bali visa fiasco is that if you are the kind of traveler who wants to tick off another country, this is a legitimate, face-saving method for doing just that, and it turns the downside of Bali visas for you into an upside—not so for me though, as I’ve been to Singapore literally dozens of times, and I’d prefer to sit and watch rice grow than fly anywhere.

Advice du jour: if you’re going to get sick in SE Asia, get sick in Singapore.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Tour Bike Race
Abu Dhabi Tour

Abu Dhabi at one time was known as the “richest city in the world.” The city was planned back in 1967, and designed for a population of 40,000 inhabitants. Today, there are over 1 million residents in Abu Dhabi, and close to half are Indians; the other half are Filipinos. One quarter come from Nepal. Another quarter are from Bangladesh. An eighth from Afghanistan. About 15% are local Emiratis. The remaining expats come from 120 various other countries (FYI: I was never good at math).

Fun fact number two: Abu Dhabi has been slowly and consciously positioning itself as a first-class tourist destination over the last decade or so, perhaps preparing itself for a time when the oil runs out in a hundred years. This year the country turned 46 years old. Next year, the city will begin charging a 5% VAT on sales. And the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour, a professional bicycle race, attained UCI World Tour status, with pro riders like Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan competing.  One stage of the Abu Dhabi course ran through Reem Island, a high-rise residential zone just off the main island of Abu Dhabi, and the route ran right beside the apartment I was living in. During the fourth and final stage of the race later that week, something that “never” happens in Abu Dhabi happened:  it rained.  They don’t call it a desert for nothing.

Berlin

Berlin Wall Graffiti
West side of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961, was the method chosen by the Soviet Union to separate the areas controlled by France, Britain, and America from the zone controlled by the USSR. A literal façade of the Iron Curtain, well over a hundred people were shot and killed as they tried to cross to the other side during its 28 years. Sometimes in defiance, people living on the west side would toss their garbage or broken furniture over to the east side—a seemingly bold gesture of civil disobedience, until you stop to wonder who had to clean up the mess on the east side, certainly not Soviet soldiers, eh?

Another fun fact is that people on the west side covered the wall with spray paint and graffiti. There was none of that nonsense on the east side. You can still see the remains on the west side today—I don’t read German, but I’m pretty sure I know what most of it says. If you look at the wall strictly from an artistic viewpoint, it appears as a nicely designed structure—thick, sturdy architecture; an aesthetically pleasing, rounded top; vastly utilitarian.

Finland

Helsinki Cathedral + flags
Helsinki Cathedral from Sofiankatu Street

Finland bears a number of interesting fun facts you wouldn’t expect. Ice skates were invented by the Finns. The world’s first internet browser meant for public use was first invented here. The Finns have also invented some rather strange sporting events; perhaps the weirdest is the Wife Carrying Championships. Right, the competing couple stands face to face, then the husband kneels and slips his head between his wife’s legs and slings her upside down over his shoulders—booty against the crown of his head, her feet crossed in front of him, her head dangling down more or less at his waist behind him (both husband and wife try not to eat beans before a race). The husband runs carrying his wife like that while navigating an obstacle course of barriers to hurdle and water features to plunge through. Winning is no mean feat for either of them. Luckily, Finnish women are some of the slimmest in the world.

Perhaps a rather odd fun fact is that the Finns have developed award-winning pizza—the secret ingredient is smoked reindeer meat. Oh, and this: a small, northern village named Rovaniemi, located inside the Arctic Circle, is one of Finland’s top tourist attractions; known as Santa Clause Village, it’s located at (not precisely) the North Pole. Elves and jingle bells abound.

Estonia

Tallin 15th Century dress
15th Century in Tallin

Tallin may just be the coolest little town you never heard of. Tallin is no sleepy little burg. Well, it is after the cruise-ship passengers return to their ships. If you’re wondering what it might have been like to live during the 15th century, Tallin may be the place to visit. Locals dress in Medieval costumes, sing old songs and play 3-stringed antique instruments, wear those pointy-toe shoes—if you desire, you can even buy a custom-made pair of those hand-made-pointy-toe shoes.

Of course, like most Old Towns in European cities, there is a Market Square in Tallin surrounded by eateries and shops and pubs. The fun fact here is this: in Tallin, you can find the greatest chocolate pastries in Europe—OK, from my humble opinion. But I am an expert at assessing, and eating, fine chocolate in any form. Somehow, I inadvertently (by gut feeling) and luckily landed in the Restaurant Tchaikovsky, and only learned later that it is known as the best in Tallin. They claim to be a “Symphony of Russian Cuisine.” I guess! Another fun fact, or oddity, is that you can visit the building that housed the KGB Headquarters and prison cells, it lies just past the main gate from the ferry landing. But here’s what I like most about Tallin: they make great wool berets, very comfy and affordable.

Latvia

9 7343sm
Art Nouveau staircase

It’s a four-hour bus ride from one city you maybe never heard of, Tallin, to another city you never heard of, Riga, and if you pop for the premium seat, you sit in a single seat, no seat just a super-wide aisle next to you, with a quantum leap of leg room and a stationary table top for food and drinks. Riding a bus in this part of the world is definitely a decent way to travel; crossing borders is seamless and effortless: the bus doesn’t even stop.

Here’s another fun fact: if you find yourself visiting the Riga Art Nouveau Museum, and I suggest you do even if you’re not a museum kind of person as it is quite unique, you can climb a few flights of art nouveau stairs to the Janis Rozentals and Rudolfs Blaumanis Museum located in the top-floor flat where two famous artists you never heard of lived during the late 1800’s: prominent Latvian writer Rūdolfs Blaumanis and painter, Janis Rozentāls.

Lithuania

coffee church Vilnius Lithuania
Best café in Vilnius

If you want to taste the best bread in the world, you need to hie your hienie off to Vilnius, another four-hour bus ride south from Riga. Their pastry, however, is not the symphony you find elsewhere in Riga, but it’s not chopped carob either, and they can brew coffee alongside the world’s finest baristas. You won’t find a Starbucks in Lithuania, but they do have an Apple store where you can buy stuff like extra charging cables for your iPhone 7+ for half the price in other European countries. One fun fact here is that Lithuania boasts more hot air balloons per capita than any other country. You’ll also find statues of pagan gods here, such as Perkunas, the god of thunder; you may also run across a place called The Hill of Witches.

Here’s another fun fact you might want to be aware of when visiting Lithuania: it’s considered bad form, and bad luck, to whistle indoors.  You may see more amber jewelry here than perhaps anywhere in the world; it’s known as Baltic Amber—the lighter the color of amber, the older it is and therefore, more expensive. I bought my daughter a necklace of amber containing four different shades (four qualities), and it cost half the price of the strand of pearls I previously purchased in Hong Kong. Baltic amber during high season is not cheap. Neither are daughters, apparently.

Poland

Old Town Market Square, Warsaw
Old Town Market Square, Warsaw

A famous Warsaw organist, Przemyslaw Kapitula, plays Bach and Mozart daily on the Baroque organ in St Anne’s Church just off the Old Town Square; the pews in St Anne’s were apparently never meant for comfort: the back of the pew pitches you forward slightly. It would be a little more comfortable if you could rest your feet on that wooden shelf on the floor in front of you, but that’s for knees, not feet. Many men ride large motorcycles here, very few are Harleys. But this is the interesting fact: Warsaw’s Old Town buildings look extremely-well maintained for 15th-century architecture. They look so well-preserved because they are relatively new: Warsaw was bombed and completely ruined in WWII, and afterward was totally rebuilt, modeled after the original structures.

Ireland

Desmond Castle, Adare, Limerick
Desmond Castle, Adare Village, County Limerick

Turns out, Guinness really is good for you—it contains antioxidants that lower your risk of heart disease, Alzheimers, and cancer. The ruined Desmond Castle nestles on the shores of the river Maigue; it dates from the late 1100’s, one of the 200 castles built by the Normans.

It also turns out that Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland (and really fun fact here—also patron saint of Nigeria…say what?) was not Irish; he was a Roman born in Britain. You always hear the tale of his ridding Ireland of its snakes; the fact is that Ireland never had any indigenous snakes, most probably because it’s an island and snakes don’t relish swimming, especially that far from the mainland in that frigid Atlantic Ocean. However, the Irish built the Titanic in Belfast to sail those waters. Today, abortion is still illegal in Ireland, and bills to legalize medical-use marijuana are being hindered by politicians although at one time not long ago, Dublin harbored one of the largest populations of prostitutes in the world. And leprechauns and fairies really do exist for the Irish—and anyone else who needs miracles in their day.

So, that’s the bits I learned last year. Let me know what fun facts you may have come across in 2017.

Safe Travels, Happy Travels, and Happy New Year 2018!

see more DP Photo Challenge photos: 2017 Favorites

115 comments

  1. Happy New Year, Badfish! May 2018 bring you more adventures and less misadventures! Btw since you mentioned about it, I personally think that despite Singapore’s Changi efficiency and super cool features, Amsterdam’s Schiphol still is my favorite airport. Probably because it reminds me of my first ever trip abroad — I remember being awed upon seeing people from all over the world in one place.

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    • Hi Bama…Happy 2018 to you too. And I agree, I absolutely love to fly into Schiphol. And I never simply leave after arriving. I sit in this one cafe, by the exit, with a view of outside and all that goes on there, and sit there for an hour or so, simply taking it in, and doing nothing.

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  2. Hey BF, nice to read about some of your 2017 travels and adventures. May we meet up again somewhere in this wide wide world.

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    • Hey Don. I have to say, it was truly nice to get back in the blog saddle again. But also kind of sad…apparently I forgot how to do a number of things and forgot I had to do some others. Getting old is not for sissies.

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  3. So great to have you back. This was a fun and fascinating post. You’re never boring are you? You always seem to have a different take on things. I love that. I am swooning over the Art Nouveau staircase! Also the dragon boat race is a fabulous photo. And the one of Warsaw. Happy New Year BF. May 2018 be all you could wish for. And may our paths cross again one day.
    Alison

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    • Alison…glad you liked it. It was one of the quickest I ever wrote…because I wanted to post it in December, as a review for the year. Happy New Year to you guys!! And I think I have to come to Canada soon, to get a photo course from you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Badfish, and Happy New Year to you. I wish I could come up with a fun fact for you but my mind is blank. I also like Changi airport. It is so quiet and clean, and so well appointed. It would be easy to live there, like Tom Hanks in that movie. Another airport I really like is Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok. It is amazing, but be warned. Don’t delay when going from your arrival gate to your departure gate if you have a connecting flight. We got distracted by all the beautiful shops and cafes and had to run! I just had a thought…here is my fun fact. Suvarnabhumi consists of a single terminal which covers 563,000 square metres. No wonder we had to run!

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    • Carol…Merry New Year to you, too. Oh, yeah, I like Suvarnabhumi, also. And yeah…super big. Great architecture. I lost all my travel notes in that airport on my trip to Bhutan. Really good to hear from you again (I’ve been playing hooky from the blog)

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  5. Badfish you are alive over here! Yay! Clever idea for a year end post my friend. Wife carrying championships you say? Well we may need to do some training for that one! Hoping to see more of your writing this year and very keen to see what direction you take your blog. Either way Happy New Year and very best wishes.

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    • Sue, yeah, alive, again. Since I didn’t write about most of my trips this year, I couldn’t just do a ‘did this, did that’ post. I would of done a puzzle if I’d known soon enough…or HOW! I’m snowed under with all the stuff needed to grow a blog. I need a partner. I vote for you training and running the course in Finland!!

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      • Badfish the thing is that the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know. It’s a bit of a hamster wheel that’s for sure. I’ve always wanted to go to Finland. Maybe we can meet for refreshments! 🙂

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  6. Hey lil brother….really enjoyed reading these fun facts!!! Have a Happy and healthy New Year all year long!!! Remember I love you~~~ I know, I know, I owe you some fun facts about what’s going on with me….not today, but maybe soon!

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  7. Incredible post! I love what you say about travel. So many people travel for the wrong reasons. I too travel to learn, to grow, to see and to feel alive. Thanks for this beautiful post! Happy New Year!

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    • Nicole, hey thanks. After I wrote about why I travel, I thought of better ways to say it….but hey, what is is what is. To ‘feel alive’ is one of the better ways to say it—thanks for reminding me of that.

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  8. Good to see you back BF (now why does that abbreviation make me smile!) you have had a busy year. Best wishes and safe travels for 2018. Incidentally with those statistics about Guinness and Alzheimer’s I think I will have to replace my daily coffee with Guinness…

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  9. Great to end the year (well, since I’m reading it late, it’s starting the year for me) with a post from Badfish. Of course, I love all your destinations and statistics on excretions/explosions/etc, but what really grabbed me was the comment that you are the better you when traveling. That’s me. I’m such a cool, fun person (according to me) on the road and such a drudge most of the time otherwise – haha (but, sadly, probably quite true). That’s why I come up with random road trips when life gets dull, which it just did and I just did. Very happy new year wishes sent from Houston to Abu Dhabi – may your 2018 be filled with trips, happiness, health, and all that good stuff!

    (Love the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and dragon boat photo!)

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  10. Hi Baddie! Happy New Year! May it be blessed with many vomit-free travels! I too loved the dragon boat foto, great juxtaposition and composition of light and shade. ( there ya go, did i come of sounding like one of those serious wordpress photograph commentators?? not quite??) … anyhow i strolled through the comment section looking for more fun facts from the Cafe Crowd – alas, not a one, except for Eternal Traveller! as for me, nothing i can think of right now – but I love a challenge, so I’ll be back! Welcome back to Blogsville too, by the way. I havent visited the town for a while.

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    • Deb…whoa, yeah you’re beginning to sound like one of those professional photo assessors. And yeah, where are all the fun facts? What about a fun fact about China…gotta be one of those floating around? Or Oppos? And welcome back to you, too. How’s Oz?

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  11. Thanks for entertaining me while my Norfolk Polish family enjoy a vodka induced slumber. Fun facts? Jarzebiak raspberry flavour is delightful but steer clear of the vodka they offer you for medicinal purposes. Szczesliwego Nowego Roku Mr Naughty Fish x

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    • Prasna…ha! Well, yes, it was all (no most) of the places I traveled in 2017, but since I didn’t write posts for most of 2017, or travels in it, I guess it’s just a review of where I went and things I learned there but didn’t post about during the year.

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  12. Hellooo Mr. Badfish! Oh to be you! What fun!! Fun fact… ) The entire Island of Hawaii, with its five large volcanoes of Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, and new submerged volcano of Loihi, is less than 450,000 years old. Kauai is 5 million years old. There is your geology lesson for today! Nice to hear from you! Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!!

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  13. Wow, you sure condensed one year of blogging in this post. All well, so long as you’re here. Fun facts are fun, and images splendid, especially of the staircase. We will let you visit another country or five. Happy travels!

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  14. I never thought I’d see dragon boat racers and an Aladdin-esque mosque together in one photo! Hats off to you, Badfish, for this unusual and creative take on a year in review. Somehow this compilation of random facts makes for a coherent whole. I’m thinking of visiting the Baltics later this year as my sister and brother-in-law (along with my 10-month-old nephew) are moving to Riga in April… which means that I’ll be on the lookout for your thoughts on Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius in future posts. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018 with plenty more trips in store!

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  15. Hey BF – thanks for looking me up on my “by LRose” blog! I hear ya, when it comes to getting the blog engine running again. This blog (meaning to write) has not yet found its niche. LRose, as I mentioned, got hit with a troll, so I cleared everything and everyone out. I primarily post short fiction responses there now to a blogging buddy’s writing prompt blog. ANYWAY…things I’ve learned on my non-travelers travels this year: Just because it’s only two weeks before the last weekend in August, does not mean you can’t find an Airbnb house on the water for only $70/night. A fully refurbished house, to boot (see my photo: https://wordpress.com/post/meaningtowrite.wordpress.com/3471).
    Oh, and, with 2 wandering Weimaraners, cruising the rocky shore, who decide to hang out with you on the patio for a while. It occurs to you the dogs look more than a little pampered, and so you guess they made a jailbreak, so to speak. You think maybe you’ll corral them in the yard and call the local animal control, but before you find the phone number, a hysterical and very grateful teenage girl and her hysterical and very grateful boyfriend spot them in the yard and offer to pay for one night of your stay for catching them. They are embarrassed and a bit giggly when they admit they were “distracted” for a bit and forgot they left the front door open to the home she is house and dog sitting. Turns out they are show dogs. I declined their offer, confident one of life’s lessons was learned. 😉

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  16. My, what an eventful and varied year you had! Thanks for all the interesting fun facts. 🙂 I so agree with you about Schiphol airport. I’ve only been there once, but it really stands out in my airport memories. I haven’t been to Singapore for a good few years, but the airport there looks absolutely stunning and begs a visit. I expect you have lots of travel plans for 2018. Happy New Year to you.

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  17. What a wonderful year you’ve had!
    My daughter and her family are in Bali right now. They thought they knew what rain was (they are from Vancouver B.C.) but Bali deluges are a whole different kind of rain.
    Both grand-children are down with Bali Belly right now. Fortunately they are there for another two weeks so will be back to normal and won’t miss out on much before they move on to their next destination (they are traveling for a year.)

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  18. OMG what a blast that whirlwind tour was Mr Badfish. You never disappoint. I kind of wish you did have some crazy goal to visit all the countries of the world because I’d like to dance through them exactly this way with you. And eventually, you’d make it to some country I was sailing in and we could hang out. Every picture a winner and that Dragon Boat Race is sheer perfection.

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      • I would love to ‘share an anchorage’ or travel destination with you. Sadly, was not able to meet-up up with Sue and Dave. Delays from boat work kept us south of Krabi just a bit out of reach for a day trip. We will always have Canada #2021 🇨🇦😉

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  19. Well, this really catches me up. Glad, most of all, to see you back.

    From all of this, I am really happy to hear about the health benefits of dark Irish beer, the only one I really like. Yay! If only it weren’t so fattening. A small price to pay for flavor and health.

    It is funny that you like your traveling you best. I have to think about that. I just got back from a year of running around, capped off with a trip to San Francisco and I am worn out. Happy to be home, I like home me best, except I wear less makeup and so the person in the mirror looks older at home, hee hee.

    Best to be away from the USA right now. You and I know why.

    Thank you for visiting me! I look forward to your 2018 adventures. It enables me to be a vegetable and live vicariously.

    Vici!

    xx

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  20. omg – what a start – the first couple sentences was just a funny lead in – and was so badfish
    – so nice to have you post this and as usual your photos are just outstanding art pieces – the dragon boat is my fav of this post

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  21. Great post. You made up for us not having you grace our mailboxes the last few months. It sounds like you’ve had some amazing adventures.
    The butterfly is gorgeous and the wall is horrid. I wonder if the other side of the wall became defaced after it supposedly came down. Apparently it’s not down everywhere.
    I went to school with a young girl whose family built a boat of tin cans and escaped the east. This was in the late 50’s. Quite the adventure.

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    • thanks Jo…been a while since I heard from you. Good to be back. Hope I can keep things together…but apparently…not. The WALL was actually not bad in person…except for the idea of it and past reality of it….tin can boat!

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      • Yes, Did I understand correctly that you weren’t feeling well there for awhile? Or did I misunderstand? Glad you’re back!
        Yes, the tin can story was amazing. Because the girl spoke broken English, she was held back, I’m sure they were much older. They were quite lovely and mature looking compared to the rest of our class. In any case their story really impressed me.

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    • Right. And in Bali, I stayed a few days over my second visa and had to pay an extra fee for those days. But it was better than driving into Denpasar and spending half a day renewing the thing–for me.

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  22. As ever and always, you light up my life with your descriptions of your journeys. And fun fact: I never need travel beyond my own abode, because your attention to detail, along with your photographs, brings the reader along in such a way that one could actually believes they’d traveled to all of these places… Total Recall anyone?

    I have ancestors in both Poland and in Ireland (not to mention England, Wales, oh, and Scotland is covered by Mr. Quantum.) I only remember the name of one city in Poland: Lodz.

    Sounds to me like you’re retired these days… And what became of Duncan? (isn’t that the name of your crab pal?).

    Peace out!

    Fim

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  23. You had quite the year of travels! I agree about going places that we enjoy and not worrying about ticking off countries. Having said that, it is always fun to go somewhere new!

    I want to get to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania someday. They look really cool.

    In Southeast Asia I take my umbrella everywhere – it is either protection from the sun or rain, whichever we have at the time.

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  24. There supposedly is a Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”. It looks like you’ve been cursed in a major way, and have been thoroughly enjoying it.

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  25. Wow that was a very satisfying read! We both enjoyed it immensely, particularly the combination of useable factoids and the badfish style of writing. We got hooked at the description of the airports and Amsterdam and Singapore are also big favorites of ours. Hong Kong airport also has chairs that you can recline completely and sleep in, in a special quiet zone area. Completely free and awesome.

    I have heard of Riga as a matter of fact and Lithuania, as my grandfather was born in Vilnius and when he was sixteen he got on a ship and headed to the land of gold and diamonds Later his two brothers followed and that is where I grew up.. South Africa.

    Great post and thanks for reminding us to visit Latvia and Warsaw. They are on the list.

    cheers
    Ben & Peta

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    • Ben & Peta…Ha!! I didn’t know you grew up in SA…how cool. I may be going there this summer. Africa scares me, though. And I hear Cape Town ran out of water???

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  26. You win the prize for best opening line for a year in review, Badfish. Hands down. Fantastic fun facts and terrific photos. Your unique viewpoint is a joy to read. I somehow had heard about the wife carrying race when we were in Finland.. 🙂

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  27. Having been off the blogging market for a while gave me peace of mind. When reading your blog post only now, made me think of the many great posts, like yours, that I missed reading.
    This was another masterpiece of yours.
    You’ve busy traveling, man, and your experiences are equally delightful.
    I’m already curious to hear about your more qualitative travels in 2018. Cheers!!

    Like

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