My travel highlights of 2012

Far be it from me to brag – but holy crap 2012 has been one seriously amazing year of travel.

The sad thing about going home is your friends and family don’t really want to hear about all your amazing tales of travel and adventure, wonder and relaxation – but fortunately I’ll always have the internet to tell my stories to.

That’s right; buckle up boys and girls because now I’m going to recount my tales of travel in 2012 – well, all the major highlights anyway.

Me on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

Backpacking in South East Asia

In case you hadn’t noticed I’m looking rather tanned for this early stage of the New Zealand summer (I’m really not) – and that’s because I’ve been following the summer all year.

This year I backpacked through most of Southeast Asia, taking in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

I’ve already written about the highs and lows of backpacking through SE Asia but suffice it to say there were A LOT more positives than negatives.

Falling in love with Cambodia

During my travels this year there was one country in particular that I loved a little bit more than all the rest – and that country was Cambodia.

It seems to me that it’s the all-rounder of SE Asia. I was immediately won over by the friendliness of its people, the beautiful scenery and the amazing cultural and historical sites. It was the right combination of cheap and cheerful, too.

Check out my special travel showdown to see how I scored a fictional boxing match between the first three countries I visited in Southeast Asia.

Beach chairs at Serendipity Beach, Shanoukville, Cambodia

Starting a travel blog

I started the travel blog that you read now at the end of January 2012 and I’ve published at least two articles per week – sometimes three – since then.

Traffic to my blog continues to grow and I’m even starting to earn a little bit of money on the side, which is a bonus but not the main reason I blog about travel. I’ve met a ton of brilliant travel bloggers – online and in real life – and I look forward to having more success and making more new friends in 2013.

Want to know who some of my favourite travel bloggers are? Check out my blog post about the nicest travellers on Twitter.

Learning to surf

It took me two lessons – including one in San Sebastian in Spain – but I finally learnt to surf in Bali.

It was hard work, it was painful and it was exhilarating. Sure, the waves were tiny – a fact I only realised later when I looked at the pictures my girlfriend took on Kuta Beach – but still I was surfing. Now I can’t wait to give it another go.

My surfing instructor and me on Kua Beach, Bali

Swimming with a turtle

I was a child of the 1980s and early 90s so, like most of my peers, I was a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Suffice it to say, my love for the reptilian still lives on now.

You can imagine, then, how delighted I was to see a giant turtle while I was snorkelling in Gili Trawangan in Indonesia. This is going to sound lame – the turtle probably didn’t even know I was there – but the half an hour or so that I followed it were the closest I’ve ever felt to nature.

Closer even than having giraffes stick their faces in the window of the van I was travelling in at Kanchaburi Safari Park Open Zoo in Bangkok.


Speaking of Thailand, did you know that I survived Songkran in Chiang Mai this year? I could have sworn my thousand-yard steer would have given it away.

Yes, it’s just a water fight – but surely the water festival that rings in the Thai New Year is the largest of its kind in the world. It’s particularly crazy in Chiang Mai, too, where no-one is safe from a bucket of water to the face. It’s crazy fun.

Soaked at Songkran in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Getting engaged

After being together, living together and travelling together for the better part of a decade, 2012 was the year I finally got down onto one knee and asked my girlfriend to marry me.

It was romantic, it was unexpected and a beggar almost ruined it for the both of us. However, she said ‘yes’ and we’re due to get married in September next year, with a road-trip honeymoon in the United States set to follow.

London 2012

I was there when Usain Bolt became the first ever man in Olympic history to win 100m and 200m finals at consecutive Games. And by there I mean in London.

Although I wasn’t actually in the stadium at the time, I did get along to some amazing London 2012 events such as the women’s hockey, one of the athletics sessions and the bronze medal match of the handball.

I also got along to as many free events as I could – including the road race and triathlon – and had a really rather bad time at Hyde Park London Live, which was the subject of my most surprisingly successful blog post of the year.

London 2012 was a huge success and a brilliant way to say goodbye (for now) to a city that has been my home for more than four years. I love you, London – and I’ll miss you.

Inside London 2012's Olympic Park

This will be my last blog post for the year, as I’m set to head north to New Zealand’s Karikari peninsula for Christmas with my family – followed by a trip to McKenzie country in the South Island, where I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve with my fiance’s family at a lakeside bach (Kiwi slang for a small holiday home).

Thank you very much for reading my blog in 2012; I’ll see you again in 2013.

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

About Simon Petersen 506 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.


  1. Man, congrats on your travels in 2012. I wish you safe travels in 2013. Keep blogging because we all love to read the posts – but I know what you mean about family not wanting to hear about it. haha.

  2. Sounds like you’ve had some amazing adventures. Congratulations on getting engaged! You’ll have a hard time making 2013 as good as last year but I hope it happens 🙂

  3. Happy Christmas Simon, and congratulations. We’ve only been to Thailand this year, but I think I can ramble on about all the stuff we’ve been doing in Australia lately. We’re gong on a 4 wheel drive expedition to find a beach where the rocks bounce like tennis balls soon., really!! Not far from here, so I’m told. Lets hope we all have lots of new adventures in 2013

    • How peculiar – rocks bouncing like tennis balls. It sounds amazing! Have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!

  4. ha! I also did have my honeymoon as a US road trip. All my friends asked: why don’t you have a “proper” honeymoon? By “proper” they mean lying on a beach somewhere and doing nothing… I thought to myself: “how boring is that!!!” Anyway, congrats on getting married and having a wonderful 2012. I’m sure you’ll have a great time “honeymooning” in the US!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more! We’ve done a lot of lying on beaches this year but we want to do something special and exciting that we’ll remember forever!

  5. That’s a great year you’ve had Simon! Even I hit the road starting January this year and its been one hell of a trip.
    Of course my travels have been restricted to India, but hey its a huge and diverse country and am not complaining. Hope that 2013 brings with it all the more awesome adventures. Good luck!

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