Wonders of the World: 5
The Dead Sea
The Blue Mosque
Our favourite pyramid? The Bent Pyramid at Dahshur, not the famous ones at Giza), because we had the site to ourselves and could climb inside like Indiana Jones. I’d still take the Aya Sofya over the Blue Mosque any day, though.
Should-Be Wonders of the World: 6
Much as I complained about the challenging experience that is travelling post-revolutionary Egypt solo with a child and no wedding ring (the equivalent, I now believe, of a large flashing sign reading “Western whore!”), we spent a lot of happy time in Egypt this year, and I am incredibly thankful to have seen the wonderful things that we did. Cappadocia and Pamukkale lived up to expectations, too.
Highest Altitude Slept at: 5140m (16,860 feet)
Lowest Altitude Slept at: -400m (-1310 feet)
In Israel, we camped on the shores of the Dead Sea; in Nepal, we walked to Everest Base Camp and stayed at Gorak Shep, meaning we’ve slept in the lowest and one of the highest places to sleep on earth.
Highest Temperature Walked In: 48°C (118°F)
Lowest Temperature Walked In: -20°C (-4°F)
On our oh-so-successful mission to find prehistoric rock art on the Nile we walked in temperatures that were rising 50°C. When the temperature dropped in the Himalayas, we were at -20°C. And, let me tell you, that feels REALLY cold at altitude. A lot colder than it did in Bulgaria, and probably than it will in Harbin.
Shockingly Beautiful Places Discovered: 4
Sinai Desert, Egypt
I’d been to the Sinai several times before, once when Zac was a baby, but our four day desert trip really transformed the place for me, as did having a house in Dahab for a few weeks this summer. And, oh dear lord, ballooning in Cappadocia was just plain amazing.
Random Wonders of Nature Embraced: 4
Moonrise over the Desert
The Blue of the Sky in the High Himalayas
Red Sea Sunsets
There are some things you just have to see to believe, and the alpenglow, a band of light that slides across the mountains at sunset and sunrise, the brilliant white light of moonrise over the desert, the deep, deep shade of blue the sky acquires at high altitude, and the milky opalescence as the sun sets over the Red Sea are awe-inspiring.
New Countries: 5
We started the year in the UK, and returned to Egypt, Israel, Greece, Malaysia and Indonesia, while Zac also went to France and Australia with his dad). But these five countries were new ones for both of us. The big wows? Lebanon, an incredibly beautiful country, and the surprisingly pain-free delight of trekking in Nepal’s Himalayas.
Medical Annoyances: 12
1 Car Crash
1 IV Drip
1 Altitude Headache
2 24-hour tummy bugs
Yeah, it’s not been a brilliant year on the health front. On the plus side, my scarring’s quite hard to see now, Zac recovers quickly from pretty much everything, and, with the average person getting 5 colds a year, 7 between the two of us is actually quite good. Except I had all of them. Which makes northern China in winter soooo obviously a good idea for us. *whinge ends*
Amazing Outdoor Activities Discovered: 7
Hot air ballooning (both)
Desert driving (Zac)
Wadi climbing (Zac)
Glacier skating (Zac)
Dead Sea mud throwing (Zac)
I was going to say it’s been a quiet year on the activity front, and then I remembered that Zac’s been paragliding, and that we also learned to windsurf in Greece.
Mini Adventures: 4
Taking a Felucca down the Nile
Everest Base Camp Trek
Diving by Camel
We didn’t do any VERY long journeys this year – I’m looking forward to a foray down the Silk Road next year – but some of our little journeys were really, really fun. Particularly the Everest Base Camp trek, a story I’ve yet to finish telling.
Churches: 80-odd (I don’t think Zac wants to see another Byzantine church as long as he lives)
Ruins: 30-odd (yeah, the boy’s beyond ruined-out)
Ancient Civilisations Explored: 7
Kittens Played With: 100s
Yeti skulls: 1
Burning bushes: 1
I know I whine a lot, but all in all, it’s been a brilliant year. I’d like to think I’ve grown in grace and wisdom, but I know myself too well for that.
Still, at least Zac has. And one out of two is really not that bad.
You can read my 2011 round-up here.