2012: A Year in Random Numbers

Wonders of the World: 5

Mount Everest
The Pyramids
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.

Hot air balloons over Love Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Should-Be Wonders of the World: 6

Jeita Grotto
Abu Simbel
Aya Sofya

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 β€œWestern 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.

Alpenglow over Everest viewed from Kala Patthar.

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.

Yak returning from high pastures in a snowstorm near Gorak Shep, Nepal.

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.

View from crusader fort over Roman ruins in Byblos, Lebanon.

Shockingly Beautiful Places Discovered: 4

Gokyo, Nepal
Byblos, Lebanon
Cappadocia, Turkey
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.

The moon rises behind a mesa in the Sinai Desert, Egypt.

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.

View through the Siq at Petra, Jordan, revealing The Treasury.

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.

I don’t normally count countries, but you can see how to count countries here, and which ones we’ve been to so far, here.

Blister packs of brightly coloured medicines.

Medical Annoyances: 12

1 Car Crash
1 IV Drip
1 Surgery
1 Altitude Headache
2 24-hour tummy bugs
7 Colds

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*

Zac paragliding over Pokhara, Nepal.

Amazing Outdoor Activities Discovered: 7

Paragliding (Zac)
Hot air ballooning (both)
Windsurfing (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.

Felucca against sun glare on the Nile.

Mini Adventures: 4

Taking a Felucca down the Nile
Roadtripping Lebanon
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.

Detail of Turkish bluework.

And Finally:

Mosques: 10
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)
Monasteries: 5
Deserts: 4
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.

31 Responses

  1. What wonderful memories for you and your son (minus the car crash and assorted health woes, of course.) Love the unique look back at your year!

  2. Sushil Bhandari says:

    nice snaps of beutiful..panoramic places

    • Theodora says:

      Thank you! We’ve really had a very good year. Safely in Beijing now — I do hope you enjoy Kunming as much as we did. It seems to be transforming at a rate of knots, though.

  3. Kirsty says:

    Enjoyed reading that! Here’s hoping for a great 2013 for you both (with less illness!)

    • Theodora says:

      Oh Kirsty. We’re starting in Northern China. I’m just going to be a whining bag of snot and phlegm for the first three months. It goes with the territory… But thank you for your kind wishes.

  4. Keith says:

    Wonderful. You inspire us. Thank you for sharing your adventures and please don’t stop.

  5. gaz regan says:

    I love my life, and at the same time I’m suitably jealous of yours, m’dear. What fabulous adventures you’ve had. Keep it up, please.

    • Theodora says:

      Thank you, Gaz! I do like this crazy life we lead. A very happy new year to you — I don’t think it’s quite hit yet — but do have an adult beverage for me. Because if there’s one thing this life is often short on, it’s decent drinks xxx

  6. Mary says:

    Such an amazing year!! I am not jealous at all…I swear;)

  7. Cheap Hotels in Aust says:

    Really beautiful pictures shows your last one year travel experience…..’

    Continue your post with great articles and photography…

    Christian Kylee

  8. What an incredible year! Here’s to loads of new adventures in 2013. You won’t be disappointed in Harbin (I assume you’re going for the Ice Show, amazing!), but be sure to take a taxi ride if you’re looking for a hair-raising experience! And there’s a really great restaurant close to the Dragon Tour. It’s fashioned like an old Mao hideout and had the strangest dishes. Ask in one of the hotels nearby if you’re interested.

    • Theodora says:

      I’ve heard they have a tiger zoo where you can feed live chickens to the beasties, also. Which sounds special.

  9. Larissa says:

    I really like the way you wrapped this up with numbers-it gives a different perspective. Medical mishaps aside, it sounds like a great year of journeys πŸ™‚

  10. An incredible year! Cheers to an even better 2013!

  11. What a gorgeous round-up, both in terms of content (WOW you two have done a lot) and formatting. Keep it up! πŸ™‚

  12. serena says:

    AMAZING read! SO glad I stumbled upon your stuff last year, I have been hooked and inspired ever since πŸ™‚

    • Theodora says:

      Really glad to inspire you, Serena. That makes me happy after a challenging week or so. Thanks!

  13. Michael Figueiredo says:

    Wow! What a year you had! Best wishes for 2013. πŸ™‚

  14. Nonplussed says:

    Happy new year and thank you for all the entertainment Theodora. I still get involuntary smirks over lost tempers trying to find rock art with the help of a Google map.
    You are not only an inspiration but a warning to us all.
    I once forwarded your site to someone young and dear with the words “she is NOT a role model”, but of course you are.
    May the new year be a wonderful year for you both.

    • Theodora says:

      And to you! I still haven’t worked out whether you’re chap or chapess (a good thing, I feel, but I’m leaning towards chap) — and your comment raised an enormous smile. Some absolutely unrolemodelesque behaviour coming up very soon…