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13 Things Travel Taught Me in 2013

13 Things Travel Taught Me - The SphinxSometimes I feel very lucky. Lucky to have been born in a certain part of the world, yes. Lucky to have friends and family who care for me, certainly. Lucky I get to travel, of course, but today I’m feeling lucky that the year is 2013. To fit with the magical writing mystery of the moment, I only need to come up with thirteen lessons travel taught me this year. Just think if blogging had got going back in the 1980s…shudder! We’d be here all night. AND we’d have Facebook albums full of shoulderpads, legwarmers and neon-bowed frizzy perms. It’s too hideous to contemplate.

But thirteen? Thirteen isn’t that many. It’s considered unlucky to some (those in the “West” mainly, those in the “East” tend to shiver at the mention of 14. This leads to problems in multicultural international hotels where several floors of the building disappear from architectural plans.)

But anyway, 2013, the year of bad-luck-in-certain-parts-of-the-world-if-you-believe-it-and-if-you-think-we’re-even-counting-right (when was Jesus born? 4 BC? And shouldn’t this system be made more multi-faith by now?) is almost at an end.

And last year (2012, the year of twelve months, apostles, dwarves and that Christmas song that ends with a pheasant somewhere in a fruit tree) I wrote the catchy post Twelve Things Travel Taught Me in 2012. (Sneaky, eh?!)

Except, I cheated. I ended up writing 34. Why? Because it’s my blog and I was drunk with power (or E numbers. One of the two.*)

But the thing is. I’m no longer a starry-eyed newcomer…Not to the world, not to travel, not to blogging. Not even to E numbers (although even I have never seen twelve lords a leaping. Nor a partridge in a pear tree.)

Are there still thirteen lessons to be learnt from travel? I mean, wouldn’t my time be better spent learning about the intricacies of compound interest, fracking and the rules of cricket instead of dabbling around with what other places in the world can teach me?

Well, let’s see.

I’m setting the stop clock, sitting down to write and seeing what comes up. And if nothing but French Hens wander into view I shall be sorely disappointed…

Red - light festival Yangshuo

14 is unlucky in China…


13 Things Travel Taught Me in 2013

1)   The meaning of home. Finally.

2)   The meaning of time in Egypt

3)   That Nuremberg has a terrible name but a beautiful legacy. It reinvented itself from being the breeding ground for one of the worst episodes in human history (the Nazi rally grounds) into a centre that champions human rights and the investigation of war crimes. It’s also incredibly, incredibly beautiful.

4)   George Washington was a travel writer – for a while. (He was also the first President of the United States. So, dear readers, I’m simply biding my time…

5)   That the London Bridge urban legend really was true…

6)   That coincidence can be beyond spooky…(you have to read to the end to understand what I mean…)

7)   That slavery wasn’t always black and white (same link, different point.)

8)   That returning to a place can be even more beautiful than the first time you went.

9)   And that sometimes, going back feels wrong.

10) That I can dabble in poetry without the world coming to an end

11)  That reconciliation is possible after 27 years in jail

12) Why South Africa is called the Rainbow Nation

13) Why if you get given lemons, there’s something better in store for you than just lemonade

14) That the sun can shine in Wales

15) The importance of a woman’s hair

16) That music is the voice that tells us that the human race is greater than it knows

17) And that kids still love to have their picture taken

18) That colour still matters in Cape Town

19) And you can do as many as 7 things with a volcano

20) And that there are 17 ways to take better photos from a moving train

21) That a luxury hotel can also be a bomb shelter

22) And that you can visit a genuine Bond villain’s lair

23) That it’s called both Burma AND Myanmar

24) And that Vietnam has its own version of the Legend of the Lake

25) That words can fail when speaking to a Nagasaki survivor

26) That so many of you like maps

27) And Paris when it comes to that

28) That you can find a real ice palace underground

29) That I always run out of time…

30) And that there’s so much more to learn out there

What did 2013 teach you?

That’s it for now – wishing you all the best for 2014 in terms of health, happiness and, well, if you’ve got those two who needs anything else?

 HAPPY 2014!

* E numbers are food additives approved by the food safety branch of the EU. Just to avoid confusion ;-)

16 Responses to 13 Things Travel Taught Me in 2013

  1. fotoeins January 2, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    “Your honour, if I could fall in love with a post as a way to start a clean slate for the new year, may I present the following, exhibit number one?” :-) Your posts to Nürnberg and South Africa (*especially* Bo Kaap) spoke loudest and, frankly, truest to me. Thanks for writing this, Abi, and all the best to you in 2014!

    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      Why, thank you for such a lovely comment! All the best to you for 2014 and beyond.

  2. mikeroadtrip January 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Hey Abi, just spent half an hour on your site. Really great work. Love the navigation titles. Great writing and photography…well done! Here I thought the “London Bridge” was in Lake Havasu, Arizona. :-) Where you at TBEX? I see one of your posts from Toronto was dated near that time. Have you explored the Sates much?

    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

      Ah, that London Bridge story. Love it! No TBEX for me last year – nor this probably. I know the NY area fairly well but a wider trip to the States is desperately overdue…

  3. Angie Away January 3, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    What a goooood list! You had such an awesome year. Hope to see you in 2014 =)

    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

      You too :-)

  4. noparamosquietos January 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Love this post!! Will follow your path in 2014! 2013 made us fall in love with the blue skies and neverending horizon of Mongolia, as well as with interesting and beautiful Bosnia and Hercegovina – and the people living in these two countries. Happy travels!!

    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

      Ooh – those are destinations I know very little about. Glad to hear you fell in love – happy travels!

  5. Voyager For Life (@renns20) January 4, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    It’s a different post certainly! :) All the best for 2014!

    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      My yearly check in with myself :-) All the best to you too.

  6. Sam January 5, 2014 at 8:45 pm #


    My late father – a very wise, highly educated, adventurous and knowledgeable man advised me early in my life that …

    “any day wherein one fails to learn something new is a day that one has wasted”.

    Over time, it has become clear to me that you also embrace this philosophy and live it as well.

    Wishing you good health, success, peace and much happiness for
    2014. I look forward to learning more
    about the wonders, pleasures and joys of the world from your outstanding, optimistic, well written and highly informative posts.

    Happy travels.


    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

      Wow, Sam – thank you so much for the words of encouragement. Here’s to learning something every single day!

  7. Hogga January 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    happy new year!

    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

      Happy New Year to you too :-)

  8. Stephanie Sadler (@LLOStephskimo) January 6, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Taught me that I really need to improve my Spanish :) Happy 2014!

    • Abi King January 28, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

      Ha! 2009 taught me that too, in quite a direct way! Good luck with the language lessons this year!