2017 was our first full year of travel. We were lucky to have had some amazing experiences, which we collected below. We learnt so much about life on the road, the ways of living in other countries and about our trade. And seriously - we can't believe it's already been a year - it passed so quickly, but it was packed with so many new adventures, emotions and life-lessons that it now feels like ages!
We came a long way - we welcomed 2017 in Australia, then travelled through South East Asia from the South to the North and back again, and from the West to the East, mostly on public transport; we then flew to USA and crossed from the West Coast to the East Coast, and we also managed to visit Europe for the summer and cover over 2100 km from Ethiopia to Kenya on public transport...now it sounds easy!
2017 hasn’t been as easy as it sounds though - our lives are not as perfect as the Instagram feed may suggest, but there is no way we wouldn’t have changed anything that's happened in the last year for any other way!
Here we recollect our last 12 months and the highs and lows of the past year:
Welcoming the New Year in Australia and enjoying time with Zach’s family.
Road trip with friends to Sydney.
Our first Workaway experience in Laos’s Luang Prabang that changed the way we now travel (sustaining our travels from photography and film projects).
Celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary at the stunning Kuang Si waterfalls and hanging out with elephants from Manda Lao Elephant Sanctuary.
Crossing Laos by buses from North to South, and eventually making it to Cambodia. On the way visiting Phonsavanh (one of the most important archeological sites in SE Asia), catching the bus filled to the brink and relaxing on an awesome Don Det island in the land of 4000 islands.
Celebrating our birthdays (especially Zach’s 30th birthday!), catching up with our friends TheTipsyGypsies in Siem Reap and getting totally soaked during the three days of the Khmer New Year!
Meeting a lovely Cambodian couple, Panita and Pancha, who showed us around Phnom Penh and visiting the sites of the historic Khmer Rouge genocide.
Developing our portfolio of promotional photographs and films thanks to the awesome Ring Boutique hotel and House Jane.
Travelling from the South to the North of Vietnam and developing our portfolio of hotel & tour photography and films.
Meeting lovely Hoang from the beautiful town of Hoi An and creating a short documentary film for his family business of ecotourism.
Collaborating with our first big client on a film – La Siesta Hotel belonging to Elegance Hospitality Group, which hosted us in Hanoi.
Ending our South-East Asian journey and flying to Los Angeles.
Creating a short documentary about the wicked Hollywood B&B and discovering the West Coast of the USA.
Travelling around USA with almost the whole of Zach’s family, who came from Australia for a big family trip to Los Angeles, Hollywood and Disneyland. Then, having a whole lot of fun with Zach’s parents in Washington, New York and Boston.
Camping in Wompatuck State Park near Boston (hello 16 hours of non-stop rain!) and flying to Poland to spend time with Hanna’s family.
Catching up with Hanna’s family, babysitting Hanna’s little nephew and making our way to London for a catch-up with our lovely friends!
Celebrating our friends’, Aga’s and Matt’s, traditional Polish highlander wedding in the mountains, creating a promotional film for Hanna’s hometown and enjoying time spent at Hanna’s parents house in Poland.
Publishing the promo film about Hanna’s hometown in South West Poland, which received a super warm welcome in the region.
Setting off for Africa! Finding our feet in Ethiopia. Celebrating Ethiopian New Year with an Ethiopian family (thank you Kassahun and Tigest!), visiting one of the hottest places on Earth – the Danakil Depression, and the incredible churches of Tigray, then rushing off to film and photograph the beautiful holiday of Meskel, in the heart of Addis Ababa.
Creating a short crowdfunding documentary at a height of 3800m for the beautiful Degosach Lodge, visiting the famous churches of Lalibela and visiting Bahir Dar (collaborating with an Ethiopian resort chain, Kuriftu Resort Lake Tana, on a film project) and camping at the top of the stunning Blue Nile Falls!
Exploring Addis with GoAddis and creating photographs and films for their lovely tour company, collaborating with a few hotels in Addis and creating their promotional material. Catching up with the awesome Val from Backpacking Africa for Beginners and eventually, leaving Ethiopia behind on a 4 day bus journey overland to Kenya!
Collaborating with the one and only Watamu Treehouse on a promotional film and photographs and having a blast on the Kenyan Coast – trying our luck floating in the creek, stand-up paddle boarding and getting roasted on the sand banks.
Travelling along the Kenyan Coast to Diani Beach and enjoying its white, flour-like sand and turquoise water, whilst coming up with a short promo film for the fun Diani Backpackers!
Heading to Nairobi for Christmas and New Year – first time we’ll celebrate it without any of our families.
Highs of 2017
- Having our Afar Triangle video featured as Video Of The Month by Lonely Planet !
- Creating a promotional video for Hanna’s hometown – it was so nice to rediscover the place we have known from a different perspective. And we couldn’t be happier that the film was welcomed by the people in such a positive way, getting over 23k views and being featured in the local news!
- Spending time in Watamu Treehouse on the Kenyan Coast – it was one of a kind place and we were so happy that we could create photographs and a film for them (we'll be publishing it soon!), and enjoy the beauty of that piece of the world.
- Discovering Ethiopia – we were a bit worried about the unknowns of this country and we were so positively surprised with how beautiful, diverse and welcoming it is!
- Spending time with our families, in Australia and Poland – we felt very lucky being able to spend the beginning of the year with Zach’s family and make memories with his nephews and nieces, and we loved spending summer in Poland, where we got to know better and babysit Hanna’s nephew, who was born just before we left for our adventures in October 2016
- Collaborating with La Siesta Hotel chain in Vietnam – it’s voted as Travellers’ Choice Top 3 Hotel in Asia on TripAdvisor. We felt privileged being able to create a promo film for them.
- Experiencing the kindness of Laotian and Cambodian people – we loved these countries the most out of the ones we visited this year, because of their welcoming people, interesting history and diverse landscapes.
- Being able to walk beside the elephants from Manda Lao Elephant Sanctuary was definitely one of our favourite things throughout our travels and capturing it all on film made it even more exciting.
- Our visit to one of the hottest places on Earth – the Danakil Depression, even though difficult, was incredible. The landscapes and things we saw and captured on photographs and film, will stay in our memory forever!
Lows of 2017
- Zach’s grandma passing away whilst we were visiting London – it was a very sad moment and Zach flew to Australia literally for 3 days to say goodbye to her at her funeral.
- Collaborating with a couple of Ethiopian hotels and tour companies – unfortunately the work ethics were very different to ours and we were lied to a few times which left a sour taste in our mouths!
- The journey from Addis Ababa to Nairobi by bus – it was one of the most difficult things we’ve done and there was no way back once we set off.
- Experience whilst visiting Vietnam - we didn't happen to receive much friendliness from the Vietnamese people we met on the way (of course not all of them!). We were very excited about travelling through this country, and we don't often get disappointed, but we did this time. We'll give it another try in the future though!
- Not having a base often proved difficult when we tried finishing off our film and photography projects – finding a reliable Internet and at least a semi-quiet place to work has been a big challenge.
All in all, it was one incredible year – we can’t stress enough how much we learnt whilst trying to develop HandZaround’s travel website and portfolio, crossing continents and meeting people from all around the world. We know that there are still so many things to get better at and the more we travel, the more we realize there is to see, so we are so looking forward to discovering more of Africa and Europe in 2018 and accomplishing our new goals!
How was your 2017?
Where have you travelled and what have you seen?
Let us know in the comments below!
Have you seen our 'One Year On The Road' Film? Watch it below: