It’s hard to believe, but another year has just about passed us by. Although it wasn’t such a big year in terms of travel, 2015 was pretty epic for us. We got married, saw tons of amazing shows, and even moved to Bali. As we get ready to ring in 2016 here on the Island of the Gods, we’ve spent some time reflecting on the year that was and all of the experiences it brought. Without further adieu, here’s our annual Top 10 list:
10. West and North Bali Adventure
Before the rainy season hit, we jumped on the motorbike and did a loop around half of the island. We got lost looking for a waterfall, took in a stunning sunset, saw the Makepung buffalo races, went diving at Menjangan island, visited a temple overrun with monkeys, and chilled on one of Bali’s quietest beaches. Not bad for a little weekend road-trip, eh?
9. Solo China Trips
Although we both get pretty bad FOMO when one of us travels alone, sometimes it has to happen. There were a few solo trips in China for each of us in 2015 that were actually quite fun. I got to visit friends in Shenzhen, check out Macau, and take part in the biggest water fight ever in Southern Yunnan, while Rachel joined some colleagues to see China’s biggest waterfall.
8. Asheville Honeymoon
While it might not seem like much of a honeymoon – it’s only an hour away from Rachel’s hometown and the same place we had the wedding – our week-long Asheville honeymoon was pretty awesome. Plus, we went ahead and had a few others for good measure. We had a great time staying in her parents’ mountain house, and we spent the week hiking, tubing, hanging with friends, and of course eating and drinking our way around the city. It was nice finally spending more than a day in Asheville, and it has definitely become one of our favorite American cities. For more on Asheville, check out our “Streets, Beats & Eats” video:
7. May Day in Dali
The first week of May is a major holiday in China, and it’s quite a chaotic time to travel. Usually, we would avoid popular destinations such as Dali like the plague over major holidays, but we decided to take a chance and make our second trip there anyways. By staying in a village around Erhai Lake rather than in the old town, we were able to avoid the crowds for the most part and managed to have a really nice, relaxing holiday.
6. Phish SE Tour
After a few years full of new travel experiences, it’s funny that the only new place for either of us in 2015 was Alabama – my first (and probably last) visit to the Yellowhammer State. We had a wild four nights seeing Phish in Atlanta, Tuscaloosa, and Nashville doing my first ever southeast run. The shows were great, but the best part was spending time with a bunch of old friends. We miss going to shows and festivals with huge groups of friends, so this was a nice blast from the past and one of the best experiences of the year.
5. A Very Chinese Chinese New Year
Without the funds or the energy to pull off a big trip over Chinese New Year, we were stuck in Yunnan with no plans. Thankfully, a friend we had met a few years earlier saved the day and invited us to his village, where we enjoyed two days of eating, drinking, and watching fireworks. We also spent a few days exploring an ancient town, checked out a neon-lit cave, and walked in the rice terraces to round out a great Yunnan trip.
4. Phish Miami NYE 2014-2015
The year started out huge for us, as we got engaged at midnight during the Phish New Year’s Eve show in Miami. Thanks to NYE falling on a Wednesday, there were three more shows that followed. We can’t think of a better way to start off the year than seeing our favorite band in sunny South Florida with a bunch of friends and family around. Read more about our Phishy Engagement, and check out the short video we put together:
3. Ubud Honeymoon and Festivals
Since we moved to Bali, we figured we might as well go ahead and have another honeymoon here. We spent four nights in a beautiful joglo house in Ubud, where we enjoyed a day at the spa, art museums, dance performances, and a few amazing meals. We returned to the cultural center of the island quite a few times throughout the semester for a handful of festivals – the Ubud Reader’s and Writer’s Festival, a celebration of Saraswati (a Hindu holiday), and the first ever Bali World Music Festival. We’ve loved Ubud since we first visited back in 2012, and we’re loving the fact that it’s just up the road now.
2. Fare thee Well – Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Shows
When we heard that the “core four” members of the Grateful Dead were going to be inviting Trey from Phish to join them to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary, we just knew we had to be there. A bit of birthday luck for Rachel helped us land a travel package that came with tickets, so we joined 75,000 other Deadheads in the Windy City over the 4th of July weekend in what was hands down the best musical experience either of us have ever had. It was a magical weekend, and we’re so happy that we got to be a part of it.
1. Our Wedding Festivities
All of the travels and shows were great, but the #1 spot of the year is an easy one. Our wedding festivities were easily the highlight of the year, and we feel so blessed to have been able to celebrate with so many people we love. We started out with an engagement party and the bachelor/bachelorette parties in the D, had a wedding shower in Johnson City, and finally got married on Cloud 9 in Asheville at Camp Gypsy. It wasn’t easy planning a wedding from the other side of the world, but everything worked out perfectly (thanks, moms!) and we’re very grateful for everyone that helped out and came out to join us. I did my own videography for the wedding and although it was a bit stressful, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out:
Wow… what a year that was! As far as next year goes, things are really up in the air for us at this point. We’ll be in Bali until the end of May, and we’re looking forward to having quite a few visitors in between now and then. We’re also going to the island of Flores for a couple of weeks and will try to hit another one or two Indonesian islands before my program finishes up. The summer is a big question mark now – we’re debating traveling around South Asia, Europe, Central/South America, or maybe applying for working holiday visas down under. After all, our slogan is “Improvise your life,” and we’ll be doing just that in 2016.