2009 – Year in Travel
As I start this blog post sitting in the Denver Airport waiting for a delayed flight to head back to the Bay Area, I’m immediately struck by the fact that 2009 was a year, that for me, was defined by the places I went. In December alone, I took 20 individual plane rides to visit St. Louis (twice), Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Darjeeling, and Dubai. I’ve become quite used to sitting at airports, walking to gates, listening to flight attendants go through airline safety regulations, and reading/sleeping on flights between 1 and 16 hours.
Via flights, I got a chance to go to New York, Las Vegas (2x), Boston (2x), St. Louis (3x) and had an incredible trip to India and Ireland (with visits to Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Goa, Dublin), followed by a year-end visit to India (with visits to Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Darjeeling) and a 22 hour layover in Dubai. All of the trips had their highlights – great food in NYC, visiting family in St. Louis, seeing the MLB All-Star Game, gambling away my money in Las Vegas, and seeing friends in India. Lowlights were luckily few and far between – air travel delays were frustrating at times and red-eyes to New York and Boston wore me out. And I don’t think I will put my Darjeeling experience as a lowlight – it’s too ridiculous not too look back on and think as essential to my experience there.
Via car, trips included Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway, Tahoe, Yosemite (twice), Sonoma, and countless trips to Berkeley and San Francisco. I’m not sure how much I like Los Angeles due to the traffic, but driving back up Highway 1 was gorgeous. Spending Fourth of July in Sonoma was a much needed break during the middle of the year and all the wine I bought made a solid but acceptable dent in my wallet.
One small regret was Yosemite – I only went twice, first with my parents, primarily to visit Yosemite Valley, and then backpacking at Young Lakes. The Young Lakes trip was too early in May, so we practically froze at the campsite, although snow covered mountains were quite pretty. And I had planned a trip in September to climb Half-Dome, but due to nearby fires, it got canceled. Angel Island did prove to be a nice alternative, but I’m anxious to climb Half-Dome again and do some legitimate backpacking, if my knees are up for it.
I want to travel as much as I can before I get too old to move and I think I did a good job this year. My trips were primarily weekend sprints, with hardly any vacation taken to make them happen. If anything, I could have used more time in New York, which is the city on the top of my must-visits for 2010.
I think I bought too many things for myself – a Nikon D90, Weber Grill, and a snowboard were my big ticket items, but they’re hopefully things that will last for many years. I thought my Samurai 710s would last a long time, but after taking them around the world and biking in them, they need to be repaired. So in the meantime, I bought some Imperial Dukes which are my default denim for the foreseeable future. My parents spent a lot of time this Christmas talking to me about the wisdom of buying property – if I am going to be half-serious about doing that before I’m 30, I need to start saving more. It’s hard to do so when I want to travel a lot but I’ll definitely be curbing a lot of purchasing next year.
Happily, I spent more time in the kitchen than ever before, despite all the free food I get at work. Being able to cook with Kolina has made it a lot more enjoyable and tasty, as okonomiyaki, grilled ribs, and bbq’d chicken are best enjoyed with the company of others and with a good bottle of wine. I had a fabulous time bbq-ing this past summer and hope to do the same next year.
Restaurants were not short supply this year. My favorites included going to Range as well as checking out old favorites aziza and Burma Superstar in San Francisco. Japanese izakaya is a new favorite of mine, as en, Tanto, and Gochi are all excellent places to check out in the Bay Area. I had an excellent Thanksgiving dinner and fabulous meals in India. I have to especially call out going to Brittania with Joshua and two of his friends – the restaurant was recently written up in the New York Times and I’ll yearn for the taste of their cherry pulav for quite some time.
I think keeping busy was my main goal for the weekends. I saw a lot of movies; Avatar by far being my favorite and spent a bit of time in the ‘arts’ – going to the Asian American Art and King Tut exhibitions at the de Young and seeing Spring Awakening, ‘O’ and the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Concert-wise, I saw John Legend, Travis, Paramore, Vienna Teng, Phish, and Devotchka. I was bummed since I missed Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz. It’s exhausting to think about how much there is going on in the Bay Area alone – I still feel like I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg with all the things there are to do around here.
To prevent even more rambling, I’ll end there. 2009 was a great year and I have a lot of great expectations for 2010. 4 more days left in 2009! 1 day of work and then off to 5 days of snowboarding in Tahoe!