The Year That Was

Another year in the books.

While many are eager to say good riddance to 2016 — and with good reason, at that — it’s brought its own share of good moments.

I biked across Canada this past year and met hundreds of people along the way, all while raising funds for a cause close to my heart: mental health. I got to be a part of people’s mornings on my hometown radio station, working alongside a stellar crew that often felt more like a family. I gained a sister-in-law and got to celebrate the best day of my brother’s life, all while having more fun at a rainy wedding than I’d thought was possible. I met my girlfriend this year — an amazing woman — and then promptly left for eight months of travel. (I probably remember this more fondly than she does.)

I thought of all these things while ringing in the New Year in Thailand, watching fireworks light up the beach and Chinese lanterns drift off into the night sky. How lucky I am, indeed.

It’s funny, the rituals we’ve created around a calendar last updated nearly 500 years ago: the resolutions, the “Best Of” lists, the time spent with friends and family. We love beginnings and endings, and thus reserve our stock-taking and goal-setting for the year’s bookends, putting them on the shelf the other 363 days of the year.

Imagine if we could tap into that same gratitude, reflection, and motivation every day.

What a different world it might be.

Tales from the road:

1. One thing worth mentioning: the toilet system is a little different in Southeast Asia — specifically, the clean-up part. Rather than jumping straight to toilet paper, each bathroom has a mini hose next to the toilet. It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how to use the thing without making a mess.
2. Just when I thought we’d found the cheapest beer possible at 50 cents a glass, I was proven wrong. We found a place on Pub Street in Siem Reap selling 25 cent drafts.
3. Even better than the cheap beer is the pad thai. The best one we had came with a fried egg on top that you punch through with your chopsticks to reveal the steamy noodles beneath. Combine that with cold coconut water served fresh out of the coconut, and we were in heaven.

4. A few other highlights from 2016, in no particular order: the Raptors made the Eastern Conference Finals; All-Star Weekend came to Toronto, and the Dunk Contest was a classic; the Jays made the ALCS; Toronto FC made the MLS Cup Final; the Leafs won the Draft Lottery and didn’t blow it; HBO did Westworld; Chance did Coloring Book; Marvel did Deadpool and Captain America: Civil War; The Hip put on one hell of a show; Penny Oleksiak ran (or rather, swam) away with The Olympics; Usain Bolt really ran away with The Olympics; the Cubs won the World Series; the Warriors won 73 games; and LeBron brought Cleveland a championship.

Things I’ve seen:

1. Smiling monks.

A rare moment at Baphuon Temple inside Angkor Thom. We came across these two monks, leaving the temple and heading towards us. I thought I took a good picture, but then Sara showed me hers.

2. Houses on stilts.

We visited Kompong Phluk in Cambodia, a village built entirely on stilts. Boating through them was even more remarkable than the canals of Venice.

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Kompong Phluk Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

A post shared by Warren Jones (@warrenlejones) on

3. Island oases.

Thailand’s islands have earned their reputation. The beaches are spotless, the water is inviting, and the scenery is breathtaking. We’re spending the better part of a week between Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi — a pretty nice way to cap 2016 and bring in the New Year.

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Koh Phi Phi. #kohphiphi #krabi #thailand #travel

A post shared by Martin Bauman (@shotbymartin) on

What I’ve been reading/listening to:

Michael Crichton – The Andromeda Strain
Shad – “Remember To Remember”

(Header photo by Warren Jones)

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