Potential Traveling Plans for 2016

December 21, 2015
As I look ahead to 2016, I can't help but think that it will be a great year for travel. For Chinese New Year's, the foreign teachers get an entire month off (paid!). A month is a pretty good chunk of time to go on a decent trip! Most of that trip is actually booked and planned out already. In addition to the month we get off for the Chinese New Year, I'll also get two months off in the summer to visit other destinations.

Thanks to The Rachael Way for letting me edit her pic taken in Ko Tao
1) Maldives- I've pretty much wanted to go to the Maldives ever since I found out about this beautiful island country. I brought up wanting to go there to Scott, but thought he might want to use China as his base to explore other countries instead. Happily, he was all about accompanying me in the Maldives. Rachael will be joining the two of us, and I know that we are in for an AMAZING trip. We will be staying for 5 nights in a bungalow right over the water. How nice will it be to just be able to jump right in the ocean from our place?! Or, we can sit out on the deck above the ocean and just hang out, read, sun bathe, etc. Scott and I have already bought snorkeling masks, and we were talking about getting our diving certification while we're over there. I'm a little hesitant, but Scott is trying to convince me. I guess it depends on the price. We are also considering dining at an underwater restaurant.

2) Sri Lanka- We will be flying straight from the Maldives and into Sri Lanka for 9 days. I have to confess that I usually go on trips with a plan, but for this one, I sat back and let Scott figure out what we would do. He wanted to and said he enjoys it, so Rachael and I are kind of going with the flow for this one! Everything he put on our itinerary sounds right up my alley. We will be going to Galle and will be exploring the town, beaches, and turtle hatchery first. Our next stop will be Sinharaja to go to the rain forest reserve and then to Udawalawe Elephant Park. Finally, we'll be visiting Yala National Park because of the animal sanctuaries.

3) Ko Tao, Thailand- Scott really wanted to go to Thailand since he had never been before. I went three other times, but not for very long. This time, I knew I wanted to just stay on one island and chill out. It was between Ko Lanta and Ko Tao, but Rachael raved about Ko Tao to me and I trust her, so that's where Scott and I will be going. We preferred a place that was less touristy than Phuket and Ko Phi Phi, but we didn't want to be somewhere completely deserted. I think Ko Tao sounds just right for us. As far as accommodation is concerned, after looking at probably fifty places, we decided to stay at the highly reviewed Chintakiri Resort. We had a lot of trouble because it was harder to find places that have two twin beds instead of one king. Scott and I love each other but not that much. :)

4) Jiuzhai Valley National Park- The last time I was in Chengdu, I didn't have enough time to make it to Jiuzhai Valley National Park. This famous tourist attraction has gorgeous vistas, alpine lakes, and waterfalls. Ideally, I'd like to go hiking (nothing too intense) and then do a home stay at a local Tibetan village. The problem with going here is that it's too much to try to do on just a weekend trip. I've read it's an 8 or 9 hour drive from Chengdu and we'd already be flying in from Shanghai. Of course, I do get breaks and there are some three day weekends, but much like Yangshuo, Jiuzhai Valley National Park gets overly crowded on Chinese National Holidays and I don't want to go to a place like this to be shoved around and surrounded by so many others. This really is a dilemma...Scott and I are going to have to talk this one through and figure out a plan.

5) Morocco- In the summer, Scott and I were thinking of taking a two week trip to Morocco. How spoiled am I to get to go on all of these trips with one of my best friends?! I'm not trying to brag, but am just grateful for the chance! Anyway, we have some ideas of what we want to do, but need to plan and research it more once we get back to China in February. Like many tourists, we would start in Marrakech and go to the souks. The former Portuguese Colony of Essaouira is also on our list. So is a desert stay in the Sahara, seeing the King Hassan Mosque in Casablanca, visiting the "blue city" of Chefchaouen, and going to bath houses in Fes.

6) Turkey- This was originally on our list, but we'll see how things go. As of now, we both still want to visit but will just avoid the areas around the Syrian border. For this trip, we wanted to hit Istanbul, Cappadocia (hot air balloon rides, valleys, pottery classes), Canakkale (to visit Troy), Olympos, Kekova (a village on the coast), Dalyan (ancient city), and Pamukkale (white cliffs), just to name a few places. We were thinking of doing a tour for this trip, which makes me a little nervous just because I've been on some absolutely fabulous tours but also have been on a couple that I wish I hadn't taken!

Where do you plan to go this year?
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