I actually have no intention of writing about my baby here. But, I’ve mentioned her in the title of this year’s travel and career roundup because I’m pleased with how much I’ve been able to achieve in 2017 while pregnant and then as the mother of a small baby. I really didn’t know how my work life would change once she came along, and while I’ve definitely needed to make adjustments, I am pretty happy with the balance I’ve struck so far. I’ve actually had the most successful year of my freelance career! Here’s what I’ve been up to.
In January I travelled to Vietnam for two and a half weeks, to meet up with my dad. I’d been to Vietnam before, in 2011, but on that trip I’d only been to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and the Mekong Delta.
This time, I landed in Saigon but immediately left, heading north to Dalat, then on to Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi, including a one night cruise at Halong Bay. I had liked Vietnam well enough on my first trip, but didn’t necessarily fall in love with the country. On this latest trip I found that the central and northern parts of Vietnam are the more interesting part of the country to me.
February-March, Lower Mustang
I’d been wanting to travel to Mustang for years, ever since I read about the region in Manjushree Thapa’s Mustang Bhot in Fragments, and then Michel Piessel’s Mustang: A Lost Tibetan Kingdom. My travels to Ladakh and Tibet in 2016 somewhat satisfied my interest in cultures of the Tibetan Plateau, but I was still fascinated by this Nepali area that sits in the rainshadow of the Himalayas.
So, I was thrilled when my work with Inside Himalayas took me on a trip to Lower Mustang at the end of February. I slept in Jomsom and Kagbeni, and made day trips to Muktinath, Marpha, and other little places.
- Lower Mustang, a Land of Lamas and Buddhism
- 9 Reasons to Travel to Lower Mustang this Season
- Day Hikes in Lower Mustang
In early July I travelled to Bangkok to give birth to my daughter, who was due in early August. I stayed there for almost two months. As a heavily pregnant woman and then mother of a newborn, I didn’t get out all that much. But travelling to Thailand for medical care was certainly a unique experience, and one that I recommend.
Singapore is the quintessential stopover city: it’s compact, efficient, and has plenty of things to see and do for a short amount of time. I’ve had stopovers in Singapore many times, but not for about… 12 years? So it was good to drop in on the city again for 24 hours.
Singapore Airlines has an excellent stopover deal, where you can book a hotel and transfers (as well as sightseeing tours, if you have enough time for that) for a good price. I got a room in a decent hotel and transfers for about $60 Singapore. As it’s an expensive city, that’s a good deal.
November, New Zealand
Despite being a New Zealand citizen, I haven’t lived here full-time since 2006. But with a little baby, I needed a change of surroundings, so have retreated here for some time. While I don’t feel wholeheartedly happy to have left Nepal for the time being, I’m pretty fortunate that I can come to a beautiful, peaceful place like New Zealand when I need a bit of TLC. It could be a lot worse.
- Having my essay ‘Power, 24 Hour’ featured in Lavinia Spalding’s Best Women’s Travel Writing Vol. 11
- Writing India and New Zealand (forthcoming) guides for World Nomads
- Being published in Jetstar Magazine, my first work for an in-flight magazine
- Followed up by an article on Love2Fly, the blog of Iberia Airlines
- Taking a work trip to Lower Mustang
- Publishing the 2017 edition of Inside Himalayas magazine
- A forthcoming article in LiveMint (an Indian newspaper)
- Having my essay ‘Slowly Down the Sun Kosi’ published in The London Reader
- Announcing a book project that I’ll be editing, The Best Asian Travel Writing 2019, by Singapore-based Kitaab Books