Farewell 2013: My Travel Year In Photos

All last month my fellow travel bloggers were sharing their top photos and recommended gift ideas for travelers. Never one to hop on an overcrowded bandwagon I decided to abstain from it all. Well that and most of my photographs are not that worthy of repeated sharing, although to be fair my photography skills have improved dramatically over this last year. That is why I have finally started to watermark them.

However as 2013 was such a fantastic and fun year and I would like to commemorate it in some small way. So I present to you a visual journey through my 2013 adventures.

The HoliDaze Year In Photos  


I spent the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 in the same place I had for the last three years — California, USA. After making friends there on my six-month hippie road trip across 32 states I have returned every year to make some quick cash by trimming marijuana, regardless of where in the world I am traveling. This has been the first year I’ve missed…

This is a proper California marijuana greenhouse grow with plants bigger than me and dozens of greenhouses!
“This place smells like heaven!”   See More


During the early months of 2013 I was constantly traveling between California, Colorado, and Mexico, on the road more days than not. Then in April I returned home to Austin and began selling all of my possessions.

On The Road In Mexico
The view over the steering wheel was the only sight I saw for a while. At least it wasn’t bad when there was no traffic.

In less than four weeks I not only accomplished that but also planned (and I use that word loosely) the four-year RTW adventure that I am currently on.

Behold…the first leg of my RTW adventure!


The latter part of May and beginning of June found me in Canada for TBEX. Not only were the seminars and events fun but so too were the late night parties — especially the now infamous Walks Of Italy after-after party on Saturday night 😉

Beer At TBEX
Enjoying a pitcher of beer (or two) with my buddy Ryan of Lost Boy Memoirs

United Arab Emirates

After a short stint in the United Arab Emirates I headed on to Indonesia for what was initially a one-month trip. Little did I know that seven months later I would still be there…

Grand Mosque In Abu Dhabi, UAE
All mosques are pretty much the same to me but this one was rather impressive in size.


Although I arrived in Indonesia in June and am still here now, in January, I have also spent three weeks exploring Malaysia, three weeks wandering around Thailand, and taken two trips to Singapore. My amazing adventures in Indonesia have already been covered a great deal in recent posts the last few months but here are a few photos you haven’t seen yet:

Padang Padang Beach, Bali
Padang Padang Beach in Bali

Northern Lombok
View from the highway in northern Lombok, near the Gilis.

Mount Rinjani and Lombok Island Panorama
Lombok Island, Indonesia, with the top of Rinjani Mountain visible in the background

My list of achievements and accomplishments here in Indonesia has grown rather extensive, which is part of the reason why I am still here. However one of the things I am most proud of is the reaction to my critical post on the Bandung Zoo. Not only did it get the attention of the new mayor but a week after reading it he set aside funds to renovate and improve the zoo in a public speech 😀

Hungry bears beg for food at Kebun Binatang Bandung Zoo
Hungry bears beg for food at Kebun Binatang Bandung Zoo

  For more on all my unbelievable adventures in Indonesia — including my film and TV appearances, cultural celebrations such as panjat pinang, and tips / advice / recommendations for your trip — be sure to check out all my other posts on Indonesia


My first visa run from Indonesia was to Singapore. Initially only planned to be a 2-day trip, I ended up staying here for 10 crazy expensive days.

Marina Bay as seen from the 66th floor of Swissôtel
Marina Bay as seen from the 66th floor of Swissôtel


Malaysia was a fun country, kind of like a rich Indonesia lol. I hope to return in 2014 to explore Borneo, the eastern half of Malaysia, especially Sabah.

Local Malaysian Kids
Local kids absolutely transfixed by the gentleman producing Spirograph artwork. Remember that simple yet amazing toy from when we were kids?


The Land of Smiles is a very vibrant and tasty country but a bit too westernized for my tastes. At some point I will return and make it to more remote parts of Thailand but unfortunately for me on this first trip I was unable to escape the tourist path.

Old Man Smiling
Everyone in Thailand smiles at foreigners 🙂

Yup, 2013 has been a great year. It also marks the most serious year I’ve had blogging so far. Finally I am getting in the hang of pausing my adventures every few weeks to write my experiences — something that any permanent traveler can tell you is easier said than done, especially when living an adventurous life 😉

Now I want to see your photos from 2013 — feel free to include the link in your comment.

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

30 thoughts on “Farewell 2013: My Travel Year In Photos”

  1. Derek,
    It was an amazing year and I wish much joy and prosperity in 2014. Still disappointed we could not hook up in Bangkok and get together. I know we will down the road. That is if I can ever “catch up” with you. Seriously glad I met you at #TBEX and hope that cross paths in 2014.

    • I feel the same way Mike, such a shame we couldn’t find time for our schedules to overlap in Thailand. Hopefully we can cross paths in 2014 — I’ll be mostly in Asia, making my way towards Europe. Let me know if you head back to my corner of the world anytime soon! 🙂

    • Yup, that’s been the story of my travel life so far Samantha “oh I love it here, I’ll stay just a lil longer…” This March it will be five years since I left my job to travel the world and so far I am only at 21 countries. My only real shame is that I never started write seriously about my adventures sooner — all of my pre-2012 posts were nothing more than drunken rambles from Blogger intended for friends back home, so they would know I wasn’t dead. Congrats on you two for starting early and fully documenting your new life in Costa Rica before branching out. Looking forward to your 2014 adventures 🙂

      And BTW, I think I may have mentioned this on Twitter briefly but if you should pass back through Puntarenas then definitely let me put you in touch with Michael and Elizabeth, fellow world travelers than now own an impressive mansion turned private hostel there on the northern shore. You can see a photo gallery here: https://theholidaze.com/central-america/costa-rica/perla-del-pacifico

      • Hey 21 countries is A LOT and you have definitely experienced them to a much more full extent than some people who boast about visiting triple digit countries. Ah yes I vaguely remember! We don’t have any definite plans to visit Puntarenas, usually we stop by there in passing but I’d love to explore it more. Yeison actually lived there for most of his childhood but it’s changed quite a bit in twenty years! We would love to get in touch with them when we go and check out their hostel, and they sound like very intriguing people! I’m going to bookmark the article so I can save their contact info. Thanks Derek!

  2. I wrote a long comment and the server went offline. Sigh~

    Anyway, wow, u spent a f**king 10 days in Singapore??!! That’s crazy man! Haha. I spent 4 days there and felt like I have covered almost the whole country and I got broke! I even ate bread with Tuna to cut cost. Haha.

    As for Indonesia, you will never get bored. It is a big country and offers different adventures and different experiences at every province. Just like how distinct every states in the States are. 🙂

    And you should visit Sabah in Malaysia! The state is just amazing with all the natural wonders! I’m finishing my Sabah travelogue and hope that it can help your visit. Don’t forget to mention me in your post if it is helpful. Hahahahaha.

    Anyways, Happy New Year bro! May 2014 gives a lot more adventures to you! 😉

    • Selamat tahun baru juga!

      Ackkk sorry to hear that. But yes, you are correct, crazy indeed. I don’t even like thinking how much I spent during that time (especially all the nights out drinking with other bloggers and/or newfound friends) or how far that same amount of money would have lasted me in either of Singapore’s neighboring countries…

      Totally get what you mean about the diversity here in Indonesia but as someone who has traveled 48 of the 50 US states, well they’re not quite as diverse as many people (even Americans) like to think. Indonesia blows the States away in culture and languages, but to be fair there is a much greater diversity of food in America. But that should come as no surprise given the history and abundance of immigrants. Oops I digress…

      Anyway I’ll keep you updated once I am passing back through Malaysia again Khai…definitely plan on making it to Sabah this time 🙂

  3. What a freakin’ rad year for you man. As always, it was a pleasure kickin’ it and chuckin’ it with you in Thailand and Indonesia. Looking to do that again sometime…and start that travel video series! We’ve already got fans asking for it dude! Here is to an epic 2014 for the both of us!

    • Yeah, we need to come up with some sort of collaboration based around how we’re both exploring different locations and the differences in our travel styles / long-term paths / adventures. Ideally that would work best in video. Hmmmm might have to move this conversation to email…

    • Indeed — small world huh? Growing up in Texas I have lots of friends with family in Mexico. Many of them even own huge ranches. It’s great to just get out there and unwind. Really miss the food. Mmmmmmmm….

      Happy new year Val, may your 2014 be the best year so far 😀

    • WOW considering you spent far less time on the road than me it looks like you managed to make it to a few more countries than I did 😛 Your talent for photography shows in the range of your photos whereas with me, well my “bad” photos still outnumber the “good” shots, I’ll just put it that way. Except for every once in a while, like this one from Bangkok, my FriFotos #2013Best 😉

    • Love the round-up Bram. Some of those adventures I remember and others I don’t — they were either from the first half of the year, before I started reading your blog, or ones I’d somehow missed while on the road myself. Anyway, cheers to 2014 surpassing 2013 mate, best wishes!

  4. Didn’t know you were a Mary Jane farmhand – cool! And the pics from Indo are awesome as I’m headed there Mid-Feb … can’t wait. I’ve got a year in review in pics post coming up (probably ready tomorrow!), I’ll tweet it to you when it’s done!

    • Mmmmmm do I detect that we have something in common here? Oh really, Indonesia in mid-Feb, huh? Damn I’ll be in Vietnam then. Are you staying for the full 30 days? Hey now is your chance to actually visit Jogja even though you’ve already written a post about what to do in MY hometown — and beaten my to it at no less! I’ll probably be back around the beginning of March to celebrate my birthday with friends in Jakarta and grab the rest of my bags from Jogja. Let me know your schedule, be great to cross paths for a third time!

    • I don’t think — correction: I know — that I can never stop traveling. These feet were made for walking LOL. But so far I really enjoy returning back to Indonesia after every few countries. Don’t get me wrong, the country is far from perfect. Rampant government corruption, prolific trash and pollution, an overwhelming proportion of cigarette smokers, Muslim extremist groups like the FPI, and infrastructure upkeep are just some of the issues plaguing this archipelagic nation. However I have made some amazing friends there, had a lot of fun exploring the country (and there is still so much more left to explore — 17,508 islands altogether), and am definitely doing my best to get from schoolkid level bahasa to fully fluent bahasa. So yes, I’m sure I’ll be spending more time there. But will I ever call it my permanent home? Well that is hard to say but no, I don’t think so. Japan is where I really want to live — at least once I have the income to afford the lifestyle I like to live while there. However at least for now Indonesia is my temporary home and refuge from the road when I need a few weeks off.

    • Thanks Ross, it was definitely a great year. Amazingly though 2014 has already topped it! 😀 Oh and speaking of the zoo, that topic just came up again this morning in a convo with another friend. The Bandung zoo is not the worst in Indonesia — there is a more infamous one in Surabaya. I’ve been to the city several times but never poked my head in the zoo specifically b/c of all the horror stories I’ve heard. However now that it’s been a year since that last zoo post so I might just have to head to this other zoo for research purposes….we’ll see. I’ll be back there next month.

      However the real reason that my article set zoo improvements in motion is the proactive approach of the new mayor. The mayor in Surabaya is not near as accommodating, so I worry that any attempts I have to shine a light on the situation will be of little or no use 🙁

  5. Wow, you’ve had an amazing year, man. In all places I like Thailand most. Especially its beaches. Thailand people are loving and honest. Girls are very pretty. Thailand is very cheap, though the north is far cheaper than Bangkok and the islands. I feel calm in Thailand.


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