Retrospect and Outlook. The end of the year post

end of the year blog

Another year is ending and I don’t know if it is just me but I can’t believe how fast 2014 passed. I have been back home in Germany for a little over a year now and it feels like time just flew by. It’s that time of the year to reflect on the past 365 days, the good times and the bad, all the things that have happened and to dare an outlook into the upcoming new year.
I can say it’s been a mixed year but taken the fact that I really didn’t expect too much in the first place, it actually turned out ok. It was a time of transition, re-adapting and settling back in, things that not only took a lot of time but also commitment and perseverance. And it was a time of new opportunities with the blog taking off, getting writing opportunities and officially being endowed with the Filipino nickname of Pipoy. Exciting and eventful times. Here is a little run down of what happened after my return from Southeast Asia and an outlook of what will be up in 2015.


Time to re-adapt


Back again. Before taking the train to my hometown.

Coming home after a vacation is already hard but coming home after a year-long trip? I have to admit I was a bit worried about would happen and the things waiting for me. But during my last days abroad, I tried to visualize what I would do once back home and also tried to make precise plans for the first few days after my return. In the end I would have lots of paperwork to deal with, get my car back on the road and of course see old friends and family. I wanted to keep myself occupied which hopefully would help settling back in. And that actually worked pretty well. It was still hard sometimes. I had an exciting year, total freedom with another adventure happening every other day and constantly meeting new and interesting people. Those days were over and realizing that was a tough reality check at times. I came home after a year with so many more experiences and stories under my belt but things here didn’t seem to have changed at all. I came to the conclusion that, no matter how hard the next months would be, it was the absolute right thing to do. If I wouldn’t have left, nothing overly exciting would have happened in my life either. No one will be able to take these experiences and life lessons away from me and they are worth far more than silver and gold. With these thoughts in my mind, I was ready to tackle the upcoming challenges.


Finding work

As many of you guys know, I had quit my job in marketing communications in order to go traveling Southeast Asia for a year. So without my job waiting for me and in desperate need of funds, it was clear that I had to line up a new job quickly. However, I still wanted to try to not rush things and go about it with a plan. I gave myself six months for the job search which I figured should be plenty of time. I knew I needed some time to adapt to life back home after having enjoyed that total freedom of traveling for a whole year. And I also didn’t want to take the first offer just in order to earn. This daunting task called for a strategic approach so the first thing I did was to attend a two-day career coaching to become aware of my goals, my skills and identify the path I wanted to take. After that and a ten day vacation in Canada which I was able to squeeze in, I started my job search. Researching, applying and attending interviews can be grueling and some days I was pretty frustrated and fed up. But I figured it would be a numbers game and so I kept on sending out these applications. The patience and perseverance finally paid off and I was able to land a good job not too far from my home. I started in July, just a bit over my 6-months deadline, and so far it’s looking good.

leap of faith

I took that leap of faith. And it prove to be the right thing to do.

I think the job issue is what keeps most people from quitting to go traveling. My experience was that it is actually not too difficult to find something new. And the feedback I got from employers in terms of my trip was all positive. None of them questioned it and most of them were really interested in hearing about it. I think if you sell it right, it can actually be a big differentiator. So don’t let these doubts get in the way of you and your long lived dream. Just do it.


Exploring in Canada

At the beginning of the year I was invited to Vancouver, Canada by Angel whom I had traveled Vietnam with. Whereas I have been to Canada before, I have never visited Vancouver, the place which has recently been voted the third most livable city in the world. I heard a lot of good stories about the city – stories about an utterly relaxed lifestyle, mild climate, a beautiful setting by the Pacific and the great outdoors right at its doorsteps. It was time to discover and see for myself. It was the end of winter, blue skies, clear and cold air and the winter sun sending out its bright and warming rays. It made exploring the city a very special experience. Vancouver is a great place which is so diverse that it offers something for every kind of taste. Whether it is a lively nightlife, beaches, outdoor activities or good food – Vancouver will probably have it. Another great thing is that the city has some of Canada’s real highlights right at its doorstep. I wanted to get a taste of that so we went up to Whistler, the location of the 2010 Winter Olympics, for two days of snowboarding. The slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb are legendary and it was always a dream of mine to test them. I can say it was the most expensive lift ticket I ever bought but being there was definitely worth it.

Whistler Canada

Snowboarding in Whistler

Whistler Mountain

On top of one of the peaks of Whistler.

Exploring beautiful Vancouver Island and Tofino was another highlight of that trip. I instantly fell in love with the rugged coastline of Canada’s wild west. The island’s enchanted coast, its wilderness and untamed beauty are captivating and the partly stormy weather we had just emphasized the region’s unique character. Walking this wild coast instantly gives you a sense of freedom that is hard to find nowadays. The ancient and ever green rainforest, the everlasting battle of the elements at its shores and a generally relaxed and welcoming vibe make this place a must see for Canada travelers.
It was a great and worthwhile adventure and just the right thing before starting the daunting quest for a new job.

Bald eagles tofino

Bald eagles spotted on the Wild Pacific Trail. Amazing.

Tofino S-nset

Tofino Sunset – I will come back.


ESCapology going viral

Just before starting my new job, my roundup post about my three months in the Philippines went absolutely viral. With the help of some big Facebook pages who shared my article, I received hundreds of thousands of visits in one day, generated thousands of likes, shares and comments and sparked a big discussion among Filipinos at home and abroad. The feedback I received was amazing and a bit overwhelmed by the massive incoming of messages and comments, I tried to reply to every single one personally. This policy I am still pursuing up this date. Sometimes it may take some time, but if you drop me a line, you can be sure that I will get back to you eventually.


ESCapology going viral

In the wake of this online success I got interviewed by online editors of the biggest Filipino TV stations GMA and ABS-CBN, Yahoo News and others. My article was shared by the German embassy in the Philippines and even the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. I guess those were my “five minutes of (online) fame”. But way more important than that is the fact that I got to know amazing people in the course of these events. People who I now exchange messages and thoughts with regularly, people who I even met personally and people who have officially baptized me with the Filipino nickname Pipoy.


Meeting the readers

As I said, the success of the blog allowed me to get to know great people. Even though it was just online, it became clear that there are a lot like minded people out there who identified with I was doing. Since I don’t like to spend too much of my time in the virtual world, I tried to meet some of these folks personally which actually led to real friendships. I was invited to a Filipino birthday party in Holland, I met up with a German reader who passed by my town before heading off on a big trip herself, I met a Dutch guy who is running a tour company in the Philippines and I met up with a reader from London who happened to visit the Cologne christmas market the same day I did. Some of these meetings happened spontaneously, some of them were planned but all of them were worth the time and I am grateful to have met these people. So whenever you are close to my place or whenever I will pass by yours, give me a shout – I would love to meet up and share a couple of drinks, stories and laughter.


Getting published in travel magazines

As I am really into photography, one of my big dreams was to see my pictures printed in a proper travel magazine. The success ESCapology had, allowed me to take a shot at it and approach magazines with content proposals based on my recent journey. After sending out my proposals and following up quite a bit, I finally was successful. I was granted the opportunity to write articles for the two big Filipino travel magazines View Travel and Lifestyle and TravelNow Magazine. Seeing my writing and my pictures in a magazine was awesome and something I wouldn’t even have dared to think about a year ago. It all wouldn’t have been possible without the people who supported me on this quest, the people who helped getting in touch with editors and the people proofreading my articles. You know who you are – Thanks so much.

view magazine article camiguin

Camiguin travel article in VIEW Travel and Lifestyle magazine.


Plans for 2015

I am actually not a big planner as I go about it the same way as I do with all of my travels. That means I usually won’t make any big resolutions or anything like that. However, I have a few things on my mind which I want to tackle next year. The rest will evolve naturally as I tend to say.

New photography gear
If you followed the blog, you might have read about my incident in Vietnam where all of my camera gear got stolen. Since then I only occasionally borrowed cameras from friends to shoot. The reason for that is that I wanted to save up for a proper setup. One year of shooting almost every day has taught me a lot and showed me the limitation of the gear I had. I came to the conclusion that I want to update to a full frame camera which will also need some high quality glass to go with it. Probably by the beginning of the new year I will go and look for a new baby but I am still not sure what it’s going to be. I have a few ideas but once I am all set, I will write a post about it and elaborate on why I bought that specific setup and why I think it will fit my personal demands best. So stay tuned.

Melacca streets

Getting lost in the streets of Malacca

I am actually really bad when it comes to planning trips. I usually hold off until the last moment and then decide and book. I know I probably waste money on the more expensive flights but that’s just the way I am. There will be new adventures coming but I can’t disclose any details yet. I will be back in the Philippines in 2015, that is for sure. Anything else will once again have to evolve naturally. My Facebook Page is probably the best place to stay up to date here.
Generally, I will even more focus on independent and off the beaten track travel. Reminiscing about my recent journey, I realized that this is really where my heart is at. I want to venture really far off and explore places, which haven’t seen many tourists yet and document it. I am not sure if this can be realized next year already, but that is the path I will take. At the same time my passion for Asia remains strong and I can say I am not done with the region yet. Before heading to new ground, I want to see more of the Philippines, I want to explore the remoter parts of India and China, I want to see Bhutan and Tibet and also Mongolia. But as I said, that is a rather mid to long term perspective.

monastery monks at night

Independent and off the beaten travel – more to come.

The blog
The blog is my personal project which gives me the opportunity to produce myself in pictures and writing, to reflect on the things that occupy my mind and to exchange thoughts with like-minded people. And although it takes quite a bit of time and effort, I will sure keep going in 2015. I want to try to implement a little optical makeover and move it to another platform which should bring more possibilities. Together with these tweaks, which will hopefully work out, I will finally update my About me page and include some more info.
Content wise, I will keep sharing my adventures and my personal thoughts about all things travel and also use it as platform to showcase my photography. I want to continue on portraying other travelers and photographers and I actually have an interview with one of the world’s best travel photographers right in the pipeline. If you guys have input or want to see certain topics covered, please let me know. I will be happy to write about it. Any input will be much appreciated.

Freelance Writing
The blog let me discover my passion for the written word. I wanted to turn that passion into a craft and decided to sign up for a part time degree in journalism earlier this year. As theory and practice are two different things, I recently secured my first regular freelance writing gig for a German portal network focusing on work and travel and traveling abroad. I have been with the company for a bit over a month now and it started out good. The team is great, the topics are interesting and the flexibility and freedom they allow for is great. I am excited to really get this project on the road next year.

From online to the real world
As I mentioned above, I love leaving the online world and meeting readers in the real world. In the end, real relationships are the ones that count, that last and that are inspiring. The few times this worked out this year were just awesome and I would love to do it more next year. Let’s all try to make it happen, either at your place, at mine or somewhere in between. Just get in touch and we will figure it out.


Last thoughts …

I don’t have too much to say here as this has been too long already. All there is left and that’s also the most important, is to say thank you!  Thank you everybody for taking the time to read my posts, send comments and messages and provide the encouraging feedback that kept me going throughout the year. All of the good things that happened this year wouldn’t have been possible without you. I really appreciate it and hope that you will stick around for another year and I am looking forward to hearing from you. Have a great 2015, stay healthy, lots of success, many adventures and all the best… happy New Year!



Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Retrospect and Outlook. The end of the year post

  1. haha omgosh making me home sick in both places, the philippines and vancouver both places i love, great post, i skimmed thru it and going to read it in detail again…a favourite photographer i follow has a serious review on camera gear as i’m a canon girl, he was a nikon and has now switched to sony @treyratcliff , you decide…and join in on the adventures, i also love go-pro which i don’t have, i wonder what the future holds…2015, forget the past, hope for tomorrow because the present is a gift, is that how it goes? i think so….oohp nevermind found it.

    “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
    Bil Keane via

    • That sounds like a very wise quote …. I need to keep that one in mind. I have read that article by Trey Ratcliffe but I am not a huge fan of the mirrorless cameras. The new models seem to do an amazing job though and maybe I should give it a shot. For now I might stick to one of the bigger brands – for some emotional reason they appeal a bit more to me. But I will see …. Thanks again PMW for stopping by and all the best. Philipp

  2. Angel

    Sounds like you had a great year Philipp. I’m happy for you.
    Wish you the best in 2015. Happy New Year 🙂

    • Hi Angel, ups and down like usual but once you write it all down you tend to realize that it was actually ok. Hope you had a good one as well but I am sure you did. I am wishing all the best for 2015, lots of luck and success for all challenges that the new year will bring. Happy New Year, Ms. Cookies! 😉

  3. Excellent news all round I would say – hats off to ya Philipp 🙂

    • HI Spike, thanks for liking my posts throughout the year and your support. I really appreciate it. I hope you are doing great and had a good year. Let’s see what the next one will bring. Thanks again Spike and all the best for 2015. Cheers!

  4. Jonel

    Hello Pipoy :),

    The round up of an amazing year that you had was truly amazing and It is always nice to go back and reminisce your trips overseas/abroad. I have to say that your outlook and/or perspective in life and towards travelling is admirable. The positivity that you exude is infectious. I hope that in the coming year I will have the time to travel, go out, see and explore my country as I have been wanting to do this ever since. It’s just that I do not have the time and I need to save some resources in order to do that. You made me realized that there can be lots of things that you can learn if you travel and it will taught you real life lessons. I am also hoping to purchase a camera that I can use and even try blogging (Wow!!!!Talking about things I wanted to try in the coming year huh!!lol) :). I am even thinking of enrolling in a short course for online writing and/or class in journalism.

    You have empowered so many travelers to try and explore so many things in life. So, how do you like the idea that you have influenced so many people especially me to try travelling? :).

    Looking forward to a healthy, happy, safe 2015 for all of us! Happy New Year Phillip.

    I can’t wait to see your travels in 2015…. and of course, I would like to welcome you back here in the Philippines in the year ahead.

    • Hi brother, feedback like yours couldn’t be any better. If I managed to inspire people a little bit or at least entertained them for a bit of their time, then that’s all that I could ask for. So yeah, great that you enjoyed reading my posts and found some inspiration for yourself in them. That is awesome and I am wishing all the luck of the world that you can turn these great endeavors into reality. It is sometimes not easy to stay focused and determined, especially if caucht up in a time consuming and demanding job. I know that it can actually be pretty hard at times. So stick to it, make it happen, one small step at a time and do what you wanna do. Don’t put it off any longer bro. I will try to do the same.

      Thanks again for your kind feedback, I really appreciate and I hope you will stick around in 2015. Take care and a Happy New Year to you. Cheers

  5. Adrian

    Wow, what happened to you in 2014 really proves that things happen when you least expect it. Someday, I would also love to travel the Philippines and the world. Through your blog, it’s like I’m also taken to a journey, being a student I still don’t have enough money (and permission from my parents, haha) to travel and explore the beauty hidden in the country. You take us, the readers, to an adventure through your photographs (which are awesome) and you make us see the country on a whole new perspective. Being a Filipino myself, your love and admiration for the Philippines is heart-warming. No wonder you got published twice and the blog became viral, because it was your love and genuine passion for the country, and that’s our way of saying thank you, too! You made such an impact in my life, recognizing the beauty of my country and just simply living life. That wherever your feet takes you, you gotta keep moving, for every step may propel you closer to a place that can change your life forever. Keep writing, please. I enjoy every bit of your blog. Thanks for loving our country, Pipoy! May 2015 be a better one, stay safe and whenever you feel like it, you can always come to your second home- the Philippines!

    • Hi Adrian, thanks for your kind feedback my friend. I am happy you liked my articles and found some inspiration in them. That is great to hear. I really loved it in PInas so writing about was a pleasure and just my way of giving back. Don’t worry, time will come where you will have the chance to travel yourself…. and once it is there, just do it. It doesn’t need to be expensive and it doesn’t need to be a one-year journey as I did it. Take it slowly and enjoy everything along the way. Thanks again for your support. All the best, Philipp

  6. Happy New Year Phil

    • Hi Susan, how are you doing? I hope you had a good start into the New Year. Thanks for your wishes. Have a great year ahead with lots of luck and success and many adventures. Thanks for following me around here. All the best!

      • Hey Phil. Thanks for your kind wishes in return. So far the New Year has been good to me, and I hope that you will experience lots of success and adventure as well. Take Care!

  7. Hi Philipp,

    Are you famous now?

    I want to tell you I just got back from El Nido. Your blog inspired me to get up and go, and just do it. El Nido is just as you write about including a few scrapes and cuts from dead corals and rocks. I didn’t do as much as you did, but it was enough for me to see the place and meet some great people too. El Nido has a certain buzz on top of its natural beauty.

    Glad to see you had time to visit my favourite city in Canada, Vancouver. I lived and worked there for a number of years. I still go through Vancouver whenever I travel through Asia, sometimes I wish I could bring back those old times on the “wet” coast.

    Cheers and Happy New Year!


    • Hi Alex, not even close my friend ;). Glad you liked El Nido and enjoyed your time over there. How long did you stay and what other places did you visit while in the Philippines? Sounds like you had a great trip. How come you moved from the West to the East Coast? I really liked Vancouver and Vancouver Island….great time there. It’s just pretty expensive but I am not sure if Toronto is any cheaper actually. Never been there. OK my friend, thanks for stopping by, all the best!

      • Alex B.


        That’s a question people always ask me with some wonder. Job and family. Vancouver is more expensive than Toronto so going back is out of the question now. But having good memories of Vancouver I think is enough. I’m still here in the PH until end of Feb escaping winter in Canada. We’re all escape artists of some sort. I’m spending a few weeks of quiet time outside of Dumaguete to finish my own personal project. Then maybe Siquijor and Tablas yet.

        If you’re ever in Toronto, I can show you the cheaper side of town. Take it easy being non-famous.


      • Hi Alex,
        good to know that VC is more expensive than Toronto. I wasn’t quite sure about that. But yeah, it is expensive there – no doubt about it. Good for you that you can escape the winter and spend some in the PI. Haven’t been to Dumaguette yet but it is on my list. What’s your personal project over there then? Sounds interesting.
        And thanks a lot for the offer of showing me around Toronto. I might actually get back to that, we will see. All the best.

  8. jiksev

    Hi! I really want to travel for a year, but i dont know if i want to spend the entire year in asia (same countries as you but including india) or add south america to the trip (overland from lima to rio de janeiro via Buenos aires). The reason i dont know if i want to spend the entire year in asia, is because i dont know if it will get “boring”. by boring i mean maybe some countries arent a little bit the same? I thought you could help me with that. This is my intinerary now:

    Indonesia: 6 weeks
    Philippines: 7 weeks
    SEA : 21,5 weeks
    (TL: 6,5
    L: 4
    CB: 3
    VN: 4,5
    My/B: 3,5)
    Nepal: 3
    India: 7 weeks
    South America: 14 weeks

    So if i would substract South america, i would have more time in SEA. What is your opinion about this?

  9. Hello again, that is hard to say as it depends what you want and what your travel style is like. I prefer staying longer in places to really get a feel for it and immerse. And I hate to rush. But yeah, I think your plan looks ok…why not do it and you can always change your plans. There is no sense to plan everything ahead and assign the weeks if you will be gone for a year. What if you like it so much in let’s say Nepal, that you want to stay longer. Will you stay longer or stick to your set plan. I am all in for keeping flexible and adjusting along the way. But as a first outline this should be ok.
    I haven’t been to SA so I can’t tell you if 14 weeks is sufficient or not or how it compares to Asia. I personally can say that Asia was never boring for me and every country was different. But you will find out yourself….keep an open mind and stay flexible and you will do the right thing, no matter what ….

    • Jiksev

      Thank you so much for your reply. I think i will keep it this way, but indeed stay flexible, im also a traveller who doesnt like to rush.
      I love your blog! I found it a month ago and i already read all of your stories! Your photos are AMAZING!
      Keep up the good work!

  10. Sure thing brother. I am confident that you will figure it all out along the way. Just go with the flow, stay longer where you like it, leave where you don’t and then take it from there. It’s an amazing opportunity and I am happy you found some inspiration in my stories. That’s great to hear.

    Would love to keep in touch and hear about your trip every once in a while. Keep me posted and happy travels.


  11. Congratulations on your successes and good luck in 2015. Maybe our paths will cross in the Philippines.

    • Hi Terry, thanks for stopping by and thanks also, for providing the info on the national parks. I really appreciate it. If you ever need any advice on Southeast Asia, just let me know. Always glad to help. All the best and happy travels. Philipp

  12. jasonahmed99

    Hey Philipp its Sarah here! wow what a year! So amazing that your blog and photography has had so much success! You must be so happy! Well done! We return home at the end of March. Im trying to mentally prepare myself now! Any tips let me know! Ha ha

    • Hi Sarah, thanks and yeah – it’s been an eventful year, that’s for sure. Let’s see how 2015 will turn out. What are your plans for back home? Mental preparation is actually a good thing as it will help to re-adapt. I found that really imagining what life back home will be like, really detailed, will help. And also making plans. Think of things you want to do once you are home, things you need to get done, personal projects you want to start and so on. That’ll help I hope but no matter what, it will probably be difficult at the beginning. I actually thought about writing a post about this time of re-adaption ;). All the best to you guys. Enjoy the last weeks on the road and that freedom you have …. Cheers

      • jasonahmed99

        Im sure 2015 will be just as eventful. I think there is definitely more to come for you. Yep in a strange way ive been preparing myself for the end since the start. In my job I work with kids and we do a lot with them about preparing them for closure and endings from the start. Im visualising things which will help.
        The plan is to return home and save and set off again. But we are both just going to return home with an open mind and see what happens, we’ve so many ideas. Thankfully we both have jobs to go back to, we just need to find somewhere to live. Ive got a few personal projects already in mind too, so thats good! But I know it will be odd at first. Yeah you should do a posr on that, it would be good! Have you anything in mind for this year? Thank you, our last weeks will be spent doing lots of rock climbing. All the best to you too!

    • Yeah, visualizing was the proper word that I was missing. I think that can really help. Going home, saving up and going away again sounds like a good plan ;). Any ideas where you guys would wanna go to next? It sure helps a lot that you have jobs which you can come back to. One thing less to worry about. And a place to live is sorted out in no time I would reckon.
      What are your upcoming personal projects about? Projects are a good thing to have as they represent goals. Without it is hard to find motivation. For me, I have a few things cooking but I can’t reveal them just yet…. stay tuned ;). OK guys, enjoy the climbing and everything else …. Cheers and all the best!

      • jasonahmed99

        Hey sorry for the delay! I wrote a reply to you a while ago and just as I neared the end I somehow managed to delete it! We have a few ideas of where we would like to go. Wherever it is there will need to be climbing and the opportunity to work. We would both like to see more of China and to spend more time in Taiwan. We are also considering Europe or America in a van. One thing I have learnt about myself on this trip is that I pick up languages quite easily, so I am going to learn a language. I also want to concentrate on our blog more, at the minute all of our blogging is done from our phone! I am really into fitness and climbing so I have some goals set around that too. I will most certainly stay tuned! Well done again for all of your achievements! Speak soon, Sarah.

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