My Best of Nine this 2017 -

There’s an Instagram generator known as that lets you input your Instagram public handle and generates this cute nine-photo collage of your most-liked Instagram shots. By this time and before the year ends, your social media feeds will likely be inundated by similar visuals. In this case, I don’t mind riding the bandwagon when the result is something that easily encapsulates the nostalgia and gratitude over the year that is 2017.

Personally, I thought the world has gone nuts this 2017. Albeit a very challenging year for the world and for me personally, it is also a very meaningful one. Fortunately, my “best of nine” was able capture some of these moments and more. I’ll try to break it down starting from the leftmost photo of each row beginning from the top.

My Best of Nine (2017) - @pganzon

1. The Year I got engaged

Last April 2017, I got engaged. The photo above was taken about a week after or so. There were no photos of the actual engagement as the story behind it is as candid, casual, and uniquely hilarious as my future husband. Without any dream wedding to reference to, I plunged into the preparations completely overwhelmed, excited, and confused early on until we decided to allow ourselves the luxury of a longer engagement, so I can be all bridechilla and we can simultaneously work on improving and furnishing our place. It’s been quite the ride since.

2. Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Visiting Beijing turned out to be quite the unexpected adventure. I remember this as a busy time that I was unable to actually plan the itinerary. Thankfully, my sister did and booked all the transactions. I tried not to allow any of my preconceived notions of mainland China affect my overall experience. But I was pleasantly surprised by our entire trip. I was able to appreciate and learn so much more about China, including their rich history and diversity within. Looking at that photo above reminds me of that not-so-humid day walking along the beautiful Summer Palace.

3. The Big 3-o

I was looking forward to turning 30 this year. It feels like such a milestone that I decided to throw a party with friends and family. My birthday month also brought about a lot of medical issues. Apart from losing my voice due to acute laryngitis, I discovered that I had to undergo a minor surgery (not for my voice). Thankfully, everything turned out fine at the end. But it was a complex time that allowed me to reflect on certain things including finally starting this website.

4. Dalgubeol Lantern Festival in Daegu, South Korea

When I think of my first time trip to South Korea, I think of the Lantern festival and the perfect travel weather we experienced last Spring.  We were so fortunate that the date of the festival coincided with the itinerary set forth that day. This was a last-minute serendipitous discovery that my family and I will forever treasure. Words and my photo above do not give justice to our experience of witnessing thousands of beautifully lit lanterns grace that perfect sky. It was magical.

5. The Christmas Photo

Right smack in the middle is a photo taken days ago with my fiance, Al. This was our Christmas lunch at the Pen and my attempt to have a festive photo together. This season felt a bit extra special because Al and I are now talking about how we would spend our future Christmases together and create our own traditions.

6. Braved strong storms in Shifen, Taiwan

Fortunate to have visited Taiwan several times this year with different groups of people and in varying degrees of weather. This particular one was a short trip with my sister and fiance where we braved strong storms and spent each day just a bit drenched. Our not so rain-friendly shoes plunged into cascading mountain waters at Yehliu. I guess those anecdotes make for the most memorable adventures. I would highly recommend Taiwan as a short trip from the Philippines. NTS: Need to blog Taiwan.

7. Bucket list destination: the Great Wall of China

I really love this photo because my awesome sister was able to take a good one without the crowds. The key is to go early and this is my usual tip to any popular destination. It is so worth it to get that shot and have that particular bucket list moment immortalized forever. Learning about the long and vivid history of the wall and the exciting and horrifying stories that come with it somehow makes that adage, “travel is the best teacher” ring true. It is the world the way it is, and not the way you imagine it.

8. My ultimate beach photo in Hawaii (aka paradise)

Aloha from the stunning Halona Beach Cove in East Oahu. The photo brings back fragments of that perfect day in paradise: the scorching sun, the scent of coconut sunscreen, the turquoise waters, and my sugar soaked fingers from Leonard’s delicious malasadas. This was such an indulgent vacation that still blew all my expectations through the roof.  I’m glad that the collage was not just full of photos from Hawaii as I feel like my most picturesque Insta-worthy shots were of Hawaii’s beauty. Read more about some of my Hawaii adventures.

9. My First Real Winter experience in Kyoto

My yearly homage to my favorite country, Japan, is something I look forward to every year. Kyoto is still as magical even during winter. This was also my first real winter experience with snow around. Negative degree weather is really not my cup of tea, but I learned that wearing the right outerwear makes all the difference. We also chanced upon these plum blossoms or ume which signals the start of spring and adds vibrancy to an otherwise very cold winter day.  I cannot wait to be back in Japan.

Cheers to the new year, 2018. It should be the most exciting one yet.