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Ed Sheeran

Neil Mockford/GC Images

We hope Ed Sheeran took plenty of photographs, because his gap year sounds like one for the scrapbooks. 

After retreating from the spotlight for 2016, the Grammy-winning musician has reemerged with a fresh album, Divide, and plenty of stories to share from his 12 months behind the scenes. He was gone for  so long, in fact, that he admitted to forgetting the words to his chart-topping hits. 

"I've relearnt everything," he quipped during an interview on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show. "I spent like a day relearning everything...The next time I take a break, it will be two weeks, not a year."

Instead of spending his days reciting lyrics, the 25-year-old was busy jet-setting to spots where he could blend in. "I never really saw anything other than a hotel room, a venue and a bar [while touring], so I wanted to go traveling properly," he explained. "No one really cares about me in Japan. There are like two people that like me in Japan...I specifically picked places that I wasn't really liked."

In addition to whitewater rafting, swimming with bull sharks without a cage, dipping his foot in a boiling hot spring and bungee jumping, the daring star also agreed to take a nose dive by being strapped to the front of director Peter Jackson's war plane.

"He strapped me to the front of one of them standing up and then flew me around," he described of the May stunt.

Ed Sheeran, Grammy Awards, Performance

John Shearer/Invision/AP

However, fans do know him in the Philippines, where Sheeran considers his biggest market. When he did get back to work in the studio—on a cruise ship, no less—his international admirers flooded in. 

"My biggest market in the world is the Philippines and every staff member on the boat was Filipino, so I just had a wave of people come to my room every five minutes asking for selfies," he recalled. "I spent my whole time taking pictures with Filipino people."

Amid all those signatures, he also managed to squeeze in recording sessions on the Queen Mary 2 with the help of a custom-built recording studio in the ship's freezer room. Unfortunately, he didn't do much formal dining on the boat because he forgot to bring a suit. 

"I got the Queen Mary 2 boat over and built a studio in that because Benny [Blanco], who made the album, refuses to fly," he explained. "We weren't allowed to eat because you have to have a suit...You have to wear a dinner jacket to eat."

Too bad he couldn't sing for his dinner, instead.