Tonight was a quadruple-booked evening with cocktails in two different parts of the city and two other events in the general Makati area. For logistics, I reluctantly decided to skip the cocktails in Manila and Pasig and just attend the Makati events: a dinner for Travelife Magazine Turkey Tour participants and Turkish Airlines associates hosted by the Turkish Ambassador to the Philippines at her lovely home in Forbes Park, and then a second dinner cooked by Chef Andreas Gillar and organized by Candy Dizon at Enderun's 101 Restaurant (more about this in my next blog entry). This meant two very large meals tonight, but I just had to go to both.
A TURKISH MEMENTO
Coming home first from the all-day Travel Expo, I decided to change into something more appropriate for a semi-diplomatic function. Unfortunately I had about fifteen minutes to do so -- so I grabbed a very convenient little black dress from my closet, tied my hair into a messy chignon and put on some heels. However, in honor of the occasion, I wanted to wear something Turkish, so I rummaged through my jewelry box and selected a very chunky, artsy necklace that my artisan friends in Istanbul had created.
When I arrived at the ambassador's home, the intimate party had already started and I happily spotted familiar faces from both Groups 1 and 2 of the Travelife Magazine Turkey Tour last November. Group 1 had had a post-Christmas reunion last month so I had seen most of them quite recently; but I had not seen most of the Group 2 members since we said goodbye at Hong Kong airport after the trip to Turkey.
Travelife Turkey Tour participants
with the Turkish Ambassador
at her home last night in Forbes Park
TURKISH FRIENDS EVERYWHERE
It was also very nice to see our friends from Turkish Airlines in both Hong Kong and Manila. Having organized so many projects together by now, we at Travelife really feel close to them, as well as to the Turkish community in Manila. What a nice coincidence, too, that two of my very good friends in Manila also happen to be Turkish!
When I greeted our Turkey Tour participants, many of them remembered my necklace from our Istanbul shopping sprees. Interestingly, almost all the ladies were wearing something they had bought in Turkey; and seeing all these things from the Grand Bazaar and Izmir's Kemeralti Market instantly put us all back in a nostalgic mood for Istanbul and our trip.
The Turkish chef of the Turkish Ambassador prepared a sumptuous spread of Turkish food and this, too, made us all quite sentimental. We had enjoyed the food on the trip so much and everything on the Ambassador's buffet table was by now very familiar to us -- and especially to me, after so many trips! I loved the vast array of hot and cold dishes, but the piece de resistance was the baklava for dessert, which was simply outstanding. Apparently it had taken the whole day to make! I can't remember having tasted a better baklava even in Turkey.
For the rest of the evening, we stood around the pool area where the Ambassador's staff had beautifully arranged white cocktail tables, reminiscing about our trip to Turkey and discussing future Travelife trips. Some were planning to journey with us to Turkey again in May, but this time to Capadoccia; while others had their hearts set on the special food and wine trip to Spain's Rioja region. Many of our Turkey Tour participants were going to attend our Travelife India Night next Friday, February 25, at the Dusit Thani.
At 9 pm, I reluctantly made my way out even while everyone else was still chilling out over dessert and drinks by the pool. I had some catching up to do for the six-course dinner that was going on at Enderun.
As I was leaving, Mr. Ceyhan, the Hong Kong-based director of Turkish Airlines in the region, said something that really touched me: "You are our tourism ambassador for Turkish Airlines in the Philippines." That put a long-lost smile back on my face.