So far, my life this year has been a turbulent whirlwind of travel and activities -- and it's just a taste of things to come for the rest of the year. I've already written about my very eventful last week that began in a hot tub in Hokkaido amidst snow, continued on to the Tokyo earthquake and then to sleeping on the floor of Narita Airport; to a very nice dinner with good friends and good Bordeaux wine in Manila, to a day in Singapore, an afternoon in Bali, six days on board the Silver Spirit of Silversea cruiselines, and and lunch on board the ship with Secretary of Tourism Alberto Lim. This all happened in one week. And if that sounds really hectic, it really was. Even for a Travelife.
And it doesn't stop here.
BLISS AT THE FARM
And for the past two days, I've been blissfully cocooned at The Farm in San Benito, in Lipa, together with the Travelife TV team. Yes, we're launching Travelife TV in a few months and it's terribly exciting. But in the meantime, it's a truly hectic schedule that's just so amazingly busy that I almost can't breathe. Between a magazine and a dozen other projects happening at the same time, every single minute is accounted for -- no kidding -- and I've basically been unpacking my suitcase only to re-pack it within the same hour with a new set of clothes for a new event in a new environment with a whole new set of people. Or else, like on Sunday night, I simply took out three suitcases and packed for three trips in one go.
So it was Batangas since early yesterday morning. Then I returned to Manila mid-afternoon, just in time to change clothes, show up at the office and then attend a wine auction preview at Salcedo Auctions tonight. Two of my good friends were giving lectures on their respective fields of authority regarding Old World wines and New World wines, and I thought it would be interesting to attend. I also wanted to see what wines were going to be auctioned. There was a set of Penfold's Grange of varying years, three bottles of Tokaji that I personally considered putting a silent bid on since I'd be missing the auction itself, and a bottle of wine dating back to 1929. The year of the Great Depression! This last wine wasn't going for very much (at least not much in relation to its age), but that's because it's probably more of a conversation piece rather than an honest-to-goodness good drink. How many people, after all, can say they've opened a bottle from 1929?
BATANGAS TODAY, MANILA TONIGHT, CEBU TOMORROW
At 8 pm, I had to leave the auction preview to rush home and prepare for dinner since I'd invited some friends over at 830 pm. This was a dinner full of laughter with friends. We just sat around for a long time giggling about all kinds of things. And then, after I close this computer, I'll hopefully get about three hours of sleep and then I'm out again on the first flight tomorrow morning to Cebu for a really busy two days in the Queen City of the South. I've just seen the schedule my staff prepared for my two days in Cebu, and you'd think I was running for mayor with the number of people and number of appointments crammed into just over 48 hours. Thankfully, there's a slot somewhere in there for drinks with Cebu friends Ralph and Gia and, on my last night, a relaxing dinner by the sea in one of Cebu's best restaurants.
SUNDAY AT HOME
WITH A GOOD BOTTLE OF WINE
But this week did start out pretty nicely. On Sunday, my one real night in Manila in a very long time, I had a rather nice evening with a friend I see too rarely who came with lots of good humor and a very nice bottle of red wine -- a Chateau Angelus 2001 which, for a Bordeaux lover, is a nice treat. He'd basically forced me to cook dinner on my one and only free evening in Manila so perhaps this was his way of being nice in return; but fortunately I was in a pretty good mood and also inclined to stay home after so much traveling, so I agreed to invite him over for a meal. I was also tired of restaurant food anyway.
So I brought out my stash of 18-month-old Parma ham, made some ceasar's salad from scratch (as in I bought the eggs and all at Legazpi Village Market that morning and whipped it up myself), followed this up with bottarga pasta, and then grilled some wagyu for the main course. It was very relaxing, lots of fun and the wine went beautifully with everything.
My friend seemed pretty relaxed in my house, which I was happy about as to me he seems stressed all the time even if he's pretty easygoing in a way. "If you eat like this all the time, I'll have to keep inviting myself over," he said. Then he asked me: "Do you like coming home to your house?" I thought for a moment. I'm always on the go so I almost never really come home except to sleep. And if I have a free evening, such as Sunday night or tonight, I like to have people over. Last year, I think I ate at home for dinner by myself -- such as eating off a tray while watching TV -- only six times.
This dinner was a nice way to start this busy week of constant travel, and we ended up talking for hours about anything and everything. We probably would've talked all night if we both didn't have early appointments the next day. And when he finally left, I took out three of my suitcases again at midnight to begin packing for three consecutive trips in a row: Batangas for 2 days, Cebu for three, and just possibly Hong Kong on the weekend. I still am trying to decide about Hong Kong but I thought I should pack for it anyway. And in between these trips, I have something like 12 hours in Manila to get work done and see my friends.
While I was in Batangas, however, all the stress seemed to melt away. The Farm is really relaxing, and I had lots of fun working with the Travelife TV team as I'd known most of them for a long time, and two of them were at school with me. We were all very serious about work, but there was lots of time for kidding around and just having fun as well. We're going to be traveling all over the world together from now, and I'm really looking forward to that.
VOICE TIME INSTEAD OF TEXT TIME
So I've been on the road again after a 24-hour hiatus on Sunday, and J's been pretty much around as well for the past two days. I don't usually BBM him unless I have something really specific to discuss as he seems busy all the time and I figure that he'll contact me anyway if he wants to talk. And yesterday, he began texting me early in the morning just as I'd gotten into the van for Batangas, and he basically kept me company all the way from Manila to Lipa. I don't even know what we talked about anymore, but I just remember that it was lots of fun and it certainly made time fly -- especially as my travel companions were all still very sleepy as it was so early in the morning. Then in the evening, I had The Farm's signature Massage Under The Stars and it was extremely enjoyable to be having a massage and to be on BBM with J under the stars al fresco in the cool evening last night. Again, I can't remember what we were discussing but we kept at it through dinner and the massage, just exchanging jokes and having a laugh.
And perhaps it's because we're now in the same time zone, but J's been just slightly out of my Blackberry more lately. He actually called me on the way to Lipa yesterday for a quick chat in between something like 40 BBM messages between Manila and Lipa. And this morning, he began BBM-ing me just after breakfast. But just as I was finishing my spa treatment and having tea by the pool, my phone rang and it was him. That's two calls in 24 hours. I think the last time he did that was Valentine's Day.
"Are you headed back for Manila now?" He asked me over the phone as I lazily sat on a sunbed by The Farm's infinity pool. I replied: "Nope. I've actually just finished my massage and I'm sitting out here by the pool, just chilling."
"Isn't there such a thing as too many massages?" He teased. After all, we'd been BBM-ing the previous night while I was having my massage as well. If he was paying attention to such details -- and he usually does pay attention quite remarkably -- he'd know I was on my nth massage at The Farm by now. I answered: "Definitely not. No such thing as too many massages."
Just like there's no such thing as too many BBMs.