Monday, December 19, 2011

A year of a TRAVELIFE 2011



Last night was the first time in a very long time I stayed home, and it was very nice and relaxing. I put on some music, looked at a coffee table book on picturesque Istanbul homes, and re-read some old blog entries as well. I especially liked one I wrote several months back while waiting for a flight to Sri Lanka in Bangkok airport, about a kare-kare dinner I'd cooked the previous night that a friend and I had eaten with a Chateau Palmer 1999 that he had brought. That entry made me smile.

It also made me think about the year that passed, with its many travels, trials, tribulations and glorious moments. It's truly been an eventful year unlike any other -- which says a lot, considering I live a never-endingly eventful Travelife.

It's been a year of challenges, but unfortunately that comes with the territory when you've decided to take on a life of risks for a chance at some form of greatness. In our case, the greatness we mean involves putting out the best travel magazine on the market and doing all we can to ensure that we continue to keep our #1 spot.

A LIFE OF ADVENTURE

And, of course, I've personally decided to live a life full of adventure and of new and wondrous experiences -- and that's just great, but it also means having to give up time, constancy and a couple of other things that I would ordinarily like to have.

But nevertheless, in terms of travel, I wouldn't change a thing about this year of practically living in a suitcase throughout, and being on a plane headed for somewhere almost every week.

Let me share with you the best adventures and experiences of 2011.

A YEAR OF AMAZING EXPERIENCES
2011

BEST HOTELS
And, boy, did we stay in some great places this year

Ullagalla Resort in Sri Lanka
March 2011

The Datai in Langkawi, Malaysia
October 2011

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BEST MEALS

L'Osier, the three-star Michelin that closed in Tokyo a few months ago.
It's re-opening in 2013.
January 2011

Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (Michelin two stars)
December 2011

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BEST VIEWS

The rooftop of the Banyan Tree Bangkok
April 2011

The sky bar of the Traders Hotel in Kuala Lumpur
August 2011

The view of Lisbon from the deck of Silversea's Silver Whisper
June 2011

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MOST LIFE-CHANGING EVENT

The great Japan earthquake in March.
I was caught on top of Tokyo's tallest suspension bridge
at the exact moment.
March 2011

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BEST TRAVEL COMPANIONS

My Macbook Pro and my Blackberry.
My credit card comes third.

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MOST INTERESTING ENCOUNTER
Meeting the Queen of Malaysia
at a dinner in Langkawi and line-dancing with her
and a group of Indonesian society ladies
October 2011

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BEST SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

Kuala Lumpur!
Every single dress I've bought on my three trips there this year
has received rave reviews.
For some reason, people can remember these dresses to the smallest detail.

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BEST NEW DISCOVERY

Banjaran Hot Springs in Ipoh, Malaysia.
So near and yet so different and relaxing.
November 2011

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MOST OVERRATED DESTINATION

Gibraltar
Sure, the approach from the sea is dramatic.
But once you get there it's one big tourist trap.
The food's mediocre and expensive as well.
June 2011

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BEST VALUE DESTINATION

Lisbon, Portugal.
Five-star deluxe hotels for 150 euros
and Michelin-starred meals for 45 euros.
June 2011

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MOST ENJOYABLE NEW PLACE

Dubai for its amazing man-made sights and sounds.
July 2011

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BEST R&R

Chiva Som in Thailand
The Farm at San Benito in Batangas

I go to these two places
when I want to get away from the world.
September 2011

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BEST "ME TRIP"

The six-night cruise from Bali to Manila
on board Silversea's Silver Spirit.
It was a spur-of-the-moment trip
and I'd only asked two friends to come along.
They both couldn't make it.
In the end, I really enjoyed going solo on this trip.
March 2011

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BEST BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Tomtom Suites in Istanbul

It was like having my own gorgeous pied-à-terre
in the heart of my favorite city.
This was the exact suite I stayed in
with a terrace overlooking the Old City
that could've had a cocktail for 40.

June 2011

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BEST MUSEUMS
Picasso Museum in Malaga
Istanbul Modern in Istanbul.
Both so different and so cutting edge.
June 2011

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BEST SUNSETS

The private beach of the Mount Lavinia Hotel
Colombo, Sri Lanka.
I did some of my best thinking for the year here.

The brick stupa at
Anaradhapura, Sri Lanka.
I can never forget sitting cross-legged on a brick wall
and watching the sunset fall dramatically on the stupa.
April 2011

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BEST MANMADE SHOW

The Dubai Fountains
I'll never tire of watching this.
July 2011

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MOST ENJOYABLE PARTY
AIESEC One More Time with Gary Valenciano
at the Peninsula Manila
organized by AIESEC Philippines Alumni
and Travelife Magazine.
I literally could've danced all night...
October 2011

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MOST AMAZING EVENING
TRAVELIFE Italy Night with Margarita Fores & Bacchus
What a night. People were talking about it for months.

Labor of love, major stress, incredible wow factor.
Thank you for everything, Gaita Fores.
And Alex & Clifford Lichaytoo,
HSBC, AFC and of course
Ambassador and Madame Luca Fornari.
September 2011

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SONG FOR THE YEAR
Do It For Love
by Hall & Oates
The words of this song still make me smile.
March 2011

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BRIEFEST STAY IN A MAJOR DESTINATION

Bali for five hours
I flew in from Singapore at 1 PM
and sailed out of the harbor at 6 PM.
And while I was being driven through Bali,
I was on BBM having a semi-serious conversation.
So I saw absolutely nothing of the place on this visit.
March 2011

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MOST MEMORABLE SLEEPOVER

The floor of Narita Airport in Tokyo
on the night of the great Tokyo earthquake.
The ceilings rattled all night and I'd just been through hell.
But, hey, I laid out my sleeping bag in the First Class check-in
so it wasn't too bad.
March 2011

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AND FINALLY:
MOST RE-POSTED (ONLINE) ORIGINAL PHRASE
FROM THIS BLOG:
"Enjoy the company of people who are in your life for a reason or a season.
Not everyone needs to be in your life forever.
That's reserved for a few lucky ones."

So many people seemed to like this
and it got re-posted on FB, Twitter and blogs
perhaps thousands of times.

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WHERE I'M HEADED IN 2012
Myanmar
Kenya
Europe
Kagoshima & Kyushu, Japan
Israel
Sri Lanka
Delhi & Jaipur, India
Taiwan
Czech Republic

And that's just as of December 2011!

Just another year in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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