Today I had close to four very big lunches. Yes, all in one day, and I'll be blogging about these in my next entries. I basically began lunch at 11 AM and by 6 PM I was still eating. I swear I could feel my cholesterol levels rising by the minute, especially with two versions of kare-kare and bagnet in one afternoon. But, boy, were those delicious.
So, of course, in the interest of my health, I skipped dinner and instead I followed to someone's house nearby at 8 PM to hang out with a couple of friends on this rainy Saturday night.
THE GANG'S ALL HERE
When I got there, tonight's group was all assembled. Two of them run top firms with the most recognizable names in their respective industries -- let's call them a Hotel GM and a Bank CEO, as I'm running out of letters of the alphabet for my friends -- and one is managing his own investments.
It was casual catch-up night, and they were seated in the living room, with pizza and lots of cheese and crackers on the table.
Maybe it's because I walked in; but when I sat down, the talk turned to travel including places we're headed for next, where we've been before, bucket list destinations, and the merits of the business class sections of each of the major international airlines flying out of Manila.
I certainly had a couple of things to say about airlines with lousy meals on business class and seats that don't recline enough on long-haul flights out of Manila.
THE WORLD'S OUR OYSTER
Meanwhile, regarding destinations, everyone has been everywhere so it was quite interesting to compare notes on different places.
The Middle East and Africa are on my hot list for the moment. I'm headed for Jordan and Israel at the end of this month, and South Africa at the end of this year; and, hopefully, a couple of places in the Middle East and elsewhere in Africa next year.
The Bank CEO was all for this idea of visiting South Africa, having traveled quite extensively around these areas for business and leisure.
He said: "Africa is indescribable. It's the core of the world, the core of man. There's nothing like it."
For someone like me who wants to kill a lot of birds with one stone, South Africa is a good starter choice, he said. After all, it's got the wildlife, the scenery, the luxury and the food and wine. You can't go wrong with that combination.
He added: "But once you've tested the waters, you should go for a hard-core safari next year. Go to Tanzania or Kenya, where the safaris are hit-and-miss but you're amidst real nature."
By hit-or-miss he meant that you can go on a safari and not see any of the Big 5 at all; or you could go out on one day and see all of them in one morning. It's a completely uncontrolled environment so you're at the mercy of Fate as far as animal sightings go.
The four of us had so many interesting discussions, actually. We compared Manila's livability to other Asian countries and the effectiveness of our tourism campaign vis-a-vis that of other ASEAN countries, and dissected the Japan situation and how and why they've gotten themselves into a 20-year economic mess they can't seem to get out of.
Scroll down to read about the Dalai Lama's philosophy on life...
IT'S ALL PERSONAL
Then the conversation became quite personal, with each of us sharing something about ourselves and our experiences. We touched on the priorities people make in life, the gender issue or non-issue, and the value of education, among many other things.
Then the Bank CEO spoke up. He said: "The Dalai Lama was once asked what perplexed him the most, and he replied that "man" perplexed him the most."
LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST
He continued: "When the Dalai Lama was asked why, he replied: Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
I can tell you that our previously very animated group suddenly turned quiet as we each reflected on what the Dalai Lama had said and what this meant for some aspect of our own lives. I'm sure many people will be able to identify with some or all of this.
After sometime, the Hotel GM said: "That's a really nice saying. I actually want to write that down."
Meanwhile, I was already memorizing it in my head for this blog.
LIVING LIFE IN THE PRESENT
The Bank CEO said: "It's so true, isn't it? We all think about making money or else we're all thinking so much about the future, that sometimes we forget to live life in the present. I think the most true statement here is that some people will die having never lived the life they want or done the things they really want to do."
Then he added: "People shouldn't put off doing things. Who knows if tomorrow will even come?" This is when he looked at me and continued: "They should really go out and travel. Travel shouldn't be put off."
How true that was. So I smiled and said: "That's the best reason I've heard all week to keep living a Travelife."
As if I actually needed a reason to keep living a Travelife. It's more likely that I need a very good reason to slow down. Good night from all of us at Travelife Magazine.
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