Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy birthday, Australia. Lessons in throwing a great party



"Boy, the Australians certainly know how to throw a good party," I said to myself, the moment I got out of my car at the Peninsula Manila.

I was still in the driveway and already it seemed like the whole world was there. Everyone was going or had come from the same party, and there were a lot of people to say hello and Happy New Year to.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUSTRALIA

I was at the Peninsula Manila tonight to attend the National Day celebrations of Australia in the grand ballroom.

But from the moment I got out of my car, it had taken me a good 30 minutes to actually walk into the ballroom. The lobby was filled with party guests either coming and going, and so I moved very slowly, making conversation with everyone I knew.



LESSONS IN THROWING A GREAT PARTY

So when I finally saw the official host of the party, Australian Ambassador Bill Twedell, tonight, this was the first thing I said to him: "You Australians certainly know how to throw a good party."

Chef Gregy Doyle
First, the Aussies -- excuse the casualness here -- flew in one of Australia's top chefs to oversee the food tonight, as well as to oversee an Australian food festival at the Old Manila.

Famous chef Greg Doyle is cooking from tomorrow till the following weekend, and I'm going to be eating dinner at Old Manila twice next week while he's here.

I met Greg tonight and we discussed visiting his restaurant when I'm in Sydney later in the year. A friend who was standing next to me said: "I didn't know you were going to Australia this year..."

I smiled and replied: "I didn't know either." Yes, Australia wasn't exactly in the plans, but now I feel like visiting Sydney again since a trip is long overdue. Just like Botswana wasn't really in the plans for this year, but now it is.

That's a Travelife for you...

A TALE OF TWO DINNERS



So, anyway, I have two dinners at Old Manila, one of my favorite restaurants, next week.

I don't get much chance to pick where to eat even if I'm out practically every night; but when I have a choice of venue, the Old Manila is one of a handful that I choose from.





One is a dinner with good friends, but it's an official Greg Doyle dinner and it's going to be delicious and fun.

The other dinner is also with good friends, but it's an unofficial Greg Doyle dinner and it's also going to be delicious and fun.

Try figuring out the difference between those two dinners. Either way, I'm so looking forward to both.

FANTASTIC COMPANY, GENUINE PEOPLE



Second, I really think that Australians are just great company.

The ones I know are genuine and genuinely fun, and I find I get along with them like a house on fire. I guess this is why so many people made it to their official party tonight.

AN AMAZING TRAVELIFE

Incidentally, I saw the couple I'd invited to dinner at my house last week. I'd blogged about this dinner; they're a couple who I didn't know very well, but who I got to know a lot better over dinner at my home. I really like them and I hope we shall become very good friends.


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Anyway, over dinner last week, I'd told them my life story -- or at least bits and pieces of it.

And re-telling my experiences to them made even me realize what an amazing, amazing time I've had in every sense. Happy, dangerous, inspiring, difficult. You name it. In every sense, it's been amazing.

In fact, I realized my own life sounded so amazing -- almost dying in the Japan earthquake and then sailing out of Bali on one of the world's most glamorous ships a short 48 hours after that, and all that stuff, for example -- that I wouldn't have been surprised if they thought I was making things up.

"YOUR LIFE SOUNDS LIKE FICTION"




And tonight, I had a moment with them, and the husband had said to me, referring to our dinner last week: "You should write your autobiography. It's incredible. Your life sounds like fiction."

I burst out laughing, as these were my thoughts exactly. It sounds like fiction, but it's actually just a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.







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