Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve at the Peninsula Manila, 31 December 2013

Good morning on the very first day of what we hope will be a most wonderful new year.

The next 365 days are full of new potential and new possibilities.

We sincerely hope that the doors you open and the roads you take -- or decide not to take, as this is a decision it itself as well -- will bring you great happiness.

And an amazing Travelife, of course.

Scroll down to read more about the Peninsula's New Year's Eve party...

January 17 - 19, 2014
for some fantastic travel bargains


The holiday season was an extremely busy but enjoyable period.

I think I had only one free evening for the entire December, and I spent these precious few hours by myself at the bookstore, stocking up on books and looking for new ideas and inspiration for 2014.


The other thing I was very diligent about was getting some exercise during a season that is usually full of too much good food and merrymaking.

Almost every single afternoon of this holiday period, just before going out for the evening or before my guests came over to my house, I walked five rounds of the polo field at the Manila Polo Club.

No fail.

It was great exercise and great thinking time.


Yesterday was no exception.

It was New Year's Eve, and what a nice way it was to start the evening and to end a pretty amazing 2013 by walking five kilometers around the Manila Polo Club.

After the 5K, I went home to change and head out to two New Year's Eve parties that ended at 3 AM this morning.


The New Year's Eve party of the Peninsula Manila was wonderful, as always, with beautiful decor and excellent entertainment.

And wonderful company, of course.

We all danced and made merry until the wee hours of the morning.

And then we continued on at Salon de Ning, where DJ Boyet Almazan played a mixture of 80s and contemporary music.

GOODBYE, 2013.

I was really sorry to see 2013 go. But there's no such thing as hanging on to time, as you know.

2013 was a truly amazing and enjoyable year in almost every sense -- a pretty tough act to top, actually.

I enjoyed almost every minute of every day of it.

But now I'm ready to open my own doors and choose my own paths in 2014.

Hopefully these will bring me great happiness in my never-ending Travelife.

Isn't this what we all want, after all?

Wherever in the world you happen to be, we wish you a most wonderful Travelife of a year ahead.

Just for today. Just for 2014.

Our version of the Just For Today poem, for 2014.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will live through this day only.

I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all of my problems at once.

I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will be happy.

I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me, realizing that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will accept what is.

I will face reality. I will correct those things I can correct and accept those I cannot, with grace and peace.

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January 17 - 19, 2014
for some fantastic travel bargains

JUST FOR TODAY, I will find things to smile and be happy about in a less-than-perfect day.

There is a good side to most people, situations and experiences -- and I will make sure to find it.

If I can have enough instances of two minutes, two days or two weeks of happiness, then my year will be a happy one.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will improve my mind.

I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. I will not be a mental loafer.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will make a conscious effort to be aggreable.

I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I'll not speak ill of others.

I will improve my appearance, speak softly, and not interrupt when someone else is talking.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will refrain from improving anybody but myself.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will do something positive to improve my health.

If I'm a smoker, I'll quit. If I am overweight, I will eat healthfully - if only just for today. And not only that, I will get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if it's only around the block.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions, knowing that today can be anything I make of it.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will give my best effort to everything I am supposed to do.

These may not be cures for cancer or literature worthy of a Nobel prize, but it will ensure that I will be able to sleep well at night with the knowledge of a day's work well done.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will have a plan. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurrying and indecision.

JUST FOR TODAY,  I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax.

In this half-hour I will try to get a little more perspective into my life.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will enjoy what is beautiful and appreciate what is around me.

I will remember that as I give to the universe, the universe will give back to me.

Best wishes for a most wonderful year ahead.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Robert Frost's poem on The Road Not Taken, on New Year's Eve

As 2014 approaches, we look back on the amazing year that was and remember the best of 12 months of truly wonderful travels and fabulous adventures. 

Thank you for following us on our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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Every year is full of opportunities to make decisions, big and small.

We often don't know what the outcome will be when we choose one path over another; but let us hope that the paths we choose in 2014 will be the ones that will bring happiness.

Wherever in the world you may be tonight, we wish you a most wonderful year ahead.

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear, 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
 Yet knowing how way leads on to way 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

Best of a Travelife 2013: 36 hours from Tanzania to Manila

As 2014 approaches, we look back on the amazing year that was and remember the best of 12 months of truly wonderful travels and fabulous adventures. 

Thank you for following us on our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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Every single day in a Travelife is terribly interesting, but never moreso than in 2013. It was a year full of great adventures and amazing travels.

But if I had to choose a most enjoyable 36 hours in a never-endingly eventful Travelife, I think I would choose a couple of days last October, when a 36-hour period began in the sleepy seaside city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and ended in Manila.

My 36 hours ended with the ultra-successful Rob Schneider comedy show
at Solaire, which Travelife Magazine had co-organized...

This particular 36 hours spanned at least three continents, six meals, and way too many interesting things, even in a never-ending Travelife.


I woke up in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on the last morning of a two-week holiday that included three safari experiences and a beach resort.

We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel right by the sea, in the best part of town.

It was a very nice way to end a holiday in a pretty exotic country because this hotel was so tasteful and comfortable, reminding us of those lovely old houses in New Manila.


This boutique hotel was a genuine find.

It had only eight rooms, and it was really more of a house than a hotel. 

Everything was simply but beautifully done  -- from the interiors of the public rooms and the bedrooms, to the meals.

I was so glad we stayed here.

We almost didn't, you see.

I'd chosen all the hotels for this trip, and for this overnight stop in Dar es Salaam, I'd initially booked an equally nice hotel, but one that catered more to business travelers.

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I figured we could go with this "safe choice" after two weeks of stays in some of the most beautiful lodges and resorts in this part of the world. 

It was basically an overnight stop anyway, on our way back to Asia.

But when the Travel Companion saw my list, the first thing he said was: "That's so unlike you."

He meant my choice of hotel in Dar es Salaam. Everything else I had chosen was fine with him, and very much in keeping with my typical preferences.

Well, I need very little encouragement to go for the more luxurious option anywhere and anytime, so we booked this beautiful hotel instead.

It certainly made our stay in Dar es Salaam.


This hotel has a very interesting set-up.

They fully acknowledge that they cater mainly to upmarket travelers on their way to or from the safari lodges in Tanzania, which are all a bit of a distance from Dar es Salaam.

No one really goes to Dar es Salaam to sightsee

So most people who stay at this quietly luxurious hotel do so on full board, and so did we.

However, we did also have one very nice lunch at a trendy new restaurant called Cape Town Fishmarket by the marina, which is supposed to be the best place to eat in Dar es Salaam.


At our Dar es Salaam hotel, we had one rather late lunch, one very nice dinner, and one satisfyingly healthy breakfast.

All meals were taken on a terrace facing a garden with a swimming pool and a very large tree, reminding us of old-style houses in New Manila.

It was very comfortable and relaxing.

In fact, it was the perfect way to end a pretty wonderful two weeks in Tanzanialiving a Travelife.

Not that there is a perfect way to end a nice holiday.


So many things were waiting back home and ending a holiday is always a part of a Travelife.

But since we flew out of Dar es Salaam on the long way back to Asia, I couldn't help feeling rather sad about it all.

This melancholy feeling continued even after returning to Manila.

Fortunately, I literally had no time to be sad.


That's Rob Schneider, reading Travelife Magazine...

From the airport, I went home to drop my bags.

Then off I went to Solaire Resort to join the rest of the Travelife team and our valued partners for the Rob Schneider stand-up comedy show tonight.

When I got to Solaire, the lobby was already teeming with people, including many celebrities who had come to watch Rob Schneider in action.


Our hardworking Travelife team and the teams of our partners had everything immaculately set-up, and things were going like clockwork.

Yes, I'd been in Tanzania on a Travelife for two weeks, during which we'd released our latest issue and organized three major events

Almost everything had been done without me, as I was in Africa chasing black rhinos, in places with slow Internet connection.

I'd even lost my phone on the first day of my holiday, which is half a bad thing and half a good thing. I was basically incommunicado for two weeks -- and wasn't that nice.


And what a fun evening we had at Solaire Resort, watching Rob Schneider's stand-up comedy show.

Even I had underestimated how much Rob Schneider would make me laugh.

"Great show. Rob Schneider had us in stitches."
- comment on Facebook

Sitting in the third row, I was giggling the whole night.

Meanwhile many of my friends, who were seated with me in the same row, were holding their sides, almost bursting with laughter.


Rob Schneider with a loyal fan.
Can you see what he's written on a large sign?

In fact, the entire ballroom of 2000 people were laughing practically the whole night.

It was a great way to return to Manila, seated amidst friends and laughing the entire evening at the jokes and antics of a top Hollywood comedian.

So maybe there is a less than imperfect way to end a holiday after all. At least in a never-endingly eventful 36 hours in a Travelife.