56 hours back in Manila from South Africa

56 hours back in Manila and I’m still on South Africa mode, editing photos, writing an article on my safari experience and drinking detoxifying Roobois tea.

I got back on Thursday morning after a marathon trip across the world that began with an early morning wake-up call at 530 AM in Constantia, a suburb just outside Cape Town, on Wednesday, and went on through almost 18 hours of non-stop airplane time to Manila via Johannesburg and Hong Kong.

The Steenberg in Constantia, South Africa


I finally landed in Manila mid-morning on Thursday, and it was straight to the office to get back to work. Thursday evening, though, I cut myself some slack and stayed home instead of attending the usual round of events.

It certainly wasn’t jetlag as Manila is ahead of South Africa by about six hours in terms of time; but by Thursday night I just couldn’t keep awake.


On Friday afternoon and evening, I had three rounds of champagne in between work and all kinds of stuff. At this rate, I almost imagined I was still in South Africa as I was having champagne over there at almost this same pace.

Friday afternoon, I dropped by a friend’s perfectly planned children’s birthday party, at a salon in Legazpi Village, to say hello to everyone. I call the hostess “Martha Stewart” because all her parties are picture-perfect and also perfect in every single detail.


This was where I got my first glass of champagne — they served Thai food and sushi with champagne for the adults — and then I refilled my glass and ended up bringing it back to my office.

My office is just about a block away, you see, so I decided to bring my glass to the office so that I could do my first round of magazine pagination with champagne in hand.

My staff teased me: “Ma’am, don’t we get one of those for pagination, too?”

Maybe next time pagination rolls around, I’ll open a bottle for everyone. So anyway, yesterday, I turned my favorite music up on loud and worked the pagination board with a glass of champagne in hand.

It was a very nice way to end a Friday workday, in a week that wasn’t really a work week but an almost perfect and much needed holiday in South Africa.


Then I returned to the birthday party to say goodbye to everyone, since it was just a block away, and this was how I got my second round of champagne. It was nice to just hang around, so I dilly-dallied for as long as I could, and then I had to rush back home at around 7 pm to prepare dinner for two friends coming over to talk about travel.

Okay, I didn’t make dinner this time as it was physically impossible to do so. But I made sure I was back a few minutes before they were meant to arrive so that I could oversee the last-minute touches.

I served only simple comfort food last night: beef salpicao with steak fried rice, spicy longganisa, a pasta and a salad.


The sand dunes of Morocco

The two guys didn’t know each other but I thought they would click since they both love traveling, so I invited them both anyway.

One guy had just returned from Morocco and Switzerland, and the other guy had just returned from hiking up the mountains of Peru on a five-day trek to Macchu Picchu. And of course I’d just been back from amazing South Africa a mere 36 hours before.


Table Mountain at sunset

I was just thinking about it tonight as someone had asked me about my best trip this year; but this trip to South Africa is probably my favorite Travelife for 2012. Then my trip around the Czech Republic in June, with two of my oldest friends, would come in second. Both trips were full of laughter and good memories.

So we had lots to talk about and it was really fun. Especially as one of the guys had brought a nice bottle of champagne. My third round.


Dinner at Kasbah at the Fort

Then tonight, I hosted a dinner for 40 people at the restaurant Kasbah in the Fort, which has excellent Moroccan/ Middle Eastern food. I’d invited about 12 ambassadors and their spouses, and a couple of prominent newspaper columnists for a pre-holiday dinner.

The Ambassador of South Africa attended tonight’s dinner as well, and talking with her about all the places I went to and the experiences I had over the past two weeks made me remember South Africa in vivid color all over again.

She asked me: “What was your best memory of the trip?”

I was at a loss to answer for several minutes. Every day had been simply wonderful, and each place and experience had been unique. But perhaps because I was just then writing up my safari experience, I ended up replying: “A bonfire dinner at Sabi Sabi’s Selati Lodge, and a really fun lunch at Bush Lodge.”

Dinner at Sabi Sabi’s Selati Lodge in South Africa


Everyone loved the food at Kasbah, by the way, and I think we all had a nice time just having a relaxing meal sans formalities.

So as you can see, I’m back in Manila, and it’s still a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.