type who would whisk me away on adventurous weekends in a Harley. Our affair
would be described as thrilling, spontaneous, dangerous, but nevertheless,
romantic and life changing.
the jungle. From dodging rocks thrown into a train to squeezing in
claustrophobic hotel rooms in red light districts. From cruising a great lake
in a boat with holes the size of my fist to battling malarial mosquitoes and
tsetse flies. 2012 took me out of my comfort zone in crazy ways I could never have imagined.
country in the world, where the sounds of helicopters and occasional gunshots
were trend, and skirting cattle raids while in the field was as regular as
taking a shower in the height of summer. Mambas and meerkats kept me company on
lonely beer nights, as songs of bullfrogs and crickets filled the balmy night
air. Most weekends were spent watching local wrestling and exchanging tales
with a young tribal warrior, if I was not flying off into a dust storm in a
again. The Pearl of Africa paid homage to my childhood dreams. It was there
that I had my first real encounter with wildlife I used to see only in NatGeo
and a rare chance to touch the rainbow. I came to say hello to hippos and
crocodiles, run with the antelopes. And, along with the lions, giraffes, and
elephants, watched the warm red sun set over the great savannah, welcoming a
velvet star-studded sky like the one I used to wish upon.
of Mombasa, the old dhow that sailed into the sunset on the Indian Ocean, the
silent fortress of Fort Jesus, and a 19-hour eventful train journey through
Kenya’s national game parks bore witness to a brewing amorous affair that
culminated in a promise of better days ahead.
Golden Pagodas, a backpacking trip that became a spiritual journey and
enlightenment. Once again, I believed in the genuine generosity of strangers in
Yangon. I found flickers of hope as the sun rose over mist and ancient temples
in Bagan. My faith in humanity was restored as we trekked in Kalaw and spent
the night in a monastery. A day trip to Inle Lake was a lesson in diversity and
tolerance. And Mandalay whispered that appreciating the small things in
life—the most important things—is the key to living a life with a purpose.
Just when I thought adventure
days were over, after days of indulging in delectable Thai cuisine and spa
pampering, we decided on a whim to do some random scary escapade to top off all
other daunting exploits we’ve had in the beginning of the year. So we enrolled
in a one-day elephant mahout program that allowed us to pet, feed, bathe, and
ride our “own” full-grown elephant for a day. And so we rode barebacked on a
6-ton giant into a lush jungle, along steep cliffs, and strong river rapids—a
death-defying stunt that will remain in my memory for a lifetime.
family. The best way to end the year. He took me to see the Chocolate Hills,
dance in a floating restaurant in Loboc, track dolphins, swim with coral fish,
and say hi to the tarsiers in Bohol with my loved ones by my side. Finally, he
flew me to Coron with my sisters to prove that there are zebras in Asia, and
that Japanese shipwrecks turned out to be haven for a flourishing sea life, and
that the Philippines remains to be a paradise on earth.
kind who seizes each opportunity to make a difference—in my life and in others.
2012 gave me a big break. I have been upgraded! 2013, you have gigantic shoes