Our 2012 was eventful, full of adventure, travel, new beginnings, and life changing moments. I am hoping 2013 will be more relaxed, but first let me share with you some highlights from last year.
In January Angel saw Thailand for the first time; we spent a week in Bangkok, cut into two halves by a retreat in Phuket for another week. We kind of overbooked ourselves for daytrips in Bangkok, but we perfectly recovered in Phuket, lots of sun and sea were involved.
My favorite excursion in Phuket was the one to Phi Phi Island, I am not much of a swimmer but I love to snorkel, the water was so blue and beautiful, sea creatures swam all around us, Angel claims that he even swam next to a reef shark and I choose to believe him!
Back in Bangkok we got pampered, we stayed at the Lebua at State Tower Hotel, famous for being one of the locations where the Hollywood Smash Hit “The Hangover 2” was filmed, it was super stylish and our view of the Chao Praya River provided astonishing sunsets. We loved the energy of the place inspired by its people and sites, and we are certainly planning to return, hopefully soon.
A short business trip took me to Bahrain in March; I found it different from my last visit when I was 10 with my father, modernity has replaced much of its traditions, furthermore signs of the recent political unrest ware evident in the increased security, and often the air smelled like burning rubber outside my hotel.
I was on edge for few days, and it didn’t help that my shellfish allergies, which ironically hasn’t flared out since I was 10, decided to integrate itself into the scene. I got really sick, at some point I looked like Will Smith in Hitch!
Another place that I wanted to check out after long was Qatar, the news about the vast developments leading the country to becoming a major economic power got me curious, besides Angel wanted to explore more of the region, so we got away for a long weekend in Doha in April.
We stayed at the W Hotel, and we dined next to Sergio Ramos in their Spice Market Restaurant one night. I posted about it before, you can read it here.
In May we did a quick run to our favorite hiking spot in Oman, Dibba Al Bayáa, It was part of our training to climb Kilimanjaro, scheduled two months later in July. Neither of us was physically ready for it at the time, we were ecstatic but anxious, the prospect of making it to the highest peak in Africa was thrilling, but we realized that it takes much more preparations.
It was a particularly warm May Day at 40 degrees, an hour into our Smugglers Bay Hike Angel’s heart was already doing overtime and the guide advised us to turn back. We spent the night at the Golden Tulip Resort, the next day we walked around the town and the port to soak in the local vistas.
Another business trip in June, this time a bit farther to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was part of the delegation that represented the UAE at RIO +20, I worked at the exhibition area for two weeks and it was a unique opportunity to gain insight into the global sustainable development effort.
In my off time I went to see the city, obviously I didn’t manage to see as much as I would’ve loved to, but I am happy to report that my first encounter with the South American Culture was enthralling. This is another country on my list of places to return to, and the good news is that Angel is very supportive of the idea.
In July we embarked on the adventure of our lives, our Kilimanjaro trek started one fine morning alongside hundreds others who shared our dream of climbing to the roof of Africa. While it lasted, the journey was surreal; I kept waiting for someone to wake me up from a sweet dream; however my dream soon turned into a nightmare when I was evacuated on day 3, after suffering from Acute Altitude Sickness. It hit me suddenly that my body didn’t have time to react, I actually passed out and my guided carried me down through an escape route, while Angel carried everybody’s luggage which weighed more than his own body. He must have been so scared of losing me.
After Kilimanjaro, we headed to Zanzibar Island, what a fascinating mix of flavors, chilled out yet full of real life, it got me thinking how big the world really is, and how much of it there is to see. I am never going to be the same after this trip, I am way richer.
I’ve always been a reader, loosing myself in a good book and getting wrapped up in its temporary reality relaxes me. At the end of July Ramadan started, and keeping my eyes open throughout my daily 50 minutes commute to my office in Abu Dhabi became such a mission. The radio wasn’t stimulating enough, so I renewed my audible subscription and downloaded “The Hunger Games Trilogy” by Suzanne Collins, by Eid I had finished it and started on the “50 Shades of Grey Trilogy” by E. L. James. Today I own a good sized versatile audio library, and have probably read more than I had in the past 5 years; it is for sure the best use I could make of my driving time.
The stats in the audible app on my iPhone tells me that I’ve so far listened to more than 15 days worth of books, which puts things well into perspective. I haven’t completely given up on hard copies yet; I continue my bedtimes reading habit as usual, I am making less progress in bed though considering that I am such a slow reader.
One last business trip took me to Singapore in October, I attended the Asia Future Energy Forum and I was glad to be back in my favorite Asian Country. To me Singapore feels like an Asian version of Dubai, if I ever had to move countries for any reason I would defiantly choose to live in Singapore.
Angel’s family came to visit for the first time on the last week of October and the first of November. I was so excited to have them over, because I wanted to show off my hometown, but mostly I wanted them to meet my family, also for the first time.
It took a lot of convincing from our side especially that Angel’s mother was terrified of flying, when they finally decided to come I was overjoyed by the news, and I thought it was worth a celebration. As the thought crossed my mind I was struck by a very costly but flattering idea that Angel immediately approved, he was so supportive and happy, and just like that we had 5 weeks to plan our wedding.
We celebrated it with a small crowd of 50 guests on 2 November 2012 at The Address Downtown Hotel; it coincided with our 2nd anniversary, another excuse to dance the night away 🙂
I am thinking about a special post about the wedding in the future, maybe when I finally receive the photos….
Haven been busy with all the above and more, 2012 flew by in a blink, I might need the entire 2013 to recover from it. Good times normally go by quickly.
We thought about going for a second honeymoon just to have a break from it all, unfortunately we weren’t able to sync our end of the year holidays and I preferred to enjoy the cooler months in Dubai. Besides we had guests over in December and we had to entertain and show them around.
We did cross the border one last time two weeks ago for another hike in Dibba. We did the Aqabat Village route with Absolute Adventure this time, it was mild and gratifying.
Now I am off to work on my 2013 resolutions, I believe the list is going to be short this year, including less physical and more intellectual goals; physical resolutions never worked too well for me in the past so I am going to take it easy on my legs this year.
Belated happy new year and until the next time….