Monday, 31 December 2012

Good bye 2012

Right now looking back at it I think 2012 has been a weird year for me, certainly not bad, a lot has happened and it has been pretty emotional.

I've moved around quite a bit, though this year mostly plane rides rather than extensive overland travelling. It looks like I even topped last year in terms of distance: 38,250km vs. 36,765km in 2011.

I started the year with my parents in Perpignan and shortly after the new year went to Toulouse for surgery to remove sinus polyps. Nothing dangerous, just needed taking care of and one of the points was for me to be in good scuba diving shape. In the end I only went diving once this year.

After catching up with family in Toulouse and recovering from the surgery, I wandered further up North to Orléans, Paris, Beaune, and London to catch up with good friends, some I hadn't seen since before leaving for Asia a year before. I hadn't seen my friend Steve since his wedding a few years back and they had a son just born, and I also spent time with my godson Marcus who was only 3 months old at the time. I kept working on freelance projects on the way.

By the end of February I was ready to make my way back to Asia with plans to keep up the digital nomad lifestyle. I flew over to the Maldives to see my brother and sister in law, and the following day his son passed away. My nephew Keanu passing away definitely had a huge impact, I wrote about it in my blog already if you're interested in having more details.

I stuck to my plan and wanted to spend more time with my brother so I flew back to the Maldives after the funeral. Aside from the tragedy, the unexpected return trip to France shortly after some relatively expensive medical treatments made a serious dent in my finances (I would be reimbursed, thanks to France healthcare system, though much later) and I didn't really feel like staying by myself traveling so I changed my original plans of staying in Sri Lanka after the Malvides, only stayed for a night and then went to see my little brother Morgan in Laos via Bangkok. That was a long trip but I wasn't in a hurry and it was much cheaper this way. I also had a good time on the overnight train from Bangkok to Nong Khai, it was nice to be on the backpacker trail again.

I got back on a proper working schedule in Vientiane and it was also lovely to spend time with my niece Anahi. I managed to get some work including a pretty large project after a few weeks and moved on to Chiang Mai in Thailand where I spent a lot of time working and then a couple of weeks learning traditional Thai massage and foot massage. It's at that time I started questioning what I was doing and whether I really wanted to keep traveling and working the way I was. I particularly was starting to miss having a group of friends to hang out with (which I had in 2011 but not so much at that time in Thailand) and people to work with collaboratively. I also seriously considered a very interesting opportunity to go volunteer for a project in Kenya for a few months, which would have been doing marketing strategy for a recently setup NGO Foundation relating to travel and tourism.

I flew over to Hong Kong for my Birthday and to spend time with my friend James. While I turned 33 this year, we regressed to teenage-hood, played a lot of video games (I blame the release of Diablo 3), and went out drinking, mostly in Sai Kung. I also bought a brand new laptop, new 15" MacBook Pro model - not the retina display though.

I decided to start looking around for a full time job somewhere in Asia. After 18 months of traveling out of a backpack, Keanu passing away, and spending time with friends in Hong Kong I thought it would be nice to take a break from traveling and have a place to call home again. I contacted people I knew in the advertising industry and after a few phone interviews was offered an opportunity in Singapore to start working for Saatchi & Saatchi. I realise now I hadn't even written in my blog about it since I moved in September.

So here I am in Singapore on the last day of the year. It's raining and has been since this morning which doesn't bode extremely well for fireworks tonight. Employed full time again, for a large network advertising agency on big clients, and it seems to be going well. In particular I'm happy and feel lucky to be working with some really great people here. I found a great flat and I have a guest room, if we're friends you're welcome to visit any time you want, keep in touch. The last time I had my own place I was 22 and it was a tiny studio in Paris, I've been sharing all the time I lived in London. In addition to trying out all the foods available in Singapore, I'm back behind a desk and working a lot, so of course I've started putting on weight.

So there you go, I think that's about it for 2012. 8 months more wandering, 4 months back in more or less normal routine life. I travelled to some new places, completed a seriously hot wing challenge, tried some fantastic new wines, experienced the death of a loved close family member, stayed one of the most gorgeous paradise islands in the world, saw a dead dolphin and more live ones, learned some new stuff like massage, took care of some health stuff, caught up with friends and family including time spent with little ones, didn't watch much of the Olympics, watched TV series (Another run of The West Wing I am finishing now) and movies (The Avengers!), played a lot of Diablo 3, got a new job, a new home, and the world didn't end according to the Mayan calendar.

Not too bad for 365 days.

I have to think up what 2013 is going to be about beyond the work routine or else I feel I'll get bored fairly quickly. I've been giving it some thought, I'm not too sure just yet.

I want to thank my close family and my friends for their love, hospitality, and generosity. Thank you Mom, Dad, Morgan, Saskia, Bjorn, Justine, Manuel, Violette, Sandro, Alba, Helios, Antonio, JB, Jo,  James, Adam, Sangita, Graham, Abby, Elo, Seb, Simon, Steve, and many more, I'm sure I'm forgetting people. All my wandering wouldn't have been possible without you.

I also want to thank all my new colleagues and friends in Singapore who have warmly welcomed me here and with whom it is a pleasure to work or hang out with: JP, Sarah, Sabine, Paul, Mel, Stella, Ruth, Kamal, Marvin, Jason, Lionel, JD, Andy, Aishah, Thomas, Steph, Max, and some more.

That's about it for 2012. Bring on 2013.