I present you nine things (mostly downright annoying pieces of pointless gewgaw) that made 2013 a memorable year for me. Why should you care? I don’t know!
Last year, I
1. Became a professional junketeer. I returned to Malaysia for a second time then went to Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea for the first time in 2013. Toured the historical city of Melaka, went drinking by the bridge in Clarke Quay, went drinking in Lan Kwai Fong and went all annyeong-haseyo in Daejeon and Seoul. Not that I’m a rich guy, but I got all these trips for free- flights, hotels, food and all. It helps if you spent your college years debating and you have debater friends abroad who invite you for tournaments. Dorks win.
2. Got totally naked in front of people. When I went to Korea last November for a debate tournament, I stayed in a hotel famous for its public spa, and the tournament organizer said we can access the spa for free. So I went there with two friends, but we were culture-shocked when we discovered we’re supposed to be completely nude inside. Apparently, in public baths, people skinny dip in hot pools and clean themselves totally naked. Because the idea of seeing each other’s dingdongs seemed awkward, the three of us didn’t push through. Two days after, however, I went alone and tried the place. It wasn’t really that awkward. Actually, I didn’t really feel awkward at all. Fine, at first I was scared people will look at me. But I just went inside, left all my clothes at the locker room and took a dip in the different pools. It was a pretty huge place with lots of people, and no one gave a fuck about everyone else’s dick. The Koreans were very decent and polite. Aside from being a respite from the chilly weather (winter just started that time), it was a pretty interesting cultural experience.
3. Experienced snow for the first time. Still in Korea, I saw snow fall for the first time. It was my second to the last day in the country and I didn’t really expect snow to fall. But it did. Being a tropical islander, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was a really sweet gesture from the snow gods. Or the snow queen. Whatever.
4. Got to interview senatorial candidates for our online news site. Yep. Did some online interviews with senatorial aspirants during the May midterm polls. I pretended to be smart and sharp. I threw questions like I was relevant. I got free donuts and coffee. My boss liked it, I think.
5. Raised money for typhoon victims. Are you wondering how I managed to get a new car? No seriously I don’t have a car I take cabs. We helped buy sanitary napkins, diapers and hygiene products for typhoon Yolanda victims and it was a rewarding feeling.
6. Got chosen for Jessica Zafra’s writing workshop. As crazy as it sounds, right now I’m writing a book and I hope I have the energy enough to get it published. I’m not really confident with my writing skills so this should be a learning experience. The story is about a funny black Eskimo who befriends a humpback whale that dies from cancer of the blowhole.
7. Traveled from Manila to Naga on an ordinary bus. In the Philippines, we have buses that turn turtle, explode and fly. People die. If you’re a commuter, riding an ordinary bus (open windows, wooden seats) is like going to a suicide mission. If it’s an eight-hour ride, it’s like a field trip to the nine circles of hell. In 2013, on our way to the National Debate Championship, we ran out of tickets for a less deadly bus, so we took an ordinary one. The driver got caught for overstaying in the overtaking lane and almost hit at least two chickens and a cow. I sat on a seat beside the aisle and across was a dude who had what looked like a contagious skin disease. There were passengers who brought with them live chickens which cock-a-doodle-doo’ed while I tried to sleep. When we eventually hopped off, our clothes were already dark from absorbing countryside smog and our faces had a thin layer of South Luzon pollution. Never fucking again.
8. Flew a plane. Well, sort of. Got to try a flight simulator. Coolest thing ever. I got dizzy but at least I can brag about it.
9. Got in to graduate school. I got accepted to the University of Auckland down south and to the University of Bristol up north. If I will actually attend either is a scary question that will be answered soon, hopefully in the affirmative.
Happy new year!