It was a tough year. Intense, exhausting, relentlessly stressful. In aviation, the mystery of Air France Flight 447 was solved, and sadly. A well-loved Cabinet Secretary died in an air crash in the Philippines – same sad findings. We need to be seriously careful out there. Training fails are the worst kind of fails. Whether it’s a 20,000-hour ATPL or 10-hour SPL, the license is merely a permit to continue learning. If you stop, you go, and badly.
Cathay Pacific bumped me up to Diamond status last month. Upgrades to First when seats are available. Sadly, it’s like getting a prize from the power or phone company for being a top customer. The fact that long-haul flights now mean my BlackBerry email is silent for 12-16 hours makes it even more depressing.
I flew in the brand new Thai Airways A380. It was surprisingly one of the gentlest airplanes I’ve ever been in. It levitated effortlessly into the air and sailed placidly through turbulence. Best of all, it was completely silent. I could hear no engine noise. Just the gentle rush of air passing by. Gentle giant.
I closed my office in Bangkok. After eight years in Thailand, I have come to love the Thais, who are gentle and complicated at the same time, who can be exasperating unless you have the ‘unlock’ key, and who have the most mature ‘live and let live’ Buddhist outlook I have ever seen in a population.
When we close that apartment door for the last time in eight years, I won’t be able to hold it. It was home.
Earlier this year my sons and I spent a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in Italy. All the stars, moons and vacation leaves lined up for 10 straight days. Once in a lifetime. Easter Mass at the Vatican, superb food and wine in Siena and Tuscany, Alfa Romeos on the Autostrada, and 3,000 years of power, sex and ruin in the Roman Forum.
I was able to spend a day in Germany’s Weinachtmarkts, or Christmas Markets. Aachen, Bonn and Köln, within an hour of each other by German rail, were more festive and crowded than ever. Proof that Germany is one of the more vibrant economies in Europe.
Not a bad year, after all, huh!
On that note, Carlo and I thank you for sharing in our stories in Flying in Crosswinds. We wish all of you a truly Merry Christmas, in this the year of our good Lord, 2012.
Posted from Manila, December 24, 2012