Closing 2023

  • December 18, 2023

Let’s talk about the things I’m thankful for this year.

I travelled a lot this year. One year since getting my passport, it’s now on page 13. To say that travelling was the highlight of my year is an understatement.

You’d think that by writing this blog post that I’d also have posts for 2022 and previous years, considering I’ve owned this domain since 2018. I scrap my old blogs because I get irritated at the designs and what I’ve written, but I sincerely hope this one stays for good.

2023 has been… an improvement.

The pandemic is a thing of the past, the Philippine public transportation system finally got its train projects started, I haven’t seen my therapist for a long while and I’m in a place, financially, where I could afford to not worry about making bill payments. Life’s good.

Travelling may have been the 2023 highlight for me, but the most empowering thing I’ve done is to avoid seeing my therapist since February. Therapy either worked, or I was so pissed off at my therapist being absolutely useless that I said “fuck this, I’ll figure this out myself”. I’m leaning towards the latter.

I plan to write more consistently next year, and write about the travels I’ve planned ahead. But since I didn’t do that this year, let me dedicate a portion of this post to catch up.

Taiwan in June was interesting

I visited Taiwan last June 2023 with my friends, the usual travel group. It was my first time there, and needless to say I’m inclined to go back. It’s 2 hours from Manila, so I’m hoping I could drop by whenever I feel the urge. Ah, the wonders of remote working.

I won NTD 5,000 upon landing at Taoyuan, and it helped keep the expenses down. The cost of living and souvenirs aren’t as expensive, too, so all-in-all my wallet was happy.

We flew a lantern with our wishes, and everyone else was looking at our group because one of the sides of our balloon had a list of currencies. Not wishes. Currencies. Yes, we needed money to keep travelling.

Oddly enough, I wrote “CTO” on the career wishes side, and boy did it come close. I’m close to closing out my probation period as the company’s technical lead, which is surprisingly close. All in all, this was a worthwhile investment.

At the end of October, I went back to Taiwan and I took my dad with me.

Malaysia has a special place in my heart

Our flight home from Taiwan to Manila last June was delayed, so AirAsia gave us discount vouchers. Each. Combine this with a seat sale and our round trip tickets were only around PHP 4,000. Plus, hotels in Malaysia were extremely affordable (everything in Malaysia is affordable). This is one country I’d be aiming to be back in every year. This is my second time, so I toured my group around. We came here in September.

I loved walking around KLCC and shopping at Genting. The people were nice and friendly, our Grab drivers engaged us with talks, and one even tapped me on the back and told me “come back soon” as he dropped us off the airport. This place is my second home, and I’d move here permanently if I had the chance.

The city center was practically heaven, and the street food markets were awesome. I loved the glass noodles, and the Nasi Lemak over at Nasi Lemak Wanjo. The food was around PHP 200 for a rice and chicken set, and it tasted lovely.

Genting was paradise. I got original high-cut Converse shoes for my aunt at PHP 1,000. Everyone else was surprised and bought a shit ton of stuff as well. We’re glad AirAsia doesn’t have a one-bag policy for checked luggages.

Japan was a delight

I went to Tokyo last October. Everything in this trip was unplanned and was only possible because of a ton of sales:

  • My visa application fee was 50% off thanks to UHI’s promo
  • My hotel was 20-30% off (can’t remember the exact discount) thanks to BDO’s American Express promo (and APA Hotel Omori was heavenly)
  • My round-trip flight was PHP 6,000 via Cebu Pacific thanks to a seat sale I did not expect I’d get

Honestly, Japan wasn’t on the radar this year. But as I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I got a Cebu Pacific ad about a seat sale, so I figured, fine. I’ll check. And holy shit, I got it. Guess I’m going. I booked the tickets first before applying for a visa, which is something you should never do. I, however, like to live dangerously.

I saw Shibuya in real life, something that I’ve only seen in anime. Needless to say, this trip was a journey I’d never forget.

However, with all that delight, I’ve also seen how the life of a salaryman is unbearable if I were in that position. I go back to my hotel at around 11 PM sometimes and I still see men in suits asleep on the train. My entitled gen-z self could never.

That wraps up the travel section of this year-end celebration, and I’m not even gonna apologize that this was 90% of the post 🤣

I found a job that I like

I finally have a job that doesn’t make me want to kill myself in the morning. People are nice and easy to talk to, the requirements are pretty straightforward and people have none of the entitlement you see in most corporate jobs (I grew up on corporate. Oh boy, the stories I could tell.)

The work-life balance is great, the incentives are great, and I can travel whenever the hell I want. What more could a guy ask for? Jumping ship was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Wrapping up

2023 was awesome. It was a huge jump over the year I’ve had in 2022, and 2022 wasn’t even that bad. As I write this, me and my family are gonna be spending Christmas and New Year’s at Ho Chi Minh to wrap up the year.

I sincerely hope that things only go up from here (albeit with the global tensions right now I don’t have high expectations). The joy of not wanting to see your therapist is an absolute delight on its own.

I wish everyone a happy holiday, and a better 2024 to come.