My 2016

DCIM101GOPRO

OVERVIEW:

2016 has proved to be a difficult year for the world at large. One in which the rule books have been thrown out the window as the established order of the modern era has been turned on its head as it attempts to transition into a post modern world. History has shown before that any period of great change is always underscored by mass volatility. Those who cling onto the past and refuse to accept change often react violently in an attempt to retain control. Still, there is reason for optimism going forward even if it’s difficult to see beneath the gathering storm clouds. At the very least an important lesson can be learned. The world is changing at an extraordinary rate and we must learn to adapt. Refusing to accept what you cannot control is a futile exercise sure to result in self harm. We must try our best to change what we can simply by being a better person ourselves. That is not to say we should not fight for what we believe or what we know to be right. But we must have the foresight to see what certain changes, negative or otherwise, are simply out of our control and focus our energies on the things we can influence and change for the better. There is no better place to start than oneself.

Personally 2016 has been one of the best years of my life (It occurs to me that Trump must feel the same). The most important step I’ve ever made toward a better future was asking Holly to marry me whilst away on Holiday to Myanmar. I must never lose sight of how lucky I am to have such a pure hearted person in my life who has agreed to be there for me for the rest of our lives. 2017 will almost entirely revolve around our wedding and future together! As a starter we need to think about how we both see our future together unfolding, to make us more aware of what we expect of one another. At this stage we are thinking of following some sort of pre-marriage guidelines to outline certain key issues that might affect us down the road. All this on top of preparing for our wedding itself of course!

Our year has also been punctuated by many Hollydaves to see a number of other close friends and family get married to celebrate their love for one another. This included Mark and Kate’s wedding in New Zealand, Jessica and Andrew’s wedding in Santorini, Jess and Si in Yorkshire and of course my brother Richard and his wife Sabrina’s wedding in London. We are blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family and to have been a part of their special days. We are also extremely lucky to be in a position where we can travel the world with ease and relatively cheaply in order to do so. We have so much to be grateful for. Keeping in touch with our many wonderful friends and family across the world will remain a top priority in the new year and beyond. It is the time spent with those you love that matters most during ones lifetime.

Of course 2016 hasn’t been all holidays and celebrations of love. Work continues to be a struggle as my body finds it hard to deal with the constant night flying. My motivation has clearly waned and my love of the job has began to be replaced with resentment towards my employer. Certain stresses also continue to be issues in the work place (and in life) although I do believe a great deal of progress has been made in this area. I feel my confidence at doing my job has grown and despite not attaining my RQ (relief qualification) I was happy with the way I operated and prepared for the check. I must not allow the disappointment of this result to detract from future efforts. I am more than capable and ready for my RQ and when my turn comes again in 2017 I’ll be sure to take it! At any rate this disappointment cannot overshadow the absolute highlight of my career to date this year. Flying along side Dad as he hung up his wings for the last time. This tribute (see below) I wrote him when he retired is the best I could come up with to tell him how I feel and let others know of his massive accomplishments over the years. He will continue to be my source of inspiration at work whatever path I ultimately end up choosing to follow.

My Tribute to Dad:

After a glittering career that spans 43 years and over 22,000 hours, yesterday my dad finally hung up his wings. His feats are, needless to say, extensive, so please bear with me while I list a few. Dad began his career going solo in just 5 hours before joining the Royal Air Force. 17 years of service for ‘her majesty’ saw him amass over 5000 hours, the majority of which on his beloved C 130 Hercules. During that time he participated in flying through the narrow air corridor to the then divided Berlin and also served in the Falklands War, making essential airdrops to the fleet over miles of hostile South Atlantic waters. (This required performing the very challenging manoeuvre of air to air refuelling!) Following this he spent 4 years flying with the special forces that included intensive training with the Paratroops, SAS and SBS involving, among other things, night flying at low level with the aid of night vision goggles! He later trained as an instructor on the Bulldog before being stationed in Ireland during the ‘troubled times’. He resigned from the Air Force in May 1990. The following three years saw dad take up a couple of different roles in commercial aviation before his big break came in January 1993, when he was offered the role of First Officer with Cathay Pacific Airways. Initially he flew the Lockheed 1011 Tristar before becoming a Captain on the Airbus fleet flying both the A330 and the A340 ever since…

While extremely grateful for the privileged ‘expat brat’ style upbringing that his career has afforded, it’s fair to my brother and I showed little to no interest in anything aviation related growing up (with perhaps the exception of thunderbirds). However some inkling must have got through as I took the decision to follow in his footsteps and applied for Cathay’s cadetship following University. It didn’t take long to get the ‘bug’ going solo in ten hours (I know, half as good right dad?)! He paid for those flights while I worked all summer in the garden and studied for my interviews following a successful application. The hard work and constant encouragement from my parents paid off as I was offered a position to join Cathay through their cadet programme. I’ve never looked back and 7 years since I started in aviation, the proudest moment of my career, my life even, came yesterday.

Dearest Dad,

I’m honoured to have served as your First Officer on your final flight. (Only our 57th sector together!) You are not just my greatest role model at work, you are my greatest role model in life. The world of aviation is losing a true patron of the profession and you will be sorely missed by all. I know we are all the better for having flown along side you. Happy retirement dad. Nobody deserves it more.

Sadly I think a certain personal fulfillment I use to get from my job no longer exists and this continues to consume me in my spare time. I must find something else to do in my spare time that I can use to fill this void and will be a top priority in 2017.  Perhaps for a cause I believe in such as protecting the environment? At this stage I’m not entirely sure but at the very least I need to put myself out there in order to find out.

Health wise I’ve had my ups and downs. Mentally it’s been a struggle but a constant routine of daily meditation has slowly began to take affect. I feel better on a daily basis and while I still have difficult periods these are becoming less frequent. Another resolution will be to remain vigilant. Just because things have improved is no reason to take my foot off the pedal. This routine of betterment is something to continue and expand upon indefinitely. I’m very hopeful for the future. Physically I’ve ended the year weighing in at 76.3kgs below my target of 77. A new low carb diet and increased walking has helped a great deal. I feel much healthier and energetic on a day to day basis. I believe this too has helped my feel better mentally. Although taken up in an attempt to lose weight for our wedding(s) next year I believe it’s a lifestyle worth making permanent as we continue through 2017 and beyond. Certainly eating more consciously, like having less meat, is worth continuing, not just for myself, but for the environment as well. The biggest problem I’ve had is with regards my back that took a turn for the worse late in the year. On the plus side it did prompt me to take action with regular visits to a manipulative Physio who appears to be having a positive affect. My number one health goal in 2017 will be to right my back and not to give up on it like I have in the past. I must keep trying to manage it and do whatever necessary to right this discomfort in my life. I have faith it will improve and I’ll be back to full fitness by the end of 2017!

In terms of personal growth I’ve resumed teaching myself Cantonese and began to read a great deal more. I could certainly use a few more projects and activities to get stuck into next year to replace the unnecessary amount of time I currently spend staring at screens! Dancing lessons might also be on the cards in readiness for our wedding. Whether or not I decide to take up a course in environmental studies I do believe the time has come to take much greater action against global warming. I’ve always had a love for animals and the natural beauty of our environment and yet have done very little to properly try and fight to protect it. I believe this is the biggest issue of our time and we must all make a change if we want to save our planet from (further) irreparable destruction. I plan to have children in the next couple of years and feel ashamed by what we have done to our planet over the last few decades. It’s not fair we continue to pass on an increasingly poisoned planet to our children, especially considering the technology already exists for us to start reversing the effects of global warming. It’s time to make amends! Aside from eating less meat (and little to no beef) I will try to reuse and recycle as much as possible. I’ll also make it one of my first tasks to sponsor green and renewable energy sources. That will be our future whether we like it or not and it only makes sense to embrace that change now. I remain hopeful we will make our planet healthy again.

In terms of other charity related causes, I’ve continued to sponsor a child in Ethiopia and we continue to send cards back and forth during the holidays. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a trip to Ethiopia in the next few years to visit her! I’d also like to find a local cause – whether side working for an NGO or other charitable organisation – with which I can give a little something back to the community of Hong Kong in my spare time.

Writing/blogging has been sorely lacking this year and I will try my best to make writing a regular activity of mine again in some form or another. At the very least I find it therapeutic to get my thoughts down on paper (as it were). This 2016 review followed by my goals and pledges for 2017 will be the start of that renewed passion! Reading will also be a top priority going forward.

Finance wise I believe we could be much more careful with regards to what and how much we are spending. It’s been a fairly expensive year with a great deal of traveling involved and while money isn’t currently a major concern it could well be in the future. We need to work harder towards certain end goals by devising a system that both tracks and saves our money. It’s something I started earlier this year but let get away from me. As planning for our future together will be a major part of 2017 for us I thinks it’s necessary that we sit down and properly review our finances sooner rather than later. The other top priority will be finding a suitable tenant and organizing my London apartment on completion this January.

Aside from that I’m struggling to think of any other pertinent points I wanted to cover in my overview of 2016. Below is a recap of my 2016 highlights followed by a link to my goals/pledges for a better 2017. Peace and love to all.

2016 HIGHLIGHTS:

January/February

A relatively quiet start to the year was spent working on a Wan Chai post for Adele’s website outside of work. In terms of traveling we did manage to spare time for a quick ski-trip to Niseko, Japan. Had a great time getting stuck in the snow off piste with Steffi and Koa. One work trip in February also afforded us the luxury of spending a few days in the paradise that is the Maldives. We enjoyed our time snorkeling with sea turtles and reef sharks and also watching the sunset from our very own sea bungalow. All this despite Holly being bitten by a trigger fish!

March

March was memorable for our awesome hollydave in New Zealand which started with Mark and Kate’s extremely romantic cliff side wedding followed by an epic tour of the South Island. This included a wine tour around Marlborough, jet boating down the Buller gorge, skydiving above Wanaka and kayaking on the waters of Milford sound. While I’ve been many times before it was the first time for Holly and the first I’d travelled the country without the family. It renewed my love for the country and the chilled out people of New Zealand. The scenery really is some of the most beautiful you’ll find anywhere on earth.

April

We had a great, if somewhat eventful, time touring the Dolomites followed by the beautiful Slovena, including the picturesque Lake Bled and the unbelievable Skojan caves, and also that of the fruili wine region (including an amazing Michelin star dinner at la Subida), before finally eating our way around Venice and then heading to the stunning island of Santorini for Jessica and Andrew’s wedding. The most eventful part of the trip occurred on day two when queuing behind a truck to pay the motorway toll which inexplicably reversed into the front of our poor little fiat 500! The truck driver then decided to drive off and disappear. The rest of the day was spent going to the police station and then backtracking on a train to another town to pick up a replacement fiat.  All this before another 2 hour drive to our accommodation in the freezing Dolomites. Not a pleasant day! Still we learnt at least two very valuable lessons. One, the Italians are crazy drivers and two, April is possibly the worst time of the year to explore the Dolomites. Luckily things got substantially better from there and we fell in love with Slovenia and Venice. For me it’s these events that make traveling not just a learning experience, but such an adventure at the same time. If you ever find yourself near the boarder between Solvenia and Italy I highly recommend stopping by Lake Fusine – truly spectacular!

May/June

While June was quiet, May was the exact opposite. The biggest family event of the year, Richard and Sabrina’s wedding, took place at the end of May. It was an amazing occasion and we had an incredible time. It was such a special day and so great to catch up with so many of our extended family. It had been a long time since so many of our family had been together in one place and I’m grateful to have been there and see my brother so happy on his special day. He’s the best brother I could ever have hoped for and has been a true inspiration to me throughout life. I couldn’t be happier for him and Sabrina. I’m also grateful to have such a beautiful family with which to share such occasions. Looking forward to ours next year.

July

The proudest moment of my career came as I had the honour to serve as my fathers First Officer on his last flight as Captain before he retired. That last trip in question happened to be two back to back Osaka trips whereby Mum, Holly, Richard and Sabrina were also able to join us. We had a wonderful time and I couldn’t be prouder of my father and what he achieved during his career. I owe him and mum so much and I’m so grateful to have shared so many wonderful times with them in Hong Kong over the years.

August

Had a great getaway with my gorgeousness to the stunningly beautiful area of Coron in Palawan, island hopping and snorkelling among other things (although Holly was disappointed I didn’t propose! Hehe). On top of this I also managed a very intense trip to Yorkshire and back for Jess and Si’s beautiful wedding. I’m so pleased I was able to make it to celebrate with them and also briefly visit York beforehand with Lakie. I’m grateful for the wonderful group of friends I have back in the UK and the opportunities I have to reunite with them on a relatively regular basis considering I live so far away.

September

A relatively quiet month by 2016 standards as I started studying for my RQ. Richie head and I did have an awesome time at the Singapore Grand Prix though to celebrate his 30th. Seeing Queen and Imagine Dragon live and an unexpected meet up with Uncle Wayne and cousin John were the highlights! How stupidly lucky we are to be able to celebrate in such style.

October

EASILY the best month of the year after my most beautiful Holly agreed to marry me at Inle lake, Myanmar. We had a magic time touring Burma being able to visit one of the worlds wonders in Yangon, exploring the beautiful Inle lake, taking a river cruise from Mandalay and a hot air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan. The Burmese are a truly kindhearted people and have an extremely beautiful country. Now is definitely the time to visit being both easy to explore but not yet suffering from the negative affects of tourism! I can’t wait to visit again and see how they cope going forward. I have faith the people of Myanmar will find a way to keep the beauty of their country and culture intact.

November

We had a wonderful time exploring Bali with Holly and her family to celebrate David’s 60th and our engagement. Highlights included some very naughty monkeys at Uluwatu who proceeded to nick both Holly’s sunglasses and David’s smartphone. Luckily we retrieved both but the experience did nothing for the Wong family’s monkey phobia. Silly monkeys. We also had a memorable evening designing joke save the date photo cards for our wedding. Aside from this I finally got around to doing my RQ line check and am proud to have performed well and pass despite being denied my actual RQ.

December

We had a wonderful Christmas with the Wong family following David’s 60th birthday. Sadly my side of the family were all away this year but I’m thankful for the many occasions we’ve had in 2016 and will have in 2017 and beyond! Other December highlights included visiting Holly in Bali despite coming down with a cold and enjoying one of the best meals we’ve shared together at Locavore in Ubud. Holly excelled at her yin yoga training course and am so happy to see her doing what she loves and doing it well. It makes me very proud. I’ve enjoyed some good work trips myself including Joanne’s first ever trip as a captain to Shanghai on Christmas Day. I’m grateful I got to be part of such an important day in her career. She’s an extremely good captain and lovely person too! Largely speaking December was a good month where I got a great deal done with regards to Christmas (cards and presents) and also organising various documents in readiness for the completion of my property in London (one of many things to look forward to in 2017). Sadly my back took a turn for the worse although it did prompt me to take action with regular visits to a manipulative Physio who appears to have had a positive affect. Other than that I resumed teaching myself cantonese and wrote my 2016 review and 2017 goals. Onward and upwards!

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