When you travel, you never know whom you’re going to meet—which could be a really good thing or, in some cases, a not-so-good-thing. Lucky for me, I’ve encountered some truly amazing people this past year. For me, each one reminds me of some of the best experiences and stories I’ve had this year …
Take, for instance, Leo from Skyline Eco Tours in Kaanapali, Maui. The man saved my life—well, sort of. When I got “stuck” on the sixth zipline run, Leo bravely came to my rescue, which involved a rather embarrassing straddling maneuver that I wish not to reenact anytime soon. Oh well, to Leo, I am eternally grateful even if I was utterly mortified for the rest of my zipline tour that day.
I had the luck of meeting Mary and Kevin during a Westin Maui Resort & Spa luau. It was clear to all of us at our table that they possessed a honeymooners’ glow but it was only after talking to them that we found out about their remarkable love story—falling in love years ago in high school only to part ways for years and then find each other once again after facing some challenges—and tragedies—along the way. Seeing them so happy that night, dancing just after the rain had fallen, was truly memorable.
Bruce Shimabukuro gave us an impromptu ukulele performance one morning while strolling through the lobby of the Sheraton Waikiki.
During that same press trip, I witnessed a moving art dedication ceremony in honor of Iolani Luahine, one of Hawaii’s most revered and respected hula masters. This was a photo I snapped of Danny Kiaha and Leimomi Mo’okini Lum during the ceremony as they blessed John Charlot’s charcoal portrait of Iolani Luahine which now hangs in the Royal Hawaiian’s lobby.
We got a taste of fresh-from-the-earth asparagus during a tour of various North Shore farms on Oahu.
And on our last day of that trip, thanks to Candice, we feasted at the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market …
... And we weren’t alone.
Just the day before, we saw the same little boy hanging out on the farm at the North Shore Cattle Co.
… Along with meeting the employees who worked at Twin Bridge Farms, purveyors of that delicious asparagus …
… And lots of potatoes.
In Costa Rica, I visited the preserved home of Dr. Alexander Skutch at Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary. It was amazing to see how much reverence and respect that the folks at Los Cusingos still had for Dr. Skutch and his beloved wife.
I totally fell for the amazing handicrafts from this family of artisans in Costa Rica, too.
And how could I forget Valentin, the dog with a heart-shaped mark on his back, and his equally adorable owner?
I also saw lots of cute kids with dancing talent, first in Costa Rica…
… And then in Melaka, Malaysia.
Like a kid, I played in the mud, as did one of my fellow travel journalists in Costa Rica.
And we also made the best of a rocky and rainy cruise to nowhere thanks to the high spirits of my fellow travelers.
I loved our short, unplanned visit to the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in Singapore’s Little India…
… Along with stumbling onto one of the few shops that sells curry by the kilo…
… And later walking into the bustling commotion of the covered wet market in Singapore’s Chinatown.
In Geylang, also in Singapore, I loved sharing a meal of durian with my fellow travel journalists, even if they didn’t wind up loving durian so much.
They did, however, love Ya Kun Kaya Toast.
And I have a feeling this little boy was a little in love with my camera—or my food—during lunch at Rumah Makan Minang in Singapore.
Also feeling the love was this rock-star senior citizen, performing at the Chinatown Night Market in Melaka, Malaysia.
Last but not least, one of my favorite encounters this year was with Abdul Rahim Haji Hashim (shown here with my cousin Christina) at Villa Sentosa in Melaka, Malaysia. Not only is the man an excellent historian and tour guide but he can also analyze your handwriting—and he’s eerily exact in his assessments, too.
Next up, my favorite scenes from 2010 …