Best and Worst of 2012
Best People: Elizabeth II, for her 60-year reign as Britain’s Monarch. South African Oscar Pistorius, for becoming the first amputee to compete at the Olympics. Also Malala Yousufzai (school student and education activist, 15 years old), Aung San Suu Kyi, Hillary Clinton, and Prince Harry, for being young, free and who he is.
Best Decisions: America’s re-election of Barack Obama. The American Episcopal Church becoming the first to approve a rite for blessing gay marriages.
Best Movies: Arbitrage, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, Magic Mike, and Snow White & The Huntsman.
Worst World Events: Tour de France Doping Scandal, Hurricane Sandy, Houla Massacre and 620 million Indians without power.
Worst Movies: Cosmopolis, Prometheus, Coriolanus, Mirror, Mirror, Cabin in the Woods, The Hunger Games, The Woman in Black and Ice Age: Continental Drift.
Best Book: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It was published at the end of 2011, but this is one of the best books of the decade if not millennium when it comes to making sense of the mysteries of the mind. Its basic message: intuition is powerful and useful, but it’s an idiot. It’s incredible how wrong our gut is most of the time. Don’t believe the kind hearted gurus – intuition is not the arbiter of truth, it is usually the saboteur.
Best Food: The Pon De Ring Donut Hole at Mister Donut. I have long loved the chewy pon de ring (whatever that means) donuts, but on my new lower carb diet, a whole donut is too much. I’m pleased that they’ve developed a single bite chocolate covered version.
Best Chiang Mai Development: Fast internet at last! I was gone for a year and the only thing I wasn’t looking forward to was crappy internet service. It’s been a pleasant surprise to get reliable 10 Mbps downloads now (touch wood).
Best Song: Gangnam Style by Psy. It’s so cool to see an Asian artist conquer the western-dominated world of global pop. Watching all of Dodger Stadium in L.A. do the Gangnam horse dance brought a tear to my eye.
Worst Song: Gangnam Style by Psy. Nevertheless, the song itself is a piece of shit.
Worst food: The proliferation of bad nutritional advice on Facebook. Everyone thinks they’re an expert because they’ve read some hysterical warning on a website somewhere. Less Mercola, more Snopes.
Best Song: My husband’s rendition of ‘Hit Me With your Rhythm Stick’ at Loco Elvis.
Best TV Show: I’m loving The Walking Dead – nothing like a few zombies to make me thankful for being alive.
Best Joke: Me attempting to bake
Worst Movie: Human Centipede 2 – a bit too sick even for me! Certainly NOT bedtime viewing.
Worst Person: A distant neighbour for deciding to build a large house solely for his yappy dogs next door to us – he still lives down the road!!!
Worst Book: 50 Shades of Grey -completely overhyped and a waste of my time.
Best Meal: While visiting Koh Phangan with my best friend from South Africa, we ate pizza that was so good we actually stopped eating just to describe to each other the amazing taste-explosions taking place in our mouths.
Best Memory: Doing ‘Gangnam Style’ in the middle of the stadium during my school’s sports day with a whole group of kids ranging from 9 to 17 years old!
Best Decision: Choosing Chiang Mai as my home this year – it’s small enough to feel personal, big enough to have everything you need, filled with incredible people with amazing stories and there are many life-changing experiences to be had.
Worst Joke: I called someone with huge triceps a ‘Triceptatops’. I cracked myself up. Too bad I was the only one.
Worst Person: The person who took a massive dump in the school shower during a sporting event I was participating in.
Worst Food: When they served spaghetti bolognaise at school and the sauce included the regular mince and tomato paste – combined with seafood and ground up chicken (including the bones). I still ate it.
Best Movie: ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ Even though it looks like it was handcrafted for hipster love, I thought it was well-written, well-made and weirdly sweet. The two young lovers were charming in their own awkward ways and the whole thing had a dark but whimsical feel to it.
Best Decision: To take a much-needed ‘break’ in Thailand this past July. At the beginning of the summer, I was really stressed out and overwhelmed in Beijing (where I had been living) from a combination of personal issues, bad habits and overloading myself with work. Three months later, I’m still here in Chiang Mai feeling happier, healthier and more creative than I have been in a long time.
Best Meal: My birthday dinner in April, which consisted of creative grilled cheeses and red wine surrounded by close friends. It wasn’t the best meal by any culinary standards but it was the celebratory nature of it that makes it so memorable.
Best TV Show: Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt’s relationship soothes my jaded heart. When they got engaged, I cried hard and thought maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for me yet.
Best Dream: I dreamed that I was Daenerys Targaryen and I got to sleep with Khal Drogo. For an ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ nerd and Khaleesi fangirl, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Worst TV Show: ‘How I Met Your Mother’. despite loving this show and all the characters in its early days, the eighth season has been a sore disappointment. Just reveal who Ted marries and let us get on with our lives already.
Worst Realisation: That I’m not quite the freewheeling backpacker/hippie I thought I would be. I had such delusions of hippie grandeur before arriving in Thailand, but realised pretty quickly that the life of a perpetually nomadic and often foul-smelling vagabond isn’t really my thing. Getting dreads and living off the land will have to wait until my first mid-life crisis.
Worst Place: Khao San Road. It’s far from being the worst place in Thailand, I am sure, but when compared with all of the beautiful, interesting and fun places I’ve seen in this country this year, it’s the pits.
Worst Decision: Leaving Chiang Mai to go back to Beijing a week before Songkran. What a tremendous travel fail.
Worst Movie: ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ This movie is a study in cheese ball filmmaking and there’s not a whole lot of good to be said about it.
Best Decision: Getting married before the world ends.
Best Vacation: Visiting USA to learn its Creative Cities, and travelling to many ASEAN countries to export our products.
Best Memory: Speaking at the TEDx Tha Pae Gate.
Best Personal Event: Winning the Science Technology and Innovation Award from the Prime Minister.
Worst World Event: Thai political corruption and Eurozone financial problems.
Worst Memory: Bangkok traffic jams (hope they won’t happen in Chiang Mai!).
Worst Chiang Mai Development: Well, this is more of a lack of development, but definitely the continued lack of GOOD public transportation in the inner city.
Worst Person: All the people (with unknown authority) who collect parking fees along public roads in Chiang Mai.
Best TV Show: Hands down, Game of Thrones Season 2. It follows the book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ to a tee. Of course, HBO always nails it when it comes to sex, violence, and complex characters.
Best Place: Long Beach, Koh Chang. Sometimes it’s nice to be the only farang on the beach.
Best Decision: Moving to Chiang Mai. A fabulous city, full of fabulous people 😉
Worst Person: A man in my TESOL course arrived late for class…with a prostitute by his side. No, really it happened! He introduced her as his personal masseuse.
Worst Decision: Going to a Ping Pong Show in Pattaya.
Worst Mistake: Trying to use the toilet on a bus that was cruising along a mountainous road. Enough said.
Best Movie: Skyfall. Love the fact that Bond movies are going back to basics. Hate that I will miss M.
Best Person: My partner of 12 years.
Best Memory: My sister who passed away two years ago.
Best Dream: To retire this year, ideally in Chiang Mai.
Worst Personal Event: My stroke, a few weeks ago. However, it made me realise how beautiful and precious life is.
Worst Song: Gangnam Style. Even worse, the Madonna mash-up of Gangnam Style and Give It To Me.
Best Meal: Seeking out Pickles Gourmet Deli while researching the latest Chiang Mai map update. Would walk all day for another corned beef Reuben sandwich. Also, flying into Thailand from anywhere else in the world, my first meal on the street is always the most satiating (especially when I’ve flown with a meal-deprived low cost carrier).
Best Scent: I don’t drink coffee (shock!) but the smell of fresh coffee beans at Rist8to was like stepping through a portal to a coffee shop in my native Australia.
Best Person: Mr A, the off duty tuk tuk driver we recently hailed in Chiang Mai who took us on an impromptu pub crawl of his favourite local night spots. Map research!
Best Vacation: Spending two days willingly stranded at Royal Varuna Yatch Club in Pattaya revisiting the Harry Potter series and discovering my boss’ secret sailing skills.Worst Meal: A hostel breakfast: two pieces of bread, a small mountain of jam and the host’s innocent announcement that there was absolutely and definitely no utensil available to spread the jam with.
Worst Decision: Attempting to wakeboard at a zip line park in an old, elastically-challenged bikini. I can only assume that falling off the board is less embarrassing when your bikini stays intact.
Best World Event: I was so relieved and thrilled that Barack Obama was re-elected President that I immediately rang up my offspring. Forgetting the time difference I woke them all at 5 a.m. As one little girl on television said of Mitt Romney, “I think he’s dangerous”. I certainly wouldn’t like a person who criticised his opposite number to such an extent to hold power.
Best Song: That Korean pop song by Psy I enjoyed immensely. He danced just like anyone might.
Best Chiang Mai Development: They decided that this little village (Baan Bo Hin) needed a new Council Meeting Place so they removed the roof of the old one, then proceeded in a haphazard manner to erect a larger one around it. The whole business was totally chaotic for months but now the light shows a splendid larger building – when they have cleared all their bits and pieces of rubbish and so on it will really become a shining beacon in this outpost of Chiang Mai.
Best Decision: To go adventuring in spite of a broken arm and injured leg – to organise a reasonable trip for a disabled person nearing eighty years of age _ and to fit everything together. My family was thrilled to meet me in England, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Salzburg and Vienna (and briefly Bratislava over the border of Austria into Slovakia). This is a very special year indeed for me, even though I did not manage to meet the wolves.
Best Person: I must mention my delightful Thai neighbours – Bua, Lo and grandson Um, Noi, Kette, In and Dang, and Deng. Conversations are necessarily brief as I have very little Thai, but it really doesn’t matter.
Worst World Event: The continuing bloodbath in Syria appalls me too much. Wrote to President Obama early in the year to suggest getting a couple of his Navy SEALS to rid the world of Assad as they did with Bin Laden.
Best Movie: Since I don’t go to many movies, I have to say the new 007 film is great, goes back to its roots and Daniel Craig is appealingly vulnerable and yet still hot!
Best Song: Jack White’s Love Interruption; this man is amazing.
Best TV Show: Grimm – love those morphing monsters!
Best Place: Chiang Mai! I must admit, I love it here.
Best Person: Well, other than my wonderful friends, it was a great to meet Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN. I’ve followed his career for years and have always been somewhat of a fan. (Yes, that’s me, the political junkie!)
Worst Vacation: The fact that I never get a vacation.
Worst Dream: I dreamt there was going to be an earthquake and I needed to make sure I was ready to evacuate. It woke me up and I even went so far as to collect my passport and computer to make sure I was ready to go, just in case the dream turned out to be real.
Worst song: Some Nikki Minaj/Justin Bieber collaboration. I don’t know the name of the song; I don’t want to know. It made my brain hurt just seeing it on TV that brief moment before my subconscious compelled my fingers to change the channel.
Worst TV Show: Take your pick, any reality TV show.
Worst Place: Seatac Airport. Whoever came up with their transportation system has clearly never flown in jetlagged and tired.