And here I am in Ipoh, Malaysia, at an amazing spa retreat – The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat – cradled in the middle of three towering limestone cliff. I’m watching mist gather over the geothermal lake that sits at the centre of the resort. Overhead, the sky is cloudy and I’m sure it will rain.
Last night, we had a magical evening of wine on a yoga platform at the very edge of the lake, where we joked and shared stories with the Manager and some of her staff. We were all travellers, and we talked about places we had been, experiences we had had, people we had met. And then we had dinner to the restful and evocative strains of 渔舟唱晚 (An evening of song on the fisherboats) – a classical Chinese piece, played live on the guzheng (zither).
Today we will do nothing, but simply sit in our villa, read, contemplate the view and, if it ever stops raining, have a quick dip in the pool. Perhaps we will emerge to explore the caves on the grounds of the resort, and in the evening we will go to the wine bar and cellar, which is housed in yet another immense limestone cave.
How time flies…
Last year, during Christmas we were in New York. I had single-handedly put together a Christmas dinner – complete with turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts, freshly-made cranberry sauce and all. And we had a rather cosy meal together in Brooklyn with one very close friend of ours (so close she’s pretty much family).
We put on a mock fireplace on the TV, turned up the jazz, popped the champagne, and had a marvellous time overall. We played games, watched TV, chatted about our lives before and what our lives will be. It was magical too.
Which makes me think…
What makes Christmas magical, is that it provides an excuse for people to come together, whether family, friends, or utter strangers; and it is in this act of coming together, and sharing food, laughter and memories, that one appreciates just how beautiful life is, and how beauty really lies in the most simplest of things.
Merry Christmas all!
P.S. More on our stay in Ipoh and the Banjaran Hotsprings Resort will appear in a Grand Tour Christmas Special next month.