Okay, where are we. Well, I’ll tell you wheream, right now. I’m sitting in my bed at the Somerset Sukhumvit service apartments in Thong Lor, Bangkok. My partner and I have just finished a wonderful dinner at an Isaan restaurant nearby. We’d just discovered it today, and no doubt it will be one of our favourites for years to come. We’re here for a week to ring in the new year.

Has this year been my favourite? I think it just might be. I started a new job and met some really fantastic people who became friends, the kind I’d like to come to my funeral. My partner and I travelled to Switzerland and discovered – surprisingly – a love for chocolate in a form I was pretty sure I’d never love. Turns out all it took was the right kind of chocolate: a little quirky (have you ever tried Läderach’s chilli chocolate?) and plenty of quality. We drove from Zurich, Switzerland to Munich, Germany, and discovered Liechtenstein, a whole new country on its own somewhere in between. It’s been one of our best drives through sun, rain and Avicii’s Hey Brother on repeat on the radio where it hit Number 1 in Germany (beats Adele’s Someone Like You on repeat on the drive through New Zealand a few years back). I love the beer halls of Munich, with an irreplaceable atmosphere that you can’t quite replicate anywhere else in the world.

We travelled up to Japan for a bit in one of its hottest months ever. We drank lots of beer, shopped as much as our pay checks would allow, and ate as cheap and as good as much as we could, which was plenty. Tokyo oozes massive cool even when its city is constantly threatened with a heatwave in August. Like having Thai food in Bangkok, you can’t really appreciate quality Japanese food till you’ve had it in Japan.

So what makes this year so much better, all travelling included? As I’m nearing the big 3-0 in my life(!) I find myself pushing harder for work-life balance. To do more of the things that matter to me in life – Finding time to have more dinners (and cooking them if I could) with family. Taking care of my body through regular exercises (I try to do Bikram yoga at least three times a week). Pursuing hobbies more aggressively than just thinking about it (still working on it). Finally not giving a heck and just getting the lip piercing I’ve always wanted, a ring on my left lower lip (yay!).

Getting older isn’t really scarier, not at this stage anyway, but all the clichés are coming true and that’s a little intimidating. I get a bit of a thrill buying insurance, which is weird and I don’t think happens to anyone else. I worry about savings and retirements. But I’m also so strangely aware now, more than ever, about how much I need to not regret anything in life when I’m older.

Updated 27 December 2013