In what feels like time moving at warp speed, it’s the end of the year again. Did we really go through three years of lockdowns, not to mention changes of government? Now that we’re almost normal again, it all feels so surreal.

My year did not begin well. My father fell seriously ill, and we did not think he would survive it. But by some miracle, he recovered and resumed work and travel like never before. The only explanation I can give for that is his incredible mental strength and willpower, which at 96, is astounding by any measure.

In 2022, the world began to open up for travel. But the after-effects of COVID-19 lingered. Airfares became horrendously expensive, which meant that we had to be more selective about how much travel we could afford to do. Despite the talk of ‘revenge travel’, most people have to justify the expense, choosing to either travel domestically or regionally.

More distant destinations required good excuses. For me, they were the COVID-19-postponed graduations, my daughter’s and mine. In April, I travelled to Dublin for her Masters’ ceremony and to Bristol a week later for her Bachelor’s graduation. My turn to get my Master’s degree then came in July.

Seizing the moment

One of the lessons I learnt from the pandemic was never to postpone anything I wanted to do because we never know when the opportunities would be taken away from us again. In July, after my graduation, I took my family to visit cities I always wanted to see: Lisbon and Porto in Portugal and San Sebastián in Spain.

We toured, we ate, and we loved everything about those places. We bonded just enough for two weeks and then split up to do our own trips. The miracle was that we took 12 flights in all to a total of seven countries, and not only did we not have a single flight delayed or cancelled and no luggage lost, but that nobody got infected with COVID-19 either.

But I did not manage to evade the virus entirely. Despite getting all my shots and boosters, the virus did catch up with me. I went to Bali to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in late October. For the first two days, when I had to speak at two panels, I was fine. By the final two days, I started to feel lousy, coughing and slightly feverish. Still, I soldiered on, returned home and tested myself. And there, those two lines betrayed me.

It turned out that half the Zafigo team were also down, which meant that I probably caught it in KL but didn’t feel any symptoms for the first few days. That called for new COVID-19 protocols in the office, especially for full disclosure and self-management if anyone became infected. The reality is that the pandemic is still with us, albeit less serious, and sooner or later, everyone will become infected. We just have to adapt to this new state of things.

New office and beginnings

But things have also been good in 2022. After being flooded out due to a ceiling leak during heavy rain in December 2021, we renovated the Zafigo office. Now we have more space — and a bright art-filled one at that — a place that is feminine and creative. The team spends three days a week in the office and two days working from home, an arrangement that has resulted in better productivity and happiness all around.

In our larger environment, after several years of uncertainty, we finally have a legitimate government in place. Not a perfect one, but nevertheless, one that hopefully doesn’t inhibit entrepreneurship and creative freedom.

Team work makes the dream work

As for the Zafigo team, we’ve had a great year with our unique views breaking the one million ceiling for the first time! We’ve had several small events, both online and in-person, to ease back into bigger ones next year. We won our first grant from Think City to do a series of articles and videos on Downtown KL, which was a pleasure to do.

Our director of strategy, Tercia Goh, left to pursue other interests, but her time with us ensured a confident and innovative team ready to try out new ideas to fulfil our goals of promoting independent travel to women.

Which brings us to 2023. At Zafigo, we hope to continue to bring you the best of travel and lifestyle stories both in Malaysia and abroad. We want to stay on top of the latest trends in everything that you are interested in. But most of all, we hope to be able to meet more of you through our on-the-ground events again.

We’ve missed you, Zafigo-ers! Stay tuned for what we have in store for the next year.

Meanwhile, the new year will undoubtedly bring much change, both personally and professionally, for all of us. If there is anything that the past few years have taught us, it is that change is the only constant, and that we have to be flexible and adapt to whatever happens around us.

May your 2023 be one of positive change always!


*All images by author.