It was the day after Christmas and I love this time of the year because unlike everyone else, I am staying home; the streets are quiet, the breeze is cool, and I am taking long walks without having to bump into people and their bikes.
Seems the whole world's gone bike-crazy – I was in Penang last week and I think you've got to be crazy to be a bicyclist there because the traffic's gotten so bad and few people pay heed to those on two wheels. Yes, even bicycling – as defined by high-tech gear and tight, tight shorts – has gone mainstream.
Penang's become a mainstream destination as well. You can't walk the streets of Georgetown without bumping into tourists and you now have to queue up to take photos next to the street art murals that have set social media on fire the last couple of years – like this little boy reaching for the light (right).
The other thing that went mainstream in 2013 is Asia. I was listening to the radio this morning and heard Jim Rogers, the investment banker, who said he's moved his family and two kids to Singapore because this is where the future is. ‘I want my kids to be where the future is‘, he says and much as he says he loves New York, ‘it ain't the same as here'.
He says the countries who've got the "economic models" right are all in Asia – Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong. By this, he means, people know how to save and invest and they work hard. Nice to know we are appreciated for something.
The nations in debt, he says – they have forgotten what it is to work hard, save and invest.
What else went mainstream in 2013? Loads – China for starters. Social. Meta search. Digital. Mobile. Things once innovative become commonplace. Things once novel become ordinary. Ho ho ho to ho-hum.
And what will follow in the slipstream in 2014? South Korea. Indonesia. Taiwan. Vietnam. Philippines. All will evolve in different ways. South Korea will follow the curve of Japan as far as the adoption of online travel goes while Taiwan will be swept up along with the winds of change blowing through North Asia.
Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines – the three countries that will hold the beacon for growth in ASEAN, each with huge domestic markets to rely on and burgeoning middle class consumers with growing aspirations and greater expectations.Full story