Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Amor Fati

Posted: September 12, 2012 in Blog
Tags:

Our fate is a glorious one, brothers and sisters. Life perpetually offers its abundance to our evolution in combination with the tenderness of our companions and the diversity of this natural world.

Is this fatalism? Is everything then left to destiny?
My experience cautions me, “No.”

We sculpt our own destiny by choosing how much effort we put forward each and every moment, in connecting with life where it expresses and unfolds itself. At times, we falter in our will to do what is necessary and the richness of our life dwindle. If you long to live a full and honest life, then rise up to meet life’s callings and respond with resolution!

Amor fati – choose your fate, love your fate 🙂

A Night in Chiang Mai

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Blog

I do not write many blogs as evident here. But after seeing Juste’s blog, I feel why not share a little (people deserve to know what’s actually going on in my head… and it is nice to have a written record of these random thoughts).

So… It is 7:30pm in Chiang Mai, I am biking back to my sweet hotel (the Eco Resort). I am exhausted after my first ever power yoga class, which literally kicked my ass. I was sweating so much that I was slipping on my mat in downward dog (well, what can you expect when these guys crank up the heat in the studio).

The gym is located at the Central Airport Plaza (a multi-storied Western-styled mall) and it claims to be part of the world’s biggest fitness club. (Is that really so? I have never heard of a California Wow Xperience before. Have you?) I wanted to try the gym out (group fitness and yoga classes were what I was after) and saw on their website that there was a 7-day free pass. Sweet! I am here for the next 6 days. This works out perfectly. God is kind. Well, it turned out to be a bit of hustle. Upon arrival, I was directed to wait for the sales people. Despite the club’s trendy/hip look, the staff had difficulty speaking English. After a few rounds of back-and-forth, I was sent home under the direction that I needed to have printed the voucher and that they couldn’t do it there without it. OK. Not much I can do. When I returned an hour later, I realized that the staff had all been changed. I was welcomed at the reception by Fanta and Cute (yes… these were the actual names on their employee tags) and like before I was asked to sit and wait for a sales staff. This is where Nicky came into my life. Nicky spoke little to no English and was trying to convince me that the offer was only meant for Thai national. Yah right. She kept asking me how long I would stay in Chiang Mai, as if that was a condition for the offer. I mean I understand where she is coming from but there is just nothing (not even in fine print) on this voucher. She made me give her a fictitious cell number (she even wrote down hers and made me say her name five times) and told me that she will be offering me a special one-year membership, for 9,999 baht. OK, Nicky. Let’s chat in a week’s time.

Anyhow, so I am slow pedaling into the night. I am starving. So once I hit the old city wall and locked my bike, I was on the prowl for food. I realized instantly that I have been here once before in September, but it was so short that time (only a day), I definitely did not have any sense of orientation as to where I was. Amazingly, I think I found the same food cart to eat at. I ordered a mixed vegetable with chicken which I chowed down quickly. Knowing by now that these Thai portions do not fill me, I started to walk along the street and hoping to find new things to try. The choices are plenty but without knowing Thai, I had no clue what some of these carts offered. When I spotted some nicely barbecued drumsticks, I decided to inquire about the price. 20 baht… not cheap for something I already know the taste of… but crap, she had already picked it up and started to put it into a plastic bag… OK… I guess I will just have to save room to try for new things next meal. I decided that I wanted more (I wanted total satisfaction). I walked more and saw a lady selling Thai sweets. I bought two different pieces of what may be describe as mini-cakes and they turned out to be quite good. That concluded my little food binge and it was time to get back on the bike.

Two reccuring thoughts kept seeping back through my head (both had direct stimuli enter through my vision) as I continued pedaling.

  1. Why is every single white man I see with a Thai girl (and of course, the older guys are accompanied by girls half their age)? I mean do they pair people up when they clear the custom? Did I missed a check point at the airport or something?
  2. Why do people stare/look at me so much here? I do not believe that I look that different from an average Thai. I admit that maybe riding a sky blue beach cruiser that probably says “FOR RENT” in Thai on the basket is not the best way to avoid attention. But still why here in Thailand, out of all the places I have been in the world? (I decided that I love the extra attention… and giggled.)

I continue to ride up North along the moat. Then all the sudden, a gorgeous girl waves at me from her bar table (with a couple of friends I guess). I was completely caught off guard, having been spending time in my head. So I instinctively waved back. But wait… Do I know her?… probably not… no… definitely not. Should I keep on riding or head back?… But head back for what?… well, for one, she was GORGEOUS… mmm… Nah… maybe next time when I am looking for some fun… I felt somewhat rude for turning her down. Why is that? But what the heck. I make the turn and hit a new part of the town that I have not visited before. This is probably the bar area / night bazaar. Bars after bars, foreigners on the street, massage places with Thai girls sitting out at the doors. Yup, if there was ever a night district in Chiang Mai, this would be it (which reminds me of the times in Phuket three years ago).

It didn’t take long before I was out of all the noises and light. After crossing the Ping River, I was very close to home and tranquility set back in quickly. Riding my beach cruiser all over Chiang Mai has become my favorite thing to do here. The night temperature is perfect and the breeze in the air is wickedly refreshing. A full moon hangs just over the dim lights of the river-side restaurants. Chiang Mai is such a chill city!

A Day at Agama Yoga in Mazunte

Posted: May 1, 2010 in Blog, Yoga
Tags:

Five weeks of yoga course have come to an end. An end that only marks the beginning of my spiritual path – the path to my inner self. Many beautiful people have helped me to get started on this path. They shared their beauty and love with me. I have no words to express my gratitude, so I intend to describe an exemplary day at Agama Yoga Mexico in Mazunte, where we once experienced the simplicity, the purity, and the pleasures of being.

6am: Wake up

Lying in my ‘bed’, I watch the morning sun break the horizon. The school is located on a cliff by the ocean and this is where some of the students sleep – a few blankets and a mosquito net. Always feeling refreshed, I put away the ‘bed’ and perform the five kriyas. I like to prepare breakfast while performing the final kriya which is washing my mouth with oil. Breakfast consists of cereal, yogurt and fresh tropical fruits. Papayas and mangoes are great here so they normally find their way into the morning mix. Sitting in the hammock, I enjoy my breakfast – in fact, I eat as slow as possible. The sun is rising, delicious food, still quiet all around – I take my time. As part of karma yoga, I water the plants around the school and after that, it is straight to typing up class notes from the previous day.

8am: Morning Class

A new asana is introduced every morning before we get into the hatha yoga practice. During the first week of the course, it was more theory focused – we were taught about the chakras and principles of yoga, so that we could understand what each asana is working on and where to concentrate our mind.

11am: Free Time

Apart from cooking lunch and eating, my free time is pretty much split between two things – reading and playing in nature. The school has an library on site with a great selection of books on the topics we touch upon in the lectures. The learning was natural as I was not only reading but also living by the same principles. A walk down the hill from the school is the closest beach and there are a couple more to choose from, all within 10 minutes walk. Swimming is a given but if you are adventurous, the magical Punta Cometa offers a rush of exhilaration. Trekking up a mountain, you will follow a path on top of giant boulders which leads you well into the ocean – an incredible spot to watch sunset, to feel the gusts of the ocean, or to enjoy a naturally formed jacuzzi and witness the power of the waves.

4pm: Afternoon Class

The afternoon class starts with 12 sets of sun salutation and is followed by hatha yoga practice.

6pm: Dinner

Much like lunch, dinner is simply and nutritious – brown rice and vegetables make up majority of my diet.

7pm: Evening Lecture

The evening lectures are always very interesting. We were taught the history of yoga, the branches of yoga, diet, among other topics. The main focus of the lectures was the yamas and the niyamas, which are the foundation of yoga.

11pm: Sleep

The moon and the stars tuck me in bed; the ocean waves tell me bedtime stories; and the sea breeze gently rock me asleep.

Weekends and Special Events

All the people that hang around the school are talented. As if that is not enough, there are many charismatic people who live in Mazunte and the nearby areas. Adding bright colors to my daily life, I learned West African dance, hula hooping, and Reiki; saw dolphins and sea turtles; received back massages and acupuncture; participated in contact improv, waterdance in the ocean, shamanic rituals, bonfire music, sanka praksalana, Temazcal, potlucks, and making chocolate.

Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering. You can be loving all the time. This is your choice. You may not have a reason to love, but you can love because to love makes you so happy.

Prayer for Love

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Blog

My dear friend,

This beautiful gift was shared with me by my teacher at the end of my yoga course. I was deeply touched by it and my only wish is to share this gift with you.

Please take a moment out of your busy day and relax to this beautiful prayer.

  1. Find 15 minutes that you will not be interrupted.
  2. Download the audio file [link]
  3. Relax and try to achieve a meditative state – lying down is a great position.
  4. Try not to think about anything and simply let your mind rest.
  5. Play the audio file and close your eyes.

Love,

Jacky

One of her student having neglected to study for the exam, had resigned himself to turning in a blank piece of paper with his name at the top. He was surprised when she later returned the test to him with a grade of 14 percent.

“What did I get 14 percent for?” he asked incredulously.

“Neatness.” She replied.

We all have a choice to adopt like this teacher had above. We tend to notice what’s wrong rather than what’s right. We are constantly searching for improvements, while barely stopping to celebrate things that were going well. It is beneficial if we choose to be more aware of what others around us are doing that enriches our lives, and to hone in the skills in expressing this appreciation.

Three Days of Silence

Posted: April 8, 2010 in Blog
Tags: , ,

Three days of vak mauna (renounce the use of the organs of speech) went by quickly, uneventfully, and shall I say, quietly. I have done my fair share of talking and as a result have agitated people  in the past. Part of the motivation was simply to see what it would be like to not talk for a period of time and another motivation was to quieten the mind. During this last three days, I did not feel for a moment the urge to speak, because communication, when absolutely necessary, manifested in other forms. On the last night of the meditation, I started to feel some rush of insights and below are some of the things I have learned through this exercise.

  • It is not a big deal to not talk. It was not difficult on my part – I went to the stores to buy thing and lived a regular life with no difficulties. Watching the other people struggling to communicate with me was the only times that I wished I could speak, to alleviate them from the frustrations.
  • There is not much content to our daily conversations. It is more like a ritual to help people fit into a social situation. So we blah and blah, just to get along and impress others. Our ego is at play here, it needs to feel loved, to feel superior, to be entertained.
  • Speech is an ineffective method of communication despite its convenience and speed. Much is lost through the speakers’ lack of ability to articulate his/her thoughts in a concise/accurate manner and through the listeners’ lack of ability to focus or interpret the true meanings of the message.
    • Speaking is not special because almost everyone can do it and we all do a lot of it.
  • Simply by reducing the amount of talking you do makes people listen that much more when you do talk.
    • People wanted to know what I had to say and they started paying more attentions to my body gestures and facial expressions.
    • Regain potency of your words.
  • When you are not constantly trying to conjure up what to say next, the mind has more capacity and time to understand things and thus leads to mental clarity.
  • There is a certain amount of inner peace as fluctuation of emotions are limited and replaced with a constant state of calmness and responsiveness.
  • I must find another way to express myself, especially around subjects that has much depths. Visual (photo), movement (dance), music (guitar), words (writing), come to mind.

My Life’s Work

Posted: March 17, 2010 in Blog
Tags:

I went to university to study business and started my career in investment banking. It is my believe now that I was lured onto this track in pursuit of material wealth. This is not what I am after anymore. I no longer know what I want to be and I would no longer force myself to be anything. I travel so that I could be a free being – reduce the constraining outer circumstances, allow myself the full opportunity to come in contact with the unknowns, and develop my innate potentialities. One does not need to shape a tree, somehow it already knows where to grow next. I will facilitate what wants to emerge from my intrinsic self – for which is the purest expression I could share. And this shall my life’s work.

[Dual posted on the Playa Viva blog]

My name is Jacky Li and through a personal connection in the ecotourism field, I discovered Playa Viva. A few emails exchange with David later, I was here volunteering with the permaculture team. Unlike a typical resort, the goals of Playa Viva are beyond just the business endeavor. Playa Viva aims to be regenerative, not just to make less damage (building green) or net neutral (sustainable), but to make a significant impact in creating a better local economy and restoring the local ecosystem.  As I was explained to by Odin, head of Permaculture, the land is divided for three purposes – boutique hotel, mangrove restoration, and a small crop production.

The principal attraction at Playa Viva is rightfully the beach itself. I have seen many famous beaches around the world but the beach here is like no other. It is virgin, unknown, unspoiled, unoccupied, and gives the feeling that no one has ever been here before you. When you are here, the crashing waves and the serenity elevate you into another world. Just imagine having miles and miles of paradise right at your doorstep – that is what you wake up to every morning. Furthermore, the surrounding natural lagoons add rich wildlife to the mix. A walk around the premise any day, you will find pelicans, lizards, seagulls, iguanas, and plenty of fish in the water. A walk down the beach at night, you will discover why there is a turtle sanctuary on site. Seeing these, you cannot help but to feel privileged to witness what mother nature has reserved.

In the two weeks with the permaculture team, we were mostly constructing a house. All materials used were acquired from natural sources – we used sticks for the frame, coconut shells for the wall fillings, cob (dirt, water and some secret ingredient of horse manure) for the wall, and palm leaves for the roof. Having had some prior natural building experience, it was still amazing to see how crafty these guys are at utilizing what the land has in abundance. Work was both been rewarding and fun – I learned much from the team of five locals and we joked around often as if we were a bunch of old pals.

Just inland from Playa Viva, there lies the community of Juluchuca where I stayed with a Mexican family. It is a small town of 500 but I felt more at home here than in any big cities. What stands out here is the sense of community – you are a member of the community whilst here and everybody is treated like family. When I am not working, I am fishing, harvesting tomatoes, playing volleyball, basketball, fooling around with the children, visiting organic farms, eating handmade tacos, and cheering on the Juluchuca football teams. I came here wanting a real cultural immersion and I am leaving satisfied with the experiences.

Responsible, sustainable tourism should not just be something we demand as an alternative to the ordained travel circus; it is something nature demands of us if we were to continue exploring her beauties. Playa Viva is on the right track to demonstrate the possibilities and your contributions could make it an reality.

Testimonial of El Bosque

Posted: February 25, 2010 in Blog

[Dual posted on El Bosque website]

El Bosque is a place for personal transformation. I came to this conclusion having spent 10 weeks here and having seen the changes in myself and others. Your experience here will largely depend on how much you get involved but El Bosque already has many supporting elements in place to facilitate a memorable experience.

Nature – The trees, the flowers, the birds, the starry night sky will constantly remind you that you are living off the grid, among 83 acres of forest. The air is fresh and the views are stunning. All this is afforded without sacrificing much of the infrastructures that we are accustomed to in the cities, such as electricity, internet, hot showers and a comfortable place to sleep.

Animal – There are 8 dogs and 3 cats buzzing around. They are gentle and playful.  They have added a different dimension of intimacy to my time here and brought me closer to nature.

Work – I had no knowledge of permaculture prior to my arrival. While here, I gained hands-on experiences with natural building, woodworking, planting, cooking, trail-making, renewable energy systems and many practical skills to live sustainably. The work is varied everyday and is rewarding in many ways.

Food – Food is delicious and plenty, meal after meal. I have never lived on just vegetarian food before but the food is so good here, I have not had any craving for meat.

Activity – Almost everything you can imagine is possible here. I have participated in yoga, archery, trapeze, volleyball, hiking, jump roping, juggling and many activities to get your blood pumping. In your quiet times, there are at least 4,000 books span over all major topics at your disposal. At night, live music and fire is a magical way to wind down the day.

Class – Many classes are available if you are interested in learning a craft. I learned how to make bread and made a knife using recycled materials. El Bosque empowers the teacher in all of us.  Silk-screening, didgeridoo, paper, Diablo sticks, weaving are among the many things volunteers have made and/or taught to others.

People – At the heart of any community is its people. Brian and Marie are a constant force behind the vision for a better way of living. Volunteers cycle through and they add their unique flavor and skills to the mix.

As amazing as it is already, El Bosque is still in its infant stage. Everyone passes through will be able to have an impact on shaping its future. My time here has been simple, pure and full of joy. I cannot wait to return one day to see what it has become. Its success can be a model for all seeking an alternative way of living and I wish many will have the courage to search for what has been lost in our current civilization.

Bookmark Concept

Posted: March 5, 2009 in Blog

Memory grows to be blurry. Only certain events stands out. It leaves a mark  in time – it becomes a reference point in a distorted timeline.