2017

It is natural that it should be this way—i.e., that our lives are not satisfied by obtaining our goals, but rather by striving for them—because of the law of diminishing returns.

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Ray Dalio couldn’t have explained it any better when it comes to my ultimate personal goal (or should I say what I believe is everyone’s inherent goal, whether they realize it or not).
If there’s one thing that I’m feeling right into my bones at this very moment, it’s this: determination.

Happy new year, everyone.

MARIGOLDS

Imagine having a yoga session on the open air terrace pictured above with fresh mountain air. Deep sigh. Namaste.

Back in bali for the third time in six months. I’m starting to like this island, and thinking that maaaaybe in the near future I’ll relocate to this peaceful place. I might be biased, though. All these times I’ve been going there, it’s always been for leisure. This time around, however, I purposefully went for work, with leisure slipped in between meetings. Or should I say during the majority of the trip. OK fine it was a workcation. Why would you do it any other way when the supposed workplace is calling you with the delicious smell of babi guling or bebek bengil and sounds of the sea breezes? The holiday mood is too hard to resist.

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I got lucky this time around. A friend and I got to spend a few nights at one of the boutique hotels in Ubud called Bisma Eight. We’ve been eyeing for this area because: for me, I love greeneries and Ubud has it everywhere, as far as your eyes could see; for him, he wanted to try something new since all these times he’s always stayed by the beach whenever he visited Bali. It was a mutual agreement. The narrow street leading to the establishment didn’t look too convincing, to be honest. I was expecting something closer to a quiet, long and winding road, with views of the surrounding rice paddies. Rather, our rented car had to drive through a local housing area, complete with a school, a laundromat, and a massage parlour. So much for a secluded retreat-like accommodation, I thought.

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For a tiny fraction of a second, I doubted my decision to stay there. But, all doubts and negative thoughts were washed away once we arrived at the establishment. The moment we got to the reception, we were greeted with a polite welcome from the hotel staff and delicious thirst-quenching mocktails. It was herby and fresh; just what we needed on a scorching hot afternoon. Once done with the check in, we were guided to our hotel room, a canopy suite. It was not too shabby at all*. I love the mood and choices of details that they put around the hotel. The colour palette spelled calmness, relaxation, and simplicity.

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The hotel offers a lot of services including in-room massage, free yoga classes, cooking classes and many more. Imagine having a yoga session on the open air terrace pictured above with fresh mountain air. Deep sigh. Namaste.

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I’m not going to elaborate too much further. The pictures (hopefully) will tell all about the ambiance of this hotel. I’d highly recommend you to stay here if you’re looking for tranquility. Plus, as counterintuitive as it may sound, the town centre is only a stone’s throw away, so you can easily go for a stroll when your inner Carrie Bradshaw is calling. One winning point for them: the infinity pool with the jungle and surrounding mountains as the view. I wish I didn’t have to go back home!

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Bisma Eight

Jalan Bisma no. 68, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali

 

P.S. Some interesting things happened during my trip. That would be a story for another time ;)

*P.P.S. Not too shabby is obviously an understatement.

GREEN

It has everything that you may find in a Utopian – if not otherworldly – story where humans live on giant grass and wake up to the sound of a rooster’s crows.

I can’t wait to be back in the Island of Peace in the next few weeks. I’ve only gotten the chance to clean up the piles of photos on my memory card and hence the belated Bali post (and when I say late, I meant reaaaaaalllyy late with a capital R). These were taken about six months ago on a trip with my bests. The lens on my Olympus OMD was broken just before the trip (cue a long “whhhyyyyyyy?” from me), so I had to use my old old Olympus lens, which surprisingly did better than expected at its job.

 

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We stayed at The Santai, a newly established accommodation in Kerobokan area. I love the architecture and overall mood of this place. I highly recommend you to book one of their Balinese massage session. It’s soooo great there’s no word to perfectly describe it.

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During our short stay, we visited an establishment that had been on my go-to bucket list for a long time: The Green Village. In short, it’s a property compound located in Ubud which properties are built out of bamboo. It may look like just another boutique/luxury retreat but the philosophy of the founders lie way deeper than just business prospectus (let’s be honest here, there always have to be a way to monetize it, no matter how much you hate it).

Green Village was founded by Elora Hardy, the daughter (and step-daughter, respectively) of a note-worthy couple, John & Cynthia Hardy, who (surprise-surprise) founded the Green School. If they sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve watched this particular TED talk featuring John Hardy and his dream of a green school.

If I have to use one word to describe the compound, it would be ‘magical’. It has everything that you may find in a Utopian – if not otherworldly – story where humans live on giant grass and wake up to the sound of a rooster’s crows. We had the privilege of going on a private tour to one of the tallest, most recently added property in the area. We were prohibited from taking any pictures there as the house was a private property. But do trust me when I say that I WISH I LIVED THERE. THE VIEW BUT OH THE VIEW. AND the serenity of the whole place… I can’t. I just can’t.

I highly encourage you to go there and book a tour to the bamboo factory, the Green Village compound, and the school to really get to know the philosophy behind this great idea. It feels so re-assuring to see that there are people who still care about making a difference and doing good for the community. More information about this project can be found here and here.

 

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Until next time, folks!

 

 

 

GROWING UP MEANS KNOWING BETTER

Thing is, the past would not let you go, no matter how much you try to run away from it.

Or so you hoped.

New years always give me that jittery feeling, apart from (my own) birthdays. You can see where I’m going to with this, right? I don’t have to elabo- I do? OK.

Well, imagine sitting with your peers/friends/parents on a casual end of year dinner party, you know, all good and fun. And out of the blue, one party pooper (you know you have one even within your inner cliques. FYI, I’m looking at myself here), pops that dreadful question: “So what’s your plan for the new year?”

While the question itself is harmless, I’m somewhat tempted to think that what the inquirer means to say is this: “What are you going to do with your life? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? I mean look at yourself and where you are now. Are you sure you’re happy? Are you sure you’re where you’re supposed to be? Have you reached your potential and be the better version than your best self? Can’t you be more like _____ and start to get your sh*t together? Hello, responsibilities?”

Or well, maybe that’s just me when I’m asking myself the same question. Cue negative self-talk all the way. This year’s transition feels a little different, though. I’m somewhat calmer when I’m answering each and every one of those questions, compared to the previous years. I guess as you get older, you tend to enjoy the process of growing up a little bit more and get better at singling out the positives of each passing year.

The biggest takeaway for me this year is this: I don’t want to spend too much trying to make it to a future that still hasn’t happened or avoid the past that would not let me go. Thing is, the past would not let you go, no matter how much you try to run away from it. It sits in the corner of your room silently and at times (more often than not, at the very worst timing) comes over to you, demanding your full attention, wanting to have a (quick) chat, just ‘cos. And it’s up to you whether you’d say yes to its invitation or decline and politely say, “Hi again! We did have a good time, thanks for that. But at the moment I have something important that I have to do, which is being at the present, preparing for my future. So if it’s OK with you, I’ll check in with you in a bit? Just for some lessons and inspirations. KTHXBYE.”

A good while ago, my past came knocking on my door. I welcomed her in and we had a good chat. I looked back at a lot of things that happened in the preceding twelve months and I felt warmth in my chest. I smiled instantly. It has been a whirlwind of a year that started off with a great deal of ambition and aspirations, ended on a mellower tone with an assurance that I actually do have my sh*t together. This assurance didn’t come easily, mind you. It was difficult, took a lot of courage (that came from lots of support from my main support system. After a while you know what/who they are.), came gradually (it took its time), and only arrived when you successfully reached one crucial point in your life: self-acceptance.

All in all, 2015 has been a good year of contemplation and learning. Here’s a (short) list of things that I learned in the past year. I was THIS CLOSE to adding more to it, but thought I shouldn’t go too far as to bore you all with my rambles. So here we go:

  1. An ending was an ending. Letting go is not as hard as it sounds; it all comes down to willpower.
  2. Perfectionism crushes you into ruins. That place doesn’t exist, so you should stop trying to get there. Perfection is fiction.
  3. Know your currency. Don’t discount your achievements. But know that hard work only is not enough.
  4. Make peace with your past.
  5. It’s okay to be silent. It’s not okay to be silent.
  6. You can’t please everyone and you don’t have to please everyone.
  7. Lift up your head. Put it up right and walk on. Forward. Always forward.
  8. You’re always where you need to be. You have to be where you are to get to where you need to go.
  9. Humility can take you to places you never know existed, whether physically or spiritually.
  10. Life is not all pastel coloured. Waves come and go. You just need to learn to surf through it better. And trust me, you get better at it.
  11. Do work that you’re proud of. Don’t stop searching until you find one.
  12. Values. Stick to it, or forever chained by your own guilt. And trust me when I say forgiving yourself is not easy.
  13. It’s OK to be scared, but it’s not OK to not face your fear.
  14. People will never forget how you make them feel.
  15. Acknowledge your loneliness.
  16. But know that you’re not alone. Never. I promise you this.
  17. Happiness is in receiving, but contentment is in giving.
  18. It’s not always your fault. And if it is, apologize.
  19. The world can wait. Sometimes people with the greatest potentials take longer to realize their paths in life, and it’s not always a bad thing. It’s OK to be late, as long as you turn up prepared.
  20. Being a better person doesn’t come from how many achievements you have hanging on your wall or remember on top of your head, but from the love you have for others and what service you are to them.

My wish for myself this year is this:

To be (even) happier about growing up, and more importantly to be content – about who I was, who I am and who I will become. To create beautiful things in life, both physically and spiritually, even if nobody cares. To do work with purpose. To dance in the rain, whatever philosophical meaning lies behind it. To take action. To work not only harder, but also smarter, and lastly, to enjoy the ride.

I wish you all beautiful souls a belated happy new year. Let’s take the first action*!

 

 

*If you haven’t started it already ;)

FOREVER INDEPENDENT

I mean, really, do we have brioche rolls on the streets in Vietnam?

Says the writing on the wall. And the menu.

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Back the second time in two weeks at this place with my lovers* for an early Christmas get-together.

Melbourne has been crazed with a million restaurants that serve Asian/modern Asian/Asian fusion/Asian inspired (what else can I add here?) dish. The yellow fever is literally washing up this town (muahaha!). I can’t remember exactly when this Asian food fandom started, but I’m pretty sure that the seed got planted first when Chin-Chin opened its doors to Melbourne’s food scene. First, came the food bloggers. Then, the reviews by local papers & publications. Followed by the foodies (wannabes**). And the rest is history. Many have sprung up, offering local delicacies from any Asian countries you could think of. Some places truly deserve the thumbs up when it comes to food quality and authenticity, although some others are just following the hype without any evidence of credibility (I mean, really, do we have brioche rolls on the streets in Vietnam?). So when I heard that there was a new establishment in Melbourne that offers a street food-y concept, I was a bit skeptical, until a friend (with an Asian background) said that the food is pretty legit.

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And pretty legit they were. Named Hawker Hall, the name literally says it all. Taking the concept of those food halls/kopitiams that we often see in Singapore/Malaysia, the guys behind Hawker Hall made the perfect decision to serve exactly what the original hawker halls would have. Hainanese chicken rice, beef rendang, goat curry, char kway teow, steamed dumplings, you name it. Although they do add more sophisticated delicacies like salmon otak-otak, pop corn chicken and pippies with brown rice, at least they hit the right spots at both the locals’ & nonnatives’ palates. My friends and I were quite impressed by their extensive menu.

And they’re winning in the interior design department too.

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I have to include this one of my friend’s, too. Just ‘cos. I mean, how awesome is that merman tattoo?!

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Until next time, folks!

 

*Sorry to those who cringe at the sound of this word. I just couldn’t resist! lol

**I mean, really, does anyone even know what the word ‘foodie’ means?