Sunday, May 22, 2011

Migrating to wordpress

In the midst of migrating this blog to wordpress.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Be happy

At yoga class today, the teacher asked us to set our intention. Mine was to be happy.

Happiness is what I have been searching for. Ten years ago I wanted to be happy. Ten years later, I still want to be happy.

Yet I have stopped searching for happiness. It is no longer a goal I yearn for. Rather I have accepted happiness is a journey, not something far fetched I aim for.

I am happy as I am. I want to be happy as life is short and when I am happy, people around me are happier. Being happy is a choice and I choose to be happy.

Just like my yoga practice, some days I do better, I push deeper. Some days, my body can't seem to stretch and I am just not in the mood. On those days, I simply go with the flow, be conscious of my breath and stay present.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sunset in Bali

Not a typical sunset one expects in Bali where the sun sets in the horizon like an orange ball disappearing into the ocean. The air has cooled down and excudes a calmer ambiance.
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Crispy fried duck at Bebek Bengil, Ubud Bali

Best crispy duck in Indonesia. Found only at Bebek Bengil, Ubud Bali.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Shabu Shabu

My all time favorite cuisine, Japanese shabu shabu. You cook a variety of vegetables in the hot pot filled with broth or miso.  The broth base is the authentic style but I like the miso base, it makes the vegetables tastier. The original shabu shabu comes with a plate of thinly sliced beef which you cook into the hot pot and dip it into ponzu sauce before allowing the beef the melt in your mouth.  Ponzu is a lemon based soya sauce which you can add freshly cut chili, garlic, spring onions and radish to bring out the favor.

My favorite shabu shabu is at Shabu Shabu House at Little Tokyo.  It's the best in LA and probably the best I've had.

Friday, April 22, 2011

First love

When is your first love
Is it when you first fall in love
Or is it when you truly lose yourself in love
Can you ever forget your first love
Promise me my love
You'll never forget our love
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Puppy love

The thrill of puppy love
Is a feeling we never forget
We all yearn for feeling
That reminds us of our puppy love
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


What happen to you when you die
What happen to me when I die
Do we fear death
Or should we fear feeling dead more than death
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Sunday, April 17, 2011


Woke up wishing it was more than a dream
Lingering to every detail
Wishing to capture the dream
Embracing every detail
Lamenting it is but a dream

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Restless when I am not busy

After full week of work which included 1 day trip to Singapore and a client dinner, I was eagerly waiting for Friday.

Yet I didn't know what I wanted to do. There were so many things I planned to do but yet nothing that I really wanted to do. I wanted to go home early to rest cos I told myself my body needed it. This conflicted with a little voice telling me I ought to be ought spending time socializing. After all it's Friday! I needed a hair cut, yearned for a massage, wanted to spend time with my kids and missed reading and writing. Did I mention there was another office function which I was invited?

With all these thoughts going in my mind, I became restless. I was not enjoying the people I was with instead wishing I was doing ten other things. No doubt they didn't enjoy me too given I was not the most engaging company.

Realized I am so addicted to busyness that when I have idle time I packed them up with activities. Instead of simply enjoying the present, I run around doing one things after another. And when I don't have anything to do, I line up my mind with things I wish I get to do. This sounds bizarre but I am restless when I am not busy.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Train ride from Jakarta to Cirebon

The landscape changes once the train moves out of Gambir station. We are now three hours away. No more poor cities with graffiti on the walls. Instead, it's lushes of green padi fields and sporadic villages.

The modest houses have brown tiled roofs. Once in a while, you get to catch a glimpse of the village life. I see children playing in the fields, and several young girls sharing a scooter.

We have now arrived at Cirebon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What would you do to keep your man?

The latest scandal in the Jakarta social scene is this banker who swindled money from her clients. The amount is said to be significant and she works for an international bank, not one of those local banks whom we deem to have weaker control.

What makes this news scandalous is the fact that this lady banker in her late 40s looks should I say well-preserved. She has done a lot of work on her face giving her the look of someone much younger. And she is well-endowed beyond natural. The pictures circulating shows someone happy to flaunt her "asset".

The story behind her is rumored to be a husband who likes a trophy wife. She is said to undergo extreme efforts to keep herself youthful and attractive. That includes frequent vitamin drips amongst others.

But all the effort does not prevent a divorce. I have no insights into her marriage but the main cause of failure in marriage is usually a third party. And it tend to be a much younger third person.

Question to all the women out there, how much are we willing to undergo to maintain our beauty in order to keep our man? Is it a sign of insecurity when we try to stay youthful for our man? Whatever happens to inner beauty and true love?

These are questions worth pondering as we age. And the answers will force us to confront the true nature of our marriage.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Does yoga make you sleep better?

One of my yoga teachers said he needs only four hours of sleep because he is re-energized from his yoga practice. For me, yoga makes me feel so relaxed I always feel sleepy after class.

When I was in my early 20s which was ages ago, I used to think sleep is a waste of time. There was so much to life (friends, school, parties, learning new stuff) that sleep was not a priority then.

More than a decade has passed and now I treasure any opportunity to sleep. With the responsibilities of a full-time job and a family, I crave for uninterrupted sleep. The one where your head hit the pillow and you open your eyes to a new day.  I hate the kind of sleep where I wake up in cold sweat in the middle of the night, I end up feeling lethargic the next day.

Since I started yoga, I sleep better. I still need at least eight hours of sleep to get me to fully function the next day. But gone are those nights where I  toss in bed counting sheep. And I tend to sleep through the night. On evenings where work or social obligations take the lead, I compensate the following night with a good sleep. The best nights are those when I come home fully relaxed after yoga practice. Those are the nights I sleep like a baby.

Photo credit to:

Vacation is my best remedy to release stress

In need of another vacation.  Going on holidays is one of my best remedy to release stress.  I do undergo the usual traveller's stress which includes packing, delayed flights, unforeseen circumstances that change the plans amongst others, but they are manageable stress.  And they are worthwhile for the opportunity to see a new place, experience new culture and meet new people.

Wonder if you would feel the exhilaration of traveling if you do it full time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Work for money...or listen to your gut?

An interesting job offer is in the horizon. Interesting because the compensation can be big. Of course, the rest of the offer sounds good. But honestly, the money is going to be attractive.

Yet somehow it doesn't feel right. Can't put my fingers around what exactly is bugging me. Is it my instinct talking to me? Or is it fear that is whispering into my ears? Am I so at ease in my comfort zone I am scared to make changes?

Need time to think this through. And being sleep deprived doesn't help me to think clearly. Gosh, need an undisrupted "thinking time" set aside this week.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nyepi day

Whole day gone by without TV. I've never been a TV fan so not missing it. Rather enjoy the absence of noise from TV.

I napped a lot. Caught up on all the sleep I needed. Finally started reading a book (then got distracted by tweeting). So half finished book waiting.

Since it was so quiet, I heard the rustling of the leaves. And since I was staring into space a lot, I actually saw puffy clouds moving which was a pretty sight and which reminded me when I was a kid.

So this Day of Silence actually went well. The fun part is tonight when there will be complete darkness.

Ungasan, Bali

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Having no "to do" list freaks me out

One of the nagging concerns I had about spending Nyepi in Bali was what do I do? I mean seriously, as much as I bitch and moan about my hectic work life and cry for a break, having nothing to do is a scary thought.

Ok, I can catch up on sleep for one. But how much can one sleep? I can read books and finish the half finished books I have stacked up. And I can tweet and blog. But knowing you are confined to the hotel and not allowed to go out kind of spook me. It means no jogging and no yoga class which are my weekend routine. Did I mention the lights will be off at 6 pm tonight with no activities allowed at all. What do you do in complete darkness for 12 hours?

This is definitely a sign I am not living in the present and that I am a worrier.

As I breathe in the sweetness of the Bali air looking over the ocean, I decided to just let go and enjoy. To simply embrace the beauty of the tranquility. As I was typing this away in the bale (pavilion) by the pool, I saw two dragonflies flew across and a few birds flying in the horizon. Such is the beauty I am surrounded by.

Instead if fretting over what to do, I decided to do nothing and just enjoy what nature has prepared for me, its beauty crafted in perfection.

Evening before Nyepi

Bali was dressed with a sense of tranquility when the plane was touching down. Wooden boats lined next to one another bopping gently in the sea. There was no sight of activities on the beach. A flock of birds glided in the sky above the calm sea. Even nature takes its cue that it's Nyepi and is peaceful.

The Balinese take Nyepi seriously. The hotel car had to turn back at the junction a stone away from the hotel and find an alternative route much longer as the access road was blocked by preparation for the night's activities. Villagers were out on the street watching the Ongoh Ongoh; scary looking huge statues meant to be burnt at the end of the night. It was a party scene and you are allowed to make as much noise as you want.

Tomorrow would be totally different where everyone is expected to stay quiet. Activities come to a still. It would be interesting to experience such peacefulness for once.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jakarta life

I love my maids. I really do. Last night, I came home from work to a nice dinner cooked by my maid. I am referring to wholesome meal that is warmed up nicely along with fruits and coconut juice for dessert. It was welcoming after a long day at work. I love coming home to a clean home where things are in place, all thanks to my maids. Such are the perks of life in Jakarta.

On the downside, it takes me 90 min to travel 10 km to work. So that is three hours wasted on commute daily. Well, with my blackberry and iPad, I get productive in the car. But still, it is frustrating. Not go mention another 2.5 hour if I want to have lunch outside the office. Of course, the driver is the perk. And having a driver is very much part of life in Jakarta for the middle class. It costs less than $200 for the monthly wage of a driver.

So there is upside and downside to life in this city. We don't have parks but instead of lots of huge, glitzy malls with more malls to come. We lack public transportation but we get by stuck for hours in the car chauffeured by a driver. Jakarta is as safe or as dangerous as most cities in South East Asia (excluding Singapore which probably has close to zero crime rate). Practice basic common sense and safety precaution and you will be fine.

It's a shame Jakarta is under-rated as a tourist destination and usually not the preferred posting for expats. Give Jakarta a chance and in time you will be charmed by this place and its people who are probably one of friendliest you can find in any cosmopolitan cities. You can always spot a smiling face in Jakarta.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yoga class reminds me of church

Going for yoga class reminds me of going to church. Everyone puts on their best behavior.  We are all nice, polite and full of smiles.
photo credit to: africa's portfolio
We go to yoga and church wanting to feel good. We listen to someone tells us what to do.  Of course, the difference is yoga comes with physical movements while you simply sit through church.  But if you consider the meditation aspect of yoga, it is similar to sitting and praying for hours in church.

Both yoga and church consist of tightly knitted community.  Once you are in, you become part of the family where everyone knows each other. And soon, you start hanging out with each other outside class or church.

Like any social groups, eventually gossips and clicks kick in. Then someone starts not getting along with another person. Someone else starts disliking another person.  Those that refuse to conform gets outcasted. Along the way, people get disillusioned and dropped out. 

What we tend to forget is the purpose of going to yoga or church? For me, going to yoga is about becoming a better person, physically and emotionally. Yoga helps me stay focused yet is effective in helping me relax. I will not drop out of yoga the way I dropped out of church because of the community. This time, I will stay focused on my objective.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Family time

Sitting at Old Town White Coffee cafe at Emporium mall in Pluit. For those who do not know Jakarta well, Pluit is in Northern Jakarta with majority of it's population Chinese. This gives it a rather different vibe to the other parts of Jakarta which is less homogeneous. It doesn't quite feel like Jakarta with a concentration of Chinese families.
Photo Credit: winnond's portfolio

Here in the cafe, I could easily be in KL or Singapore. Three generations getting together for dinner. Almost every table, you see grandparents, parents and kids. Food, chit chat, gossips, kids running around. Typical scene in most Asian cities.

It's great to see families getting together. It's a comforting sight to see old people still very much included in the family activities.
Time for me to finish up writing and give up my table for the next family.

Tomorrow, it will be my family day where I bring my kids to have lunch with my parents.

Are we leading life on auto pilot?

The yoga instructor told us not to do our poses on auto pilot but to listen to the dialogue. It is easy to come to class after a while knowing what to expect and just going through poses after poses without actually listening to the dialogue of the teacher. We fail to listen and hence fault to improve ourselves, making the same mistakes class after class.
It makes me ponder whether I am taking the same approach outside class. Do I wake up and approach life on an auto pilot mind set, failing to appreciate and listen to what life has to offer? Last week I felt like a car running on auto pilot on a depleted gas tank. I had no time for myself, let alone people around me.

As the week begins (I've started to take Sunday as the beginning of the week instead of Monday), I will make a note to take this week slowly; to breathe in and appreciate what I take for granted. I will start with my morning walk; listen to the chirping of the birds, feel the coolness of the air on my skin and allow the sweet smelling fragrance of the flowers to tinkle my scent.

On and off mat, I will try to switch off the auto pilot mood and be more present.

Idea go's portfolio is:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Woke up early

Photo credit to markuso's portfolio

Woke up at four this morning.  Went to bed early last night, exhausted from yoga practice in the morning followed by flurry of activities the whole Sunday. Gave up my much needed afternoon weekend nap.

Jakarta is surprisingly cool at this time and what a pleasant surprise to wake up to the chirping of birds. Having my cup of strong, black coffee. The aroma filling the room.

I usually freak out when I wake up too early as it means I get totally exhausted by mid-day. And I do get extremely cranky when I am tired.  Today I am determined to simply enjoy the day. It's going to be a long day with a conference call starting at eight and all the way to a karaoke session with colleagues in the evening.

Perhaps this is the day to live by the motto "live life to the fullest". After all, today is a blessing.

Friday, February 18, 2011


People around me seems to be getting older suddenly. I am confronted with my loved ones falling ill and passing away. My mom had a stroke and thankfully recovered after a surgery for her brain aneurysm. My dad had a heart valve surgery. My aunt who is like a mom to me passed away from complications from diabetes. All these happened in the last two years.

Now my mom-in-law is in pain from a bad fall. She underwent vertebroplasty to inject cement into her fractured bones. She is bed ridden and at the same time having terrible gastric pain due to the pain killers that make her throw up after every meal. My sister found a lump in her breast and will need to have a small surgery.

It hits me how vulnerable life is when loved ones start slipping away. Read that two people in the world die every minutes. It's a statistic that doesn't mean anything until one of the two person is someone you know, someone you can put a face to and someone you've spent time with, someone who is part of your life. And then all you have left are only memories of the person with words unsaid, things undone and regrets.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anger and compassion

I am embarrassed I got so angry. With all my yoga practice and self-help books, I thought I would have handled things more calmly. But somehow the incident triggered some much resentment and anger.

I should have let things go. Instead I chose to confront and antagonize the other party just to get a respond. Or may be I was being childish. You know how kids throw a tantrum when they don't get what they want?

Perhaps the best thing to do when I am angry is to do nothing. To not say things that are hurtful which unfortunately came out from my mouth this morning.

Today, I pray for compassion, for myself and the person I was upset with.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who we think we are may not be what others see in us

Photo credit to anankkml's portfolio

Bumped into an old friend in a bar on Valentine's evening and spent time swapping stories over our past. We both started our first job together and had some tough times making our ways in the corporate jungle.

What was amusing was the stories he said about things I did (sounded rather childish) and how I behaved (highly emotional). I had totally forgotten those stories. I actually don't recall being the kind of person he described me to be. I wonder if I go about painting a certain image of myself while others see me in a diffent light? Some of my closer friends claim I put on a facade with people I don't know. It is my armour of protection. But what am I trying to protect myself against?

Why am I scared to show my true self? Am I so accustomed to behaving in what society expects of me? Or am I putting on different facades to please people around me?

Perhaps there is nothing wrong in puting on different facades as when the situation calls for. What is important is staying true to myself without worrying about what others think or say about me.  I hope I am compassionate towards people regardless of what facade I am putting on. I hope I am strong enough to stay true to myself.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Photo credit of tungphoto's portfolio

Valentine's round the corner. In the States, this would be celebrated with flowers, chocolates, candle light diners and hallmark cards (at least ten years ago before the internet age hallmark cards are a must to express your love).  

I do not recall when was the last time I celebrated Valentine's Day. Do I miss celebrating this special day? I suppose I miss receiving flowers, chocolates and tender loving words. I think I miss being made to feel special.

Then it occurred to me I am doomed for disappointments if I am waiting for other people to make me feel special.  I am special for who I am and I do not need endorsements from others.  I am special in my own quirky ways and there are people out there who love me for all my imperfections. For those people, I am thankful.

On this special day, I am going to take the chance to tell people I love how special they are.  I hope in doing so I can touch the heart of just one person and make that person believe in himself. Life is full of hope only when you believe in yourself.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Losing my fighting spirit

I've been conditioned to think I have to be fighting constantly; I used to take pride in my fighting spirit. My approach in life was to work my ass off for all my goals.

Somehow, towards the end of last year I seem to have mellowed down. From the outside, people can't quite tell. I am still putting up my facade at work, colleagues still consider me aggrssive and ambitious. But deep inside, I could feel myself losing that fighting spirit. Not sure if it's still part of mourning for my aunt's death, or that age is making me more mature, or perhaps yoga has taught me to be more accepting.

I was quite scared of what I seem to have become. Then it gradually sank in that this change will stay. This is what I am transforming into. I haven't lost my fighting spirit as I am still pushing myself to improve my poses and driving myself hard on the yoga mat. I am simply balancing acceptance and my fighting spirit. On and off the yoga mat, I will give my best. Once I have tried my best, I will not beat myself up over the outcome.

I will simply let go.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hong Kong and Shenzhen

Skyline of Hong Kong from IFC Mall

View of Shenzhen

Shenzhen used to be the poor cousin of Hong Kong.  It is catching up very fast as an up-coming cosmopolitan city.  Hong Kong is vibrant yet too crowded for my liking.  I prefer the luxury of walking without having to elbow my way around.

Breakfast in Macau

This is the delicious blueberry egg tart I had for breakfast at Starbucks Macau. What a way to start the day with creamy tart and Americano.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Zaia, Cirque Du Soleil at Ventian Macau

Cirque du Soleil is a mesmerizing performance. I was sitting at the edge of my seat for the whole performance engrossed. I suppose this is the ultimate art that we seek, one that transports us to a different realm. The music, lighting, special effects, acting all help push the performance to the pennacle. It is in itself an art.

I enjoy being totally present for the whole show, just being there. It is such a wonderful experience. I suppose we don't have to meditate to be in the present. Art can be be similar to meditation if we are totally soaked in the experience. Different people respond to diffent art forms.

I find it important to try out diffent arts to find what appeals to us. Keeping our minds open bring surprises. I wasn't sure my parents would enjoy Cirque du Soliel. To my pleasant surprise, they've enjoyed the performance. It seems to bring out the child like in them. And they were as much engrossed as I was. My parents have enjoyed it as much as my kids.

Shenzhen Travel

Starbucks in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a bustling city. It used to be known as the place where tourists cross over from Hong Kong in a train to purchse counterfeit bags. Now this city in Guangdong province north of Hong Kong is shedding its image as Hong Kong's poor cousin. It is trying to catch up with its glittery malls. Most major bands are present. Well, may be not all; at least didn't find Chanel and Hermes. But you get the point, Zara, Manggo and every major fast food chain are present. Star bucks has found it's place here.

Had Chinese food for dinner in an upscale restaurant in town. But it was lunch at this neighborhood restaurant that amazes me. I love the concentrated chicken soup cooked with Chinese herb served in a Chinese teapot and drink from the small tea cup. Tasty.

Have to get used to the cold. Well, I've have always been a tropical person.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dare I call myself a yogini?

The term yogi (male) or yogini (female) is used to describe someone who practices yoga. Wikipedia describes yogi as " practitioner of various forms of spiritual practice".

I am rather cautious in calling myself a yogi or yogini.  After all, I started as a woman who can't touch her toes and is now taking baby-steps towards yoga practice.  I've looked at the blogs of many yogi/yogini and have been impressed with the years of experience they have under their belts or should I say on their mats.  Many have learned under well-know gurus or at least been to Mysore, the Mecca of yoga. Two years of Bikram yoga class does not qualify me to be in the same league as some of those yogi/yogini.

Yoga can be a rather intimidating experience for beginners.  I recalled how confused I was when I first decided to check out a yoga class.  They sound like foreign language to me (even reading through the descriptions of the classes do nothing to help me in understanding the different schools of yoga).

I signed up for Bikram yoga since the studio was most convenient to where I live and ended up liking it.  It probably has to do with the fact that the first few teachers I've had impressed me.  Omar was one of the first teachers I've had and he exudes the yoga spirit.  He was working in the IT industry before he decided to teach yoga full time.  This is not a guy who is a high school drop-out who has no idea what he wants to do in life and ended up as a yoga teacher.  This is a guy who decided to put aside what he had to pursue his dream or calling.  He shares his story of being a vegan, another true reflection of his calling.  This is definitely someone who practices what he preaches.

I suppose you can call yourself yogi/yogini when you truly exudes the yoga spirit, when yoga is not a badge you flaunt on your sleeve but a way how you lead your life. A true yogi/yogini is compassionate.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Live with less

Will having the much coveted Birkin bag make you happy? I'm sure I will be ecstatic after waiting months for the most sought after bag that costs an arm and a leg.  But will the happiness last? Or will I be like a kid who throws a tantrum for a toy and loses interest once he gets to play with the toy?  

The article in NYT titled "But will it make you happy?" argues that wanting things and getting more things will not necessarily make us happy.  We can be happy with less.

I tend to agree. The challenge now is whether I can learn to live with less.  Instead of collecting things, I choose to collect memories that come with experiences like taking my kids traveling. Instead of having a bigger house where I have to spend more time maintaining, I would rather have a smaller place I get to enjoy.

The challenge in Asia is the social pressure of having the biggest house, fanciest car, latest branded bags and the other material standards we are being measured against. Can we simply learn to be a by-stander in the crazy material race? 

* click on the title of this blog to take you to the NYT article