I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Borobudur - gateway to unconditional Love!

Borodudur has been calling me for a long time since I started traveling more than 2 decades ago. Looking at those photos of the 7 man-made wonders of the world then, I always wondered why have I been to see so many wonders of the world but still not Borobudur which is the closest to Malaysia. I guess because it is so close, I tend to want to go furthest first.

So, I was counting the places I have left my footprints and noted the following world wonders :

  1. Leaning Tower of Pisa
  2. Great Wall of China
  3. Eiffel Tower of Paris
  4. Angkor Wat of Cambodia
  5. The Pyramids of Giza
  6. Taj Mahal of India

Then, there is the Garden of Babylon which is no more in existence. And finallly, there is Borobudur. There are, however, many ancient monuments that are not listed but they are as magnificence in the way they are built as those listed ones. They have always left for us subtle messages about our universe. The deep emotional feelings you will get when you close your eyes and open your hearts, you will definitely feel the presence of unconditional love.

Borobudur emits the same effects of unconditional love as you climb through its 10-level of symbolic  enlightenment passages. As you would circumambulate the galleries and terraces at every level, you will feel without doubt the peace within.

There are not a lot of guest houses within walking distance from the Borobudur complex. There is a Manohara Hotel which has rooms from Rp400,000 onwards (RM140), but you get to walk into Borobudur anytime during opening hours and a special permission for house guests to also include a sunrise walkabout. If you stay in the resort-like hotel, you get to go into Borobudur compound without having to pay extra for the entrance ticket.

The entrance ticket (or you may call it the conservation fund) is USD11 per person for 1-day pass. I can use the ticket to go in at 6am when it opens and stay throughout the day until 5pm or I can re-enter anytime. 

I checked into a Lotus I guest house with room costs only Rp60,000 (RM15) with a fan, a Queen-size bed with an attached bath. If there are 2 of us, we can share the cost. Very affordable, shoe-string budget traveling at its best!

No written record that can confirm how old is Borobudur but many claim that it dates back to the 8th century, almost the same time as Angkor Wat.  It is a very fascinating structure with 1,460 bas-reliefs on its walls depicting cause and effects at the lowest level, Jataka tales (stories which Gautama told the people after he gained enlightenment as the Buddha) at the middle levels, and the highest few levels are in circular design, going round without beginning and end. Isn't that what life is? It never ends, just got to repeat all the stuff and issues until we learnt it, I guess that is what enlightenment means.

I got myself a bicycle and I rode to visit other places in the vicinity while I also enjoyed the foods with such delicacies like barbecued duck, soto nasi (rice) with chicken and a cup of 3-in-1 chocolate - all for Rp9,500 (RM2.50). Well, great food at a fraction of what we can get in KL.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Travel Wear

Question :
What are some of the things, especially clothes, you pack when you travel?

Answer :
This is a very wide open question.  What I pack depends on where I go.  And also over the years, I began to pack more lightly but yet dress in more style, even when I backpack, compare to my early traveling years.  

When I began backpacking, I was only 21 years old.  The simplest the better (but not necessarily lightest), because travel budget was a big co
ncern.  The more I travel, the least I carry because now I know how to choose light clothing and buy better quality fleece shirt and winter wears.  

You may need to consider a few things before you pack or buy traveling stuff :

  • which country are you going to?
  • what is the weather?
  • what type of accommodation will you check in?
  • what are the main tourist attraction?
  • how many days will you be there?
  • are you going to other places apart from this?

Lets begin with - which country and what is the weather?

You can check it out before you start packing.  This is very difficult to generalise. It really depends what you will be doing when you are there.  Example, if you decide to go to Nepal but not to the trekking range, then you may not need so many stuff.  Or some may go to Indonesia which is usually warm throughout and go up to Mount Bromo, which is very cold even during the day. Or you may want to go to Tasmania in summer/spring, but it is cold in Cradle Mountain.  So, decide where you want to go and we will discuss from there.  

For me, I always choose clothing that are light even for winter wear, acrylic is light
, thermal wear is light too.  Most of the countries I went except those in South East Asia, are very dry, humidity is low.  So, most of the clothes I can wear for 3 days before washing them. I bring my own powder soap detergent. Most backpacking hostel has clothes line but has no clothes peg, so I bring my own.

These were the only "luggage" I had when I was in Hanoi for 5 days. I only carried a knapsack at my back and a sling bag in front. Very easy for me to get around anywhere I wanted to go. When I got tired, I just sat in front of Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi close to the old Quarter too, and had a wonderful time in its 20 degrees temperature and a cooling breeze. But Sa Pa was very cold at 1600m above sea level, so I got a zip-up jumper too. Read more about my recent trip, next article in my blog.

What are the main tourist attraction you will be visiting?

If you are going to a place that has a lot of religious followings, such as India, China, Europe, Thailand, and mostly throughout South East Asia, I always respect the places I visit.  So, I wear long pants, cotton and light, wherever I go. I don't know if I will enter a religious place or not, so to safe from packing thing I don't need, I pack all long pants and shirts, no shorts for me except to sleep.  By the way, packing button up shirts are lighter than T-shirts, and plain cotton pants are lighter than jeans even when it gets wet.

If you are in Bali, bring sarong.  You will need sarong to enter a temple even if you are already wearing long pants. You will need to wrap it around from your waist down for men and women.

Where will you spend the night?

Most backpackers Inn do not supply blankets and pillows, especially places I visited in India, Eqypt, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa and many more. Some places like Australia, you have to pay for pillows and blankets (some provide pillows for free but never blankets).  So, always pack your sleeping bags. I don't bring pillow.  If pillow is not provided, I will use my bag.

Since you will be crawling into your sleeping bag, you may want to bring extra sleeping clothes for warmth, if you are going to a place that is below 10c.