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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Siwa Oasis, Egypt

The ancient fortress of Siwa, in the middle of Siwa town.
These photos bring back loads of memory. I am feeling just so thrilled about all the places I have set foot, having flashbacks about the rooms I have stayed at only USD1 in Nepal. Riding the camel into Bedouin villages in Egypt, witnessing the ceremonial slaughtering of the herd of cows for a mass village funeral in Sulawesi. Staying on top of a buffalo shack in the mountains of Nepal and being in Dalai Lama's monastery in Dharamsala without having the slightest idea that that place existed but I was led there nevertheless. Oh, all these are just memories I treasure. In the quietest moments when these flashbacks occurred, they all bring a twitch on my mouth to expand into a smile that exudes the feelings of satisfaction and whole. 

Heaps of pita bread loaded on a cart pulled by donkeys.
Looking at the photos taken in Siwa Oasis, Egypt, ignites that feeling of awe mixed with joy and freedom. It is like suddenly there appear in front of me a wide open space with blue skies, trees that have wide umbrella-like branches full of green wide leaves. Stretching right in front is undulating plains of green green fields, while I run across the fields with wide stretched open arms, my small face lifted up towards the blazing sun, feeling the warmth on my lips, my cheeks, my brows, feeling the wind in every cell in my body, and invoke the lightness as if I am taking flight. Yeah, that kind of feeling, the feeling like you have achieved something so great you can just flap your wings and know that you can just take off to the sky and fly.

Olives and dates, palm trees are abundant in Siwa
When I first heard of Oasis, reading about them in my geography books, I thought that oasis is just a puddle of water in the vast dry desert. Nothing in sight, no buildings, no people, perhaps just a few palm trees. Then nothing. Just windy and sandy as far as the eyes can see, just brown sand dune undulating towards the horizon. I thought that was what an oasis supposed to be.

And perhaps I had watched some old movies like the Lawrence of Arabia or Sinbad, where the views of slim curvy-shaped ladies in colorful silk arabian "wrap-arounds" like I-dream-of-Jeannie kind, they all swayed to the beat of the enchanting music while gyrating her steps to get water from the oasis. Then walk seductively with a jar of water over her head, tracing her steps back to her tent. That was what I had in my mind all these years. Funny, isn't it? how I can conjure up an image which is not true but based on what I was shown to believe. It must be the magic of TV.

A mud brick house with beautiful kid beaming from their window

The bus from Alexandria took 9 hours to arrive at Siwa Oasis. If someone comes from Cairo, they will usually break their journey in Alexandria after a 3-hour bus ride from Cairo. It was an air-cond bus so the windows can be shut while the dust and sand piled upon us all the way. 

There were not many tourists in Siwa Oasis. Local people ply the route from Alexandria to Siwa Oasis because of commerce, the buying and selling of goods. It was a surprise to find so many fresh produce from Siwa Oasis. 

It was truly an eye-opener for me to see so many colorful fruits and vegetables in an oasis. I thought they only export dates and olives. They also supply mineral water bottled by a factory a few miles away from town.

I learned that they have an airport there already. So, Siwa Oasis is more accessible now. Looking for an adventure?

Fresh produce in the market every morning. Bustling activities.
Take a trip to see an oasis and feel the adventure as was so fondly told in all 1,001 Eqyptian tales.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stonehenge, England


Looking past Stonehenge is a beautiful living picture, of sheep.

The public bus that ply the route to Stonehenge

As the ubiquituous white and red double decker bus glided its way into the countryside, the scenery open up to a narrow road flanked by beech trees and coniferous woodland. The bus was quiet with a handful of passengers. The woodland washed the windows with its pale grey wintry air. Only the whooshing release of air from the hydraulic gear that can be heard distinctively from the bottom of the bus gently breaking the freezing silence. 
As the cleanly shaven botak beech trees retreating to the rear of the bus, the woodland yawned itself to full view. Till the last of the few conifer trees came to end, Stonehenge, with its colossal vertically erect structure, stood monumentally stoned in the middle of the meadow. Green sprawling field, wide open space invited into view the iconic structure that has baffled men for centuries, lay in its encircling setting. 
Stonehenge can be viewed from roadside while driving by.
Entrance to Stonehenge, entry fee applicable
I boarded the train from London Waterloo station for a day trip to Stonehenge in the winter months. Moreover, as I have all the time in the world, I chose to use the special offer for off-peak ride. It is best to buy a return ticket for the cost less to do so. The price is about £30 one-way. If you buy both ways and returning on the same day, you pay about £30 too. The train ride is about 80 minutes. It runs on the track so fast you hardly feel the time. I alighted at Salisbury Station and waited for the public bus which ran from Salisbury to Stonehenge to elsewhere.  
There is a Tour Bus that takes tourists to Stonehenge and to visit Salisbury Cathedral all in one day. Only £18 per adult. 
Stonehenge was built some 5,000 years ago. Maybe longer. As some experts have estimated that it needed 20 million hours to complete the construction.  Some said it was a holy site for healing to take place. Some said it was a scientific observatory. But who built them? And why? 

Stonehenge stood menacingly in the afternoon sky.
As I walked on the tarred pavement that surrounds the stones for a closer view, I think I heard the stones guffawed : "ahahahaha .....we are not telling, because you wouldn't believe us anyway!"  

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Stay & Ride in Bali

When you see Beauty in everything - you are in Beautiful Bali
Some good accommodations in Ubud

Low-cost rooms and beautiful view of padi fields in Ubud

Hi Mr Tham,

I came across your blog about traveling in Bali alone. I am interested to do that as I have a short break. Do you have any recommendations of places to stay (safe for a single lady) and contacts for transportation?

I would really appreciate your input.

Perama provides easy and low-cost transport to many tourist spots in Bali.

Good to know that you have some time off to take in a little bit of Bali on your own.  Truly, Bali is to be visited and enjoyed bit by bit, not in a rush.

It is a very safe place to be.  Single women or men.  You can walk in the dark and there will be people who are willing to give you rides to places without asking for anything back.  I have those experiences.

The choice of accommodation and transport are subject to your budget.

These are a few recommendations :

Use taxi - still very affordable, from Kuta to Tanah Lot, about 1 hr journey cost you Rp200,000

Get a bike to go around some nearby places - about Rp50,000 - Rp80,000 per day depends where you are.

Use public transport such as Perama buses, very good and will bring you to many tourist spots. Eg from Kuta to Ubud Rp50,000. And you get 10% off for your next trip to another destination covered by Perama.  Ask around, the friendly people in Bali will lead you to their offices.

I had used local public transport (those crankety vans) but the system is kind of chaotic in Bali, although it is the cheapest mode of transport. I paid only Rp2,000 when I left Tanah Lot, but the van dropped me at a junction to hop on another van (which you won't know what time they will appear), get to the main depot, then take another one to Gilimanuk (I had to get to the jetty to cross to Jawa). But if you have the time, try it, it is an experience worth the time spent.

All places to stay are save.  They are pretty good with price. When you take Perama buses, there will be small hotel or home owners who will approach you.  You can check the room by going with them.  If you take the taxis, just ask to be sent to a reasonably priced hotel.  I have stayed at clean room with attached bath that cost me only Rp88,000 (in Candidassa with hefty American Breakfast too, cooked by the friendly hotel staff and owners), anything less will not be suitable.  I have stayed in Ubud and paying up to Rp120,000 with breakfast.  The price really depends on where you are. More touristic, more expensive.  I have also stayed in those which is priced like USD70 per room per night.

But really, Bali is very very safe. So is the world!

Hope this helps.

Do feel free to write again.
Have a wonderful trip.