22 Jul 2010

Tips for travelling by Paulo Coelho

1. Avoid museums. This might seem to be absurd advice, but let’s just think about it a little: if you are in a foreign city, isn’t it far more interesting to go in search of the present than of the past? It’s just that people feel obliged to go to museums because they learned as children that travelling was about seeking out that kind of culture. Obviously museums are important, but they require time and objectivity – you need to know what you want to see there, otherwise you will leave with a sense of having seen a few really fundamental things, except that you can’t remember what they were.

2. Hang out in bars. Bars are the places where life in the city reveals itself, not in museums. By bars I don’t mean nightclubs, but the places where ordinary people go, have a drink, ponder the weather, and are always ready for a chat. Buy a newspaper and enjoy the ebb and flow of people. If someone strikes up a conversation, however silly, join in: you cannot judge the beauty of a particular path just by looking at the gate.

3. Be open. The best tour guide is someone who lives in the place, knows everything about it, is proud of his or her city, but does not work for an agency. Go out into the street, choose the person you want to talk to, and ask them something (Where is the cathedral? Where is the post office?). If nothing comes of it, try someone else – I guarantee that at the end of the day you will have found yourself an excellent companion.

4. Try to travel alone or – if you are married – with your spouse. It will be harder work, no one will be there taking care of you, but only in this way can you truly leave your own country behind. Travelling with a group is a way of being in a foreign country while speaking your mother tongue, doing whatever the leader of the flock tells you to do, and taking more interest in group gossip than in the place you are visiting.

5. Don’t compare.
Don’t compare anything – prices, standards of hygiene, quality of life, means of transport, nothing! You are not travelling in order to prove that you have a better life than other people – your aim is to find out how other people live, what they can teach you, how they deal with reality and with the extraordinary.

6. Understand that everyone understands you. Even if you don’t speak the language, don’t be afraid: I’ve been in lots of places where I could not communicate with words at all, and I always found support, guidance, useful advice, and even girlfriends. Some people think that if they travel alone, they will set off down the street and be lost forever. Just make sure you have the hotel card in your pocket and – if the worst comes to the worst – flag down a taxi and show the card to the driver.

7. Don’t buy too much.
Spend your money on things you won’t need to carry: tickets to a good play, restaurants, trips. Nowadays, with the global economy and the Internet, you can buy anything you want without having to pay excess baggage.

8. Don’t try to see the world in a month. It is far better to stay in a city for four or five days than to visit five cities in a week. A city is like a capricious woman (or a capricious man, if you are a woman): she/he takes time to be seduced and to reveal him/herself completely.

9. A journey is an adventure. Henry Miller used to say that it is far more important to discover a church that no one else has ever heard of than to go to Rome and feel obliged to visit the Sistine Chapel with two hundred thousand other tourists bellowing in your ear. By all means go to the Sistine Chapel, but wander the streets too, explore alleyways, experience the freedom of looking for something – quite what you don’t know – but which, if you find it, will – you can be sure – change your life.

As an old hippie, I know what I’m talking about…
The text was taken from my book “Like a flowing river”

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11 Jul 2010

Book Review: Wellbeing — The Five Essential Elements, Twenties Girl | Malay Mail Online


Title: Wellbeing - The Five Essential Elements

Author: Tom Rath & Jim Harter

Publisher: Gallup Press

Year of publication: 2010

Rating: 8/10

This is not your regular straighten-me-up self-help book.

Wellbeing - The Five Essential Elements is a conversational guide to holistic wellness that deals with the bigger picture first, before getting to the finer details in life.

Authors Rath and Harter present five ele­ments crucial to the wellness of each individual - career, social, financial, physical and commu­nity wellbeing.

After explaining each aspect in breezy detail, they finish off with the art of mea­suring what makes life worthwhile.

In addition, there are tools and resources - including statistics on wellbeing across the United States and 150 countries, conducted by Gallup to find out how the five elements shape their lives.

Interesting to note is that Malaysia is ranked 52 in the wellness survey, with Denmark and Togo coming in first and last respectively.

Among several interesting points raised in the book is the fact that wellbeing is not just about being happy. Nor is it about wealth, career suc­cess or physical health, but it is a combination of the five elements mentioned.

While most of the content isn't something new, this reviewer found the authors' personal presentation of the five elements refreshing and learnt many small but insightful lessons about the art of being well.

Another interesting aspect of the book is it comes with a unique code that can be used to measure one's wellbeing online and proceed to track your wellbeing over time.

An easy read that will make you re-define one's perception of happiness and wellness. - By Anu Venugopal

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6 Jul 2010

Koh Phangan Pictures

Suzhen and I just after landing at Koh Samui airport.

Dom and I in the van before we got scolding from the immigration ladies.

Suzhen and I happily drinking our beers.

The yummylicious banana chocolate (nutella) pancake.

Trying to finish off the pancake ourselves before Dom gets to them.

Just after getting wet in the rain......;P

This is what too much alcohol can do to u - a few 'happy' guys trying to jump the fire rope.

Dom in red dress and Suzhen in yellow top dancing away on the table. ;)

Get your plastic buckets with alcohol here! Unfortunately nothing worked on me! :P

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