Monday, April 07, 2014

Travel: Work Trip to India (Mar 14)

After Donsol, I went to New Delhi immediately. I was fortunately that everything went smoothly (ie. no flight delay).

5am: Motorbike ride from Donsol to Legaspi Airport Philippines
7.40am: Flight from Legaspi to Manila
11.30am: Flight from Manila to Singapore
5.40pm: Flight from Singapore to New Delhi.
1am: Arriving in New Delhi Hotel after non-stop 20 hours traveling (4 cities, 3 countries)

Subsequently, I went to 3 cities in India in 4 days. And I was literally, flying almost everyday. Felt really tired with not enough sleep from traveling and work.

Anyway, this is my 6th trip to India, and it never fails to amaze me. So diverse and different from the rest of the world. I like India. =)

Condominium & Slum (New Delhi)

Good to be a Vegetarian in India. Lotsa options for me.

Election Fever (Modi of BJP)

Luxury Mall (New Delhi)

Shahrukh Khan

Cheap Mortgage at 10.2%??

Great Taj Hotel (Kolkata)

Good Breakfast @ Taj

View of Victoria Memorial from the Taj Hotel (Kolkata)

Nice Clubhouse for Breakfast
(For a moment, I thought I went back to Colonial India time)

Rahul Gandhi (from Congress Party)

Street of Kolkata

Street of Kolkata

Victoria Memorial (Kolkata)

Mumbai City

More Khan

Nice Restaurant in Mumbai.

Unfortunately, I did not get to explore much other than airports, hotels and offices. Nevertheless, it is still good trip.

Travel: Donsol Philippines (Mar 14)

Our Cebu pacific Flight from Manila to Legazpi was flying in the air for 15mins and decided to turn back to Manila due to technical problem. In the end, we changed the aircraft and our flight was delayed for 3hrs. (Pretty Scary considering the recent MH370 Incident)

View of Mt Mayon (2400m) from Legaspi Airport.

The beautiful view of sea from Elysia Beach Resort

Our spotter and guide searching for Whale Sharks.

Another Spotter

Swimming with the 8m long Whale Shark!!! 
Exhilarating experience!!

It is the best animal interaction I ever had. Surreal experience. Swimming slowly with this graceful giant.

Excited. =)

Waiting to jump into the water again.

Within half an hour, we managed to have 2 interactions with the Whale Sharks. We were really lucky, after that, we waited 2.5hrs in vain. 

Enjoying the sun and the breeze.


After dinner, we decided to do the firefly tour in the swamp area: 
A Christmas Tree of Fireflies pulsating in synchrony in the dark. 
Amazing experience!!
I have never seen anything like this before.
This photo does it no justice. Imagine thousands of fireflies lighting up a tree. :))

Elysia Beach Resort
(Basic Room, but really nice environment.)

Breakfast View


This is one of the best breakfast experiences I had in recent time. 
Nothing special, except a Great view of the sea & beach, No Crowd, Peaceful, Nice Breeze, Soothing background music, Body not in pain.
What more do I need. =)

Another view of the resort.



The beach and sand wasn't the best, and visibility of the water is okay only. I went for swim in the ocean (hoping to spot Whale Sharks while I was swimming), and then, I started thinking of the possibilities of seeing other sharks in the water. This thought freaked me out, and I decided to swim back to the shore immediately. Haha. 

2nd Day Whale Shark Interactions

9m long Whale Shark 

Swimming really slowly

Graceful Creature

View above the Shark

View from the back

Front View (Taken by SM)

We had an amazing 2nd day experience swimming with the Whale Sharks - 3 encounters. We had a quality interaction, where we swam together with the whale shark for at least 2-3 minutes.

Compilation of the Whale Sharks Interaction for the 2 days: 5 encounters. =)
And one item struck off from my bucket list.

My group was really lucky, as my friends (those who arrived a week earlier and a week later) did not manage to see any whale sharks. Apparently, those 2 days when I was in Donsol, were the days with the most encounters with the Whale Sharks during that 3 week period.

What better way to end the tiring day with a massage by the beach.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Travel: Jogjakarta (Central Java, Indonesia) Mar'14

In Feb'14, one day before I was supposed to fly to Jogjakarta, Mt Kelud erupted and my flight was cancelld. My flight to Yogjakarta was cancelled because of Volcano eruption. 

Was I upset? Not at all. 
I attended a talk by my one of favourite Buddhist Teachers (Ajahn Brahm) that week. 

And the topic was
"Good? Bad? Who knows?"

It was an opportunity to practice equanimity.


Wiki: "Yogyakarta (/ˌjɒɡjəˈkɑrtə/ or /ˌjɡjəˈkɑrtə/;[1] also JogjaJogjakarta) is a city and the capital of Yogyakarta Special Region in Java, Indonesia. It is renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. Yogyakarta was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to 1949. One of the districts in Yogyakarta, Kotagede, was the capital of the Mataram Sultanate between 1575 and 1640. The city is named after the Indian city of Ayodhya from the Ramayana epic."

Taken from the top of my hotel

Small, Simple, Comfortable and Cheap hotel.

Some of the local housings

Tradition vs Modernity

Parade along the touristic Malioboro

Surprised to see local Javanese performing Chinese dragon dance

Military Band in Javanese Costume

Drag Queen

Malioboro Street

Very Balinese


Local Street Vendor selling satay.
Unfortunately, I am a vegetarian.


Wiki: "Candi Prambanan or Candi Rara Jonggrang is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 17 kilometres (11 mi) northeast of the city of Yogyakarta on the boundary between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces.[1]
The temple compound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47-metre-high (154 ft) central building inside a large complex of individual temples.[2] Prambanan attracts many visitors from across the world.[3]"

Candi Siva, dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer

Hindu Mythical Being

Candi Sewu, a large Buddhist temple complex meaning "one thousand temples".

Headless Buddha Statue

A reminder of the Impermanence of Life and non-attachment.
Visiting these Hindu and Buddhist monuments in the largest Muslim country in the world reminds me of the rise of fall of civilization. People changes. Civilization changes. Culture changes.



Alone in the complex.
Love it. =)

Relaxing in peace.
Meditated for a while. Not bad.

Reminds me of Ang Kor Wat.

Another headless Buddha Statue



Silhouette of Candi Sewu


Took a local transport back to the town.
Comfortably seated, Good View of Sunset, Strong Wind... feels like sitting in a convertible, except it is nosier and slower. Most importantly, it was an enjoyable ride.


Wiki: "Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in MagelangCentral JavaIndonesia. The monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.[1] A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside a perforated stupa. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple,[2][3] as well as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.[4]
Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple was designed in Javanese Buddhist architecture, which blends the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attainingNirvana.[4] The temple also demonstrates the influences of Gupta art that reflects India's influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.[5][6] The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument and ascends to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmologyKāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades. Borobudur has the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world.[4]
Evidence suggests Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th-century decline ofHindu kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam.[7] Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[4]
Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year, Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction."

Front View of Borobudur


Beautiful Sunrise

Beautiful Sunrise

Amazing and Peaceful

Lord Buddha Statue in the Stupa

Beautiful Surrounding


Lord Buddha gazing at all sentient beings with compassion and loving kindness.

Lord Buddha: Turning the Wheel of Dharma 



Buddhist Stories

More carving 

Largest Buddhist Temple in the world.
Located in the largest Muslim country in the world.


Ended the trip with a good interaction with the local students.


Some thoughts:

- As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to see the world. My forefathers did not have the opportunity, I am just lucky to be born the right place at the right time.

- During this short solo trip, there is a lot of time for self-reflection. 
Buddha is not the headless statue in ruin. 
Buddha is Dharma. 
Seeing the Dharma is Seeing the Buddha. 
Dharma is a way of living. 
I do not know a better way of living other than practicing compassion and kindness.

- On the flight, I was reading about this book "Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership". It was about oneness with the world, interdependence and openness (at least, that's how I interpreted it). I did not plan much for my trip, since I was traveling solo. 

 When I was worried about the transport arrangement, at the last minute, the transport appears (what a relief!). When I was worried that I did not have enough local currency to make payment, the money changer appeared at the most unlikely place.  

Interestingly, things seemed to work out fine at the end.