A page from a notebook of someone’s mother who passed away

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is no time for anything else.”

Where do I want to rest forever?

Early 2014, before I set off for my trip to South America, I had reached out to the family of a teenager who shot himself after an argument with his mother. I remember the grieving mother saying that she had her son’s body cremated and was asking people via a viral Facebook story if they could help take (some of) her son’s ashes to special places so he could “go see the world”. I was motivated to take her son to the Galapagos, believing her son’s spirit would like to be an eternal part of such a beautiful place on this earth. Sadly, it did not materialize.

But I began to ask myself, “Where would I like to rest forever?” And although the seas around Fernandina Island aren’t too shabby a spot, one place stood out even more; Sipadan.

For me, diving in the waters around Sipadan Island was a special experience. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s also part of Malaysia, my homeland.

Here’s how I envision my soul being put to rest; family members will make the journey to Sipadan. They’d put on diving gear, take my sealed can of ashes, and go dive in Barracuda Point. Once underwater, they will “release me”. And for eternity, I’m part of earth again. It sure beats being put in a coffin and being buried. How constricting and boring would that be? Even in death, I’d like to “travel” wherever the currents take me.

Is it morbid to think about this sort of thing? I don’t know.

Tashi and the Monk.

My first experience with an orphanage happened when I was very little, maybe 4-5 years in age. My family went to visit this orphanage because my cousin was there. Why was my cousin there? He was mentally challenged. At least that’s what my parents told me. He wasn’t born to my uncle and aunt. He was adopted. And when my uncle and aunt found out he was mentally challenged when he grew up, they gave him up for adoption. This visit was my only time seeing him. My only remaining memory of this visit was seeing my cousin (whose face I don’t recall now) come up to me and started touching my feet as I was carried by my dad. I am surprised that this memory still stayed with me until this day and I still wonder from time to time, what happened to my cousin?

Fast forward many years later. It is the end of 2010. I was unceremoniously dumped on the side of a street at 4 am in the freezing morning in McLeod Ganj. Despite the rough start to my stay there, my time spent in McLeod Ganj was one of my most memorable during my gap year. Among many reasons for this is because of my visit to The Children’s Village, an orphanage located about 30-40 minutes on foot from McLeod Ganj. I still remember vividly my hike there and what I saw during my brief visit. Little did I know, a seed was planted in me and has been germinating.

Last week, I read somewhere that a short documentary called “Tashi and the Monk” won an Emmy. It is about a former monk (himself an orphan) who runs an orphanage filled with “uninvited guests in this universe”. The documentary is (but may not be for much longer) free to watch on Vimeo. I finally got around to watching it today. It moved me in a big way. Recently, I had been bouncing the idea around in my head of how much I’d like to one day, possibly in my later years, volunteer at an orphanage, possibly as a teacher. I don’t want kids of my own, that I am certain of. However, there are so many unwanted children out there and with my belief that education is the key to escaping poverty, I hope to pass on what I know. Basic math, English, science? I think I can do that. Maybe throw in whatever life wisdom/thoughts/philosophies I may have learned along the way. I want to help them navigate this maze called “Life”. There’s a lot more to say about all this but that’s for another day.

For the Traveler: A Poem by John O’Donohue

I wish I were on an empty beach, listening to the waves coming in, watching the sun go down, lost in my thoughts.

Anyway, found a nice travel poem. Click on the link for the entire thing.

“When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.”

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1522/for-the-traveler-a-poem-by-john-o-donohue-john-o-donohue/

Your time is limited.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

– Steve Jobs

“Human Family” by Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan

September 11th – September 18th 2016

Took a trip to Japan with my parents, sisters, bro-in-law, nephew after our visit to Malaysia. It’s not often I get to travel abroad with my entire family and I had such a blast with them.

I don’t think Japan is a stranger to anyone. We all know visitors go there for the food, culture, history, and to see “weird” stuff. No, I did not see any panty vending machines but I saw more drink vending machines on a single street in Shinjuku than I did my entire year in USA. I loved Japan and would like to go back another day.

Several highlights of my trip:

  • Cramming into a tiny sushi restaurant in Tsukiji and enjoying fresh sushi
  • Eating “tsukemen” (dipping ramen) on “ramen street”
  • Seeing many ppl on the streets all done up and wearing kimonos
  • Walking around on the “food floors” of malls
  • Seeing a Maricar procession at night
  • Eating “unadon
  • Walking the streets of Tokyo
Tsukemen (dipping ramen)
Tsukemen (dipping ramen)
Unadon
Unadon

Click here for more pics of Tokyo and Kyoto

Science saved my soul

As I sit here on the Hikari 462 shinkansen screaming past rural Japanese towns between Kyoto and Tokyo, I rewatch Phil Hellenes’s “Science saved my soul”. At the end of the video, Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” comes on. I gaze into the never ending sky and contemplate how small I am. How small we all are in relation to the universe. How we all came from the universe, the product of supernovas.

I want to savor every moment in this short life I have.