Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life is Short World Tour 2012 - Half-time analysis

Euro 2012 is currently on and I have enjoyed the match analysis on BBC1 with Gary Linekar and company.  So it’s appropriate that I do some analysis on my trip so far.

This is what I wrote when I started my trip

I had 2 main goals – Catch up with people and Expose my yoga practice to new & different environments and teachers.

On the social front, it has been Brilliant (I’m in the UK now … doesn’t feel right to use ‘Awesome’).  I have seen many old, dear friends (one whom I have not seen in 17 years) and family, enjoyed many laughs, met up with my ex-consulting bosses and colleagues.  I also had a long overdue holiday with my parents in Italy and am having a lovely time with my brother, sister-in-law & rapidly growing nieces in London.  These are things that you cannot put any numerical value on.  They are experiences I treasure and memories I will savour.

On the practice front, it’s been abysmal on an initial evaluation.  The injury I suffered on the 3rd day of my trip was quite serious so I was not able to do my normal practice.  I did mainly self-practice and even on the rare occasion, when I practiced in the shalas, I did a very modified baby practice and I didn’t want any adjustments.   Upon closer scrutiny however, I am actually doing a better practice.  I am really watching and listening to my body; trying to figure out differences if I activate certain muscles versus relaxing & stretching other ones.  Yoga is about being present in the moment, the ability to surrender, letting go and trying to remain detached.  I think I succeeded in progressing in all those areas although I still have moments of frustration and doubt over my physical practice.

I was also fortunate that even with my injury, I was able to teach 6 Mysore classes (4 in Melbourne, 2 in Hawaii).  It made me realise how much I missed my classes back home.  The students were warm, receptive and gracious, a definite reflection on their teachers and the energy in their shalas. Definitely a trip highlight!  Many thanks - you know who you are :o)

I also learnt that being busy all the time isn’t necessarily always a good thing.  For me, when I do a lot, it feels good because I'm hyped up with adrenalin.  However, it can be overwhelming.  On the other hand, when I do less, I can savour every moment, every sensation.  When I have solitude, you have the quiet time to think, to reflect … and to fully appreciate what I have.

Ok, the whistle has blown, back to the second half.  Plus, Wimbledon has begun and the Olympics is next :o)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Post Hawaii – a slippery downward slope?

I think it’s quite clear that with the cool, sunny weather, beautiful scenery and friendly people, Hawaii is one of my favourite places in the world.  So, the problem with starting my US trip in there is that every city after that seemed ‘ugly’, even though it was not.

SF's Sunset Beach
versus Hawaii's Kailua Beach

I flew to San Francisco after leaving Hawaii.  I’d only visited SF once, when I was 10.  I vaguely remember Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz and the crooked (Lombard) street.  This time I only had 3 days, mainly catching up with friends who kindly drove up from LA to see me.  So, I had 1 day to sightsee and I did it on foot – and boy did I walk.  The difficult part was the hills (and SF has some major steep slopes!).  But it was a great way to see the central part of the city.  I was blessed with bright sunshine and clear skies so I was able to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which is apparently usually cloaked in fog.

The World's Crooked-est Street

The Golden Gate Bridge

SF Fine Arts Museum - featured in the movie, The Rock

Indian food with a Mexican twist
New York City came after that – two and a half weeks of non-stop activity, the complete opposite to my days of blissful idling in Hawaii.  My main objective of visiting NYC was to meet up with family, old friends and ex-colleagues.   To be honest, I didn’t plan on enjoying New York.  I’d been there many times in the past and it always overwhelmed me – the ‘’fierce’’ city people, the ‘’weird’’ people on the subways, the bright lights of Times Square, the noise of the traffic etc.  This time it gave me the adrenalin to be on the move all the time.  At the end of the day, I still looked forward to getting out of the hustle & bustle of Midtown and Downtown, retreating Uptown (where my aunt lived).

The bright lights of Times Square
I loved the accessibility to museums and theatre.  I went to the Museum of Art & Design, the Met, MoMA, watched 3 plays, a ballet (Giselle by the American Ballet Theatre) and 2 movies (The Avengers and Dark Shadows).

Sand painting at the Museum of Art & Design

The artist took 2 days to complete this, no design in mind, made it up as he went
The artist used candle smoke to cover the inside of the bottle after which he etched out the design by removing the soot

These bottles was part of a collection based on creating art out of pollution
There's a real embalmed deer inside the glass!
I also walked many many blocks on a daily basis and it was lovely to see the city's beautiful architecture.

The Chrysler building

Empire State building

Flatiron building

Freedom tower - almost completed

Can't remember the name of this building but it was designated as a historical building so architectures kept the shell and built a modern building from within
Central Park
Hudson river view from under the George Washington bridge
The little red lighthouse beneath the bridge
I discovered that even though New Yorkers have an aggressive air about them and always seem to be in a rush (which is more prevalent in busy cities), they will stop to help ladies carry strollers or suitcases up Subway stairs, give up their seats to people who need it more etc.  I wish I could see more of that in Singapore.

One highlight of my trip was my 1st (the start of many) trip to Trader Joe’s.  I’d heard a lot about it … great place to get dried fruit, nuts, snacks etc at very affordable prices.  So, for me (a Chinese Singaporean) of course the ‘Cheap & Good’ aspect appealed to me!)  I loved the variety of Hummus (Edamame, Chipotle Pepper were my favourite), Organic Freetrade dark (70%) chocolate at half what other brands cost, Multi-grain sesame seed Pita chips, Pecan nuts … YUMMY!  They had a really nice tingly Tea Tree shampoo but the bottle was too big to lug around.

The entire Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle line
Infamous New York pizza
One ‘lowlight’ of my trip (because I was terrified) was a trip to a shooting range in Pennsylvania.  I had to fire 3 hand guns (I refused to fire a rifle) and was pretty rubbish at it.  The guns were really heavy (I could hardly cock the gun), not the easiest to fire and the recoil after each shot was shocking.  Thank you PAP for not making women do National Service.

3 shots out of 15 hit the target

at least it makes for an interesting photo ...
My uncle's house in Pennsylvania - there's a toilet in the kitchen .. or a kitchen sink in the bathroom?
My New York stay was awesome ... I think I should get a 'I love NY' tshirt

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hawaii Part 2 - in photos

I had to cover a yoga class for handicapped students ... haha!  Actually it's during the First Aid course I took.

My friend bought Leis for her daughter who had won a special award in school

I baked granola ... decided to give myself an award for it!

Ocean view from my favourite hike up to 2 WWII bunkers

View of the same 2 islands from the beach below
Mountain view from the bunkers

View from the same beach but looking up at the WWII bunkers
Hike up old railroad tracks .. starts gentle and then ends up really steep
View of Waikiki beach area from the top

Railroad track hike starts from the left of the picture

Cushion cover donated for a silent auction for a school fundraiser.  It was purposely hidden so as not to aggravate the Republicans but the Democrat supporters must have found it because it was sold!
Front view of my friend's house.  Houses in Hawaii are almost all wooden, compared to Singapore's concrete jungle

Truck that I drove  (wrong side of the car, wrong side of the road).  I actually had to slide out of it getting out - my feet couldn't touch the ground
Turtle on the North Shore

One Turtle, Many Tourists

The garden in the Contemporary Art Museum

Sculpture in the garden

Another sculpture

An amazing view coming off the H3 highway - one of my favourites!