Retreat in Bangkok

At the end of February, after spending nearly a month with family in Malaysia, I headed to a solo retreat in Bangkok – something I’d been wanting to do since the start of the year. My goal was simple: to bask in solitude, reflect on the year gone by, and chart my course for 2024.

When I shared my plans with my mom, she said, people go to the mountain in nature for retreats, why do you go to Bangkok? To which I replied, nobody is cooking or bringing me food in the mountains! 

Another thing about this retreat is that I wanted to go somewhere convenient. From my hometown, it’s a 2.5-hour direct flight to Bangkok. In Bangkok, the city offers plenty of convenience, especially Grab Food. I can order pretty much anything I want to eat at any time delivered to my hotel.

Talking about hotel, I stayed at THA City Loft, a place I had stayed before and adored. It’s situated in the Ekkamai area, next to a 24-hour Starbucks. Central World is a 10-minute drive. The room itself is cozy, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing. 

My retreat was about spending quality time with myself. I established a morning routine that included meditation, yoga, reading, writing, and drawing mandalas. Starting my day with this routine put me in the right frame of mind to make the most of my time. 

The day after I arrived, I walked to a flower shop nearby and was eager to treat myself to something special. I browsed through their catalog and discussed my preferences with the shop lady. She customized a bouquet for me that I absolutely loved. I brought this bouquet back to my hotel and it instantly added an extra touch of coziness to my space and elevated the vibe of my retreat.

I treated myself like it was my birthday week. Shopping for new clothes, shoes, bag, gifts for friends, indulging in the food I love – especially my favorite sushi and sashimi, trying a face massage for the first time (which became my favorite type of massage), and enjoying a manicure that made me feel so pretty.

I am so grateful that I could afford to pamper myself for a week. 

(Cue Miley Cyrus’s song – Flowers) I don’t have to wait for somebody else to treat me nicely. Me myself can do that and do it well. The feeling of being taken good care of by myself is empowering, it’s sweet, it’s something I love doing and appreciate.

Other than the enjoyment of the modern world, the other main purpose was to reflect and plan. Using the Year Compass format, I revisited the events of 2023, reflecting on accomplishments and challenges, and setting intentions for 2024. These exercises helped me navigate through the past year while focusing on my vision for the year ahead.

After 6 days of rejuvenation, I packed up my suitcase again and headed to the next country to meet up with my sister, niece and nephew. A trip that I’ve been looking forward to doing!

Boom Festival 2023 – The Power of People

A few weeks ago, Avner and I went to Boom Festival. This is a festival that I’d been wanting to check out for many years. Now, we live only 30 minutes away from it.

Leading up to the festival, Avner and I didn’t particularly feel excited about it. After attending many Burning Man events, festivals just don’t excite us so much anymore. But since it’s right next to us, we knew we had to check it out. 

The 7-Day Boom Festival happens in the city of Idanha-A-Nova in central Portugal. The land of Boom is massive! There’s a big lake in the middle of it. The event is very well-organized. There are different types of camping areas, stages, and zones. Their cashless system works wonders. We can pay for stuff using our wristband and top-ups are easy and fast. There are tons of food vendors selling food from many countries and even a supermarket! Oh, and their compost toilets are the cleanest toilets I’ve ever seen at an outdoor event! Well done Boom! 👏

Camping area at Boom overlooking the lake

The theme of the festival this year is Radical Love and it could definitely be felt throughout the festival. 40,000 people from 169 countries got together to experience the power of community. I could see people from all walks of life. From psytrance lovers to tantra hippies to 3-generation Portuguese families, no matter how we looked or where we came from, everyone treated each other with respect and love. I’ve never felt so much harmony within such a big diverse group of people. 

The first 3 days of the festival, Avner and I were mostly on our own. We would go to the beach, dip in the lake, enjoy fruit cups and acai ice cream. We would walk around the venue and marvel at the art, gardens, and the infrastructure Boom has built in the last 20 years. We were truly impressed by what they are creating. We took many pictures and got a lot of inspiration for our land. 

On the 4th day, we met up with my friend Scott and he introduced us to his group of friends. From here, our festival took a turn! Luckily, we clicked instantly with everyone in the group. Most of them knew each other from Shang Hai and 3 of them also lived on Koh Phangan (small world!). It was refreshing to feel like we belonged to a big family. We saw each other every day after. It’s crazy how fast people can bond and feel like we’ve known each other forever. We danced, we chilled, we talked, and got to know each other. It truly felt like a family. We were so happy to have met this amazing group of people!

Photo taken at Boom Festival 2023

After the festival ended, some of them came to visit our land and we spent a few days together visiting places around. Avner and I still couldn’t stop talking about how grateful we are to have met them and know that we will be friends for a long time. We are already planning our next adventures together and still texting each other often. 

Our new friends visiting our land Burn Village
Avner showing what he does for work

I titled this blog “The Power of People” because the experiences I mentioned above wouldn’t have that much impact without the people. People make the place. It’s the people we connect with on our journey that leaves forever memories in our heart. When people come together to form a family or a community, we do things for each other, we share what we have, we think and care for one another – these are the things that matter the most in lives, or at least in my life. I always feel a tremendous energy and like a dormant power inside me awakens whenever I get to contribute, share, and mingle with the people around me. In times like this, I feel truly alive and blessed!

We cooked and ate together after a day of work like a familia!

A Discussion About Depression

In the past two days, there have been a lot of posts on my newsfeed about the passing of my childhood idol Coco Lee. Coco Lee was a singer, dancer, and the first Chinese who performed at Oscar. She was famous for her work in the movie Mulan. I grew up listening to her music, as do a lot of my friends around my age. 

The cause of her death was suicide. Another celebrity suicide. She had a successful, glamorous career. She was married to a Canadian billionaire (Her wedding was reported to have cost 20 million dollars!). She lived the life of a dream of many people. So did a lot of the celebrities who committed suicide. Yet, they left this world the way they did. 

Many of them suffered from depression which has contributed to their cause of suicide. 20% of adults in America currently live with mental illness. There have been many discussions about mental health in recent years. 

Personally, I struggle with depression many times in my life too. 

A few years ago, I read a book called “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck – a psychologist who specializes in psychotherapy. In the book, the author talks about a new perspective to look at depression. 

He says depression is not a mental illness. It is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon. He describes depression as a lobster shedding shell. As the lobster outgrows its own body, it inevitably experiences pain. Depression is a natural part of growth. “It becomes abnormal or unhealthy only when something interferes with the giving-up process, with the result that the depression is prolonged and cannot be resolved by completion of the process.” – Scott Peck

If we view depression from this perspective, it could be seen as a phase or transition to the next stage in life. Depression doesn’t last forever. Many who chose to take their own lives couldn’t live through the process, to the other side of the tunnel.

This could lead to another discussion about self-love. In the same book, the author discusses self-love as not the love we give to ourselves but the love that we receive from other people. That points out how important it is for us to be connected to other people. More than that, how important it is for us to receive love and care from other people. 

Letting people know we care about their well-being and their importance in life and at the same time, letting others know when we need their love and care could be the antidote to the problem. I wish for a world where we don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help and at the same time do not hold back to express our love. Everyone is fighting a battle we don’t know about. 

With that being said, let’s call somebody we love and show them that we care, shall we?

Coco Lee – photo taken from

Chinese New Year in Malaysia

Since I am always away from my family, I make an effort to always come home for Chinese New Year. Last year was probably the only year I missed in a very long time. This year, I am happy to join my family again for the biggest day on the Chinese calendar. 

This year definitely feels different. Because of covid, everything seems quiet. Visiting friends and family is usually a big part of Chinese New Year. But this year, due to obvious reasons, people are not encouraged to visit others. The only home I visited was my grandma’s house, where I only stayed for 10 minutes. 

New Year’s eve dinner, also called ‘reunion dinner’ is usually eating hotpot at home. It’s called reunion dinner because it’s the time people travel back to their home town to visit families. I love eating hotpot at home on new year’s eve, watching tv, waiting for fo the countdown. But this year, to save time and hassle, my family decided to eat out at a Korean restaurant. It was not as eventful but having a nice dinner together is all it matters.

Another important Chinese tradition is the giving and receiving of red envelopes (aka angpao). People put cash money in red envelopes and give them away. It’s a lot simpler than buying and giving gifts. The rule is once you are married, you have to give angpaos to people younger than you or who are not married. If you are not married (like me), you get to receive angpaos from people who are married. Not a bad thing for not being married! It still amuses me that my married younger sister needs to give me angpao every year. And though I don’t need to, I enjoy giving angpaos to my family, especially a big one to my mom. 

Last year, I had the worst financial year of my adult life. Fortunately, I ended the year with some money in the bank and I am so happy to be able to give it away to my family this year. I’ve never been so happy giving my money away! A big purpose of my goal of making money is to give to my family. To be able to make money and give it to my family gives me so much fulfillment. They give me the fuel and motivation to do good things and make good money. 

Chinese New Year has come to an end which is also the time I plan for my next travel. Saying bye to family is not always easy especially at times like this. As much as I love traveling, I also know the importance of spending time with my family. I sure hope Malaysia will ease travel restrictions soon so I get to come back whenever I want without going through quarantine and covid tests. The time I am spending in Malaysia this year has been very quiet and I’ve got a lot of time to rest and recharge. I thank my family for taking care of me as always. Without their support, I would not be able to fly the way I do. Now I am ready to spread my wings and venture out into the world again. See you at my next stop!

Money money money!

The Best Customer Service In The World

My brother and I went on a sibling date at a famous hotpot restaurant. As soon as we got seated, I could feel the chill from the AC and thought if I should ask to turn the AC down. Anyway, right after the waiter took our order, he came back with a blanket. He said, “In case you are cold from the AC, here’s a blanket for you”. A restaurant that gives their customers blankets? I instantly felt like I was in the first-class seat on an airplane.

This restaurant is called Hai Di Lao. This chain restaurant was founded in Sichuan, China, and has made its way to over 15 countries around the world. The owner of the empire is the richest person in Singapore (can you imagine that? Singapore!). People flock in every day not only for good quality food but most importantly the quality of their service.

They are famous for going above and beyond for their customers. Just to start, there’s a daycare in the restaurant so parents can eat in peace. There’s a nail bar offering manicures and hand massages so ladies can get pampered. They can change the screen protector of your phone for you. They give ladies hair ties to tie up their hair. They generously give plenty of popcorn, dessert, snacks for you to take home after dinner. And all of this for FREE! 

Even though I have to mention their price is not cheap, I am very happy to spend my money here because of the level of service and quality I get. I love the extent to which they make sure each customer leaves home full and happy. Whenever I dine here, I feel being cared for, looked after, and know my experience is important to them. 

Another example I want to bring up is Zappos – an online shoe store that got bought by Amazon for 1.2 billion dollars. Other than their 365-day return policy, they are also famous for their call center. They are known for having the best phone support. Other than calling to get help on your orders, you can literally call them for anything! They have helped people order pizza, rehearse a play, give driving directions before GPS was popular. Their longest customer service call is over 10 hours! They have made their customers’ satisfaction the utmost priority. While most call centers do their best to reduce call times, Zappos does their best in making sure those who call in are happy no matter how long it takes. 

I think we could all learn from these businesses – putting customers first. Anticipating customers’ needs and fulfilling them generously and diligently. So often businesses put the emphasis on the cost of operation and finding ways to squeeze or save every dime. Hai Di Lao and Zappos have proved that when you put your customers’ happiness as the most important thing, the business thrives.

I’ve mentioned in my other post about a quote from Panache Desai “Our job is the excuse through which we get to love people”. No matter what kind of job we have, our main purpose is to love people. 

If you’re an entrepreneur or whatever kind of work you are in, can you think of ways to increase your customers’ satisfaction and make it a mission to make them feel loved and happy?

Getting pampered with blanket and pillow while eating hotpot.