Lifestyle, Travel

Yoga Retreat : Hariharalaya (Part II)

I was going through a very difficult time in my life and was searching for another yoga retreat after my eat, pray, love stint in Bali. With the help of Google, I was able to scour hundreds of sites and eventually found a retreat center in Cambodia that seemed authentic and affordable. I have found the Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat, and this started my journey.

I immediately bought a ticket to Siem Reap, applied my leave and left Singapore. I thought I had it all figured out. After my very lavish, very expensive 3-day retreat in Bali, I really did not know what to expect in Siem Reap – a place I have never been, a country that was never really on top of my bucket list.

I arrived at the center with an open heart, an open mind. It is located in a sleepy village deep in the rural area of Siem Reap where life was simple and you live among the locals. I was shown to our shared dorm which is basically a big hut with six beds with a huge mosquito net and thankfully, a nicely tiled floor. The toilets and showers were shared which was not really a problem. The center itself is big with its own yoga and meditation pavilion, a small dipping pool, pockets of green areas, a massage and spa area, the common dining area, a small book corner and lots and lots of hammocks.

The schedule itself was stringent in the sense that you will be summoned through the ringing of the gong for yoga practice which was about twice to thrice a day, all the meal times and the meditation sessions in between. Everyone is required to be on digital detox – which was life changing. It just sets you free. There are also optional activities and programs to participate in during your free time. I went for the Yoga Massage workshop and the Hidden Temple Yoga Tour which were both awesome.

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The Hidden Temple Yoga tour brought us to a clearing by the jungle which was right beside the oldest temple ruins in Cambodia, not the Angkor Wat by the way. After the practice, we had an amazing picnic lunch with the best home cooked food I have ever tasted. It was just unbelievable.

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The yoga practice are not like the ones in the city which was more of an exercise than what actual yoga really is. There are no mirrors around to add up to your anxiety – just yourself and the rest of the people whose only focus is self-awareness and being in the now. The teachers are really friendly and approachable – everyone was just real and unpretentious.

The meditation sessions with Joel are just so unbelievable – it takes a while to really settle in and be at the present moment. But just the thought of you giving yourself this time to just be and meditate, is a reward on its own.

Don’t even get me started with the food. We were all on vegetarian diet that entire week. I am a carnivore, I love my steak – but that week was just amazing. It was the best cooking I have ever had. I have travelled to a lot of places and dined at a lot of fine dining restaurants – but those meals I had there  were just so real and heartwarming. I would go back to that place if only for the food.

The part I love the most was just being there. Although I was very troubled with all my personal problems, at that moment – during that week, I was at the most peaceful place and at my most peaceful state. It was life-changing just being able to have idle time to yourself, lounging by the pool and falling asleep in the hammock with a book on your lap. I wrote a lot during my stay there – I had all my emotions going and all my creativity flowing. It was as if it unblocked a part of my mind that wanted to let go, and so, I just let go.

I encourage all of you – and it doesn’t matter whether you do yoga or not at all, whether you are in search of something or you’ve found it all – make a trip to Siem Reap and go for this yoga retreat, I guarantee you that you will not regret it, at all. Do it for yourself.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a message and I would be happy to help. Meanwhile, if you want to find out more – read about Hariharalaya here.

Photo credits : Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Center

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Lifestyle

Guavapass : enough of boring gyms

It is an understatement to say that Guavapass has saved my life. It has saved me from boredom with my former gym, needless to say that my previous gym was already pretty awesome (Virgin Active). Gone are the routinary sessions trying to figure out the machines and attending boring classes – the usual Les Mills series and commercialised yoga. I have been on it for almost nine months now and have attended over a hundred classes within this period.

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It was addictive. Apart from trying to maximize the number of classes I go to – I was so excited to try each and every one of the pretty studios with awesome classes. Most of all, it has been great participating at the outdoor bootcamps and sweating it out with random strangers.

They have recently opened up their own space at Mandarin Gallery – I haven’t been but it looks pretty awesome. The more classes you attend, all the more the subscription price becomes worth it.

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Below are my top recommendations:

  1. Momentum Bootcamps – their outdoor bootcamps are kick-ass and literally to die for
  2. Ziva Yoga – the space is just surreal, it is in Tiong Bahru and has a ‘nature’ vibe to it
  3. WeBarre – fun sessions for toning
  4. AlphaBalance – they hold their session at Tanderra and Canvass. The one at Tanderra is pretty awesome. Go for their meditation and yoga classes. Just bliss.
  5. Eat, Train, Love – another bootcamp session, a little more ‘humane’ than Momentum Bootcamp
  6. Como Shambhala – nice space. My faves : their 90-min yin yoga
  7. Outta Hatha Yoga – I love their outdoor yoga classes at The Customs House
  8. Level Yoga – their yin and massage session is love!
  9. Spartan Boxing Club – their boxing sessions are tough but it feels so good afterwards. It’s a total stress buster.
  10. 7Cycle – their bootcamp is pretty rad
  11. Anthem – great space and fun spinning class
  12. Aquaspin – fun! spinning in the pool!
  13. Bounce – tried this on my own and is a great stress-reliever.
  14. Bych Yoga Hub – their space and showers are awesome. The only thing I hate is their carpetted flooring which does not give any traction at all for my feet
  15. Surfset – we only get 1 credit for this studio, but surfing on land – a totally great workout!

Check them out here: Guavapass

Photo Credits: Guavapass

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Lifestyle, Travel

Yoga Retreat : Eat, pray, love at Hariharalaya | Cambodia

(a page from my journal during my yoga retreat at Hariharalaya Retreat in Cambodia)

28th May 2016

I have been sleeping like a baby. I skipped two evening activities, first because I’ve already seen the film they featured during the movie night and second, I didn’t really want to play the game last night – my body is still aching right now from all the yoga we have been doing.

Yesterday was amazing, we took our old rickety bikes for a ride to the village. The markets were closed in the afternoon – but who cares, we went anyway. We cycled along pathways lined with red, sandy earth. It was beautiful. The houses were simple and far apart from its neighbors – and you can tell straightaway that the way of life here is slow and simple. They waved their hands and say hello to us when we passed by. Young children, adults (and stray dogs) alike greeted us with their warm smiles. We continued on, passing by grazing and boney cows on the fields, men working on their homes and women gathering around their hammocks to chat and just be.

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It’s renewing being here – if life can be this slow and peaceful – then what are we rushing for in the city? I have no idea – but surely, this is the only way to live in here, at least in this part of the world. We made a stop at a small coffee / coconut stall that also sells traditional Khmer outfits  (for the tourists) which was just opposite the temple. We had fresh coconuts that cost us a dollar each. And just when we were enjoying our coconuts, the rain poured – it was beautiful. The sound of the rain was soothing – the last time I heard one was through my ‘spa’ playlist on Spotify. It was just pouring evenly on the red earth and I can smell the ground – a pleasant earthy smell.

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We continued to cycle back to the yoga center and cycled past a challenging muddy trail with several potholes – I was treading on and on and in some spots – I could feel the heat of the ground rising. My heart galloping like crazy – I am not at all confident in a bike – and I was praying, dear God – please don’t let me embarrass myself today and fall off a puddle of mud. And by all graces – we reached back into the center again (after getting lost for an hour and getting burned under the hot sun!)

It’s beautiful in here, I am sitting outside waiting for the gong to ring to call for morning practice. I have several hammocks around me and lots of trees surrounding me. And now it has rung – time for yoga!

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Travel

Pre-Trip : Christmas in Paris

I had a really bad start of the year and have been struggling to survive eversince. I had to gather all my strength just to survive this year and keep going. I have never felt so alone – but at the same time, I found myself through my solitude. With all these hardships I went through, I decided to end the year with a celebration and return to my favorite city – Paris.

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I have bought the plane ticket – everything else is still on paper (or in my Evernote). Here goes my plan for the trip, feel free to contribute anything else I should see.

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France
☐ Paris
☐ Strasbourg
☐ Loire Valley
☐ Burgundy
☐ Marseille
WITHIN PARIS
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☐ Christmas concerts : La Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, Palais Garnier, Opera Bastille
☐ window display
  • Grand Magazines
  • Galaries Lafayette
  • Printemps
  • Bon Marche
☐ Swan Lake @ Opera Bastille ( 13 / 14 Dec)
☐ Christmas Market
☐ Mass
☐ carousel ride
☐ Christmas lights
Food!
  • oysters in Marais 
  • chocolates – La Maison du Chocolat
  • Strohers – 51 Rue Montorgueil

 

Photo Credit: http://travelercorner.com/paris-france/

 

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Lifestyle

Get your fitness momentum going

It is so easy to lose your momentum after missing out a couple of days at the gym – I should know, I have been on hiatus for almost two weeks. Since the start of the year, I have been religiously going to my workout sessions, be it yoga or HIIT, day in and out, sometimes up to twice a day – until the long nights in the office started and I have been on a roll (literally) ever since.
It has been difficult to get out of bed when my workout alarm rings at 6am in the morning. Even more difficult when it is still dark as the sun only rises here in Singapore no earlier than 7am. Here are some quick tips below to get back to the grind which is really more of a reminder to myself but hopefully will help you as well.

  1. Hang your workout outfit somewhere where you can see it when you are lying in bed. It is important that the outfit inspires you to workout. Lululemons are most effective.
  2. Put your phone or alarm far away from your bed so you’d have to get up to make it stop.
  3. Pack all your workout stuff a night before so you are ready to go when you wake up in the morning.
  4. Save your workout time in your calendar and take it seriously like how you would for a meeting with your boss.
  5. Look forward to that (health) breakfast and plan where you would get your coffee after your workout.
  6. Take a quick shower after getting out of bed for that extra punch to really wake you up!
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Travel

Weekend food trip to Malacca

It was a gruelling nine-hour journey from Singapore to the doorstep of Jonker Boutique Hotel at the famous Jonker Street. The published travel time ranges from 3.5hrs to 4hrs by public transportation (bus), however due to the weekend crowd of Malaysians and Singaporeans alike traveling for a quick weekend getaway, the travel time took longer than usual, much longer.

Despite this setback, I had more than enough time to savor the culinary fare that Malacca is known for. My top picks that made the trip, and the calories, worth it.

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Weekend food trip to Malacca

Note: It may be difficult to find some of these locations, research prior to the trip is recommended.

  1. Popiah
  2. Satay Celup
  3. Seafood stall at the weekend night market (closest to Jonker Boutique Hotel)
  4. Lala clams
  5. Durian Cendol

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