A different side of Singapore

Singapore, a gleaming metropolis of soaring skyscrapers, manicured gardens, and people in suits; where shopping malls are supersize, electronics are truly king, and chewing gum is illegal. I have passed through the city many times, but never considered it as more than a brief stop on my way somewhere else. Now I have a three-day visa run and am determined to get a glimpse into life beyond the shiny facade. I catch a bumboat to Pulau Ubin, a small island that is home to one of the last remaining kampoengs (traditional villages in Singapore).

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Can Crystals heal?

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Published in The Bali Advertiser

The human connection to crystals and stones spans time, cultures, continents and religions. Ancient Sumerians included crystals in their magic formulas; Egyptian pharaohs had their headdresses lined with malachite in the belief that it helped to rule wisely; while native American shamans used them for divination and healing. Their curative properties are mentioned repeatedly in ancient Vedic Hindu texts and referred to in the Old Testament of the Bible; while the mysterious black stone at Mecca (possibly a meteorite) forms an intrinsic part of the Islamic pilgrimage.

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The Black Stone of Mecca

In 1880 Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered the piezoelectric property of quartz  – when squeezed or stretched, a voltage is produced across the crystal’s face. These days crystals are utilized in almost every form of technology. Liquid Crystal brings us the clarity in our computer screens, quartz keeps watches ticking, and electronic grade crystals are used in cell phones, clocks, games, television receivers, radios, computers and navigational instruments. But although science readily accepts the vibrational qualities of crystals, when it comes to the less tangible realms of crystal   therapy,   the suggested positive vibrations of gemstones is often relegated to the fringe of ‘new age;’  even though it is a tradition that is about as ‘old age’ as you can get.  We have been communing with stones in one way or another for as long as we have roamed the earth. Continue reading

Bathing in the Ganges

Published on SBSLife

For devout Hindus a ritualistic dip in the holy waters of Varanasi is said to purify the soul, but as pollution levels of the River Ganges rise, spiritual renewal may come at a price.

I arrived in Varanasi at dawn and made my way to the Ganges as the sun began to cast its glow over the waking city. The sound of music, ringing bells and chanting filled the air as the city came alive in a mad frenzy of devotion. A man walked slowly into the river, arms outstretched, a look of ecstasty on his face as he called out “Ganga Ma ki jai” (Long live Mother Ganga.) Clearly this was no ordinary river. Continue reading

Living with Dying

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Wedding Day

A version of this story was published on SBS Life

Determined to remember their life outside of cancer, a young family hit the road for an epic six-week, 10,000 km trip across Australia, chasing dreams, building memories and finding solace in the wide open spaces of the outback.

“Cancer is just a word. It doesn’t have to be our reality. This is a love story about living cancer, not surrendering. It’s about making every moment count,” says Sarah Widodo, whose husband, Catur Widodo, has Pseudomyxoma Peritonei – a rare and terminal cancer of the appendix. They have two children, ten-year old Jala and four-year old Kyan. “We wanted to create happy memories for our two boys and to gift Catur some adventure in his life,” Sarah tells SBS. “We had always been gypsy nomads before cancer made us stagnant, stuck inside a system, reliant on medical help. A road trip helped us remember who we are. Cancer is just a small piece of the story.” Continue reading

Donau Toba, Sumatra

Published in the Bali Advertiser

Seventy four thousand years ago Sumatra was rocked by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of all time. Anthropologists believe that the resulting dust cloud that covered the earth killed most of the planet’s population. From the mouths of hell sprang the tropical island paradise of Samosir, perched in the middle of Donau Toba the world’s largest crater lake. Continue reading

Living with the Dead

My Days as a Deadhead, published in Farang Untamed Travel 2005

 

Jerry Garcia, singer, songwriter and founding force of the Grateful Dead was a larger- than-life character, hailed by many of his fans as a Messiah-like figure. When he died in 1995, 20,000 people gathered in San Francisco for a candle-light vigil. Shortly after, the band announced their split and to many it seemed like the end of an era. But time has proved otherwise Continue reading

Into the wild: Sumatra

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The jungle rises steeply in front of us and we cross the river balanced precariously on a dug out canoe. The wall of dense green foliage looks impenetrable but a narrow, muddy trail has been carved out and the ranger leads us to a small clearing and a feeding platform. We only have to wait a couple of minutes before an orangutan comes swinging gracefully through the trees. It’s a female, and her scrawny baby clings on tightly as she stuffs bunches of bananas into her mouth and scoffs handfuls of milk from the rangers bucket. Continue reading