Chinese tea ceremony

June 13, 2014

So my dear friend Natasha, who happened to be born almost the same day with me, also happens to have a YouTube channel of short snapshots of Asia that she films on her iPhone while travelling around.

Hey, I’m a travel blogger, I like that stuff too! – I said and off we went to look for interesting video-worthy experiences.

If you speak Russian – good for you, if you don’t, in this video we’re having a tea ceremony, or rather, tea tasting in a tea shop in Chinatown. We spent about an hour there sitting and drinking teeny tiny cups of tea with the shop owner who was so kind to explain us everything.

So now you know how to hold the cup right and how to brew Chinese tea, and see me speak funny.

Check out more of Natasha’s cool videos, and follow her on Instagram. Psst, I might appear there again soon ;-)


Batik painting at the Craft Cultural Complex

June 7, 2014

Last weekend we wend out with the girls to Kompleks Kraf (Craft Cultural Center) downtown KL for a fun project – batik painting.

You just come (they close at 6:30-7pm so make sure you come at least 2 hours before that) and say what you want to paint.

Olga and I were doing it for the first time so we went for the smallest silk size. Elina is a regular there – she was making a beautiful wide scarf. I picked a sunflower from the sketches (there are a lot to choose from, so don’t worry if you don’t have any ideas what to draw).

See the folders on the bottom right? That’s sketches of all possible drawings you can copy.

So first thing – you make an outline of your painting on silk with a pencil (mine was in blue). And then cover it with wax.

I gave mine to the artist to cover, because he’s super fast and because my hands were too shaky and it would have taken me ages to do it and I was too excited to start the actual painting.

He uses these little wax pens, gets some boiling wax in and quickly covers the lines on the silk.

Very very fast! It’s important there are no gaps in lines otherwise the paint will get out of the outline.

There were two other girls painting in the shop, look how beautiful her piece is! And it’s her first time painting batik!

Ready to start. You get 4 basic colours and you mix them to get any tints you want.

Halfway done. The colours are very bright (and Instagram filter helped too), they fade as the paint dries out. The golden wax stays as it is, but if you’re making a wearable piece, you need to leave it for the guy to wash – then the wax is gone and it leaves very nice white lines.

2 hours later I’m done. Look at the beautiful pieces in the workshop! And the artist owner is making some outlines for tomorrow, so people can come and paint straight away.

Voila! This is what the finished batik painting looks like. Quite ok for the first time, no? ;-)

It’s a very fun art project, fast and very rewarding.

And you know what the best part is? It only costs 25 ringgit (less than $10) for everything! You can frame it or bring home as a souvenir. Really like the process and the outcome, I’m so making a silk scarf soon. Just need to come up with what to draw on it. Ideas?

Girls living in..., Indonesia

Girls Living in… Bali

May 29, 2014

Hi and welcome to the second interview of the Girls Living in… – a series of interview where we get to see a city (well, sometimes even an island, keep reading) through the eyes of amazing talented girls who happened to live there. This time, we’re going to the authentic, beautiful, blissful.. Bali!

I am thrilled to introduce you to my dear friend, beautiful and creative Touran. Touran and I worked together and I miss her dearly, so much that I wanted to see Bali again, this time through her experiences. Touran has her own business, she is a great admirer of art and she is a great inspiration to me.

All right, let’s get on it!


Introduce yourself and where are you from?

Hi there! I’m not very good at intro’s (I never know what piece of info to give about myself), but here I go.

My name is Touran (it’s short for Touran Taj) and I’m originally from Iran. I spent the first 7 or 8 years of my life, growing up in the capital city, Tehran before my parents packed everything up and moved to Santa Fé, New Mexico. Yes, it’s in the USA and not Mexico. I get that question all the time. :)

Since I was young, I’ve always moved around. On top of Iran and the US, I’ve lived in Canada, Turkey, Italy, and recently Malaysia. I love traveling and luckily so does my family!

What brought you to Bali?

Good question! I decided to spend 5 weeks living in Ubud, Bali so I can focus on my own projects (keep reading, guys – Olya).

I’d been to Bali previously for short trips and I loved the culture, landscape, and the peaceful energy. I knew it was a place where I could really focus, while nurturing my mind, body, and soul.

On my last trip to Bali, I decided that I needed to go back the first chance I got and that opportunity was brought to me 6 months later.

What do you currently do?

I’m in the art biz. I’m still getting used to saying that, but I love the way it sounds haha. Until recently, I was working for an online transformational education company in Malaysia, Mindvalley, (yup, that’s how I met the radiating Olya) and recently left to follow my passion in the art world.

My grandmother is a successful artist as well as my mother so I’ve always grown up around art. But I’m not an artist myself, those genes must have skipped a generation.

Instead, I became passionate about the business side of art – how to market art, get artists’ work exposure, get artwork into galleries and museums and into clients hands. So that’s what I’m doing! Partly with my family art business and partly on my own online art gallery, Mumora.

What was your regular day in Bali like?

My days in Bali were amazing… sigh. I would wake up every morning and do my yoga practice by the pool. Some mornings, yoga was followed by a quick dip in the pool. I love the combo of yoga and swimming, yoga heats up your body with energy and swimming cools down your muscles and refreshes your mind.

After making some breakfast (usually organic granola or a smoothie), I would get straight to work. I was able to really focus so in a few hours, I would accomplish a lot. It was a great feeling to be working on my passion and in such a beautiful setting, so working was my favorite part of the day.

In the afternoons, I would jump on the back of the bike (I had my very own driver aka my boyfriend Grayson) and we would go for a drive around the rice paddies and into Ubud for dinner and cocktails.

Some days, I would break up work with a trip to one of the temples around Ubud or a quick stop to one of the gelato shops. On the weekends, Grayson and I would pick different parts of the islands to explore, whether it was the Gili Islands or Canggu.

When it comes to Bali, what’s your number 1 favourite place to be?

Do I have to choose one? Haha. If I’m talking about Ubud, then my favorite place is the Yoga Barn in town. It has an organic café with delicious food and fresh juices and there’s always a yoga class, free dance class, or activities that are going on. It’s a great place to meet people and really get a sense of the Ubud community.

Outside of Ubud, Bali has some beautiful beaches and surrounding islands. I’m not much of a surfer, so I like beaches with pristine sand, clear water, and snorkeling. The best beaches in my opinion are around Lombok and the Gili Islands. If you’re looking for a quiet weekend with turtles, coral, and clear blue water, then this is the place for it. We went to Gili Meno and I have to say that it’s probably one of my favorite islands in SE Asia!

Bali’s best:

Cafe: Clear Cafe in Ubud. It has the largest selection of fresh juices, coffees, teas and raw organic food. You can’t go wrong ordering anything on the menu. If you’re there for breakfast, try the granola with fresh tropical fruit and cashew milk, it’s my favorite.

Also, Deus Ex Machina in Canggu. It is a custom motorbike and surf shop that has an adjoining café. The atmosphere is super chill and as you sip on a cup of coffee, you can watch the serious surfers and bikers come in and check out what they have. They also have top-class food that draws people in for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Shop: there’s some great boutiques in Ubud. But these usually cater to tourists, so I go shopping in the central Ubud market. You can find everything and you can bargain A LOT so the price is much cheaper than the stores.

Secret hideout: I would have to say Sari Organik in Ubud. It’s a café hidden in the back-alleys of Ubud. You have to go along this tiny dirt path and pass dozens of rice paddies to get there. Once you get there, you’re really out there and have a beautiful view of the rice paddies below. Since it’s more difficult to find, you feel like you’re one of the lucky people who found this secret heavenly café.

Site. There are so many amazing temples in Bali. Every village has it’s own temple, so as you drive along the roads, you can experience authentic Balinese temples that have been used by Balinese families for generations. I love stopping by these temples, they’re very traditional.

I think the most breathtaking sight is the Uluwatu Temple in South Kuta. The temple is situated on this giant cliff with the ocean below. It has an amazing view, especially at sunset. They also have traditional Balinese dances in the evenings so you can experience a dance performance in a gorgeous temple setting.

If I came to visit you in Bali for just one day, where would you take me?

If you arrived on a Sunday, then I would take you to the Sunday dance class at the Yoga Barn. After shaking it out for a while, we would head to brunch either right at the restaurant at the Yoga Barn or Clear Cafe. After that we would drive along the rice paddies and stop by a few temples before heading down the island to Rock Bar or Potato Head for a drink while watching the sunset.

What would you miss most in Bali now that you left?

The island lifestyle. Everyone is so laid-back. You can lay by the beaches or explore the jungles. And the sky is open so you see the most amazing sunsets and stars at night.

How are the people in Bali? Do they speak English? 

Every Balinese person I met was super friendly. Some of them didn’t speak English, but they tried to help anyway.

One thing I did experience on the way to the Gili Islands, is that a lot of people will try to sell you things and can be quite pushy about it. Just be prepared to have people approach you and get you to buy something depending on where you are.

Any cons you found when living here?

What are the things to consider for someone who’s planning to move there?

It’s difficult to get around without having your own transportation such as a motorbike or car. And then if you do have a mode of transportation, you have to get used the Indonesian driving style.

As I mentioned, there is a language barrier to consider, although most people are open to helping even if they don’t speak English.

It can also get some getting used to do things like grocery shopping, they have their own system and produce so you’ll find yourself cooking up some interesting things.

Get to know more about Touran and her work:

How to travel light – packing 101

May 26, 2014

How do you pack for your trips? I like thinking of myself as of a reasonable packer. Until I saw a couple of my colleagues hacking the packing by bringing a small laptop bag for a 3-day team retreat and the other one taking a small backpack for the 3 day house build (mine was a 30 liter hiking backpack!).

With every next trip I’m learning more and more tips on how to travel light, how to pack best and what to take and what to leave at home.

Just a couple more things, in case you’re still unsure why we’re even talking about traveling light and packing all into a carry-on:

  • It’s fast – you go straight to the registration, no lines to check in your bag.
  • It reduces travel stress – you have just one bag to be mindful of.
  • Also, you eliminate the risk of an airline losing you bag.
  • And so many airlines charge you ridiculous money for the checked luggage, it’s obvious we have to start learning to travel light.

Here’s some cool resources packed with advice:



How do you travel? Do you check in any luggage? Share in the comments below, I’m curious to hear your experiences.


Juara beach, Tioman

May 21, 2014

If you are ever going to Tioman for a paradise beach getaway, go to Juara. It’s beautiful, peaceful, small and very cozy place to be.

Juara beach, Tioman

We’ve spent 2,5 days there (would have stayed longer, but it takes 12 hours to get to Tioman from KL). We stayed at Bushman Chalets and I cannot recommend it enough. Nothing fancy, but very clean and located at the end of the beach so you feel like the whole beach is yours.

Keep in mind that is costs around 20 ringgit one way per person to get to Juara (it’s a long way, 20 minutes by car and very steep, trust me, you don’t want to walk there). You can arrange the pick up with your hotel.

Juara beach, Tioman

Here are some more pictures of our stay.

Juara beach, Tioman

Juara beach, Tioman

The view from our chalet:

Juara beach, Tioman

Juara beach, Tioman

And if you slip along the palm tree wall, you see this:

Juara beach, Tioman

Juara beach, Tioman

The sea is crystal clear. But unfortunately not much to see snorkeling-wise. You’d need to take a boat trip for more exciting snorkeling.

Juara beach, Tioman

Juara beach, Tioman

If you have any specific questions about Tioman, please let me know in the comments below.

Girls living in..., United Kingdom

Girls Living in… London!

May 15, 2014

Welcome to the first interview of “The Girls living in…” project! It’s 5pm and you probably figured out why it’s important? Because this one is about living in London!!

I am so happy and grateful to know Sheena – a beautiful soul who is now living in one of my favourite cities. And Sheena is so fun and her writing is so juicy with details – I almost could smell and see the city! The whole idea of this project was to peek into someone’s daily life in a city and get their tips and favourite places to go. Hope you enjoy it :-)

Introduce yourself and where are you from?

My name is Sheena Melwani, I’m 24, an Indo-Canadian from Toronto, Ontario. I love meeting new people, debating current events and ethical issues, eating everything, hiking, and a good cup of tea!

What brings you to London?

Well, when I was younger, I was totally taken by London as a city. I loved everything from Hamley’s (London’s equivalent to FAO Schwarz in NYC), to the London Eye, to Big Ben, to Madame Tussaud’s.. as a child, it was like a dreamland or one giant carnival. So, I desired, with all my being, to come back and live in London as a young adult and take in the more cultural side of everything that London has to offer. From that point, it was just finding the right excuse to get me there – and so I got a short-term position with a charity in London (a charity whose work I had always admired and wanted to contribute to) took me on for a short work stint :)

What do you currently do?

I work with the External Affairs team at the charity, helping with social media, writing press releases, doing briefings and research, editing op-eds, and training various teams in SEO and Google Analytics.

What is your regular day in London like?

A regular ho-hum day in London: I usually roll out of bed at and catch the northern line all the way down to central London where I work along Oxford Street… it takes about 45 mins door to door – the tube is horrible in the morning, I don’t feel like a human being – just another thing to be squashed up against the wall. Despite me DESPISING the tube and its inconvenient strikes, I have to just love it as well because it takes me EVERYWHERE. London has a phenomenal transportation system and with my trust city app, called CityMapper, I’m unstoppable. No place is too difficult to get to.

For Lunch, I’ll sometimes meet a friend and sit in one of London’s many parks or squares if the weather is nice – there are many places to eat in my area, whether I venture to Edgware road to get a shawarma or some hummus or walk over to Pret-a-Manger for a quick sandwich or baguette – always super fast and super tasty.

Then after work, if it’s a Friday, I’ll head to the pub to get a “pint”, meet some friends or with some colleagues… or if I’m feeling ambitious, get some last-minute tickets for a musical or play or show!

If it’s a weekend, you’ll always find me with a packed bag, exploring one area of London or another, or going away for the weekend, or going to visit one of the cities or towns close by to London. I never sit still.

When it comes to London, what’s your number 1 favorite place to be?

In London, my number 1 favourite place to be: This is a REALLY hard one. So I’ll give you two:

1. Selfridges – it’s THE most beautiful department store ever, inside AND outside. It’s food hall is a feast for all the senses. Everything in that department store is just to perfect and lovely and it makes you want to just buy it all. From the ladies getting haircuts and facials right in the mall to the pinkberry froyo, to their travel section with the huge range of travel books they manage to make everything glamorous!

2. Inside the British Museum – it’s a beautiful building on the inside and out. The inside has great big skylights that light up the parthenon pieces, the rosetta stone – tons of free guided tours – It’s just a great place to be for the nerd in me.

London’s best:

Cafe: it’s not exactly a café but for the best crepes EVER, you must go to The crêpe stand in Hampstead called Hampstead Creperie. They do NOT skimp on the butter or garlic, and if you want a dessert crêpe, they use creamy Belgian milk chocolate. You WON’T be disappointed but you WILL have to wait in a line and there is no place to sit down. Also, it’s only open a few days a week so check before you go! It is SO worth it.

My favourite shop: Well, I’m a child at heart – so it HAS to be Hamley’s. It’s an awesome toy store and they demonstrate their super toys for you. Avoid going on a weekend if you can or you won’t get to try the toys (which is the best part, duh) due to the sheer number of people in the store.

Secret hideout: This is important. London is an INSANELY busy city with tons of people moving in and out of the city every day, just to get to work. My secret hideout isn’t that secretive – it’s by bedroom located up in Finchley Central – I’ll sit and read a book in the sun, or make my cousin vacate his room so that I can sit with the balcony doors open, letting the cool breeze in. On rare occasion, the weather in London can be absolutely perfect.

Just an FY – No place in London is a secret. Everywhere you go it will be busy and you’ll have to wait for a table or make a reservation. It’s just too big of a city with too many people! Sorry :D

My favourite site: The very top of St. Paul’s cathedral… but also inside St. Paul’s cathedral. It’s just magnificent.

If I came to visit you in London for just one day, where would you take me?

If you came to London for one day – I hope it would be a Friday because I’d take you to Borough market for the yummiest lunch – lamb burgers, truffle oil, the best grilled cheese: this market pulls out all the stops and London’s best coffee place is right there: Monmouth Coffee!

Then after that ‘Brunch’ we’d take a peek inside the Tate Modern (the modern art gallery), then go across the Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s and climb to the top, then walk along the Thames to Trafalgar square to take it all in (the architecture is to die for), visit Big Ben, go into Westminster for evensong to hear the Westminster boys choir sing, then to Covent Garden/ Leicester square for dinner, and for our evening activity, let you decide between pub/musical/theatre for after! And that wouldn’t even cover the tiniest bit if what London has to offer. Sorry. (Ok, now I REALLY want to come to London one more time! – Olya)

When you leave London, what would you miss most?

When I leave London, I will miss its beautiful architecture – without a doubt. Every one of London’s streets and alleys has buildings with intricate facades. The work that has gone into this city is apparent. People take pride in their building and it feels like I’m walking through such a proud and grand city, everywhere I go. Toronto will be ugly in comparison.
London is also an awesome launch pad for travel in ​E​urope. ​A​ll road​s​ lead to ​L​ ondon, by plane, train, or automobile :)

Any cons you found when living here?

What are the things to consider for someone who’s planning to move to London?

ITS A BIG, EXPENSIVE city. It’s impossible to get to two different places in one night so everyone kinda hangs out and goes out in the areas that they live in. This makes things difficult when you have friends that live across the city, and you spend a long time commuting from place to place. As long as you park yourself on a good tube route, it doesn’t matter how far out you are… because you won’t be able to afford central London (and neither will your friends) so, you’ll all be 30-45 mins by public transport from your work place / each other.

Also, because it’s a big city, there are lots if people – expect queues at all restaurants, pubs, events, expect to body check people as you walk down Oxford Street and through Leicester Square, and to rarely get a seat on the tube during rush hour (and it will be a very shitty experience for the amount that it costs to take the tube). But don’t worry, I must say that it’s still worth it to live in this bustling city.

My other piece of advice is to BUDGET. Make sure you have enough money to sustain yourself in those first few months. Housing is not cheap, nor is food or transport, so don’t go crazy until you have a solid job and source of income.

Links to follow:
Girls living in...

Girls living in…

May 13, 2014

Hiya folks!

This is the big moment as I was thinking about this for a good while now and was very nervous to do it..

Since 2009 Tiny Black Bird (and before that – was my personal blog about travels, experiences and great local finds and tips. And that’s great. But there are so many beautiful people around me whom I have had the pleasure to meet along the way, and I’d love you to meet them!

Drumroll please! This is the start of a series of interviews with some of my most favourite girls, who happen to live (or have spent some memorable time) in great cities around the world.

And these girls are amazing – they are my dear friends, super inspiring and you are going to love what they have to share! Why girls? Why not? Haha, I’m sure you’re going to love them and their way of seeing the cities they live it!

So stay tuned, the first interview goes up this week! Try guessing which city it’s going to be about? I’ll give you a hint: it’s going out at 5 o’clock :-)

How-to's, Malaysia

How to get to Tioman

May 11, 2014

Tioman is a beautiful island in peninsular Malaysia. So beautiful, that getting there just ought to be complicated and long.

I have written about Tioman earlier, I love the island and we’re going there again next weekend. This time to Juara beach which looks stunning and peaceful. Last time we went by car, but now we don’t have that much time to spare, so we’re going the way which many people usually take to get to Tioman. Here’s a how-to.

How to get to Tioman

To get to Tioman island from KL, you have really got 2 options:

– Fly in from Subang airport (pricey)
– get to Mersing and take a ferry (you can either take a bus or drive if you have a car)

(we’re not going to talk about flying to somewhere close to Mersing and then taking a ferry – I don’t see much sense in this option, to be honest)

Driving time is around 5 hours, but I wouldn’t recommend driving at night to catch the early morning ferry, so if you really need to drive, you can leave KL early in the morning and should be able to get there for the afternoon ferry (1-2pm, depending on the schedule). There’s a parking area, quite safe, I think we paid around 100 ringgit for 8 days, not sure how much it was exactly.

So the most conventional way to get to Tioman from KL would be:

Night bus to Mersing jetty (5,5 hours+), wait for the ferry (~2 hours), ferry (~2 hours to Tekek), and then depending on where you’re going in Tioman (if it’s Juara, then another 20 mins or so by car).

I booked everything in this order:

1. Searched for hotels/motels online, called and emailed them, got a price quote and booked (verbally).

2. Booked the ferry tickets. This one’s tricky – last time the dive shop assisted us with this one and left us the ticket at the jetty counter, those were 70 ringgit return each. This time they advised to book with the official ferry company (link above), BUT these guys are 90 ringgit return and you only can book for a certain date, not time. After the booking they send you the schedule (it’s updated monthly as tide levels are different every month) and even that is not a 100% guarantee you’ll get a seat on the boat. I called them, they have very pleasant call reps and they assured that if you buy tickets online, you will leave on the date booked, just get to the counter as soon as you arrive to Mersing and see if there are seats left. If not, then wait for the next ferry (there are 3-4 boats a day, at least this May).

A friend of mine went to Tioman 2 weeks ago and he hasn’t booked a ferry, having arrived to the jetty (it was a busy public holiday too), it turned out there were no tickets for 2 boats in a row, he had to wait until 11am (having arrived at 5am). So yeah, I went safe this time and booked online even though it’s 20 ringgit more.

3. Booked the bus. We are leaving from KL to MSG, Mersing. Same return.  The bus station Term B’spadu Selatan (or TBS) is located right at the LRT station Bandar Tasik Selatan Station (Ampang line). Mind which direction you’re boarding – the line splits in two at some point. We wend from Bangsar to Masjid Jamek and changed to Ampang line there. I’ve heard you can do the same at KL Sentral and Pasar Seni, but please double-check that.

Once you reach the station, follow the directions to the bus terminal, go up and across the bridge and register at the counter at that same level. Note that you need to register both of your tickets. They’ll give you the boarding passes and you’re good to go one level gown to your bus.

4. Figure out your transportation from the jetty in Tioman. We’re arriving to Tekek, going to the duty-free shop in the airport, and the hotel owner picks us up and drives to Juara (40 ringgit per person, return). There are boats that you can hire too, or if you’re going to Salang or ABC, take the ferry straight there.

5. Going back – same thing. Arrive to the jetty early to make sure you get the seat, waaaait, 2 hours by boat, waaaaait for the bus (or have your roti canai at the nearest mamak), 5-6 hours by bus. And a cab back home.

Looks complicated, but I honestly believe Tioman is worth it. I have yet to experience the Perhentian Islands, Redang and other islands here, but I’ve heard from too many friends here that Tioman is their most favourite one.

Note: this is not the only way to get to Tioman, there are other buses and, I guess, other boats too. I explained how I’m going and how many of my friends get there, so yeah, please always travel responsibly and do your research :-)

Hope it was useful and talk to you soon!

Malaysia, Outdoors

Build a house in 3 days or an Ode to ‘Can Do’ attitude

May 7, 2014

This is an ode to “Can do” attitude. The mindset that allows you to dream big, decide and achieve a goal that didn’t seem even close to realistic some 2 months ago.

Actually, that’s a good idea, let’s go back 2 month from now. I was writing my 3 Most Important Questions and a goal on contribution suddenly came out as “Build/renovate and architectural object/house”. Not sure where it was coming from, but fast-forward to now, I have actually been able to cross it off. I helped build an actual house.

It all started with this - bare ground and some base pillars

It all started with this – bare ground and some base pillars

I joined the EPIC Army. It’s a social enterprise that supports the local Community – Orang Aslis, here nearby KL. EPIC designed an Ikea-meets-Lego kind of house that can be built in 3 days. And you don’t need to be a professional builder to make it. 30 people are divided into 5 teams: structure, walls, roof, floor etc and have their specialist builder to supervise and coordinate the workflow. In 3 days you build a proper solid house.

It’s amazing how deep this cause reaches – not only you help build a house for a family, working with some of them hand in hand, you also contribute to building a bonding relationship with the community to bring in more layered aid in the future – like family planning advice, healthcare, personal finance etc.

Day 1 afternoon - structure in place

Day 1 afternoon – structure in place

I applied to join this amazing 3 days experience for a number of reasons (main one above), but also because it triggered something in me. I wanted to do more DIY and I wanted a challenge.

Day 2 in the afternoon - roof halfway done, floors done, walls - ongoing

Day 2 in the afternoon – roof halfway done, floors done, walls – ongoing

This is what I learnt (you have to agree, all these learnings in just 3 days do qualify for a status of ‘a truly transformational experience’):

1. Life is hard. It’s physically hard to build things from scratch and for a lot of people out there life is really tough. Never forget that and don’t take what you have for granted.

2. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s the only way to grow. Period.

3. Set bold goals and be conscious about them. Every day. Else, how would you progress in life? Anything you set as a goal is possible if that’s what you really want. It may sound weird, but it’s true.

4. You opted in for it. Commit to it. There’s no such thing as dropping out half way. Especially when buildng something like.. well, a house. There are people who are counting on you and it is important to not give up.

5. There is life without Internet. Three days offline is a great way to connect to your true self, let go of worries and the daily hustle and become more calm and grounded. Lovely feeling!

6. Feeling present and grounded is awesome. See above. It lasts for quite some time too! Now I want to be very aware of this kind of feeling and I even started wearing a little awareness bracelet (a small but meaningful reminder – whenever I look at it I remember that feeling of presence and get connected to it).

7. It’s truly empowering to be around like-minded people. It’s amazing how much you can do and how uplifting a feeling you get when you are surrounded by like-minded people. I got inspired by some of their goals and achievements so much that I finally made up my mind and signed up for my first marathon!

8. Charity rocks. My goal is to donate/contribute to charity or other meaningful causes regularly now.

9. Scared of it? Do it! I was scared but curious to get up on the roof. But I did it and the feeling was awesome! That’s getting out of the comfort zone.

And here are some pictures (mine and by other volunteers) to show the truly impressive progress and the result.

Day 3 - internal walls and the window shutter frames

Day 3 – internal walls and the window shutter frames

Almost done - painting the house

Almost done – painting the house

And the house is done!

And the house is done!

Amazing team of 30 most beautiful individuals. Photo by Chu Hwai

Amazing team of 30 most beautiful individuals. Photo by Chu Hwai

Yours tryly handing out on the roof. Nailing it. Photo by Janice Tan

Yours truly handing out on the roof. Nailing it. Photo by Janice Tan

Team Roof! Photo by Toh RongRong

Team Roof! Photo by Toh RongRong

And this is the collage of the transformation. Thank you Cris Solis Chen for the picture.
Epic build #21 - photo by Cris Solis Chen

Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any questions or comments – would love to hear your thoughts :-)