The Inca Adventure

With another awe-inspiring flight over the Andes mountain, the first part of my Inca Adventure drew to a close.

It had been a most amazing week. Scaling a mountain, seeing many ruins, hearing stories of the past, getting acquainted with llamas and alpacas, meeting really cool people, and just taking in the wonder of creation. But standing in the majestic Machu Picchu was definitely the highlight and a dream come true.
It had also been a week of roughing it out as I stayed in small inns, hostels, and lodges. I had to live out of my duffle bag, with less than 5kg of stuff. It is amazing how little one can live with (although my skin is really paying for it now as I had classified my moisturiser as a non-essential).
Today I woke up among 7 plush pillows, swaddled in luscious white bed linen. I had been reunited with the rest of my 20+kg of stuff. My clothes filled the hotel wardrobe, my comfort food was in my mini pantry, and my bathroom stocked with all my familiar products.

While my Inca adventure had been beyond incredible, it still feels good to be back in the embrace of 5 star comforts. 

My adventure continues as I enter the arena of the negotiations today. While I may not be standing in awe of nature for the next 2 weeks, I will probably wonder at the endurance of the human body. 

The Longest Day

I left Singapore at 0040hrs on 22 Nov 2014. 
3 planes, 3 continents and more than 30 hours later, we finally arrived at our hotel in Lima, Peru around 2340hrs on 22 Nov 2014. 
So begins my Peruvian adventure. 

The Picture of Romance

Once in awhile, I see this elderly couple taking their morning walk along the tiny walking track in my neighborhood.

The aunty shuffles along with the aid of a walking stick, seemingly in her own world. The uncle, ever beside her, holding her hand tightly, attentively guiding her along. He beams with each step that they take together. He makes being able to walk next to his wife appear to be like the greatest privilege in the world. As they amble along, I can almost imagine them on their wedding day- for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live on earth.

This is the picture of romance.


Acts Of Kindness On A Rainy Day

An old lady was crossing the road in the rain without an umbrella and a domestic helper offered to shelter her across. Upon reaching the other side, they headed in different directions. But I saw another domestic helper immediately speed up and walked beside the old lady to shelter her. The old lady did not even notice this action. Not a word was spoken between the two and she continued on her way once the old lady reached the covered walk-way safe and dry. Kindness to strangers still exisits. On this cold, wet morning, my heart was warmed. 0 comments

Getting Over Myself

My friend and I were having dinner at a hawker centre the other day. I had ordered a chicken cutlet from the western stall and it came with a mountain of fries. I barely managed to finish half of it. 

As we walked off, I noticed that an old man quickly took our place at our table. Hunched over, he started chomping on the leftover fries that had since turned cold. Our hearts ached. 

"Shouldn't we buy him a proper meal?" I asked. But as usual, I was at a loss and half a dozen doubts rushed to mind- How would we approach him? Would the old man accept the offer? Was he of sound mind? Would our offer offend him? What should we buy for him? What do we say to him? 

My friend was clearly more decisive. Let's get him chicken rice. She marched over to the stall, and promptly ordered a packet of chicken rice. We then walked over to the man and put the packet of rice on the table and said, "Uncle, qing ni chi fan. Ji fan. Chi bao yi dian." (Rough translation: Uncle, here's chicken rice for you. Have a good meal.) He looked up and smiled at us with an open mouth full of fries. 

It took 3 minutes and $3 to put a smile on an old man's face. 

This was in a hawker centre a short walk away from my largely gentrified neighbourhood. But people like the old man lived a life a world away from our lives of privillege and comfort. I don't know his story, why he lives that way. A packet of chicken rice will not change his life. But I do know that if each of us does something when we see a need, we can make a world a little less harsh. 

I learned a precious lesson on giving that day: The hardest part is getting over myself and choosing not to walk away.

An Ode to An Old Companion

After 10 adventure-filled years of exploring the world together, my regular non-biometric passport finally has to make way for a fancy new biometric one. 

This little red book had traveled with me to many continents, having its pages filled with with the marks of distant lands. Its bright red cover often identified me as a welcomed visitor to these lands, saving me the hassle of tedious paperwork. Coupled with my non-threatening face and demeanor, I almost never faced any suspicion from the gatekeepers (except for the Armenian customs official who had never seen a Singapore passport). 

It had survived being drenched in rain, snow and sweat, and became acquainted with the desert sands and many a scorching sun ray. Together, we traversed land borders, sea crossings and too many miles on planes. I've traveled with loved ones, dignitaries, friends, colleagues and strangers. Yet I had one constant companion. 

As I flip through its pages once more, images from my journeys jump to mind. My heart is filled with gratitude to God for all the people I've met, wonders I've seen and the incredible blessing of journey mercies in my decade as a fearless 20-something out to discover the world. 

My next adventure will be with a new companion. We will probably share many new memories as well. But it will be different. The marks it will bear will document my adventures as I enter my 30s. No longer so wide-eyed, light-footed or carefree. While the travel patterns, places and people will change, my thirst for adventure will remain. 

That's just like life isn't it? A series of journeys that leave indelible marks on our hearts.