Sunday, February 18, 2007

stairway to heaven......

Once again, it has been over a week since I last made an entry here…I am beginning to realize more and more that I am really just “living” my life right now and am not always in “tourist mode” with the need to constantly report back with stories…

nevertheless, I still get a great deal of pleasure to report what news/stories I do have so here are just a few …

every day is full for me here….i am never bored;there is always some work for me to do with school, emails to check and/or write, someone to go visit for a coffee or a meal..and, of course, there is always a new island/city/beach to discover when I have a free day or two…

this past week was filled with 2 main “events for me” :..One was that I organized an “international beach volleyball” tournament at my bungalow….several nations were represented including Sweden, France, Holland, and Thailand.

I was also the official announcer of the tournament so for 5 ½ hours I sat “courtside” announcing the “play-by-play” and was the overall MC of the day, making people laugh, clap, etc….I had forgotten I much I love to talk in front of a crowd ! This experience was also a great reminder how fortunate I am to speak English as it is still such a universally understood language. We (English speakers) are all so fortunate to have this luxury of knowing a language that so many people abroad also know…

The Swedes were the champion of the tournament….and when they received their coconut trophies (painted by yours truly…), they announced that their secret to success was eating porridge (aka :oatmeal) every morning !….it also didn’t hurt that one of the players was actually a professional champion volleyball player with sponsors and all in Sweden.

A great time was had by all …..and as I sat and mingled with the players and audience members after the tournament , I was again reminded of how wonderful it is to have so many cultures gathered in one place celebrating both differences and similarities…..I don’t think I will ever tire of this type of celebration.

Yesterday also provided me another wonderful adventure where I was no longer a spectator but a participant in a more personal athletic “event”.
I climbed 1237 steps (some incredibly large and steep) up a mountain to a very famous temple called Wat Tham Sua (Tiger Cave temple). Legend has it that a large tiger once lived here and its footsteps are reported to adorn the temple’s entrance….It is also said that Buddha’s footprints are at this temple but for some reason, all I saw were Nike imprints in the cement as I climbed.. Somehow, I think Buddha would appreciate the slogan “just do it” as this climb was grueling and was definitely not for the faint of heart and mind…..

a pic of me and my Dutch friend Jan at the top of the temple...we were both very happy to be sitting down at last !

the view from the top of the temple- hopefully, you can get a sense of how steep the steps were !

the face of Buddha greated us all after a long climb up....somehow his smile took on a new meaning for me as I sensed is always pleased to see people make the effort to come see him up here....

It was also the first day of the Chinese new year so I was fortunate to see so many of the local Chinese come to pay reverence with flowers, incense, and fruit- a feast for the senses, indeed !

Later this week, I am off to Chiang Mai for a few days to reunite with some friends (mostly Greek !) that I met there last year….it should be nice to see some old familiar faces and celebrate at my favorite Greek restaurant there- Zorbas ! I will then fly to the island of Penang (Malaysia) a few days later to do a visa run and enjoy the rich mix of Chinese, Indian, British, and Malay cultures…..I look forward to sharing you my reports of this next adventure…

until then, I hope you are well…I am already at about the halfway mark of my journey..hard to believe time moves so quickly. But I am constantly feeling such gratitude for the lifestyle I am leading right now ….I know I am blessed and hope I will be able to give more to others because of this experience….

Bye for now…


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom......

So today (Feb. 7th) is my mother’s birthday…again…seems like just a few months ago I was celebrating her special day here in Thailand last year….

Where does the time fly ?!.....

It is already the 3rd birthday I have spent with her now being in her new special home- I miss her terribly but also feel her love deep within my heart. She is always near.

Her birthday is a great reminder of what a legacy love can leave behind….she has touched not only my life but also so many people who were fortunate to cross her bright path. ….

In her honor, I bicycled 10 miles to a Buddhist temple and lit 7 candles…..(7 was her lucky number)….Purple was also her favorite color and I was so happy to see that there were purple orchids in the vases next to the candles…these were the flowers I always “leid” her with when she visited Hawaii…I was happy to see them here for I sense she also saw them as well …and smiled…..

I also was reminded of how I would always see and follow my mom as a child into churches where she would inevitably light candles for her mother and father…she was consistent in this habit wherever she traveled and I was witness to many a candle-lighting ritual…I didn’t quite understand the profundity in this ritual while growing up yet I would always mimic her, cross myself and say a prayer to my relatives who had passed on- it just seemed the “proper” thing to do.

As I got older, the ritual of lighting candles became more meaningful for me…

and now, it seems like I have come full circle with this process for today I lit candles for my mom ….and it felt right….to the core of my heart.

I do not think my tears will ever stop shedding my sadness of her being gone; but I do know my love for her and all that she gave to me in her lifetime will forever grow….

This, I know for sure….

Happy Birthday Mom……you are missed and loved.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's all Greek to me...

So it has been almost two weeks since I have last wrote you all……I had a sense this would happen… life has settled into a nice routine… major news to report, no major travels or journeys to share, no earth-shattering stories to break to you.

I have just been spending wonderful days and nights both on my own and with friends….working (a bit), resting, swimming, snorkeling, walking and doing chi gong on ‘my beach’, spending countless hours in my hammock reading and writing, and having great moments meeting new and old friends.

It is a good life ….and I am constantly finding myself just pausing and giving great thanks for this life that I have created for myself….it really is a dream come true. And I don’t think I will ever take it forgranted.

I feel so blessed to be calm, rested, alert, aware…..and surrounded by great beauty and wonderful friends….

Friends….this is a word I will focus on here for a moment…for it seems when you are on a ‘working holiday’ such as I am , you have so much more time to focus on conversations with people on a daily basis….it is just part of my day now…I go and visit my friends for coffee, conversation, walks, and dinners almost on a daily basis. These moments are never rushed….everyone is relaxed, rested- no office to rush to, no shopping mall to run off to- no appointment book to keep checking… is an ideal life, I know, and I am fully aware that not everyone can always enjoy such liberties in their life…..

I am truly enjoying the chance to really have the time to focus on being as ‘present’ as I can with every person I talk to….these moments seem so filled with quality talk- and the laughter shared feels so heartfelt… we are all old friends reuniting after a long break of separation.

This, for me, is the greatest joy of traveling …it is the priceless souvenir of connecting with other kindred spirits and creating both momentary and lifetime connections….both types of connections are as profound…..the ripple effect of connecting from your heart is what always takes effect, whether or not you are even aware of this… is what will continue to help heal this often not-so-friendly world….it is what will continue to open peoples’ eyes and hearts to each others thoughts, feelings and cultures…it is what will make us all a more tolerant people in a hopefully more tolerant world.

Last night I was wonderfully reminded how much I enjoy being in the presence of so many cultures….I walked next door to one of my favorite places to lounge/eat/converse, only to be greeted by several large groups of people all seated throughout the restaurant. One group was filled with Austrians and Germans, another table, a large group of French. The Swedes were also well represented as were the Canadians , Americans, and Thai…. and yes, lo and behold, there was also a table of Greeks, smiles and all, waiting for me to join them.

Yes, it seems that I can never travel for long without meeting more fellow Greek gypsies on the road- it is like we are all family just waiting to be reunited- it is an instant bond, I have found- It never fails….Once you tell another Greek you are Greek, you become family….I have never felt otherwise ….ever.

I had heard about this particular group of Greeks being on the island a couple of days ago and was hoping I would meet them before they left. I figured if I walked around long enough on this rather small and intimate island, we would eventually meet !
And sure enough, while taking a ‘random’ morning walk yesterday to my local 7-11 store (which, incidentally, has become my local “COSTCO” here..;) ), I heard a couple of people speaking Greek.

I ,of course, immediately said hello in my broken Greek and knew it was probably “THEM”. Sure enough, after a few quick questions and a momentary “oh –my-goodness, how-did-she-know-it -was-us?” look from them, I knew these were the people from Mykonos I wanted to meet. Within minutes, we were making plans to meet for dinner.!

And what a night it was…Norman, our host at the restaurant/bungalow, bought us all Metaxa to drink and continued to play Greek music for us throughout the evening….we laughed a lot, talked a lot, shared stories, family photos, and even managed a few Greek dances after our meal….

Needless to say, I have new friends in Mykonos now ….they have all invited me to stay with them when I visit Greece in future trips and of course, they want to come visit me in Hawaii….alas, another friendship born !....and all because of synchronicity taking its wonderful effect, once again…


p.s.I have included here photos of not only my greek friends but also others who have befriended me on this magical island

hope you are all doing well….

love, melina ☺

My friends Govindas amd Radha, yoga instructors and professional musicians from Los Angeles...the dog is a local dog who would also show up whenever they started to play music, both at sunrise and sunset.

A group of French friends gathering for a nightly meal...They are from many French-speaking nations , including France, Switzerland and Canada (Quebec)

My friends Ralf (from Denmark) and his girlfriend Gong (from Thailand). Ralf runs one of the more sucessful internet cafes and dive shops here on Koh Lanta...check out his website at !

Me and my very good freind Mona, a yoga instructor here on Koh Lanta. She is originally from Los Angeles and has lived here on Lanta for seven years. Like me, she knew this was "home" for her just minutes after she landed here by ferry..

Just a recent photo of me form my bungalow window....I hope you can see how happy and relaxed I am here.....

bye for now...