5 Activities that will make you go on Retreats

5 Activities that will make you go on Retreats

Going to a retreat is actually a way to rejuvenate yourself, renew your spirit, enlighten your soul. It’s a way of going back to heal before you move forward. Some think it’s a religious activity, but you can actually view it as a way to recharge your human batteries.

It’s not all prayers, chants and reflections. There are different retreat activities that you can do depending on your budget or where you want to do it. You can go with family or officemates to pamper yourselves at luxury vacations, or you can do solo silent retreats at a forest in Cambodia, up to you as long as it suits your style.

 

I highly recommend it because I’ve done retreats before spanning from a few days to 6 month long activities and it has shaped me who I am today. Want to know more? Below are retreat activities that may spark some interest in you.


you have permission to rest
 


Reflections – These reflective moments should focus on assessing past activities whether it will be beneficial to your future moves. Sometimes, it can just be staring at the ocean at day and gazing at stars without thinking too much.. just unwinding.

Wisdom sharing – this depends on the kind of retreat you are looking forward to. I had a 6 month long retreat in an international community and learning from actual experiences proved the best life teachers to me. For those who have limited time, conversations with a life coach or a spiritual guide may help you chart the next steps of your life.

Food nourishment – those who live in big cities may not have a chance to always eat healthy food. Retreats are occasions for you to also nourish your health. Usually, these kinds of activities are done on rural areas where fresh food and fresh air are abundant. I recommend going vegetarian and see the effects in your body. I tried to have a vegetarian lifestyle for 2 months when I was traveling in Nepal, and despite the very cold weather, I never got severely sick.

Physical activities – You can do some massage, yoga, or if you’re up to it, hike some nearby mountains, bask in the warmth of the sun, swim and feel the love of the ocean. If you love the outdoors and don’t want to be confined in a stationary place, then you will enjoy these activities.
But for those who wanted to just lay back, daily massages and yoga can calm the nerves and soothe the soul. If you are attending a spiritual retreat, spiritual practices is included in the itinerary.


things to do in Bohol: camp out in the beach


Giving back – a way to have a worthwhile activity is to commune with mother nature and the care takers of the beautiful place where you are having a retreat activity. The oceans have lowly fisherfolks, the mountains have indigenous communities, the fresh food that you eat are taken cared by grassroot farmers. It is better to connect to these people and see if both of you need help. You need nourishment of well being; they need help with their livelihood. Both benefits and the cycle of life resumes on a positive light.

Retreat activities should not be fast phased. The objective is to relax and rejuvenate in preparation for busy days ahead.

It’s also different from just having a vacation because here, all aspects of your life are being assessed with reflections. You may want to know life lessons that I’ve learned from doing activities like these, I’d like to share some to you:

1. Everyday is a dying day. So we all need to create beautiful lives not just for us but if we can, for everyone. So when we leave the earth, people will remember the good, and hopefully, will forgive our bad sides.

2. Beauty, fame and glory fades away. Only one thing is constant – change. I have become unattached to material possessions, I do value and collect beautiful experiences instead.

3. That every one has their own purpose in life. If there are no farmers, we will have no food to eat, if there are no doctors, no one will treat us when we get sick.. so they should be given equal treatment in life.

4. That the world is beautiful and we should take care of it because it’s the only one we’ve got.. and because we have limited time on earth, we should roam it before we leave.

5. I still have my bad mischievous side.. just like the yin and yang, all humans have this. Being a saint in this day and age makes you vulnerable to people who takes advantage, leaving you drained out.. So a good balance is beneficial.

Some people actually look forward to some relaxing days away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. For the lucky ones, it has become an everyday lifestyle. ^_^

Checklist on Choosing that Great Holiday Accommodation

Checklist on Choosing that Great Holiday Accommodation


**this is an old post that I’d like to reminisce and update every now and then, enjoy reading ^_^…

In the upcoming days, I will play tourist guide to a cousin from the United Kingdom.

Usually I’m a girlscout cheapskate traveler, but since I’ll be traveling with family, I will have to level up with some comforts. One comfort will be places to stay while we are on holidays.

I have prepared a checklist of my definition of the perfect place.. Whether it’s a posh hotel or a family house, what really matter is if the places agree to the criteria below. Check them out or feel free to add up more info in the comments if you like.

1. Value for the money. To be honest, I have stayed in 5 star hotels, and I felt like it’s just another hotel.. And I have stayed in hotels that don’t cost much yet I get that posh feeling, and I feel like not wanting to leave… Below is one of my favorite hotels in Bangkok. That posh feeling don’t need to be expensive.


temporary hotel office

2. Genuine Staff Hospitality. When I was traveling in Boracay last month, I overheard this group of local young men taunting another local traveler. Based from their conversation, I think they knew each other very well.. Because the sarcastic phrase of telling the newly arrived local not to go back to the island if he doesn’t have money was… sarcastic but for the locals it’s funny.

Now, imagine if those local men were the staff at the hotel. Do you think they will treat you according to the level of your budget? In the material world, probably you’ll get treated that way.. but in some far flung places, you’ll get treated as a valuable visitor.. and that is genuine hospitality.

3. Cleanliness. After long days of travel, anyone would like to rest in clean and welcoming rooms. No matter how simple or how elegant, as long as there is no cockroach flying, floors are clean, sheets are newly washed, then it’s already heaven. Below is a picture of my room, I got it for free courtesy of my host whom I consider a foster mom in Bhaktapur, Nepal.


4. Food. I prefer to stay in hotels with free buffet.. or at least the restaurants are nearby. Every place has their own unique dish so the foodie in me craves an adventure that delights the taste buds.


metro manila buffet2


5. Facilities. Hail to the accommodations that provide extra facilities like Swimming Pool, Gym, Rooftop, and meeting rooms. It feels like we’re not just renting a room, but we’re free to roam around the hotel building to use the amenities as well.

6. Great Location. I actually met tourists who prefer the far flung areas. So I guess location preferences vary from the types of guests. If for example, I’m in a city, I would choose a place that are near the malls, subways, airport. But when I wanted to dive deep into the culture, I would go as far as Changunarayan, Bhaktapur in Nepal just to seek the authentic. Take note, traveling to far flung areas and experiencing real culture doesn’t have to be expensive too.

7. Complimentary stuff. Freebies such as slippers, shampoo, lotion, towel, plates, spoon, fork.. wait… dear hotel staff, I’m just kidding, don’t send a policewoman to stare at me while eating. Below is the hotel room that me and my mom enjoyed while traveling out of the country last year.


8. Security. It feels safe to know that there are security guards making sure guests are safe during their stay.. but when these guards stare at you in your every move, then that’s not the definition of safety. Stare at them back and in an intimidating voice ask them – do I look like a drug pusher?

9. Parking. This will be convenient for those who have their own car. I don’t have a vehicle so it’s down my list.

10. Travel and Tour Assistance. This is also not a priority for me because most of the time, I travel without needing any tourist guide. But this comes in handy when the place is really far flung, and the helpdesk is ready to find you if you’re lost.. coz you haven’t paid yet so probably that’s one of the reason.

Related Articles:
http://grasya.com/2014/10/5-ways-to-stay-in-luxury-hotels-for-free/
http://grasya.com/2017/12/alternative-places-to-stay-when-traveling/
http://grasya.com/2015/08/how-to-get-free-accommodation-when-you-travel/

Alternative places to stay when traveling

Alternative places to stay when traveling

I used to think traveling to different places is expensive because you have to stay in posh places like hotels.

Well, some people really do travel and stay in hotels all day. I was lucky to stay at 5 star hotels on various occasions. This was at Shangri La Hotel in Edsa.


shangri la hotel
 

Read this if you want to stay in posh places for free.

Well, now that more and more people are traveling, it has now become apparent that there are other alternative places to stay when you want to take a break from your daily life to meet people and see other places.

Alternative places to stay can be hostels which is cheaper than a hotel and suitable for young people because of the vibe and the connections.. For those who have a large network, or family, you can stay in your relative’s homes which can be free as long as you wash the dishes or help around the house… in my case, I try to cook or buy people food instead.


cebu with chuchay
 

You can sleep in family homes, but you can also sleep at other people’s homes too.. it will be more interesting if the house has a character. So far, I have stayed in our old traditional Filipino house in Antique, a farm house in Laos, an art house owned by a movie director in Palawan, I’ve stayed at nipa huts of friends, and I’ve stayed in a Tribe community in South Cotabato..

 



If you don’t have a large family clan, but belong to an organization or community, you can try to sleep in the org’s headquarters in the area where you are in. I was able to stay in Tagaytay for a few months because of an international community called Focolare. In Nepal, I stayed in a school that has a children’s home run by the Ananda Marga organization.. in return, I took care of the kids, became a temporary computer teacher, treat them food that they don’t get to eat always, like spaghetti.

Now, those houses are still normal resting places. Let’s explore a bit more of the unconventional places to check out when looking for places to stay while traveling.

You might want to consider these places to add more interesting travel experiences.

Have you tried sleeping in a convent? I did. During retreats, we get to stay in religious places.. I am also curious about temples and other religious places though.. might try to stay in one out of curiousity.

How about sleeping in a tent? I’ve tried that when we were in Omkoi, Thailand last 2011 while doing volunteer work in the far flung area.


tent


Ok, if there’s no tent, sleeping under the stars is an option too.. yep, tried it one time with a french friend in Bohol in Alona beach, Panglao… we just put our towels in the sand and slept outside ignoring the posh establishments.


I also tried sleeping in moving vehicles, a bus, or train.. this saves time and money because you are moving while sleeping.


sleep

Another temporary refuge is the airport or bus terminal.. Get a bench, make your backpack your pillow, and catch a few hours of sleep. I tried that in Malaysia, then I overslept and my plane went ahead of me.

Hammocks are nice too. I haven’t tried this yet but who knows what the future holds.

But after all these traveling, you know what I realized? A 5 star hotel can still feel like an any star hotel.. And a home can feel like the poshest hotel that gives you all the positive feelings..

It really doesn’t matter where you stay or where you rest your head at night.. what matters is the positive vibe that the place is giving.. Here’s a list of my favorite places to stay whenever I travel.

Were you able to travel and stay in alternative places other than the usual hotel/hostel/home? I’d like to hear your thoughts and recommendations.

What to do next? My dream travel itinerary

What to do next? My dream travel itinerary

Do you know the feeling of wanting to have a holiday but due to grown up responsibilities, it is not yet possible at the moment? I know most people are in that stage.. coz that includes me too.

But that does not hinder us from planning on that great escape right? While I hustle on accumulating that so called freedom fund, I also daydream on that perfect holiday to finally experience the unique landscape of Cappodocia, Turkey; that captivating feeling when you see the Northern lights; that excitement to see the New York City attractions; or the bliss when you finally see the Corrs live in Ireland; or that moment when you finally step into the hills that are alive in Austria, and much more.

Let’s look forward to the day where we’ll finally be able to cast our worries away on that far away land just because we deserve it. I’ll be writing my dream travel itineraries because.. well, this is my blog. :P

You may want to follow this itinerary too if you are fond of long term and slow travels.

Coffee or Tea shop hopping. My friends who went to travel with me previously know this is so true. And while they trek that mountain, I’ll be on that coffee or tea shop hanging out to wait for them to get back. Maybe I’m not that sporty type but yeah I’m happy reading a book in coffee or tea shops while my friends sweat it out outside.

 


coffee shop


Reading books during transit. I love to read books more than watching tv or movies. Sometimes I even read favorite books twice. ^_^ My favorites are The Little Prince, Alchemist, Like a Flowing River, and a Thousand Splendid Suns. Looking forward to read books recommended by the book club of Mark Zuckerberg this time.

Landscape and history tour. Sometimes, every city that you visit are always the same – malls, parks, buildings.. same gray architecture with busy people. That is why it is nice to visit heritage cities and geographical landscapes that are out of the ordinary. It is what makes a country unique and travel more interesting.


 


Explore towns with a Bicycle. Aside from train travels, I do love to ride bikes when traveling. That is because bicycle rides produces low carbon footprint, so it’s an environment friendly way to explore surroundings.


bike


 

Cooking school. Not really a good cook, but I’m learning. It’s fun to do this whenever I go to different homes during my travels because every country have their own dish specialty.

Culture and Language exchange. Going to a new country means also meeting local people and get to know their way of life. I was fortunate enough to learn a bit of Bangla when I was in Kolkata, India and learned Passa Thai when I was in Thailand. I learned a bit of Italian when I stayed in Tagaytay because I was with Italian speaking people and I learned bits of dialects in every Visayan province that I go to. Here’s to learning more!


christmas


 

Road trip and Train travels. This is a definite bucketlist. I once read about that trans siberian train travel where you can get from Asia to Europe and vice versa by land travel. Road trips during winter on vehicles with winter tyres are on the bucketlist too.

I just hope to tick this off while traveling with special people in my life so we can see if we can still stick with each other despite uncomfortable long travels :D..

So those are what I regularly do and what I still plan to do once I start to travel out of my country again. I’m getting that feeling that the universe can’t wait for me to explore again.. and yes dear Universe, I am so grateful.

As much as possible, I intend to not just travel but live in a new country for at least a few months to a year. Visiting for a short time only scratches the surface culture of a country, it’s still nice to immerse in the country and learn it’s way of living too.. that way, we become a global citizen and learn more about the world.

Recommended reads:
http://grasya.com/2016/09/where-to-go-next-my-dream-travel-itinerary/
http://grasya.com/2014/10/long-preparation-for-a-long-term-travel/
http://grasya.com/2015/03/things-you-need-to-bring-for-long-term-travels/

Contest Entry from Klaudia H.

Contest Entry from Klaudia H.

This story is an entry for this recent contest: http://grasya.com/2017/10/win-free-3-days-2-nights-stay-in-thailand-malaysia-and-singapore/

Read on and see if the story deserves to win.


Let me tell you about me first. I’m an average person, with an average life I would say. I honestly haven’t done much for the community so far: in highschool we organized a charity for the harmed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I donated blood for a couple of times, me and my family giveaway clothes, toys and food time to time to the Red Cross (it’s a support in Hungary for the domestic abuse survivors), and last year I went to Korea to volunteer to paint schools and fences. Other then these I hosted many couchsurfers and guided them in my city.


**some info deleted for confidentiality**

My latest journey leads my story to South Korea, last year, when I volunteered and spent time with sightseeing and meeting friends.


As for the volunteer part, I don’t really have much to say, I just painted the walls and fences^^” So let me tell you about how I spent my freetime:

I stayed in Suwon, couchsurfing, my host was really nice, helped me with everything and his family was super nice as well, so I feel really lucky.

I got to meet my friend for the second time after 6 years, when he first visited me in Hungary, it feels so great that we’ve known each other for about 9 years and still keeping in touch despite the distance. He was also really helpful and introduced me to his family for so many years. His mom cooked me at least a 10 dishes lunch, even though they’re not wealthy at all and my friend said they only eat this “fancy” on birthdays, so it made me feel very thankful, but kinda inconvenient at the same time. I can’t believe she saw me for the first time, but took so much effort to please me. I hope one day I can visited them again, so next time I can prepare something nice and delicious for them as well. Thinking about these I just realized how lucky I was to meet these people.

In Korea I experienced my first times. Like going to a theme park. It might sound simple, but we don’t have theme parks in my country and have never been in one. I even tried the scariest roller coaster! I couldn’t really walk and my knees were trembling after getting off, but I’ll never regret. I visited a couple of fortresses, those historical palaces, temples, they were all so breathtaking! Sooo huge! And the view is even better! So nice to see they used so many bright colors, most temples are dark and more sorrowful, but the ones in Korea so bright and happy. I went to Busan from Suwon by train, it was my first time travelling by such fast train. I played with fireworks for the 1st time in my life by the beach. In Busan I got to stay for a couple of days, on the 47th floor of a building thanks to my friend. I think I’ve never been higher than 10th floor in my life before (this also kind of simple thing to be in such high building, but for me, it’s unforgettable, I basically stucked on the window^^”)
I went to the cherry blossom festival in Yeoido~ I love these kind of festivals which admiring the beauty of nature. Interesting fact, that I’m kinda social phobic in my country and have constant anxiety, but Korea I never felt anything like that, even when I was alone, the crowd was kinda comforting there, maybe because people the don’t stare at me, unlike in my country.

In my entire trip, my very best moment, when I felt the best, when I was in Busan, we went to the fortress, crossed the wall, and on the other side of the wall, there was a park. In that park, there were about 30 people, all of them with their puppies. They were playing with each other, and each other’s dogs, I don’t even know why, but it was just to peaceful, I was watching them playing for about an hour I believe, I even shed tears. I know I can see this scene basically everywhere, but at that moment, at that place, I felt all peace. If I didn’t have these friends, I probably couldn’t experience these moments. No matter where I go, I just need to spend the time with my friends.


**some info deleted for confidentiality purposes**


After thinking about the entry for a few days, then wrote my thoughts down.. I realized I’m not even sure about flight included the giveaway or not, so I will feel really awkward if I misunderstood. In that case, I’m really sorry in advance