Down with the Dictatorship in Myanmar – Enough is Enough!
It is beyond appalling and heartbreaking the situation in Myanmar since the Feb 1 military coup with violent attacks on peaceful protesters with killings of people including children. Homes and even hospitals are being raided with beatings of medical staff. Air strikes on villages in Karen State are also forcing thousands to flee across to Thailand. It is outrageous that China and Russia hold vetoe powers at the UN while they support the Burmese military junta with weapons.
May the people remain strong and prevail!
“Within every crisis lies an opportunity.”
This was the mindset of Tabanan-native, I Made Janur Yasa, when he asked himself how he could help his village amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The idea became clear — “Plastic for Rice.”
Bali August Moon- awaiting to dance again.. Click Here
March 2020: Bali
Mother Earth is calling us to be still…
View from Alam Indah as we enter an extended Nyepi time… the day of silence on Bali
when all shuts down. I have always wished more of the world to experience Nyepi…
just not quite under present circumstances.
May our planet now be nurtured and may we all find common connection in humanity.
February 2020: Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Every first weekend of February, a spectacular profusion of colors and creativity with flower floats and gardens…
December 2019: Cruising down the Mekong in Laos:
Lovely cruise to Luang Prabang aboard the Shompoo Boat!
More on their join-in cruises:
November 2019: Greetings from Bali
Temple Ceremony in Nyuh Kuning Village
Procession welcoming the sacred Barong Landung with stories dating back to 12th century in Bali.
Along with the Amazon and Africa, Borneo forest and peat-land fires have been another tragedy- yet again!
Fortunately rains have come but please see updates:
and follow other sites- click:
Click: Revisiting Orangutans- Tanjung Puting, Borneo
March 2019: Bali New Year
Village children in Nyuhkuning getting ready for the big Ogoh Ogoh Day procession prior to Nyepi- Balinese New Year of 07 March.
May your path this New Year be happy, healthy and free of obstacles!
where the rivers meet in Luang Prabang
Give Beni a Christmas Gift for supporting his Jungle School Journey!
at BOS- Borneo Orangutan Survival.
Watch some fun videos:
Happy Full Moon Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai!
Earthquake Relief Efforts:
IDEP Foundation which does great work in Indonesia is in the field on Lombok and on Sulawesi:
See Links below on their Emergency Relief Work:
Bumi Sehat on Bali outreach for Lombok:
Palu and Donggala on Sulawesi:
Campuhan Ridge Walk out of Ubud…
still feels like yesteryear up here:
Offerings for Pumpkin House:
and a monkey just looking inside:
March again was the month of purification ceremonies and the procession of Ogoh Ogohs to cast off ill energies prior to Bali New Year Day of Nyepi.
Daily life of the Balinese continues to be filled with the busy-ness and devotion to ritual dedicated to their space in gratitude. Saraswati Day fell on the same day as Nyepi this year meaning that all Balinese had to do their offerings prior to sunrise and the day of silence- which meant for most getting up at 3am. The other night a ceremony in Nyuhkuning brought out their Barong Landung in procession telling tales of morality in a humorous way releasing laughter as the villagers followed into the early morning hours. Next morning the neighboring village began their ceremony with a procession to the beach at 6am. A day followed by weddings and now this Full Moon Day of Tumpek Landep which honors all metal objects- traditionally a time to bless the sacred guardian keris of family shrines. The custom today includes all functioning metal- computers to swimming pool filters and most fun of all, seeing all the cars and motorbikes lined up to blessed, decked out in sarongs and offerings.
This evening begins a new ceremony at the Mother Temple of Besakih at the foot of Mt. Agung which has so far returned to calm.
With this Easter Sunday representing new light, is it possible
with the continued cycle of turbulence in our world, to still, as we once could, “simply look up to the stars,” and as Stephen Hawking said before his passing, “try to hold on to that childlike wonder about what makes the universe exist.”
Happy New Year of the Earth Dog!
from beautiful Wat Ket Karam in Chiang Mai.. also known as
Wat Gate- dedicated to those born in Year of the Dog.
Flower Festival Time in Chiang Mai!
Alam Indah Bali Garden:
View from the Pumpkin Nest at Alam Indah… where you would not know Mt. Agung is mildly erupting some 35km away. Grateful for this peaceful haven.
Mt. Agung Bali Update:
On 26 November, Gunung Agung started having magmatic eruptions. A 10 km radius of the volcano is a restricted area. There is no imminent danger outside of the 10km radius.
Ubud is located 35km from Mt. Agung.
For more updates see: Alam Indah Bali News
Scroll below for more news links:
Here is a photo of Mt. Agung posted by the Indonesian Disaster Relief Agency on the morning of 29 November looking calm again.
But Mother Earth needs to do what she needs to do and we are reminded that we humans are not above the course of nature. The eruptions in a way feel like a relief for Agung to release pressure held inside, so may she remain gentle on the island. It is a time to embrace new beginnings each day.
Bali Mt. Agung News:
Mt. Agung, Bali’s highest mountain (3031 m) is located 35km to the Northeast of Ubud.
Life in Ubud continues as normal -with this being normal living within the shadows of volcanic Indonesia, we can only hope that Mother Nature will remain gentle on Bali and our hearts go out to all those who cannot be in their own homes. Over 100,000 people are in refugee camps within the safe zones of the island. There is an incredible outpouring of assistance by locals which again brings human spirit closer together. Spiritual communities on Bali are also very much engaged with ceremonial rituals directed towards the unseen which has a profound meaning to the Balinese.
We have no idea how long this situation may last. There have been many conflicting reports in the media but the following links to groups based in Ubud providing assistance to the relief efforts are doing their best to provide continued news and advisories:
Outreach and human spirit coming together:
view of Mt. Agung from Ubud on a clear day
marks the 350th anniversary of the Breda Treaty and exchange for Manhattan Island.
See this BBC story about the tiny island of the Bandas that was traded for Manhattan:
Recalling our days sailing to the Bandas and beyond.
More on Exploring Eastern Indonesia: Click Here
Preserving and Protecting Buddhist Heritage of Laos
a wonderful article from Buddhist Door:
Akha Swing Festival is held each year around August to celebrate harvest and
honor ancestors in Chiang Rai. See more: CLICK HERE
Please, let us not allow her home to be destroyed….
Read More: https://www.orangutans-sos.org/crisis/
News from my favorite place in Bhutan!
Click to read the: Ogyencholing Report
Wishing all New Light this Season !
Joined in the Vietnam Tet Celebrations at Thai Plum Village.
Such a delight to share lovely Tet days with the Thai Plum Sangha.
2017 New Year Phrases from Plum Village:
BOS- Borneo Orangutan Survival- working 25 years!
Read this: Forest Voice Newsletter
January BOS News about Orangutan Jacqui:
Adopt an Orangutan at BOS:
SOS- Sumatran Orangutan Society
2016 News and Highlights:
Thank you for helping support orangutans to be at home.
May 2016: In honor of Mother’s Day:
Help fund Bhante Sujatha’s Mother’s Retreat in Sri Lanka:
More on Bhante and Blue Lotus in USA:
20 April, 2016: Blessing Ceremony at Alam Indah in Bali:
09 March, 2016: Bali New Year!
The Ogoh Ogohs were wild and fun this year in Ubud.
The following day was a blissful Day of Silence for Nyepi.
at Alam Indah Bali
Wishing all a peaceful entry into 2016!
New Years Hike to this secret peak and what a highlight!
It is time for The Great Bell Chant!
Click and breathe, listen and watch:
November Full Moon: Loi Krathong Festival Chiang Mai!
Below are lanterns at Wat Pan Tao before dark as well as early evening light at Wat Suan Dok. Wishing Good Light to all!
A Musical called MUD: the story of Kuala Lumpur:
If you find yourself in KL, this is a must-see with a great cast!
The story of 3 friends- a Malay, a Chinese and an Indian coming to find and live their dreams rising out of the mud in the new city
Click for a short preview:
Ann Dunham: The Story of Obama’s Mother in Indonesia.
Her story is so little known in the US and in the outside world.
Read: “The Singular Woman who raised Barack Obama” by Janny Scott and listen to an NPR interview: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/03/135840068/the-singular-woman-who-raised-barack-obama
Ann Dunham’s Batik Collection at Textile Museum in Washington DC: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111892135
July/August 2015: Sri Lanka!
Truly a Land Like No Other!
Reflecting back on each magical day… Sri Lanka is a land where lush landscapes blend into ancient sites and where legends continue to come alive. In a multi-cultural mirage of colorful pageants, dancers and drummers cast off evil spirits and call for rain while elephants proudly guard a sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha.
And following the Ramayana Trail, you can learn that Sri Lanka was actually home to the world’s first passenger aircraft!- a majestic wooden peacock, the Dandu Monara flown by King Rahwana while loyal Hanoman gracefully flew on his own, bringing ayurvedic herbs from the Himalaya while assisting to reunite Rama with Sita.
Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, who made Sri Lanka his home, had claimed this island jewel was the best place from which to watch the universe. Climbing through the mouth of a crouching Lion carved into a rock-top fortress at Sigiriya, you can understand as you step back into the 5th century to imagine what life was like on the Land of Serendip.
More on: www.sigiriya.org
From the ancient sites to national parks where elephants roam happily in the wild, enjoy tea in the highlands and some of the best curries on Earth while meeting the sweetest people welcoming you with smiles. If you have not been to Sri Lanka… you should GO!
And for a wonderful private guide and driver, contact:
Amith de Silva on email: email@example.com
Read more on the Sri Lanka page …Ayubowan!
July in Chiang Mai:
Beautiful walking along the Ang Kaew Lake just behind Chiang Mai University with view of Doi Suthep Mountain… does not feel like you are in a city!
14-21 May in Chiang Mai:
Inthakin Festival was celebrated to honor the sacred City Pillar located at Wat Chedi Luang:
Wat Tham Doi Tone Forest and Cave Monastery:
Vipassana Center founded by Phra Ajahn Piyadhassi located in a beautiful
hidden valley of Mae Wang- about 1.5 hours drive from Chiang Mai: www.vimuttidhamma.org
Candle lighting Visaka Puja Ceremony Full Moon
01 June at Wat Tham Doi Tone Cave.
Alam Indah Bali Staff Outing to see the Bali Starlings
The staff were happy to contribute funds for another Bird Nest Box for FNPF-Friends of National Parks Foundation. Learn more about their work in breeding these beautiful Bali Starlings once nearly extinct as FNPF’s work in reforestation for orangutan habitat in Kalimantan: www.fnpf.org
April 2015: East Java Volcanoes – Ijen to Bromo
Train services in Indonesia have improved very much making a journey through East Java much easier! Below is the view from beautiful Ijen Resort: www.ijendiscovery.com
Click for More on the East Java Train Journey
Follow the story of Mother and Baby Orangutan rescued in the forest. Why do we need to use so much palm oil??
A few lovely days at Thai Plum Village – a few hours north of Bangkok at the edge of Khao Yai National Park: www.thaiplumvillage.org
For updates on Thich Nhat Hanh: www.plumvillage.org
Wishing you all a peaceful entry into 2015:
Wat Tham Wua, Mae Hong Son- about 5 hours drive from Chiang Mai
October- December 2014: Buddha’s Path
Under the Boddhi Tree at Bodhgaya where the Buddha attained enlightenment…
The energy at the Mahabodhi Stupa has been magical. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was giving teaching in English with translations into Chinese for a group from Taiwan. He was also leading the Nyingma Monlam for World Peace with several hundred monks. Then, there was a procession of several hundred Thai nuns, Thais and Burmese in Pali chanting, many Tibetans doing their prostrations all at same time, while a Sri Lankan group arrived with their robe offerings. As I looked up, there was one woman looking down lovingly at everyone as if she were offering those robes to everyone around.
Following an inspiring course and stay at www.rootinstitute.com
continued to follow Buddha’s path to Vaishali and on to Kushinagar– the site where the Buddha passed away. Crossing over into Nepal to Lumbini is the birthplace of Buddha. About 27km away is Kapilavastu where the Buddha was raised as Siddhartha. With some silent time out there with no one else around, it is amazing to imagine Siddhartha actually walking through this former Eastern Gate of the Sakya Palace below to embark on his journey to enlightenment….
Arrived at Boudhanath Stupa close to Kathmandu in time for the www.kopanmonastery.com November retreat:
Looking down on the blessed stupas of Kopan and for the candlelight puja below:
Wishing blessings to all from Nepal!
August 2014: a busy season in Ubud! But enjoying the cooler weather season along with some rains in the dry season..so the gardens at Alam Indah are beautifully lush…
July Full Moon in Chiang Mai at Wat Pan Tao:
Celebrating the Buddha’s first teaching and beginning of Buddhist Lent and Rains Retreat.
Ryuichi Sakamoto’s beautiful music composed for the film The Last Emperor. He is the pianist in this performance. Ryuichi has recently been diagnosed with throat cancer. May he recover well soon.
May/June 2014: Dharamsala and Ladakh:
May was dedicated to a course at Tushita in Dharamsala:
Inspiring teachings including audios with Glen Svensson: www.glensvensson.org
Then explored a bit of Ladakh with amazing quiet landscapes, monasteries and lovely people.
An inspiring visit to: www.mahabodhi-ladakh.org
For a charming family guesthouse in a quiet corner of Leh: www.silvercloudguesthouse.blogspot.com
For Ladakh touring arrangements, Contact Dorjay Phuntsog: www.ladakh4u.com
Mobile: +91-9419558447, +91-9419558447/96229955109622995510
Note Internet and electricity can often be down in Ladakh!
Sri Lanka Adventures included blissful quiet walks to Hortons Plains and World’s End:
Also a wonderful visit to Uda Walawe National Park and the Elephant Transit Home looking after baby elephant orphans.
Read about Dilmah Teas conservation initiative with the Elephant Transit Home:
A beautiful website by Matthieu Ricard, student of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche includes teachings and some his stunning photography with links to Karuna Shechen humanitarian projects in Nepal and Tibet: www.matthieuricard.org/en
October 2012: Dharamsala, India
Attended an inspiring course at Tushita in the hills above Dharamsala, residence of the Dalai Lama. We were blessed to have teachings by Ondy Wilson from England who has been studying and teaching for 30 years under Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, founders of Tushita and the Foundation of Preservation of Mahayana Tradition. www.tushita.info and www.fpmt.org
Continued on to Deerpark Institute in the valley of Bir, approx 2 hours drive. Geshe Dorji Damdul offered more insightful teachings on the Second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. www.deerpark.in
Reflecting back on this time in gratitude to be exposed to such eloquent teachings of wisdom and compassion, one cannot help but wish for the freedom of suffering for all sentient beings. The continued suffering faced by Tibetans in their homeland must not be forgotten.
Informative links to follow include: www.savetibet.org and www.freetibet.org
October 2012: Alpha Montessori School Delhi
On my way thru Delhi, it was very heartwarming to visit the Alpha Montessori School founded by my dear friend Amita Bardwick and a lovely team. It was wonderful to see the inspired kids who are so enthusiastic with the opportunity to learn. www.igniteafl.org
August 2012: Sri Lanka!
The Kandy Perahera in Sri Lanka took place with the climax of the Full Moon. This is Asia’s grandest 10-day pageant – thousands of dancers and drummers with the noblest elephant carrying the Sacred Relic of the Buddha’s Tooth. Learn more on: http://www.daladamaligawa.org
This year the Kandy Perahera also coincided with the Hindu
Kataragama Perahera. A dazzling display of color and dance. www.kataragama.org
It’s also glorious to see so many elephants in the wild at Minneriya National Park! Close by are the ancient sites of Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Dambulla. The legends of Sigiriya where King Kasyapa built his palace atop the Rock are fascinating: www.sigiriya.org
Down south near the Heritage site of Galle Fort is the Apa Villa Illuketia– a former plantation estate and a magical place to stay.
See the Sri Lanka page for more links.
Sri Lanka: Adam’s Peak and Tea Vision
During this season the clear skies beckon you to climb Adam’s Peak- 2243m, a 7km walk, 5200 steps if you keep counting! Also known as Sri Pada, it is believed Buddha left his footprint at the top. Hindus believe the footprint is Lord Shiva’s and others believe this is where Adam first stepped foot on earth. Whose ever ancient footprint it is, throngs of pilgrims of all faiths continue to leave their own footprints ascending this magical mountain to experience a beautiful sunrise high above the petty problems of the world below.
The pilgrim season begins in January until the Full Moon of May which is also Vesak Puja Day celebrating the enlightenment of Buddha. Beginning at 0100am, a dear companion, Morgan, from the Tea Leaf Vision School and I set off on the path in the peace and silence of the night. Hearing the wind rustle through the leaves following the chain of lights, stopping for tea a few times, we reached the peak just before sunrise which will remain an unforgettable experience! At the top is a temple where the God Saman is worshipped and I am still wondering who Saman is? Apparently Saman is the god who deceives, yet encourages- and locals come to ask for protection. Reading up more of the myths, I find Saman is also identified as Laksmana which delves deeper into the Ramayana than we normally hear about in Bali! www.sripada.org
Walking back down, I feel amazed looking down at what we could not see in the dark… the amazing world of Sri Lanka!
Another visit which deeply impressed me is the Tea Leaf Vision School in Maskelyia. Set amidst stunning tea plantations and reservoirs, close to the start point of Adam’s Peak, you also learn more about tea than Lipton! The school is offering opportunity to the youth of Tamil tea picking families as well as youth from Sinhalese farming communities. Very inspiring! Founder Tim Pare is deeply loved by the students and teachers. Another heartwarming connection to this part of the world.
Learn more on: http://tealeaftrust.com/
and see more news and links on the Sri Lanka page.
Below is the entry to the Temple of Buddha’s Tooth Relic in Kandy..I imagine this is what the cave tunnels at our Wat Umong in Chiang Mai may have looked like!?
Ayubowan – May you have Long Life!
WOW- A World of Wonders! A fun Canadian children’s TV show
Season 4 has been aired on TV-Ontario which includes 3 Bali episodes. Their host Cari comes to have fun with coconuts and rice, and after some monkeying around, learns how to dance, play traditional music and cook some Bali food with Ibu Wayan, besides some other adventures and encounters.
Season 3 came to explore Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with Cari learning about Lao traditions, a Book Party at Big Brother Mouse and how to be an elephant mahout! Then explores shadows around Angkor Wat and journeys along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. WOW was nominated for a Youth Media Alliance Award for the Laos episode Rock Paper and Scissors in Season 3.
DVD available on-line: www.aworldofwonders.tv
CLICK HERE for more Asia Destination News and Links
Beni’s Fan Page