Travel

A festival in the middle of the Rainforest, I say YES!

Destination: Rainforest World Music Festival

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Legendary. One of my best memories ever!

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Kuching – Malaysia (Map: World Atlas)

In a nutshell, it’s like a well-oiled machine with just the right amount of craziness, sprinkled with positive vibes.

For two days it was a glorious euphoria, teeming with festival-goers frolicking care-free in the sunshine and occasional rain, everyone at one with nature.

This is not a festival for voyeurs or fence sitters; you are just as much a part of the fabric as the acts playing on the stages. The interaction is magic because it brings together people from every nook and corner of the world.

Women in their traditional costumes.
Women in their traditional costumes.

It’s a fusion of diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds that is beautifully reflected in the magical performances by musicians from all continents, playing all types of music – from the traditional, to world fusion and the contemporary.

RWMF 2014.

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The festival is held every year in Sarawak, one of the two Malaysian states. Kuching is the premier location for the wildlife of Borneo.

A tree house in the outskirts of the festival
A tree house in the outskirts of the festival

Living in KL, I am a 2hr flight away from the land. As soon as you land, the green tropical set is overwhelming. It feels like a peaceful countrysidish landscape. An horizontal city. Only the coconut trees disrupts the urban contour. I slowly immersed myself in a cultural bubble, the 2hrs flight from kL felt like thousounds of km away.

Sarawak has a population of almost 2.5 million, made up of some 40 different ethnic groups. The non-Muslim (mainly Christians and animists believer) indigenous groups are collectively called Dayaks.

31% of the population are Iban aka Sea Dayaks

Ethnic and tribal music from across the globe will be featured at the nightly stage shows with musical workshops and jamming sessions being held in the afternoon. No time for rest. Our schedule was full of exciting discoveries.

Indigenous music instrument.
Indigenous music instrument.

The festival fueled a lot of talk between us. First-timers, we were thrilled to join such an amazing opportunity to spice up our expat life in KL. We were like kids in front of a Pinata, unified and ready to blow the mind.

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D-Day

Overflown with good tunes, and well, rain too.

The first distinctive sign: happy faces everywhere like we were all suddenly victim of facial paralysis.  Total participants 2015: 30,000!!!

Overall, the festival is very much family oriented, kids playing around, although eclectic since I could not conclude in a specific ages average. We were a large crowd drawn in by the unexpected dance burst, the organization team clearly did working hard to get things moving, but making it look effortless.

The plus

The entire festival put a high emphasis on the constant interaction with participants, the audience participation makes it fun.

The diversity of workshop available to us was absolutely awesome. I prefer to give you a bite with some of the pictures I have taken on the 2014 edition:

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Photo 2014 – 2015 editions credit: RWFM.

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Rainforest

Daily Life in Burma | OrganicIsBeautiful

Burma, where it all started.

Flash back

Summer 2012. Myanmar.

It was my first travel to Asia, and it remains the most magical one. Knowing little about the country kind of help because at the time, my curiosity was sent through the roof! Now 3 years later, I genuinely believed that it was the most amazing trip of my entire (little) life!

I will share with you some of the reason why I fall in love with the Burmese landscape and why you should no wait any longer and head to Myanmar.

My first trip in Asia was in Burma, in 2012.
My first trip in Asia was in Burma, in 2012.

I was first skeptical, back in 2012, Myanmar was sadly more famous for its political instability rather than its tourism industry.

I saw a few pictures online that made me reconsidered my narrow judgement, I have to admit, there is some kind of mystery around the country that mesmerized me.

Daily Life in Burma | OrganicIsBeautiful
Daily Life in Burma | OrganicIsBeautiful

 ∴ Paris – Bangkok – Yangon.

Yangon is an hour flight away from Bangkok airport.

On day 1, after a smooth check in into a local guesthouse, I decided to explore Yangon by night, camera in hand, with an itinerary more or less laid out in advance.

Beginning and ending in Yangoon, the trip took me to all the classic locations for which Myanmar is rightfully famed: Yangon (Rangoon), Inle Lake, Mandalay and Bagan.

Yangon

First impression. Yangon comes across as a sprawling city with a relatively small downtown area. The British colonial influence is still evident. Yangon remains a semi-rural city, with dirt roads and old downtown buildings. In 1989, the current military junta who runs the country, changed the city’s name to “Yangon”, however many have not accepted the changes.

Two men walk down the street in downtown Rangoon ( Aliece Alisha for The Wall Street Journal)
Two men walk down the street in downtown Rangoon ( Aliece Alisha for The Wall Street Journal)

On my day 2, I visited the awe glorious Shwedagon Pagoda, “the crown jewel of Burma.” Magic. This world famous temple is Myanmar’s most sacred site.

Rudyard Kipling on his brief visit to Burma in 1889 describe it as the “The winking wonder”. There is was standing in front of me! You quickly realized how a beautiful building can move a person but a building that has been said to be covered in more gold than in all the vaults in England can take your breath away!
The following days, I ventured through the the chaotic Yangon Riverbank and the crowded street markets of Chinatown with its tiny lanes crowded with local food stalls and young children in pyjamas tucking into a pre bedtime snack on the street.

Lac Inle in Burma | OrganicIsBeautiful
Lac Inle in Burma | OrganicIsBeautiful

It was unthinkable to me that a day could pass me by without heading out to explore some of the remotest regions of this beautiful country.

I explored villages and landscapes where most of the time the roads were still under construction, and where time seemingly kind of stopped as soon as you moved away from the main cities.

The land of smiles

 Rather, with a smile and hello spoken in Burmese (min-ga-la-ba), faces light up radiantly.

More naturally friendly people are hard to find. If other countries proclaim that they are the land of smiles, Myanmar is surely the land of the BIG smile.

Rangoon, Burma. (The Wall Street Journal)


 Heading North, Mandalay

Mandalay is the second biggest city and the former capital of Myanmar. The most interesting part is probably the taxi ride up in an open cart up a windy road.

Arrived at Mandalay hills, I was courageous enough take the south gate and walk 1729 stairs up to the top.

Fascinating and spiritual climb.One of the best aspects was talking to people on the way up. They practised English and I learnt about the culture and history of the Hill and the old palace. In this wonderful old building, constructed in the traditional style, were several very young students being taught by a senior monk in a most reverential and timeless way.

Stop in Burma | OrganicIsBeautiful
Stop in Burma | OrganicIsBeautiful

The entrance to the stairway is protected by two Chinthes, huge leogryphs that often guard temples or pagodas in Southeast Asia. The Chinthe is also on the Kyat, Burma’s official currency.

Bagan, a bicycle ride away

More than 3,500 religious buildings, temples, pagodas, monasteries and halls have survived the centuries and earthquakes. A mystic vibe surrounded the 40 sq km of plain.

Wandering around the area and discovering these buildings was an exceptionally rewarding.

Picture credit: TWJ

What is your image of Myanmar? If you have been there recently, feel free to share your experience, I am very curious to hear about the changes since I was there!

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Burma

Ultra Rail in the jungle – Gallery & Learning

Volcano + Rain + Forest

I’m very pleased with myself, I finished my first ever 50km run last month. It feels like a massive achievement and I want to be able to look back on it.

I’m an ultra runner. Oh Yes!

The TMBT is a self-supported trail marathon set in Borneo, Malaysia by the Mount Kinabalu. You know that I love nature, and running across so much tropical wonders has made me realised how lucky I was.

Finishing the marathon becomes irrelevant, what I got to see, to experiment made the entire ultra-trail experience unforgettable. Here are some pictures I took during the race. If you want to know more about my feelings, learnings and tips, please check that article ♥ Link

The race starting at 7:45am on a sunny day. We were all cheerful, joyful, full of energy!

 

The first 10 km, oddly, was mentally almost the toughest – perhaps knowing how long there was still to go. But it quickly eased off, I had to found my own stride, a gradually steady speed, and the next 10 km seemed to go amazingly quickly.

And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.
And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.

I took this picture while running. If you look closely, you will get an idea of how far the Mount Kota Kinabalu is standing. Keep this in mind, and scroll down to check how closed I got to the Mount.

It took +-10hrs.

On the way, the scenery was magical. Yes, magical! I mean it! It is the only word that pop into my mind. Beside the weather (mostly sunny with some rain), the mud, the muscle pain, the mental struggle & Co, it was the best day of my life!

For my next marathon, I intend to buy a proper camera (any advice?), my old Samsung Galaxy has fallen to grab the purity of the landscape. Magical.

I know you want more, right? Below a few more pictures 😉

When I got back home and told my friends about my achievement, the questions I received the most was related to handling water management as well as food. Although the TMBT 2015 was a self-support trail run, every 10km (or so), a check point is set with staff. You can grab some food, water and also, if you wish, tell them that you wish to stop here and not go further in the race.

I have to apologize to you. The last 10km, especially the last 5km were though to the point all my energy was directed to cross that fu**** line, so I did not take any picture, silly me! This say, I arrived at the crossing line at around 9pm ish, in the full darkness of the Borneo island.

I started the race at 8am and finished at 9pm, 12hrs later.

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Running across Angkor Wat temples? Check!

Angkor Bat Marathon - Feedbacks on OrganicIsBeautiful
Angkor Bat Marathon – Feedbacks on OrganicIsBeautiful

1380 participants has signed up for the Angkor Marathon last August. And I was one of them! And today, I share with you my runner experience. Because, to say the least, it has always been in my must-do marathon since a while!

Imagine yourself running in the heart of an world heritage, the 8th World Wonder? The site has something mystical. Its stone carved creatures, its enormous size, and its aged temples are definitely a marvel worth visiting. And it is captivating enough to dare running along ancient temples sprinked with ancient trees.

The before

A 6am race start meant an early wake-up call.

Alarm set at 4:30am, quick breakfast and ready to go at 5am sharp. My tutuk was ready to pick me up at my hotel entrance.

My tutuk car that drove me to the marathon starting line
My tutuk car that drove me to the marathon starting line

After my 20min tutuk journey to the site, we arrived: it was still dark, quiet yet vibrant.  It didn’t seem like there were too many participants – until we got to the start. There is was: the others! The crowd! Very calm and mild athmosphere, I knew it would start to heat up when the race starts.

I was nervous at the start, relaxing was not on the road. As a runner, I get very results-oriented, it was unfortunately not the first time I found myself guilty of losing the perspective of what running is really about, and how lucky I am to be able to do this. It is my own Achille heels I need to overcome I hope to overcome by experience.

In an epic lapse in reasoning, I decided it would be better to deviate from my pre-race warming plan and find a quiet area away the crowds to breath and free my mind.

The beginning: 1-10km

On August 9th, I run 21km in 2hrs35min. Out of 2hrs35min running were a deep and one-way a 1hrs30 of mental talk.

What I love about marathon is that it basically forces you to confront weaknesses head on, exposing your limitations as well as your strengths.

There is no short cut.

The first 10km took me under 55min. I do not recall any particular pain or mental crackdown. My only distraction was the sightseeing I was deeply amazed by. I was running at a conversational path. A few words exchanged with fellows running, the usual “Where are you from?”, or “Good shoes”, and I was back on my solo run.

An amazing scenery

I love the sounds of my feet hitting the road, and the peace and quiet and solitude. It is here that I do some of my best creative thinking 😉

While running, it was simply impossible to be bored, I felt like a kid, astonished by the beauty of the nature. They were so much to see: the botanical surroundings, details the old temples. Trees, monkeys, dogs, local Cambodians were all part of the scenery. And monks.

The moment was brief. At km 12, the distance caught up to me. I realized how much my legs hurt and how badly I wanted to walk. I had been running nearly continuously up until then, minus a taking the few odds picture.

12 to 17km, that’s 5km.

One word: the humidity.

It sounds like a forgettable value now that I write this post, but at that time, it felt endless. Crossing the finish line was everything I dreamed about.

Dreaming of crossing the finish line
Dreaming of crossing the finish line

Those “5km” represents represents a slow and painful phase that I love to call “Keep running”. Do not think about:

  • The humidity
  • The humidity
  • The humidity
I dreamt of jumping in the Siem Reap River to cool down.
I dreamt of jumping in the Siem Reap River to cool down.

Even when wearing the appropriate high tech sweat running clothing everyone tolerates high heat and humidity differently.

Any runner will now about this situation. I had one of those moments where you see someone coming back to you and although sprinting hard already, wondered if I gave it EVERYTHING I could get past him, and indeed, if I really cared about giving it everything.

I got angry with myself for thinking about it.

Straight to the finish line

What made the difference? The crowd support. The scenery too. I gave it all. I am fully aware that I often grimace with effort during the race. Can’t help it! I can get a smile (or what I like to believe looks like a smile) when I see kids smiling at me along the way.

It took me 2hrs33min to run 21km. The result was amazing yet disappointing considering my past result. The Bali Marathon ended with a kicking 2h15min. That’s in 15min difference. A small and huge difference.


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The end

As soon as I crossed THAT finished line, I genuinely felt on holidays, just the sand beach and the coconut juice missing.

I was exhausted, but I could not stop smiling 😉 It was done, over and to be repeated soon. The big plus of the marathon, the after-care of participant. You could receive a massage (that they call “Therapy”?!), grab some coconuts, beers or even buy yourself some new sunglasses 😉 Why not?

I took one last picture of the temples and headed over to my tutuk, who was patiently chatting over with other drivers like today was just an ordinary day in both our life.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed sharing my amazing experience in Cambodia with you

Amanda

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The (surprising) Beauty Benefits of Rice & Green Tea Powders

In this article, I will tackle the eternal question: what are the secret skincare recipes that make Asian woman have an ageless skin? Answer: Rice and green tea powders.

What they have in common? Antioxidant properties.

Rice is not just rice.

A bit of history.

Cosmetics powders are not new to the market.

In the 17th century, powder originated as an answer to a practical need in the days when bathing was less frequent, but it quickly became an expressive luxury.

It’s been used in Asian culture for over hundreds of years.

Japan flag OrganicIsBeautifulIn Japan, white rice powder has been used since the 16th century by Japanese Geishas.

In the heart of Japanese Geisha culture, rice powder purposely theatrically opaque, more translucent to whiten uniformly women’s complexions.

 

French flag OrganicIsBeautifulIn  France: A white face paint also characteristics of Marie Antoinette toiletries routine in the 17th Versailles. It was fashionable to have a very pale complexion. This highlighted that a person was rich enough not to have to work outside in the outside fields.

 

 

Indonesia flag OrganicIsBeautifulIn ancient Indonesia (and others SEA countries), rice powder was added to water to create a form of paste. The field workers who worked all day under the hot tropical sun used to apply it as a UV protector.

Properties.

Antioxidants are the magical nutrients and enzymes responsible for fighting against the negative effects of UV radiation, giving us younger-looking skin, and preventing a number of life-threatening maladies.

Some of us are have a more sensitive skin, it usually this type of skin that is prone to early age effects: wrinkles and dark spots around the eyes.

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Using incorrect or/and harmful skin care product can only accelerate this process. Many cosmetics are comedogenic, it means that they are high in greasy ingredients and tend to clog pores especially by the formation of blackheads. So, if like me a few years ago, you have a oily/acne type of skin, it is highly recommended to use makeup and skin care products clearly labeled noncomedogenic.

Rice or oat starches (flour) are excellent in their raw, natural state for use in poultices, masques and gentle exfoliation of the skin. Examiner Blog
Categorie: Healthy Recipes | www.OrganicIsBeautiful.com

How to use it?

Powder cleanser is as easy to use as a liquid cleanser. Just wet your face and palms, pour about 1/2 a teaspoon on your hands and rub them together to activate the powerful enzymes and antioxidants.

Usages

In the cosmetics market, rice powder is used to add a polishing effect to the face. It helps to leave a transparent yet silky touch on the face. It can be used as facial masks, added to mineral veils and makeups. In Kuala Lumpur, I found it sold as a rice water format and applied as a skin tonic or body moisturizers.

Mixed with aloe Vera, it can be a very good healing lotion after a day at the beach under the sun.

What about Green tea? Read below

Green tea

Green tea, like many fruits and nuts, contains lot of polyphenols. Polyphenols have been studied for their antioxidant potential with promising results. In our case, EGCG is the predominant antioxidant in most forms of green tea.

EGCG has been shown to be 25 to 100 times more potent than vitamins C and E in terms of antioxidant activity. NCBI
Green Tea | OrganicIsBeautiful
Green Tea | OrganicIsBeautiful

Properties.

Vitamin K is important for the production of certain proteins that maintain healthy skin cells renewal and it may be a factor in skin problems like acne.

Then damp the tea bag over your eyes for 10-15 minutes. The tannin tea bags have been proven to reduce swelling (baggy under eyes) and discoloration (dark circles).

How to use it?

An bags under your eyes? Use eye compress! Quite often, these are signals of sleep deprivation, improper diet, or some other slowly accumulating beauty-impacting issue:

  • Put your used tea bag in the fridge or let it cool down for a half hour.
  • Freeze freshly brewed green tea as ice cubes and use them as a toner.

Green tea acts as a great soother, reduce redness. Its calming properties can help mitigate any discomfort if you have any psoriasis and rosacea, accompanied by inflammation.

In your weekly facial mask? Simple. NBT explained how you can combine the two powders into water or lemon juice!

  • Mix well 3 tablespoons of cool green tea solution with 3-4 table spoons of rice flour.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to it to form a smooth and spreadable paste, but not runny. You can always mix more tea if the paste is too thick.
  • Apply the pack over your face and keep it there for about 20 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
  • Apply your favorite moisturizer.

Usages

Like most other antioxidants, green tea polyphenols are oxidized and lose their activity when exposed to air. Whether commercial green tea creams retain the activity is unclear and may vary widely from product to product. It is always best to buy green tea and rice powder 100% natural and organic.

Reference

Amanda 😉

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