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4 Years Living Abroad. My Tricks to Be Happy (No Matter What)

The title is challenging. I like challenges 😉

Today on OiB I will discuss the secret to happiness. Being happy is the key to good health and a good health is vital to having a successful life. This could work the other way round too but this way happiness is always guaranteed.

These ways have brought me immense calmness and satisfaction which have in turn leaded me to feel complete and thus happy as well.

Lets start by the basic

  1. You don’t need anyone to be happy. Remember this notion to always succeed and feel good about the independence of life.
  2. You are more valued. Always keep your own advice above others while respecting and acknowledging theirs on the side as well.
  3. Be observant. Get more out of everything by paying attention to it closely.
Emotional balance | Organicisbeautiful
Emotional balance | Organicisbeautiful

It is easier than you think (really!)

Go with the flow

I recall when I had my huge suitcase back a few years ago, freshly graduated and ready to conquer the world a step at a time. I lended in Shanghai. I knew no one, and for anyone who has the chance to put a feet in China, you will know that it is such a chaos that even getting a taxi direction is a challenge in itself. How do you cope? You don’t. You just go with the flow. I learnt that the best asset is sometimes the simpliest: a friendly smile and the body language will do the rest (or not…).

I turned 27 a few weeks back, time to reflect. 4 years abroad, and more to come soon. Still loving it. Why? Cos I go with the flow, no matter what… and where!

It is Okay to do mistake, we all do. It is Okay to feel lazy, say “fu** the world” and stay all day on Netflix, scrolling over Vikings. There are days I really doubt the overall purpose. What does the sentence say? “There is no better place than home”.

Yep!

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I still have my Spice Girls poster hanging around in my teenager room with my gameboy and sneakers. Sexy 😉

Happiness takes many forms and it takes more than 4 years to undiscover them all. I know for a fact that we do not need more stuff that we think. I explain. I came to Asia with a huge suitcase. At the time, I was allowed only 35kg, I reached way above. I left with 15-16kg and did not wear most of the clothes. It is an anecdoctic example, yet it shows you sometimes, less is more.

Live every moment

It is important to understand that no moment can ever come back hence I cherish each of them. It helps since I am rarely in a bad mood. Beeing angry doesnt help. It is as simple as 1+1 =2. Not rocket science!

I started OiB 8 months ago, it is growing faster than I expected, to my genuine and humble gratitude.

That was my first post here. I still recall how nervous I was when I first clicked on “publish” that day. It was a Sunday afternoon.

Finding a passion that turns into a hobby is all I wish you all. It gives a ordinary day a twist taste. A bit like when you order a blueberry cheese cake, and it comes with the vanilla ice cream. (Food analogy always help to get the point accross).

Keep creativity on the loose

Always keep making plans so that your creativity isn’t rusted or lost through the time and you feel proud of yourself. That is a true statement. Plus, accept your limitation. My big one? When I publish an article I have spent time and effort to prepare to only notice later some annoying typo mistakes, the french-english grammar mistake I can’t seem to eradicate once and for all.

As I say earlier, its Okay to do mistake. Keep going 😉

What helps is to always have new plans for yourself and pursue them as soon as it is possible to keep yourself from losing any energy and excitement altogether. I write an article every 3 days, 4 days if I feel lazy, 5 … hmmm Nop! Rule number 1 = consistency!.

Do what you thought you won’t ever be able to and do away with your fear of being unable to do something.

Give Back

Simple. It does not have to be your entire salary. It actually does not have to be money. I gave blood last week, it took 1 hr. 1hr of my time save up to 3 lives. Think. I will repeat IN BOLD this time:

1 HOUR OF YOUR TIME SAVE UP TO 3 LIVES.

Think about 3 people you know besides your family, the guy sitting in front of you while you read OiB, the cashier at the Carrefour desk, her daughter or son. Think. Think again and simply go.

Volunteering is the best way to stay happy alone. It gives you inner satisfaction as you do new things without any expectation in return. This helps one rise above expectations and lifts you to stay elevated for your own self.

Hence these ways definitely make you better off alone while exercising, thinking positive, eliminating negative thoughts, valuing experiences more than things, accepting realities to work for them, pondering on your blessings, helping, sleeping well, focusing on life goals and your own strengths have been scientifically proven to bring about happiness for a longer time too.

NOTE: Thats a longer article than usual, I usually do not do too much of “me” time. Yet, I hope you enjoy this article, if it makes you smile just a little bit, it was worth every french mistake 😉

Next post on natural lips palm you will crave for 😉

What do you do for knowing yourself?

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Burma – The Smile of The Betel leaves.

One of my first post was about my fabulous trip in Burma in 2012. A mind-blowing trip. Today, I stumbled a travel photography blog-  Jon Sanwell’s Blog – by chance, and it took my breath away.

Why? It remained me the sweet souvenir of experiencing Burmese culture, and especially the Hospitality (with a big H). One of my best souvenir remains the continuous smile on people face, regardless of level of poverty.

You can’t talk about The Smile in Burma without mentioning the Betelnut Smile, resonating in every corner of the country.

The BetelNut Smile

Betelnut Smile. Picture -flickrhivemind.net
Betelnut Smile. Picture -flickrhivemind.net

‘No one can speak Burmese well till he chews betel’.

The words of Sir James George Scott, Scottish journalist and colonial administrator in the XIX century still resonate today: Betel nut is ubiquitous in Myanmar.

Back in 2012, during my backpacking trip in Burma, I saw countless of locals chewing routinely the Betel Nuts. Chewers queue up at small kiosks across the city selling the wraps for 100 kyats (around 10 US cents). Hawkers carry them in trays hung around their necks and sell them to passing motorists at busy junctions.

Many people chew betel incessantly, despite half-hearted government attempts to curb the practice, or at least to stop the spitting associated with chewing. A long time habit in Myanmar. 

The streets are covered with big red blotches because, when locals finish chewing their quids, they hawk red gobs and streams of juice onto the roads and walkways, permanently staining the concrete.

Jon Sanwell.com Beta chewing for OIb

The Betel Nuts.

  • Scientific names: Areca catechu L. Family: Palmaceae (palms)
  • Common names: Areca nut, paan, paan-gutkha pinlang, pinang, and supari.
  • Effect: stimulant, addictive.

The fruit of the Areca catechu palm tree, also known as the “Betel Nut”, contain the stimulant arecoline. Native to SE Asia, the nuts are ground and often combined with mineral lime and wrapped in the leaf of a Betel pepper plant.

How to recognise a heavy user? Simple. Notably, frequent use can stain teeth black and its daily use is associated with increased risk of mouth cancers. It is known that there are variants of the betel and lime combination across many Asian cultures and have a long history of human use.

Jon Sanwell Pictures OiB Beta leaves in Market

Chewing the BetelNut

Using Jon’s words, chewing betelnut (actually a combination of betel leaves and areca nut, Wikipedia tells me) is a major part of the culture in Myanmar.

Jon Sanwell.com Beta Woman selling Burma for OiB

Betel provides a mild stimulant, but also stains the chewer’s teeth red and is a major cause of cancer. This series of pictures from Mandalay shows the areca nuts being sliced and sorted; the betel leaves being arranged in baskets for sale at the market; a street stand selling parcels of nuts and leaves; and a betel smile.

Beta nuts Jon Sanwell.com For OiB

The only additional flavoring Yapese sometimes use is tobacco. Dark, sticky twist tobacco is best, but some people will also bite off the end of a cigarette after popping the betel quid into their mouths.

Picture Credit: Jon Sanwell.

leaves

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

Trail Marathon in the jungle, who’s in?

How it all started

Marathon is a gradual challenge I could easily compare with starting my OiB blog. Daring to start, scaring to experience and amazing to see grow.

My hobby or no fun without pain. Simple
My hobby or no fun without pain. Simple

For most people, running marathon is synonymous with physical torture. It is a no brainer, a big no-no. Actually, when I say to people about my hobby, they politely say “whao, that’s fabulous!” and secretly think “OMG, this girl is fuc*** crazy”.

So, I started with no real plans, I guess I was in a feel-good mindset when I typed my debit card numbers to pay for my participation ticket. Smooth and short process that opened the door to experiment new opportunity in getting to know myself better.

I became my own boundary pusher.

I was not in need to loose weigh, or reshape my body tone. It was neither a way to cope with a specific work related stress, pragmatic lady as I am, I do OK in maintaining a sharp line between work and leisure.

 

Getting mentally & physically ready

Suprisingly, I found a large range of training program starting from 4 up to 18 weeks online. The goal I fixed myself: run, muscle up and repeat, ideally slowing down on Wednesday and Thursday ladies night drinks in Kuala Lumpur heart of night life, Changkat Raja Chulan,

Different apples type you can find in my fridge.
Different apples type you can find in my fridge.

At the beginning, I completely underestimated the value in becoming a runner while living in Malaysia, my new entertainment has aroused a set of healthy habits in my day-to-day life, I had to go back on my nutrition books and reread about proteins, glucides and…water!

When you’re not running, you’ll be thinking about running. Marathon training is totally addictive – you’ll finish a run, feel incredible, and almost immediately begin kicking yourself for not running faster or for longer.

Certainly, this hobby comes with a bunch of risks in terms of troublesome running injuries, nagging aches and pains that crop up and threaten to limit your ability to run altogether.

My physical pain level usually remains under 4. I keep the smile on! (Image Smadesimple)
My physical pain level usually remains under 4. I keep the smile on! (Image Smadesimple)

My trail marathon: 31/08/2014

The first marathon I joined was set in August 31st, 2014.

The TMBT trail marathon, the sport event gathered around 1000 participates, mostly locals men. It offered a fabulous trail discovery, a mixture of jungle hike, village crossing and deep sky-high landscape over Kota Kinabalu Mountain, the roof top of Malaysia, heading at 4, 096m altitude.

THAT finish line

TMBT | OrganicIsBeautiful
TMBT | OrganicIsBeautiful

Well, the kick you get when you cross THAT finish line is worthless.

You do not feel the pain in your legs and feets anymore, I did it! 

I feel happy, I feel proud, and mostly I feel invincible, like if I was wearing underneath my running gear WonderWomanCap with my name on it 😉

What I learnt?

The truth is that running is often a solitary endeavor. It is a me-myself and I solo trip to mastership. Because YOU set your own performance goal, YOU and only YOU can ultimately define the shapes and the colors of your journey to success. Endurance is one of the most important building block for marathon preparation and there is not short way. I am a solo runner, I usually hit the pavement with Spotify playlist in my ears, the bits keeps me going and takes away any short moment of weirdness. Spotify, as a running mate or/and inspirational voice that whisper: mooove faster!

And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.

Treadmill or outdoor track?

I am lucky enough to live in a pleasant condo with a –yet warmed off- workable treadmill. Hence, treadmill = morning, pre-work workout, a 30min express run and hop! I am ready to have a wonderful day. But, to be honest with you, to really to spice up my running routine, outdoor run is a must, like at the lake garden, a few minutes walk from KL Sentral station.

And ideally away from traffic jam and heavy nuisance.

Amanda 😉

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Marathon

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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temples

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