Tuesday, November 20, 2007

20 November 2007: Planting Roots

:: planting new roots ::

It’s official: I’m staying in Hong Kong. That is, it’s as official as anything in our always-evolving and ever-ephemeral world can be…

When I left Santa Monica 4 months ago, I wasn’t quite sure what would manifest for me. All I knew was that I felt inexplicably but undeniably called to embark upon a gypsy journey eastward. So I packed up and moved out of my home and bought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong. I’d never even been to Hong Kong before, but I felt in my gut and in my heart that big things were waiting for me here.

Guided by an intuitive whim, fueled fully by faith, and supported by Big Mind, I arrived in this new land with a wide open heart. And my goodness…the beauty that has unfolded…

About a month into my stay here, I was offered a full-time teaching position at Pure Yoga. I happily, gratefully, and excitedly accepted, and I just received my work visa last week (it’s a fairly long application process). I taught my first day of classes today, and it felt fantastic to be back in the studio. If you’re interested, you can check out my bio (though they’ve yet to put up my photograph) and my schedule (which changes every week).

As amazing as everything has been, it hasn’t been without moments of struggle, uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. The longer I’m away, the more I miss what has been my home for my entire life. I’m especially feeling the void this week of Thanksgiving and as we enter into the holiday season; it doesn’t quite feel the same (which, of course, is not a bad thing). I miss my doggie so much that I dream of her nearly every night. And I miss you, for sure for sure.

But I’m really happy to be settling here, psyched to see what I can create. How a place I had never been to – at least in this lifetime – was to be my new home, where I was to plant my roots, I can’t cerebrally explain. Simply (if grandiosely) put, I reckon this is what’s meant by destiny.

So, dear loves, that’s my official word. Thank you for staying in touch and for sending your love and support. It really means a lot to me to stay connected to you.

Fly fearlessly...

Seek sincerely…

Practice patiently…

…and let me know what manifests. I bet it’ll be wicked beautiful.

So much love- Leah.

Monday, November 12, 2007

12 November 2007

Coming back on a ferry late one evening, my friend and I sit on the open-aired upper deck in order to enjoy the cool night air and the sound of ocean waves. Just as we take off, the door to the deck section barges open, and two ladies walk out with a, “Here we are, World! Come and get it!” presence. They look at our side of the boat, and then the other side of the boat, and one of them barks, “So which side wants us?? Huh? Huh? Which side’s gonna be the winner?”


…and perhaps a bit of fear ensue.

“Alright, we’ll go over here!!” (Doh! They’re coming on our side!)
“Guess you guys are the lucky ones!” (Doh! They’re taking the seats directly in front of us!)

I give a lazy smile, hoping that I’m exuding a subdued energy that will invite them to keep it quiet and peaceful, but it’s to no avail. They are completely oblivious to the idea of shared space, and pick up a loud and raucous conversation, complete with guffaws and knee slaps, that I’m certain the people inside and downstairs could probably hear as well.

I close my eyes and try to find the peace from within, because Buddha taught not to seek peace from without anyway.

I continue minding my own business, breathing in the fresh ocean air, when the louder woman says to me, “Hey can I put my feet up?” Up? Up where? I wonder as I look down at her feet that have just come out of her slippers and then at the 3 inch corner of space on my chair, in disbelief that she is actually making this rude and rather unhygienic request. I don’t immediately respond because I’m so surprised that someone could actually think this is appropriate, and she adds, “Don’t worry, they’re clean,” and laughs like she is a beautiful princess whose feet I should be grateful to have on my seat.

Being the nonconfrontational-to-a-fault person that I am, I murmur, “Um, okay…?”, hoping that the uncomfortable look on my face will make her realize the absurdity of her request, but she happily and selfishly kicks her feet up.

I swear one of her toenails scrapes my thigh.

I look helplessly at my friend, who is glaring at her. He scoots over loudly, and says, “Come on, move this way,” and I can feel his fire igniting. I really don’t want to make a scene, so I quietly scoot over. I steal a glance at them; they don’t seem to be paying attention, and I hope we’ll make it back to Hong Kong in peace.

Putting his arm protectively around me, my friend loudly says, “That is disgusting!” I shush him, but it’s too late.

“I can HEAR you,” she says, stopping her conversation with her friend, who mirrors the “oh crap” expression I’m sure I’m wearing.

“GOOD!” he retorts.

“Do you have a problem with me?”

“Yes, it’s disgusting that you’ve put your feet up on her chair. That is considered rude in some cultures.”

“Oh really, where?” she challenges.

Thailand, for example.” (I was thinking the same thing.)

“Well, excuse me, but are you Thai?”

“That’s beside the point.”


“It really doesn’t matter if we’re Thai,” I chime in firmly, albeit somewhat unwillingly.

“Of course it matters. ARE YOU?” (Note: her feet are still defiantly up on the seat.)

“No, but I lived there for a couple years,” he says pointedly.

“Well, it’s not rude if you’re not Thai and anyway, I asked first. She should have said no if it was a problem.”

“It was a rather obliging question, though,” I say.

“You could have said no, and it would have been fine.”

“You’re right, that’s a fair point – “ I start to say…

…but my friend interjects, "No, it’s disgusting, and it’s rude of you to have asked at all. We don’t know where you feet have been." His eyes are unflinching.

“Fine. I’ll move them then. Are you happy?” She loudly and reluctantly sets her feet down, and sarcastically adds, “Enjoy your evening.”

Her friend remains silent with her head down the entire time, clearly embarrassed by feet-lady’s behavior. The fact of the matter is, it WAS a rude and obliging question. However, she is right that I should have said NO, and so I accept this as a lesson to be more forthright in the future. I mean, is avoiding confrontation at the cost of contracting a foot fungus really sensible? I know I’m a yoga teacher, but I meant I want to see you bare your SOUL, not your SOLE. Silly.

Wiggling my toes (don’t worry, they’re clean! I think…) at you- Leah.

Monday, October 29, 2007

29 October 2007: Tidbits

Tidbits: Music. Sport. Film. Book.

I heart The Black Eyed Peas. I heart The Black Eyed Peas even more in concert. I heart The Black Eyed Peas even more from THE FRONT ROW in concert. !!!!!!

They performed this past Saturday at the Venetian Macao. It’s sort of surreal because this Venetian looks nearly identical to the Venetian in Vegas…fake canals and gaudy grandeur and all. Apparently it’s the second largest building in the entire world (though the person who told me this has a penchant for compulsively white-lying for the sake of entertainment, so don’t quote me on that statistic). It was my first time in Macao, a Vegas-like Chinese territory that’s considered separate from China in the way that Hong Kong is. It’s a one-hour fast ferry ride from Hong Kong, but if you count the transportation to and from the ferry terminals, it can be a good six-hour round trip. Yikes.

The Black Eyed Peas were totally worth it, though. I’ve always liked them, but they are one of those groups that blow your mind when you see them live. Their energy was absolutely explosive. Each of the Peas has that magnetic, undefinable quality that makes you think that they are just about the coolest people on the planet. Fergie is gorgeous, funky, has an amazing, amazing voice, AND did one-handed cartwheels while singing. Every single person on the stage had mad rhythm and spirit and love…as did all of their songs. They just make you want to mooooove! When they performed “Where is the Love”, the entire arena was up on their feet; I’ve posted a couple photographs where all you see are the lights of mobile phones (isn’t it funny how we’ve evolved from holding up lighters in concerts to holding up our PDAs??). It was a really beautiful and powerful moment. I had chills.

And for all my Filipino friends…you would have loved their performance of "Bebot". “Filipino!! Filipino!! Filipino!!” flashed on the big screens throughout the song, and it seemed even the Chinese had love for Filipinos. Awesome. ;)


I also attended my first ever Cricket game. It was pretty fun. Cricket is quite a big deal on this side of the world, and this weekend was a big tournament, with teams from South Africa, Bangladesh, India, the UK, etc, and an all-star team with some of the world’s Cricket greats. The rules of the game are reminiscent of baseball, but the terminology is different, with the bat being called the wicket and the pitcher being called the bowler…

…and that’s the extent of my limited knowledge of Cricket. :P


If you haven’t seen it yet, you must must must watch “City of God”, a Brazilian film about the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It’s a jarring dose of the reality of the world outside the blessed and protected (read: sheltered) life most of us have. It’s particularly powerful because it is based on a true story and most of the actors in the film had never acted before.


Finally, I highly recommend that you read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Especially if you like The Alchemist (and if you haven’t yet read The Alchemist, read it immediately!). The Prophet is a collection of philosophical, poetic essays. In its simplicity you will find potent truths about life and existence. Some of you have been (facetiously) asking me if I’ve yet discovered the meaning of life and/or the secret to the universe…read The Prophet…I promise it will inspire you and enlighten you and bring you closer to whatever it is you are seeking.

From one seeker to another…peace love truth.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

23 October 2007

Hello hello hello!

Or should I say Sawadeeka!! as I’ve just returned from Phuket, Thailand. Just uploaded a heap of photos.

You can also cruise new Hong Kong photos.



Monday, October 1, 2007

1 October 2007: back in Hong Kong

Over the past 2 months, I have taken 10 flights, stayed in 7 different flats/hotels, used 6 varieties of currency, had 5 mobile phone numbers, and lived out of 2-3 suitcases. Yes, my luggage grew, eventually summing nearly 50 kg by the time I left Seoul (and PS the luggage limit to fly within Asia is 20 kg). So much for my friend’s overly kind guess that I’d be traveling with nothing but a few bags, a mat, and a zafu. ;) I haven’t bought (too many) unnecessary things…what’s heavy is the organic shampoo, etc my mum brought me back from the States (there’s no Whole Foods or anything with such abundant offerings out here), and the organic brown rice products from my aunt and uncle’s farm in Korea, and the 6 books I’ve been traveling with (even though admittedly, I’ve been reading the same one (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) for the past month), and yeah, my mat’s in there too, and ok fine, I did buy a couple pairs of new yoga pants and a couple light cardigans because Hong Kong is too hot for any of the sweaters I brought and a couple sundresses and…

…yeah…I have too much stuff. It’s mind-bottling (“Blades of Glory”, anyone?) to think that I’ve been carrying around luggage that weighs just about as much as I do. “Learn to travel lightly” is going on my list of things to do in life.

For the time being, though, I will be keeping both feet on the ground. I’m back in Hong Kong, and am looking forward to chillin’ out. I feel like I’ve been in the yang/ha-/heat-building/masculine portion of my practice ever since I left Cali (PS I read somewhere that REAL Californians don’t ever say “Cali”…but I’m just about as Californian as they get, and don’t you remember that “I’m going-going, back-back, to Cali-Cali” rap song from the 90s or something?), and now my butt’s finally on the mat, and I’m easing into the yin/-tha/cooling/feminine portion of my practice. *insert big exhale here.

No pressure to sightsee, no rush to try to do as much as possible, no familial obligations. Just me and Hong Kong, continuing to get better acquainted. What a delightful discovery it’s been, to connect so easily and surprisingly with this fantastic place. As I was flying in on Friday afternoon, I looked out the plane window (I always choose window seat…you?), amazed at Hong Kong’s countless islands dotting the waters below. Sometimes the islands looked like shapes and symbols, like clouds do (remember my photo of the paddling Nala in the Cambodian clouds?). I’d never seen anything like it before. It was quite stunning.

It’s the end of the 3-day holiday weekend here, and I spent the entire weekend out on the water. Really, really nice. I’m loving the beach/boat culture here.

I know I didn’t catch you up on my time in Seoul or Tokyo, but I did put up a ton of photos, most with descriptive captions, which I think will offer an enjoyable visual story. Suffice it to say that I feel very blessed to have been able to spend time with my family and to explore new parts of the world.

I probably won’t be blogging very frequently as I expect life to continue tempering from here on out, but know that I am happy, healthy, and safe. Always available via email and good vibrations…often thinking of you at home as I look up at our shared sky. Peace peace love love....Leah.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

news from me to you

Hey loves!

I just put a LOT of photos up. Again, I recommend clicking on the image of the Album, and viewing them in the Details option. The Hangzhou and Beijing Albums are completely new, and the Hong Kong Album has a few added photos.

I also put up a new downloadable class on YogiChocolate, called core :: cardio :: calm. This is a pretty advanced and challenging class, even I cursed myself (calmly, of course) as I took it, so if that’s what suits your fancy, please check it out! And some of you have asked if I receive any of the donation proceeds when you download: YES!

You can otherwise find me on my blog, on my website (there are some new photos in the Gallery, too!), on Facebook (search Leah Kim in the Hong Kong network), or on MySpace. Yes, I’m wildly connected to you all via the world wide web…so no excuses to not stay in touch!

Sending you love, love, and love…Leah.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

11 September 2007: Hangzhou

What a delight it is to travel. I love it. I love what it represents- freedom from predictability, chains, the norm. Literal and figurative flight of the soul. I write to you from the Hangzhou Airport (China). I haven’t been able to post blogs or photos, as those websites are blocked by the Chinese government. At first I thought it was a sketchy internet connection when I couldn’t access those sites; then my friend explained it to me. This is a crazy concept to us Americans, isn’t it…freedom of expression, right?

Hangzhou is a countryside city, with seemingly endless shades, layers, textures of green. The biggest (both literally and representatively) sight is the West Lake, offering stillness, freshness, and reflection (both literally and affectively) (ok, I’ll stop doing that now, I promise) that I received tirelessly. The people here are peaceful and content; the children bounce and giggle and smile contagiously. I captured some of it in some fantastic photos. My absolute favorite photograph from my visit is of the little girl eating cotton candy. She was jumping up and down, exclaiming, “Hao chi, hao chi!” which means, “Delicious, delicious!” You can almost feel her happiness bursting through the 2-D picture. Ah…simple pleasures. Never, ever underestimate the power of simple pleasures. (Tell me, what’s one of yours?)

My 3 days here consisted mostly of strolling, nighttime bike riding, and happily breathing in the freshest air since being out on the waters of Hong Kong. I was told yet again that I was lucky to have uncharacteristically perfect weather for my visit. I’m really starting to think I bring good weather with me wherever I go. Hefang Street can be likened to Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, and this is where my friend Cliff and his wife Karen (who graciously invited me to stay with them) sat for a traditional tea mini-ceremony, ate dragon’s mustache sugary gooey goodness (note: not actually made of dragon’s mustache), and just enjoyed the beautiful Autumn night. We also strolled various areas and parks around the West Lake, including Hubin Road, Beishan Road, and Hua Pu. Most notable was the delicious smell of this flower…the name of which escapes me…but it was incredible, like gardenia or jasmine or the perfect most natural perfume, and it kept popping up all over the city.

One morning I hiked the Hangzhou peaks. It’s a sweet but challenging 2-hour hike climbing 4 main peaks, and offers amazing views of the city off both sides of the mountains. You get immediately thrown into the steepest part of the hike from the bottom of the hill, but it’s encouraging as you hear the city sounds waning, the quiet calm of trees calling, and oh, all the 70+-year old people who’ve already climbed their way before you, indirectly taunting your ego. There’s a whole peak culture. People practicing their various art forms (tai chi, qi gong), teaching lessons, playing cards, reading. It is wildly peaceful and free of tourists. There were moments when I wasn’t sure which way I was going as there are no signs and multiple trails, but I somehow made it to my destination: Lingyin Temple, where sits one of the largest (if not the largest) sitting Buddha statues in China. It was pretty striking, though the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok is still my favorite.

It was a relief to be among spiritual people again. What I experienced of Beijing is pretty devoid of that. In fact, what I experienced of Beijing was pretty devoid of life/aliveness in general. There seemed to be a stagnant, dull, disheartened energy in Beijing. Julie called it soulless, blaming the government for stripping people of their soul when they discouraged creativity and individuality. Even the expressions of children seemed empty. People seemed very much stuck in their daily grind, and I felt a subtle hopelessness permeating their outlook on life. I know my experience was very limited, but this is what I felt when I was there.

Still, I enjoyed my time in Beijing, relishing in the few more days of being hip-to-hip 24 hours a day with my Julie. We did a fair amount of strolling ourselves, visiting Hoahai Lake and walking from home to various parks early in the mornings. We also did a fair amount of feet-dragging, fighting through our laziness that wanted to keep us on our butts at home, away from the crowds, watching Sex and the City DVDs and stuffing our faces with serving after serving of Peanut Bing Sha (icey creamy Chinese dessert…make you jump up and down doing one-handed cartwheels tasty), visiting the Forbidden City, Tianamen Square, and the Summer Palace. My favorite was walking amongst the the grandmoms and grandpops at Hoahai Lake. I love sliding in with and catching glimpses of the local lifestyle. Finding ordinary moments within the extraordinary experience of travel and being in a new land. Also, the elderly seemed the most peaceful in Beijing…probably because they don’t have to worry about that dreaded thing called WORK.

Though work need not be so dreaded…so long as you find the proper work for you. Identify your passion…and find a way to turn it into work. It’s what I did, and it makes life so much more fun.

I’m once again flying through the Asian skies, wondering if the clumps-of-powdered-sugar-like clouds I see out the window taste anything like powdered sugar…or maybe like that little girl’s cotton candy (ok fine, or like MY cotton candy; she inspired me to get one too…at 11 in the morning…). My next stop is the motherland: Seoul, Korea. I am psyched to see my family, especially my little brother who lives there and who I think about and miss everyday.

So, til next time, my friends. Byebye!

PS Did anyone notice that the only foods I mentioned in this post were completely unhealthy sugary ones?? It wasn't intentional…but let it be a reminder to allow yourself indulgences here and then…be them of sugar, relaxation, nothingness, yoga, breath…LIFE.

Monday, September 3, 2007

4 September 2007: Beijing

Happy Labor Day, folks (not that we observe that here in Asia)! And greetings from Beijing, China!

Every now and then, I’m awed that I am here: “I can’t believe I’m in China!” But at the same time, it’s just another part of the world with buildings and cars and people doing their life thing. Beijing is enormous, polluted, and congested, but it’s Autumn here, and the weather is beautiful. Sunny, blue-skied days and warm nights just make me happy!

I’ve been reunited with my best friend (aka Sister) Julie for one more week. Even her mom looks at us and tells us we’re like sisters. My mom tells us that too. You know when your own mothers think you’re sisters, there must be some essential sister vibe and likeness between us! This summer together has definitely been a treat, a treasure. I’m staying with her and her parents at their lovely flat; the accommodations and lifestyle are quite different from what I’d grown accustomed to over the past few weeks. Here we have a cook (and therefore home-cooked meals, YEAH!), a driver, a lift, wood floors, marbled counters, stone-walled showers, a view from the 23rd floor, and oh- SPACE!

It’s 7a, and my sleep schedule is mussed, but the beauty of being on holiday is that it doesn’t much matter. I’d been staying up late and waking up later in Hong Kong, but I ended up going full circle one night, so when I arrived here, I started sleeping early and waking early. I’m looking out our huge bedroom window, and can see that the sun is already shining full force, bringing light to the thick layer of smog coating the buildings in the distance. Yikes, and ew. Apparently the traffic and pollution are worse here than in LA, though I haven’t checked official numbers, and apparently even if I did, it wouldn’t be accurate because the numbers are manipulated.

My entire body is throbbing right now because I climbed the Great Wall yesterday, followed by a 90-minute ass-kicking, energy-sucking, sweat-mongering Bikram yoga class. Ok, so there was also a full-body massage thrown in there, but I still had an exhausting day! The Great Wall was pretty amazing. Julie and I got up at 6a because we wanted to get there before the heat and crowds settled in. We spent a couple hours on the Wall and only saw 2 other people during that entire time. Unbelievable…we had the Wall to our silly selves! As we were on our way out, the crowds started coming in, and I understood how special it was that we were able to have quiet, personal, quality-time without other people.

Not that I don’t like other people, but you know the effect that busloads of tourists have on your own tourist-experience!

Likely the most massive thing I’ve ever seen, and snaking its way through equally massive mountains and land, I kept thinking about how you could see the Wall from space. Talk about perspective on just how little we are in the scheme of the world.

Speaking of the world, it looks like I’m going to be on this side of it for awhile longer. I’m absolutely in love. I spent 5 weeks in Hong Kong and will spend the next month traveling China, Korea, and hopefully Japan, and will return to Hong Kong thereafter. I’ve realized it’s actually not just a big city of concrete and neon lights after all. My misaligned, limited, initial perspective has been thankfully corrected, mostly by the hours and hours I’ve spent on my friends’ boats: sunning on the deck, floating in the ocean, and climbing waterfalls. Comprised of 200+ islands, jungles, and harbours, coming upon the best weather of the year, and being the international travel hub of Asia, Hong Kong is now one of my favorite places in the world, and has unexpectedly begun to feel like home.

I am relishing in my somewhat-spontaneous, fully-intuitive decision to journey out here. It’s becoming another example that you simply cannot go wrong when you follow your heart. My dad inspired me to live that way when I was deciding what to do careerwise, searching for the balance between contributing to the world and contributing to my bank account. He said for me to follow my heart, and everything else, including money, would fall into place. I live by my heart, and I can tell you that it’s incredible what manifests.

So that’s your yogi homework for today: Follow your heart, in whatever capacity makes sense for you right now.

Xie xie (Thanks) for reading, and even better, for sending me emails with stories and pictures from home. I heart Asia, but I do miss you. xx

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

22 August 2007: PS

PS My last night in Cambodia, I got bitten by a skeeter bug on the eyelid- AGAIN!!! This time it was my bottom right eyelid, though, whereas last time it was my upper left eyelid. Guess in a weird way it was balance manifested! Haha. xx

21 August 2007: Cambodia

Hello, friends!

Photos, photos, photos! =) Click here for my Asia Collection on Flickr. You’ll see 2 Sets, one of Hong Kong (with updated photos from the last post), and one of Cambodia. I suggest viewing them via the Details option. Most photos have Titles and Descriptions, and those will be easily visible if you’re viewing in the Details option.

My visit to Cambodia was amazing, for several reasons. Julie and I had a great sisterly, quality-time weekend away, with a perfect combination of temple touring and spa relaxation. The temples were, of course, beautiful…I’d never seen anything like them before. Centuries-old, HUGE, full of history, spirit, love. But ok, after hours and hours of walking through the wicked heat, some of them started looking the same. :P

The people of Cambodia have a quiet and intensely kind spirit. I was particularly mesmerized by the children…who all seem so awake and alive. Most people live in poverty, but I think they relish in the simplicity of their life. One of our most striking experiences was when we left a $3 tip on a $16 bill. Our server took the cash and bill to a couple other staff members, and they were whispering something. She came back, and said, “Excuse me, your bill is just $16.” We responded, “Yes, that’s your tip!” Her face lit up with shock, happiness, and gratitude.

The weather was very good to us, aside from the 15 minutes of rain on Sunday evening. It came out of nowhere, and disappeared into nowhere. Seems to be the weather trend here in Asia. Enjoy your perfect weather in California!!

I returned to Hong Kong yesterday, and as I stepped off the Airport Express train into Central Station, I felt like I was home. It was an unexpected feeling, but quite nice. I’m in my 4th week here, and life has tempered off. I’ve met some delightful people who’ve taken me to The Peak, walking through Pok Fu Lam Park (comprised of jungle and streams…does not at all feel like Hong Kong) around to the other side of the island, delicious hole in the wall restaurants, the very bizarre Goldfish Street (which is exactly what is sounds like…a street with stores selling goldfish…loads and loads of goldfish), and more walking through various areas of Hong Kong.

Good (and financially feasible) yoga has been hard to find, although I quite like the vibe at mYoga, a studio in Mongkok, Kowloon (across the way from Hong Kong Island). I miss practicing at my home, Power Yoga, but thankfully I have a lot of classes on mp3. If you have plans to go on holiday any time soon, I highly advise you download a class or 2 to take with you.

Much love to you.

Friday, August 10, 2007

10 August 2007

Ok, so, ever since I got here a couple weeks ago, I’ve been thinking that Hong Kong is a supremely crowded place. Well…I had no idea just how crowded until today. They re-hoisted a Typhoon Warning No. 8 early this afternoon. Nearly everything (retail stores, markets, offices, even gyms) immediately closed their doors and nearly everybody was on their way home. Even taxis turned off their For Hire lights and retreated home. I swear the entirety of Hong Kong was on the move. I have never, ever, ever seen SO many people scurrying out on the streets and crammed into the MTR (subway), on escalators, and on lifts (that’s ‘elevator’ for you Americans). It was absolute madness. Some MTR ticket machines and turnstiles went out of service due to too many people trying to use them! People were being fairly courteous and respectful to each other, though. I was impressed by the continuous purposeful movement of the crowds…and then there’s that person who cuts diagonally through the crowds, breaking the flow, or that person who sees his long lost second cousin twice removed, and suddenly stops, causing everyone behind him to crash like dominoes.

When I got here, I was told that Hong Kong, and particularly Central, is uber small, and everyone runs into everyone else everywhere. No kidding! Even I’ve started running into people I know on the street, at the movies, in restaurants. Maybe I will run into a long lost relative here. “It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all…”

For real though, it is indeed a small, small world that we live in, that we share together… and we must all be more conscious of how our seemingly insignificant individual actions affect (both positively and negatively) everyone and everything.

I’ve heard that heat waves in Europe and floods in Vietnam are causing deaths. Such heartbreaking news. Let’s all send our love and healing energies to our sisters and brothers who need it. Additionally, we must realize that these extreme and dangerous climate conditions are our planet’s response to our treatment (read: abuse) of it. I’m not educated enough on the topic to go into it in detail, but global warming is real, yo, and if you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to watch An Inconvenient Truth.

That said, your eco-conscious homework for today is: walk or bike when driving is unnecessary. Just try it once this weekend, huh?

Blowing you kisses, and hoping that the typhoon winds give them an extra oompf over to you.

PS I put up some photos! I’ll note an update here in my blog anytime I add new ones. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

9 August 2007

I am going to Siem Reap, Cambodia next weekend...yeah! We will be staying at the Hotel de la Paix, the hippest, most stylish, luxury hotel in Siem Reap (I mean come on, would you expect any less?). I am beyond psyched to visit Angkor Wat, a temple originally dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, and later turned into a Buddhist Temple. I think it’s one of the world’s wonders.

Yesterday I had maybe my most delicious meal here thus far. My lovely friend Isabella invited me to dinner and a night out on the town with her and her crew, including some of Hong Kong's finest socialites (and yes, I felt absolutely out of place in that scene, although Issi and her friends were extremely warm and welcoming). The evening began with champagne at her home (where I was reacquainted with her daughter, the rambunctious but sweet Naja whom I first met in Thailand), then dinner at the exclusive members-only China Club (where I had this amazing garlic/chili pepper lightly fried tofu dish that I’d never had before, and maybe the yummiest char siu ever), and onto a couple parties (where there was more champagne, and very good DJs). Like LA, Wednesday seems to be a big night to go out in Hong Kong. I was in bed before 1a, though, which is when I’m sure the party was just beginning for most, as everything is open until 5a or so here. The typhoon warnings did not at all seem to discourage people from venturing out. Hong Kong peeps are unstoppable; they definitely adopt the work hard/play hard mentality. Californians are uber relaxed and casual in comparison. We enjoy big blocks of time doing nothing; we sit in the sand, sun, and sea on a random Tuesday; we walk and talk in a leisurely fashion; we wear flip flops; we chill. I mean, have you ever had to walk alongside someone from a big city? Even when they’re in fancy shoes (especially the girls here...it’s crazy the kinds of uncomfortable-looking and oftentimes dangerous-seeming heels they strut around in), and I’m in slippers or sneaks (ok, ok, or Uggs), I have to skip in order to keep up! Not that I mind skipping.

I just tried my hand – literally – at smashing a mosquito. No more alien eye for me if I can help it! (PS That whole ordeal was a huge and somewhat disappointing realization of my vanity.) I failed several times, and now my hands just hurt. Julie, on the other hand (pun somewhat intended), is a ruthless, deft mosquito smasher, and watching her chase and smash the buggers with her house slippers is hysterical. You would never guess that she is a Stanford MBA student, depended upon to close deals involving millions of dollars, and fielding job offers left and right from the most respectable finance firms. Rather, on her skeeter quests, she is much more like Nala or Samo wildly eyeing, pawing, and catching flies (oh how I miss that doggie and crazy cat) (you too, Bags). It requires quite a bit of patience, concentration and an acute sense of space; it’s almost like a meditation in the wild.

In that spirit, here is your yogi homework of the day: Let “meditate” mean whatever makes the most sense to and has the most meaning for you, and do some. This could mean sitting on a zafu in padmasana, hands in some ancient, fancy mudra, or watering your plants, or watching the ocean, or cleaning your bathroom, or simply focusing on your breath. It could be 1 minute or 1 hour…time is an illusion anyway. Just something that helps you connect…to yourself, to Big Mind, to the world, to your truth, to God, to the present moment. Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

8 August 2007

“Typhoon 1 Warning Hoisted” the note on my front gate reads. I wondered…does “hoisted” mean it had been intact, and has now been hoisted (“lifted”), or does it mean the warning is now being given (“raised”). Judging by the high winds, thunder, lightning, streams of rain pouring down as if being emptied out of buckets from the sky, I’m gonna go with the latter. But what a funny phrase, huh? The warning has been hoisted. It’s not every day that you hear of things being hoisted.

I’m sitting at my favorite spot in SoHo: Life Café…you yogis and veggies would absolutely adore it. I spent the afternoon sitting on the roof, which is quite pleasant and would be perfect if it weren’t for the ridiculous heat and humidity. I’m now cozied up inside, watching the rain through giant French windows; they are open, letting in what's now a cool tropical breeze. Organic wines and secondhand books line the shelves to my right, artwork of circles and lines (at which I have been periodically staring and squinting, trying to decipher any secret message (maybe a code to the meaning of life?) the artist may be trying to convey) hang to my right, Bob Marley is on the radio. I had an apple/celery smoothie because it’s meant to flush out your stomach. It was a pukey green color and unfavorably frothy on the top, but hey, it’s good for me, right? I’m befuddled by why I am allergic to fresh apples, but have no problem with freshly squeezed apples.

Yesterday I hopped a ferry over to Lamma Island. So beautiful. A very quaint, bohemian fishing village. If I lived in Hong Kong, I think I would live on Lamma. I found my way to Bookworm Café (very Venice-esque) and had a most delicious vegetarian brunch. Have you ever had a bean pattie? I hadn't, but it sure was tasty! I had no map, but started walking around and through the towns anyway. I hit several dead ends but it was quite enjoyable: no tall buildings, not one car, a lot of stillness, quiet, and green green green. Green rolling hills, green jungle pockets, green plants-lined pathways, and I’m sure green bugs (inch worms greedily eating tomato plants, perhaps?), camouflaged among all of that. I wish I had a camera because the weather was exquisite, the air so clear, everything shining…but of course I did not. I plan on going back several times and I promise I’ll take a camera with me at least once. Hopefully the weather will be clear again soon…I just heard that the typhoon warning has been hoisted to a level 8 (apparently level 10 is the highest; it all depends on where the typhoon’s eye passes through). I’ll do my best not to get hoisted away by it.

Love//prem. Peace//shanti. xox/ommmm. And all that good stuff, to you, from me.

PS Your eco-conscious homework for today is: when you make a purchase, decline items being bagged if it's unnecessary.

Monday, August 6, 2007

6 Aug 2007: Musings from Asia; Volume 2

Hong Kong Edition begins here:

We’re just having our first rain in Hong Kong since I arrived, and it is much appreciated. Heretofore hot, thick, and sticky…the rain is mercifully cleansing, cooling, renewing, and enlivening..and the thunder spookily exciting, reminiscent of childhood. As I write to you, I lie on my belly in my nook in the apartment, underneath the windowsill. The sun is peeking out for the first time today, shining right through the window, pouring its warmth on my legs. I look up and see the marshmallow-thick clouds purposefully floating onward (I wonder, are they perchance going to you back home?). In this way, I cling to the frugal and fleeting opportunities to physically connect with Mother Earth here in this concrete hub bub that is my now-home.

Nee How!

Hong Kong is crazy! It’s been a whopping change of scenery for this quiet(ish) yogi from California. I’ve been here for just over a week now, and feel pretty bombarded...yesterday was the first day I found some peace as some friends and I sailed away from Hong Kong Island, an hour and a half away to another island, covered in beautiful, alive greenery, rather than dotted with massive hunks of concrete and neon lights. It was, quite literally, a breath of fresh air. I sprawled out on the boat deck, reading a book on the teachings of the Dalai Lama, soaking in the sun's rays, listening and bobbing to the splash of the waves…riding the flow…

The flow I usually ride here is among busybee Hongkees along the Central Escalator that goes from Central’s financial district up to the residential Mid-Levels. Apparently it’s the world’s longest covered outdoor people-mover, though I had no idea that such a category of designation even existed (and doubt that any other people-mover poses a threat to its record achievement). I’m living with Julie, my best friend from childhood, in SoHo, which is a division of Central, which is Hong Kong’s business center. Apartments here are teeny tiny – though rents are astronomical – including ours: the front door opens right into the shower and the bedroom door can’t open fully because it hits the double-sized bed that we share. Buildings are so close together that I can easily see into my neighbors’ across the way and make clear eye contact with them. We have air/con and maid service, though, so it’s not so bad. It’s cozy, really: us trying to get comfortable on the couch together involves one of us sprawling out upside down, the other lying sideways, with both of us leaning our legs up against the wall. Yoga definitely comes in handy when you’re living in tight quarters…bending here and stretching there to make the best use of limited physical space, but also being able to mentally create some spaciousness.

I’ve been practicing at home with YogiChocolate downloads (though there isn’t quite enough space to fully unroll my mat, and Julie has to walk over, under, and around me as I practice smack in the middle of the apartment) and at Pure Yoga (which is kind of the Yoga Works of Asia). Yoga still has quite a ways to grow here…studio walls are completely mirrored for all classes, not just Bikram, which encourages people to keep looking at themselves, obsessing, being distracted, judging…but there seem to be quite a few quality teachers, so I am confident things will continue flowing in the right direction. Classes are exorbitantly priced, sometimes $30 (US) for one class (PS It has been painfully confusing trying to make the $ conversion. It's $7.8 HK to $1 US.), and there is no such thing as a donation-based studio. Apparently one was attempted at some point, but it immediately went belly-up; it couldn't even break even on the rent. It seems the simple, no-nonsense yoga studio doesn’t appeal to the people here. It’s a reminder how blessed we in Santa Monica/LA are not only to have Bryan Kest’s amazing donation-based studio, but also just in general, the countless opportunities to practice, to teach, to learn, to explore, (to be) yoga.

Hong Kong is at the start of a conscious evolution, though, and whether or not people are enticed because it’s become trendy to be a yogi or to be eco-friendly, it’s happening, and that’s a beautiful thing. Just around the corner from my building are two organic cafes, serving fresh fruit smoothies, fancy salads, and quite possibly my favorite menu item: organic coffees.

Friends, both new and old (I've reconnected with a few very dear friends from the olden days), have been incredibly hospitable, but I don’t think people smile at each other enough. You know that random smile from a stranger that could just make your day? Doesn’t much happen. I hope to positively effect a change in that regard during my stay. And service, for the most part, is not so good. Wait staff at restaurants seem annoyed when you ask them for something, and the legendary rudeness of Hong Kong taxi drivers is for real. I’ve been booted from taxis because the driver did not want to make what they considered too short of a trip. Oh, and mosquitoes suck here as much as they sucked in Thailand. I got bitten on the EYELID a few days ago, and it was completely swollen and nearly shut. It looked like an alien eye. I’m also recovering from an intense bout of the stomach flu, the worst of which is over. Everything’s at least slightly different from home, so I think my physical body is just trying to acclimate to being out here.

My energetic body is definitely trying to acclimate to being out here too. Hong Kong’s energy is intense and palpable: the city is always awake, the people are extremely hard-working and driven, the pedestrian crosswalk beeps are loud and incessant, the lights are always blazing or blinking or twinkling. Thank Buddha for my yoga practice, the proximity of the water, reflexology foot massages (which are actually fairly painful during and only relieving after, kind of like a tough yoga posture), and the constant, consistent flow of breath (I think my lungs may even find comfort and familiarity in the smogginess, which is quite like that of our good ole' LA air).

Ciao, my loves, til next time. And yes, I will try to post shorter posts form here on out. Peace.

PS I will try to post pictures, but I am not too good about taking my camera with me everywhere. In the meantime, here are some photos from my (and my friend Jackie's) Bon Voyage party in Venice. Cheers!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

:: goodbye (for now) note ::

Hey There, Yogibears!

I have some news: I will be leaving Santa Monica for a little while. I am headed back to Asia to further explore my roots, my spirit, and my life purpose. I will be gone indefinitely, and as such, I have had to let go of most of my classes. Please note the Schedule page for further details such as the last date I will be teaching each class and who is taking over for me.

This decision has been bittersweet, as I love Santa Monica, my classes, and even more so all of you, my lovely yogis. But let’s focus on the potential sweetness this opportunity, like all opportunities, offers for all of us. For me - I have spent most of my life grounded here in California, and although I absolutely love it here, my wings want to soar. I have been blessed to already have done a fair amount of traveling, but spending a few days here and there as a tourist is quite different from really saturating in a new land (not unlike holding a yoga pose!). So I am wholeheartedly, gratefully, and excitedly embracing this opportunity to fly.

And for you - I encourage you to seek new teachers and new interpretations. Continue letting your yogic horizons expand (not unlike your breath expanding!). If you want any guidance along the way, please do not hesitate to email me. If you find that you’d really like to take a class from me, please check out YogiChocolate and download one (in MP3 format), on donation-basis. I am also working on another venture through which I hope to bring you video classes from wherever I find myself over the coming weeks and months.

Remember that all is temporary and always flowing…including my absence. I plan on returning, hopefully with a deeper and more abundant personal understanding of life, yoga, and myself that I can share with you.

I will definitely keep in touch via email and Words, so please come back and visit my page for updates.

Pause… Smile… Breathe.

Big love to you all,


Saturday, March 24, 2007

note to students 20 February


I will be out of the country for one month, leaving Wednesday, February 21 and returning Wednesday, March 21.

I am responding to my intuition's call to fly into a new life experience…a journey of love, breath, and meditation…an exploration of myself, the world, and my practice…expanding into new lands, new air, and new waters.

I will be traveling mostly through Southeast Asia , but shall openly go where the flow, the oceans, and the sands sweep me.

All of my classes will still be held as usual, with subs that I have carefully selected to take care of you in my absence. You'll find sub names on my Schedule. (Please note that Cameron Shayne will still be teaching his classes.)

Please continue on with your practice…whether you attend class with my subs, try out a new class, or play on your mat at home. A jolt in your routine can bring freshness, spaciousness, and clarity.

If you find yourself really wishing you could take one of my classes, you can download one for free at www.YogiChocolate.com, by signing up on the Mailing List. If you have a moment, please read what YogiChocolate is all about!

Please feel free to email me with questions, thoughts, feedback on my subs, or simple hellos. I would love to hear from you.

Be well, be yoga, be you- Leah.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Back in Santa Monica: 22 March

Okay, so maybe I’m not immune to jet lag. The weird thing is, I’m going to bed at 4a and waking up at 1p, which translates to 6p-3a in Thailand, and 8p-5a in Japan, nowhere close to my actual sleep hours. Guess there’s no rationalizing jet lag!

I love that I departed Tokyo at 4p and arrived in LA at 10a, earlier that same day. I went back in time!

Although…time is just an illusion.

It’s lovely to be home. I was a bit worried about forgetting how to drive, having been away for a month, in lands where they drove on the opposite side of the road and in the opposite side of the car, and especially because my car is manual drive, but it’s like riding a bike. Or, I guess, like driving a car. I was driving west this afternoon, and the ocean peeked out at me as I came upon a hill. This never fails to warm my heart, comfort my belly, and make me smile. I am most at home near, on, in the ocean. Mmm.

I told yall that I was a mermaid in a past life.

In the past, when I’ve returned from a trip, I’ve experienced sadness and reluctance about leaving the new land/is-land I was visiting. I’ve experienced confusion and dismay upon my return home- finding that everything is still the same, nothing has changed, almost as if I’d never left.

Last November, I traveled to Turks & Caicos and for the first time, I wasn’t sad to leave. It wasn’t because I didn’t completely enjoy my 2 weeks in my Caribbean fantasy world; it was because I find peace and happiness and validity and presence and beauty in every moment. We’re simply floating from and experiencing and existing in one moment to the next…whether at home, on vacation, at work, alone, among loved ones, happy, or sad.

It’s all just in through the nose, out through the nose.

With my return from Asia, for the first time, it doesn’t feel as though I never left. Things are comfortably the same, but freeingly different.

The rest of my time in Tokyo continued to be freezing, but also beautiful, funny, fun, inspiring, perfect. My new Budokon sisters and brothers are all so amazing, and to have met and shared time with them is more than I could have asked for during my short time in Japan. A big congrats and welcome to our 8 new Senseis!

It was fun being with Cameron day in and day out for a few days. He is so in love with Japan- the people, the language, the culture, the country. And why not- there’s so much kindness, thoughtfulness, respect, propriety, beauty, perfection, tradition. Everything is done mindfully. We walked across a sewer gutter cover, and he said if he could, he would take that home and hang it on his wall as décor. It was that beautiful.

I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the women are quite beautiful and that people ask for his autograph left and right, too. ;)

We stayed in Daikanyama, an uber hip and trendy (read: expensive) area, in a traditional style room with tatami mats for beds and communal old school Asian bathhouse-style showers. I people-watched and wrote in cafés (even one called Mermaid Café), clouded in cigarette smoke drinking tea that cost 700 yen (= $7) per cup. I visited the areas of Ebisu, Shibuya, and Meguro. I almost got lost on the Subway because I was directed to take the Green line, when there were 3 different shades of Green lines. Good thing for my internal compass. I think a little Japanese boy developed a crush on me; he would alternately stare at me and run behind me to slap my butt. I was pleased to learn that the proper way to eat Soba noodles is to Sllllurrrrpppp!! them loudly. For my last meal in Tokyo, I inadvertently ended up in a Thai restaurant, which I found beautifully fitting.

On my flight back, I sat next to a couple who have been married for 43 years. Happily married. Blessed with 3 children and 6 grandchildren. I spent hours talking with them about life, love, family, and travel. It was beautifully inspirational.

As I waited in the Customs Line at LAX, I locked eyes with an adorable little Japanese girl. She smiled and gently bowed to me. I bowed back. It was heartwarming.

And as I write to you now, my sweet, sweet dog is softly snoring and sleep-stirring next to me.

Every moment is beautiful, my loves. I look forward to in-person wais, namastes, hugs, and kisses. I’ve posted pictures online. If you don’t receive an email linking you to them, please email me and I’ll send it to you.

Sawadeeka, Sionara, Aloha, goodbye for now. Be well, and I’ll see you on the mat.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Day 23: 17 March


I now write to you from Tokyo. I don’t think I could have picked a more opposite place to be from Thailand, at least within Asia. It SNOWED tonight. Wait- did you catch that? IT SNOWED. I went from tropical hotness to freezing ass (yes, this yogi uses fresh language) coldness. I go out in Uggs, leg warmers, jeans, 3 layers of shirts, a full length wool coat, mittens, and a cashmere scarf that is about 20 feet long (yes, 20 feet long!!…I know some of you have seen it!) and I’m STILL cold. My lips are cold-chapped and my toes are freezing. It’s so cold that it’s almost funny.


Did I already mention that it snowed?

Another hugely different thing is how clean it is here. It’s unreal. I saw a wall with graffiti on it, and somehow even that looked clean. There is absolutely no litter anywhere, no fallen branches or leaves, no rubbish at all whatsoever. It almost looks like a fantasy city.

And a final difference is how damn expensive everything is. Average water bottle: 10 baht (= 27 cents) to 100 yen (= 95 cents). Average tax ride: 50 baht (= $1.40) to 900 yen (= $8). But the craziest thing is we saw a $35 watermelon yesterday. Wait- did you catch that? $35 for a watermelon!!!!!!!!! A new friend I’ve made here says she almost never has watermelon.

A similarity is (I’m not sure when this turned into a compare/contrast essay) the food: Stupid good. Happy food dance good. “Make you wanna slap yo’ mama good.” Japanese cuisine is my friend – it’s so delicious, simple yet decadent, clean, healthy – oops! I meant to write that Japanese cuisine is my favorite, but I left my mistake there because it made me laugh and because it’s also true that it is my friend, why not? HA! Anyway, I LOVE Japanese food, particularly sushi. I have had a lot of good sushi in my lifetime, and I can confidently say that the best sushi is undoubtedly here in Japan. Check it out: tuna tartare drizzled with sauce, mixed with the most perfectly mushy avocado, and topped with a raw egg.

Like I said- stupid good.

I’m here with Kancho Cameron Shayne for a Budokon Teacher Training. We had our first day today, and the Japanese Senseis are looking really great. It’s a trip to hear them teach our art form in Japanese. It’s beautiful to be here and be a part of it, because Kancho and consequently Budokon are so influenced by the Japanese arts, culture, and people. They really are a beautiful people- sweet, genuine, respectful, attentive, and peaceful. All those that I have met today are perfect examples of a Budokon Sensei- talented, strong, focused, driven, non-competitive, humble, watchful, patient, unafraid, playful, aware.

Could I use any more adjectives?

I miss Thailand, though. And 2 of my favorite men in the world whose hips I was attached to for 5 days. Who have matching visors from Ice Bar in Thong Lor and matching names (Paco) from Spanish class in school.

I love to travel and I’ve been fortunate enough to have done a fair amount of travel in my day. I was born in Chicago but grew up in California. I studied in Hawaii. I interned in Korea. I’ve been on family vacations to various countries in Europe, various islands in the Caribbean, Mexico and even Morocco. I’ve visited loved ones throughout the States. Through all this travel, I’ve learned to read my vibration with a particular place. I know immediately upon stepping onto a new land whether or not I vibe with that place. While I’m always eager to be somewhere new, unknown, and different, I feel a very clear distinction between a place I feel connected to and a place I know I could always only be a visitor to. I have always felt connected to and at home on any given island, and I felt similarly connected to Southeast Asia overall.

I was becoming rather familiar with Thai words and areas. I even said my first full sentence in Thai at dinner: “Can I please have some green tea?” I asked. And when I was leaving home to go somewhere, I clarified with Jay, “Now do I want to catch a cab on the Sukhumvit side or the Thong Lor side, or do you think I’ll find one out here on the Soi?” His answer to that was, “Look at you, all Thai! But I thought we decided you were going to take the Train?”

Oh yeah, oops! So maybe I’m a little ADD…

My last few days in Thailand were spent trying to get as many checks as possible on my To Do During My Last Few Days In Thailand List. I did pretty good. Here’s a glimpse:
-eat street food
-take brother to a movie in theatre so he can pledge allegiance to the King
-Phra Athit Road
-yoga @ Prana Yoga
-yoga with Adrien @ Yoga Elements
-experience the worst traffic in the world (no, this wasn’t actually on my list, but it happened anyway, and yes Bangkok traffic is worse than LA and maybe even Seoul)
-get a massage (the proper kind)
-go to Brown Sugar, a jazz club
-retrieve Akie’s mug – quite possibly the most loved plain white mug in the entire world – from the Westin

Some notes:
-Bangkok street food is sooooooo good. Marinated and charbroiled style meat (think Korean BBQ) on sticks paired with divinely delicious sticky rice given to you very matter-of-factly in a plastic baggie. You can get a full meal for 35 baht (= ~$1), and I totally didn’t get a belly ache.

-Shopping in Bangkok is intimidating and a bit out of control. Shopping areas are overrun with both locals and tourists and there are so many beautiful things that I just wanted one of everything. I discovered and treated myself to some beautiful Buddha pieces and some Thai elephant décor. I’m a pretty non-committal shopper, mostly because I make an effort not to be attached to material things so I rarely see anything that “I’ve just got to have!” but I’m even more non-committal in bargaining situations. Bargaining is a rather confrontational thing. I’m worried about seeing the same thing at the next shop over for half the price because I don’t want to be the foreigner that was gullible and overcharged but at the same time, how much does saving a few cents really matter, is it more about saving those cents or is it about being the winner of the bargain?

-When you watch a movie in a theatre, before the movie begins, you stand and pay respects as they play a 1-minute montage of the King. I love it! Also, at 9a and 6p everyday, the national anthem plays out of public speakers, and everyone freezes mid-whatever-they-were-doing/wherever-they-were-going for the duration of the song. I love that, too!

-I visited Phra Athit Road at the urging of my sweet friend Emily, who told me it’s her favorite road in Bangkok so I just had to go visit it in her honor. It’s near the uber touristy, backpacker area called Khao San. Phra Athit is much less tourist-ridden (nothing against tourists, I’ve essentially been one for the past month), but spending time there, I realized just how authentic of a Thailand experience I’d been having just slipping into Jay’s life there…living in an apartment in just another neighborhood of Bangkok, going to the local supermarket, going to restaurants where half the time we got things we didn’t order (but they were always just as delicious if not moreso) because the restaurants generally just cater to locals and therefore the servers don’t speak much English. But Phra Athit is charming and its eateries, from the super fresh fruit carts to the hole in the wall restaurant Roti Mataba to the American-style café Coffee and More, are true to Thailand in their deliciousness.

-Yoga classes in Asia was pretty good, but aside from Lek (which I was delighted to learn means “little” as she is quite a little Thai woman) at Prana Yoga (www.pranabangkokyoga.com), I was left uninspired. Yoga is quite new in Asia, so I think people are still working through the truth that it’s not about the pose. Classes rarely went beyond the externalities of the asanas and rarely talked about the breath (which is the key to the practice!). Those of you with a cherished yoga studio and/or teacher wherever you live- be very grateful you’ve been given this blessing.

-Massages in Thailand are as good as they say. Who knew a little Thai woman about half my size could be so strong?

-The jazz band was Thai, and dude- Thai people can rock it out. Who knew a little Thai woman could so soulfully belt her heart out? We befriended 2 French fellows, Frederic et Mattheu, that night. I used the petit peut de francais que je sais and I impressed both of them, Jay, and Mike. The jazz club closed at 1a but being Frederic et Mattheu’s last night in Bangkok, they were reluctant to end it there. So we suggested Ice Bar where yes, the bars are made of ice. We all squished into a cab, and about 7 minutes into the cab ride, Frederic says, “So where are we going?” HA! :D How cool that these guys just hopped in a cab with 3 people they just met, having no idea where they were headed in a foreign country. French peeps are cool, yo!

Sorry about the long blog, but let me leave you with a few last thoughts:

I’m convinced some of the mosquitoes in Thailand have invisibility powers because sometimes I could feel them, but when I looked, there was no bugger there!

Thailand has phenomenal bread: blueberry, carrot, milk chocolate, whole wheat crossiants, whole wheat English muffins used as buns for our homemade hamburgers, Asian buns with red bean paste, and huge slices of raisin bread sized perfectly for egg in a hoooooooole! (The best waffle is still at the Omelet Parlor on Main Street in Santa Monica.)

I had yellow watermelon for the first time in Thailand! It pretty much tastes like red watermelon, but it was fun to see and eat it in a different color, and no, it cost nowhere near $35.

Budokon family: get ready for Fighting Crocodile in Reverse and the Inch Worm.

Arigato gozai mas for reading. Sending you snowflakes from Tokyo!

PS I’ll be home next week; my first class back will be Thursday the 22nd @ 7p @ Bodies. My schedule shall resume as usual starting with that class.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Day 18: 12 March

Happy Birthday to one of my dearest friends, Jacks! Here’s wishing you a most fruitful, expansive, and happy 27th year!

Today my brother Mike, Jay, and I visited the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. It is my highlight of Bangkok. I remember Erich Schiffmann, one of my greatest teachers, talking about him during my Teacher Training. It was so fitting, too, because Erich embodies and exudes the spirit of this Buddha.

After piddling around the Grand Palace and visiting the Emerald Buddha, who was very appropriately in his hot weather outfit (yes! He has different outfits for the 3 different seasons here: cold, rainy, and hot), we made our way to Wat (which means Temple) Pho. There are many, many temples and other sacred places here in Bangkok, and each carries a specific message. At Wat Pho, the message is to have a secure and peaceful life, and I could really feel that energy once we stepped onto the temple grounds.

I was excited to see the Reclining Buddha, and as I caught glimpses of him from the outside, I started bubbling up inside, like a child on Christmas morning. When I got inside, my heart filled, my eyes spilled…I was in awe. I was completely and surprisingly overwhelmed. I was so moved by the spirit of the Buddha – peaceful, relaxed, protective; by the love of the people who created the statue and the temple that houses him – breathtakingly intricate, beautiful, and you can just feel that it was created with pure love; by Erich’s presence; by an energy of love, compassion, pureness, goodness that words cannot properly communicate. Crying and sparkling from joy, wonder, love, and gratitude, I looked over at Jay and whispered, “I love him!” It was one of the most magnificent things I have ever been in the presence of.

Let us all aspire to find and live in the spirit of the Reclining Buddha…I think I shall start by reclining in bed. Bon nuit!