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Meeting Ketut Liyer of Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, LoveOne of my favorite books is Eat, Pray, Love written by Elizabeth Gilbert. Although I’m usually disappointed with movie renditions of books, the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts was quite good, I even watched it twice. I didn’t know much about Bali aside from its beautiful beaches which did not entice me so much because we have beautiful beaches in the Philippines too, add Phuket and Krabi in Thailand where I’m currently based. But the glimpse of Bali I saw from the movie and the fact that Ketut Liyer is for real made me dream of stepping into that majestic island.

In March, my dream came true. I went to Bali for an official trip and extended my stay for 3 more days to visit Ubud. My Indonesian friend helped me find a car to rent. I was very lucky that the driver Danny speaks good English. He was kind enough to drop me to several tourist spots on the way to Ubud which I will write about in my next posts. I only paid about USD20 for the one way trip and a funny driver/tourist guide. I told Danny I want to see Ketut Liyer so he has to help me find his house. It was easy though because everyone in Ubud seems to know Ketut.

When we reached Ketut’s place, I was overwhelmed with thrill. I love books and seeing a character of one of my favorite books is like seeing a fairy from those childhood storybooks. I recognized the gate of his house right away and I was like oh my God this is it, the place where they shoot the movie!

Ketut Liyer house Bali

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Finally he was in front of me. I couldn’t contain the excitement. When it was my turn, I sat across him. He held my hand and read my palm. I did not come there for the palm reading, I was not interested in any way. I just want see him but well the experience would not be enough without the palm reading ‘ritual’ so there I was smiling while he read my palm.

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As I waited for Danny to get the car outside Ketut’s house, I saw two cute twins playing with their mom. I asked if I could take a photo of the kids and that was the start of my conversation with Pushpita, Ketut’s granddaughter. Pushpita was so warm and friendly my heart could just melt with her tenderness. She told me interesting stories when they shoot the movie at their house and seeing Julia Roberts in person. Then I remembered I don’t have a place to stay yet so I asked her to recommend me a hotel. Fortunately, they have a room available at their new bed and breakfast for USD20 per night so I stayed. Oh the thrill of staying at Ketut Liyer’s place! And my room was very pretty. I also liked the Balinese massage Pushpita had arranged in my room, how soothing made me sleep like a baby after.

where to stay in Ubud Bali

Ketut Liyer house Ubud

The compound of Ketut’s place has Pushpita’s house, Ketut’s house, a house which displays his paintings, a temple and near the temple is a gate leading to the B&B, out of sight from the area flocked by tourists. It was such a peaceful place with plants, birds, and a massage area where I used to hang out in the evening for stargazing.

Beautiful evening in Ubud Bali

In the evening, Pushpita invited me for dinner. She was so accommodating that even if I’m just a guest at their B&B, she asked me to have dinner with her like a friend. While eating, Pushpita had to rush inside the house to check on the twins so I was left by myself. Suddenly Ketut came and seemed like he was looking for something. He could not tell me in English and I could not make what his gestures were saying until I saw that he was wearing only one slippers. I helped him look for it and we found it below the dining table. The thought of looking for a slipper with Ketut kinda amuses me.


In the evening, the family gathered near the temple to just talk and savor the calmness of the evening so I joined them. Then Ketut led me to his house and showed me his treasured possessions from his old wooden box. Some were Elizabeth Gilbert’s letters and a copy of Eat, Pray, Love with her message. I’m not sure if Ketut can still properly see at the age of almost a hundred years old. He pointed to me where his name appeared in several pages in the book like a child, it really made me smile.

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Staying at the garden in his house while listening to the chirping birds and flowing water from the small grotto as the wind kissed my cheeks was very comforting. I had been very busy that a break like that reinvigorated my soul. My visit to Ubud was one of my most memorable experiences not only because I met Ketut Liyer but because Ubud is one of the most magnificent places on earth!

P.S. Anyone interested in going to Ubud, drop me a word and I can connect you to Danny and Pushpita 🙂

Change your life: five principles of Reiki

Photo from bubblews.com

Photo from bubblews.com

A colleague told me they were going for a Reiki healing. The unfamiliar, foreign sound of the name got me curious. I then learned that Reiki originated in Japan. It came from two Japanese words “rei” and “ki” which means universal life energy. A reiki healer or master whose energy is attuned to the universal life energy could heal mental, emotional and physical imbalances through laying their hands on the person’s body.

Last weekend, I accompanied someone who suffers from claustrophobia. He also finds it hard to breathe sometimes. His spirit is so low and he had been unhappy for quite some time now.  After an hour session, he noticed that his breathing became even and smooth. He also noticed that he no longer struggles inside a train. He became happier and more relaxed.

I got very fascinated with Reiki that the following day I went to the bookstore to learn more about it. I read about the five principles of Reiki and realized that we don’t really have to go for a Reiki healing often to change our lives. We could make a significant positive change in our life if we live each day with these five principles.

1. Just for today, I will not be angry

Anger is not just a waste of time but energy. Harboring anger will eventually take its toll on our health and wellbeing. It will destroy relationships and only worsen an unfavorable situation. Like the cliché, “holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else but you are the one who gets burned instead.” Let go of that coal. Hold a rose instead and let its fragrance reach other’s soul.

2.  Just for today, I will not worry

Worry is just like anger. It can affect our health and makes us unhappy. Worrying doesn’t change anything. It will only prolong our agony. Instead of worrying, it’s better to follow principle 3 and trust that everything happens for a good reason. Eventually, negative circumstances no matter how painful or hard, will makes sense someday.


3.  Just for today, I will be grateful

Instead of being negative, learn to be grateful. If we start to appreciate the little things – the aroma of coffee, the cool breeze, the smile of a stranger, the assistance from a classmate or co-worker, anything that we don’t normally notice – we will know how many good things life has gifted us. Instead of complaining about a slow internet connection when all you do online is waste your time with superficial conversation on social network, be grateful of the time you were given to have a good quality conversation with someone over the phone or all the better, face to face.

4. Just for today, I will do my work honestly

And if I may add, industriously. We spend a considerable amount of our time at work. I believe that our work must be in line with our passion and advocacy. When it’s not, we cannot find meaning and sense of fulfillment from it. If it does, then we should give our all to deliver for and make the most from it. Being honest must also manifest in everything that we do, not just in our work.

5.  Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing

Being kind doesn’t have to be giving a million dollar donation to a cause. It can be as simple as giving your seat in a train to an elderly or a pregnant woman, or feeding a stray cat. Simple act of kindness creates a ripple effect. The little things we do can go a long way in helping others. Here’s a video that could hopefully inspire your day 🙂

Keep calm and meditate

Meditation session in Bangkok

Photo from casnocha.com

My fascination for meditation began when I came in Thailand in 2009. It’s no surprise because meditation is greatly embedded in Thais’ religious lifestyle. Although some would argue that meditation is not confined to Buddhism. Many practice meditation solely to enhance their well-being without any religious connotation.

I started meditating in 2009 but I only do it for 10 minutes, at the office toilet! It was my way of preparing my mind to write –I work as a writer at the marketing department at the time—or coping with stress. But I have not gone far from that until I stopped.

Yesterday was my first time to attend a meditation session. The weekly meditation happens every Thursday from 6:30-8PM at Ariyasom in Sukhumvit Soi 1. The place is really nice with lots of plants around and some vintage-looking ornaments.

The meditation was led by an English monk. I heard that he was fascinated with Buddhism and came to study Buddhism in Thailand. Since then, he has organized various meditation groups and meditation courses. The session started with a brief introduction of meditation for those who are first-timers including me. After the introduction, we are left to meditate with our own style for 30 minutes.

At first, I felt so calm and at ease, focusing only on my breathing. Whenever my mind starts to wander, I would gently bring back my focus on my breathing. But after a few minutes, the impatient monster began giving me a nudge. I started talking to myself. “I should blog about this. No, don’t think about that yet, just focus on meditating. Hmmm, that Arabic restaurant along the road seems interesting; we should have dinner there after this. Shut up, just meditate. God, when will 30 minutes be over?”


My legs felt numb and then painful. The English monk said that whenever we want to move, we should let 2 minutes pass and see if we still want to move. He encouraged us to just be still and learn to let go of the whim to move. I also learned from a Thai friend who became a monk that pain is part of the process. “When you meditate, it’s normal to feel pain in your legs but after sometime you will learn to accept pain and detach yourself from it.”

I felt uneasy and impatient. Then I told myself, this is exactly what meditation is for. It will teach us to be patient and tame our thoughts. Nothing comes easy. Reaping the life changing benefits of meditation must start with the will and a great deal of hard work –which is ironic because meditation should be making our mind and body still – because silencing our mind is the hardest thing to do.

I realized that attending a meditation session is an effective way to start the practice because with a group, you are compelled to finish the allotted time. Before, no matter how I forced myself to meditate for 30 minutes, I always get up before my time is up. I was so impatient. It needs getting used to and hopefully with the support of our meditation group, I will be able to make this a habit.

After the session, we had dinner at a Bangladeshi restaurant nearby. I had a good time with new awesome friends from Colombia who work at the newly opened Colombian Embassy, an American former professor who has a book on poetry, and a Brazilian lady who came to Bangkok for 3 months to find herself. And oh, I’m able to drink lassi again! I ordered it because the name sounds familiar and when I tasted it I remembered I had it in Nepal. Their fattoush salad is delicioso! Thanks to my colleague Olesya for bringing me there.