Monastery Madness

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While in Pai, a friend and I decided we should do some meditating. Maybe I’ve just been hanging out with more hippies in the past year, but during my time in Melbourne, I heard about Vipassana meditation a lot. Friends tossed around the words ‘life-changing’ and ‘fulfilling’ and it seemed to mesh with the reading I was doing on being present.

‘It’ll be fun,’ my friend Sarah said.

I was still on the fence, but the fact that we were staying at Spicypai Hostel in a 26-bed dorm was good encouragement to leave town. Continue reading

Yi Peng Lantern Festival

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Last May, I sat at a café in California covered head to toe in desert dust. It was another couple of hours’ drive to the campground where we’d spend the night, and I took advantage of the coffee break to check my email.

The first message I opened was an article pending my edits, but before I had a chance to read it, I flicked open its attached pictures. I was struck by the first photo I saw – hundreds of lanterns spilling into the night sky, stars dotting the horizon. Monks in orange walking amongst candles. Light lasting silently, steadily into the night. Continue reading

Public Broadcasting Showdown: BBC vs CBC

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As a Canadian, I have a shameful confession to make. When given the option between the BBC and the CBC, I pick the BBC nine times out of ten. With the CBC’s tagline proudly announcing “Canada lives here,” I feel like I’m turning my back on my country by choosing the UK’s public broadcaster over my own. And yet, preference wins out over patriotism, meaning I find myself at www.bbc.co.uk once again. Continue reading

Colombia’s Coastline: Cartagena de Indias

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My last few days in Colombia were spent in the fortress-sealed city of Cartagena de Indias, a blend of romantic colonial buildings and the daily rush of modern living. The narrow streets were a mix of people, horse-drawn carriages, bikes, and cars, with street names changing by the block. In the city square, a group of teen boys challenged each other with breakdance moves, propping their boombox against a statue of national hero Simon Bolivar. Continue reading

Colombia: Pereira

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 4.41.27 PMThe valleys of Pereira offer a glimpse into one of Colombia’s well-known treasures: its coffee. One of the world’s top coffee producers, it roasts arabica and robusta beans before shipping them around the world. In fact, due to the demand for Colombian coffee worldwide, many locals drink second-grade coffee, and it takes visits to a few tucked-away coffee shops to discover those that brew the coveted best beans of their homeland.

Even as Colombia struggles to shake off its dangerous image, which is propelled by shoot-outs in movies such as Mr and Mrs Smith, it’s fighting to hold on to its coffee roots Continue reading