Wisdom Walk by Sage Bennet, PhD

19 02 2010

WisdomWalk A full name of the book is: Wisdom Walk – Nine Practices for Creating Peace and Balance from the World’s Spiritual Traditions.  This is not the kind of book that I would typically read – or even been seen holding for that matter.  Elínborg was given the book before we went to Asia and in the spiritual atmosphere that clearly persist here I was intrigued by the fact that I could learn about eight different religions in one book – so I grabbed it, read it, and ended up really liking it (but don’t tell anyone).

The book is written by Sage Bennet.  On hr credit list she has a doctorate in Philosophy, she has been a minister for eight years, she has thought classes on religious matters in universities across the United States for twenty five years and she has a private practice offering spiritual counseling and coaching. So we can assume that she has given the subject a bit of thought :)

The book is divided into nine chapters and in each chapter the author talks about one religion and highlights one wisdom taken from that particular religion.  In the last chapter she talks about a wisdom that she claims comes from all the eight religions. The religions and wisdoms that the author has selected are:

  • From Hinduism – Create a home altar.
  • From Buddhism – Meditate and find peace.
  • From Islam – Surrender to prayer.
  • From Christianity – Forgive your self and others.
  • From Judaism – Make time for Sabbath.
  • From Native American Spiritualism – Let nature be your teacher.
  • From Taoism – Go with the flow.
  • From New Thought – Catch God’s vision of your life.
  • From all traditions – Offer your self in service to others.

The author takes the reader on a spiritual journey where each wisdom step is explained and examples given, both from the authors life and others, on how that particular wisdom step can help us in the spiritual life or to put is simply how this wisdom step can help us with the things that happen within our own heads.  It is difficult to explain properly the content of the book but I just want to stress that this is not about some mumbo jumbo mystic dance around the fire stuff but small steps that we can make in our lives to gain more balance and stability in our lives – believe it or not :)

Now as I said in the beginning, I never thought that I would be interested in a book like that but I really enjoyed reading it and I’m sure that I will use some of the wisdom steps in my own life when we come back home from Asia.  I think that before I read the book I didn’t really know what was meant by the word spiritualism and just dismissed it as “some nonsense” but at least now I know.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone that has an open mind and is interested in learning about different religions and if you have any interest in spiritual things, this book should definitely be for you.


Life goes on on Phu Quoc Island

16 02 2010

We are still on Phu Quoc Island and will be for at least one day.  We wanted to go to mainland Vietnam today but the boats were all full because people are going home after celebrating the new year here on Phu Quoc.

We arrived at this guesthouse where on Long Beach that seemed kind of nice.  We failed to take notice of the fact that there seem to be more bugs here on the island than we have seen before.  We didn’t bother setting up the mosquito net for the first night and now we look like a couple of Klingons, with 10-15 bites each on our foreheads and faces – but Elínborg has always been a Star Trek fan so that is ok :)

The mosquitoes aren’t the only bugs we have encountered because Elínborg said that when she was flushing the toilette she saw “something big and hairy” going down the drain.  This monster remains unidentified and hopefully stays that way.

Since we were kind of sick we stayed in bed our first day on the island.  That didn’t mean that the guesthouse was quite, ohh no …not at all.  The other guest celebrated the new year along with the owners of the guesthouse so the wine flowed and the techno music was blasted on highest volume …all until the owner (French guy) went mental and threatened to kill people and we were later told that he both bashed the furniture and his Vietnamese girlfriend – not quite the entertainment we were expecting.  This is not good for the Frenchman and his family since the Vietnamese believe that your actions during the first day of the year indicate how the rest of the year will be like.  Therefore you have to take special care not to break anything, behave nicely and enjoy our self.

We are doing better however, we went to the beach today and had a great day working on the tan.  It was supposed to be the last beach day for a while but it seems like we’ll have another one tomorrow and I better concentrate on those sunglasses marks that I have going right now :)

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

15 02 2010

salingercatcher I listened to The Catcher in The Rye as an audio book read by Ray Hagen.  The setup of the book was great and the reading was more like acting than plain reading and I enjoyed it very much.

The story it self is about Holden Cowfield, a sixteen year old native New Yorker, that had just been sacked from his third prep school.  Instead of going straight home he wonders around New York city for three days.  Holden is the narrator in the story and we get to know his thoughts and reactions to the people he meets.  We get to learn that Holden is a very disgruntled young man that doesn’t seem to like anything at all.  I would guess that the story takes place in the fifties or even sooner.

I’m not familiar with the standing of The Catcher in the Rye in American literature, at least I have heard it quoted or referred to numerous times and that is the reason I decided to give it a try.

Even though it is interesting to look at the life of a teenager at that time I never got invested in the story.  How often I fell asleep right after hitting that play button paints an accurate picture of how interested I was.  The problem for me was that I never got invested in Holden’s life, I didn’t really care how things turned out for him.  Even though the book is well written and the use of language is quite entertaining the story just wasn’t strong enough for me.  It would be interesting to hear from someone that has really enjoyed the story, what angles am I missing?  Is this book perhaps read in American schools?  I’m all ears!

Phu Quoc island – Vietnam

14 02 2010

Yesterday we made it to Long Beach on Phu Quoc island in Vietnam.  We took a bus from Sihanoukville through the Vietnamese border at Xa Xia.  We had gotten our Vietnamese visas back in Bangkok so we had an easy time getting through the border control.  One tip for future travelers, we noticed that getting the Vietnamese visa in Cambodia was about $15 cheaper than in Thailand ($60 vs. $43 I think) so if you want to save a bit of money wait until you are in Cambodia. 

On the border we changed from our VIP bus into a mini bus and drove on to Ha Tien where we changed into a small boat that took us out to the island.  The trip was supposed to take five and half hour but ended up taking over eight hours without any stops to eat so we were pretty hungry when we got here as you can imagine.  You can find the updated route map on the right hand side of the website or just here.

The first impression of Vietnam is that everything seems more professional than in Cambodia, the restaurants seem very nice and our bungalow is nice as well so we have no complaints so far.  The money is funny since 16,000 Dong equal $1 US so we are pretty rich down here, just went to the ATM to take our 2,000,000 Dong :)  The actual notes look nice, they are made of plastic and are washable so they are very clean, which was not the case in Cambodia where you could hardly read some of the lower dominated notes.

We were very happy to see that the internet seemed to work perfectly, we could access WordPress, Facebook and any website that we tried.  I will therefore not be forced to blog through email until we enter China :)

We have been a bit under the weather the last two days so we haven’t been up to too much adventure lately.  It is nothing serious, just a minor inconvenience – it could be something we ate or something that is going around but we should be back on our feet tomorrow.

The Damage Done by Warren Fellows

14 02 2010

DamageDone The Damage Done – Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison – is a written by Warren Fellows, a former heroin smuggler that was caught smuggling heroin from Thailand to Australia.  After a long trial he was sentenced to life imprisonment and he was to remain in a Thai prison for the next twelve years.  Fellows accepts that he was guilty for the crimes he was sentenced for but the punishment seems way too harsh.  Fighting cockroaches, sewer rats, the other inmates and the sadistic guards seems as inhuman as it gets.  A grave warning for anyone wanting to break the Thai laws.

Obviously Fellows is not a seasoned writer, I think this is his first and only book, but the story is really interesting and it is difficult to to put it down once you have started and therefore it is easy to look past the faults in the storytelling and language use.

The story has its disgusting parts so keep the light on and be happy that you are where you are and remember all those that might not have it as good as you – be that self inflicted or not.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Thailand, planning to visit Thailand or has been in Thailand.  Especially I would recommend the book to anyone thinking about smuggling drugs in or out of Thailand.


12 02 2010

We are now in Sihanoukville, a port city that connects Cambodia to the Gulf of Thailand.  It is a nice town with a few beaches, nice restaurants and a lively nightlife.  The town seems to be in some sort of a transition, I think it is about to become popular but hasn’t quite gotten there.

Last night we met four Icelanders: Halla Marín, Jóna Dagmar, Ingvar Björn and Ármann Örn – all from Húsavík.  We knew that they were in Siem Reap at the same time as us but weren’t able to meet.  This time we were just walking on the beach and they recognized us right away.  It was nice meeting some Icelanders, sharing travel stories and plans for the next steps.  They had been in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore before they came to Cambodia so they have had quite a different route from us.

Tomorrow we will head to Vietnam, to Phu Quoc island to be exact.  We hope that the Chinese New Year won’t give us too much trouble.  New Year’s day is on the 14th, when year 4707 begins according to the Chinese calendar, the year of the tiger.  We have read that the whole country stops to function during and after the new year, the trains for instance stop for 9 days but we hope for the best.  The new year is also big here in Cambodia and I was informed that the rate for our hotel room would double, the first three days of the new year so they are expecting a lot of visitors.

I have heard that some websites are restricted in Vietnam but I hope that I’ll be able to continue blogging and posting pictures.  I know it is possible through email so that is one option.  Bear with me if the posts will look somehow funny.

It would be great to hear from those reading the blog.  I have heard from some of you but I have no idea who are actually reading this blog.  I can see that there just over 200 visitors per week (excluding Facebook readers) but I don’t know who they are.  So lets make a deal, you commend and then I’ll post some more pictures ;)  My birthday is coming up on the 18th so that is a perfect opportunity to post a comment :)

Cambodia – quick facts

11 02 2010

The Kingdom of Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary representative democracy, just like Thailand.  The countries inhabitants are closing in on 15 million and the vast majority (90%) is ethnic Khmer and the dominating religion is Theravada Buddhism.

Cambodia is about the size of Switzerland but quite flat and is dominated by the Mekong and a lake called Tonle Sap (Great Lake) that grows ten times its regular size during the wet season.  Rice production and other agricultural products make up the biggest portion of the economy with textile and garments production and tourism having a substantial impact as well.  There is hope that there is oil beyond Cambodia’s shores and with that comes fears that the oil profit will be snatched up by corrupted politicians and their compatriots.  The economy has been growing about 10% a year for the last few years but in nominal terms that is not much as the GDP per person (ppp) is about $2,000, half that of Thailand but only around $800 in nominal terms.

Cambodia has had a big problem with deforestation.  In seventies around 70% of Cambodia was covered with primary rainforest but that number is down to around 3% today.  We can definitely see that when driving around in Cambodia, everywhere we go there are just dry plains waiting for the wet season so that they can be used for rice production.  This is a big difference from Thailand where it was not uncommon to see “wooden”  furniture and houses made of concrete and then painted like wood because of the strict Thai laws regarding deforestation and timber production.  In Cambodia however we see a lot of beautiful beds, chairs and tables made from the finest hard-wood available.

1999 was the first full year of peace in 30 years in Cambodia and since then the economy has been growing fast, security is getting better and better, resulting in more tourism and increased foreign investment so Cambodia is definitely going places, which is fantastic.  I just hope that this all will benefit the general population because the people have been through so much in the past and still they are so sweet and gentle.