Sunday, October 27, 2019

A Reflection on Asia 2016

As I sat down to do a reflection post on our Entity Asia 2019 trip, I noticed that I had never finished my post from our Entity Asia 2016 trip. The paragraphs were half composed, the photos barely organized and the memories that were once so sharp and clear were now fuzzy. But I wanted to have two distinct posts that captured the memories from the 2016 trip separate from our most recent trip and decided to finish what I had started.

So here is the post about our first Entity trip to Asia, drafted in 2016 and finished in 2019: 


The following are two places I'd never been to before and two places I had never thought of traveling to at the start of 2016:

Singapore - A place where you can't chew gum and where the capital punishment is imparted on those who commit (arguably) harmless crimes.

Hong Kong - An autonomous territory with a population density almost 10 times that of Los Angeles. Yikes!

But my perspective of each place changed when DanzPeople in Singapore and StudioDanz in Hong Kong offered to host Entity in Fall 2016. The adventurer in me perked up, and I was immediately ecstatic by the prospects of exploring these exotic places with some of my closest friends. On top of that, their invitation gave the company opportunity to bring our first iteration of "Peel" to an international audience. We of course said, "YES".

As Entity was planning that trip I also decided to commit to a one month 200-hour yoga teacher training course through Yogaworks. This particular training is held in Bali, Indonesia led by master teachers Alicia Cheung and Oliver Reinsch. I was in a place of my life where I needed a shift in perspective, and this seemed like a great chance to go on a journey inwards. The program was set to begin two weeks after Entity finished our last event in Hong Kong, and I decided to tag on Taiwan and Japan in between to fill in the time. And thus, an Asia tour had been created and I was ready to be away from the good ol' U.S. of A for two months straight!

Below are a few highlights from each place:

Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands:
The famous hotel with a boat perched at the very top is an iconic symbol of Singapore. MBS caters to a more deep pocket client, and the SkyBar on the 57th floor definitely speaks to that. With drinks starting around $21USD, I definitely questioned whether to have a second libation.

The Gardens by the Bay right across the street is a beautiful oasis:

A well known outdoor eating area with various stalls showcasing the best local food Singapore has to offer.

Our AirBnb and surrounding neighborhood: 

Our first sold out international show at Aliwal Arts Center in Singapore:

Big Buddha on Lantau Island: 


Victoria Peak:

Kowloon shopping: 

Population density and interesting architecture: 

"Peel" with dirt instead of water: 

Night out in Soho:

The hardest climb I have ever done in my life, Mt. Wilson: 
The most memorable part of our trip to Hong Kong in 2016 was the excruciating 14.5 mile and 4600 foot ascent to Mt. Wilson. After a long night of celebrating the success of our shows and the end of our Entity Asia trip (which included several bars in Soho and a bed time of 4:30AM), the group decided it would be nice to go on a leisurely hike or stroll somewhere in nature. Our friend Jen's husband, Rudolph, is an amateur/semi-pro hiker (think trips to Mt. Fuji), and we asked him to take us on a nice walk. 

As you can see in the photos above, none of us anticipated the grueling trek. Clad in jean shorts and cotton t-shirts, our scraggly group of 6 could barely keep up with Rudolph and his friends who didn't even seem to break a sweat. It seemed like a mean prank and strange form of torture, dragging us up more than 1,000 steps under the beating sun and unyielding humidity. 

But what started off as a terrible misunderstanding (how do you define a hike versus a climb?) turned into one of my favorite memories of all time. To this day, I still tell people that despite the 2 half marathons I've trained for and completed and other challenging physical activities, this hike was without a doubt one of the hardest things I have ever done (I'm sure being hung over and sore didn't help the cause). 

Hong Kong Disneyland:
To add insult to physical fatigue, the hike was only our penultimate activity in Hong Kong. The next day, the same 6 of us who were still in Hong Kong decided to visit Hong Kong Disneyland. 

While I had a great time, I can't say that Hong Kong Disneyland gave me that "magical" feeling that the other Disneyland's do. I wasn't sure if it was the lackluster energy in the park or the meager decor, but it definitely didn't live up to my expectations for it. One thing is for sure, the churros were still a hit. 

Will and I made an extracurricular trip to Japan, and stopped in 3 major cities: Tokyo, Nara, and Kyoto. We made the most of our time in each place, and had early mornings and late evenings. Well worth the sleep deprivation since Japan is one my favorite places in the world! 

Our friends Shaun and Aye were also in town at the same time, and we got to hang out with them! 

Tokyo Tower

The big American

Tokyo Disneyland: 
Tokyo Disneyland is hands down the world's best Disney theme park. Every element of the experience, from the cast members welcoming energy to the polite and well dressed park goers, made it feel extra magical and special. Will and I started off at DisneySea and then made our way to Tokyo Disneyland around 4PM to take advantage of the "half day" ticket price. 

En route to Kyoto we stopped in Nara to see the famous biscuit eating deer at Nara Park. All the things you read online about the deer are true: The deer are not afraid to get up close and personal. And Do NOT run around with the biscuits, because the deer will definitely chase after you. 

Nara Park where you can get ultra close to the "wild" deer

Kyoto is known for its abundance of historical landmarks. Once the capital of Japan, Kyoto is home to numerous buddhist temples and imperial palaces. It's also where the gorgeous gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, most known to my generation through "Memoirs of a Geisha", are located. 

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Kiyomizu Dera


Bamboo forest at Arashiyama

After our trip to Japan, Will and I made stop in Taiwan. Nearly all of my family (uncles, aunts, and cousins on both sides of the family) still live there. We had an amazing time exploring some of the best things Taiwan has to offer, including the vibrant night markets, incredible street food, and a long bike ride to the Bali District utilizing the popular city bikes. We even managed to squeeze in teaching a class through the help of our friend, Si Yu. 
Biking to Bali District

Will and my little nephew

Me and Will with my family

Amazing class with the locals

The final stop in my 2016 Asia tour was Bali, Indonesia. I was most excited for my time there because of the yoga teacher training. Two good friends, Jeremy and Dana, had already gone through the training years prior and highly recommended it. At this time, I was sorting through quite a bit of personal baggage that I knew I needed to sift through. I looked forward to a period of time when I could focus on my physical practice, but also leave space for some spiritual and emotional growth. 

I met some beautiful people during my time in Bali, and each person taught me something very valuable. Looking back, I recognize that I was a very different person 3 years ago compared to who I am today, and I am grateful for the journey thus far. 

First day in the rice patties

My roommates! 

Amazing new friends, Meika and Debbie

My inspiring teachers, Oliver and Alicia

The trip had a significant impact on me, and the effects of being away from the hustle and bustle of LA continued to trickle into my life even after I returned to the US. I have significant memories of friends, old and new, who made a significant imprint on how I still live my life today. From the way I can be vulnerable with strangers to the way I handle pain, I left Bali feeling like I had new tools to tackle life's problems with. Here's a post card I sent to myself from Bali with a few important things I wanted to remind myself: 

1) Be grateful and give thanks to Mother Earth
2) Give yourself time and space to clear your mind and your body
3) Breathe. Be kind to yourself. Ahimsa. 
4) Isvara Pranidhana (surrender)

One of my greatest goals in life is to never stop learning and to never stop being curious about something. Dance and yoga are two activities that drive much of my yearning for growth and improvement, and dance in particular has driven nearly all of my travels around the world. But I find myself also open to the possibility that with age and time, my interests might change. I look forward to seeing how my future travel adventures manifest, and perhaps by then my trips will be in the absence of work or dance.