Monthly Bucket List June 2014:
1. Make a new friend.
My solo trip to Bali created many opportunities for me to make new friends. 2 of them -- Andini, a volunteer with BAWA, and Made Mudita, the affable cabbie who drove me to the airport -- ended up becoming my friends on Facebook and we now communicate with each other on a regular basis.
My Letter to the Editor on homelessness also brought me 2 new friends, fellow activists Rayna and Petra, who work with non-governmental organisations to assist and advocate for the homeless, the poor and the marginalised.
2. Help a stranger.
During my stay in Bali, I made cash donations to two organisations -- BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) and Bali Animal Rescue Centre (BARC)-- to help them with their animal rescue and rehabilitation projects.
I also purchased four books for the Books for Bali Project to stock up rural school libraries in Bali.
I learned about Suspended Meals Malaysia, a new community initiative to help provide food for the needy, on Facebook and when I visited this Indian restaurant with Aravind and our friend Devan in late June, and so I contributed to their cause. I will be following their activities on Facebook to see if it is something I should be a regular contributor to.
June 2014 also saw Aravind and I rescuing 2 more stray cats for medical treatment, neutering and release/rehoming, namely Ginger Boy and Katniss. We believe they may be siblings as they look very alike and were picked up from the same area.
Ginger Boy has since been released to the area where he was found and Aravind continues to feed him and check on him daily. We are still hoping that we would be able to find him a good home. Katniss is recovering from a very bad case of cat flu and I am fostering her in my bachelor pad until she is spayed and rehomed.
3. Eat something/at someplace new to me.
While in Ubud, Bali, I ate at several restaurants I have never visited before, including Down To Earth, Veggie Table and Lotus Lane.
I had raw vegan brownie and ice cream for the first time at Down To Earth and loved it.
Back home in Kuala Lumpur, thanks to this great initiative by my friend Andy to promote vegetarian dining called KindMeal.my, I was introduced to a new-to-me restaurant in Bangsar, Ganga Cafe. The food is reasonably-priced, wholesome and delicious.
On my second visit to Ganga Cafe, I sampled Vada Pav, which I have never previously tried.
4. Go someplace I've never been.
Although my trip to Bali in June was my 3rd visit to the island, I stayed in Ubud and visited places I have never been, including Green School, Canggu Beach, the Pondok Pekak Library and Learning Centre, the BARC’s Good Karma Animal Rehabilitation Centre and two of the BAWA shops/offices.
(Image credits: www.aggressive.com)
Back home in the city, I finally went to the Bukit Kiara Skate Park for one-on-one skate lessons to improve my skateboarding technique and to learn new tricks.
5. Learn something new.
1. Surfing in open sea: I had surfed in a cove in Cherating back in 2006 - 2008, but as I was self-taught, my technique was incorrect and I was not able to remain standing on the board for long. On my last trip to Bali, however, I engaged the services of a surf guide for a day to help me correct my technique. It made a world of difference. It was exhausting to surf in open sea because I spent a lot of time paddling against the waves. At times, I felt almost nauseated from the constant rise and fall of waves. But the effort was worth it, because surfing in open sea gave me bigger waves to ride on, and I could remain standing on the surfboard much longer. I also managed to overcome my (mild) fear of wiping out in deep and unfamiliar waters. I wiped out many times, including on top of coral reefs, and cut my feet on jagged rocks and corals, but I survived, and lost my fear after the first fall.
2. Solo travelling: I have previously flown solo to various destinations to meet up with friends there, or travelled with others and then split up and gone separate ways from them upon arriving at my destination. This Bali trip was different in that it was fully solo. It taught me various lessons in letting my intuition and instincts rule, and not putting too much pressure on myself to squeeze in too many activities in too little time. I daresay it was the most relaxing holiday I have ever been on. I was not beholden to the needs and desires of any travelling companions, so I spent a lot of time sleeping in, eating only when I wanted to, skipping all the tourist traps, visiting libraries, bookstores and animal charities and just reading books on my patio.
3. Muay Baran: We learned some basic Muay Baran moves and instructions (in Thai) during kickboxing in June, including how to sidestep and counterattack.
4. Skateboarding: With the help of my skate coach Johary, I learned to improve my skating technique and practice useful new manoeuveres, including the front kickturn, which I have never learned previously. I'm pretty proficient at it now.
6. Declutter and cull 100 items.
Cleaned out all the files and folders and removed old receipts, invoices, appliance warranties, manuals and correspondence for recycling.
Also paid a visit to the BYOB Green Concepts outlet in Ampang Jaya to purchase detergent and soap refills, and gave them a bagful of empty bottles that other customers can make use of.
The bachelor pad is looking much neater and more streamlined already following 3 months of culling over 100 items a month.
7. Give up something for a month.
I made a conscious decision to give up all Made In China products for a month to see how much we depend on China's cheap labour, poor work conditions and lack of environmental safeguards for our inexpensive consumer goods. Boycotting China-made products is my way of silently rejecting China's status as an economic superpower and of protesting their destruction of the environment and transgressions of workers' rights in the name of profit. I agree that it makes a lot more sense to voice out against China than to silently boycott their products. I do sign petitions, lobby governments and inform others of my stand when asked why I do not purchase or use particular products. However, I feel that political action must be followed up with personal direct action. It would be hypocritical to call for investigations into Chinese cellular phone companies and yet at the same time continue to buy Made In China products.
So for the whole month of June, I checked where each product was made. Cell phone chargers, wristwatch straps, detergent bottles, contact lenses, t-shirts, sneakers, socks, pet toys, food containers -- nothing escaped my scrutiny. It was a good exercise in being a more mindful consumer and I will continue to be vigilant about buying and using only products that do not entail the exploitation of people and the destruction of the environment.