6 Lessons We Learnt from the Annapurna Base Camp Trek

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One of the most popular treks in the Himalayas is the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek. Very few journeys offer such a wide variety of challenges and landscapes. You’ll find high altitudes, rhododendron forests, and rice paddies along the way. It is unique, spectacular, and something that changes your perspective about life itself.

Our group put together some of the personal lessons learnt while trekking ABC. Although we all had our own reasons for embarking on this adventure, ABC brought us together.  [Read more…]

Hiking at Doi Luang Chiang Dao – A Pictorial Journey

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One of the oldest and most important of the protective spirits in Chiang Mai is a being known as Phor Luang Kam Daeng. It is widely believed that he dwells in the Chiang Dao Mountain, along with his spirit-wife, Nang In Lao. Largely by virtue of the marriage to his indigenous partner, the Lanna people believe him to be Lord of the Spirits of the region. His name always invoked first in local ceremonies.

Stories about his human existence, when he was a prince of Payao, are found in the famous local chronicles: the dumnarn and pongsawadan. According to these written and oral sources, the young ruler made the pledge to capture an elusive deer, but was exiled because he failed to do so. Having continued to follow the deer, he eventually reached Chiang Dao, where it turned into a bewitching beauty with whom he fell in love. Not realising how he had been beguiled, Phor Luang Kam Daeng later continued on the trail of the deer down to where Chiang Mai now stands, following the advice of a reusi, or hermit, there that this was a particularly auspicious location for settlement. [Read more…]

Trek For Hope: The Little Trees of Light in Chiang Mai

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Christmas is a time of joy today, but it did not start that way. The story of Christmas is birthed out of a tale of desperation. A journey which began over 2,000 years ago is one we are still struggling to apply in our own unique way to this day. Even those who attempt to change the world for the better face the issue of criticism.

It is simply impossible to please everyone in this world all of the time. Even when you give your utmost to the cause, there will be a voice from the crowd who demands you to give even more. This can cause one to doubt themselves, doubt their actions, and even doubt their personal faith.

The holiday season has meaning for all. It is one of the few moments in time when humanity truly becomes one even though we each celebrate the holidays in our own unique way.

This was my goal for Trek For Hope this year: to extend this holiday oneness beyond just a few weeks out of the year. [Read more…]

Light Up a Smile at Light For Kids Foundation, Chiang Mai

386950_426754754038003_911334530_nNipon Chaocharernpon spent some of his childhood in an orphanage and always felt called to help children in a similar situation as he grew up and eventually had a family of his own. The four different orphanages he previously helped started, have provided education to children whom society might leave behind otherwise. Sometimes there wasn’t any financial support to begin a program, but that didn’t stop Chaocharernpon.

Light For Kids does more than just providing children with shelter from the elements. Every aspect of their well-being is addressed at this facility so that every child has the chance to grow up and choose to make a difference. This includes spiritual education where children can begin to embrace who they are on the inside as they develop the life skills they will need to make an impact in their adult years. [Read more…]

Through the Valley – Nikki’s Place, Agape Home for HIV/AIDS Children in Chiang Mai

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A Heart Full of Love for Children in Chang Mai

Compassion comes in different shapes and sizes. Some people are able to donate money to a good cause. Others feel led to provide helping hands. Some choose to make a one-time donation and others dedicate their entire life to the cause. At Nikki’s Place, everyone comes together to help mothers and their children who have been diagnosed with HIV be able to find a new life.

Our recent visit gave us a glimpse of how Nikki’s Place serves Chang Mai. The organization was founded in 1996 to help meet the needs of local children who were impacted by the devastating AIDS virus. Many of the children who are served have already been orphaned because of this virus and have nowhere else to go. [Read more…]

Trek For Hope: Eco Clean up at Gunung Pulai with FitBit

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The idea for a waterfall cleanup came after our first visit to Gunung Pulai earlier in March of this year. We fell in love with the Gunung due to its proximity to Singapore (45mins drive) and good food in the town of Kulai, just 15 mins away. The tranquility of the forest reserve and its undulating terrain make it a perfect spot to have a morning workout.

We were also disturbed to see in the midst of the beautiful, cascading Pulai falls a depressing sight: litter strewn all around. Used pampers, broken glasses, and leftover food boxes were not packed out to preserve the site. There were no maintenance capabilities from the local environmental office to remove the litter either. [Read more…]

Sagada! That summer of 2015 – Trek For Hope, Philippines

11124716_10152840118297972_4189350925836511685_nFor generations before Jun Binalet, the main livelihood for the family in the Mountain Province, Philippines has been woodcarving. From animals to bird creatures to the bulol, or “Ifugao rice god,”  a carved human figurine, these lifeforms of sculpture – a source of pride depicting the indigenous nature  of the Corderilla people – are made mainly from the finest Acacia wood.

This traditional art of carving seems to have lost on Jun, 33, who is the father of 4 daughters. His main livelihood now is a driver and guide for both local and overseas tourists. [Read more…]

The hardest mountain to climb – The Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila

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Maybe it was the afternoon shower that took place which washed away the top soil, revealing broken glass and rusted electrical cables strewn everywhere. Maybe those things can be seen every day. I don’t know. What I do know is that the sight of these items made our entire team pay extra attention to where we placed each footstep that day.

I’m focused on watching where I walk, but every so often I find myself lifting my head to see the world around me. The most amazing thing I see is the speed and agility of 2 local children walking where we walk amongst the broken glass and rusted item. One child has bare feet, completely oblivious to the dangerous foreign matters on the ground all around us. [Read more…]

Portraits from Smokey Mountain – Trek for Hope Philippines 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMdm Corazon Encalldo in all her 26 years,has lived in the slums of Tondo. Born in the original  Smokey Mountain, she and her family were forced to relocate when redevelopment plans for low-cost housing were made at the original site.

Home was the New Smokey Mountain along the Manila waterfront for the next decade until yet another government development plan for the area forced her and family to move into the Aroma slum area, ironically named “Happy Complex”.  [Read more…]

Hiking Gunung Pulai – The Anatomy of a Mountain

WP_20150304_10_49_54_ProThough small in stature, Kak Ita packs an authoritative figure as she tosses and spins her dough. The sizzle of the oiled pan as it grills the dough is offering amazing temptations to the senses. She’ll carefully watch her dough until it becomes the thin, crispy, and lightly charred Roti Canai that greets every hungry hiker in her small, rustic hut in Kampong Sri Gunung Pulai.

Packing an equally mean punch is her homemade savoury chilli paste that is both sweet and spicy. It’s a “must have” companion to go with the roti canai or the nasi lemak in Kak Ita’s Anggun café, which is open Monday thru Saturday from 6am to 12pm. [Read more…]