Ecuador, My Life In The Jungles- The Sequel 1

This day brings into remembrance of my time in Ecuador. I wrote about my first leg of the trip on Kiss From The World but of course, time and perspective holds even more colorful stories.

As I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep because it’s 7am on a Saturday, I suddenly saw myself on a truck riding to the jungles of Tena. My mind replayed my trip in vivid details as if to remind me of all the adventures I’ve had in my life. For some reason, people accuse me of my inexperience and youth because I look young….but if they heard what I’ve been through. But it’s really none of their business.

So here goes.

Backpacking solo as a women.

  1. Do research, but don’t RESEARCH TOO much. Don’t ask too much of other peoples’ opinions. It was my first time backpacking in a “3rd world country”. My last backpacking trip before Ecuador was Australia. I asked a few Asian women and was filled with more fear than excitement. My boyfriend at the time gave me pepper spray and told me to hold onto it at all times. My experience was contrary to those opinions…I met the kindest, most welcoming people I have ever met.

A kind man offered to help me translate, my Spanish was quite broken. I finally arrived at a local hotel, it was $10 a night with 2 beds. One for me, and one for my backpack. The plastic walls separated me from the grandma who owned the hotel and was watching some drama. I could see the technicolor bouncing to my wall, as if to welcome me. My bed sheets were thin and crinkled from the 1970s and hot red florals covered my second bed. Please excuse the quality, I don’t think I had an Iphone back then.

My days in the city of Tena was a blur but after visiting my sponsored child, I roamed the streets and attempted to eat street food without getting sick. I was successful. Ecuadorian salsa is BUENO. Almost as good as Mexican salsa out here in LA. They also love animal innards, and as a Taiwanese person, I could get with that, no problemo.

I decided to visit the jungles, there was another $10 hotel over there. I asked my new buddy whether he wanted to go with me. He was hesitant as he was very American, even though Ecuadorian American…and also he had gotten robbed once at an Ecuadorian bar. Oh I meant, he got roofied and robbed, and woke up in the bushes without his Iphone or wallet. So he was pretty petrified at the thought of going with a strange Asian woman to another city hours away.

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First we were to wait in front of my hotel for a yellow taxi. We waited. 1 hour, 2 hours. Wow. Okay, we called a few times and finally taxi came.

Second, we were dropped off at a bus station where tons of people played volleyball or was it basketball, I can’t remember. Now, we were transported into a truck but we had to wait for the tour guide. Now, this was another hour or so.

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The trip took 2-3 hours, riding on dirt, rocks and rickety paths. Towards the end, we were pretty much off-roading and the sky was getting dark. We finally parked and the tour guide took out his flashlight. In these photos I think they were carrying gas into the hotel.

We walked into the jungle and I thought “that’s it, I’ve met my time of death”. (No, actually I was a lot more positive back then since I was young and inexperienced (LOL)). A huge castle jungle house appeared before my eyes.

I was in heaven.

The individual rooms were not fancy, but it was enough. Mosquitoes roamed around me as I quickly sprayed myself. The bathrooms had concrete gray walls and straw walls surrounded me in the bedroom. All I could hear was birds, bugs, snakes and whatever else was out there. I could feel my soul spreading into the jungle and saying hi to each creature. I was becoming one with the earth. 

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The one part of the jungle that had reception was on this outdoor patio on the second floor. You had to put your phone on one point of a statue.581041_10151770635875603_255176119_n

The next day, I was expecting my friend to be there but after some looking and asking, I found out he had left. YEP, I am not kidding. My new friend left the jungles early in the morning, I think he was SO scared by the whole journey that he decided to leave. 

And yes, he was a male person. And yes, I am a female. And it just so happened I was the only person staying there. So I had a whole castle to myself. SO please LORD, do not judge people based on gender.

“hey what the fuck? you left?” -me on the phone.

“yes, well my mom needed me for something, so I had to leave right away”

“oh okay, whatever. Have fun!”- me

So my friend for the next few days was the tour guide, who I was not paying because I did not want to go on a tour. However, as a friend he still showed me a few things like how to cut down cocoa.

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He had escaped from a life of American gang -hood to live in the jungles. He saw friends get shot, and the most horrific of all, children being trafficked in crates. There was nothing he could do about it because he could get gunned down right there and then. This was no Narcos, this was real life. Then we talked about Jesus and I showed him how to hear from Him directly. Jesus and gangsters all in one day.

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To be continued…..

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Listen To Your Heart

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I grew up going to church, Baptist to be precise. About 12 years old I encountered God in a divine, weeping way, I experienced unconditional love from the depths of my heart. My journey though had begun when I was young…in those wee hours where I was home alone and afraid of the dark. Somehow I knew that the Devil was as real as the darkness and as a 5 year old, I prayed desperately for God to save me from the hollow fear.

Since I had lots of time of solitude, growing up with a busy working single mom and lots of time alone, I developed an inner life that was rich and real. I was drawn to the holy spirit and basically “following my intuition”. I would tell stories about being led to talk to homeless people, miracles, hearing God- this was strange for a very legalistic baptist church.  Eventually I left. Later on, I learned that what I experienced in my life was called being led by the spirit. 

You don’t need to label it to know that your intuition is God speaking to you. When it feels peaceful, right, you feel urged on, you have little fear. Perhaps yes there is apprehension, but that is the ego speaking.

What I noticed though is that in the institutions of “God” many people still don’t understand the concept of the Father. The concept and being of the Father God is basically the loving, unconditional, light who embraces and loves to hear us talk even about our sadness, feelings of anger, and grief. He is not judgmental and treats us better than the best father on this earth. Because few of us have had good earthly fathers, we often feel that God must be the same way. 

In addition, people are very scared when they can’t label something.

There were times where I followed the Spirit and I did very spontaneous things….sometimes Spirit led me to places where I met the right people at the right time. Before I was to be selected for a TV show to go to Cebu, I kept hearing Cebu over and over again. Sometimes of course I doubt what I am hearing, but as the stories in my life unfolds, I am assured once again that what I was hearing was accurate.

Trusting yourself- now growing up in the church, the only thing I heard was “put yourself last”. Self-sacrifice. I think this led to many people growing up deprived of self love.

The truth is since God already sacrificed all for us, “everything that has to be done is already done”. This is the concept of grace. The holistic way of thinking is that we are born a reflection of who God is and each of us have glory within ourselves. So our whole lives is really about getting to know God, but also the holy place within our own hearts which says “I am an heir, I am royalty, everything about me is brilliant, my heart radiates light and I am filled with love and I am complete because God within me has completed me”. 

So while some institutions believe that all power is with God, the truth is if God is within us, all power is in us so that all power for change is cultivated once our spirit self accepts and has the capacity to embrace that truth.

In short, I have been on a journey of learning to trust my truth in every moment and to speak those truths even if they are “negative”. God loves all of who you are now, not in the future or the past. Yes, with all the things that seem negative. 

So instead of living by a set of rules, Jesus sets you free to live in relationship.

So there is actually no right or wrong, but that which sets you free, the truth.

There are many things that are good for you, but if you feed yourself a bunch of sermons or motivational books when your heart needs space to heal, it can become destructive. For example, your heart may need solitude but a friend offers to hang out with you (she wants to help you)…in those moments I listen to my heart and ask myself what it is I actually need…even a “good thing” like hanging out with a friend can deprive you of what you actually need, time alone. 

Good works, volunteer work might seem good- but if you are doing it as a way to redeem yourself or perhaps free you from the guilt of all the wrongs you’ve committed in your life, you will not be freed. Like I said, only God sees our heart. He says “I will free you if you allow me to give you the love you need, just receive it”.

When we open our hearts to receive the love that we do not need to work for, it is liberating.

What is practical and productive in the world may not be productive to your soul. More in the material sense is not more to your soul. You may continue to crave more and feel even more empty inside. For some reason, the more you buy the more lack you feel. That is your soul asking you to look within. The emptiness is a feeling and the feeling is always telling you something. 

Slow down and ask yourself where that feeling is coming from. 

Slow down and ask what during the day annoyed you so much that you started feeling pain in your neck. For me, I have pain in the left side of my neck when I am emotionally distraught, bothered or believing a lie, or perhaps I am trying to control my emotions instead of expressing them.

Follow me on Instagram! 

Far Afield: Rare Food Encounters

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Far Afield is a beautiful book full of rare food encounters from around the world. The authors are Shane Mitchell, a Saveur (to which I also subscribe) contributing editor and James Fisher, an Australian portrait photographer and film director based in London. With both their expertise and narrative, the book is filled with stunning photos from around the world, Japan to India to Hawaii. What makes the coffee table book intriguing is the array of adventures narrated by the authors. I felt like I was eating around the world with Shane and James. Take me next time!

This book was presented to me in exchange for an honest review.

Celebrate Ordinary Moments

Our lives are filled with ordinary and sometimes seemingly insignificant moments. 

We wait, for the big woohoo moments. Like when we meet our prince charming, when we get the big break, when we finally pay off our debt, when we have great sex, when become the lead actress in a movie, when we get the pay raise we know we deserve, etc….but most of our lives are just ordinary moments, or so we think. 

As I was sitting there eating french fries, I saw inked on the wall “no drinking on premises”, I found it charming. It was on the wall of a liquor store. I was eating quietly next to a retired old grandma who was wearing all orange, pants and shirt eating pastrami sandwich; a pumpkin on her shirt. I would say something like “did you know there is a great movie theater with deals on tuesday and sundays?” and we would converse. Then we would eat quietly again.

It’s ordinary, seemingly trivial moments like those that warm my heart. And of course being surrounded by the magnificent sky that remind me of how miraculous life is everyday. 

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You see…I walk everywhere. Otherwise I take public transportation.

My life was not always like this.

I was the fast paced career women who was total TYPE A. I was high strung, overly passionate about things that no one seemed to care about. I learned to slow down when the stress started killing my heart and health, and just all of who I was. I had to slow down.

After a year without a sim card and a car, I have really learned to be in the moment, present. 

I’ve made friends with dogs that are neglected by owners. There is this one dog that is tied to a pole fenced inside, everyday. He/she barks wildly at me when I walk in the alleys, I say hi to him/her through the little cracks of the white fence. I’ve decided his or her name is Danny.

I appreciate the sunset. I appreciate the skies that paint God’s love to me. Everyday I am in awe of the clouds, the sun that marks it’s joy in the blue skies.

Sometimes I see cars zoom wildly to their destinations. And I wonder, “what if they got there faster. Would it make a difference, would they feel more fulfilled, happier?” I see people showing off their new purchases and yet frustrated that they don’t have more.

It’s seemingly ordinary moments when we put down our own agendas and introduce ourselves to a stranger sitting next to us that we find the moments profound and beautiful. At first, I wanted to go straight home after buying my bottle of wine and fries, but something said “slow down”. There is beauty in slowing down.

When was the last time you truly slowed down and saw all the beauty around you? 

There are people around you that want to be loved by you, and people that want to love you.

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I’m adding this book review:

Falling Free, Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted- Shannan Martin

The title really struck me, the truth is everything Shannan talked about reflected my own experience of falling free….free of what we think we want. Her narrative is important in our cookie cutter society or perhaps religious institutions that want us to fit into everyone else’s idea of what we should want. I found the book refreshing and read every word to the end. The only thing I did not like in the beginning was perhaps her language, it was a little hard to understand. I’m used to conversational language and it was a bit flowery for my own taste, but nonetheless it was an excellent book. I give it a 4 out of 5.

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Who Loves Beer? Ticket Giveaway!

Win Free Tickets

I love beer. I was born in Germany, I mean obviously. I love dark ales, IPAs, craft brews. That is why I’m giving tickets away!

Visit https://www.instagram.com/p/BJMd8YeB4K3/ TO ENTER!

In partnership with The California #Beer Festival@californiabeerfestival I am giving away 2 sets of CRAFT #BEER HEAVEN SATURDAY (sample 85 craft beers) tickets (2 per person, $100 value) and 2 sets of 4 FUNDAY SUNDAY tickets (4 per person, $40 value). This is all you have to do! 
Visit The INSTAGRAM POST HERE! 
1. Follow me @rebekkalien
2. Comment below- Tag 1 person you’d love to go with and and tell me which pack you’d prefer, the Craft Beer Heaven one or Funday One!

WINNERS RANDOMLY PICKED ON AUGUST 27, 2016! I will announce winners on August 28! 🙂 Tickets will be emailed to you!

To buy tickets or for more info! 
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/california-beer-festival-los-angeles-county-sept-10th-11th-san-dimas-tickets-23125795878#tickets

Craft beer heaven saturday : ticket includes CBF tasting cup, 3 ounce samples of 85 craft beers, live music and entertainment!
Sunday funday: music and entertainment! No sampling this day but food and drinks are for sale.

Love, Rebekka Lien #beer #craftbeer #la#foodie #losangeles #free #giveaway

The Devil Wants To Shut Me Down

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The devil wants to shut me down, I love how he uses strangers and people who don’t even know me. My words are power, by my words I am justified.

My words are the expression of my life, I’ve always written, ever since I was young. In some governments and society freedom of speech is prohibited. In religious institutions where the spirit of control reigns, speech is limited and oppressed. 

Writers, Artists are oppressed, shunned, excommunicated. 

Words are powerful. And that is why I will continue to write whatever the fuck I want. 

Because I am a shocking person, I am an outcast who loves the outcast. I am a revolutionist who loves to shock people with my life. 

Tell me what to write when you have put your life on the line for love. Tell me what to write when you have lived as fearlessly as I have. Tell me what to write when you have trudged the forests on your own, survived death and back, tell me what to write when you have put your heart on the line for God.

I will not back down for the life of me.

My words are my heartbeats, my words are an expression of the blood running through me. I am a shock to society. I am younger than most, wiser than most, older than some, but with a hundred thousand lifetimes.

I am a spirit and a soul that no one has ever seen before. I have got all the saints and angels, prophets and leaders who have gone before me cheering me on. Believe me, you cannot control the words that God speaks through me. 

So I will write WHATEVER the fuck I want. 

Even if it offends you.

 

 

My Love Relationship With Food

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I confess I’m obsessed with good food.
It’s uncanny, strange. Today I called ban mi to ask when they open, it was 6:30am, I was jet lagged but I had been dreaming about a real bowl of pho since Paris. I’ll be in la for a week and I’ve already lined up my list of must eats. I must have pho, I must have tacos, I must have hot pot. When I eat a good bowl of soup after a month of deprivation, I start to thank God for the day I was born, I thank my mom for giving birth to me, I thank the noodles, the beef, the ingredients, I thank the hands that prepared it and I thank God for being alive.

I start to tear up, I make weird noises.

My relationship with food is unusual. I’m a bitch when I’m hungry, fears loom larger and I lash out faster. When I full with good food I’m nice Rebekka, I’m loving. I can tell you I had the most dramatic fights when I didn’t eat with my ex.

I am like the happiest person when I eat what I love. Sometimes I’m super healthy and eat salads, but sometimes I eat magnum ice creams and Cheetos.

I’ll just smile more when I have ice cream.
I also don’t believe in depriving yourself or dieting, I think if you are feeling good you should eat what you want, you won’t go overboard when you feel good about who you are.

The only reason people go overboard is when they are not dealing with the emotions inside.

I never say “tomorrow I’ll fast because I ate too much today”. Even if it’s thanksgiving I’ll eat until I’m full, I don’t go overboard now because I don’t like that feeling….food should be euphoric, not a punishment. I’ll save the left overs and eat it while watching my favorite Netflix show.
Why not, it’s happiness.

I’m so thankful for food, and especially the fact that I was raised with a mother who knows how to make good food and appreciate good food.
I’m Taiwanese so we enjoyed the best of the world’s food….

I had to finish all my food at the table so sometimes I’d sit there for an hour because I had bad teeth. Also my mom would finish before me and leave the table.

Somehow I’ve learned to see food as a pastime, a hobby, because I knew I had to otherwise it would seem like a punishment. So I ate slow. I learned to cherish it.

I also learned to enjoy food alone, my favorite pastimes is going out to eat by myself. I enjoy focusing on the flavors instead of talking to people. When I eat with other people I often talk too much and can’t enjoy the true flavors of the food. And they often finish before I do, then I feel rushed.

I have several favorites:
1. Enjoying a day at the Korean spa then eating Korean food, tofu pot to be exact. It’s the most nourishing day, my body feels relaxed and the food nourishes my being.
2. Sitting at a cafe for hours and just drinking coffee. Sometimes people watching.
3. Tacos and horchata is the perfect combo
4. Tuna tartare
5. Mojitos and margaritas
6. Dark ales and fries or anything fried
7. Sushi, fish eggs, sashimi, scallops
8. Rich chocolate cakes, ice creams, magnum ice creams, truffles, Lindt truffles

My dislikes:
1. Waiters asking if I’m okay ten thousand times or taking my food before I’m done. This has happened many times because I’m a slow eater and sometimes the last bite looks small but I’m literally still eating.
2. I don’t dislike steak but I’m not a huge meat eater because I chew really slow and then I get tired.
3. Surprisingly I don’t think macaroons are that good, they’re quite dry for me.

I believe good food isn’t about eating “healthy” per say, because I’ve met the most unhappy and unfulfilled “healthy” eating people. They are a drag to be around. Asian culture believe food is the center of soul and heart, it’s about love and family, friendship and nourishment. A good soup is slow cooked for days and it is cooked with love and heart. A salad isn’t healthy if it doesn’t make you happy.

I Believe food should make you smile, it should make you happy.

It should have rich flavors at times to celebrate your inner health, but lightness at times too. It should have an expression of who you want to be.

Food is that way to me, it heals my heart when I’m feeling hopeless in life, it gives me more energy and zest to take on my dreams.
It is refreshment to my heart.
Food marks my times of triumph, my times of process, my transitions, my celebrations, my times of unknowing and even fears, it consoles me and speaks to me….like eating beach side with my friend in Hawaii, talking about boys, like making friends with the sushi chef at my favorite sushi spot, like watching the rain as I drink coffee and journal, like remembering intimate conversations with my friend at our Korean spot, like hot pot with my Taiwanese friend, like eating with my mom….

Food is my expression and conversation of love, it’s how I express gratitude for life, every time I eat I feel gratitude for the life it gives me, the energy to keep going in my dreams, it builds relationships in my life and it is a commonality I have with people when I mention food types…and a glow spark in their eyes, “you too? You love ramen too?” A wide smile spreading across our faces, like the feeling of remembering a long lost best friend or a favorite experience in our life.

Fast friendships have formed in my life because of food. I’ll always feel gratitude for the depth of love food makes my heart feel.