The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the tag “inspiration”

My Favourite El Nido Videos

There’s all sorts of videos out there about El Nido that range from the humdrum to the self-absorbed but there are a couple of gems that stand out. They manage to capture the spirit and expansive beauty of Palawan. Forget about the humans that grace the landscape, it’s the scenery that steals the show. Humans simply give scale and context.

I still get that ‘wow’ feeling when I think back to the time ‘the Chef’ and I were there. If you visit El Nido and open your heart and mind to the experience you just might end up feeling the same way.

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SOLD!….and so the countdown begins

Sold

Sold!

The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams. ~ Oprah Winfrey

FINALLY.

After months of being in limbo purgatory we sold our house. Now, the countdown begins. Soon our dream of living a ‘simple’ life in Coron Palawan will be real.

We had a five-year plan and it hasn’t been easy. There’s been doubts and struggles but we’ve also learned lots in the process.

Never stop dreaming.
Our dream is not to live in Palawan. Our dream is to change our lifestyle. Coron, Palawan just happens to be where we think we can best do this. We’ve had setbacks and failures and I’m sure we’ll have more but we won’t let it stop us from following our dream.

Don’t let unsupportive people drag you down.
Most of our family and friends are supportive of our plans but there have been some surprises. A few closest to us can’t seem to wrap their heads around why we want to trade in our comfortable western lifestyle for a third world adventure. We all have our own definition of success and happiness and I guess we don’t conform to conventional ideas. I won’t deny – it did sting us a little – but we refuse to let others dictate our path.

Don’t be afraid of uncertainty.
We know how the system works in Canada. It’s organized and predictable. When we started out we knew nothing about Coron except that it was an amazing place to holiday. Fear of the unknown has stopped many dreams. We had a lot of uncertainty in the beginning but rather than give up on the idea of living there we began to chip away at our fears. We started to talk to lots of different people – expats, locals, friends, and family – and we listened intently. We did a lot of research and treated every visit as a learning experience. There will always be uncertainty but now that we have a better understanding of the processes and cultural practices we feel more confident moving forward.

Be flexible to change.
As much as we think we can control our life, the universe has different ideas. At first we wanted to start a small resort or B&B but after much research and reflection we weren’t sure if that would be the right path for us. By that time we really wanted to live in Coron so rather than abandon the idea we decided to think about other ways to achieve our goal.

You never know where your journey will take you. Who would have ever guessed we would become organic farmers on a tropical island paradise in the South China Sea.

Trust. Love. Hope. Believe.

Hope

Our life has been on hold ever since we put our house up for sale. We naively thought it would only take a month before we would pack everything up and start our new life in Palawan. Now it’s been almost three months and the stagnation is driving us stir crazy. As the world continues to spin we feel more and more out of synch with our life here in Canada and our future in Coron seems so far away. Our journey has never felt so lonely and doubt and fear keep trying to muscle their way in.

But every day is a new beginning and it’s a chance to replace doubt with trust, fear with belief. The real estate market is showing some signs of life again and we’re starting to get some nibbles on the house. It feels good enough that we’re allowing ourselves to talk about the farm again. How many pineapples will we grow? How many crops will we have in a year? Where will we get our sausage casings?

I opened my eyes from a deep slumber and took in the morning light. I turned my face towards ‘the Chef.’ He was awake and smiling. He squeezed my hand. I knew then he felt it too. It starts with a feeling deep inside, an effervescence that works its way up through flesh and bone before releasing itself as a smile. This is what hope feels like and it’s amazing what a little can do in an uncertain time.

“Turn your face to the sun and let the shadows fall behind you.” Maori Proverb

Are You Living Life or Waiting to Die?

Living Life

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” ~ William G.T. Shedd

There’s going to be a time in your life when you arrive at a certain point of being comfortable and you might ask yourself, “Is it enough to make me happy?” By this time you’ll have fully established a certain lifestyle, a group of friends, a place in society but nothing excites you like it used to. All of a sudden you don’t know what to do with your life.

Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes. ~ Hugh Prather

I reached that point. My body started to give me signs. I got headaches and back pain. My mind became became grey. For years I struggled to find the spark that would reignite my passion for life. I dove into the world of pastry and chocolate thinking it would fulfil my creative side while bringing ‘the Chef’ and I closer together. I created sweet things that gave everyone pleasure. But still, it was not enough. Soon life turned grey for ‘the Chef’.

Then we went to Palawan, Philippines for a long awaited vacation and suddenly there was light and life was filled with vibrant colour again. A new dream was conceived and we hatched a plan to live in that colourful world. Almost five years later we’re almost there.

Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. ~ Farrah Gray

Amongst our friends and family there is surprise, curiosity and encouragement. There is also concern, negative voices and jealousy. Some closest to us think we are crazy to give up our ‘established’ life and are going ‘backwards’ by moving to a third world country to farm. We envision a life that is simpler, more meaningful and with less distractions. We acknowledge there is risk but we are willing to take a chance. We figure, “What’s to lose?”

It might sound like a mid-life crisis but it can happen at any stage in your life. At 29, Sanne had a hectic but successful life in Sweden. After fainting behind the wheel of her car she decided to give up her stressful life and moved to an island paradise where she runs a hostel. You can read about her life changing journey here, ‘Sanne, 29, sold everything and moved to the Philippines.‘ If you ever reach a tipping point in your life would you accept the status quo of a safe life or would you be brave enough to make a change?

Feeling burnt out, stuck or full of doubt?

Here’s a playlist of TEDtalks to watch when you don’t know what to do with your life. Maybe you hear something that will set your mind free.

The #1 Reason We Love Palawan

Spear-fishing with Fred

Spear-fishing in Coron Bay.

“Do you want to go spear-fishing tomorrow?” Don asked. “Hell, Yeah!” we said. You didn’t have to ask us twice. Water is one of the many reasons we love Palawan. We are both inextricably drawn to the call of the sea.

Childhood memories

Bringing back childhood memories.

On our first visit to Palawan ‘the Chef’ was standing on a beach and with the sensation of sand between his toes was transported back to a time when he was an 8 year old boy. Back then his father was in the German army which gave the family the opportunity to move to a base in Sardinia, Italy. Here, his family lived on the beach in a canvas tent.

water

Water is life.

Imagine your father taking you and your little brother out to sea in a small boat and throwing you both overboard. This is how ‘the Chef’ learned to swim. With his new-found skill he learned to spear-fish with the local Italian kids. I didn’t have it quite so dramatic. We had civilized swimming lessons in grade four. I wasn’t a strong swimmer but always felt comfortable in water, so much so I jumped off the high diving board without really thinking about what happens when you reach the bottom.

water

Being part of the sea.

As mesmerizing as water can be it has incredible power that needs to be respected. The sea and mother nature are in constant flux. We got this dose of reality on our boat expedition from Coron to El Nido.

Forboding seas

Realizing you’re only a tiny part of mother nature.

Cruising over the Linapacan Strait, our small bangka groaned as we crested ten foot swells. I realized it was a hairy situation for the crew of the Krisolo when Jem our guide came to the front and asked us if we were okay. He had a concerned look. I knew we were in good hands with our old school Captain Lolong so I wasn’t so much concerned as I was captivated and exhilarated by the sea’s powerful energy.

Backyard

Nothing cures whatever ails you like salt water can.

There’s just something about escaping on the water that calms the soul. Palawan is the ultimate water world for any nature lover. We can’t wait to make it our backyard.

Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?

Slowly our friends and family are beginning to take notice. Back in 2012 when we started talking about moving to the Philippines we got a lot of “let’s just humour them” nods. I think most thought it was just a novel idea that would pass like a highschool crush. Now as we get ready for our next visit to Palawan we get another type of look, the slightly surprised “Oh, they’re serious” look.

I don’t blame them. It’s a pretty big lifestyle change we’re proposing. We’ll be going from Executive Chef and Designer to organic farmers. We’ve already begun to simplify our lives and shift our way of thinking.

‘The Chef’s’ cousin and wife dropped by the other day and as we talked about our ideas for the farm they told us we had to watch this TEDxTalk.

The speaker, Jon Jandai, talks about his journey from the rice fields of northeastern Thailand to the big city of Bangkok and back again to the rice fields. He talks about his hardship in the pursuit of success. What he concludes is so simple but so provocative.

It reminds me of ‘the tourist and fisherman parable’ a story about how an enterprising tourist tells a local fisherman how to improve his life (you can read the story here). The only difference is Jandai’s story is real. To watch his talk just click on the video above.

Freedom & the Pursuit of Happiness

In case you didn’t know there is an non-profit organization called TED devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” On their website you can find conversations, view talks and read news coverage about anything from flying robotic birds to scuba diving in a wheelchair.

Often a subject matter reverberates with something inside us and inspires us to think and challenge our perspective on things. Read more…

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