Month 10 of Remote Year started my two months of whirlwind traveling to many places and only spending half a month with the Ohana group in each of the cities in December and January. These were two very hectic months where I went to 8 cities and flew 11 times. But it was so worth it and I feel I grew a tremendous amount. It was a great blend between doing things that are important for me personally and professionally and being part of Remote Year.
December 1st-4th: Quito, Ecuador
Leaving Lima, I flew to Quito, Ecuador for 4 days on my own. I didn’t know much about Ecuador but somehow felt compelled to go because it is just north of Peru and it’s on the way to Florida where I was going to next. And since I opted out of Remote Year for the month of December I needed to find my own accommodation, so whether it’s working in Ecuador or anywhere else it doesn’t make a difference. Since I hadn’t seen much of South America before this trip, I had a goal to see as much of it as possible during my 6 months here. I had already taken side trips to Uruguay and Chile, so Ecuador was the next logical place that I wanted to see and that is somewhat convenient and economical to get to. I also really wanted to go to Bolivia and Paraguay but logistics they were much harder.
It was a nice few days in a tranquil, hilly and historic city. I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing and mainly enjoyed my time walking in the city and doing work in various cafes. I also recorded a video introducing my coaching service on the rooftop outside the hotel room I was staying in.
The feeling I got from Ecuador and its people reminded me of Nepal, which is one of my favorite countries. I loved my two hiking trips there and loved the peace and calmness I felt there. Nepal has many similarities to India but feels much more tranquil. Similarly, Ecuador shares many of the same as other South American countries but somehow feels much calmer, both the city and its people. I enjoyed that for the few days that I was there.
I stayed at Hotel + Arte close to Plaza Foch which is a location my new Ecuadorian friend Sebastian recommended. I had previously planned on staying in Old Town but was told that I won’t be going there more than once and it’s not that safe at night. When I first got to the city I didn’t love the hotel or the neighborhood. My room was very cold even though the outside temperature was very nice, around 20 Celsius the whole time. Later I found out that the weather is basically the same all year round, chilly at night and warm during the day, due to its high altitude of 2800 meters above sea level, which is the 2nd highest capital in the world after La Paz, Bolivia. Once I got to the old town, I felt I enjoyed the vibe and the view much more and wished I had stayed there.
But a couple of days later I realized that the walk from where I was staying to old town was really pleasant and it was nice to stay in a slightly more residential neighborhood to get a better feel of what it’s like to live there. I also started to appreciate the hotel I was staying iin, with its convenient location, the nice staff, and the functional room, and for the price I paid, $22 a night, I really can’t complain.
The first morning I was there I went for a run towards old town and discovered some nice parks along the way. Before getting back to the hotel, I stopped by a bakery to get a tea. As I was struggling with my Spanish trying to understand the flavors of the teas, a nice Brazilian gentleman helped me out. It turned out that he was traveling in Ecuador for an extended period and we found common ground in Kambo and Ayahuasca. We met up for lunch later, walked around in Old Town, and found a very local place Cafeteria Modelo for lunch. It’s a really authentic place and even had a piano player playing beautiful live music.
The menu had mostly meat or pasta dishes, neither of which I eat very much so I chose chicken lasagna, which turned out to be the best I’d ever had with lots of cheese, just the way I like it. I discovered that there is a lot meat in Ecuadorian food so there wasn’t that much I could eat, especially since I was just coming out of Ayahuasca and wanted to keep the clean diet for a couple of weeks. My new friend and I talked more about plant and animal medicine, which made me more convinced about the retreat I was going to be doing in January.
My daily routine in Quito was to wake up, record some videos some days, do a work out, walk to the old town, and work in different cafes. I discovered a local coffee place Sweet & Coffee which is similar to Starbucks and worked from there most of the time. The other popular coffee place is Juan Veldez, which I only discovered later when I was in Colombia that it is a very popular Colombian chain. The other thing I found out about old town Quito was that there is soft serve ice cream everywhere and for less than a dollar it was super delicious.
I was surprised by how many historical buildings there are in the city and really impressed with all the beautiful churches and basilicas such as this one, Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus.
During my time there it was getting close to the Foundation of Quito day and I saw lots of Chiva buses all over the city and a parade one night in the old town.
I found out later from my friend that Chiva buses were originally used for transportation in Ecuador and Colombia and now have been made into party buses. They looked really fun and I had the thought that it would be cool to get on one. Later that month I got my wish fulfilled when I went to Medellin land went on one with the Ohana group.
December 5-12th: Florida – Date with Destiny
After my 4 days in Quito I took a red-eye flight to Miami, Florida and took the Brightline speed train to West Palm Beach for the Tony Robbins event Date with Destiny.
At the check-in counter of the hotel I met my roommate Lily who is originally from China and has been living in the US for 7 years. We hit it off right away. I was really impressed with all the Tony Robbins seminars she had attended in just the past year. We went for registration at the convention center and got some delicious Mexican food after. I went to bed early that night which was much needed as I hadn’t slept the night before and knew the next 6 days were going to be really insane with very little time to sleep.
I signed up for Date with Destiny as an impulse purchase at the end of the first Tony Robbins event I attended, Unleash the Power Within, in February in Singapore, just before coming to Remote Year. Before I came to Florida I was a bit skeptical of whether I was going to get more out of an event like this since I felt I had already done so much personal development work until then. Nonetheless, by day 1 I was already feeling that I had gotten so much out of it. Even meeting so many incredible people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met was already worth it for me.
Overall, it was an incredible 6 days and nights of jumping around, dancing, hugging, giving and getting massages, and of course most importantly lots of learning, introspecting, feeling, loving, and connecting. Tony Robbins is truly a master at influencing people and showing them the possibility of living a beautiful life. How he manages to get 5000 people to learn, reflect, go deep, dance, scream, be silly while not sleeping or eating much at the level of intensity that he does is just mind-blowing.
I had so many learning and breakthroughs from this week, the most important of all is about love. I am now making love my number 1 value, I’m committed to give love without expecting it in return, and I realize through a very powerful earliest-memory-visualization-exercise that love is abundant and everywhere, and even when I don’t feel it at all times, it’s still there.
On the last day, the integration exercise was so powerful where we yelled in groups of 4 in peak state our power virtues, mission statements, and towards and away values, leading with the phrase: “I, our name, see, hear, feel, and know … .” The format of the away value was the most powerful for me. Here are all the statements I declared at this exercise:
“I, Kristina Liu, see, hear, feel, and know”:
Power virtue: “I am love, courage, and playfulness.”
Mission statement: “The purpose of my life is to be courageous and playful, to enjoy all the beauty and magic that is in the universe, and to share my love and wisdom with myself and others.”
Towards Values: “I am love & compassion, courage, playfulness, health & vitality, and determination.”
Away Value: “I will never again indulge in the stupid and destructive emotion of self-doubt. Because it destroys my authenticity, it makes me play small, it gives me unnecessary anxiety. This is really just my fear of not being enough and not being loved. This is not who I am. In order to indulge in that, I’d have to forget that I am courageous, powerful, and loving. All I really have to do is remember and know that I am love, courage, playfulness, power, and determination. My life will ultimately be amazing and extraordinary and that’s how I’m committed to living my life!”
I was very happy to receive my completion certification and really enjoyed the team that I worked with for the 6 days – team Orange 7 the Destiny Dazzlers. In fact, we still have a very active WhatsApp group where we keep exchanging ideas, share successes, and motivate each other.
Here are the highlights of my entire 6-day experience.
I started using a lot the learning from the seminar just one day after the event with a client and saw amazing breakthroughs in him. Besides the learning at the event, just the incredible people I met, the friendships I made, and the love that I experienced, these alone made the trip worth it. I believe Tony Robbins is a master at inspiring change in people and I feel anyone could benefit from going to one of his events if you are ready for it and willing to put in your part.
I’m a believer in an integrated approach of self-development. I don’t believe there is one approach that’s the be all end all. I have tried many of them – reading, listening to podcasts and audio books, going to seminars, workshops, retreats, doing process group, getting coaching, talking to people, traveling, meditating, exercising, experiencing plant and animal medicine – and I have benefited from them all. That’s what I encourage everyone to do, to have an open mind, try as many approaches as you are curious about, and enjoy the process. Because when you are open-minded and enjoy the process, learning and growth will happen inevitably. After all, enjoyment is a manifestation of love, and I believe love conquers all – it is the reason we are all here.
December 13-15th: Panama City
After the seminar I flew to Panama City for a few days on the way to Medellin. I had never been to Central America so thought I’d go to the place that is most easily accessible. I was so tired after the Tony Robbins event that I slept so much for the next couple of days. The Hilton that I used my miles to book had the most comfortable bed, sheets, and pillows that made me feel like I was in heaven. I didn’t really see much else in the city besides doing work with this view from the hotel room and my occasional short walk to a nearby grocery store.
It was actually perfect for what I needed at that time. I went on the room top from time to time to get a chance of scenery which was super nice too.
December 16-29th: Medellin, Colombia
When I got to Medellin it was close to Christmas time so all the festivities had already started. The first day that I got back, there was a gingerbread making contest in my apartment organized by several Ohanas. Not having lived in the US when I was a kid I never got a chance to make gingerbread houses for Christmas. I was really glad I finally got to do it now and it was super fun.
I also went to Parque Norte that weekend where there was a full-on display of Christmas Lights throughout the whole park. I was super impressed by the scale of the display and the fact it was completely free.
I didn’t connect with Medellin right away and I almost felt bad about it because so many Remotes love it. Maybe deep down I wanted Peru to remain my favorite South American country and Lima to be my favorite South American city. Also I prefer cities that are flat, with wide streets, and that have a body of water, whereas Medellin is really hilly, has narrow streets, and no water close by. Slowly however, the city grew on me. The neighborhood I was staying in, El Pablado, is really lively and has lots of cafes, restaurants and bars. Since I opted out of the month and didn’t have access to the work space, I worked out of various cafes in the neighborhood. The one that I really liked and ended up going to everyday was Pergamino which was always filled with digital nomads on their laptops.
One of the highlights of the month was the Chivas bus we went on as a group right before Christmas. I was so glad I finally got to experience it after I got so intrigued by them in Ecuador earlier that month. It is basically a party bus that is colorfully decorated and since it was around Christmas time, ours was in full Christmas decor. For 3-4 hours we partied on the bus, blasting a mix of Christmas and hip hop music, and it was a blast.
We also stopped by 3 places around the city where there were Christmas lights.
We also stopped by a local bakery for a pastry that is filled with cheese which is my favorite of all local foods I had in Colombia. There are various names for it depending on what shape it is and what type of flour the pastry is made of. I only remember the name Arepa, which also happens to be my favorite type of them all. It seems that many countries around the world have something similar, like in Serbia the Borek, which was also my favorite food there.
The other highlight in Medellin was the overnight stay on Christmas eve to Guatape, a town 3-4-hour drive from Medellin. We stayed with a Colombian family. On Christmas eve, we had a delicious traditional Christmas meal, exchanged secret Santa gifts, had some of our talented Ohanas perform, and danced and chatted until late into the night.
The next day, Christmas day, we went on a boat for a few hours. That was my absolute favorite, being on the water, with music, the sun, and a beautiful view. Life couldn’t get better.
We jumped into the water from a bridge.
I even managed to have some success with wake-boarding.
After the boat we hiked up 700 steps to the rock of Guatape which had the most gorgeous view.
This was one of the best Christmases I had ever had. It also wraps up month 10 of Remote Year. Next stop we move to another city in Colombia, the capital Bogota, a bigger and more metropolitan city. I would continue my trend of only staying there for half of the time due to the side trips I would take to Ecuador to visit a friend and to Peru for my first transformation retreat. More exciting times to come in the last 2 months of my exciting year-long journey.