600km Walking Pilgrimage through Spain

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on September 2 2008

From the moment I discovered an ancient pilgrimage path in Spain in June last year, the attraction of walking hundreds of kilometres towards an assured destination grew on me daily. My eagerness to go on a month-long journey on foot across the steep slopes, lush valleys and forests of the Pyrenees, and through countless small towns and villages, was part of a subconscious quest to find depth and meaning in my life. At the age of 33, I was approaching – prematurely, perhaps – what seemed to be a mid-life crisis.

Straits Times Life! Article,Denise Chng Lisan,Camino de Santiago,Camino Frances

Letter from Quebec: Preserving Heritage

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on November 8 2008

'TRAVEL is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living,' wrote Miriam Beard. Life in Quebec is now my teacher, pointing out my knowledge gaps and honing my ideas of living - be it language, culture, life-skills, or the environment.

Denise Chng Lisan

Excavating with tender loving care

Posted by Denise CHNG Lisan On Friday, May 15, 2009

My little seeds are germinating into little plants with tiny leaves. They are so tiny and fragile that even the sunlight could burn them. I am torn between keeping the little seedlings indoors, safe from the harsh winds, or outdoors where they could get sunlight for growth. Ah, the nurturing stage is always tricky...not too much of this, and not too much of that. It requires the watchful eye, and lots of tender loving care.

In the mean time, I'm excavating ground outside in the yard. From a tiny vision of growing a row of sunflowers, I now find myself having to dig up a quarter of my yard to prepare the ground. And it's not really 'just dig up', but really digging...and digging deep. My kind neighbor sees my pitiful efforts of using a little spade, and loans me the big guys. I toil away cutting patches of lawn, and find myself staring at a parallel universe underneath the dark, mysterious soil - colonies of ants, writhing earthworms, fat maggots, and camouflaged beetles. Eeeewwww.....

I poke at the soil, giving them lots of warning to escape. Please, disappear, I pray. I have no heart to pierce into juicy flesh, nor to do more damage to the natural habitat of these unsuspecting fauna. I feel like the merciless corporate institutions plundering the goods of innocent lives. But I say to the poor earthworm, "Such is life. You need to go away, so I can take your land and grow my food."

11 Response to 'Excavating with tender loving care'

  1. Anonymous Said,'> 19 July 2009 at 09:53

    just do you sustain financially by being a full time traveler?...i wanted to do this all along..but the bread and butter really bother me


  2.'> 22 July 2009 at 13:28

    It's a direct question with no straightforward answer. How much do you want to do this? I mean, seriously?

    In every way possible, I will incorporate travel into my projects and the vision of my life. At the heart of it all, I see my life experiences from the eyes of a traveler.

    The question of bread and butter plagues most of us in modern society. But the fear and insecurity attached to it is often blown beyond proportions. If we calculate the basics, there is actually very little we need. The way I see it, the ego clinches on to this fear to stop us from pursuing our heart's deepest desires.


  3. alkie_traveller Said,'> 21 September 2009 at 11:43

    I am the the anonymous that posted the previous comment and had just quit my hectic job. Had enough of the day to day routine. Don't know if it is for the better or worse but at least I feel good for now. Next thing on my to do list is the Camino. But seems that the best time to do it will be in Spring (and that will be in March 2010).

    Not sure what is in it for me, but I guess that is life. The best part is not knowing what will happen next. Like some wise dude who once said, "its okie not to have nay memories when you are old, but will be really terrible if you have lots of regrets". Guess i would need to find out what my passion really is, before i can really make the next move.


  4.'> 21 September 2009 at 13:44

    Hi Alkie traveller,

    I would like to say congratulations and bravo! It's not an easy route to take, but like what the wise dude said, it would be terrible to live with regrets. Not knowing what is ahead is part of the adventure. Yours has begun, and that is exciting.

    You will need time and patience to discover what your passion really do take your time. In the mean time, stay open to any possibilities and opportunities that feel right to you. With time and faith, you'll start to discover that things do mysteriously fall into place.

    The Camino will be a great place and time to listen to your heart. And yes, late Spring and Summer and early Autumn months are best to walk the Camino. But it's not that far from now. You can take the time to read and prepare for the trip.

    Keep me posted on your journey!

    cheers and bon courage!


  5. alkie traveller Said,'> 23 September 2009 at 01:12

    Hi Denise,

    After some thoughts (actually, its that i can't wait..hahaha), i had sort of decided to do it in early October, which is another week from now. How is the weather going to be like there? Will there be bus service in between villages if i intend to skip certain part? Don't know why but the idea of doing the Camino in 2 weeks time really make me pretty high..haha.

    alkie traveller


  6.'> 23 September 2009 at 19:14

    Hi Alkie traveller,

    that's great! You're a lot more speedy than I was....I decided to do the Camino two months before I started. The adrenaline feels really good, isn't it?! Enjoy the journey!

    October is a great time to walk the Camino in my opinion. You'll miss the flowers blooming, but the weather is cool and the albergues are not full. Be prepared for 9-15 degrees Celsius temperature, and some warm days too. (I walked from Sep 20 till Oct 19 2007)

    Start breaking into your walking boots early if you can. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

    Here's some inspiration for you:

    Cheers! =)


  7.'> 23 September 2009 at 19:19

    Sorry I missed your second question:
    Yes, there are bus services you can take to cut parts of your journey. I took a bus from Burgos to Sahagun, cutting 200km, and missing Mesa - a beautiful flat plateau on the Camino.

    How long (for how many days) do you plan to walk, and where are you planning to start?


  8. alkie_traveller Said,'> 23 September 2009 at 20:48

    Hey Denise,

    Thanks alot for the information. I am thinking of 30 days of walking and to start at SJPP. Had read online that its one of the best place to begin the Camino. But guess i won't be able to do it as soon as i wanted to. In the midst of preparing to do it this October, i then realise i had cleanly forgotten about my duty to the nation(my reservist is in early Nov)...haha. Might not be a bad thing though to do it in March. And anyway, it just goes to show how everything is written...maktub.

    and P.S. i hate my reservist, luckily this is my last one.



  9.'> 24 September 2009 at 02:06

    Haha! I see you've been reading Paulo Coelho. =) Yes, it must have been written....March is waiting for you somehow. All the best to your last reservist!


  10.'> 29 March 2010 at 08:08

    Hi Alkie traveler,

    So did you end up walking the Camino?

    Look forward to hear from you...


  11.'> 27 March 2014 at 09:25

    Hi Denise,

    Finally after talking about it more than 3 years ago (in fact should be 6 years back when I read your article in Life), I am finally doing the Camino next week. But not the French way but Camino Ingles. Lots of thing happen the past years but boy am I glad I finally get out to do the walk.

    Not sure how it will ended up but hey, like they say, things just take care of themselves on the Camino.



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