Tag Archives: travellerproblems

Ode to SE Asia

I spent a few days jotting down everything I could remember about yoga training. Every body, mind, and spiritual ‘a-hah’ moment…then I pressed save and called it a day. If you really must know, ask me…but ultimately yoga training is such a personal experience, I almost didn’t feel like sharing it would do it justice, and as well…a bit selfish perhaps, I don’t really want to give away all the answers to the work I did…and they are relevant to me, and me only. I’m sure things will come up again as themes, as I hope that I continue to live in a lifestyle influenced by yogic philosophy, but I’m not going to post my 9000 word document on ‘what I learned’.

That being said, sorry for the terribly sporadic posting …or lack there of more specifically. To be honest nothing much has really happened. I’m in India now, Kolkata to be exact (well now I’m in Jaipur…lack of wifi!), however I’ve been sick since the day I left Yoga Training. I started getting achy on the ferry back to Surat Thani and was basically unmovable by the time our 12 person minibus started karting 14 of us to Bangkok when the ‘VIP’ bus broke down. As I got to Khao San Rd I booked it straight to Mama’s Guesthouse on Rambuttri, my fave hidden 100 baht per night joint and laid down. I slept for about 4 days, with all details of a flu before catching my flight to Kolkata.

A word on Mama’s…my favourite! 150 for a single room (5 bucks), 100 for a dorm, or 300 for a double. If you’re walking on Rambuttri away from Soi Rambuttri go past the Green House (which you will for sure see) take your first right and you will see it  . One night when I was sick they brought me congee and water and also checked up on my regularly during my stay. My wifi didn’t work and they fixed it instantly as opposed to most shitty hostels that say ‘oh well’ . I bought my bus ticket to the airport there, and even though it was 5b more I did my laundry there too.

Ah! Also I found the AEON near Khao San…that is the FEE FREE ATM. Walking perpendicular to KSR go past Rambuttri, past the next street then on your right there’s a department store (right after the corner with tons of fruit juice). Go in there, there are 2 atms by the door. The grey slightly unmarked one is AEON. Google where they are through Thailand to save your 150 baht each withdrawal. They are often in Big C or Tesco Lotus locations.

On that note, here is my ‘Ode’ –if you will—to SE Asia

For starters, SEA was the subcontinent I first left home excited to see. My thirst for its culture was what had me high tail out of Aus/NZ after only 4.5 months (when I meant to spend a year)… And it has been an adventure for sure…

Cheers to Nyepi, the Balinese New Year…the day of silence police, Bali Belly, and higher alert than usual for the lizards scurrying in my roof.

Love to Radiantly Alive, Soma, and Alyssa & Banchitta for making Ubud spectacular…magical if you would…so much so that I was inspired to do my Yoga Teacher Training only months later after the yogi life of bliss we created.

To my Singapore roommates who made me remember a 3 day pit stop, and the amazing food courts…bless that city, I had no idea it would be my last taste of 1st world cleanliness until I head home in a couple months from now…6 months later.

Kua & the ‘JB Train station crew’, my favourite Malaysians to date…tough call between them and the brilliant men running the Fast Lane Indian ‘restaurant’. But KL, control your men…they’re making a bad name for you. Also, go take some foot massage lessons in Thailand, my feet should not hurt too much to walk after a massage.

I will always have a sweet (and savory) spot for the food of Penang. I might go as far as saying skipping it, you haven’t completed SEA…and that, if you are only going to India for the food, save yourself the hassle and pop in to Penang, go run the 5km hill with the Aussie army brats too if you want.

Thailand. I tried to hate you because everyone loves you, but I only fell harder and faster. You actually had the best people (ok, maybe not better than the Balinese), you were the easiest to travel (guest house, restaurant, tour booking, tattoo and beauty parlour in one), your beaches are instantly home in paradise, Chiang Mai captures your heart (and stomach), while Bangkok…oh Bangkok. The city with dirt cheapies, highest class, fake Louis and passports side by side, the best Thai balm, creepy palm readers, and everything in between…You and Sydney will always instantly feel just a little more special every time I get to see you, like those old friends you lose touch with but nothing ever changes.

Angkor, you taught me in 5 minutes why people rise for the sun; the killing fields, you have broken my heart, but in some odd way only Cambodians can manage, you’ve put it back together all the same. Bodia, whatta month, Stace-thanks for killing it with me!

The National Borey Orphanage, my second volunteer abroad experience but perhaps even a little more gut wrenching than the first. A special needs orphanage, especially one in a 2/3rd world country will make you appreciate your health and your own country, all the while well you have a glimmer of hope that you can make things there better even for one child, even just for a minute. Nothing is so humbling as to know that even with all our time, our money, and our hearts, the children won’t be saved, not really.

Khmer new year gave me the joy of knowing what it feels like to have menthol baby powder smeared in my eyes…and no, this ‘ladeeeeee’ doesn’t want a tuk tuk or ray bans today, tomorrow, or the next day. If I don’t buy the bracelet you won’t starve. And I am not a ‘bitch’ for not wanting your said tuk tuk to walk 5 feet. Also, Phnom Penh: Asians are supposed to be good with numbers, sort those street numbers, cheers.

Thank you: to the lady who wiped me off my bike on the way to work. Now that I am in fact fine, I appreciate that I got to see so many clinics…And more importantly, you showed me how much I’d grown in how I handled the situation comparatively to my knee incident only months before in Australia.

‘Nam. Something different…finally. No, I didn’t like being grabbed or having my phone stolen, but I liked how I was ‘miss’ instead of ‘lady’, and I will never be sick of banh mi. Your coast of repeating tourists reminded me of the glory days in Oz when nothing really mattered but boys and a good tan, but with way better buses. Skol! To the too many Danish I met at Halong bay, and to every person I met that had been to India for pushing me past the tipping point. And Why Not bar, I will be forever indebted to you for the quantity of free beverages you provided for me pre or post fres beer smash sessions.

Laos, you bastard…you rained on my parade. Thank god for you, the waterfalls in Luang Prabang may have been the prettiest natural beauty I’ve seen in Asia….yes, even more so than Phranang beach on the Railay peninsula…and IT had hundreds of willy statues.

Koh Phangan. A month of yoga teacher training, Namaste to all of you…you people who all taught me something, some taught me many things, some taught me useless things, others taught me things they don’t know they taught me…but you have confirmed for me that the best learning requires no tuition, and have restored my faith in small groups of committed people, as Margaret Mead might elude…to change the world, even if it’s only mine.
–And to the full moon, thank you for NOT stealing my money, drugging my bucket, or getting me arrested for refusing to put my pants back on after peeing in the ocean…without walking far enough into the ocean. And a special mention to the long tail boat that let me nap while I waited for my half price fare back to the wrong beach.

My love hate affair with your nuances ends here SEA…as I lay full of street curry in my Ashram in Delhi sipping chai by the 2oz Dixie cup. A month of volunteering, a month of teacher training, puking on buses, concussions, attempted and successful robbery, huge nights out, hilarious days in watching monsoon rains, 2 new years, and food to surprise even my taste buds….and all in all 4 amazing, unforgettable months. Ciao to the never—ending scam that is South East Asia. I like to think I escaped many of your same same tricks, I am at peace with the ones I know couldn’t be avoided, and I challenge you to give me a run for my money next time (figuratively…you did the literal bit this time), because I know I’ll be back.

The People Make the Place

On the note of the holidays, being away, and leaving Australia, I thought I’d talk a bit about the sweet ass people I’ve met…and meeting people on travels in general.

It is interesting to think that people I’ve known for less than 3 months have become as familiar to call as my friends from home I’ve known for years. More so interesting about the East coast is that it’s like a massive college residence…The same group of people heads to the same places at the same pace…everybody knows everybody’s business, has people they like, others they don’t and there’s even a bit of a popularity hierarchy. That being said, all of us ended up in Sydney for the holidays, and dramas aside we were family for xmas and new year 2012/13. That based on the fact that in this new country we are all in together, our 3 month long ‘relationships’ were the best ones we have, and those people were the only ones we wanted to be with. Oddly enough I didn’t actually miss home because holidays were so social…it wasn’t until the week after the New Year when everyone started to move on that I realized the family that we’ve all built in Oz.

I found it weird that it seemed like I’ve known everyone for ages…but I’ve known most of them for the entire time I’ve been in Oz…Australia is what it is because of the people, and them leaving makes it different, and me leaving Oz is leaving them. Every experience I’ve had in Oz (well most…due to knowledge that my parents and their friends read the blog) have been documented here in detail, have been photographed and whatsapped to friends back home, and updated in statuses on facebook…but ultimately these people are the ones that were actually there, that know what each party was like, how soaked we were on the whitsundays, and how awesome our flat was in Bondi. Knowing that realistically I may never see 90 % of these people again is leaving me with a bit of a bittersweet feeling as I continue my adventures.

As I keep quoting Eat, Pray, Love…Liz mentions ‘accept everyone you meet as a teacher’. When I consider that combined with the cliche that everything happens for a reason, it is quite interesting to look at the turn of events that has led me to the relationships I have with my Oz family. Some of whom I spent a couple days with, others months.

Basically, if I hadn’t flown to Cairns on Halloween I wouldn’t have met half the people I did…because I was the foreign girl who faceplanted in bite the box… Specifically I wouldn’t have met Elliot who fed me goon like water, which got me out and partying where I met Shannon and Simon. The next day I lent make up remover to Simon in the common area where I met Stacy and Jasmin. Because the Irish girls continued travelling, Simon and I used the bar tab at PJ OBriens, became good mates and started travelling the coast. If I hadn’t become friends with Titia I wouldn’t have gone out irresponsibly before my 7am bus leaving Cairns, but because I did I met Tim, Dave, and Fraser who I saw in Airlie, Byron, and shared a flat with in Bondi! If I hadn’t wanted to see my friend Brennan in Townsville we wouldn’t have gone to Magnetic Island…which means Simon wouldn’t have rode horses in to the sea…yeah,… no big gain, but I did see Brennan!…In Airlie we met Kristy and Nicki who spent the holidays with us in Sydney as well, and we met Izzy, Gemma, and the Twins who I’ve seen again at Wake Up in Sydney…because we were predrinking with the 3 boys..Off to fraser island where I realized the kind of traveller I don’t want to be…(we’ll leave it at that)…and also how to ‘give feedback’ to foreigners…I also met Danielle and Emma who I got to know better in Byron bay. Then off to Noosa where I met up with Josh from home and was re-inspired to continue my travels beyond Oz and met Anna who turned out to be one of my biggest teachers on this trip, and only because Jasmin was working at the hostel so I felt peer pressured to go out. If it weren’t for Jas I wouldn’t have met German, who was a gem and got me to go out with Emma, Lyam and ‘big dave’…Then to Brisbane then Surfers (nothing much happened there…just accepting that I was once as immature as schoolies, and that it’s ok to let people learn for themselves and not be an uptight bitch) then to Coolangatta…where nobody goes, but where I met Rachel, Ellie, and Lucie who have become some of my best friends in Oz (staying with them in Sydney right now!), I also wouldn’t have hurt my knee which is what made me sit down and actually reflect in Byron Bay where I spent the first week with Anna going to crazy parties, and watching sunsets with Danny reflecting on life and my ‘crazy’. Then to Spot x where I met girls and germans that I liked, and might have actually mellowed out for the first time, but also realized how much of a pity party I throw for myself when I watched Steph not complain once about her injured ankle. And if I had never gotten together with Eva in Sydney I would have never thought to apply at lululemon again where I ended up spending most of my holiday working, meeting sweet people, and getting my aussie accent! Ultimately that’s a super abbreviated version and vague in spots…but it’s fun to look back at the sequence of events, and the points where saying ‘sure why not’ or ‘fine i’ll go’ end up being the sweetest nights or leading you to the sweetest people. It makes it hard to argue against the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’…or at least we make a reason out of it. If I hadn’t gone out in Cairns I wouldn’t have met my roommates for the holidays, which would have made my Oz experience completely different.

Basically I couldn’t imagine any place I’ve been without all the people I met while there. Any place in the world is ‘what you make of it’ but based on the law of attraction, you chose the people you surround yourself with and that come in to your life. So be totally jacked on life, happy to be where you are, and ready to have a good time…because surely you don’t want to be forced into a situation where that isn’t who you’re with and your opinion of something or somewhere is anything less than amazing. Everything you do costs money and time. To not absolutely maximize it to the best of your ability is probably the dumbest thing you could do. The more I travel the more I realize that everything is a choice…everything. As much as making the wrong one can teach you, nobody intentionally makes a wrong decision to learn from it…they chose what they think is best at any given moment then learn later. You don’t know the outcome EVER, which is why I say to chose ‘yes’ over no…because as much as you don’t know if it’s the wrong choice, you also have no idea the exponentially crazy awesome potential of it being the right choice. But because you thought it was the best choice at the moment, regret is useless. Useless. Almost as useless as me inventing what other people are thinking about me and trying to act based on assumptions (Assume = ass out of u and me.

Anyway, to all the lovely friends, old and new that have made Oz what it’s been so far, Cheers (because you’re mostly English)! It’s been a slice, and I wouldn’t change a thing if I did it all over again.

And to think, I have a week of seeing old friends in Melbourne ahead of me still…lucky lady I am. Travelling…try it sometime…

Airlie Beach

B E A UTIFUL. For some reason this beach is a lot nicer than the others. With the exception of today’s overcast it is super sunny, breezy not windy, and the water is full of sail boats ready to emerge on the Whitsundays. It seems that most people are brief in their time here as most only book a pre/post Whitsundays night but we are staying for a week and I’m glad we are. Definitely too small a town to live in, but the hills of beach homes and paths around the coast line are a great scenic run! There’s an esplanade like in Cairns, but there’s actual beach as well. It’s tourist central not just for backpackers but for Australians as well. Tons of ‘everything under 20’ stores and souvenir shops including the community market we visited today. I will post more after we’ve visited Whitsundays but I figured after the Maggie Island update a more positive note was in order!

Also-before I forget-you can do stand by tours for the Whitsundays that are like half price. If you’re travelling alone I definitely recommend it. AND There’s a fish and chip place right by airlie beach backpackers that is AMAZING.

Oh! and also…beware of stairwells on Friday nights after the bar closes. I was using internet when I started hearing a couple hooking up a floor below. Then they walked passed me to go to the upstairs loft (probably to get a condom), they came back down and said “should we go elsewhere? / No its fine she wont know what we’re doing/ she looks american, she won’t understand us.” Too bad they were speaking French, I’m Canadian, and anybody could have decoded her audition to be Kelly Preston in a Jerry Maguire remake.