My head is in outer space.

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How do I feel coming home? I don’t even understand. To be honest I cried as I landed in the airport at home, of course I was excited to see everyone but I also faced the reality that I had really left the lands I fell in love with. The people that touched my heart are now scattered all over world. There is joy in all of this but also sorrow.

Like when you watch a movie, our minds don’t understand the difference of perception and reality and in my head I honestly felt like I had dreamt the whole experience. It was a transcending dream and I questioned why I couldn’t just fall back into it as I closed my eyes. Am I really here? This Is the strangest feeling.

Not letting myself really take time to rest and figure out my thoughts… I jumped into apartment and job hunting. Surrounding myself with the people I missed gave me reassurance that life here is good too as I am so thankful for being close to friends and family, but still I ached for something more. So I made the decision that I was going to pack up my car and move to Vancouver. After spending a couple days focusing my thoughts on this idea of a new experience and putting my family through an emotional roller coaster… I finally acknowledged that this wasn’t really the step I wanted to take. It was a quick fix for now.

While travelling you are always on the move; experiencing new places, people. Challenging yourself in new situations, continually finding peace and growth. I didn’t want this to stop. I was seeing returning home as taking a step back. Realistically I know this is not a step back but maybe a plateau. Or who knows what life holds, and if I stop seeing this as a negative thing then maybe I’m about to hit another climb to a peak in a place I thought I knew but which holds more than I can really expect.

I want to see the world and for this to happen being home is my best option right now. Accept where we are instead of desiring only where we were and want to be. Life leads us in ways we cannot understand at times.

Sure day to day life has more stress than ‘Where do I want to go next?’ ‘What do I feel like eating?’ So on, but maybe this is a good thing too. It’s easy to find plenty of time for meditation and reflection while travelling but maybe now is the test; to keep this inner stillness among all the chaos of the modern world. To grow friendships that I have here. To develop myself in a new way in a place I know.

Of course home is good… But it’s also not too bad either!

Jinseiryoukou. Life is good.

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Japanese culture has fascinated and influenced me for years and I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to explore a little bit of this amazing country. In a way I faced many inner challenges being there as it was such a huge culture shock after spending 4 months in South-East Asia where everyone is your friend. Greeting you with open arms and smiles. Japan… well Japan is lonely. As I walked down the crowded streets of Tokyo it brought tears to my eyes as I searched for connection in even a smile but as I looked someones way the would dodge my gaze and duck their head. In Tokyo, being a massive city, I know people develop a sort of defense mechanism to feel safe and secluded in their bubble. It is no different here in the Western world but it is exactly this disconnection of humans that I believe creates so much anguish in the world. Also faced with an overwhelming amount of electronics constantly buzzing around me I was very aware of the sensory overload that we often don’t even recognize within ourselves. We can all recall those moments where we are suddenly aware our tension has risen to an exceeding level with no understanding of what really triggered it but if you stop for a moment. Breath. Then take a scan of your preceding surroundings then maybe you to will notice the buzz. The people. The cars. The constant sounds overpowering the simplicity we desire. I missed the sounds of the stream. The birds… even those crazy roosters that seemed to mistake 3am for sunrise. The chirping of crickets. The raw sounds of existence. Life can be peaceful, if only we let it.

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Of course you can also find this tranquility within Japan but with concrete engulfing the land it takes a bit more effort to get there. I didn’t feel as much desire to get out and explore as I wish I had but the bone chilling cold will do that to you. I did spend one day in Kamakura in which I found stillness. The temples held an essence of calmness. Quite in contrast to the flashy temples I had seen over the prior four months I felt more connection to those in Japan. I loved embracing the traditions and stories along with them. I do not understand quite how giving money became so embedded in Buddhism though as this is quite contrary to any ideals Buddha held. Upon asking a local friend there why they gave money the response did not surprise me, “Because then good things will come to me.” Personally I believe this is another example of how people have twisted religion and spread preachings with desire for greed and brainwashing. Still, at the base fundamentals of it all Buddhism, and most teachings, have a beautiful core.

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Anyways, other highlights of my trip were going to the Studio Ghibli museum (amazing to see all the original artwork and creationary steps of the films), checking out Akihabara Electric Town which is the manga/animation/game central, visiting Kyoto which is full of amazing history and beautiful temples and shrines and a huge highlight for me was just spending time with the awesome people I met in Nagoya. I felt right at home and my feeling of homesickness I had felt the last few days in Tokyo was gone. I am so blessed to have made such awesome friends and I can’t wait to go back.

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Japan sure has its oddities but that’s exactly why I love it so much.

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I am my home.

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When you take a vacation you feel that you are escaping ‘life’ in a sense while the conclusion I have come to about travelling is that I am not escaping any reality but rather creating a new reality for myself. Discovering life from a whole new perspective. I have found a sense of home in a place that seems so foreign and unimaginable. We can belong anywhere if we open our hearts to it. I truly miss my friends and family but I am so blessed that I now also have friends all over the world.

As you travel you meet so many people that really have similar energies to those you have connected with in life before. Through meeting so many different people and facing so many different situations it also strengthens your feeling of intuition and ability to read and understand people better. Everyday I learn more about myself and the world around me. I know you have heard it before but now I truly understand the power behind it when people say travelling is the best thing you can do for yourself, because I have to say, it really is. We all dream but are so scared of leaving our bubble of comfort that we find excuses for why it is never the right time for us. It will never be the right time if you don’t make it. So in saying this, I really push you to challenge yourself to no longer dream but do.

Ill never forget that feeling of walking though the gate at the airport. As I waved goodbye to my dad my heart broke as I saw the sadness breaking through his strong face. Walking through the gates it felt like a roller coaster slowly clicking its way up the geared steps and then you get to the top and your stomach drops as you realize your really in for the fall. I was doing it; flying by myself to the other side of the world. Of course I was excited but also really fucking scared.

Let me tell you though, it’s not hard for long! There have been many challenging moments that I just wish I could have been with someone to save me but guess what… I did it. I got through everything on my own! I have seen what I can accomplish and when you get outside of your bubble of comfort you will realize that you can accomplish anything!

Also like I said, when you travel ‘alone’ you are never really alone as you attract so many like-minded and beautiful people. At the beginning I made an effort to find people by going to the places I thought they would be or so on but it didn’t take long to realize that can be absolutely exhausting if you are constantly ‘trying’. When you stop making an effort and just let your heart lead you then you attract people with similar energies and intentions. Then it’s no longer any effort but something simple and wonderful. Then you can also realize that the moments you have alone are much needed to allow for reflection and meditation. To be aware of your own growth.

My thoughts go back to one of my favourite books, The Alchemist. The shepherd boy, Santiago, goes in search of his personal legend and is getting tired of searching and ending up in the wrong directions but when he takes the time to listen to the omens he finds that life presents them to you if you are aware. Like I am also learning more about now reading Freedom by Osho, sometimes we need to be silent to find what we need.

‘Be silent and peaceful and like the roots of trees you will grow.’

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Vietnam

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To be honest upon entering Vietnam I didn’t have great expectations in one sense as more and more people seemed to be spreading the word that everyone wasn’t very friendly and it was so chaotic. Well Ho Chi Minh sure could be classed as chaotic but in the most amusing manner and as for the people. Awesome. 

 
My first experience was entering in on a local bus cram packed with people, crates of fish, and many other packages to be delivered along the journey. Therefore stopping every 10 minutes to pick up more or make a delivery. Finally arriving to My Tho in the mekong delta I was surprised to find such a hoppin’ city in comparison to what I had pictured in the countryside.    
Next day was up early to catch the boat to tour the mekong. Watching sunrise from the boat while drinking delicious Vietnamese coffee and enjoying fresh fruit from our guide was bliss. Spent 7 hours on our little boat cruising through the Mekong enjoying beautiful scenery and visiting the local floating market and rice paper factory. 
 
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After spending a couple days in the Mekong I headed to Ho Chi Minh which was an amazing city. Rush hour traffic is so insane it is miraculous to watch. Visited the War museum, cruised the streets taking in local street food and sights. In the shopping district I was amazed to find that it felt more like LA or what I imagine similar places to be. After a month in Cambodia it felt odd to have such a modern country in such close proximity. Had a great time in Ho Chi Minh and could have stayed longer but left after a couple days in order to have more time up north. (I stayed longer in Cambodia so had already gone into a week of my Vietnam visa :s) 
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 Next stop, Hoi An. With the smell of nag champa lingering in the air, beautiful lanterns lit up everywhere and a calming ambiance, Hoi An feels like a magical place. I loved it there. Near the town is also a little village that specializes in pottery so enjoyed cycling out there and getting lost among the streets. Finally finding our destination, we got to try using the pottery wheel, directed by some lovely local women. It was wonderful feeling how the clay transformed under your touch. 
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I then headed up to Dong Hoi and visited the Phongna and Paradise Caves. They were magical. Looking at a mountain you never imagine such hidden gems within its earth. If anyone gets this reference… I wished I was Drizzt and could cruise through the mysterious tunnels with scimitars in hand, exploring the great unknown. 
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While waiting for the bus I met some wonderful girls and we cruised up to Hanoi and spent a few days here before heading to Halong Bay. I really liked Hanoi as it had lots going on but didn’t feel too hectic. This came to feel like our home base as I stayed there a total of about nine days as I came back after Halong, headed to Sapa and then once again came back to Hanoi before heading to Laos. By the time I left Hanoi it was feeling so alive in the city, all the children were rushing out of school for Christmas holidays. The streets were buzzing. Christmas decorations and music everywhere. It didn’t really feel like I was in Asia. 
 
Halong Bay was very beautiful although the fog did hide most of the islands but at the same time making it very mystical. Kayaked into serene coves and enjoyed a feast on the boat before heading onto Cat Ba for a couple days. The weather was extremely dreary but managed to still motorbike to the National Park and trek up to the view point. The hike was rather dodgy at some points especially from the slippery rain (and probably also due to recovery of too much rice wine) but worth the beautiful view as we overlooked amazing mountains and islands while  in the middle of the vast jungle. It was also very cool exploring the hospital cave that had been a secret base during the war.
 
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I seriously questioned heading further North to Sapa as it was freeeezzzingg but so thankful we did. They had snow for the first time in 5 years which was beautiful… But I was trying to avoid this in Asia… The first day was so cold we spent our time huddled around the small ember fire in our hostel. The next day I was overjoyed to see the sun shining and we had beautiful weather for the two day trek through the villages. The rice fields were magnificent. The views seemed as if from a fantasy land. Walking along the edge of the rice paddies sure tested your balance but we made it!
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Vietnam was another amazing country full of wonderful friends and experiences! It’s always hard to say goodbye!

There will be an answer. Let it be.

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Growing up in a country where the war and violence you grow up seeing is just spread across television screens and newspaper covers and not across the lands you know. Where is it something spoken about but be never really experienced. Something real but yet so unrealistic. I understand but I have no comprehension. Peace is a virtue I value but take for granted.

Travelling has given me a whole new sense if this existence. It angers me and breaks my heart to see the treachery that has been brought by people upon people. Somehow we think we are so different from others but no matter what color, shape, background, we are all brothers and sisters. Yet people still think that such a thing as superiority exists. What a crazy idea they have made up in their heads.

What powers the world? Money. A stupid piece of paper that has really no value or substantial existence except the one we created in our minds. Yet people do insane things for this illusion of something great. I often think about a higher race looking down upon the earth. Maybe the trees, maybe aliens or whatever you may call it, maybe the heavens… And they could look at us in awe of our stupidity. If you analyze how society functions it is all an insane illusion.

Anyways… war disgusts me. Violence disgusts me. Yet people still thrive on it. Can we not develop smarter way of functioning. When we look at history should we not try to make changes and grow from this point, or will we always continue to function in the same manner of repetition. Will we continue to let those with money take our power and rights? I sure hope not. There has to be some hope out there.

Today I visited the war museum on Ho Chi Minh city and it was very interesting to see things from even more of their point of view. The war crimes committed upon Southeast Asia by the United States during the Vietnam War time period is horrendous yet another thing swept under the rug. I’ve been struggling with the line of awareness and seeing too much visiting places such as these while I have been travelling. I started to wonder whether focusing so much on the past was such as in regular life in which I believe brings depression and reoccurrences. Today though made me really acknowledge that without learning about these things, people like myself who are very lucky to have grown up in such a peaceful environment, would never understand the horror really felt. I think without understanding it would be more likely to bring reoccurrence.

Let us grow with this knowledge though; see the catastrophes of the past and move forward in a new light. Take your power back.